A Brush With the Law

A “brush with the law”, listed Sue,  from my writing group, now why would I want to do that topic, my family were saints! Well that is until I started reading the New South Wales Police Gazettes.

First there was great-grandfather, Thomas Abberton, posting a £5 reward for the return of his stolen horse, that’s not bad. But wait there  more, and I was only searching the Abberton side.

Next was Uncle Fred, theft, assault and the interesting one, carrying  firearms on Sunday. Looking deeper into the gazettes I found that he was caught carrying the firearms, two breach-loading guns and a repeater rifle, value £14 7s, after having broken into a shop and stealing them. He pleaded guilty to larceny and was sentenced to 18 months hard labour.  Well he was only an uncle.

Oh, look, Thomas Abberton! What has great-granddad done? Opps! It isn’t him but my grandfather, also Thomas and the charge desertion. The year 1904. So who did he desert and why? His wife, Louisa, had died in 1903, so it wasn’t her. The complainant was one Patrick Lyons, State Children’s Relief Department. When Louisa died, Thomas was left with six children aged from 13 years to 4 years. He must have been so down that he couldn’t cope and left the children in care. Something I’ll never know. When he was arrested he has to pay 5shillings a week  for twelve months.

The description of Thomas is wonderful. 6 feet high, thin build, black hair, clean shaved, except dark moustache, scare on his left cheek, large abscess mark under right jaw. For the first time I know what my grandfather looks like.

Interesting there is  Matthew Abberton. Was it my dad? Yes. He had deserted his first wife and children and there was a bench warrant for his arrest and then later notice of his arrest. Don’t think my mum knew about that.

Reading the police gazettes has given me information about one branch of my family that I didn’t know. The descriptions are wonderful and add so much more to the bare, cold facts.

A brush with the law, no not my family they were saints. Really, they were, well except for a few misdemeanours.

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