Newsletter No. 9

 

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News Letter Number Nine

Society of Edgar Families

Melbourne, Australia

 

THE STUDY OF FAMILY HISTORY

[Abridged by I Trentham-Edgar, FSAG, from "Historical Genealogy" by J Horace-Round, MA LL.D – "Family Origins" 1930]

 

"The expansion and extension of genealogical studies is a very remarkable feature of our own time. There is nothing in those who try to trace their own pedigrees that need be stigmatised as vain or foolish; it is a very natural instinct, and appears to me to be one of the ways in which a general interest in national history may be expected to grow." [Stubbs]. "I cannot accept as a true student of genealogy one who cares for nothing but the pedigree of his own family. [Round].

 

The craze of pedigree making reached its height under Elizabeth. She set an example by a Tudor pedigree deduced from Adam. The great Cecil, Lord Burghley, was pedigree mad, and sought for the upstart Cecil's ancestors in all directions. Lord Chancellor Hatton was fitted with a pedigree, tracing has family to "Yvon", a Norman noble who came with the Conqueror, which was duly "seen and registered" by a notorious herald. In support of one of Burghley's ancestors, an old French document was actually forged; to support Hatton's, a whole galaxy of Charters and seals were produced. The pedigree-maker stuck at nothing, forging documents in Latin, Old English and French, which hoodwinked some officers of the College of Heralds.

 

By Charles the First's time the Doomsday Book was regularly providing, ready to hand, a Norman or Saxon patriarch, as preferred. Even after Charles had lost his head the quest went on. But the school of historical genealogy had already come to birth. While Selden was writing the "Baronage", Sir Robert Cotton forming his Collections, and Dodsworth working on the Pipe Rolls and transcribing monastic charters, there was an outburst in England as in France, of antiquarian research. In England the public records in the Tower were searched, private muniments were examined, registers of Wills ransacked.

 

We pass on to Collins, who wrote under George II, and whose genealogical peerage is important as the basis of the well-known "Burke's Peerage" industrious and well-qualified, this man crammed into his works much ludicrous genealogy. Thus began those wild stories in the pages of "Burke's Peerage" which have moved historians to contempt and scorn.

 

English genealogy had in a century fallen back into the old, bad, despicable groove until the official records of the heralds under their common seal were not received as evidence in any Court of Justice in the Kingdom. From the era of the Great Reform Bill [1832] we may distinguish the existence of two rival schools. On the one hand was that of the complaisant herald, typified by successive publications hearing the name of "Burke" and flooding the market with gorgeous pedigrees of new and old invention. The other, the critical and historical school, had a more limited public. Founded by John Gough Nichols with his valuable periodicals which came to an end with "The Herald and Genealogist" in 1878, its work was successfully carried on by such journals as "The Genealogist" and "The Ancestor". Examples of the best modern methods are numerous, among them being The Complete Peerage" especially the New Edition which, still in progress, has cost more than £100,000.

 

Many will, I know, sympathise with those who in the last century have placed genealogy on its present historical basis, the more so because

 

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the worked in the teeth of much discouragement. It is far easier to construct a spurious pedigree than to demolish the imposture. Only the expert knows the time and labour it may cost to detect the falsehood of a pedigree, especially if the compiler has been careful to conceal the fatal flaws by adducing no evidence, or none at least, that can be tested.

 

There are more ways than one of constructing for oneself a pedigree. To some "tradition" is a sufficient warrant for a vague but lengthy descent, although there is, perhaps, no "authority" so unworthy of credit. Indeed the so-called antiquary, or even of a member of the family itself at no remote period. Others, again, appear to be blissfully unaware of the need for evidence and for proof. To them one statement is just as good an another.

 

In preparing the pedigrees of the Edgar families it is intended to follow the school of strict historical research. Every descent which we record must be capable of proof. In this connection I would say that for some of us there are, almost certainly, shocks in store. The traditional descent of the Edgars from the Scottish monarchs may have to be jettisoned. We are fortunate, perhaps, that before this Society came into existence not a great deal had been done to record Edgar pedigrees. We can set out with the highest ideals and if some of us cannot trace a very long descent we shall find consolation in the knowledge that what is set down about our families in the Society's files is fully capable of proof.

 

EDITORIAL

 

The Superintendent of Mails had advised us that registered mail addressed from the Society to our Patron, Mr JK Edgar, of Toronto, Canada, was aboard the RMS "Niagara" which struck a mine off the coast of New Zealand early in Jun. The package contained the very full genealogy of the family of Edgars, Lairds of Keithock which had been completed after eighteen months work on material collected from many sources, and especially from the records in the possession of our Patron, to whom the genealogy was being sent for correction and approval. The genealogy was in manuscript and no copy is available, so that the loss is a very serious one.

 

PRESERVATION OF FAMILY PAPERS

 

It is an unfortunate fact that the demand for waste paper for pulping consequent upon the appeal for economy in the use of paper by the nation's leaders, had led a few misguided people to consign to the mills much material which should be preserved for posterity. In this connection Mr GF James, MA of the University of Melbourne, who is editor of "Historical Studies" has addressed to the Honorary Secretary of the Society of Edgar Families an eloquent plea for the co-operation of all our Members in saving documents of historical interest so that those who come after us may not reproach this generation for the wilful destruction of irreplaceable material. Our President, the Hon WH Edgar, MLC, is taking a deep interest in moves which are being made in Melbourne to obtain government support for an Archives Office under the control of the Trustees of the Public Library of Victoria and has attended a meeting of those who favour special  Government assistance in safeguarding the State's records.

 

Mr James writes: "I am very glad indeed that Mr WH Edgar has taken so much interest in the matter of an Archives Department for Victoria, and beg to assure you that the history department here [the University[ is doing everything it can, in co-operation with the Public Library and the Historical Society of Victoria, to ensure adequate provision being made to preserve the records of the State."

 

"I want to make an appeal, indeed, the strongest possible appeal, to the Society of Edgar Families, to make a thorough and systematic search

 

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for the private and family papers of its various members, no matter where they may now be. Diaries, memoranda, newspaper cuttings, letters, account books – without such materials much of Victoria's early history must fade into oblivion, and in this matter of preserving family papers, I feel that one concrete example is worth endless arguments and appeals. If only the various Edgar families would co-operate and deposit their papers, however few they may be, in individual cases, with the Public Library [of Victoria] – we would have a precedent to cite and to which we could point."

 

"Many families feel that private matters must remain private matters, but amid all the research that has gone on in England for years, I know of no instance in which this confidential material has been abused or in which valuable information has not been gained which could not have been procured by other means."

 

"Victoria, is only four generations old. Family descents can so readily be traced, and if only a real tradition of preserving and depositing private papers can be established, the writing of its history will be assured. But delay is dangerous. Family pride remains, but modern flats are fatal to the preservation of old letters – the big roll-top desk and spacious houses are disappearing, and amid the growing appeals for WASTE paper, many treasures are in jeopardy. I do not know what publicity the Society of Edgar Families has at its disposal, but I do beg and pray that it will co-operate in this urgent matter as quickly as possible."

 

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Members of the Society resident in Victoria are asked to consider how they can assist in the preservation of the items mentioned by Mr James. The Honorary Secretary will gladly give any further information on the subject, which may be sought. Members are urged to oppose the destruction of old records of any kind and to advise the Public Library if they have knowledge of any contemplated "clearance" of documents by a local authority.

 

HISTORY OF THE EDGARS OF DUNDEE

 

Appended to this issue of the News Letter, will be found a detailed "History of the Edgar Family, formerly of Dundee", which is the result of about four years work by one of its members. the cost of publishing this genealogy has been entirely met by the subscriptions of those who belong to the family. A limited number of additional copies of the "History" are available from the Honorary Secretary, Box 1751, GPO, Melbourne, price 7/6 each.

 

In several cases members of the family have ordered copies on behalf of children not yet of age, in order that they shall not be deprived of this opportunity of securing a record, which is unlikely to be published again for many years. It is suggested that a full record of this kind would make worthwhile Christmas gifts among members of the family.

 

NEWS FROM PALESTINE

 

A member of the AIF in Palestine, Major CRV Edgar, [HS Coy, 2/2nd Batt], writing to his brother, Mr GKR Edgar, of Caulfield, Victoria, told of the finding of the grave in Palestine of Sergeant Ronald Swan Edgar, 10th Light Hose, who was killed at Zaza on 19th April 1917. He enclosed a photograph of the grave and asked his brother to try to hand it to the dead soldier's next-of-kin. Mr GKR Edgar, after some difficulty, was able to give the photograph to Mr and Mrs John Thomas Edgar, formerly of Kadnook Station, Harrow, Victoria, the aged parents of Sergeant RS Edgar. Mrs Keith Nicholson and Mr OS Edgar, members of the Executive Council of this Society, are also children of Mr and Mrs Edgar, and are grandchildren of that fine old pastoral pioneer, David Edgar [1812-1894], who came from Moffat, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, in 1838, and who subsequently owned Pine Hills Station, Harrow.

 

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Major CRV Edgar and his brothers, Major HG Edgar [Asst Chief Inspector of Munitions at Maribyrnong, Victoria], and Mr GKR Edgar, are sons of the late Mr Thomas Edgar, of Hawthorn, Victoria and grandsons of Alexander Edgar, who came to Victoria about 1852, from Gattonside, Melrose, Scotland, with Mr Thomas Chirnside. Alexander Edgar and his wife, Isabella Rutherford, died at Lismore, Victoria, leaving descendants, whose names are being recorded, by this Society.

 

MEETINGS OF THE WAR COMFORTS COMMITTEE

 

The War Comforts Committee met on 28th August and 16th Oct. It was resolved, at the earlier meeting, to make a further appeal to all our Members to forward to the approved depot – Messrs W Edgar and Co., Pty Ltd., 788 Swanston Street, Carlton N3, Victoria, articles such as sox, mufflers, balaclavas and cigarettes. Quite a number of gifts have already been acknowledged and some donations have been made, which have been used to purchase articles likely to be appreciated by our men overseas, The Committee is able to buy at wholesale rates, and anyone who prefers to send money should forward it direct to the Secretary of the Committee., Miss Margaret Edgar, Box 2630X, GPO, Melbourne. Parcels are to be made up and sent overseas at intervals, a separate notifications of despatch being mailed at the same time. Recipients will be requested to report the arrival of articles sent to them and also to state their special needs for the guidance of the Committee in the future. They will also be invited to correspond with members of the Society who volunteer to reply to letters.

 

If you can supply the full name and service address of any man serving overseas who is an Edgar, or the descendant of an Edgar, you are invited to notify Miss Edgar immediately. Miss Edgar would appreciate any suggestions which might assist the Committee in this worthwhile work.

 

The following names and addresses are gratefully acknowledged:

 

VX.20229 Hicks, EG Private

7th Divis, AASC No.2 Echelon HQ, Supply Column, AIF abroad

 

VX.31463 Edgar, Donald Hugh, Private

A.     Coy Military Camp, Bendigo

 

VX.27018 Edgar, ALS, Private

5th Batt, @AA Reg, Troope E, Puckapunyal, Victoria

 

VX.14656 Edgar, Donald James, Warrant Officer

Aust Army Corps Ordnance, Attached 2/2 Pioneer Batt, Abroad

 

NX.3753 Edgar, Selwyn Kinmond, Sergeant

Unit HQ, Sigs, 6th Aust Divis AIF, Abroad [England]

 

NX.140 Edgar, Cedric Rupert Vaughan, Major

HQ Coy, 2/2 Batt, AIF, Abroad [Middle East]

 

NX.35119 Edgar John Frederick, Lieutenant

2/9 Field Regt, 8th Divis, AIF Ingleburn, New South Wales

 

NX.14052 Edgar, Geoffrey Vernon, Gunner

3rd Battery, Anti Aircraft Regt, AIF Ingleburn, New South Wales

 

AIR FORCES

 

Edgar, Peter Malcolm, Leading Aircraftsman

No.1 Air Observor's Squadron, Cootamundra, New South Wales

 

Edgar, Hunter Falconer

RAAF, Laverton, Victoria

 

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NEW MEMBERS

 

Edgar, Mrs Alvia Eunice, 7 Cabban Street, Mosman, New South Wales [Assoc]

Edgar, Allan Gordon, 10 Wells Road, Carrum, Victoria [Assoc]

Edgar-Owen, Mrs AH, 26 Church Road, Carrum, Victoria [Assoc]

Thomas, Charles OA, 709 Gregory Street, Ballarat, Victoria [Assoc]

Rudge, Mrs Frederick, "Greenwood" Wynward, Tasmania [Assoc]

Edgar, Miss Violet S, "Gyarran" Muswellbrook, New South Wales

Edgar, Miss Jessie M, "Wilbertree" Tarcoon, New South Wales

 

GENERAL NOTES

 

ADDITIONAL RECORDS: The Hon Secretary of the Society of Australian Genealogists, 91 Phillip Street, Sydney, has very kindly forwarded a collection of Edgar references in manuscript in order that copies might be made for our files. The collection is made up of notices of Edgars which appeared in "The Scotsman" newspaper [Scotland's leading journal] from about 1890-1916, and these include births, deaths, marriages, obituary notices, and Wills. There are also extracts from old Edinburgh municipal rolls. the references should prove useful to us in tracing different Edgar families.

 

OUTSTANDING QUESTIONNAIRES: It is customary to obtain from each new Member or Associate Member of this Society some particulars relating to his or her descent and family connections. This information is carefully recorded and in this way a fine series of family histories is being built up. If we have this information it is often possible to trace a family to its Scottish place of origin and to ascertain its connection with other Edgar families. Unfortunately, however, not all our members have responded to the usual request for genealogical information, which is generally most easily obtained by means of a questionnaire. Several of these questionnaires are at present outstanding and members are urged to return them to the Hon Secretary as soon as convenient. It is not possible in every case to supply all the information sought, but it is still suggested that they not be held aside for such a reason. The facilities for recording family history which our Society offers are worth taking advantage of. Assistance in the tracing of pedigrees can and will be always readily given.

 

OVERDUE SUBSCRIPTIONS: In future, members will receive notification of the expiration of their subscriptions. It is so easy to forget renewal dates that it has been thought desirable to give all our members official advice of due dates. Members can lighten the secretarial work considerably by remitting their subscriptions when notice of expiry has been given. Those, who, for any reason, desire to discontinue their membership, are asked to kindly give at least two clear month's notice to the Hon Secretary.

 

NOTICES IN THE NEWS LETTER: The Editor wishes to draw the attention of all Members to the fact that notices of birth, death and marriage may be inserted in the News Letter at any time, without charge. In this way family events can be conveniently recorded permanently. Articles or paragraphs for inclusion will also be welcomed and should be addressed care of Box 1751, GPO, Melbourne.

 

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NOTABLE EDGARS

 

SIR JOHN WARE EDGAR KCIE CSI

Born 16th September 1839; son of John Peard Edgar and Jane, daughter of B Gibbings, of Kensington, London. Educated privately. Joined the Bengal Civil Service in 1862. Was political officer with the Lushai Expedition 1871-72, for which he received a medal and clasp. Appointed Junior Secretary to the Government of Bengal, 1872. Financial and Chief Secretary to that Government from 1884 to 1891. Was an additional member of Council of the Viceroy and Governor-General, 1891-92. Resigned 1892. Created a Companion of the Order of the Star of India, and in 1889,

 

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was created a Knight Commander of the Indian Empire [KCIE]. Sir John Edgar, who was a keen historical student, with a special interest in subjects connected with modern Latin Christianity and Northern Buddhism, resided at the Villa Guicciardini, a Montughi, Florence, Italy, and died on 4th June 1902.

 

HONOURABLE SIR JAMES DAVID EDGAR, KCMG, PC, MP, QC, DCL, FRSC

Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons, from August 1896; born at Hatley, Quebec, 10th August 1841, son of James Edgar of Edinburgh, and Lennoxville, Quebec. Married second daughter of TG Ridout, of Toronto, in 1865. Educated at Lennoxville and Quebec. First elected for Monck, Province of Ontario, in 1872. Afterwards contested South Oxford, South Ontario and Centre Ontario, and sat for the riding of West Ontaio from 1884. Knighted 1898. Published several Canadian law works and numerous political pamphlets, and was also the author of "The White Stone Canoe", "This Canada of Ours and Other Poems", "Canada and its Capital". His recreations included golf, fishing and literary studies. Sir James Edgar was a member of the Toronto Club and the Ridean Club, Ottawa. He died 31st July 1899.

"Who was Who" [1897-1916]

 

MRS ANN HART [NEE EDGAR]

Henry Hart, of Ravarnette House, Lisburn, co, Antrim, Ireland, married Ann, second daughter of John Edgar, of Ballybray. The eldest son of this marriage was Sir Robert Hart, First Baronet [created 1893], GCMG [created 1889], KCMC [created 1882], MA, LL.D; Inspector General of Customs in China, 1863-1908, and of Posts 1896-1908, who was born at Willtown, co Armagh, on 20th February 1835. Sir Robert Hart had a most distinguished consular career in the East and was the recipient of more than a score of high foreign decorations. He died on 20th September 1911, having resided at 38 Cadogan Place, London, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his only son, Sir Edgar Bruce Hart.

"Who was Who" [1897-1916]

 

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HISTORY OF THE EDGAR FAMILY, FORMERLY OF DUNDEE, SCOTLAND

and of the

TRENTHAM-EDGAR FAMILY, OF MELBOURNE

 

SAMUEL EDGAR, son of John Edgar, farmer in Galloway, was born in the Scottish Lowlands, but settled in Dundee, Forfarshire. He married Margaret [born c.1810 in Perthshire; died 14 January 1881, at Hotham, County of Bourke, Victoria, and buried 17 Jan, following in grave No.742, M. Compartment, Presbyterian Section, Melbourne General Cemetery], daughter of David and Margaret Coupar, of Perthshire.

 

Samuel and Margaret Edgar, with their younger children emigrated to Tasmania by the ship "William Hammond" which they joined at Plymouth, on 30 September 1854. The vessel reached Hobart Town on Christmas Day, 1854. Only after two years the Edgar family, with the exception of John Coupar Edgar, went to Melbourne, Victoria. Samuel Edgar, who entered the coaching business, and was for a time associated with Messrs Cobb and Co. died at his home, 8 Martin Lane, Emerald Hill [as South Melbourne was then known] on 15 June 1872, and was buried, on the 16 June following, in grave No.301, M Compartment, Presbyterian Section, Melbourne General Cemetery.

 

Samuel and Margaret Edgar had issue, five sons:-

 

I         WILLIAM, born 1 February 1830 at Dundee; died 17th May 1846 at Dundee

 

II        ANDREW LINDSAY, second son of Samuel Edgar, was born 23 September 1835, at Dundee. He served in the British Navy and was aboard HMS "Albion" during the Crimean War. He was with the Navy in the British West Indies before coming out to Melbourne in the ship "Oxus". On 23rd October 1871, Mr Edgar received his Certificate [No.32] as a Master Mariner [Records of the Marine Board, Vic]. He subsequently engaged in the shipping trade on the North West Coast of Western Australia. Some years ago an article, published in "Smith's Weekly", put forward the claim that AL Edgar was the first man to discover gold in the famous "Golden Mile" of Western Australia [information supplied by Mr Keith Edgar, a grandson]. On 1 January 1878 AL Edgar obtained a lease [No. 374] of 100,000 acres of land for pastoral purposes, situated on the peninsular, of which the North West Cape in Western Australia is the extremity. The lease was for a term of two years and rent free. At that time it seems to have been the practice to grant short term leases as holding grounds, pending the final choice and granting of leases to applicants who would necessarily require some little time to locate and decide upon areas deemed suitable for their purposes. In addition to this property, Andrew Lindsay Edgar selected ten areas, each of 50,000 acres, in the Kimberley Division, as under:-

K726, K727; term 1 January 1882 - 31 December 1893.

K765, K766, K767, K768, K769, K770, K771, K772; term, 1 July 1882 to 31 January 1893.

Rental for each of the ten leases was 25 Pounds per annum and all were transferred to AL Edgar and Co., on 6 December 1882. On 8 June 1883 all the leases excepting K726 and K727 were transferred to CG & JW Lush. The remaining two passed to WJ Hill on 20 Nov, of the same year [Records of Department of Lands and Surveys, WA].

 

For a time during the 'eighties', A L Edgar was master of the vessel "Eclipse" on the run between Hastings and San Remo, in Western Port Bay, Victoria. He was afterwards engaged in the Pacific Island trade. On 24 June 1902, he addressed a proposal for the erection of a chocolate factory to the Colonial Secretary's Office, Suva, Fiji [Secretariat File

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