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Romsey resident uncovers family history

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

A Romsey and Lancefield Districts Historical Society member is releasing a book uncovering the mystery of her past relative.

Romsey resident Jacqueline Brooks set about solving the family mystery of one of her ancestors in her book ‘Creativity Released: Uncovering the Mystery of William Stanford’.

Ms Brooks’ great-great-uncle, a man known as William Walter Tyrrell Stanford, was believed to have been born in London, though his birth name and date of birth are unclear.

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Such uncertainties led Ms Brooks to ask questions, curious as to whether he made up a name when he ran away to sea as many children did at the time.

He came to Australia as a ship’s boy on the Tory but abandoned the ship after arriving in Melbourne in December, 1851.

Ms Brooks thought it possible that Mr Standford tried his luck at Victoria’s Goldfields, a suggestion supported by a report that stated a local police magistrate was ‘bumped off his horse’ at the first Bendigo races, which pointed to the idea that Mr Standford could have lived in the area.

Mr Standford’s arrest was the first of a long list of encounters with the law – although his first encounter was found to be a case of circumstantial evidence.

He was jailed for 17 years and was eventually pardoned, released, married and became a respected citizen.

While in prison, Mr Stanford became a sculptor and created the fountain and water feature located in Spring Street, Melbourne.

The Melbourne Herald reported in 1907: ‘that fountain stands today as a monument of human endurance, the like of which in this state has remained almost unparalleled’.

With much more to the mystery, Creativity Released: Uncovering the Mystery of William Stanford investigates everything about him and the family stories that prove his life was eventful, though some of the facts remain unclear.

Ms Brooks will present a talk about Mr Standford on Sunday at Romsey and Lancefield Districts Historical Society following the society’s annual general meeting at 3pm.

The meeting will be at the old Lancefield Courthouse, 55 Main Road, Lancefield.

Country-style refreshments, coffee, tea and wine will be served.

For bookings and catering purposes, call Shirley Kishere on 0404 248 540.

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