Mainly family

Bit of a glitch on the local railway though.


As well as showing the derailed coal train that excellent photo from the Mercury shows the single track leading to the Clifton/Scarborough tunnel and the proximity of the wonderful new road bridge, built because the road kept falling into the water…

My Dad would have been ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD today!


That’s him in the centre in the suit some time in the early 1970s.

My twin cousins Robert and James Heard (born 1954) are on his right. On his left my mother Jean (1911-1996), my Aunt Fay (d. October 2011) and her husband, my Uncle Neil (b. 1924).

In front is my Aunt Beth (d. 2007). On her right my cousin Janine, on her left Lloyd – children of Neil and Fay.

Not in this group are Roy and Kay, about whom I am especially thinking this week.


CHRISTISON, Roy Hampton 5/11/1927 – 21/11/2011 Loving husband of Kay. Devoted father and father-in- law of Russell and Tinna, Linda, Heather, Bruce and Fahima, Julie and Kingsley. Proud Grandad of Timothy, Mathew, Sarah, Shareena, Zain, Kasmira, Deen, Aadam and Raihanna. Loving brother and brother-in-law of Eric and Gwen (both dec), Jean and Jeff (both dec), Beth and Bob (both dec), Keith and Ruth (both dec), Neil and Fay (dec). 54 years and 11 months of marriage, 5 wonderful children, in-laws loved like our own, 9 dear grandchildren. Gentleman Roy will be forever missed. "That’s the story of love." ROY’S family and friends are invited to attend his Funeral Service to be held at Sutherland Uniting Church, cnr. Flora and Merton Streets, Sutherland on Monday 28th November, 2011 at 1.00pm. In lieu of flowers, donations to Prostate Cancer Foundation or Calvary Health Care would be appreciated. 


My cousin Joan’s wedding. Uncle Roy is on the right edge.

Naturally then I have also been thinking about the Christisons. See also: Scans worth preserving–2: re Sophia Jane Christison 1858-1952; Being Australian 16: inclusive multiculturalism Aussie style 9 – my tribes; Family matters and Family stories 2 — About the Christisons.


Roy Christison Senior 1886-1963


I have found such treasures through the National Library of Australia’s TROVE! Some samples.

Note the eyepatch on my grandfather Roy Sr above.


SMH 1899




John is all over the papers in the 1880s! Try especially the Maitland Mercury!


July 1887





And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

A cousin has resurfaced too.


Ray Christison doesn’t look quite like this now, but then I don’t actually recall him looking like this then! Winking smile

21 thoughts on “Mainly family

  1. Looks like the 1883 sale is the exercise of a landlord’s power to sell the effects of the tenant. If so, then JHC seems to have picked himself up pretty well by the time of the 1887 fire.

  2. John Hampton Christison was a blatant self promoter and a very creative debtor. In Maitland he sought patronage and had wealthy friends, including newspaper proprietor and mayor John GIllies. I have recorded a number of bankruptcy cases brought against John in the 1880s. The Bulwer Street auction was possibly linked to some of these proceedings. My notes on other proceedings are below:

    John Hampton Christison – a creative debtor
    Various newspaper reports from the 1880s suggest that John Hampton Christison may have a been rather free and easy with his creditors. He also appears to have been a man who made a habit of being away on business when these matters were heard before a court of law. In March 1883 two matters involving John Christison were listed for hearing with the Maitland District Court. These were:

    • Edward Sparks and Joseph Clift v. John Hampton Christison. Stock sold £13 10s.
    • Jesse Ireland v. J.H. Christison promissory note £9 16s 6 1/2 d. (Maitland Mercury & Hunter River Advertiser 6.3.1883)

    The matters were heard on 8 March 1883. John’s wife Sophia had been summonsed to appear in the Maitland District Court. She explained to the court that her husband was on a visit to Tamworth and would be away for three weeks. Both cases were adjourned. (Maitland Mercury & Hunter River Advertiser 8.3.1883)

    In 1889 a case of bankruptcy was brought against John by A.W. Cormack. This case was heard before the Supreme Court in Sydney on 3 October 1889. Mr. Moore of Maitland presented affidavits to the court indicating that “the debtor respondent when last ehard of was at Colombo (Ceylon) on route to Scotland”. This case was adjourned for a fortnight. (Sydney Morning Herald 4.10.1889 p.3)

    Almost year after their divorce Sophia Jean Christison was forced to seek a court injuction against John for payment of £43 10s. in alimony outstanding since the divorce settlement. Permanent alimony had been set at £1 10s. per week. At this time John Hampton Christison was living in Mittagong and working as a dancing master earning £500 per annum. (Sydney Morning Herald 15 April 1893)

  3. Seeing he worked as a dancing master so long ago makes me think of the Turveydrops from Dickens’s Bleak House. I’m just ploughing through that work in its antique victorian English at the moment. Them woz the days! He sounds so exotic with his frequent excursions into the courts. I hope there wasn’t too much Equity involved.

  4. Indeed, Martin. And thanks for your input, Ray. I had noticed the bankruptcy cases, and recall some other details about John my mother told me and which I won’t go into here.

    The man.

  5. Hi Neil,I was saddened to read of the passing of your uncle Roy Hampton Christison (my mother’s cousin) My brother & I in the course of pursuring the history of the Christisons,particually John Hampton,have often wondered if our mother was aware of her Grandfather’s “exploits”.as your grandmother said,there were things we didn’t talk about. As I mentioned in a previous E-mail ,some of the information supplied by my niece Karly Morgan which was told to her by my Aunt Peggy,Isobel Watson’s other daughter, have been proved somewhat incorrect. I enjoy reading your site, The photo of Sophia with the wedding cake we have ,we also have a photo of here with her mother Mary,her eldest daughter Lillie Hallman&Lilies daughter Merle. Sophia ws a fine looking woman at the turn of the century,I only remember her in her later years at Haig Ave Ryde & in the nursing home where she passed away . Bill Niven Nambour QLD.

  6. From the late 1970s I made an effort of researching the life of John Hampton Christison. I have a listing of his addresses from 1880 until 1889. He seemed to fall off the radar after the divorce in 1891 and then he pops up again in the Boer War. He enlisted in the 2nd NSW Mounted Rifles and embarked from Sydney in 1899. Interestingly one of his companions was Peter Hancock, the Bathurst farrier who was shot with Breaker Morant in 1902. When he enlisted he gave his address as Regent Street, Mittagong – the home of his parents David and Catherine. I have John’s campaign medal from the Boer War which has bars for Witterbergen, Diamond Hill, Johannesburg, Driefontein & Cape Colony. He was wounded at Rhenoster Poort. When John returned from South Africa he obtained a job on the West Australian Government Railways and eventually rose to the rank of Station Master.
    When Sophia left John during their trip to Scotland she moved in with her parents in the old Registrar General’s building in Elizabeth Street and the children went to school at Castlereagh St (later the site of Her Majesty’s Cinema). John kidnapped the two boys from school one afternoon and took them to Mittagong. A court order was issued for their return. The next address I have for Roy is from the newspaper report about the loss of his eye. I have more information on my family tree at Regards Ray Christison

  7. Thanks, Bill and Ray, for adding so much to this post. Bill, I am sure I met Peggy Watson more than once, as I seem to recall she and my mother kept in touch at least into the 1960s.

  8. Neil, In addition to Ray’s info ,several things puzzle us,In regard to Roy losing his eye,how could he have been living with his Parents in 1899. According to the 1900 Sands, a M.Christison was living at 178 Victoria Rd. We have wondered about J.H. going to South Africa at the age of 42! Maybe more creditors were after him! Another thing we discovered was that his sister Lizzie appears to have gone to Scotland with the family,they all returned on the SS Elberfield all be it seperately .Lizzie also pops up with him in WA. We all should write a book about old John H.!
    Bill Niven
    PS. Ray,it’s a small world ,the Niven’s came from Lithgow

    • Bill, I have learnt over the years that many people have come from Lithgow!
      One thing to be mindful of is that newspaper reports can be mildly or wildly inaccurate. I can imagine the junior journalist being given the task of doing the hospital rounds. Talk to people and feign interest, write a few shorthand notes and then go back to the office. It’s easy to just assume that a boy is living with his “parents” rather than just his mother. John and Sophia’s divorce was not amicable and I can’t imagine them being reconciled at all. I have judges notes from the divorce trial, which I can provide if you contact me directly.
      From what I have been able to gather Lizzie was rather a free spirit who travelled quite a bit.
      Years ago I had long conversations with Kathleen, John’s eldest daughter by his second wife. According to her John distinguished himself in South Africa and at one time was aid de camp to Lord Delisle. I imagine that he was quite fit as the recruiting requirements for the 2nd NSW Mounted Rifles were quite rigorous and many recruits were rejected. I have a photo of him in South Africa in military uniform. The Diamond Hill bar is quite an honour. The 2nd NSW Mounted Rifles distinguished themselves in this engagement. Their performance was so impressive that the Gordon Highlanders requested the privilege of saluting them after the battle.
      Neil, thank you for facilitating this very stimulating conversation.

  9. Wow! This is mostly news to me, Ray. Just found JH’s service note in the Australian War Memorial Nominal Rolls. Didn’t even know he was there!

    And Lizzie — JH’s youngest sister? — died in Scotland, I gather? Any connection between her and the divorce, Ray? My mother hinted… At some stage during World War 2 it seems Sophia stayed at Auburn Street and shared a room with my mother and talked and talked and talked. My mother, distracted by the war and babies and worry, didn’t really listen. She said Gran had told her just about everything but my mum remembered very little of it. I think she rather regretted that later on.

    And, Bill, come to think of it my mother also kept in touch with Constance Watson/Niven. Your mother?

  10. Neil, yes Constance was my mother,she unfortunately died of alziemers in 1985, I rang your uncle Roy last year, he was able to fill me in on your side of the family.He mentioned Ray as being the family historian. Ray’s Ancestry name”Hassans Walls” placed him as living in Lithgow. As to Lizzie she appears not to have married until 1935 to a James Smith Reilly .She died in Arbroath in 1938, I suppose she was visiting Christisons. In my copy of the1927 Sands ,a miss L.Christison owned a confectionary shop in Mittagong . The Christison graves in Welby Cemetery contain headstones for David snr, Catherine (Belford) John H. & Lizzie . Ray, I have the original divorce paper. We too have copies of the Divorce proceedings gathered from the State Archives, David,my brother tells me the file is quite thick. John H. was in the 1st NSW Mounted Rifles , C Company, his roll No 264 .

  11. John’s regiment embarked for South Africa in early 1900, not 1899 as I said earlier (I am writing everything here from memory). This discussion reminds me that I should retype the account of John’s service in the Boer War that I prepared decades ago and post it on Neil, how can I best post photos, documents etc here? I also have an account of Catherine’s funeral and her obituary. The fascinating thing about the graves at Welby is that David Jnr. (John and Catherine’s eldest) is buried behind David and Catherine. The reverse side of their headstone has been carved as a memorial to David Jnr. I have seen this practice elsewhere. A good way to save a few bob!
    I don’t think Lizzie is buried at Welby. I was quite amused years ago when my dual connections with the history of the Lithgow iron and steel industry, and my family connection with Mittagong/Joadja resulted in me being engaged by Woolworths to interpret the ruins of the Fitz Roy Iron Works located underneath their Highlands Marketplace development. I now go to Mittagong every three months to monitor the condition of the ruins.

  12. Ray: you could email them to me and I can post them in the thread by first storing them in my media library, or you could store them/post them on one of your own blogs and give us the URL, or we could all pay to join 😉

    Kind of related to your Lithgow/Mittagong remarks: The woman I thought was my aunt’s maid.

  13. Neil, Ray
    Old John H,’s infidelities certainly were wide spread. The petition for the Divorce certainly contains interesting reading, As well as Adultery, he subjected Sophia to violence,contacted a “venereal disease” which he passed to her & other forms of ill treatment ,The sad thing about it all was that when they arrived back in Sydney Jan. 1890, Sophia did’nt want the adultery to be made public for” the sake of the children” It’s sad to have to reveal these facts about our Great Grand father, However its all there in the Divorce. One of the women referred to was a Miss Lararus ,a Barmaid. In NSW B.D.& M, a birth is recorded of a child Agnes, born in 1889 in Belmont Newcastle, mother Elizabeth , Father John H. Christison!. Copies of Their Marriage certificate,his death certificate & other items were passed on to me by my Grandmother Isobel Watson before she died.
    One must admit, he must have been an interesting man, It would have been an experience to have met him. and to think until the internet came along allowing us to delve into the past, we just had that famous photograph of him to know who he was.

  14. Colourful character indeed — but hard on those close to him. One can understand the silence about him.

  15. I have long maintained that it one made a novel of John’s life readers would not believe that such a character could exist. He was larger than life in many ways and, as much as I condemn his infidelities, cruelties and selfishness I can but only be grateful for the strength of will, inventiveness, creativity and resilience he bequeathed to many of us.

  16. Also to be much admired is Sophia. Being a single mum in the late 19th century wasn’t easy. I am told she cleaned offices and there were times she wasn’t sure where the next penny was going to come from.

  17. Neil, Since our last E-MAIL David &I have serched the Trove newspapers I came upon a” Dancing” Ad in the SMH 9/2/1884 promoting the “Professor” to teach dancing. It was obviously written by him,what he could’nt do or where he had been.I thought self promotion was a modern thing!the Ad notes that he (J.H.C.) had the GIFT to impart it to others! and that he will give satifaction to iduvidual pupils! read into that what you will! In regard to Sophia Jean,it appears she is buried with her son David in Rookwood, her daughter Lillie is in the back to back grave. David Belford died in 1923 the same year as J.H. I would like to know what ship he originally came out here about 1878 I believe.

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