Friday, April 30, 2021

Z is for Zeal


Moxon Society logo

Zeal or enthusiasm is something the members of the Moxon Society have in bucketsful.

In the late 1980s, James "Jimmy" Roland Moxon, together with Richard "Dick" Moxon, a descendant of the publisher and mentor of poets, Edward Moxon met each other and since both had written extensively about their ancestors, they decided to put together a book entitled "The Moxons of Yorkshire".  

To facilitate its production and marketing, Jimmy Moxon wrote and distributed a newsletter which became the first issue of the Moxon Magazine. It was sent to as many people with t anhe Moxon surname that could be found in directories and electoral rolls.  Contacts in North America and Australia helped.

This generated a great deal of interest amongst Moxons and Moxhams and it was decided to form The Moxon Society in 1990.

Members took on various roles:

  • contributing to and publishing the Magazine which before too long turned into a glossy biannual publication
  • writing a family tree software program (John Moxon Hill) and later transferring the different trees to Gedcom files (John Earnshaw and others)
  • finding wills and transcribing them (Graham Jagger and others)
  • commencing a Y-dna project for the Moxon surname (Ed Moxon) and much later an AncestryDNA autosomal project (Graham Jagger)
  • constantly revising the Moxon history including refuting some stories in the Moxons of Yorkshire publication
  • building Ancestry trees for all known families and attempting to link them together using original source records and DNA evidence (Chris Moxon, Philip Lord and Graham Jagger) and organising tree guardians from amongst the members
  • developing and maintaining the Moxon Society website (John Earnshaw, Margaret Tucker Moxon and more recently Trevor Jordan) and developing a members only resource website called Moxon research (Trevor Jordan with input by Chris Moxon, Philip Lord and Graham Jagger)
  • publishing more books written by members
  • organising annual gatherings of Moxons in different geographic locations in the UK (many members)
  • developing and maintaining membership records, marketing the Society through social media
  • monitoring and using newspaper articles about Moxons and Moxhams
  • co-ordinating membership in Australia (two different Margaret Moxons in Queensland and New South Wales
  • writing the Moxons Down Under Newsletter (Margaret Moxon in Queensland and then John Moxon in New South Wales)
  • a myriad other tasks keeping the Society running and members interested.
This is zeal or enthusiasm for hard work, driven by volunteers with an interest in connecting Moxons and telling our family stories.

Three cheers for The Moxon Society.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Y is for Yorkie Jim


Keelmen heaving coal by night

When a potential member with the surname Moxon from Wagga Wagga rang us to enquire about the Moxon Society in 2014 and said his ancestors settled in Sofala, a goldmining area near Bathurst, NSW, I immediately assumed that he was related to a large Moxon family descended from early settlers Robert and Sarah Moxon from Stewkley, Cambridgeshire.  That couplde settled in Bathurst in 1849, and members Matt McGrath and David Michael are just two of their descendants.

That tree used to be called MX11, but it has now been incorporated into MX01.

But I quickly discovered that this new member's tree bore no links to our "Bathurst" Moxons.

His grandparents were Henry James Moxon (1867-1939) and Emily Burton (1872-1931).  Henry was born in Sofala, the third of nine children born in New South Wales to James Moxon (1829-1903) and Sophia J. Stafford (?-1902).  They had married in Sofala in 1861.

Our new member's grandfather moved to Tamworth after the gold rushes and became a butcher, whilst other members of the family moved to Crookwell where Sophia Stafford had lived.

James was known to his descendants as "Yorkie Jim", another reason to doubt the link to the Stewkley Moxons.  It seems that this was a contemporary nickname since there are newspaper articles mentioning this.

James Moxon was baptised in 1829 in Hatfield, Yorkshire, the son of James Moxon and Elizabeth Lockwood.  He was a member of a family of keelmen who spent generations on the Yorkshire rivers and canals beteen Sheffield, Stainforth, Thorne and Hull.  Many later settled in Hull or Sculcoates.

The following is paraphrased from this website

Here is an extract from that site:

Families associated with the Stainforth Waterside 1800-1930

It seems many visitors to this site are interested in their family origins, especially those whose ancestors were keel folk and canal folk.

This is a list of names and details I have come across while searching for information about the canal and the people who lived there at the turn of the 19th century.  This list had come from various sources, including Fred Schofield's book, "Humber Keels and Keelmen."


I don't have much information about the Moxon family, other than they lived and worked on Stainforth's waterside.

Christine Hemsworth: The Moxon's are associated with Stainforth from way back and are mariners.  Some lived in Thorne but there are plenty of them on the census returns right back to 1851 and probably before, there are some in the cemetry there.  They, along with the other oldies, the Hinchcliffe and the Shirtliffes, were sail makers and all intermarried at some point.  You find children such as Alsop Moxon and Hasting Hinchcliffe keeping the two names together.  In Thorne cemetery you can walk around the graves and you can pick out the ones with anchors on them.

And interesting, our new members Moxon family can be linked to the family of a John Moxon whose sons moved from Thorne to Hull by the 1860s and established a Humber Keel business.

The common ancestor of the Wagga Wagga Moxons and the George Moxon in Hull are John Moxon (c1772-1853) who married Mary Shilloto (1776-1850) from Thorne in Yorkshire.

John Moxon is described as a waterman in the 1841 census.  In 1851 he was described as a retired mariner, living with his son Matthew, also a waterman.

There is an item in the Moxon Magazine Issue 13, April 1994 which explores more recent history of this family.

And as an aside, there appears to be no link between this family and the Moxons of Hull from whom Septimus Moxon (see S is for Septimus) is descended.

The painting above is by J. M. W. Turner -, Public Domain,



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

X is for an X-mark signature

Elizabeth Moakson's mark

 This was more common amongst women than men in the 19th century.

We often come across marriage certificates in parish records in England and Australia where the wife's signature was an X, indicating that she could not write her name.  This event was probably the only time a woman had to sign, every other document being the responsibility of the husband.  A will would have been the only other document I can think of, and many women without independent assets and/or education died intestate.

Sometimes the marriage certificate was filled out completely by the vicar or curate - this was the case for the 1836 marriage of Isaac Moxon and Sarah Middleton at St John's, Kirkby Wharfe in Yorkshire.  In this case, the witness - a male signed with an X.  Maybe Isaac and Sarah were too proud to write their own names or mark.

On the other hand, when Isaac's elder son Joshua Middleton Moxon married 30 years later, both he and Louisa Mary Wilkinson could sign their names.  Schooling was more widespread for boys by the late 1840s, even amongst poor families.  Joshua aged 10 and his brother John aged 7 were both shown as scholars in the 1851 census.  Joshua probably needed schooling to avoid working in the mines and to become a stone carving apprentice.

Louisa was also shown as a scholar, living with her Thorpe aunts in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. 

The image above is a snip from Elizabeth Moakson's marriage record (1804) to Thomas Robinson in Yorkshire. It shows that whilst both fathers and the bridegroom could sign their names, Elizabeth (Isaac's sister) could not.

Using an X or another symbol as a  substitute for a name is still legal in many jurisdictions today, including Australia.

W is for Warrnambool


Warrnambool in 1880s

Who were the Moxons from Warrnambool?

In the list of World War 1 Australian servicemen named Moxon, two brothers are listed as being born in Warrnambool, Victoria in 1892 and 1894.  They were Albert John and George William Moxon, the sons of George Clifton Moxon and Honora (Annie) Shanley.

George Clifton Moxon must have lived at Killarney (near Warrnambool) - probably farming - until early in the 20th century because five boys and three younger girls were born to them in Killarney between 1888 and 1906.

However, from 1903 George and Annie are listed as living in Melbourne's east.

The eldest was Walter Thomas Moxon who married Alice O'Neill, had a large family, including sons to carry on the name, and also lived in Melbourne's eastern suburbs.

George William was listed as a farmer in 1916 when he enlisted for World War 1 in Warrnambool, but after the war, he moved to Melbourne, as did his older brother in arms Albert John Moxon.

It seems that the farming life did not suit this family.

George Clifton Moxon was born in Cawthorne, Yorkshire in 1859, the son of Walter Moxon and Elizabeth Ann Crowther.  He was listed in the 1881 census as a 21-year-old butcher - a trade followed by many Cawthorne Moxons.  He obviously came to Australia prior to 1887 since he married Annie Shalney that year in Victoria.  However, to date, a shipping record has not been found.

It is probable that this Moxon family now extends into five or six generations in Melbourne since Walter Thomas Moxon (1888-1962) had three sons, all of whom married.  Wouldn't it be nice to find them and invite them to join the Moxon Society.

This family is another branch of The Moxon Society's tree MX01, the Moxons of Cawthorne, Yorkshire.

Monday, April 26, 2021

V is for Vernon


Shirley meets Pamella and Lindsay

One of John's Moxon second cousins who he didn't know about till very recently, died in 1950 giving birth to twins.  The twins survived and their devastated father was left with five motherless children.  The father, Harrington Vernon had already lost his first wife.  Losing Miriam (nee Moxon) was too much for him to bear.  Sadly he was admitted to the Callan Park Psychiatric Hospital and the children were placed in a faith-based children's home.

The superintendent and his wife took to the babies and it was arranged for them to be adopted.  How this could occur whilst the father was a scheduled mental health patient is questionable.  When he regained his health he did question the adoption but did not have the emotional or financial resources to do anything about it.  Some trouble ensued and he was banned from visiting any of the children.

Meanwhile, his three eldest children - eight-year-old and four-year-old girls and a boy just two - were admitted to the same children's home.  The older girl, Yvonne was very aware that the twins were her siblings, made sure Pamella and Lindsay also knew, but they were never allowed to acknowledge their relationship. The day they were admitted, Yvonne looked at the Superintendent and said "I know who you are, you're the man who took away our new babies."

Her fate was sealed that very moment: the torment, torture and brutality began for her at that instant and never stopped.

Yvonne was clutching the last remaining belongings of their mother in an old Whitman's tin box containing their mother's meagre possessions including a small bottle of Midnight Blue perfume in a purple bottle with a tassle, perming solution, butterfly clips and a cameo pill box.  All of these things were taken one by one by the superintendent who studied them and then threw them into a black waste paper basket with the cold-hearted comments ..."Umm, you won't be needing these things here".

He then turned to Pamella, as she held her knitted dolly "Mrs Magoofie".  He asked to have a look.  He then smelt it, frowned and chucked her into the waste paper basket, again uttering "you won't be needing that horrible, smelly thing here either."

That was their horrific and traumatic introduction to the faith-run children's home.  The torment remains with Pamella today, as it did with her sister, now deceased.

Until Christmas 2015, they had no contact with her mother's Moxon family.  But idly scrolling through Facebook on her new phone, Pamella noticed a Douglas Moxon and messaged him.  Could they be related?  Douglas didn't think so but gave her our phone number as co-ordinators of Moxons Down Under.  Margaret & John will know, he told her.

Margaret listened to Pamella's story and quickly realised that she and her siblings were related to John.  She also realised that Pamella had a living aunt who was born a year or so later than her niece Pamella. 

The aunt, Shirley was really amazed.  She had heard vaguely that her father had been married before and might have had other children but had not met any.  She and Pamella and later, younger brother Lindsay met each other in 2016 and are now very close.

Pamella has also met many other Moxon cousins, mostly at the Easter time reunion held at Stuart Town near Orange.  One of Joshua's sons, Alfred became a builder there and made his mark in the town, then called Ironbark.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

U is for Uncle John

Three men named John Moxon
Either during World War 1 or soon afterwards, John Bruce Moxon's grandmother Ellen Mary Moxon (nee Egan) left Wrightville for Sydney with her five daughters so that they could benefit from a secondary school education.  The girls went to Fort Street Girls High School and matriculated, with two obtaining teaching positions and the others also taking up interesting work.

The youngest girl was born in 1913.  When she was 11, her mother Ellen adopted a baby boy and named him John.  That was in 1924 when Ellen was 51 and living in the inner city.

There was no formal adoption process in New South Wales before 1931 and his mother and older siblings never discussed his possible origins with young John. They saw it as their mother's job, if at all. The girls' father Harry Moxon was not around to raise him because he had settled in Lake Cargellico by 1921 and remained there for many years.  The two boys, born in 1900 and 1902 had left home.  John spent much of his childhood living on his eldest sister’s farm near Port Macquarie. His mother died when he was 19 or 20 and may have been ill during his teenage years.

The family story, never discussed with John, was that he was the child of a young girl who worked in a greengrocer's shop and that either she was Greek or the father was Greek.  The next generation, more recently mused that maybe he was the son of one of the older girls who were 18 and 16 at the time of his birth.  This scenario was not unusual in those days. In fact, until the 70s, many young people found out that their oldest sister was really their mother.

John grew up, married, and had two children. He was marketing manager for Sidchrome Australia.  Prior to that he worked with his oldest brother Percy at his spare parts business at Enmore and had served an apprenticeship with the NSW Railways.

He never discussed his parentage.  In fact, when his brother Herbert John (Bert) Moxon was in his early 80s and showing signs of dementia, John knocked on his door and door and Bert said “who are you? Oh, you’re the young boy my mother took in!”.  The rest of the family was aghast.  It certainly was a conversation stopper.

However lacking in curiosity John was, his daughter was the opposite.  She wanted to know her origins.  She asked her father to take a DNA test but he adamantly refused.  She asked me what she could do.  I suggested that she take a test and maybe she could get some answers.  Not as good as having her father test, but better than nothing. 

When the results arrived, her DNA showed she was 25% Greek, so either her paternal grandfather or grandmother was definitely Greek but probably not both of them.  She had been told about a possible father with a Greek name by one of her older cousins and I found (in the electoral roll) that there was a fruitier working in the Haymarket, near where Ellen Moxon’s family lived in the early 20s. He later married and moved to Western Australia.

The next objective was to check whether she was related to her Moxon cousins.  She had been very close to some of them including her oldest cousin who set us on the family history journey in the 80s.  We held our breath waiting for a match between her and John Bruce Moxon (Bert’s son)  or one of the few Moxon first cousins who had taken a test.  These included the daughter, Wendy of the oldest sister.

There were no matches.

This was sad.  His daughter was their popular cousin.  But it ruled out one of the Moxon girls being his mother.

Nevertheless, John Moxon was a dearly loved member of the Moxon family.  Since retirement, John Bruce Moxon and I have had lunch with him regularly at his local club.  In recent years he had been admitted to a residential care facility in the inner west but was still fairly mobile.  He passed away on 2nd February this year.

The photo above was taken at John’s 80th birthday party in October 2018. The other John Moxon is John’s second cousin from Orange, New South Wales.  It was the first time that the three John Moxons had met.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

T is for Thomas Moxham

Sixpenny Handley, Dorset
Many of our Moxon Society members have been introduced to each other when travelling overseas or have become friendly through Facebook, and this contributes to collaboration on research. It is always a delight when members on different sides of the world solve a problem with a newly discovered Moxon, Moxam, Moxim or Moxham. It’s even better when we can connect a new member – in this case Mary Moxham, originally from Sydney but now living in Queensland – to the research.

Member Philip Lord from the UK recently sent me a portrait of a World War 1 soldier.  His name was Frederick Moxham.

I quickly found that he was from South Australia and that his parents were Thomas Moxam/Moxham and Mary Ann Brooks who were listed in our tree The Moxhams of Ebbesbourne Wake, Wiltshire or MX37.  This tree has many living descendants spread around the English-speaking world.

So, Thomas, although born in Dorset, must have emigrated to Australia.  And indeed he did.

The Adelaide Register announced the arrival on 28th November 1859 of the David McIvor, a ship of 968 tons, with 383 government (sponsored) immigrants.  The ship had left Liverpool on 27th August. One of these passengers was Thomas Moxham from Dorset, England.

Here is an excerpt from the South Australian Register, describing the passengers:

"There are on board a large number of remittance emigrants; and as Dr. Duncan will probably have paid his visit of inspection to the vessel before she is moored in the stream, such as have friends may then leave without obstacle: - Industrial - Labourers 72, agricultural labourers 41, female servants 85, cabinetmakers 2, carpenter 1, bricklayer 1, miner 1, clerk 1, tailor 1, joiner 1, masons 4, ropemaker 1, teacher 1, smith 1, shepherd 1, moulder 1, wheelwright 1, coach builder 1, tinsmiths 3, ploughman 1, milliner 1, dairymaid 5..."

"In general appearance the vessel would seem admirably adapted for passengers; but on boarding, it was evident that there was rather a lack of that rigid discipline so necessary to the well-being of emigrant vessels, and in cleanliness perhaps a little behind many of the previous arrivals.  The people on board, though doubtless eligible persons, from the very fact of their having passed the Commissioners, certainly did not appear to be anything superior, if equal, to the occupants of former vessels, and of their conduct on the voyage it appears that at one period matters wore rather a serious aspect, from the national strifes existing amongst them ..." (29 November 1859)

Young Thomas Moxham was born in 1833 in Sixpenny Handley, Dorset, the youngest son of Henry Moxam and Sarah Elliott.  By 1841 he was the only son left at home with his parents, and in 1851 he was a junior servant working for a farmer of 600 acres employing 20 men in West Woodyates within walking distance of his home.

Aged 26 when he arrived in Adelaide, no doubt he was a useful farm labourer.  By 1863 he had married 16 years old Mary Ann Brooks and they settled in Myponga south of Adelaide and later in the Lobenthal region northwest of Adelaide, followed by Norton Summit, closer to Adelaide.  He died in Catherine Street, K) in 1909.

Three of his sons - William Thomas (b1873), John (b1875) and Frederick (b1883) served overseas in World War 1.  Two survived to produce children and grandchildren in South Australia but John died in Pozieres, France on August 10, 1916.

Ten years earlier than Thomas Moxham's migration to Adelaide, his oldest brother John Moxham had migrated to New South Wales and settled in the Maitland area.  He was the John Moxon/Moxham whose biography was published in the Moxons Down Under Newsletter, November 2016.  He arrived on the Emigrant in 1849 as a free settler.  He had married Marina Derrick in Sixpenny Handley just before they departed for the colony.  All their children were born in New South Wales.

This couple too had many children, and their descendants include our member Mary Moxham of Queensland.  Mary is an enthusiastic member who has already taken on guardianship of MX37 in association with other members.