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From: Stephen Hayes
To: All
Date: 2005-08-18 06:55:08
Subject: DAWSON / FRANCIS, Australia & South Africa

* Forwarded (from: GENEALOGY_FMY) by Stephen Hayes using timEd/2 1.10.y2k.
* Originally from Steve Hayes (8:8/2003) to All.
* Original dated: Wed Aug 17, 21:44

From: Steve Hayes <hayesmstw{at}>

Here are a few family history mysteries that may be linked, and
link four continents: Australia, Southern Africa, North America
and Europe,

I was following up a reference to J.R.M. Watson in Shelagh Spen-
cer's "British Settlers in Natal" when I came across a
tantalising clue to a mystery in my wife's family history.

According to Spencer J.R.M. Watson cited his wife's adultery with
Alfred Dawson of Pinetown in his divorce case against her in
Natal in 1860. My interest in J.R.M. Watson is incidental - his
daughter eloped from Ladysmith with a relative of my wife's and
he was a business partner of my great great grandfather, Richard
Vause, in 1852.

What was interesting was that Alfred Francis Dawson also went by
the alias of Alfred Dawson Francis. Apparently his real name was
Francis, but he was known as Dawson to the people of Durban when
he lived there in the early 1850s. His wife Octavia was drowned
in a boating accident in Durban Bay in May 1852, and after August
1852 no more was heard of Alfred Dawson in Natal. In August 1852
a Mr Francis apparently sailed for Algoa Bay with two children in
that month.

The Dawson/Francis connection rang a bell for me, and I wondered
whether there was any connection with the following:

Family Group Report
For: Alfred John Dawson Francis  (ID=  945)
Date Prepared: 18 Aug 2005

NAME: FRANCIS, Alfred John Dawson, Born ??? 1820? in Liverpool,
  England, Died 5 Mar 1864 in Sydney, NSW at age 44; Source:
  death date - family tree sent by Bob Cowley

MARRIED 9 Jan 1858 in Gundary, NSW, to GREEN, Margaret Agnes Ann,
  Born 8 Dec 1835 in Nova Scotia, Died 26 Dec 1902 in
  Marrickville, NSW, AUS at age 67; FATHER: GREEN, William John
  (Goodall), Born 28 Aug 1790, Died 9 Apr 1866 at age 75;
  MOTHER: GRAY, Margaret, Born 18 May 1795, Died 11 May 1844? at
  age 48; Witness: Dean Francis. He was a widower, she a widow,
  both of Bodalla.

 1. F  FRANCIS, Ada Anne Angeline Fairfax, born 10 Mar 1859 in
       Bodalla, NSW, AUS, died 9 Nov 1938 in Ashfield, NSW, AUS;
       Married 1 Aug 1894 to WHITE, William
 2. M  FRANCIS, Arthur Walpole, born 7 Jan 1861 in Moruya, NSW,
       died 8 May 1921 in Mariental Dist. SWA; Married 2 Nov
       1887 to DONOVAN, Ida Miranda Willoughby; 3 children
 3. F  FRANCIS, Edith Lilian, born 20 Aug 1862 in Yarragee, NSW,
       died 13 Oct 1926 in Melbourne, Vic. Aust.; Married 10 Oct
       1885 to BRIDGES, William Throsby; 7 children
 4. F  FRANCIS, Louisa, born 3 Nov 1864 in Queanbeyan, NSW, died
       18 Mar 1943 in Tenterfield, NSW; Married 24 Dec 1883 to
       COWLEY, Percy; 10 children

Margaret Agnes Ann GREEN (generally known as Agnes) was the
sister of my wife's great great grandfather, Frederick Thomas
GREEN, a hunter, trader and partisan leader in what is now
Namibia. Their brother Henry was at one time British Resident of
the Orange River Sovereignty. The GREEN family came to southern
Africa from Canada in the 1840s. Margaret Agnes Ann married a
William Wilson, possibly in Cape Town about 1852, and shortly
thereafter moved to New South Wales. William Wilson was drowned
in the Tuross River, about April 1856, and in 1858 she married
Alfred John Dawson FRANCIS, a widower. She had four children by
him, and he committed suicide in 1864.

As a widow for the second time she found it difficult to make
ends meet, and sent one of her daughters, Caroline WILSON to her
brother Edward in New Zealand, and another, Edith Lilian FRANCIS
was adopted by the McLeod family, and the youngest, Louisa FRAN-
CIS, was adopted by Captain Battye, who may have been her father.
Margaret Agnes Ann FRANCIS ran a school at Queanbeyan for a
while. then later married William THWAITES in Sydney (bigamously,
as it turned out). After the birth of four children to him, she
married him again in Adelaide after his first wife died.

There are several queries here, including:

  1 Was the Alfred John Dawson FRANCIS who married Margaret Agnes
    Ann WILSON the same person as the Alfred Francis DAWSON who
    was in Natal in the early 1850s?

  2 Where and when did Margaret Agnes Ann GREEN marry William

  3 Where and when did Margaret Agnes Ann GREEN meet Alfred John
    Dawson FRANCIS?

  4 Why did Alfred John Dawson FRANCIS commit suicide in 1864?
    Was he living apart from his wife then? Are there Australian
    newspaper of the time that might have information about this,
    such as reports of his suicide?

  5 How many times did Alfred John Dawson FRANCIS marry? When and
    to whom?

There are hints in Shelagh Spencer's biography that Alfred DAWSON
may have married bigamously. His children, with the surname FRAN-
CIS, arrived in Natal after he and his wife did, and were too old
for her to have given birth to them. Could he have left a wife in
Cape Town, and changed his name and eloped with the wife he had
in Durban?

And his adultery with the wife of JRM Watson had a sequel -- not
only did her daughter elope with Frederick William BENINGFIELD,
but at the same time she herself eloped to the Free State with
*her* lover, which seemed to be what finally prompted JRM Watson
to divorce her.

Can anyone suggest any sources in South Africa, Australia or
elsewhere, which might help to trace these somewhat tangled

Steve Hayes
E-mail: hayesmstw{at} (see web page if it doesn't work)
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