Charles Kercher was born in 1830 in Overton, Hampshire.  He was baptised on 14 March, the baseborn son of Frances Kercher.  Frances Kercher married Joseph Beale just two months later, so I can only assume he is the father.  We’ll never really know.

Overton is a large village to the west of Basingstoke.  The region has been inhabited for thousands of years but the village developed about the 10th century.  The river Test runs through it.  Alongside the river were corn, fulling and silk mills.  The region was primarily agricultural.

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Overton was involved in the Swing Riots.  In November 1830 there was rioting in the village as agricultural labourers demanded money, food and higher wages, so it was not an easy time.  Joseph Beale, a labourer, may well have been one of the rioters.

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By 1841, Frances had had another six children, so she had seven children under the age of 12 by the time of the census.  Charles’ surname is listed as Beale, along with the other children (four boys and two girls).  The family lived next door to Frances’ brother, Charles, and his family in Bridge Street.  The street is full of agricultural labourers.

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Google streetview of Bridge Street

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Bridge Street in 1915

Charles’ mother died in 1844, so Joseph was left to bring up six children (another had been born in 1842).  Charles appears to have kept the Beale surname and in 1851 was listed as a railroad labourer in Southington.  In the same area lived widow, Sarah Grunsell, with her youngest son.  Sarah Grunsell’s daughter, Mary, must have met Charles several times.

They married on 5 June 1852 at the parish church in Overton.

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St Mary’s church, dating to the 12th century

Interestingly, on the marriage certificate, Charles now called himself Charles Kercher, but listed his father as Joseph Beale.  The witnesses are not family members.

Mary was heavily pregnant and gave birth to their first child, Elizabeth, in July 1852.  In 1854, a boy, Charles, was born, then in 1856 another boy, George.  George died as an infant.  In 1858 another boy, William, was born.

Mary’s brother, Thomas, had emigrated to Australia with his wife in 1853.  There must have been some correspondence, Thomas encouraging his sister and family to join them.  He paid £15 for their passage over.  So on 18 March 1859, Charles, Mary and their three children boarded the “Queen of England” at Liverpool and sailed for Sydney.  The passage took just under four months, but, sadly, William died on the journey.  He was one of four that died on the voyage.  The ship arrived in Sydney on 8 July 1859.

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Thomas Grunsell was living in the Goulburn/Tirrannaville area, so that’s where the family headed.

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Charles and Mary’s next child, Arthur, was born in Goulburn, NSW in 1860.  The next five children (one girl, four boys) born between 1861 and 1870, were born in Tirannaville just to the south of Goulburn.  Charles became a gardener to Mrs Gibson at Tiranna House.

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Tiranna House in 1865

I have no other information for Charles other than his tragic death on 25 March 1871.  He died of strychnine poisoning.  The verdict was suicide but there’s no evidence that he wished to kill himself.

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Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March 1871

What’s weird is that it seems to have been the way to end one’s life in Tiranna:

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Sydney Morning Herald, 1859

Strychnine was used for pest control, but it’s a horrible way to die.

That left Mary with six children under 12 to care for.  Her two eldest were near enough to adults so could help out.  I turn to Mary next.

 

 

Sources: wikipedia; family archives; overtonparishcouncil.gov.uk; Google; overtonpictures.com; powerhousemuseum.com; Trove

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