Geelong Infirmary and WDYTYA

Records of the Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum were a crucial source used for the Who Do You Think You Are episode featuring Grant Denyer on 13 July 2021.

But, if you watched that episode you won’t have heard any mention of the Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum, or anything to do with a hospital.  So why do I say it was a crucial source?

In fairness to Who Do You Think You Are this could NOT have been explained as part of that episode – it would have been totally boring television.

In fairness to Family Historians, these are records you need to look at for your own ancestors!

Regardless of whether you are in COVID lockdown or living with no restrictions – these records I’m about to describe are available online and free.

GEELONG INFIRMARY and BENEVOLENT ASYLUM ANNUAL REPORTS 1852-1922

At first glance these Annual Reports seem pretty innocuous, mainly because they don’t list any patients and don’t appear terribly useful, BUT that is because people don’t understand just what information they are providing.  These Annual Reports include lots of names of subscribers – and these are the key if you read on and understand how they can help.

The key to this is the problem I was trying to solve for Grant’s ROSS family – where were they for about 20 years after they left Geelong?  And the background question – how did they earn enough money to purchase their own land at Tragowel in northern Victoria?

And the solution is – UNDERSTAND what is shown in the Annual Reports!

The Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum ran a ‘Medicare’ type scheme – people – employers and employees contributed an amount annually to give them access to the Geelong Infirmary (Hospital).  These people were called subscribers.  In the Annual Reports there are individual lists of subscribers as well as lists grouped under Employers, and Country Lists with employees grouped under the property where they worked.

If you check each Annual Report meticulously you can track your ancestor around Geelong and the Western Districts.  This sort of detail is not available anywhere else!

Read the Documents to understand how this worked – the BYE-LAWS and the REGULATIONS.

This table shows you how I proved beyond doubt that William ROSS and his family were residing at Barunah Plains Station (aka The Plains Station) from c.1857 (the year before he was first listed) until 1876 – approximately 20 years.

 

Annual Report Year PERSON / COUNTRY LISTS AMOUNT / LEVEL COMMENT
1855 No ROSS entries No entry for The Plains / Barunah
1856 No ROSS entries No entry for The Plains / Barunah
1857 No ROSS entries No entry for The Plains / Barunah
1858 T RUSSELL &Co

James KINNINMONTH

William ROSS

 

Owner – £10.0.0

1st group – 1 person – £3.0.0

5th group – 9 people – 5/- each

6th group – 1 person – 2/6

The Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1859 William ROSS *

 

£ 2.2.0

 

No separate entry for The Plains / Barunah
1860 William ROSS *

 

£ 2.2.0

We knew William ROSS & Family were at Barunah Plains in 1860 **

No separate entry for The Plains / Barunah
1860 T RUSSELL &Co

James KINNINMONTH

William ROSS

Hugh ROSS ***

Owner – £15.0.0

1st group – 1 person – £2.0.0

2nd group – 1 person – £0.12.6

4th group – 10 people – 5/-

The Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1861 Wm ROSS *

James KINNINMONTH *

£ 1.10.0

£ 10.0.0

No separate entry for The Plains / Barunah
1862 T RUSSELL &Co

William ROSS

Hugh ROSS ***

 

Owner – £10.0.0

3rd group – 23 people – 5/- each

”     ”     ”     ”

4th group – 15 people – 2/6 each

Owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1863 T RUSSELL &Co

James KINNINMONTH

William ROSS

 

Owner – £10.0.0

1st group – 1 person – £2.0.0

5th group – 12 people – 5/- each

 

Owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1864 T RUSSELL &Co

William ROSS

 

Owner – £10.0.0

3rd group – 12 people – 5/- each

 

The Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1865 T RUSSELL &Co

William ROSS

 

Owner – £10.0.0

3rd group – 9 people – 5/- each

 

The Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1866 T RUSSELL &Co

William ROSS

 

Owner – £10.0.0

3rd group – 18 people – 5/- each

 

The Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1867 T RUSSELL &Co

William ROSS

 

Owner – £10.0.0

3rd group – 13 people – 5/- each

 

The Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1868 T RUSSELL &Co

William ROSS

 

Owner – £10.0.0

3rd group – 13 people – 5/- each

 

The Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1869 T RUSSELL &Co

William ROSS sen

William ROSS jun ****

Owner – £10.0.0

3rd group – 9 people – 5/- each

”     ”     ”     “

The Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1870 T RUSSELL &Co

James KININMONTH

William ROSS

Owner – £10.0.0

1st group – 1 person – £ 5.2.6

2nd group – 9 people – 5/- each

Barunah Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1871 T RUSSELL &Co

James KININMONTH

William ROSS

Owner – £10.0.0

1st group – 1 person – £ 5.2.6

2nd group – 9 people – 5/- each

Barunah Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1872 T RUSSELL &Co

James KININMONTH

William ROSS

Owner – £10.0.0

1st group – 1 person – £ 5.0.0

2nd group – 9 people – 5/- each

Barunah Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1873 T RUSSELL &Co

William ROSS

Owner – £10.0.0

2nd group – 13 people – 5/- each

Barunah Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1874 No entry for The Plains / Barunah
1875 T RUSSELL &Co

William ROSS

Owner – £10.0.0

2nd group – 8 people – 5/- each

Barunah Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1876 T RUSSELL &Co

James KININMONTH

William ROSS

Owner – £10.0.0

1st group – 3 people – £ 5.0.0

2nd group – 11 people – 5/- each

Barunah Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co
1877 No entry for William ROSS Barunah Plains – owner Thomas RUSSELL & Co

 

*             Individual Subscriber List

**          10 July 1860 Marriage Certificate for Isabella ROSS, daughter of William and Ann ROSS – took place at The Plains Station.                   The bride resided at The Plains at the time of her marriage and her father was listed as a Shepherd.

***        Hugh ROSS – oldest son of William and Ann ROSS – born 1841

****       William ROSS jun – youngest son of William and Ann ROSS – born 1846


These documents can be accessed and downloaded at http://zades.com.au/gandd/index.php/geelong/people/gdghosp

Don’t forget to read the BYE-LAWS and REGULATIONS – useful for details on subscribers and exceptionally useful if you had ancestors / family working at the Infirmary or Benevolent Asylum.

As a quick start, a number of the Annual Reports have been indexed and included in my Geelong and District database at http://zades.com.au/gandd/index.php/databases/gddbs

If you think you might have found a subscriber from your family, then check ALL Annual Reports before and after the year you found to produce a table similar to the one on William ROSS and his family above.

Pay particular attention to the AMOUNT paid and the LEVEL / GROUPING which may indicate a more senior position in the organisation / on the property.

As indicated above, James KININMONTH, overseer at Barunah Plains, was obviously close to the ROSS family.  He was a witness at William ROSS’s daughter Isabella’s wedding, and more importantly he was a Mortagee when the family purchased land at Tragowel – he lent them the money to set themselves up for the future!

These records also demonstrate the value of LOCAL KNOWLEDGE and LOCAL RECORDS.

I will do a separate blog on some other extraordinary records for the Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum – also available online via Geelong Family History Group (paid) Research Options.

  1. Patrice Morrow

    Thank you so much for this Suzie. You did a great job. I am really interested in these records and hope I hit pay dirt. Love your blogs etc. so helpful.

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