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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Land Records: Finding the Bennetts in Bung Bong

In order to order land records for my ancestors, I first need to find out if they actually had any land, and exactly where it was located. In many cases probate and administration papers provide the details. When if came to my Bennett family I didn’t have that information, but I have been able to identify their land with enough confidence that I have ordered copies of the records.

There are gaps in my information about my great-great grandfather James Bennett. I only confirmed his parents to my satisfaction last year, but I still haven’t found a marriage record for him and my great-great grandmother, Catherine Lucy Darcy, nor any record relating to his death. As he was born in 1831, I’m pretty sure he’d be dead by now!

Until recently, the only clue I had that my Bennett family lived at Bung Bong – that this was a place likely to be of interest to me - was a place abbreviation of “BUNG” on the birth index entry for one of James Bennett’s grandchildren. Other places have appeared to be far more closely connected to the family.

The Amherst hospital records I viewed last year confirmed that James Bennett’s parents were who I thought they might be and also showed his family living at Bung Bong through the 1880s.

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The next clue to the land records was found in the Genealogical Society of Victoria’s Genealogical Names Index (GIN). If you are researching people in Victoria I highly recommend signing up to take advantage of the members only index, which in some cases even includes digitised records!

The GIN showed that there were several listings in the Victoria Government Gazette regarding the land holdings in Bung Bong of people named Bennett. The trouble was that although knew that my Bennetts had lived there, I could also see Bennetts who were not part of my family with land at Bung Bong.

It was only when I finally looked at the parish plan that I felt confident I had the right family and could pick out the relevant file references. The Bennetts I thought might be “mine” had plots adjoining one another, the other Bennetts were located elsewhere on the map.

I’m very curious about the contents of these land records and would wait by my letterbox on Monday for the records to arrive (or at least keep an ear out for the postman), if only I didn’t have to go to work!

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