Arthur Shortland and Frances Milbah Polle

Arthur Shortland was one of 12 children born to Richard and Eliza Shortland.  Further information about Richard and Eliza can be found below.

The information below was give to me by Linden Kilby who is the great great grandson of Arthur Shortland and Frances Polle.

Arthur Shortland  Frances Shortland.

Linden told me:

The details you have provided about Richard Shortland pretty much match with the details of what I know about him. He was in the army and stayed on in Australia. He ran a successful freight operation in Sydney, his company would transport goods by dray from the ships in Circular Quay to the warehouses in the city from what I know.

Eventually, as the younger generations took over, the business was forced to fold. However, the children didn’t do too badly either. I believe one was a judge and another owned a music shop.

My great great grandfather was Arthur Shortland. He was born in Sydney on 10 February 1867 and he was married to Frances Polle who was born on 29 February 1868 in Redfern. They married on 23 April 1900 at St. James Church, Sydney. Arthur died in Turramurra on 21 June 1945 and Frances in Hornsby on 30 August 1955.

The Shortlands were not a close family, so not all that much is known about them. For Frances this would have been a big difference, because the Polles were a very close family. It is known that Arthur was a quiet man whose occupation was a draftsman – he was listed as a Government Official on the Electoral Rolls..

Arthur and Frances had three children, Milbah born in 1901, Arthur born in 1902  and Elma born in 1909. Milbah was the family member who everyone admired, for she won honours at Sydney Girls’ High and completed two University degrees. She matriculated with honours, graduated BA, Dip. Ed. from Sydney University and entered teaching at Cootamundra. Stan and Milbah had five children. In order of birth they were Helen, born 1927, Ruth, born 1928, Stanislaus, born 1930, Patricia, born 1931 and Denis, born 1936.

Arthur and  Frances were reasonably wealthy and when Stan Riley married Milbah, the wedding was held in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.  Milbah was forced to resign from teaching at this time as married women were not employed  in those days. However, during world war two, with most men at the war, women were re-employed. She became a French teacher at Cooks Hill High School (Newcastle), then Wollongong.

At age 80, Milbah became interested in music and because she couldn’t understand the names or lyrics of German Classical songs, learnt German and in one year was conversing and corresponding fluently with German nationals.

At age 82, Milbah was diagnosed with stomach cancer and rather than die a slow, painful death, she starved herself to death. She died peacefully at home with all her children in attendance.

A brilliant woman, who due to the customs of her time who never reached her full potential.

 

Pam Taylor (nee Shortland)

Pam Shortland is the daughter of Percy Douglas Shortland. Percy was born in 1880 and married Edith Ramsay in 1919. The couple had three children, Pam, John and Judith. Percy died in 1954 and is buried in Rookwood cemetery, Sydney.

Pam’s grandparents were John Shortland and Louisa Douglass who were married in Richmond, New South Wales in 1878. John is thought to have been the fourth son of Richard Shortland who came to Australia from England in 1841 and married Eliza Butts.

Pam told me:

‘Eliza Butts came from England when the spinning industry went bankrupt and proceeded to have I am told 12 children. Richard must have worked hard because he succeeded in buying up many houses and hotels which he left to his children although the girls seem to have been provided with money. The story I heard was John raised his family on the rent he collected from his houses. Richard died in 1887 or there abouts. The family talked about these aunts and uncles but I can’t remember meeting them.’

‘After a fair amount of research I haven’t been able to go much further except to discover Richard’s father was the eldest of the family and he joined the army when his father died at quite a young age leaving a number of dependant children. His father was also called Richard and Richard’s wife was Mary. I cannot recall her surname.’

Stories about both Richard and Eliza can be found on this website.

Shortland shoemakers

In papers given to me by my great aunt Dorothy, she noted that John Shortland (the brother of my great great grandfather William Shortland) had started a shoe firm in Irthinglingborough, Northamptonshire, so I set out to investigate.

I had always known that Northamptonshire was famous for making shoes and boots and that it was likely my ancestors had been involved but I never expected to find them involved to the extent I did.

Information about the firm Dorothy referred to was initially located on The Rushden Heritage website which indicated the firm was actually started by John’s father, also called William.

In 1875 the late Mr. William Shortland left his native Harrowden to seek work in the trade at Irthling-borough where he soon established himself and was one of the first to install a sewing and stitching machine. In 1891 he built the Tower factory where he and his sons, John and James, made shoes for the wholesale market. Eventually, John Shortland started business on his own account and in 1899 founded the Express Works, which during the past 59 years have been extended many times. On his death in 1934 the management passed into the hands of his son, Mr. Hugh Shortland. The development of the well-known “Wearra” fitting system, covering slim, medium and broad fittings in men’s, women’s and youths’, started in 1936.

Information about John Shortland Ltd was located on the National Archives website and about information about William and John Shortland on the Grace’s guide website where I discovered a large selection of adverts for William Shortland, John Shortland and Wearra Shoes.

I subsequently contacted the Irthlingborough History Society and Roy York and Philip Watts told me about Wearra shoes and the Express Works factory where the shoes were made.

The Shortland family I was told were ‘very important in the town employing many local people and Hugh Shortland’s name appears on the foundation stone of the local Methodist church. The hall, coincidentally, is where the history society holds it’s meetings. A reproduction of the giant plaque, on the now demolished Express Shoe factory, is being placed on the buildings of the new development being built at the moment on the large site in the centre of the town next to St. Peter’s church.’

The society also kindly sent me the photos that appear below which show William and John, photo three is believed to be James (John’s brother) and Hugh Shortland.

They also told me about a book titled ‘Clicking to Closing’ which contains information and memories about the work of my ancestors and it was lovely to read about the contribution they had made to the town and also to read they didn’t just run a successful business but appeared to care about the welfare of their staff too, boasting the axiom ‘The best use you can make of surplus profits is to invest them in the welfare of your employees’. In a strange coincidence, the book was printed and bound in the premises formally occupied by John Shortland Ltd – The Express Works in Church Street.

Sadly, the firm, which had become known as David Scott Shoes and was one of Irthlingborough’s largest employers, closed in 1982 with the loss of 320 jobs and today not one shoe manufacturer remains in Irthlingborough – in October 2002 R Griggs Ltd announced that production of Dr Martens in the town would cease, bringing to end, an industry with which the town had been associated for many hundreds of years. I feel incredibly fortunate however to have discovered such a wealth of information about my ancestors and the work they did and to be have been able to gather it here for my family and others to learn about them too.

More photos

Richard Shortland and Eliza Shortland (nee Butts)

I learned about Richard and Eliza after reading through papers given to me by my great aunt Dorothy. Richard it seemed was born in Northamptonshire around 1824 and Dorothy had noted that he had traveled to Australia with the 51st regiment of the British army around 1841, living there until he died in Sydney in 1887.  Further information about the regiment can be found below.

I wanted to learn about Richard and Eliza as it seemed learning about them, may lead me to learn more about the story I have been told, that my family is descended from Lieutenant John Shortland. I have now amassed quite a bit of information which is published here, however, to date, I have only found contrary reports about Richard’s relationship to Lieutenant John.

Dorothy’s papers seem to indicate that Richard was the brother of my great great great grandfather John Shortland, along with three other brothers, named Thomas, William and Henry.  The papers included a birth certificate from 1858 for Richard’s son Joseph (on this Richard is shown to be a Dray Proprietor) and a note, handwritten by Dorothy, which detailed a memorial, showing that Richard died aged 64 in 1887 leaving a wife and 12 children:

  • William Henry
    (born Armidale, New South Wales 1849, married in Camden 17/9/1872 at St. Johns Church, occupation  – Writing Clerk
  • Mary A. (1850)
  • Richard (1852)
  • John (1854)
  • Eliza (1855)
  • Joseph B (1858)
  • George T (1860)
  • Robert A. (1862)
  • Alice (1864)
  • Arthur (1867)
  • Emily (1869)
  • Martha L. (1873)

I believe that prior to marrying Eliza, Richard was married to Anne. A search of the Find My Past website has found that Richard Shortland married Anne Keenan on 2 September 1844 in Sydney, Australia.

Searching for further information, I found the hand written note matched an entry on the Ancestry UK website and this enabled me to locate both the death index, (which names Richard’s parents as Richard and Mary) and details of the grave in Rookwood Cemetery, New South Wales.

Grant Skinner at the cemetery kindly sent me the photos that appear here – these not only showed the grave that Dorothy wrote about but also that other family members were buried in the same place.

Grant advised ‘The rear of the memorial (photo 0348) is all blank with the three x other faces having multiple inscriptions and the plots appear to be over four or five sites wide. It appears that a wrought iron fence of some description has been removed from the kerb set of the memorial some time ago based on the patches in the sandstone, but the memorial itself is in rather good condition given its age with a bit of the kerb set sunk into a slight depression towards the front of the site, but nothing of any great concern’. Death notices for Richard can be found below.

Grave of Richard and Eliza Shortland

However, on studying the photos, I noted that another Richard is recorded. The younger Richard died 24 April 1933 aged 80 years.

I searched the National Library of Australia website and have I believe found newspaper articles relating to the latter and his wife. The articles about Richard state he was a descendant of Lieutenant Shortland and a grand or great grand nephew of Rear-Admiral Shortland, of the Imperial Navy.  The articles also provide detail of the work he did, stating ‘He was principal of the firm of Shortland and Sons who, in the early days of Sydney, were contract carriers for most of the city firms; he retired from business at the outbreak of war in 1914.’

Richard

Martha

However, I am also in possession of a document, re-produced below,  which states the  relationship to Lieutenant John has been proved to be untrue and that Eliza invented the story.  Could Eliza have made the story up? I am keeping an open mind but for my money, in light of the newspaper articles, I would like to know how the story has been disproved before reaching my conclusion.

The Wheelers of Camden (page one)

The Wheelers of Camden (page two)

More photos

My Shortland ancestors

My Shortland ancestors originate from Northamptonshire. My great grandmother, Louisa Jane Shortland and my great great grandfather William Shortland were born in Weedon and my great great great grandfather, John Shortland was born in Flore.

Information about the name Shortland can be found on the Find My Past website below.

I have been able to trace my Shortland ancestors through census returns.  The 1881 census shows Louisa Jane, living in Weedon, aged three, with her father William (a widower) and his sister Emily, also Louisa’s brother Ernest and their grandparents.  The 1891 census shows Louisa is still at home with William in Weedon but he is now married to Alis and there is is a daughter Bessie. In 1901, Louisa is still in Weedon but now working as a parlour maid.

By 1911, Louisa has married my great grandfather Albert Edward William Clarke, a police sergeant and they are living together at Factory Row Police Station, Pottersbury.  Their two eldest children, Dorothy and  Edward who died aged four in October 1911,  are also shown, together with a visitor, Cecilia E Glenn, a certified midwife. The 1911 census doesn’t appear to coincide with the births of any of Louisa’s children that I can see but my father believes Louisa had a number of miscarriages, so that could be the reason.

It has also been possible to keep track of Louisa’s father William. In 1861 he is aged seven, living in Weedon with his parents John and Jane and siblings, Henry (recorded as an invalid), Richard, Sarah and Emily. In 1871 he is aged 17 and still living with his parents and sister Emily and but in 1881, William is recorded as a widower, living with his parents and sister, and his children Louisa and Ernest.  He remains a resident of Weedon on both the 1891 and 1901 censuses.

The census returns also show my great great grandfather John Shortland – aged 36 in 1851, he is married to Jane and living with children John, Richard, Sarah and Mary.  In 1861 William and another daughter, named Emily appear and Louisa Jane and her brother Ernest show on the 1881 census too.

The naval Shortlands

Shortland is the surname of a British naval family, members of which served in Australia and New Zealand during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Since I was young, I remember being told that my family are descendants of Lieutenant John Shortland, who discovered the first coal in Australia whilst taking prisoners to Botany Bay and also discovered and named the Hunter River.

I have a collection of  photographs, cuttings and notes about the Shortland family from by great aunt Dorothy, both my direct ancestors and the naval Shortlands. Slowly I am gathering my own collection of information which seems to point to there being some truth in the story I have been told.

The photo below was given to me by my great aunt Dorothy. It was taken in 1947 and shows the re-enactment of the landing of Lieutenant John Shortland in New South Wales in 1797.

shortland-reenactment

The re-enactment was part of two months of celebrations which included a special issue of stamps, however the stamps showed the image of the wrong Lieutenant John Shortland.

Further information

More photos

 

The Shortland family

Below are some of the stories I know about my Shortland ancestors.