(last updated 20 September 2022)
Edward Albert (Ted or Taffy) Williams (1902-unknown) was born at Barry, a town on the north coast of the Bristol Channel and within the Vale of Glamorgan in Wales. His parents were Watkin Thomas Williams and Frances Mary (Fanny) Phillips who were married in the Newport registration district of Monmouthshire in 1894. At the time of the 1901 census Watkin, a 30 year-old dock coal weigher who was born at Aberdare in Glamorgan, and Fanny (29, Caerphilly near Cardiff) were living at 52 Trinity Street in Barry along with their daughter, Rachel Williams (aged 5 and born at Llanbradach near Caerphilly). On 29 April of that year, the Barry Herald reported the death of 'Rachel Annie, daughter of Mr Watkin Thomas Williams, coal tipper, aged five years'. The death notices in the Barry Dock News showed that two of Rachel's younger siblings had already died: Kate Mary, aged four months, in 1889 and Rowland Thomas Williams, aged two months, in 1890. The 1911 census has the nine year-old 'Eddie' Williams living at 42 Tyminor Avenue in Blaengwawr in Aberdare with his parents and three younger siblings: Dorothy (5 years old and born at Newport in Monmouth), Maggie (2, Newport) and Violet Williams (1, Blaengwawr, Glamorgan). The census return states Watkin and Fanny had been married 17 years and had four children still living. His descendants believe that when he was around 14 years of age, Edward ran away from home and subsequently emigrated to Australia. Coincidental or not, Edward's decision to abscond occurred around the time his father appeared in the Bridge End Police Court charged with assaulting a supervisor at his work. As reported in an article entitled "Setting About Him" contained in The Glamorgan Gazette on 2 August 1918:
Harold Crispin . . . railway servant, summoned Watkin Thomas Williams . . . colliery traffic weigher, for alleged assault, on June 25th. Mr Arthur Vachell, for the prosecution, said the man assaulted was a colliery examiner. On the day in question he was on duty at the G.W.R. Colliery sidings at Blaengarw, and discovered that somebody hadremoved the label from a truck. He then went and asked defendant if he had removed the label, and he denied it, and after a few words "set about" complainant, struck him on the jaw, and threw him out of the door. Defendant, who alleged aggravation, which the Chairman pointed out was no excuse, was fined £1 for the assault.
After arriving in Australia Edward made his way to Newcastle in New South Wales where he worked as a labourer, miner and, after obtaining his foreman's certificate, a fireman at the Burlington Mills in Rutherford near Maitland. While in Newcastle Edward also met his future wife, Nellie Mitchell (1902-63), who was working at the Stockton library. Born at Dargaville in New Zealand's North Island, Nellie was the youngest daughter of two Australians, Colin Mitchell (1869-1922) and Agnes Emily Lane (1875-1958), who were married at Newcastle in 1892 and lived in New Zealand from around 1896 until the early 1920s when they returned to Australia. Click here to read more about Nellie's family and forebears.
Both taken at Dargaville in New Zealand, the photo on the left is of Colin and Agnes Emily Mitchell nee Lane and their family
(Nellie is standing in the middle). The one on the right is of Ilma and Nellie Mitchell.
Edward Williams - shown in the photo on the left - and Nellie Mitchell were married at the District Registrar's Office at Hamilton in Newcastle on 4 October 1927. Their wedding certificate shows Edward was a 25 year-old bachelor who was born at Barry in England, the son of Watkin Williams (deceased clerk) and Frances Phillips. He was then residing at Cardiff in Newcastle and working as a labourer. Nellie was also 25, working as a domestic servant and living at Hamilton. The certificate was witnessed by C. A. Davies and A. Mitchell. The Australian electoral rolls show Edward and Nellie were living at Werris Creek in NSW in 1933, Anna Bay near Port Stephens in 1935 and, from the mid-1940s until the mid-1950s, at 68 Belmore Road in the outer Maitland suburb of Lorn. During this time Edward was active in the union movement, serving for a time as Secretary of the Werris Creek Miners' Lodge and an organiser for the Newcastle branch of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF). He took a leading role in a number of industrial disputes including those at the Burlington Mill at Rutherford and the Bradford Cotton Mill at Kotara and wrote impassioned letters to the editor of the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners Advocate on such matters as workers' rights, mine safety and the civil war in Spain.
Sometime after 1954 Edward and Nellie moved from Newcastle to Sydney where Edward continued working for a time for the BLF and then as a fireman at the Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Sometime during this period, Nellie returned to the Newcastle region where she lived with her daughter Beryl McCormack and her young family in Maitland. Nellie died there in 1963 and was buried in the Kurri Kurri cemetery. Edward travelled up from Sydney to attend the funeral but continued residing in Sydney (the 1963 electoral roll shows an Edward Albert Williams, labourer, living at 3 Meeks Street in the suburb of Kingsford). We have not been able to trace him with any certainty after that. The NSW index of bdms and the Find a Grave website show an Edward Williams died at Randwick in Sydney in 1976 and was buried in the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park cemetery (Roman Catholic Lawn 3, Position 700). Neither source provides details of his parents or age at the time of death so we can't be at all certain this is our Edward. The search continues.
We do know that Edward and Nellie had a son and a daughter and seven grandchildren. Their daughter was the above mentioned Beryl Joyce Williams later McCormack (1930-2021) whose details are described here. The 16 year-old Beryl along with two of her Mitchell cousins, is pictured in the photo on the right. Edward and Nellie's son was Griffith Colin (Griff) Williams who was born in 1927 and named after Edward's grandfather and Nellie's father. In 1952, Griff, who was then working as a seaman, married Audrey Martha Parish (1929-2019) at Bondi in Sydney's eastern suburbs (Griff and Griff and Audrey are pictured in the two photos below). After living for a time in Sydney, Griff and Audrey and their two sons went to live on Queensland's Sunshine Coast where Griff operated a fishing boat. The Ryerson Index lists Audrey Martha Williams, aged 90 years and late of Buderim, died on 28 December 2019. A tribute to her, published in the Sunshine Coast Daily on 1 and 2 January 2020, tells us she was the 'Dearly loved wife of Griff (dec'd). Loved mother and mother-in-law of Paul and Pat, Mike and Debbie. Adored Nanna of Nicholas, Casey, Sarah and Brooke. Much loved great grandmother of Tealeela and Lana'.
Nellie and Edward Albert Williams, on the right, at their daughter Beryl Williams' wedding to Arthur McCormack at West Maitland in 1949.
Arthur's parents, William John and Rose McCormack are on the left.
Griff Williams and Griff with his wife Audrey on the Sunshine Coast.
Beryl Joyce McCormack nee Williams shortly before her death in 2021.
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