Before we started researching our ancestors, many of us probably thought they were just ordinary people. Nothing very interesting happened to them. My previous blog about David Brown, sole survivor of a massacre in the Solomon Islands certainly may have captured readers’ imaginations. It might encourage you to read this, my third blog about my research journey into the family of my late wife, Helen. David Brown was a common name, as was Helen’s other maternal great grandfather, William Lambert. Finding an unusual first name or middle name can often simplify one’s search. William is not at all unusual, but his middle name, Gilchrist, is. So finding a William Gilchrist Lambert should be easy, right?
There was a number of William Gilchrist Lamberts jumbled with the hundreds of thousands of William Lamberts in my searches on the various sites. The middle name was a little help in sorting, but the reader might have already guessed at what I’d found. The first William Gilchrist Lambert had a son called William Gilchrist Lambert and a grandson called William Gilchrist Lambert. To make it more difficult, the one I was looking for often dropped the ‘Gilchrist’ from his name and his marriage has proved elusive. So now I was curious about all three. Where did the ‘Gilchrist’ come from and when and where did they arrive in Australia? Newspapers are a great help in finding details of a life beyond the BMDs and this helped with researching the Lamberts. (Australian newspapers can be accessed for free via National Archives of Australia site, Trove, and British newspapers can be accessed through Findmypast.) To make it clear which William Gilchrist Lambert I am referring to, I’ll use ‘William senior’, ‘William junior’ and ‘William, the grandson’ in the following paragraphs.
William senior was born in Surrey in 1800 to William Heard Lambert and Susannah Christiana Gilchrist (thus answering one of my queries). He was baptised at St Mary, Lambeth, and he married his wife, Sarah, (born Hillier) there in 1825.. Working in the Home Audit Office of the East India Company from 1827 to 1837, secured him a pension from the Company. In his spare time he obviously enjoyed cricket. In 1838, he gave a humorous speech as chairman of the Camberwell Cricket Club. Another of my queries was answered when I discovered that he had brought the family to South Australia aboard the British-built barque, ‘Seppings’, which departed London in March 1839 and arrived in Port Adelaide at the end of June. It seems they were wealthy as they had personal servants on board. I had been looking in the wrong place, believing they came to Queensland or New South Wales. This reinforces the need to widen a search geographically if an ancestor is not where you think they should be. Fewer than six months after arrival, William senior announced the commencement of W. G. Lambert & Son as auctioneers, land surveyors and agents. In the following year, 1840, he was elected to the first Common Council of South Australia (Adelaide). His regular appearance in the newspapers, the ‘social media’ of those days, showed he was active in the development of the new colony, subscribing to funding Eyre’s third expedition into the Australian interior and a new bridge over the river Torrens. He was a Freemason and was chairman at the dinner celebrating the third anniversary of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in South Australia on New Year’s Day 1844.
William junior was born in 1823 at Manor Place, Newington, Surrey, and baptised at St Mary, Southwark, in 1826 with his younger brother, Frederick, (after his parents had conveniently married in 1825). Arriving in South Australia with his parents as a sixteen-year-old, he joined his father in the auctioneer firm of W. G. Lambert & Son. In 1845, he took over the Club House in Hindley Street, where he had been living, converted it into a hotel and became a hotel-keeper. Perhaps this was a costly exercise for him as he declared himself insolvent (bankrupt) the following year. Cricket must be in the Lamberts’ blood, as father and son both played cricket in Adelaide for the Thebarton Club. The family later moved to Sydney, where William junior married Hannah (born Heritage) in 1848 at St Andrews Scots Church. He was an auctioneer with his father’s firm, Purkis & Lambert, and, like his father, joined the Freemasons.
William, the grandson, was born in Sydney to William junior and Hannah Lambert. I could find nothing of his early years in Sydney but at some stage, he moved to Queensland where he seemed to drop the well-established Gilchrist middle name and partner with Elizabeth Marion Bowles. I’ve found no record of a marriage. Florence Maud Coutts Bowles was born in Brisbane in December 1874 and Victor Clarence Bowles was born in Rockhampton in October 1880, both to Elizabeth with the father not noted. However, both children subsequently adopted the Lambert surname, suggesting that William, the grandson, may have been the father. Elizabeth was born in Brisbane in 1854, when it was still part of New South Wales. William, the grandson, was a reporter with the Rockhampton Bulletin.
My investigation leading to this story proved quite difficult, not only because I decided to research three ancestors at once but largely due to my faulty note-making strategy. I’ve been using notebooks for a number of years (I’m now up to my eleventh notebook), sometimes with a reference to where I found the information and sometimes not. I even set up an alphabetical index to the notebooks so I could find which ones had notes for the relevant ancestor. More recent guidance from the University of Tasmania’s Diploma of Family History, led me to set up a citation manager in Excel, but I thought it best to add citations only when I needed them. Therein lay the problem. I’d check my alphabetical index to find the relevant pages in the notebooks. Sometimes there was only a fact with no reference and other times there was a vague reference. Thus I had to find (again) the original sources to script a proper citation in my citation manager. In sheer frustration, I’d often just shut the computer down for the day. A better strategy, for my next investigation, will be to enter the citation in the citation manager as soon as I find the best relevant record. It takes longer, but it will be there when I need it for the book of the Barlow/Lambert narratives that I aim to write, similar to the Hansen/Wallace book I did of my own ancestors.
 The Elibank Castle Massacre’, Brisbane Courier, 5 Dec 1885, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3453927.
 Baptism of William Gilchrist Lambert, 6 Jun 1800, St Mary, Lamberth, Surrey, England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, Ancestry.com.au, accessed 11 Dec 2022; Marriage of William Gilchrist Lambert to Sarah Hillier, 28 May 1825, St Mary, Newington, Surrey, London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1938, (image), Ancestry.com.au, accessed 11 Dec 2022.
 Wm. Gilchrist Lambert, clerk, Audit Office of Home Accounts, East India Company, UK, Registers of Employees of the East India Company and the India Office, 1746-1929, (image), Ancestry.com.au, accessed 11 Dec 2022.
 The St George’s Camberwell Cricket Club’, British newspapers, York Herald, 13 Oct 1838, Findmypast.co.uk, accessed 15 Jan 2023.
 ‘Passengers in History’, https://passengers.history.sa.gov.au/node/946442, accessed 12 Nov 2022.
 ‘Passengers in History’.
 Advertising’, W. G. Lambert and Son, Auctioneers, Land Surveyors and Agents, Grenfell Street, Southern Australian,6 Nov 1839, p. 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71685627.
 Election to Adelaide Common Council, ‘South Australia’, Commercial Journal and Advertiser (Sydney), 28 Nov 1840, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226455543.
 Exploratory Expedition to the Northward’, South Australian Register, 13 Jun 1840, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27441528; Bridge over the Torrens’, South Australian Register, 14 Dec 1844, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27448691.
 Third Anniversary of Independent Order of Odd Fellows’, South Australian Register, 6 Jan 1844, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27446307.
 Birth of William Gilchrist Lambert, 3 May 1823, Surrey, England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, Ancestry.com.au, accessed 11 Dec 2022; Baptism of William Gilchrist Lambert and Frederick, 18 Oct 1826, St Mary, Lambeth, Surrey, England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, Ancestry.com.au, accessed 11 Dec 2022.
 ‘Passengers in History’; ‘W.G.Lambert & Son’.
 Local News’, South Australian, 25 Feb 1845, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71600745; Club House Hotel, Hindley Street, c1851, https://www.experienceadelaide.com.au/photo-library/lost-pubs-of-adelaide/club-house-hotel-hindley-street-c1851/, accessed 12 Dec 2022..
 Declarations of Insolvency’, Adelaide Observer, 31 Oct 1846, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158923364.
 The return cricket match’, South Australian Register, 12 May 1847, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48545985.
 Marriage of William Gilchrist Lambert to Hannah Heritage, 18 Nov 1848, St Andews Scots Church, Sydney, Australia, Marriages, 1788-1935, Findmypast.com.au, accessed 29 Nov 2022; Purkis & Lambert’, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Aug 1851, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71685627; United Grand Lodge of England Freemason Membership Registers, 1751-1921′, Ancestry.com.au, accessed 1 Dec 2022.
 Birth of William G LAMBERT, 1851, Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922, Ancestry.com.au, accessed 11 Dec 2022; Family Notices’, Son to Mrs W. G. Lambert on 3 Jan 1851, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Jan 1851, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12923907.
 Birth registration of Florence Maud Coutts BOWLES to Elizabeth Marion BOWLES, 27 Dec 1874, Registration: 1875/B/18485, https://www.familyhistory.bdm.qld.gov.au/, accessed 17 Feb 2014; B. H. Adams, Central Army Records Office to R. Hansen, letter, 17 June 1983, re QP1221 Staff Sergeant Victor Clarence Lambert, Reference, R707/1/7.
 Birth of Elizabeth Marion BOWLES to Philip Bowles and Elizabeth, 28 Aug 1854, Brisbane, New South Wales, Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981, Myheritage.com, accessed 28 Jan 2023.