Friday, 24 October 2014

Dissecting Documents

Starting a new life halfway around the world, in a time before the internet and digital files, you would have had to make sure you took all the necessary documents with you; Job references, proof of education, proof of identity, birth certificates, death certificates...

Many of these documents were indeed brought out by my grandfather. There are wads of job references, not just for himself but surprisingly, also for his late father. Documents documenting his mother's places of residence since her marriage to Joseph. Certificates of education, later translated from the original French into English in my grandfather's florid hand.

Documents that don't appear as yet to have made it to Fremantle include my Grandfather's birth certificate.

Another set of documents that did make it though, neatly bundled together, was the marriage certificate of his parents Joseph Armarego and Assunta Morello,

also, the death certificate of Joseph Armarego.

and a couple of documents that identify Assunta as the sole executor and beneficiary of her husband's estate.

This in itself seems a little strange. Why were these documents seemingly more valuable that they were brought to Australia but copies of the boys' birth certificates were not?

The answer is actually present in an accompanying letter, written by Assunta's son Oswald to the Department of Social Services.

Being a British subject by birth herself and widow of a British subject by birth, Assunta was eligible for a Widow's Pension, not just in the British colony of Alexandria, but also once they landed in Australia.

This collection of documents was necessary to prove her eligibility with the Australian Department of Social Services.

I don't know whether her application was successful, I never knew the circumstances at a time when I could ask.
I would assume she did, not only because they seem to have been a determined family (see the correspondence of the journey out), but because I've only heard stories of my grandfather supporting her financially for the first few years after their arrival here. It was this  later fact that stopped Oswald and Violet from marrying the moment Oswald arrived, but were instead forced to wait a few years. 

1 comment:

  1. Interestingly, Assunta never celebrated her birthday on 20 December - she celebrated on 15 August - her name day instead. Yet another indication of her piety!



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