This blog is about the Rerden family in Australia

I have been researching the Rerden family history for about a year and want to provide some of the information I have found so that those who are interested can find out more about the family.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Mystery of a Philip Rerden in Australia

Those of us researching the family history have long been interested in a Philip Rerden whose name appears in the Victorian Register of Deaths as having died in 1885. He was not one of James' and Eleanor's children and yet he died in Kilmore where some of the children were born in 1870. So was he related, and if so, how?

The index gives no details and so this year I bought the full schedule that records the registration of his death. It reveals that Philip Rerden, a baker, was 58 years old when he died at 2pm on 12 January 1885 at Kilmore after a stomach disease of six months, described as probably cancer. His parents are recorded as Philip William Rerden, a carpenter, and Eliza Rerden, formerly MacKenzie. The death was registered by James Rerden, brother of the deceased, of Melbourne. It records that he was buried in Kilmore Cemetery on 13 January 1885 as a Presbyterian. It also records that he was married in Kilmore at age 49 to Eliza Dixon and they had no children. It states that he lived in Victoria for 32 years and was born in Messina? (this is a guess because the word is very hard to read).

These details raise some interesting points about Philip - he was born around 1827, but possibly not in the Channel Islands, and he arrived in Victoria around 1853. This means he may well be the first Rerden to arrive in Australia, but I have not been able to find any ship records to confirm that. He has the same father as James Rerden but a different mother, so they were half-brothers (there is some work to do in the Channel Islands on this). Was he part of the reason that James and Eleanor chose Australia, if so, was he in Queensland at the time or in Victoria and they intended to come down to Victoria all along? He was a baker like James, so they may well have worked together at some stage or operated a bakery business together.

With the details from the death register I visited Kilmore and found his grave (shown in the photo here). I also checked with the Kilmore Historical Society and found his obituary in the Kilmore Free Press on 15 January 1885. It describes him as "...a resident of Kilmore for many years and was sober, inoffensive and industrious." Maybe he wasn't a Rerden after all!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why Australia and Why Melbourne

As I research the Rerden family, I often wonder why James and Eleanor chose to emigrate and why they chose Australia to emigrate to. The colonies in Australia certainly were full of opportunity and the gold rushes in NSW and Victoria in the 1850s had created good economic and commercial situations. Were things that bad in the Channel Islands in the 1860s?

They seem to have come from a family of reasonable circumstances, James' father Philip Rerden was a carpenter according to the 1841 census, owned a quarter acre wheat property and paid rates(Boyd Rerden found this out)and was the Grand Master of the Caesarian Lodge of Oddfellows. The photo here shows a medalion the Lodge presented to Philip in 1839. It came to Australia and is still in the family.

The one thing we can be sure of is they were not supposed to end up in Melbourne, but rather Brisbane. That is where the Netherby was heading, direct to Brisbane, when it was shipwrecked on 14 July 1866 on King Island in Bass Strait. After being rescued the passengers and crew were moved to Melbourne and given a choice to continue on to Brisbane on another ship or stop in Melbourne. The Rerdens decided to stay in Melbourne. So, for most of their descendents who still call Victoria home, if it wasn't for the shipwreck you would all be living in Queensland, following Rugby League and supporting the Broncos!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Are you a Rerden or have a Rerden in your family? That's Rerden with two ees and no aas, iis or oos! Then you are probably related to the Rerden family who emigrated to Australia from the Channel Islands in 1866 on the ship Netherby. The Netherby was shipwrecked on King Island in Bass Strait and amazingly everyone on board survived, over 450 people. There is an excellent web site on the Netherby Shipwreck at

James and Eleanor Rerden were on the Netherby with their children, James William, Philip John and Charles Henry and when they were all rescued ended up in Melbourne. They had a further four children in Australia, Edwin Joseph, Ernest Albert, Florence Maude and Oscar Arthur.

I am researching the Rerden family history, particularly from 1866 to 1945, and would love to hear from anyone who wants to share some part of the story as they know it.