I’ve always been a bit smug/ proud of the fact that the brother of my Great Great Grandfather was transported for theft in the 1820’s, made good brewing beer and sent for the rest of the family, including my direct ancestor in the 1830’s.
The other day I was talking to one of my regulars who I’ve dubbed the Bolshie Lawyer. This a very casually dressed man who does legal aid cases. He comes from a very privileged background where he went to Melbourne Grammar, Melbourne Uni and was probably put down for membership of the Melbourne Club and the MCC the day he was born. He has the jaded view of the Melbourne upper classes that comes from long familiarity and we were discussing a well-known local politician.
“I was at school with him and he was a (insert uncomplimentary noun here) even then. So full of himself and his family. And mines been out here much longer than his.”
I couldn’t help bringing up my own ancestor then and the date 1824.
“That’s nothing,” said B.L. “My ancestor was a free settler and came out in 1810.”
That was when I asked him the surname and discovered his ancestor has a suburb and a railway station named after him and had built what is a now National Trust property. Definitely outclassed. Serves me right for such unearned pride.
And we must always remember our pioneer ancestors helped steal the land and destroy the tribes. So is it pride or shame we should feel? Or a complicated ambivalent mix of both that turns us away from the past entirely and reminds us to try and do better in the future.