Here is an example of the sort of stories that the project aims to collect.
Disney Margaret R (Kidd then Forsyth)
- About 1811
- After 1867
- Forsyth (Christian name unknown) born: Unknown Died: Before 1843
- 1845 Henry Napier Disney at St Andrew's Scots Church Sydney (V18453914 74B/1845)
- None known
Mrs Margaret Forsyth arrived in Sydney NSW on the Earl Durham on 11/7/1842, she was listed as a widow and her occupation was a housekeeper. She was a Protestant who came from W? South. Also on this ship was her brother James Kidd, his wife and family.
Life in the colony of New South Wales was initially difficult for Margaret and she was listed as a new insolvent on 24 January 1843, when she was living on Castlereagh St Sydney, and was still listed as a widow.
In 1845 Margaret married Henry Napier Disney, alias Arthur Battersby, at St Andrew's Scots Church Sydney (V18453914 74B/1845). Henry Disney was a convict who arrived on the Portsea 1838, he received a TOL (Ticket Of Leave) in 1842. He was a convicted bigamist who was convicted at the Old Bailey on 29th January 1838. His ‘wife' Anne Battersby was granted a divorce in 5th March 1840 by the House of Lords.
While in NSW Henry Disney was a commercial agent and became bankrupt in January 1843, at the same time as Margaret. It is possible that they met while being listed as bankrupts. The couple left the colony shortly after their marriage as there is no listing to Henry carrying on any occupation after 1845.
We lose sight of Henry and Margaret Disney until the following was printed in the Illawarra Mercury and Sydney Morning Herald in 1857.
A Heroine of the War
The Times of Thursday, August 9th, says-" A great many testimonials have been forwarded to us referring to Mrs. Margaret Disney, late a nurse in the Crimea, who arrived a few days ago at Portsmouth in the transport Saldanha, from Balaklava. These testimonials are from officers, soldiers, medical men, and the crew of the Saldanah, and they all speak in the highest terms of the attention paid to the sick and wounded by Mrs. Disney on board the transport, as well as in the Crimea, where she had to suffer her full share of privations and dangers. The public have appreciated the, valuable services rendered by the nurses in the Crimea, and such testimonials as these prove how consoling and important these services have been to the sick and wounded." The lady referred to above is the sister of Mr. James Kidd, of Dapto, who has recently visited this district. Illawarra Mercury cited in SMH 10 April 1857 p.2
The Saldanha was a troop carrier which carried cholera victims back from the Crimea War in 1855. Mrs Disney is listed as a nurse who worked with Florence Nightingale, who was a pioneer of nursing and a reformer of hospital sanitation methods. It is recorded that Margaret was removed from hospital service at the Crimea, not as a reward, but the reasons for her removal are unexplained. She may have been one of the "old style" nurses who were noted for being rough, unhygienic and frequently alcoholic and may have been influenced by Florence Nightingale to improve her nursing practice. Margaret was not on the list of women who accompanied Florence Nightingale to the Crimea; however several outstanding nurses were not given permission to accompany her group and later provided excellent nursing during the Crimea War.
Given Margaret's social class and background it is likely that the newspaper article may have enhanced her connection with Florence Nightingale and the Crimea War.
Henry died 8th January 1861.
DISNEY-January 8th, at 66, Charlotte-street, Fitzroy-square, London, Captain Henry Napier Disney, native of Dublin. The Sydney Morning Herald 20 April 1861
In Bailliere's Post Office Directory 1867 she is listed as Disney Margaret living at West Dapto, she had no occupation. Her brothers were both living at this time in the Dapto area (see Kidd)
There is no record of her death in NSW and she is no longer listed in Greville's Post Office Directory 1872. After 1886 the family is no long connected to the Illawarra, and it has proven hard to track them further.