John Hore junior and Elizabeth Waite

John Hore junior was born in 1813 in Sydney, the oldest son of John Hore, a United Irishman transported for life for his participation in the Spithead Mutiny during which sailors from 16 ships protested against living conditions on board Royal Navy vessels. John Hore senior, a Catholic, arrived in Australia in 1801. In 1809 he married Elizabeth Love, who arrived on the Third Fleet in 1791 on “The Matilda”. Elizabeth’s English Protestant father, John, was a member of the NSW Soldier Corps.

John junior married Elizabeth Waite, a Protestant Englishwoman who, like her husband, was born in the colony to a convict father, and a mother whose father was an English soldier, and her mother a convict. Two hundred years later their lineage makes amazing reading. But their story is more bizarre than just their ancestors. John and Elizabeth had no children and so, no direct descendants. However, John is my 2nd great uncle and his story continues to fascinate the many descendants of his parents.

One of the earliest pieces of information my father found about his maternal family line was the will of John junior. This twelve-page document opened with the names of the executors of his estate.

Land agents in two colonies, as well as George Day, the elected member for Hume and Albury for 32 years. John appeared to be a well-connected individual. However, the following few sentences were baffling.

These detailed instructions, involving Ministers of a different faith with strict time frames, were evidence of a bigger story that, without the Internet, reliant only on time-consuming microfiche searches, we had not managed to uncover. The will, however, continued to detail bequeaths to relatives, covering rental costs, ensuring financial security for life. John and his solicitor meticulously detailed every living sibling, nephew and niece itemising individualised bequeaths to them.

Family historians researching the extensive Hore-Love clan, linked via Ancestry, cite a connection between John Hore and Hamilton Hume. In 1812, a 15-year-old Hamilton moved, with his parents to Appin on Sydney’s outskirts. John and his siblings were raised in the Appin area also. Legend has it that John was advised by Hamilton Hume of the best farming lands he had seen along his route to Port Phillip Bay. Thus in 1836 John, together with his wife and father-in-law, headed south on a 6-month journey by bullock wagon, to acquire land in the Albury district. Finally, the pieces were starting to fall into place.

The final page of the will reveals the success of John Hore. He had amassed a substantial parcel of land in the Albury district and his estate, at the time of his death in October 1895, was valued at almost 111,000 pounds. In today’s terms, his nett wealth equates to almost 18 million dollars.

But the story doesn’t end there. Motivated by a recent family reunion I began randomly searching on Google, not looking for anything particular but just hoping something would jump out. Searching for John Hore usually resulted in the information I already knew. However, a new article appeared. The article was a 28-page survey of a subterranean structure in the Albury Pioneer Cemetery.

The report opened with a description of an unmarked structure composed of above and below-ground level components. The quadrangular structure had a 30cm concrete platform, encased by four rows of bricks, below and above ground. Under this platform was the opening of a vault, pictured above, surrounded by an arch constructed from six layers of bricks. The report continued to detail the construction of this vault that measured 2 and a half metres in length and width. In an attempt to date the structure, the author suggested that the bricks dated the construction period as late 19th century, however, as concrete was not used in the district until the late 1890’s the age was suggested as such. A conclusion was made that the structure was either an air-raid shelter, a cold storage vault or a burial plot.

The author then conducted a search of the Albury Cemetery records which revealed no burials in this portion of the Catholic section. The area covered by this vault was equivalent to eight burial plots which suggested someone of importance as a possible owner. Suddenly my interest was sparked. Could a puzzle, included in a will, written in the 1890’s, be solved by a report commissioned in 2012?

Further investigation, identified in the report, found that the only person of prominence in the district at that time was John Hore junior, yet despite reports of the extent of his burial plot in the local media, there was no record in the cemetery records.

And finally, the answer was there. Elizabeth pre-deceased her husband and when her body was brought for burial in the family crypt at Albury the occasion was anything but sombre. Since Elizabeth was a member of the Church of England the Catholic priest refused to inter her body in the plot located in the Catholic section. An Anglican minister stepped in and performed the burial, however from some distance away in the Anglican section. The Catholic Church then had four black posts erected around the site to indicate that it was no longer consecrated ground. The story was reported in newspapers across Australia.

However, John would have the last word. He died eight months after his wife and his body was taken from his Melbourne home to Albury for burial in the family vault alongside his wife. Yet his will said that he would be buried in the Church of England section of the cemetery alongside his wife. The dilemma deepened. Elizabeth had been buried in the Catholic section so how could John be buried next to her in the Church of England section? Records show that Elizabeth and John are both buried side by side in the Church of England section of the cemetery. Thus, while John’s solicitor was re-drawing his will after his wife’s death, John had Elizabeth’s body transferred to a new burial plot in which he would later be interred and leaving the original vault empty. Mystery solved.