Carolyn Menadue

When Sampson Menadue departed Cornwall for Australia during the gold rush in 1857, he undoubtedly saw it as his opportunity to escape an unhappy marriage and a miserable existence as a tin miner to try his luck looking for gold. His wife never heard from him again, but rumour has it she later burnt her wedding dress from an attic window, proclaiming “No other man will ever have me”. True to her word, she never married again and died in Cornwall at the age of 70.

Sampson made his way from Cornwall to Liverpool where he boarded the SS Lightning for the 80-day voyage to Australia. The fact that the shipping list had no Sampson Menadue on it, but a person called Salmon Minadue, indicated he was trying to disappear without trace, and in fact when he arrived in Australia, Salmon Minadue became Samuel Menadue, a bigamist, who ultimately became my husband’s great grandfather when he married Bridget McShane in Daylesford in 1866.

None of these details came to light until the 1960s when three descendants in England began researching the Menadue family tree and discovered, on obtaining a copy of the wedding certificate of Samuel Menadue and Bridget McShane, that Sampson/Samuel who had gone to great lengths to hide his past had on his wedding certificate actually named his true parents as William and Rebecca Menadue of Cornwall, which then solved the mystery of what became of Sampson.

Samuel and Bridget had eight children, one of whom was named Samuel, the grandfather of my husband. He also had eight children with his wife, Alice, who was of German extraction. She apparently was determined that none of her children would work in the mines and consequently all bar William, who died at Gallipoli in 1915, worked in other fields. Presumably this was because neither Samuel senior or junior had made their fortunes as gold miners, but it was, nevertheless, the primary reason that the Menadue family in Daylesford came into being.