Although the precise dates are a little sketchy, I’m relating here a story of a series of dreams my mum had. The sketchy dates go back to around 1970 when the dreams started, although I was told the story maybe five years later when I was older. These stories relate to the old home I told you about in Dundas Dreaming, although my mother had the dreams long after she had moved out of the home and was living in her own home.
Her dreams started with a convict visiting her in a dream. She told me and my sisters of the feeling of being awake while he spoke to her. He wore the traditional arrow styled clothing.
Convict Arrow to show ownership of property by British Government
His message to her each time he visited was that he had been wrongly convicted of a crime of theft. He needed her help. He told her the records were kept in a storeroom underneath the stairs at the Dundas house. He wanted her to get the records and cross out his name. She said he virtually begged her to do this for him. Mum knew this storeroom existed but had never in all her time gone down the stairs.
He visited often, each time revealing more about himself. He told her his name was John James Huntington and he had a friend called Molly Brown. Each time he implored her to help him retrieve the records. All he wanted her to do was to strike off his name. Each time he visited, Mum said she had felt no danger from him (fear yes, of the unknown though).
We frequently visited my grandparent’s house and Mum told of how she always thought, with a sense of uneasiness, about the dream when she was there. One day she felt compelled to look down in the storeroom. We were outside with my grandparents. She apparently opened the door under the staircase but said fear overcame her and she couldn’t go down the stairs. He came that night and told her she was so close and to go finish the job but she knew she couldn’t / wouldn’t.
One night he came to her, but this time his message was different. Recently the house had been sold to a developer. Sadly the plans involved bulldozing this old homestead down and replacing it, and the large land parcel, with new modern homes. The old homestead had been bulldozed down that day, a chunk of history reduced to rubble that probably became landfill for the new homes.
This was to be the last time he ever visited. He told her that there was nothing she could do now. The records were buried forever now. He apparently looked disappointed but again Mum felt no menace from him. With that message he was gone and never returned (to my knowledge).
Once the internet opened up the world to us (maybe mid 1990s) one of the first things I did was search this convict. The dreams Mum spoke of had always captured my thoughts and stayed on my mind despite no further talk of the topic. I am a believer, as was my mum, in spirits returning. I didn’t have high expectations but was intrigued.
The internet wasn’t as easy for me to navigate then (I’m the Google Queen now). Not knowing where to start, I remember typing in the name. I didn’t find it then but having a personality of a dog with a bone, just wouldn’t let it go. Over time I found how to locate the muster lists of the first to third fleets that transported to NSW.
Of all the convict lists, I found just ONE convict by the name of James Huntington. He was transported to New South Wales aboard the Matilda. At that point he was just a name on a list , but a real person never the less and the fact that there was only one convict by that name (many convicts shared other names like Smith )made me more convinced this was the man in Mum’s dream. I was able to share this information with mum who, like me, believed it was the visitor to her ‘dream’.
Then I began tracing where the convicts on board the Matilda were sent to. The convicts from this ship were sent to Parramatta for work consignment. For those not familiar with the area Dundas is a suburb of Parramatta city. They were sent Parramatta to help build the settlement and to further farm the land. “resulting in the erection of dwelling places for the governor, the officers, the convicts and some of the troops, together with several store-houses.” http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/phillip-arthur-2549
Unfortunately my mum passed away before I found more information on John James Huntington. I located his details of conviction.
He was convicted of stealing 3 sheep, 2 bushels of barley and 2 hempen sacks.
Though somewhat hard to read here the original can be found at http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/ConvictsDetails.aspx?convict_id=2805
As to his friend Molly Brown – a ship called the Mary Ann sailed to NSW with female convicts also bound for Parramatta. On board were two Mary Browns. Apparently Molly is the nickname form of Mary. Maybe his friend? She too had been sentenced in Lincolnshire.
Now ,as if this story isn’t intriguing and spooky enough I’ll let you in on a few other odd facts. As I told in Dundas Dreaming, my sister spent around 5 years of her life in this house. Being an only child her old lady imaginary?? ‘friend’ was dismissed as an invented being. Strangely enough though, one of the names my sister wanted for me was Matilda (the transport vessel of John James Huntington). Was this lady in fact Molly?
I am still searching John James Huntington. Strangely I feel compelled to see if I can right the wrong or at least find out some more. I have found a death certificate in his name (and from the Parramatta district) which I intend purchasing from Births, Deaths and Marriages to see if it’s him. If so, it’s very tragic as his death was just one year after arriving in Australia.
That house held many secrets, some now buried deep, but still it manages to haunt dreams, but now it’s the dreams of myself , my sister and my niece…but that’s a whole other installment ! Trust me it will put more goosebumps on your goosebumps!