Lucy Havens collection

Researching these collections often feels like Sherlock Holmes-style detective work, especially when there appears to be a lot of information online. Such is the case with finding more about Lucy Havens (whose collection of music is held by SLM). There are several family tree websites that have attempted to track the life of the Havens after they left London and came to Sydney in 1839, but much of this information is so tangled, it takes a lot of work to find out what is true and what is not. Researcher to the rescue!

A quick search online turned up a number of results including this page: I thought ‘excellent, someone has done the work for me’, but alas this was not to be. Though some of the information is there, much of it is haphazardly copied from a number of different online sources, with little attempt to sort the many issues with dates, places and people. While one might think that names such as Havens, Hyndes and Purves may not have been common in early 19th-century Australia, think again! To be blunt, the fact that there are only a few with similar surnames in some ways makes the task of identification much harder.

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Miss L Havens Whitehaven Cumberland

Fortunately, the collection gives us one clue. Lucy has kindly written her name and Whitehaven, Cumberland at the front of the volume. A little bit of digging later and I could confirm that her father Robert Havens (1771-1818) was buried in Whitehaven, though I have emailed the record offices in the county to confirm this. Though Lucy’s mother Janet Havens nee Crabbe was born in Ballantyne, Fife and her father was apparently from Colchester on the southeast coast of England – this is almost a 6 hour drive away from Whitehavens where they would end up residing. It was perhaps a half-way meeting between their two places of birth. Perhaps Robert studied as a doctor in Edinburgh and came to meet Janet there, or perhaps Janet met Robert in London. This is a piece of the story that I am yet to construct!


However, the importance about the parents original residencies could be another mystery solved. Most of the publications within Lucy’s collections are from Edinburgh or London – a google map search reveals that this was only 1 hour from where Lucy’s mother grew up and 1 hour from where her father grew up respectively. Lucy may have travelled with her parents and purchased her music at stores in the city, while visiting grandparents or other family members. Of course, this is nothing but conjecture at the moment and it is possible that she obtained the music by some other means.

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What is clear is that Lucy collected this music in Britain and took it with her to Australia. After her father’s death, the whole family including her sister Jane, married sister Eliza Campbell and her brother Robert all travelled to New South Wales in 1839. Unfortunately, Eliza passed away shortly after their arrival but the rest of the family flourished in the new lands.

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Lucy married twice  – once to Thomas Hyndes (there is uncertainty is this is the Thomas Hyndes that was granted the lands of Enfield by Gov Macquarie, or if this was another moneyed gentleman), and then to Church of Scotland minister Rev William Purves. Unfortunately, we only have this one collection of her music so it is unclear if she kept collecting after her arrival. After her first husband passed away, she was left a vast amount of property in the now affluent in Bathurst Street as pointed out by Catherine Bishop in her wonderful article on the Women of Pitt Street.

As one might expect, after her marriages there is very little information that can be traced to Lucy Hyndes and Lucy Purves respectively, but the collection itself is a wonderful example of the importance of a music collection to a young woman during this time. It is filled with dances including several waltzes and Scottish music (some of which are quite rare). I have a few leads to chase to create a fuller picture about Lucy and her collection, but she certainly seems to be an interesting character!


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