BEYOND THE TREE | 'I discovered a dynasty of horse-drawn cab drivers'

The Beyond the Tree exhibition at Liverpool Regional Museum includes a growing community tree to which you can add your own family story. Bring in photos of your family moments to be scanned, printed, mounted and added to the display. It's in conjunction with Liverpool Genealogy Society. Volunteers help with research and family enquiries from Tuesdays to Saturdays. The Champion is running a series of local family stories tying in with the exhibition. This week Pamela Valentine from the Liverpool Genealogy Society tells the story of how she discovered a dynasty of horse-drawn cab drivers.

My Grand Uncle Henry Ambrose "Harry" Holmes started a horse-drawn cab business after his arrival in Australia in 1849. It was to be the beginning of a dynasty with two of his sons following in his footsteps.

Harry had a tough and unusual upbringing.

Harry left his family in Fulbourn, Cambridge when he was nine-years-old and went to live with his older sister who was employed as a nursery maid to a family in Wales.

Misfortune came his way when he was seventeen. His sister died and he was treated very badly by her employer. Harry left without any warning and walked 100 miles to find a job at an ironworks to earn enough money for his train fare back to his family in Cambridge.

He migrated to Australia in 1849 aged 20 with his older brother John and John's wife Sarah. He worked as a gardener at Government House marrying a nursemaid, Susan Farrar he met on the voyage out. They had eight children, five girls and three boys. After Susan's death in 1866, Harry married her sister Ann and a further five children arrived, four daughter and one son.

Harry became a driver of a hansom cab. These were a two-wheel, two seat enclosed carriages whose driver sat on the outside on a high seat. He later became an omnibus driver and by 1862, he had become proprietor of the Newtown Omnibus Company.

His son Henry Ambrose born in 1858 moved to Rockhampton, Queensland where he carried on the tradition of cab driving and by 1913 had become a cab proprietor.

Hector Ambrose Holmes born to Harry and Ann in 1869 also became a cab driver after serving in the Boer War in the 3rd Mounted Rifles in 1901-2.

Harry died in 1895 aged 66 years. A poem inserted as a memorial by one of his daughters in a Sydney paper reads as follows:

In dreams I see that dear old face,

And miss that placid brow

And whisper, as I loved him then

I love his memory now.

Not bad for a lad who arrived in Australia penniless and much abused by his guardian. We are proud of your perseverance and achievements, Grand Uncle Harry Holmes.

This story 'I discovered a dynasty of horse-drawn cab drivers' first appeared on Liverpool City Champion.