During this year’s Digital Causley Festival of Arts and Literature, we at the Trust were amazed and delighted to suddenly find out that we had a hitherto-unknown Causley descendent joining us in our on-line ‘audience’– all the way from Australia, and over all three days.
We were also very honoured to find out later that Alison and her husband had got up at the crack of dawn each day (and stayed awake late into the night) to join as many of our events as they could. They became familiar faces to our host Ellie Mason and other Festival audience members over the three days.
So, we asked Alison to tell us a little about how a relative of Charles Causley ended up on the other side of the world! Here’s her tale.
I’m an English teacher and so I was delighted to learn about Charles Causley – and more recently, at the Digital Causley Festival of Arts & Literature, to ‘meet’ Jim Causley, a distant relative, albeit it on Zoom! I have two daughters, Renee and Ashleigh, who have both had extensive musical education. My eldest, Renee, teaches music in Melbourne and in addition has her own choir called ‘Yarra Voices’. She sings and plays both violin and piano, so it was great to see how musical Jim is. It seems teaching, poetry and music runs in branches of the Causley family, even as far removed as we have all been in time and geography.
My husband and I travelled to England about three years ago and made a pilgrimage to Chudleigh and Trusham to trace our family history, although my story for you starts here in Australia.
The Causleys have always been a well-known pioneering family in the part of New South Wales I live in, in particular my cousin Ian who was a member of the NSW and Australian Federal Parliaments. He was listed in Who’s Who and rose to the position of Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives.
So, how did we end up in Australia? Two Causley brothers from Chudleigh in Devon, Thomas and Samuel, migrated to Australia in the early 1850s, lured by the Australian gold-rush. The older brother Thomas was the first to take the leap. He first made his money from gold and later ran hotels in the Snowy River area in Southern New South Wales.
After a while Thomas sent for his brother, my great-grandfather Samuel, who was offered a job as a shepherd on a property at Copmenhurst on the upper Clarence River in northern New South Wales. He was then later joined by Thomas.
There is a saying I’ve grown up with: “All Causleys come from Chudleigh” – but thanks to Jim Causley, I now know that they possibly all come from Casely on Dartmoor, near Lustleigh in Devon.
Funnily enough, the Australian Causleys ended up in Chatsworth in northern New South Wales, where there were so many Causleys that one cheeky family member re-named it ‘Causleyville’.
The family stories tell of how my great-grandfather Samuel Causley ran off with and married a wealthy squatter’s daughter, who thus became my future great-grandmother. Back in Australian history, ‘squatting’ referred to someone who occupied a large tract of Crown land, in order to graze livestock. Initially, they would have started with no legal rights to the land. They could only gain its usage and ownership by being the first settlers in the area. After putting down roots near the Clarence River, with its rich farming land (including sugar cane), my great-grandparents went on to have a large and prosperous family of six children, four sons and two daughters. Many years later, here we are still in Australia.
I am sure Charles would be pleased to know that his name has not “gone scat”, as the old man warned him in my favourite poem ‘Trusham’.
My heart-felt thank you goes to Jim Causley for his album ‘Cyprus Well’, which has helped me to get to know Charles on a more personal level.
On a final note, my husband Philip and I are looking forward to the end of the travel restrictions due to coronavirus. We would have joined you in Launceston this year for the ‘Causley Festival of Arts and Literature’. Instead, we hope to visit Launceston and you all in person in the near future.