Swansea Family History
Swansea Family History 

In the second reflections“Blue Plaques of Swansea – Mumbles Lighthouse”, published in Bay July 2017 I wrote about the blue plaque commemorating the bravery of the two sisters, Jessie Ace, and Margaret Wright (Ace),during the storm of 1883, saving lifeboat men from disaster. Both girls were awarded with a gold cross, blue medal-lion, and a copy of Sir Walter Scott’s book The Pirate (1822).

With the ‘disappearance’ of Jessie, I set a question whether anyone knew of her whereabouts and that I would really like to hear from them.

I was delighted to have an interesting response from Mr John Griffiths, of Swansea Harriers. He certainly had a good run with the results, let’s get on the starting blocks – we will get to the finishing line in record time!

In 1885 there was a marriage between couples, Jessie AceRose WrightJohn Dunstan, and John Henry Morris. (If anyone does have this problem in their research, at least one of the couples would be listed on a later census, check to see who was married to whom). In this case Jessie was married to John Dunstan at St. Mary’s, Swansea. At the time of the marriage Jessie was living at Argyle Street.

During 1888, Jessie – with an infant – were passengers on a ship named Garonne, (pictured left) bound for Australia.

   John Dunstan was born in Cornwall in 1848. He had previously married Mary Ann Loxton in 1876 – she died in Swansea, 1883.

   Jessie and John had a son, Courtney Ace Dunstan, born in 1887. You would have thought that the story ended there, but wait, there is more.

Jessie Dunstan was divorced by her husband in 1901, in New South Wales – the grounds for divorce were the alleged with Peter Hine, habitual drunkenness, and habitual neglect of her domestic duties. The Decree Absolute (pictured right) was announced in the Sydney Morning Herald, 21st June 1901.



 Mr John Griffiths had followed a line of enquiries to Australia, France, and the USA. Although the line to America came to nothing, there was a link with France, but the most promising results came from Australia. There does seem to be a few more children born in Australia, John and Oscar. Information received from Jessie’s great grand-daughter, Vicki Dunstan, indicate that Jessie died during 1936 and that she is buried in a grave of a family that she was working for – the Nagle family. Also buried in the same cemetery, Rockwood, Sydney, NSW, Australia in a different grave was her son Oscar, who died the same year 1936.

 We have reached the finishing line!

I would like to thank John Griffiths for his time and sterling effort on getting the information for this article.

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© Charles Wilson-Watkins