Shining light on history
SOUTH Grafton woman Margaret O'Shea has turned up some pretty remarkable twists and turns as she looks into her family tree.
Related to the Leeson and Law families - two of the oldest in the Clarence Valley - and building on the efforts of her mum, Doris Payne, she has tracked the Leeson side of the family back to an Irish peerage.
She found that a distant ancestor, Joseph Leeson, born in Ireland in 1701 was a noted brewer and politician, whose success led to him becoming the first Earl of Milltown in 1756.
Between that date and 1890 there were six more earls until the title became dormant in 1891.
Margaret thinks she can trace the Leeson side of the family in Australia back to Robert and Marmaduke Leeson who arrived in Australia between 1814 and 1820 at Margaret River in Western Australia.
"They came across eastern Australia and settled in the area around Kings Creek near Lawrence," Margaret said.
"Marmaduke and his sons and daughters are buried in the old cemetery at Grafton."
She said the family also brought its brewing knowledge with it and established a brewery in the region.
"The family built a big house on the hill near Boothby Creek, which I went to when I was young," Margaret said.
"It was a big house built in a U-shape, around a dance floor. It used to cater for a lot of balls in that time."
Margaret said the house fell into disrepair and has been since demolished.