Members Family History's


Robyn Kelly (1083)

Platts Family (27 Dec 1997)

My real interest in family history began after the deaths of my parents. There were so many unanswered questions. The two most difficult people to research have been my Great Great Grandfather, Frederick H. JOY, 10 Blandford Square, Regents Park, London, who married Clara SHADWELL, and my husband Robert KELLY's great grandfather William KELLY, who forms the basis of this story.

Stories have been told in the Australian KELLY family:-
1 - That William had been given a "ticket of leave" from England because he had forged family cheques. Although he wasn't charged he was deported, never to return to England, and he would have a "paid living" in Australia.
2 - He was a bigamist and had two families, one in Victoria and one in NSW.
3 - That he had changed his surname to KELLY with no-one knowing his previous surname.
4 - That he was involved with Ned KELLY's sister.

Proof of these stories is not available. Before my husband's aunt died, she gave me a small calico bag containing certificates, letters, a photo of a dead man (unlabelled) and several newspaper cuttings. Amongst the certificates was a marriage certificate of my husband's grand father Ernest KELLY, 28 March 1911, usual address Hanover Street, Brunswick, VIC, that enabled me to identify the parents of Ernest as William KELLY and Mary McCLOY. Research of the Victorian BDM revealed a marriage of Mary McCLOY to William PLATTS in 1902 with their usual address being Hanover Street, Brunswick. Coincidental, don't you think?

From this marriage certificate of 1902 - William PLATTS was a widower in 1888, had no children, was born in Odessa, Russia, 61 years ago, and his parents were Joseph PLATTS and Sarah HAINES. Mary McCLOY was a spinster born in Bendigo, VIC, aged 38, parents were John McCLOY and Anne FLANNAGAN.

A death certificate of Mary KELLY in 1914, shows husband William KELLY, children Ernest, 29, (Robert's grandfather), William, 27, Francis,25, Albert, 23, and Rosie 21. Mary's father was John McCLOY and she was born in Bendigo, Vic.
A death certificate of William KELLY (1916), shows his wife as Mary McCLOY from Bendigo, VIC., and his parents as unknown. Children were Ernest, 31, William, 29, Francis, 27, Albert , 25, and Rosie, 23. Do these marriage and death certificates belong to the same people with a name change after the marriage?

Also in the calico bag was a letter dated 9th/22nd of August 1900 to William James PLATTS from his brother John J PLATTS in Odessa, Russia, addressed C/- Mrs KELLY, Hanover Street, Brunswick in which he asks after Mary and the children. Also in the calico bag were two newspaper cuttings labelled 1904 and headed "Painful death of a Vicar, The Rev S.J. BUTCHER, passes away a few hours after preaching." He was Vicar of Weston Beggard, near Hereford, for 12 years and was 61 years old. At the funeral the principle mourners were Mrs and Miss BUTCHER, Mr John J PLATTS (Forest Hill, London) and Henry C PLATTS (Sydenham, London), the brothers of the widow.

It seems coincidental that these items were in the possession of the KELLY family and we must consider that PLATTS was William KELLY's first surname. I have not been able to locate any births for the children cited on Mary and William's death certificates, in the name of KELLY, PLATTS or McCLOY.

Whose children are cited on William's death certificate, when in 1902 he was a widower with no children, yet in 1916 he had five children ranging in age from 23 to 31???

Check out the follow up story below.

Robyn Kelly (1083)

The follow up to the PLATTS / KELLY Mystery (4 Jan 2003)

I had researched unsuccessfully for many years looking for my husband's ancestors. It was rumored that the name KELLY was not the family name and I discovered that the name I was looking for was PLATTS. William James KELLY (my husband's great grandfather) was now known to be William James PLATTS. He was sent to Australia and his brother John Joseph PLATTS provided him with money sent to him via Mrs KELLY, Hanover Street, Melbourne. Although I now know the family name I have not been able to find William's arrival in Australia YET! He was listed with his parents and siblings in Stepney, London, in the 1861 census but not listed in the next census. Assumptions have been made that he may have come to Australia, after 1861 as a man of 20 years of age.

After having found William's English family by use of the Internet we exchanged much information, including the information written on a Baptism certificate for William James PLATTS, born on 13 May 1841 in Odessa, parents Joseph PLATTS and Sarah Haines TANDY. His siblings are, John Joseph; Henry Charles; Mary Haines (married Rev Samual BUTCHER); Louisa Matilda; and Joseph John William. The English family had heard mutterings of an Australian branch and a bad apple in the family but had no way to follow up on this information. Using documents in Robert's Aunt's calico bag I was able to provide them with previously unknown family information.

A trip to the United Kingdom in 1999 and a family reunion provided us with answers to many of our genealogical questions.

We visited such places as the Harborne Parish Church St Peters, Birmingham, the place of the marriage of John TANDY and Mary HAINES (parents of Joseph PLATTS wife, Mary Haines TANDY, also grandparents of William KELLY/PLATTS) on 9 September 1816.

Then we headed towards Weston Beggard, Hereford, where Reverand Samual BUTCHER and Mary nee PLATTS had lived. He was the Minister here for 12 years and died in 1904 at the vicarage. We stepped inside the churchyard and set about to find his grave - it just inside the gate. Access to the church was gained by collecting a very large key from a farmhouse to let us inside the musty smelling church. This church had been built in stages mostly of the late C13 and early C14, with some doorways and a chancel arch which were late Norman work. It was eerie to be standing where Robert's Great Grandfather's brothers and sister had done in 1904 when they attended Reverend Samual BUTCHER's funeral. There was a brass plaque on the wall, erected by the parishioners indicating that Samual Butcher had been the minister there for 12 years (1892-1904).

We then traveled to Wells in Somerset where descendants of John Joseph PLATTS (our ancestor William's older brother) had gathered for a reunion. It proved to be a successful meeting despite of our nervousness at meeting them for the first time. I'm sure they felt the same as us! We spent several days with them and all had a great time as we swapped information and stories.

The last place to visit was Bridport in Dorset. Here Daphne Jackson had many original documents from 1800's in Odessa that had been collected and preserved by Louisa Matilda PLATTS. These included - a letter from Joseph Platts (in Russia) to his wife Sarah (in England) dated 1859 indicating that he was ill; wills written on vellum in 1850's; baptism extracts written on parchment and dated 1840; a floor plan of the grain mill in Kertch that was eventually destroyed by the British during the WW1 and 150 postcards of Odessa written to Louisa PLATTS (William's youngest maiden sister) by various members of her family.

As we were leaving Daphne gave Robert the original baptism certificate for William James PLATTS, 1841 written on Parchment paper.

Members of this English family were Engineers and spent much of their life in Russia. John Joseph PLATTS was born in 1840 in Odessa and returned to England with his family at the outbreak of the Crimean War. He returned to Russia and was involved in the Odessa Water Works. He acted as Consulting Engineer to the Municipality in the designing and erection of the new Municipal Hospital, in the construction of the Kisheneff lunatic asylum, the Odessa municipal laundry and bakery, and a number of Municipal enterprises of a nature to improve the health of the City. He introduced the principle of bacterial filtration of sewage into Russia, and was the author of a number of papers, which were read before the Russian Imperial Technical Society. (Information from his obituary)

The most fascinating part of this story was the discovery of the English family and their apparent lack of knowledge of many other members of the family. We have been delighted to provide as much as we could. Our small calico bag held many clues just waiting to be discovered.

Tristan Martin from Wells UK has developed a Platts Genealogy page, which has many informative stories and information relating to the family's experiences in Odessa during the pogrom and other times. See


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