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Wednesday, January 21, 2015 Anthony William Durnford Part 1 Introduction "If it is not the truth why would I write it?"

"If it not the truth why would I write it?"

some powerful words written by Anthony William Durnford, regarding a report that he prepared after a Battle in November 1873.

Certainly those words reveal a glimpse of his personality, and words unknown before beginning any of the family history research, but co-incidentally apply to the stories of all his ancestors.

For those following the story of the Ancestors of Montague John Felton Durnford, you would know that in telling the stories of each level of ancestor that was being researched, that the facts relating to what they did, how and why they did it, whether it be controversial or not, have been included in their story.  

 Often those stories lent themselves to questions, or asking "why", and another explanation offered.
There have been some amazing stories, discovered, sometimes unbelievable, often very sad, often quite laughable,  especially the antics of the 18th century, their courage at what they did, their incredible talents in design, serving their country in all theatre of wars and from the huge contribution that the sons of Elias and Martha Durnford have made from the 18/19th century, and continued into the Great Wars.

They have been pioneers, explorers, settlers, they faced adversity and hardships. Their wives and families often made their homes in lands that were so vastly different to the green fields of Wiltshire, in places where English was not spoken.   Their exploits and abilities simply amazing, particularly in the fields of military, surveying, and engineering.

Their family tradition in the Royal Engineers covers generations.

Perhaps during the 19th century, more so, our ancestors have fought in the Military in all corners of the world, and experienced very heavy losses.  They lay forever either at the bottom of the ocean, or in a far off land, probably never to be visited or found, in unmarked graves or those whose inscriptions have faded with time.

Of the two sons of Anthony and Jemima Durnford our 4th great grandparents - Andrew and Anthony - the only descendants who settled in Australia were those of Andrew Durnford and his wife Mary Hadley.

Our g.g.grandfather Montague John Felton Durnford was not cut from quite the same cloth as the rest of his cousins and uncles, and his story is yet to be revealed.

  However not one other family ancestor, in the period spanning over 1050 years,
over 26 generations that has been written and researched, has had a greater impact than that 
of this cousin,  Anthony William Durnford 


Col  Anthony William Durnford born 1830 - 1879             

To the Zulu's he was known as "The Lion"  to us, he was our cousin


As a young child growing up, in the 1950's both my fellow Durnford cousins and I at some point, became aware of this "famous" person in our family.    

We knew his name and that he had been in South Africa, not that far from Australia, just across the Indian Ocean going west.  There are not many of us living south of the equator, we are rather like the "distant" cousins.

No-one knew whether he was an uncle or how he was related, they just knew he fitted in somewhere into our Australian lineage. We knew he had done something really bad, and nothing more would be said about him.

Then about 35 years ago a cousin brought me some papers about Anthony Durnford at the time we really did not understand anything at all about the Zulu Wars, let alone researching family history, and we were still none the wiser about his life, but Hollywood chose Burt Lancaster to play his role, so he must have been important!

Fast forward a few decades and over the past 8 years family history became my interest. Computers and the ease of obtaining information assisted.  But I concentrated initially on my husbands family, the convicts and his grandfather who fought in the Boer War, and that is another story, involving a stolen identity, theft and a court-martial.

Then my research turned to my Durnford relations.  Anthony's life was there to be read.  But anything read on the internet about him was quite embarrassing.  Any wonder the family never spoke about him.  So I skipped him and began tracing back our lineage through Jemima Isaacson.

What as a total shock that was.  King William was a great grandfather, 3 times in fact.

Not in my wildest imagination would I have every thought or believed that our family could be traced to Europe, Royalty then through the lives of great grandparents spanning over 1050 years in England from the Conquest, nor the extent of the information that could be found about them.

Shortly before she died several years ago, another cousin remarked that if our grandmother had known all this history, she would want to be called "The Queen of Australia"!

The upshot was a 3 month tour to all the places they lived, fought, died, worked, to Cathedrals, churches, museums to all the places that held information about them and the trip was nothing short of simply amazing.  Often quite overwhelming and almost every day a new aspect relating to different great grandparents and cousins, was discovered.

My feeling was that all these stories need to be told, and thought it would take a couple of months.

Well that turned out to be a rather ambitious thought.  Every person had to be researched,, double checked, information updated, sometimes taking a side ways method of researching, simply to break through lots of brick walls.  Wills were read, extended family members researched, census papers read, all to find the tiniest shred of information that would reveal the truth, and revealing even more stories.

Maj Andrew Durnford
I had always felt rather sorry for our Great Grandmother Jemima Isaacson.  She married our fourth great grandfather Andrew Durnford. Major Andrew Durnford was no doubt a clever man.

One of four sons of Elias and Martha Durnford, Elias, Andrew, Thomas and Charles.  Elias and Martha moved to London, and he lived the life of a "gentleman", the result of Martha being a beneficiary of her father's will.

Gen Elias Durnford

Andrew trained at the Royal Engineers in London  along with his brother Gen Elias Durnford, and brother Thomas becoming a surveyor and engineer.

Elias and Andrew  fought in the Wars in US and Canada.
Thomas for some reason, did not secure a posting and volunteered with the East India Company, went to India, and died in an intense battle.

The younger brother Charles also worked at the Royal Engineers London office as well as running a fine china business.

But working in such an environment meant postings where ever they were required.  Elias was responsible for the layout and survey for towns in America, and West Indies. Andrew also was appointed for survey and engineering work in West Indies.

Anthony Durnford
It was there he met Elizabeth Lucas, and had a second family, while still married to Jemima whom he left in London, with two sons, and began another family in West Indies.  He even made two wills, one with respect to his family in West Indies and one with respect to his English children.

He had anticipated a huge legacy that Jemima seemed to be entitled to, and his will was influenced by that.  Jemima on the other hand was just as determined, he was not to "meddle" at all in her legacy.

Both her sons Andrew and Anthony, thought they would be wealthy, but the legacy was not forthcoming.  Their father purchased their commission in the Military, but all that is told in their particular sections of the blog.

The family blog is ongoing and still a work in progress, including this series,
 and will end with our Australian relatives,  who were involved in World War 1.

Unlike all the other stories Anthony's is a series of 20 posts 
the references for them are listed, they provide a chronological narrative of his life.

In the words of a French acquaintance, "History is meant to be shared", 

So are these narratives, but if being shared, for personal or educational use,
under current laws, reference needs to be made back to the blog site, 
and factual details must not changed in any way. 

 In no way can these details be reproduced for financial gain.

You can follow his posts also on the Facebook site:

Col Anthony William Durnford      


References within the Blog    Anthony William Durnford Part 1 Introduction "If it is not the truth why would I write it?"     Anthony Durnford a cousin -  Part 2    Background  To the series of his life in our family                                       story -The    Righting some wrongs.   Anthony William Durnford A Timeline 1830 - 1879   Anthony William Durnford m Frances Tranchell - Family Life with daughter
                        Frances Elizabeth Mary Durnford. 1854 - 1883  Anthony William Durnford m Frances Catherine (Katherine) Tranchell - 
                        Her family in Ceylon - And dispelling some of those myths   Anthony and Frances Durnford's daughter Frances Elizabeth Mary Durnford
                       m Nicholas Rapp 1883  Some fascinating stories of his family   Anthony Durnford in South Africa - Friends  and SA friend John Colenso 
                              First Anglican Bishop of Natal      Dispelling more myths    Anthony Durnford - Frances Colenso  -  Her life Her loves Her sisters and Her causes    Anthony Durnford  - Natal Mounted Rifles and Natal Native Contingent 
                             His Soldiers His Role and His Views    Anthony Durnford - Langalibalele - 1873 Bushmans Pass     Background of Events that led to the Battle on to 22nd January 1879 -     The Battle of Isandlwana 22nd January 1879  The Players - Newspaper articles-
                             Time for Blame    The Battle of Rorkes Drift   January 22/ 23rd 1879       Saving the Queens Colours -                                       Brecon     The Zulu War 1879 -   Lord Chelmsford  - Later a Prince dies   Col Anthony Durnford  To mid 1879 - Events immediately after the battle -
                         An enquiry is held 27th January, 1879 in South Africa  AWD The Aftermath  Reports to London from  Isandhlwana - From some who were                                 there - Including Zulus - John Colenso's reports to London - AWD Letters  AWD Aftermath  Col. Edward Durnford's  Assessment and opinion  Ref Blue Books -                                   An Information page    AWD The Aftermath - Edward Durnford  - Media reports - Lord Chelmsford faces his                                       critics  -  Books published  - Hansard  AWD   The Aftermath   Burying the Dead - after 4 months in the elements.  Col  AWD The aftermath Edward Durnford Quest - 1880 - 1884 Chelmsford at                                                Parliament - Crealock's Notebook revealed - August 1880     Col. Anthony Durnford - The Aftermath - Some survivors  - Re-arranging the truth 
                                 - or scared to death - Frances' condemnation   Col A.W.Durnford - The aftermath -  Making a case - Applying logic and being                                                             objective  

43.3.2.o.2     Col Anthony Durnford - The Aftermath -   Joining the dots

43.3.2.o.3     Col Anthony Durnford - The Aftermath - Joining the Dots - Reaching a conclusion

43.3.2.o.4     Col Anthony Durnford - The Aftermath - Joining the Dots -The Proof and an amazing                                     story revealed  Col. Andrew William Durnford  RIP  Buried 12 October 1879   A Brave Man

43.3.2.o.6     Col Anthony Durnford  - Events shaped by the Battle - Rock Art - Auctions - Finds -                                   Over 130 years later

Anthony Durnford - Born in the green lands of Ireland,  and finally laid to rest in South Africa

Drakkensberg National Park SA

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