Alfred Punch (b 1861)

parents Thomas James Punch & Catherine Lock

born 26 May 1861, Kangaroo Flat, Victoria, Australia[1]
died 14 December 1925, Kew, Victoria, Australia[2]
buried 16 December 1925, Burwood Cemetery, Burwood, Victoria, Australia[2]

Alfred was born the 7th child of Thomas James and Catherine when his father was mining at Kangaroo Flat.

By the time Alfred was 2 years old, five of his first six siblings had already died and he was raised with his older sister Louisa Charlotte and two younger brothers, William Thomas and Frederick.

from Alfred's birth certificate
Alfred probably had a free and easy upbringing on the Kangaroo Flat diggings but there may have been a wild side to him as well. 

In 1876, aged just 16 years, he was fined 10 shillings plus 10 shillings 6 pence in costs for willfully damaging a fruit tree belonging to Mr Riding of Kangaroo Flat.

Bendigo Advertiser, 29 February 1876

While Alfred was in his late teens and not long after the above mentioned unfortunate brush with the law, the family packed up and moved north to Kerang.

Google Maps

Google Maps

Marriage and Later Life

Sarah Ann Johnson
Sarah Ann was born ca 1862 in Riddell's Creek, Victoria (also known as Macedon River)[3].  There is no record in the Victorian BMD Index but there are entries for 8 siblings born between 1861 and 1886.  The firs sister born in 1861 was born at Riddell's Creek so it is likely that Sarah Ann was born there but her birth registration has been lost or it was not registered.

Alfred married Sarah Ann Johnson at St John's Church of England, Kerang on 10 April 1882.  Alfred was 20 years old and Sarah was (maybe) just 19 years of age and so the couple both needed their parent's permission as shown on their marriage certificate[3].  Was Sarah pregnant?  She stated that her usual address was Koondrook, on the Murray River, not far from Kerang.

  Alfred and Sarah Ann's marriage certificate

Sarah Ann's parents were John Johnson and Mary Ann Griffiths[3].  John and Mary Ann were married in Melbourne on 4 December 1860[16].  John was born in Worthington, England ca 1832 and Mary Ann in London ca 1831.  Mary Ann Griffiths' father was John Griffiths who married Mary Bennett in Launceston, Tasmania in 1824.  This is only interesting because John Griffiths was a very well known Sea Captain, Merchant and was quite wealthy.  There is an island - Griffith island, off Port Fairy, Victoria named after him.  Click here to read more about this pioneer of early Australia.

Life In Kerang

Between 1882 and 1889, Alfred and Sarah lived in Kerang and their first 5 children were born there[7,8].  It would appear from the various newspaper articles below, that Alfred was unskilled and he struggled to maintain steady employment.

1885 -- looking for gardening or labouring work.

Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette, 2 June 1885

1885 -- charged and convicted for removing  trees from Crown Land.  He and three others were each fined 5 shillings.

Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette, 20 November 1885

1886 -- worked as Gas Lamplighter and asked for his salary to be increased.

Swan Hill Shire Council Meeting Minutes, 6 July 1866

1887 -- asked for some financial consideration for his past services as a Lamplighter - was he unemployed?

Swan Hill Shire Council Meeting Minutes, 6 December 1887

1886 -- sued Mr R Tuck for his services to repair the fence at the Kerang Cemetery.

Kerang Police Court
Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette, 5 November 1886

1887 -- granted 1 acre of town land in Kerang.

Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette, 23 August 1887
1889 -- skating accident at ice rink and broke his right leg near the ankle.

Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette, 21 June 1889

It seems that Alfred spent a lot of his time in court over one issue or another.  The records of the Kerang Court of Petty Sessions show a number of examples[17]:-

Alfred and Sarah Ann's 6th child, Frederick Laban was born 1891 in Footscray, an inner western suburb of Melbourne[8].  Fred was born at his parent's home situated on the Railway Reserve at Footscray[15].  It is likely that Alfred was posted to the Footscray railway depot for a couple of years around 1891 and in 1893-95 they lived at Flynn's Creek in Eastern Victoria.  Now, Alfred had a steady job with the Victorian Railways as a Line Repairer, but still struggled financially....

Gippsland Times, 8 Jun 1893

Gippsland Times, 8 Jun 1893

Discharged from insolvency !

Between 1897 and 1906, the family lived in Rosedale, Victoria and Alfred and Sarah had six more children there.  During this time, Alfred worked as a Railway Employee[7,8,4].

However, for a period around 1903, Alfred relocated back to Flynn's Creek (Flynstead) with the Railways before returning to Rosedale[4].

Gippsland Times, 14 Jun 1894

The area between Lower Flynn's Creek and the Princes Highway has had various names such as Flynn, Flynstead, Lower Flynn's Creek, Upper Flynns Creek, etc

Google Maps

Between 1908 and 1912 the family probably lived in Traralgon.  In 1910 an award was made against Alfred for a bad debt.  It seems he still faced financial challenges managing the requirements of his large family and a relatively low paid railways job.

Traralgon Record, 5 August 1910

From 1914 to 1919 Alfred and Sarah lived in a Victorian Railways cottage at the Glen Iris Railway Station, Victoria.  Alfred worked as a Line Repairer and Sarah operated the railway gates which were manually operated at that time[4].  Glen Iris is a suburb of  located approximately 11 km south-east of the centre of Melbourne.

Glen Iris Railway Station ca 1910.  The railway gates can be partially seen in the foreground.
Copyright, Public Records Office of Victoria

Glen Iris railway gates on High Street looking west, 1968
Copyright, Public Records Office of Victoria

In 1924 Alfred and Sarah lived at 2 Burlington Street, Oakleigh.  Alfred still noted his occupation as Railway Employee (but it is doubtful that he was still employed) and Sarah attended to Home Duties.  In 1931 she lived in a house on Box Hill Road (now Huntingdale Road), Oakleigh[4].

Google Maps

Passing On

Alfred was admitted to the Kew Hospital for Insane on 11 August 1925.  He was suffering from Senile Dementia and was in a poor stste physically.  It is likely he was admitted because his wife could no longer care for him in his poor state.  She visited him regularly and last saw him on 25 November.

On 12 December Alfred was admitted to the hospital ward and then confined to a wheelchair.  On 13 December, he showed signs of weakness and refused breakfast.  He sank rapidly an died on 14 December 1925 at 6.26pm aged 64 years. 

An inquest examining Alfred's death was held on 16 January 1926 and concluded that he died from Broncho-pnuemonia[2,18].

Alfred was buried at the Burwood Cemetery on 16 December[2].  He lays in the Church of England Section 4, Grave C481[5]

Sarah died on 3 August 1934 and was buried on 4 August in the same grave as Alfred at the Burwood Cemetery. 

When she died, Sarah was living at 12 Henry Street, Oakleigh with her daughter, Ruby Linda Myrtle (married to Albert Edward Thomas) and next door to her son, Frederick Laban Punch who lived at 10 Henry Street. 

Sarah died from Heart Failure resulting from Stomach Cancer which had been diagnosed 12 months earlier[6,4].

Alfred and Sarah Ann's grave at Burwood Cemetery

from Alfred Punch's death certificate

from Sarah Ann Johnson's death certificate

The Kew Insane Asylum
The Kew Lunatic Asylum is a decommissioned psychiatric hospital located between Princess Street and Yarra Boulevard in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.  Operational from 1871 to 1988, Kew was one of the largest asylums ever built in Australia.  Later known as Willsmere, the complex of buildings were constructed between 1864 and 1872 to the design of architects G.W. Vivian and Frederick Kawerau of the Victorian Public Works Office to house the growing number of "lunatics", "inebriates" and "idiots" in the Colony of Victoria.

The first purpose built asylum in the Colony of Victoria, Kew was also larger and more expensive than its sister asylums at Ararat and Beechworth. The asylum's buildings are typical examples of the French Second Empire style which was popular in Victorian Melbourne.  Designed to be elegant, beautiful, yet substantial, and to be viewed as 'a magnificent asylum for the insane with the aim of portraying Melbourne as a civilised and benevolent city whilst avoiding the jail-like appearance of other asylums.  These aims were furthered by the use of low Ha-Ha walls and extensively landscaped grounds.  Long considered of cultural and historic significance to Melbourne, Kew Asylum and its complex of buildings were registered on the Register of the National Estate in March 1978.

Despite initial grand plans and ideals, Kew Asylum had a difficult and chequered history contributing to several inquiries.  Overcrowding, mismanagement, lack of resources, poor sanitation and disease were common criticisms during the asylum's first five decades.  Out-dated facilities and institutionalisation were criticisms of Kew's later period.

Kew continued to operate throughout the 20th century as a "Hospital for the Insane", "Mental Hospital", or "Psychiatric Hospital", treating acute, long-term and geriatric patients until it closed in December 1988.

Wikipedia, October 2012

Wikipedia, October 201

Wikipedia, October 2012

Children of Alfred and Sarah Ann

Alfred and Sarah had, at least 14 (maybe 15) children:-

1.  Catherine Mary Rosemund Punch (Kate) was born in 1883[8].  She died on 11 March 1884 in Kerang, after pulling a kettle of boiling water over herself. 
Kate was buried at Kerang Cemetery in the Church of England Section 9, Row 1[9].

Kerang Times & Swan Hill Gazette, 14 March 1884

Kerang Times & Swan Hill Gazette, 14 March 1884

2.  John Thomas Punch (Jack) was born in 1884 in Kerang and died in 1938 in Prahran, Victoria[8].  A Coroner's Inquest held on 3 August 1938 found that John died from a Jinker Accident[10].  John worked as a Labourer all his life.  In 1904 and again later in 1919 he worked in the Blackwarry and Nambrok districts of Victoria. 

On 15 July 1915 John joined the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF)[14].  He stated his occupation was Farm Labourer and he was unmarried.  John was assigned to B Company, 10th Batallion and sent to the AIF Training Camp at the Melbourne Showgrounds, Ascot Vale for basic training.  He remained in the AIF for less than 2 months before he was discharged due to mental impairement.

John enlisted again on 3 July 1916 in Melbourne - I guess the AIF's records were less than perfect! 

He was assigned to the 3rd Tunnelling Company and he stated he was unmarried and gave his usual address as Rosedale, Victoria.  John embarked on 25 October 1916 and sailed on the Ulysses arriving at Plymouth, England on 28 December. 

He was sent to France on 28 January 1917 but by early March he was hospitalised and remained so until the end of the month.  He was discharged back to active duty. 

He finally returned to Melbourne on 13 November 1919.  He was awarded the Victory medal and the British War Medal.

In 1924 he lived with his parents at 2 Burlington Street, Oakleigh, Victoria and in again in 1931 at their home in Box Hill Road (now Huntingdale Road), Oakleigh[4].

On 11 March 1931, John enlisted again.  On these enlistment papers, it is stated that he was previously discharged only on 9 March 1930 --- it is unclear if he really stayed in the army from 1916 to 1930.

 In 1936 he lived on the corner of Henry and Dublin Streets, Oakleigh[4].  He never married.  He was buried on 21 July 1938 at Springvale Botanic Cemetery in the Church of England Monumental Section, Compartment B, Section 15, Grave 23[11].

Folklore has it that "Jack" was reputed to have had mental illness and that he often dressed in women's clothes.  For a time, he lived at 12 Henry Street, Oakleigh[13]

3.  Ellen Jane Elvina Punch was born 29 November 1885 in Kerang and died in 1887 in Kerang, Victoria[8].  She was buried in the Church of England Section of Kerang Cemetery[9].

Kerang Times & Swan Hill Gazette, 10 December 1885

4.  Louisa Florence May Punch was born in 1887 in Kerang and died in 1958 in Sale, Victoria.  In 1912, she married William Toogood[8].

5.  William Alfred Punch was born on 15 July 1889 in Kerang.  He died in 1961 in Chelltenham, Victoria[8].  Like his older brother John Thomas, William worked as a Labourer.  Between 1914 and 1918, William lived with his parents near the Glen Iris Railway Station and later at 2 Burlington Street, Oakleigh in 1924.  In 1931 he lived in Wood Street, Beaconsfield[4].  He never married.  He was buried on 7 March 1961 at Springvale Botanic Cemetery in the Church of England Monumental Section, Compartment N, Section 8, Grave 09[11].

6.  Frederick Laban Punch was born in 1891 in Footscray, Victoria.  He married Frances Ruby Kinder[8].

7.  Elizabeth Sarah Victoria Punch (Bessie) was born in 1893 in Traralgon, Victoria.  She married Thomas Joseph Dudley Gilbert in 1911[8].

8.  Albert Victor Punch was born in 1895 in Traralgon and died in 1899 in Rosedale, Victoria[8].  He was buried at Rosedale Cemetery on 10 June 1899[12].

9.  Alfred Punch was born in 1896 (probably in Rosedale) and died in 1897 in Rosedale[8].  He was buried at Rosedale Cemetery on 24 February 1897[12].

10.  Charles Alexander Punch was born and died in 1897 in Rosedale[8].

11.  Ruby Linda Myrtle Punch was born 1898 in Rosedale and died in 1950.  She married Albert Edward Thomas in 1915[8].

12.  Percival Stanley Punch was born in 1900 in Rosedale but died aged only 17 months in November 1901 in Rosedale[8].  He was buried at Rosedale Cemetery on 22 November 1901[12].

13.  Leslie Arthur Punch was born in 1902 in Rosedale and died in 1975 in Heidelberg, Victoria.  He married Marjorie Alma Nicholls in 1934[8].

14.  Henry Edward Punch was born in 1906 in Rosedale[8].  In 1931 Henry worked as a Driver (of what?) and lived with his parents in Box Hill Road, Oakleigh.  In 1936 he worked as a Labourer in Leongatha in Gippsland, Victoria and in 1943 through 1954 he lived with his older brother, Frederick Laban, at 10 Henry Street, Oakleigh[4].  He never married.

  1. Alfred Punch b1861 birth certificate
  2. Alfred Punch b1861 death certificate
  3. Alfred Punch b1861 & Sarah Ann Johnson marriage certificate
  4. Victorian Electoral Rolls 1903-1980
  5. Burwood Cemetery records & personal inspection by Author
  6. Sarah Ann Johnson death certificate
  7. Children's birth records
  8. Victorian Births, Marriages & Deaths Index
  9. Kerang Cemetery records
  10. Victorian Inquests Index
  11. Springvale Botanic Cemetery records
  12. Rosedale Cemetery records
  13. Ken Kinder, personal communication
  14. John Thomas Punch 1884 - AIF Service Record, National Archives of Australia
  15. Frederick Laban Punch 1891 birth certificate
  16. John Johnson & Mary Ann Griffiths marriage certificate
  17. Kerang Court of Petty Sessions 1888-1920
  18. Victorian Coroner's Inquest held 16 January 1926, Ref 62.