Monday, December 12, 2011

A Family Treasure - Where did it Come from?

The Small Box

I wonder how many small items we have around our homes, handed down from one generation to another, that we think of as treasures, but don't know the origins of? 

When I was a teenager, my paternal grandmother gave me the small box pictured above to keep jewellery in. I have treasured the little wooden box for many years however, possibly, because I have had it for so long, I have given little thought to where it came from or how old it might be, until recently, when I took it out of a drawer and made time to look closely at the picture on the top of the lid. It is a picture of Burns Cottage. 

The Picture on the Lid of the Box

Since my grandmother, Jemima Florence MacDade [m.s. White] arrived in Queensland, Australia from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, as an 11 year old in 1913, I had always assumed that the box had come from Ireland. Recently, I realised that I knew nothing of the origins of the little jewellery box and decided to see if I could find out something about it. With my grandparents and parents passed away, there is no one who might tell me where this small box came from, not how old it might be. I am hoping that through this blog, someone might recognise my small box, or have one similar,  and have information to share with me. 

Did my small box arrive on board the Ship 'Ayrshire' in 1913 with Hugh and Sarah White and their five children, William, Violet, Jemima, John and Andrew? Or could it have belonged to my grandfather's family who were Scottish? My grandfather, Colin Hamilton McDade arrived in Australia in 1922, aged 19. He arrived with his family, parents John and Elizabeth McDade and seven siblings from Cumbernauld, Glasgow in Scotland. It is possible that the box may have travelled with  the McDade family on board the 'Largs Bay'. After all, the Robert Burns Cottage, the place of his birth and his home until the age of seven years, is in Alloway, South Ayrshire, in Scotland, not far from Glasgow.

'Burns Cottage' - The Birth Place of Robert Burns
A Picture of Burns Cottage

Pen showing the size of the Box

The cottage was built was built in 1757 by William Burness, father of the well known poet, Robert Burns (a most famous of his poems being 'Auld Lang Syne').

My Scottish grandfather never lost his Scottish accent and was fond of Gaelic songs and rhymes, including those written by Robert Burns. This, of course does not solve the mystery of the origins of my little box. My great aunt Violet, sister to my grandmother, made annual trips back to Ireland and also visited friends in Scotland, so it is entirely possible that she brought the little jewellery box back for her sister from one of her journeys overseas.

My own 'little treasures' inside the Box.

Inside the little box, I have a collection of old pieces of jewellery and small trinkets which I have owned for many years. There is a locket with an unidentified photograph of an ancestor, a rose broach which belonged to a great aunt, earrings which I wore as a teenager, an eternity ring given to me many years ago by an old beau and other odds and ends. I have enjoyed looking through the small box and reminiscing, but I would dearly love to know something about the little box itself.

Back of the Box

If anyone has any information about my Small 'treasure'. I would appreciate your help in finding out where my little jewellery box originated.


  1. Lovely article. I found a similar box with 'Burns Monument' on it. Could be the same maker?

  2. Thank you Ursula, I will check out the site you mention.