It would be self-evident to say that names are important. Everything depends on names and naming from company logos to places on a map. We only know people we meet by their name and the name we are given at birth can often shape our attitudes and sometimes even our life. I was named James Oliver for two people dear to both of my parents. James was my Father’s Brother and also the name of his Grandfather. Oliver was my Mother’s Father and so I carry the names of these men, and more. What I carry is their legacy and their memory.
James my Great-Grandfather was the youngest son of a convict from Norwich in England who was transported for 14 years in 1826. James was born in Queanbeyan in 1847 but grew up in Beechworth where he learnt the coachbuilding trade. He ran a very successful business in Albury and his eldest son named his first born for him.
James my Uncle was born in Albury in 1908 but drowned in the Murray River at the age of 10 in 1918. He was attempting to rescue his younger brother, who was saved, but sadly lost his own life. My Father was born twelve months later and was named Joseph James. I was born in 1951 and when I was eight years old, my Grandmother gave me this portrait of the son she had lost after whom I was named. This photo has stayed with me ever since.
Oliver my Grandfather was born in Crookwell in 1896 and became a successful farmer in that district. I would stay with my Grandparents many times as a child and remember him with warm affection. He was a tall, strong man and I always felt safe in his presence. He loved the land and passed that love on to his daughter, my Mother. In this photo he is sitting on our back step at Gundawanna with his wife, our Grandmother watching over my sister and I.
Perhaps James and Oliver still watch over us, I would like to think so. I feel a strong connection to both and wish to honour them in my writing.