Saturday, 18 June 2016

Arrivals from England

England was the intermediate point for possibly the largest number of early Lithuanian-born migrants arriving in Australia. Many sailed from British ports having spent a shorter or longer period in England during the late 1800s or the early 1900s.

Most stopped in London, often spending several years or even decades before moving on to the New World. Some came with their families, others sailed alone or with small groups of friends or acquaintances.

The Lithuanian Catholic Church in London;
St Casimir's, Bethnal Green, built 1912.
Image courtesy of London Churches in Photographs:

One of the earliest settlers was Jonas MICKEVIČIUS (John McCOWAGE). The Australian Lithuanian Yearbook Metraštis (1961) notes that he arrived in 1887 with his wife and children together with two other unnamed Lithuanian men.  The two other men returned to London within a few years but Jonas and his family decided to settle in Sydney.  Family trees on provide some more information: Jonas was born around 1855 in Suwalki (now in northern Poland, close to the Polish-Lithuanian border); and he married Morta Tuinyla in Fulham (London) around 1883. After migrating to Australia, Jonas worked as a greengrocer, eventually acquiring a stall at the Municipal Markets. Morta died in 1899 and Jonas in 1918; Metraštis records John Wedrien's account of meeting Jonas Mickevičius at the Sydney markets in 1914; Wedrien was apparently the first Lithuanian that Jonas had met in 23 years.

Michael Henry FRUMAR was born in Vilnius in 1885. A Lithuanian Jew, he had arrived in London shortly after 1900 and, in 1908, migrated to Australia aboard the Nairnshire. He settled in Sydney where he became a self-employed 'mantle and costume manufacturer' with premises in Pitt Street. Michael was naturalised in 1940 and died in 1949.

Others who arrived in Australia after spending some time in England included:

  • Jonas BALAIKA from Marijampolė, arrived in 1912 after 5 years in England;
  • George BARON from Marijampolė, arrived in 1908 - 20+ years;
  • Isadore COHEN from Šakiai, arrived in 1915 - 6 years;
  • William Frank JAKS from Kaunas, arrived in 1914 - 10+ years;
  • Militan SCHATKOWSKI from Plateliai, arrived in 1914 - 6 years;
  • Ksaveras (Alexander) SKIERYS from Marijampolė, arrived in 1911 - around 10 years;
  • Jonas VIEDRINAITIS (John WEDRIEN) from Kudirkos Naumiestis, arrived in 1913 after 12 years in England and Scotland.

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