Lucy Ann Kersley
(1868-1951)

(last updated: 15 January 2014)

I. Life and times

james and lucy burnsBorn at St Arnaud in Victoria in 1868 Lucy Ann Kersley was the third daughter of Thomas John Kersley and Bridget Buckley. She married James Napoleon Burns (1857-1941) at Dunolly in 1855. Their wedding certificate states that James was born at Dunolly and Lucy at Talbot in Victoria. Then aged 24 years, James was working as a blacksmith in Melbourne. Lucy was 19 years old and was living at St Arnaud with her family. As she was a minor, Lucy required the written consent of her father, Thomas Kersley, to be married. The wedding was witnessed by Lucy's brother-in-law, Samuel Claxton, and James' sister Mary Ellen Burns.

grave of john and mary burnsJames Napoleon Burns was the second son of the Canadian-born John Charles Burns (1828-1886) and his Dublin-born wife Mary Cummisford (1827-1903). According to Melanie Burn's Burns Family Tree on Rootsweb, Mary 'travelled with her future husband John Burns on the unassisted passenger ship Scargo which arrived in Victoria in March 1853 from New York'. John and Mary were married at St Francis Roman Catholic Church in Melbourne the same year. They had five children in addition to James, all born at Dunolly: John Cummisford Burns, Thomas Goldfield Burns, Edward Francis Burns, Mary Ellen Burns and Albert Edward Burns. John Charles Burns died at Dunolly in 1886. His wife died there 17 years later and was buried with her husband (their grave is pictured below on the right).

Simone Keane tells us that James' younger brother, Edward Francis Burns, married Agnes Ann Nolan and had seven children: Agnes Mary Burns, John Joseph Burns (who married Jean Hetherington at Essendon in Melborne in 1934), Elizabeth Veronica Burns, Albert Alphonsis Burns, Kathleen May Burns, Mary Lydia Burns and Edward Francis Burns. Click here to view photos of Edward and his family and brother Tom Burns.

After their marriage James Napoleon and Lucy Burns nee Kersley lived initially in Melbourne, where the photo above of them and their eldest daughter Ellen Maude was probably taken, before, in around 1890, moving to St Arnaud where the remainder of their children were born (their five eldest surviving children, together with their parents, are shown in the photograph immediately below).

Not long after the birth of their youngest daughter, Doreen Monica ('Mona') Burns in 1906, James and Lucy moved to Melbourne where Lucy's brothers, Thomas and Cornelius ('Con') Kersley lived. The 1914 electoral roll for the Division of Yarra, subdivision of Abbortsford shows James, who was described as a railway employee, living at 100 Yarra St in Abbortsford in Melbourne. Also registered at that address were: Albert James, also a railway employee, and Ellen Maude Burns, home duties. The only Lucy Burns on the roll was registered at 54 Lulie St in Abbortsford. With her was Thomas Roy Burns, an engine cleaner. At the time of the 1919 election, James and Lucy were registered as living at 244 Holden Street in North Fitzroy together with their son Thomas Roy Burns, a railway employee. The 1924 roll has James and Lucy at 21 Holden St together with their son John. By the time of the 1931 election James and Lucy had moved to 66 Erin Street in Preston where James died ten years later. The 1942 electoral roll has the widowed Lucy Ann living at 72 Bruce Street in Preston together with her daughter-in-law, Amelia Burns. At the time of the 1949 election, she was with her son, Albert James Burns and his family at 34 Esplanade in Clifton Hill. Lucy Ann Burns nee Kersley died at Preston in 1951.

burns family 1903

Taken at St Arnaud in around 1903, this photograph of the Burns family
comprises, from L/R: James Napoleon, Ellen Maude, Thomas Roy, Albert James,
John Charles (in front of Albert), Lucy Ann and Veronica Mary Burns.

During the time they lived in Melbourne Lucy and James remained in close contact with Lucy's brothers, Tom and Cornelius ('Con') Kersley and their families, and with her sister, Mary Jane Laurence nee Kersley, who lived in Narrandera in NSW (see the photos below). We know from letters and photos that have been passed on that these close contacts extended to members of Lucy, Con and Mary Jane's families especially during the worrying period of the First World War. We believe that Lucy also travelled to Sydney on at least one occasion to stay with Mary Jane who was visiting her and Lucy's sister, Ellen Smith (nee Kersley) who was then living at Balmain.

As mentioned earlier, Lucy and James Napoleon Burns had nine children born in either Melbourne or St Arnaud between 1885 and 1906: Mary (1885-85), Ellen Maude (1886-1942), Albert James (1889-1965), Thomas Roy (1892-1972), John Charles (1895-1951), Mary Veronica (1899-99), Veronica Mary (1901-41), Bernard William Joseph (1911-88) and Doreen Monica ('Mona') Burns (1906-1972). All except Mary and Mary Veronica are shown in the family portrait below. Click here to read about their children and their families.

burns and laurences

Taken in Narrandera in NSW in around 1910, this photo is of, from L/R: William Joseph Laurence,
Mary Jane Laurence nee Kersley, James Napoleon Burns and Lucy Ann Burns nee Kersley.

beach picnic

This remarkable photo came from 'Monie's trunk'. We think it was taken in Melbourne in around 1910. It includes four
of the Kersley siblings and their spouses plus a number of their respective children. Our current estimation of the identities
of those pictured is as follows. Standing (from L/R): Lucy Burns nee Kersley, Wilhelmina ('Minnie') Kersley nee Burrows,
James Napoleon Burns, Cornelius ('Con') Kersley, Christina Kersley nee Howes, Thomas ('Tom') Kersley, unknown, unknown,
William Joseph Laurence, unknown, Mary Jane Laurence nee Kersley, Albert James Burns, Ellen Maud Burns and unknown.
Kneeling: unknown possibly either Amy or Sylvie Burrows, Roy Burns (nursing Doreen Burns), possibly either
Amy or Sylvie Burrows and unknown. Seated: all unknown.

More photos of the Burns family can be viewed here and here.

(last updated: 15 January 2014)

Image Sources:
James Napoleon, Lucy and baby Ellen Maude Burns, from collection held by Barbara Moore.
John Charles and Mary Burns' grave, courtesy of Simone Keane.
Burns and Laurences in Narrandera, private collection.
Burns family in 1903 and Kersley gathering in around 1910-2, all from 'Monie's trunk' collection.

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