Which William was Which?


The two contemporary William-Catherine marriages have been a subject of controversy for some years. The established belief, dating back to Barbara Ames' research in the late 1980s, is that several of the William-Catherine children are the fruit of a cousin marriage, namely from a Catherine Dreis marrying her father's first cousin.

This hypothesis has been questioned by Jenny Paterson, who suggests in her Big Index that it was William the son of Balthasar who married firstly Catherine Cahill in 1873 (registration number 2928, Maitland) and subsequently the above Catherine. Jenny has also posed questions about which Catherine Dries died in 1886.

The prevailing view however is that Balthasar's William died young, so Catherine Cahill's husband would surely have been Wilhelm Dreis's eldest son William. The subsequent problem is to separate which children belong where: who were Catherine Cahill's and who were her step-daughter's. To date the relevant death certificates have not been inspected to clarify this. The following represents some of the later thinking on this topic.

Gill Baker writes: This is as close as I can get to the definitive answer to the William and Catherine issue: Andreas and Wilhelm arrived with their respective families in 1853, Andreas with his children and new wife Ann, and Wilhelm with his wife Catherine and children (William aged 11, Phillip aged 9, Barbara aged 6 and John aged 3).

William Number One,
married his cousin Catherine

Andreas and Anna had a child they called William (this is established by both of their death certificates). Anna Maria Dryes' death certificate (ref 1868/6044) says she had the following children:
Anne 14
William 12
Herman 10
Catherine 6
George 3
Hannah 1
Andrew (Andreas) Dries' death certificate (ref 1883/?) says he had the following children:
Anne 30
Hannah 16

So it is established that even though his birth was unregistered William Dries was a living son of Andreas and Anna Dries in 1883.

William Dries was born about 1863 according to his marriage certificate. But on his mother's death certificate he was 12 in 1868 and would have therefore been born about 1856. As he would have been ineligible to vote before he turned 21 (which was 1884 or 1877 depending on which age you believe), I have checked the electoral rolls and a William Driaes was enrolled to vote in the Hunter electorate in 1876-77. He lived at Branxton. The Dries family didn't enroll to vote much, only William and Frederick enrolled in the period I checked. In the roll for 1886-87 the only William Dries enrolled had moved out to Gunnedah.

William Dries aged 21 years (son of Andrew) wed Catherine Dries aged 18 (daughter of William) on 1 March 1884 at the District Registrar's office, Singleton. See chart. According to this certificate both fathers were dead and Catherine's grandfather William gave consent to the marriage (ref 1884/6836). There is no record of William Dries' death before this date, I think that William had a falling out with his daughter (she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter who was said to be Indian or Aboriginal!) and had moved about that time to Gunnedah, so I think it would have been expedient to marry her off quickly - especially as she had her next child sometime in 1884 (I know they could just make it but ...). I think the Registry Office wedding also points to this being correct.

This William's death certificate reads as follows:
Reg. No.: 04712
Date of Death: 12 May 1897
Place of Death: Wyong Creek
Name: William DRIES
Occupation: Bushman
Sex: Male
Age: 41 yrs 3 mths
Cause of Death: Cancer in the mouth
Duration: 14 months, Inquest unnecessary
Medical Attendant: W.J. Chapman, JP, Wyong, 20 May 1897
Father: Andrew DRIES
Father's Occupation: Farmer
Mother - Maiden Name: Annie Mary IRVAN
Informant: George DRIES, Brother, Wyong Creek
When Buried: 13 May 1897
Where: Ourimbah Cemetery
Undertaker: William Andrew Trigg
Minister: J. King Brown
Religion: Church of England
Witnesses: Alexander Boyd, William Broome Lees
Where born: Singleton, NSW
Time in Colony/State: 41yrs 3 months in NSW
Place Married: Singleton, NSW
Age at Marriage: 28
Spouse: Catherine DRIES
Children of Marriage: Mary A. (illegitimate) 14, William 7, John 4, Annie R.J. 18 months, living; 2 females deceased.

William Number Two,
married two Catherines

William Dries (son of Wilhelm) married two women both called Catherine. See chart. The first marriage was to Catherine Brunner (of a German family) in 1865 (ref 1865/2974). She died of ovarian dropsey 8 June 1870. His second marriage was to Catherine Cahill in 1873 (ref 1873/2928). So all children born to a "William and Catherine Dries" before the [1884] marriage [at left] of William to Catherine belong to this [Brunner/Cahill-derived] family.

I also looked in the Hunter Valley Register which is a log of all the newspaper reports and personal notices between 1870 and 1890. I found the following notice: Driers Annie: Friends of William Driers are invited to attend his infant daughter Annie's funeral to leave Wilkinsons Paddock Wallsend for Wallsend Cemetery on etc. Source: NMH 10/12/1889. It would appear Herman Driers was her uncle. No one called Annie "Driers" died in Wallsend on the BDM, but William and Catherine Dries' daughter Annie died in Wallsend in 1889. Herman Dries was living in the Wallsend area about this time. I think, but I could be wrong, that both Herman and William Dries were blacksmiths.

I think this put a lot of distance between the two families called William and Catherine Dries, but I think that some of them may have merged back together in the Upper Hunter area. We will have to find a family member of either William's family to help sort them out any further.

Susan Dippel adds: I think that the most likely pairing is that of William, born 1856 to Andreas and Anna-Maria (Hübinger), to Catherine, born 1865 to Wilhelm and Catherine (Brunner). They are really the only ones who fit, unless there is a William somewhere born in 1863, which would fit the ages given on the marriage certificate. However, Chrissy has searched the CD-ROM records and there's no William born that year. Having said that, there is one other possibility and that is that William is the son of Balthasar and Barbara (Appel), who was born in 1861 and for whom I can find no further information [the Paterson theory]. The problem with that is that the wedding certificate states that the William getting married is the son of Andrew!!!! I suggest we leave it at what Gill and I have come up with until we have definite proof otherwise. I might start getting some death certificates soon and see if that sorts it out.

Additional backing comes from a publication, the Wyong and Tuggerah Lakes District Pioneer Register (Second Edition) by the Wyong Family History Group. It lists this couple as follows:
DOB: 1845
OCCUPATION: Timber Worker
Date/Place of MARRIAGE: 1884; Lochinvar
Date of DEATH: 12 May 1897
PARENT'S NAMES: Andrew Dries and Annie M .....
WIFE: DRIES (DRAS), Catherine
DOB: 22 November 1865
Date of DEATH: 2 September 1940
PARENT'S NAMES: William Dries and Catherine (nee DREMNER)

Susan notes: Where did the 1845 birth date come from and the Dremner surname? but at least it appears to confirm Gill's hypothesis about the couple's respective parentage, with William being the son of Andreas and Anna Maria Hübinger and Catherine being the daughter of Wilhelm and Catherina Brunner (Dremner looks like a corruption of Brunner).

Susan has also received a scanned photo of a headstone at Lisarow for this couple. They are buried in the same grave under the same name and it appears to read:

"In loving memory of ..... father and husband
... 12th May 1897,
... 2nd Sept 1940, aged 75 years".


The parent generation

1. Wilhelm, young pioneer, son of Wilhelm, born Lorchhausen 10 June 1841): the dominant interpretation is that he was the William [Dryes in the online index, also Fryes] who married Catherine Brunner [Bermaner in the online index] in 1865 (reg. no. 2974, Patricks Plain). His death certificate only shows him as married to Catherine Cahill.

2. William Dryes who married Catherine Cahill 1873 (reg. no. 2928 Maitland). Paterson originally proposed this to be (3), the son of Andreas. However the death certificate for (3) however shows no marriage to Cahill, whereas the death certificate for (1) does show Cahill as the wife.

3. William, son of pioneer Andreas, born in NSW 1856 (no record), married Catherine Dries in 1884 and died 12 May 1897 at Wyong, NSW. The wife would appear to have been his first cousin's daughter, (B) below.

4. William Dries, born 1861 reg. no. 11350 (Patricks Plain): child of pioneer Balthasar and wife Barbara. Paterson, but no other, believes this to be the William [Dries, Dres] who married Catherine Dries [or Dras] in 1884 (reg. no. 6836, Patricks Plain)

5. Catherine Drys born 1857 reg. no. 10033 (Patricks Plains); parents Andrew/Martha, same as Catherine Troyce baptized 27 June 1858 at (West Maitland) (birth date given as 16 Sep 1857) (RC vo1. 121 no. 3357); parents stated to be Andrew Troyce/Mary Hevenagh. This child is thought to have died in infancy.

6. Catherine Dryes born 1861 reg. no. 11521 (Patricks Plain), same as Catherine Drice baptized R.C. 20 Apr 1862 at West Maitland (birth date given as 24 Oct 1861) (RC vo1. 121 no. 3647); parents stated to be Andrew Drice/Anne Drice. Assumed by Paterson but no other to have married 3 above (Catherine Dras & William Dries, 1884, reg. no. 6836 (Patricks Plain)).

7. Catherine Dryes b 1857 to Andrew & Martha, Patricks Plains 10033 (who is this? possibly the same person as (A) below)

8. Kathrene Dreis b 1860 to Kaspar & Elizabeth, Parramatta 10476 (probably has no connection to this Hunter Valley group).

The child generation: all children of a William and a Catherine

IndexName Registration PatersonBakerCertificates
A Anna Drys b. 1857 9925 (Patricks Plain)
death: Ann Drys, par William & Catherine
1857 4110 (Singleton)
B Catherine [Dryes] b. 1865 (Patricks Plain) 1+Brunner 1+Brunner
C William [Dryes] b. 1867 (Patricks Plain) 1+Brunner 1+Brunner
D John [Dryes] b. 1868 (Patricks Plain)
John [Dries] d. 1870 aged 2 years (Patrick Plain) [no parents' names given]
1+Brunner 1+Brunner
E Johanna [Dries] b.1874 (Patricks Plain) 3+Cahill 1+Cahill 1/2+Cahill
F Barbara [Dries] b.1875 (Patricks Plain) 3+Cahill 1+Cahill 1/2+Cahill
G James [Dries] b.1877 (Patricks Plain) 3+Cahill 1+Cahill 1/2+Cahill
H Margaret Mary [Dries] b.1878 (Patricks Plain) 3+Cahill 1+Cahill 1/2+Cahill
I Henry [Dries] b.1881 (Patricks Plain) 3+Cahill 1+Cahill 1/2+Cahill
J Walter Joseph [Dries] b.1882 (Patricks Plain) 3+Cahill 1+Cahill
K Mary Anne b.1882 (Patricks Plain)
child of Katherine Dries (no father)
L Mary [Dries] b.1884 (Gunnedah) 3+B 1+Cahill
M Catherine [Dries] b.1885 (Patricks Plain) 3+Cahill 3+B
N Elizabeth [Dreis] b.1885 (Gunnedah) 3+B 1+Cahill
O Agnes T. [Dries] b.1887 (Glen Innes) 3+B 1+Cahill
P Annie [Dries] b.1888 (Wallsend) 3+Cahill 3+B
Q Angelina B 1889 Greta   1+Cahill
R William 1890 Wallsend   3+B 3+B
S Clara J 1891 Greta d. 1907 Murrundi   1+Cahill
T John 1892 Gosford   3+B 3+B
R Annie R.J. 1896 Gosford   3+B 3+B

Marriage Certificate

reg. no. 6836: William Dries, bachelor, born Ravensworth, 21 yrs (*father Andrew Dries deceased) marr Catherine Dras, spinster, born Belford, 18 yrs, father William Dries deceased. William Dries, grandfather, consent to marry. Married at Patricks Plains 1884. The index entry with the number 4836 appears to be an error (William Dres marr 1884 Catherine Dries, Emmaville). The latter place name is a puzzle. See (6) above.

Related deaths

I. Catherine Drys d 1859 par Andreas & Ann Patricks Plains 4595
II. Catherine Dryes d 1870 par John & Mary A Patricks Plains 5397
III. Catherine Dries d 1886 par William & Catherine [Paterson believes this is the child born 1885 above, but note it could also be the child b. 1865 to Wilhelm's son William] Patricks Plains 13396
IV. William Dries d 1896 parents unknown Narrabri 3000
V. William Dries d 1897 par Andrew & Annie M. Wyong? 4712
VI.William P. Dries d 1909 par John & Johanna Morpeth 2319

Document history: Version 1: December 2000
Version 2 with Appendix: January 2001

© Jean-Baptiste Piggin


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