The Fire Beacons of England & the Kinleside Family Crest

Edith Alexa Kinleside married John Coleridge “Jack” Blackmore in 1915. Edith came from “Uppingham” at Koorawatha near Cowra, NSW and Jack came from nearby “Landsdowne” at Wattamondara. In 1929, with their only son Lewis Kinleside Blackmore, born in 1917, moved to “Mt View”, Clandulla, near Rylstone, also in NSW.

The Kinleside Family Crest represented the signal Fire Beacons erected along the English and Welsh coasts in order to warn London that the Spanish Armada was approaching in 1588.

A number of families were responsible for attending to the beacons, keeping a coastal watch and then lighting the beacons to warn England of the approach of the Armada. Several different family Coats of Arms contain illustrations of a Fire Beacon as part of their heraldry.

The Kinleside Family Crest – “I Seek but One Thing”
(Needlework by Patty Kinleside 1841-1879)

Something should be said about the form of the beacons, and the cost of their upkeep, which, later, became very irksome to the neighboring population, who were charged with it.

The early form was just a bon-fire of brushwood lighted on a hill, but in the reign of Edward III, orders were given that, beacons should be ” high standards with their pitch pots.”

“The beacon is seen to consist of an upright timber, evidently a roughly squared tree, let into the ground and supported on all sides by struts. On its top it has a circular iron brazier, which is reached, for lighting and refueling, by a rough ladder, formed of a single pole, sloping
against the main upright, with rungs nailed to it.”

The Spanish Armada

The Spanish Armada’s 130 ships carried 19,000 soldiers, 8,000 sailors, 2,000 galley slaves and 180 monks and friars as well as 14,000 barrels of wine, sent by Philip II, the Roman Catholic king of Spain, to overthrow England’s Protestant Queen Elizabeth I.

When the Spanish fleet was spotted off the shore, a beacon watcher reportedly lit the first fire of warning from St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, sparking a chain which reached army generals and then the Queen as a system of interlinking beacons were lit along the south coast from Cornwall to London, a distance of 280 miles, to giving warning of the arrival of the invading army. It is said to have taken from a little as half an hour or up to 12 hours for the news that the Spanish Armada had been sighted to travel from the south coast of England all the way to London. If the beacons were around 14 miles apart that would be 20 beacon watchers that would have to see one burning and, in turn, then light their own beacon.

The beacons were not fueled by wood but by highly flammable pitch-soaked rope or pitch pots. The advantages of the latter were that the rope would be easy to light, even in wet weather and would burn for a considerable time. In addition the pitch would give off black smoke that would be visible in daylight – a big advantage given that enemy ships masts can be spotted a long way out.

This rudimentary but effective system meant that English sea captain Sir Francis Drake and his men had time to prepare defenses and gather weapons. Drake’s ships were able to stop the invasion and eventually, with the help of fire ships near Calais and bad weather, the Spanish fleet was finally defeated before it could reach the English shore.

Sir Francis Drake playing Bowls at Plymouth

Legend has it that Elizabeth’s favorite captain, Sir Francis Drake, was involved in a lawn-bowling game in Plymouth as the great fleet approached and was so unflustered that he insisted on finishing the game before going to his ship. A touch bravado perhaps, or is just possible that he recognised that the tide was against him getting his ships out of Devonport harbour for an hour or two!

Routes of the Spanish Armada 1588

Andrew Kinleside from India to Australia

Andrew Kinleside was born in India in 1851, the son of Major General Robert Raikes Kinleside and his wife Isabella Barbara (nee Carter). Andrew had a brother Robert and three sisters, Isabella Martha “Patty”; Ema Ida and Matilda.

Andrew was a keen cricketer and in June 1868 he played for Uppingham School in Uppingham, Rutland, England against Haileybury College. He was 17 years old at the time and also captained the team. (In 1929 Andrew attended an Uppingham School Association dinner at Ushers in Sydney.)

It is believed that Andrew came to Australia soon after leaving school in 1868-69.

Andrew became a part owner of “Tooma Station”, with George Greene and Edward Macartney and later moved to “Uppingham” Koorawatha, near Cowra. (George Greene was later famous for “Iandra Castle”, also in the Cowra district)

It was whilst at “Tooma Station” that Andrew met and married his wife, Alexa “Exie” Watson, daughter of Sidney Grandison Watson of “Walwa” on the Upper Murray River and sister to the Watson Bros, Harry, Sidney and Greg, who settled Gregory Downs in 1877.

Andrew married Alexa “Exie” Watson in July 1877. They had four children:-
Robert Ernest 1878 – 1945 who married Mary Carter and had no children.
Frank Andrew 1879 – 1922 who married Helen Young and had two children, Maxwell 1914-1941 and Elizabeth “Betty” 1912 – . (Max visited Gregory Downs on several occasions.)
Edith Alexa 1886 – 1982 who married John Coleridge Blackmore and had one child Lewis Kinleside 1917-1995
Lucy Isabel 1891 – 1978 who married Oliver Edward Crossley and had no children. (Lucy and Oliver lived at “Fernside” Rylstone which was not far from where Edith and Jack lived at “Mt View” Clandulla.)

Kinleside Family Tree

Patty Kinleside

Isabella Martha “Patty” Kinleside, a sister to Andrew Kinleside, was born on July 18 1841, in Cawnpore, India, to Major General Robert Raikes Kinleside and his wife Isobella Barbara (nee Carter).

“Patty” married Charles Carroll Dempster on September 24 1867, at age 26 in Simla Bengal India. They had 2 children: Robert Kinleside Dempster and Isabella Martha Kinleside Dempster.

Robert Kinleside ‘Bertie’ Dempster originally had a property near Boorowa known as ‘Water Hole Flat,’ but re-named it ‘Sunbury.’ He later sold ‘Sunbury’ and bought ‘Gambarra,’ a very nice property near Greenethorpe, part, originally, possibly, of the ‘Brundah’ property. Dempster later sold ‘Gambarra’ to the Government for closer soldier settlement and returned to England, where he died.

“Patty”passed away in 1879, at age 37 in Dover Kent.

“Patty” Kinleside did the needlework of the framed Kinleside Crest pictured above.

The Latin motto SED-UNUM PETO translated reads – “I seek but one thing”.

The Reverse Side of the Crest Needlework

Post Script

Enquiries into the Kinleside family have been difficult as we have, so far, been unable to make contact with any other living relatives in Australia.

It also appears that, due to marriage, the name Kinleside has now disappeared from Australia.

The last Kinleside that we are aware of in Australia was Elizabeth “Betty”, daughter of Frank and Helen (nee Young), who lived at “Adelargo” Grenfell, NSW. “Betty” married Maurice Taylor of “Pooginook” Merino Stud, Jerilderie, NSW.

We have also been unable to find a photograph of Andrew Kinleside, although it is possible that there may be some in the Mitchell Library (State Library of NSW) in Sydney, as after Edith Alexa (Kinleside) Blackmore’s passed away, Lewis Kinleside Blackmore, donated a lot of Kinleside, Watson and Blackmore family papers to the library.

There is some more information on Kinlesides in Australia at this blog site on Pages and go to “Story Links to PDF’s” then “Kinlesides -Tooma Station to Uppingham”


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