NAMES IN THE NEWS : A Bad Apple in the Family Tree
Australian singer Helen Reddy’s love of tracing her family tree revealed an ancestor who earned a one-way convict’s ticket Down Under by trying to prey on a rich landowner’s son.
She found a court transcript detailing testimony against Richard Morgan of Bristol, England, who hid under a bed, armed with a hammer, while his intended victim awaited an assignation with a lady.
Apparently her ancestor hoped that the landowner’s son would sign over 500 pounds and give him a watch, the records showed.
“He said: ‘I’ll knock your brains out if you don’t sign it,’ ” said Reddy, known for singing the feminist anthem “I Am Woman.”
Witnesses peeking through gaps in a wall testified against Morgan, who was on the first fleet of convict ships sent to Australia in the early 1800s.
“It’s so wonderful that I have a direct quote from my fourth great-grandfather,” Reddy said Friday at a conference co-sponsored by the Utah Genealogical Society.
Reddy, whose hits include “Delta Dawn,” said her convict ancestor eventually became an Australian frontiersman and father of eight. Four of his descendants became clergymen, and one was an archbishop in the Church of England, she said.