A few weeks ago I attended a Zoom seminar run by Newcastle Family History Society, at which Jeff Madsen explained how to navigate and search the Historical Land Records Viewer to find old land title certificates, which can contain valuable historical information, as well as the occasional map.
I had used this service before to find some old maps, but was never able to find anything when searching the Torrens (land titles) records. I learnt that the reason why I never found anything is because none of the contents are indexed. The only way you can find a land title certificate is if you know the Volume and Folio number. This is often referred to as the Vol-Fol, and is searched for by entering the numbers separated by a hyphen as shown below.
Without a Vol-Fol number, your chance of finding what you want is literally millions to one. However, having found a title certificate (that’s a story for another post), it will often contain a reference to the previous certificate, and possibly one or more references to following certificates. These links then form a ‘Chain of Title’ that shows the progressive changes of ownership and subdivision of land. Using this concept of ‘chain of title’, starting with my own property in Lambton I was able to trace the chain back to the original mineral lease granted to Morehead and Young in 1863 (Vol-Fol 2-4), and then trace the chain forward to Vol-Fol 3-156 from 1864 wherein the plan of the township of Lambton appears on page 3.
Finding this map was very exciting. It is the oldest map I had found of Lambton, more than 30 years older than what I had seen before. The map revealed a few interesting details:
- It confirmed my previous suspicion that the original name for Howe St was How St, almost certainly named after Robert How, an investor in the Scottish and Australian Mining Company.
- The main road from Wallsend to Newcastle was originally going to be Dickson St.
- The section of Grainger St between Dickson St and Young St (Newcastle Rd now) was originally called Reservoir St.
- Grainger St appears on this map as “Granger” without the ‘i’. Unlike the ‘How/Howe’ discrepancy, this is almost certainly a mis-spelling on the 1864 map. Newspaper reports and Government Gazettes overwhelmingly and from an early date spell it as “Grainger”. The street is named after “Charles Garston Grainger” which returns 454 results in Trove, whereas searching for “Charles Garston Granger” returns no results.