“Is there Chinese blood in the Barker ancestry?”

That question has sometimes been asked by some of the Barker clan due to the colouring and features of a few of its members.  I think it very unlikely that Roman Catholic Johanna would have associated with the “heathen” Chinese on the goldfields of Sandhurst (Bendigo).  If there was any possibility of Chinese ancestry, could it have come from the parentage of Able Seaman, Robert Barker?

This is a question that is likely to remain unanswered as the names of Robert Barker’s parents are unknown.  They were not recorded on his death certificate and searches in the 1841 census and parish records of Colchester, England (where Robert supposedly was born) have not shed light on his origins.

Robert Barker was an Able seaman on the “David Malcolm” when it arrived in South Australia in 1854, and Johanna Kennedy, an Irish girl, was a passenger.  Perhaps their romance began on board.  A large proportion of the ship’s crew “jumped ship” to head to the gold fields in Victoria.  However, before Robert headed to the goldfields he married Johanna in Adelaide, then left her in town for four years whilst he tried his luck gold mining.

Johanna finally joined Robert on the goldfields of Sandhurst and they had three sons.

To read more stories related to the Barker family click here.


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