In the May-June 2017 issue number 347 of Alella magazine kindly supplied to me by my distant cousin Julian Lowndes who recently travelled through Alella as part of his sabbatical from teaching philosophy. It seemed natural he would take the opportunity to visit his family roots.
The magazine arrived in my post a little innocuously with a small missive. It looked interesting and had all the historic Parer photos inside. Alas, for me at least, it was all written in Catalan. So I placed it on my shelf with my other family history stuff, occasionally glanced at, but remaining sphinx like to me; immutably unreadable.
One of the reasons Julian contacted me was to help locate anything of interest in Alella for him to visit/view. I’d discovered Jordi Pratts, Archivist of the Parish of Sant Feliu d’Alella via Dolores San Miguel, recently of Melbourne, but now returned to Alella. Dad and I had commissioned Jordi to do some research into a few mysteries in the family. Yesterday his report was delivered and in amongst many amazing bits of work was this:
Josep Parer Bosch (1829) and Francisco Parer Xicola (1835) were the stepbrothers who marched to Australia but, according to the Alella Magazine, before they went through America where they spent several hardships and boarded a ship to return to their hometown. However, this ship, which they boarded paying their passage with tasks they did on the ship, was stopping at various ports and arriving in Sydney, tired and exhausted decided to disembark waiting for another boat to take them directly to the port from Barcelona. There they began to earn some money selling oranges and other fruits, as well as donuts and other typical Catalan pastry products. Then they traded with chickens that brought them greater benefits and before the economic growth they were experiencing, other brothers embarked towards Australia. They were the brothers Esteve Parer Xicola (1838), Feliu Parer Xicola (1840) and Juan Parer Xicola (1845). Throughout the years, the whole Parer family moved to Australia, including “l’hereu” of the Can Sors mill, Antonio Parer Bosch.
Now, we know much of the broad strokes around this, but the fact that they ended up in Australia because they were tired of seafaring, that they worked their passage, and the detail of their initial business is all new to me.
I have now just tediously translated much of the first couple of pages of the Alella magazine article. Here is what google translate makes of my typing of that section of the article:
The children of the spring
The verse transmitted so far claimed that the first to land the ship Alabama to Sydney, from Montevideo, was Josep Parer in May 1855 and that next year his step-brother Francesc joined him. Now, however, the discovery of a chronicle published in 1889 in the newspaper El Noticiario Universal brings new data through the testimony of the third brother, Esteve, coinciding with his return to Barcelona to visit the Internationa Expol: 3
“Towards the year 1848 or 49 two young brothers, natives of Alella, 4 resolved to embark on a sailboat that went to America, sure that in the new world would smile their fortune, from the wharf in the picturesque Alella region. ‘The children of El Moli’, as their countrymen are still called, found in America, not rudeness or well-being, but punishments with no account, horrible misery, which was unbearable to life.
Faced with the impossibility of continuing for more time in the midst of so many deprivations, both almost exhausted, resolved to return themselves in the direction of the dear motherland.
They were offered by the employer of a ship to work the passage […] the ship did not go directly to their national beaches, but rather they had to stop at other ports, and perhaps sail many months [until] tired one day of the sea life, and being in the remote regions of the Oceania, decided to leave the ship and wait in one of those ports for a departure of a European ship that would direct them to the old world. “
We do know the Alabama wasn’t the ship they travelled upon but the Telemarcho but otherwise the information espousing to be from Estevan Parer on a return visit to Alella rings true. If this is a true account from Estevan then this would be a marvellous second-hand account of the how the Parer’s first arrived in Australia.
The Alella article continues:
Once in Sydney, “soon, they had some resource selling oranges through the streets, first, and other fruits afterwards, to which they added donuts and other traditional Catalan pastries. After some months of a couple of dozens of months, they left this trade to dedicate themselves to another, more profitable line of work.
Eggs, pork and cow’s milk were the foundations of their fortune; the orders were every day greater, so the small business partnership was growing in a wonderful way. They added to the sale of those foods the chicken little by little, and as this trade was rapidly growing, they rented an orchard for the breeding of these birds. The two brothers separated. Francisco took care of the sales and Joseph the day to day duties of the farm.
Alella still had three other brothers, Esteban, Juan and Felipe, who, knowing the change that had taken place in their trade, requested and immediately obtained a passage to move to Melbourne.”
So there it is. Another piece of the puzzle of is discovered on how the Parer’s came to be in Australia.