I am currently transcribing the 1873 Diary of my 3rd Great Grandfather Thomas Hitchcox who lived at Fullarton (suburb of Adelaide), South Australia, when he wrote it.

The image below contains a family name that I cannot determine.

The rest says:

A family from Victoria named ? came to live at Barn Abbey

enter image description here

I have found out a little about Barn Abbey:

When European settlers arrived in the 1830’s and began appropriating the Adelaide Plains land from its indigenous inhabitants, a considerable area in Fullarton was bought by James Frew. The suburb owes its name to his wife, Jane Fullarton, and ‘Barn Abbey” at 16 Fern Avenue is said to be the first stone building in Fullarton.

After a few changes of ownership of Barn Abbey, the house and a parcel of land surrounding it was sold to James Fairbrother, who established an orchard and a factory making awardwinning- jam on the property.

which was exciting because I had been wondering who a man named Fairbrother in the diary may have been but I am no closer to knowing what the hard to read family name is.

To me it looks like Strutten but there are no births, marriages or deaths of anyone in South Australia by that name.

Are you able to discern the name?

In case it helps Thomas had been a school master turned farmer at Wheaton Aston, near Lapley, Staffordshire before emigrating to South Australia in 1854.

I am happy to provide samples of any letter combinations that may be helpful to clarifying the spelling of this surname.

I have found a second mention of this family in the same diary on Friday 2 May 1873:

enter image description here

Here the surname looks more like Scrutten and a search of http://trove.nla.gov.au (newspapers) finds a few instances.

4 Answers 4


The "South Australian Register" (Adelaide, SA) Wednesday 5 March 1873 p 1 has an advert from Thos U Scrutton about a lost mare from Barn Abbey, Fullarton:

enter image description here

  • I think that clinches it and that we are dealing with the family of Thomas Urquhart Scrutton - thanks for supplying an additional piece to the puzzle.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 6:47

I thought that I may have solved this when I noted that on the very next day he wrote:

enter image description here

Here the way he has written the seventh word, "last", in lettering that looks like "lust", leaves me with some confidence that the surname is "Stratten".

I have found two 19th century births (1877, Adelaide; 1885, Norwood) in South Australia for that surname but have not yet traced the parents of either to Victorian origins.

Now I think that I may really have solved this.

In light of the second piece of writing that I just added to the question, I think that this family may be written as Scrutten, and could possibly be the family of Thomas Urquhart Scrutton and Margaret Austin who had 12 children born in Victoria before:

  • son Charles was registered as being born at Mitcham on 20 Mar 1873 (admittedly this is about 6 weeks before the diary says that they moved to Mitcham but Mitcham and Fullarton are only about 3 miles apart)
  • son Charles was registered as dying at Mitcham on 05 May 1873 (only 3 days after the entry in the diary)
  • son Wilfred Young was registered as being born at Mitcham on 3 May 1875

Thomas Urquhart Scrutton was prominent in the South Australian mining industry e.g. Petroleum or coal in South Australia : a paper read before the Chamber of Manufactures on 13th February, 1874

  • 1
    Yes, I believe the name is Scrutten. In the first record of them moving to Barn Abbey, the author may have been unsure of how to pronounce their name and with later familiarity, corrected themselves. Or, the "y" above may have interfered with the writing of a "c". In the second image, the name says Scruttens, with an "s", which makes sense, because there is more than one of them moving. Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 7:02

I do not think it is possible from this one instance of the name to determine whether it reads Stratten or Strutten. In my opinion it would be best transcribed as Str[a/u]tten.

You can't rule out Strutten just because you can't find any entries in the BMD records. In the South Australia Government Gazette for 1874 (available on Ancestry.com), there is an entry under storekeepers license renewals, reading:

532 Strutton, Robert, & Logan, James, Blyth-street, Adelaide. Granted.

According to modern maps, Blyth Street is adjacent to – but technically outside – the suberb of Fullarton. One Robert Strutton married Martha Pegler in Adelaide in 1860. This may not be the family mentioned in the diary, but they could be related. In any case there certainly were people in the vicinity who had this surname.

Note that even in the late 19th century you have to take surname spellings with a grain of salt – especially one given in a diary. Vowels especially will vary in spelling. In my own surname, the vowels of a, e, and i were variously interchanged throughout the nineteenth century, but did not represent any meaningful change in spelling; the surname was just hard to spell if you didn't know how it was supposed to be spelled. However educated your ancestor was, he may not have known how they spelled their surname – it may have just sounded like Strutten or Stratten. Don't rule out, for example, that the actual surname may have been Strathern or Streeting, or something more deviant. In any searches that allow wildcards, I would search with Str*t*n*.

While I am not familiar with Australian records, there may be tax records or directories that you could search by address to identify Barn Abbey at this time, and more definitively identify this family.


We need more examples of this hand writing.

Strutten seems to me very probable variant, but please note that a and u by this write is written similar. Also he writes t in very specific way, so I guess that the original family was Strassen

  • Thanks for your interest. I think you are right about the "u" being an "a" but there are no BMD for Strassen in South Australia so I'm thinking Stratten is more likely.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 9:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.