Frank Rennie has proved the most difficult member of the Rennie family to trace. At the time of writing no trace of Frank or any of his descendants had been located.
Frank Rennie was born in Buninyong on July 30 1865, the twin brother of John Rennie. Their births were not registered.
The earliest family photograph that is extant is a fine ambrotype, taken late in 1865, of the babies John and Frank with their mother Jane. Twins have occurred a number of times in the Rennie family since then.
Frank was listed in the 1888/9 Postal Directory as being a brick layer of Scott Street Buninyong. At this time he would have been aged 24 years and living at his parents house in Scott Street.
He apparently worked as a brick layer for much of his life, presumably being employed initially by his father, and later for a short time being employed by his brother and building contractor Richard in Perth.
However, he was also a boxer and was said to have been a good fighter.
Jane Rennie with twins Frank (Left) and John c1866.
Frank attended the Bohr War. He enlisted in the South Australian Light Horse as a trooper on 5/5/1900 and was decorated with many medals. These medals were eventually mounted in a frame, but they, together with a Lee Enfield rifle presumed to be Frank's, were lost in a house fire suffered by Frank's brother John.
One medal locked in a safe survived. It is the Queen's
Medal 1899 with four bars embossed with Belfast, Laing's Nek, Orange
State and Cape Colony. Around the edge of the medal is the
'1770 TPR F RENNIE S.A. LT HORSE'.
He was discharged on 9/2/1901. He returned to Australia on the
Tongariro, embarking 31/3/1901 in Cape Town, and arriving on
29/4/1901 in Sydney, NSW. He then travelled by train to Melbourne,
arriving on 3/5/1901.
AFTER THE WAR
It appears that after the Bohr War, Frank worked in Western Australia for a short while. He stayed with his brother Richard Rennie in Fremantle and worked for Richard as a bricklayer. Frank appears in a photograph taken around 1902 of a family picnic in the bush near Perth, along with his brothers Richard and John, and his father Richard Hutchinson Rennie.
By 1904 he was back in Buninyong and was a witness at the
a cousin William Frances Stanbury (Buninyong Marriage
6911/1906). On this document he signed his name as Frank
Rennie. At about this time Frank and his brother John had a photograph
together in a studio in Melbourne.
He resided in Buckland Hill near Fremantle, Western Australia in 1906, and in 1910 was living in South Guildford with his brother Richard, probably working for him on the Narrogin to Wickepin Railway (1908/9), and the Upper Chapman line to Naraling (1909/10). This is the last record of Frank that has been located.
One of Frank's medals
Frank has been described as a "rover and a good fellow" and a
nice person". However he has also been described as a "surly
and was more serious in his outlook than his brother John.
RETURN TO SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The remainder of Frank's life is somewhat a mystery, although some information has been passed down through the various branches of the family by word of mouth.
Frank is said to have returned to South Australia, going by train from the Spencer Street Station in Melbourne.
He is believed to have married some time later in South Australia. His niece, Doris Mansell, recalled that he married a widow with several small children.
Frank wrote very few letters to his family, although it is believed he wrote to his brother John for a while.
Alfred John Rennie (Frank's nephew) recalled in 1981 that "while in South Australia Frank took sick and was in hospital. He had a wife and several small children. Frank wrote to his brothers, Alfred and John, asking for some money. They wired him some money (10 pounds)".
It is said that John later heard that his brother Frank had died. Comments made about Frank by various relatives were "never heard of again", "we never heard any more", "no one knows what happened to Frank", "he just disappeared", "some suggested they should have sent more money", "possibly Frank's wife never let the relatives know what happened to him as she was embarrassed at not being able to re-pay the money".
Notwithstanding these statements, the general feeling is that
Rennie died in South Australia.
Frank and John Rennie
OF FRANK RENNIE
The date of Frank's illness and possible death is not certain, but several sources place this event in the period 1912 - 1918, and possible c1916.
Frank's brother John tried unsuccessfully to locate him in the mid-1920's by travelling to South Australia. More recent searches in South Australia (1981) have failed to find any records of Frank. No registrations of his marriage or death have been located. To this day there is no trace of Frank or his descendants.