John Heim         

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The Liverpool-German Roots of Australian WW1 Soldier John "Barney" Hines

In November 2017 I was reading about the legendary WW1 Australian soldier John "Barney" Hines and decided to try to uncover his Liverpool roots. I started a discussion thread on the Liverpool & SW Lancs FHS genealogy forum to encourage others to join me in this research. The information online at that time gave a birth year of 1873 but no details about his parents. Searching the birth indexes and baptisms from around that time I failed to find a convincing candidate for Hines. One of the difficulties of this research was the various spellings of the surname. There were clues about his background in his Australian Army record. His mother was called Dora and he had a sister called Mary Thompson whose address was 23 Eldon Place Liverpool. These clues that I expected to lead to his Liverpool relatives surprisingly didn't link in to any John Hines/Hinds etc living in Liverpool in the late 19th century. I gave up the research because it was proving too difficult to find a Liverpool candidate for John Hines.

In March 2018 genealogy researchers on a new discussion thread on the RootsChat forum built a good case for Hines being John Heim born on 11 October 1878 in Liverpool to German parents Jacob and Dora Heim. The evidence to support this includes the identification of two of Hines's family members who were mentioned in his Australian Army record. Firstly Hines's mother who was called Dora, Heim's mother was called Dora. Secondly his sister Mary Thompson, Heim's sister Mary Heim married David Thompson in Liverpool in 1893. The Heim family lived in Eldon Place an address given in the Australian Army record. Heim's sister Rose Ann was at 23 Eldon Place in 1915 and Mary was buried from there in 1916 when she died. John Heim of 114 Bond Street, Liverpool joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment of the British Army in 1895 but was found to be "non Effective". Prior to enlistment he was a blacksmith at the Bush Tannery at Bevington Bush in Liverpool. After his father died his mother married a blacksmith called Thomas Wait in 1893. His step-father Wait may have been instrumental in this choice of occupation. In 1896 he joined the Royal Navy he is recorded as being a stoker, not on a ship at sea but at a Royal Navy Shore Station called HMS Victory II. His character was described as indifferent and after serving for 8 months he was “Discharged as Objectionable”. Both army and navy records show him as older in age than he really was. In later years he would pretend to be younger in enlistments.

John Heim married Hannah Maher in Liverpool in 1899 and they had two children together. Heim disappears from the records in the early 1900s and Hannah, unable to obtain a divorce, pretended to be a widow so she could marry again. Heim's character and career path are a good match for John Hines. Liverpool merchant seamen crew lists show that Heim did eventually go to sea working as a marine fireman (a stoker). An 1899 crew list from Ottoman gives his address as 1/3 Eldon Street and 1901 crew lists from Majestic give the following addresses:- court 2 house 4 Silvester Street, court 2 house 5 Silvester Street and 11 Elm Place which perhaps should have been recorded as 11 Eldon Place, an address that John Heim lived at when he married in 1899. His brother Jacob Heim, a leading fireman on merchant ships, was living at 11 Eldon Place in 1901 when he married Sarah Hutchinson and other family members were living at that address on the 1901 census. 

Liverpool Electoral Registers show "John Heims" formerly of court 2 house 5 Silvester Street living at court 6 house 5 Silvester Street in 1902-03. He is at the same address in 1903-04 but not there in 1904-05 and doesn't appear in any further electoral records. The only John Heim that appears on future registers is the son of John's brother Jacob Heim and Sarah Hutchinson. His nephew only appears on the records from the 1920s. Hines's first criminal conviction in Auckland, New Zealand was in November 1904 so by 1904 he had left his wife and children. The two NSW Gaol records available to view online give different dates of birth for Hines. The first record gives the date of birth as 12 October 1884. The Royal Navy record for Heim also says 12 October but gives a different year, 1876. The second record says 17 March 1884. Perhaps that date was given as a joke with 17 March being St Patrick's Day? Hines pretended to be from an Irish background.

The New Zealand and Australian newspapers have interesting and disturbing articles covering criminal cases and a coroner's inquest involving Hines. They reveal that Hines was not the loveable rogue that he tried to present himself as but rather a man who had a very violent criminal past. Here are two examples:-

Auckland, New Zealand, 1909, "An Indictable Charge"

Sydney, Australia, 1920, "Grabbed By The Coat"

John Hines, New South Wales State Archives, Gaol Photographic Description Book images 14800 and 17589:-

After over a decade in New Zealand, spent mostly up to no good or in prison, John Hines moved to Australia. He joined the ship Somerset as a fireman in Auckland and worked his passage to Australia. Somerset arrived in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 18 August 1915. He was recorded on the crew list under his real name:-

J Heim; rank/rating, Fireman; age, 29; place of birth, Liverpool; previous ship, Ayrshire.

Other relevant information available on the original record image of the crew list for J Heim on the Somerset includes:-

Home Address: 23 Eldon Place off Vauxhall Rd Liverpool

Particulars Of Discharge: 25/8/15 - Sydney - Dis