Michael Ravensby

Alias Rowenski, Rowinski, Rovinsky, Rovinky; changed name to Ravensby in 1915
Born 16.09.1876
Place Swiniary, Central Poland; or Lanure (?), Austria
Ethnic origin Polish
Religion Roman Catholic
Father Phillip Rovinski
Mother Mary

Wife Alice Rovinsky (Ravensby) (née Byrness), married 1911; daughters: Ruth Mary Harvey, b.1912, Alice Mathilda O'Brien, b.1914, Joan Lucy Overell b.1916, Haleyon Margaret Ravensby b.1921, served in WWII


Andrew Snegovoy, Victor Schepenski, Sigismund Vitold Romashkevich and Michael Rowinski (Ravensby) arrived at Australia together

Residence before arrival at Australia Was a farmer in Swiniary, served in the Russian Cavalry for 5 years, Russo-Japanese War 2 years, became POW during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905
Arrived at Australia from Far East
on 3.04.1910
per Kumano Maru
disembarked at Brisbane
Residence before enlistment Blackbutt, Crows Nest, Wallangarra line, 131 mile Quarry Jondaryan, Toowoomba
Occupation 1913 labourer, 1936 farmer
Naturalisation 1913 (as former Austrian subject)
Residence after the war Wynnum, Nambour, Queensland
Died 8.11.1936, Brisbane

Service #1

Service number 3190
Enlisted 3.01.1916
Place of enlistment Toowoomba, Qld
Unit 2nd Light Horse Regiment, 4th Light Horse Field Ambulance, 2nd AS Hospital
Rank Private, Trooper
Place Egypt, 1917-1919
Final fate RTA 14.03.1919
Discharged 31.05.1919


Blog article



Newspaper articles

Obituary. Mr. Michael Ravensby. - Tweed Daily, Murwillumbah, 17 November 1936, p. 4.


L. Paszkowski, Poles in Australia and Oceania. 1790-1940, Sydney a.o., 1987.

From L. Paszkowski, Poles in Australia and Oceania:

Michael Rowinski was born at Swiniary, Central Poland, in 1876. As a young man he was conscripted to the Russian Imperial Army and was taken prisoner during the Russo-Japanese war in 1905. After his release he decided to go to Australia with several other Polish ex-prisoners of war. He arrived in Australia by the Japanese ship, Coomano Maru, on 3 April 1910. He was employed by the Queensland Railways, working in Cooktown, Cairns, Ingham, Mackay, Bowen, Proserpine and Toowoomba.

Rowinski married an Australian, Alice Byrness, in 1911 and in 1913 he was naturalized. Two years later he changed his surname to Ravensby, and in 1916 he enlisted in the Australian Army and served as a stretcher bearer in the Australian Medical Corps. He died in 1936, aged sixty, survived by his four daughters.

One of his daughters, Mrs Helen Kacprzak, wrote to me:

"We have always been proud of our Polish blood; my second eldest sister became a pianist who played at many local concerts, with my eldest sister who had a fine soprano voice. Joyce taught music until her marriage, and always regretted the change in name, from Rowinski to Ravensby. She liked the name we had, as so many famous pianists had a foreign name.

[My father] had been a farmer in Swiniary, Poland, which I was fortunate enough to visit in 1969, with my husband. When he decided to visit his family, I decided to try to trace relatives, unknown to me, as all correspondence stopped after Dad's death. I had not known any words in Polish, until I met my husband, when I felt that I had to learn, and never regretted the step, as it brought me happiness and opened many doors to me. The joy of meeting cousins, who hailed me as 'Sister', 'Siostra', was unbelievable, and being able to talk to them was also unforgettable, even though I made dozens of errors, once telling them quite seriously that I was 400 years old, instead of 40, and how they laughed!

I had much pleasure in seeing the same church where my Dad worshipped and prayed, which probably stood for centuries, and realized what a great step my father had taken in relinquishing all the old loved places, and faces, and starting a new life among unknown people. I even met a dear old man who actually knew and remembered my father, and who could tell us of how he set off. His wife, who was the goddaughter of my grandmother, could tell us stories of them both. She remembered how my grandmother used to sing 'spiewam i pjacze, ciesze si? jak moge, ale o swoim Michasiu zapomniec nie moge' [I am singing and weeping, cheering myself as I can, but I cannot forget my little Michael]. This reflects her motherly love, and feeling for the son who left, never to return."

Thus, the Polish side of the emigration of Michael Rowinski-Ravensby was revealed to his Australian daughters after so many years.