Monday, January 16, 2017

Major Henry Blackshaw 1836 - 1907

A crack shot of the NSW colony.

He eyed the mark that was 600 yards away and aimed his rifle carefully, taking his time.

The crowd went silent, but Henry knew that he was going to win the prize and slowly squeezed  the trigger.  A cheer went up as the crowd watching the competition cheered for one of their favorites.  Sure enough it was a bulls eye, after all, Henry was the crack shot of the Goulburn Volunteer Regiment.   A Captain at the time, Henry beat two of his Sergeants to win in the wind and rain on a cold day in August.

It was 1884, and he was competing for money at the Goulburn Volunteer Rifle Association Annual Event.     Two years after winning the Event at Goulburn he competed in London and won the 1886 Windmill contest in an event at Wimbledon.  He shot over 200 and 500 yards, and won a Martini-Henry rifle and 25 PDS.

A Martini Henry Rifle like the one that Henry Blackshaw won in 1886
A Martini Henry Rifle like the one that Henry won.
In the 1850's the provision of responsible government to the colonies led to increased responsibility and self-reliance, and volunteer infantry units were formed. These were unpaid positions and men were required to provide their own uniforms, although the government furnished them with arms and ammunition. Goulburn was the first inland city to form its own unit.

Henry was just  7 years old when he immigrated from Scropton, Derbyshire, England to Australia.  His father John was the brewer at Goulburn Brewery for a period in the 1800's, his mother was born Mary Slater and they married in 1825 at Broughton Church, Derbershire, England.

The church where Henry's parents were married as it is today.
Henry was educated at the St Saviours Church of England School, and served an apprenticeship as a saddler to Mr. T. Musgrave.  He operated his own saddlery business in Goulburn for 20 years.  In the 1872 Postal Directory, he is listed at Auburn Street.  Some investigation reveals that the saddlery business had some interesting history. 
Henry married Mary McKinlay in Goulburn in 1858, and they had 13 children in total, living in Goulburn all their married life.

In 1869, when the volunteer regiment was formed, Henry was one of the founding members.  By 1900 he was the President of the Association.  When he retired he was given the  honorary rank of Major, and with permission to wear the Uniform of the regiment by the Governor, and received the Queens decoration for long service in 1895.  Henry clearly had a competitive spirit, he won many footraces when he was in his 20's, played cricket,  and then went on to shoot competitively, winning many contests.

The Queens medal presented to Henry Blackshaw in 1895
The Queens medal presented to Henry in 1895.

Henry's wife, Mary, died in 1889, and in 1891 he married Sarah Jane Bushell.  They had one child together, Henrietta Louise Jane Blackshaw, born in 1893.  Not much is known of Sarah, other than her birth in 1850 at Kurrajong, NSW.  This made her 41 when she married  Henry who was then 55 years old.

In 1901 Goulburn was flooded, and 460 points of rain fell in 24 hours, as a result the Mulwaree River overflowed.   The family took refuge in large pine trees near the house, which was almost completely covered by water.  Fortunately they were rescued, but it was a very close thing, particularly as they had seven young children.

One of the reports of the resue of henry Blackshaw and his family from flooding in 1901
One of the reports of the rescue of Henry Blackshaw and his family during the 1901 flooding of Goulburn.

Henry died on 6th January, 1907 and was buried at Saint Saviours Anglican Cemetery, Goulburn, NSW.  Sarah died in 1936 and she and Mary are both buried at the same Cemetery.  Henry's funeral was very well attended, and (along with other newspapers)  the Goulburn Herald contained an obituary. 

 A final point - Henry kept a diary, and excerpts were published in 1907 just after his death.  Presumably someone in his family has the diary, it would be very interesting indeed to read.

More Information? If you are researching
Major Henry Blackshaw, Mary McKinlay or Sarah Jane Bushell
 and would like the sources for this story, 
please contact me or comment below.  I would be happy to collaborate with you.

Immigration aboard the "Britton"

The Goulburn Saddlery