Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Alexander Urquhart C1858 - 1941

 Alexander married two sisters.

As I drove past the house in Peakhurst for the umpteenth time, I wondered again when did Alexander Urquhart come to Australia?

I have been searching for the answer to that question for some time.  So far there is no result, partly because Urquhart is actually quite a common name.  There are Urquhart's from Scotland and Urquhart's from England who immigrated here in the 1800's, and I cannot sort them out.

The first I know of Alexander for sure is when he married Hannah Maria HOOLE  in Orange, NSW, AUS in 1885.   Hannah and her sister Sarah Ellen HOOLE  where servant girls from Sheffield, Yorkshire, England who immigrated to Australia in 1884, aboard the Texan.

Alexander and Hannah had one son, James Alexander Urquhart, who was born at Orange.  Sadly, two years after James was born, and after only 3 years of marriage, Hannah died, aged just 24 years.  At this time the family seem to be living at St Peters, NSW.

This is one of the odd questions about this family - what is the connection to Orange?  Why did Hannah die in St Peters?

It seems likely that Hannah's sister Sarah jumped into the gap left by Hannah's death, because 5 years later, in 1891, Alexander married Sarah at Orange NSW.  I have not been able to find out anything about the family in Orange, or why they were there.  They went on to have seven more children, and that is where the story gets interesting for me.  Edith was born in Forbes, then the rest of the children were born in the Sydney area.

By 1930, we can see from the NSW Electoral Rolls, that Alexander, Sarah with two children,  Edith, and David, were all living in a house in Bonds Road, Peakhurst, NSW.  Alexander, who by this time is aged 64, is listed as a Tailor  "Home duties" is listed as the occupation for the girls, and then David, who is a moulder.

By 1933, Alexander has no occupation, and is living with Sarah, and his daughters Edith, Marjorie (all home duties) and  Mary Jane who is a dressmaker.  Mary Jane was a dressmaker up until at least 1980 when she was 69 years old.  By this time they were living in Romilly Street, Peakhurst.

The house they lived in is not far from me and  I have been past it many times.  I wonder if the girls ran the dressmaking business from the house?  It seems likely as this was quite common in those days. I can just imagine the parade of ladies in hats and brides-to-be coming and going for fittings. What were the fashions like in 1933?  These examples from the Australian Womens Weekly give us some idea of what they may have been making.

1933 cover showing an good example of a typical bridal gown of the day.

 They must have made a living at dressmaking, as this seems the only profession they had.
This is what the house looks like today:

12 Romily Street, Peakhurst where the family lived.  This is a typical fibro house, although bigger than most, that was built in the area, built Circa 1920.

Alexander died in 1941, aged 83, and was cremated and interned  at Woronora Cemetery with his second wife Sarah who died 12 years later.  His daughters continued to live and work in the Peakhurst house until at least 1980.

The cremation memorials of Alexander and Sarah Urquhart.

Who Alexander Urquhart's parents were, where he was born, how he cam to Australia are all unsolved mysteries in my family history to be solved at some later date.

More Information? If you are researching
Alexander Urquhart, Hannah Hoole or Sarah Hoole
 and would like the sources for this story, 
please contact me or comment below.  I would be happy to collaborate with you.

Fashion in 1933

Urquhart family in the NSW electoral rolls

Sarah Ellen Hoole 1866-1953

Hannah Maria Hoole 1864-1888

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A tale of the First, Second and Third convict fleets to Australia

This is a story of three people transported to Australia for reasons that (as many convicts do) relate to being poor.  Contrary to the myth that Australia was settled by murders and criminals, most of the convicts I have come across have been people of their time in England and Ireland where poverty was common, even if you had a job, and life was hard.  They are people who resorted to petty crime, usually theft of something quite small, and in some cases their employer was the victim or perhaps the perpetrator.

Given chances for a productive and good life in Australia most convicts had extensive families and built houses and farms, and this is what happened in this case.

So let's begin with the first fleet,

An engraving of the First Fleet in Botany Bay at voyage's end in 1788, from The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay. Sirius is in the foreground; convict transports such as Prince of Wales are depicted to the left.


His place of birth is not certain, however I know from convict records it was in 1768, England.  There is a baptism record for a DOB of 25July, 1768 which may be our Mathew.
We know that Mathew was educated and literate, and by 1784, aged 15,  was a clerk working for a law firm near Temple Bar.   He was brought up to the Old Bailey for Fraud on 7th July 1784 and sentenced to 7 years transportation.  Desperate for money to pay the rent, he had gone to a bookseller falsely claiming his employer wanted to borrow a copy of a law books, which he was duly given. He then proceeded to sell the books for 10 shillings.  Unfortunately for Mathew his employer, Mr Clermont and the bookseller Mr Shepherd were well known to each other, the game was up.  Mathew's defense was "I was in great distress"  meaning he was short of money and desperate, but that was no defense in the 1700's at the dock in London.  

This type of story is told over and over again in convict records, people in England, particularly in cities,  had low wages and barely enough to live on so in desperation turned to petty crime.  In the countryside they were losing jobs and homes and again became desperate to feed their families and survive the conditions in England at the time.

Temple Bar in the Strand, London, Thomas I. Malton. The Courtauld Institute of Art, D.1952.RW.4316. © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London.


The first prisoners ever taken to the hulks were admitted on 15 July 1776, so it seems likely that Mathew spent time on Hulks, and Newgate prison.  No records have been found yet to confirm which ship.  Life on the Hulks was hard, but during the day the prisoners were put to work, mostly as labourers.


Mathew James Everingham was transported aboard the Vessel Scarborogh, captained by John Marshal, as part of the first fleet of convicts to Australia.  

Once arrived in Sydney, and being literate and well-educated, he was employed as a clerk to Assistant Commissary Zachariah Clark. Although punished with 25 lashes for "drunkenness and falsehoods," he gave evidence at the trial of Sarah Bellamy, and was moved to Rose Hill to assist Henry Dodd, supervising the "pitt sawyers and the women employed at needlework."  He also did work with a boat builder on the first boat to be built in Australia, called “The Rose Hill Packet”, otherwise known as‘The Lump’, and he worked on the Government farm at Rose Hill (Parramatta).   From this information, we get a picture of Mathew as a hard working and trusted convict.


Three months before he became “free by servitude” in 1791, Mathew married Elizabeth Rimes (Rymes) at St Johns Church, Parramatta by Rev. Samuel Marsden.    My family has a strong link to this church in the early days of the colony.  Elizabeth was transported on the 2nd fleet.

St Johns Marriage Banns for Mathew and Elizabeth

Matthew and Elizabeth’s first child, Mary Everingham, was born in December 1791 and tragically died a month later, being one of 33 children who died in the Parramatta area in that same month, from a sudden unknown illness that killed them within 24 hours.  They went on to have 11 children in all.

By mid 1802 Mathew and Elizabeth are recorded on 50 acres at The Ponds cleared, 7 sown in wheat, 6 in maize) owning 14 pigs and holding 20 bushels in maize in store. He was still receiving a public ration, while his wife and 4 children were not.

In the months following the 1802 muster, the family moved to the frontiers of settlement in the Hawkesbury River where a 50 acre grant at Sackville Reach was registered in Matthew's name in April 1803.

Just a year later, in May 1804, the family was attacked by an aboriginal raiding party. Matthew, his wife and their Irish assigned convict worker were said to have suffered spear wounds and their house and barn were robbed and burned. Caves on the farm bore the hand marks and other artwork of the aboriginal people who had lived there for millennia. 

1804 report in Sydney Gazette

Recovering from their injuries, the couple worked hard to clear and cultivate the land, and by 1806 they had at least 19 acres cleared in wheat, 6 in maize, 1 in barley, 1 in potatoes, orchard and garden) They held 13 bushels of maize in store and owned 18 pigs, supporting themselves, 6 children, a convict and a free man. (In the 1980s the site of the farm was occupied by the Sackville Ski Gardens on the Tizzana road near the Sackville ferry.)

Matthew's property suffered floods in 1806 and 1909, in which he was brought close to ruin. He let the Sackville farm and moved his family to Green Hills where he was employed by the wealthy emancipate brewer and settler, Andrew Thompson. In Feb 1810 he was granted a wine and spirit license.

1810 Sydney Gazette

After Thompson's death in October 1810 (the same year) the family lived at his West Hill Red House Farm (modern McGraths Hill).   

It appears that Mathew went back to farming.  He was in financial difficulty in 1812 when his property was offered for sale by execution. He failed to sell  the Sackville farm, which was again ravaged by flood in 1811. The property was leased to his son Matthew and finally sold in 1820.

The Final Chapter

Mathew James Everingham died on 25th December, 1817 at Windsor.  The circumstances of his death were revealed at the inquest  By this time Mathew had become a district Constable at Portland Head as well as a farmer.  He appears to have fallen off the ship and  into the river and drowned accidentally.

Mathew James Everingham is buried at Wilberforce Cemetery.

Elizabeth Rimes died in December 1841and was buried on Knights Farm, 24 years later at Cumberland Reach.


The Australian Police History site has some very interesting family stories about Mathew Everingham and Elizabeth Rimes.  Elizabeth was said to have been married 5 times, Mathew was supposedly murdered, and an heir to the Everingham millions back in England.  Like most family stories they are probably an embellishment of the truth.

More Information? If you are researching
Mathew james Everingham and Elizabeth Rimes
 and would like the sources for this story, 
please contact me or comment below.  I would be happy to collaborate with you.

Inquest into the death of Mathew James Everingham

Memorial to the Governor Elizabeth Rimes

Patrick McGahey b 1802

Elizabeth Rimes aboard the Neptune

Trial of Elizabeth Rimes

Elizabeth Rimes b 1774

Transportation of Mathew James Everingham in the First Fleet

Date of birth for Mathew James Everingham b 1768

The trial of Mathew James Everingham

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Tunbridge family of Alkham

The origins of the Clark (my father's) family go back to at least the 1600's in Kent through Jane Beer who married John Clark, and the Tunbridge family are part of that line.
My GGGGGG Grandparents, Thomas Tunbridge and Rebecca Cloke were born in the early 1700's.  This was a time of  harvest failures and diseases like influenza, smallpox, dysentery and typhus.  Queen Ann had died and the first Hanover king,  King George 1st, was ruling England, he had come to the throne  because George was Anne's closest living Protestant relative.

King George I, c. 1714. Studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller.

I have not found Rebecca Cloke's birth or baptism, but she was probably born in Alkham, Kent around the same time as Thomas Tunbridge.  Thomas was christened on 13th February, 1715.  Once again the Tyler Index to Parish Registers is the source, as it is for their marraige in 1740 at the St Anthony the Matyr, Alkham; a church that was built in the 13th century.

Tyler Index listing Baptism of Thomas Tunbridge, 1715.

Tyler Index listing the marriage of Thomas and Rebecca.

St Anthony the Matyr, Alkham, the church where Thomas and Rebecca married. (as it stands today)

I have found only four children, Jane, Rebecca, Ann and Richard Tunbridge, however there may have been more.  Rebecca died in March 1756, probably aged only around 42 years.  Thomas lived until he was 83, and died in 1798.  

What was there life like I wonder?  There are no hints as to what Thomas's profession was, but Rebecca's parents also came from Kent, so it is possible they went to the same church.  Alkham, where they lived is a village only 3 miles from Dover, and in those times life was centred around the church.  Most of the population appears to have been agricultural labourers or tradesmen, possibly working for the manor house, and shopping would have been done at the local market.

More Information? If you are researching
Thomas Tunbridge and Rebecca Cloke
 and would like the sources for this story, 
please contact me or comment below.  I would be happy to collaborate with you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

William Littleboy, death

William Littleboy b 1803

The start of a Waterman and Lighterman dynasty.

When William Littleboy was born on 6th May, 1803 in Iver, Buckinghamshire, England, the Napoleonic wars between France and England had just started.  Napoleon was planning to invade England, so England ended an uneasy truce created by the Treaty of Amiens and declared war on France in May 1803.  King George lll from the house of Hanover was on the thrown, and Mathew Flinders completed the first circumnavigation of Australia.

The son of John Littleboy, an agricultural labourer, and Ann Fenn, we know little of his early life, the family appears to have been living just outside of London in Hillingdon.  William's parents were married the year he was born at St John the Baptist Church, Hillingdon.  Hillingdon is just 3kms from Iver.

St John the Baptist Church, Circa 1818.

Littleboy 1851 Census

Littleboy 1871 census

William Littleboy, death

1881 Census - Littleboy

The Children of William and Ann Littleboy

Monday, October 31, 2016

John Donovan b 1776

 Not only a horse thief, and a convict, but a bigamist as well!

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when Elizabeth (Mahoney) Donovan and her daughter arrived in Australia on the 14th May 1826  and found that her Irish husband John, transported as a convict, had married another convict in Sydney!

I think that Elizabeth must have been a feisty Irish woman, and a force to be reckoned with!


The story of John Donovan begins much earlier, around 1786 (but this date is by no means certain) when he was born in Limerick Ireland.  I have not found any confirmation of when and where John was born other than the Gosford NSW, Pioneer Register which is a derived source, so his birth is still a bit of a mystery.  Some of his convict records show him as being born in County Cork, which does seem likely as his wife was born there also.

John, age 21,  appears to have married Elizabeth Mahoney from County Cork in Ireland in 1807, and they had one child, Mary Ann Donovan in 1815.


The next thing I know about John Donovan is when he is transported to Australia for Horse Stealing aboard the vessel Southworth By this time, John was aged 35years, and I have been unable to find the details of his trial.

In the year 1821 the times in Ireland, particularly in the county of Tipperary, were very disturbed, several murders (including landlords) having taken place.  It was the beginning of the  ‘Captain Rock’ campaign of 1821–4 a series of outbreaks of agrarian unrest that began in the 1760s and continued until the eve of the Famine, when starvation finally made concerted action impossible and the landlords closed in to make the evictions and clearances they had long desired.  The Rock years were particularly intense in their misery and violence. The correlation between the anguished state of the peasantry and the violence of their protests is not hard to make, although impossible to chart precisely. The outbreak that began on the Courtenay estate near Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, and continued for over three years is regarded as the most formidable of what are generically known as the Whiteboy movements that for about 70 years were concentrated in the south and west of the country.  The newly crowned King George IV of the United Kingdom lands at Howth to become the first monarch to pay a state visit to Ireland since the 14th century, Catholics in Ireland were being treated badly and it was the beginning of an uprising against that treatment.

The first document about John Donovan is his Convict Indent, which tells us he was convicted in March 1821 of horse stealing and sentenced to 7 years. They also give a description of John: 
Shoemaker, age 39, 
5ft 5inch tall,
Build: well made
hair: grey
Complex: Dark
Speaks rather hastily, has an anchor (tatoos) on both arms.

The anchor tatoos could indicate he spent some time at sea (or not!).  When John arrived in the colony in  March, 1822 there was a muster roll of all the convicts who had survived the journey.  John Donovan is again listed as #81.


In 1824 John Donovan was assigned to work for Patrick Cameron, Castlereagh Street for 3 years. There is a notation on the letter concerning this:
"Assigned convict mechanic whose master was a defaulter in payment for {?} 
The term 'convict mechanic' refers to someone that was a convict who had been trained in a trade, as apposed to many of the convicts who were illiterate labourers.  That same year there is a letter in the Colonial Secretary's papers

List  of persons praying His Authority the Gonvernor's permission to have their names published in church in ordet to being married:
John Donovon Convict per Southworth
Mary McKelver  (?)  Convict per {ileg...mermaid?}
 There are two entries in the NSW Births Deaths and Marriages Indexes for the marriage,

3458/1824 V18243458 3B
District: CJ
 17/1824 V182417 149
District: CJ
So John's second wife Mary could be named Edwards or Kelver (or similar), on the Secretarial papers her name is very difficult to read, and so is the ship she was transported on.  I have not been able to find her on any ship's lists.

The district CJ refers to St James Church, Sydney NSW Australia which still stands today.

Lithograph of St James' Church, Sydney c. 1836  
by Robert Russell.  
The church, designed by Francis Greenway, still stands.

1826 and onwards

Two years later, May 1826 Elizabeth and her daughter Mary Ann Donovan arrived in Sydney.  What a shock that must have been to John Donovan!  Elizabeth and John must have been together however, as Elizabeth made a petition to the Governor asking for him to be assigned to her as she was not seeing enough of him.  On he next page of the letters is a notation that yes, this is John's wife from Ireland, and yes, he had married another convict in Sydney.  He apparently said he thought his first wife had died.  

I have not been able to track down what happened to John's 2nd wife, but apparently she was abandoned by John.  I would guess that Elizabeth certainly had something to say about it.

By the time the census was taken in 1828 John and Elizabeth were living in Castle Hill with three children. (Mary, John and Eliza). They went on to have another 4 children (James, Catherine, Margaret and Ellen).

Certificates of Freedom were issued to John in 1834 and 1839.  (it appears the 1834 one was lost or mutilated).

In 1834 Elizabeth leased land at Mangrove Creek, 640 acres bounded on part of the south by Iron-bark Creek and on the west by Mangrove Creek; and it appears that Elizabeth and John farmed there.  The area had several orchards in the 1800's.

Port Hacking River near Mangrove Creek, 1888

In 1835 John purchased land, noted in the Government Gazette :
Northumberland, 50, Fifty acres, parish
unnamed, on Mangrove Creek; bounded on the
south-east by Iron Bark Creek; and on all other
sides by lines to include the quantity; lying about
80 chains below Webb's grant. Applied for by
John Donovan. Price 5s. per acre.

John and Elizabeth's children seem to have stayed in the area for at least the next generation and gone on to have successful families of their own.  One of their children, Mary Ann Donovan married William Woodbury, also the child of a convict, who became a constable in the area.   The Woodbury eventually married into the Clark family via my Aunt, Evelyn Theckla Woodbury.  I remember Aunt Evelyn was a very good cook but she would not have been happy to find out she was descended from a convict!

The final chapter

John died on 24th July, 1855; he is buried in a lone grave on private property on Wisemans Ferry Road, Greengrove, NSW, AUS.  This may have been the sight of John's property.

John Donovans gravesite
Elizabeth died on 30th January, 1891.  There was an inquest into her death, and it was found that age 100years, she had drowned in the Mangrove Creek at Brisbane Water (now Gosford) and that she had no property.  Looking through the newspapers of the time, there were several drownings in the river that month.   Elizabeth is buried at the Holy Trinity Cemetery, Spencer, NSW.  Elizabeth must have been a formidable lady and I would have liked to know more about her (and what happened to John's second wife Mary), so there is a bit more digging to be done about this family.

Elizabeth's Grave.

Greengrove is a narrow north-to-south locality spread along the east bank of Mangrove Creek and is traversed by Wisemans Ferry Road. Two district pioneers, Elizabeth Donovan (1791-1891) and Richard Woodbury (1811-1897) are honoured with parks bearing their name within the locality. Elizabeth Donovan Park is a park and is located in New South Wales, Australia at:
Latitude: -33°23'12.48"  /  Longitude: 151°9'4.32"

More Information? If you are researching
John Donovan and Elizabeth Mahoney
 and would like the sources for this story, 
please contact me or comment below.  I would be happy to collaborate with you.

Inquest into the death of Elizabeth (Mahoney) Donovan.

Elizabeth Mahoney

Born in Cork, Ireland in 1791, Elizabeth was a free settler who came to Australia aboard the Lady Rowena in 1826,  I wish I had known her.  She must have been quite a woman, after arriving with her daughter, Mary Ann aged 5,  and finding that her husband had married another woman, a convict named  Mary McElver, John Donovan appears to immediately be living with Elizabeth.

She immediately petitions the Govenor in 1826 for her husband John to be assigned to her, The family lived in Castle Hill for a time, having another 6 children, all catholic.  By 1834 the family is living at Mangrove Creek, where they seemed to have stayed.

Elizabeth met a terrible death by drowning in 1891, by which time she was 100 years of age.  Drowning was not unusual in the area in those days, the newspaper reports many deaths by drowning, particularly during floods.

Back to Main Story

John Donovan and the vessel Southworth

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Emanuel Serrao b 1793

From Portugal to Australia and from Serrao to Serong

I have a tenuous relationship with Emanuel Serrao, he is my 1st cousin twice removed's wife's great-grandfather!  I came across this family through my great grandfather's sister, but he turned out to be very interesting indeed.

Emanual Serrao

What is known about the family.

The most likely place Emanuel was born is Madeira Island, Portugal as this is where he married and his wife was born, there is no conclusive evidence however.  Probably born About 1793, that's 223 years ago.

A document put together by some of the family has Emanuel marrying Antonia De Jesu De Freitas on 9th November 1820 in Funchal or Goncealo, Madeira Island, Portugal.  Again, there is no conclusive evidence so far.

The immigration of the family also has several options, according the the grave of Emanuel he immigrated on 29th September, 1880, but according to a family source the family came to Australia aboard the Alfred in 1824, and there is confirmation of that date on Antonia's headstone.

Emanual's Grave

Antonia's Grave
By the time they died, the name Serrao had been anglicised to Serong.  According to the Pioneers' Register produced by the Warrnambool FHS the Serong family came to Warrnambool c1849 possibly to work on the building of St Joseph's Church, Warnambool,  and they had arrived at Port Jackson in July 1842 from Madiera, Portugal.  (so this is another possible date for immigration).

There is an intriguing piece of information about the arrival of the ship Alfred, Captain Laughton is recorded in the Sydney Gazette Thurs 22 July 1824,
 "she arrived on Thursday last, sailed from London 19 Feb, touched at Madeira, which she left 2 April, and called at Hobart Town from whence she departed 9th July. Some of the passengers remained in that Colony, and the following have come to Headquarters; viz John Mackeness, Esq Sheriff for New South Wales; JB Richards Esq, E Abell Esq, R Wardell and WC Wentworth Esquires, Barristers at Law; Mrs Wardell; Wm Redfern Esq and Mrs Redfern with Masters William and JF Redfern, and two Miss Willeys; Miss Jane Fisher; Mr Claments; Mr Lloyd and family, and Mr C Osbaldeston."  (no mention of the Serrao family)

In the next column, The colonists are congratulated on the vast acquisition gained in the very recent arrival of seventeen casks of seeds from Europe.
"Mr Redfern, who returns to the colony after an absence of nearly three years, has brought with him nine rams and five ewes, bred by Mr Weston, MP for Essex, the celebrated agriculturist. This gentleman was at Madera some time, and from thence also brings the various kinds of grapes, and other choice friut trees. To facilitate, as well as ensure the culture of these fruits, Mr Redfern has engaged a Portugese family (natives of Maderia). Such efforts as these, the act of one individual too, are entitled to the warmest consideration of the Colonists, and will be thanked by posterity."

Is it possible that the family engaged by Redfern was Emanual and Antonia?  Doctor Redfern was an interesting charecter, and his life story included : "After a sojourn in Madeira for his health he returned to New South Wales in the Alfred in July 1824, received a further grant at Campbell Fields and acquired land near Bathurst and Cowra."

This piece of information is the first that might lead to something, as Emanual's first son, William was born in 1824, and second son Joseph was born in 1826 - but searches of both Victoria and NSW BDM's delivered nothing about ether son's birth.  I did find some of the children's deaths in the Victoria BDM however.

A search of the Museum of Victoria found some information about the family, confirming that the parents plus Selina arrived in Sydney in 1824, and moved to Warrnambool with their family in 1852.

So this last piece of information seems to fit with immigration in 1824 aboard the Alfred, possibly with Doctor Redfern.  So far this is all I have found out about the family, my next step will be to go to Warnambool and see what the family history society has there.  We want to see the great ocean road anyway so what a great combination!

More Information? If you are researching
Emanual Serrao and Antonia De Jesu De Freitas
 and would like the sources for this story, 
please contact me or comment below. 
 I would be happy to collaborate with you

Madeira Island - Emanuel Serrao

Saturday, October 1, 2016

John Clark - b1784

John Clark -The Beer connection

The name Clark is an old one, it is derived from 'clericus,' meaning a priest, or one connected with the service of the Church.  At first the term was used only to designate those in clerical orders, but as in early times the Church was the only source of learning, any person who had been educated by the clergy eventually came to be called a 'clerk.' The designation was finally given to all who were able to read and write.  The name dates back to at least the reign of William the Conqueror (1066).
My Clark family is from Kent where the name goes back a very long way indeed.  The men in the family were carpenters and builders, and probably apprenticed to their fathers along the way to avoid paying tax.  Although the family line in Australia no longer seem to be builders, they are all handy with a hammer and nail!


John Clark was the son of William Clark and Mary Hatcher from Kent. We know the Clark name goes back another 2 generations at least in Kent to another John Clark, probably born around 1710 and his wife Mary Watts, both from Biddenden, Kent, England.

My Great Great Great Grandfather John was born in 1784 in Dover, Kent England, and Christened on 7th March 1784 in the St James the Apostle Church, Dover, Kent, England.  The church, built in 1070,  no longer stands today, only ruins are visible due to the damage it sustained in WW2.

The remnants of St James the Apostle Church, Dover

This is probably what it looked like:
By W Fairclough - 1949 - old antique vintage print


John Clark married Jane Beer on 28th October, 1809 at Dover, Kent England.  There was an extensive Beer family in Kent at this time.  They had 9 children, Mary, Jane, William, James, Mary, Elizabeth, John, George and Edmund Charles Clark who is my GG Grandfather.  The family appears to have lived in Dover until about 1815 when James was born in Ramsgate, after that date all the records are from Ramsgate, Kent, ENG.

C1830 Ramsgate Harbour

Now I should say something about the name Beer - my family are very happy with it, assuming it has something to do with brewing.  It may do, but I have not found the link yet.  (still looking)
John Clark was a builder, and his sons were carpenters and builders.  (Edmund immigrated to Australia and helped build the town of Bendigo).  This is confirmed by the 1841 census, which holds the following information (pg 2)

Township:Ramsgate,  Place:Addington
John Clark, aged 56, born abt 1785, Builder, born Kent
Jane Clark, aged 56, born abt 1785, born Kent
John Clark, aged 20, born abt 1821, Carpenter AC born Kent
George Clark, aged 10, born abt 1831, Carpenter
AC born Kent
Edmund Clark, aged 16, born abt 1825, Carpenter,
AC born Kent

1841 census

Eight years after this census, in 1849, Jane died aged 64 and is buried at St Georges Church Cemetery, Ramsgate, Kent, ENG.

John Clark is in the 1851 census aged 67, living with his grandson who was his errand boy.  (His daughter Jane Clark had married John Clunn and they had 6 children).

Wellington Place (no number), Ramsgate, Kent, England
John Clark, Head, widower, age 67, Master Builder, born Dover Kent.
John Clunn, Grandson, unmarried, age 14, errand boy, born Ramsgate, Kent

John Clark died when he was still living at Wellington Row on  8th April, 1856, he is listed as formerly a builder, aged 72.  He died of  "Aproplexey".  John Clark is also buried at St Georges Church Cemetery, Ramsgate, Kent, ENG.   

More Information? If you are researching John Clark and Jane Beer
 and would like the sources for this story, 
please contact me or comment below.  I would be happy to collaborate with you.

Death information on John Clark,

Jane Beer - b 1783 - John Clark

Dover - John Clark

Dover Castle staircase. 
Picture Anne Boleyn and the royal court here while 
they awaited  better weather to cross the channel to 
France for the wedding of Mary Tudor and King Louis XII. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Edmund Charles Clark - b1825

Builder during the Gold Rush

Even as he crossed the little wooden bridge there was no relief from the heat, the river was bare and still and the unfamiliar eucalyptus trees threw little shade.  “Could it get any hotter?” Edmund thought as he hurried to the post office of his new home to mail the letter he had written to his wife and children back in Ramsgate.  It wasn’t even lunch time yet, and the noise from the cicadas was deafening.  As he trudged along the road, red-yellow dust kicked up at every step.

Fortunately Edmund had found there was enough granite underneath to make good house foundations.  He took note with his builder eye as he approached the large building, a good solid roof of tile, sturdy posts for the veranda and a couple of good awnings for the royal mail coaches when they arrived.  An impressive building considering that it was surrounded by much smaller wooden ones that showcased the lack of carpenter’s skill in Sandhurst at the time.  He noticed they all had good, large signs attached however, and were a lot better than the makeshift tented rooms where most of the miners lived.

It was the heat and noise that he found so different from his home in Kent where the river Thames was always full and flowing, and the birdsong rang out.  Here the birds screeched loud and raucous, some even laughed at him, and the noise from the mining went on day and night.  Carts, equipment, horses and people were everywhere, along with the holes they were continually digging to look for gold. 

I wonder what it was like for his wife, back in England, to see him off at the docks of Liverpool and know that she would not see him again for years, not months to come, relying on those letters to home for news.    Edmund set out on a long sea journey and would not see Australia for 4 months.

Liverpool docks Circa 18815

Edmund, like many others came across the world to seek his family fortune in Bendigo (then Sandhurst) in the mid to late 1800's.  Gold was discovered along the banks of the Bendigo Creek in 1851 and the town went from a population of 800 to 20,000 in six months.  It is estimated that over 20 million ounces of gold was shipped from Australia to England during the gold rush. 

Sitting in Sydney, I could see the unassisted passenger list,  Number 127, Edmund Clark, adult male, English.  Point of embarkation Liverpool, contracted to land in Melbourne.  The date of his departure from Liverpool was significant, as it was right in the middle of the gold rush in Victoria in 1854.

Like many documents, this passenger list only let to more questions.  Edmund wanted a good life for his wife and young family, and he could see the results of the industrial revolution taking hold in England.  Food prices were rising, work becoming scarce and wages falling.  English newspapers were full of advertisements for skilled tradesmen to go to Australia and make their fortune, either on the goldfields or in the townships.  They also contained articles about the tonnes of gold being shipped back to England. 

So Edmund made the decision to go, but how would he pay for the passage?  The easy solution was a loan, but that meant that his family had to stay behind as collateral.  Endmund was a go-getter, hard worker, and risk taker, so he set off for the goldfields of Bendigo.

He knew many people were doing the same, and they would need somewhere to live.  Edmund took the risk that there would be plenty of work for a fit carpenter/builder.  he was right of course.  he set about building small cottages for the miners and the debt was repaid quickly.  Within three years his wife Mahala and three children were on their way to Australia to join him.


Edmund is the youngest son of John Clark and Jane Beer.  It would seem both families had a long history with Dover and Kent.  Edmund was born in 1825 in Ramsgate, Kent, and baptised at the St Lawrence Church, Ramsgate in November of that year.  His father was a Builder, and brothers were carpenters, according to the 1841 census when the family was living in Addington, (A town in the Parish of Ramsgate) in Kent.

St Lawrence Church, Ramsgate where Edmund was Christened.
Edmund's mother died in August, 1849 and he married Mahala Banks a month later on 1st. September, 1849.

By the 1851 Census Edmund and Mahala had one child, a daughter, Elizabeth who had been born just 11 months earlier, and Edmund was a Carpenter Journeyman, meaning he has successfully completed an official apprenticeship qualification.  Journeymen are considered competent and able to work in that field as a fully qualified employee. Although a journeyman has completed a trade certificate  they are not yet able to work as a self-employed master craftsman.

In 1855 Edmund was 38 and travelled on the Glenmanna to Australia, the journey took 4 months.  The GLENMANNA  sailed on 28/10/1854 - and arrived in Melbourne on 14/2/1855 from Liverpool.  It was reported as being 1,246 tonne; Captain H Rogers; 286 passengers; 110 days; light weather, which at times left them almost becalmed.  The previous voyage of the Glenmanna  had been a disaster, with 44 people dying of cholera in Canada.


During the 1850's it was not unusual for men to immigrate to Australia ahead of their family.  Not for the obvious reasons, but because they had borrowed money for their passage.  The father set out for the goldfields of Australia and the family stayed behind as security for the loan.  Once the debt had been paid off the rest of the family immigrated to Australia.

The gold rushes of the 1850s brought a huge influx of settlers,  initially the majority of them went to the richest gold fields at Ballarat and Bendigo, and Victoria soon had a larger population than New South Wales.  Gold produced sudden wealth for a few, and some of Australia's oldest wealthy families date their fortunes from this period, but also employment and modest prosperity for many more. Within a few years these new settlers outnumbered the convicts and ex-convicts, and they began to demand trial by jury, representative government, a free press and the other symbols of liberty and democracy.  It was a time that would change Australian history for ever.

So Edmund came to Australia in 1855, when Bendigo was called Sandhurst, and was a bustling city of miners, just a year later, his father died in England.

Sandhurst 1857

Sandhurst 1884

"General view of Sandhurst, the centre of Quartz-reef Gold mining,Victoria". wood engraving published in Comprehensive Atlas and Geography, 1882

Two years after Edmund, Mahala traveled to Australia with their 4 children, Elizabeth, Mary Anne, Mahala and Edward, (all aged under 6) arriving in Melbourne on 30th July, 1857.  Edmund and Mahala went on to have another 6 children.

In 1866 we know the family was living at 10 Havelock Street, Bendigo, when the youngest daughter Susan was born.  By 1903 the family were living in Wattle street, but still owned the Havelock Street house, where Edmund and Mahala are also listed on the electoral roll.  It is most likely that Edmund built this house.

10 Havelock Street, Bendigo (today)

In 1916, George Mackay continued his popular series of the 'Annals of Bendigo', and wrote:...'Mr E.C. Clark arrived in Bendigo in 1854, and followed the occupation of builder.  He assisted to build the first post office.'..... 

Bendigo Post office, 1887

Bendigo Historical Society completed a report on the family for me, and they unearthed many houses built by Edmund, most were miners cottages, and he probably built one, sold it, and then built the next one and so on. He built over 30 houses, many in Wattle and King Street. 

Read about William and Mahala's children here.  One of  Edmund's children, named after his father, (also Edmund) married and moved to Western Australia and a whole section of the family began there.  Joseph Clark was my Great Grandfather, he appears to have been in trouble quite a lot in Bendigo for petty crimes, and I would speculate he was shipped off to NSW as the black sheep of the family.   More about Joseph in a later post.

Edmund died on 24th February, 1905, and is buried at the historic Bendigo Cemetery, alongside his wife Mahala who died nearly a year later, on 4th January, 1906.  I have found Edmund's will, and he was quite well off for someone of those times. 

Grave of Edmund and Mahala.
Edmund and Mahala took a chance and left England for a better life and opportunities in the Goldfields of Bendigo, Victoria,  Australia.  They built a good life, houses, and family together.


More Information? If you are researching Edmund Charles Clark or Mahala Banks or their family,  and would like the sources for this story, please contact me or comment below.  I would be happy to collaborate with you.