Monday, January 16, 2017

From the Diary of Major Henry Blackshaw


Goulburn Evening Penny Post (NSW : 1881 - 1940), Tuesday 8 January 1907, page 4

Death of Major Blackshaw.. Major Henry Blackehaw, until lately a familiar figure in the streets of Goulburn, and wellknown as a military officer, died at his resi dence at Ifield on Sunday morning in his 71st year. The deceased gentleman had kept a diary, and the entries he made therein tell the story of his life. The records are as follow:"My father arrived in Sydney from England in the ship Britain in 1844. Upon landing he engaged himself to a Mr. Cogill, of Braidwood, to take charge of three flocks of sheep. Our family consisted of six sons and two daughters, the youngest being then six years of age. We trave led by bullock team to Gimicombene (Jembaicumbene), now a gold district. There were no fences in those days for sheep. Hurdles were put up to enclose them by night, and my father used to sleep in a watch-box by the fold to protect the sheep from native dogs, who used to rush upon them. They were in those days very numerous. They often attacked the flock in daylight.

My father sank a well expecting to get water near the hut. He got down to bedrock, but it was dry. We then made use of the gravel and pipeclay from the bottom to pave the hut. My father then noticed some kind of metal sticking all over the floor of the hut. He gathered some of it and tried to melt it in a large spoon, but did not succeed, and thought no more about it. He did not know what gold was in those days. After twelve months we removed to the Monaro district, and stayed there a short time. Then he came to Queanbeyan, where he was the brewer for Mr. Bradbury. In about twelve months we came to Goulburn, my father working as a brewer for Mr. Phillips's, late Bradley's, brewery, where Bartlett's brewery now stands. The beer was then brewed from malt only. The farmers brought in English barley and sold it for 1s 3d per bushel. There was also a master employed, and it took two months to make the beer drinkable, but was then very good.

I have been 50 years in Goulburn. I was educated at St. Saviour's School on the hill, where Mr. Toombs now resides. Mr. Riley was the teacher. The court-house was close to the school. I recollect seeing the prisoners, chained  together in gangs, passing the school door on their way to the court-house, Sir William Manning was then the judge. In a few years I was apprenticed to Musgrave, the saddler. After serving my time I worked for him a number of years.

When I was 21 years I married and reaped a large family. After a while I took a fancy to footracing and won several races. I was also a fair cricketer, and played in all important matches. As time went on I joined the Volunteers in the year 1869. I took a great interest in the movement from the start, also with the old Hay rifle. After a few years we were supplied with the Henry rifle. I practised with it and won many prizes in Goulburn, also in Sydney. One year I won ten tons of coal. It was not out of the ground when I won it. I sold my certificate to a coastal trader for £10, as it was of no use to me. In 1886 I was selected as one of five from New South Wales to compete at Wimbledon for the Kolaporo Cup, but we did not succeed in winning it. We were very much handicapped when we arrived in London. We were supplied with new rifles, and we did not have sufficient practice with them; also we had to go about 70 miles to Berkshire, Lord Wantage's estate, to practise at his private butts. When we arrived in London we should have gone under canvas at once . After the meeting several of us took a trip to Portsmouth . When we arrived at Portsmouth we were shunted into the dockyards. We had an engine in front, also one in the rear. It was raining, and the carriages had no roofs. The engine in the rear went too quickly for the one in front and telescoped the carriage I was in and turned it over. The passengers were all standing up. I was first on the block pavement, and an old fat lady came on top of me--no tidy weight either. I was wearing a silk belltopper, also carrying a best silk umbrella. I was picked up unconscious and carried into the Government surgery and attended to . It was four or five days before I got better. I received a letter from Queen Victoria expressing herself grieved at my unfortunate accident. I have the letter framed in my house now. (The Major then goes on to describe visits to Mc Guinness' brewery, Parliament House, Power's Court, and Dublin.)

His diary then continues: "I may state that I had a good send-off by my fellow-citizens of Goulburn. They gave me a purse of sovereigns, with good wishes for my voyage home. I may also state that I received the Quene's decoration for long service as a commissioned officer in the volunteer forces. .. . I have been a master saddler in business' for 20 odd years.

In the year 1900 I was up a pine tree taking refuge out of the great flood. We were rescued in the morning. Nine in all were in the tree. Some of them, four in number, were my nephew's family. One suffered very much during the cold night - it was rain ing heavily all the time. The flood nearly ruined me. I cleared out of Eastgrove 'after that. I was full of it." The Major, who retired from the volunteer forces in 1900, had command of the old G Company. On his retirement he was given permission to wear military dress and assume the rank of honorary major.

The deceased gentleman was twice married. There were eight children by the first marriage, viz., Mrs. Bullen, wife of Mr. Bullen, Shire Clerk; Mrs. Sargent, of Grafton; Misses Iney, Millie, and Annie (Queenie) Blackshaw, of Goulburn: Messrs. Arthur Blackshaw (superintendent of the Bathurst Hospital), Henry Blackshaw (Loco. Department, Eveleigh), and Alfred W. Blackshaw, of Goulburn. Major Blackshaw's se cond wife survives him, with a daughter, Nettie, a girl of 14 years. The Major was popular with a wide circle of friends. Mr. E. Blackshaw, Auburn-street, is the only surviving brother of the deceased Major.

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