The Launts, the Snows and the Dillons


I first came across mention of the Launt family when reading Eric Rolls’ book “A Million Wild Acres” in the early 1980s. At that time it was just one small part of the history of the exploration and settlement of the Liverpool Plains that Rolls so capably explained. So it was a surprise when twenty or so years later the Launt name started popping up in our extended family’s history amongst the descendants of Elizabeth Anderson (abt 1815 – 1902) and her Snow and Camden husbands.

According to Rolls, “Joe Launt, a poddy-dodger (stealer of unbranded calves) … had come with his sons about 1857 from a run north of Coolah called the Black Swamp… He never paid the licence fees on the Black Swamp [1] and under later holders the name passed into Australian tradition as the Black Stump.” [2]  He then went on to tell the story of the Fred Lowry affair.

The Fred Lowry Affair

On 19 February 1864 Joseph’s sons, George and Joseph junior, young men aged around 20, were allegedly stealing cattle belonging to Ebenezer Orr near Yaminba Creek on the southern outskirts of the Pilliga forest. They were in company with Fred Lowry and Billy Purcell, a half-caste Aboriginal, when Orr and a police party intervened. In the ensuing affray Fred Lowry was shot dead by the police. George and Joseph were convicted of cattle stealing, and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in March 1865 after the jury had been unable to agree in their first trial. Their retrial was delayed due to the intervening death of Constable Ward, the policeman who had shot Lowry. [3] Both were freed early, in November 1869, following petitions by family and friends.

Rolls claims that in the prelude to this affair:

“Ebenezer Orr missed cattle off Garrawilla. Worse, he missed Betsy, a twenty-year-old Aboriginal shepherdess, his favourite at that time. She had run off with Joe Launt, or more likely, one of his sons. Orr tracked her to Launt’s house and brought her back. He kept a closer watch on his cattle.” [2]

Ebenezer Orr was noted for his employment of Aboriginal shepherdesses, who he clothed in long, red, flannel dresses. He fathered at least one daughter, Mary, with an Aboriginal woman. There was much mention of Betsy in the trial of Joseph Junior and George. The implication from the defence was that Orr’s prosecution was motivated by malice arising from Betsy being with the Launts.

This implication was also made when Joseph senior was tried for attempting to spread scab mite amongst sheep belonging to Ebenezer Orr, supposedly in retaliation for Orr’s actions. The trials of both father and sons were held consecutively at Mudgee Quarter Sessions commencing in July 1864. Joseph senior was sentenced to 2 years hard labour in Bathurst Gaol. [20]

A different perspective on the affair is given by Mary Jane Cain (1844-1929), a part-Aboriginal woman, of Burrabeedee near Coonabarabran. Mary Jane was probably related by marriage to the daughter of Joseph Launt senior, Eliza, who married Thomas Cain in 1861. The content of her account, which is extracted from a larger set of recollections, certainly suggests either a family connection to the Launts, or close familiarity with them:

“The place Gooragilla near Garrawilla was also purchased by Mr Ebenezer Orr from people by the name of Joseph Launt & son’s. Mr McDonald owned it before Launt bought it. During the time Launt was mustering his stock after he sold his land just as they were in the act of drafting the cattle they were by some means arrested by the Police Chief Constable Ward were here at the time, There was a young chap in company with Launts at the time by the name of James Lowrey who was shot dead by ward the Police man. George & Joseph Launt ( brothers) was arrested & a young man named William Percial whom they had hired he was a halfcaste. Those three were tried in Coonabarabran & committed for cattle stealing, which should not have been as the cattle were all their own with the exception of a few but they were not given a chance to draft them. I must state that the police at the time the arrest was made. Were all very drunk. Then a the sessions at Mudgee the Launts each received 10 years sentence & Precial got three years & was sent to a place call Cockatoo Island some where near Sydney. this would be in (1864). After the Launt Brothers done flur five years I got a petition which every one signed knowing that they were treated wrongfully & had them liberated at five years. I presented the petition to Thomas Gordon Danger who was at that time member of Parliament. The same Constable Ward was very shortly after this was shot by a Chinese Bushranger wilst trying to arrest him on a place called Barneys Reefe on returning from a session & Mudgee.”

A newspaper report of the Coroner’s inquest into the death of Fred Lowry can be found at the bottom of this post.

Associations with the Snow Family

Two months after he was discharged from prison George Launt married Emma Snow at Cassilis (February 1870). This was not the first marriage between the two families. Emma’s older sister Sarah had married Edward, another of the Launt sons, in 1860 at Cooyal Creek. Two years earlier another Snow sister, Mary Ann, had married Thomas Dillon at Bathurst.  Thomas, then an ex-convict and soon to be bushranger has some of his story told here.

More associations between the Launt and Dillon families appeared as my research progressed. Curiousity got the better of me – was Joe Launt just a small-time poddy dodger or was there more to the man?

Joseph Launt’s Story

Joseph and his wife Mary Roberts arrived in Sydney from the United Kingdom in September 1841 on the ship “United Kingdom”. They were accompanied by children Eliza and Edward. Sons George and Joseph were born in 1844 and 1845 respectively. Joseph was a carpenter, and I found one reference to his using his trade, from late in his life:

“Mr. R. L. Dawson states that Joseph Launt was afterwards employed by his father in 1870, about the building of the homestead at Bentley, near Naughton’s Gap, between Casino and Lismore. When leaving the district shortly after that “old Joe” sold his English duck guns to the Armstrongs, of Disputed Plains, for £1. This gun had a remarkably long barrel and took a very heavy charge of powder and shot. It was a destructive weapon when fired into a flock of wild ducks. It also carried a big bullet. The Armstrongs used it for shooting wild horses, which were called “brumbies”. [4]

In March 1843 Joseph gained employment as the pound keeper for the District of Bligh, located at Cassilis. He didn’t last, being dismissed in January 1844 for illegally harbouring convicts. [5]

Joseph’s Career as a Public Servant Comes to an Inglorious End

Six months later, in July 1844 he made his first appearance before a New South Wales court, at Maitland Quarter Sessions, being found not guilty of stealing a cheque for 5 pounds.

How Joseph earned his living thereafter isn’t often clear although there are several mentions of him working as a carrier. At that time, this would have meant operating bullock teams.

In 1855 Joseph gave evidence at an inquest into the sudden death of an aboriginal man Thomas Cambo (or Combo) at Lochinvar in the Hunter Valley. Thomas had been bringing one of Launt’s bullock teams carrying wool from the Liverpool Plains. According to Launt, he had employed Thomas, who was aged about 25, for about 12 years. The doctor who gave evidence, whilst stating that the death was due to natural causes, [6] gave as his opinion that Thomas’s life might have been saved if he had obtained prompt medical advice. [7]

Joseph also seems to have been engaged at various times in inn keeping, dealing in horses and running stock during usually short-lived occupation of pastoral leases, usually referred to as “runs” or “stations”.

Apart from the Black Stump run mentioned by Rolls, for which Launt had a licence for the year ending June 1847 [8] but which he had forfeited by March 1851, there was also the Traveller’s Rest station in the Clarence River district. This was transferred to Joseph Launt by William Hindmarsh in 1849, and from Joseph Launt to Joseph Sharp in 1851.[9]

According to one source, “By Launt’s time the homestead was a regular wayside inn. In November, 1849, Thomas Carroll sued Joseph Launt, of Traveller’s Rest, publican, for the detention of two working bullocks. The case was settled out of court.” [2]

Between 1859 [10] and 1861 [11] “E. Launt and Brothers” held the Lower Turridgerie North and Bumble/Bimble runs in the Coonabarabran district, perhaps as proxy for their father. In court proceedings in 1860 Joseph gave his address as “Teridgerie”. [12] In 1861 these runs were transferred to Thomas Cadell. [13]

In 1862, a newspaper notice referred to the transfer of the Goriagilla station [14] from “Messrs Launt brothers” to Samuel Corner. [15] Goriagilla station was later incorporated into the well-known Garrawilla station, owned by Ebenezer Orr, the theft of whose cattle in 1864 triggered the Fred Lowry affair.

There is also a conditional purchase (CP) in the name of Joseph Launt shown on the 1884 map of the parish of Yaminba. It is located about 11 km due west of Rocky Glen township, on the right (western) bank of Yaminba Creek. This CP is dated 3 January 1878. It’s not unlikely that the land was occupied without legal title prior to this date, as the pastoral lease covering the area had been abandoned by Ebenezer Orr prior to the Fred Lowry affair.

Launt_CP_Parish Yaminba.jpg
Joseph Launt Selection – Parish of Yaminba

Eric Rolls wrote of this selection:

“Joe Launt, settling down to a more conventional life, took up a selection on Yaminba Creek, not far from where his sons were surprised in Ebenezer Orr’s old house. Although the house had been abandoned for years, Joe Launt thought it wiser to go by night to steal the bits he needed from it to add to the comfort of his own house. Coming back one dark night with a window he tripped and fell. He jinked his neck but saved the window. … Jim Carr … bought the Yaminba selection from Joe Launt. ” [2]

Eric Rolls’ book contains a photo of Launt’s house taken in the 1920s.

Being a carrier meant working over long distances, and Joseph seems to have travelled extensively in the area between Mudgee and southern Queensland. Until 1859 Queensland was part of New South Wales. When his wife Mary died in 1860, her death was registered in Tamworth, New South Wales, 20 days later, with the place of death recorded as “Goomyella”.  I’ve not been able to locate any such place, the closest being “Goonyella Station”, in the Mackay hinterland in mid-north Queensland, which was established around this time.

There is no doubt that Joseph had property interests in Queensland as after his death in 1880 his children sought Letters of Administration in Queensland so as to deal with his Queensland property. [16]

Evidence was also given by Ebenezer Orr at Joseph’s trial in 1864 that Joseph had spoken with him about leaving the colony for Queensland and that he had provided Launt with a reference “giving him an excellent character”.

However Mary died on 6 December and was buried the following day. Joseph’s own written testimony says that on 3 December he was “… on my way down to Maitland [probably from Coonabarabran] to commence proceedings for false imprisonment …”

So it seems more likely that “Goomyella” was an ephemeral locality or run name in the Liverpool Plains district, or represents a mishearing.

Joseph had quite a few brushes with the law, both as defendant and litigant, mostly for minor property matters. The false imprisonment proceedings related to his appearance in court at Coonabarabran in November 1860 on a charge of horse stealing. In January 1861 he took out most of a page in the Maitland Mercury and Hunter River Advertiser to publish documents relating to this charge, of which he was acquitted. Clearly he was less than impressed by the challenge to his honesty as the advertisement concludes with him stating that he was on his way to Maitland to commence proceedings for false imprisonment. [17]

The most significant of his appearances as defendant was in 1856 when he was found not guilty of the manslaughter by shooting of William Williams at Rockgedgiel [18].

The shooting took place on 2 December 1855, with the trial before Justice Therry taking place the following March. The shooting arose during a dispute between William Williams (called by his alias William Owens in the newspaper report of the trial) and Joseph Launt regarding 2 horses that had allegedly been stolen from Launt. According to a deposition by William Carroll:

“…at the time in question he was in the service of the prisoner [Launt], and at that time he left to look after 2 horses that had been taken away. He came to a paddock belonging to Mr. Grant, and found one of the horses. He said to Mr. Grant that two horses had been stolen from Mr. Launt. Next morning they found the other horse, and on returning with it Owens came out of a hut and struck three or four times at Launt with a fire shovel. They went to Grant’s and Owens followed them. He said he would have the horse and swag. Owens squared at Launt with his left hand, and Launt pushed him back with the muzzle of the pistol. Owens then rushed at the horse, and put one hand on the saddle, and taking hold of the bridle the pistol went off and Owens fell. Launt gave up the pistol to Grant, who handed it to the chief constable.” [19]

Other witnesses more or less agreed with this version of events, and added that when Owens fell he had an open knife in his right hand. Launt’s legal advocate argued that there was no proof of deliberate aim, that the pistol might have gone off by accident and, even if it was intentionally fired it was in self-defence. The jury, after a minute’s deliberation and without leaving the jury box, returned a verdict of “not guilty”. One report of the trial gives Launt’s place of residence as “Gonagailli” probably a misspelling of Goriagilla.

Associations with the Dillon Family

During their 5 years or so of imprisonment for cattle stealing, both George and Joseph junior spent time at Cockatoo Island gaol. During this period their brother-in-law, Thomas Dillon, was also imprisoned there, for highway robbery. It would not be surprising if the existing relationship between Thomas and the brothers Launt was strengthened by their shared gaol experience.

Further intermarriages followed in the succeeding generations; most involved descendants of George Launt:

1890 – Luke James Dillon married Catherine Elizabeth Launt at Dunnadie Creek

1904 – James Richard Camden married Mary Matina Launt at Gunnedah

1917 – Luke Herbert Dillon married Alice Maude Ruttley at Gunnedah (Alice was a daughter of Catherine Mary Jones Launt)

1919 – Gladys Mary Daniels [21] married Charles Alfred Launt at Gunnedah

1930 – Theodosia Jane Dillon married Richard Bertram Launt at Gunnedah

Around 1880 Thomas, George and Edward selected land in the same area at Basin Plain in the parish of Wondoba, south of Gunnedah. (This land is located off Percy Road, Milroy.) And the 1891 census shows that George Launt was living at Dunnadie Creek alongside the widowed Mary Ann Dillon (Snow) and her family.

Dillon Selection - Parish Wondoba
Dillon & Launt Conditional Purchases, Parish Wondoba

On 21 March 1901 George Launt’s son John died in an accident at Normanstone Well whilst either sinking or cleaning out a well. According to newspaper accounts, Launt fell down the shaft whilst being hauled up by his mate Dillon. The rope was lowered again but Launt made no attempt to regain it. Dillon lowered his 12-year old son down the shaft but when nearing the bottom he signalled to be drawn up as he was being overcome by foul air. [22], [23]

These Dillons were most likely Thomas junior and his son, Claude Elmond, although Luke James and his son George James are possibilities. Claude was 13 at the time, and George not quite 10. Luke Dillon was recorded as living at Normanton Hut when the 1901 census was taken 10 days after the accident. (“Normanton” is a variant spelling of “Normanstone”.)

What Happened to Joseph Launt Senior?

Joseph senior died in 1880 at Coonabarabran of disease of the heart. An inquest was held, which wasn’t that unusual at that time when people died suddenly. Somewhat surprisingly, his occupation was given by his son Joseph as “shepherd”. It seems unlikely that Joseph ever did much shepherding, in the sense of tending a flock day and night on unfenced pasture, although he may have owned sheep.

When his daughter Eliza died in 1896 her father’s occupation was given as “Selector” on the death registration and when son George died in 1898 it was given as “Grazier”. Much more appropriate I think!

When registering his father’s death in 1880 Joseph junior gave his address as “Yaminba”, the place where the Fred Lowry Affair took place 16 years before. As far as I know he wasn’t still poddy dodging.

What Happened to George and Joseph Junior?

Following his release from prison George seems to have stayed out of trouble with the law. The only entry I can find for him in the Police Gazette is from the issue of 30 March 1887, and that referred to the theft from him at Dundee (Dunnadie) creek of “100 mixed sheep, tar brand M7, near ear split”. His marriage to Emma Snow produced 11 children, and he died in 1898 from injuries received whilst felling a pine tree. The informant for his death registration, the Gunnedah coroner, recorded his occupation as “Grazier, of Rockdale, Gunnedah”. Emma died in 1938.

Joseph junior, on the other hand, has a few records in the Gazette or newspapers, although there isn’t usually enough information to know the outcome.

In 1871 he was on bail for not obeying a summons relating to “detaining a heifer” belonging to John Carlow of Dandry run. In 1873 a warrant was issued relating to an alleged assault of Alexander Cormie of Cumbil run at Rocky Glen. In 1876 he was indicted for committing perjury, on the complaint of Thomas Hill, publican of the Rocky Glen hotel near Yaminba, but was found not guilty. [24] And in 1907 he was fine £5 for drunkenness and assaulting a policeman at the Criterion Hotel in Moree.

One set of entries in the Police Gazette suggests that Joseph was the perennial suspect. This notice appeared in the issue of 30 July 1873:

“The cattle No. 4 in this week’s list, the property of David Peebles, Airland, Yaminba Creek, near Coonabarabran, are supposed to have been stolen by Joseph Launt, about 26 years of age, 5 feet 11 inches or 6 feet high, fair hair and whiskers, worn all round, no moustache, very flash manner; a bullock driver and labourer; identical with Joseph Launt (vide Police Gazette, 1869, page 375 and 1873, page 115). Supposed to have gone to Cassilis or Gulgong. No warrant issued.”

The issue of 20 August 1873 recorded that:

“”Fourteen of the working bullocks, No. 4 in this week’s list, the property of David Peebles, and which were supposed to have been stolen by Joseph Launt, have been found straying.”

Joseph’s marriage to Catherine (Kate) Jones produced 9 children, one of whom, Leslie Claude, was killed at Gallipoli in 1915. In 1912 Joseph was found dead under the Broadwater Bridge in Moree, the coroner returning a verdict of death due to syncope resulting from chronic endocarditis. Catherine died in 1941.

Elizabeth Anderson – Keeping Up Family Connections

Elizabeth Anderson had 13 children. They largely inherited her fertility so she has many descendants. As the matriarch of the family, she appears to have served for at least 30 years as midwife at the births of many of her grandchildren, including Launts. In performing this role she must have travelled hundreds of kilometres for some births.

Of the four birth records I have for grandchildren of Elizabeth, all bear her name (then Elizabeth Camden) as the witness and presumed midwife – Thomas Dillon (1859, Cooyal Creek), Catherine Elizabeth Launt (1871, near Coolah),  Henrietta Dillon (1883, Dunnadie Creek) and George James Dillon (1891, Dunnadie Creek), a great-grandchild. There must be many more!

Elizabeth’s daughter, Catherine Camden, was also a well known midwife in the Cooyal district.

Catherine Elizabeth Launt Birth
Birth Registration for Catherine Elizabeth Launt – Elizabeth Camden, Witness and Probable Midwife
Henrietta Dillon Birth
Birth Registration for Henrietta Dillon – Elizabeth Camden, Witness and Probable Midwife



ONE OF THE ROBBERS SHOT- An inquest was held upon the body of James Lowrie on the 20th instant, by Mr. John Cockburn, coroner for the police district of Coonabarabran, at Old Yaminbah, a station belonging to Mr. Ebenezer Orr, of Garrawilla.

The following facts came out in evidence: – From information received, senior constable Ward proceeded, in company with constable Gill, Mr Orr, and a black tracker, to Mr. Orr’s run on Friday, the 19th, about 2 pm. At a deserted sheep station they came upon a large number of cows, from which the calves had been lately drafted, and from the tracks of the calves and other cattle they proceeded in search. The robbers had taken the precaution to burn the grass behind them, thinking thereby to avoid detection.

The party continued, however, on the track, and presently came up to a place near a tree under which the robbers had evidently camped lately, as the black tracker picked up some damp tea leaves which had been but recently drawn ; they still continued in pursuit, and about 6 p.m. came in sight of a large mob of cattle and horses, driven by four men, three white men, all apparently young, and natives, and the fourth a dark-looking man, apparently a half-caste, they keeping about two hundred yards behind, as the density of the scrub enabled them to keep the robbers and their booty in sight without themselves being visible.

From the direction in which they were going Mr. Orr remarked that their intention was to camp at an old sheep station of his where there is a good paddock, known as Old Yaminbah. Constable Ward thought it advisable not to rush at that time, as they were well mounted, and, being light weights, might escape ; they, therefore, took a circuitous round, and, riding quickly, arrived at the above station; at the hut and paddock dismounted and inspected them, finding neither cattle, horse, nor man in them. They then retired to their place of concealment for a short time. When the cattle arrived they then heard them distinctly being driven into the paddock; the robbers then retired, and in a short time a gleam of light issued through the aperture of the old hut, which is situated close to the paddock. It was evident they were in preparation of a meal. They still remained in ambush, as Ward thought it best not to make an attack till they had settled themselves.

Shortly all four proceeded to the hut in which the robbers were camped, and constable Ward, leading the way, quickly followed by Mr. Orr and constable Gill entered the hut, commanding them to surrender in the Queen’s name, apprehending them for cattle stealing. Two were immediately, secured by Orr and Gill, a third ran out at an aperture at the front of the hut, Ward at the same time calling upon him to surrender, firing a shot over his head to intimidate him.  He still ran, when again Ward threatened to blow his brains out if he did not stop; he in return replied “Don’t fire, and I’ll surrender;” he was then handcuffed and lodged with the other two. This all took place in a few moments – the night was dark and muggy.

The fourth robber, viz , the deceased, was lying in a bunk near the door and sprang up at the same time the other was escaping, rushing through the doorway past the black-fellow, who made a grasp at him ; be eluded it however, and was still escaping when Ward called on him not to attempt to escape as he would shoot him, at the same time raising his revolver, not meaning to shoot him but to intimidate him, when unfortunately the deceased sprang on the top as the officer fired, and received the ball. It was not thought at this time the robber had been shot, as he must have run nearly sixty yards after receiving the ball. Trooper Gill then went in pursuit of the runaway, when he found him in the paddock dead; the ball had passed through deceased’s back, coming out at the right breast. He turned out to be a brother of Lowrie, the notorious bushranger, who was shot near Goulburn some months ago.

On the body was found a letter from his sister, and in the sleeve of his jacket a six-barrelled revolver, four chambers being loaded; also ball, powder, and caps. The names of the other three are George Lant, Joseph Lant and a half-cast, William Pursell. In the paddock were found 144 head of cattle and fourteen horses, the most of the cattle belonging to Mr. Edward Cox, Ullimanbri, and some of them to Mr. Ebenezer Orr, of Garrawilla. They also found a calf which the robbers had killed for their use that night. The jury, after a brief deliberation, returned a verdict of “justifiable homicide”. (Sydney Morning Herald, 1 March 1864, page 5)

(Herrmann Family History)


[1] The reference to “The Black Swamp run” appears to be a newspaper transcription error from 1848. There are official notices from both 1847 and 1851 that refer to it as the Black Stump run.

[2] Eric Rolls, A Million Wild Acres, 1981, pp. 172-174, 186-187

[3] Their trial established an Australian legal precedent regarding the use of written witness testimony where the witness was no longer alive.

[4] Daily Examiner (Grafton) 18 September 1937, page 8

[5] New South Wales Government Gazette, 19 Jan 1844 [Issue No.10] Page 151

[6] “Cold and exposure” according to the register of coroner’s inquests.

[7] Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 4 August 1855, page 2

[8] The Australian, 17 Jun 1847 Page 4

[9] Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 16 July 1851

[10] New South Wales Government Gazette, 5 July 1859(No.131)

[11] New South Wales Government Gazette, 9 August 1861 (No.192)

[12] Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 5 January 1861

[13] New South Wales Government Gazette, 9 August 1861

[14] Also spelt Goragilla/Gorragilla. This was the birthplace of Edward Launt junior on 20 October 1862

[15] Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 20 March 1862

[16] There were two applications – one in 1883 by George as the oldest surviving son, and one by all 3 surviving children in 1885. In the former, Joseph was described as a shepherd.

[17] Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 5 January 1861

[18] Some accounts say Rocky Glen or Bundarra

[19] Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 12 March 1856

[20] Sydney Morning Herald, 8 July 1864, page 2

[21] Thomas Dillon junior’s niece by his marriage to Annie Victoria Smeltzer.

[22] Evening News, 23 March 1901, page 7

[23] Unaccountably, the Register of Coroner’s Inquests gives the cause of death as injuries received in falling from a tree

[24] NSW Police Gazette, 29 March 1876, page 98


“Beyond the Black Stump” – Joseph Launt at Coolah

In his book “A Million Wild Acres” Eric Rolls states that ” Joe Launt, a poddy-dodger (stealer of unbranded calves) … had come with his sons about 1857 from a run north of Coolah called the Black Swamp… He never paid the licence fees on the Black Swamp and under later holders the name passed into Australian tradition as the Black Stump. (1)

The Wikipedia entry on the Black Stump (2) records three Australian contenders to be the original “Black Stump” – Coolah and Merriwagga/Gunbar in New South Wales and Blackall, Queensland. It also contends that “Coolah’s claim to the term ‘black stump’ would be considerably strengthened if a reference to the expression were found in literature or newspaper reports from the nineteenth century (particularly prior to the mid-1880s).

There is a question as to whether the Black Swamp Run later became the Black Stump Run. Launt’s run can be positioned in respect of adjoining runs by this official notice from 1848:

“59. LAWSON WILLIAM, senior. Name of run, HONEYSUCKLE. Estimated area, 16,000 acres. Estimated grazing capabilities, 2,000 sheep. Bounded on the north by the Weelatabaa Creek; on the south by vacant land; on the west by the Weelatabaa grant of the applicant; and on the south-east by the run of Joseph Launt, called the Black Swamp. (Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 4 October 1848, p.4)”

This extract of a NSW Lands Department pastoral map shows the relative position of the Honeysuckle and Black Stump runs. It’s clear that the Black Stump run is in the same position as described for the Black Swamp run in the official notice of 1848, i.e to the south-east of the Honeysuckle run.

Pastoral Runs Black Swamp Area1

Pastoral Map of Runs Adjoining the Black Stump Run

It seems reasonable to conclude that Rolls was correct in his assertion that the Black Swamp run became the Black Stump run. There is further evidence that this had occurred by 1851 as this newspaper notice relating to forfeited runs makes clear:

“Bligh. 8. The run called BLACK STUMP, estimated to contain about 16,000 acres; bounded by Coolah Range on the south; on the north by the road leading to the Big River and Mr. Lawson’s station; on the west by a marked line down the creek 5 miles; on the east by the Coolah Range as it extends to Vincent’s boundary.” (Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 19 March 1851, p.4)

Of course, it’s possible that the 1848 reference to the Black Swamp Run was simply a clerical or transcription error and that the run was always known as the Black Stump Run. (It now seems likely that this was the case and that the run was always known as the Black Stump Run. In a list of persons who obtained licences to depasture stock beyond the limits of location for the year ending 30 June 1847 appears the entry “Launt Joseph … The Black Stump”. This record predates the 1848 record mentioned above. (3) )

On 17 May 1851 a notice was published in the Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser by James M’Cubbin of Coolah warning against trespassing by cattle or persons on his run “THE BLACK STUMP” in the district of Bligh.

By 1885, the Black Stump run had been consolidated with the Queensborough run into the Queensborough Pastoral Holding of some 46,000 acres. (4) The name lived on though, and there are currently three place names in the vicinity of the original run approved by the Geographical Names Board of NSW, i.e. Black Stump Graveyard/Cemetery, Black Stump Creek and Black Stump Resting Place.

This seems to significantly strengthen the case for Coolah to be the site of the original Black Stump place name.

Joseph “Joe” Launt (1812 – 1880) of the Black Swamp run had two sons who married into the Snow family. George Launt married Emma Snow and Edward Launt married Sarah Snow. This means that George and Edward were brothers-in-law of  Mary Ann Snow who was married to bushranger Thomas Dillon.

Joseph senior stood trial in 1856 for the manslaughter by shooting of  William Williams, alias William Owens,  at Rocky Gully,  Bundarra on the Liverpool Plains and was found not guilty. (5)

His sons Joseph and George stood trial in 1865 for cattle stealing in the area of present day Rocky Glen and Garrawilla. Their arrest, which took place in early 1864 during the commission of the offence, involved the death of their companion James Lowrie, shot by the police whilst attempting to escape. (5) Both were sentenced to 10 years “on the roads”, i.e. hard labour. They received absolute pardons in November 1869 following petitioning by family and friends.

(Herrmann Family History)



  1.  Eric Rolls, A Million Wild Acres, Penguin Books, 1984 p. 172
  2. (accessed 18 October 2018)
  3. New South Wales Government Gazette, 28 May 1847 (No.47), page 573
  4.  William Hanson, The Pastoral Possessions of New South Wales, Gibbs, Shallard & Co, 1889, p. 334
  5.  Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 12 March 1856
  6.  Newcastle Chronicle and Hunter River District News, 9 March 1864

Burying Napoleon – A Family Story


Recently whilst researching some distant ancestors I came across one with a birthplace, in 1817, of the island of Saint Helena. I thought that there must be a good story in how a working-class resident of Lanarkshire in Scotland came to have this exotic place of origin. As it turns out, the explanation was Napoleon Bonaparte, whose exile on the island in 1815 ended with his death there in 1821.

The Stewart Family

Isabella Elliott (c. 1848 – ?) was the wife of Joseph Spence Bell (1845 – 1904), the brother of my wife’s second great-grandfather, John Gamble Spence Bell. Isabella was the daughter of William Elliott (c. 1811 – ?) and Sarah Grace Stewart (1817 – ?).

It is Sarah who was born on Saint Helena on 4 June 1817. Her baptism record was the key to explaining her family’s presence on the island. It reads:

“June 4th 1817 Sarah Grace Daughter of Charles & Elizabeth Stewart Royal Sappers”

Charles Stewart had enlisted in the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners at Fort Leith, Edinburgh on 25 February 1809 “for unlimited service”. He was discharged in 1828 due to chronic rheumatism and other old injuries. His particular skill was that of blacksmith. In later years he appeared in census records as a Chelsea pensioner in his home county of Perth, Scotland.

The Napoleon Connection

Charles’ discharge certificate records that he served in “the East Indies” between December 1816 and July 1822. At that period Saint Helena was governed by the East India Company, so this is a reference to service on the island. These extracts from History of the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners (T.W.J. Connolly, Volume 1, London 1855) ) explain why the Corps were there:

(1816) “On the 26th January the seventh company, fourth battalion, of forty-eight total under Sub-Lieutenant A. Wallace followed Napoleon to St. Helena, and landed from the ‘Phaeton ‘ frigate on the 13th April. Major Emmett, R.E. took command of the company on its arrival. In carrying on the duties of the island the men were much detached and separated. Many acted as overseers of the Chinese and line workmen, and were found very useful in their several occupations. The headquarters were at St. James’, and parties at different periods were employed at Prosperous Bay, Turk’s Cap, Sandy Bay, Great Pound Ridge, Horse Pasture Point, Lemon Valley, Rupert’s Hill, Rupert’s Valley, Ladder Hill, &c. Besides attending to the repairs of the barracks and public buildings and strengthening the sea-defences, the company rendered efficient assistance in the building of a residence for Napoleon at Longwood. ” (p. 226)

(1821) “Napoleon died, at St. Helena on the 5th May, and his remains were deposited with quiet solemnity in an unpretending tomb, shadowed by a willow, in Slane’s valley. The company of sappers at the station took part in the funeral arrangements. The stone vault was built by privates John Warren and James Andrews. The body was lowered into its resting-place by two privates of the company, and other privates, appointed for the duty, refilled the grave, and secured all with plain Yorkshire slabs. Thus, without epitaph or memorial, were entombed the ashes of the most extraordinary man of modern times. As the necessity for retaining the company, now reduced, by deaths and the withdrawal of a detachment in 1819, to twenty-five of all ranks, no longer existed, it quitted the island and arrived at Woolwich on the 14th September. Private John Bennett was detained for three months after the removal of the company, and during that period he was employed with the Clerk of Works, in giving over the stores of the engineer department to the island storekeeper.” (p. 237)

I wonder if Charles got to throw a few shovelfulls of dirt onto Napoleon’s coffin?

There is some evidence that the Stewart family maintained an association with Saint Helena after Charles’ discharge from the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners in 1828.

Sarah Grace married William Elliott on the island in 1832, and their first two children were baptised there, William in 1834 and Mary Ann in 1835.

It seems that following his discharge in 1828 Charles re-engaged with the St Helena Regiment as there is a National Archives (UK) discharge record from 1836 of a soldier of that name who had also served in the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners. (WO 97/1182/208).

(Herrmann Family)

Spectacle Island – What’s In A Name?

“Spectacle” is a common island name – there are three in the Australian state of New South Wales alone. This post is about Spectacle Island in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour), and how it acquired its name.

This Spectacle Island has a long association with the storage of explosives. You can find its history on my RAN Armament Depots website.

The shape of the island has been extensively modified since 1862 – by reclamation and by the reduction in height of some elevated areas to provide flat ground for building. This photo shows the island as it looked in the late 1980s:


The original shape of the island is best shown by the detailed survey made by Surveyor Edward Knapp in 1862 in preparation for the construction of the first buildings. The solid line in this represents the high tide mark, the dashed line the low tide mark:

Knapp Survey

This survey shows that the island was originally comprised of two unequally sized islets, separated by a “reef partially dry at low tide”.

Its name as used by the Wangal aboriginal people, was Gongul. This name was collected prior to 1791 by William Dawes (The Notebooks of William Dawes on the Aboriginal Language of Sydney). The notebook designates it as “the eighth island coming up the harbour.”

The first known European visitors to the island were the survey party of Captain John Hunter and First Lieutenant William Bradley, both of HMS Sirius, on 3 February 1788. Hunter recorded that:

It was a fairly unattractive place … two flat rock platforms, covered with scrub and divided by an isthmus 55 yards. The total area was less than 2 acres. (quoted in M. Keats, A Cautionary Tale: A Study of the Macro Bivalve and Gastropod Molluscan Fauna of Spectacle Island, Sydney Harbour, Wetlands (Australia) 16 (2), 1997.)

Following this visit, the island was named Dawes Island, after Second Lieutenant William Dawes of the Sirius. Yes, in a strange coincidence, the same Dawes who collected the aboriginal name!

This is the section of Hunter’s chart showing Dawes Island:

From Chart of Port Jackson as surveyed by Captain John Hunter

The map below is from Midshipman Raper’s redrawing of Hunter’s original survey. It misrepresents the island’s outline by showing the two halves as more equal in area than they were in fact. (Bird Island is present day Cockatoo Island).

From Chart of Port Jackson as surveyed by Captain John Hunter, drawn from the original by George Raper.

In 1802 the French expedition led by Nicolas Baudin produced a chart of Port Jackson, based on Hunter’s and supplemented with their own observations.  In this chart Dawes Island is named as “Isle Banks”, possibly just a transcription error:

From Survey of Port Jackson by Nicolas Baudin’s Expedition 1802

The first published use of the name “Spectacle Island” that I’ve been able to trace occurs on John Septimus Roe’s 1826 chart of the harbour (1) (2):

Survey of Port Jackson by John Septimus Roe – Published in 1826 but surveyed in 1822

The first newspaper use of “Spectacle Island” I’ve found so far is much later, in 1847, in a report of the death of a prisoner who drowned whilst escaping from Cockatoo Island (Sydney Morning Herald, 23 August 1847, page 2).

It’s unclear whether the name “Dawes Island” entered into general usage. However it wasn’t forgotten as in 1860 there was a report of a sculling match race that stated that the course was “from Fort Macquarie to Dawes’ Island and back” (Moreton Bay Courier, 4 September 1860, page 4). (To this day, the island has continued to serve as a rounding mark for boat races.)

Every account of the origin of the name that I’ve come across says that it came from the island’s resemblance to a pair of spectacles. How could this be when the two islets were so unequal in area?

It seems unlikely that any waterline view of the island, as from a nearby boat or shore, could generate a resemblance to a pair of spectacles. Here is one such view – Spectacle is the small island at left:

John Skinner Prout – Cockatoo Island, Parramatta River (1843)

To see more early waterline images of the island, visit my Flickr page and open the Spectacle Island album.

Two other theories have been suggested. Both assume that an overhead view of the island’s outline gave rise to the name. Such a view could only have come at that period from a representation of the island on a survey plan or chart.

The first theory is that the resemblance is to the type of spectacles known as a lorgnette, i.e. spectacles that are positioned by a long handle attached to one side. Those with a very vivid imagination may possibly detect a lorgnette shape in Hunter’s depiction of the island.  If this theory is correct, it does beg the question as to why the island wasn’t named “Lorgnette Island”.

The second possibility is that the name was applied by someone not familiar with the island but aware of its depiction on the Hunter-Raper chart shown above, where the outline does approximate a pair of spectacles.

It seems unlikely that Roe, who was a competent marine surveyor, did not know that the name Dawes Island had precedence. He may have changed it because he had already applied the Dawes name to “Dawes Point” and wished to avoid any confusion. Alternatively, he may have used a name which had already entered common usage.

Before leaving the subject I should mention a third theory. At one time there was a girl’s reformatory school on nearby Cockatoo Island, occupied by both orphans and “wayward girls”. It was said that Dawes Island was a good place from which to see the wayward girls make a “spectacle” of themselves. This also has the virtue of explaining why it’s “Spectacle Island” and not “Spectacles Island”.

Much as I like this explanation, chronology rules it out. The reformatory came long after Roe used the name in 1826. And my Shorter Oxford Dictionary tells me that the singular form “spectacle” may also refer to what we now call “spectacles” or “a pair of spectacles”.


  1. Since first publishing this post I’ve become aware of a reference by the historian James Jervis to the name “Spectacle” being recorded by Surveyor Charles Grimes in his Field Book no. 7 in 1799. I have no reason to doubt this but have not yet had a chance to view the field book to  establish the context of the reference. Jervis’ claim is at page 402 of “The Origin of the Names in Port Jackson“, JRAHS, Vol. XXXI, Part VI, 1945.
  2. There is a plan based on the surveys of Grimes and Matthew Flinders published in London on 12 March 1799 that shows the island named as “Dawes” but this date is too early to reflect the results of any field survey conducted by Grimes in 1799. ( A topographical plan of the settlements of New South Wales including Port Jackson, Botany Bay, and Broken Bay / surveyed by Messrs. Grimes & Flinders. Communicated by Lt. Col. Paterson of the New South Wales Corps. Additions to 1815 Grimes, Charles, 1772-1858)




Our Curran Family – Newspaper Obituaries

Helena Mathilda Eggers (Abt 1819 – 1905)

Mrs. H. M. Curran

There passed away on Easter Sunday at her daughter’s residence, Burns Bay-road, Longueville, Mrs. Helena Matilda Curran, at the age of 86. Residents of Orange in the forties and fifties will remember the name of her husband, the late Mr. Henry Curran, storekeeper and miller of that town, who died in 1866. The old lady retained all her faculties up to the date of her demise.

Mrs Curran was a very old colonist, having arrived here in 1842, and after her marriage, which took place in old St. Marys in 1845, she resided in Orange till the eighties, when she left to take up her residence in Sydney.

During her declining days the deceased lady whose life was always one of piety, received the consolations of her Church from Father Ginisty, S.M., and Father Carroll, S.J.- R.I.P.”
(Freeman’s Journal, 13 May 1905, p.20)

Henry Edward Denham Chard (Abt 1834 – 1864)

FATAL ACCIDENT – A sad accident occurred on Thursday evening last, at Spring Creek, to Mr. Henry Chard, carcase butcher. It seems that having returned home from town, he went into his slaughter yard to kill some bullocks. Having pithed a bullock, he descended from the stage over the slaughter-pen to bleed the beast in the usual way, by cutting its throat. While in the act of lifting his leg over the bullock’s head, the beast, in its death struggle, suddenly raised itself up, when one of its horns entered his leg a little above the knee, ripping it open to the bone nearly up to the abdomen, and severing the femoral artery. The hemorrhage was dreadful. Medical aid was instantly sent for, and Dr. Temple was soon in attendance: but his skill was of no avail; he sank gradually, and died two hours and a half after the accident.

Mr. Chard was about thirty years of age, and much respected. A magisterial inquiry was held on Friday, but owing to the evidence of Dr. Temple not being taken in time to enable us to avail ourselves of it, we cannot give it till our next issue. His remains will be interred on Sunday.” (Freeman’s Journal, 10 December 1864, p.3 – reprinted from the Burrangong Tribune.)

(Henry Edward Denham Chard was the son of  John Muttlebury Chard (1814 – 1890) and Mary Johnson (Abt 1813 – ?). He is also mentioned in this post.

Henry Dinham Chard (1759 – 1847)

Death of an Englishman of the Old School.

Among recent deaths we find that of Mr HENRY DINHAM CHARD, late of Lyme Regis, Dorset, ship builder and ship owner, whose name for a long series of years was known from the North Foreland to the Land’s End, not only as a builder of gun brigs, privateers, cutters, and luggers, whose speed the Frenchmen in vain endeavoured to equal, but also for the ability and perseverance which he displaced on numerous occasions in floating and saving stranded vessels on the southern coast.  Even in these days of advanced mechanical skill, the means which he suggested and adopted half a century since are still in use with hardly any variation.  During the latter part of the war when the Channel swarmed with privateers, Mr Chard lost many of his vessels to the enemy, totally uninsured, whilst engaged in the hazardous undertaking of conveying government stores to the Channel Islands for the use of the troops there.  This contract he performed to the end of the war, faithfully and efficiently, although to the ruin of himself, never having received a shilling compensation from the Crown for his losses sustained in these services.  Mr Chard has attained the age of 88.”  (Morning Post, 2 January 1848)

(Henry Dinham Chard was married to Elizabeth Stocker (Abt 1777 –  1865).  One of their sons, John Muttlebury Chard, was the father of Henry Edward Denham Chard mentioned above.)

Catherine Curran (1849 – 1903)

“On Sunday there died in Lewisham Hospital Miss Kate Curran, second daughter of the late Henry Curran, one of the first settlers in this town. His place of business was the shop now occupied by Mr Chegwidden and there he resided for a number of years, until some twenty years ago. A reference to the maps of the town will show the name very frequently. His family taught school in Orange for a time after the father gave up business. Miss Curran took seriously ill at Dubbo show, and had to hurry back to Sydney. Her late place of residence was No. 1 Wigram street, Glebe, Sydney.” (The Blayney Advocate and Carcoar Herald, 30 May 1903, p.2 – reprinted from the Western Advocate)

William Gracie (1857 – 1913)


The death occurred in Sydney yesterday morning of Mr. William Gracie. Deceased had been an invalid for some considerable time – in fact, on several occasions his life had been despaired of.

He had been identified with the business interests of the district for many years, having come to the town when quite a young man, being employed at the Free Trade Stores, then in the possession of the late Mr. C. B. Payne. Deceased subsequently became the proprietor of the Central Stores, in conjunction with Mr. Neville. This partnership was in existence for a number of years, and was severed by the withdrawal of Mr. Neville, the sole management of the business then resting on the shoulders of Mr. Gracie. A branch store was opened at Captain’s Flat, but was closed when the exodus from that township commenced. The local business remained in his hands until some two or three years ago, when it was acquired by Mr. F.H. Dowell, deceased’s health compelling him to relinquish the harness of business. He resided for some time at Manly, and latterly at Rose Bay.

The late Mr. Gracie was born on December 19th, 1857. He leaves a widow and three daughters (one married) to mourn his loss. The funeral will take place tomorrow. (Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal, 14 May 1913, p.2)

(William Gracie was married to Emily Curran (Abt 1857 – 1956). Emily was a daughter of Henry Curran and Helena Mathilda Eggers.

Hugh Curran (Abt 1822 – 1860)

“I am sorry to add that we have lost, in a very short illness a respectable and useful resident of our district for some years, who was followed to the grave by a large concourse of relatives and friends on Tuesday last. I allude to the sudden demise of Mr Hugh Curran, brother of Mr Henry Curran of this town.” (Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 7 April 1860, p.2)

(Hugh Curran was a brother of Henry Curran.)

Thomas Curran (1853 – 1867)


“A sad accident, resulting in the death of a boy, aged fourteen, son of the late Mr. Hugh Curran, occurred on Monday last, at the races at Springside. A magisterial inquiry was held before Dr Warren on Tuesday last, when the evidence went to show that whilst engaged in racing, and proceeding at a rapid pace, the boy’s horse stumbled, throwing its rider clear over its head, as evinced from the nature of the injuries received, which were principally at the back of the head. A verdict of “Died from concussion of the brain, consequent upon a fall from a horse,” was returned. The accident occurred about 6 o’clock, and the boy expired about half-past 10 the same evening.” (Maitland Mercury and Hunter River Advertiser, 30 March 1867, p.2 – reprinted from the Western Examiner).

(Thomas Curran was the son of Hugh Curran mentioned above)

Hugh Curran (1859 – 1913)

“Mr. Hugh Curran, a well known Western farmer, who came to Orange nearly two years ago died at his residence Byng-street early yesterday morning. He contracted pneumonia after a fall from his horse on November 21 and was confined to his bed from that date. He leaves a widow. He was in his 55th year. An inquiry was held at the Orange police court before Mr E. Marriett, P.M. A verdict of death from pneumonia due to injuries received was recorded.” (Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative, 4 December 1913)

(Hugh Curran was the son of Hugh Curran mentioned above. He was married to Mary Jane Colbran (1861 – 1911))

James Shelton (1837 – 1918)


An old and respected resident of Singleton, in the person of Mr James Shelton, passed away at 5 o’clock on Sunday morning at his residence Campbell-street.

The late Mr Shelton, who was born in London, had attained the ripe old age of 81 years. He came to Australia about 60 years ago, first settling in Victoria when the great gold discoveries were attracting young men from all parts of the world. Later, he settled in North Queensland as a storekeeper, and among his friends of the early days was the late Mr Walter Hall, the Mount Morgan millionaire, but who at that time was a clerk in one of Cobb and Co’s country coach offices.

Mr Shelton came to Singleton in 1879, and started business as a storekeeper in George-street in the building now occupied by Mr A. Giles. After five years he moved across the road to the premises now occupied by Messrs O’Halloran Bros. and here he remained until 1890, when he moved into his newly erected residence in Campbell-street and there lived in retirement till the time of his death. Mr Shelton had many interesting experiences in his early days in Australia, and almost up to the last he was able to narrate his reminiscences very clearly to his friends. He was a man of quiet and unassuming disposition, and his business integrity gained him the respect of all.

Possessed of an exceptionally fine constitution, he hardly ever knew an ache or pain during his long life. Some six months ago he began to fail through old age, and gradually grew weaker as time passed on. His end was a very calm one, as he died in his sleep. The deceased had been twice married, but there was no issue of the unions. The funeral took place at the Catholic Cemetery yesterday afternoon.” (Singleton Argus, 16 July 1918, p.2)

(James Shelton was married to Louisa Curran (1856 – 1949), a daughter of Henry Curran and Helena Mathilda Eggers. )

Victor Dudley Maher (1908 – 1943)


Riding a motor cycle along Fullerton Street, North Stockton on April 13 Victor Leslie Maher, 34, married collided with the rear of a bicycle ridden by Herbert John George. Both were thrown to the roadway. Maher was killed.

At the inquest this afternoon, the coroner Mr A. G. Chipling returning a finding of accidental death.

George said that at 6.35 pm he was riding his bicycle along Fullerton Street in a northerly direction. Nearing Flint Street he observed the light from a motor cycle on the street. His rear reflector was showing. A few seconds later his bicycle was struck from behind. “I was thrown to the side of the road and the rider of the motor cycle fell on the left-hand side about five yards in front of me. He appeared to be badly hurt”. Maher was removed to Newcastle Hospital and died there next morning. George suffered a bad shaking and received abrasions to the body.” (The Newcastle Sun, 5 May 1943, p.3)

(Victor Maher was married to Jane Pinkerton Miller (1912 – 2010))

Ellen O’Brien (Abt 1831 – 1896)

The last few days of Ellen’s life are described in newspaper reports of her death and court proceedings against John Gallagher for her murder.  A fuller account of her life and death is available in an earlier post.

William Peter Joseph O’Halloran (1852 – 1924)

“There passed away recently at his residence, “The Nook,” Gladesville, a link with old St Mary’s, in the person of Mr. William Peter O’Halloran who had been connected with the Cathedral either as an altar boy or member of the choir for upwards of sixty years.

Born at Cape Town, he came to Australia at an early age. He received his education at Sydney Grammar School, being a contemporary there of Sir Edmund Barton, Mr. R.E. O’Connor and Sir George Reid. He served at the altar in old St Mary’s in the days of Father Therry,, Archbishop Polding, and Archpriest Sheehy, and remembered well the fire that destroyed the Cathedral in 1866. It was, however, in the choir that he was better known to the congregation for over thirty years. He belonged to that old school of musicians comprising J.A. Delany, J. Hinchey, Banks, Halliwell, D. Clancy, and K. Giltinan – all of whom have passed away, and who in their time took a prominent part in the choir work at St. Mary’s. Mr. O’Halloran was also a member of the Sydney Liedertafel, and took a prominent part in most of the big concerts organised by that body.

He is survived by his wife, four sons, and one daughter – Miss L. O’Halloran. The sons are Major J.H. O’Halloran (Tweed Heads), Messrs. G.S. O’Halloran (Singleton), E.H. O’Halloran (Gloucester) and L.F. O’Halloran (Gladesville). One son, Lieutenant W.E. O’Halloran, was killed in France in 1917.” (Freeman’s Journal, 19 June 1924, p.17)

(William O’Halloran was married to Helena Matilda Curran (1851 – 1939), daughter of Henry Curran and Helena Mathilda Eggers))



Our Herrmann Family – Newspaper Obituaries

Johann Friedrich Gottlieb Lange (1819 – 1888)

Discovery of a Horse and Vehicle in the Murray

The Albury police have ascertained that the horse and buggy found in the river last week were owned by Gottlieb Lange, a German farmer residing at Walla Walla, and that the man was drowned while giving his horse a drink at the watering place some distance above where the vehicle was found floating. Lange (says the Age) came into town yesterday and did some business at the Commercial Bank, and then visited several hotels. He left during the afternoon, stating he was going to Middle Creek, near Wodonga, to stay at the house of his married daughter and he was seen driving in the direction of the river. A swagman, who was sleeping near the old wharf, stated that he was awakened by the approach of the buggy, and that he saw a man drive to the river, and give his horse a drink. Shortly afterwards he heard loud cries for help, and running to the bank found that the horse and buggy and the occupant had disappeared. He informed some road repairers of what had occurred, but the swagman being intoxicated they discredited the story. The police have been dragging the river in the vicinity all day without recovering the body. The river at present is running very strongly, and probably the body will be carried for a long distance.” (Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette, 23 October 1888, p.4)

ALBURY October 22. THE FATAL MURRAY. The body of Gottlieb Lange, farmer of “Walla Walla”, was found in the river on Sunday evening, about two miles below the township. An inquest was held on Monday, and a verdict of “found drowned” returned. (Australian Town and Country Journal, 27 October 1888, p.15)

(Gottlieb Lange was married to Johanne Rosine Jaeschke (1821 – 1881)  and the father of Ernestine Mathilde Lange (1849 – 1924).

Philip Smeltzer (1836 – 1909)

Death of Mr. P. Smeltzer

The death is announced of the well-known vigneron, Mr. Philip Smeltzer, who had been a resident of the Hunter River district for many years, and who for some considerable time was afflicted with blindness. He was well-known throughout the State. He died at his late residence, Enmore vineyards, Allandale, and will be buried in the Lochinvar cemetery to-morrow (Tuesday) morning at 10 o’clock.” (Maitland Mercury, 20 September 1909, p.2)

(Philip Smeltzer was married to Honora Ann Flynn (1841 – 1898). They had 4 daughters, one of whom, Annie Victoria Smeltzer (1866 – 1950) married Thomas Dillon (1859 – 1938), a son of bushranger Thomas Dillon.)

Millicent Emma S. Smeltzer (1869 – 1909)

“With regret I have to record the death of Mrs. R. J. Nowland, wife of the licensee of the Rocky Glen Hotel. Poison, accidently administered, was the cause of death. The sufferer was brought with all speed to Dr. Failes, who had grave hopes for her recovery. She, however, recovered enough to return home, but a sudden change came along, when the sufferer was taken to Gunnedah where the end came on Thursday morning. She has left a husband and a very large family to mourn her loss. We extend our deepest sympathy to the mourners.” (Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative,  14 January 1909)

(Millicent Smeltzer was the third daughter of Philip Smeltzer (see above). She was married to Robert John Nowland (1862 – 1946).  In the 18 years between her marriage and 1904 she gave birth to 12 children.)

Catherine Rutledge (Abt 1862 – 1942)


Mrs. Catherine Bell of “Rockdale,” near Marrar, died in a private hospital at Junee yesterday morning at the age of 80 years. Mrs. Bell, with her late husband, John Bell, who died 2 1/2 years ago, were pioneers in farming in the Marrar district. Her name prior to marriage was Miss Rutledge. One son, Allan, of Marrar, is at present in a military camp. Mrs. Cyril Terry, of Yathella, and Mrs. A. Hermann, of Marrar, are daughters. The funeral cortege will leave the Junee Presbyterian Church to-day for the Marrar cemetery.” (Daily Advertiser, 20 June 1942, p.2)

Elizabeth Anderson (Abt 1815 – 1903)

“At Cooyal, on the 26th ultimo, there passed away Mrs. Camden at the age of 87 years. Deceased was twice married, her first husband being a Mr. Jones. By this marriage she had one child – Mr. Luke Jones, of Cooyal. She also had three children by her second husband, but these have all left the district. Senile decay was the cause of death.” (Wellington Times, 8 January 1903, p.6)

(Elizabeth Anderson may have had 5 husbands/partners –  and many more than the 4 children mentioned here.  Her daughter, Mary Ann Snow (1840 – 1904), was married to bushranger Thomas Dillon. Elizabeth was midwife for many of her grandchildren.)

Martin Bartholomue Batey ( Abt 1830 – 1910)


It is our most sorrowful duty to record today the death of Mr Martin B. Batey, of Devenish, which sad event occurred yesterday week at his home after a brief indisposition. The late Mr Batey, aged about 80 years, possessed all the outward appearances of a strong, hearty man, and all who knew him outside his own locality, and who have not already heard of his demise, will no doubt read with startled surprise and unfeigned regret this sad intelligence respecting him, as also will they sympathise with the sorrowing widow and family in the sadness of their bereavement.

Deceased was a native of Sunbury, and about 30 years ago, or more, settled down in the parish in which he died, carrying on farming there successfully, having married a sister of Mr John Cameron, one of the pioneers of Lake Rowan, and rearing a large and respectable family.

Of the many hundreds of people who die here every year but few who have passed away have had a more estimable career than the subject of this obituary. Honest in purpose, noble in principle, charitable towards his neighbors, gentle to the weak, scrupulous and generous in his dealings, and endearing towards his wife and family relations, he figured as a worthy inhabitant of the district – as a man of sublime Christian character. His high sense of honor was one of the leading monuments of his life’s ways and undertakings. Peace to his ashes; in him one of the best and noblest of men has made his departure from amongst us to take his last sleep in the silent and melancholy chamber of the tomb.” (The North Eastern Ensign, 16 December 1910, p.3)

(Martin Batey was married to Sarah Ann Cameron (1858 – ?))

John Gamble Spence Bell  (1849 – 1939)


Mr. John Gamble Spencer Bell, aged 90 years, of Marrar, died in a private hospital in Junee on Thursday afternoon. MR. Bell was hale and hearty at the time of his accident six weeks ago, when he went to the blacksmith’s shed on his property with the intention of doing a job. A dog, unfortunately, crossed his path and he fell to the ground, breaking his leg. He was taken to Junee and remained in a private hospital for some weeks. Over a week ago he was taken to his home at Marrar by the ambulance, but on Wednesday he was returned to the hospital, where his death occurred next day.

Born in Scotland, Mr. Bell came to this country when a young man and shortly afterwards came south. He married Miss Katherine Rutledge at the Wagga Methodist Church on Christmas Day 62 years ago. Mr. Bell had been farming all his life in the Marrar district.

A widow, two sons, John (Junee) and William (“Rockdale”, Marrar), and two daughters, Mrs. C. Terry (Yathella), and Mrs. F.A. Hermann (Marrar), survive. In addition, there are 20 grandchildren and 24 great-grand-children. The funeral will take place today, the cortege moving to the Marrar cemetery at 11 a.m.” (Daily Advertiser, 16 December 1939, p.6)

Allan Cameron (Abt 1820 – 1905)


Another of the few remaining old pioneers has passed away in the person of Mr Allan Cameron, a very old resident of Lake Rowan, who died last week at the ripe age of 88 years. Deceased, a native of Fort William, in the Highlands of Scotland, arrived in Melbourne in 1848, shortly afterwards settling at lake Rowan, where he remained till his death. He leaves a family of eight grown-up sons and daughters, one of the latter being the wife of Mr Martin Batey, of Bungeet, the other being Mr John Cameron, one of the most highly-esteemed farmers at Lake Rowan.

The late Mr Cameron was a man who endeared himself to all by his nobleness of purpose and genial good nature, and the esteem in which he was held was shown by the large cortege of fifty buggies and horsemen which followed his remains to their last resting place alongside those of his wife, who died a few years back. He was a Scotsman of a fine type – liberal-minded, generous and genial – and will long be remembered on this account by the large circle among whom he moved so gracefully during his lifetime.” (The North Eastern Ensign, 12 May 1905, p.3)

(Allan Cameron was married to Flora McPherson (1830 – 1900))

John Cameron (Abt 1855 – 1931)

DEATH. – The death occurred on Tuesday last of John Cameron, relict of the late Mary Cameron of Lake Rowan. Death was due to an internal complaint from which he had suffered for a number of years. He was 76 years of age.” (The North Eastern Ensign, 30 January 1931, p.2)

(John Cameron was a son of the Allan Cameron mentioned above. He was married to Mary Nicolson (1855 – 1927). He was the father of the Martin James Cameron mentioned below.)

Martin James Cameron (1881 – 1951)

“Although he had been ill for some weeks, death came most unexpectedly to Mr. Martin James Cameron of Bolton street, Junee. Aged 68, he was one of Junee’s oldest and best-known residents.

Born at Bungeet (Vic) he joined the railway service at Werris Creek and almost immediately transferred to Junee [1]. Rising to a special class salaried guard, he spent 36 years in Junee, interrupted only by the last nine months of his departmental career, when he was stationed at Albury.

In his younger days Mr. Cameron was a keen sportsman, specialising mainly in billiards and Australian Rules Football. Latterly he took up bowls and became a prominent player and executive officer of the Junee bowling club. Amongst his most meritorious performances in this sport was to win the club championship, be runner-up in another season and in 1948 to win the Veterans’ championship at the Albury Easter tournament.

Mr. Cameron came from a family of four brothers, one of whom was killed in the Great War of 1914-18. His two brothers, Mr. Leo Cameron (Bungeet) and Mr. Alan Cameron (Devenish) survive him. Mr Cameron married his sorrowing widow in Dookie (Victoria) 21 years ago. All his children, who survive him, are from his first marriage, and they include: Bonnie (Mrs. H. Herman, of Cootamundra), Joy (Mrs. D. Woodward, of Junee), Jean (Mrs. A. Howard, of Gunnedah), Maude (Mrs. L. Colliver, of Punchbowl), Edna (Mrs. A. O’Regan, of Junee), Mr. Jim Cameron (of Guildford), and Mr. Jack Cameron (of Junee). The funeral took place in Junee yesterday morning, following a service at St. Joseph’s church.” (Cootamundra Herald, 17 May 1951, p. 2)

(Martin Cameron was married to Henrietta May Dillon, whose obituaries appear below)

Henrietta May Dillon (1883 – 1927)


The death occurred on Saturday night of Mrs. Henrietta Cameron, at her home in Bolton Street, Junee. She was 43 years of age, and is survived by her husband, who is a railway guard, and seven children. The funeral took place in the Catholic portion of the Junee cemetery on Sunday, and was attended by a large number of railway employees.” (Daily Advertiser, 29 November 1927, p.2)

“Members learnt with very sincere regrets on Sunday, November 27, of the death of Mrs. Cameron, wife of Bro. Martin J. Cameron, of Bolton-street, Junee. The deceased lady by her charm of manner and kindly disposition had a wide circle of friends, and her death came as a shock to all. The large number of mourners bore testimony to the high esteem in which the deceased lady was held. She left seven young children to mourn their loss.” (Hibernian Notes, Freeman’s Journal, 1 December 1927, p.31)

Johann Gottfried Herrmann (1830 – 1913)

“It is with regret we announce the death of Mr. Johann Gottfried Herrmann, father of Mr. A.E. Herrmann, of “Grandview”, Junee and Mr. F. A. Herrmann of “Ferndale”, Nangus. Deceased had reached a very ripe age (84 years) and had resided with his son in Junee for some seven years, during which time he had, up to a few months ago, enjoyed excellent health. He was a native of Germany, and had lived in South Australia for some 52 years, but came over to this State seven years ago when his sons bought up land about here. A fortnight ago deceased contracted a cold, and, although no alarm was felt at first, he gradually became worse, and died at 5.30 a.m. on Tuesday last.” (The Gundagai Times and Tumut, Adelong and Murrumbidgee District Advertiser, 7 October 1913, p.2)

(Johann Gottfried Herrmann was married to, firstly  Anna Louisa Zadow (1838 – 1868) and secondly Ernestine Mathilde Lange (1849 – 1924). Amongst his children was Frank Arthur Herrmann (1884 – 1946))

Flora McPherson (1830 – 1900)

“One of the oldest female identities of the North-east in the person of Mrs Cameron, sen., of Lake Rowan, has just passed away to that bourne whence no traveller returns, after a long and lingering illness, her last mortal remains being interred on Friday last.

Deceased lady was 69 years old at the time of her death and a colonist of 61 years standing, having left her home in Scotland with others of her relations and settled in Victoria when only 8 years old. She married at an early age and finally took up her abode along with her husband and family at Lake Rowan, where she resided since 1876. During her lifetime she reared a large, respectable and progressive family of ten – eight sons and two daughters. One of the former spent several years in Benalla, serving an apprenticeship with Mr Gordon Willis as a saddler and harness maker, whilst another – Mr Jno. Cameron – is an old and esteemed resident of Bungeet, Mrs Martin Batey, of the same place, being deceased’s eldest daughter. Deceased lady, alike her late husband, was one of the best of citizens – warm-hearted, generous and self-sacrificing, qualities which pervaded the character of all her children – and as a mother she had comparatively few compeers.

As showing the popularity she enjoyed when alive her funeral was one of the longest ever seen in the Lake Rowan district, and many were the expressions of regret, especially among the old folk, respecting her demise.” (The North Eastern Ensign, 16 February 1900, p.3)





Henry Curran’s Flour Mill in Orange

In an earlier post I told the story of Henry Curran’s storekeeping business during the goldrush of the 1860s. Henry was also responsible  for the first flour mill within the town Orange, New South Wales. His mill opened in 1855.

On the original town map of Orange, Henry is shown as the purchaser of 12 town blocks, mostly in 1852. These included 4 of the 5 blocks on the northern side of Summer Street, between Curran Street and Peisley Streets. The fifth block was purchased by John Peisley. (Due to subsequent land use changes which rendered Curran Street discontinuous, the southern end is now known as McNamara Street.)

Henry Curran Land2_Orange.jpg
Henry Curran’s Land in Summer Street, Orange

Henry’s store and flour mill were both located on this stretch of Summer Street. The store was at the western end of the block, now 283 Summer St and occupied by the Parkview Hotel. The mill was built on Peisley’s block, now 311-313 Summer St and occupied by the Salvation Army store. The latter premises were formerly the Strand Theatre.


Henry Curran’s Store and Flour Mill – 1870s (State Library of NSW)

The mill had a gala  opening on 2 May 1855, as the Sydney Morning Herald of 16 May reported:

“Steam Flour Mill – Mr. H. Curran’s flour mill in the township of Orange was started for the first time on Wednesday the 2nd instant. There were a great number of the inhabitants of the district present to witness the usual formalities of such occasions. Amongst the lookers on I observed several several of our J.P.’s, Mr Templar, the proprietor of the Narrambla Steam Mills being one of them. The engine appeared to do her work in fine style, and there was no want of steam as the champagne bottles were going pop, pop, like lightning. Everything was conducted in a very orderly manner. I think Mr. Curran is entitled to no small amount of praise for the very spirited manner in which he has persevered in this great undertaking, but I am of the opinion that he is a little too soon with it. We have now no less than four steam mills in this district, two of which are twelve horsepower, and there certainly cannot be full work for the whole of them…”

This advertisement for the mill appeared in the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal of 12 May 1855:

Early Advertisement for Curran’s Flour Mill

By December of 1855, Henry had leased the mill to Edward Nicholls (Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, 22 December 1855).

Henry still owned the mill at his death in 1866 and in 1869 it was advertised for “sale or let” by his widow, Helena:

Sydney Morning Herald of 10 November 1869

By 1872 the mill was being referred to as Bowen’s mill. This article from 1872 records the presence of 3 mills in Orange at that time:

“Dalton’s Steam Flour Mill has been separately described. The Steam Flour Mill of Nelson’s, though smaller, is something similar, and a description of one nearly answers for the other. Both mills, when I was in Orange were working almost night and day. To the eastward of the town stands Bowen’s Steam Flour Mill…” (Evening News 18 April 1872)

Henry Curran’s Flour Mill Under Later Ownership – 1870s (State Library of NSW)

Henry Curran – Gold Rush Storekeeper

At his death, my great-great-grandfather, Henry Curran (c.1814 -1866) was described as a storekeeper of the small town of Orange, New South Wales, Australia. He was more than this, however, as records point to his involvement in sheep grazing (1), inn keeping (2) and flour milling as well as storekeeping.

Henry had arrived in New South Wales in 1838 from County Down in Ireland.  His brother Hugh arrived 3 years later. A younger brother Thomas arrived in 1851, and a sister, Mary (Mrs Peter Hazard) in 1855.

According to one account:

“In 1853 Henry Curran … was a tenant farmer on the Gosling estate (then owned by William Lee) across the creek from “Bloomfield”. He was said to be an exemplary tenant, always paying his rent on time! During this time he was contracted by Joseph Moulder to take some horses to Adelaide. He later purchased 63 acres in the Gosling Creek/Springside area.” (Kerrin Cook, A history springs to mind: a history of the village of Spring Hill, New South Wales including the surrounding villages of Bloomfield, Gosling Creek, Huntley, Spring Terrace and Springside, Orange City Council c.2002, p. 116)

Henry Curran’s Store and Flour Mill, Summer Street Orange – 1870s (State Library of NSW)

The last 15 years or so of his life coincided with the Australian gold rush. Fortuitously, Orange was relatively close to the scene of some of the early gold discoveries. It’s likely that Henry’s modest prosperity arose from meeting the needs of some of the thousands of desperate gold miners who flocked to the Burrangong (later Lambing Flat then Young) and Lachlan (later Forbes) goldfields.

However his interest in the precious metal and its seekers led to a potentially catastrophic brush with the law.

The Wentworth Gold Theft Case

In 1857 Henry was charged, amongst others, with the theft of gold from the Wentworth Gold Mining Company. The contemporary reports make it clear that he was considered to have purchased the gold from the person charged with stealing it, one Henry Rembart, knowing it to be stolen.

On 7 August Henry and Thomas Dalton, a fellow Orange storekeeper, were committed at Orange for trial at the following Bathurst Assizes. The Empire of 17 August reported that Curran and Dalton “were forwarded to Bathurst gaol yesterday morning under the escort of Captain Battye and some of his patrol.”

On 24 September Rembart was convicted of the theft, and sentenced to 2 year’s hard labour in Parramatta gaol. On the following day Thomas Dalton stood trial on charges of stealing and receiving the gold, but he was found not guilty by the jury after a retirement of 10 minutes. (Sydney Morning Herald, 3 October 1857, p. 5)

I can find no record, either in newspapers or the State Archives index to criminal depositions of Henry Curran standing trial. It seems likely that the charge was withdrawn beforehand.

The published evidence makes it clear that both Henry and Dalton bought and sold gold from time to time and that this was legal. The case revolved around whether the gold was in fact stolen from the Wentworth mine and whether they were aware of its provenance.

In summing up, the judge in Dalton’s trial advised the jury that the prosecution’s case that the gold was from the Wentworth mine had not been proven. (Notwithstanding that this was contrary to the verdict in Rembart’s case the previous day. Such is life!)

Curran’s Store at Burrangong

There are multiple references in the press in 1862 to “Curran’s store at Burrangong”, all in relation to crime. For example, on 22 February, the Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser reported:

“that a person in the employment of Mr. Curran, travelling from Lambing Flat to Forbes, a short time ago, was stopped by bushrangers and robbed of £80, the property of his employer; £6 his own property, a valuable horse, and the very boots off his feet. The robbers took his own money, which chanced to be in his pocket, and then his horse. The man attached great value to this animal and offered them £20 if they would return it. They demanded at once that he should tell where the money was secreted, when he confessed it was in his boots. They immediately knocked him down, dragged them off his feet, and left him in the destitute condition described above.”

And on 21 November the Sydney Morning Herald advised that:

“A carrier named Arthur Bush, and a man named Wilson, residing at Gunning, have been arrested for an extensive robbery of goods which had been entrusted to the charge of the former to be conveyed from Sydney to Mr. H. Curran, storekeeper, of Burrangong.”

Other newspaper reports of this robbery and the subsequent trial add the information that “H. Curran” was a Henry Curran, that the store was located at Spring Creek, Burrangong, and was managed by a Mr Sellars. (3)

Mr Sellars seems to have been a stalwart chap as, accompanied by two policemen and a search warrant, he travelled to Jerrawa Creek near Gunning to search for the stolen goods. They found the Bush’s house to be deserted so Sellars put up for the night at Wilson’s public house. At sunrise the police arrived and proceeded to search the house. Amongst the goods found and identified as having been stolen were moleskin trousers, Scotch twill shirts, “other wearing apparel”, a bolt of bed ticking, women’s hose, Holloway’s pills and ointments and flannel. (Sydney Mail, 15 November 1862)

Holloway’s Pills and Ointments – Worth Stealing!

In the reports of the trial of Bush and Wilson it was stated that the stolen goods were consigned to Henry by the Sydney firm of Prince, Ogg & Co. (Empire, 25 November 1862). A principal of this firm was Henry Prince. Henry Curran is known to have had commercial dealings with Prince and just before his death he assigned his moveable assets to two trustees including Prince. (NSW Government Gazette, 4 December 1866)

This outrage was soon followed by another, as Freeman’s Journal reported on 6 December 1862:

“Robbery at Lambing Flat. – About nine o’clock on the evening of Tuesday, the 25th ultimo, three men entered the store of Mr. Curran, which is situated a short distance from the lock-up at Lambing Flat, and presented a revolver at the person in charge of the establishment. They then took him into a back room, tied him up, and, after searching the place, carried away about £20 in cash, a watch, and a quantity of boots and clothing. Whilst they were carrying out their operations they were disturbed by a party who came in: he was struck in the face by one of the ruffians with a revolver, and then they bolted. Captain Battye and Detective Carnes were upon the spot a few minutes afterwards, and an immediate pursuit of the robbers was instituted.”

In a stroke of irony, the Captain Battye mentioned here is the same who escorted Henry to Bathurst for trial in 1857.

Curran’s Store at The Lachlan (Forbes)

In a letter from the Orange & District Historical Society to William O’Halloran dated 28 February 1973 it was stated that:

“With the discovery of gold on the Lachlan (Forbes) in 1861 (Henry) Curran is known to have opened a store there the same year. The diggings were referred to as ‘the canvas city of the Lachlan’. Curran had a sign painted for his store on the goldfields by an Orange painter named Craigie. It was described as ‘a very neat sign – really an excellent piece of letter-painting’ “.

Henry should possibly have tried his hand at goldmining when he set up his store at the Lachlan as many newspapers reported in November 1861 that:

“Intense excitement exists here in reference to the Lachlan gold-field. …The ground is loose and dangerous. The ground on which Curran’s store stood was rushed, a hole bottomed, and six pounds weight of gold was obtained from one bucket of earth.” (Brisbane Courier, 25 November 1861 – also reprinted in a number of other papers)

This store, or perhaps its replacement, was mentioned in a story on the great Lachlan flood published in the Empire on 28 June 1864:

“On the other side of the town the flood came up to the end houses in Templar and Court streets, reached the Roman Catholic Church Reserve, and drove several persons from their houses round the point of the rise on which Mr. Wood’s bakery stands, crossing over Lachlan street some distance nearer the Reserve than where Mr. Curran’s store used to stand.”

One “H. Curran” is recorded in the Sydney Morning Herald of 19 September 1864 as donating 2 guineas to the General Flood Relief Fund in respect of this flood.

In an anonymous article published in Freeman’s Journal of 30 April 1881, the author recollected that:

“Forbes and its surroundings at the time of the great rush would have astonished anyone who had never seen a gold-field … for a stranger to gold-fields life would have found collected at the new field of ’61 perhaps the most experienced and accomplished lot of diggings residents that ever got together… The first people to take up their quarters on the Lachlan field consisted of miners, storekeepers, and packers from Lambing Flat, Sofala, Kiandra, and Adelong… Frazer, Moses, Pollock Bros, Govers, and Baldwin were chief of the storekeepers, with Terence Francis M’Gurren, who was right among the rowdy boys at the south end of the street of Rankin, for that was before the advent of John Shaw, Curran from Orange (not J. J.) and the M’Kinleys; and now I’ve nought more in this line to tell.”

Looking to the Future

In an issue of the Western Examiner (October 1865) there is a notice placed by “Henry Curran of Orange” advising “the inhabitants of Dubbo, Lower Macquarie and surrounding districts,” that he had opened his new stores at Dubbo, opposite the Commercial Hotel, Brisbane Street, with a “large and extensive stock of general merchandise.”

Dubbo wasn’t a goldmining town, but this may have been Henry’s response to the petering out of the gold fever on the Burrangong and Lachlan goldfields. The latter were “boom and bust” places with but a short life for most men of business.

By the time of his death in 1866 Henry’s Dubbo properties included the Commercial Hotel, the Commercial Stores, a number of town allotments, 50 acres on the Macquarie River known as Fitzpatrick’s grant and about 25 acres at Butler’s Fall Reserve. (Sydney Morning Herald, 13 April 1867).

Henry had significant land holdings in his home town of Orange as early as 1852, but it seems that he could also see a future for other nearby towns. In addition to the land already mentioned at Dubbo he purchased two town blocks in in Forbes and four town blocks in Wellington.

However Henry died in December 1866 of liver disease. His wife Helena took over as storekeeper with little success as she became insolvent in 1870. Helena was also appointed as administrator of Henry’s estate, and his real estate was still being disposed of as late as 1875.

Henry Curran grave
Henry Curran’s Memorial in Orange Cemetery


1.  John Smith, the feisty pastoralist of “Gamboola”, Molong, wrote to Henry in 1853 regarding Henry’s alleged trespass on his run. In this letter he stated that “It is reported your flocks are diseased with catarrh and I have proof that you ordered your shepherds to feed them on my run.” (Quench Not The Spirit: Merino Heritage, (ed.) Bertha Mac. Smith,  Melbourne, Hawthorn Press, 1972, p. 117) The editor states that Henry had land at Borenore.

2. The hotels which Henry owned were:

  • the Traveller’s Inn (sometimes called Traveller’s Rest or Curran’s Inn) at Summer Hill on the road to Bathurst, between about 1851 and 1860; and
  • the Commercial Hotel at Dubbo from 1865.

Henry seems to have leased the hotels, rather than running them himself. His brother Hugh held the liquor licence at the Traveller’s Rest in 1854.

The Traveller’s Inn is now a private home at 5110 Mitchell Highway, Orange.

Traveller's-Curran's Inn_5110 Mitchell Highway Orange NSW
Former Traveller’s Inn, Orange

3. One of Henry’s neighbours at Spring Creek, Burrangong, was butcher Henry Edward Denham Chard. Henry arrived on the goldfield in March 1862 at latest, and his business operated until 1 December 1864 when he died after being gored by a bull during slaughtering. Henry Chard’s half-sister, Pauline Mary Chard, was later to marry Henry Curran’s son, Henry Joseph Adolphus Curran, at Currajong (Parkes) in 1876.

Also at Spring Creek at this time was Chard’s store. This was run by unrelated Henry G. Chard. Chard’s store was held up by bushranger Johnny Gilbert and two others on 1 June 1863. During the proceedings, one of the bushrangers put a revolver to Chard’s breast but the gun misfired. The bushrangers were driven off by a rush of miners coming to the defence of the women in the store. The miners were armed with picks and shovels and shouting “Roll up, boys, here’s the bushrangers”. (Empire, 6 June 1863).

(Curran Family History)

Recusancy in The Muttlebury Family


In an earlier post, I recounted some genealogical history of the Muttlebury family of Jordans, Ashill, Somerset, England. In this post I give some information of the family’s history of recusancy.

A recusant, in the 16th and 17th centuries was a Roman Catholic who refused to attend the services of the Church of England


There is evidence that some at least of generations 10 and 11 of the family were Roman Catholics who refused to worship in the Anglican service and who were thereby penalised by fines and or temporary forfeiture of some of their lands. In 1608 there was a grant to “Sir Walter Cope of two-thirds of the King’s interest in the manors of Elworthy and Bradney, &c., forfeited by recusancy of Thos. Muttlebury, of Ashill, co. Somerset.”.

Thomas was still being penalised in 1615, as this reference shows:

“A lycence for Thomas Muttleburie, of Jorduns, in the countie of Sommersett, esquire, a recusaunt convict, to travaile to the citties of London and Westminster, and to such partes within the counties of Sommersett, Dorsett, Devon, and Cornewall, as his occasions shall require, during the space of …” (Acts of the Privy Council of England, p. 425 Volume 34 (1615 – 1616))”

It would seem, however, from quotations above that the forefeiture was temporary or partial as the manor of Bradney was still in the family until the last generation.

This Thomas, or perhaps his son, also resisted paying the King for the compulsory privilege of being knighted. It is recorded, for the year 1631 in the List of the several answers and compositions made in the county of Somerset upon the 3rd Commission granted and directed to the Right Hon. the Lord Paulett, touching such as did not appere at his Majesties coronation to receive the order of Knighthood) that “Thomas Muttlebury, Esq., maketh answer that he hath pat in his plea into his Majesties Court of Exchequer and stands to that plea.” (Somerset & Dorset Notes and Queries Vol 4 (1895))

Similarly, a Thomas Muttlebury of Ashill, is named in the Protestation Returns of 1641/42 as in favour of the introduction of the the Laudian liturgy.

There were also two Muttleburys who became monks in the Benedictine order, whilst a Dorothy Muttlebury, a lay sister in the same order, may also have been a member of the family. Sister Dorothy died in 1704, probably at St Benedict’s Priory, Colwich, Staffordshire. The two monks were:

  • Dom John Muttlebury (son of Robert Muttlebury and Elizabeth Beaumont, also known as Dom Placid), ordained in 1601, banished in 1606 and died at Dieulward in France in 1632; and
  • Dom Francis Muttlebury (son of Thomas Muttlebury and Dorothy Tichborne), professed 13 November 1658, later Vicar to the Abbess of Cambray in James II’s reign, and died in 1697.

Both had aliases – John’s was “Mallett” whilst Francis’ was “Beaumont”, his mother’s maiden name.

This is a (translated by Google from the Latin) extract from The Douay College Diaries, Third, Fourth and Fifth 1598-1654 with the Rheims Report, 1579-80 Vol 1, Edwin H. Burton &Thomas L. Williams, London, 1911:

“1631 … 6 June came from England Francis Mutleberye (here Beuamount) son Thomas Mutleberye Esquire and Dorothy Tichburne, who had done many, they suffered for the faith of the Catholic Church. Born to Jordains in the Parish of Aishill com. Somerset.”

Thomas Muttlebury’s Wives

Both wives of this Thomas Muttlebury (II) may have been from prominent recusant families. His first wife, Dorothy Tichborne, daughter of Peter Tichborne, is claimed to be the sister of Chidiock Tichborne, one of the conspirators, in 1586, in the plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and free Mary Stewart from imprisonment.

Peter Tichborne and his wife Elizabeth Mydelton, are included in the pedigree for the Tichborne family contained in Pedigrees from the Visitation of Hampshire…(pages 123 to 126.) Chideok Tichborne, his son, is also included but not any of the other children. The The Victoria Histories of the Counties of England, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight says of this pedigree, on page 84, “The pedigree with this large number of sons is much complicated”. This is said in the context of the following:

“In 1601, Thomas Tichborne, of the well known Hampshire family, was arrested, sent to London and executed at Tyburn for being a Roman priest. In the same year his kinsman, Nicholas Tichborne, was also executed at Tyburn for attempting to release Thomas. There was scarcely a year of Elizabeth’s reign that did not find one or another of this staunchly Roman family either in Winchester gaol or in one of the London prisons. Another Nicholas Tichborne, of Hartley Maudit, died in Winchester gaol after nine years’ imprisonment, in 1589. This Nicholas describes himself as the younger son of a younger son. His father was Henry Tichborne of Owslebury, a younger brother of Nicholas Tichborne of Tichborne, the grandfather of the first baronet. Henry had at least ten children. Nicholas, who died in 1589 ; and Peter, his brother, also spent much of his life in gaol together with his son Chideoke. We believe that Thomas, the martyr priest, was one of the sons of Nicholas (ob. 1589)”

Thomas Muttlebury’s second wife was Dorothy Babington, daughter of “Wm. Babington of co. Oxon, Knt.”. Anthony Babington of Dethick, Derbyshire was the leader of the 1586 conspiracy. Were they related?

The only prominent William Babington I can find records of in Oxfordshire at this time is one who died in 1577. He was granted the Manor of Thrupp in Kidlington, Oxfordshire by King Philip and Queen Mary (‘Kidlington: Manors and other estates’, A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12: Wootton Hundred (South) including Woodstock (1990), pp. 188-194. URL:”William Babington”).

This Babington also had property dealings with Exter College at Oxford, a college which at that time had strong Roman Catholic sympathies.(

There is a detailed acount of the Babington family in The Topographer and Genealogist, Volume 1, John Gough Nichols (ed.), London, 1846. It contains, on pages 273 and 274, the following information on the William Babington who died in 1577:

“Sir William died 1 August 1577, and lies buried at Kiddington. He married first Elizabeth, daughter of – Goldborne, of Chester. … Issue four children. He married secondly, Margaret, daughter of John, and sister to Sir Jarrat or Gerard Croker, of Hooknorton, co. Oxon, Knt. …

Issue by Margaret Croker :

  • XII. 5. John Babington, married a daughter of Uvedale, of Marks Tey, co. Essex, a widow.
  • XII. 6. Thomas Babington.
  • XII. 7. Hercules Babington.
  • XII. 8. Margaret Babington, ob. innupta.
  • XII. 9. Dorothy Babington.
  • XII. 10. Jane Babington.
  • XII. Philip Babington, of Kiddington, Esq.”

The Visitation of the County of Oxford in 1566, 1572 and 1634, on pages 145 to 149, contains a pedigree for the family “Babington of Kiddington”. Kiddington is close to Kidlington; both are in the Woodstock district of Oxford. This pedigree contains a William Babington in the penultimate generation (notably, the last generation has just one member, named Anthony). Visible on the same page (149) is this entry “Anthonius Babington de Dethicke, criminis laesae majestatis reus t’pe. Eliz.(Anthony Babington of Dethicke, guilty of the crime of high treason t’pe. Eliza.). The two Anthonys are second cousins once removed.

Was this Dorothy’s family? I can’t be sure, but it seems likely.

(Curran Family History)

The Muttlebury Family of Jordans, Ashill, Somerset, England


This is a long and complicated post. For those who don’t wish to read it in full, here is the concise version:

  1. One line of my ancestry traces back to a John Muttlebury who enters the historical record in 1698 in Somerset, England.
  2. The name “Muttlebury” is shared with an ancient Somerset landed family, the male heirs of which were entitled to heraldic arms. This family is believed to have gone extinct in the male line in 1714.
  3. It has not been possible for me to find a link between my family and the ancient family of Muttleburys.
  4. The pedigrees associated with the ancient family claim descent from royalty, however there is a critical weakness in the pedigree that makes this claim suspect.
  5. It is possible to construct from historical evidence an alternative pedigree for the suspect line which traces back to Robert Montague of Sutton Montague who died before 1332.

My Family

My 5th great-grandmother, Elizabeth Muttlebury, was christened 26 May 1704 at Creech St Michael, Somerset, England and married John Dinham there on 8 November 1727. The family’s presence in Creech St Michael dates at latest to 1698 when a “messuage and 6ac. called Northayes” were sold or leased by Thomas White to John Muttlebury and Timothy Pole and his wife Amy ((National Archives Misc. deeds and leases DD\DP/50/9 1663-1836)).

The Muttlebury name was passed down as a second forename in the Dinham and later, Chard families, and my great-grand uncle, John Muttlebury Stocker Chard, born in 1839, bore the name, as well as that of another of his 2nd great-grandparents.

There are two inscriptions in the Creech St Michael church, remembering two John Muttleburys and their wives, both named Jane:

Floorslab. Here lyeth the body of John MUTTLEBURY, who dyed  July ye 10, 1730 aged 79 years Also here lyeth the body of Jane the wife of the abovesaid John  Muttlebury, who dyed April ye 26  1733, aged 64 years Here lie the remains of John Muttlebury, son of the abovesaid John Muttlebury, who died the sixth of February 1762 aged 61  Here lie the remains of Jane Muttlebury, wife of  the abovesaid John Muttlebury, who died the 21st. day of June  1769, aged 69

White on black marble Tablet on west wall (above the gallery). Under the first stone at the western  entrance of this church are deposited the remains of John MUTTLEBURY  of this parish, who died July 10th. 1730, aged 79  Also Jane, his wife, who died  April 26th. 1732, aged 64  Also John Muttlebury, Esq: son  of the above, who died Feby: 6th. 1762, aged 61  Also Jane, his wife, who died June 21st. 1769,aged 69  Also their undermentioned children:/ Jane, John & Rachael, died in their infancy Mary, died Decr: 8th. 1794, aged 62  Elizabeth, died Novr: 17th. 1801, aged 67

The earlier inscription was present before 1790. One, for the older John, probably refers to the John Muttlebury who married Jane Webber at Pitminster in 1698. This is the only candidate I have found, and the church register says that John was from Michael St Creech. The other refers to this man’s son, who married Jane Trivitt at Creech St Michael on 4 August 1728, less than 12 months after the marriage of Elizabeth. It is probable that the younger John and Elizabeth were brother and sister.

The ancestry of the older John isn’t known. Some of the Creech St Michael Muttleburys considered that they were descended from the ancient family of Muttleburys from the parish of Ashill. The 1854 obituary for Colonel George Muttlebury, C.B., claims that:

“The Colonel was descended from a good Somersetshire family, who were formerly owners of property near Ilminster called “Jordans”, but which was forfeited to the crown in consequence of the adherence of the Colonel’s ancestor to the unfortunate Monmouth.”(The Gentleman’s Magazine: And Historical Review, July 1856-May 1868, p. 202.)

It is true that one of those sentenced to transportation at the “Bloody Assizes” after the failed “Monmouth” uprising of 1685 was named John Muttlebury. However I don’t know his relationship to the Ashill family, or whether any property was lost as a consequence. The latter seems unlikely, as evidence given below shows that there was no Ashill Muttlebury heir named John at this period.

This John was one of 200 received by Sir Philip Howard and shipped to Jamaica by the ship “Port Royal Merchant”. It is known that after the overthrow of King James II, changes were made to the conditions of servitude and that by 1690 half of those transported had returned to England or entered free service. If John did return, the presence of a slave named Sally Muttlebury in St Mary, Jamaica, in 1817 hints that he may have left something behind.

Another obituary says:

“the Muttlebury family was descended from an old, armigerous, English landed family settled at Jordans (or Jordaynes) near Ilminster, Somerset, whose pedigree was recorded in the heraldic Visitation of Somerset in 1623, and again, in 1672 as of Jordans in Ashill in Com Somersett. The blazon for the coat-of-arms borne by them is found in Burke’s General Armory (p. 719, col. 2), under the rubric Muttlebury (Jourdaine, Co. Somerset) Ermine on a bend gules, three round buckles or, a border of the second. Crest—A hare courant argent.”

My own research has so far failed to produce a verifiable link between the Ashill and Creech St Michael families.

The Muttlebury Name

Prior to about 1800 the Muttlebury name was only occasionally found outside Somerset. The name is rare, and I estimate the incidence at that time as not more than 0.17 per 1,000 people. Applying this to the population of Somerset in 1800 (about 274,000) gives about 45 as the number of Muttleburys alive then. This is only enough to make up a small number of 3-generation families. There are many variations in the spelling of the name, but all sound much the same.

I have recorded the following 26 variants of the name:

Muttlebury, Muttelburye, Muttelbury, Mutleburie, Muttleburie, Mutlebery, Muttlebery, Muttilburye, Mutelbery, Muttleberry, Mottellboury, Muttlberry, Muttliburi, Mattleburye, Muttlbury, Mutelbuerey, Matlebury, Motylbyry, Mutelberie, Mottelbury, Motelbury, Muttebury, Mutlebury, Muttleburye, Mutleberye, Motilburi.

I generally use the variant “Muttlebury” in this document, irrespective of the original usage, as this became the dominant version by around 1700.

Wikipedia says:

“. It is thought the family originated from France around the time of William the Conqueror. There was once a Squire in the French army with the name ‘Mutt le Bury (Brie) and variations of the name in different spellings do occur on the records. Kirby’s Quest for Somerset is a book compiled in similar format to the Domesday Book and in 1377 lists a ‘Roberto de Motelbury’ as a resident. (

Kirby’s Quest for Somerset (or rather, the portion of that book that is Edward the Third’s Rate Roll), shows this Muttlebury as resident at “Bradeweye”. Another resident of this place was Johanne Jordan, a surname that also occurs in the Muttlebury pedigree. The book is in Latin so names are latinised. The roll is dated 1327, so this Muttlebury is roughly of the right era to be the first Muttlebury mentioned in the pedigrees referred to below. “Bradeweye” is the parish of Broadway in the Hundred of Bulstone. This Hundred was later combined with the Hundred of Abdick; the combined Hundred includes the parish of Ashill. Broadway is about 1¼ miles south of Ashill.

A little later, in 1348-1349, a “Thomas Motilburi” and his wife Joan make several appearances in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Curry Rivel, where they were customary tenants (at Broadway) and where Thomas was fined for having “brewed and sold ale contrary to the assize.”

Around the same time, Thomas and John Muttlebury, father and son, were serfs of the Abbot of Athelney, with Thomas in strife for giving his son education without leave. (E. H. Bates, Two Cartularies of the Benedictine Abbeys of Muchelney and Athelney in the County of Somerset, Somerset Record Society, 1899, p.195)


The foundation resources for the study of this family are the pedigrees included in various published visitations by the Heralds of the College of Arms.

The Visitations of the County of Somerset in the Years 1531 and 1573, Together with Additional Pedigrees, Chiefly from the Visitation of 1591, F.W. Weaver (ed.) Exeter, 1885.

There is no Muttlebury pedigree in this book, although the family is mentioned on page 89 (Pedigree for Watkins, of Holwell, Dorset) cross-referencing to page 76 of the Visitation of 1623. (“Mention in made of the family in 1623, p. 76 [Muttlebery] where Holloway should be Holwell.”) It also contains, on page 52, a pedigree for the family of Montacute (also known as Monte Acuto, Montagu, Mountague or Montague) of Slow Court in West Camel. This family is present in 1620 Muttlebury pedigree, although there are differences between the respective pedigrees.

There are some unusual features in this Montacute pedigree. It appears to have been prepared after the extinction of the male line of the family, when there was no one remaining entitled to bear arms. It also contains minimal detail on the Slow Court family, in contrast to the detail given over to more distant but prominent relations, i.e. the Earls of Salisbury.

The Visitation of the County of Devon in the Year 1620, Frederic Thomas Colby (ed.), The Harleian Society, London, 1872

A pedigree for the family can be found in this book. The family was not resident in Devon, but a daughter, Alice, of generation 9 had married into a Smith (or Smyth) family that was. This pedigree traces a male line of Muttlebury heirs comprising 10 generations. The accuracy of the earlier years of this pedigree is uncertain.

These are the names, starting with the earliest, and with names of wives where given:

  • 1. Muttlebury (first name not given)
  • 2. Edward Muttlebury
  • 3. Robert Muttlebury
  • 4. Edward Muttlebury = Joane Jordan
  • 5. Robert Muttlebury = Agnes Perot
  • 6. Robert Muttlebury = Elianor Huett
  • 7. Thomas Muttlebury I = Joane Roper
  • 8. Alexander Muttlebury = Katherin Bevin (also named as Catherine Bevan in a later pedigree)
  • 9. Robert Muttlebury = Beaumont (first name not given, but named as Elizabeth in a later pedigree)
  • 10. Thomas Muttlebury II = Dorothy Tichborn

The name suffixes I, II etc are not in the pedigree but are added by me to aid in differentiating later generations of Thomas heirs.

The pedigree also traces a doubtful ancestral line, through the marriage of Katherine (Catherine) Bevin (Bevan/Bevyn) to Alexander Muttlebury, back to King Edward the First of England. See below for further information on this line.

There is another less-doubtful ancestral line, through the marriage of Robert Muttlebury to Elizabeth Beaumont. Her family has a well-documented pedigree. This line is more reliable because the marriage was the means by which a number of manors including those of Elworthy and Bradney, transferred from the Beaumont to the Muttlebury family. The inheritance of these manors can be traced subsequently in the Muttlebury family.

The Muttlebury’s of Ashill were landed gentry, entitled to a coat of arms. In 1633 Thomas Gerard of Trent recorded, in The Particular Description of the County of Somerset, for the location of Jurdan:

“Deserves remembrance also, for that it gave the same name unto the ancient Lords of it, of which William de Jordan who lived in Edward the third’s time left by his wife daughter and heire of John de Lourney, two daughters, ye eldest married to. . Muttlebury whose posterity remaine owners of and reside at this place untill this day where they have built a new house;”

He then describes the relevant arms:

“Jordan : Asure crusele and a Lyon rampant or. -Lourney : Cheque or and asure, on a chefe asure 2 mulletts -or. Muttlebury : On a bend gules 3 round buckles arg., a -border of the second.“

Elsewhere, he names this Muttlebury as Edward (generation 4). In the pedigree, William de Jordan’s wife is named as Alice, daughter and heir of John Lovey, not John de Lourney. The editor of the book, The Two Cartularies of the Abbeys of Muchelney and Athelney, says, in a footnote to item 48. (Chirograph of Walter de Loveni concerning land of La Seo, Bolewyneshese):

“Richard de Loueny is found in possession of lands in Ilminster, Cricket Malerbe, Est-Dowlish, and Knolle, which by a fine of 5 Ed. II, 17, he settled on himself and Margery his wife, remainder to their son John, remainder to Walter, his brother, and Joan and Avitia, his sisters.

The brothers head the list of taxpayers in Ilminster in 1327, but are not heard of later. Gerard says that Alice, heiress of John de Louveney in the reign of Edw. Ill, married William Jordan (who gave his name to that place), and so the family of Louveny became extinct in the male line.”

The Louveny (Luveigny/ Luveni/ Loveny/ Loveni/ Loueny/Lourney) family are prominent in records dating back to about 1172.

The Visitation of Somerset in the Year 1623, Frederic Thomas Colby (ed), The Harleian Society, London, 1876

This book contains a Muttlebury pedigree (pages 76 and 77) that overlaps with the earlier one, starting with generation 8. There are minor differences in spelling of names and names of additional family members are included. It adds 2 additional generations:

  • 11. Thomas Muttlebury III = Mary Watkins
  • 12. Dorothy Muttlebury (daughter and heir)

Usefully, the pedigree includes the ages of some in these generations. Thus Thomas III can be said to have been born about 1599, whilst Dorothy was born about 1621. This Dorothy is a candidate to be the lay sister of the Benedictine Order discussed below.

The book also contains 4 indentures or testaments, written in Latin, that relate to the granting of arms. These give the name of the person or persons making the indenture, together with the date. These serve to confirm 3 generations of heirs, and provide a framework for dating the entire pedigree. The names and dates are:

  • Edward = Joane Jordan (generation 4) – about 1421
  • Robert = Agnes Perot (generation 5) about 1449 and 1453
  • Thomas = Joane Roper (generation 7) about 1503

Using a “best fit” generation interval of 30 years, I estimate that the first Muttlebury in the pedigree was born about 1315. This accords reasonably well with the period during which another person of the same generation in the Montague/de Montacute ancestral line (Robert Montague of Sutton Montague (see below)) is described as living. (in the time of Edward II, so 1307-1327.)

The Visitation of Somerset in the Year 1672, made by Sir Edward Bysshe, Knight, Clarenceux King of Arms Squibb, G. D. (George Drewry), 1615, Publications of the Harleian Society ; new ser., v. 11, 1992.

This book contains new arms for “Muttlebury of Wookey”, but the pedigree is a continuation of the “Muttlebury of Ashill/Jordans” pedigree described above. Generations 10, 11 and 12 are overlapped, however for generation 12 Dorothy is replaced as heir by Thomas IV, aged 45 in 1672 and therefore born about 1627. A 13th generation is added, comprising Thomas V (aged 14 in 1672 and therefore born about 1658) plus 4 siblings. The pedigree also clarifies the death date for Thomas III (about 1652) and the two marriages of Thomas IV. This results in the following generations of heirs:

  • 12. Thomas IV (born about 1627) (replacing Dorothy)
  • 13. Thomas V (born about 1658)

The Visitations of Surrey, 1530, 1572 and 1623, W. Bruce Bannerman, London, 1899

This book, on page 123, contains a pedigree for the family of Jordan that provides a slightly different and more detailed version of the Jordan component of the Muttlebury pedigree contained in The Visitation of the County of Devon in the Year 1620. The major difference is that the first 2 generations are reversed.

The History of the Parish and Manor of Wookey, Thomas Scott Holmes, Bristol, n.d.

Confirmation of the heirs shown in the pedigrees is given by the inheritance of the manors of Elworthy and Bradney, which were brought into the family by Elizabeth Beaumont (generation 9):

“On his death in 1451 Thomas Beaumont held all three manors and they descended in the Beaumont family until the end of the 16th century. Thomas’s son William Beaumont (d. 1453) was succeeded by his brother Philip (d. 1473) after William’s supposed son John had been declared a bastard in 1466, as the illegitimate son of William’s wife Joan Courtenay and Sir Henry Bodrugan whom she later married. Philip allowed Joan and Sir Henry the use of the estates during her lifetime (fn. 47) and devised them to his halfbrother Thomas Beaumont. In 1477, however, Thomas released the property to John Bodrugan or Beaumont who, with his reputed father, was attainted for involvement in Simnel’s rebellion in 1496. The attainder was reversed after it was discovered that John had died before the rebellion. The manors of Elworthy, Plash, and Willett passed to John’s son Henry (d. 1548) who called himself Beaumont, (fn. 48) to Henry’s son Humphrey (d. 1572), (fn. 49) and to Humphrey’s son Henry. The last Henry died without surviving issue in 1591 and the estates passed through his sister Elizabeth, wife of Robert Muttlebury, to her son Thomas. (fn. 50) In 1608 the property was forfeited temporarily because of Thomas Muttlebury’s recusancy, (fn. 51) but he was lord of the manor of ELWORTHY or ELWORTHY AND WILLETT in 1634. (fn. 52)”


“In 1292 Matthew of Bradney bought land in Bradney from William Goathurst (fn. 97) and in 1303 it was held by Anthony of Bradney (d. c. 1321), canon of Wells and rector of Bawdrip, (fn. 98) who was succeeded by Joachim of Bradney (d. 1324) and his son Simon (d. 1375). (fn. 99) Simon had no children and his wife Beatrice is said to have granted what was then described as a manor to Sir John Beaumont (d. 1380), who held it jointly with his wife Joan. (fn. 1) She was dead probably by 1431 when Thomas Beaumont, Sir John’s grandson, held the manor. (fn. 2) Thomas (d. 1451) also held Elworthy manor, with which Bradney descended to Thomas Muttlebury, (fn. 3) the lord in 1634. Thomas Muttlebury (d. 1652) retained Bradney, which passed from his son Thomas to another Thomas Muttlebury (fl. 1705), probably grandson of Thomas (d. 1652), and to John Muttlebury who settled the manor in trust to raise money for his four daughters before 1712. (fn. 4)” (A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 5, R.W. Dunning (editor), A.P. Baggs, R.J.E. Bush, M.C. Siraut, 1985)

Another reference to the Manors of Elworthy and Willett is this one, from 1594:

“298. A.D. 1594. Memorandum that I Thomas Muttlebury of Jordines in the parishe of Aishill in the countie of Somerset, gentleman, have paid to Christopher Foxe, servaunte to George Lutterell of Dunster in the countie aforesaid, esquire, to the use of his said maister, the full some of five pounds of lawfull monie of England as due to the said George Lutterell for a releif of a whole knightes fee for my manners of Elworthie and Willette in the said countie whiche I doe acknowledge to be holdene of him the said George Luttrell as of his castell of Dunster by knightes service. In witnes wherof I have hereunto putte my hande and seale the ixth daie of November in the xxxvj th yere of the Queenes majesties raigne that now is.
Thomas Muttelbery.
Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of John Muttelbery, Thomas Searle. Seal affixed. [D.C.M. v, 45.]”
(H. C. Maxwell-Lyte, Documents and Extracts Illustrating the History of the Honour of Dunster, 1917/18.)

The inheritance trail described for the Elworthy and Bradney manors in the quotations above are substantiated by another account, published in a History of the Parish and Manor of Wookey, by Thomas Scott Holmes. On page 151, he says:

“Thomas Muttelbury’s will was proved October 30th, 1711. He has conveyed to Frances Day, of Wells, his manor of Bradney for his son, and for raising portions for his daughters. He mentions Mary, Frances, Catherine, and Wyneford, and his son, John and his wife, Mary. He gives his manor house of Wookey to his son, John, for the interest and term he has in it. John is sole executor, and it would appear that both Thomases, Charles and Margaret, were dead before the will was made.”

This confirms that this Thomas was an heir of the Ashill family. The book also conveniently includes a pedigree for the Wookey branch of the family.

This results in the following revision to generation 13 and a 14th generation:

  • 13. Thomas Muttlebury V = Frances Dickinson (1) = Mary Muttlebury (2)
  • 14. John Muttlebury = Mary (family name unknown)

Thomas V’s son John, who died aged about 24 in 1714, is not known to have had children, although married. There may therefore have been no male heir to carry on the Ashill line as John’s brothers, Charles and two Thomases, seem also to have died young. It can therefore also be concluded that the Creech St Michael family are not descended from this Thomas.


A Royal Connection?

The 1620 pedigree of the Muttlebury family traces a plausible ancestral line, through the marriage of Katherine (Catherine) Bevin (Bevan/Bevyn) to Alexander Muttlebury, back to King Edward the First of England. Although proof to modern genealogical standards is lacking, there is some confirmatory evidence. There is, however, one critical weakness in the evidence, which is discussed below.

The key intermarriages in the pedigree are:

  • the marriage of Margaret Monthermer to Sir John Montacute which united the royal line to the Montacute/Montagu line;
  • the marriage of Eleanor Montague to John Bevyn; and
  • the marriage of Catherine Bevyn to Alexander Muttlebury.

The Monthermer – Montacute Marriage

Margaret Monthermer was the granddaughter of Joan of Acre (daughter of Edward the First) and her second husband Ralph de Monthermer. This part of the ancestry is well known, as are the relevant portions of the Montacute family history. The following entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography enable the line to be traced from King Edward the First to Margaret Monthermer:

  • Montagu [Montacute], Simon de, first Lord Montagu (1259?–1316)
  • Montagu, William, second Lord Montagu (c.1285–1319)
  • Montagu, William [William de Montacute], first earl of Salisbury (1301–1344)
  • Montagu [Montacute], John, third earl of Salisbury (c.1350–1400)
  • Monthermer, Ralph de, first Lord Monthermer (d. 1325)
  • Joan [Joan of Acre], countess of Hertford and Gloucester (1272–1307)

Accessible accounts are available of Joan of Acre and her children with Ralph Monthermer, Thomas and Edward.

The Montague – Bevyn Marriage

Pedigrees for the various Montacute/Montague families are contained in the 1831 edition of Burke’s “Peerage”. The family is reputedly descended from Drogo de Monte-Acuto who came into England with Robert, Earl of Moreton at the conquest in 1066.

Burke traces the line of interest to us down to a son, Robert, of Sir John and Margaret Monthermer, of whom he says:

“Robert, of Sutton-Montague, in Somersetshire. The issue of this gentleman, according to Banks, flourished there until William Montague, the last of the family, left three daughters and co-heirs, of which, Emme m. James Dupote, who, in her right, possessed one moiety of Sutton Montague, whose son Thomas, was father of Henry Duport, Esq. of leicestershire, and John Duport, D.D., Master of Jesus College, Cambridge.” ( John Burke, A General and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerages of England, Ireland and Scotland, London, 1831, page 361.)

The Three Sisters Montague, co-heirs of William Montague

Other records show that the other daughters of William Montague were Eleanor and Joan Montague (who married John Bevyn and John Moleyns respectively):

“Warmund, tenant of the Beauchamp moiety, was succeeded by 1249 by Ralph Huse or Hose, from whom the property became known as the manor of SUTTON HOSEY. (fn. 90) … The Montacutes or Montagues remained in possession until the death of William Montague the younger. (fn. 95) In 1482 the property was settled on Catherine, William’s widow, and on her second husband John Bevyn of Lufton. (fn. 96) Subsequently it was divided between another John Bevyn, John Moleyns, and James Duporte, husband of William Montague’s youngest daughter Emme. (fn. 97)” (Parishes: Long Sutton’, A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3 (1974), pp. 154-166. URL:


“LUFTON. The next place the River comes unto seemes to have taken that name of the British Luffon which signifies Elmes, and store of those trees are seene hereabouts, the ground breeding them exceedingly. At it I saw an old house not long since the habitation of the auncient family of Beavin, having enobled their house by an heire of Montacute descended from the Earles of Sarum left one daughter married unto Keymer, but Lufton is now the dwelling of Mr. Hodges.

Beavin: Arg. a cheveron betweene three martletts gules, a chief checquee or and gules. …

(Editor’s note: Leland was struck with the growth of elms in this district. John Bevyn married Eleanor, who, by an inquisition taken in 1511, was found to be a coheir of Thomas Montagu of Sutton Montis. He died in 1554, leaving for his heirs, Ursula, wife of John Sydenham of Lye in Old Cleeve; Mary, wife of Ellis Keymer, then deceased; and Dorothy, unmarried. The manor must have been sold soon after to John Hodges, who was buried at Lufton, April 24, 1608.” (Thomas Gerard of Trent, The Particular Description of Somerset,Somerset Records Society, 1900, page 96.)

The editor in the note above has conflated two John Bevyns. There were at least 2 intermarriages between Montagues and Bevyns. William Montague the younger was married to Katherine/Catherine (Peverell?). After William’s death about 1481, Katherine re-married, to John Bevyn II.

In 1481/2 John’s father, John Bevyn I, transferred certain properties and rents to John II and Katherine with the proviso that if there were no children of the marriage, then Katherine’s daughters from her former marriage “Alianor, Joan, Isabelle and Emma daughters of the said Katherine and William Montagu formerly her husband” were to inherit (Emanuel Green (ed.) Pedes Finium Commonly Called Feet of Fines for the County of Somerset (Fourth Series) Somerset Record Society Vol XXII, 1906, pages 152-153). William Montague and Katherine also had a son, Robert, who appears to have been William’s heir, but who died relatively young, and probably childless in 1509.

Alianor (Eleanor) married John Bevyn III and had at least 3 children, John IV, Katherine/Catherine and William. How John III relates to Johns I and II isn’t clear; most likely he was a nephew or cousin although possibly a son of John II by an earlier marriage (and thus a step-brother to Eleanor).

John IV married Isabell (Daubney?) and had at least 3 children, Ursula, Dorothy and Mary. John IV’s will can be found in F. W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset Medieval Wills – 3rd Series – 1531 – 1558, Somerset Record Society, 1905 at pages 164 – 165. This book also contains Alexander Muttlebury’s will on page 201.

Thomas Gerard is clearly referring to the marriage of Eleanor Montague and John Bevyn in the following paragraph, although he mistakenly calls her Joane; he gives this name to two of the sisters:

“SUTTON MONTAGUE … The first name taken from the southe situation; the next from the Lords, it being the inheritance of the noble family of Mountacute Earles of Sarum, from whom lineally descended Robert de Mountacute a younger son owner to this place … The cheife residence of this family was at Sloe Court in the parish of West Camell not farr off, which well brookes the name, for in winter time the very house stands as it were in a slough or myer. Nevertheless here flourished after Robert de Montacute, his sonne William, his grandchild, his great grandchild, who left only three daughters his heires; Joane married to John Beavin of Lufton in this County, Emma to John Duport of Leicestershire, and Joane to John Mollins of Hampshire; whose issue not long since enjoyed theis lands.” (Thomas Gerard of Trent, The Particular Description of Somerset,Somerset Records Society, 1900, pages 193-194)

Gerard also mentions the same family in relation to land at Henley (Crewkerne):

“The name intimates as much as the old lease or ground, for hean with our old ancestors the Brittaines signified old. This gave name to the auncient owners of it; after it was the sceate of William Mountague younger sonne to Robert Mountague of Slowe Court in this Countie who was second sonne to John Mountacute knt. by Mounthermer’s heire, and brother to John Mountacute Earle of Sarum his uncle. I remember I have scene in our Lady Church in Bridport the tomb of Anne the wife unto this William Mountacute with this inscription:
Heere lyeth Anne late wife to William Mountague Esquire of Henly, daughter to the Baron of Hilton in the diocese of Durham who dyed Anno 1480.

On this tombe are the Armes of Montacute vizt. Arg. three fussells in fesse gules betw. three ogresses which he tooke for a difference for whereas the Earle of Sarum gave three redd fussells in silver, this man’s grandfather added a black border, his father three ogresses, this man a mullett for differences. On the tombe also were his wives armes which were: asure two barrs arg. the coate of Venables Baron of Hilton ; not long after, though this man left a sonne of full yeares when he dyed, Henly came to the Wikes of ancient gentry as you may find; theis lived at it untill our times when by purchase it fell to a man of the same.

There were at least three junior branches of the family of Montacute in this county, living at Sutton Montis, Slow Court in Stoke St. Gregory, and Henley. The family pedigree in the Visitation of 1573 makes Robert son of Sir John and Margaret Monthermer of Sutton Montis, and Richard of Slow, whose son Robert was probably (to judge by the dates) the father of William of Henley, as in the text.”

Modern research confirms that Montagues held land at Sutton Montis (Sutton Montague) from before 1198, at Slow Court, West Camel from at least 1412, at Sutton Hosey from 1341 and at Crewkerne from 1377 – see Landownership – Sutton Montis Manor (; Parishes: West Camel, A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3 (1974), pp. 71-81. (URL:; Parishes: Long Sutton, A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3 (1974), pp. 154-166. URL: and Parishes: Crewkerne, A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 4 (1978), pp. 4-38. URL:

The Bevyn – Muttlebury Marriage

All the above corresponds with what is shown in the 1620 Muttlebury pedigree. The only intermarriage that I can’t find confirmatory accounts for is the marriage of Catherine Bevyn, daughter of John Bevyn, to Alexander Muttlebury circa 1520. However the person who likely provided the information for the 1620 pedigree was Thomas, a grandson of Alexander and Catherine, so he was recording a comparatively recent marriage of which he would have had personal knowledge.

The Weak Link?

The weak link in the royal descent theory is Robert Montague, alleged son of Sir John Montacute and Margaret Monthermer. There appear to be no contemporary references to him, and he is not named in Sir John’s will, although seven children are. The complete will can be found in Edward Kite, Some Notes on the Montacutes, Earls of Salisbury, Wiltshire Notes and Queries, Vol IV, pages 481-493 and 529-543. It names three sons, John, Thomas and Richard, and four daughters, Elianore, Sybill, Catherine and Margaret. A possible explanation for the absence of Robert’s name is that he predeceased the writing of his father’s will. Kite also contradicts himself as to the number of sons and daughters by saying “By his wife Margaret, the heiress of Monthermer, who survived him, Sir John had issue four sons and three daughters.”; he does not name the fourth son. It’s possible that he has just inadvertently transposed the numbers of sons and daughters.

The earliest attribution of a son, Robert, to Sir John and Margaret that I can find appears in the “Montacute of Slow Court in West Camel” pedigree in The Visitations of the County of Somerset in the Years 1531 and 1573, Together with Additional Pedigrees, Chiefly from the Visitation of 1591, Frederic. W. Weaver (ed.) Exeter, 1885.

The pedigree does correctly show the three sons named in Sir John Montacute’s will, i.e. John, Thomas and Richard. Robert is also named as “Robert of Sutton Montague, Som.”, however it is Richard who is shown as the progenitor of the Montagues of Slowe. The 1620 Muttlebury pedigree represents the Eleanor Montague who married John Bevyn as being of the Slowe family, but descended from Robert, not Richard. This raises at least the possibility that the descent from Margaret Monthermer is from the son Richard rather than the problematic son Robert, or that they are one and the same person. This possibility has been raised by others:

“Richard Montagu, knight, was probably one of the sons of Sir John Montagu, who was brother of the second and father of the third Earl of Salisbury ; Richard Montagu himself thus being brother of the third earl. Burke, indeed, does not mention any Richard among the sons of Sir John Montagu ; but as Dugdale gives a certain Richard Montagu as one of the younger sons of Sir John (Dugdale. Baronage, Vol. I, pp. 649-90), and as the Patent Rolls Calendar for 1397 gives a certain Richard Montagu, son of Sir John Montagu, as holding lands in Southampton (Pat. Rolls Cal., 1397, p. 271), the probabilities are that the mistake lies with Burke, and that Richard Montagu may be identified with Robert Montagu of Sutton Montagu, in Somerset (Burke’s Domestic Peerage, p. 372), mentioned by Burke as a son of the above Sir John Montagu.” (A. B. Wallis Chapman (ed.) The Black Book of Southampton, Vol 1, 1912, p. 69)

An Alternative Muttlebury Pedigree for the Montague Line

An alternative pedigree for the Muttleburys can be constructed using recent research for the Victoria History of Somerset. This documents the inheritance of the manor of Sutton Montis (Montague). In this version, which otherwise parallels the 1620 Muttlebury pedigree back to Robert Montague, Robert’s father, rather than being Sir John Montague, is Nicholas Montague, son of Robert Montague of Sutton Montague and his wife Joan:

“Bundi held Sutton in 1066 but by 1086 Drew held it under Robert, Count of Mortain. It probably descended like Shepton Montague to Drew’s grandson William de Montague who sold it in 1198 to a kinsman William son of Robert de Montague, to be held as a small knight’s fee of Mortain. Overlordship remained with the senior Montagues and later with the earldom of Salisbury until the 17th century.

William son of Robert (d. by 1208) gave part of his estate to his daughter Beatrice (d. s.p. by 1227) but after much litigation the whole estate passed to William’s son Richard because the eldest son William was illegitimate. In 1227 Richard granted Sutton, except the land he inherited from Beatrice, to Robert de Montagu, possibly a younger brother. A Richard de Montagu held the manor in 1249 and was followed by William (fl. 1270—80) and John (d. c.1280) whose son Robert was a minor and whose widow Alice held one third of Sutton in dower. Robert who held the fee in 1316 and 1320 was probably the Robert of Sutton Montague who was succeeded by his son William before 1332. In 1339 Sutton was a half fee held by William’s brother Nicholas and in 1366 by Nicholas’s son Robert who was followed by his son John (fl. 1390—1417). John’s widow Agnes held Sutton in 1429 but by 1445 it had passed to William de Montagu (d. 1489) who was followed by his widow Alice and grandson Robert (d. 1509) son of his son William (d. by 1482). Robert’s heirs were his sister Emma Blundell and John Bevyn and John Moleyns, minor sons of his deceased sisters Eleanor and Joan.” (

The middle part of this pedigree (names in bold font) matches a pedigree that appears in G. Wrottesley (ed.), Pedigrees from the Plea Rolls, no date. The match is in location and time, as well as the people named:

john de montagu_pedigree

Pedigree of John de Montagu Derived from an Action in the Court of Common Pleas circa 1388

There are other contemporary references that probably refer to this Nicholas, e.g. an inquisition post mortem of 18 Edward III (1345) for “William de Monte Acuto, Late Earl of Salisbury”:

“… Sotton Mountagu. A moiety of a knight’s fee held by Nicholas de Monte Acuto. …” (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem and other Analagous Documents, Vol VIII, Edward III, HMSO, 1913, p.389)


“11 Jan., A.D. above (1343), at Wyvelscombe. The lord instituted William de Monte Acuto, acolyte, to the parish church of Sutton Mountagu near Babbecary, at the presentation of Nicholas de Monte Acuto.
12 Jan. The lord dispensed with the same William that he can stay in the schools for a year.” (Thomas Scott Holmes (ed.) The Register of Ralph of Shrewsbury, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1329-1363, Somerset Record Society, 1896, page 458)


“iv Kal., Dec., (1343) at Wyvelescombe. The lord admitted Richard de Bradeford, priest, to the church of Soutton Montagu at the presentation of Nicholas de Monte Acuto.” (Thomas Scott Holmes (ed.) The Register of Ralph of Shrewsbury, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1329-1363, Somerset Record Society, 1896, page 480)


“Dec. 18. 1339. Langley. Commission of oyer and terminer to John Inge, Richard Lovel, Thomas de Marleberge, William de Cheyny and Roger le Gulden, on complaint by Nicholas de Monte Acuto that Reginald Husee, Walter le Baillif of Corston, Walter le Muleward and others broke his close at Sutton Mountagu, assaulted him, cut down his trees there and carried away these with other of his goods. By fine of 1 mark. Somerset.” (Calendar of Patent Rolls:

The first of the quotations above implies that Nicholas was a sub-tenant of William Montacute, first earl of Salisbury, 1301–1344, and owed him knightly service.

Inheritance pedigrees consistent with that for the manor of Sutton Montis can also be derived from the inheritance of other Montagu lands at:

The Nicholas described above is almost certainly the same person as the Nicholas Montacute who held the manor of Sutton Hosey with his wife Isabel from about 1341 as there are parallels with the inheritance of the manor of Sutton Montis. (Parishes: Long Sutton, A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 3 (1974), pp. 154-166. URL:

This is a comparison between the Montague pedigrees contained in the various sources mentioned above (earliest generation at top; “weak link” in red text):


Robert Montague of Sutton Montague (father of Nicholas) was probably dead before 1332 (he is described as living in the time of Edward II, so 1307-1327), so he could not be the child of Sir John Montague and Margaret Monthermer as they married only in 1343 (C. L. Kingsford, ‘Monthermer, Ralph de, first Lord Monthermer (d. 1325), rev. Jennifer C. Ward, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2008 [, accessed 22 Nov 2012]).

The words of wisdom of Frederic Weaver probably apply here:

“A word of caution is perhaps necessary as to the reliance to be placed on all Heralds’ Visitations ; it is constantly found when information is obtainable from other sources (such as wills, etc.) that the Visitations are full of errors, generations being missed out, a father and son represented as brothers, etc. And perhaps it is not too much to say that they cannot be relied upon beyond the grandfather of the “Armiger ” who was cited to the Visitation ; but when all is said, they still remain a valuable (and sometimes the only) clue to a gentle family, whose name now perhaps only exists as that of a remote farm house.”

Two files may be downloaded if this is all a little confusing, one containing the Robert Muttleberie_Maternal Ancestry (PDF, 10 KB), and the other containing Robert Muttleberie_Family Trees (PDF, 54 KB). These comprise that part of the 1620 Muttlebury pedigree relevant to the discussion above. Names have been spelt as in the pedigree, and no corrections have been made to what is shown in the pedigree.

The Ashill Lands

Currently I have no good information as to the lands held by the family at Jordans in Ashill parish. The modern map below show the Jordans estate as somewhat to the south-east of Ashill village, and about equidistant from the villages of Broadway, Ashill and Ilton.


Map of Ashill Area, Somerset, England

It’s not entirely clear when the Ashill properties passed out of the family. Most likely it happened on the death of Thomas III about 1652, as Thomas’s heir, Thomas IV, thereafter resided at Wookey and sought new arms in 1672 as “Muttlebury of Wookey”. The following will abstract supports this:

“JOSEPH STANDERWICK, of Ilminster, Somerset, Gent. Will dated June 28, 1671, proved Sept. 30, 1674, by the relict Elizth Standerwick. [110 Bunce.] Lands in Doniatt & Ashill purchased of Thomas Muttlebury, late of Jordaynes, Esq., & Thos Muttlebury, his son & heir, to my son.” (Frederick Brown, Abstracts of Somerset Wills, Fourth Series 1889, page 104)

The last Muttlebury marriage in the Ashill parish register is that of Suzan, who married Robert Norman in 1616, although there is a gap in the register between 1627 and 1653, and few Muttlebury entries in earlier years. There are, however, Muttlebury marriages recorded at nearby Ilton until 1689. In this regard, one of the indentures in the 1623 Visitation, was made by “Robert Muttlebery of Ilford in the county within the parish of Ilton”, although this is dated to about 1453.

The paucity of records may be a result of the family’s recusancy, with christenings and marriages being celebrated in private chapels.

The Creech St Michael Family

Based on the limited parish records available to me, after the death of Thomas the son of the recusant about 1652, Muttlebury families were located at Ilton, a parish adjoining Ashill, to about 1690, Wookey, to about 1753, and Creech St Michael, to about 1776. The Ilton family could be transitional between the Ashill and Wookey or Creech St Michael families, although there is no firm evidence for this as yet.

It’s possible that further information will come to light that connects the Creech St Michael family with the Ashill, Ilton or Wookey families. However, the period for which records are neeeded, i.e. about 1640 to 1700, was one of considerable disruption of civic life, encompassing the English Civil War, the Commonwealth, the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell and the Monmouth rebellion. Also, the Muttleburys of Ashill appear not to have been prominent in government, and thus seem to have left few traces in its annals.

(Curran Family History)