3 — 1835-6 — Whitfields

NOTE: Recent family history research has William Whitfield aged 10 on arrival in the colony, as indeed he is in the “Thames” passenger list. Also, it appears Jacob Whitfield’s first wife, Mary, was Goss not Gowrie.

Posted originally on January 11, 2015 by Neil.

This series of posts is the most comprehensive I have done on family history. I am doing them backwards here so that in due course they will appear sequentially.

Or thereabouts. Very significant for Victoria:

On 10 May 1835 John Batman set sail in the 30-tonne schooner ‘Rebecca’ on behalf of the Association to explore Port Phillip for land. After entering Port Phillip Bay on 29 May, Batman and his party anchored their ship a short distance from the heads and made several excursions through the countryside. On 6 June, at Merri Creek near what is now Northcote, Batman purchased 600,000 acres of land, including the sites of both Melbourne and Geelong, from eight Aboriginal chiefs. The Government later cancelled this purchase and, as a result, had to compensate the Port Phillip Association.

On 8 June 1835, Batman and his party rowed up the Yarra River and landed near the site of the former Customs House (now the Immigration Museum). John Batman recorded in his journal: “about six miles up, found the river all good water and very deep. This will be the place for a village.” Batman left three white men of his party and five Aborigines from New South Wales behind with instructions to build a hut and commence a garden, and returned to Launceston to report to his association.

Do see James Boyce’s excellent 1835: The founding of Melbourne and the conquest of Australia. (That’s a very left-wing review; it really is a great book.)

And another noteworthy event of this era: 1834 – Six English farm labourers (Tolpuddle Martyrs) sentenced to transportation to the Colony for organising trade union activities.

The population (non-Aboriginal, and rounded figures) of Australia in the decades we have come thus far was: c. 1815 – 25,000; c. 1825 – 35,000; c.1835 – 128,000. The present population of Wollongong is c. 282,000.

This was an interesting decade for my Whitfield ancestors. The convict Jacob got his Ticket of Leave in March 1834.

Then, as I have noted before:

[Jacob] witnessed the wedding on 20 June 1836 at St Andrews Presbyterian Church of William Whitfield and Caroline Philadelphia West, along with the other witnesses Maria Burgess and William Burgess. On 18 September 1836 (yes, I can count!) the baptism is recorded at St James Church, King Street, of William Joseph John Whitfield, son of William and Caroline. William gave his profession as carpenter, and his address as Elizabeth Street. The child had been born on August 14. (By the way, it snowed in Sydney on June 28 1836.)


At that wedding the minister most likely would have been John McGarvie, the second Presbyterian minister in colonial Sydney. The much better known John Dunmore Lang was around at the time, but at Scots Church. Lang had arrived in Sydney a year after Jacob, became a member of the NSW Parliament, and died in Sydney in 1878. The baptism on the other hand was in the Church of England. St James’s remains a very notable part of Sydney’s architecture and life.

Jacob Whitfield had a bit of an adventure in 1834:


The story goes on:

Deneen was not in the room at the time of the robbery, and he was not at all like the man whom complainant gave into his charge; the man was a stranger to him, and afterwards left the house. Whitfield was again examined,and swore positively to the prisoner Coch-rane, but knew nothing of Deneen. There being no evidence against Deneen, the Magistrates discharged him, and committed Cochrane, to take his trial for the offence. As soon as Cochrane had been removed from the bar, Whitfield was placed in the dock, and sentenced to be confined in a solitary cell for seven days, for being in a  public-house tippling on Sunday. The Magistrates, Messrs. Slade and Benington,also remarked that they considered the conduct of the publican highly reprehensible, in not taking the fellow into custody who robbed the old man, and stated, that it was not only the duty of publicans as special constables, to assist in the apprehension of robbers, but any Citizen was bound to do so, and uphold the laws of England.

Yes, by now Jacob had been assigned to his son William! The source is the Sydney Herald, 2 October 1834.

Jacob may never have been in the following pub, but I and my friend Sirdan and his friend Penny were in 2010:

Yes, that is the Surveyor-General Inn at Berrima, NSW, established in 1834 and licensed in 1835 – the oldest continuously licensed pub in Australia. Jacob’s children, who ended up in the County of Camden,  may well have called in — as has this great-great-great grandson more than once.


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