Monthly Archives: May 2011

Joseph Eyles

Another interesting character in my family tree is Joseph Eyles, a convict who came to have a very successful life in Australia.

Joseph was born on the 1st December 1773 in Marlborough, England. He was the son of Sir Joesph Eyles (1743-1840) and Mary Dudley (1744-1840). In October 1796, Joseph was committed to stand trial for the theft of 40lbs of lead. In January 1797 he was found guilty and was sent to the prison hulk The Fortune, where he spent two and a half long years before being transferred to the ship Canada for transportation to Australia. He finally arrived in Australia in 1801 . In 1805 he was assigned to the whaling ship King George and by 1807 he was free by servitude.

Joseph had married Elizabeth Dixon (1784-1811) in Parramatta on the 6th November 1804. Unfortunately Elizabeth died in 1811 at the age of 27.

On the 4th February 1815, Joseph married Elizabeth Smith (1785-1854). Elizabeth was also a convict, who was sentenced to transportation for stealing a gown and arrived in Sydney in October 1811 on the ship Friends. Interestingly, it appears that the name ‘Smith’ was an alias used by Elizabeth and her real surname was actually either Trebble or Trible. Elizabeth had a daughter, Anne (1802-1853), from a previous relationship.

Joseph and Elizabeth had six children together – Joseph (1812-1865), John (1814-1878), Mary Ann (1816-1890), William (1818-1859), James (1820-1907) and Elizabeth (1824-1898).

In 1810, Joseph was living with Elizabeth and her daughter Anne on land in Field of Mars – 6ha of land leased from John Macarthur. That land was on Marsden Rd almost opposite Mobbs Lane and on it, Joseph planted a peach orchard. In 1821, John Macarthur gave up all his properties in the Pennant Hills district in exchange for land in the Cowpastures (Camden). By this time, five of the Eyles children had been born.

In 1822, Joseph asked Governor Brisbane to grant him the land on which he was living in exchange for 20ha that he been granted by Governor Macquarie to the north of his peach orchard. The 1822 Muster lists Joseph’s farm as comprising of 6 acres of wheat, 6 acres of corn, 2.5 acres of oats, 1 acre of potatoes and a 1 acre orchard. He also had a horse and 16 hogs.

Joseph’s request for more land was not finally settled until 1832 although Joseph had built a much grander house and planted more peaches on his original orchard.

In the meantime, in January 1828, Joseph was made a Constable at Parramatta. That appointment provided him with an income (3/15/- per half-year) and government rations, also obtainable half-yearly.

Of Joseph’s sons, Joseph Jnr moved to the Richmond River in northern NSW where he supplied goods and services to the cedar cutters. John moved to Ballina, William remained in the Carlingford district, as did James who became a pillar of the Wesleyan Church (now Uniting Church) on Marsden Rd. That church was established in 1825. James built a fine house on Marsden Rd. That house, still standing, was named “Caskie Ben” after a parish near Aberdeen in Scotland.

Joseph died on the 26th June 1856 in Dundas and was buried at All Saints Cemetery in Parramatta along with his wife Elizabeth and her daughter Ann.

Eyles Family Grave

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Filed under Australian history, Convicts, Pioneers

Trove

One resource that I get particularly good mileage from is the National Library of Australia’s online resource Trove (http://trove.nla.gov.au/?q). Trove is a free online repository of Australian material and includes digitised newspapers, journals, photographs, videos, books and archived websites amongst other valuable resources. Trove currently includes almost 240 million resources for users to browse.

The area of Trove that I tend to access most often is their fantastic online repository of digitised newspapers. Currently this collection includes a range of Australian newspapers published between 1803 – 1954. These newspapers are from right around Australia but are predominantly those from New South Wales and Victoria.

The NLA is continuously adding new newspapers and issues to the website and users can subscribe to an RSS feed to be kept updated on new additions. New additions for the month of April include The Australasian Sketcher (VIC), The Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW), The Clarence and Richmond Examiner (NSW), The Empire (NSW), The Gippsland Times (VIC), The Mail (SA), The Observer (TAS) and The Townsville Daily Bulletin (QLD).

It is always worth searching through Trove for death notices, funeral notices and obituaries. I have found many missing puzzle pieces in my own family tree this way.

Obituary for Thomas Power (1843-1929)

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In Their Footsteps

For those who didn’t happen to catch the new Channel 9 program In Their Footsteps (http://channelnine.ninemsn.com.au/intheirfootsteps/) on Sunday night, it is well worth watching. We tuned in to the first episode and were particularly enthralled because the focus in this installment was on the life of Sailor and WWII Serviceman, PO Tommy Johnson, whose experiences throughout WWII greatly resembled those of my husband’s Great Uncle Walter Mervyn Dorman.

Walter, known as Merv, was born on the 3rd July 1905 in Leichhardt NSW. He was the eldest son of Walter Henry Dorman (1883-1961) and Alice Lillian Dora Power (1182-1961). In 1919, at the age of 14, he enlisted as a Cadet with the Australian Army and on the 24th June 1940 he joined the 2/12 Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers.

Walter was captured by the Japanese and we believe sent to work on the infamous Burma Railway along with approximately 60,000 Allied POWs. He survived this horrific experience and returned to POW camps in Singapore.

On the 4th September 1944, Merv was one of 1317 POWs placed aboard the Japanese ship Rayuko Maru bound for Japan. On the 12th September 1944, the Rakuyo Maru was torpedoed by the US Submarine Sealion, unaware that Allied POWs were on board. 1159 POWs from the Rayuko Maru and the ship it was travelling with, Kachidoki Maru, perished. Merv survived this event and although American submarines later returned to rescue some POWs, Merv was one of the 136 survivors who were picked up by the Japanese ship Kibitsu Maru and transported to Japan.

In Japan, Merv and his fellow POWs were destined to see out the war working in Japanese mines and shipyards until the American Occupation Forces emancipated them in September 1945. Tragically, after all he had been through, Merv died in a hospital in Tokyo on the 21st May 1945. He missed out on his freedom by a few short months.

Merv is buried in the Sydney War Cemetery at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney.

Some related links –

Royal Australian Engineers Homepage – http://www.army.gov.au/rae/

“Railway of Death” – History of Burma-Thailand Railway – http://www.anzacday.org.au/history/ww2/anecdotes/deathrailway.html

“The Survivor” by Darryl Kelly – An extract from this fascinating book which details the life of Bill Webb, a fellow POW and survivor of the Rayuko Maru – http://www.anzacday.org.au/history/ww2/anecdotes/survivors.html

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Filed under Australian history, Military history, WWII

Not Just Ned

For those in Canberra or planning a visit to the area, you may want to check out the new exhibition at the National Museum of Australia – Not Just Ned: a true history of the Irish in Australia.

The exhibition focuses on the history of the Irish in Australia and the contribution they have made to our culture. In addition to some fascinating exhibits including armour that belonged to the Kelly Gang and fragments from the original Eureka Flag, there is also a dedicated resource area that visitors can use to research their Irish heritage.

The exhibition runs until the end of July. More details are available on the website – www.nam.gov.au

Thomas Power 1843 (Tipperary, Ireland) -1929 (Sydney, Australia)

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Filed under Australian history, Irish history