Tag Archives: Parramatta

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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St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta

I have to admit that I have a particular fascination with historical cemeteries. Nothing macabre mind you, I just have a special appreciation for their place in history and the unique opportunities that they offer for historical research.

One cemetery that is a particular favourite of mine is St John’s Cemetery at Parramatta in Sydney’s west.  St John’s is actually the oldest cemetery in Australia, established in 1790, and it includes the graves of many of our First Fleeters and early pioneers, including a number of my ancestors…

  • Isaac Augustus Mobbs (1851-1938)
  • Edith Mary Mobbs (nee Crabbe) (1852-1946)
  • Mary Ann Tunks (1824-1824)
  • Sarah Tomlinson (nee Lester) (abt 1780-1837)
  • Mary Martin (nee Randall) (1793-1857)
  • John Martin (1757-1837)
  • Mary Ann Bowerman (nee Martin) (1822-1870)
  • George Best (1758-1836)
  • Martha Best (nee Chamberlain) (1778-1833)
  • George Best (1801-1823)
  • Sarah Pye (nee Best) (1809-1882)
  • William Best (1816-1902)
  • Susan Best (nee Gilbert) (1822-1865)
  • Hannah Carter (nee Best) (1851-1927)
  • Gwendoline Best (1888-1897)
  • Robert Roy Best (1886-1904)
  • Vera Best (1882-1913)
  • Robert Holt Best (1856-1933)
  • Emily Jane Best (nee Luke) (1856-1935)
  • Hilary Susan Best (1884-1950)

And probably many more to add. I still have quite a lot of research to do and will visit again on my next trip to Sydney.

St John’s is located right on the edge of the Parramatta CBD. It is quite a strange experience visiting the cemetery as it is surrounded by tall apartment blocks and retail buildings. It is well worth a wander around and certainly isn’t the same bushwhacking experience as visiting St Paul’s at nearby Carlingford. While doing some research today, I also found a link to ghost tours of St John’s operated by Past Times Tours – http://www.paranormalaustralia.com/tours/tourbones.html.

St John's Cemetery, Parramatta

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Australian Heritage Week 14 – 20 April 2011

In a few short weeks it will be time to celebrate Australian Heritage Week (AHW). AHW has been developed by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities to showcase Australia’s unique local heritage.

This year AHW runs from Thursday 14 April – Wednesday 20 April and includes a wide range of activites right around the country. Some of my picks include….

Open House – Old Government House, Parramatta NSW. Sunday 17th April from 10.30am – 4.30pm. A chance to visit this amazing property on National Trust Day.

Military Heritage Tour – Brisbane CBD, QLD. Sunday 17th April from 9am – 12.30pm. A guided walking tour that explores Brisbane’s fascinating military history.

Full Moon Walking Tours – Melbourne Cemetery, Parkville VIC. Sunday 17th April with several tours running from 6.20pm – 8.50pm. A guided tour including stories of the many famous identities that are buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery.

The Best of the Mornington Peninsula – Briarswood Cottage & Heronswood Estate, Mornington Peninsula, VIC. Saturday 16th April 11.30am – 3pm. A local event for me! This is a self-drive event that includes visits to these two beautiful cottages and gardens.

Missing ANZACs at Fromelles – Hambledon Cottage, Parramatta NSW. Saturday 16th April 2 – 4pm. Includes a talk by Tim Whitford, part of the team that worked on the mass burial site at Fromelles.

Afternoon at the Archives – Our Collections, Your History – Brisbane City Archives, Moorooka QLD.  Saturday 16th April 1 – 5pm. Includes talks about the collection and a behind the scenes tour.

Penitentiary Chapel Open Day – Hobart TAS. Friday 15th April 10am – 2.30pm. Tour the court rooms, tunnels, cells and gallows of this historic building.

For more information, visit http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/about/heritage-week/index.html.

Penitentiary Chapel, Hobart TAS.

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Filed under Australian history, Cemeteries, Military history, New South Wales history, Pioneers, Queensland history, Tasmanian history, Victorian history, WWI