Holborow in Australia 6: 50/50

My 4 x great-grandparents, Joseph and Mary (Haynes) Holborow married on 18 June 1813 in Oldbury on the Hill, Gloucestershire. Six months later in December, their eldest child, Sarah, was baptised. Over the next 20 years, a further seven children were baptised to the couple, ending with Harriet in 1833. (Joseph being the subject of my research puzzle.)

Although having 8 children isn’t surprising for the time, Joseph and Mary managed a half-and-half split between boys and girls (one of the boys being my 3 x great-grandfather, Henry), but also in another way …

As may be assumed from the title of this post, four of the children remained in England, but four of them emigrated to Australia.

By 1851, the eldest, Sarah, is a lady’s maid for the widowed Caroline Charlton. Caroline was blind and is also listed as a “fund holder” – meaning her income was from the interest and dividends received from investments, as described below:

Enumerator instructions for 1851 census, via histpop.com

The house is listed as 4 Queens Parade, Walcot. Now within the bounds of Bath itself, this was once a smart terrace of Regency houses (yes, very Bridgerton, but I can’t imagine any of them living there!) many of which have now been chopped up into apartments, although number 3 (in 1851 the residence of Major General William G. Power and family) sold in 2019 for £755,000 if you’re interested. Also a member of the household was a house servant by the name of Robert Summers. Clearly love blossomed below stairs as two years later Robert and Sarah married in St James’ church (destroyed in WWII, now the site of a Boots) on 3 January 1853. Interestingly, both give their residence as “Lower Borough Walls” and not Queens Parade, yet were both still servants.

It would seem that later that year the couple set sail for Australia and the colony of Victoria. Were they caught up in gold fever as part of the Australian gold rushes? Between 1852 and 1860, 290,000 people migrated to Victoria alone from the British Isles and Australia’s total population more than tripled from 430,000 in 1851 to 1.7 million in 1871 thanks to the little yellow nuggets. By 1 November 1853, Robert had found employment as a messenger at the Customs House, Melbourne and received a salary of £140. Whatever the reason behind their journey, in 1854 they were living in Melbourne and it was here their eldest daughter, Maria Elizabeth was born.

Illustration of Custom House lithographed & published by Stringer, Mason & Co., Melbourne, 1853.

Robert clearly enjoyed his work as he continued at Customs House until his retirement on 3 July 1886 after over 32 years of service. He received a pension (“superannuation”) of £146.13s.4p per annum.

Robert and Sarah went on to have 2 further children, Ellen Amelia (1856) and finally Sarah (1858). Sadly, Sarah senior passed away shortly after the birth, on 25 June 1858. After this time, Robert moved the family closer to the coast, buying land at Kew to build their home, family lore states that the girls were of “delicate health”. Robert also wrote to Sarah’s family, specifically her youngest sister, Harriet, for assistance with his family. In due course Harriet made her way to Victoria and did the only sensible thing: married her sister’s widower. Robert had a further five children with Harriet, losing their first daughter before her 2nd birthday. Their fourth child, Frank Allen, died aged 24 in a tragic swimming accident which left him with a broken spine:

From The Argus 6 December 1894, via Trove

Harriet died at home in 1890, Robert in 1901.

Which leaves two remaining siblings to make the trip. One of those was Harriet and Sarah’s brother, Joseph.

Joseph last appears in England in the 1851 census, but only first appears in Australia in the Victoria State City Directories in 1869, implying an arrival no later than 1868, and is already listed as a News Agent, residing at 56, Bridge Road, Melbourne. Interestingly, Robert and Harriet’s son, Frank was also a news agent so I wonder if they worked together in some way. Joseph’s probate packet survives, and at the time of his death on 3 August 1891, Joseph had no real estate, but personal estate of £800. His nephew Robert William Summers, bank manager, was one of his executors.

The 4th member of the family likely arrived before – or perhaps with – Joseph. Or perhaps she travelled with Harriet. But on 23 March 1864, Mary Holborow married James MacDonald:

From The Age 6 April 1864 via Trove

Sadly, her and James were only married for 14 years before she died:

Sarah, Joseph and Mary all died in Melbourne (Sarah and family were living in the Customs House at the time – now Melbourne’s Immigration Museum) and are buried together in the same grave. Robert, Harriet and their family all died in Kew and are buried there.

What is interesting is that I was recently contacted by a Summers descendant of Robert William Summers. DNA matches confirm the family line and connection to my mother’s Holborows. What is also exciting/puzzling/extraordinary is that he and his brother (but NOT his father or paternal aunt, implying a maternal connection) also match to my mother-in-law. That is a mystery for another day, to be sure!

Of the 4 children who remained in England – Henry, William, Daniel and Ellen Maria – all of the boys married and had children. Ellen died unmarried, aged 40 in Oldbury. Two of Daniel’s children ended up in Canada and one in America (expect a mini-post about this trio!) whereas most of the other descendants stayed fairly local, including Henry’s children (although one of those left the West Country and ended up clear across England in Chatham, Kent!).

Anyway, only a couple more Australia posts to come (probably – and I retain the right to change my mind!). And you never know, you might even get some Holborows from the UK at some point!!

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