My Family and Agricultural Shows

Thanks to Helen White for this post as part of the #OnePlaceShows

When an application addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and signed by Mr Edward Lord and others, to hold a public meeting with the intention of forming an Agricultural Society, was published in the Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser on Saturday 8 December 1821, the signature of my 3 x great grandfather, Horatio Mason, was affixed to it.

Horatio William Mason arrived in Van Diemen’s Land aboard “Saracen” on 25 April 1820. He was not a farmer, although he had applied for and was granted land at Pittwater; 2000 acres between the Coal River and Orielton Rivulet, he was a trader and soon divest himself of the property.

Another 3-x great grandfather, George Marshall arrived in Hobart Town aboard the brig “Thalia” on 22 April 1822, twelve months after the formation of the Van Diemen’s Land Agricultural Association in 1821 and just days after the meeting on 15 April 1822, which resolved to hold the first Annual Show.

Read newspaper article for further information.

The intention to hold the first Annual Show of the Van Diemen’s Land Agricultural Society might have been the ‘talk of the town’ when he first arrived the week after that meeting. It may have been then that he resolved to participate as an exhibitor at his first opportunity.

Mr. Marshall immediately set about applying for grant of land, but there was some delay in his grant being approved. While awaiting the results of his application he took up a lease on “Noble Farm”, at Pittwater (now Sorell).

The Annual Show to be held on 10 January 1824, gave George Marshall his first opportunity to exhibit and he did so and won the medal for the best boar bred in Van Diemen’s Land. I am unaware if the medal survived in the family, the desire to exhibit certainly did.

Click article to read rest of results

To the best of my knowledge this was his only entry in an Agricultural Show in Hobart Town, but George Marshall was one of the group of farmers in the Richmond/Pittwater District to establish the Richmond Agricultural Society in December 1835, later to become the Southern Tasmanian Agricultural Association. While I have found no record of him exhibiting himself, he remained on the Committee for many years and judged occasionally, but his sons competed regularly entering prime stock and horses in the competitions.

My 2-x great grandfather Thomas Marshall (“Noble Farm”, Sorell) had some success exhibiting draught horses. His brothers, George Marshall Jnr (“Sunnyside”, Sorell) and Edward Marshall (“Cornhill”, Sorell) both exhibited and won prime cattle classes. Thomas’s principal interest was the breeding of draught animals and in order to promote the sires he used and the sale of horses he bred, he travelled to and exhibited at the first Melton Mowbray Agricultural Association Exhibition in December 1864.

Thomas Marshall – click to read rest of article

The family involvement with shows has continued to the present day with Life Member Paul Marshall and his family, who stewarded the Commercial Lamb Section of the Royal Hobart Show for many years.

My grandfather, Joel Harvey (he married Kathleen Letitia Marshall) exhibited ‘Fat Lambs’ for many years during the 1930’s and won 3 Jubilee Cups (one for each son). It is quite possible that a relative of mine has been a member of an Agricultural Society in Tasmania since the formation of the Richmond Agricultural Society in 1835, there is certainly been Marshall’s farming in Tasmania since the arrival of George Marshall Snr in 1822.

Readers: Have any of your ancestors been mentioned in results from Agricultural Shows in the district?

Z for Zelley

Thanks to Greg Williams for writing this post for the A-Z challenge.

My 3X great Grandfather Benjamin ZELLEY lived at Sorell and was a Farmer & Storekeeper.

The name is unusual and originates from English 7th Century ‘Saelig’ meaning happiness & good fortune. There are many derivatives of the surname including Seely and Seli.

Ben was born in 1813 & baptised on 25th July 1813 at Shropshire England. He was transported to Van Diemen’s Land on the ship Argyle. For the crime of stealing & vagrancy, he was given life. He arrived as a convict with surname SULLY on 4th August 1831.

On 3 April 1838, Benjamin married Elizabeth King who was also a convict from the ship Westmoreland. Ben’s surname was Selley for this marriage. As they were both still convicts, they had to get permission to marry.

Benjamin’s brother Robert also came out as a convict on the ship David Clarke in 1841.

By August 1851, Ben was a respected landowner and was on a committee to use money raised under the Dog Act to erect a bridge or causeway across Salt Water Creek which is on the main road from Sorell to Richmond.

After 13 years of marriage Elizabeth died on 15 November 1851 at age 42 from consumption.

Ben married Eliza BYRON (1835-1881) on 1852 at St David’s, Hobart. His occupation was landholder and he said he was 30 years old while she was 18. Her father was John Byron who was a Superintendent of Police and buried at St Johns Church, Richmond.

In October 1854,  Ben was appointed to be a member of a provisional committee for the newly formed Sorell Steam Navigation Company.

They had 3 children Mary Jane (1853-1874), Eliza Blanche (1855-1940) & Benjamin (1858-1941).

Ben senior passed away on 16 Jan 1859 & was buried at St George’s Church, Sorell.  After his death, his property was sold. He also had shares in the Steam Navigation Company and corporate debentures due in the future.

Property sold after death

An obituary in the newspaper has his name spelt as ZELLY. He died at age 44 after a sudden illness. The notices mention he was an old and respected colonist. But the death record says he was fifty years old, a store keeper and died of natural causes.

As there were three young children to raise, Ben’s widow Eliza re-married in 1861 to John Talbot Coram.


Benjamin Zelley Junior
My Great great grandfather Benjamin Zelley junior married Matilda Eleanor Hardy in New Norfolk in September 1879. Upon turning 21 in 1879, he took over the shop his father had operated in Sorell.

Readers: Do you know where his store was in Sorell? At the birth of his daughter in 1880, it mentions Fitzroy Store.

W for Watermen of Sorell

Thanks to Helen Brinsmead for writing this post for the A-Z challenge.

Before the causeway was built, settlers and visitors to the Sorell District had to travel overland via Bridgewater, Grass Tree Hill and Richmond, a full day’s ride. A quicker way was to catch a boat from Kangaroo Point (now Bellerive), or across the Pittwater from Sorell. A long carriage ride or journey on horseback, or a boat trip in a skiff were the options until a public meeting was called in March 1849 with the residents of Sorell for consideration of the building of a causeway across the Pittwater. The concept was agreed with, with most of the discussion concerning whether extra taxes would be levied to pay for it. We know now that the Sorell Causeway wasn’t opened until 1872, leaving the ferrymen many more years to earn a living.

1827 John Stacey is listed as a Ferryman in Sorell when Rev Garrard registered his son John’s birth.

Mr J Davidson, an established waterman with a route from Clarence Inn to Kangaroo Point, proudly advertised in June 1831 that he had obtained a new 30 foot boat expressly to be “one of the safest ferry boats on the Derwent” in any weather.

Mr Davidson and his ferry

I wonder if Samuel Pearson, my 4x Great Grandfather, was an employee of Mr Davidson, as he is listed as a Ferryman of Sorell in the Christening register of his daughter Jemima in April 1831.

It looks as thought there was a need for two ferry journey, to the Lower Pittwater, and then, from Midway Point to Sorell with the traveller moved by cart, as in 1835, a theft was reported by Mr David Price. He’d left his bag in one boat “as he was crossing to another” as he was travelling to Kangaroo Point. His bag was found in the possession of another traveller, who said he’d been so intoxicated he’d not noticed which bag he’d picked up.

William Billett (Bellette) is noted as a Ferryman of Sorell by Chaplain James Norman on the Christening of his son John in 1837. I note that the same page of the Register has others listed as Boat Builder and Mariner. Clearly, Ferryman is acknowledged as an occupation in it’s own maritime field. I note that Samuel Pearson is one such Mariner listed, with his daughters Diane and Maria (my 3xGGmother) and son Richard being christened that year. Does this mean that he has become skilled enough or been employed on whaling ships or routes that take one out of the Derwent?

Unruly or drunk passengers were also a danger in crossing, along with the weather. In July 1838, a drunken passenger refused to let go of the sail when a squall rose. The boat with four passengers and cargo capsized. All were rescued by nearby boats. Unfortunately the waterman is not named. I wonder if it were William or John?

In 1840, Ferry proprietors and masters are named as Mr Spode and Mr Gunn in an article noting the there were a shortage of ‘proper hands in the boats’, leading most travellers to continue overland to cross at Risdon. There was a call to change the law regarding to which activities convict servants could be assigned, as it was currently illegal to use assigned servants in the operation of the ferries at Kangaroo Point, whereas Mr Dobson at Risdon, could.

Being ferried across the Derwent could not be assumed to be without risk. In November 1864, a Waterman named Carter was ferrying Mr Nicholls, when a squall capsized the boat: both were rescued.

The O’May family of Bellerive introduced the first steam ferry, the Surprise in 1871, after eight years running a sail boat ferry service.

By 1888, the ferryboat was more likely to be a steamer than a sail boat. The O’May family were now running the Taranna, the Minx and the Pearl, while the Kangaroo had a route from Bellerive to the city. All steamers were busy on the day of the eighth annual Regatta at Bellerive on Sunday 15 April.

PH30-1-2101 Steam ferry Kangaroo