M for McGinnis family

Thanks to Judy Pearson (nee Dodge) for writing this post for the A-Z challenge.

Blue links will take you to the digitized images  from Libraries Tasmania website. Clicking on image in post will take you to the original at Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office (TAHO).

The McGinnis (McGeniss McGuinness) family of The Carlton began their lives in Van Diemens Land at Clarence Plains having been part of the exodus from Norfolk Island when that early convict settlement was closed down by the authorities in 1807/08. The promise of land equal to 4 times that which they had left was not properly fulfilled when they arrived at the struggling settlement in Hobart Town. Many of these new arrivals were in time located in Clarence Plains on small plots of land. One of these families was Hugh McGinnis’s with his partner Charlotte Simpson/Hall who had until 1795 been partner of William Dodge, Superintendent of Convicts on Norfolk Island, and her living children Ralph and Sarah Dodge). Hugh and Charlotte had another 5 children all born on Norfolk Island, Hugh Jnr., Rebecca, Andrew, John Hall, William Daniel Simpson, and Elizabeth. Sarah Dodge was baptised Sarah McGinnis in Hobart Town where Hugh and Charlotte were married in 1810.

Within a few years the whole family chose to move on to more suitable and fertile land and Hugh, his 3 sons and step-son Ralph Dodge all received grants at The Carlton where they became farmers and  significant pioneers of a settlement near Chaseys Creek. They increased their holdings in the area, Ralph Dodge having more land further to the north and from there he operated a packhorse mail run, and in 1841 he established the Carlton Post Office and was the first Postmaster. This served the community until 1949 with many family members working as Postmaster, including John Hall McGinnis.

Carlton Post Office
TAHO, NS1029/1/129

Hugh McGinnis farmed his land but owned a schooner and a whale boat at Marion Bay. He pioneered the work of the Congregational Church in the district and prayer meetings were held in his home. He died in 1841 and is buried at St. Davids, Hobart.

John Hall McGinnis married Mary Smith in 1822. In 1837 he owned several properties and donated land for the Carlton Congregational Church, burial ground, school and playground. He was a lay reader and superintendent of the Sunday School for considerable years. The Chapel has a long history and on the 180th anniversary of the first Public Worship held there on 10th January 1841 the owners held a celebratory High Tea on their recently acquired property. John McGinnis also owned and was licensee of the Carlton Inn and Store (also known as the Prospect Inn).

His brother Hugh took over the license when John died in 1854 and changed the name to Carlton Arms. Hugh McGinnis Jnr. married Elizabeth Thomas. In 1828 he became a Division Constable. He was recorded as a Publican and owned land in a number of other areas. He died at his home ‘Bay View’ Carlton in 1884 and is buried in the Chapel Churchyard in McGuinness Road.

The Carlton River Cemetery is at the top of McGuinness Rd. and is accessible to the public but there are few headstones still showing. None show the name McGinnis (McGuinness) but relatives would have been buried there and many descendants still live throughout the area.

Kath Lonergan has written the story of the McGuinness family at Carlton in her book entitled ‘Kindred Connections’. She is a descendant of both Dodge and McGuinness families.

J for James Gordon

James Gordon is mentioned often in newspapers both in Sydney and within the Sorell Municipality.

But first a bit about the man and his arrival in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).

James was born in 1779 in the town of Forcett in Yorkshire, England. At age 27, he emigrated to Sydney and became a well known trader.

Marriage in 1814

In January 1814, he married Elizabeth Arndell and by April that year, he was appointed Naval Officer in Hobart Town. As he had good connections back in England, he was also appointed as a magistrate and as part of the Lieutenant Governor’s court.

Appointments of James Gordon

But by late 1815, he was working his farm in the Sorell municipality rather than being a Naval Officer.

When researching James Gordon and his influence in the Sorell municipality, I looked in Trove on the National Library Australia at how often he was mentioned in newspapers. Up to 1842 at his death, he was mentioned about 750 times. Below are some of the interesting events he was mentioned in.

1816 supplying fresh meat to the commissary

Fresh meat

1819 Sheep speared by aboriginals – to read the rest of the report, click on the image.

Sheep speared

1821 Cautioning trespassers on his property

Don’t trespass!

1822 Contracting for bricks – maybe to start his house?

Bricks wanted

1823 Building his house – click on image to read the rest of the article

Building his house

1824 Agricultural meeting also mentions Robert Gard, a servant of James Gordon – click on image to read more

Agricultural meeting

1824 Offering reward after killing of property

Reward offered

1829 New appointment in the district of Richmond

New appointment

1833 A ‘Native Youth’ wrote a letter to the editor about James Gordon 

1834 James Gordon had problems with the government

Government problems

1836 Letting a farm

Letting farm

1837 Chairing meeting of Sorell residents – click on link to read more of the meeting

Chairing meetings

1840 Judging at the Hobart Town Horticultural Society – widely respected in the farming community – click image for more

Horticultural Society

1841 American aloe at Forcett

Aloe at Forcett

James Gordon’s death and funeral in August 1842 was written about by  The True Colonist Van Diemen’s Land Political Despatch, and Agricultural and Commercial Advertiser..

Death notice

In his will, everything is left to his wife Elizabeth and upon her death it goes to her relatives as the Gordons did not have any children. A copy of the will can be read here – such beautiful handwriting.

H for Hannah Green

Thanks to Jo Hopkins for writing this post for the A-Z challenge.

Blue links will take you to the digitized images from Libraries Tasmania website.


Hannah Green’s story in Sorell begins around the time the small settlement at Pitt Water became Sorell, and her tale would mirror that of many early settlers of the district. While she is not a noted figure, she is a piece of the patchwork.

In September 1819 in London, Hannah Green was arrested carrying a forged £1 bank note. She was convicted and sentenced to be transported to Australia for 14 years. After a brief time in Newgate Prison, she sailed on the Morley, departing on 20 May 1820. The Morley arrived in Hobart Town at the end of August 1820 and Hannah was one of the 50 convict women to be offloaded and assigned. The remainder of the convict women sailed on to Sydney.

Hannah was assigned to Thomas Lascelles who was at that time the secretary to Lieutenant-Governor Sorell. Lascelles had properties in Hobart Town and in the Pitt Water district. Could Hannah have worked at Pitt Water?

When Governor Macquarie visited the Pitt Water settlement on 20 June 1821 and renamed the township Sorell, was Hannah present? It would be lovely to imagine her in the small crowd, sharing the excitement of the vice-regal visit.

On 7 January 1822, Hannah married free settler John Stacey who resided at Sorell. Just 15 months after her arrival and assignment and just 27 months since her arrest, Hannah is re-assigned to her husband and is effectively free. She only needed to attend muster and be of good behaviour to keep out of officialdoms eyes and serve out her sentence.

While minimal documentation is available for Hannah – her marriage registration, some musters, the baptism records of her children – it does show her living in Sorell going about her life.

St Georges Church where many Stacey events occurred

As the family grew, so did Sorell. The family had a house in Arthur Street across the paddock from where the mill was built. The children were baptised at the newly built St Georges Church and were attenders at the Sorell School. For a few years John was a Constable and would have worked with Alexander Laing at the new watch house. John was also a licenced ferryman who plied the route from the Pitt Water Bluff (around where the causeways now span the two arms of Pittwater). Could John have even rowed the official party across when Macquarie visited?

In April 1840, aged 43, Hannah Stacey was buried in Sorell, just days after the birth of a son.

Many local families can connect back to Hannah Green and John Stacey, and their story at the founding of Sorell.

Jo Hopkins is descended through the Jones line from Hannah and John’s daughter Charlotte.