X marks the troth

Thanks to Peta Kelly for writing this post for the A-Z challenge.

Blue links will take you to the digitized images of the marriages. These are from Libraries Tasmania website.

Robert Knopwood (1763-1838)
Some of the first marriage ceremonies performed by Reverend Robert Knopwood at the Derwent settlement were between couples who settled in the Pittwater area. Thousands of descendants bearing their names still live in south-eastern Tasmania. 

As they do now, the bride and groom signed the marriage register, but with much of the population at the time being illiterate, most ‘signed’ with their mark, an X. 

On 27 June 1808 John Duncombe married Elizabeth Hambley, the bride signing with a cross. On 1 August 1809 Robert Carter married Elizabeth Bellet. Elizabeth made her mark and the marriage was witnessed by first-fleeter, Jacob Bellett, the bride’s father. Two months later Susannah Bellett signed with a cross to her marriage to John Birchall. 

Jane Moulton signed with a cross at her marriage to William Hambley, as did Elizabeth Nash at her marriage to Bartholomew Reardon and Thomas Pennington to Susannah Wiggins. The family fortunes improved for Elizabeth Nash’s three younger sisters as they all received some education and were able to write their names when they married. 

More grooms than brides could sign their names. Charles Routley, later to become a notorious serial killer, signed for himself, but his bride, the unfortunate Elizabeth Barnes, marked a cross. James Garth signed, and his bride Mary Billet (Bellette) made her mark. Alex Laing, a well-known District Constable, signed and his bride, Esther Robertson made her mark.

R for Reardons at Thorn Hill

Thanks to Judy Pearson in consultation with Bev Richardson (Descendants) for writing this post for the A-Z challenge.

Clicking on blue links will take you to original records from Libraries Tasmania.

Early settler Bartholomew Reardon was born on Norfolk Island June 1791, the first child of Bartholomew Reardon (a First Fleet arrival on ‘Scarborough’ and then to the first settlement on Norfolk Island per ‘Sirius’), and Hannah Rowney (Ronay, Rooney), who arrived in the Colony per ‘Lady Juliana’ and to Norfolk Island in August, 1790.  They had 5 children.

Bartholomew (2nd) grew up living in a thatched weatherboard hut on a small grant helping to farm the land.  His two younger brothers, Steve and Daniel, who were born 1798 and 1799, both died on Norfolk Island in 1801.    Their headstone on Norfolk Island is still legible.    Their father Bartholomew Snr. died on Norfolk Island in 1807 and daughter Ann died in the same year.   When the settlement there was to be disbanded, Hannah and eldest daughter Francis were re-located to Van Diemens Land per ‘Lady Nelson’ in November 1807.   The young Bartholomew who left N.I. several years later was recorded in 1807 as the owner of 7 acres of land on Norfolk Island and supplying produce to His Majesty’s Store.   He had also worked for Captain Piper who recommended him to receive a grant of land on arrival in Van Diemen’s Land.  This was at Iron Creek, Sorell, the property still known as ‘Thorn Hill’, and on January 1st, 1812 he married Elizabeth Nash.   Elizabeth was born on Norfolk Island in 1793, the eldest child of Robert and Ann Nash.   They left Norfolk Island in 1808 and also settled at Pitt Water.

Bartholomew and Elizabeth enjoyed prosperous years at ‘Thorn Hill’, and their home became the venue for many important visitors, including Governor Macquarie in 1821 when he named the town of Sorell.   The ‘Thorn Hill’ property included a huge barn, the venue for Musters, and gatherings including dances, weddings and church services.   Bartholomew was appointed a District Police Constable.  In 1815, a fire which destroyed his barn, and all the property’s stored crops, was deliberately lit and from this time debts were incurred when Bartholomew tried to diversify, buying more land and stock.   He suffered losses but retained his Forcett property of ‘Green Hills’ where he had built a small brick home.   This was added to in 1820 and sadly, ‘Thorn Hill’ was relinquished, being signed over to Lawyer, Mr. Bethune in 1825 to settle his debts.    

‘Thorn Hill’ photo prior to demolition in 1989

By this time, the Reardons had already moved to their Forcett property ‘Green Hills’.   Five generations of the family farmed this property and is still owned by a sixth generation descendant.

Image source:

‘Thorn Hill’ image, Judy Pearson collection

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.