My husband’s great grandfather John Morley (1823-1888), John’s wife Eliza née Sinden (1823-1908) and their two children, Elizabeth aged 3 and William aged 1 emigrated to Australia in 1853, arriving in Melbourne on the ‘Ida‘ on 12 July.

Ida arrival 1

Ida arrival 2

SHIPPING INTELLIGENCE. (1853, July 14). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 4. Retrieved from

Five years before, on 17 September 1848, John Morley, then 25, had married Eliza, also 25 years old, at Hurstpierpoint in Sussex.

John Morley was a railway labourer. In 1851, he and Eliza and their one year old daughter Elizabeth were living at 97 Railway Terrace, Keymer, a couple of miles from Hurstpierpoint. Keymer Junction, which had opened four years before, was an important railway junction on the East Coastway Line to Lewes and the Brighton main line.

In 1854, a year after the Morley’s arrival in Victoria, they were living in Collingwood, a suburb of Melbourne. On 10 March, little Elizabeth Morley died, a few months before her fifth birthday, of tabes messenterica, tuberculosis of the abdominal lymph glands. This disease, rare now with pasteurisation, is an illness of children, caused by infected cows milk.


In the first annual report covering deaths to 1854, the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages of the Colony of Victoria listed tabes mesenterica as one of the diseases of the digestive organs. Deaths from diseases of the digestive organs, including tabes mesenterica, teething and enteritis, chiefly deaths of children, constituted about seven percent of total deaths for that year.

The Report paints a picture of Melbourne and the goldfields struggling with the challenges of the rapid increases in population. Victoria’s population trebled from 1851 to 1854. 78,000 arrived in the year 1853-54, the Morley family among them.


REGISTRAR GENERAL’S REPORT. (1855, September 7). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 6. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from

Population of Victoria in the 1850s

Population for Victoria estimated at 31 December each year from Geoffrey Searle, The Golden Age: A History of the colony of Victoria 1851 -1861, Melbourne University Press, 1977, (Appendix 1 Page 382) reproduced at


John and Eliza Morley had eight children, only three survived childhood to become adults.


Further reading and sources