In 2014 I responded to a prompt by a fellow genealogy blogger, Pauleen Cass, to look at my family’s immigration to Australia. In the seven years since, I’ve learned a lot more about our family history so I thought it would be fun to revisit Pauleen’s prompts.


My first ancestor to arrive in Australia was…? George Taylor (1758 – 1828) and Mary Taylor née Low (1765 -1850), my fifth great grand parents, were the first of my forebears to emigrate to Australia, arriving in Tasmania on 10 January 1823 with most of their adult children. Their daughter Isabella Hutcheson nee Taylor, my fourth great grandmother, followed ten years later with her children. The property the Taylors and their sons farmed, called ‘Valleyfield‘, near Launceston, was sold in 2005 after more than 180 years in the same family.

About ninety percent, of our immigrant ancestors arrived before 1855, one arrived in 1888, and four arrived in the middle of the twentieth century after World War 2.

Fan chart of my children’s ancestors showing immigrants highlighted in dark green. Those highlighted in purple came to Australia but returned to England. We don’t know anything about the immigration of John Clark and Hannah Clark nee Sline highlighted in olive green. Chart generated using DNAPainter.

Were there any convicts? There are no convicts on my side. My husband Greg’s great great grandmother Caroline Clarke, who married a gold-digger called George Young, was born in New South Wales about 1835. I still haven’t been able to trace her parents, so perhaps they were convicts, though this seems unlikely as convicts are well documented.

Where did our ancestors come from? Twenty-nine were from England, seven from Scotland, two from Wales, eight from Ireland, and four from Germany. One was born in New Zealand and arrived in Tasmania as a baby. One of our English forebears was born in India; two were British subjects born in France. There are also two immigrants, John Clark and his wife Hannah nee Sline, in the list of fifty-three that I know little about.

Did any of our ancestors pay their passage? Many paid their own passage, and there were some assisted immigrants. Only one person seems to have worked his way to Australia, Greg’s great great grandfather John Plowright, who on his admission to Maryborough Hospital in 1873 stated that he had arrived in the colony from London on the Speculation about 1853. He gave his occupation was mariner. He wasn’t listed as a deserter. It seems he gave up life as a seaman to try his chance on the goldfields.

How many ancestors came as singles? couples? families? Thirty-two of the fifty-three immigrants – sixty percent – came with their family. Twenty-eight were adults and eight were infants or children accompanying their parents. Thirteen came as single immigrants. There was only one couple without children: John and Sarah Way.

Did one person lead the way and others follow? There are quite a few instances of this.

What’s the longest journey they took to get here? Of the voyages I know about, two took 136 days or 4 ½ months:

Did anyone make a two-step emigration via another place? Several ancestors came via other places:

  • John and Matilda Darby emigrated first to New Zealand and came to Tasmania several years later.
  • Gordon Mainwaring, one of my 3rd great grandfathers, came to Australia from Calcutta.
  • Wentworth Cavenagh, one of my great great grandfathers, first tried farming in Canada, then coffee planting in Ceylon, then tried for a job in Calcutta, India. He arrived on the Bendigo goldfields in 1852 before making his way to South Australia a year later.

Which state(s)/colony did your ancestors arrive? Twenty arrived in Victoria, fourteen in South Australia, eleven arrived in Tasmania, two in Western Australia, two probably came to New South Wales, and four migrated to the Australian Capital Territory.

Did they settle and remain in one state or colony? They moved between the colonies, especially to and from Victoria and to and from South Australia.

  • the Ways moved from South Australia to Victoria and then to New South Wales
  • the Darbys moved from Tasmania to Victoria
  • the Ralphs moved from Victoria to South Australia
  • the Plaisteds and the Hughes moved from South Australia to Victoria
  • the Cudmores and Nihills moved from Tasmania to South Australia
  • the Hutchesons moved from Tasmania to Victoria
  • Philip Chauncy moved from South Australia to Western Australia to Victoria

Did they stay in one town or move around? They tended to move around.

Do you have any First Australians in your tree? No direct forebears .

Were any self-employed? They were mostly self-employed. Many were farmers or miners.

What occupations or industries did your earliest ancestors work in? Most of them took up farming.

Does anyone in the family still follow that occupation? Not in my immediate family.

Did any of our ancestors leave Australia to return “Home”? William Snell Chauncy, one of my 4th great grandfathers, visited his children in South Australia for only twelve months before returning to England. Gordon Mainwaring and his wife Mary née Hickey both died in England, as did their son-in-law, Wentworth Cavenagh-Mainwaring.

Previous posts about immigration