I was pleased to receive a copy of a brief history of the Edwards family in Australia—one branch of it, at least—from one of Greg’s Edwards cousins, a descendant of his great great uncle James Edwards. Greg’s mother Marjorie was descended from Francis Gilbart Edwards, youngest son of Thomas and Mary Edwards nee Gilbart.

Marjorie was quite interested in her family history and passed on many stories to me. She was especially fond of retelling the history of her Edwards and Gilbart forebears and their connection with a missionary family named Tuckfield.

The history, six pages long, will be continued in future posts.

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This short history of the Edwards Family was compiled by Frederick James Edwards, the son of James and Elizabeth Edwards who was born at the farm in 1884, ten years after the parents came there as Pioneers.

James Edwards was a great reader and very literary minded and from the time he arrived on the selection he kept a day to day diary from 1874 to 1901, and at the end of this history I will note the principle events of each year from year to year. It was partly from this diary that I got the particulars that is in this history.

For the benefit of future generations the following is a brief history of the Edwards families just prior to coming to Australia and since that time.

The founder of the Australian family was Thomas Edwards who was born in St. Earth [Erth], Cornwall in the year 1798 and during his manhood of the 49 years in Cornwall he had interests and worked in a foundry known in those days as Rolling Mills and manufactured principally mining equipment, carts, shovels and picks.

He married in 1826 to Mary Gilbart, the daughter of a prominent Methodist family. It is traditional that John Wesley stayed with the Gilbart family when founding the Wesleyan Church in Cornwall, they provided land for the first church and copper laid pulpit for the church.

Mary Gilbart’s elder sister came to Australia in 1838 as the wife of Rev. Frances Tuckfield, the first Wesleyan Minister appointed to Victoria.

Thomas and Mary Edwards had 5 sons and one daughter [7 sons and 2 daughters], the continuation of our family was the third son James, who was born on January 28 1835, at St. Earth [Erth] and came to Victoria at the age of 14 with all the family as immigrants and arrived in Corio Bay, Geelong on Christmas Day 1849 [13 January 1849] in the sailing ship “Lysander” and on account of the poor landing facilities and adverse wind did not land until the next day, The time taken by the ship from Plymouth to Geelong was about 100 days. This ship “Lysander” of 475 tons had 238 passengers and there were 9 births and 7 deaths on the passage. The ship had one more trip to England for immigrants and bought back to Victoria the documents signed by Queen Victoria for the separation of N.S.W. from Victoria in 1851. It was then fitted out as a hospital ship and acted in that capacity for many years and acted as a Hospital Ship at the Crimean War.

The Victorian Government paid all shipping freight for tradesmen on all tools used by the trade. We have an anvil forged made and steel faced at the farm, brought out under those conditions.

The hardships of landing in a new country with no housing and a big family can be imagined. The father was a wheel right and carpenter and the eldest boys were also in the trade. And in Geelong, while there was plenty of work, later James with the eldest brother Thomas, who stayed with James and worked together through life, followed the gold rush without success, and then went farming at Little River, Buninyong and Bullarook where they stayed 14 years.

The farm at Bullarook proved quite a good farm, potatoes were the main crop. As the open up the land cry was on, and all the Western District was taken up they decided to select at Charlton. When the parents grew old they went to Bullarook with Thomas and James and died there and are buried in the old Ballarat cemetery, The years at Bullarook was 1860 to 1874 with the sale of the Bullarook land at £10 per acre gave Thomas and James a IittIe money to start at Charlton. The finding of gold in Victoria brought thousands of immigrants from overseas and the service [surface] gold soon worked out and selectors took up land going north as the Western District was already taken over by squatters. These dates were from 1853 to 1870.

Greg and I have visited the graves of Thomas and Mary Edwards at Ballarat Old Cemetery.

The grave site of Mary and Thomas Edwards Wesleyan Section Ballarat Old Cemetery : WN, Section 08, Row 2, Grave 09 The headstone is missing. Buried at this location are Mary Edwards nee Gilbart died 1867, her husband Thomas Edwards died 1871, and four grandchildren, the children of Mary and Thomas’s son William Edwards. (Grave location identified with reference to the adjacent headstone of David Cooper at WN, Section 08, Row 2, Grave 08)

We have also visited the land at Bullarook 15 kilometers east of Ballarat.

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