This post is about my ancestors and those of my husband who emigrated to Australia, leaving their homes permanently in search of a better life. It does not include those who travelled abroad in the army and navy, nor those who went overseas for employment and returned to England.

fan chart
My children’s ancestors, with emigrants shown in dark green. Those who emigrated to Australia but returned home are shown in purple. I know nothing about the emigration of John Clark and Hannah Clark nee Sline (in olive green). Chart generated using DNAPainter.

The first of my ancestors to arrive in Australia were my fifth great grandparents George Taylor (1758 – 1828) and Mary Taylor née Low (1765 -1850), who, with most of their adult children, arrived in Tasmania on 10 January 1823. My fourth great grandmother, their daughter Isabella Hutcheson nee Taylor, followed with her children ten years afterwards.

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

Of fifty-three immigrants, twenty-nine were from England, seven from Scotland, two from Wales, eight from Ireland, and four from Germany. On, born in New Zealand, arrived in Tasmania as a baby. One of our English forebears was born in India; two were British subjects born in France. Of two — John Clark and his wife Hannah née Sline—I know almost nothing; they were probably English.

Most of our immigrant ancestors paid their own passage, but some were assisted immigrants. Only one person seems to have worked his way to Australia. This was 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 in 1853 on the Speculation. He gave his occupation as ‘mariner’, and since he was not listed as a deserter, it seems likely that hr abandoned life at sea to try his chance on the goldfields.

None of our emigrant ancestors were convicts, with the exception of a relative by marriage, Henry Gage the second husband of my fifth great grandmother. Caroline Clarke, Greg’s great great grandmother, wife of George Young, was born in New South Wales about 1835. We know nothing further about her. She was possibly, even likely, the daughter of a convict.

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. One couple, John and Sarah Way, arrived without children.

There are quite a few instances of chain migration:

  • The Edwards emigrated probably because Mary’s sister Sarah and her husband Francis Tuckfield were already in Australia.
  • It seems likely that the de Crespignys came to Australia because Charlotte’s brothers had been given jobs by Governor Latrobe.
  • Philip Chauncy followed his sisters, who had arrived in Adelaide two years previously.
  • The Plaisteds followed Ann’s sister and brother, who had arrived twelve years earlier in Adelaide together with John’s sister Tabitha who married William Green.
  • Isabella Hutcheson née Taylor followed her parents and brothers to Tasmania in about 1833 after the death of her husband. She came with five young children.
  • My grandfather came first after the war and his wife and daughter joined him ten months later. His mother joined him in Australia ten years later.

Of the voyages I know about, the two longest both took 136 days or 4 ½ months:

  • the David Clark which arrived on 27 October 1839 with Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins, one of my 3rd great grandfathers
  • the Rajah which arrived 12 April 1850 with my 4th great grandparents John and Ann Plaisted and their daughter Sally one of my 3rd great grandmothers

Several of our ancestors came from England through another country:

  • 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.

Most of my ancestors—twenty of them—came to Victoria. Fourteen went to South Australia, eleven to Tasmania, two to Western Australia, and two probably came first to New South Wales. Four migrated to the Australian Capital Territory.

After their arrival many of our ancestors 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

Upon their arrival most emigrants were self-employed, many of them as farmers or miners. Some, for example Philip Crespigny the gold warden and Philip Chauncy the surveyor, found government jobs.

Of our ancestors whose emigration was not permanent, 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.