Monday, 18 February 2013

Edward and Elizabeth were amongst South Australia's earliest pioneers...... and more links with the convict Edwin Atkins

The newspaper record of the report from the Gloucester Assizes for Edwin Atkins, convicted of stealing a lamb. Edward Atkins and Elizabeth Mashford were two of the earliest European settlers in South Australia, as were Edward's first wife, Hannah Mcleod and Elizabeth's first husband, Peter Lewis.

The first English settlers had arrived in Australia in 1788 when the country was established as a penal colony. Within a year that impact had reached South Australia when a smallpox epidemic from Port Jackson, New South Wales, made its way West and hundreds of local aborigines died.

Within a decade ships began charting the unexplored South Australian coastline although American sealers had been lodging on Kangaroo Island, off the coast from what would be Adelaide, from 1803. An original proposal had been to base settlement on Kangaroo Island, but the mainland offered much greater opportunities.

In 1829 the National Colonization Society was formed in Britain and a second smallpox epidemic reached South Australia where it took hold, lasting for a few years. In the same year Edwin Atkins, who might be our Edward Atkins, was in gaol in Gloucestershire for stealing a lamb.

In 1830 Charles Sturt's expedition from New South Wales reached the River Murray in what is now southern South Australia. Not long after Collet Barker surveyed Gulf St Vincent, climbed Mount Lofty, near where I now live and saw the Port River inlet, where soon there would be passenger ships by the hundreds dropping anchor and dropping colonists from England and Europe.

In the same year Edwin Atkins landed in Australia as a convict, aboard the Florentia and was sent to work at Yass, which is near to where Canberra now is. He was nineteen. The O'Brien brothers, Cornelius and Henry, from County Mayo, Ireland, settled this area in 1833 and employed Edwin/Edward Atkins and other 'scoundrelly' convict shepherds. Edwin was a blacksmith who now worked as a shepherd. Our Edward was a blacksmith who would later work as a shepherd.

In 1831 a plan was created to found a colony in Southern Australia, exceptional in that it would be a colony for free settlers and not a penal settlement for convicts. And possibly a reason why if Edwin Atkins is our Edward Atkins he did not want to register his name in the census and why he began to call himself Edward and not Edwin.

The South Australian Association was formed in Britain in 1833 and just a year later the South Australian Colonization Act was passed with a board of commissioners to oversee the project, soon appointed. By 1835 the South Australian company was formed to offer free passage to immigrant labourers and John Hindmarsh was appointed as the new Governor of the fledgling colony. In the same year William Light was appointed as surveyor-general and his inspired designs would have the city of Adelaide as one of the best designed cities then and now.

On February 22 and 24 the first migrant ships left England bound for South Australia. Just two months later Pastor Kavel met with G.F.Angas to discuss emigration for German Lutherans who were being persecuted. It was a busy year with The South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register founded and the first permanent pioneer settlers arriving in large numbers, aboard the Duke of York, John Pirie and Lady Mary Pelham.

On November 14, 1835 the first pioneer settlers arrived at what would be the city of Adelaide, landing at Holdfast Bay. In 1836 Light chose the name of Adelaide, after King William IV's Queen, for the new city. There were around 546 colonists and probably 12,000 Aborigines.

For the colonists it was an exciting new adventure; for the Aborigines it was the end of their world as they knew it although records of the time showed that the early settlers, in the main, tried hard to take the needs of the indigenous people into account. It was disease which did most of the killing in its unexpected and alien way, as opposed to a considered process of 'removal' by the early settlers, which is how the situation is often viewed in more modern, more politically correct, and more ignorant times.

The English had sought to protect the native Kaurna people in law, but fate had other things in mind. A Protector was appointed to look after the interests of the Aboriginal people and land was set aside for them, but despite good intentions, the 'clash of cultures' would see the most powerful take precedent. It has always been thus.

In 1837 the first German Lutheran settlers arrived and among them no doubt, some ancestors. The Supreme court sat for the first time and the foundation stone was laid for Holy Trinity Church where Edward and Hannah would marry in six years time.

In 1838, Australia's first police force was established, the South Australian Police and Aborigines were deemed to be British subjects - whether they wanted to be or not. There were now 6,000 settlers.  In the same year the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce was founded, the first in Australasia; a school was opened for Aboriginal children by the Lutheran missionaries and Dr Matthew Moorhouse was appointed Protector of Aborigines.

In 1839 the village of Hahndorf, where I now live, was established and our farm would have been one of the first settled in the Adelaide Hills.  In the same year vaccinations began for smallpox and on October 6, William light died of tuberculosis.

In the same year:

Daniel McLeod, Servant, made application to come to SA 3/12/1839,
From Charleville, (Ireland)  18 years old. Hannah McLeod, Worker woman made application 3/12/1839, 16 years old from Charleville.”

We are guessing Hannah and Daniel were brother and sister given her age although both of them may well have been even younger if Daniel is the man who married Louisa Rose Domeyer in 1869, in Wilmington, South Australia.

There were now 10,000 settlers and Adelaide Hospital was established along with a City of Adelaide Council and the road between the settlement of Adelaide and the Port, where Hannah and Daniel McLeod and possibly Edward Atkins,  if he is the E. Atkins listed on the same ship, the Eliza, would arrive the following year, was completed.

In that year, 1840, the free passenger immigration scheme would cease due to lack of funds, so they had made it just in time and the population of the colony was 15,440 with nearly 9,000 of them living in Adelaide. There were also 959 horses, 16,050 cattle, 166,800 sheep and a total of 1,615 buildings in the new city.

Hannah McLeod arrived in the colony in 1840 and Edward Atkins may well have arrived at the same time if he was the ex-convict Edwin Atkins and he had made his way overland, or he may have arrived on the same ship, as the ex-convict Edwin Atkins or as another man entirely. It would be seven years before Elizabeth arrived with her family and during that time her first husband Peter Lewis would make his way to the colony. But they were all to be counted as South Australian pioneers, amongst the very first to set foot on and settle down in, this part of Terra Australis.

N.B. Some new information has come to light showing there was no E. Atkins on board the Eliza with Hannah Mcleod and the name has been included in the register for the ship as a link to the marriage of Hannah to an E. Atkins. However, the original researcher has not made this clear and so the inclusion of (E.Atkins) looks like someone else travelling on the same ship when it is not the case.

Which takes us back to trying to turn the theory about Edwin Atkins being our Edward Atkins into fact just as we have done with Hannah's Edward Atkins and Elizabeth's Edward Atkins. And I have commissioned new research on just that count having come across a newspaper report for the court case against Edwin Atkins in the Gloucester Assizes.  As is so often the way in life, it seems our Edwin, who may also be our Edward, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and less a sheep thief than a hapless visitor or perhaps a man having an affair with someone's wife and 'taking a fall' because of it.

The case involved not just Edwin but a William Walker and his wife, Amy and while William got off, Edwin and Mrs Walker did not!

A 'teg' I discovered is a 
lamb, weaning to first shear. It looks like Edwin and Amy got a death sentence but clearly this was commuted to seven years transportation at least for him.

I have asked the researcher to do some more work to see what else can be found.
I wrote some time ago about the research to date on Edwin and the connections between him and our Edward, including a physical description which sounded very much as our Edward looked, going by the photograph we have.

And in the meanwhile Kylie came across a piece of information which might 'link' Edwin the convict and Edward our ancestor. She wrote:

I came across this report in Trove.  This is how I would imagine that Edwin shifted to SA. This trip would have been the right time and I am guessing that Mr. J Fisher was James Fisher brother of CB Fisher but that is just a guess.

I realise we had originally looked at Yass Plains over near the SA border but this is incorrect.  Edwin was sent to Yass in 1830.  He was assigned to the O’Briens.  So it would have been Yass near Canberra.  There is no way that they had moved out that far from Sydney in 1830.

The Colonist (Sydney, NSW : 1835 - 1840)

Thursday 24 September 1840

OVERLAND ARRIVAL AT SOUTH AUSTRALIA. -We have much pleasure in announcing the arrival overland from New South Wales of another fine herd of cattle, brought by Mr. J. Fisher. Mr. Fisher started from Yass, on the 21st of June, accompanied by Mr. Hallack, who left this place along with Mr. Fisher, and by Messrs. Hallett and McIntosh   from Sydney. The remainder of the party consisted of ten white men and two blacks. Herd consists of cows, heifers, steers, and bullocks 850 in number; thirty-five working bullocks,   and twenty-five horses. The party kept the northern side of the Murrumbidgee and the Murray the whole way. The track has now be come so distinct, Mr. Fisher states that in some places it is like travelling along a high road. The feed along the Murrumbidgee was very good, on the Murray not quite so good. Very little loss was sustained on the journey Two or three head of cattle were lost in crossing the Darling, the waters of which were swollen very much. The Rofus was also very high, and the party not having a punt with them , they were detained a short time in crossing three rivers. The blacks were not at all troublesome out Mr. Fisher thinks they are not so fond of cattle parties as of sheep. Mr. Fisher left the cattle at the bend of the Murray, about nine days ago, and arrived in Adelaide on Wednesday evening. —-South Australian Register, September 5. this point we know only that Edward was in South Australia by 1843 when he married Hannah. There was a census taken in 1841 and his name is not on it. There was an E.Atkins listed on the same ship which brought Hannah but one can only wonder why, if it was our Edward, he did not register with the census.

However, if Edward is in fact Edwin, and he reached South Australia in 1840, as a freed convict he might want to 'protect' both is identity and his presence.

The Certificate of Freedom report on Edwin/Edward Atkins sounds a lot like our Edward looked, as seen in the photograph with his daughters by Elizabeth. It says he  had dark grey eyes, sandy hair, a ruddy-freckled complexion, eyebrows meeting and he was 5ft. 71/2 inches and had a tattoo HEA on his right inside wrist.

The photo of our Edward clearly shows the fair and possibly ruddy and freckled complexion and the sandy hair and dark eyes and the height looks right when compared to the height of his eldest daughter Elizabeth who is standing beside him. What a pity we cannot see the inside of his right wrist!

Both Edwin and Edward had a father called Joseph Atkins. There is a connection to Haines or Haynes with both of them. Edwin lived near Cirencester, Gloucestershire and a UK researcher previously came up with the following:

Joseph Atkins married Ann Haines in 14 August 1809 in Cirencester in the county of Gloucestershire.  

All the children were baptised in Cirencester, Gloucestershire:

Charles Atkins bp. 1 July 1810
Henry Edwin Atkins bp. 23 February 1812 (This could fit with convict Edwin Atkins if he were known by his middle name as was common. The age is right.)
Joseph Lewis Atkins b. 18 January 1814, bp. 13 February 1814, bur. 3 April 1814
James Webb Atkins b. 14 August 1816, bp. 5 October 1816
Susannah b. 30 November 1817, bp. 3 January 1819
David Atkins b. 31 March 1822, bp. 19 May 1822
Thomas Haines Atkins b. 20 June 1825, bp. 24 July 1825, d. 30 October 1825
Mary Ann Haines Atkins b. 10 January 1827, bp. 4 February 1827.

 It is not so much that there is new information regarding Edwin Atkins which links him positively with our Edward but there is a little more information on him which could link him to the Edwin Atkins born to Joseph and Ann Haines (Haynes) and which 'places' him possibly in South Australia at the time that Hannah McLeod arrived.

The court case says that the lamb was stolen from a property at Cubberley which is near Cirencester in Gloucestershire where Joseph and Ann had their children.

There is some evidence that the convict Edwin Atkins was Henry Edwin Atkins, the full name of the son born to Joseph and Ann Atkins.

If Edwin Atkins served his full seven year sentence he would have been released in 1837. He may have remained in the employment of the O'Briens at Yass or he could have gone home to England and returned by 1840 in time to make the trip overland to Adelaide, or he could have been the E. Atkins on the Eliza, the ship which brought Hannah McLeod to South Australia. Both are possible. And it is also possible that Edwin Atkins was released early and had more than enough time to return to England and take passage again to Australia and employment with the O'Briens before joining the party of ten men who made the trip to South Australia, arriving on September 5, the day I would be born, 109 years later!

And here is an account of the same journey made by another party, around the same time,as that which Edwin Atkins may have made from Yass, New South Wales, to South Australia in 1840.


We started on the 13th November last, with three teams, two of them bullocks, and the  other one drawn by horses, the former loaded with twelve week's rations for twenty-two men, which was the number of our party, and   the latter carrying a portable stockyard for the horses.

Our stock consisted of 500 head of cattle and 100 horses, most of them young,     sound, serviceable animals, many of them very         valuable. The whole party was under the charge and management of Mr Craig, who is   I believe, principal superintendent, of Mr James McFarlane's different stations, to whom and to his brother Duncan McFarlane, Esq., of Ade- laide, the stock belongs. Mr Craig is, in my   opinion, well suited for the purpose, as he possesses a great deal of shrewdness and   activity, and gained the confidence and respect   of his whole party, which is one of the most desirable objects in an expedition of this sort.

Mr J. McFarlane accompanied us beyond
Yass, for the purpose, as he expressed it, of seeing the party fairly started and past the public-   houses, a precaution necessary where so many     servants not much used to forebearance were of the party. The face of the country above Yass is very mountainous ; the land appears rich,   the grass was just recovering from the last   year's drought, and afforded plenty of food for the stock. Mr O'Brien is police magistrate for this district, and is one of the largest land- owners about here.

Four day's stages brought us to the banks of the Murrumbidgee, which     is a fine and rapid stream, but at this time it had risen very high on account of the heavy   rains, which had given it a much wider and more rapid stream than usual. About thirty miles further we came to the Gundejee district, situated upon an extensive and apparently rich flat, as the grass in some places was growing   breast high.

The river takes a complete circle round the flat or marsh. There are a great   number of small settlers in this part, and there         is also a store and an inn kept by Mr Andrews. It is here that the Port Phillip and Port     Adelaide roads part, the former crossing the river and the latter leading off to the right over the Gundojee ranges. We here gave the cattle a day's spell— such is the country phrase   for a day's rest. I took the opportunity of making inquiries of Mr Andrews, who, for his station, is rather an intelligent person, respecting the road and country around us. He   informed me that we should be a day crossing the ranges, which is only a distance of three miles; we found his statement perfectly   correct, as the ascent up the mountain seems almost perpendicular, and a person to look at   it would scarcely conceive it possible for drays to cross.

As it was, we had to yoke all the bullocks to one dray and drag it up, and so on alternately, till all three arrived at the summit.
Then commenced the descent, which was much more easily accomplished than the   former, having only to cut one or two small   trees down, which were fastened behind the   drays to prevent them going down too suddenly. We had some old and experienced bullock-drivers and they told me they had crossed many a steep hill before, but nothing when compared to that. I believe few people travel this way, as they prefer crossing the river at Gundogee and recrossing it again a few     miles further down, by these means avoiding     the ranges.

After we had crossed the mountains, the face of the country was much altered, it being for the most part a dead flat, extending N.N.W. upwards of 270 miles. We passed by the stations occupied by Messrs Thoms, Jen-   kinson, Lichtons, and Smalls, which last is the lowest station on the Murrumbidgee. About four miles from the above mentioned place, there are the remains or rather the ruins of a hut which Mr Small had intended to have formed into a station, but was not able to do so on account of the hostility shown by the natives.

It was here we overtook Captain Finnis' party, who were proceeding with 5000   sheep to the same destination as ourselves, under the directions of Mr Kessop, of the Royal Navy. We were now upon the outskirts of an immense plain, which took us seven days to cross. Day after day the feed became less, and the tracts began to wear a more barren appearance, but the stock were never at a loss for feed, as we always found plenty in the points of the river, which the cattle and horses appeared to be very fond of.

About the sixth day the appearance of the country began to alter, passing through high reeds. It was here for the first time we fell in   with a small tribe of natives. They appeared to show every sign of peace and friendship, help- ing us to carry wood for the purpose of making fires round the cattle. Upon the seventh day we arrived at a rich plain interspersed with   fine large timber, which is always a certain   proof of the ground in the neighbourhood being of superior quality. 

We encamped within two miles of the Lachlan river. Next day, Friday,   28th of December, we crossed it ; it was very small at the time, and presented more the appearance of a creek than a river. We had here the misfortune to break the axle-tree of one of the drays, and not having a spare one to replace it, we were obliged to leave it behind—under our circumstances a sad inconvenience. We   moreover had the misfortune to lose a horse     which got into the river and was drowned. The   natives here were less friendly ; a fine bullock was speared by them, but not dangerously hurt.

The land in this tract lies low, and has evidently been some time or other under water. It was here that a tremendous storm of wind and rain visited us, which continued nearly   the whole night, and most unfortunately for our "creature comforts," we had pitched the camp on a very low ground, where towards day break we were up to our knees in water, our shivering frames giving us no indifferent idea of the comforts and luxuries of a bush life! There are abundance of reeds on this side the Lachlan, which our stock had been enjoying the benefit of for the last five days. They gradually decreased till we arrived   at a small sandy plain, which, having crossed, we passed through a belt of brush seven miles   in width, occasionally interspersed with sandy hillocks.

It is here the river takes a great     turn to the southward. On the 29th we passed Lake Stapylton, and on the succeeding day arrived at the junction of the Murrumbidgee with the Murray, which is here a broad, deep,   and beautiful river. We here saw a numerous body of natives, all of whom appeared friendly.   They are a much finer race of men than I had yet seen —tall, and well made in proportion. Jan 1 —Passed Lake Bernice. Crossing a deep creek, we had great difficulty in getting the horses and cattle to take the water, it   being the first time they had occasion to do so. Travelled for two or three days over immense   high sandhills covered with brush, which the cattle and horses got remarkably well through.
Friday, 10 — We passed over Golgol creek — the feed for the stock for the last day or two has been very bad. We met Mr McLeod's party loaded with a dray full of rations, who were making the best of their way to meet Mr. Kessop.  

Sunday, 12th.— Within a few miles of the Darling river, which I have great cause to remember. The saddle horses had strayed a long distance to look for food, and I proceeded after them for some miles when I had the ill luck to dismount and lose my horse, and not having taken particular notice of the many twists and turns I had taken, I mistook the direction of   the camp ; and what made my condition worse   than it otherwise would have been, that part of the country was thickly peopled with natives, who if they had fallen in with me, would   have effectually put a stop to any more horse- hunting on my part, but to my great joy I reached the river, after following which for a few hours brought me to the camp. The   party there appeared to be quite surprised that   I should have arrived with a whole skin, as they afterwards informed me that a hundred   blacks had taken the direction the horses had strayed.In the afternoon of this day, our party encamped on the banks of the Darling,   and were busily employed in making the cart       water-tight to answer the purpose of a punt.

 Friday 24 —Travelled ten miles over a range of very high sandhills covered with a thick scrub, which brought us in sight of Lake     Bonney, where we encamped without water. This was barren looking country, and we were obliged to tie the horses up all night, fearing that they might make for the water, the river being distant six miles. The second day's stage from Lake Bonney brought us to a range of sand hills ; and as there were plenty of good feed in the neighbourhood, we gave the horses and cattle a day's "spell". The   country now presented a curious and wild appearance. Some of these hills were two or three hundred feet high. We have often kept the river in our view for miles, and were enabled to procure a drink of water, owing to the steepness of the banks.  

Wednesday 5 — Made Mr Duncan's sheep station, a distance of twenty-four miles over a   very hilly country ; the nearest place where we got water was called the Springs ; it was very brackish, and the quantity of it was not sufficient for the cattle to drink, so we drove   them on a few miles further and about sun- set arrived with them near a chain of ponds (as it was later called), most of which are extremely salt, and I am sorry to say, through the darkness of the night, and the eagerness with which the horses rushed to the water, five or six were most unfortunately drowned. This was happily the last of our casualties, and our charge was in a few days afterwards safely delivered into the hands of Mr D. Macfarlane.

From the South Australian Register, 1840.


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