200 years…

October 2, 2008 at 10:39 am Leave a comment

Today is a very special anniversary for my family.

It was 200 years ago today that the first of my ancestors settled in Australia.

Now I know you’re all up on your Australian history, so you’ll know that Australia was “officially” settled by the British in 1788 but had been inhabited for thousands of years previously. My ancestry in Australia begins in 1808.

(Now I’m going to go all historical and genealogical on you here – I’m just putting this down in writing so I can straighten it all out, and maybe find some long lost relatives out there too!)

In 1808 a ship called the “City of Edinburgh” landed in Hobart, having sailed from Norfolk Island. On board was William Presnell and his family.

William had been transported to New South Wales for Life in 1797. He stole “a cow calf to the value of thirty shillings”. He arrived in1798 and went from there to Norfolk Island. When convicts were disbanded from there, he and his family ended up in Hobart.


This is Hobart as it is right now, via one of my favourite webcams. Beautiful.

Amongst William’s children was Elizabeth. She was born in 1802 on Norfolk Island and married George Robinson in 1823. He was a sealer and a publican from the US, and Elizabeth had 8 children with him.  After his death in 1837, Elizabeth married Thomas Chapman in 1844 and they had a daughter Sarah.

The next time I can find the family, they are living in Victoria – I’m guessing they made the move in the early 1850’s when gold rush fever was at it’s height.

In 1862 Sarah married William Grant in The Leigh (just out of Geelong). In 1868 Emma Matilda Grant was born at Shelford (one of 10 children). Emma married John Holloway at Colac in 1888, and my grandfather was the youngest of their 13 children.

He was born in 1912 in Gnotuk, near Camperdown. My mother was born in 1946 in Camperdown, and myself in 1972 in Terang.

William Presnell, the one who committed the crime and started the ball rolling, was buried in St David’s Park and his headstone can still be seen there today.

So there you have it. 200 years of family history in a nut shell. I find all this quite amazing. I also find it incredible that in such a diverse country as Australia, all my ancestors (all of them, not just these ones) arrived before 1860 and all were from British, Irish or Scottish stock. Amazing.

One day I would love to collect pictures of these people, if I could, or at least see where they lived and worked. I’d love to be able to go to Argyle St in Hobart and find where the Presnell’s lived. It would be awesome.

But for now the modern life is calling me. There are Legos to be built and playgrounds to visit with the boys. Thanks William, and all my other ancestors, for getting me here.

Catch ya…


Entry filed under: Life.

What you can see… Insert squeal here…

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October 2008
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