The story of Margaret Knight (1851 - 1935) - UK and Geelong

1854 - The Knight family migrate to Geelong

Jane Bish (who had come from Deal, Kent, see this link) and Thomas Knight (from Reading, Berkshire) met sometime probably in London before 1844. They were married in May 1844 in the Parish Church of St Vedast. The Church of St Mary-le-Bow was about 200 metres down Cheapside from St Vedast. Their daughter Margaret Knight was born in 1851 'within the sounds of the Bow Bells' according to family history. At this time the couple - and ten-week old Margaret - were recorded in the census as living at 9 Sandwich Street, St Pancras (a street name that links with Jane's Deal/Sandwich origins) along with 5 other families, 16 in total. Thomas was a 'journeyman, carpenter, and joiner'. Perhaps the overcrowding and general living conditions led them to migrate to Australia, where they arrived on board the Marshal Bennett in Geelong on 11 August 1854.

After arrival in Geelong, Australia with their daughter Margaret Knight, Thomas began work as a carpenter. Thomas and Jane had additional children after arriving in Australia, none of whom survived beyond 8 months:

The death of these children was almost certainly connected with Jane's syphilis, which raises the question whether she contracted the disease after Margaret was born (as she does not appear to have had the disease) rather than before she married Thomas, as suggested by her death certificate which stated that she suffered from syphilis for '30 years' before she died on 28 March 1873 aged 55 - a timing which brings into question how Margaret escaped being affected.

1869 - Margaret Knight marries Tom Bushell in Geelong

Tom Bushell was also from Deal in Kent and had migrated to Geelong. Tom's wife Martha died in 1868, leaving him with three children then aged 10, 8 and 5. He (or his story) may have been known to the Knight family.

Perhaps through connection with Deal, the 18 year old Margaret Knight (who had no living siblings) met or already knew of the 35 year old widower Tom Bushell. Tom Bushell and Margaret Knight (then 18, but stated as being '21' on the marriage certificate) married on 10 September 1869 at St Paul's, Church of England in Geelong. A family story (from Gwen Caldwell) relates that Margaret eloped but there is no other evidence for this.

1870 - Death of Thomas Bushell

Sadly, only 7 months after they were married, in April 1870, Tom died from phthisis (tuberculosis) and pleurisy. His death was recorded in the Geelong Advertiser on 23 April 1870 as follows: 'On the 21st April, at about 2 o'clock pm, at the Clyde Hotel, of pleurisy, James Bushel, aged 37 years'. No mention is made of his wife Margaret who was only 19 at the time. Margaret was now a widow with three step-children from her deceased husband's former marriage.

1875 - Death of Mary Ann Bushell

Tom Bushell's second child, Mary Ann Bushell (born 1860), died in Geelong in 1875. Her sister Hannah was 17, her brother Tom (junior) was 12.

What happened to the Hannah and Tom Bushell?

Hannah Bushell married in 1883, had a family and moved to Sydney where she died. Tom Bushell married Edith Hender in 1902 in Geelong. See this page for details of the Bushell family and of Hannah and Tom.

Margaret Knight meets Richard Clement

At some point before mid 1871, the newly widowed Margaret Bushell (nee Knight) met the recently widowed Richard Clement. See separate story for the life of Richard and Margaret Clement.

1873 - Death of Jane Knight nee Bish

Margaret Knight's mother, Jane Knight (nee Bish) died from the complications of syphillis on 28 March 1873 aged 55.

Page created 11 December 2011, updated 25 July 2019. Copyright Andrew Warland. email: andrewwarland(at)