For information about the origins of the various families (Cumming, McDonald, Andrews, Mercer, Neilson, Pawsey and Robertson) in the UK, click this link or other links embedded in this page.
According to a grave marker erected at their graves in Herne Hill, Geelong, Robert and Elizabeth Pawsey and family (and perhaps others, TBA) arrived in Victoria, Australia from Lydgate in Suffolk, UK, on 12 February 1850.
The family may have travelled in steerage on board the Clifton which arrived 12 February 1850 from London (11 November 1849). They were not listed as cabin passengers, and there were 202 passengers in steerage comprised of 94 men, 52/62 women, 47 boys, 39 girls and 20 infants.
The Argus of 23 February 1850 ran an article 'Public Meeting to Welcome the Students per 'Clifton'. It refers to the arrival of 'a numerous band of candidates for the Christian Ministry under the superintendence of the Rev Dr Lang. Four 'conventional' ministers were on the ship: Rev Messrs Anderson, Gibson, McNicol and Odell. 22 students of Divinity or candidates for the ministry who arrived on the Clifton were proceeeding to Sydney were listed (none were Pawseys).
The Pawsey family appear to have established themselves in Geelong where Elizabeth's brother Henry Andrews would soon arrive.
On 9 May 1850, a long letter was published in The Argus from John Dunmore Lang, the agent for the Clifton. This letter was reprinted in the Geelong Advertiser of 11 May 1850. He noted that he had 'brought out with me, in addition to four ordained Ministers of the Gospel, not fewer than twenty three promising young men, as candidates for the Ministry; on the understanding and condition that they were to undergo such a preparatory course of training as might be deemed expedient and necessary, in the Australian College at Sydney, and to be sent out thereafter, as Ministers of the Gospel and Christian missionaries ...'
Another letter from Lang, defending his business practices, was published in The Argus on 14 May noting that he had to borrow money 'from a respectable emigrant per the 'Clifton' who is now in business in Geelong', adding that he had not at that time been able to repay the debt.
The Geelong Advertiser published a listing of 'burgesses' in Bellerine Ward on 9 September 1850. Robert Pawsey was listed in a house on Bellerine Street.
Robert Pawsey gave a 'excellent speech' ('which want of space prevents our doing more than simply noticing') at the anniversary tea meeting of the Wesleyan Sabbath Schools Society on 16 December 1850, according to the Geelong Advertiser of 18 December 1850. His speech was 'well received and sat down amid great applause'.
Robert Pawsey was again noted in the Geelong Advertiser of 9 December 1851 at a meeting the previous evening of 'individuals desirous of promoting religious unity amongst Christians of different sects'.
The Andrews family last appear in the UK in the 1841 census at Newmarket All Saints, Newmarket, Suffolk.
It seems possible that Henry Andrews brother William Andrews was already in Geelong by January 1853. The Argus of 25 January 1853 ran the following notice: 'Henry Andrews, native village, Pagham, Sussex, England; the brother of the above would be happy to hear from him. Address, William Andrews, Mr Fielder's Camdo Cottages, Little Scotland, Geelong'. Is it possible, given the passenger manifest below, that Henry (and wife?) was already in Victoria and that his brother had returned to England to bring Henry's children - along with a wife, Jane?
A possible clue is a notice in The Argus of 29 December 1852 that states: 'John Brown and Bridget Brown, of Sydney, now supposed to be at Bendigo, will please send their address to Henry Andrews, office of this paper'. Was this the same Henry Andrews?
Henry Andrews and his family migrated to Australia as unassisted passengers on board the Blackheath, arriving in Melbourne, Victoria in March 1853.
The Blackheath almost foundered at the Port Philip Bay heads, as described in this letter to The Argus published on 30 March 1853:
ACCIDENT TO THE SHIP BLACKHEATH. To the Editor of the Argus. Sir,- A weekly journal called the Blackheath Times, was published in the ship Blackheath and as the editor, I beg leave to give the subjoined extract from the last number, dated Port Phillip, Thursday, March 17, 1853, detailing the casualty which occurred to the vessel at the Heads, on the morning of Tuesday, March 15 :-
"At day break we fired a gun for a pilot, but none appeared. Sail was made, and between eight and nine o'clock we were at the entrance of Port Phillip Bay. There was a good breeze off the larboard quarter, and we were speedily in the midst of the breakers on either side of the harbor. The sea rolled angrily on both sides, and we were awe-struck at the remnants of a once noble vessel lying off Point Nepean. While contemplating this sad sight, all on board were startled by a sudden shock, which turned out to be the grounding of our vessel upon a sunken rock off Point Nepean side of the channel. Again a thump, and then a rumbling, was both felt and heard. Terror was depicted on many countenances. We ourselves shared in the painful sensations of the moment, and no doubt all thought that we were destined to become a wreck. But, thanks to the providence of Heaven, and the admirable coolness, skill, and firmness of our excellent commander, Capt. Oppenheim, we soon again rose buoyantly upon the waters, and people began once more to feel reassured. From all we have been enabled to learn, the ship did not answer her helm, and the tide gave her a sudden twist, by which her false keel touched upon a sunken rock, and was broken to the extant of about four feet. The piece that was carried away was seen floating alongside. The ship has, however, been constantly sounded, and found to make no water. Soon after that unavoidable and unforeseen eventuality, we were boarded by a pilot in charge of the pilot station; who advised us to anchor and wait for a pilot, which advice the Captain readily fell in with. And here we are riding quietly at anchor, under a beautiful summer sun, and with land on either side. After so long a passage from England, and with so many vexations, it is indeed grateful and pleasant to be thus safely floating on the waters of Australia. Some of the passengers are merry, and free from anxiety, while others are intensely longing for arrival at Melbourne. Quite new topics of conversation are in vogue. The prices of lodging, the prices of provisions, the fares, freightage, the state of the "nugget" land, and the like. We quite pitied the poor pilot who was doomed to answer such innumerable inquiries, which, however, he did with temper and equanimity".
In connection with the above, I may state that a strong opinion was expressed by all parties on board as to the necessity of the channel at the entrance of Port Phillip being marked out by floating buoys, or some contrivance act on foot, by which vessels coming in might avoid touching on the sunken rocks, to the danger of thousands of lives. I hope, Sir, you will kindly find room for this communication in an early number of your valuable paper. I am Sir, Your obedient Servant, WILLIAM DAVIS. Prahran, March 26th, l853. [We thought that pilots were now supplied to all but colonial vessels from a schooner always afloat outside the Heads. Is this service, too, to sink into the all absorbing gulf of Government negligence?
The ship's passenger manifests lists the names as follows. It is not known why the parent's names are different, unless the two older people were an uncle and aunt of the children, which seems unlikely:
It is noted that their older son, Henry Andrews (born 1824), is not listed here. Perhaps he remained in the UK or came separately - see below.
Possibly connected with Henry's wife Sarah (nee Stofer), a Louisa Stofer aged 26 was also on the ship. Although the age may not be recorded correctly, a Louisa Stofer was baptised at St Mary, Newmarket, Suffolk in 1838.
Louisa Stofer married Samuel Hawkes (27 March 1812, Bocking, Essex - 25 June 1862, Castlemaine but see below) in 1855, probably in the Geelong area (Victoria BDM Ref 3798). According to the Piggin family history (see link below), Samuel Hawkes, the son of Samuel Hawkes (a whitesmith) first married Eliza Piggin (abt 1819 - 31 March 1853, Bocking) on 7 July 1841 and they had six children, none of whom lived beyond the age of 6 (1857). Samuel Hawkes then appears to have migrated to Geelong where he met Louisa Stofer.
Samuel and Louisa Hawkes moved to Castlemaine after the death of their second daughter, Emma:
If, as indicated in the Piggin family history, Samuel Hawkes died in 1862, then the following child, born to Louisa Stofer but an unknown father, cannot be Samuel's.
This birth may be connected with the following article that appeared in the Mount Alexander Mail on 22 July 1867:
At the Newstead Police Court on Thursday, Mr Langslow was summoned by Louisa Hawkes for maintenance of an illegitimate child, 13 months old. A magistrate's order had been obtained in July 1866, for the defendant to pay 10s weekly, and it was wished to renew the order, it having expired. Their worships were of opinion that they had not power to make a renewal and they dismissed the case without prejudice.
Louisa Hawkes may then have married the elderly (65 year old) Joseph Day in 1867 (Vic BDM Ref 3275). Joseph Day was the well-known 'genial host' of the Ship Inn hotel as noted in the Mount Alexander Mail on 1 February 1867, whose accidental death was recorded in the Ovens and Murray Advertiser of 9 February 1882 (he was hit by a train while working as a signalman at the railway viaduct). At the time of his death he was almost 80. Perhaps he took pity on Louisa and her young son.
Louisa Day may have then married John Dalton in 1888 (Vic BDM Ref 4257, location not known).
Note that a Louisa Mary Dalton, noted in the Bendigo Advertiser of 1 December 1905 is not the same person, her maiden name before she married Martin Dalton was Carrick.
There are several possibilities for her death:
According to the listing of unassisted passengers arriving in Melbourne Ezra Pawsey arrived on the Adelaide in May 1853. The only Ezra Pawsey recorded in findmypast is Ezra Pawsey who was baptised in Weeley, Essex, in 1829. See below in 1855 for another possible relative.
Soon after arrival Henry Andrews and his family (possibly also Louisa Stofer?) moved to Geelong where he settled and Henry ran a drapery business. Henry Andrews is recorded as a draper in the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer of 18 May 1855. They were to remain in Geelong until around 1867 when they re-located to Inkerman St in St Kilda.
The Argus of 5 February 1855 ran a notice that 'Ezra Pawsey will hear of his brother Charles Pawsey by calling on D.R. Long, Esp, 183 Bourke Street Melbourne'. This may be Charles Pawsey born 1822 who was baptised in Great Henny, Essex in 1824. Great Henny is close to Sudbury and south of Bury St Edmunds.
The Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer of 29 December 1855 ran an article on the Geelong Free Church School which mentions 'Master Henry Pawsey', likely to be the then 15 year old Henry Andrews Pawsey.
Harriet Emily Andrews (1830 - 1856 (Vic BDM Ref 2794) married Caleb Joshua Jenner, a local merchant and the son of Thomas Jenner 'of Horn Park, near Blackheath, Kent' on 30 May 1854 (Vic BDM Ref 1573, The Argus 3 June 1954). They had one son, Caleb Joshua Jenner (1856, Geelong (Vic BDM Ref 5190) - 1856, Geelong (Vic BDM Ref 3930 aged 4 months)), and Harriet died.
Caleb Jenner then married Harriet's sister, Henrietta Julia Andrews (1837 - 1858 (Vic BDM Ref 4254) on 13 September 1857 (Vic BDM Ref 3348 and The Age 14 September 1857). No children were born from this marriage and Henrietta died within a year, aged 21. Caleb then married Eliza Ann New in 1860 and they went on to have 11 children.
Henry Cumming Neilson is believed to have left his home in Liverpool, possibly following his brother John Foster Neilson who was a mariner.
Henry Cumming Neilson (12 November 1840, Liverpool, UK - 4 April 1930, Geelong) left the UK and is believed to have arrived in Victoria, Australia in January 1857, at the age of 16 or 17. However, there is no obvious record in the assisted or unassisted passenger lists for Henry. There is, however, a Henry Warland aged 15 or 16, along with a James Nelson aged 24 who arrived together on the Caractactus in Feburary 1858.
It is not known why he migrated (although speculation suggests it was because he lived near the docks in Liverpool and decided to leave, or decided to follow his brother, a sailor), or where he lived on his arrival.
Helen Fletcher arrived in Australia, at the age of 4, in 1857. Her parents were James (a 'retired gamekeeper', at Canonbie on the estate of the Duke of Buccleuch) and Agnes Fletcher (nee Grive). It is worth noting that the Neilson home at 38 Retreat Road, Newtown, Geelong, was called Canonbie.
Charles Andrews (1834 - 1895), the son of Henry and Sarah Andrews and brother of Jessie Wedding Andrews (1845 - 1875) was a draper and accountant. He married Amelia Board (c 1838 - 1877) in 1858. They had two sons and three daughters. (Source https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/about/people-in-parliament/re-member/details/24/350)
According to the Victorian Parliament website link above, 'Andrews arrived in Melbourne with his family in March 1853, and subsequently moved to Geelong. He worked in his father's drapery shop and in around 1858 established his own wholesale business. Andrews was a founder and Chairman of Directors at Barwon (Excelsior) Woollen Mills; a councillor at Gordon Technical College, and Chairman of the Geelong Gas Company. (see from 1882 below for more details)
Robert Pawsey was noted in the Geelong Advertiser of 21 May 1859 attending a meeting of the Uniting Presbyterian Church at Ryrie Street Geelong, on 17 May 1859. He spoke of the 'missionary character' of the church.
According to an advertisement in 1879 (see below), Charles Robert Pawsey joined the the drapery firm of Charles Andrews in 1860 where he remained for the next 19 years until he acquired his own drapery business.
Alexander Neilson (born 1804) died at 22 Egerton Street (or Road), Birkenhead, on 26 April 1860 aged 56 years, from pleuropneumonia, from which he had suffered for three years according to the register of deaths. Before his death, he was said to have suffered from diarrhoea for two months and anasarca (extreme generalized edema, a medical condition characterised by widespread swelling of the skin due to effusion of fluid into the extracellular space) for two weeks. His daughter Alice Mercer Neilson (born 1838) was present at his death, according to the death register. His wife Jane was living at 5 Somerville Place, Birkenhead, at the time.
The 1861 General Directory for Geelong and Western District has the following details (with comments in square brackets].
Joseph Josiah Pawsey (1835 - 1917 - see below for his obituary in 1917), the son of Robert and Elizabeth Pawsey who migrated to Australia in 1850, married Anne Garland Morehouse (22 March 1845 - 31 August 1862, (Lond?)(Vic BDM Ref 5958)), the daughter of Charles Morehouse and Mary (?) on 11 November 1861 (Vic BDM Ref 4370). They had one son:
Ann Pawsey (nee Morehouse) died (at Lond?) on 31 August 1862 (Vic BDM Ref 5958). Joseph Pawsey re-married, in 1864, see below.
An Alexander Nelson, the son of Alexander and Elizabeth Nelson of Toxteth Park, was born on 2 May 1862. His father Alexander (possibly the one born on 18 October 1834) was a fireman. Alexander was baptised on 8 December 1862 at St Peter, Liverpool.
Henry Andrews Pawsey died aged 22 years on 24 October 1863. His death notice was carried in the Geelong Advertiser of 26 October 1863.
The two children of Robert Pawsey who remained were Henry's older half-brother Joseph Josiah Pawsey (now 28) and his younger brother Charles Robert Pawsey (aged 19).
Joseph Josiah Pawsey married Elizabeth Eva Andrews (1840 - 1920 (Vic BDM Ref 9125)) in 1864 (Vic BDM Ref 4432). Elizabeth was the sister of Jessie Wedding Andrews and his first half-cousin via his father's second marriage. Joseph and Elizabeth Pawsey had several children all born in Ballarat.
Note that Joseph Josiah Pawsey's nephew (from his father's second marriage to Elizabeth Andrews), William Henry Pawsey (born 1871), a 'director of Andrews Bros Propriety Limited', the son of Charles Robert Pawsey and Mary Elizabeth Balding, died in London on 24 March 1919 of influenza. (The Argus, 11 March 1919)
Henry Cumming Neilson met Jessie Wedding Andrews (1845, Suffolk, UK - Jul 1875, Camberwell, Victoria, Australia) and they married on 14 September 1864 (Vic BDM Ref 3319) in Geelong. Jessie was the youngest daughter of Henry Andrews and Sarah Stopher/Stofer.
Henry and Jessie Neilson had the following children. It is clear that, after their daughter Jessie was born, the family moved to Warrnambool where they set up as storekeepers.
Joseph Pawsey, the son of Robert Pawsey, was recorded as a resident of Ballarat in The Ballarat Star of 6 September 1865. On 19 June 1867 he was noting in the same newspaper giving a donation to the Ballarat District Bible and Tract Society. His father and step mother, and younger half-brother, remained in Geelong.
As noted above, John Foster Neilson was born in Liverpool on 19 April 1842. He apparently visited Victoria in 1865 and stayed in Williamstown until 1866, when his sister-in-law Jessie Neilson wrote to him just before his return to England. He was described as a Naval officer. It seems reasonable to assume that he came to Australia as a working sailor and sought to visit his brother while in Victoria.
Sarah/Susan Andrews (nee Stofer) died in Camberwell in 1866. (Vic BDM Ref 8043)
In 1866, Jessie wrote the following letter to her brother in law John Neilson, from Skene Street, Geelong. Her own experience almost being shipwrecked on arrival in Australia may have also been on her mind.
Dear John. I am writing this to remind you of your promised trip this coming Sabbath. I felt quite low last Sunday to think you were all alone down at Williamstown. Harry seemed to miss you so. he loves you to be near, while you can. I don't intend to think about your going away until you are fairly started. What awful news did last mail's intelligence bring of the wreck of the 'London'. Our pastor mentioned it in his discourse last night. I wished you had been there to have heard him descant in glowing terms of the 'brave British sailor'. Such Captain Martin provided himself to be. I had letters from Mary and Alice. I do love to hear from them as if they were my very own Sisters and Mother. It will never do John for you to take away my boy for a sailor. I should never be happy again. I thought how your Mother would feel when she heard of the wreck of the 'London'. I feel as if you must not go home to encounter such perils. But our God is God os sea as well as the Land & I ought not to doubt His power. He has brough you thus far in safety and will cltinue His mercies to you & us if we put our trust in Him. How anxiously they will be longing for your at home. The likenesses have come home & yours is excellent - too good for the way you behaved to & spoke of the poor man but you must come and judge for yourself. Mother Father & Henry join in kind love to you. I've been tryng to make baby do so but filed to make him understand letter writing. Jane has to go to town so I must close. Believe me, Your loving sister, Jessie Neilson. Amen.
The Geelong Advertiser of 19 (and again on 20 and 21) December 1867 ran a notice stating that 'the partnership hitherto existing between Thomas Lawson and Henry C Neilson, carrying on business as general storekeepers in the township of Camperdown, has been this day dissolved by mutual consent'.
Henry then appears to have taken up as a draper in Warrnambool (the same business as his father in law Charles Andrews, this may be related). He was granted a certificate of discharge in the Insolvent Court there on 6 September 1872. The death of his wife Jessie at the end of 1875 may have been a factor in him deciding to return to Geelong the next year, see below.
The Geelong Advertiser ran an article on current events on 19 November 1869 noting that, at a meeting of the first annual meeting of the Free Presbyterian Church at Cargerie [sic] 'addresses were delivered by the Revs J. Pawsey, D. McKenzie, C.S.Y. Price, S. Day, W. Higgins, W.C. Pawsey and C. Kernot MP'.
Charles Robert Pawsey (1844 - 1906), the son of Robert and Elizabeth Pawsey, married Mary Elizabeth Balding (23 April 1851, Norfolk, England - 21 August 1941(Vic BDM Ref 8241)) at Kew on 29 September 1870 (Vic BDM Ref 2675).
Mary Balding was the daughter of Joseph Balding (the son of William Balding and Susan Ingram) who lived in Highton, Geelong and died in Geelong in 1893 aged 69, (Vic BDM Ref 14270), and Mary Cullen (the daughter of Stimpson Cullen and Judith Patrick) who died in Geelong on 10 August 1903 aged 86 (Vic BDM Ref 9763). See below for Mary Pawsey's obituary in 1903.
Charles and Mary Pawsey (nee Balding) had the following children:
In 1870, John Neilson returned to Australia to settle. He married Helen Fletcher (6 July 1852, Canonbie, Scotland - 1 June 1942, Geelong) at Portland on 7 July 1873 (Vic BDM Ref 3256), at the Portland Presbyterian Church. The Minister was Rev Lawson. John was described as a 'master mariner' with a residence in Melbourne. A 'John Fletcher' was a witness to the marriage. It is not known who John was, but possibly Helen's father or brother.
John and Helen Neilson had the following children:
The Ballarat Star of 28 December 1872 carried a notice from the firm of Messrs Joseph J Pawsey, Robert Menzies and Samuel Wilson which vhad entered into a 'long-established iron and machinery business' with a James Campbell. Advertisements for the business appeared regularly in the Ballarat newspapers in the 1870s.
Charles Robert Pawsey, now aged 30, was noted in the Geelong Advertister on 18 June 1874 preaching at the new Independent Church in West Geelong. He was recorded many times thereafter in similar roles.
Jessie Wedding Neilson (nee Andrews), the wife of Henry Cumming Neilson, died in July 1875 (aged 30) at Camperdown, Victoria, Australia, leaving Henry with six very young children. Her death and the children may have been a factor in him deciding to move 'back' to Geelong soon after.
By 1875, John Neilson was recorded in Bailliere's Victorian Postal Directory as living at 2 Lonsdale Terrace, Albert Road, Emerald Hill (now South Melbourne).
The Geelong Advertiser ran an advertisement on 11 December 1879 for 'Gurr and Pawsey, Family Drapers' on Moorabool Street. The advertisement noted that W Gurr and C.R. Pawsey had acquired on favorable terms, the whole of A Paton's stock of drapery, clothing etc. It added that W. Gurr was 'with Mr E Bartlett for eight years and with Messrs Bright and Hitchcocks for over five years' while C.R. Pawsey 'has been 19 years with Mr C Andrews'. The opening day for the new store was 17 December 1879.
The Geelong Advertiser of 31 May 1876 ran a notice for the Geelong Young Men's Christian Association. It was signed by Henry C Neilson, the Hon Gen Secretary. Another notice in September of the same again noted him in that role.
On 16 March 1877, the Warrnambool Standard's current news column covered news of changes in the officers in charge of the Warrnambool Steam Packet Company's ships; it recorded that the 'Julia Percy', which the company had acquired in 1876 and described in 1878 as a 'fine steamer', would remain in the charge of Captain J F Neilson, with Mr Peter Neilson as Chief Officer. It is not known if Peter Neilson is a relative. The 'Julia Percy' travelled under Captain Neilson between Warrnambool and Belfast (now Port Fairy) and Melbourne. On 20 August 1876, the 'Julia Percy' ran aground off Williamstown while commanded by 'an exempt master' (meaning, exempt from using a pilot when coming through the Heads). The book 'Through the Rip' by Wilson P Evans (Rigby, 1923), states that 'Captain Neilson saw fog closing down over Williamstown but did not slacken speed until his bows ploughed into sand fifty yards off the back beach. Had the vessel struck in other than calm weather she would have been a total constructive loss, for the spot she lay in was surrounded by large patches of jagged basalt'.
The Warrnambool Standard of 12 January 1877 referred to a dispute in Melbourne between seaman of the 'Otway' and the 'Julia Percy', with the Warrnambool Steam Packet Company, which led to a strike. On 16 January 1877, the same paper reported that the officers of the 'Julia Percy' helped the Otway to sail. The 'Julia Percy' then sailed for Warrnambool amid great demonstrations at Queen's Wharf. However, it sailed only as far as Williamstown where the firemen struck and the ship was unable to proceed. The strike was then settled and the ship arrived in Warrnambool.
On 29 August 1878 (Vic BDM Ref 3652), Henry Cumming Neilson re-married Annie Eliza Holdsworth (? (possibly in UK, not recorded in Victoria) - 1935 (Vic BDM Ref 16160). Annie was the second daughter of Benjamin Holdsworth of Highton and Waurn Ponds. The Geelong Advertiser noted that they married at the residence of the bride's father in Highton and that the Rev W Allen who married them was the brother-in-law of the bride.
Henry Neilson, at the time, ran a drapery in Geelong in partnership with a Thomas March Hall. The partnership was disolved on 31 January 1879, according to a note in the Geelong Advertiser on 3 February 1879. (Note, in December 1879, Charles Robert Pawsey acquired the drapery firm of A Paton, also on Moorabool Street, which he ran with W Gurr.)
Henry and Jessie's son Charles John Neilson, died in 1879, around the same time that Henry and Annie's first child was due. Henry and Annie Neilson had five children as listed below. Not that the second name 'Cumming' was used for two of the boys:
It seems from the birth locations above that the family moved from St Arnaud (north west of Melbourne) to Warburton (east of Melbourne) before Dora was born in 1882. Ewen Robertson's letter continues ...
Later, (he) bought a business in St Arnaud and it was from there that Mother came to school ... At St Arnaud's the business went bung in the depression of the '90s. I can only remember Grandpa Neilson living in Sharp Street, Chilwell in a double house somewhat similar to the Miller Homes but erected by his brother-in-law - Holdsworth as a similar institution to the Miller Homes. The Holdsworths lived in Gherinhap St in the last block before the park [i.e., Kardinia Park]. They were Baptists - some special sect - but Grandpa and Ma were Aberdeen St ones as normal Baptists ... Nellie's mother [Helen Neilson nee Fletcher] was a widow for 52 years.
In 1974, Ewen Robertson (the grandson of Jessie Wedding Neilson (nee Andrews), Henry's wife) wrote the following regarding Henry's early life in Australia:
Mother [i.e., Jessie Robertson, nee Neilson] always said that her father - Henry - came from Liverpool so I guess his brother, John, did the same. I feel that Henry on arrival worked in the Lane (i.e., Flinders Lane) with the firm of Andrews and whilst there met and married Jessie Andrews - some relation i.e., cousin or aunt of Lady Leggett. He then went to Geelong and worked at Alex Millers (Millers Homes fame) in the shop on the corner of Moorabool St and Lt Ryrie St ... Mother came down to Geelong and boarded with Aunt Nellie (Percy, Don, John & Nellie's mother)[see below, Nellie was Henry's sister in law Helen Neilson nee Fletcher] in Elizabeth Street and walked to Alex Miller's shop (on the) corner of Moorabool and Lt Ryrie Street & when walking past John Robertson & Sons saw and captured dad (George Archibald Robertson). Mother was born in 1868 & her Mother died when she was 11 years of old age. (continues below)
John Foster Neilson joined the Port Phillip Pilot Service on 28 June 1880 and was issued licence number 33 on 29 December 1880. He was 38 years old, 5' 7" tall, with a bronzed complexion and blue eyes. He was known to be 'a bit of a character', according to a book written by the Pilot's historian, Mr Wilson Evans. That book notes that Captain Neilson was in a group of disgruntled pilots of the number two company who resented one of their number giving a favorable reference to a man who was seeking entry into the Service.
On 15 January 1881, a fire broke out at the premises of Henry Neilson, draper, in Moorabool Street, Geelong. The Ballarat Star noted that 'a large amoung of damage was done to the stock'.
Jane Neilson, widow, was recorded in the 1881 census living at 166 Conway Street, Birkenhead, UK with her two daughters Mary (51 years, and a teacher) and Alice (41 years). On the date of the 1891 census, 166 Conway Street was occupied by other persons. It is presumed that Jane had died and her daughters had moved elsewhere. A search of the General Register Office (GRO) records shows a Jane Neilson died at Chester, Leicester Square, in 1886 aged 71 years. It seems unlikely that this is the 'right' Jane as she would have been only 14 or 15 when the first child was born. A Jane Neilson died in the June quarter of 1897 at Fulham aged 81 while a Janet Neilson died at Toxteth Park in 1884 aged 86 years.
In 1882 Charles Andrews opened a softgoods business in Flinders Lane, Melbourne [believed to have been called Andrews Bros]. During this decade he also worked as an accountant in Hawthorn. He was mayor of Newtown and Chilwell from 1872-1874.' (Source https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/about/people-in-parliament/re-member/details/24/350)
Captain John Foster Neilson died at his home at Ferguson Street, Williamstown, on 25 March 1885/6, aged only 43. The cause of death was pneumonia, which he had suffered for only six days. He was buried at St Kilda cemetery on 26 March 1885/6. Helen was left with four children to bring up - Percy (8), John Foster (6), Helen Jane (Nellie)(4), and Donald Ferguson (5 months). (It is worth recalling that her brother in law, Henry Neilson, was also left with young children to raise after his first wife Jessie died).
In 1888, a description of the Avoca district states that Henry Neilson spent some time in the bookselling and stationery business, joined the 'electric telegraph department', and then joined the drapery trade. He had businesses in Geelong, Warranambool, Campberdown, and St Arnaud. Henry Neilson was an elder of the Presbyterian church in St Arnaud. The Argus of 26 March 1889 noted that he was living at St Arnaud at the time.
An Ezra Pawsey was the subject of a probate notice in 1890 in Victoria. He does not appear to have died in Victoria or NSW, or the UK. His relationship with the other Pawsey family on this page has not yet been determined.
It is believed that John and Helen Neilson's son, Percy Neilson (born 1878) attended Flinders National School in Geelong, then a co-educational school (and later Matthew Flinders Girls High School). He entered the office of Shannon and Murray and Co in September 1891, according to his obituary in the Geelong Advertiser. If this is correct, he was only 13 at the time but perhaps he was doing this work to support his mother. He was said to have received no wages during this time. He joined the State Bank of Victoria in 1897, remaining in their employment for 22 years (except interrupted during the war).
John Neilson joined the staff of Bright and Hitchcocks (a well-known Geelong emporium) as an office boy in 1890, at the age of 11. He rose in the ranks in that business and, in 1914, was sent to England on the firm's behalf. He returned to Australia just before the outbreak of the first world war.
John remained single all his life and lived with his sister in the family home at 38 Retreat Road, Newtown, where their mother died on 1 June 1942.
When Mr Howard Hitchcock disposed of his interest in the business in 1927 to a syndicate of five, John was one of those associated in the partnership as a director with Mr J Spencer Nall, the chairman. John retained his position as merchandise director and travelled to England again in the 1930s. He introduced staff training programs which helped to advance the careers of a number of people who served under him. John disposed of his interest in 'Brights' (as it was known) in 1938, terminating an association of 48 years.
On leaving Brights, John accepted an honorary position of secretary of the Geelong branch of the Red Cross Society and devoted himself untiringly to that work throughout the Second World War, and until his death. The Bellarine Street Red Cross premises were largely the result of his efforts.
John was described as being always well dressed, of medium height for those days (around 5'7"), rather chubby, with a roundish face, and wearing rather thick glasses. He was always cheerful and charming, and very fastidious - he intensely disliked seeing raw meat and would not go into a butcher's shop. He had a strong interest in art, evidenced by a large collection of pottery and paintings, almost all of which he gave away.
Although raised as a Presbyterian, John was attracted to the Church of England, to All Saints Church in Geelong, where he became the vicar's church warden. He occupied many positions in that church over the years, including that of Geelong representative to the Diocesan Church Council in Melbourne.
John died on 1 January 1954. The Geelong Advertiser ran a lengthy obituary titled 'Gave Lifetime to Unassuming Selfless Service'.
In 1891, Helen Neilson and the four children moved to Geelong. An 'Ellen Neilson' was recorded living in Elizabeth Street (now Roebuck Street) Geelong in 1891. This was almost certainly Helen Neilson, as she was known to have boarded with the Neilsons in Elizabeth Street. A Helen Neilson is recorded living in Villamanta Street, Geelong West, in the rate records for 1897/8, then in Park Street, East Geelong, in 1906/7.
Pastor Robert Pawsey died in Stawell on 25 February 1891. He was 87 (born 1804).
Joseph Andrews Pawsey (1865 - 1943), the son of Joseph Josiah Pawsey and grandson of Robert Pawsey who died in 1891, married Emma Adelaide Crothers (1871, Pleasant (?) (Vic BDM Ref 4654) - 4 July 1895), the daughter of William Crothers and Emma Gertrude Ashton, on 29 November 1892 (Vic BDM Ref 6185). Joseph and Emma Pawsey had one son:
Emma Pawsey (nee Crothers) died the same year (Vic BDM Ref 11156), possibly related to the birth. Joseph Andrews Pawsey re-married in 1908 - see below.
Henry Andrews, the father of Jessie Mary Ethel Neilson, died on 9 September 1893 at the age of 95. The Prahran Telegraph ran the following notice on Wednesday 13 September 1893:
A very old pioneer passed away on Saturday last at St. Kilda in the person of Mr. Henry Andrews, of Inkerman -street, at the advanced age of 95 years. Deceased, who was a native of Newmarket, England, was over 40 years a colonist, having been for over 15 years a resident of Geelong, and since then one of the leading residents of St. Kilda. Of his family two sons are the well-known firm of Andrews Bros., another, Mr. Charles Andrews, being the representative for Geelong in the Legislative Assembly; while two of his daughters successively were married to the Hon. C. H. Jenner, M.L.C. Deceased retained his faculties unimpaircd almost to the hour of his death in spite of his ripe age, and only a very few Sundays ago attended his last service at the Crimea-street Baptist church, of which he had been, a pillar since its inception. The funeral, which was carried out by Mr. Herbert King, took place at the Geelong cemetery on Monday.
The Prahran Telegraph ran the following on 20 September 1893:
The death of the late Mr. Henry Andrews, whose death was reported in these columns last week at the advanced age of 95, was feelingly referred to by the Rev B. Williamson on Sunday evening last at the Crimea-street Baptist Church, St Kilda. The rev. gentleman remarked that the deceased had been for 79 years in the service illustration of youthful piety. For 25 years he had been a good friend to their church, being 'conspicuous for regularity and punctuality at all church meetings, while his labours amongst the young had been of a highly satisfactory, nature, the speaker mentioning that one of the day school pupils of the deceased was the late Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, Many young men who were now scattered throughout the world could bear testimony to the fact that it was through the [word illegible] of Mr. Andrews that they were now followers of Christ. The loss was a call to others in the church to fill the vacancy, which the preacher powerfully urged them to consider.
Henry Andrews Neilson (1865 - ?) married Amy Grace Austin in 1897 (Vic BDM Ref 7405). They had four children, two boys and two girls.
Helen Jane Neilson, known as 'Nellie', led a quiet, sheltered life, caring for her mother and her brother John. She was described as being small, little more than 5', and round, always cheerful, and kind. She lived in Geelong since 1891. Nellie's main interest, apart from her family and her garden, was the kindergarten at St David's Church, where she was in charge for many years. Keeping the 'cradle roll' of children baptised at the church was one of her tasks.
Donald (Don) Neilson worked for the firm of solicitors Harwood & Pincott from around 1900 until 30 September 1913. Like his brothers Don appears to have started young as an office boy and worked his way up to become an accountant.
When he was a young man, the Geelong Presbyterian Guild was a strong influence on his life. He was a foundation member in 1907, became Joint Secretary with Mr W J Griffiths (of the Geelong bookshop fame), the Senior Vice President, and later President. He was ex officio member of all sections of the Guild, including its amateur athletic club which, much later, boasted John Landy as a member. The Guild ran personal development programs for young men, including reading and debating. Don and the Griffiths were greatly involved in those activities, and many future leaders of the community attributed their development to training offered by the Guild. Don was a very effective public speaker.
During the First World War, Don was joint secretary with his friend Norman David of the War Funds Board.
By September 1918, Don and his brother Percy had acquired the Geelong practice of Holmes & McCrindle, and then changed the name to Neilson & Neilson. On 25 September 1918, the Geelong Advertiser stated that the firm began operations on 1 August 1918, and Don Neilson being the Geelong representative of accountants Holmes & McCrindle.
When the Geelong Presbyterian Girls College, Morongo, opened its doors in 1920, Don was the first secretary of the College. His brother Percy succeeded him in that position, and then Don's son Geoff. He devoted himself tirelessly to the welfare of the school, which experienced many difficulties in its early years.
Elizabeth Pawsey died in Stawell on 12 August 1901. Her gravestone notes that she was 'for over 50 years the faithful wife of Pastor Robert Pawsey', who died on 25 February 1891.
Mary Balding (nee Cullen, the daughter of Stimpson Cullen and Judith Patrick) died in Geelong on 10 August 1903 aged 86 (Vic BDM Ref 9763). She was the mother of Mary Elizabeth Balding (23 April 1851, Norfolk, England - 21 August 1941) who married Charles Robert Pawsey (1844 - 1906), the son of Robert and Elizabeth Pawsey.
Mary Balding's obituary was carried in the Geelong Advertiser of 11 August 1903.
An old identity yesterday passed quietly away at her residence, Skene-street, Newtown, in the person of Mrs. Mary Balding, relict of the late Mr. Joseph Balding, who, when alive, was known as an active worker in the interest of temperance. The late Mrs. Balding, who reached the respectable age of 86 years, retained her full faculties till within a few days of her death, and took a lively interest in passing events. She leaves one daughter (Mrs. C. R. Pawsey) and several grand-children and great-grand-children, to mourn her loss. Elsewhere Mr. C. R. Pawsey, from whose residence, Aphrasia-street, Newtown, the funeral is to depart for the new General Cemetery, announces that his place of business in Noorabool-street, will be closed to-morrow.
Some time before 1905, Henry Cumming Neilson (aged 65 in 1905) travelled to Western Australia. He was recorded there in 1905 when his daughter Minnie married. Henry's son (from Jessie) Herbert William Robert died in Western Australia in 1905 (WA BDM Ref 2126) so it is not known if these two dates are connected - did Henry travel to Western Australia after Herbert died, or did Herbert die after they got there?. In either case, Henry remained in Western Australia for a while longer; he was recorded in Kalgoorlie in 1910 when his daughter Dora died - see below. It is not known (yet) if Annie travelled with him or remained in Geelong. Either way, Henry had returned to Geelong before 1930.
Isobel/Isabel Minnie Neilson (also known as 'Min') married Puttney Malcolm Browne (of 'Tarina', Portarlington, the son of John Browne and Eliza Linton) on 13 September 1905 (Vic BDM Ref 5681) at the New Masonic Hall, Geelong. P.M. Browne was previously married; his first wife ('of Narrada Downs Station, Tambo, Queensland') died in April 1901 and was buried at Portarlington. The Geelong Advertiser of 15 April 1901 noted that 'the deceased lady, at the time of death, had been living, togther with her husband, mother and sister, a retired life in Portarlington for the past six years and was a victim of consumption.'. P.M. Browne was recorded as the Honorary Secretary of the Portarlington Flower Show in The Geelong Advertiser of 29 October 1895.
P.M. and Minnie had no children. When they married, Minnie's father Henry Neilson was noted in The Argus of 12 October 1905 as being 'of Perth, WA'. Was he (and Annie?) living in Perth at that time? If he was, he returned to Geelong - see below.
Charles Robert Pawsey, the son of Robert and Elizabeth Pawsey (nee Andrews), died on 21 May 1906. His death notice was carried in The Bendigo Independent:
On Monday the death occurred of Mr C R Pawsey, a resident of Geelong for over half a century. He was the proprietor of a drapery establishment in Moorabool Street and was likewise a favorite preacher in various of the local churches.
Charles Robert Pawsey was noted in the Geelong Advertiser of 19 December 1903 preaching at Chilwell Methodist church in the evening.
Archer Cumming Neilson (1883 - 1971) married Edna Bush in 1907 (Vic BDM Ref 8842). They had the following children:
Joseph Andrews Pawsey married Margaret Lade (27 December 1879 - 8 August 1969), the daughter of Stephen Lade and Ann McConachie, on 30 November 1908 (or 1906?) (Vic BDM Ref 7342). Joseph and Margaret Pawsey had one son:
Dora May Neilson (recorded as NEILSEN) died in August 1910 aged 28 at her sister Minnie's residence at 'Tarina', Portarlington, according to The Argus of 11 August 1910. The notice stated that Dora and Minnie's father (Henry Cumming Neilson) was at that time in Kalgoorlie and was 'late of St Arnaud'.
Both Puttney Malcolm ('P.M.') and Minnie Browne were fairly social and noted in the newspapers on a regular basis. For example
Puttney Malcolm Browne died in 1938 (Vic BDM Ref 13095). Minnie Isabel Browne died in 1946 (Vic BDM Ref 20899).
Charles Fuller Pawsey (born 1878), the son of Joseph Josiah and Elizabeth Pawsey (nee Andrews), died on 24 July 1914. His funeral notice carried in the Ararat Advertiser of 30 July 1914 noted that Charles was, with his brother, 'engaged in farming pursuits at Willaura, at which place he passed away at the early age of 35 years'. His obituary was carried in the Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle of 28 July 1914:
The friends of Mr and Mrs J.J. Pawsey will regret to learn of the death of their youngest son Charles which occurred at Willaura on Friday. The deceased was a native of Stawell, and after completing his schooling, took up a position at the pharmacy now occupied by Mr Langsford, to study for a chemist, subsequently filling a position as chemist in the Western District. He had been in ill-health for some considerable time and passed quietly away as above stated. The deepest sympathy will be felt for his family in their bereavement.
Percy enlisted on 1 March 1916, presented for service on 29 February 1916 and served in the 29th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF). He trained at Salisbury Plains depot in July 1916 and, by 16 January 1917, had been promoted. Soon afterwards he was in France and in April 1918 he was wounded. He returned to Australia in 1919 on the Devanha, arriving on 3 June 1919.
The obituary for Joseph Josiah Pawsey was carried in The Ballarat Star on 19 November 1917 and also the Ararat Chronicle and Willaura and Lake Bolac Districts Recorder on 20 November 1917. The two notices included the following information:
An old pioneer of Ballarat, Mr J.J. Pawsey, of Camberwell, passed away on Monday last at the advanced age of 81 years. Mr Pawsey will be remembered by most of the oldest citizens as a business partner of the firm of Pawsey and Menzies, of Dana and Armstrong streets. From Ballarat he went to Stawell, and was in business in that town for many years. On retiring he removed to the metropolis. His remains were brought to Ballarat, and interred in the Old Cemetery on Wednesday. Deceased's two sons, and. Messrs J.J. Brokenshire, Thos. Bodycomb and J.S. Vickery were in attendance. Rev A. Jones, of Camberwell, conducted the service at the grave. The funeral (which was private) was in the hands of Messrs F.W. Barnes and Son.
In August 1919, he resigned from the bank and joined his brother Donald to form the accounting firm Neilson and Neilson. Donald had been managing the Geelong office of Holmes and McCrindle since leaving Harwood and Pincott on 30 September 1913. Percy (aged 41) undertook studies to become a qualified accountant.
Percy married Ada Walker on 21 January 1920 at the High Church, Gheringhap Street (later St Giles). Ada was the daughter of Mr and Mrs D Walker of 100 Aberdeen Street, Geelong. Percy and Ada had two children, a son John Foster Neilson, and a daughter Joan Neilson.
On 12 September 1922, Don married Grace Elizabeth Barber (18 June 1893 - 12 January 1962), probably after meeting her at St David's Church in Newtown. The Barbers, a farming family, had moved from Birchip in Victoria to Geelong. They had two children a girl born in June 1926 and a son, born 12 November 1929. (The son was the author of much of this detail). For most of their life, the family lived at 68 Fairview Avenue, Newtown.
Don took a great interest in the Rotary Club of Geelong, chartered in 1925. Although not a charter member, he joined the Club only a few months later. He was its sixth president, in 1930-31. He was also interested in St David's Presbyterian Church, for which he served as treasurer for many years until his death. He had been involved in the move of the congregation from the Ryrie Street 'Steeple Church' to Aphrasia Street, Newtown, in 1919. He helped the church pay off its bank loan, probably borrowed to build the church and the hall. He did not accept nomination as an elder, preferring to serve on the Board of Management.
Don served as treasurer of the Geelong Branch of the Red Cross Society. Until 1939, when the Melbourne and Geelong Corporations Act came into operation, Don was one of the auditors of the Geelong City Council.
In 1930, Don Neilson was registered as a trustee under the Federal Bankruptcy Act. During the Great Depression of the next few years, it was insolvency work that helped the firm to survive.
During the Second World War, Don was an air raid warden with some of his Rotary colleagues.
Like his brother John, Don was of medium height, 5'8", but not as chubby as John until the last years of his life. He had a pleasant disposition and an attractive personality. In his youth he played cricket, tennis and football.
Henry Cumming Neilson died in Geelong Hospital on 4 March (or April?) 1930, aged 89 (Vic BDM Ref 1453), having suffered from an enlarged prostate and uraemia. His (second) wife Annie Eliza Neilson (nee Holdsworth) died in 1935. (Vic BDM Ref 16160).
The Camperdown Chronicle of 6 July 1943 carried the following obituary for Joseph Andrews Pawsey.
WITH the death of Mr Joseph Andrews Pawsey "Glencoe" Naroghid, near Camperdown, the Country Party has lost one of its staunchest support ers. He was one of the foundation members 22 years ago and with his wife did a lot of pioneering work for the organisation in the Wimmera. Mr Pawsey was born at Soldiers' Hill Ballarat, 77 years ago. He was educated at Camp Street School, Ballarat and Stawell Grammar School. He later become a member of the well known Wimmera firm of Wright, Pawsey and Mitchell, Stawell. After having a fruit farm at Dandenong, he came to the Western District, about 20 years ago, and immediately took an active interest in local affairs. He was a valuable citizen and his death will be regretted by all. After being a member of Cobden branch of the Country Party, he joined Camperdown branch 16 years ago and for a long time was secretary and delegate. INTERESTED IN MONETARY REFORM A major interest in Mr Pawsey's life was monetary reform. He organised many successful meetings in this cause and contributed interesting and forceful letters to the Press, this helping in no small way to awaken public interest in this matter. Within a few months of his death, he was engaged in a spirited controversy in the "Countryman." BREEDER OF CORRIEDALE CHAMPIONS On his farm at Naroghid, Mr Pawsey had a stud of Corrie dale sheep, which won championships at Melbourne Sheep Breeders' shows. He married Miss Margaret Lade, Strath Creek. There is one son, Mr Joseph Lade Pawsey, a senior research officer in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and at present, living in Sydney. PRIVATE CREMATION There was a private cremation at Springvale Crematorium on Friday. This was attended by deceased's son, a brother-in-law, Mr J. Parsons, and a nephew, Mr W. R. Coombe.
Percy's wife Ada died on 2 June 1945 aged 55. Their daughter Joan remained with her father until his death.
A probate notice was published in The Argus on 11 February 1949 relating to the death of Henrietta Edith Pawsey, the daughter of Joseph Josiah and Elizabeth Pawsey (born 1869). The notice stated that she had lived at 20 Moorhouse Street, Campberwell and was a spinster. Her sister, Harriet Lillian Parsons, of the same address, was the sole executrix of the will.
Don Neilson (born 1878) died suddenly from a coronary thrombosis on 7 May 1950, and was cremated at Springvale Crematorium in Melbourne. Don's wife Grace died of cancer on 12 January 1962 at the age of 68, and was cremated at the West Melbourne Crematorium.
The following note appeared in the Camperdown Chronicle on 30 March 1954.
Three Australian scientists have been honored by election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of London. One of them is Dr. Joseph Lade Pawsey, a former resident of this district and a son of Mrs. M. Pawsey, formerly of Naroghid. and now of Ivanhoe, and the late Mr. Pawsey. Dr. Pawsey was educated at Camperdown Higher Elementary School, the University of Melbourne and Cambridge University. He is assistant chief of the radio physics division of the Commonwealth Scientific, and Industrial Research Organisation Sydney, and has been described as distinguished for his contribution to techniques of radio and radar and in particular for his application of these techniques to radio astronomy and to the study of the ionosphere.
As noted above, Nellie's mother Helen died in 1942. After the death of her brother John in January 1954, the home at 38 Retreat Road was sold and Percy arranged for her to move to a small home in Aphrasia Street, just below what was the site of a mixed business run earlier by Harold Lilburne and then Jim Money. Nellie lived there from 1954 until 1976. When she fell and broke her hip, she had to move to Grace McKellar House where, after a period of physiotherapy, she suffered a final stroke, and died.
Percy continued working in Neilson and Neilson until his death on 6 June 1959 at the age of 81. He outlasted his younger brothers. Percy was described by his nephew in 1996 as being 'more heavily built than Jack or Don. He was gregarious and mixed easily with everyone. He was a man of principle who impressed with his dignity but also his well developed sense of humour'.
Joseph Lade Pawsey died on 30 November 1962 at the age of only 54. See this Wikipedia article for more details of his life. It includes the following details:
In 1952, Pawsey became president of the Radio Astronomy Commission of the International Astronomical Union, serving until 1958. From 1960 until 1961 he was president of the Australian Branch of the Institute of Physics.
In December 1961 Pawsey accepted an appointment as director of the recently established National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, West Virginia, United States of America. Before taking up the post, he visited the observatory in March 1962 but became seriously ill and returned to Sydney. He died of a cerebral tumour on 30 November that year at the Victoria Convalescent Hospital, Potts Point, and was cremated. His wife, daughter and two sons survived him.
The Pawsey crater on the Moon is named after him. Also named after him is the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, the home of petascale supercomputing facilities and expertise to support international Square Kilometre Array research and other high-end science (based at Technology Park in the Perth suburb of Bentley).
Margaret Pawsey, the mother of Joseph Lade Pawsey and 'late of Ivanhoe', died in Heidelburg, Victoria, in 1969 (Vic BDM Ref 18757 and Ryerson index).
Page created 11 February 2012, updated 25 January 2020. Copyright Andrew Warland. email: andrewwarland(at)gmail.com