Stephen May, believed to have been born in 1804 in Atworth, Wiltshire, England, is the primary subject of this page. Stephen was caught and convicted of larceny at Bishops Cannings in 1823 and transported to Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania), eventually arriving in Geelong by 1841 where he would meet and marry a 20 year old Irish woman named Ann Farrell or Ferrall. One of their daughters would marry into the Kingwell family. For details Stephen May, Ann Ferrall/Farrell, and the Kingwell families before coming to Australia, click this link.
Stephen May arrived at Hobart Town on 18 January 1824. He was recorded in the Annual Return of Convicts in Van Diemans Land from 1 January to 31 December 1825. He was assigned to Mr Browning.
On 18 January 1827, Stephen May was reported absent from a chain gang at Government house and received 25 lashes. On 10 March 1827, Stephen was involved in a burglary and theft and was 'fully commended (GSJGJR)'. On 17 April 1827 he was discharged by proclamation of the Supreme Court. (Third Session records). On 10 May 1827, he was caught receiving stolen property and sentenced to two years to a penal settlement (WHH) (Source: Extract from Mr Burnetts (Colonial Secretary) records dated 7 September 1827, written on the 'Con. 31 Male Conduct Registers 1812 - 1840)'.
Stephen arrived at Macquarie Harbour on 5 July 1827 on board the brig Cyprus under instructions to remain there by order of the Lt Gov (Source: Page 310 reel pro 342). On 31 March 1829 he was recorded in the alphabetical return of male and female prisoners at Macquarie Harbour. His conduct was stated to be 'correct'.
On 29 April 1829, Stephen was recorded in the List of Prisoners at Macquarie Harbour, recommended by Captain Butler, Commandant, for removal from that settlement (Source: CSO 1/894/8998). It noted that Stephen had not been charged with any offence at Macquarie Harbour and was now employed there as a bricklayer. His conduct was stated to be 'correct' and he promised to continue that.
Stephen May was listed in the Van Diemans Land Nominal Return of Convicts No 469, assigned to Mr F L Streightz. He was still with Mr Streightz in 1833 as recorded in Nominal Return of Male Convicts for that year. Streightz lived at Norfold Plans, Fingal, south of Launceston.
Stephen appears in the 1834 Male Conduct Register (Campbell Town). In 1835, he appeared in the Van Diemans Land Register of Male Convicts, still assigned to Mr Streightz. In 1836, he appeared on a muster of Ticket of Leave Men, still assigned to Streightz.
By 1837, Stephen had moved and was now recorded in a Ticket of Leave Muster residing at S N Talbot Esq., Malihide. Malihide is an old property situated near the St Paul's and Break O'Day Plans. The Hobert Town Almanack of 1829 noted that 'a mile beyond this a distance of 113 miles from Hobart Town is the extensive grazing farm and residence of Mr Talbot at the junction of the Break O'Day River with St Pauls.'
The following article about the Enterprise's earlier journey to Port Philip appeared in the Weekly Times (Melbourne) on 1 September 1906.
A NOTABLE ANNIVERSARY. On this day, the 29th of August, 1835, the Enterprise, a fifty-ton schooner, owned by John Pascoe Fawkner, in charge of Captain Hunter, first made her appearance in the river Yarra, and was warped to a large tree on the bank opposite to where the Custom House now stands. It was no easy task, part of the stream being impeded by snags and the trunks of fallen (trees, until the Yarra Falls, to quote Garryowen, '... interposed a barrier which seemed to say, 'thus far shalt thou come and no further'.' Curiously enough, Fawkner himself, who had sailed from Launceston in the Enterprise, had been attacked with seasickness, and had to put 'back to Georgetown, where he was sent ashore, while the Enterprise, under the charge of Captain Lancy, as leader of the expedition, though not of the vessel, resumed her voyage, and arrived in Westernport on 8th August, 1835. Subsequently they reached the Bay, and, after, some difficulty, landed as above stated. After warping the vessel the few men went to work, and cut away some of the overhanging trees, so that the vessel might be comfortably berthed, and landed their stores and live stock, the latter consisting of two horses, two pigs, three kangaroo dogs, and a cat. They then out of sods of earth and branches made a hut, and such was the first house or store ever erected In Melbourne. And this was only seventy-one years ago - the Psalmist's span of life. Let anyone stand on the same spot now and mark the difference.
Interestingly, another Ann Farrell from Kilkenny was transported on the convict ship Margaret which arrived in Port Jackson on 30 May 1837. The women were landed at the Dockyard (NSW) on 10th June 1837. There is no reason to connect this Ann Farrell and the other, other than the name, age and place of birth are almost identical.
The following text is from Jen Willet's site.
Ann Farrell - Age 15, native place Kilkenny. Tried at Co. Carlow 22 June 1836. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing linen. - Broad featured, nose a little cocked. Two sisters in the colony, Betty Armstrong and Kitty McDonnell came out about 5 or 6 years ago as prisoners. Assigned to George Salt Tucker at Paterson (NSW) in 1837.
Henry Kelsall, the surgeon on that convict ship, was 'scathing of the Irish free women and children of which he thought there were too many in the ship. He found them incorrigible and incredibly filthy. Most of these people were embarked in rags without a change of clothes of any description; and loaded with vermin - some of them mendicants by profession.'
On 17 April 1839, Stephen May departed Launceston on the schooner Enterprise with 17 passengers. He arrived at Port Philip on 27 April 1839. At this time, Melbourne had 358 houses, 222 of which were built of brick (Source: Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, 5 November 1868).
Stephen May appears to have made his way to Geelong (or disembarked at that location).
The Ann Farrell/Ferrall, who was born in (or came from) Kilkenny or perhaps Killoscully, made her way somehow (likely along with other young Irish women) to Plymouth in England where she decided (or a decision was made for her) to go to Australia as a house maid. As many women commenced work as a housemaid from as young as 12, it seems quite possible that Ann was already working in some way before she left.
Ann Farrell/Ferrall was sent to Australia as a bounty passenger by Mr John Marshall, the noted immigration agent. An article in The Melbourne Argus of 8 August 1848 noted the company Messrs John Marshall and Co, of Birchin Lane 'who were for many years connected with the bounty system of immigration to the Australian Colonies'. According to the website www.oocities.org 'Bounty was paid for those eligible who landed in Sydney instead of in Melbourne. The government bounty of 3071 pounds paid to Mr John Marshall at the sum of 18 pounds each adult. John Marshall was an agent for "The Committee for promoting the Emmigration of Single Women", a committee that was set up by the British government in 1834 to endeavour to rectify the great shortage of single women in the Australian colonies.'
Ann Farrell/Ferrall boarded the Andromache, a 500 ton sailing ship that left London on 15 February 1840, from Plymouth on 28 February 1840 as one of 60 single females travelling as a 'bounty' passenger (there were also 32 families and 43 single men plus 36 paying passengers).
The ship records record Ann Farrell, aged 20, a housemaid born in Kilkenny, a Roman Catholic who could neither read nor write. She arrived in Port Philip on 27 June 1840 and somehow ended up in the new town of Geelong.
Stephen May met Ann Farrell soon after her arrival (or perhaps these meetings were arranged?). Stephen May, recorded as a carpenter aged 41 years (again referring to a birth year of 1800 - did he just decide on that year?), married the Catholic Ann Farrell (1822 - 1877), a spinster said to be aged 18 years, on 19 October 1840 in Geelong in a Presbyterian ceremony (Vic BDM Ref 533/1840).
The church where Stephen and Ann married was a building at David Fisher*'s home on the river near the present Barwon Bridge. They were only the eighth Presbyterian marriage in Geelong. According to an article in The Geelong Advertiser of 1 October 1866, 'one of the earliest institutions was a Presbyterian Church (a congregation, not an edifice)' led by the Rev Andrew Love. The estimated population by 1840 was 'not more than two hundred souls'. Stephen and Ann were definitely pioneers!
* According to The Story of Geelong: 'David Fisher, managing for the Derwent Company (which was dissolved in 1842/43), ran his three flocks over the site of Geelong, and by March 1837, when Governor Bourke arrived on a tour of inspection, had built 'the first house worthy of the name' on land by the Barwon River.' See also The biography of George Mercer which stated that the house was 'the first weatherboard house in Geelong; a similar bush homestead, unique among the slab huts, gave its name to the Weatherboard station'. Could it be that Stephen May - a carpenter - had a connection with this house too? Mercer was a well-known Scottish merchant and founder of the Derwent Company in Tasmania who never actually set foot in Port Philip.
Stephen and Ann May had nine children:
The lack of death or other details for Edward, Thomas, and Elizabeth appears to suggest they were no longer in Victoria or had died and this event was not registered.
John's wife, Elizabeth Kingwell (nee Matthew) had died on 3 May 1844 at Newfoundland, Canada.
John Kingwell re-married, this time to Mary Snow (born abt 1828 in Newfoundland - 11 March 1911). John and Mary Kingwell, with an infant child (William Hercules Kingwell), left St John's Newfoundland, Canada, in November 1852 on board the SS Sybil bound for Port Philip in Australia.
John and Mary Kingwell (nee Snow, born 1828, UK - 1911, VIC), with an infant son, arrived in Victoria as unassisted passengers on the Sybil in 1853. Their son William Hercules Kingwell would later marry Alice May.
Victorian BDM records show five more children born to John Kingwell and Mary Snow in Victoria after arrival (William is included for completeness):
When Geelong was founded, the area now called Geelong West was known as Kildare. Ashby was a suburb located in the area of Geelong West, west of Latrobe Terrace between Aberdeen Street and Church Street. By 1850, the area had become known as Little Scotland and Kildare, while Ashby referred to the area between Autumn Street and Waratah Street. In 1875, the entire Kildare/Ashby area was renamed Geelong West. (Source: Wikipedia article on Geelong West)
Stephen May (and family) lived primarily in the Geelong area. He was recorded as a bricklayer in 1851 (Geelong and Vicinity directory, living off Corio St), 1853 (Burgess Roll, Port Philip Victoria Directories 1839 - 1867), 1856 (Victorian Electoral Roll), 1858 (Victorian Electoral Roll, living in Clerks Place, Corio St off Malop), 1868 - 1870 (Bailliers Directory).
While there is no reason yet to indicate it is the same person, a person by the name Ann May, along with a John Harvey, were charged with theft from a property in Newtown in January 1859. According to the newspaper report 'it appeared that the female Ann May had been residing with him [the owner of the stolen goods, John Mayhew] for two or three months but had latterly associated herself with some other male companion'. (Geelong Advertiser, 13 January 1859).
John Kingwell died on 13 December 1865 in Geelong, Victoria, a few months after his youngest daughter Mary was born. His wife Mary was only 37 and his eldest son William Hercules Kingwell only 15, which probably meant he became the primary breadwinner. Mary did not re-marry. The Geelong Advertiser of 15 December 1865 carried the following article about his death:
An inquest was held yesterday at the Telegraph Hotel, Ashby, before Dr Forster Shaw and a jury of twelve, upon the body of John Kingwell, late master of St. John's Church of England School, Church-street, who expired suddenly the previous evening. It appears that the deceased retired to rest about 8 o'clock on Wednesday evening, apparently in good health, and had not been long in bed when he commenced vomiting, and at about twenty minutes past eleven o'clock he expired. The verdict of the jury was that deceased died of disease of the heart. Deceased was 69 years of age, and leaves a large family to deplore his loss, (the youngest child being only a few months old), and but very poorly provided for.
Stephen May (born 1845), the son of Stephen May and Ann Farrell, died in Geelong Hospital (opened as the Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum in 1852) on 26 April 1870 of ankylosing spondylitis.
Samuel Kingwell (born 1856) died in 1871 in Geelong. His widowed mother now had four children: William Hercules Kingwell (now 21), Cleverly Vicars Kingwell (now 22), Edwin Kingwell (now 18), and the youngest daughter, Mary Kingwell (aged 6).
Alice May (1854 - 1930, the daughter of Stephen May and Ann Farrell) married William Hercules Kingwell (born 1850, Canada, the son of John Kingwell and Mary Ann Snow) in 1876 in Geelong (Vic BDM Ref 1698). They moved to Birregurra the same year (see below). Her mother appears to have gone to live with them too, possibly to support her newly pregnant daughter. They had seven children:
The Kingwell family may have been prompted to move to Birregurra because of the new railway line that was extended from Geelong to Birregurra in 1876-77, prompting a steady growth in population to nearly 400 people by 1900 (Source: Victoria Places - Birregurra
Ann May, Stephen May's (possibly estranged) wife, drowned on Wednesday 23 August 1876 in the Barwon River at Birregurra (Vic BDM Ref 8131). She was 54. She was buried at Colac Cemetery on 24 August 1876 (location CLC-UNK-X-825-X).
Given the separate burials recorded below, it is interesting to speculate if there was some background to this - when Ann died she was noted as 'the wife of Stephen May, bricklayer' but he was not buried with her when he died only a year later.
The inquest into Ann's death was reported in The Colac Herald on 29 August 1876:
INQUEST AT BIRREGURRA. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.) An inquest was held on Thursday last, at Birregurra, on the body of Ann May, wife of Stephen May, bricklayer, who was found in the river Barwon on Wednesday morning, before Dr. Rae, coroner, when the following evidence was taken. Alice Kingwell deposed - I am daughter of the deceased. I last saw her alive on Sunday evening, 20th instant, about nine o'clock. She was well then, and in good health, although she has been weak of late. She was quite right in her mind. I was with her nearly all that day, and she had no disagreement with any one. Saw her no more alive. Missed her on Monday evening, but did not report her absence, thinking she would come home. Thomas Pengilley deposed - I saw deceased on Monday at midday, near the Barwon river bridge. Spoke to her, and she answered. She appeared to have been drinking. Afterwards saw her going towards Beckitt's Marsh. Joseph Green deposed - I knew deceased. Saw her on Monday, about 1 p.m., on the Whoorel side of the Barwon river, about a quarter of a mile from the river, sitting against the fence by the road-side. About an hour afterwards, I again passed that way, and she was still sitting there, with her face covered over. Spoke to her, and asked her if she was asleep. She answered, "No; I am not well." Then left her. Passed that way again about 8 p.m. She was then lying down nearer the river, her head being in a small pool of water. Solicited her to go home, and she answered, "Leave me alone; I will be all right bye-and-bye." By a juror - I did not report the case to the police. Thought she was quite sensible, and would shortly proceed home.
William James deposed - Having heard deceased was missing, I went to look for her on Tuesday evening. Went again on Wednesday morning, along the river side. Observed a shawl oil the bank of the river. Gave information to the police. I and others found the body in the river. We dragged, her out, and removed her, to her own home. Think she fell into the river, as there appeared to be marks of some one having slipped. Had the approaches to the bridge not been broken down, I do not think the accident would have happened. The river flows along the side of the road for some distance. A fence ran formerly between the road and the river, but having decayed and fallen down, there is nothing to prevent anyone from falling into the river on a dark night. G. F. Barnes deposed - I am a duly qualified medical practitioner. I have examined the body of deceased, and find it well nourished. There are no marks, scars, nor wounds about the body I find the neck dislocated. She might have broken her neck by falling against a log in the river. Attribute the cause of death to the dislocation of the neck. A verdict in accordance with the medical testimony was returned.
William James May (born 1851) married Elizabeth Brown in 1877 (Vic BDM Ref 3324). They had the following children before William died:
William James May died in 1888 aged only 37 (Vic BDM Ref 8557) the same year his daughter Nellie was born. The cause of his death at such a young age is not yet known. No newspaper report of his death has been found.
Stephen May died on 31 October 1877 in the Geelong Hospital, of hemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body) for 3 months - suggesting he had a stroke (or possibly other causes including brain tumour or infection). He was 77. Curiously, his death certificate states that he spent 10 years in NSW and 40 years in Victoria. He was buried at the Eastern Cemetery in Geelong with his grandaughter Mary Ann Aikman who had died on 6 October 1877 (Victoria BDM Ref 11052)(15 days earlier). It is not known why he was not buried with his wife Ann who had died at Birregurra in August the previous year. Stephen was buried in the old Presbyterian section of the Geelong Eastern Cemetery. His original (possibly wooden) grave marker was lost many years ago and he and his granddaughter's grave has no sides; it is on the corner of two intersecting paths. In around 2007, descendants placed a brass plaque on the spot, showing details which may not be entirely correct (e.g., birth year).
Stephen and Ann May's daughter Sarah May died in the Geelong Hospital in December 1880 of 'disease of the spine', as reported in the Geelong Advertiser of 9 December 1880. This would seem to be possibly the same cause of death as her brother.
William Hercules Kingwell, a butcher, was recorded insolvent in May 1881 in The Argus of 3 May 1881. The causes of his insolvency were noted as 'sickness in family and pressure of creditors'.
Cleverly Vicars Kingwell (1859, Geelong (Vic BDM Ref 2909) - 1927), the son of John and Mary Kingwell (nee Snow), married Isabella Murray (born 1862 to Walter Murray and Elvira Campbell) in 1887 (Vic BDM Ref 4060). They had the following children:
Cleverly Vicars Kingwell was noted in the Portland Guardian of 1 May 1903 as being appointed rate collector and inspector for the Geelong West Borough Council. He appeared regularly in the Geelong Advertiser from that date until at least 1915. The following is but one example, dated 12 April 1912:
CHASE AFTER A GOAT. Wandering goats have done a good deal of damage in parts of Geelong West, and complaints having reached Inspector C. V. Kingwell, he has determined to suppress the nuisance. Yesterday afternoon Mr. Kingwell set out in pursuit of a particularly fine animal, an attempt to lassoo it failed, and the inspector was thrown against a fence and injured his arm. Subsequent efforts, however, were successful and the goat was lodged in the borough pound. Unless claimed and fees paid by midday to-day the animal is to be destroyed.
Bushfires ravaged the area around Birregurra on 7 February 1901. The son of William Hercules Kingwell, Hercules Kingwell, 18 years old, died of burns received in the fire. His photograph was carried the Weekly Times (Melbourne) of 16 February 1901, along with other photographs of people who lost their lives and property.
A woman by the name of Roseclere Alice Amelia Blanche Kingwell married Arthur Wanter/Wontner Smith in 1903 (Vic BDM Ref 6913).
John Aloysius Kingwell (born 1880) married Louisa Mary Millard (abt 1884 - 20 May 1943 (Vic BDM Ref 17282, The Age, 22 May 1943)), the daughter of Abel Millard and Francis Shelton, in 1904 (Vic BDM Ref 247). They had seven children:
Mary Kingwell (nee Snow), the wife of John Kingwell who migrated with him to Australia, died in 1911 (Vic BDM Ref 1499). Her death and funeral notices were carried in the Geelong Advertiser of 13 and 14 March 1911.
The funeral of the late Mrs. Mary Kingwell, relict of the late Rev. John Kingwell, a well-known and highly respected resident of  Church-street, took place yesterday afternoon, her remains being laid to rest in the Church of England portion of the New General Cemetery in the presence of a representative gathering of sympathising friends. The hearse and mourning coach were followed by a number of public and private vehicles. The coffin was borne to the grave by two sons and two grandsons of the deceased. The pall was supported by Cr. C. Dickins (mayor of Geelong West) Cr E. J. F Sayers. Mr. H. Bannister (town clerk), Cr, E Molvneux. Messrs P. Paterson. H. Viccars, G. Eastwood , Mr. T. Kendall. Rev. F. Anderson conducted. the service at the graveside. Mr. Alex. Monro had charge of the mortuary arrangements.
Elsie Elizabeth Winifred Kingwell (born 1889) married George Francis Halford McCartin in 1915 (Vic BDM Ref 6685). They had at least two children:
Edwin Vicars Kingwell, a storeman of 7 Isabella Street, Geelong West and the son of Cleverley Vicars Kingwell, enlisted for World War 1 at Geelong West on 20 July 1915, according to his service record. He joined the 2nd Reinforcements, 29th Battalion but was re-assigned to the 14th Battalion. He was sent to Egypt but, ccording to his service record, he was 'troubled with the chest since August 1915' and had 'hydrocele for 12 months'. He also stated that he had broncho pneumonia in Melbourne. The 'dryness and dust' of Egypt didn't help his condition and he was returned to Australia in June 1916.
Edwin Kingwell (born 1891, the son of William Hercules Kingwell (born 1850, Canada) and Alice May married Annie Violet Curry/Currie in 1916 (Vic BDM Ref 6997). They had several children:
Miss Nellie May was noted in the Colac Reformer of 30 May 1916 as taking the leading part in a local play.
Nellie May from Birregurra was noted in the Geelong Advertiser on 24 May 1924, along with Mrs Jas McCallum, visiting their sister, Mrs Durham of Pomborneit.
On 1 August 1928, Nellie May in relation to the annual sale of gifts and show under the auspices of the local Presbyterian Senior Girls Missionary Union.
Note that a Nellie May married an Edgar Ernest Bartle in 1955 but this seems to be too old - she would have been 67. That Nellie Bartle, 'late of East Bentleigh' died on 25 December 1965.
Cleverly Vicars Kingwell, the son of John Kingwell and Mary Snow, died at Geelong West in 1927 (Vic BDM Ref 10179). He was buried at Geelong Western Public Cemetery, plot CEO-1-1088.
William Hercules Kingwell, the son of John Kingwell and Mary Snow and husband of Alice, died at Ballarat in 1930 (Vic BDM Ref 7959). (His brother Cleverly Vicars Kingwell, had died in 1927 at Geelong West (Vic BDM Ref 10179).
William Kingwell's wife, Alice Kingwell (nee May) died after him (as her death notice refers to her late husband) at Birregurra on 10 September 1930, aged 76 (Vic BDM Ref 8317).
Isabella Kingwell (nee Murray), the daughter of Walter Murray and Elvira Campbell and wife of Cleverly Vicars Kingwell (born 1859, died 1927), died in Geelong in 1930 aged 68 (Vic BDM Ref 9660). She was buried with her husband Cleverly Kingwell.
William Hercules Kingwell (born 1910), the son of John Aloysius Kingwell, married Valerie Mary Fossett (born abt 1914, died 1986, Fitzroy (Vic BDM Ref 8688)), the daughter of Henry Fossett and Ethel Dowling) in 1936 (Vic BDM Ref 5699).
Edwin Kingwell, the son of William and Alice Kingwell (nee May), died in Birregurra in 1941 (Vic BDM Ref 21019).
Annie Kingwell, the daughter of Edwin Vicars Kingwell (born 1890)and Annie Violet Curry/Currie, married Kevin Bennett in 1943 (Vic BDM Ref 3841).
Louisa Mary Kingwell (nee Millard) (abt 1884), the wife of John Aloysius Kingwell (born 1880) died on 20 May 1943 (The Age, 22 May 1943)).
Edwin James Kingwell, the son of Edwin Kingwell and Annie Violett Curry/Currie, married Valda Mary Bennett in 1947 (Vic BDM Ref 15096). Edwin died in 1980 (Vic BDM Ref 11851)
Doreen May, the only child of William James May (born 1878, Birregurra, died 29 January 1942) and Grace May, married Charles Crowley of New Zealand at the Methodist Church in Dandenong on 17 September 1949. The Dandenong Journal of 5 October 1949 notes that 'The groom, who is the second son of Mrs. Crowley, of Bendigo, was supported by Mr Greig as best man. Mrs. Pontin and Miss Whitwell, friends of the bride, were responsible for the attractive church decorations. Rev. G. C. Harris was the celebrant.'. Doreen and Charles Crowley were said to have made their home in Dandenong.
Joseph Leo Kingwell (one of around a dozen siblings) married Jill Louise Inverarity in 1956 (Vic BDM Ref 16846).
John Aloysius Kingwell, the son of Alice May (born 1854) and William Hercules Kingwell, died in August 1963 in Melbourne (Vic BDM Ref 15976 and Ryerson Index).
Murray Paterson Kingwell, the son of Cleverly Vicars Kingwell and Isabella Murray, died at Whittington (near Geelong) in 1963 (Vic BDM Ref 24154).
Harold Ernest Kingwell, the son of Cleverly Vicars Kingwell and Isabella Murray, died at Newtown (Geelong) in 1965 (Vic BDM Ref 13967).
Edwin James Kingwell, the son of Edwin Kingwell and Annie Violet Curry, died at Birregurra in 1980 aged 55. (Vic BDM Ref 11851).
Edwin's mother, Annie Violet Kingwell (nee Curry), died in 1980 (Vic BDM Ref 21773).
Page created 2 May 2019, updated 29 June 2020 (corrections made to Edwin and Edwin Vicars Kingwell). Copyright Andrew Warland. email: andrewwarland(at)gmail.com