“Pioneers All” is an attempt to record the pioneering ancestors of several families connected to me. A full list of the family names recorded can be found here, but include Kersley, Molloy, McLeod, McClurg, Diedrich, Mummery, Robertson, and Devlin, just to name a few.
The tree has been broadened to include my husband’s family in order to provide as complete a picture as possible for my children.
I have embarked upon this journey (in its own way an adventure) to ensure the history of our families is not totally lost for our children and grandchildren. To my sons, Richard, Nicholas & Thomas, their cousins and their forebears, to my cousins, second cousins and their forebears I entrust the responsibility of continuing this history, to broaden the tree, ensuring to expand its base and keep it growing as proudly and strongly as the last nine generations; and to remember each and every one of us is only here because of those who went before, if just one of those mentioned in your direct line didn’t exist, then neither would you.
Do not dismiss them lightly, they were pioneers all.
I would also point out that whilst the general ancestry lines have been followed there is a general bias in the narrative towards the females in the families; strong and remarkable women, who endured much, gave birth to many, buried a few soon after, had very little in the way material belongings but had rich and fulfilling lives nevertheless.
In the main the first representatives of our families arrived in Australia and in most cases, Port Phillip (now Victoria), during the years 1845 through 1855.
A mix of assisted and unassisted migrants, from England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany; some escaping famine and/or persecution and seeking a better life for their families, others were simply seeking adventure and this trait seems to have continued through many generations.
The various family trees demonstrate the courage and stoicism of our women, the bravery and determination of our men and the ingeniousness and patriotism of their many, many children.
Much of the research into to Kersley family tree had previously been carried out by Graeme Cheeseman and, with his permission I have reproduced many of the family photographs and some of the historical data relating to the English roots. I would also like to acknowledge Stevenson McGilchrist author of “William Robertson Victorian Pioneer 1837 – 1890. A copy of this book was given to me by my grandmother many years ago when she told me her “grandfather got a mention”. It wasn’t until I had started this research journey that I realised her grandfather, Oliver Devlin had married a granddaughter of William Robertson.
It is hard to determine which of my family immigrant ancestors arrived in Australia first, records show that Christian Diedrich and Elisabeth Mahine arrived in 1856, Oliver Devlin in 1860, John Molloy and his wife Margaret where married in Ireland in 1853 but their first child, Mary, was born (and died) in Melbourne in 1855. An exact arrival date for them is yet to be discovered, and Thomas Kersley and Bridget Buckley may have arrived on the same ship, the British Queen, in May, 1853.
However in Stevenson McGilchrist’s book he writes: “William Robertson, his wife Marion (nee McGilchrist) and their 6 children left the Port of Leith (Edinburgh) in the Sailing Ship Thomas of London in February, 1833: Sydney being their destination. After sailing for six months and nineteen days, Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land was sighted, but unfortunately, after having braved the elements successfully, a fire broke out in the vessel and the Captain ran her aground on the sands, all on board escaping with their lives and most of their belongings.”
Joseph Browning Mummery (my husband’s earliest immigrant ancestor) is thought to have arrived in NSW in 1849 though this is still to be confirmed.
So it would seem, at this stage that William Robertson, my great, great, great, great grandfather carries the honour of being the first to arrive.
A QUESTION OF LIFE AND DEATH
How tough would life “back home” have needed to be to make somebody like William Robertson, a family man, contemplate moving his family to what was in the 1830’s, little more than a penal colony?
According to McGilchrist, William may have been a Dissenter (or Separatist) and therefore considered to be on the wrong side of the Law and says “what more firm conviction could I hold than that, because of the legal disabilities which Dissenters were called upon to suffer – imprisonment and death, William Robertson became fearful of his own safety and the safety of his family, and eventually decided to bring his family to Australia.
On arrive in Hobart; he immediately became an active member of the Independent Church in that town.”
The German Connection
In his book A History of Germans in Australia 1839-1945 Charles Meyer lists four basic reasons for German emigration: religion, the economic situation, political motives, and social motives.
These four main reasons were not all significant factors at the same time, nor can they be seen as working independently of each other (often at least two of the reasons drove an emigrant's, or emigrant group's, decision to emigrate), and nor were they equally important in terms of the numbers of emigrants involved. People's reasons for emigrating are also complicated by the factor that often both