australia cousins





The following tale of events came about because I was looking for links between a Leeman family and an Ellis family, in an attempt to find out why some Leeman males in the family had the second given name of Ellis.

I found a reference to a John Swails Leeman who had married a Jane Ellis.
It was on an Australian site - but that aside, by profession John was a publican and he was born in Buttercrambe, Yorkshire.

Was this too much of a coincidence with my 'great grandfather' Henry Leeman being a publican and born in Buttercrambe?

I just had to find out and promptly sent an e-mail to a Jeff Elms hoping that his address was still 'live'.
Several exchanges of e-mail later brought forth the result that John Swails Leeman and Henry Leeman were brothers!!


Thomas Leeman
1757 - 1826

1761 - 1828

John Swailes
1767 -

1771 -

William Leeman
1791 - 1873

Sarah Swails
1793 - 1871

Ann 1817 -

Jane 1823 - 1825

Elizabeth 1830

Thomas 1834 -

Sarah Ann 1819 - 1899

Jesse 1825 - 1893

Mary 1832 -

Henry 1837

William 1820-1890

John 1827 - 1908

Elizabeth 1833 -



William Leeman married Sarah Magson nee Swails in Bransby on 13 June 1816.

They had three children before moving to Buttercrambe which was a village of less than 200 people situated on the River Derwent.

And so it was here that John Leeman was christened 2 Sep 1827 in the parish of Bossall, Yorkshire.

 As far as John is concerned that is all I have!
I have found William and Sarah Lemar with children Thomas and Henry in 1841 Census
indicating that even by 1841 most of the children had 'flown the coop'!
By 1851 Sarah had married John Poulter and William had married Ann Johnson.
Jesse, John, Elizabeth and Thomas are missing - only Mary and Henry are still at home.

And so at this point the focus moves to the east coast of Australia ... but not without further mysteries!

Even though Jeff has access to most of the Queensland shipping records

there appears to be no record of John's arrival,

nor does he appear on any convicts lists.

It is the same for Jane Ellis

Nevertheless, John Leeman and Jane Ellis married in Brisbane on 7 Oct 1862.
However, as Jeff explained, it is unlikely that they lived in Brisbane in 1862 as the region was a penal colony and no land was privately owned... unless...


William Leeman
1791 - 1873

Sarah Swails
1793 - 1871

George Ellis
1811 -

Jane Humphreys
1814 -

John Leeman
1827 - 1908

Jane Ellis
1832 -1879

George William 1864-1865

Mark 1867 -

Alice Jane 1872 - 1924

Jessie 1865 - 1950

Walter 1870


And yet the birth of their first child George William was registered in Brisbane in 1864. so they could not have been far away.

Their second child Jessie 1865 (Jeff's great grandmother) was born in Cardwell, Queensland, some 700 to 800 miles north of Brisbane.

From 1866 to 1868 it is known that John & Jane operated the Marine Hotel in Cardwell until it was destroyed in a cyclone in 1868.

The family then moved down to Gympie (about 100 miles north of Brisbane) where they were mining for gold.
It appears that the family was still in Gympie when Jane became ill and was sent to Brisbane for treatment.

Map courtesy of used with permission.


Jane's sister Hannah (Vaux) Bentley nee Ellis arrived in Australia in 1878 as a widow, accompanied by her 16 year old son Walter Horace Bentley, born 8 May 1864 in Middlesex. She had made the journey to be with her sister and to care for her during her illness. Unfortunately Jane died in 1879.

John then married Hannah in 1880 in Gympie, and the family moved to Sydney, New South Wales returning in 1886 where Walter Bentley was married, but leaving the rest of the now grown up children scattered as follows.

Walter & Alice stayed in Sydney with friends.

Frank went to live with friends in Western Australia

Jessie stopped off to stay with friends in Brisbane.While there, she became friends with Thomas Henry Neelen Cox, a friend of the people she was staying with and they married in Brisbane in 1888. By this time Brisbane was no longer a penal colony and they settled at Shorncliffe in the town of Sandgate just north of Brisbane, where Thomas operated a boat between Shorncliffe & Redcliffe.



Hinrich Neelen


Amke Willems Koster


John Leeman
1827 - 1908

Jane Ellis
1832 - 1879

Thomas Henry Neelen Cox
1841 - 1906

Jessie Leeman
- 1950

Eppo Frances 1889 - 1903

Vernon Henry 1892 - 1963

Elsie Jane 1904 - 1953



 Thomas Henry Neelen Cox (Jeff's great grandfather) always called himself Captain Thomas Henry Neelen Cox, and claimed to be a retired sea Captain. He used to call his children such names as "first mate" etc.

Thomas' Australian Death Certificate says that he was a Merchant Seaman, born in Montreal Canada in 1841 the son of Henry Neelen Cox (a farmer) and Amke Koster. Searches by Internet friends of Canadian records failed to find any record of his family ever being anywhere in Canada. There is no record of him ever being a Captain either.

 However, family members recall a visit to Australia by a German nephew Bernard Schmidt before WW1 and Jeff's mother used to write to Thomas' niece Erna Schutte in Bremen, Germany before WW2 and still has a letter from 1933. But lost all contact after the war. Not giving up, but switching the search to Bremen, the birth of an Elske Neelen was found on the Internet. She was born 2 Feb 1843 in Rhaudermoor, Germany which is near Bremen, the daughter of Hinrich Neelen and Amke Koster. Elske married a Johann Berends Smit in 1874, which would make her Bernard Schmidt's mother. Thomas had said he had two sisters (the other would have been Erna's mother)

It would appear that Thomas has added Cox to his name for some reason, perhaps he was a coxswain on the boat. It also looks like he also faked his place of birth. Jeff often wonders if Thomas had ever been to Canada and also why he felt the need to disguise his German origin as far back as 1880's.

Finally Eppo... the story goes that Thomas had been celebrating the birth of his first born and was quite under the weather (so to speak) when he went to register the birth. Not remembering the name his wife Jessie had chosen, he decided to name his son Eppo after his long lost friend in Canada. As one can imagine Jessie was furious.!

I guess we will never know who or where the other Eppo came from.





This leaves me with a George Ellis in London to investigate being the father of Jane and Hannah. to discover if this is the Leeman/Ellis link that I am trying to find.

Entries in red refer to information given or found which was on this page prior to this update with appropriate comment as to their validity.

There is a George Ellis who was born in Finsbury in 24 Oct 1787.
Unlikely to be a direct relation given that Hannah was staying with her Aunt Hannah Ellis b1799 in 1851.

From the following records it would seem that George Ellis was born 1810/11 in Islington London
George Ellis married Jane Humphreys 14th September 1834 in Finsbury North London..
According to the 1841 Census return George and Jane were resident in St Mary Islington West Middlesex
with children Hannah (1835), George (1837), Frederick (1839) and Jane.(1841).

Therefore the following would appear incorrect Jane was born in Old Street Finsbury 1832 - while Hannah being born 27 May 1835 in Islington would appear to be correct.

According to the 1851 Census return George and Jane were resident in Mile End Old Town Middlesex (having moved there between 1846 and 1848)
with children George (1837), Frederick (1839), Jane (1841), Thomas (1844), Henry (1846), John (1848), and Charles (1850).
This record also indicates that wife Jane Ellis (nee Humphreys) was born in Wales.
Eldest daughter Hannah (1835) was with her unmarried Aunt Hannah Ellis born 1799 who I assume to be George's elder sister..

According to the 1861 Census return George and Jane were resident in Limehouse St Anne Middlesex
with children Frederick (1839), Henry (1846), John (1848), Charles (1850), Amelia (1855), Ann (?), and Bemen (1857)
This record also indicates that wife Jane Ellis (nee Humphreys) was born in New Town Montgomeryshire Wales (parents possibly Evan and Mary).
Eldest daughter Hannah had married Abraham Bentley 30 March 1859.
I have not located George or Thomas - perhaps they accompanied Jane to Australia who is also missing.

It would seem that Jane Ellis nee Humphreys dies between 1861 and 1864.

According to the 1871 Census return George was with wife Fanny (1835 Devon), in Stepney London
with children Amelia (1853), Alfred H (1865), Edith (1866), Arthur J (1869) and Albert G (1870).
George (1837) is with wife Sarah and children George, John, Anna, Minnie and Charles in Mile End Old Town Middlesex
I have not located Frederick (1839).
Thomas (1844) is with wife Jane A (1847) and daughter Jane E (1870) in Paddington London.
I have not located Henry (1846) , John (1848), Charles (1850), Ann (?) or Bemen (1857).

According to the 1881 Census return George was with wife Fanny (1835 Devon) in Wanstead Essex
with children Edith (1866), Arthur (1869), Albert (1870) and Ernest (1873)


There is a George Ellis on the 1881 census aged 70 born in Hatfield, living with his sister Martha Bentley aged 69 - but I do not think this is our man.

This is where this account ends at the moment - and it would appear that the trail runs cold as far as reasons for Leemans adding Ellis as a given name in my family.

But ........ on my genealogical travels I came across another link - still with the odd mystery in tow but much closer to home and involving the same family!
This time it includes John's elder sister Sarah, younger sister Elizabeth and my own great grandfather younger brother Henry.