The Appleby Family of Exton & Northdown, Tasmania

created 2003   *   last updated 26 February 2005

by Greg Harling & Bruce Eames


email     home

Acknowledgements - thanks are due to the following people for their help  -
Carole Sarvis, Peter Appleby, Ron Loane

Emanuel Appleby (1760, Kingsdon, Somerset - 1797, Kingsdon)
Love Ludwell (1765, Kingsdon - May 1796, Kingsdon), 2 May 1785, Kingsdon
William (1786, Kingsdon - 21 March 1849, Somerton, Somerset)
John (1796 - ?)

William Appleby (1786, Kingsdon - 21 March 1849, Somerton)
Elizabeth Walton (1788, Kingsdon - 10 Dec 1852, Somerton), 8 April 1811, Kingsdon
Sarah Jane (1812, Somerton - 11 Jun 1885, Exton, Tasmania)
Elizabeth Ann (1813, Long Sutton, Somerset - ?)
William Walton (1814, Long Sutton - 23 March 1884, Westbury, Tasmania)
Ann (1816, Long Sutton - ?)
John (1817, Long Sutton - ?)
Mary Gould (1820, Long Sutton - 11 July 1880, Clarendon, Tasmania)
Robert Gould (1823, Long Sutton - ?)

Sarah Jane Appleby (1812, Somerton - 11 Jun 1885, Exton, Tasmania)
Henry Martin (1812, Somerton - 6 Jan 1899, Exton), 12 Jul 1837, Somerton

Elizabeth Ann Appleby (1813, Long Sutton, Somerset - ?)
William Richardson, 7 Apr 1828

William Walton Appleby (1814, Long Sutton - 23 March 1884, Westbury, Tasmania)
Mary Sweet (ca 1819 - 28 Mar 1908, Dunorlan,Tasmania), 13 Sep 1843, Christ Church, Longford, Tasmania

Ann Appleby (1816, Long Sutton - ?)
James Newson, 16 Aug 1840

John Appleby (1817, Long Sutton - ?)
Ann ?, before 1846

Mary Gould Appleby (1820, Long Sutton - 11 July 1880, Clarendon, Tasmania)
James Heyes (1824, England - 1 Sep 1904, Launceston, Tasmania), 6 Sep 1854, Middlesex

Robert Gould Appleby (1823, Long Sutton - ?
Elizabeth Chant, 13 Sep 1845

The Appleby family tree has its roots in rural Somerset, England, but grew a branch in Tasmania when a handful of siblings followed each other to the far side of the world to make their way in life. Their grandfather, Emanuel Appleby (1760-1797), lived in the small village of Kingsdon,  boasting a few hundred inhabitants and approximately 15 k.m. south of Glastonbury. More research is required to illuminate the story of the Appleby family’s origins, but in the meantime it can be noted that the Mormon IGI reveals a number of Appleby marriages in Kingsdon from 1774. Among these is the marriage of Emanuel to Love Ludwell (1765-1796) on 2 May 1785, and there are also marriages for Unity, Betty, Peace, Luke, and Charles. Some or all of these must have been Emanuel’s siblings. The unusual names also possibly suggest affiliation with a nonconformist religious group, possibly Quakers?  The name “Appleby” itself is  Norman in origin and refers to a place or village  where apples grow.

Emanuel and Love are known to have had two sons - William and John -  but the unfortunate parents died in the mid-1790’s and never saw their boys grow up. Presumably the young orphans went to live with relatives, maybe with Luke Appleby, who married Ann Norris in 1794 and named two of his children Emanuel (1801) and Love (1810), quite possibly in memory of his late siblings / cousins. At any rate, the children made it through and it was William who fathered the future emigrants. William (1786-1849), who was a baker for many years and later a coal hauler, moved to nearby Long Sutton after marrying Elizabeth Walton and their 7 children were baptised here. The oldest son, William Walton (1814-1884), was the first to emigrate to Tasmania. Receiving assisted passage, he embarked on the Corsair and after several months at sea arrived at Launceston on 8 May 1842.

Within a year or so of his arrival, William met young Mary Sweet (1819-1908). Mary - whose origins remain obscure -  was also an assisted immigrant : she had travelled on the Arab from London and stepped ashore at Launceston on 31 March 1842. They married on 13 September 1843, at the Church of England, Longford, and their first child Elizabeth was born 9 months later. The family settled in the Westbury area, and by the 1850's they were living at "Marsh Paddock", a marshy area just east of Exton on the Westbury road. Another 4 brothers and sisters joined Elizabeth up to 1851, but in  September-October 1853 an outbreak of scarlet fever carried off Elizabeth herself and siblings Sarah, Mary and Thomas. Family tradition records that on 26 Sept 1853, William attended the funeral of his son Thomas at Deloraine, and returned home to discover that his daughter Elizabeth had died while he was away. "Because of the seriousness of the epidemic, the doctor found it necessary to leave medicines on the gate posts, rather than come into contact with the patients" (Bramich).  It is hard to imagine William and Mary’s feelings as one child after another died until only William Jnr was left, but at about this time, they did have another son, Robert Samuel, whose birth is not recorded in state birth registrations. During the following 7 years, they rebuilt their family : their next daughter was named Elizabeth Sarah Mary after her deceased sisters (or Elizabeth Mary Sarah according to some sources), and she was followed by brothers John Walton and Richard (the latter unrecorded in state birth registrations).

It has recently been discovered that William, like so many of his fellow Tasmanians, joined the Gold Rush to Victoria. On 12 Sept 1852, he departed Launceston on the Gazelle, bound for Port Phillip. We do not know if he struck it rich, but he spent about 5 months on the goldfields, returning to Tasmania in February 1853 on the Yarra Yarra.

In 1855, William's married sister, Mary, came to Tasmania with her new husband James Heyes. Their first child was born at Exton on 5 September. The following year, William applied for assisted passage under the bounty scheme for his sister Sarah Jane, her husband Henry Martin, and their family of 7 children. They embarked in 1857 on the Fortune, and after a journey marked by the death of their eleven year old son Joseph, they arrivied at Launceston on 1 June. It has also been suggested that a brother, Robert, may have come to Tasmania, but no evidence has been found for this yet.

William supported his family by farming, and we know from the assessment rolls published in the Hobart Town Gazette that by Jan 1858, he was leasing an 80 acre farm at Marsh Paddock from the major local landowner T. W.  Field. By February 1863, he had increased this to 140 acres, which he retained for the rest of his life. William had the pleasure of seeing most of  his children married and they had given him over a dozen grandchildren by his death in 1884. His widow Mary continued to live at Exton into the 1890’s but later moved into the house of her daughter Elizabeth at Dunorlan, and it was here she died in 1908 at ca 90 years of age.

William and Mary were buried at St Mark's, Deloraine.  Presumably at the time of Mary's burial, fresh concrete was laid on the plot with an inscription drawn by hand while it was still wet.  It reads "William APPLEBY / Aged ... years / ALSO / MARY / [wife] of the above / Aged 91 yrs". Between April 2004 and January 2005, the concrete gave way and the inscription was damaged. The photograph below records the state of the grave before this damage.

The oldest son, William, later moved up to Ulverstone, and this branch of the family tended to spell their name “Applebee”. Apart from having 13 children, his claim to fame was as a champion ploughman, having won his first winner’s trophy in his mid teens. The inhabitants of Ulverstone held him in such esteem that in Oct 1908 they made a special presentation to him of a purse of £12. Sadly, his wife did did not live to share this great moment, as she had died the year before. William’s sister, Elizabeth, married William Sherriff, son of Humphey Sherriff, ex-convict and neighbour at Marsh Paddock for many years. It could be said Elizabeth made up for the loss of her sisters with  an exceptionally long married life : on 5 May 1925, by which time Mr and Mrs. Sherriff lived at Devonport, the Advocate newspaper noted their golden wedding anniversary ; 10 years later, the same newspaper comemmorated their diamond anniversary (4 May 1935).

Little is known of their brother John’s fate, possibly married to Susan Peters in 1890, but with no known children. The remaining brothers, however, established a new line of the Appleby family further north in the Northdown area. Between them, they married all the daughters of John Swan and his wife Amelia Knight, who lived in Westbury.

John Swan was a pardoned convict, having been transported in 1842 from Kent, England, on the Candahar.  His crime was the theft of a pig – which earned him a sentence of 14 years - and he had previous convictions for poaching and stealing a rabbit. He spent 3 years working in probation gangs, during which time his behaviour was consistently good, and from 1845 he was employed in the Westbury and Longford areas. His ticket of leave was granted on 24 Oct 1848, and a conditional pardon was not far off, having been recommended in Dec 1849 and granted in April 1851.  John had left a wife (Charlotte) and children (John, James, Edward) behind in Kent, and in 1848 he applied to have them brought out to Tasmania – a practice set up by the government to help rehabilitate convicts.  Permission was granted but Charlotte and her sons declined to emigrate.

Presumably disappointed, John served out the rest of his sentence, and it was not long after his pardon that he married young Amelia Knight, on 20 Sept 1851. Three daughters  were born to them : Sarah Ann (1852-1922), Elizabeth (1853-1947), and Amelia (1856-1880). John supported them by farming : he occupied various properties, including a farm on the Westfield estate, near Westbury, owned by T. W. Field.

An unexpected event then intruded on their happy family life : John died on 18 Feb 1858, leaving Amelia to cope with the 3 very young girls. John left various properties in trust in Westbury, the profits of which were to support his family during the girls’ minority, and his widow achieved further support and security by remarrying 2 years later to a neighbour, George Wilkins, who was 25 years her senior.

When Robert and Richard Appleby came on the scene, the daughters were in their early twenties and had come into the ownership of the properties bequeathed by their father. Robert was the first to marry : in 1876, he and Elizabeth Swan took their vows in her mother’s dwelling house in Westbury. In 1880, the younger brother Richard married Elizabeth’s sister Amelia, and their first child (George) was born 7 weeks later, but Amelia was to die later the same day. Richard lived as a widower wth his young son for 3 years, then in 1884 a wife and mother came back into the house in the shape of the remaining Swan sister, Sarah Ann.

It seems Robert and Richard left Exton after they married : both lived in Westbury for a while, Richard right through the 1880’s, but Robert moved around the Deloraine and Longford areas.  What is clear from the assessment rolls is that Richard was in East Devonport by Nov 1890,  leasing a 370 acre farm from Charles Best of Westbury. Robert is not known to have lived in the area until 1900 (when listed in a Post Office directory), and by September 1904 he owned a 99 acre property at Northdown described as “bush land” in the assessment rolls. Richard had left East Devonport by this date and owned 49 acres of “bush land” at Northdown. Richard's property was located on the east side of present-day Appleby Road, approx 1.3 km south of Port Sorell Road. Robert's was approx ½km further south, straddling both sides of Appleby Road and taking in the intersection with Baker Lane. Here it was they spent the rest of their lives (although Richard went to live with a daughter at nearby Railton in his old age), working hard on their farms and bringing up their families.

The Great War intruded on this quiet rural existence and both families suffered losses. Robert’s second oldest son, Richard George Vincent (twin to the deceased Emma), enlisted on 8 Dec 1915 at Latrobe and was a Private in the 12th Battalion. His cousins William Walton and Richard John (Richard’s sons) followed him and enlisted on 29 Feb 1916 and 21 Sept 1916 respectively. William, who had married his sweetheart Ethel Reid in early 1916, was the first to be killed in action on 4 Dec 1916. Ethel was then 6 months pregnant, and the child, when born on 6 March 1917, was named William Walton in his father’s memory. In the Allied offensive of Spring 1917, Richard George Vincent perished, sometime between 6 and 10 April. Both are commemorated on memorials at Villers-Bretonneux, Devonport, and Latrobe. Richard John was shot in the leg and sent to England to recuperate, after which he returned to Australia on 20 Oct 1918 ; the injury gave him a limp and great discomfort for the rest of his life, and he was known to complain he wished he “had it amputated”.

The National Archives of Australia contains detailed records of Australians who performed military service from the Boer War onwards, including those for William, Richard John, and Richard George Vincent. In the latter case, for example, we can follow his journey step by step. After taking an oath on 8 Dec 1915 to serve the King, Richard was stationed at Claremont : he was recorded as being 5 ‘ 5 ¼” high, 135 lbs, with brown eyes and dark brown hair. In mid-Jan. 1916, he was sent to the camp at Broadmeadows, in Victoria, where he spent a month before embarking on the Ballarat on 18 Feb. The next stop was Alexandria, from which he set out for France on 30 May, and Richard finally joined the 12th Battalion on 4 Aug. He fought for 6 months until he caught the mumps and was hospitalised for several weeks. On 22 Feb 1917, he was discharged from hospital and returned to his battalion. Six weeks later,  Richard was dead, killed along with many fellow soldiers of the 12th Battalion between 6 and 10 April. In due course, the military authorities shipped Richard’s personal effects back to Melbourne, comprising a wallet, prayer-book, photograph, coins, and badge. These were posted from Melbourne on 7 Feb 1918 but did not reach his parents, and one of the saddest items in Richard’s file is a letter written by his mother on 13 June to the Dept of Defence in Melbourne, asking if “you can send me the personal effects, or failing that, any information regarding them.” On 27 June, the Dept replied, advising that they had sent them already, care of a J. Chapman, Steel St, Devonport (which it seems Robert Samuel was using as a postal address). The parents must have then pursued the matter with Mr Chapman, and one reads with a sense of relief the receipt for the effects, signed by Elizabeth on 8 July. In the period 1921-23, Robert and Elizabeth were sent various documents and medals recognising their son’s service, including messages from the King, the British war service medal (1921), and the Victory medal (1923).

Robert died six years later in 1929 and his brother Richard in 1938. Richard’s wife Sarah Ann predeceased him by 16 years and he had left Northdown in the mid-twenties (?) to live at Railton. Robert’s widow, Elizabeth, lived into her mid-nineties and is remembered with great affection by relatives living today. Possibly her eldest daughter lived with her : Mary Sarah Elizabeth, named after her long dead aunts, never married and predeceased her mother in 1935. These and other members of the family are buried at St James', Northdown.

After the departure of Robert and Richard, several of their sons carried on farming in the Northdown district. Ownership of Robert’s 99 acres passed to his son Robert William but assessment rolls name his brother, John Emanuel Swan, as the lessee. This continued until ca 1939, when it appears that the property was split in two, 46 acres remaining with Robert and the freehold of the other 53 acres going to John.

Robert and his wife Edith (nee Shea) continued farming in Northdown up to the early 1980’s. John died in 1957 and his wife Agnes (nee Sankey) the year before. Agnes was the grand-daughter of Joseph Sankey (1819-1878), ex-convict and pioneer who had come to the Northdown area in the early 1850’s. They had only 1 child, Kenneth James. It is believed that John offered his farm to Ken if he would come back from Victoria, and when Ken declined, the property was bequeathed to John’s sister Joyce (who married Peter Anderson). Electoral rolls confirm the presence of Peter and Joyce on the farm until 1961, and presumably after this date the farm was sold.

Prior to World War II, Ken Appleby worked as a woodcuter and orchardist in the Devonport area. He was also a champion cyclist, winning many competitions and trophies. It was at a bike shop in Rooke Street, Devonport, that Ken first met his future wife, Elsie May Floyd, who was walking past with her sister Betty. The Floyd family had come to Devonport ca 1898 from Burnie, with earlier convict origins in Perth. Ken and Elsie married on 28 Sept 1935 at Devonport, and 4 children were born in the ensuing 8 years. In 1940, Ken enlisted in the RAAF. He spent the next few years in military camps in Victoria, and eventually served overseas in Port Moresby from  March 1943 to mid-1944. During this period, Ken's larrikinism lead to some problems in the RAAF and he was  discharged in  Jan 1945. Elsie had spent many of the war years in Tasmania with her Appleby in laws, but by 1945 she was in Melbourne with their growing family. They lived at Camp Pell, Royal Park, which had been turned over from army use to public housing (their address was 42c, Area 6). Residents of Camp Pell were gradually allocated to the new public housing estates, and by 1955 they lived at 3 Marks Avenue, Heidelberg. The family comprised 11 children, but one of them, Neville, died on 8 July 1955 from leukaemia.

Ken and Elsie celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in Sept 1995. Elsie, however, was ill by this time and died on 21 Sept 1997.

Richard’s 49 acre farm at Northdown passed to his son Robert Samuel by 1925, and he worked it until his death in Nov 1936. His wife Eva then took it over until sometime during the War, after which it was owned by a C. Travers. Robert’s brother, Vincent Thomas, also farmed in the area : he owned 5 acres at Northdown from ca 1920, 200 acres of land at the East Arm in the 1930’s, and leased 35 acres of land at Port Sorell after the War (owned by C. Williamson, probably a relative of hs wife Beryl, nee Williamson). In the 1950’s, Vincent and Beryl moved to Port Sorell, where he died in 1963, and his wife in 1973.

Many other family members lived – and continue to live - in the area and although the Appleby farms are gone now, Robert and Richard established a family presence in the Northdown area which has lasted through time. This is  commemorated in many ways, not only through their descendants, but also in the presence of Appleby Road and nearby Appleby Creek. And like many of the earliest pioneering famlies of Northdown, the Appleby family is  well represented in the historic cemetery of St James’ Church, Northdown.

© 2013