Submission from Brian Forth to Higgins Genealogy 2001

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   Born on:  August 2001 
   Updated: 28 Oct 2005

Higgins Family 
of Currency Creek, Australia

 Submission Guidelines 


A Submission from:  BRIAN FORTH
                                  [email protected]

Date: August 2001
Area: Ireland, Australia

The Higgins family living near Currency Creek originate from the family of Joseph HIGGINS, who with his brother Ralph HIGGINS in 1725 built a Gentleman’s house called ‘Higginsbrook’ on the River Boyne situated 3 miles from Trim in Co Meath IRELAND. 

Thomas Walker HIGGINS (jr) was born 29th day of January 1810 at Bexhill in County Sussex ENGLAND, (his army discharge papers state born near Battle in County Sussex) while his father’s army regiment the 5th regiment of foot the Northumberland Fusiliers were
barracked there.  

His parents were Lieutenant Thomas Walker HIGGINS (sr) of Dublin IRELAND and Sarah SIMPSON from Beverley Yorkshire ENGLAND. Lt Thomas HIGGINS was severely wounded on 21st June 1813 at the Battle of Vittoria in SPAIN during the Peninsular Wars against Napoleon died a few days later. This HIGGINS family lived in Dublin IRELAND in the late 1700’s but originate from the family of Joseph HIGGINS who build ‘Higginsbrook’ near
Trim Co Meath. 

 [ Also See Lt Thomas Higgins


Thomas Walker Higgins (Jr) lived his early life in Doncaster Yorkshire with his mother Sarah and brother William, before moving back to Dublin Ireland to stay with his auntie Catherine HIGGINS. In 1831 he joined the 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys) rising to the rank of Sergeant, then purchasing his release in 1839. William HIGGINS went to Madras India in 1831 joining the Madras European Volunteer Artillery Company a part of the Honourable East India Company and died there. 

On April the 30th 1839 he married Jane FRANKS (nee WATSON from Newcastle on Trent) at St George Church in Southwark London. 

On May the 28th 1839 they joined the passengers on ship ‘Anna Robertson’ a 448 tone, 3 mast sailing ship leaving London and arriving at Port Misery (Port Adelaide) on September 30th 1839.  

They lived for a while in Adelaide where Thomas Walker Higgins found employment with the Post Office as a clerk, their only child Thomas William was born April 19th 1840 in Adelaide. 

City life did not suit him. In 1840 they journeyed to the South Coast where good land was plenty. They took up a run near Currency Creek, and on Section 2147 in the hundred of Goolwa they built their home naming it ‘Higginsbrook’ after his family’s ancestral home back
in Ireland. 

Thomas’s ‘Higginsbrook’ was build on a side of a hill, giving a scenic view over the valley towards the sea. Jane HIGGINS prepared a lovely English garden where she entertained friends, neighbours and even the cavalry held an all night dance camping near by to revelry in the morning and carry on. 

Thomas Walker HIGGINS took up an OCCUPATIONAL LICENCE on 2nd August 1843 

He took up lease on lands from near Currency Creek to Port Elliot, from the coast to the hills, first paying 10 schillings a square mile. His ‘run’ went from Currency Creek to Port Elliot from the seas to the hills. He bread Devon cattle to supply the whaling station at Encounter Bay, began to breed sheep and grew cereal crops.

He also established a report and respect amongst the local aboriginal tribe. 

He continued with mixed farming also leasing his own land to new residents where cereal crops were grown. 

In 1841 a young girl called Sarah McHARG left a survey camp near Meadows to proceed to her father’s house nearby. She never made home and in 1843 Thomas HIGGINS while searching for lost cattle near Currency Creek found her remains, a sad ending to a young life.  

In 1849 Thomas Higgins purchased what is now known as Middleton [Link to modern day Middleton]

In 1854 he had the land surveyed and made plans for the township of Middleton, naming after his connection with Ireland. Many locals took up the opportunity and purchased land allotments. 

Thomas was a Gentleman and grazier, he also became a Justice of the Peace in South Australia sitting on many Police and Coroners courts in the area, appointed Magistrate in the state of New South Wales, the first chairman of the District Council of Port Elliot and Goolwa, and commissioned n the Volunteer Military Force. 

Jane HIGGINS a small and petite lady not from the land soon adapted and was well respected in the area. She had the privilege in opening the Currency Creek Bridge
in 1866.  

In the 1850’s and 1860’s the Volunteer Force movement began to take shape in South Australia, with men from Port Eliot, Goolwa and Strathalbyn along with other country town and areas in Adelaide forming local Rifle Brigades.

Both Goolwa and Pt Elliot rifle brigades regularly competed against each other in rifle shooting matches in their early days. A shooting match was an excuse for picnics and socialising with many taking vantage points to watch their men compete. 

Many local men volunteered for service in the south coast area to support the cause to primary defend South Australia from attack. 

The following are known to become volunteers in a Goolwa and Port Elliot Rifle Brigades, 

In February and March 1860 at Port Elliot the following signed at volunteers, Charles John ANSTEY of Pt Elliot; Joseph BARTON; J BOTTOMBY; John MAYFIELD; Herbert GROSVENOR of Flagstaff Hill; Sam TRIGG of Port Elliot; Boucher WELCH; James MOONEY; Robert JEMISON; George HURLEY; C. A. WALTON; T. DENT; William DENT (unable to sign, witnessed by Henry C. SCARFE); John SPRY; Fred K. GREENFIELD; Joseph POLLEY (unable to sign witness by Henry SCARFE); William SPRY and John TRIGG, all signed before Buxton Forbes LAURIE at Port Elliot. 

Early July and September 1861 the following volunteered, E. S. HICK; John SHARPE; John GARDNER; Thomas BATSON; Frederick ELLIS; William FARROW; William Thomas HARDING; Abraham SUGG; Edward BOLGER and John WILSON all signed up before Buxton Forbes LAURIE at Port Elliot 

In July 1861 the following became volunteers, John RICE of Hindmarsh island; William KENNEDY of Goolwa; Edmund BRADLEY of Currency Creek; Charles PRICE of Hindmarsh Island; John FOSTER and Peter KEMP of Currency Creek; Samuel ALLEN; Guy ALLEN and William RAY from Goolwa; Thomas Walker HIGGINS; John COX; James KEMP; George FIDOCK; George BURGAR; Hugh DUNSTAN all of Currency Creek; J. W. JOHNS of Goolwa; Turner IRONS of Currency Creek; an ALLEN of Goolwa (witnessed by John KENNEDY); Thomas PRICE of Hindmarsh Island; Thomas TAYLOR (witnessed by Thomas SUGG); George
HIGHLAND; Samuel CLERGSTON; and Tra MYRRICKLL all of Goolwa; A. GRAHAM; C. L. REED. 

In December 1861 the following signed, Thomas SUGG (vice Thomas TAYLOR); John KENNEDY (vice John KENNEDY all of Goolwa; William BARNES and Edward BARNES both of Port Elliot; S. CHRYSTAL of Goolwa. 

In February 1863 the following signed up, William RANKINE of Hindmarsh Island; John VARCOE and John JEWELL both of Goolwa; Henry PACKER of Hindmarsh Island; Charles LOWE of ‘Woodland’ of Pt Elliot; T.H. GOODE; Joshua LAFFIN; Stephen WISDOM all of Goolwa; Samuel HARDGRAVES of Middleton; John R. KNOX of Hindmarsh Valley. 

In February 1864 the following signed up, Henry MOONEY; William HODGSON of Pt Elliot; Frederick NEWELL of Goolwa; Edward SMITH of Currency Creek; Michael WARDLE of Pt Elliot, W. GARDNER of Middleton all signed before Buxton LAWRIE

On June 16th 1866 Colonel BIGGS attended at Varcoe’s Hotel to form the Goolwa Cavalry Unit, the following 39 volunteers enrolled, 

Thomas Walker. HIGGINS
(late Captain of Goolwa Rifles);
 Charles LOWE;
Thomas GOODE;
Thomas William HIGGINS; 
Peter KEMP; 
William VARCOE;
Joshua LAFFIN; 
James BAKER; 
Samuel ALLAN; 
William GARDNER; 
Thomas SUGG; 
John SHARP; 
Alexander SUGG; 
John COX; 
Samuel MAY; 

John BELL; 
John MIERS; 
John MYERS; 
William KENNEDY; 
and William BLAND

The list was not complete for 10 more men were anxious to join if officialism will permit. 

On July 28th 1866, Colonel BIGGS attended at Strathalbyn where the Strathalbyn Cavalry the Number 2 troop was formed and 46 volunteered for service. The same happened at Milang where a further 8 volunteers enlisted to the Strathalbyn and Milang Cavalry troop. 

August the 4th 1866 the Goolwa Cavalry formed a guard of honour at the ‘turning of the sod’ for the Strathalbyn and Middleton Railway’. 

December 12th 1866, Jane HIGGINS laid the first stone for the Currency Creek viaduct, the Goolwa Cavalry Unit parading in full strength for the occasion. 

On November 10th 1866 at Goolwa under the command of Major Thomas Walker HIGGINS they paraded for the first time in their new uniforms as the Goolwa Cavalry the Number 1 Troop of the Volunteer Troops. A large number of spectators were present to view the occasion. 

They trained at Port Elliott, Goolwa and Finniss Flats were it was not unusual for up to 90 volunteers from Goolwa and Strathalbyn would meet for drill and field movements. Both Goolwa and Strathalbyn troops would regularly competed against each other in all forms of military competition, then ride together to Adelaide to challenge the Reedbeds Cavalry Unit in the field ground at Monteforie Hill. 

Number 1 Troop was Goolwa, number 2 troop was Milang and Strathalbyn, number 3 Troop was Robe and number 4 Troop was Reedbeds in Adelaide. 

There are reports of up to 50 personal in the Goolwa Cavalry Troop at one time training. Each trooper supplied his own horse and Martini Henry rifle and to regularly attends parades. Their uniform consisted of dark trousers, scarlet tunic with a dark blue cap with yellow band and white horse hair plume, the troop flag was deep blue with a maroon border and a crown above crossed oak leaves in the middle. 

On February 23rd 1869 the troop formed a guard of honour to the opening of the Strathalbyn-Middleton railway. 

Thomas was a strong person, not afraid to speak his mind and support things he believed in. 

Colonel HIGGINS was an intensely patriotic man and responded to the toast of ‘The Army and Navy’ at the opening of the Strathalbyn-Middleton Railway in 1869. He made a strong speech in which he complained of the poor treatment of the military volunteers. Whereupon, Governor Sir James Fergusson, intimated that his services and those of his troop, as a guard of honour, would be dispense with; ‘but the breakers still roll
in at Middleton’. 

Thomas Walker HIGGINS resigned his commission on March 22nd 1869. 

Thomas Walker HIGGINS received his first commission to rank of Captain on August 8th 1861 to the Goolwa rifles, this was re affirmed September 12th 1866 when the Goolwa Cavalry Troop was formed, then appointed to Major on October 8th 1866, and Lt Colonel on September 12th 1867, also given the rank of Colonel in Charge of the Volunteer Cavalry. 

Thomas William HIGGINS was appointed Coronet on July 7th 1866, and Lieutenant on August 22nd 1867 in the Goolwa Cavalry. 

By late 1869 the Volunteer Forces enthusiasm began to wain and eventually reduce to a few dedicated units.  

In 1872 Jane HIGGINS died at Higginsbrook and buried at Currency Creek cemetery. 

On February 3rd 1874 in the Chapel at Yatala Labour Prison, Thomas William HIGGINS married Heloise May Moorundie SCOTT. 

Heloise’s father was Edward Bate SCOTT an explorer, grazier was Superintendent of Yatala labour prison from 1869 for 23 years before retiring to Currency Creek. 

Thomas Walker HIGGINS donated large bell to the Church of the Holy Evangelist at Goolwa in 1897. 

May 24th 1899 Thomas Walker HIGGINS died at the Austral Club in Adelaide. 

His coffin was carried home by train to his beloved ‘Higginsbrook’ and buried at Currency Creek Cemetery along side Jane HIGGINS

In 1915 Heloise HIGGINS and family built the church tower in memory of her son Thomas Edward Charles HIGGINS who died in Sydney 1905. The HIGGINS family also donated a clock for the tower in 1915.  

Thomas William HIGGINS carried on with rifle shooting after his volunteer involvement along with his mixed farming at “Burnt Oak’ dying in 1915. 

Their children were:
   Thomas Edward Charles born 1877, dying 1905, 
    Mabel Janet Celia
born 1879 dying 1946,
      she married Robert CAVE
   Blanche Isobel Mary born 1882 dying 1948
      married John Richard BORROW in 1909, and 

Hugh William Desmond born 1885 dying 1937. Hugh married Mabel Yseult VASEY on May the 25th 1915 at Glenelg.

He built their home called ‘The Brook’ on Section 2146 hundred of Goolwa before 1915.

Their children were 

Alan Thomas Desmond HIGGINS born 1915 died 1983 a 
(Link to Currency Creek Cemetery [Broken Link - 20 December 2002]
listing with this
person and other Higgins' )
 [Broken Link - 20 December 2002]

farmer and grazier of ‘Burnt Oak’ local Country Fire Service volunteer and Councillor for Goolwa and Port Elliot Council, married Beatrice Joyce LANGCAKE.

Mary Aileen HIGGINS born 1920, married Wally FORTH a Mounted Police officer and later a stock and station agent with Dalgety. 

Charles Frederick Kevin HIGGINS born 1927, died 1991 a farmer and grazier living at ‘The Brook’ involved in Country Fire Service, married Muriel Grace WEIR.

Margaret Heloise HIGGINS, born 1929, moved to Melbourne and worked for the Victorian Cricket Association, married Allan STANBROUGH.

Raymond Hugh Edward HIGGINS born 1932, died 1996, moved to Adelaide as an accountant with Shell Australia, married Jennifer RUSSELL

Today, the homes of ‘Higginsbrook’, ‘The Brook’ and “Burnt Oak’ still stand. ‘Higginsbrook’ and ‘The Brook’ have changed hands, but Burnt Oak is owned my Mark HIGGINS and Silverhills be Jeffrey HIGGINS descendants of Thomas Walker and Jane HIGGINS


The above information is reproduced here with the permission of Brian Forth,the Submitter. All information remains the copyright of the submitter and may be removed at any time, at their request. 

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