James Day, the fourth son and sixth child of Thomas Day and Susanne Day (Renouf), was born in St Peter Port, Guernsey,Channel Islands on the 30th Jaunuary 1819, and baptised on the 14th February 1819 at the Chapelle Independante Francais, Rue Nouvelle, St Peter Port.
The tone of his letters written in the 1850's, indicate that he was educated, but nothing is known at this stage of where he was educated, or of his early childhood. He was a carpenter and builder by trade, and before emigrating to Australia, he worked at this trade in Jersey. It was here that he married his first wife, Elizabeth Robilliard. They were married in St Helier in 1839 when he was 20 years of age. It is believed they had 5 children,three dying before the family sailed to Australia.
James, Elizabeth and the surviving children, Elizabeth and Mary Hannah sailed from Jersey on 2nd September 1852 on the "FREEDOM" a schooner of 161 tons, arriving in Melbourne on 25th January 1853.
James' brother Jean(John), his wife Lucy and family, namely Corinna, Lucy and Grigriy arrived on the same ship. They were in Melbourne in 1853 and resided in Emerald Hill (South Melbourne). James and family may have stayed with John until they moved to Kew. This was on Good Friday 1853.
James bought a block of land with frontage to both Walpole and Peel Streets. The land was 315ft deep. The purchase was 70 pound, which he paid for by the 4th June 1858. This was bought from Mr Nicholas Alexander Fenwick, who had bought the land bordered by Princess, High and Eglington Streets for 25 pounds an acre. This he subdivided into 1/2 acre lots.
On the Peel Street frontage, James built 2 cottages, later building 2 houses on the Walpole Street frontage.
Elizabeth, the wife of James died in November 1853, just 10 months after arriving in Victoria. James was left with 2 young daughters aged 11 and 8 years. On the 9th August 1854, James married again. His second wife was Rebecca Young aged 24years. She was the youngest daughter of Joseph Young and Frances Young (Watson) of Altamullan, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Rebecca and her brother John had arrived on the ship "SEA" on the 2oth August 1851. She intended only staying 3 years. She was 21, could read and write and possessed a Bible. On 23 August the single female immigrants were received into the depot to await employers. The disposal list gives the following information: YOUNG:- Rebecca 21 years. House Servant to Mrs Mary Loftus, George St Collingwood. Wages £18 for 3 months- 29th August 1851. Rebecca had not been a servant before coming to Australia according to the shipping list.
James and Rebecca had 12 children over the next 25 years. Two sets of twins were included in this family. The first born, a girl and boy, were born on the gold fields at Mt Moliagul, near Dunolly in 1855. James the son only lived 9 days.
In 1858, another son was born in Kew. He was also named James. The other children in this family were Thomas Young; William Edwin: Ernest Horsley; Frances and Clement (Twins) ;Arthur Renouf; Frederick Watson;Walter Osborn and Ann Maud. They all attained adulthood, married and had families. James had fathered children from about the age of 20 to about 60.
James, with a Mr French was instrumental in getting Kew Congregational Church Chapel buil. in 1856. It was the first Church to be built in Kew, and was demolished in Dec 1978.The foundation stone was laid by Rev Connebee, and the silver trowel which was presented to him, was given to James Day and bequeathed by his wife Rebecca to her family, to be given to each one of her family to be held for one year and then passed on to the next in line to be held as a family Heirloom.
The Bodalla Nursing Home was built on this site and the silver trowel was given to be placed in a display case there.
Finding of the Bottle containing information of the laying of the Foundation Stone at the Independent Church, Walpole St. Kew;
See:- Herald. Melbourne Jan 22 1979.
Age Melbourne 7 Dec 1978
Progress Press February 7 1979. See these copies at State Library. Melb.
James spent some time on the Goldfields away from Rebecca, whom he missed terribly according to some of the letters he had written to her in the 1850's, and was always awaiting the arrival of mail to hear news of her, their family and home.
Rebecca and James lived at Walpole St . until their death. James died 19 Nov 1901 and Rebecca on 20 Dec 1902.
Thomas Day Snr 1787 - 1877. Channel Islands
The 8 sons of James and Rebecca DAY.
Arthur Renouf:Ernest Horsley;Walter Osborn ;Frederick Watson:
Front Row L-R
Thomas Young;James:William Edwin;Clement
Silver Trowel presented to James Day by Revd. Connebee and now in dispay case at the Bodalla Nursig Home, Kew, which was built on the site of the above mentioned Church.
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