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The Nance Family

of New South Wales, Australia


Wm Metcalfe
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It is not the intention of this site to delve into the origins of the name Nance. A number of experts have already investigated the origins and have established very interesting websites to that end. Rather, I will outline the history relating to the Nance's that came to the colony of New South Wales.

Thomas Nance was born on 1st April 1805, on the island of St. Marys, one of the many islands comprising the Isles of Scilly, which are 30 miles to the west of the coast of Cornwall. His father William, was a Seaman. The residents of these islands were renowned for their extraordinary maritime skills, and were responsible for many rescues of seaman from ships wrecked on rocks surrounding the islands.

In 1791, the total population of St. Marys was around seven hundred, and the people were described as a very tight knit community, and did not suffer outsiders very well. They were renowned for their salvaging of wrecked ships and their cargoes.

Thomas did not follow his fathers occupation as a seaman, but instead, became a carpenter. Unlike a lot of the other children on the Isles of Scilly, Thomas was taught to read and write.

Communication and supplies with the Isles of Scilly was by boat through the port of Penzance on the mainland. Obviously, Thomas must have visited the mainland and perhaps lived on the mainland prior to marrying Elizabeth Job on 19th July, 1829 at Madron, Cornwall. They lived in Penzance until around 1831, and then moved back to St. Marys for around three years before returning to live in Penzance around 1834. 

In the Cornwall Census held in 1841, Thomas and his family were living in Market Jew Street in Penzance. James Job (father of Elizabeth) was also living in the same household. 

They remained in Penzance until late 1843 when they emigrated, together with their seven children, aboard the barque "William Metcalf", sailing via Cork, Ireland to the colony of New South Wales. The vessel arrived in Sydney in March 1844 and they were allowed to disembark on arrival. They had emigrated as "Bounty Immigrants" and stayed for around ten years in Sydney. The family settled in the Chippendale area of Sydney where another five children were born. Only two of those children survived longer than twelve months.

Around 1854, the family relocated to Euroka, just south of Kempsey on the mid north coast of New South Wales. This area was rich in cedar timber and was still a small town having only been first settled in the 1830's. Thomas began farming the rich flood prone areas along the Macleay River, planting corn and fruit crops. The Nance family became well known and active citizens of Kempsey. Thomas and Elizabeth remained in the Kempsey area until their deaths in 1883 and 1888 respectively. 


Page last modified: 8th April 2004

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