NameJohn (John Jenkins) DEASON , GGG Grandson, M
Birth1829, Tresco, Isles Of Scilly, Cornwall, England
Death13 September 1915, Moliagul (Registered Dunolly), Victoria, Australia, (8809)
Burial15 September 1915, Moliagul Cemetery, Moliagul, Victoria, Australia
OccupationTin Dresser In 1851, Miner In 1852, Gold Miner
Baptism20 December 1829, Crowan [Crows-An-Wra], Cornwall, England
Birthabout 1829, Crowan [Crows-An-Wra], Cornwall, England
Burial31 March 1858, White Hills, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia
Death30 March 1858, Long Gully, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, (2980)
Marriage16 August 1851, Registry Office, Penzance, Cornwall, England
Birth22 January 1836, Burntisland, Fife, Scotland
Burial19 September 1921, Moliagul Cemetery, (Grave 200), Moliagul, Victoria, Australia
Death9 September 1921, Golden Square, Victoria, Australia, (10091)
Marriage28 October 1858, Presyterian Manse, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, (4309)
ChildrenThomas , M (1859-1928)
Notes for John (John Jenkins) DEASON
B2 – Life on the Isles of Scilly
John Deason was the youngest of four children to Thomas Deason and Elizabeth Jenkin, born 12 to 14 September 1829 (see below) on Tresco, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall. To date, no record has been found of his birth. Prior to the commencement of the English civil registration system in 1838, dates of birth were generally reliant on church baptismal records. Although there is a baptismal record for John’s brother, Thomas, there is no record for John or his two sisters.
However, John’s date of birth can be calculated from later records:
• 1841 Census – 6 June 1841 – age 12;
• 1851 Census – 30 March 1851 – age 21;
• John Deason & Margaret Davey’s wedding – 16 August 1851 – age 21;
• Epaminondas, ship’s registry – 29 August 1853 – age 23;
• John Deason & Catherine McAndrew’s wedding – 28 October 1858 – age 29;
• Son Thomas Deason’s birth - 14 September 1859 – age 30; and
• John Deason’s death - 13 September 1915 – age 85.
Note: ages recorded in the 1841 Census were often a ‘best guess’ even though the ages for persons under 15 years were meant to be accurate (over 15 years were meant to be an estimate).
Discounting the 1841 Census record the remaining six documents indicate John’s date of birth as between 12 and 14 September 1829.
Although at the time of John’s second marriage in Bendigo, 1858, he stated his birthplace as “Penwyth [sic], Cornwall” other records indicate that he was born on Tresco, e.g. 1851 Census records John’s birthplace as “Scilly Isles, Tresco”.
John’s parents were Thomas Deason (c1785-1830) and Elizabeth Jenkin(s) (c1793-1862). They married 6 August 1820, Tresco, Isles of Scilly and had four children:
• Elizabeth Deason (c1821-1821);
• Grace Deason (c1822-1888);
• Thomas Deason (c1826-1843); and
• John Deason (c1829-1915).
John Deason’s father’s line
John’s father, Thomas, was born on Tresco about 1785 and died (drowned) off St Mary’s in 1830. He was one of nine children to John Deason (c1741-1812) and Elizabeth Nichol(l)s (c1746-1825) – both of Tresco. His parents were Thomas Deason (c1700-<1742) and Mary Lakey (c1700->1741) – both probably of Tresco. For more information on earlier generations refer Book 1.
John Deason’s mother’s line
John’s mother, Elizabeth, was probably born on Tresco about 1793 and died Madron, Cornwall, 1862.
Her parents were Walter Jenkin (c1757-1804/1841) and Grace Pender (c1758-1852). For more information on the Jenkin(s) and Pender families see Part L – Appendices – Associated Families.
The Isles of Scilly are notorious for their shallow waters and violent storms and the loss of men at sea was a common occurrence. John’s family were not spared: his father, Thomas, was drowned 27 September 1830 when the pilot boat (a ‘gig’) Hope foundered and sank on The Cow ledge - a submerged rock 500 metres off the western shore of St Mary’s. Gig, a local Scilly term, was a six-oared boat, usually with a crew of eight, used for inter-island transport and for carrying pilots to ships requiring navigational help through the shallow and dangerous channels of the Isles of Scilly. Piloting provided a good source of revenue to supplement farming on the islands. The Hope was “much overladen, shipped a heavy sea and sank” and of the “14 on board”, five were drowned:
• Thomas DEASON (c1785-1830), noted as age 46 years;
• James JENKIN (c1763-1830), 67 years;
• Charles JENKIN (c1795-1830), 35 years;
• John ODGER (c1776-1830), 54 years; and
• Catherine ODGER (c1776-1830), 54 years.
All were buried on 27 September 1830. The school-teacher and the parish priest were among the survivors. Note: it is likely that those drowned were all closely related. (Further research required – determine relationship, if any, of those drowned to Deasons).
It is difficult to determine how long John Deason’s family remained on Tresco after his father’s death in 1830. Conditions on the Isles of Scilly in the early 1800s became untenable and in 1834 a new landlord, Augustus Smith, took over the running of the Isles. He evicted many islanders on the basis that the islands were over-populated and compelled children of larger families to find work on the mainland. Those least able to support themselves were the first to go. Augustus built a new home and garden within the grounds of the ruins of Tresco Abbey. This was completed in 1838 but did require the demolition of three islander homes – all belonging to Jenkins families.
The Deason family may have remained on Tresco after 1834 to enable the children to attend school there. Evidence suggests that the Deason children were literate: John certainly could sign his name as evidenced in 1851 & 1858,. Likewise, John’s sister, Grace, was also able to sign her name in 1853 whereas her husband could not. John and his siblings may have attended the Anglican Church school that had been established on Tresco in 1752 to help the islanders. In the mining areas of mainland Cornwall it is unlikely that access to education would have been possible as this was before the days of compulsory education. So a move to the mainland closer to 1840, when John was about eleven, may well be the likely scenario. They were definitely in the St Just-in-Penwith area by 1840 when John’s mother, Elizabeth, married Philip Bonetto.
B3 – Life in St Just in Penwith & surrounds
New start in St Just area
By 1840, John’s widowed mother, Elizabeth, had moved to mainland Cornwall with the three surviving children.
On 22 February 1840, Elizabeth Deason married Philip BONETTO (c1793-1847) at St Just-in-Penwith, Anglican Church. Philip was noted as age: 47 years; a “bachelor”; occupation: “miner”; residence: Carrack; father: Philip Benetto [sic], a “miner”. Elizabeth was noted as age: 46 years; a “widow”; residence: Carrarack [sic]; father: Walter Jenkins, a “farmer”. They were married by the Rev. John Walker; witnesses: James Hall and John Tregear. Both Philip and Elizabeth made their mark “X”. Note: the marriage certificate incorrectly recorded Elizabeth’s surname as “Deaken” and Philip’s surname was later incorrectly indexed under “Bennet”.
Elizabeth’s eldest child, Grace, took-up work as a domestic servant and by 1841 was working in the village of Paul. Thomas and John went to work at the mines near St Just in Penwith. For more information on Grace and Thomas – see Book 1.
By 1841 the family had settled in the nearby village of Cararack. Cararack was situated 2.5 kilometres north of St Just, originally an agricultural tenement forming part of Botallack Manor and with onset of mining:
… The focus of the settlements, however, had by 1841 moved south to Cararrack, where there was a scatter of new cottages and a public house. The siting and orientation of the cottages here may also have been determined by the presence of the roughly east-west lode dumps of earlier mining activity. …
The miners of Cararack probably worked in the same mines as those in nearby Botallack, the major ones the: Crown Mine; Wheale Owles; Wheal Boys and Parnoweth. By the 1860s most mining had ceased and by 1884 “Carrarrack” was noted as simply – “22 acres” – as if referring to a farm. Only ruins of the miners’ cottages and hotel, the Queen’s Arms, exist today as part of Botallack Farm. Note: other records (parish registers, etc.) refer to this location as “Carrarrack”, “Carrarack”, "Carrarack”, “Carrarracke” and “Carallack”. In addition, Elizabeth and Philip’s marriage record of 1840 refers to the location as “Carrack”.
The 1841 Census recorded:
Parish of St Just, village: Cararack [spelling not clear]
Philip Bonetto, age: 45 years, occupation: miner, born: in the County (i.e. Cornwall)
Elizabeth Bonetto, age: 45 years, born: in the County (i.e. Cornwall)
Thomas Deason, age: 15 years, occupation: miner, born: in the County (i.e. Cornwall)
John Deason, age: 12 years, occupation: tin dresser, born: in the County (i.e. Cornwall).
Note: John’s sister, Grace, was listed in the 1841 Census as a servant working in the village of Paul, some 15 kilometres away.
The 1841 Census indicates that Cararack was a small village consisting of only 14 households; with at least one shop; and while most householders were noted as miners, two were noted as farmers.
1841 Census - Cararack
The 14 Cararack households recorded in the 1841 Census were (ages shown in brackets):
• William Hicks (20), miner, wife Ann (30) and children: Elizabeth (5); William (2) and Mary (1 month)
• Thomas May (35), miner, wife Margery (50) and children: Mary (15); Thomas (15); unclear (15); John (13); Samuel (7)
• William Thomas (45), farmer, wife Kezia (40) and children: Elizabeth (12); William (10); Thomas (5)
• Thomas Thomas (45), miner, wife Honor (40); and children: Elizabeth (15); James (15); Thomas (14); John (12); Ann (10); Honor (6); William (4). Also in same household William Long (55), miner and Thomas Long (40), miner
• John Thomas (70), wife Elizabeth (60) and child: John (30), miner
• Tommy Williams (30), miner, wife Rebecca (24) and children: William (3) and Henry (1). Also in same household William Davey (20), miner
• Philip Bonetto (45), miner, wife Elizabeth (45) and children Thomas Deason (15), miner and John Deason (12), tin dresser
• Jane Newton (70) shopkeeper and Mary Newton (13), shopkeeper
• Phillis Davies (60), miner
• Henry Newton (45), farmer, wife Martha Newton (40) and children: Jane (15); William (10); Martha (12); Eliza (8); Amelia (6); James (5); Henry (3)
• William Eddy (50), miner, wife Rebecca (50) and children: Ann (15); Thomas (13), miner; Richard (8)
• John Pollard (40), farmer, wife Esther (35) and children: John (14); Esther (11); William (9); Thomas (6); Emily (4); Maria (2). Also in same household: Thomas Eddy (20), miner; Mary Eddy (15), miner; John Pollard (25), miner
• Richard Oats (30), miner, wife Elizabeth (25) and children: William (3); Thomas (7 months)
• Patience Ellis (50) and children: Thomas (25), miner; Charles (20), miner; Mary (18), tailor; John (15), miner; Elias (12), miner; Alexander (10). Also in same household: John Williams (20), miner
All of the above were noted as born in Cornwall.
It is interesting to note that, as well as John Deason, at least one other family listed in the 1841 Census for Cararack can be traced to settlement in Australia (see below - ages – as noted above – shown in brackets):
• John Pollard (40) came to Victoria, 1855 on the Caldera with his wife and four of their children: Thomas (6), Maria (2), Mary & Joseph (both born after 1841);
• John Pollard’s eldest son, John (14), came to Victoria in 1868 on the SS Great Britain and settled near Dunolly. His daughter, Esther, married John Deason’s eldest son, Thomas (for more information refer C – Thomas Deason (1859-1928) & descendants);
• Oats – this family is not directly related to Richard Oat(e)s who came to Victoria in 1854 and was co-finder of the Welcome Stranger nugget;
• Although the surnames Hicks and Ellis are common on the Isles of Scilly, details recorded in the 1851 Census indicate that William Hicks (snr) was born at Buryan; Patience Ellis at Sancreed (her husband probably died prior to 1851) and all their children at St Just. As a result, it is unlikely that Elizabeth Deason and family accompanied these families when moving from the Scillies.
1851 Census - Cararack
The village of Cararack was still in existence in 1851. By utilising the 1851 Census it is possible to determine changes since the 1841 Census (1851 ages shown in brackets):
• William (35) and Ann (30) Hicks, along with their children, Elizabeth (14) and William (12) are likely to have moved to Madron where William was a “labourer”;
• Thomas and Margery May and family do not appear to be in Cornwall;
• William Thomas and family do not appear to be in Cornwall;
• Honor Thomas (54) along with children, James (28), John (24), Ann (21), Honor (16) and William (14) are now in nearby Newhouse, the sons noted as “tin miners”. Thomas Thomas (father) probably died before 1851;
• John and Elizabeth Thomas cannot be located – it is likely that they had died;
• The Williams family cannot be located in Cornwall;
• Henry (58) and Martha (51) Newton and children, William (20), Mary (23), Martha (22), James (15), Henry (13), Margaret (10), John (8), Edward (6) are now in nearby Botallack where Henry was noted as a “farm labourer”; William a “tin miner”; and Mary a “dress maker”;
• William (65) and Rebecca (60) Eddy and children, Richard (17) were still in Cararack, where William and Richard were noted as “tin miners”;
• John (49) and Esther (46) Pollard and children, Esther (22), William (20), Thomas (16), Emily (14), Maria (12), Mary (9), Joseph (6 months) were now in nearby Truthwall where John was noted as a “farmer (of 8 acres)”, Esther a “straw bonnet maker” and William and Thomas “tin miners”;
• Richard and Elizabeth Oats cannot be located with any certainty. They could be the Richard (43) and Elizabeth (39) in nearby Newhouse, however their children are not consistent with 1841 Census information (the 1851 Census notes children as Richard (15) and William (7) and Richard snr & jnr as “tin miners); and
• Patience Ellis (63) and children, Thomas (39), Mary (26), Elias (21) and Alexander (18) were now in Truthwall where the sons were noted as “tin miners” and Mary a “charwoman”.
The three or so years that the Deason/Bonetto family spent at Cararack would have been a very formative time for John and most likely the place where he first became involved with mining and miners. Both John’s step-father and brother were miners. And, as noted earlier, some of the Cararack village people would later meet up with John on the Victorian goldfields and the daughter of one would marry John’s son, Thomas Deason.
By 1843 the family were living in the nearby mining village of Botallack. John’s step-father, Philip Bonetto, was noted as a resident of Botallack at the time of the death of John’s brother, Thomas, in September 1843. Thomas died of dropsy, possibly a result of exposure to arsenic used in tin processing (for more information on Thomas – see Book 1).
Botallack is situated on the main road 2.5 kilometres north of St Just and was one of the oldest tin mining areas in Cornwall; mentioned as early as 1584:
...a little hamlet on the coaste of the Irishe sea, moste visited with Tinners, where they lodge and feed, being nere their mynes”
By John Deason’s time deep-seam mines were well established with the Crown Mine, Wheale Owles, Wheal Boys and Parnoweth being the major ones. The Crown Mine’s entrance was on the sea cliff-face with deep shafts extending out to sea.
By 1847 the family appear to have fallen on hard times, possibly due to John’s step-father, Philip’s, ill health. Philip Bonetto died 14 December 1847, at the Union Workhouse, Madron, Cornwall; his death certificate recording he died of “consumption”, was a “miner” and age “55 years”. Philip was buried three days later, on the 17 December 1847, at St Just-in-Penwith; the Anglican Parish register noting him as age “55 years” and residence “Union workhouse”.
By 1851 the family – now just Elizabeth and John - had moved to the larger mining town of Trewellard. John’s sister, Grace, had moved further away to Bristol.
Trewellard is situated on the main road about 4 kilometres north of St Just and was one of the largest mining towns in the area. It was originally an agricultural settlement centred on Trewellard Manor at Lower Trewellard. The Levant mine, situated above the sea cliffs, was mentioned as early as 1670 and by the Deason’s time was still the dominant mine in the area; others being: Wheal Carne; Wheal Bal; East Levant and Spearn. The town consisted of two areas: Lower Trewellard and Trewellard Cross with its inn – the Trewellard Arms. The last mine – the Geevor – closed in 1991.
The 1851 Census recorded:
Parish of St Just, Ecclesiastical district of Pendeen, village: Trewellard
Elizabeth Bonetto, head (of household), widow, age: 58 years, occupation: house keeper, born: Isles of Scilly, Tresco
John Deason, son of 1st husband, unmarried, age: 21 years, occupation: tin dresser, born: Isles of Scilly, Tresco.
John Deason & Richard Oates
It is likely that during John’s childhood in the St Just/Pendeen/Trewellard area that he met Richard Oates (Oats). An obituary, written in 1915 by John’s daughter, Elizabeth, indicated that they “had known each other from boyhood in Cornwall” and a later account by Elizabeth indicated that they had been “choirboys in Cornwall”. For more information on Richard Oates see B7 – Richard Oates (c1827-1906).
John & Margaret
John Deason married Margaret Davey on 16 August 1851, at the Register Office, Penzance. John was noted as age: 21 years; a “bachelor”, occupation: “tin dresser”; residence: Trewellard; and father: Thomas Deason, a “fisherman”. Margaret was noted as age: 21 years; a “spinster”; no occupation recorded; residence: Trewellard; and father: Stephen Davey, an “engineman”. Witnesses were James Walter Stevens and James Berryman. John Deason signed his name and Margaret made her mark.
Margaret’s parents were Stephen Davey and Hannah Polkinghorn. They had 9 children,,:
Ð Margaret Davey (c1829-1858);
Ð Stephen Davey (c1831-?);
Ð Hannah (Anna) Davey (c1834-?);
Ð Mary Davey (c1836-?);
Ð Martha Davey (c1838-?);
Ð Elizabeth Davey (c1840-?);
Ð John Davey (c1844-?);
Ð Thomas Davey (c1846-?); and
Ð Sarah Davey (c1850-?).
Margaret was the eldest child, born about 1829, in Crowan [Crows-an-Wra], Cornwall. Crowan – modern day Crows-an-Wra - is situated about 3 kilometres north-west of St Buryan; the term “Crows-an-Wra” being Cornish for “cross-roads”. Margaret’s father, Stephen, was a miner. Around 1836 the Davey family moved to the St Just area, by 1841 were at Boscaswell and by 1851 at Trewellard, where they remained until their deaths: Stephen in 1863; and Hannah in 1866.
The 1841 census recorded:
Parish of St Just, village: Boscaswell
Stephen Davey, age: 35 years, occupation: miner (copper), born: Cornwall
Hanah [sic] Davey, age: 30 years, born: Cornwall
Margaret Davey, age: 11 years, born: Cornwall
Stephen Davey, age: 9 years, born: Cornwall
Mary Davey, age: 5 years, born: Cornwall
Martha Davey, age: 3 years, born: Cornwall
Elizabeth Davey, age: 11 months, born: Cornwall.
Boscaswell is situated on the main road north from St Just, approximately 1 kilometre north-west of Pendeen. There were separate settlements of Higher Boscaswell and Lower Boscaswell; mines close by named Boscaswell United and North Levant; and agricultural commons referred to as Higher and Lower Boscaswell Downs.
Although the 1841 Census indicates their residence as Boscaswell the 1851 Census indicates that the birthplace of all the children born at between 1836 and 1850 as St Just. This may indicate Boscaswell as only a temporary move and that the family returned to St Just soon after 1841. However, by 1851 the Davey family had moved to Trewellard where the Deason/Bonetto family were living.
The 1851 Census recorded:
Parish of St Just, Ecclesiastical district of Pendeen, village: Trewellard
Stephen Davy [sic], head (of household), married, age: 48 years, occupation: working engineer, born: Crowan
Anna Davy, wife, married, age: 42 years, born: Crowan
Margaret Davy, daughter, unmarried, age: 21 years, occupation: worker at mine, born: Crowan
Stephen Davy, son, unmarried, age: 20 years, occupation: tin dresser, born: Crowan
Anna Davy, daughter, unmarried, age: 17 years, occupation: tin dresser, born Crowan
Mary Davy, daughter, age: 15 year, born: St Just
Martha Davy, daughter, age: 13 years, born: St Just
Elizabeth Davy, daughter, age: 11 years, born: St Just
John Davy, son, age: 7 years, born: St Just
Thomas Davy, son, age 5 years, born St Just
Sarah Davy, daughter, age: 1 year, born: St Just.
In late 1851, John and Margaret’s first child, Grace Jenkin Deason, was born (registered Penzance). It is likely that she was named after John’s maternal grand-mother, Grace Jenkin. Grace was baptised at St John the Baptist, Anglican Church, Pendeen, on 25 January 1852, Pendeen: John being noted as a “miner”; and parents living in Trewellard,.
B4 – To Australia
In the late 1840s there was a potato famine in Cornwall like that in Ireland. One of the hardest hit areas was Penwith – the westernmost tip of Cornwall (main towns – St Ives, St Just and Marazion).
In 1842 the South Australian town of Kapunda commenced copper mining and soon became the world’s purest source of copper ore. By 1847 there was a South Australian emigration officer in Penzance and by 1849 up to 5% of the population of the Penwith Poor Law Union area had emigrated.
What prompted John and Margaret to quit Cornwall is not known. Lack of work, poor wages and a young child to look after may have been a contributing factor. The 1851 Census notes John, at age 21 years, still a “tin dresser”; an occupation generally reserved for the woman and children. And there may have been family issues – Margaret was pregnant at the time of their marriage. John was very likely literate and the reports coming from Australia and repeated in Cornwall may have prompted him to look abroad for a new start in South Australia.
In order to qualify for assisted passage to South Australia the Deason family were required to meet certain Government requirements:
Passages to Australia 1853
In the March 1853 “Colonization Circular No. 13” there is notice of funds provided to the British Emigration Commissioners, by colonial revenues, for assisted passage, by New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. (also stated, for the moment, is that funds were also available for Western Australia and Van Dieman's Land, but no funds were available for assisting persons wishing to emigrate to the North American Colonies). The rules for those wishing to apply were laid out thus:-
The following are the regulations and conditions under which emigrants are to be selected for passages to the Australian colonies, when there are funds available for the purpose.
Qualifications of Emigrants
1. The emigrants must be of those callings which from time to time are most in demand in the colony. They must be sober, industrious, of general good moral character, and have been in the habit of working for wages, and going out to do so in the colony, of all of which decisive certificates will be required. They must also be in good health, free from all bodily or mental defects, and the adults must be in all respects be capable of labour and going out to work for wages, at the occupation specified on their Application Forms. The candidates who will receive a preference are respectable young women trained to domestic or farm service, and families in which there is a preponderance of females.
2. The separation of husbands and wives and of parents from children under 18 will in no case be allowed.
3. Single women under 18 cannot be taken without their parents, unless they go under the immediate
Care of some near relatives. Single women over 35 years of age are ineligible. Single women with
Illegitimate [sic] children can in no case be taken.
4. Single men cannot be taken unless they are sons in eligible families, containing at least a corresponding number of daughters.
5. Families in which there are more than 2 children under 7, or 3 children under l0 years of age, or in which the sons outnumber the daughters, widowers, and widows with young children, persons who intend to resort to the gold fields, to buy land, or to invest capital in trade, or who are in the habitual receipt of parish relief, or who have not been vaccinated or not had the small-pox, cannot be accepted.
Passages from Dublin and Cork to Plymouth, from Glasgow to Liverpool, and from Granton Pier (Leith) to London, are provided by the Commissioners for emigrants. All other travelling expenses must be borne by the emigrants themselves.
Assisted emigrants were expected to meet a small portion of the total cost of the voyage to Australia:
Before an embarkation order is issued, the following payments will be required from all persons of 14 years and upwards: -
Scale of Payments
14 and under 40
40 and under 50
50 and under 60
60 and upwards
I. Agricultural labourers, shepherds, herdsmen, and female domestic and farm servants.
II. Country mechanics, such as blacksmiths, bricklayers, carpenters, masons, miners, wheelwrights, gardeners, and females of the working class, not being domestics or farm servants.
III. Other persons of the labouring class, if deemed by the Commissioners, desirable for the colony.
All children under 14 will pay £1 each; and if the family contains, at the time of embarkation, more than two children under 10 years of age, for each such child, £5 additional must be paid.
Out of the above payments, the bedding and mess utensils, referred to in Article 18, for the use of the emigrants during the voyage, will be provided by the Commissioners.
Based on the above figures, the Deason family were required to pay a total of £8 (two adults and one child under 14 years).
An insight into the conditions emigrants encountered when reaching South Australia was documented by the Bishop of Adelaide in 1849:
Emigration to Australia
In a recent letter the Bishop of Adelaide gives the following advice to emigrants to this great colony.-
I will now detail what steps are taken in the colony for the assistance of emigrants. Captain Brewer is the emigration agent, whose duty it is to board the vessels as they arrived, and, after examining the condition and discipline of the passengers, to offer such counsel as may be needed for their guidance. In the case of persons destitute of means he is empowered to pay the expense of their journey to Adelaide (eight miles) and the transport of their baggage. There is a row of cottages, built by government, at Port Adelaide, for the temporary accommodation of emigrant families, should they fail to procure situations before compelled to quit the ship. Fourteen days are generally allowed on ship board, after reaching the port, during which they are provisioned.
“The Colonial Labour Office" has been established in Adelaide, opposite the Post Office, in King William street, for the hiring of servants and labourers. This is supported by voluntary subscriptions and has been most useful. A secretary is in constant attendance, who registers all applications, leaving the parties to make their own agreements. In case of single unprotected female servants, the protector of aborigines, Mr Moorehouse, is directed to receive, lodge and ration such as are in want of refuge on their arrival. There is accommodation for one hundred; and at this depot, which is close to the government house and park lands, the Irish orphan girls are lodged until provided with situations.
Notwithstanding the late arrival of 450 of the latter no difficulty occurred in procuring places for all the respectable young females in the Florentia. So many marry that they are always in demand as domestic servants. There is a "Stranger Friend Society," intended to relieve distress arising from sickness among the newly arrived; and there is a fund, dispensed by a government board, for "destitute persons," – widows, orphans, & c. Provided the females and others, who are sent for the House of Charity are able, willing, and respectable, the "Colonial Labour Office" and the "Government Depot" supply all the assistance they need towards settling themselves. I may add that there is much distress and disappointment felt by a very numerous class of educated persons, who arrive without capital, and with very few pounds in their pockets. Immigration has proceeded latterly at the rate of 1000 per month and above. Unluckily, also, the ships have arrived two or three at a time, instead of at intervals. 500 persons came in last Saturday, and this on the heels of the Posthumous, Florentia, Sir E. Parry, and the Inconstant, bringing 200 Irish orphans. In fact, it is quite wonderful how they have been absorbed and where they are dispersed. Wages still are high, and there is no fear of starvation, with meat at 2½ d the pound, sugar 3 d, tea 2 s, and bread 1½ d. The natives in fact, live upon the sheep's heads & c., ox heads and tails, which are given them for any trifling service they perform. Servants of all work, plain cooks, farm servant girls, and nurse girls, are the females most wanted, but people will not engage without seeing. Wages are from £12 to £18. Respectable servant girls are sure to find employment. The government emigrant ships are more respectably conducted than passenger ships, on board the latter the sale of spirits is the ruin of numbers.-Yours faithfully,
Adelaide, July 30, 1849
The Deason family – John, Margaret and Grace – departed Southampton, England on 29 August 1853. The ship, Epaminondas, embarked with 454 assisted immigrants bound for South Australia along with a small number of steerage passengers. Of the immigrants: 243 were English; 45 Scots; and 166 Irish; and of these; 123 were children. John was recorded as a “copper miner” from Cornwall age: 23 years and Margaret age: 23 years. There were 18 deaths and 10 births on the voyage,.
The family arrived at Port Adelaide on Christmas Eve, 24 December, 1853.
The Epaminondas was a fairly new sailing ship, having been built in 1850, Quebec, 1125 tons, 160.8 feet long, a beam of 34 feet and holds 22 feet deep. The ship was rigged as a schooner and, although of wooden construction, included iron fasteners in its frame and marine metal sheathing on its hull.
In addition to the Deasons the Epaminondas carried nine other families from Cornwall (ages shown in brackets):
i. Richard Bryant (25), labourer, and name not clear – probably wife (24);
ii. Samuel Daniel (34), copper miner, wife Jane (31) and their children;
iii. Richard Downing (41), copper miner, wife Sarah (25);
iv. William Hockings (26), copper miner, wife Jane (21) and their children;
v. William Morley (25), miner, wife Mary (21) and their child;
vi. William Oates (25), copper miner, and wife Mary (24);
vii. William Richards (29), copper miner, and wife Catherine (24);
viii. Thomas Smith (21), copper miner, Mary (22), occupation not clear; and
ix. Matthew Tonkins (20), miner, and wife Mary (19).
• Contrary to many later reports, Richard Oates, of Welcome Stranger fame, did not accompany John on this voyage;
• William Oates (25) listed above could be William Oats (22), miner, born Marazion, living with siblings at Pennance (not Penzance), Parish of Gwennap; and
• Another contender, Wm Oats (22), no occupation, born St Just, living with parents John Oats (60) and Grace (55) and siblings at Botallack, Parish of St Just in Penwith is known to have married Tammy Thomas in 1851 and possibly migrated to Australia at a later date.
(Further research required to locate marriage of William and Mary Oats in the period 1851–1853, link them to the 1851 Census as well as link other Cornish families to Victorian goldfields).
Whether John and Margaret knew any of these Cornish immigrants, or if they later proceeded to Victoria as a party, is not known. There does not appear to be any later record of an association with these families. So the conclusion is that John and Margaret came to Australia intending to ‘go it alone’ – at least for the time being. We do know that other acquaintances of John’s from Cornwall, including from his boyhood village of Carrarack, soon followed – the Pollard family in 1855 (for more information see 109). Maybe John sent letters back to Cornwall advising of conditions in Australia. However, again we have no record.
The South Australian government formally gazetted the arrival of the Epaminondas and specified the penalties applying for early quitting the colony:
Notice to Employers of Labourers
Colonial Secretary's Office, Adelaide, January 3, 1854
The Land and Emigration Commission have forwarded to this office written engagements subscribed by the Immigrants arrived by the Epaminondas; whereby-they severally promise and undertake, that if they, or any of their families with their permission, quit or purpose to quit the Colony, within four years from the day of their landing, they will repay to the Government a proportionate part of the cost of their passage to South Australia, that is to say-at the rate of
£4 a piece for themselves and wives, and half that sum for each of their respective children, for each year or any fraction thereof which shall be wanting to complete four years' residence in the Colony.
As John Deason was recorded on immigration records as a copper miner then it is likely that the family may have intended to go the copper mines at Burra, Moonta or Kapunda. However, the copper mines at Burra and Kapunda (and possibly Moonta) had closed after news reached Burra and Kapunda on 13 June 1851 of the discovery of gold at Bathurst, New South Wales (and later Ballarat, Victoria) and the townspeople ‘left in droves’. It was not until December 1854 that the Burra mines re-opened, and not until 1856 for the Kapunda mines. Finding the South Australian copper mines closed, may have been the trigger for the Deasons to set off for Bendigo. Whether they actually went to the South Australian copper mines and could not find work or whether they had already decided on arrival in Adelaide that the goldfields were a better prospect, is not known. What is known is that they headed for Bendigo.
Whether, John, Margaret and Grace proceeded overland from Adelaide to Bendigo, or went via ship to Melbourne and then overland to Bendigo, is not clear. Thomas (Tom) Deason (1909-2004) recollected in the late 1980s to Winston Deason and myself (Greg Campbell) that the family tradition, handed down from his father, Alfred Deason (1868-1933), was that John Deason arrived in Melbourne on board the ship Sultana. (Tom was unaware of the earlier arrival at Adelaide). However, the tradition handed down from Alfred’s older brother, Thomas Deason (1859-1928), as retold to me Easter 2006, by one of his descendants, Bev Harte, was that the Deasons arrived as ‘stowaways’ to Victoria. Bev Harte had no knowledge of the name of the ship or the Victorian port of entry.
There were two ships called Sultana operating in Australian waters at that time; one a Dutch trader; the other a British passenger ship:
1. Sultana, a small Dutch trading vessel, arrived Melbourne – departed Sourabaya [Surabaya], Java, 26 November 1853 and arrived Melbourne, 24 January 1854. The ship’s arrival/immigration records indicate that there was only one passenger: H P Tolson, single, unmarried, Dutchman, aged 18 years; and that Tolson and the ship’s captain, A Schader, were the only two people to come ashore. There was no mention of the Deason family.
However, the Argus newspaper’s record of shipping arrivals differs from the government records as it indicates:
January 24 – Sultana, barque, 230 tons, A Schade [sic], from Sourabaya 26th November. Passengers – cabin: Mr H Peile, and two in steerage. McLoughlin, agent. …
… Imports. January 24 – Sultana, from Sourabaya: 8225 bags sugar.
There is no mention of the “two in steerage” in the Government records. This could indicate that they did not come ashore. However, given that the ship was intending to return to Java it would seem unusual for two passengers to have made such a round trip without coming ashore. No later records of Tolson (or Peile) have been found in Victoria.
In addition, there is no record of the Sultana having arrived in or departed from South Australia during the period 26 December to 24 January, according to the Hodge Index compiled from local newspapers or under Shipping Movements in the South Australian Register. The only mention of the Sultana in the South Australian Register is the ship’s “arrival in Melbourne from Sourabaya”. Also, shipping records for Melbourne, 24 January 1854, do not record the Sultana as having made a previous stop at an Australian port prior to reaching Melbourne as was the usual case. The Sultana was cleared to leave Melbourne on 13 February bound for Java.
2. Sultana, a large British passenger ship, arrived Adelaide – departed Plymouth, England with immigrants and arrived Port Adelaide, 3 February 1854. The Sultana left Port Adelaide, bound for Madras, India, on 3 March 1854. There is no record of this ship berthing at Melbourne or any other Australian port other than Port Adelaide.
Note: Lloyd’s Shipping Register lists four ships named Sultana – three of which sailed to Australia. The Sultana from Java does not correspond to one of those listed. The Sultana from Plymouth (noted above) corresponds to the listing of a barque of 588 tons built 1849, Sunderland, England. The remaining ships were not in Australian waters in 1853/1854.
This leaves the following possible scenarios for how the Deasons travelled to Victoria:
- They left South Australia without paying the £10 required to extinguish their government bond. This would have left them vulnerable to prosecution and, as a result, they may have hidden their identity from Victorian officials, for fear of being returned to South Australia;
- If they came by sea, then it is more likely that they travelled on one of the many coastal vessels that plied between Port Adelaide and Melbourne. A study of shipping movements indicated that from late December 1853 to the end of February 1854 these types of vessels left every few days, often carrying hundreds of passengers. Steerage passengers were generally not listed and there is no record of the Deasons travelling as saloon (listed) passengers. And, if the Deasons used an assumed name, then there is little chance of finding their records.
- They chose the ship’s name Sultana possibly as a means of ‘covering their tracks’. Given the evidence at hand, it is unlikely that the Deasons were actually on board the Sultana that arrived in Melbourne 24 January, 1854 as this would have required an oversight in shipping registers in both South Australia and Victoria. However, they may have reached Melbourne on board another ship and saw a ship named Sultana berthed at Melbourne in January/February 1854;
- They travelled by sea to Robe in South Australia or to Portland in Victoria along with other, particularly Chinese, immigrants keen on entering Victoria and avoiding detection at Melbourne; or
- They did not travel to Melbourne by sea, but instead struck out overland from Adelaide to Bendigo on their own or in the company of others in the same situation – i.e. copper miners with no work in South Australia and keen on reaching the Victorian goldfields. Given the large numbers of ‘copper miners’ arriving at Adelaide, on the Epaminondas and later vessels, there would have been many people walking the Overland Track to the Victorian goldfields.
Whether John, Margaret and young Grace proceeded to Victoria alone or in the company of others is not known. Given that nine other Cornish families were on board the Epaminondas, the majority noted as miners, it is possible that the Deasons set out for Victoria with them or others they met in Adelaide in similar circumstances. Whether they arrived in Victoria overland or by sea is likely to remain a mystery and may well have depended on how much money remained in their pockets when they arrived in Adelaide – they may well have had no choice but to ‘stowaway’!
B5 – The goldfields: prospecting & farming
Gold prospecting in Bendigo
As to when John, Margaret and daughter, Grace, Deason reached Bendigo is not certain. A date of 19th February 1854 was reported at the time the Welcome Stranger was discovered in 1869. Presumably this information came from John Deason. Given the family’s arrival time in Adelaide (24 December 1853) an arrival time in Bendigo of mid-February would not seem unreasonable.
The earliest verifiable record to hand of John on the goldfields is November 1855 when his daughter, Margaret, died, aged 4 months, at Golden Gully. Golden Gully was a prospecting area and intermittent stream that joined the Bendigo Creek in the area now known as Golden Square, about 3 kilometres south of the centre of Bendigo.
Margaret, 1855, was the first child to be born in Australia, soon to be followed by Sarah in early 1856 and John in December 1856.
The Victorian Electoral Roll of 1856 also records John as residing at Golden Gulley, Bendigo:
John Deason, miner, of Golden gulley, voting under miner’s right in the Sandhurst division.
By March 1857 John was operating a puddling machine in Long Gully – at the confluence of Long and Garden [Ironbark] Gullies. He placed an advertisement:
For Sale, Two Puddling Machines, situated in Garden Gully, branching into Long Gully, a little below the middle Crossing-place, with good staunch horse, tip-dray, good stable, cradle, pump, and all necessary tools, in good working order. For full particulars apply to John Deason at the machine or to Mr Arthur’s Hay and Corn Store, Long Gully.
Note: the “middle-crossing” referred to is what is now Prouses Road, thus making John’s puddling site about 100 metres north-east of the intersection of the current Prouses Road and Nolan Street; probably on the north side of the railway line. For information on puddling machines refer H5 sub-heading Prospecting Again.
And by May 1857 he again advertised, this time including his dams; an indication that he may have intended to quit the location:
For Sale, Three Horse Puddling Machines, three good dams, and plenty of water, one horse, harness, tip-dray, slab stable, and all necessary tools for working the same. Apply to Mr Deason, junction of Garden Gully and Long Gully.
Mining life was not without its conflicts and in June 1857 John was in court:
Breach of Regulations
Deason v Pietro – The information in this case charged the defendant with making use of water contained within a dam bank belonging to complainant, contrary to the 31st clause of the Mining Regulations. It appeared from the evidence that the defendant persisted in using the complainant’s water on the 10th day of June, notwithstanding he was warned against doing so – The Court fined the defendant £3 and costs, the same to be levied by distress in default of payment: in default of distress the defendant to be imprisoned for seven days.
In October 1857 John was again mentioned in the Bendigo Local Court records:
Cahill, Deason and three others – Postponed in consequence of informality, and new summonses directed to issue.
Note: there appears to be no record of any further action being taken by the Court.
Late that year John may have moved onto the section of Bendigo Creek north of the centre of Bendigo as he was a signatory (noted as a “miner”) to the Bendigo Miners & Puddlers Petition of late 1857. The petition sought to delay the extension of McCrae Street, Bendigo northward along Bendigo Creek (from what is now an area extending from Baxter to Plumridge Streets) or to have compensation paid to miners impacted by roadwork. This area of the Bendigo Creek was important to miners and puddlers as it contained enough water to enable them to continue operating during the summer, whereas, operations in other areas of Bendigo were curtailed at that time due to the lack of water.
In February 1858 John was noted as a signatory to a request for Crawford Mollison to stand as a Mining Board representative. The signatories were noted as “duly qualified Miners and Puddlers of Bendigo” and Mollison as “Chairman of the late Local Court”.
Farming at Shelbourne & Woodstock
Around 1856 John turned his attention to farming and purchased 62 acres at Shelbourne, about 18 kilometres west of Bendigo. The land was purchased 27 June 1856 at an auction held at the Shamrock Hotel, Bendigo:
Country Lots, Shelbourne:
Lot 30; area: 23 acres, 0 rods, 23 perches; Price per acre: £1/0/0; purchaser’s name: John Deason
Lot 31; area: 19 acres, 0 rods, 25 perches; Price per acre: £1/0/0; purchaser’s name: John Deason
Lot 32; area: 20 acres, 0 rods, 20 perches; Price per acre: £1/0/0; purchaser’s name: John Deason
The surveyors map indicates that these were Lots 11, 12 & 13 in Section 3; on the eastern side of Loddon Creek [now known as Spring Creek]; bordering what is now South Shelbourne Rd; and “Heavily timbered with Box and Gum”. However, later maps indicate that John was not the first title holder, indicating that he either did not complete payment or sold the lots prior to completing payment.
In November 1857 John purchased 175 acres at nearby Woodstock, about 20 kilometres west of Bendigo and 2 kilometres north of Shelbourne. The land was situated on the north side of the Bendigo-Newbridge Rd, on the western edge of the village of Woodstock. This land was not in a mining area but was good farming land. The Victorian Government Gazette recorded:
Lands Purchased by Selection … during the period from the 1st to the 31st October 1857, inclusive:
Lot 28, Allotment 2, Section 3, County: Unnamed, Parish: Woodstock, Extent: 175 acres 2 roods 0 perches, price per acre: £1/0/0, When selected: 26th October, John Deason, Residence: Woodstock, deposit forfeited: no offer; amount paid: £175/10/0.
Note: “deposit forfeited” indicates that John opted to pay in full on the day rather than pay a deposit and the balance over time.
The amount paid (£175) was a considerable sum at that time and indicates that John had fared well, at least in monetary terms, on the Bendigo goldfields. The Government record also notes that he was already resident at Woodstock; an indication that he may have been alternating between gold prospecting in Bendigo and farming at Woodstock.
The Title Deeds to the Woodstock property were made available the following year:
Public Lands Office
Melbourne, 22 February, 1858
The following Title Deeds, have since the 15th instant, been forwarded for delivery at the Receipt and Pay Offices undermentioned, on receipt of the established fees.
At the receipt and Pay Office, Bendigo [Sandhurst]
John Deason, 175a 2r, Woodstock.
By August 1858, for reasons unclear, but possibly linked to the death of John’s wife, Margaret, and their last surviving child, John put his Woodstock land up for sale at the same price as he had paid earlier:
Four Farms, Opposite the Junction Inn
… by public auction at the Shamrock Hall …
4 excellent farm lots, containing 44 acres each, being subdivision of allotment 2, section 3, parish of Woodstock, immediately opposite Bassett’s Farm, on the main Government road from Sandhurst to Newbridge.
Upset price, £1 per acre.
Title – crown grant.
Note: it is clear from a later Land Title map (1873) that no sub-division took place. This may indicate that the land was not sold. A possibility reinforced by the fact that in October 1858 John was still noted as a “farmer” from Woodstock.
End of family #1
Life on the Bendigo goldfields for the family was difficult and with few facilities disease was ever present. Within the space of three years (1855-1858) John’s wife, Margaret, and their four children were dead:
• Margaret (daughter), died November 1855, aged 4 months;
• Sarah, died 1856, aged 1 day;
• Grace, died 1857, aged 6 years;
• Margaret (wife), died of pulmonary phthisis (TB), 30 March 1858, aged 29 years; and
• John, 27 May 1858, aged 16 months.
Note: some discrepancies exist as to the ages of the above children at the time of their death according to Margaret Deason’s (mother) death certificate (1858), Thomas Deason’s birth certificate (1859) and Margaret Deason’s (daughter) burial record (1855). The ages shown above are those as recorded on the most contemporaneous document.
The burial place of the children, Margaret (1855), Sarah (1856) and Grace (1857) is not known. They are likely to be buried in the official cemetery closest to where the family was living at that time.
From 1853/1854 three gazetted (official) cemeteries were in place around Bendigo:
• Kangaroo Flat – commenced October 1853;
• Back Creek (Carpenter St), later known as the Bendigo General Cemetery – commenced July 1854; and
• White Hills (also known as Junction Cemetery and Lower Bendigo Cemetery) – commenced 1853.
Note: Eaglehawk Cemetery, Bendigo, did not commence until July 1864.
Prior to the opening of these three cemeteries four known ‘unofficial’ burial grounds existed:
• Bridge Street, Bendigo (also known as the Old Sandhurst Burial Ground) – used between July 1853 and August 1854;
• Kangaroo Gully – used about 1853/1854;
• Golden Gully – used between September 1853 and October 1854; and
• Golden Square – used between November 1853 and April 1854.
At the time of John’s wife Margaret’s death, in March 1858, and baby John’s death in May 1858, the family was noted as living at Long Gully, Bendigo; a prospecting area about 3 kilometres north of the centre of Bendigo; and still known by this name. Margaret and John were both buried at White Hills Cemetery, the nearest cemetery to Long Gully.
May 1858 marked the end of John’s first family: he was alone.
Start of Family #2
John moved back to Woodstock and soon remarried. His new wife was Catherine McAndrew, born 22 January 1836, Burntisland, Fife, Scotland. At the time of their marriage at the Presbyterian Manse, Golden Square, Bendigo, on 28 October 1858, John was noted as a “farmer” from Woodstock and Catherine as being from Melbourne. Of note on their marriage certificate is that John gave his birthplace as Penwyth [sic] Cornwall rather than Tresco, Isles of Scilly. The term ‘Penwith’ refers to the far eastern tip of Cornwall but does not include the Isles of Scilly.
The Catherine McAndrew story, as documented by Janet & Bill Storer, tells of her voyage to Australia:
In 1858, Catherine then aged 22, arrived in Australia on board the Conway as part of a large group of young assisted migrants from England, Scotland and Ireland.
The Conway departed from Liverpool England on 10 June 1858 and arrived at Port Phillip [Melbourne] on 15 September, the voyage taking three months.
There were three other women from Fifeshire, but Catherine appears to have been on her own. On the ship there were 230 single females between the ages of 14 and 45 and 75 single males.
The Immigrants Register lists her occupation as ‘housemaid’, her religion as ‘Church of England’ and records that she could both read and write. It is also recorded that on 24 September, Catherine was engaged to work for a Mr Johnson of No 9 Spring St South Melbourne for a wage of 2 shillings [per week] for the term of 3 months.
For more information on the McAndrew family see Part L – Appendices – Associated Families
John and Catherine were back in Bendigo in 1859. They were noted as living in Golden Square at the time of the birth of their first child, Thomas, 14 September 1859; John was noted as a miner at the time.
They continued to alternate between Bendigo and Woodstock. There is a record of uncollected mail being held at Woodstock in January 1861. They were certainly back in Woodstock in March 1861 when their second child, Hugh McAndrew Deason, died, aged 3 months and was buried at the nearby Lockwood Cemetery on 9 March 1861.
John and Catherine’s third child, Henry was born in Bendigo in 1862.
In 1862 they moved to another mining area – Welshman’s Reef – where there is a record of uncollected mail at this time. Welshman’s Reef is situated about 10 kms south of Maldon and about 50 kms south-west of Bendigo.
However, prospecting still continued to be supplemented with farming. John was back at Woodstock with Richard Oates in January 1863 at the time of the death of an employee. The Bendigo Independent, 9 January 1863, recorded:
Drowned. Mr Pounds, Coroner, held an IQ [inquest] on the 7th instant, at the Junction Hotel, on the body of a man named Frederick Nolan, a native of Sydney NSW age 25 years, who was drowned in a waterhole at Woodstock, on the Loddon Plains, on the evening of the 6th instant. The deceased had worked on the farm of Mr Glover, Marong, as a labourer, from the 13th November to the 5th January, and on that day he left. Deceased was engaged on the next day by Mr Deason, and while watering the horses had been drowned. A man named Richard Oates had accompanied the deceased to the waterhole with other horses, and while engaged in watering them heard a splash, and saw deceased struggling in the water. He dismounted from his horse, and tried to save deceased by handing him the end of a stick, but deceased could not reach it properly and sank, and was not seen again alive. A VERDICT WAS RETURNED of ‘Accidentally drowned’.
Note: the above record is the earliest reference of John Deason and Richard Oates working together. For more information on Richard Oates see B7 – Richard Oates (c1827-1906).
At some stage John and Catherine moved to Moliagul. Some accounts place this as early as 1862,. However, if they were at Moliagul at that time it may have only been a temporary stay as they were not recorded on the Moliagul residents’ petition/census of 19 November 1863. This petition requested school aid and listed the names of Moliagul’s 36 parents and 83 children – in 1863 John and Catherine had two children. In addition, their fourth child, Hugh McAndrew, was born 27 January 1864, Sandhurst [Bendigo] (their third child, Hugh, having died in 1861). It is more likely that they moved to Moliagul, at least permanently, about 1864 and that Richard Oates was to accompany them.
Moliagul was a gold mining town 45 kilometres west of Bendigo and 25 kilometres west of Woodstock. Gold was first discovered there (at Queens Gully) in January 1853, however this rush only lasted for a short time and the population dwindled. By 1864 further gold rushes occurred in nearby Dunolly indicating that the area still had much gold to be found.
John and Catherine, along with Richard Oates, appear to have settled in one area of Moliagul – a place known as Bulldog Gully or Black Lead, about 1.5 kilometres south-west of Moliagul. Here they were able to work their mining claim as well as farm adjoining land. The Deason’s home was situated on the mining area and the Oates’s home situated within sight on the adjoining farming land belonging to Richard:
♣ Allotment A4, 8 acres, 0 roods, 3 perches, title issued 4 February 1874.
It is possible that Richard had been working this land since coming to Moliagul about 1864 and that he made the final payment in 1874. For more information on the homesite and surrounds refer
B10 – Appendices.
A later report referred to John & Richard’s landholdings:
“… After mining together for a while, the two men selected a piece of land and cultivated it, and also took up some land in Gipsy: they did not discontinue puddling but worked their land spare time”
The “Gipsy” land was situated at Gipsy Flat [sic] some 4 kms south of Bulldog Gully:
♣ Parish of Painswick, Section 9, Lot 6, 80 acres, 0 roods, 0 perches, title issued 11 August 1875.
From about 1864 to 1869, at Bulldog Gully, John and Richard “stripped and washed the surface soil from several acres of land” using “an old fashioned horse puddling machine” and found two nuggets of “108 and 36 ounces”. The 36 ounce nugget was found 8 June 1866. In addition to these nuggets, fine specks of gold recovered from the puddling machine along with their crops were the mainstay of the Deason and Oates partnership. Another account indicates “a 9 lb. [144 ounce] nugget had been previously found on almost the spot where the house stood, and they themselves had found a 34 oz. [ounce] piece close to the same place” .
An indication of the earlier Bulldog Gully workings has been documented by Terry Potter:
On 25 May 1857, the alluvium in the lower reaches of Bulldog Gully was proven to be gold-bearing although subsequent work showed the gold to be neither rich nor extensive. … The sinking in Black Lead was up to 3 m deep and was so named because the slugs and nuggets of gold were coated in black iron (and manganese?) oxides.
1856-57 was also the time that the 0.3-1.3 m wide quartz vein of Black Reef was mined and crushed for ‘fabulous yields’. Waymans Reef, 1 kilometre to the north, was also returning excellent yields of 117 ozs of gold from 2 tons of quartz, 400 oz. from 11 ton etc.
Terry Potter also described the arrival of Deason and Oates and their workings:
In 1862 [see note] two Cornishmen, John Deason aged 32 and Richard Oates aged 35, came to the area and selected to surface the eastern slope of Bulldog Gully as it rose towards the outcrop of Black Reef. This very gentle undulating slope was up to 200 m wide. The reasons for their choice, it is postulated, may have been the richness of Black Reef, the presence of ironstone and unworked alluvium and the results of the Bulldog Lead workings.
… At Bulldog Gully the soil is very thin but the clay is generally 0.3-0.5 m thick. Deason and Oates were hand-digging this material, loading it onto the dray (drays normally carried about 1 tonne) and transporting it to their puddler.
A puddler is a trough cut in slightly raised ground in the form of a ring and closely lined with well-fitting slabs. On a pivot in the solid centre portion works a long arm, one end of which projects far enough beyond the trough to allow a horse to be harnessed to it, while the other extends just over the trough. Two strong harrows in the trough are attached by chains to the arm, one next to the horse and the other at the far end, and as the horse walks around the outside of the trough the harrows are pulled round the trough. The stuff (a term for any gold-bearing material) is put in and water added and the action of the harrows in motion puddles the clay into sludge which is run off from time to time and fresh water added until the stuff is clean. The puddler is drained and the stones are forked out and the heavy sediment at the bottom is panned or cradled for gold. Puddlers do not recycle their water so that when their supply dam dry up, operations are curtailed until the next rains.
The remnants of Deason and Oates' puddler is still evident today … and is positioned on a slightly elevated platform on the eastern edge of Bulldog Gully. It measures 6 m in diameter with the sludge discharging not directly into the gully, but being diverted by a 20 m long by 0.5 m high rock retaining wall before being allowed to drain freely into the gully. It is conjecture that this wall may have been to keep the sludge from perhaps a horse enclosure or a building. Water for their puddler was from a 20 by 30 m shallow dam some 50 m further west in the centre of Bulldog Gully and also from other dams further up the gully.
Based on modern day experiences 2-4 cubic metres of water is required to breakdown and clean 1 cubic metre of gold-bearing clays.
It was standard to clean the puddlers only after several days work and thus, as a deterrent to overnight gold poachers, their puddler was located only 30 m from Deason's house.
Deason and Oates worked the ground under the tenure of a Puddlers Claim which was '100 feet square' per person, i.e. 30.5 by 30.5 m. Claims were pegged by the erection in the ground of a corner post and then registering the claim by a person with a Miners Right. There was no official survey of a claim as there was with a Mining Lease so pegs in the ground dictated the location of the claim. The Mining Warden kept a registrar [register] of the claims but such for the Dunolly District has not survived the passage of time. It is speculation that both Deason and Oates and possibly Deason's wife would have pegged a claim each thus extending the area of common tenure. This however meant that all claims had to be worked concurrently as an idle claim was liable for forfeiture.
For several years they worked gold in the area as well as supplementing their means by farming. Another postulation is that all of their toil for gold may not have been entirely on the slope of Bulldog Gully; they may have temporarily worked neighbouring gullies as prospective ground became available, or possibly participated in the Long Gully and Surface Gully rushes 1 kilometre north in 1863, or the Calder Gully rush 2 kilometres south-east in June 1864, or been part of the 9000 diggers that rushed to Gypsy Flat 3 kilometres to the south in August 1868. Or they may have gone further afield to the many rushes in the mid-late 1860s of Dunolly, 20 kilometres south or the famous Berlin rushes, 13 kilometres to the north.
But it is recorded that their workings at Bulldog Gully yielded sufficient gold slugs and nuggets to be payable even though at times they obtained only half an ounce of gold for a weeks work. By experience they found that the usual red clay contained a little gold yet not enough to pay but that a ‘peculiar kind of red clay similar to half burnt brick’ had been associated with their larger finds and was therefore the material that they sought to wash. They had previously unearthed an 108 oz. nugget (3.36 kg) which they sold for ‘over £400' and on 8 June 1866 another of 36 oz. (1.1k g). The latter, it is reported, was found as one of them threw it out when ‘stoning’ their puddler but noticing its weight as he did so promptly scurried to retrieve it. These finds, no doubt, gave them encouragement to continue with their surfacing.
Comment: as noted earlier, Deason and Oates may not have moved permanently to Moliagul until 1864. For more information on the homesite and surrounds refer B10 – Appendices.
It was during their time at Bulldog Gully that John and Catherine’s first daughter, Elizabeth (Bess) was born in 1866.
For reasons not known, John Deason was admitted to Dunolly Hospital on 17 November 1867. The hospital record noted him as:
Married; occupation, miner; Born England.
Note: no residence was noted.
John and Catherine’s next child, Alfred, was born in nearby Dunolly in 1868. Note: the nearest hospital was in Dunolly.
Notes for Margaret (Spouse 1)
Margaret died of pulmonary phthisis (TB).
Notes for Catherine (Spouse 2)
Catherine sailed on the “Conway” from Liverpool, England on 10th June 1858. It had mostly single females onboard. The ship arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 15th September 1858.3
Lived at married life at Sandhurst (Bendigo), Moliagul, and Dunolly, Victoria, Australia.Given Name
DeasonAlternative Name Title File number
9 Sep 1921Death Date notes Grant Date
26 Nov 1921Grant Date notes Nature of Grant
AGeneral Notes Occupation
MoliagulCountry of Residence State of Residence Residence notes To whom committed
Sherylee Eustace is researching McANDEW she can be contacted at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or (03) 9382 8995.
More About Catherine McANDREW:
Burial: 1921, Moliagal cemetery, Victoria, Australia. (Source: Aigs Cemetery records.)
Cause of Death: Cemi (sic) decay (Source: Aigs Cemetery records.)
Grave loc: 1921, 200 (Source: Aigs Cemetery records.)
Probate: has probate (Source: Probate indexes.)