My Australian Family (Part 1)

It came as quite a surprise to discover an Australian family connection, apparently long since died out unfortunately.

The John side of my family originates from Cornwall, particularly the Penzance area. They used a limited range of given names. George, Dennis, Walter, Trevelyan and Arundel occur frequently on that side of my family as will be seen in this blog. Trevelyan and Arundel were used for male and female children.

George Dennis John (1793-1847), my Great-Great-Grandfather, and Julia Ann Trevelyan (1804-1842), his second wife, had nine children, including my Great-Grandfather (Edward William John 1831-1882) and his brother, my Great-Great-Uncle, George Trevelyan John. George was born in 1829 and was baptised on 27 December 1829 in Penzance.

On 12 February 1851 George married Sarah Ann Vivian (born 1831) in Gwinear, about 11 miles from Penzance. George and Sarah had two children – Edith Mary Arundell (born 1851) and George Dennis Trevelyan (born 1853). This George would be the beginning of my Australian connection.

George Trevelyan enlisted in the Royal Welch Fusiliers (23rd Foot) in 1850 and fought in the Crimean War at Alma and Inkerman, reaching the rank of Captain. He sadly died on 23 May 1856 in Winchester from illnesses contracted while serving in the Crimea. Sarah was now a widow with two small children and had to apply to a Magistrate in Winchester to be placed on the Pension List. Her application was granted.

George Dennis Trevelyan John now takes centre stage. On the 1871 Census return, George, his sister Edith and their mother are apparently living with Sarah’s mother, also a widow, in Gwinear. However, sometime between the completion of the census and 1877, George emigrated to Australia. A passenger list definitely including George has yet to turn up so the year he emigrated is unknown but the New South Wales Police Gazette shows that on 16 February 1877 George was appointed a Probationary Constable in the NSW Police, aged 24. He got married in 1878 (of which more later).

The New South Wales Police Gazette has been very useful in following George in Australia. He rose through the ranks, apparently serving in Urana. George became an Ordinary Constable in July 1877 and a First Class Constable in June 1879. The role of Slaughterhouse Inspector was added to his responsibilities in September 1880 and the same month he was promoted again to Senior Constable. On 11 February 1882 George resigned from the NSW Police for reasons yet to be discovered.

While serving with the NSW Police, George encountered the Moonlite Gang, a collection of bushrangers. The leader of the Moonlite Gang was Andrew Scott and styled himself Captain Moonlite. The gang took over Wantabadgery sheep station in November 1879, taking hostages. George was one of the group of policemen sent to arrest the gang and he took part in what became known as the Wantabadgery Siege. One of the Moonlite Gang escaped from the siege and ‘Trooper’ John is described as bringing him in some time after the others. One of George’s colleagues was shot during the incident and died a few days later from his injuries. Andrew Scott was executed for this.

The Queensland Police Gazette for the half year ending June 1882 lists George as being appointed but without full access to the Gazette it is not possible to know what his appointment was. George’s time with the Queensland Police was very short as the NSW Police Gazette shows him returning to be a Probationary Constable again on 6 June 1883, back where he was six years previously. In July 1883 Constable George John was again appointed as a Slaughterhouse Inspector. On 1 November 1883 George was appointed as a First Class Constable, less than five months after his appointment as a Probationary Constable. His previous service must have helped his rapid rise. The same rise up the ranks took three years in his previous service with the NSW Police.

On 26 August 1884 George was dismissed from the NSW Police for reasons not yet established and he returned to in Britain, enlisting in the Army in 1885.

George travelled to Edinburgh and became a Private in 2nd Dragoons on 29 May 1885. The records show him to be married (of which more later) and 31 years 6 months old. George was 5 feet 11 inches tall (180 centimetres) and weighed 161 pounds (73 kilos) with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. His mother, living in Ilfracombe, is shown as his next of kin, suggesting his wife had stayed in Australia. He was promoted to Lance-Corporal on 29 June 1887 and Corporal on 23 January 1888. George left the Dragoons on 8 September 1889 after serving four years and 98 days in Aldershot, Brighton and Belfast. His intended place of residence is shown as Victoria, Australia.

The next certain record for George is his death from nephritis on 31 January 1898 at 28 Napier Street, Fitzroy, near Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and he was buried in the Melbourne Cemetery. He is recorded as intestate in the Victoria State Records with assets of £55 (equivalent to £5000 in 2018). However, in London probate is given to his mother and George’s estate amounted to £1360 (£123,588 in 2018).

George Dennis Trevelyan John may have died very young, only 45, but he packed a lot into his life with his service in the police in Australia and the Army in Britain. He married Rosanna McGlynn in 1878 and they had two sons – George Trevelyan John (1880-1942) and Walter Trevelyan John (1881-1943) – born and died in consecutive years. These two brothers lived most of their lives in Walwa, Victoria, Australia.

There is also the possibility that George Dennis Trevelyan fathered another son, Hugh Trevelyan John (1895-1970), after his return to Australia from serving in the Dragoons. If this is true, the mother was Josephine Lockhart, who was already married to Frederick Henry Bone (1852-1930) and it seems Hugh may have changed his name to reflect this as he became Hugh Trevelyan Bone.

Part 1 of My Australian Family has focused mostly on George Dennis Trevelyan John’s life. Part 2 will look at his family in Australia.