Chapter 13 - The Family of George & Elizabeth
Now for some information about the eight children of George and Elizabeth. The eldest was William Thomas of whom little is known except that he was born on 5th October 1843, his wife's name was Mary and they had three children, Florence, Walter and Alice.
The next was George Henry born on 23rd November 1845. He became a school teacher and was Headmaster of Ryde School for twenty years after which he was appointed an Inspector of schools. He married Elizabeth (Bessie) Davies and they had eleven children, three of which died in infancy. He is frequently mentioned in the history of Dural Methodist Church, “A Cloud of Witnesses at Dural” written by T.J. Knight. He was a class leader, local preacher, trustee, circuit steward and laid the foundation stone of the new Church building that was opened in 1887. The first trustees of the new church included both “George Henry Hunt, Teacher of Ryde and George Thomas Hunt, Esquire of Parramatta.” He was also a Justice of the Peace, as was his Father before him, and probably most of his brothers.
After two sons came the first daughter on 17th November 1849. She was named Elizabeth and married Alfred Golledge to whom she bore three children, Helen, Halford and Kenneth. Alf Golledge was for many years Secretary of one of Sydney's great hospitals and became Secretary of the firm of Hunt Bros Ltd when it was registered. Elizabeth passed away on 25th May 1927 at the age of 83.
The fourth child was Richard, born on 9th March 1852 at Dural. As mentioned above, he was educated at Newington College where he was second in the “Final School Order”. There is a record that he also received some education at The Kings School at Parramatta and became a teacher after six months training. He lived at Stanmore at one time and taught schools at Goulburn, Wentworth and Richmond. However, he eventually left teaching to manage the Hunt Bros property “Obella”. About the same time Richard bought a property called “Yoorooga” eight miles from “Obella” and about 1898 his family moved there to live. He became Chairman of the Molong District Pastures Protection Board.
Richard had married Fanny Eliza Smith, whose family hailed from Geelong in Victoria, and where they were married on 29th June 1875 when Richard was 23 and Fanny 20. She bore him nine children, seven sons and two daughters. The first was Gilbert George Grose born at Wentworth on 26th May 1877. Then came Frank Richard at Richmond 9th May 1880, Allan Hope at Richmond 10th November 1881, Sidney Smith on 19th April 1884, Norman Bruce 24th February 1886, Fanny Verena (the first girl) 6th August 1888, Richard Percy 18th April 1890, Eleanor Elizabeth 10th June 1892, and Raymond Hickman 19th July 1895. The last six children were all born at the stately home “Corio” in George Street, Parramatta which had apparently come down to them through Fanny's family and which was possibly named after Corio, the suburb of Geelong. For some years Richard divided his time between Parramatta and Yoorooga Station but later lived full time at “Corio” while retaining an interest in running the sheep station properties through his association with Hunt Bros and the Pastures Protection Board. Fanny died on 11th February 1915 and Richard on 10th June 1929.
It is worthy of note that during the preparation of these notes, Raymond Hickman Hunt, last of the children of Richard and Fanny, passed away on 19th July 1985 on his ninetieth birthday. He was the last of my Father's generation.
I am not directly descended from Richard and Fanny Hunt, but from Richard's younger brother, John Charles. They were, however, my Father's Aunt and Uncle and the story of Fanny's ancestors is so fascinating that I cannot resist setting it out at this point and the rest of the children of George Thomas and Elizabeth can wait a page or two. Fanny Eliza's Grandfather, Gilbert Smith was a Sergeant in the British Army and fought in the Napoleonic wars. He married Sarah Hunter and they came to Australia and lived in Sydney in a house on the site of David Jones' George Street Store (which is over 100 years old and is to be demolished in 1986). One of their children, Gilbert Hunter Smith, was born in that house in 1825. When he was about 2 years of age his parents and certain other members of the family were accidentally poisoned by their cook who put arsenic in the soup instead of salt. They all died as a result, including the cook, but the cook's daughter had taken Gilbert for a walk and so they both escaped. Gilbert was taken to Parramatta by friends of the family, the Armstrongs, who brought him up and, as they had no children of their own, left Gilbert what property they had when they died.
During the Victorian gold rush days, Gilbert went there seeking his fortune, but was not successful. However he did meet Eleanor Hickman from Tasmania who was holidaying with relatives in Geelong. Eleanor's father, Richard Hickman had married Phyllis Funnel in England and, in 1842, when Eleanor was 15 years of age, she, with her parents and other members of the family, migrated to Van Diemen's Land which was later to be officially renamed “Tasmania” in 1856. Two of the Hickman girls married Cato boys and the other two married into the Geeves family in Tasmania. When Eleanor met Gilbert she was 18 but was not allowed to marry until she was 21, the wedding taking place on 20th November, 1848 at Geelong. They had three children. Two were sons who died as teenagers in 1866 and 1869 at Port Macquarie and their tombstone, with that of their parents, is in the Walter Lawrie Memorial Park at Parramatta. Their other child was Fanny who married Richard and, as described a couple of paragraphs above, had nine children.
Getting back now to the children of Elizabeth and George Thomas, the fifth was Thomas, born on 13th April 1854. He married his cousin Lillie Ellen (Lilla) Hunt and they had four children, Irene, Stuart, Doris and Yates. Tom, as he was known, took up two selections not far from Burdenda at Dandaloo and lived there in rather unusual circumstances, (as it is related by an old friend of the family, Rex Burns.) It seems that to qualify as a selector it was necessary to live on the property, difficult to do if you had two selections! However, Tom managed it, as the selections were adjoining and he built the living quarters of his house on one and the sleeping quarters on the other, with a covered walkway between the two. His ploy was apparently challenged but he got his way and kept both selections which made them the biggest property in the district. The 1915 Sands Directory reports that it had an area of 55,500 acres and ran 24,152 sheep. By comparison, Burdenda was 16,000 acres and ran 2,981 sheep! Tom also managed Burdenda after his Father retired and his son Stuart followed in this role. Thomas died on 29th September 1930 and was buried in the family grave at Parramatta.
The sixth child was John Charles, my Grandfather, who was born on 27th June 1856. I have already had something to say of him in Chapter 9, but will devote more space to him now. He is best known, I suppose, from the fact that he was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1907 to 1920. I remember him as a rotund old gentleman who walked very heavily with the aid of a walking-stick. He wore a beard that reminded me forcefully of King Edward VII of England. I held him in the same sort of awe. He used to lounge about a lot on a single ended sofa with his feet up and with a pillow under his shoulders. (I think it is properly called a “chaise-longue” which I suppose is French for “long chair”!) I was only a small boy at the time because he died when I was only nine years old, but I recall that he used to give his grandchildren sixpence to massage his feet and ankles. Sixpence in those days was enough for a boy to go to the pictures! Grandfather suffered in late life from the effects of rheumatism complicated by diabetes.
John Charles Hunt's early education was at Parramatta North Public School and then, as already mentioned, he attended Newington College where, at the end of 1872, when he was sixteen years old, he passed quite a few subjects. In 1873 he returned to his Father's property at Dural and became a successful orchardist, growing citrus and summer stone-fruits. His Father, George Thomas, had bought the “Obella” sheep station in 1868 and “Burdenda” in 1873 and it is assumed that he spent a good deal of his time out there, leaving John to look after the Dural property. Two of John's older brothers (George Henry and Richard) were schoolmasters and took up their vocations as soon as they finished their education. George Henry, who taught at Ryde lived at Dural in a separate house on the family estate and his association with the Dural Methodist Church went well into the 1890s. Richard went off to teach in the country, but then left teaching and went to manage “Obella” and “Yoorooga”. John's other older brother Thomas went to “Burdenda”. His other brother, Alfred was five years younger and, no doubt, still at school. So the Dural property became the home and the responsibility of John Charles.
It is interesting to know that the Dural district had been settled as early as 1819 because of its good farming land. A recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald states that about 160 million years ago the Wianamatta shales were laid down and subsequent events have transformed this into excellent soil-a soil far more fertile than the Hawkesbury sandstone based soil in much of Sydney area. More recently-perhaps only 2 million years ago-the earth just north of Sydney did a bit of a joggle and, among other things, created the plateau on which Dural sits, covered by its rich dark soil. There are still farmers at Dural, but a large part of the land is now occupied by luxury homes of city business men on their two hectare or larger allotments.
On 29th May 1879, when John was almost twenty-three years old he married Annie Maria Golledge, whose family lived in George Street, Parramatta. They had nine children, five sons and four daughters. The eldest was Aubrey Charles who remained on the Dural farm and managed it after his parents left to live at “Currawong” at North Parramatta. Then came the four girls, Dora Marion who died young, Gertrude, who later married Reg Roughley, Emma Greer who married Spen Manton, and Nellie Mildred who married Reg Wearne.
After the girls came George Thomas, named after his Grandfather. George was born on 11th November 1889. He was my Father, and as previously narrated, married Nellie Pegler, my Mother. Next to be born to John and Annie Maria was John Morris (after whom I was named) and who was killed in action in France during the First World War. Next to arrive was Kenneth and the final member of the family was Noel Richard Golledge Hunt.
As earlier mentioned, my recollections of John Charles Hunt are from my very early years. I recall them visiting us at Kulnura and us visiting them at Terrigal where they frequently holidayed. Every year we made the long trek from Kulnura to Parramatta at Christmastime and the usual routine was to have Christmas Dinner at midday at “Currawong” with a great tribe of relatives on the Hunt side of the family. There are quite a few photos of those gatherings still remaining and they show the family clustered around Grandfather and Grandmother Hunt like bees in a swarm! An interesting comment on John Charles Hunt was made recently by my old friend, Rex Burns. In his early days it was very common for people to have “nick-names”, but John hated to be called “Jack” and insisted on “John” even within the family circle. It has also been reported that he was rather definite in his views and quick-tempered when crossed. Apparently he regularly quarrelled with his brother Tom at Hunt Bros meetings and sometimes had to be restrained by other brothers and nephews from coming to blows. Although I remember him as a benign old grandfather at Christmas gatherings I am aware that his “word was law” in the family circle and great care was taken by family members to avoid upsetting him.
Grandfather passed way at “Currawong” on 23rd March 1930 and was buried in the Methodist section of the Dural Cemetery. It has been said that the delights of his later years were his motor car and his crystal set (an early form of radio receiver). I can well believe this, but I think having his feet massaged was still his greatest delight!
By the time I lived at “Currawong” with Grandma Hunt and Auntie Elsie Golledge while attending Parramatta High School Grandfather Hunt had passed away and so my later memories are of the very loving but rather “proper” Grandmother and the equally loving but prone-to-spoil Auntie Elsie! I spent a lot of time in my bedroom reading and studying, and it was after tea each evening that the three of us, accompanied sometimes by my cousins Joyce Hunt and Bruce Roughley (who seemed to call in for a meal and to have a piano lesson from Auntie Elsie), sat to listen to the radio, talk about the events of the day etc., and then I would be excused so that I could go into the Drawing Room, where the piano was, to do my half-hour piano practice before going off to bed.
Grandma's hands were never idle. When sitting she invariably had some needlework in progress, a skill in which, I am told, she was very expert. Probably my happiest recollection of Grandmother Hunt is that of walking to the Centenary Methodist Church at North Parramatta each Sunday morning and sitting beside her during the worship service. She was obviously loved and respected by all, and I was proud to be quite a bit more than “distantly related” to that grand old lady.
Now let us return to the children of George Thomas and Elizabeth Hunt. Next after John Charles was Lydia Ann, born 4th February 1859 and who died on 25th November 1931 aged 72. She appears to have lived with her parents and after they died, as previously related, she remained in possession of “Currawong” until she married, rather late in life, a widower Mr. George Sides who lived at Harris Park. They continued to worship at Leigh Memorial Methodist Church. They had no children.
The last of George Thomas and Elizabeth's children was Alfred Edgar born on 3rd May 1861 and died on 16th August 1935 aged 74. He married Sarah Fletcher whose brother was Editor of the “Sydney Morning Herald” Newspaper. A summary of his life has already been set out in Chapter 9, but it is worth repeating that at seventeen years of age he went to the Bogan district and selected land in the Dandaloo district near “Burdenda” and later owned “Wyoming” Station near Nevertire. “Wyoming” was a very large property of 28,560 acres and was capable of heavy stocking. For example, in 1915 it carried 9928 sheep compared to 2891 on the 16,000 acres of “Burdenda”. Alfred and Sarah had eight children, three girls, Essie, Ruth and Marjorie, and five boys, Horace, Roy, Stanley, Bruce and Irvine. Rex Burns recently told me that Stanley was a keen aviator and was accidentally killed while preparing to enter the Great Air Race in 1933 from England to Australia as part of the Melbourne Centenary Celebrations.
So, in the last two chapters we have seen that Great-great-grandparents Richard and Lydia had six children (and five more to Richard's second wife, but none of which survived, one dying young and the others drowned in the Murrumbidgee flood.) Great-grandfather George Thomas had eight children and forty-six grandchildren (3+11+3+9+4+8+8). And these numbers do not include the large families of Richard and Lydia's other children, Charles who went to Queensland, Thomas who went to Victoria and the girls Eliza (Barker) who had five children and Lydia (Roughley) who had three. Is it any wonder that I am still rather confused when asked about those to whom I am “distantly related”!