William Tom, Excise officer, Farmer, Miner and Wesleyan lay preacher, was born on 25 May 1791 in Blisland, Cornwall, on the edge of Bodmin Moor, and was baptised on 12 Jun 1791. On 31 Dec 1817 in St. Clether Parish (9 miles - 15 km - as the crow flies across the moor from Blisland), he married Ann Lane (1796-1870), who had been born in Bridgerule, near Holsworthy, in Devon.
William Tom and Ann had 13 children: three of these were born in Cornwall; one at sea before their arrival in New South Wales in 1823; and nine in the Bathurst district of N.S.W.
William Tom died on 28 September 1883, at the age of 92, at his property "Springfield", near Orange N.S.W., and is buried in the nearby Byng cemetery. On his death certificate, his occupation is given as "Gentleman" (this presumably means "retired"). He died of "old age".
Blisland in Cornwall was the home of the Tom family from time immemorial. Baptismal and other parish records reveal the following:
- Ralph Tome (sic), the author's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, was born in Blisland in 1618.
To put this in context, this was in the reign of James I, just seven years after publication of the King James Bible. Shakespeare had died two years earlier.
Ralph married Ann (b. 1620). They had six children of whom the eldest was
- Ralph Tom(e), who was baptised 30 Nov 1639 and on 17 Feb 1661 married (in Blisland!) Julian Mayners (1641-1712). They had 10 children, the eldest of whom was
- Jonathan Tom, baptised 27 July 1662. He m. Elizabeth Chapell (b. 1666) and they had seven children, the eldest of whom was
- William Tom (1692-1721?) who m. Mary Rogers and had two children, the elder of whom was
- William Tom (1717-1783) who m. Dorothy (1723-1783) and had 10 children. The sixth of these was
- John Tom (1751-1819) whose headstone is pictured. He was a Farmer, m. 5 Oct 1783 in Egloshayle, Cornwall, Mary Olver (1762-1837) and had nine children, of whom
- William ("Parson") Tom, who broke the mould by emigrating, was no. 4.
The grave of John Tom, "Parson" Tom's father,
in Blisland cemetery, Cornwall, England
The parents of Ann Lane, wife of the "Parson", were James Lane (1756-1842) and Joanna (or Johanna) Brimacombe (1754-1820): James appears in the 1841 census in South Petherwin, Cornwall, living with a Samuel Lane, yeoman, presumably a son. James seems to have died here the following year. Joanna Brimacombe is said to have been the daughter of Richard Brimacombe and Susanna Jewell, to have been born in Holsworthy, to have resided at Basil (= St. Clether?) and to have died in St Clether in August 1820. The children of James and Joanna seem to have been:
- James b. c. 1785, yeoman of Trethovey, South Petherwin, m. Martha, children Mary, James [a yeoman was a farmer who owned his own land]
- Samuel (c. 1787-1856), yeoman of South Petherwin, m. Martha (who d. 1860), son James
- Richard (1789-1875) m. Jane Papham, 5 children; emigrated to Australia, buried Byng, NSW
- William b. 1792, Devon d. 1855 NSW, m. Catherine Tom (c. 1800-1854) in Blisland, 7 Apr 1819; emigrated to Australia; 12 children
- Joanna m. Nicholas Bray in St Clether, 28 Aug 1809; children Samuel, William, John; arr. Sydney 1837 aboard Fairlie with 3 children in company of Thos. and Mary Pearse below; and arr. Sydney again 1846 with Joseph and John Bray
- Mary m. Thomas Pearse [there is some confusion in the genealogical record here]
- Ann b. 1796 m. William Tom, emigrated to Australia [see main story].
A New LifeTo a grandson, William Tom recounted that he had been in the "Excise Service" in Cornwall, but he came of farming stock. (He was a strongly-built man, said to be 180 cm [5'11"] tall, well above average for the times.) Economic conditions in England at the time were very harsh and, with his young and growing family, daughter Mary (4 years) and sons John (3) and James (2), William Tom set out for Australia in 1823, at the age of 32. His wife would have been about 27.
The ship on which they were travelling, the Belinda, was wrecked in a tempest in Storm Bay, Tasmania, near the mouth of the Derwent. It is said the Captain knew that William Tom was a deeply religious man and told him of the plight of the vessel, drifting with two lifeboats gone, both masts, rudder and the cook's deckhouse smashed; Tom went below to pray. The wind is said to have changed direction soon after and sent the vessel into the mouth of the Derwent River. Thus saved, as they believed, by the Providence of God, the family transferred to the Jupiter to continue their journey to Sydney. The Jupiter had arrived in Hobart on 6 November; she sailed for Port Jackson on 16 November. During the five day trip, Ann bore another son, William Tom Junior.
[James Tom says William Jr was born during a great storm, but he may be confusing two separate events - or there may have been a second storm. JCC]
The Hobart Town Gazette of 15 November 1823 carried the following story:The family arrived in Sydney on 25 November 1823. The Sydney Gazette of 27 November 1823 reports:
SHIP NEWS. - Arrived last Wednesday from England, via the Cape of Good Hope, the brig Belinda, Captain Coverdale, with merchandize & passengers; namely, Mr. Lee, Mrs. Archer and 2 children, Mr. Gribble, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Ord, Master Stedmann Potter, and Mr. Moss Hart; together with the following steerage passengers – Mrs. Page and 3 children, Mr. and Mrs. Lane, Mrs. Hannah Davis and child, Mr. and Mrs. Tom, Mr. James Bray, and 3 children, Mr. W. Liney, Mr. George Whitcomb, Mr. John Leg, Mr. James Greenfield, and Mr. Josiah Snelgrove....
In latitude 42' South, off the Island of St. Paul's, the brig Belinda experienced a most tremendous gale of wind, in which she lost both her masts, all the boats on deck, and the caboose. Two seamen and a boy, named John Grunner, William Ramsay, and Joseph Noel, were washed overboard at the same time, and unfortunately drowned. In the caboose, the cook was also swept off the deck, but luckily saved by holding on to the caboose.
SHIP NEWS–On Tuesday last arrived from England and Hobart Town, the ship Jupiter, Captain Park. She sailed from London the 2d of June, and called at the Cape, which she left on the 18th of September; and sailed from Hobart Town on the 18th instant. She brings a number of women and families who have been kindly sent out by Government to join their relatives in these Colonies; together with 12 females from the Guardian Society; and 15 pensioned non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the Roval Artillery, to occupy the situations of superintendents, &c. in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. Surgeon Superintendent: Dr. Walker, R. N.No mention of the Toms, but they appear in the records of departures from Hobart, accompanied by their three children: Mary, John and James. Travelling on the same ship, Jupiter, were William Lane, Ann Lane Tom's brother, with his wife Catherine (who was also Parson Tom's sister) and the first two of their children, Mary Tom Lane and John Tom Lane b. 9 September 1822, along with Hannah Davis, her child and James Bray. From the above Hobart newspaper report, we deduce that they, too, had transferred at Hobart from the wrecked Belinda. [William Lane (1792-1855) was a pioneer settler at "Orton Park", Bathurst, and one of the first land owners in the Orange district. He purchased land at Frederick's Valley Creek in 1836, 1837, and 1838, but his first selection there, "Rosehill", is shown on an 1832 survey. His son John Tom Lane made a name for himself in the colony, holding a number of important public offices. Hannah Davis resided with the Lanes at "Orton Park".]
The Belinda sailed for Port Jackson on 18 February 1824. The Sydney Gazette of 26 February 1824 announced:SHIP NEWS.-On Monday last arrived from England and Hobart Town, the brig Belinda, Captain Coverdale. This vessel, it may be recollected, made the latter Port some few months back, in a dismasted and otherwise wrecked condition. Her cargo comprises sundries, Passengers, from England and Hobart Town, Mr. Edward Lee, Supercargo; Mr. Edward Spark and family; Mr. Crook, Mr. J. Harpur, Mr. Wm. Lundin, Mr. James Kiernan, Miss Mary Hosking, Master W. Hutchinson, and Ann Jamieson and child.The Toms crossed the Blue Mountains in a bullock dray. The General Muster List of NSW of 1823/24/25 (a kind of compendium census) shows William Tomm (sic) (CF="came free", Jupiter 1823) employed by Mr Hassall in the Bathurst district. His wife Ann and five children are also recorded. In the 1828 census, we find William Toms (sic), 37, CF Jupiter 1823, P (=Protestant), Farmer at Sidmouth Vy, Bathurst, with his wife Ann, 32, and children Mary 10, John 8, James 6, William 4, Thomas 3 and Henry 1. The family worked a 680-acre selection on the southern bank of the Fish River at Tarana, between Lithgow and Bathurst. The low-lying land turned out to be unsuitable for sheep, large numbers of which succumbed to foot-rot, but the family struggled on for some six years.
By 1829, the ban prohibiting settlers selecting land west of the Macquarie River (the Western District) was lifted and in 1830 William Tom took up a grant of 640 acres (259 hectares) shown in an 1828 map on the left bank of Lewis Ponds Creek, where the Sheep Station Creek joins. [33°20'39.92"S, 149°15'13.92"E] He called his property "Springfield" and became the first inhabitant of what was to become the Cornish Settlement, as more of Tom's countrymen, with names like Glasson and Hawke, came to settle there. Cornish Settlement was later called Byng, after an eighteenth-century British admiral who was court-martialled and shot for failing to carry out his orders, which were to defeat the French at Minorca and protect Gibraltar! (Byng subsequently became something of a cult hero, as people realized he was a scapegoat for the government.)
"Parson" Tom's first home, "old Springfield", was a simple wattle-and-daub structure with five rooms, and has now disappeared, but the "new" homestead, built of local sandstone in 1847-54, presumably with convict labour, is still in fine condition.
The family's pipe organ was recently traced and repurchased by his descendants for the Orange District Historical Society. It was around this organ in the parlour of the Springfield homestead about 150 years ago that William Tom, his wife Ann and their 13 children gathered for their nightly session of hymns. It is said that William would pump the pedals enthusiastically and lead the singing in his strong resonant voice. The problem was that William did not always stick to the right key and his wife would make a quiet protest that he was putting them all out. The story goes on to record that William would invariably reply: "Well, my dear, I must praise the Lord and thank Him for all our blessings".
Parson Tom was a lay Wesleyan preacher; he preached to local copper miners from "Bethel Rock" on his property, until a small church was built in May 1842. A plaque on Bethel Rock proclaims this to have been the first church west of Bathurst; its foundations are still visible just across the road from Bookannon homestead. A sign on the "new" church says it was erected in 1872 to replace the 1840 (!?) Wesleyan chapel built 800 metres to its NE. Another plaque on Bethel Rock, entitled "The Cornish Settlement 1829", indicates the old homesteads "Springfield", "Bookannon" and "Pendarves", as well as directions to Bathurst (20 miles), Orange (10 miles) and Ophir (12 miles). Other notable names in the settlement, besides Tom, were Glasson and Hawke.
The graves of "Parson" Tom's relatives are still in quite good condition in the cemetery across the road from the "new" church.
"Parson" Tom had 13 children, as shown in the table. The comments in inverted commas are those of James Tom, eldest son of John Tom, eldest son of "Parson" Tom.
|Mary||9 Oct 1818, Blisland;
baptised St Breward, Cornwall, 12 Nov 1818
|John Smith of Gamboola b. 19.5.1811 St. Keverne, Cornwall; m. 12.9.1842 at Byng; d. 1.1.1895||16 Jul 1912
|John||20 Apr 1820
|Ann Elder (1821-1902)
Had 7 children of whom
4th was Emily Australia
|1 Aug 1895
|Drover, farmer, miner
|24 Mar 1822
|Marion McCaw b. Scotland
Had 8 children
|7 Aug 1898 of influenza||On his property "Chentin Grange", Wallan, Vic.||Guided early Hargraves expedition
Moved to Victoria
|William Jr ("Bill")||20 Nov 1823
At sea between Tas & NSW
|(Susanna) Sarah Lister on 21 Jun 1851
[2 months after gold discovered]
Had 10 children
|3 Jul 1904
near Guyong NSW
[see picture below]
"Well-read, entertaining man"
|Thomas||16 Aug 1825
|Wilhelmina ("Minor") Elder
[sister of Ann who m. John Tom]
Had 8 children
|4 Apr 1900||-||"Typical squatter;
|Henry||4 Jun 1827
Had 2 children
|14 Jul 1896||-||Pastoralist
Moved to Qld
|Nicholas||11 Mar 1829
|Eliza McGaw (1833-1906)
Had 6 children
|12 Oct 1888||Byng Cemetery||"Quiet retiring man;
well liked by all"
|Charles||1 Apr 1831
[sister of Henry's wife?]
Had 2 children
|11 Jul 1904
|-||Spent years in Qld|
|Helen Wesley||27 Jul 1833
|George Henry Tempest
Had 8 children
|23 May 1916||Rookwood Cemetery
|Twin of Emma|
|Emma Fletcher||27 Jul 1833
|Thomas Geake Webb
in double wedding with sister Selina, 18/1/54
Had 12 children
|2 Dec 1872||Byng Cemetery||Twin of Helen|
|Selina Jane Jones||28 Aug 1835
in double wedding with sister Emma, 18/1/54
Had 5 children
|Wesley||16 Aug 1837||"Late in life", in England||-||-||Early graduate of Syd Uni (1857)
Practised law in England
|Annie||29 Feb 1840
|Richard Gustavus "Gus" Glasson
Had 3 children
|8 Dec 1872||-||"A real Australian girl"|
The author at the grave of William Tom Jr, "Gold Discoverer", in Byng cemetery, N.S.W.
"Bethel Rock" is on the hill in the background.
Further information about the Tom family is available on the website of the Cornish Association of New South Wales. See also John Rule's text in The Cradle of a Nation.
Elders & SmithsAs can be seen from the above table, two Tom brothers, John and Thomas, married two Elder sisters, Ann and "Minor", respectively. Ann Elder the author's great-great-grandmother was the daughter of James Elder and Mary Smith, as shown in the diagram below. She was the eighth of Mary's 12 children. The colourful stories of the Elder and Smith families are told on separate pages.
Toms & EldersAnn Elder, was born at "Elder House", Parramatta, on 27 June 1821, was married to John Tom on 25 March 1845 at St. John's, Parramatta by her brother John, brought up a family of seven children in country NSW, and died on 7 November 1902.
The seven children of John Tom and Ann Elder are shown in the table:
|Wilhelmina ("Mina") Ann||19 Feb 1846||Frank Montgomery
Had 5 children
|Fanny Jane||15 Jun 1849||-||-||-||Unmarried|
|James ("Jim") Dunlop||28 Sep 1853
|Emily Australia||29 Mar 1856
|Thomas Sydney Lister
on 24 Sep 1879
at Wesleyan Chapel,
by Rev. J. A. Nowlan
Had 11 children
|18 Jun 1938||Methodist cemetery
|The author's great-grandmother
See photo below.
This marriage represents,
for the author's family,
the confluence of the
Tom and Lister lines.
|William John||18 Apr 1859
||-||2 Jun 1942||-||-|
|Catherine ("Katie") Lane||5 Jun 1862||-||1946||-||Unmarried
See photo below
|Hamilton H||1865||-||In infancy||-||Another brother also died young
("2 males deceased" on father's death certificate)
Toms & ListersEmily Australia Tom was educated at Methodist Ladies' College, Burwood, apparently at her Tom grandfather's expense. She and Thomas Sydney Lister, who married in the Wesleyan Chapel in Guyong NSW (near Byng) - 33°23'40.68"S, 149°13'59.23"E - on 24 Sep 1879, had 11 children, as shown in the table which follows. They farmed at "Woodstock" on the Cargo road some 15 km SW of Orange, close to Mount Canobolas - a very cold part of the country. [The name of the property is said to have changed to Coffee Hills and to be a vineyard. The homestead has long been a ruin. The area is or was called Paling Yard Creek, "on the right side about 10 miles out from Orange".]
In retirement, they lived at 32 Day Street, Marrickville - an old Sydney suburb. This is where they were when their son Sid went off to the Great War. Thomas Lister died in May 1920. Emily subsequently lived in Orange with her sisters but, to escape the cold, wintered with the Crawshaws in Thirroul. Her death is recorded at Clinton St., Orange, in June 1938.
|Annie ("Una")||29 Jun 1880||-||1919||Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney||Died of "Spanish 'flu" post WW I.
|Ida Elder Pymble||16 Aug 1881||Alfred Harold ("Harold") Hogg
Had 1 child
|9 Aug 1955||Methodist section
Woronora cemetery, NSW
|Baptised 18 Dec 1881 in Byng|
|Fanny Ina ("Dot")||6 Sep 1883
Byng nr Orange, N.S.W.
Had 5 children
|10 Dec 1961||Northern Suburbs Cemetery, Sydney||The author's grandmother
|Emily Olive ("Ollie")||25 Feb 1885||Charles Randolph Hamilton Moulder, in 1907
Had 8 children
|6 Mar 1973||-||-|
|Katie Maud||13 Oct 1886
"Woodstock", on Cargo road near Orange, NSW
|John Henry Glasson
Had 5 children
|2 Jun 1973
|Orange, NSW||Lived at "Stanfield"|
|Pansy Ruperta||20 Nov 1888
|-||1893||-||Died of diphtheria|
|Lucy Lina Amy||29 Jan 1891
|-||1891||-||Died of diphtheria|
|John ("Jack") Hardman Australia||11 Jun 1892
|Catherine Mary Ima ("Ima") Beacroft
Had 5 children
|27 Aug 1958||-||Lived at St. Mary's.
Stationmaster at Blayney;
later at Blacktown
|Sidney Harold T ("Sid")||11 Oct 1895||-||14 May 1918||Dive Copse British Cemetery, Somme, France||Railway booking clerk;
Died in battle in WWI
|Norman Lisle||16 Oct 1899
|Mavis Lilian Holdorf
Had 6 children
|14 Feb 1976||-||Tramway workshop employee|
|Clarice Ethelwyn||7 Feb 1901
|John Paull ("Paull") Glasson
|1982 at "Gresham" nr Newbridge NSW||Canobolas Crematorium, Orange||-|