In 2016 Margaret Miller and I published our book on Charles James Bullivant and his family. It is approximately 200 pages, with photos, maps, charts, indexes and references. If you are interested in purchasing a copy please contact me using the email address above – title A Publican’s Life in Early Sydney – Charles James Bullivant – Ensign, 46th Regiment
Maria and Charles James Bullivant
by Grahame Thom and Margaret Miller
Copied from Obadiah Ikin – the story of a Shropshire soldier and his family in Australia, by Grahame Thom and Margaret Miller, with minor amendments.
On 30 December 1792, a cloudy Sunday in Sydney Town, Sarah Ikin gave birth to the Ikins’ first Australian born child, Maria. She was baptised on 19 January 1793 and the event was duly recorded in the register of St. Phillip’s Church, Sydney (1).
Six days later, Maria sailed with her family for Norfolk Island, the closeness of these events leading to a belief that she had been born on Norfolk Island. Her future husband, Charles James Bullivant, gave it as her birthplace when providing details for Maria’s death certificate (2). Maria was almost two years old when the family returned to Sydney.
Following their return from Norfolk Island it seems that Maria ‘s childhood was spent in Sydney Town with her mother, while her father, Obadiah, was either on duty elsewhere with the New South Wales Corps or establishing a farm first at Lane Cove then near Penrith.
When Maria was almost 16 years old she was called to give evidence relating to a night time break-in at the Brickfields house of John Sloane on 9 November 1808 (3). Did Maria just happen to be in the area at the time, or was she employed by Mr Sloane?
Maria’s life changed following the arrival in Sydney on 28 December 1809 of Lieutenant Richard Leyne, a 19 year old Irishman who came as part of Governor Macquarie’s 73rd Regiment (4).
Leyne, born in 1790 at Tralee, County Kerry, was the son of Dr Maurice Leyne and Agnes, the daughter of Cornelius of Macgillycuddy of the Reeks (a range of mountains in County Kerry). Cornelius was the leader of the clan, said to be an ancient Irish title. Leyne had served in the Kerry Militia prior to being commissioned in the 73rd Regiment on 2 February 1809 as a Lieutenant (5).
On 21 December 1812 then aged 19, Maria gave birth to Richard’s child, Agnes Sarah, apparently named for their respective mothers, Agnes Leyne and Sarah Ikin (6). But joy turned to sadness as a month later Maria’s mother died.
Sarah Ikin, then a widow, had made her will on 26 January 1813, shortly before she died, leaving her house and land at 52 Cumberland Street, and her garden opposite, to her son Thomas Moore Ikin who was then aged 17 years. A codicil to Sarah’s will allowed Maria to live rent free in the house for 12 months and afterwards at a rent set by Thomas. (See Ikin link) At that time Thomas and Maria were the only Ikin children unmarried and were probably still living with their mother. So why did Sarah leave the house only to Thomas and not to both children. Was she displeased with Maria or did she anticipate Maria’s future security through a marriage with Leyne which would leave Thomas as the only child needing a home. The latter is more likely.
But within two months Richard Leyne, in a letter to his Colonel, requested to be allowed to return to Europe to arrange some family affairs of great importance to his future prospects (7). One wonders if Maria was invited to return with him as his wife, whether she refused to leave her family, or if she was asked to wait. Richard sailed from Sydney as a passenger on the ship Minstrel in July 1813 bearing letters from John Macarthur to his uncle in England, describing Leyne as a most intimate friend who can give you every information respecting us all, and I know no one more capable of pointing out the real state of Colonial politics, being a young man of superior education and an acute observer of everything about him” (8). Leyne did not return to Australia.
After his departure Leyne was sent to France and remained there from December 1814 to at least November 1815 with the 2nd Battalion of the 73rd Regiment. He fought at Waterloo, was promoted to Captain on 2 August 1815, and was awarded the Waterloo Medal. In June 1817 he was placed on half pay and returned to Ireland where he married Elizabeth Connor of Tralee. He served some years with the 58th Regiment between 1817 and 1828 and was a Stipendiary Magistrate in Kerry (9).
Seven months after Leyne’s departure the birth of a child occurred in Sydney – Arabella Leyne – 13 January 1814. Was this another child of Richard and possibly Maria? The records do not answer this question but tell us that the child died on 25 April 1814 aged 3 months and 12 days (10).
On 19 October 1813, Maria’s brother, Thomas, who is about to depart this Colony, in consideration of the good will I bear unto my sister Maria Ikin, do give grant and make over unto her the house, household furniture and premises left me by the wish of my mother, known by the number 52 Cumberland Street in Sydney… (11). Maria must have been relieved to have her own home, having been left without a husband or family, and with a small child to raise. Her brother William had returned to England, sister Mary lived at Parramatta, and now Thomas was about to depart for Hobart, leaving only her brother Alexander living in Sydney with his family.
There are no more recorded events in Maria’s life until the arrival of the Ocean on 30 January 1816. This ship was a convict transport which brought not only 218 male convicts, but a detachment of the 46th Regiment under the command of Ensign Bullivant, a fair haired, blue eyed, 17 year old officer from Oakham, County Rutland, England. It is to his credit, and that of the ship’s surgeon, that the convicts arrived in excellent health and without any complaints (12). Additional information – Charles James Bullivant was born in London in February 1798, the son of James Bullivant, solicitor, and Elizabeth Phillips. James was from Oakham, County Rutland, and returned to Oakham with his young family. He was the son of Thomas Bullivant and Elizabeth Dorothea Ashby.
As the barracks and Maria’s home stood within a short distance of each other in Charlotte Square it was inevitable that Charles James Bullivant and Maria would soon meet, particularly since Maria’s brother, William, a retired soldier, and his family had returned to Sydney in 1816 and opened an inn called The Chelsea Pensioner on the corner of Princes Street adjoining Maria’s home (13). In January 1817 Maria sold the upper portion of 52 Cumberland Street to William for 25 pounds, no doubt to help him re-establish his life in Sydney; Bullivant witnessed the deed (14).
In February 1817 the Sydney Gazette reported that Charles James Bullivant was leaving the colony on board the ship Kangaroo (15), having fallen out of favour with Governor Macquarie through the influence of the senior officers of the 46th Regiment.
Bullivant had drawn a caricature of Macquarie on the wall of the Guard House in George Street, while in command of the main guard. The caricature was greatly enjoyed by his fellow officers, who not only allowed it to remain but added their own scurrilous labels underneath it (16). It was inevitable that the drawing should come to the attention of Macquarie who then called for a public apology by Bullivant. Macquarie accepted Bullivant’s apology but the end result was that Charles resigned his commission and made plans to return to England.
But Charles did not leave on the Kangaroo, probably because Maria was expecting his child, Ann Maria, who was born in September 1817 (17). Unfortunately Ann died early the following month (18). In April 1818 Bullivant again made arrangements to leave the colony on the ship David Shaw (19). Again he did not leave, probably remaining for the same reason. Charles James Bullivant junior was born in December 1818 (20) and joined Agnes Sarah Leyne to make up a family of four.
The Chelsea Pensioner Inn was sold by William in late 1820 following his appointment as Chief Constable at Liverpool and it seems that the building was not re-opened as an inn. MaMa, seeing the opportunity, applied for, and was granted a beer licence in 1821 (21) . In November 1821 their third child arrived, Gerrard Noel (22), and Maria continued as licensee with the addition of a spirit licence in March 1822 (23). Charles perhaps assisted occasionally at the inn but was chiefly occupied as a dealer (24).
On 10 July 1823, Maria and Charles finally approached the altar of St. Phillip’s Church and were married by the Rev. Richard Hill. Maria, described as a publican, was then 30 years of age and Charles 25 years (25). Perhaps the knowledge that another child would arrive soon spurred them on to marriage as January 1824 brought the birth of daughter Julia Ellen (26). Another daughter, Frances Eliza, arrived in May 1826 (27).
When son Gerrard was admitted to St. Phillip’s Infant School in July 1827 and later Frances Eliza in May 1828, the school recorded their father’s occupation as a publican (28). So perhaps by then Charles had begun to spend more time in running the inn, and Maria was no doubt becoming more burdened in her role as mother. Son Maurice Charles was born on 26 March 1829 (29), and by July 1830, Charles was officially the licensee and their inn was known as The Three Crowns (30). Ellen Augusta was born on 29 July 1831 (31).
The early 1830’s were probably one of the happiest periods of Maria’s life with her family around her, a successful business run by Charles, and her shipwright brother Alexander and his family living next door in Cumberland Street. In July 1834, Maria’s last child, William Noel was born (32) and Maria’s daughter by Richard Leyne, Agnes Sarah, married Scotsman Edward Thomas Young Wilson McDonald (33) – a close friend and business associate of Charles Bullivant. McDonald was the licensee of the Forth and Clyde Inn close by on the corner of Essex Lane and Cumberland Street (34).
Agnes Sarah had been raised as one of Bullivant’s children and the community saw him as her legitimate father, although she always used the surname Leyne and was proud of her real father, Richard, and his distinguished military career (35).
In May 1836 Charles and Maria received from Governor Richard Bourke a town grant of six and half perches in nearby Princes Street (36), and later official title to 640 acres in the County of Argyle which was then sold in 1839 (37).
1838 brought the death of Maria’s brother Alexander, when only 48 years old, and also official title to The Three Crowns block, in the name of Charles James Bullivant (38) . Up until Governor Darling’s Proclamation of 1829 the majority of persons in Sydney held their land by the mere right of occupancy and there was much risk involved in buying and selling town allotments. Darling’s Proclamation brought about a proper survey and the issuing of grants to claimants, their heirs or assigns (39). This process took some time as can be seen by the issue of title of The Three Crowns in 1838.
Life changed dramatically for Maria and family in February 1841 when Charles decided to move across the harbour to the newly opened north shore township of St. Leonards (now North Sydney), where he purchased a large property and stone dwelling at the head of Neutral Bay in William Street (now Kurraba Road) for the then princely sum of 1,200 pounds (40). At that time there were a total of 92 houses to be found in the Parish of St. Leonards, of which only 35 were built of stone (41).
The Bullivant family moved to their new home and The Three Crowns was leased for 7 years (42). But it was only nine months before Charles was drawn back to Sydney Town to take up the lease of The Forth and Clyde from Maria’s son-in-law, Edward McDonald (43), leaving Maria and family at St. Leonards. Perhaps he returned regularly by the ferry service between Dawes and Blues Points provided by the watermen in their row boats. Two of the Bullivant sons, Maurice and Gerrard were watermen (44) and Charles himself showed a keen interest in sailing by competing in his boat Maria in the Australia Day celebrations of 1842 (45).
In 1842, despite a reputed aversion to organised religion, Charles contributed to the building fund for St. Thomas’ Church of England at St. Leonards – to refrain from subscribing would have been unwise in such a small community (46).
The first Bullivant child to marry was Julia Ellen, who at 18 years married George Isaac Wyer in 1843. Wyer was engaged in the liquor trade and probably a business associate of Julia ‘s father (47).
Sadness struck in 1844 with the death of their seventeen year old daughter, Frances Eliza; she was buried at Petersham (48).
By late 1845 the Bullivant sights had been cast in the direction of Balmain, a highly populated area in close proximity to Sydney Town, where Charles purchased an impressive two storied sandstone building in Darling Street for 450 pounds (49).
Originally a bakery, it now became the Waterford Arms where the young Maurice Charles was taken to learn the inn-keepers trade. Only nine years later, in 1854, the inn was sold for 1,800 pounds sterling (50) and Bullivant returned to The Three Crowns. Maurice continued to live in Darling Street until 1861 earning his living as a waterman, rowing his customers to and from Sydney Town – from Balmain to Millers Point.
1852 brought sadness with the death of Maria’s daughter, Agnes Sarah McDonald, who died at the early age of 39 years leaving a husband and four children ranging in age between 7 and 17 years (51). Also that year Charles James Bullivant junior married Sarah Turnbull, sister of Maria, see below (52).
The following year saw the marriage of their youngest daughter, Ellen Augusta to Charles Buchanan and the birth of their first child, Frances, all on the same day (53) and 1854 saw the marriage of Maurice Charles to widow Ann Smith, nee Martin (54).
Three deaths were to mar the closing of the decade; Maria’s brother William Ikin at Clarence Town in 1858 (55), brother Thomas Moore Ikin at Hobart in 1860 (56), and saddest of all, son Gerrard Noel Bullivant at Church Hill, Sydney, in 1859 (57).
Gerrard’s last years had brought sadness. His sweetheart, Maria Turnbull, had borne him a son, Ralph Gerrard in October 1855 (58). There had been no marriage and she had taken the child to live with the Turnbull family at Lower Portland Head on the Hawkesbury River. A year later, when only 20, Maria died of consumption (59) leaving young Ralph to be taken in by his father. It was only two years later that Gerrard himself died, leaving the child an orphan (60). Charles and Maria adopted their grandson and cared for him during his childhood. They sent him across the harbour to attend St. Phillip’s School (61) and obtained an apprenticeship for him with the blacksmith, William Jolly, at St. Leonards (62). He looked on them as his parents and had a great love for them.
Since ceasing to hold the licence at the Waterford Arms, Charles moved to and from The Three Crowns, with intermittent periods as licensee of The Golden Gate in George Street, The Old Commodore at St. Leonards, and Bullivant’s Tavern at 92 York Street (63), probably leaving Maria living at St. Leonards with son William and grandson Ralph. However, in 1861 James Glover, a neighbour from their days at the Rocks, opened an inn, The Sailors Return, on the corner of Berry and Miller Streets, St. Leonards (64). The inn was very close to the Bullivant’s home and when Glover tired of the hotel industry, Bullivant was quick to take over as licensee in 1866, renaming the pub The Rag and Famish; the name thought to have come from two characters named Ensign Rag and Captain Famish who were invented to poke fun at the services (65). Although the William Street home was not sold until 1875 it seems that Maria and Charles soon took up residence at the inn, and many tales have gone down in the history of North Sydney concerning Old Bull, his eccentricities, and life at The Rag (66). Click on link to three articles below.
Maria died at The Rag and Famish, from debility and old age on 7 November 1869 aged 78 years and was buried in St. Thomas’ Cemetery, West Street, North Sydney, at 4 pm on 9 November, after a service conducted by the Rev. G. Middleton (67). Earlier that year daughter Ellen Augusta married Henry Thomas Crocker (68).
Charles did not wait that long to marry again, for on 18 December 1870 he married Rebecca Gordon, widow, of St Leonards, at St. Thomas’ Church, St Leonards (69). But the marriage did not last long.
In the intervening years between Mara’s death and his own passing Charles Bullivant continued his successful business activities finally parting with The Three Crowns in February 1878 for 2,000 pounds (70). He purchased another St. Leonards home on the comer of Ernest and Merlin Streets (71) on which a stone vault was built to receive his remains and the coffin he had had for some twenty years and which had accompanied him from place to place during that time ( 72). Of the remaining Bullivant children, Maurice Charles died in 1870 (73), Ellen Augusta Crocker in 1871 (74), and Charles James junior in 1874 (75). As Julia Ellen is thought to have died prior to her father, William Noel became the only Bullivant child to outlive their parents.
In October 1878 Charles made his will leaving considerable wealth to his son William, grand-daughter Violet Hunt, and Amelia Jago, wife of a stonemason, Thomas Jago, of Merlin Street (76).
After only a week of illness, and without having seen a doctor, Charles died at his home in Merlin Street, on 25 January 1879, aged 80 years and 10 months; cause of death being decay of nature (77).
William Noel, who did not marry, lived on alone in his father’s house, with his father’s remains resting in the vault in his back yard under a large oak tree. In a bout of melancholy, William took his life on 5 February 1883, then aged 47 years, only 4 years after his father’s death (78). When the property came to be sold, prospective purchasers objected to the vault and its contents, and Bullivant’s remains are said to have been removed to St. Thomas’ Cemetery, but no record has been found of his reinterment there (79). William was laid to rest in St. Thomas’ Cemetery along with his mother and other family members. A generation ended.
Note – The present Hotel on the corner of Miller and Berry Streets, North Sydney, is again called the Rag and Famish.
1. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 4 No. 208, and John Cobley, Sydney Cove 1791-1792, (1965), page 355
2. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, 1869 No. 2443.
3. Sydney Gazette, 27 November 1808.
4. M. H. Ellis, Lachlan Macquarie, (1978), page 176.
5. Ian Chambers, letter of 10 April 1980, Department of Defence Canberra, letter of 30 April 1979 to Ian Chambers.
6. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 1 No. 2911.
7. Archives Office of NSW, letter by Richard Leyne of 1 March 1813, and Sydney Gazette, 12 June 1813
8. Archives Office of NSW, letter by John Macarthur of 13 July 1813.
9. Charles Dalton, The Waterloo Roll Call, and Note 5 above.
10. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 7 No. 250.
11. Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Old Registers, Book 5, page 269, entry 1102.
12. Charles Bateson, The Convict Ships 1787-1868, (1974), pages 340, 382, and Historical Records of Australia, (1917), Series 1, Vol 9, page 56.
13. Sydney Gazette, 19 April 1817.
14. Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Old Registers, Book 6, page 220, entry 13.
15. Sydney Gazette, 8 February 1817, and Historical Records of Australia, (1917), Series 1, Vol 9, page 373.
16. Historical Records of Australia, (1917), Series 1, Vol 9, pages 446, 471-5.
17. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 1, No. 4300.
18. ibid, Vol 7, No. 679.
19. Sydney Gazette, 25 April 1818
20. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 1, No. 5067.
21. Publicans’ Licences, Archives Office of NSW, 4/1760, page 192, Maria’s application indicates that she had been granted a beer licence in 1821 for the first time.
22. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 1, No. 5676.
23. Publicans’ Licences, Archives Office of NSW, 4/1760, page 192.
24. Home Office Class 10, Piece 15 and 19, AJCP reels 64 and 66, 1821 and 1825 Musters.
25. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 8, No. 286, and the Kerrison James Index, Mitchell Library, Sydney,
26. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 1, No. 6986.
27. ibid , Vol 1, No. 7519.
28. Admission Book, St. Phillips Infants School, Mitchell Library, Sydney, NSW, MS A3099.
29. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 13, No. 164.
30. The Australian, 9 July 1830.
31. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 1, No. 10734.
32. ibid, Vol 19, No. 304.
33. ibid, Vol 74, No. 2729 , and family bible held by Ian Chambers of Beacon Hill, NSW.
34. Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Registry of Deeds, Book Y No. 602 and Book 6, No 452.
35. K. A. Johnson and M. R. Sainty, Census of New South Wales – November 1828, (1980), page 54, entry 1546, Agnes is included in Bullivant family group but married using the surname Leyne in 1834.
36. Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Old Registers, Vol 39, page 161, Section 88, Allotment 8, 4 May 1836.
37. NSW Government Gazette, 1839.
38. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 22, No 2086, Alexander died on 1 January 1838, and Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Register of Town Grants, No 42, page 125, granted on 6 August 1838.
39. Historical Records of Australia, (1917) Series 1, Volume 15, pages 18-20.
40. Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Registry of Deeds, Book U, No 991, conveyance of 22 February 1841.
41. Census of NSW, 2 March 1841, Parish of Willoughby, Archives Office of NSW, Reel 2223.
42. Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Registry of Deeds, Book V, No 86, lease of 2 February 1841.
43. ibid, Book Y, No 602, lease of 27 November 1841.
44. North Sydney Municipal Council, St. Thomas’ Church of England baptismal register, entry 678 of 14 November 1863, records Maurice Charles as a waterman, and Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Registry of Deeds, Book 33, No 958 of 27 November 1854 records Gerrard Bullivant as a waterman.
45. The Australia, 1 January 1842, page 2.
46. Archives of St. Thomas’ Church of England, North Sydney, list of subscriptions.
47. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 73, No 858, and Low, F., City of Sydney Directory, 1844-45, facsimile edition 1978, pages 56 and 117.
48. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 29, No 454, 27 March 1844.
49. Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Registry of Deeds, Vol 9, No 967, conveyance of 6 December 1845.
50. ibid, Vol 32, No 247, conveyance of 23 May 1854.
51. K. A. Johnson and M. R. Sainty, Gravestone Inscriptions NSW, Volume 1, Sydney Burial Ground, (1973), page 109, entry 1981, 30 January 1852.
52. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 73, No. 2326.
53, ibid, Vol 81, No 498, and Vol 39, No 66, of 29 January 1853.
54. ibid, Vol 81, No. 959.
55. ibid , 58 03290, 14 December 1858.
56. Register of Burials 1843, Archives Office of Tasmania, entry 1435.
57. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, Vol 122, No 8025, 20 November 1859.
58. ibid, Vol 56, No 3177, 13 October 1855.
59. ibid, Vol 138, No 4672, 5 March 1857.
60. ibid, Vol 122, No 8025, 20 November 1859.
61. Reminiscences as related by Ivy Leila Bullivant to Margaret Miller.
62. Indenture as apprentice to James Jolly, junior, blacksmith, of Ralph Gerrard Bullivant, aged 19 years, with the consent of his guardian Charles James Bullivant, 10 November 1874, in the possession of Margaret Miller.
63. Publicans Licences, The Golden Gate, 30 April 1853, Archives Office of NSW, reel 218, No 676; The Old Commodore, 31 May 1856, reel 1238, page 790, Return of Buildings, Brisbane Ward, Bullivant’s Tavern, February/July 1866, City of Sydney Archives, reel 6.
64. Sands and Kenny Sydney Directory 1861, Sands Sydney Directory, 1863, James Glover, The Sailor’s Return, Berry Street, St. Leonards, and 1865, Miller Street, St. Leonards, not in 1866 Directory, also Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Book 20, No 88, conveyance of original land, 23 January 1851.
65. The Truth, ‘Old Sydney’, by Old Chum, 5 March 1916.
66. The Truth, ‘Old Sydney’, by Old Chum, 21 February 1909, 14 December 1913, 5 March 1916,19 March 1916, 26 March 1916, 23 April 1916, 16 July 1916, 23 July 1916; 30 July 1916, and The Suburban Herald 16 March 1928, see three of these articles by clicking on link below.
67. St. Thomas’ Church of England, North Sydney, Burial Register, entry 592, and Registry of Births, Deaths arid Marriages, Sydney, NSW, 69 2443.
68. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, 69 547.
69. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, 70 1408.
70. Land Titles Office, Sydney, NSW, Registry of Deeds, Book 177, No 713, conveyance.
71. ibid, BooK 154, No 612, conveyance of Lot 9, 27 July 1875, and Book 184, No 583, conveyance of part Lot 8, 1 June 1878.
72. The Truth, ‘Old Sydney’, Old Chum. 19 and 26 March 1916.
73. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, 70 321.
74. ibid, 71 43.
75. ibid, 74 3235, and St. Thomas’ Church of England, North Sydney, NSW, Burial Register, entry 3660.
76. Probate Office, NSW Supreme Court, Sydney, No 3196, series 3.
77. Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW, 79 3660.
78. ibid , 83 249, Sydney Morning Herald, 7 February 1883, page 5, and The Freeman’s Journal, 10 February 1883.
79. Archivist, St. Thomas’ Church of England, North Sydney, confirmation letter to Margaret Miller, 11 April 1980.