My Avery Ancestors

The Avery and Cartan Families

by Rosslyn and Grahame Thom

This story was published in a modified form in the January 2015 issue of the magazine Australian Family Tree Connections – pages 18 – 21

James Avery, farmer, married Isabella Harrison on 20 November 1803 at Longbenton, Northumberland, England (1).  Their second son Harrison Avery was born on 25 May 1806 and baptised on 31 August 1806 at Longbenton (2). 

Harrison married Alice Watson on 25 April 1830 at All Saints Church, Newcastle, Northumberland (3).  By 1851 Harrison and Alice were living in rooms in Elswick Lane, Newcastle, where Harrison ran a grocer shop.  In November the owner of Harrison’s rooms and shop put it and a number of other properties in Newcastle up for sale by auction (4).  It is likely that some later action by the new owner prompted Harrison and Alice to decide to emigrate.

Harrison and Alice, having no children, sailed from Liverpool to Melbourne on the Covenanter, arriving on Christmas Day 1852.  Also on board was Harrison’s relative (possibly a cousin) John, carver, his wife Mary Ann (nee Bainbridge) and their eight year old son George (5).

Sadly within a year Alice died at Richmond of general paralysis, on 13 October 1853 (6).  Harrison bought land at Braybrook and Richmond (7), perhaps using funds he brought from Newcastle or from doing well in his occupation as a miller. 

On 2 December 1854 he married Catherine Dwyer, at Richmond, a servant aged 27 years, from Kilkenny, Ireland (8).  Catherine had arrived at Geelong from Liverpool on the Bourneuf on 23 September 1852 and she was immediately engaged to work for Mrs Bray of Market Square, Melbourne (9).

While working as a carpenter at the Castlemaine goldfields, Harrison died of fever on 3 April 1855 (10), just four months after his marriage, leaving Catherine as a young widow and expecting their son William Hugh who was born in Melbourne just four days later (11).  The day before he died, Harrison made a brief will leaving all his property to Catherine (12).  In 1864 Catherine sold her Yarra Street, Richmond block for £35 to Bridget Brennan, signing the deed with a cross (13).

Catherine then married Thomas Cartan (14), who had arrived from County Wexford, Ireland.    A Thomas Cartan aged 34 years is listed as having arrived in Melbourne on the ship Sea Park in March 1858.  Also on board were a number of passengers named Cartan and Carton.  Its likely that the Cartans are relatives (15). 

Thomas first occupied land in the Wimmera district, but a disastrous drought forced him to abandon pastoral pursuits on a large scale and move to a smaller property (16).   He received a licence to occupy 193 acres on 9 September 1864 at Lake Lonsdale and latter acquired this land and several other adjoining lots (17).

Thomas and Catherine lived at Rose Hill Farm (273 acres freehold and 113 acres leasehold) on the southern shore of Lake Lonsdale, west of Stawell, Victoria (18).  The Stawell Historical Society informed us that many immigrants from County Wexford settled in this district.

Their son George Thomas was born on 29 January 1865 at Pleasant Creek, now known as Stawell (19). On 18 November 1870 both William and Thomas were issued with Miner’s Right to mine their land at Lake Lonsdale (20). On 2 January 1876, George, then aged 10 years and 11 months was enrolled at the State School, Stawell, having previously attended a private school (21). 

On 1 August 1874 Thomas and Catherine sold Catherine’s land in Church Street, Richmond for  £88-4-0 to W H Thomas (22).  Catherine was still the owner of this land.  Three other blocks in Braybrook owned by Harrison and then Catherine were recovered by the Shire of Braybrook for the non-payment of rates and sold in 1944 for £45 (23).

Having made their decision to return to Ireland, Thomas, in October 1877, gave a demonstration to interested members of the local community, of a method of preserving mutton by curing for export to the United Kingdom.  Prior to travelling Thomas packed in specially designed boxes and transported a large amount of meat slaughtered from his herd of cattle to Melbourne for freighting by ship to London (24).

On 12 July 1877 he sold his farm Rose Hill, but remained there until 19 October 1877 (25), and leaving William at Stawell, they sailed to Gorey in Wexford, Ireland, via London, in the steam ship Durham leaving on 10 November 1877 (26).   The boxes of meat travelled with them.  However, it took some time to process and release the boxes in London and much of it was unfit for eating, mainly due to poor ventilation on board the Durham.  However, after several months in Gorey, Thomas received delivery of boxes which on opening, were found to be of excellent quality.  Thomas sent several certificates stating the meat was of good quality, and a report, to the manager of the State Savings Bank in Stawell, and his lengthy letter was published in the Pleasant Creek News on 14 August 1878.

Coolishall House near Gorey, the residence of the Cartan family for over two centuries, had been left to Thomas by his relative Dr Cartan, MD TCD.  The Cartan family remained at Coolishall for seven years (27).

Harrison’s relative, John and family settled near Ballarat.  John aged 67 years died on 7 July 1871 at Ballarat, after being smothered by a “fall of earth” in the Black Hill Company mine at Ballarat East (28).  His death certificate states he married Mary Bainbridge at Benton, Northumberland, in about 1834, and they had 3 daughters and two sons.  Mary died aged 80 years in 1886 at Ballarat (29).

William became a station overseer and continued to live as a single man at Stawell.  He  met in Stawell, Ellen O’Sullivan, a domestic servant, the daughter of Denis O’Sullivan, farmer, and Bridget O’Rourke. They married at St Francis Church, Melbourne on 7 December 1878 (30).  

Soon after, William and Ellen travelled to Queensland, where Catherine was born on 6 April 1879 (31). William then obtained a position as manager of Coppymurrumbilla Station, a large sheep and cattle station near Boggabilla in northern New South Wales, operated by the Browne family (32).

They had the following children all registered at Warialda, NSW (33).

Francis William born 1882
Alfred Ernest born 1885 died 24 June 1923, Goondiwindi, Qld
Brenden Harrison born 18 August 1887 at Coppymurrumbilla, NSW
Ellen Mary born 1890
Aiden Albert born 1892 killed in action at Poziers, France 13 August 1916
Charles A born 1894 died 1898
Dedimus V C born 1897 died 1897
Gwendoline B C born 1898

Although his birth cannot be found in the Victorian, Queensland or New South Wales birth indexes, and he is not recognised as a child of William and Ellen on Ellen’s death certificate or Brenden’s birth certificate, Michael Albert Avery states on his enlistment papers for World War One (34) that his next of kin is his mother Ellen Avery.  There is no doubt Michael was accepted and brought up as part of William and Ellen’s family.  His enlistment papers state that he was born in Ballarat, Victoria. His WWI papers state he was born in about July 1881, his Boer War papers state born in 1878 (35).  Michael’s headstone in the Boggabilla Cemetery records that he died on 11 November 1957, aged 82 years, giving a birth year of about 1875 (36).  It is possible that he has a connection to John and Mary Anne Avery who lived at Ballarat at the time of his birth.  Perhaps he is their grandson, although we could not find a link.

In 1885 at Coolishall, Co Wexford, Thomas Cartan put his estate up for sale (37).  His farm comprised of about 190 acres and was described as “one of the best farms in North Wexford”, with 89 acres occupied by three tenants.  Also for sale were his horses, cows, pigs, farm implements and household furniture.  The sale took place by auction on Thursday 29 January 1885 at the farm.  The Cartan family sailed from London on the Orient liner Cuzco in April 1885 arriving in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney in June 1885 (38).

At Coppymurrumbilla William and Ellen’s family grew and William continued his role as manager of this large station (39).  Soon after the Cartan’s returned to Australia they joined the Averys at Coppymurrumbilla where George took up the position of book keeper (40).  Also Thomas was granted a Crown lease of 1514 acres on 27 November 1885 in the Coppymurrumbilla district (41). Perhaps he then sub-let this land to the Browne brothers who operated Coppymurrumbilla Station. 

After seven years the Cartan family moved to Greymare west of  Warwick in order to run their own sheep property Coolesha (42).  Catherine passed away on 12 July 1898 aged 72 years and Thomas died on 28 October 1902 aged 79 years, both buried at Warwick Cemetery (43).  Their son George continued to run this property for many years (44).

Wool and cattle were taken to Sydney for sale.  The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the tenth wool sale for 1888 included “a further sample of the beautiful Coppymurrumbilla wool” (45).  Two hundred prime fat sheep from Coppymurrumbilla were sold by auction at the Homebush fat stock sales in June 1893.  Also in that year, with prices dropping, Avery and Holmes of Coppymurrumbilla sold 617 merino wethers from 6s 6d to 8s (46).

William became involved with many organisations in Boggabilla.  In 1889 he was appointed a temporary trustee, together with Matthias Allen, John Welsh, Robert David Gordon and James Allen, of an area of 100 acres in Boggabilla used as a recreational park and racecourse.  These appointments remained in place until the next general election of trustees due in January 1892 (47).

On 16 November 1889, the Maitland Mercury listed men appointed as justices of the peace in northern New South Wales, including William Avery of Coppymurrumbilla.  Such an appointment meant he would sit on the bench with a local magistrate (48).  In September 1895 together with Police Magistrate Mr Lawson, William presided over a case at the Boggabilla Police Court concerning the evasion of Customs duties.  Such duties were payable on certain goods brought across the border.  Hawker Percy was found guilty for failing to pay duty on a considerable amount of tobacco; a warning to others (49).

In December 1889 country defeated town in a cricket match and after the match all attended a dinner hosted by the country team at the Queen’s Arms Hotel in Goondiwindi, with “Mr Avery of Coppymurrumbilla assisting with the proceedings” (50).  At a general meeting of the Pastoral and Agricultural Society in early 1894 “Mr William Avery tendered his resignation as President owing to his time being otherwise taken up, but he afterwards agreed to hold it over until the question of (holding) the show has been decided” (51).

During 1892, and most probably in other years, William had several successful race horses, Piccolo, Judy, Greysteel, Black Swan, Valentine, and Quandong.  At a June 1892 meeting on the first day Piccolo won the Welter Handicap, Judy came second in the Selling Handicap and Greysteel also came second in the Goondiwindi Handicap.  On the second day Black Swan came third in the Handicap Hurdles, and in the Town Plate Greysteel won with Piccolo third (52)   On Saturday 6 August at a newly formed Goondiwindi Amateur Race Club meeting Valentine won the Club Handicap winning for William a “handsome silver tea service”.  Also Quandong won the Handicap Hurdles (53).  On Wednesday 21 December at the Boggabilla Race Club meeting Valentine came third in the Boggabilla Handicap and Piccolo won the Consolation Stakes (54)

It was probably about the same time as the Cartans left Coppymurrumbilla (1892) that the Avery family moved into Boggabilla where William bought a considerable amount of land (55).  Here he built a hotel, bakery, billiard saloon, a general store and the family home called Coolesha.  William became the leading citizen of Boggabilla at that time.  The general store, probably owned by William was burnt down in 1908 (56).  Perhaps this caused William to find work as he took up the role of the local representative for Dalgety’s at about this time (57). 

In January 1897 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that settlement leases on Coppymurrumbilla and Carbucky to the west were available following a ballot.  Included was W Avery for lots 22 (2560 acres) and 25 (1280 acres) in the Parish of Boobora, on the southern side of the McIntyre River.  However it would appear William did not take up these leases as the 1897 Parish Map for Boobora shows these lots were leased by Michael Dillon (58).

After William died on Christmas Day in 1910 the local community erected a monument to recognise his contribution.  This monument stands in the local park and is inscribed on it’s four faces :-     

Erected to the memory of William H Avery by his many friends
In recognition of his many valuable services to the McIntyre District
As a promoter and supporter of all manly and clean recreation
Born at Lonsdale Victoria 7th April 1854 died at Goondiwindi 25th Dec 1910 (59)

Ellen would have continued to look after Gwendoline as she was probably still going to school (12 years old in 1911).  Most likely they moved to live in Goondiwindi soon after William died for she was living there in June 1915 when her son Aiden enlisted in World War One.  Sadly Aiden was killed in action in Poziers, France on 13 August 1916 (60).

The Brisbane Courier on Thursday 10 August 1916, page 4, reported the following.

Goondiwindi August 9

A disastrous fire occurred at Boggabilla early this morning in which four wooden houses were totally destroyed.  The fire originated in Murphy’s hotel at 2.30, and when discovered was too far advanced for the contents to be saved.  On the eastern side a public hall and a shop and billiard room were destroyed, and on the western side Mr Avery’s residence was destroyed, but the contents of the latter were saved.  The residence occupied by Mr Carpenter was only saved by the strenuous efforts of the residents.

Two sad events in the one week for the Avery family, although it would take a little while for the family to be informed of Aiden’s death in France.  The “Mr Avery” mentioned above would be either Michael or France (Francis).

Together William and Ellen, who died on 14 March 1922 at Boggabilla, were buried in Boggabilla Cemetery where their headstone stands (61).

Link to the Carrigan family

Catherine Bridget Avery married Alexander Martin Carrigan of Pallarang Station, Moree, NSW, 3 November 1910 at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane (62).

Brenden Harrison Avery married Malinda Isabel Carrigan, both of Moree, NSW, 28 July 1915 at Mr Alexander Carrigan’s residence, Pallarang, Moree (63)


1 Parish Register for St Bartholomew, Longbenton, Northumberland, Society of
   Genealogists, London.  International Genealogical Index on, James
   and Isabella’s first son was John born in 1804.  The 1841 Census for Sandgate,
   Newcastle, includes John aged 35, publican, Mary aged 35, William aged 4, James
   aged 3 and Isabella aged 70 years (, and the web site lists a death of an Isabella Avery at Newcastle Upon Tyne in
   the September quarter of 1850.  We could not find this family in later records.
2 Parish Register for St Bartholomew, Longbenton, Northumberland, Society of
   Genealogists, London.
3 International Genealogical Index on
4 Newcastle Courant, 28 November 1851, web site for 19th Century British Library
5 Census of England 1851, web site, John Avery, aged 46, carver,
   Mary A aged 44 and George aged 7 were recorded as living at Newcastle Upon
6 Victoria BDM Registrar, death certificate 1853/958
7 Victorian Land Titles, Memorial No 575, Book 21
8 Victoria BDM Registry, marriage certificate 1854/3348
9 Public Record Office of Victoria, Assisted British Immigration, Book 6, page 29,
   Syme, Martin A, Shipping Arrivals and Departures, Victorian Ports, Volume 2, 1846-1855.
10 Victoria BDM Registry, death certificate 1855/3721, burial register of the
   Castlemaine Cemetery held by the Castlemaine Historical Society, cemetery plot
   location unknown
11 The Victorian Pioneer Index for births was searched using many variations, but no
   entry was found.  The monument in Boggabilla Park to William states he was born
   at Lonsdale on 7 April 1854, probably one year out.  Also its more likely he was        
   born in Melbourne and that the reference is to Lake Lonsdale where he grew up.
12 Victorian Land Titles, Memorial No 664, Book 76
13 Victorian Land Titles, Memorial No 732, Book 136
14 No record can be found in the Victorian Pioneer BDM Index
15 Public Record Office of Victoria, online index of Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871        
    John (40), Mary (38) and Peter (6) Cartan
    John (39), wife and child Carton
    Ellen (18), Mary (17) and Bridget (14) Carton
    Thomas Cartan (38)
    Thomas Cartan (34)
     John, farmer and Jane Carton lived at Lake Lonsdale, John, born Ireland, died 10
     January 1906 aged 72 years and Jane died 28 December 1907 aged 75 years –
     Stawell Historical Society’s transcriptions of headstones in Stawell Cemetery
16 From a copy of a letter written by Margaret Walsh, nee Cartan, held by Rosslyn.
17 Stawell Historical Society, land records, Applications for a Licence to occupy Crown Land, 9 September 1864
18 Pleasant Creek News, 16 May 1877, 26 June 1877 and 13 July 1877
19 Victorian Pioneer Births Index 1865/10767 and Warwick Daily News, 11 January 1936
20 Stawell Historical Society, Register of Miner’s Rights, Pleasant Creek and Barkly Divisions
21 Stawell Historical Society, Register of State School at Old Pleasant Creek, No 1681
22 Victorian Land Titles, Memorial No 174, Book 243
23 Victorian Land Titles, Memorial No 507, Book 576
24 Pleasant Creek News, 22 October 1877, 14 August 1878.
25 Pleasant Creek News, 16 May 1877, 26 June 1877 and 13 July 1877, the
      property was sold to William Anthony for £3 pounds an acre for the freehold land  
      and £2.7.0 and acre for the leasehold land, total  £1263.
26 Public Record Office of Victoria, online index of Outwards Passengers to Interstate,         
      UK, NZ and Foreign Ports 1852-1901, and Pleasant Creek News, 14 August 1878.
      Rosslyn’s mother Isabel Marie-Therese Devine, nee Avery, recalled that William
      was taken to Ireland by Thomas Cartan and his family on three occasions as part of
      his education.  There is no indication that William left Australia during his life.  Thomas
      and Catherine’s son George’s detailed obituary states that he only went to Ireland
      once with his parents, Warwick Daily News, 11 January 1911.
27  Warwick Daily News 11 January 1936 and shipping records see also Note 26 and Note 38
28 Victoria BDM Registry, death certificate 5584 of 1871
29 Victorian Pioneer Deaths Index 1886/153, Mary Ann Bainbridge married John Avery on 
28 June 1834 at All Saints, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, IGI,
30 Victoria BDM Registry, marriage certificate, 1879/2067
31 Queensland online Births Index, entry 1880/B25890
32  Warwick Daily News, 11 January 1936 – obituary of George Thomas Cartan, and
      when Coppymurrumbilla was sold in 1914, it was comprised of about 20,000 acres
      freehold and 16,000 acres secured and 5000 acres lease and occupation licences, the sale 
   included 28,000 sheep and 900 cattle, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 June 1914, page 10
33 Francis William – NSW BDM online births index, 17743/1882
      Alfred Ernest – NSW BDM online births and deaths indexes, 21463/1885,   
      15848/1923, headstone in Boggabilla Cemetery and Brisbane Courier, 27 June 1923, page 8
      Brenden Harrison, NSW Birth Certificate,
      Ellen Mary – NSW BDM online births index, 35838/1890
      Aiden Albert – NSW BDM online births index, 36782/1892, and Australian War   
      Memorial online Roll of Honour
      Charles A – NSW BDM online births and deaths indexes, 35239/1894, 3001/1897
      Dedimus V C – NSW BDM online births and deaths indexes, 6035/1897, 3639/1898
      Gwendoline B C – NSW BDM online births index, 35476/1898
34 National Archives of Australia online Defence Records for World War One – 
     Attestation paper Australian Imperial Force No 3230 2nd Light Horse Regiment
35 Ibid, Australians in the Boer War, Oz-Boer Database Project online at, Regimental Number 3262, 3rd NSW Imperial Bushmen
36 Queensland online deaths index, entry 1957/C4877, Michael’s parents are not
      recorded in this entry
37 Copy of extract from an unknown Irish newspaper, undated, advertising Coolishall
     Farm for sale
38 Public Record Office of Victoria, online index of Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists
     for British, Foreign and New Zealand Ports 1852-1923, and Sydney Morning Herald,
     Wednesday 17 June 1885, page 8
39 See note 33, and Warwick Daily News, 11 January 1936,  obituary for George Thomas Cartan,
40 Warwick Daily News, 11 January 1936, obituary for George Thomas Cartan
41 Parish Map Preservation Project at the web site,
     1882 and 1897 Maps of the Parish of Boggabilla.  The 1907 map shows this land
      now leased by the Browne Bros (John, Arthur and Thomas).
42 See Note 40
43 Queensland online deaths index, entries 1898/C1289 and 1902/C1247, Stawell
     News 29 October 1898
44 See note 40
45 Sydney Morning Herald, 19 December 1888, page 8
46 Sydney Morning Herald, 28 June 1893, page 4 and Queenslander, 18 November
     1893, page 983
47 Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 1889, page 4
48 Maitland Mercury, 16 November 1889, page 4
49 Queenslander, 12 October 1895, page 716
50 Brisbane Courier, 25 December 1893. page 3
51 Queenslander, 3 February 1894, page 197
52 Queenslander, 4 June 1892, page 1072
55 William and Ellen’s son Aiden Albert was born in Boggabilla in 1892 according to his
      World War One enlistment papers found on the National Archives of Australia,, relating to Defence records – 2683 Corporal, 49th Battalion.
56 Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 19 October 1908, page 5 – Boggabilla,
      Saturday, Mr Matthias Allen’s store and stock, also residence, were destroyed by
      fire at 10 o’clock on Thursday night.
57 As told to Rosslyn by her mother Isabel Marie-Therese Devine, nee Avery
58 Sydney Morning Herald, 29 January 1897, page 6, and Parish Map Preservation
      Project at the web site, 1897 Map for the Parish of Boobora
59 Monument wording recorded by Rosslyn and photographed by Grahame on 25
     April 1992, and Advertiser, Thursday, 29 December 1910, page 8 “Mr William
     Avery of Boggabilla, well known among pastoralists, died at a private hospital at
     Goondiwindi on Sunday
60 See note 51
61 NSW BDM Registry, death certificate for Ellen Avery, 1922/9152, headstone
     transcribed by Rosslyn and photograph taken by Grahame
62 Queenslander, 19 November 1910, page 15
63 NSW BDM Registry, marriage certificate 1915/11674

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