Charles James Bullivant, junior

Charles James Bullivant, Junior

by Grahame Thorn

The following is a slightly modified version from the book Some Ikin Reminiscences – Ikin Family Gathering – Sydney June 1990, pages 32-34.

Charles James Bullivant, junior, grandson of Obadiah and Sarah Ikin, was born in Sydney on 4 December 1818. His parents, Charles James Bullivant and Maria Ikin, waited until 19 March 1820 to arrange the baptism of their first son at St Phillips Church, Sydney.

His father, Charles, had been a young ensign in the 46th Regiment and had taken his discharge in early 1818 to become a well known innkeeper in Sydney. Charles Junior would have spent his youth around the Rocks area as his father ran the Three Crowns Inn on the corner of Charlotte Place and Cumberland Street. As some of his brothers and sisters, Gerrard, Maurice, Frances and Ellen, are recorded as attending the St. Phillips Infant Schools its likely Charles Junior also went to school there.

In 1841, Charles senior purchased about 2 acres with a stone dwelling in William Street (now Kurraba Road), North Sydney, and it is assumed that not long after the Bullivant family of nine moved to the north shore of Sydney Harbour to live while Charles senior continued his trade as an innkeeper at the Forth and Clyde in Cumberland Street, Sydney, until 1844, then back to the Three Crowns till 1845, and then to the Waterford Arms in Darling Street, Balmain from 1846 to 1850. During this time its likely that Charles junior helped his father run his inns.

Two Turnbull sisters from Portland Head near Windsor, NSW took a fancy to two of the Bullivant boys. Its likely that these friendships developed because the Turnbull family probably stayed at the Bullivant inns when visiting the city. On 21 December 1852, Charles junior married Sarah Turnbull by special licence at Sydney by Rev John McGarvie of the Presbyterian Church. Also Maria Turnbull became the wife of Charles’ brother Gerrard Noel about that time.

Because both father and son had the same name, some difficulties can occur in deciding which person is referred to in records of the time. For example, at the time of the birth of the first child of Charles and Sarah, Sarah on 13 June 1854, Charles junior is described as a publican of George Street, Sydney. At that time Charles senior was the licence of the Golden Gate, George Street, Brickfield Hill, Sydney. Perhaps Charles junior was helping his father at the Golden Gate.

In 1855 Edward Randell of Sydney sold lot 39 in Isabella Street, Camperdown to Charles junior for £450 and on 9 June 1855, in consideration for the natural love and affection which he bears for his wife Sarah”, Charles arranged for James Milne, comedian of Sydney, to hold the land in trust for Sarah for her own use. This type of arrangement was brought about by the fact that a wife could not own land in her own right. On the same day Charles senior loaned Sarah £300 for two years with the Isabella Street lot as security.

Charles and Sarah’s second child Sarah Eliza was born on 28 February 1856 and baptised at St. James, Sydney on 16 March 1856. Charles was described as a publican living in Camperdown Street. Because this child was named Sarah it would seem that their first child, also Sarah, had died prior to March 1856, although no record can be found of her death (1).

From the accounting ledgers of Tooths Brewery it can be seen that at this time Charles junior was at the Golden Gate Inn, and had run up a substantial debt in buying wine and spirits from the Brewery. On 16 April 1856 a writ was issued against Charles for £444/15/4 owing to Robert Tooth, Edwin Tooth and Frederick Tooth, merchants of Sydney. The sheriff, John Brenan was directed to seize and sell any property of Charles to cover the debt and’ court costs. The Isabella Street lot was auctioned and sold to the Tooth brothers for £40. However from later events it appears that this sale was not successful as it was the property in trust of Sarah Bullivant.

Their daughter, Sarah Eliza, died at Sydney on12 November 1856.

It would appear that at about this time and probably because of his debts, Charles junior decided it would be best to leave Sydney for the time being. It is likely he was attracted to assisting the Presbyterian church at their mission on Aneityum Island, the southern most island of the New Hebrides in the Pacific Ocean. The Presbyterian Church had established a station on the Island at Aname in 1852.

A Bullivant descendant, the late Mrs Ursula Shanks of Sydney, told Margaret Miller and Grahame Thom that she had been told that two of the Bullivant sons went to the New Hebrides. The other son was most likely to have been Mrs Shanks grandfather Maurice, who was also a publican at the Welcome Home Inn. He too had run up a large debt with the Tooth brothers.

On 28 March 1858 Sarah gave birth to their son Andrew Charles at Aneityum Island. Then in October 1858 the family left the New Hebrides on the ship “William which was recorded in the Sydney Morning Herald as arriving in Sydney from the South Seas on 24 October 1858 with Mr and Mrs Bullivant, child and servant on board.

Four days after arriving Sarah registered the birth of Andrew in Sydney. His birth certificate describes father Charles as a house carpenter and the family was staying at the Charltons Hotel, Sydney. Therefore one could conclude that Charles had been a carpenter on Aneityum Island. This was certainly a change in occupation from being a publican. Also the certificate states that three girls and two boys of Sarah and Charles were deceased. This raises a puzzle as we know of only two previous births, Sarah and Sarah Eliza. Perhaps the other children were born on Aneityum Island or the information was incorrect.

Then three days later on 1 November Sarah transferred the Camperdown lot to her father-in-law Charles James Bullivant as discharge of the mortgage which was due for repayment on or before 9 June 1857. This seems to support the fact that Sarah was not in Sydney when the loan was due.

It would seem that the Bullivant family may have lived for a time at MacDonald River, north of Windsor, NSW, or that Sarah had gone there to be with her Turnbull relatives when she gave birth to their son Charles James there on 30 September 1859. Charles was described as a carpenter.

From around this time the family lived at Neutral Bay on the north shore of Sydney and Charles continued to earn a living as a carpenter. Daughter, Agnes Geraldine, arrived in 1862, Blanche in 1863 (died in 1863), Florence Ann in 1865, Frances Helen in 1867 and Adeline Margaret, my ancestor, in 1869.

Charles’ mother Maria died a month before the birth of Adeline, on 7 November 1869 at her husband’s inn, the Rag and Famish, corner of Miller and Berry Streets, North Sydney. Then on 13 December 1871, Charles’ wife Sarah died and like her mother-in-law was buried at the Church of England Cemetery, West Street, North Sydney. She was only 38 years old.

Charles junior died at Neutral Bay on 6 July 1874, leaving several children aged 4 to 16 years. He was only 55 years old. His father, Charles, was the informant and gave his son’s occupation as cabinet maker. Charles was buried with his wife at West Street, North Sydney.

The question remains as to who looked after the children? Charles senior was 76 years old and a widower, so it was unlikely he did. And four years later he died on 25 January 1879 at his residence in Merlin Street, North Sydney.

1. By using the search capacities of the NSW BDM online index of the NSW Registrar General at, I found Sarah’s burial listed under BULIVANT, reference V18541087 41A – February 2008.

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