Grahame Thom’s Ancestors

The story of James Manning (1811-1889) and Cecilia Elizabeth Pullen (1825 -1900)

By Ron Grudnoff and Grahame Thom

James Manning was the first son and third child of John and Margaret Manning. Their fourth child was Charlotte, born 1813, is the great great great grandmother of Ron and Grahame. Ron researched and drafted the first timeline and together they developed the time line set out below.  

1811     Born: 8 February and baptised 31 Mar 1811 at St Phillips, Sydney, son of James (sic) Manning and Margaret Beynon. Note that James’       death certificate lists his fathers name as John James Manning (1)

1831     Married: 10 May to Jane Pike at St Johns Parramatta, NSW.  Their son, James (1831-1854), was baptised on the same day.  The marriage was witnessed by Thomas Anderson & Charlotte Anderson, James’ brother-in-law and sister. (2)

1831     Born: 11 April, James, son of James and Jane, and baptised on 10 May 1831 at St Johns Parramatta (3)  Young James, married Ann                                    Hughes in 1853, but he died shortly after (4).

1833     Separated: On 13 May, James posted a public notice (5) that he would not be responsible for debts incurred by his wife, Jane (formerly known as Jane Pike), and that persons harbouring her would be prosecuted.  

Jane posted a response immediately by concluding “I hereby caution him from interrupting or molesting me in any manner whatever, otherwise I shall be compelled to adopt such a course of proceeding as will prove very   unpleasant to him.” (6) This obviously indicates a break down of the marriage.

1833     A young man set out from Sydney on an adventure 1835 across southern Australia as set out below (7). Is this man the James born 1811 as above? An extensive search of old newspapers on Trove, the 1828 NSW Census, 1937 NSW Convict Muster, 1841 NSW Census, and a general online search reveals pre 1835 there was only one other James Manning in the colony, a JP and land owner in the Yass district of NSW. He is obviously not this James Manning. Although not absolute it can be about the James Manning in this timeline. But appreciate that the details of the adventure may not be accurate, but it is reasonable to say the adventure did take place during 1833 to 1835.  

1841      Married: Circa 1841 at Melbourne, James entered into a marriage relationship with 16-year-old Cecilia Elizabeth Pullen (1825-1900) – daughter of Charles (sea captain) and Cecilia Pullen.  There is no official record of the marriage. Cecilias death certificate (8) says she was married at the age of 16 (circa 1842) at Melbourne.

1841     Census: Head of Household, James Manning,

Location: Melbourne, 

Age: one male and one female both 21-41 years

Both married; arrived free, Church of England

Occupation classification: Mechanics and artificers (9)

 1842     Born: April, James Charles, in Melbourne, son of James and Cecilia. There is no birth or baptism record. James died an infant on 3 November 1842 in Melbourne(10).  

1844     Born: November, Cecilia Margaret was born at Port Phillip, Victoria, daughter of James and Cecilia.  There is no birth or baptism record, but there are many reference to her and her family. Married David Hamming in Talbot in 1869 (11) and had seven children in Amherst, Victoria         (12), Cecilia died on 5 November 1927 in Subiaco, WA          (13).

1846     Born 24 May, John Charles in Valparaiso, Chile, son of James and Cecilia.  There are no substantive records of this birth, however in the news of his trial for the murder of his wife in 1908, his date and place of birth are mentioned (14).  Also, in his death certificate (15), his birthplace is given as South America, died Ballarat July, 1926.

1848     Born  in 1848 Henry Manning in Lima, Peru, apparently the son of James and Cecilia.  There are no records to confirm this birth. It is assumed he died before his parents returned to Australia in 1852 (20).

1849     Will: James Manning, son of Margaret is mentioned in his mothers will as being absent from this colony for several years and has not been heard of” (16). In her will made on 18 August 1849 in Sydney, Margaret leaves a part of her estate (note she owned the home block in O’Connell Street, Sydney) to her son James so long as contact was made between James and his brother Charles within a period of four years from the date of her will. It is reasonable to assume that James did make contact with Charles, and that her bequest to James was probably the main reason he and his family returned to Sydney in July 1852 (20).

1850     Born 19 January, Eliza Jane in San Francisco, California, USA, daughter of James and Cecilia. There are records which seem to confirm Elizas origins.  Eliza returned to Australia with her parents in July 1852 (20). Eliza married in Victoria in 1876 to William Ritchie and had three children (17). She died in Waverley, Sydney in 1927 (18). 

1851     Born 20 October, Louisa in California, USA, daughter of James and Cecilia.  There are records which seem to confirm Elizas origins. Louisa returned to Australia with her parents in July 1852.  She died on 16 May 1861, aged 8 (sic), at Talbot, Victoria.  On her death certificate, her place of birth is recorded as California (19).

1852     Sailed for Sydney on the ship Emily arriving 7 July 1852 from San Fransisco, Mr and Mrs James Manning, one son and three daughters (20).

1854     Born 13 October, Emily Jane was born in Melbourne, daughter of James and Cecilia (21). She died at the age of 17 months in Melbourne on 14 March 1856 (22)

1857     Born 2 March, Elizabeth Frances in Melbourne, daughter of James and Cecilia (20). She died on 22 August 1858 at Maryborough, Victoria (24).

 1859     Born William Thomas at Amherst near Talbot, Victoria, son of James and Cecilia (25). Later known as William Henry, married in 1885 in Bourke NSW to Sarah Jane Jackson, and they had eleven children, (26). William died on 2 August 1940 in Kogarah (27).

1889     Death 7 May, James Manning, carpenter, died at Amherst (near Talbot), Victoria, aged 77 years.  On his death certificate, his son-in-law reported that James father was James John Manning, and his mother was Mary Manning.  James was born in Sydney.  He spent 37 years in NSW and 40 years in Victoria.  He married Cecilia Elizabeth Pullen in Melbourne at the age of 29 years.  His children were James (deceased), Cecilia aged 42, Charles aged 40, Eliza aged 38, Louisa (deceased), and William aged ?? (28). These details are as recorded on the death certificate but can be incorrect. For example Charles was born on 24 May 1846, so he was aged 43 when his father died, and below was 54 when his mother died.

1900     Death 16 November, Cecilia Elizabeth Manning, died at Talbot, Victoria, aged 74 3/12 years. On her death certificate, her granddaughter Louisa Elizabeth Dunstan reported that Cecilia’s father was Charles Pullen, sea captain and her mother was Cecilia Pullen. Cecilia was born in Colchester, England and had been in New  South Wales and Victoria for 48 years. She married James Manning in Melbourne when aged 16 years. Her children were Cecilia Margaret 54 years, John Charles 51 years, Eliza Jane 45 years, William Henry 40 years and Louisa Florence deceased (29).


  1.   NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Baptisms Registration  No 2351 Vol 1 – Certificate held by Grahame Thom
  2.   NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Marriage Registration No 5222/1831

3.   NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Births Registration No 44/1831

4,   NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration No 2122/1854

5.   Trove – Old Newspapers – Sydney Gazette 14 May 1833, page four, 

6.   Trove – Old Newspapers – Sydney Gazette, 18 May 1833, page three

7.   Trove – Extract from The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 3 October 1835, page 575, and Chronicle (Adelaide),        Thursday 16 February 1933, page 16 

8.   Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration No 14982/1900

9.   Ancestry online – Australia – Census – New Soith Wales 1841 

10. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration No 3792/1842

11. Trove – Old newspapers – Herald (Victoria) 10 April 1869, page two

12. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Births

13. Trove – Old Newspapers – Sunday Times (WA), 6 November 1927, page 2

14. Trove – Old newspapers – Bendigo Advertiser Monday 10 February 1908. page

15. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration No 8170/1926

16. NSW Probate Office Reference No 2214/1849

17. Victoria BDM online marriage and birth indexes

18. NSW BDM online death index 12014/1927

19. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration 5266/1861.

20. Online Unassisted immigrants index 1842-1855, NSW State Archives and Trove – Empire 13 July 1852, page 2                    

21. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Birth Registration 1033/1855

22. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration 553/1856

23. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Birth Registration 4664/1857  

24. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration 7084/1858

25. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Birth Registration 20919/1859

26. NSW BDM online marriage and birth indexes

27. NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration 15947/1940

28. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration 10103/1889

29. Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, Death Registration 2859/1900


Trove – Extract from The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal, Saturday 3 October 1835, page 575


Conducted to the Settlement at King George’s Sound by then Natives of the White Cockatoo, Murray, and Will Tribes.

The following interesting narrative has reached us by the recent arrival from King George’s Sound. The circumstances connected with the singular adventures of these two lads, are not so fully detailed as we could have desired; the source, however, from whence our information is obtained, leaves no doubt of the accuracy of the statement, as given by Manning one of the sufferers.

On the 9th of August last, two English lads, named James Newell and James Manning, reached King George’s Sound (1) from the main land opposite to Middle Island, after experiencing the most bitter privations for nearly seven weeks on the main, and about two years on the islands in Spencer’s Gulf. The account given of their perilous adventures runs thus:

They sailed from Sydney in the month of August, 1833 (2), in the Defiance schooner, of about 25 tons burthen, lading with provisions for trading with the sealers on the islands on the southern coast of Australia, and bound to King George’s Sound and Swan River, commanded by Mr. George Meredith. 

They were wrecked in September of the same year (3) on Cape Howe Island. They went in a whale boat with the commander, one man, and a native woman, to Kangaroo Island; the remainder of the crew of the schooner (six men)  determined to make for Sydney, and accordingly started, in another whale-boat: they never heard

what became of them. They did not reach Kangaroo Island until February, 1834, being five months, during which time, they state, they were doing their utmost to make the passage. (It to be regretted that we have not here a more detailed statement of the manner in which these five months were occupied — it is idle to imagine that they were so long a time ‘doing their utmost to make the passage!’) They established themselves on Kangaroo Island, built a house for the commander and his native wife, and made a garden.

In September, 1834, a black man, named Anderson, arrived at Kangaroo Island (4), in a boat, from Long Island, with another black man, named John Bathurst. Manning and his companion took a passage with them to Long Island. They were obliged to continue working in the boat, sealing, to obtain their provisions. In November, 1834, George Meredith, their commander, whom they left on Kangaroo Island, came to a bird island, where their boat happened to be, and accused Manning of having robbed him of 4l.10s, and, with loaded pistols, and the assistance of Anderson took from him the sum of 4l 10s.

There was another whale-boat on Long Island, with four men in her, named George Roberts, John Howlett, Harry and William Forbes. In November, on Boston Island, the people in this latter boat caught five native women from the neighbourhood of Port Lincoln; they enticed two of their husbands into the boat, and carried them off to the island, where, in spite of all remonstrance on the part of Manning they took the native men in Anderson’s boat round a point a short distance off, where they shot them, and knocked their brains out with clubs. Manning believes they still have the women in their possession, with the exception of Forbes, whose woman ran away from him shortly after they were taken to the island. Two of the women had infants at their breasts at the time their husbands were murdered; an old woman was compelled to take them away, and carried them into the bush. Another native endeavoured to swim to the island, to recover his wife, but was drowned in the attempt. 

In January, 1834, a small cutter, called the Mountaineer, commanded by Evanson Janson, arrived at the island, in which vessel Manning paid 3l. for his passage to King George’s Sound (5); Janson being always drunk, by some misunderstanding, Manning lost his passage. Both Manning and his comrade frequently begged of Anderson to land them on the main, that they might walk to King George’s Sound; but he refused. When Manning landed on Middle Island (6) from the Mountaineer he had 50l. in his possession, in Spanish dollars and English specie. This money Anderson stole ; he was seen counting it with a man named Isaac, who had also another lot of money rolled up in canvas. 

Early in April, Janson, the master of the Mountaineer, arrived at the island, in a boat, with six men, and two women,— the vessel having been driven on shore in Thirtle Cove. About the end of May, five of these people left the island, in the boat, without any provisions, intending to proceed to King George’s Sound. On the 23d June, Anderson, at the solicitation of Manning, and his fellow traveller, James Newell, landed them on the main land, but would not give them a charge of powder. 

They subsisted chiefly on limpits, and on roots of grass; but were sometimes, for several days, without little or nothing to eat. They found at all times sufficient water, although they never left the neighbourhood of the coast. Arrived at Henty, Oyster Harbour (7), on the 9th August, reduced almost to skeletons, and having almost lost all power of articulation.

It is interesting to know, that these lads owed their safety entirely to the humane treatment they met with from the natives of the White Cockatoo, Murray, and Will-men tribes. From the moment they fell in with them, their exertions were unabated to restore them sufficiently to enable them to accomplish their journey; they nursed, fed, and almost carried them at times, when, from weakness, they were sinking under their sufferings.

This is a return which could scarcely have been expected from savages, who have no doubt been exposed to repeated atrocities, such as we have related in the previous narrative. Indeed, to the acts to these white barbarians, we may now trace the loss of some valuable lives among the Europeans, and more especially that of Captain Barker, which took place within a short distance of the scene of these atrocities. We are happy to hear, that Sir Richard Spencer, Government Resident at King George’s Sound, so soon as he was satisfied of the services the natives had rendered these lads, issued a small portion of flour to each native, and gave presents to those who were most active and kind in the journey. The gentlemen in the settlement, to their credit, be it observed, were very liberal in their subscriptions, to obtain for the lads blankets, clothing, and other necessaries. To the natives they gave a bag of rice and sugar.

The general vagueness of this report, more especially the five months’ delay unaccounted for, had left an impression unfavorable to the lads’ statement; but on reference to the Sydney Herald of the 24th October,1833, two months subsequently to the departure of the Defiance from that port, we find the following paragraph:

“The schooner Defiance, Captain Meredith, which has left Sydney about a month, (the variation in the lads’ statement of a month, after so long a lapse of time, may be reasonably accounted for), on a sealing voyage, was unfortunately wrecked on the coast, about 15 miles below Twofold Bay, — all hands saved. The schooner Blackbird has gone in search of the wreck. The Defiance had about £400 worth of property in her when the accident occurred, and not insured.

It is to be regretted that our informants were not more minute in their inquiries ; a little acuteness in the inquiry would have opened to us the conduct and characters of those employed on the southern coast as sealers, by our neighbours in Van Diemen’s Land. Passing, as they represent they did, along the coast in a whale-boat, with ample time for observation — five months, — although we cannot doubt the fact, indeed, believe it to be fully confirmed, leaves an hiatus in the narrative, which may be gratifying to some of our romantic readers, but is annoying to us, searching  as we do for facts. A further inspection of our files of the Sydney Journals may throw more light upon this subject, which our leisure, in a future number, will enable us to disclose.

The habits of the men left on the islands to the southward, by whaling, or sealing vessels, have long borne the character given them by Manning and Newell; it appears, therefore, deserving of some consideration by what means their practices can be checked, as future settlers in the neighbourhood of Port Lincoln will be made to expiate the crimes and outrages of these lawless assassins.

1. Esperance Historical Society website

2. Trove – The Sydney Gazette of 27 July 1833 reported that The schooner Defiance sailed from Hobart Town on the 18th for the wreck with Captain Muggridge, and his five men.

3. Trove – The Sydney Gazette of 27 August 1833 reported that “By arrival of the Hind, we learn, with much regret, that the schooner Defiance was wrecked in Bass’s Straits – Crew saved.

4. Driscoll H J, History of Kangaroo Island, website Kangaroo Island Pioneer Society –

5. Albany was named in 1832, but continued to be called King George’s Sound.

6, Middle Island is an island in King George Sound.

7. Oyster Harbour is the northern part of King George Sound.


Trove – Exract from the Chronicle (Adelaide), Thursday 16 February 1933, page 16

Real Life Stories Of South Australia

Was Eyre Forestalled On Great Trek?


History credits Eyre with being the first man to cross from South to Western Australia by way of the Great Australian Bight. But was he? He made the journey in 1841. It seems probable, however, that two youths, Newell and Manning, made it in 1835 — before South Australia was born.

Here is the story. PROBABLY Eyre was preceded in hisepic trek round the Australian Bight by two English lads— James Newell and James Manning. In 1833, George Meredith, the son of a well known Tasmanian merchant, left Sydney on a sealing expedition. Losing his schooner on Cape Howe Island, Meredith made for Kangaroo Island in a whaleboat. He had with him a Dutchman, Jacob Seaman, Newell, Manning, and ‘Sal,’ a lubra. They were five months doing the journey.

Meredith is said to have made mischief with the blacks at Westernport (Vic), for which misdemeanor George Stewart, a magistrate at Sydney, was sent to investigate. He arrived in 1836.

But meanwhile Meredith had reached Western River (K.I.) in February, 1834, and before 1836 was murdered by his black boys at Yankalilla. The white lad’s dates, as given to Major Lockyer, commander at King George’s Sound, were confusing. It seems they joined two black men, Anderson and Bathurst, at Long Island, near Port Lincoln, in November, 1834. In June the following year, at their earnest desire, Anderson landed them on the mainland, but would not give them provisions.

On August 9, 1835, seven weeks later, Newell and Manning struggled into Henty (W.A) just walking skeletons. They were hardly able to speak. They claimed to have walked from Port Lincoln. They said they had found no dearth of water, but their food had been principally limpets and grass roots, and days at a time nothing to eat at all.

According to local tradition, Meredith buried £400 at Western River. It has never been found. Jacob Seaman made his home at Morrison’s Point. The stone remains of his hut can still be seen on the bank of the gully, perpetuating his Christian name, a few yards above high water mark. ‘Sal’ was probably a Victorian, and not Tasmanian aborigine, as Meredith is known to have stolen a lubra from Westernport, and he reached Kangaroo Island with one— presumably the same gin,

‘Yacko,’ Point Morrison, K.I.


Additional Reading

Black Anderson: A story of the South Coast – Part 2b by Claran Lynch 

not accessible at the time of posting on website (December 2023)

The Family Tree of the Hamilton and McCall Families (including the Manning Family)

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 Manning Home Page

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