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A NEW BEGINNING. The story of William Dumbrell and his family in the...

Journal by Robertd


The story of William Dumbrell and his family in the Illawarra.

Compiled and edited by Robert Dumbrell Email : [email protected]

Part 3 of 4 parts : 2 July, 2008

This draft document, number three in a series, is a record of my great grandfather, William Dumbrell who left Sussex in 1843 and arrived in Sydney in February, 1844. Ken Brown of Chatswood, NSW, contributed the original document with additions by the editor.
This document follows Dumbrell Origins by Ken Brown and Dumbrells in Lewes by the Editor.


William Dumbrell was born in Lewes, East Sussex on 24th May 1815 to Richard and Jane. He was a carpenter by trade. His siblings were Francis (b 1803), Jane (b 1805) George (b 1809), Sarah (b 1811), Edmund (b 1813) and Martha (b 1818). All except Francis and George were christened in All Saints Church, Lewes. Francis and George were christened at St. Michaels, Lewes.

William's father, Richard, a master cooper, was born in Lewes in 1782. William's mother, Jane Myles, was born about 1785, probably in Lewes. Richard was the 7th child of an older William Dumbrell, born about 1742 in Lewes whose wife, Catharina probably was a Huguenot like William. They were married in Lewes on May 2, 1803 at All Saints Church.

About 1830 Richard arranged for his son William to be apprenticed as a carpenter & joiner. This was a seven-year apprenticeship. It was customary for an apprentice to leave his master on completing his servitude. William left Lewes to work as a tradesman and reappeared in Brighton where he married Henrietta Grayling in St Nicolas Church on 17 March, 1839 This lady died shortly after the marriage believingly of child birth & this tragedy seems to have caused William to decide to emigrate to Australia.

Henrietta was born in Lewes on 20 July 1810 and was nearly 5 years older than William.
Her parents, William and Sarah, nee Ellis, had 6 children, four being daughters.

England was then in the grip of a depression and had a large unemployment problem. With resources under stress the government had to find a way to relieve the pressure of this situation. They saw depopulation as a means to this end and with the Australian colonys labour shortage, a solution was found. They encourage migration to the colonies. The Bounty migration Programme was instituted. (See later in this document).


William migrated to Sydney in 1843 & sailed on the Barque "Neptune" a bounty migrant. The ship sailed from Deptford, on the Thames near London's docklands with the British passengers & called at Cork, Ireland to pick up the Irish passengers. It left Cork on 26th October, 1843 with 294 passengers including crew & a surgeon, John Birwhistle .
The voyage took 110 days out of Cork & appears to have been a good passage for those days. The passengers consisted of free paying, & single male / single female / family bounty passengers. In charge was Master W.I. Ferris. (Contact Editor for his Report )

On board was Harriett Dearling, aged 20, from Wotton near Dorking, Surrey. She was travelling with her sister, Rebecca Knight who was aged 24. Rebecca had her two children from a first marriage with her as well as her second husband, George Knight with his four children from his previous marriages. The eldest was Joseph, aged 16. The Knights also were giving official protection to an 18-year-old London girl named Elizabeth Ann Couch, whose parents were deceased. Harriet was to marry William in Sydney in 1847.

Rebecca had married, firstly, a William Gregory in 1837 at Mickleham in Surrey and two children were born. Rebecca then married George Knight, a carpenter, in 1842 at Peckham, Surrey. George's first wife, Mary Ann Bassett, had died after producing six children. Only four of George's children accompanied them to Sydney as two had died as infants in the U.K. Five of the children were aged between three and twelve years

Harriett's motivation to immigrate to Australia must have been due to the previous death of her parents in 1842, marriage of her sisters and brothers and the impending departure of Rebecca, her closest relation and friend.

At this time an Englishman and an Englishwoman who had made their home in Australia, influenced their lives. He was Captain Robert Towns (1794-1873), sea captain, ship-owner and merchant, entrepreneur and developer. He also was one of the first to import Kanakas (natives from the Solomon Islands) into Queensland to work in the canfields. He played an leading part in founding Townsville around 1864. She was Caroline Chisholm (1808-1877) whose humanity and guidance helped female pioneers to establish themselves in Australia society.


The bounty system was developed to encourage migration from UK to the NSW colony. Working conditions had been changing in England for over one hundred years.
The American War of Independence had ended in 1783 but the cost to the U.K. was enormous. Then came the French Revolution and the War with France 1793-1815 which continued the drain on resources. The government opposed emigration at those times, as men were needed for the Army and the Navy and to produce war supplies.

However, after these wars the government was broke and unemployment was high as those ex-servicemen needed jobs and the population began increasing.

Industrialisation increased so that prosperity passed the ordinary labourer by. Bad harvests led to an agricultural depression. The Corn Laws were passed so that food prices rose, wages fell, starvation set in.
Relief for the poor became urgent. In 1834 new Poor Laws led to the rise of Workhouses. The condition of village labourers continued to deteriorate until many reached such a state of despair that they were ready to revolt.

One factor contributing to the economic distress in the counties of southern England, was the decline in the demand for English Southdown wool. This was being ousted from the market by wool from German sheep crossed with Spanish merinos.

This period became so distressing for agricultural labourers and tradesmen that the Parish officials began encouraging them to emigrate to N.S.W.
In NSW there had developed a strong pastoral climate that created an effective economic organisation where the labour shortage was critical.

The Bounty Immigration Scheme was first suggested by Edward Gibbon Wakefield. He suggested that:
The system of free land grants should cease and Colonial land should be sold.
The revenue from these sales should be used to boost emigration from the U.K.
Certain conditions should apply to the type of emigrant accepted.
This scheme was gradually adopted. The first set of Bounty Regulations was gazetted by Governor Bourke in October 1835:

The persons accepted should be mechanics tradesmen, or agricultural labourers.
They should have references as to their character from responsible persons, such as the local magistrate or clergyman.
To prove their age they should have Certificates of Baptism.
At first, before 1835, the passage money was advanced to emigrants by the Government, to be paid back out of their salary, but many refused to pay it back, so the Government converted this Loan into a Free Bounty.

Settlers in N.S.W. were allowed to recruit their own workers in the U.K. Most employed agents to do so. The Government also had an Agent-General in London after 1837 and Agents in other embarkation ports.

Under the Bounty Scheme the settler who wanted workers paid the Emigrants' passages. On arrival these workers were examined by a Board appointed by the Governor and, if the Board were satisfied, the settler would be issued with a Certificate entitling him to claim the Bounty money back from the Government.

Complaints from the settlers before 1841 were uncommon. The Bounty was refused on only about 1% of applications, mostly on grounds of age.

This system lasted until 1845.


The Neptune entered in Sydney Harbour on 11th February 1844. Sydney Coves development was nearing completion with only the general cleanup of the whole-reclaimed area between Bridge Street and the harbour yet to finished.

The following excerpt from George Scotts book Sydneys Highways of History details the huge improvement in the new Circular Quay wharf structure.

Before 1840 the shipping and commerce of Sydney had far outstripped the primitive wharfage facilities of the Cove and Tank Stream. Early in 1841 the "clerical Ulysses", the Rev. T. Atkins, counted no less than 120 ships in the harbour when he arrived to begin his missionary labours among the benighted colonists. There were sloops with wheat and maize from the Hawkesbury; there were schooners and brigs loading maize, oranges, flour, clothing, boots, muskets and ironware for Hobart Town and the infant settlement of Port Phillip. The Hunter River Steam Company's little
paddlewheelers, the Rose, Shamrock and Thistle, belched smoke over Darling Harbour. Out in the stream, the big, square-sailed ships rode at anchor after months-long voyages from London, Liverpool, Boston and New York.
Some of the goods were lightered to the anchored ships from wooden jetties built out into the Cove. Sometimes the ship were connected to the jetties by pontoons, over which rumbled the reeking barrels of tallow and whale oil and the wool that had been pressed into bales in cumbersome hand-worked presses on the wharf. Only the smallest boats could lie close to the shore of the Cove, and the mouth of the Tank Stream had become a stinking and useless quagmire. Governor Bourke had long been badgering the Home Government for a com-petent engineer to reorganise the harbour works and defences of Sydney, and eventually he was rewarded by the presence of Colonel George Barney, an army engineer who had served for nearly 20 years in the West Indies.
In February, 1839, 180 convicts shuffled down from the Hyde Park barracks to begin building the stone-walled crescent of Circular Quay. Barney's work transformed the Sydney waterfront. Now the big wool clippers could tie up alongside the wharf itself. Great brick and stone warehouses grew up round the Quay, giving the approach to Sydney from the sea the characteristic appearance that lasted until only a few years ago, when the massive concrete screen of railway and roadway was flung across the quayside, crushing the ferry wharves and Customs House.

Before the passengers and crew left the ship, they were interrogated by custom officers who recorded their details on official immigrant documents. The received their bounty money later.

Williams landing papers show that he was 28 years old, a native of Sussex, unmarried, a Protestant, could read and write, a carpenter by calling and received a bounty of 18 pounds 14 shillings. Another document contained signatures confirming that he was baptised in Lewes, Sussex, certifying his healthy condition and character and finally certifying the correctness in the form by a clergyman.
Harriets papers show that she was 20 years old, a native of Surrey, unmarried, a Protestant, could read and write, Home Duties by calling and received a bounty of 18 pounds and 14 shillings. She would had produced the second document with her Surrey details.
The Knight family was also recorded but had a total increased bounty payment for two adults and four children.

The ship was met by Captain Robert Towns and Caroline Chisholm who were creating a farming colony on land granted to the Wentworth family at Peterborough Estate, now Shellharbour about 80 kilometres south of Sydney. Caroline had previously travelled to England to find 47 families that were willing to join in this development and I believe that William and George Knight & family with Robert Carnall & family were part of this package. They were to be employed as tradesmen to work on his Shellharbour development so a memorandum of agreement was made for William and George, both carpenters and Robert as a stonemason to work for Captain Towns in the Wollongong area, which was founded eight years earlier. They would be paid 17 pounds per annum for approximately three years. Other families on the "Neptune" to go to the Illawarra were the Fishlocks, and George. In early 1843 a system of clearing leases was began by which about 30 acres was given by the large landholders to the immigrate settlers rent free for six years

The Sydney Morning Herald of 7 December, 1843, reported the departure of Chisholm and the 23 families by steamer:

twenty-three families, who are to be located on land near Wollongong on clearing leases, left Sydney by the steamer last night, accompanied by Mrs Chisholm, through whose exertions this arrangement has been made.

The land of 13,060 acres was originally owned by Darcy Wentworth, Towns father-in-law After his death in 1827, his lands were divided among his children, one being Sophia who had married Robert Towns in 1833. Towns had offered 4000 acres of land - part of Peterborough Estate. He also provided rations for the families for the first five months. Chisholm engaged a schoolmaster to open a school and employed three bushman to show the settlers how to clear and crop the land. As clearing lease tenants, the families were given the land rent-free for six years in exchange for clearing the land.

During the tenancy period, a family could also establish a small farm, grow basic crops and raise a few animals. At the end of the lease, tenants could pay rent or purchase the land as it became available. Chisholm later reported that the project was successful so it can be assumed that many of the 23 families remained and became self-supporting. Tenants later shipped their goods from Shellharbour, which soon became a prosperous port.

William with George, his family of four children with Joseph 18 years old and Robert Carnel had arrived after the original migrant families had settled in Shellharbour. They purpose may have been to construct what was known as the Lake House or Peterborough House which was to be occupied by Towns brother-in-law and sister-in-law Stephen Addison and Mary Ann nee Wentworth between 1845 and 1848. They sailed by steamer three months after the earlier tenants and ferried to the shore by oared boat. Even though the area had been populated for a number of years, conditions must have been very harsh for the new arrivals at first. Rebecca's landing papers reveal that she was a nurse so her profession would have been a great advantage to the pioneer settlers in the Shellharbour area. To make things harder for the Knights, Rebeccas next child, John was born there on March 17, 1844. No further children were born in on the estate.

At the same time, Harriet remained in Sydney and on 16 February 1844 found a live-in housekeeper position with Mr William Patten and his wife, Anne at 254 Pitt Street, between King and Market Streets, for fourteen pounds per annum. There is a good chance that Caroline Chisholm arranged this for Harriet. William was a marble mason and operated a store at this address. This appears to been a happy arrangement as the original agreement was for three months but Harriett remained there until her marriage with William in 1847.
Good domestic help from free settlers was in great need in those days as the female convicts that the gentry had used for many years was very unreliable.

William, George and Robert were not part of Captain Towns original tenant scheme so the benefits of that scheme did not apply to them. When their project drew to a conclusion, the three and their families would have considered moving on. Robert turned south to nearby Kiama where he employed in his stonemason activities. Georges young family had live in a very pioneer existence for the last three years and very different to rural Surrey. The family was growing with the eldest child, Joseph aged 18 and John only 3. I believe that they may have looked for an upgrade to the family life.

Not too far away was a progressive township where conditions were much improved and work was available. It was situated on the main road to Sydney and had extra comforts as Churches, better schools, a mill and, of course, a brewery with a hotel. The village was Woodstock that Jamberoo later overgrew. Woodstock was a tiny village a little more than a kilometre north-west of Jamberoo. It was established west of the current Jamberoo Albion Park road and north of the Minnamurra Falls road. On the estate of John Ritchie a flour and timber mill was erected in 1838. The water wheel was operated in the Minnamurra River. The mill had a cooperage, a piggery, a bacon factory and a two-storey barn. Soon the Man of Kent hotel with its own brewery appeared. A little settlement grew up around the mill and brewery with a school near-by. Some time before October 1846, the Knights moved to Jamberoo where Rebecca's next child, Thomas was born on 31st of that month.

Harriet was still in Sydney working and living in the Pattens in Pitt Street. William would have moved to Sydney to do his courting after completing his contract at Wollongong. It is unlikely that Harriet had visited her sister in Shellharbour in that period. The journey was very hazardous as the overland route was via Liverpool, Campbelltown, Appin and Bulli Mountain. The section east of Appin was only a rough track and the descent of Bulli Mountain extremely dangerous. Some years earlier, Governor Bourke had travelled overland to visit Wollongong and when there, had refused to return to Sydney by land instead going by ship.

William and Harriet were married at the St Andrews Church, Sydney on the 5th April, 1847 by Banns by Rev John McGarvie While they were both Episcopalians and would have attended the Church of England, they did not marry in an Anglican church as William had failed to bring his previous marriage certificate or his first wife's death certificate. The Anglicans declined from marrying him but the Presbyterians obliged.

On 21st November 1848, their first son, William was born in Camperdown where they were living and baptised on 31st January 1848. No doubt tiny Harriet, who was only about 4 foot 9 inches (1.46m) tall and William thought little about the number of descendants who would result. At the time of Harriet's death, fifty-two years later, she had forty-two grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

George and Rebecca had moved to Woodstock (Jamberoo) where their new arrivals, Alfred and Franklin were born on 8th February 1848 and 11th August, 1849 respectively.


There was a very close link between the two families and William and Harriet decided to join the Knights in Woodstock, Harriet to be near her sister and William work association with George.
The big decision was how to travel to Woodstock. Their first born, William was one year old and Harriet was carrying their second, Henry, my grandfather. There were two modes of transport. The hard trek was overland which would take a number of days. The second was by sea to the new port of Kiama then 30 kilometres over Saddleback Mountain to Woodstock.
Lets look at the two options:

OPTION 1 : Overland

The initial journey was by Campbelltown, Appin then west to Bulli Mountain and down the mountain to the growing town of Wollongong and the Illawarra. A rough trip.

W.A.Bayley describes the journey from Wollongong in those days in his book Green Meadows:

ravellers in the forties going southward from Wollongong crossed the shallow waters at the mouth of Lake Illawarra, swimming their horses, passed by Shellharbour which was then only a name and reached the Locking Hill, where all drays descending had a wheel locked, and then followed the public road to Turpentine Creek and so to Jamberoo. The farms of settlers flanked the tracks. Occasionally the mouth of Lake Illa-warra was closed and traffic would become more frequent by that route. Settlers took advantage of the mouth of the lake to swim cattle across so that they would not return in those days when fences were few.
The route from Wollongong to Jamberoo through Terry's Meadows at that time was well described by the eminent scientist, Professor Huxley, who as a boy was taken to live on a farm at Jamberoo. The journey from Sydney in 1843, he wrote, was made in a "rough cross-benched cart". Her Majesty's mail was thus carried to Wollongong. His father followed on horseback, whilst the furniture and luggage followed in other drays. At Wollongong a change was made to a bullock dray for the journey to Jamberoo. The family sat on sacks stuffed with maize husks whilst "slowly the patient beasts drew us along the seeming lengthening way'. "From Wollongong to Jamberoo the road was a mere dray track through a forest of tropical foliage; gum trees 200 feet or more in height, gigantic indiarubber trees with broad shiny dark green leaves, lofty cabbage palms and many another kind of tree
towered above us so that their tops made a twilight canopy impenetrable to the sunlight, save for an infrequent clearing in the forest made by the settler's axe. Huge lianas, some as thick as a man's arm, hung down snake-like from the trees. Magnificent ferns, clinging to the fork or trunk and branches were pointed out to me.

A very rough journey for most people but more so for Harriet in her condition.


Port Jackson to Shellharbour or Kiama was about 100 kilometres by sea so the time factor depended on the weather. Then a days trip over Razorback Mountain into Jamberoo Valley and they were there.


I expect that this change in life would have been very difficult for Harriet even though she had been raised in the country environment of Wotton, west of Dorking in Surrey. First, she had spent the last five years in the busy growing atmosphere of Sydney Town and then to travel for several days and settle in a small bush town with little comforts compared to Pitt Street. This would have been a great experience.

The area had been settled since the early 1820s and had many village facilities such as Churches, schools and a brewery. Opportunities seemed endless for the Dumbrells. The area was growing quickly with work available for building and cedar getting in the forests.
The sisters and their families were back together and this relationship would last for many years. William's second son, Henry, my grandfather, was born in Woodstock on June 18, 1850.

Note : For detailed information on Woodstock/Jamberoo read W. A. Bayleys book Blue Haven, chapter Tangling Vines.

Also, as my father, Garnet Dumbrell told me, William worked as a local carpenter and a red cedar timber getter in the Jamberoo forests where he spent long periods away from home leaving tiny Harriet to look after the children. The local aborigine tribe would enter their cottage at times to help themselves to household items. Harriet had no way of stopping this practice.

The advent of gold being discovered near Bathurst in 1851 did not appear to disrupt family life as three more sons were born to Harriet and William in Jamberoo in the next few years. Edmund arrived on 10 May, 1852 and the twins, John and George on 2 July, 1854.


1856 was an important year for William and Harriet. First, young John died in Jamberoo and second, the family moved to nearby, coastal Kiama. Perhaps they moved because the Knights had also moved from Jamberoo to Jerrawangala, south of the Sussex Inlet turnoff.

The family settled in "Porters Garden" at Kiama where their first daughter, Jane Myles was born. Their fellow carpenter, Robert Carnell went to live and work in Kiama. He is reputed to have built a few substantial buildings in the town. Perhaps his presence may have influenzas William to move there. Also, William's father, Richard passed away in Sussex, with his mother, Jane already deceased.

Nowra was a quickly growing town with the shipping traffic the main factor. Chains were firstly laid on the harbour bed to allow the securing of a ship for loading and unloading.
The growth of Kiama saw the need to construct a wharf to store and handle freight as trade increased. James & John Colley built a small wharf in 1849 for fifty pounds. In 1853, the farmers & business people formed the Kiama Steam Navigation Company Captain. Charles was sent to Scotland in 1855 to supervise the launching of the S.S. Kiama, a paddle wheel steam, with a keel of 121 feet, beam 20 feet and on the register at 104 tons (carrying capacity). The Kiama arrived in Sydney under sail on 3 April, 1855 having taken 144 days for the passage from Scotland.

William & Harriet would have found Kiama more attractive than the quieter Jamberoo and with the good prospects of on going work and better schooling for the growing family.
(The cedar had disappeared from the forest in this period).

1856 was also an important year for the colony as the first parliament Assembly sat in NSW. Captain Robert Towns was a member of that parliament.
[It is interesting to note that Tom Plunkett and Hugh Nichols, who were in the same district at that time, probably knew the Dumbrells and Knights]

The next few years were happy years for Harriet having her first daughter, Jane Myles and another, Anne Eliza, to arrive in 1858. At this time there were four sons ranging from William aged 10, Henry aged 8, Edmund aged 6 to George aged 4 and the two girls.
However tragedy was around the corner when young Jane died on November 3, 1859.

The 1860s:
The situation was helped with the arrival of Charles Vincent born in Kiama in 1860 but again fate intervened with the death of young Anne Eliza on March 13, 1862. Arthur Frederick was born in 1863 to put the count at 6 living sons, 1 deceased son and 2 deceased daughters.

The Knights had moved from Jamberoo to Jerrawangala, south of the Sussex Inlet turnoff (between 1855-1857) then further south to Milton in the late 1850s where he bought a property. A post office was opened there with the name The Settlement on January 1,1860. George was appointed the first postmaster and suggested that the name be changed to Milton, the name of his own property. The name was immediately changed.
In October of that year, the post office went to Frederick Hall. ( refer to William Bayleys book Shoalhaven, page 79)
George Knight then established a flourmill further south at Ulladulla in 1861. Shortly afterwards they moved north to Bulli with their family of 10 children with George serving as a Methodist local preacher in all parts of the Illawarra. It was here that Rebecca died on 27th June, 1863 and aged only 43. She was buried from the Bulli Temporary Wesleyan Chapel and now lies with George in the Old Wollongong cemetery. Their gravestone is still in very good condition in Cemetery Avenue.

During her 19 years in Australia, Rebecca gave birth to ten children, the youngest being only two years at the time of her death. The two children of her previous marriage (Gregorys) had both left home. All the older children at home were boys. George Knight was then fifty-six. We know the Dumbrells had moved to Sherbrooke by 1867, however, it is very likely that they moved there within a few months of Rebecca's death and before George's next matrimonial move. No doubt, Harriet wished to be near Rebecca's children as soon as possible. As seemed to be the custom in those days, George remarried in just over a year. He wed Anna Philips at Wollongong on 19 June, 1864. George made the seating for the Bulli Methodist church when it opened in 1865 and about 1867 moved to Bulli Mountain, later named Sherbrooke where he opened a sawmill.
As was the case with the two families, William, Harriet and their sons also moved to Bulli Mountains about the same time.


William and Harriet must have still detained their pioneer characteristics as the Mountain was only settled at that time and they are stated to be among the original settlers whose names appear on early Parish maps. Other families include the Reeves, Spinks, Loveday, Wales, Blinkco, King, Roberts, Allen, Browns and Campbell and, of course, the Knights. There were 16 families living in the area initially but the numbers grew as time passed on.

It was situated one and a half miles west of the top of Bulli Pass and extending south on both sides of Cataract Creek, it consisted mainly of 40 acres of land-blocks, some settlers buying as many as three 40-acre blocks. A dirt road heading west from the top of Bulli Pass, known as Sherbrooke Road followed a path up steep hills and down dales, through thick virgin forest until a second road branched off and travelled south along the east ridge.

The main three industries that developed in the area were (in this order)
(1) timbergetting and saw-milling.
(2) Fruit and vegetable growing
(3) Bee-keeping and honey production

William purchased two 40-acre blocks, numbered 115 and 118, which straddled the Cataract Creek. Block 115 was on the eastern side of the creek and on Sherbrooke Road just south of the first school that was built in 1869.

George Knight opened a sawmill at Sherbrooke in the late 1860s and a second in the 70s. Some of his sons carried on the work after his death in 1881. There grew to be five families of Knights at Sherbrooke where they actively supported the Union Church there and walked or rode down and up Bulli Pass to participate in the activities of the church at Bulli on Sundays.

Sherbrooke, has always has great natural beauty. Farmlets and orchards were carved out of the rain forest and dense bush. There was the school, later a hotel and soon used as a stop-over for travellers between Sydney and the South Coast. The Cataract River rises there.

The residents of Sherbrooke were genuine pioneers. If a home was needed the men would go into the bush and fell a suitable tree or trees. Then such a work of sawing, chopping, adzing and planing would be done. All the work of loading and transporting would be done with drays and the aid of faithful bullock, frequently a road had to be made to the site of operations. In those days the neighbours who were disengaged would be there bright and early to lend a helping hand. Later on Germans, Norwegians and other nationalities moved into the locality bringing with them new ideas concerning building and painting, so gradually more modern homesteads appeared.
The settlers cultivated acres of fruit trees and grapes. The ground was very fertile. plums grew in abundance. They also had more than a hundred hives of bees.

We had no shops at Sherbrooke. A butcher with his horse and cart appeared periodically, but mostly the established people killed their own meat, and of course, when there was a surplus shared it with their neighbours. Fuel stoves and open fires were used in every home. Kerosene lamps and candles were the only lighting we had.
The Dumbrells property was along the banks of the Cataract River and because of the abundant rainfall they were never short of water. There were no tanks, water for domestic use was collected in large woodencasks.
Sherbrooke was a very hilly place. The cabbage tree palms grew very tall there. Quite a number of the residents plaited the leaves of the palms and made very neat serviceable hats from the strands, which proved a useful shade during the hot summer days.

The road down Bulli pass was very picturesque, but had to be negotiated carefully for some of the bends were difficult to manipulate, but there was no accidents, perhaps because there were no hotels about. The Lookout on the top of the pass is really world renowned, and truly breathtaking. In the early stages of occupancy the residents made the roads to their properties and kept them in repair.

Birds of all kinds and wild animals were plentiful in Sherbrooke and on the Bull Mountain.
Wild animals did not often come near our home. One half starved looking dingo (native dog) once paused at our door fence, but quickly disappeared when shouted at. The people of Sherbrooke had to shut away young calves and goats from the dingoes. There are stories told of Sherbrooke people carrying supplies of meat up Bulli Mountain and being followed by dingoes. The villagers eventually shot, trapped and poisoned the dingoes until they became extinct.
It was here that the last two children were born to Harriet, more boys, Thomas 1867, who later , drove the Sydney-Melbourne Express train and Alfred Sydney on 28 March, 1870, who later developed a successful butchery business on the Pacific Highway, Woonona across from the present-day Woonona RSL Club.
The propertys rich, red volcanic soil could support intensive farming. Being near the edge of the coastal range there was usually good rainfall. To maintain his farm it is likely that William continued with some work as a joiner and builder at Sherbrooke and the Bulli area.

In 1870 Harriet turned 46 and William 55.
William (Junior) was 22 years, Henry 20, Edmund 18, George 16, Charles Vincent 10, Arthur Frederick 7, Thomas 3 and Alfred Sydney only a few months.

The six elder Dumbrell boys seem to be well provided for as they were mostly tall and well built despite their diminutive mother. William often rode down to Bulli probably to work and regularly visited the library. The boys were always anxious to accompany him, as the journey was still an adventure and the scenery spectacular. The four elder sons could be employed on farming on their two sites or helping out in the surrounding farms as the numbers increased.

A factor to be considered at this period of time would be the social life of the Sherbrooke community and the three elder boys, William, Henry and Edmund. In that era, most social activities was centred around the local church .

To tend the religious aspects of Sherbrooke :

Protestant ministers from Bulli, such as Reverend Hugh Walker Taylor, would make the journey up Bulli Pass on Sundays to preach in the sawn slab and shingled roof chapel.
The Rev Taylor would make the arduous trip to Sherbrooke to provide the spiritual needs of the parishioners such as William Dumbrell who was one of the first settlers of the valley and owned two 40 acres properties along Cataract Creek.
William was in his mid 60s when he came to Bulli Mountain in the late 1860s to grow vegetables and fruit, later introducing blackberries that would one day become a major industry in the region.

While at Sherbrooke, William senior heard that Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and a doctor from Sydney had imported blackberry vines. He remembered seeing blackberries in his native Sussex and decided to plant them in Sherbrooke. Of course, the blackberries flourished but an unexpected and far-reaching situation was to result. In a short time the Currawongs, who fly regularly from the coastal strip to the hills and return, found the berries to their liking and unwittingly caused them to spread. It was only a matter of time before the berries could be found through the whole Illawarra district. As children, we picked those blackberries little knowing who started it all. From that simple beginning, the blackberry vines soon developed into a major industry in north Illawarra, suppling the needs of Sydney jam factories and bringing many pickers to the area. A special train was employed to carry the berries to Sydney most nights. The vines were eventually eradicated in the 1940s.

I must include a section of an (2001) email from Andrew Jessups, a descendant of George Dumbrell.

"I've just returned from a holiday in Kiama. Visited the Family History Centre, there. Got the name of a researcher into the history of Sherbrooke where the Dumbrells lived for a while. Sherbrooke doesn't exist anymore but its church, which the early Dumbrells helped build, was moved to a place called Slakey Creek - in a "Grevillea Park".

On inquiring further, I found that Grevillea Park is a new garden development situated behind the Showground at Bulli and opened in late April 2002. The chapel is used as a refreshment centre.

As quoted from its Website:

"The Park has many hundreds of Grevilleas and also a wide range of other natives. Increasingly popular is the rainforest walk at the rear of the Park which loops over Slacky Creek and displays a wealth of indigenous rainforest species. Drinks on sale at the old Sherbrook chapel

"Also, an extract from the Illawarra Mercury of 21 April, 2001 :

The Blincko family moved to Bulli in 1914 from Sherbrook (now Cataract) before the Cataract dam was built. The family, which included five daughters and a number of sons, brought a church from Sherbrook to Bulli - its home now is in the Grevillea Park Gardens"

NOTE : See attachment 1 Sherbrooke : The lost Village by W. A. Bayley

A well as the Church offering the religious aspect to the community, it also offered the social requirements for families and especially the young men and women of the area. There were many church meeting and outings where the two sexes could assemble to have the chance of getting to know their follow churchgoers better. The older Dumbrell lads and their Knight cousins certainly used these function to meet the opposite sex.

Around 1868, when William was in his early 50s, he received severe sunstroke.
The resulting headaches and other discomforts plagued him until his death.
He visited several doctors but nothing could be done to alleviate his problem.

Edmund was the first of the sons to marry (27.1.1874). His wife was Mary Ellen Burless daughter of William Burless and Emmeline Vidler. Mary was born in Gerringong in 1853.

The first grandchild to William and Harriet was Ellen Jane who was born in Wollongong to Edmund and Mary Ellen in 1875.They produced ten children over the next 22 years. For a while they settled on the family farm at Sherbrooke before he became a railway fettler. His family moved west to the Parkes district about 1880.

CHAPTER 6. BULLI : 1875 1900

Death of William senior. 1876 and a new arrival.

In early 1875 William Senior, Harriet and most of the family left Sherbrooke and moved to Bulli, leaving William junior (Bill) to carry on. William was nearly sixty years of age but his health was failing.
At this stage William received a legacy from a Mr Charles Cooke of Guildford, UK, amounting to 100 pounds, a significant sum in those days. On moving to Bulli or shortly before, William built a small house fronting the main road at Bulli. The 100 pounds probably paid for the land and materials and must have been a factor in their decision to move. The house is still intact with some modification.

On 19 July, 1876 William Dumbrell passed away. The sunstroke and possibly the exertion from the rapid construction of the weatherboard cottage may have weakened his heart. Heart trouble had been diagnosed for the previous nine months. Perhaps an additional reason for moving to Bulli was to be nearer a medical practitioner. As there was not yet a church or general cemetery at Bulli, William was buried in Wollongong general cemetery, in the old section. No headstone exists for William and probably never did as particulars for William were also inscribed on Harriet's headstone at Bulli. (see photo attached).

A Death Report from the Illawarra Mercury.

The late Mr. William Dumbrell -- our Bulli correspondent supplies us with the following.

"Death has again visited us and taken away from our midst one who may be said to have been an old resident of Bulli. I allude to the late Mr. William Dumbrell who departed this life on Wednesday morning last the 19th instant at his residence here. About thirty-three years ago, the deceased gentleman arrived in this colony, a widower, having lost his first wife just before leaving England. Illawarra became the scene of his first labours in this colony, he being a carpenter and joiner. After residing in this district for some time he moved to Sydney where he married the lady who now survives him. He again returned to Illawarra where he carried on the building business until within eight years of his death when he suffered severely from the effects of a sunstroke.
Although he consulted several medical men respecting that ailment he received no relief from their treatment of his. The deceased was a man of activity and lively disposition and even while suffering the most acute pain he would frequently manifest such cheerfulness that many persons would hardly credit that he was so sorely afflicted as was really that fact. It was the opinion of his medical adviser, however, that within nine months of his death his heart became affected and considered it was that that carried him off at last. The deceased was a man of sterling principle and straight forward action in all respects and it might be said was looked up to as an authority on many questions among his acquaintances . Indeed, his manly straightforwardness not only secured to his many friends but alaso to his enemies. His remains were interned in the Church of England Cemetery at Bulli on Thursday afternoon, the Rev. Dean Ewing officiating on the occasion. Mr Dumbrell was a member of the Church of England and manifested great love for its doctrines through life. As before stated, he leaves a widow and family of eight respectable sons. His age was 61 years."

Edmund and Mary Jane were blessed with a son, William Arthur in July 1876, again born in Wollongong. William senior had died on the 19th July but I am unsure of the date that William Arthur was born.

At the time of William's death, Harriet would have had three or four youngest of-springs living with her. Of the other sons, Bill was 28 and had previously moved to Bulli to work for the mining company. Henry was 26 and George, who took up school teaching was about 22. He was to rise to School principal at Manly High. He would have left home.
Harriett would have had three or four young offsprings living with her
Charles was 16 and possibly working. 13 years old, Arthur later became an engine driver for the NSW railways and drove the "Melbourne Express" from Central. He later lived at Erskineville near where he worked.
Thomas was 9, Alfred Sydney (Sid), the future butcher in Woonona was 6 years.


Harriet was 52 when her husband died but her life was not over. In fact, the next few years would see a tremendous increase in the family numbers with her sons marrying and producing many more grandchildren.

Let's start with 1878.

Edmund and Mary Ann provided the impetus with the arrival of Edmund Charles
There were two marriages that year.
* Henry and William.

Henry married Martha Susannah Organ in Wollongong in 1879 and their first son, Herbert was born there in 1880. The small family moved to Sydney where Henry joined the Sydney Tramway in 1882 as a conductor and retired as a starter in 1914.
Martha's mother was Anne Grover who arrived in Sydney with her brother, Edward from Brighton in Sussex in 1853 aboard the "Meteor" with Edward's wife, Eleanor from Lewes. She married William Henry Organ in Wollongong in 1855.
(Contact Editor for Organ family history)

William Junior (Bill) married Mary Ann Loveday in Kiama in 1879.. Like Henry, their first child, Arthur Stanley was born in Wollongong in 1880. William and Ann went on to bear 6 children, five of which were girls. William lived all his life in Wollongong / Bulli.
I learnt recently from Ken Brown that Bill was a very good athlete and excelled in running. He won many foot races that were popular in those days and was rewarded with good cash prizes. On one occasion when he had reached a final he found that the first prize wasnt to his liking and he preferred the second prize. As luck or good judgement had it, he finished safely in second place to secure his wanted reward.

Edmund's son, William Arthur died as an infant as a result of croup in Bulli in 1879.

George Knight passed away in 1881 and is buried with Rebecca in the old section at the southern end of Wollongong cemetery. Their headstone is still very legible.

George, our schoolteacher married Mary Ellen Ross in Woonona in 1881 and his first child, George Garnet soon followed when he was born in Maitland in 1882. Seven more children were born in Maitland up to 1894. In 1899 he taught at Ermington public school.

Charles married Mary Bell in Wollongong in 1887. Their first child, Oliver was born in Woonona in 1888. Clara arrived in 1892, Charles in Waterloo in 1897, Wilfred in Helensburgh in 1892 and finally Ivy in Woonona in 1890.
Arthur was to move around during his early life. Perhaps his occupation as a train driver was the reason for this. After wedding Margaret Thurston in Wellington in 1889, they bore 7 children around NSW including 4 in Sydney
Thomas was the last to marry, this being on Boxing day 1892 and he and his wife, Emma, continued on with Harriett and provided for her until her death. She spent some of her time with her sons in Sydney. She had been staying with Arthur at his home in Erskineville when she contracted bronchial pneumonia and pleurisy and died five days later on 24 October, 1900, aged 77. She was buried in St. Augustine's Churchyard, Bulli. (which is behind the church) This churchyard has been reclaimed and turned into a memorial lawn. Her sons erected a headstone for her and William (who was buried at the Church of England Cemetery, Bulli) and this headstone, in good condition, is placed on the southeastern wall of the lawn.
I believe that Harriet & William were removed to Wollongong when the St. Augustines Churchyard was updated. Their grave is yet to be found.

William Dumbrell senior's cottage at Bulli was auctioned exactly one month after Harriets death along with the furniture doubtless made by him years before.

In my research, I obtained a copy of the estate agent's newspaper advertisement stating :-

Notice of House and Furniture.


By Public Action, on the Ground

Saturday, 24th November (1900)
at 2 p.m.

Strongly built and Comfortable W.B. Cottage
of ? Rooms and ??? ???? ???. the
allocation of Land with 54 ft Frontage to
Main South Coast Road (next J. Glass's
Store) and 4 chains 5 links depth, suit-
ably divided into garden, poultry yards
etc. Large Underground Tank, Grape
and other vines, out houses very shel-
tered and shaded position. Also, same
time, Household Furniture in Cedar
Drawers, Tables, Chiffonier, Cedar
Clothes Closets, Double and Single
Bedsteads, Chairs, Toilet Wares Etc.

H.F. Cofferell is instructed by the
Trustees to sell the above very
desirable Property, in order to close
the estate.

S. C. Times

A Death Report from the Illawarra Mercury.


The late Mr. William Dumbrell -- our Bulli correspondent supplies us with the following.

Death has again visited us and taken away from our midst one who may be said to have been an old resident of Bulli. I allude to the late Mr. William Dumbrell who departed this life on Wednesday morning last the 19th instant at his residence here. About thirty-three years ago, the deceased gentleman arrived in this colony, a widower, having lost his first wife just before leaving England. Illawarra became the scene of his first labours in this colony, he being a carpenter and joiner. After residing in this district for some time he moved to Sydney where he married the lady who now survives him. He again returned to Illawarra where he carried on the building business until within eight years of his death when he suffered severely from the effects of a sunstroke.
Although he consulted several medical men respecting that ailment he received no relief from their treatment of his. The deceased was a man of activity and lively disposition and even while suffering the most acute pain he would frequently manifest such cheerfulness that many persons would hardly credit that he was so sorely afflicted as was really that fact. It was the opinion of his medical adviser, however, that within nine months of his death his heart became affected and considered it was that that carried him off at last. The deceased was a man of sterling principle and straight forward action in all respects and it might be said was looked up to as an authority on many questions among his acquaintances . Indeed, his manly straightforwardness not only secured to his many friends but also to his enemies. His remains were interned in the Church of England Cemetery at Bulli on Thursday afternoon, the Rev. Dean Ewing officiating on the occasion. Mr Dumbrell was a member of the Church of England and manifested great love for its doctrines through life. As before stated, he leaves a widow and family of eight respectable sons. His age was 61 years.


A Death Report


The pneumonia and pleuraay notwith-standing the constant care and attention of Dr. Trindall of Newtown. The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Coffil and Co. of Sydney -- The remains were brought to Bulli.
Harriett Dumbrell (nee) Dearling, died 24th October 1900 aged 77 years.late Mrs. W. Dumbrell -- The announcement of whose death is made in this issue was interred in the Church of England Cemetery, Bulli, on Thursday last in the presence of a large concourse of mourning relatives and friends. The deceased lady arrived in the colony in 1844 and has been a resident of the Illawarra district for the past 53 years. She has left eight sons, 42 grandchildren and three great grandchildren, in addition to an extensive circle of personal Friends to mourn her loss. Mrs. Dumbrell was on a short visit to one of her sons, who resides at Erskineville, when she caught a cold and after an illness of only five days succumbed to a severe attack of bronchial

Sydney Morning Herald -- Obituary

DUMBRELL -- 24 October 1900, at her son's residence, Erskineville, of pneumonia and pleurisy, Harriett Dumbrell, relict of the late William Dumbrell of Bulli, aged 77 years.


Following the death of Harriet Dumbrell in 1900, the family was as follows :

William :
Married Mary Ann Loveday in Kiama in 1879. He had 6 children of which 5 were daughters. Living at Main South Coast Road, Bulli. One of the first churchwardens at St. Augustine Church of England, Bulli. A farmer at Bulli.

Henry :
Married to Martha Susanah Organ since 1878 with 5 sons. Living in Forest Lodge, Sydney and working for the Sydney Tramways as a Starter. Aged 50 years.

Edmund :
Was 48 years old. Married Mary Burless at Wollongong in 1874 when he was 22 years old. They had 5 daughters and two sons, one son died in 1879. Living in Parkes and working as a fettler with the government railways.

George :
46 years old and a schoolteacher in Ermington. Married to Mary Ellen Ross since 1881 having eight children including 5 sons. Completed his career as Headmaster at Manly High School.

Charles Vincent:
Was 40 years, married to Mary J with three girls and two sons. Location is unsure but it was either Bulli or Helensburgh

Alfred Sydney :
Was 30 years old, living in Bulli and was working as a butcher and soon owned butchery business on Main Road, Woonona, later continued by his sons.. Married in 1891 to Elizabeth Rebecca Plunkett with six children. More to come.
Her father was Thomas Plunkett. (See Woodstock report)

Arthur Frederick :
Was 37 years of age, living in Erskineville and was a train driver. Drove the Melbourne Express
Married Margaret Thurston in Wellington in 1889 and had four children. More to come.

Thomas Richard
Was 33 years, living in Bulli with his wife, Emma Collison and four children.


Harriets death marked almost 60 years since her arrival in NSW and the Illawarra on 12 February, 1844. Those years had seen a huge change throughout the colony and the Illawarra. William and Harriet had arrived at the end of the convict era and the family had seen the disappearance of the convicts and the chain gangs. They had experienced the pioneer days with the development of the Illawarra, the great migration due to the gold rush in the early 1850s, the birth of responsible government with the colonys self determination also in the 50s.

Harriet had arrived in NSW as a single immigrate but had left

with 42 grandchildren and 3 great-grand children



Surnames: NONE
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by Robertd Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2008-07-01 20:28:51

Robertd , from Engadine, NSW, Australia, has been a Family Tree Circles member since Feb 2008. is researching the following names: WILLIAMDUMBRELL, SAMUELKERR, HARRIETDEARLING and 24 other(s).

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