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Ann Grover from Brighton, Sussex life in Wollongong, NSW

Journal by Robertd




This is my record of my great-grand mother, Ann Grover. She was born to Edward and Martha Grover at Brighton, Sussex on 3 September 1829.

Little is known of her younger years in Brighton. But like many English of the time, she and her younger brother, Edward, born 1833 with his wife, Eleanor Baldook decided to migrate to NSW. Edward, a carpenter/joiner by trade, had married Eleanor Baldook in Brighton in 1852.

They joined 323 other emigrants aboard the barque "Meteor" on 27 March, 1853 at Southampton to travel to Sydney. On arrival at the semi-completed Circular Quay in Sydney on 3 July they were each paid one pound for self as they stepped ashore. Her ships landing papers show her as a dressmaker / milliner and a Baptist by religion.

The three spend a short time together in Sydney before, for some unknown reason, Ann left her family and moved south to Wollongong, a rapidly growing new town about 80 kilometres south of Sydney. Edward /Eleanor remained in Sydney to start their family with Charlotte arriving in 1856 and Mary in 1860.


By 1853 the Illawarra district butts onto southern Sydney and extended a further 50 kilometres south between the coast and the coastal ranges. The population had grown considerable from its early days in the 1820s. The region was composed basically of working class free settlers, emancipists, soldiers and convicts. It presented many opportunities to anyone who wanted to settle there. It had many beautiful beaches and a temperate climate with an expanding economy. The area had been sub-divided and Wollongong township rapidly developing.

It is unknown why Ann moved there but being a dressmaker / milliner she would have a ready market. She met William Henry Organ, son of George and Maria whose family had been in NSW since 1839. George and family including his parents, a brother and two sisters and his own wife and two children arrived in Sydney on the Bussorah Merchant. They joined two of Georges brothers and one sister-in-law in Wollongong.

The family settled into the pioneer coastal area very well with George leading the way with many successful outgoing business ventures.

George and family rented a farm from a James Brooker at Fairy Meadow, the area then extending from the Wollongong Township to present Bulli.
Young William Henry joined his father with the farm work whilst his younger sister, Emily settled with her mother, Maria who retrieved her dressmaking materials.

In the oncoming years, George initialling carried on his farming at Fairy Meadow but gradually devoted more to developing his assets by the purchase of land at Wollongong and the surrounding districts. William Henry took more control of the farm as he matured into adulthood.


On the 3rd January 1855 Ann married William Henry Organ of Wollongong, the ceremony was performed by Cunningham Atchinson, the local Presbyterian Minister and took place in George's house of Fairy Meadow.


Ann was 25 years old, a seasoned dressmaker / milliner and a mature young woman. She had been raised in the busy English south coast town of Brighton.

William Henry was 21 and had arrived from the rural North Dursley, Gloucestershire at the age of 7 and since had helped his father on their farm at Fairy Meadow. George bought the 152-acre farm in 1849 for a paltry 164 pounds and as his fortunes increased he with Maria and Emily moved closer to the actions in Wollongong leaving William Henry with control.


One of Georges newer estates was a farm at Bellambi on the Towradgi Creek, which he developed into a dairy farm meantime building a comfortable cottage fit for a respectable tenant.

William Henry and Anne settled here into their matrimonial home.

I wonder what Anns thoughts were at that time. She had wed a young hard working English man with no financial worries in a lovely coastal area. Her new family was rather large and very busy and the environment was so different to what she had been raised.

Alright, it was very rural and quiet but still she had her own dressmaker/milliner business to organise and get going.


The first year at Towradgi was busy for the household: George with his business commitments, William with the farm upkeep, Maria and Anne with home duties and the initial stages of the millinier / dressmaking business. Change occured in 1856 with George and Maria moving to their house in Barella Street, Wollongong and Ann delivering the first of her family and named after William Henry's sister, Emily. George was very busy with his first major project relating to a proposed hotel on the corner of Crown & Corrimal Streets, Wollongong. This was a prime site being at that time part of the main route connecting Wollongong harbour to Dapto Road.

George also sold the Towradgi farm so William and family moved to another of George's farms at Bulli. For some unknown reason this seemed to unlock a feature within William's future life when he summoned a Mrs Mark Hanks for violent behaviour. She was found guilty and bound over to keep the peace for six months.

Year 1858 was also a busy one for George and his immediate family.Initially, George had opened a general store in Bulli which is believed to be the first in the area. William with Ann's great assistance managed the store for George. Ann's second child, another girl, Ann Maria arrived and George's hotel in Crown Street was nearing completion.

Their second child arrived in 1858. She was Ann Maria. George spent his that year mortgaging his properties and raising money for a new venture.The impact on Ann and William Henry was that George sold his farm at Bulli and Ann, William Henry and the two girls moved locally most probably to the General store that George had bought in Bulli. There was little detail of the store's financial and management situation at this stage but it seems that Ann was the key factor in the store's success.

George's plans were realised when James Rixon, his son-in-law applied for a licences for a hotel that was planned to be built on the corner of Corrimal and Crown Streets, Wollongong. It was to be named "The Cricketer's Arms"

But things were not good on William's home front.

George owned two houses near the proposed hotel and Ann left home at Bulli with her two girls to move into one of these houses. There she set up her Millinery and Dressmaking business. Why did she move? Was William getting too uncontrolable? This left William to run the General Store at Bulli.

Sport was a rapidly growing activity in the Illawarra and William Henry replied by joining the local cricket club with his brother-in-law,James Dixon.

THE 1860s

The decade opened well for George with the Cricketer's Arms in operation. Ann, for some reason in August, 1860, "left her dressmaking and millinery shop in Corrimal Street and opened an "EATING HOUSE" in Crown Street, nearly opposite the "Sportsman's Arms" where Tea, Coffee, Dinners and Refreshments may be obtained at any hour of the dayon most reasonable terms".

Mrs Ann Organ seemed to have been a very indepentant women and George would have respect for her.

William Henry was still playing cricket for Bulli Club with frequent reference made of his cricketing explots.

The year in important to the author as it saw the birth oh his grandmother, Martha Susannah Organ. Martha has the distinction of not being recognised by family researchers until mid 2009 when her details were found on the NSW Government Archives under a misspelt name. She in now inplace with her family.

1861: Bad Times Continued for William Henry and Ann:

On the 16th August William Henry Organ's wife Ann had finally left her husband, and on the same day he published a notice in the Illawarra Mercury disowning any of her debts. Obviously there was some friction in the family. On Monday 26th August, she took him to Wollongong Court of Petty Sessions and the case was reported in the Illawarra Mercury as follows:

"Mrs Ann Organ appeared against her husband for the purpose of obtaininq an order from the Court for a separate maintenance. Mrs Organ, being sworn, deposed that she was married to defendant [William Henry Organ] on the 3rd January, 1855, but that she left her husband's roof about 10 days since owing to his threatening to do her some grievous bodily harm. She had made an application to him for a maintenance but had received no reply from him. Her husband was a small storekeeper [at Bulli] and doing a small business. He professed to own the property on which he lived, but it belonged to his father; he, however, lived rent Free. She had taken a house in Corrimal Street and intended to carry on the millinery and dressmaking business. When she separated from her husband he had agreed to let her have her wearing apparel, and half the furniture, together with the millinery goods. He had also promised to let her have half the rents of the small cottages which were on the farm, the rents of which amounted to 12/- per week; and he had further promised her to give her a start. He had given her 2 in part payment, but had afterwards taken the money hack again as he wanted to pay for some goods that he had bought in Sydney. Mrs Organ had 3 children to support, the eldest being 5 years old and the youngest nearly 18 months [Ann was also 6 months pregnant at the time].

Elisabeth Lynch stated that she had lived with the couple at Bulli and now lived with Ann Organ in Corrimal Street. She had known unpleasantness to occur between her master and mistress on several occasions. She was present when an agreement was come to that they should separate.

Walter Duglan was called and examined by William Henry Organ. He admitted that he had seen Mr Organ shake his wife on one occasion when laboring under provocation. The provocation consisted in Mrs Organ's refusal to give Mr Organ money to purchase some things in town. The Witness on several occasions had heard cries of murder! coming from Mrs Organ, but. did not know what they were caused by. When the boxes [with Ann's belongings] were brought from Bulli William Henry had protested against it.

In arriving at a decision the Bench said that the case was a painful one; as, however, the balance of testimony was in favour of the wife, they would make an order for the payment of 5/- a week for six months."

This case reveals a wealth of information about the family of William Henry Organ at: that time - Ann seems to have been a very independent woman, hut also William's behaviour seems to have been rather eratic and helps to explain why he was institutionalized later in life. The day after the Court case the following appeared in the Illawarra Mercury:


THE STORE at present occupied by W.H. ORGAN, at BULLI, with 21 ACRES OF GROUND, on reasonable terms. The WELL-SELECTED STOCK OF GENERAL STORE GOODS, at: present in the Store, is also for SALE at COST PRICES.

For further particulars apply to

W.H. ORGAN, Bulli; or to
GEO. ORGAN, Cricketers Arms, Wollongong.

Apparently William Henry, or Willie as he was known, wasn't prepared to run the store without his wife and family. The store was eventually leased out to the Cockerton Brothers from Sydney. Bulli was bristling with activity around this time (see Black Diamonds, W. A. Bay.ley) due to the opening of coal mines at Bellambi and Bulli and an influx of people hoping to work on the mines. The whole character of Wollongong's northern suburbs was to change during the 1860s from that of a rich rural setting to an urban mining community.

William Henry Organ and the Bellambi Robbery Incident:

How was William Henry feeling during this time? We can gather an impression of his state of mind from reports in the Illawarra Mercury on the 6th and 8th September concerning a case in which William Hester, alias BIG BILL, was charged with stealing two purses, two sovereigns, 3 half sovereigns, a quantity of silver and other articles from William Henry on the previous weekend.

At the Court of Petty Sessions, W. H. Organ was sworn in on the 4th September and stated that he lived in Wollongong at present and followed no occupation; but. had until recently been a farmer and storekeeper at Bulli. On Saturday and Sunday last he was at Bellambi Hotel and had been drinking with the accused, William Nester. When William Henry arrived at the public-house he had between 1 shilling and 7 shillings in money. He had spent his money pretty freely during the day and had slept at the Bellambi Hotel on the Saturday night. When he woke up Sunday morning "he felt somewhat stupid" and did not drink much on the Sunday morning. When he left Bellambi "he was very stupid and did not know what he was about". Willie and Big Bill left the hotel together and they had not gone far before Big Bill gave William a bottle of rum, of which he drank very freely. At some point. Nester struck him a blow which knocked him off his horse into the hush. William slept for the greater part of the day and upon waking found that he had been robbed and his horse, saddle and bridle was also gone. He later found the horse walking towards home and the saddle and bridle were located at
Nester's house and given to him by Nester's wife. Elizabeth Allen, barmaid at the Bellambi Hotel, was called to give evidence. She swore that "on Friday evening Mr Organ had treated alL the persons in the bar, and there were a good many of them. [Perhaps he was celebrating his wife leaving him.] On the Sunday morning Nester purchased a bottle of rum and he and Organ left the hotel together, Nester walking and Organ riding. They took the hush road, not the road leading by the sea beach, and the witness noted that Organ was quite sober at the time."

Due to the inconclusive evidence and W.H. Organ's state of mind at the time of the incident, William Nester was found not guilty of the charge of stealing the money, however as soon as he left the Court he was re-arrested and charged with stealing William's horse, bridle and saddle. This time in his testimony William Henry stated that "the accused offered me some rum out of a bottle, after which he asked to look at my whip, and on its being handed to him he struck me a blow which knocked me off my horse. The prisoner then dragged me a few yards off the road and poured some more liquor down my throat, which made me stupid and I went to sleep."

Once more the Court dismissed the case, reflecting somewhat badly upon William, as though he was wasting their time. Meanwhile his wife Ann re-opened her millinery and dressmaking business this time at Moores Lane, just off Crown Street, as of the 10th September.

Again, in the midst of all this turmoil, Ann found time to bear another child to William Henry - a son named George Edward.


William Henry Organ's Insolvency - 20th January 1862:

Even though George had escaped the fate of business failures, his son was not so lucky for on 29th November 1861 he voluntarily applied to be declared insolvent, which was granted on the 20th January 1862. The details of William's insolvency are very interesting because they detail some of the workings of a storekeeper in Bulli during 1861. At the time of his declaration he presented the following information:

A. Assets

Total 32. 5. 2

B. Creditors

Total: 172.15. 7

This left William Henry with a deficiency of 129.5.5. It seems as though his wife Ann was also included in his insolvency, even though they had separated and she was carrying on a business of her own. On the 5th March William explained his insolvency to the Supreme Court as follows:

"I attribute my insolvency to beinq sued by a Creditor of mine, Mr Audsley, for 50 on account of goods he sold me in Wollongong. I received a verdict against me. I could not pay the verdict. Some other Creditors pressed me. I brought land in the area last August but it was sold by the time Mr Audsley reversed charges against me. I have been out of business for four months. The debts noted are debts owed to me before I went out of business. I have applied for them but cannot get them in."

William Henry signed his testimony with a cross, being his mark, indicating that he could not write - not very good for a so-called storekeeper!

"The details of William Henry Organ's insolvency reveal some aspects of the running of a general store in the outlying areas of the Illawarra in 1861. William's store had a wide range of stock, including groceries, hardware, meat, tobacco, confectionery, draperies, bread, dairy products, books etc., as would be expected for a store which was the only one in the area of Bulli at that time. The store was situated on the corner of the Princes Highway and Molloy Street Bulli, however in 1861 and until this century Molloy Street was named George Street, after George Organ. Following William Henry's bankruptcy the store was taken over by the Cockerton Brothers of Wollongong who saw the potential of a store in the rapidly expanding mining village of Bulli. W.A. Bayley in Black Diamonds (1956) states that "Cockerton & Co. opened the first store in Bulli village in 1861 as a branch of their Wollongong store". However I believe that William Henry Organ's store was actually the first and may have been operating since as early as 1856".

William's wife Ann (nee Grover) was obviously the brains behind the running of the store and when she left him in August of 1861 the business at Bulli fell apart. It seems as though William Henry Organ did not possess the same business acumen as his father George.


From 1862 Ann's details become very uncertain. The break from William continued with Ann living and working in Wollongomg and William Henry employed on farm work in the Bulli area. George and James Dixon united again to becomre the official mail contractors for the Wollongong-Campbelltown run. this was the most important run in the district and the main communication between Wollongong and the outside world.

1864 was a hard year for the Illawarra region They suffered drought then floods, low price of produce and people generally disturbed by having difficulties with rent payment because of unemployment.

March was also a bad time for Wiliam Henry. He wa sfound guilty of assult and fined 100 pounds in Wollongong Court of Petty Sessions. This was a lot of money in those days.

Then George was driving down Market Street when he suddenly was thrown out of the vehical with one of the wheels passing over him.
Luckily he only sustained severe bruising. The situation inproved when Ann delivered another daughter named Henrietta. This was three years after George arrived in 1861.

Which make one ponder on the relatioship between Ann and William Henry. Ann separated and raising four children probably in Wollongong whilst William's in Bulli doing farm work and ocassionally getting into the haedlines.

But, in spite of this situation, the babies continued to arrive. There was Jehoida in 1867 with Albert and Alice, both in 1869.

Henrietta born 1864 died in 1866.


Overall, the Organ family flourished in the district.

George remained in Wollongong, living in his house in Bureli Stret and still active in his business. He died in 1889.

Jehoida and Alice died in 1869.

William Henry was reported to have entered a mental institution in later years. He died on 27 January, 1899 in Sydney.



She married Arthur Bray, from Browral in Bulli in 1878.
The couple moved to Berrima where they had a daughter, Henrietta and a son, George.
Emily died in 1880 and Arthur in 1883.


Ann married Henry Watson in Paddington in 1882. They produced four children: Alice, Gladys, Albert & Myra.
She died in 1934 and he in 1925, both in Wollongong.


Martha married Henry Dumbrell in Bulli in 1879 and had four boys,: Herbert, Lesley, Percy and Garnet.
Martha died in Brookvale in 1929 and Henry followed later in 1945 in Randwick.


George married Catherine Turner in Wagga Wagga in 1887 and died in 1940 in Bankstown. Catherine died in Randwick in 1935


Born in 1865 she died in Wollongong in 1886


She was born in 1867 and died in 1860 in Wollongong.


Born and died in 1869 in Wollongong


Albert married Louisa Holman in 1890 in Tamworth.
He died in 1932 in Canterbury whilst Louisa in 1939 in Annandale.

Ann and William produced 8 children and the three that died were all very young and died in the uncertain time between 1866 and 1869.
The other five all married and lived normal family lifes.

The mystery is with Ann. I have not found one trace of data since her last child was born in 1869. Most of her family moved from Wollongong from 1880 on to various places in the State. The exception was Ann Maria who married in Paddington but returned with her husband to bear and raise their family in Wollongong.

Perhaps Ann remained with them in her last days?


What happened to Ann's brother, Edward and sister-in-law, Eleanor?

Surnames: NONE
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by Robertd Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2008-07-21 00:35:33

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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by smithy57 on 2013-04-01 07:36:47

re your PS: What happened to Ann's brother, Edward and sister-in-law, Eleanor?

Edward & Eleanor moved to the Armidale/Glen Innes area and had at least 7 children, 4 of whom appear to have died without marrying. They are fairly easy to find on the NSW BDMs. Edward died in Glen Innes 1923, Eleanor in 1907.

best regards,


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