Joseph ONUS 1782-1835 Last Will and Testament
On Monday, 22 September 1834, Joseph ONUS wrote his last will and testament.
He evidently thought that it was time that he safeguarded the fruits of his years of endeavour for the lasting benefit of his children and grandchildren. In drawing up his will he appointed his son-in-law John EATON, and his eldest son, Joseph ONUS Jnr, as his
executors. In the introduction to his will, which was quite a lengthy document, Joseph stated that he was "in good health and sound of mind and understanding". The document was witnessed by John EATON, George PAWLING, Joseph ONUS Jnr and James GRIFFITTHS.
In the autumn of 1835, Ann and Joseph had their daughter Mary Ann back with them again for another lying-in. On 8 May she was delivered of another daughter who was named Mary Ann Elizabeth.
Five weeks later, on 17 June 1835, Joseph ONUS added a codicil to his will. Perhaps he took advantage of the presence of John EATON in town to add the codicil while both of his executors were able to be present to witness it. Perhaps his health had declined since he had drawn up his will in the previous year.
The codicil was witnesed by the same four persons who had witnessed the will itself.
On 22 June 1835, just five days after he had added the codicil to the will, Joseph ONUS died. Ann ONUS was a widow at the age of forty-two. Her three sons were still teenagers. Joseph had become a well-known identity in Richmond, and indeed, throughout the whole of the Hawkesbury district. It was a large crowd that gathered for the funeral when his mortal remains were interred in the burial ground that is now St Peter's Cemetery, and where the ONUS family vault still stands. Recorded as being fifty-four when he died, Joseph had failed to live long enough to enjoy the experience of seeing his sons reach adulthood, marry and have children of their own; an experience that is dear in the hearts of most fathers.
Transported across the seas to permanent exile from his native land for a part in the theft of stores to the paltry value of less than six pounds sterling, Joseph had died a farmer and pastoralist of prestige and honour, and had earned for himself a minor place in the pages of Australian history. Many of the landed gentry in England would have envied him the extent of his estates; the number of stock that he grazed upon them, and the size of his bank account.
It is obvious from the wording of his will, which Joseph appears to have written himself, that he was determined to be the progenitor of a dynasty of land-owners. Repeatedly in his will he stressed that the lands which he bequeathed were "not to be sold, exchanged, mortgaged or given away on any pretence whatsoever but shall fall from heir to heir and in default of any issue then to the next eldest brother's son and so on in the succession of heirship".
It would have been a sad occasion when the family gathered soon after the funeral to hear the contents of Joseph's will. The reading of it would have been rather tedious because of the spelling errors, inconsistent punctuation and some quaint modes of expression that he had used.
The codicil which he had added just prior to his death, covered the disposal of lands which he had apparently bought after he had made his will the previous year. At that time he had appointed another executor, his son-in-law William McALPIN. However, both John EATON and William McALPIN withdrew from their responsibilities, so Joseph ONUS Jnr was left as the sole executor. Because he was a minor, the court granted, on 28 September 1835, Ann ONUS widow of the deceased, administration of the estate during the minority of Joseph ONUS.
Under the terms of the will the following allocation of property and stock was made:-
To Ann ONUS, widow of the deceased:-
- the house and outbuildings in Francis Street, Richmond, and all the lands belonging thereto, namely farms known as LANGLEY's and GILE's, which Joseph had purchased;
- Andrew NORTH's allotment in the township. These were to be passed on to William ONUS upon the decease of Ann; or if she remarried she was to forfeit all right to them and they were to go to Joseph ONUS to hold until William turned 21.
- 560 acres of land in Howe's Valley known as Welsh's Farm which was a purchase from the Crown ;
- 50 of the best cows; 7 horses or mares; and a fourth of the remaining cattle.
Ann was to receive all rent and pay all debts on land allocated to the children until they turned 21. Presumably Ann received also the money in Joseph's bank accounts, although the will does not stress this specifically.
To Elizabeth TOWN, eldest daughter, aged 24:-
- 50 acres at Kurrajong (the grant made in 1821), to go to John TOWN Jnr when he turned 21; - 20 cows.
To Mary Ann EATON, second daughter, aged 22:-
- 300 acres (the northern part of the 1000 acres on the west bank of Cockfighter Creek or Wollombi Brook, that Joseph had been granted in 1825). Upon her death it was to be divided amongst her three eldest children not including the deceased one or any other deceased.
- 5 cows.
- husband John EATON received half the sheep.
To Susannah McALPIN, third daughter, aged 19:-
- 40 rods of land, being part of 4 acres in the main street (George Street), to go to her eldest surviving child when it turned 21;
- 20 cows.
To Joseph ONUS, eldest son, aged 17:-
-25 acres, part of Dight's Farm, currently held by Daniel EATON;
-45 acres known as Reeve's Farm, currently held by Jacob INNESS;
-3 allotments facing George BOWMAN's - "one where they are making bricks at present; one occupied by Henry CRICKETT and one occupied by Daniel EATON".
- 650 acres adjoining Festus TONG's purchase, "part of it is 100 acres grant from the Crown and THomas SPICER's and sold by auction";
- 500 acres in Howels Valley, known as Welsh's Station, adjoining Mrs ONUS's land;
- a third of the remaining horses and a fourth of the remaining cattle;
- 3 allotments (currently held by Daniel SWEET, Arthur ELLINGHAM and John CORNWELL) until William turned 21 when they were to go to him.
To Thomas ONUS, second son, aged 15:-
-190 acres at Wollombi Brook, 100 acres of which was George EATON's grant next to John EATON's and 90 acres of which were Thomas TAILBY's grant next to Thomas EATHER's farm;
- 300 acres "at the back of Thomas EATHER's land at Wollombi";
- 5 acres purchased from John WATTS adjoining Daniel SWEET's land and bounded by the Lagoon on one side and the Government Road on the other;
- 35 acre farm purchased from John WATTS, bounded on two sides by Government Roads; on one side by Mr WILSON and on one side by Mr SKUTHORPE;
- three and three-quarter acres ofthe 4 acres in the main street (George Street) of Richmond "which I purchased from Mr Edward POWELL;
a third of the remaining horses and a fourth of the remaining cattle.
To William ONUS, third son, aged 15:-
- 700 acres lying "around the big lagoon and bordered on one side by Mr WILLIAMS; on one side by the creek; on one side by Mary Ann EATON and on the other side by Government land" (the southern half of the 1000 acres on the western side of Cockfighter Creek at Bulga);
- 300 acres adjoining Thomas ONUS's 300 - "my last purchase on the Wollombi";
- 10 acres now held by Daniel SWEET lying by Kirby's Lagoon; 9 acres known as Kirby's Farm, now rented by Arthur ELLINGHAM; 25 acres known as part of Dight's Farm now let to John CORNWELL;
- a third of the remaining horses and a fourth of the remaining cattle;
- the gold watch, chain and keys, engraved with "my name, Mrs ONUS's name and William ONUS's name";
- the big iron boiler fixed to the brickwork behind the house;
- the house and land belonging thereto when his mother died, or if she remarried, when he turned 21.
The "remainder of the horses" were those left after Ann ONUS had had her pick of them, and the "remainder of the cattle" were those left after Ann had selected 50 and the three daughters had made their selections. The three ONUS sons, still in their teenage years, found themselves in the position in which they had no need to be concerned about their respective futures. All would, upon reaching their respective majorities, be able to establish themselves as well-to-do farmers with extensive acreages and adequate stock.
Mary Ann and John EATON found their position in life suddenly improved, with their farm increased from 100 to 400 acres and their flock of sheep greatly increased in size. Elizabeth and Susannah were able to add to the sizes of their respective husband's dairy herds. William McALPIN could give up his life as a smithy and turn to being a dairy farmer if he so desired. Elizabeth's husband was already established as a very successful dairy farmer in the Richmond
The will reveals that Joseph ONUS had at least one acquaintance in the district whom he had known in the days before he had been transported over thirty years previously. Jacob INNESS, who was leasing from him 45 acres in the Richmond district, hailed from his home town of Sheerness, and was one of the other three men tried and convicted with him in 1801 for stealing naval stores.
A History of THE EATHER FAMILY:
Thomas EATHER and Elizabeth LEE
by John St PIERRE
for the EATHER Family history committee.
Below is a map of ONUS's land holdings in Bulga, New South Wales