Echunga

John and Mary Amelia Godlee, John Guy

Godlee married Mary Amelia Guy. There is no record of her birth but it is likely that she was a daughter of Arthur and Charlotte Godlee of Southover, Lewes. In this case, John Guy,born in 1810, and Charlotte, born in 1819, would have been siblings.

Godlee had left Barton Hack's employ to work on his own account as a wheelwright in Echunga by April 1841, but Governor Grey did not arrive in the province until May 1841, so the following account of an encounter between John Godlee and John Guy and Alexander Tolmer, a sanctimonious ruffian (not to say an ingrate), published in the South Australian Register of 24 June 1887 must refer to some time towards the end of 1841. John Gloag had opened the Mount Barker Inn in January 1841.

Old colonists will remember that during Captain Grey’s tenure of office as Governor of this province (now Sir George Grey) he was very unpopular, and public meetings were held and memorials numerously signed, addressed to the Secretary of State, praying for his recall. The Register newspaper also teemed with vituperative leaders condemning his administration. Whilst this feeling was at its height I was cne day on a visit of police inspection at Mount Barker, after which duty I repaired to Gloag’s public-house and ordered dinner. The landlady, however, said she was very sorry, but there was nothing in the house she could then offer me; if, however, I could wait an hour or so, an excellent dinner had been ordered, and was being prepared for three gentlemen who had just left the employ of Mr. J. B. Hack at Echunga, who no doubt would have no objection to my joining them, especially as Messrs. Daws and Smith, with whom she knew I was acquainted, were of the party. I at once expressed my willingness to the arrangement, provided her proposal was agreeable to the gentlemen she mentioned. To this end she interviewed them, and quickly returned saying that they would be only too glad of my company. When the dinner was announced I entered the room, and my friends Daws and Smith introduced me to the three strangers whose liberality we were about to partake of. One of the three, however, I at once recognised as a person named Hide, who I have before mentioned came out as a steerage passenger in the vessel in which I arrived in the colony. The names of the other two were Godlee and Guy. We then took our seats, Daws being Chairman and Hide Vice-Chairman, and as the table was in the form of an oblong I sat at the corner near Hide, my vis-à-vis being Guy. On my left was Smith, and opposite to him Godlee. I am particular in describing our respective seats in order that the reader may have in his mind’s eye the scene which followed. After doing full justice to the dinner, which consisted of the choicest viands, with poultry, &c., and bottled beer and sherry in abundance, the cloth was removed, and the decanters having been refilled with port and sherry, and an ample supply of cigars placed on the table, the Chairman rose and proposed ‘The Healths of Her Majesty and Prince Albert,’ which was drunk with every mark of loyalty. The decanters were passed round pretty freely, and when just about to propose his Excellency’s health, I was stopped by Guy, saying ‘We’ll not drink the Governors health.’ Whereupon I immediately got up and said, ‘Gentlemen, please fill your glasses,’ which having been complied with, I said—‘I regret exceedingly the very imprudent expression of disloyalty which has just emanated from the gentleman opposite. Whatever errors (which I do not admit) His Excellency the Governor may have committed in the government of this colony that unfortunately have rendered him unpopular, it must, nevertheless, be borne in mind that he is the representative of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, and must be respected as such. Wearing, therefore, the uniform I do, and being the only Government officer present, I stand as His Excellency’s representative, and it is my duty to defend and support his dignity and high position, and any insult offered to him, therefore, I shall take as a personal one to myself. Gentlemen, I propose and ask you to join me in drinking the health of His Excellency Captain Grey, the Governor:’ but before I had half emptied my glass Hide said ‘We’ll see him — first.’ The insulting words were hardly out of his mouth when I seized him by the collar and neck cloth with one hand and by the breeches with the other, hurled him with all my strength across the table into Guy’s lap, thereby sweeping that end of the table of decanters and glasses. Guy (who was a tall fellow and had a long reach) than caught me by the cravat, but with a quick, well-directed blow between both eyes with my fist I made him loose his hold, after which a regular fight followed, Smith and Daws siding with me in the melee. It did not last five minutes, however, before we not only thrashed but kicked them out of the room and closed the door. We then reseated ourselves, and after a hearty laugh at the singular turn of affairs, rang the bell for more wine, and ordered the smashed decanters and glasses to be replaced.

There is no other record of John Guy and James Ide (Tolmer was obviously not familiar with the steerage passengers on the Branken Moor) working for Barton, though Ide was a creditor when Barton became insolvent in 1843.

Samuel Alexander

A member of a Quaker family. The grave of Bernard Barton Alexander in Walkerville Cemetery suggested the following article published in The Pioneer, the Journal of The Pioneers Association of South Australia Inc, No 223, Spring 2012.

Alexander graveAt the end of a visit to the Wesleyan Cemetery in Walkerville with members of the Pioneers’ Association, my eye was caught by an inscription:

Bernard Barton Alexander
Of Woodbridge England
Who died at the residence of his uncle
George Phillips

The names Bernard Barton, Alexander and George Phillips were all known to me, but never before in combination. There was an obvious connection; all were from Quaker families, members of the Society of Friends. The Quaker way of life guaranteed that there was no middle-class mercantile family which did not have some connection, through business and marriage, with almost all the others in the country. News of the settlement of South Australia would have been disseminated widely and rapidly within the community. Yet that does not explain why particular families chose to emigrate. The inscription promised to throw some light on this little mystery.

In February 1837, John Barton Hack, his family and brother, were the first Quakers to arrive in South Australia. Barton Hack was driven to emigrate by bad health and lured to South Australia by its speculative opportunities. Their letters written to family members back in England were widely publicised and are known to have influenced such Quaker families as the Mays of Mount Barker. Were the Alexanders and Phillips other examples of Barton Hack’s influence?

John Barton Hack was named after his uncle John Barton, a noted political economist who espoused emigration as a solution to the population growth in England. John Barton had a half-sister and brother: Maria, Barton Hack’s mother, and Bernard. Maria and Bernard were very different characters. Maria was progressive, almost radical, and succeeded in raising a large family at the same time as authoring a series of educational books for children. Bernard was an ‘old-fashioned’ Quaker and these views informed his writings. He was known in his time as the ‘Quaker poet’, though he is now regarded as a minor one and is better remembered for his daughter Lucy’s curious liaison with Edward FitzGerald, the translator of Omar Khayyam. Despite their philosophical differences, Bernard and Maria were close and corresponded frequently, and Bernard kept in touch with his nephews in South Australia.

Maria and her half-brother, John, had moved from London to Chichester, where the Hacks resided, but Bernard moved to Woodbridge in Suffolk, where he joined with his wife’s brother in business. This ended when his wife died giving birth to their one and only child. After a short spell in Liverpool, Bernard returned to Woodbridge and took a position in a branch of an Ipswich bank. This was Alexander & Co., a bank established, like so many others, by a well-to-do Quaker family. It was then in the hands of the brothers Richard Dykes and Henry Alexander and their older cousin, Samuel Alexander, Senior. On Samuel’s death in 1838, his wife, Rebecca née Biddle, became a partner in his stead, an unusual position for a woman in those days. Their son, John Biddle Alexander, was the banker at the Woodbridge branch before joining his mother at Ipswich. It was John Biddle who named his own son Bernard Barton Alexander after the branch’s famous employee.

John Biddle Alexander’s elder brother, Samuel Alexander, Junior, did not join the family business. In all likelihood acting on Barton Hack’s testimonials transmitted by Bernard, he and his new wife, Rebecca née Upson, (they were married in Ipswich on 17 October 1835) set sail in the Planter. After an incredibly protracted voyage they arrived at Port Adelaide on 16 May 1839 and immediately made contact with Barton. They brought a wooden house with them and erected it on half of town acre 705 in Pennington Terrace, paying Barton £200 for the land. Barton also took Samuel up to Mount Barker, trying to interest him in more land on his special survey at Echunga. But ‘he was devoid of enterprise’ according to Barton’s brother-in-law Henry Watson and had ‘lamented leaving England every day since he sailed’. He joined another Quaker relative of Barton, George Deane, in speculation in Van Diemen’s Land but it was not successful, and the beginning of 1840 saw the Alexanders living in Walkerville with a few cocks and hens.

A son, John Edward Alexander, was born in there on 11 November 1840. Samuel planned to move to Barton’s Little Para survey after the birth, but he had changed his plans in favour of the Echunga survey by the end of the year. He was still resident in Walkerville, in a property on the Torrens that he apparently called Burstall, but began farming both on his own account and in partnership with another of Barton’s brothers-in-law, Edward Odiarne Philcox, at Western Flat, near Mount Barker.

Eighteen months later he was declared insolvent, all his furniture was sold to pay his creditors and the family left the colony. Samuel was back in England by 1850 and remained there in straightened circumstances until he ended his days in an almshouse in Ipswich in 1892.

The final family of early colonists linked by the inscription is that of the Phillips. The link is provided again by John Biddle Alexander. His wife was Anna Sophia Phillips. She came from a Quaker family in Lambeth and had four brothers, Henry Weston, Joseph Edward, John Aldam and George. All four followed their brother-in-law, Samuel Alexander, to South Australia a year later. They arrived with a large quantity of merchandise in the Appoline on 12 October 1840. Henry and George went into partnership, taking over John Morphett’s mercantile business and leasing his premises in North Terrace. In February 1841 the brothers paid Barton Hack £4000 for his property on half of town acre 74 in Hindley Street. Here they operated as ironmongers until 1879, when they sold out to McLean Brothers, Rigg & Co. Joseph pursued his own chequered career in South Australia, but John had returned to England by 1851, when he called himself an ‘Australian merchant’, perhaps an agent for his brothers.

There is a final twist to the story. When Barton Hack and Samuel Alexander turned to farming at Echunga, they became indebted to their hardware supplier, HW Phillips of Hindley Street. Cash then became in short supply in the province and both failed to meet their bills. Phillips issued petitions against them, Alexander in July 1842 and Hack in March 1843, and drove both to insolvency. These were extreme cases of the Quaker abhorrence of lack of financial probity. What Henry’s reaction was to his own brother, Joseph Edward, becoming insolvent in 1850 can only be guessed.

Returning to Bernard Barton Alexander, the reason for his presence in South Australia is not known. He had been a manager of the family bank at Woodbridge in 1871. He died at the age of 29 on 4 April 1879 at the Melbourne Street residence of his uncle George Phillips. George had just retired from business and his family had no banking connections, so employment could not have been in his nephew’s mind. It is much more likely that it was the consumption from which he died that caused Bernard Barton Barton, like so many others, including Barton Hack, to seek better health in the South Australian climate. If so, his grave testifies that he was not amongst the lucky ones.