George Fisher
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Sarah Weaver
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William Fisher
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Sarah White

William Fisher

  • Marriage: Sarah White Holy Trinity, Bradford On Avon
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The Fisher Story During 1841 in England, there surely must have been some excitement tinged with apprehension amongst two particular Fisher families. William, an agricultural labourer(?), and his brother, George, were preparing to take their families to the new Swan River Colony in Western Australia. Assisted passage was available from the government, and encouragement was given to tradesmen and agricultural labourers and their families, to apply for this assistance. William did not have a trade, but worked as an agricultural labourer (?). Although William was 35 and his brother, George three years younger, they were successful in gaining the vital passage assistance. In due course, William set up as a tradesman in Middle Swan. Where he obtained training is not known. Labourers and tradesmen were chronically lacking in the Swan River Colony, as it resisted until 1850, a solution afforded by the acceptance of convicts. A word or two about the Swan River Colony will demonstrate the environment entered by these families. In the 1820s, Captain Stirling of the RN explored some short distance up the Swan River, noting the lush growth and pleasant climate. He was convinced that this was a suitable place for a crown colony, thus ensuring Britain's sovereignty over the whole continent. His report received a cool reception from the British Government of the day, and indeed, Stirling's enthusiasm was based on this one minor excursion during mild weather. Nevertheless, settlement did go ahead, but the emphasis was on self-support rather than further government assistance. The first ship to bring settlers to the shores was the Parmelia, which reached the coast in June 1829 with 69 passengers. Emigrants built rough shelters on the beach and shoreline near Fremantle. The virgin Australian bush with its strange animals and silent groups of natives, were the only witnesses to their arrival. The ensuing year saw another 26 ships land about 1600 emigrants on these shores, many of whom left almost immediately for South Australia, New South Wales or Van Dieman's Land. A significant number returned to the United Kingdom, unable to face the hardships of a pioneering life in a new colony. A notorious settler was Thomas Peel, cousin of the British Home Secretary Robert Peel (who later became Prime Minister of Britain). His scheme for settling 400 labourers and farm workers failed miserably, and brought many ordinary workers great hardship from hunger, illness and exposure. They were no better off, and perhaps worse off, than they had been in the miserable conditions they had left behind in Britain. The first years saw a chronic shortage of food, and hunger and it's related diseases became a real threat to the colony. People died of scurvy, and TB was widespread. Many emigrants who left home in a poor state of health, readily contracted TB on the long journey in cramped and dirty quarters on board the emigrant ships. The earliest settlers, who died in terrible circumstances, were hurriedly buried, and their graves have been lost forever. One of these was our Rebecca Martin (See the Martin story). One poor woman is recorded as giving birth on the beach and dying there in childbirth. By the time our Fisher families emigrated, the population of Western Australia was about 5000, and the basics of a town were well established. Settlement had occurred around the Perth area as far as Guildford, and the Avon Valley, and was spreading to the Toodyay area. Settlements were also established south to Australind, Vasse and Leschenault. Albany in the south, had been settled before the Swan River colony, and indeed, the residents of Albany believed strongly that their town should be the principle town rather than Perth. Now, back to our Fisher families: The families were to sail in the ship "Success" of the same name as the naval ship which bore Captain Stirling on his first exploratory trip. William Fisher, his wife Elizabeth and 6 children joined the family of George Fisher, his wife Sarah and their four children on board; they faced many weeks of hardship before arriving in the young Swan River settlement. The emigrant ship "SUCCESS" left London, England on 27 November 1842 and arrived in the Swan River Colony on 22 March 1843. She weighed 621 tons and her master was Sampson KEEN. The voyage took 115 days and no ports were visited along the way. A total of 67 male and 64 female passengers were landed in the Swan River Colony on arrival. There were 8 deaths on the voyage (1 male, 2 females, 2 juvenile males and 3 juvenile females). There were also 4 births on the voyage (3 males and 1 female). Later the "SUCCESS" was driven ashore off Fremantle, Western Australia on 11 April, 1843. She was successfully refloated but did run aground again, that time off Western Australia's northern coast in 1844. One can imagine that the ten cousins would be quite a responsibility. Attempting to keep them clean, disease free and reasonably fed, as well as avoiding accidents would have been a full time occupation for the two mothers on the long journey south. With much relief, the ship docked at Fremantle on 22 March 1842. The weather would have been idyllic, and certainly, arrangements for receiving the immigrants would have been far superior to those of 13 years before when the first settlers arrived to open camping on storm torn beaches. The families were housed in the immigration depot, and within 35 days, H Sutherland employed William as an agricultural labourer (?). The older children of the family also quickly found work; Samuel at 16, was employed by C. Hind and Ann, aged 14 was employed as a maid by a Mrs. Lawrence. The other children, James 11, Mary 10, and Elizabeth 8, Eliza 6, and William 1, remained with their parents. Also travelling on the ship Success with the Fisher families, were two brothers, James and George Baker. James was the elder at 19 and George was 17. Before the first year was out, James had died of TB. This left the teenager George to cope on his own. He enters our story a little later. After 18 months in their new homeland, Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Hester in September 1844, and to complete their family, the 39 year old Elizabeth produced another daughter, Alicia in 1847, just at the time William was branching out on his own as a shoemaker in Middle Swan. At a date unknown, probably the early 1850s, William & Elizabeth did what many emigrants had done before them. They left Western Australia and re-settled in South Australia. They must have received information from their eldest son, Samuel, about the excellent farming development in the Mt. Pleasant district, east of Adelaide. Small but busy towns were springing up in the 1840s in this very beautiful area, and no doubt, the milder climate of the Lofty Ranges would have been more attractive to the Fisher family after the prolonged heat of summers in the West. William set up as a shoemaker in the little town of Mt. Pleasant and nothing more is known of his or Elizabeth's life until William's death in 1878 at the age of 75, in Mt. Pleasant. Elizabeth's death time and place as yet unknown. Now, a little about the children of William and Elizabeth Fisher: SAMUEL FISHER: Samuel, the eldest son, married Esther Minchin in Middle Swan, Western Australia in May 1849. Samuel worked in the area as a labourer. The newly weds moved to South Australia in 1850, where they started their large family of two sons and seven or eight daughters. In 1854, Samuel and Esther moved to Mt Pleasant in South Australia. In the published history of Mt. Pleasant, Samuel is listed as farmer and mason. Tragedy befell the family on more than one occasion. Mary their eldest daughter died of typhoid fever in 1867, Emma, another daughter, died of emphysema in 1887, and the un-married son Alfred, died aged 34 in 1888. Of three other daughters, it is known that Elizabeth married Alexander Loveday, a blacksmith, engineer and veterinary expert in Mt. Pleasant; Lucy married a Mr. Verrall in Mt. Pleasant, and Eliza married Thomas Tapscott, also in the Mt. Pleasant area. Nothing is known about the other children of Samuel and Esther Fisher. Samuel Fisher remained in the Mt. Pleasant area and died there in October 1899 as a result of an influenza epidemic. He was 74 years old. His home, "Holmside" still stands on McGorman's Road between Mt. Pleasant and Tungkillo. Esther his wife died in September 1900, aged 73. Both were buried at Mt. Pleasant. (See note at end of document). MARY FISHER: (my gr-grandmother) Mary married Robert Martin at the Middle Swan Church of England on 22 September 1853, when she was 20 and Robert was 30. Robert must have been working on "Herne Hill", the property of WL Brockman, as that is where Robert and Mary recorded the birth of their first two children, Anne Elizabeth Rebecca in 1854 and Emily Mary Eliza in 1855. The next thing known of this family is their appearance in Mt. Pleasant, South Australia. As noted above, Mary's brother Samuel, and her parents had settled in Mt. Pleasant. The births of the next three children of Mary and Robert are recorded in Talunga which is in the Mt. Pleasant district: William Samuel was born in 1859, Amy Ellen, in 1863 and George Robert in 1865. On each birth certificate, Robert Martin is stated to be a labourer of Mt. Pleasant. Mary, Robert and the children must have moved to Adelaide at some time after 1865, as tragedy struck the family in Adelaide in 1869. Robert was working as a labourer for his brother in law, George Murray, when on Christmas Eve of 1869, as he was taking soil from the banks of the Torrens River, the bank collapsed, and buried him alive. Attempts to dig him out failed, and Mary was widowed when the youngest of the 5 children was 4 years old. It is thought from the press comments that Mary was probably expecting another child at the time. No live birth has been recorded. A public subscription was mounted as Mary was left with no means of support. Her difficulties must have been considerable for the next few years. Perhaps her family helped, as George Murray (husband of Marys sister, Eliza), of New Glenelg, was succeeding and had progressed from bricklayer to builder in a growing colony. Stephen HELPS came to Adelaide from Wiltshire when he was 21. He arrived in 1849 per Duke of Wellington. He was variously a carpenter and policeman, and settled in North Salisbury, South Australia. Stephen's parents, John D and Elizabeth Helps followed their son to South Australia, and arrived per "Caucasian " in 1853, bringing their younger children with them. John established himself as a farmer in Peachy Belt, Gawler Plains. Other Helps family members arrived in South Australia from Wiltshire per Lord of the Isles in 1854, and settled in the Redbanks area. The Helps family members were Baptist dissenters, and either were, or became, members of the Strict Baptist faith. At an unknown date, Stephen married someone named Martha, who died in December 1871. The children from this marriage are unknown. In October of 1875, Stephen married the widowed Mary Martin, nee FISHER. Stephen was 48 and Mary 42 at that time. Mary, it seems, embraced the Strict Baptist faith from this time. The marriage took place in the home of the bridegroom in Salisbury North, with Richard Hogben officiating. The marriage was witnessed by Mary's sister and brother-in-law, Eliza and George Murray. At the time of this marriage, Mary's younger children from her marriage to Robert Martin were 15-year-old William Samuel, 12 year old Amy Ellen, and 10 year old George Robert. Her eldest daughter, Ann Elizabeth Rebecca had already married William Graves a year before in 1874. Poor Ann Elizabeth Rebecca died in the fourth year of her marriage, leaving one daughter, Eve Amy Graves. The second eldest of Marys children, Emily Mary Eliza, was 20 at the time her mother re-married. She married William Henry Whiting in? Mary and her second husband had two children when Mary was well into her 40s. These two have not been identified yet. It seems that they probably died in infancy. 1887 was an eventful year with the marriage of Mary's youngest daughter, Amy Ellen,( my grandmother), to Robert Underdown, farmer of Salisbury, and sadly the death of her second husband, Stephen Helps. Mary was left a widow once more. Her family was now grown up, and the youngest, George Robert, was to leave soon to live in Sydney, where he worked as a librarian; in 1888, her son William Samuel married Amy Clark at the Strict Baptist Church in Salisbury. In 1996 at the time of writing this, the former Salisbury Strict Baptist Church building is a restaurant and function centre! Nothing is known of Mary's whereabouts or activities during the next 5 years, but we do know that in October of 1892, when she was 59, she married once more. This time to 60 year old widower, Thomas Witts, a minister of the Strict Baptist Church. The marriage took place in the Primitive Methodist Manse in North Adelaide with John Day Thompson officiating. The witnesses to this event were Mary's daughter, Amy Ellen Underdown, and Jeremiah Helps, the brother of her late second husband, Stephen Helps. At the time of writing this in 1996, the former Primitive Methodist Church on the corner of Tynte and Wellington Streets in Adelaide is a Channel 9 studio! How times change. The date is not known, but at some time after their marriage, Thomas and Mary went to Victoria where it is supposed that Thomas took up a post ministering to a flock of Particular Baptists. They lived 10 Victoria Road Hawthorn. Mary contracted influenza during an epidemic, in the Winter of 1904 when she was 72, and died on 17 July, within a week of becoming ill. She was buried at Booroondara Cemetery in Kew, Victoria. Thomas Witts followed her to the grave in 1910. Now on to the other children of the emigrants, William and Elizabeth FISHER: ANN FISHER: 18-year-old Ann Fisher married her shipmate George Baker (see above reference), in Western Australia in April 1847. George was working as a labourer in Upper Swan at this time. It is thought that by 1850, he and Ann had left for South Australia, where they settled. The family of this couple has not been found to date. JAMES FISHER: James, the second son of Elizabeth and William, married Emma Birge (Binge?) in Middle Swan on 11 March 1852. They had a daughter, Alicia, born in Middle Swan, but by 1854, they had settled in Melbourne, and lived in Brunswick at least until 1875. They had 8 more children in Melbourne: Emily Elizabeth b 1852; Sarah Anne b 1856; Alicia b 1859; William b 1861; Charles b 1863; James b 1866 -; John Thomas b 1868; Lily b 1874. The first Alicia must have died, but the second Alicia (Elicia?) married a Job Holder, and most of their children were born in Pentridge. Pentridge may have been the name of the district in the vicinity of the Coburg Gaol or maybe Mr. Holder lived on the gaol premises as part of his work requirement. ELIZABETH FISHER: Elizabeth, at 17, married James Minchin in 1851 in Western Australia. James, a carpenter, was the brother of Hester Minchin, who had married Elizabeth's brother, Samuel. Knowledge of this family is slight: Edward William Minchin born in 1852; James Henry born 1854 and died 1855; James Walter born 1856. James and his family went to Victoria some time in the 1850s, where James worked as a wheelwright. ELIZA FISHER: Certainly the next child of William and Elizabeth, namely Eliza, married in South Australia in 1859. Her husband was George Murray, a bricklayer, and later, builder of Glenelg. They had a family of 11 children, the youngest of whom was Elsie Eliza Whittle Murray. There must have been some to-ing and fro-ing between SA and WA, as one son of Eliza and George is known to have married in WA in 1897. WILLIAM FISHER: William, who was probably born to William and Elizabeth on the immigrant ship, "Success " in 1842, was killed when thrown from a horse on "Ham Farm" at Mt. Pleasant in 1868 when he was 26; at this stage, it is not known whether he was married or not. Nothing is known about the lives of Alicia Ellen and Hester, the two youngest children of William and Elizabeth Fisher other than the marriage of. It is presumed that they married in South Australia. There is an AE Fisher in the SA marriage index at an appropriate date. There are also more than one Esther/Hester Fisher in the index. vi References: "The Quiet Waters By. The Mount Pleasant District 1843-1993" by R Butler, 1993. Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885 Certified copies of various relevant birth, death and marriage certificates Dictionary of Western Australians: Early Settlers, 1829-1850. P Statham. UWA 1979 Dictionary of Western Australians: Vol 3 Free - 1850-1868. R Erickson. UWA 1979 VicGold website of early Victorian settlers Victorian Pioneers Index Booroondara Cemetery records Press cuttings from Adelaide Advertiser of 24 December 1869 Personal contact with Les Fisher, in Mt. Pleasant re location of Fisher graves as follows: YEERA-MUK-A-DOO A saga of the north west of Australia. An authentic history of the settlement of the region seen through the eyes of the Withnell and Hancock families (1861-1890). by Nancy E. (Withnell) Taylor ( ISBN: 0 85905 097 1 ) Hesperian Press. http://carmen.murdoch.edu.au/community/dps/books/indx0015.htm Fisher, Eliza 163, 164, 197, 199, 200 Fisher, Fanny Louisa 130, 136, 160, 166-167, 197, 198 Fisher, George 110, 136, 158, 197 Fisher, James 110, 197, 198, 199 The graves of Samuel and Esther (nee Minchin) Fisher have been located by a resident of Mt. Pleasant, Mr. Les Fisher. It transpires that Led is no relation to our Fishers, but he kindly located the following graves in a private cemetery in the Mt. Pleasant area. This private cemetery is almost completely overgrown. Les says an outsider would never find it. It is 2Kms from where Les lives and farms. Alas, the cemetery will most likely disappear within the next 50 years, leaving no trace. He found the following gravestones: Samuel Fisher died 14 October 1899; he is the eldest brother of Mary Martin nee Fisher. Esther Fisher (nee Minchin), wife of Samuel died 11 September 1900; Alfred Samuel Fisher, son of Samuel & Esther, died 12 October 1888. I do wonder if William & Elizabeth Fisher, the original emigrants, are also buried there in this decaying cemetery perhaps without headstones.( Later: William's death has been found for this area). Rev. Woulfe suggest two possible origins of the surname FISHER, when found in Ireland - both involve 'translations' - Mac an IASCAIRE (M'Inesker)
son of the fisherman ' (from Scotland) - and O'BRADÁIN (O'Bradane) - by translation, SALMON suggesting FISHER Maxine Cadzow

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William married Sarah White, daughter of William White and Sarah Weaver, in Holy Trinity, Bradford On Avon.

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