Cambridgeshire Emigrants

last updated: 19 December 2009

William and Louisa Free were not the only members of their extended family who emigrated from Cambridgeshire to the New World. Nor were they the only ones who went from Haslingfield. According to Colin Holt's No Sirs or Esquires: The Story of Assisted Emigration from Cambridgeshire to Port Phillip and Victoria, 1840-1867, at least thirty-two people from Haslingfield made the journey while some 2,300 left the county overall (with the majority of these coming from Cambridgeshire's smaller, rural villages and towns). The gold rush decade saw around 1,900 emigrate from Cambridgeshire to Victoria, around one in fifty of all those who arrived during that period.

At least four of William Free's relatives or near relatives and their families are known to be among Cambridgeshire's emigrants:
Mary Ann Free, Elizabeth Finkell, John Free, John Coxall and Benjamin Harper.


Mary Ann Hardman nee Claydon nee Free (1843-1913)

isaac and mary ann harmanMary Ann was William Free's youngest sister. Born at Haslingfield in 1843, we think she married Josiah Claydon in 1866 and had two children with him, William Claydon who served in the 3rd Dragoon Guards, and Alice Claydon. Josiah died in around 1871 and the widowed Mary Ann married Isaac Hardman in Cambridgeshire in 1874. Isaac was born at Barrington, the son of John and Mary Hardman, and worked as a goods porter and a caprolite miner.

One of their descendants in the United States, Dave Hogue, tells us that Isaac and Mary Ann and their children Ann, Samuel, Louisa and Eleanor, sailed from Liverpool in 1890 to Ottawa in Canada where they took up farming in Purple Valley in the province of Ontario. While there, their daughter Louisa married David Hogue (formerly Hogg), the son of a neighbouring farmer, at Lion's Head on 19 July 1898. The photo on the left of Isaac and Mary Ann was probably taken at around this time. The old couple and their family later moved to Albamarle and then Toronto in Ontario. Dave continues that in 1911 Isaac and his son-in-law David Hogue worked as cement contractors. 'I believe they got into the business because of Samuel Barnard Spragge [the husband of Isaac and Mary Ann's eldest daughter, Ann Hardman] who was a longtime cement finisher. Sam's family has a hill, Spragge's Hill, named after them outside of or part of Wiarton, Ontario.'

Mary Ann died at Toronto in Ontario on 25 November 1913, aged 70 years. According to Dave her 'funeral service was at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Wiarton, Ontario and she was buried at Colpoys cemetery which is on a hill above Colpoys Bay in Ontario'. Click here to see details of Isaac and Mary Ann's family and known descendants.

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Elizabeth Finkell (1807-55) and Family

Elizabeth was William Free's aunt on his mother's side. Together with her three daughters - Elizabeth, Ann and Sarah Ann - Elizabeth sailed from Southampton on the CONSTANT on 8 November 1854 and arrived at Portland in Victoria on 22 February 1855 (the CONSTANT went on to Port Phillip Bay where it sank during a storm two weeks later). Also on board were Ann and the younger Elizabeth's husbands Samuel Coxall (1834-1926) and Joseph Barnard (1832-1904), and Joseph and Elizabeth's young son Finkell Barnard (1852-1937). During the voyage out, both couples lost a new-born child from sickness: Agnes Coxall, who died of gastro-enteritis at the age of 8 days, and Constant Henry Barnard (aged two months) who died towards the end of the voyage.

Samuel and Ann CoxallElizabeth senior died and was buried in Melbourne not long after the families arrived there. Following her mother's death, Sarah went to live with her older sister Elizabeth Barnard and her husband. Although the record is a little unclear, it seems that Sarah may have married Joseph some time between 1863 and 1866 for the index of Victoria's BDMs shows he had a further son, William Henry Barnard (1863-1892), by Elizabeth and then three by Sarah: Joseph Walter Barnard (1866-1930), Ernest Edward Barnard (1871-1896) and Edward Albert Barnard (1872-). Sarah Ann Barnard (nee Finkell) died in Hawthorn in 1880, aged 36 years. Joseph Barnard died at Hawthorn in 1904 and, according to Rose Parkin, is buried in the Boroondara cemetery next to his second wife Sarah Ann. He was 72 years old. I've not yet found when and where and of what his first wife Elizabeth died.

Finkell Barnard married Sussanah Foxley in Melbourne in around 1875. Rose Parkin tells us that Susannah was born in Thornborough in Buckinghamshire in England in 1855. The following year she emigrated with her parents, Joseph and Susannah Foxley, to Australia on the WHITE STAR. Finkell and Susannah had twelve children. He died in Kew in Melbourne in 1837. She died in Balwyn two years later. Click here to see Elizabeth Finkell's known Australian descendants. Details of Finkell and Susannah's family can also be found in Race Neil's Rootsweb site the 'Race Family Tree'.

Samuel and Ann Coxall (pictured on the left) lived initially at Gardener's Creek near Melbourne where they grew vegetables to sell at Paddy's Market. They later moved to Buninyong (near Ballarat) to work for Francis Moss at 'Mossmont Gardens'. According to Jessica Rielley, Samuel purchased three acres of land from Moss and after that 'a 13-acre dairy farm with a herd and a homestead for 400. The homestead is still standing on the northwest corner of Somerville and Winter Streets. Samuel retired to Melbourne in his early 60s and his three sons, Thomas, Arthur and Samuel Jnr, worked the land.' Ann and Samuel died in Kew in 1913 and 1926 respectively. Some of their descendents continue to live at Buninyong.

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John Free (1796-1890) and Elizabeth Miller (1707-1869) and family

John FreeWilliam Free's uncle John Free (pictured on the right outside his house in Ballarat) married Elizabeth Miller (1797-1869) in Arrington in Cambridgeshire in 1823. According to Robert O'Loughlin, the couple emigrated to Australia on the ST GEORGE with four of their sons: Alfred (22), James (18), John (15) and Charles (12). The 800-ton sailing ship commanded by Captain Davison ran aground at Port Nepean just inside the heads of Port Phillip. The Frees and the other passengers all managed to get ashore safely. Shipping records show that John's eldest son, William George Free (27), also emigrated to Australia with his wife Elizabeth (22) and sister Harriet (24). They came on the MARION MOORE which sailed from Liverpool on 15 November 1852 and arrived at Melbourne on 15 February 1853. William and Eliza were said by the ship's log to be travelling 'on their own account' whereas Harriet had 'gone with parents'.

John senior and Elizabeth and their younger children went to the Ballarat goldfields where their son Alfred died in 1854. Their eldest son, William George Free (1824-1901), had married Eliza Morley at Brighton in Sussex in 1852 probably en route to Australia. It is possible that Eliza came from Barrington in Cambridgeshire where a number of Morleys lived. The couple lived at Upper Hawthorn where their only child, Henry George Free was born on 13 September 1854. Leigh Mills says the electoral rolls show that William George and his brother John Free (1836-1924) were living at Camberwell in 1856 where they worked as carters. George, as he was known, died of senile decay and heart failure in Hawthorn in 1901, aged 76 years. His death certificate indicates he was a gentleman and had been 48 years in the colony. John Free jnr married Rachel Hill (1839-1918) at Ballarat in 1857. They had nine children and at some 35 grandchildren. Harriet Free (1826-1901) married Frederick Dickens in Richmond and had seven children there. Charles Free is believed to have gone to New Zealand.

Click here to see John and Elizabeth's known descendants in Australia.

John Free's descendants

Some of John Free's descendants in around 1916

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John Coxall (1827-1897) and Rebecca Cann (1831-1923) and family

John Coxall was William Free's cousin as well as the brother-in-law of William's sisters Harriet and Ann Coxall (nee Free). He was born in Haslingfield and married Rebecca Cann there in 1850. Rebecca was born at Barton in Cambridgeshire in 1831 and before her marriage worked as a dressmaker. According to one of their descendants, Pat Oldis, John and Rebecca and their infant son Ezekial Coxall (1853-1897) emigrated to Adelaide in South Australia on the WILLIAM HAMMOND, arriving there in January 1854. Some four years later they moved to Creswick in Victoria where they lived for much of their lives. John Coxall died in Creswick in 1897. His wife Rebecca died in Prahan in Melbourne in 1923. Although John's death certificate states that he and Rebecca had twelve children, Pat thinks the family may have numbered thirteen. Their first son, William or Ezekial William, is thought to have died in England before they emigrated. Their known Australian-born children were Agnes, Julia, Catherine, James, Walter, Ada, Selina, Arthur, Florence and Herbert.

Another descendant, Tony McGurk, tells us that John and Rebecca's son James, pictured below, married Hannah Mary Bryant, the daughter of William Bryant and Mary Johnston at Launceston in Tasmania in 1884. They had three boys - William, Cyril and James, who were all born at Daylesford in Victoria - and one girl, Dorothy Eileen, also pictured below, who was born at Ringarooma in Tasmania in 1903. James and Hannah's second son Cyril Clarence Coxall, a 28 year-old labourer from South Queenstown in Tasmania, enlisted in the First AIF on 27 March 1916 and sailed from Hobart on the A35 Berrima on 1 July the same year. He was posted to the 40th Battalion and was killed in action at Messines on 7 June 1917. As with many others, his body was never recovered. He is memorialised on the Menin Gate at Ypres in Belgium (Panel 7-17-23-25-27-29-31). Their daughter Dorothy Eileen Coxall (1903-86) married John Roy Byrne and had three children: Russell, Vonda and June Byrne.

james coxall dorothy coxall

Provided by one of their descendants, Tony McGurk,
these photos are of James Coxall and his daughter Dorothy.

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Benjamin Harper (1807-61) and Lydia Negus (1809-82)

John Coxall's uncle on his mother's side, Benjamin Harper and his family from Melbourn in Cambridgeshire emigrated from England on the SHAND, arriving at Portland in Victoria on 20 January 1855. Benjamin had married Lydia Negus in Melbourn in 1830. When they left for Australia Benjamin was 47 and worked as an agricultural labourer. His wife Lydia was 43. With them were their children James (17), Joseph (16), Lydia (14), Ellis (10) and David (7). The younger Lydia had been engaged to work as a domestic servant at Tower Hill. The rest were destined for Belfast in Victoria. Also on the ship were the couple's eldest son Thomas Harper (a 21 year-old agricultural labourer) and his 19 year-old wife Mary Ann Adams who were also on their way to Warrnambool.

Descendants of the Harper family settled around Byaduk, Wangoom and Warrnambool (family members are detailed in Lawrence Burns' Rootsweb site, the 'Burns Family Tree'). The photo below of Byaduk's pioneers, taken during a Byaduk & District Pioneer's Day organised by the local Methodist Church in 1907, is said to include Thomas Harper (ninth from the left in the rear row) and his wife Mary Ann (third from the right in the third row). The photo is contained on Daryl Povey's Byaduk Pioneers webpage. On it Povey notes that Thomas and Mary Ann had 13 children from 1854 to 1876, all born near Warrnambool or Byaduk. The photo also includes two members of the Patman family who were said to be from Cambridgeshire in England.

byaduk pioneerss

Byaduk pioneers, 1907


According to Colin Holt, among the other Cambridgeshire families that emigrated to Australia during the gold rush era were a family of Harpers from Orwell: John, his wife Emma and children Maria and John. These were destined for Timboon and left on the BEE on 18 April 1857.


William Free's second wife, Eliza Flavell (1840-1925) was also a Cambridgeshire emigrant. Born in Landbeach in November 1840, Eliza and her family spent time in the Chesterton Union House before emigrating to Victoria from Plymouth on 9 July 1855. Click here to read more about Eliza's English ancestors. They sailed on the THAMES and landed at Geelong on 11 October the same year. The shipping list shows that on board the THAMES were Eliza's parents William and Maria Flavell and siblings Phoebe (12), Martha (10), William (8), John (3) and Harriet (1). William and Maria's destination was the River Leigh where they were to work for a J. Fleming for one pound plus rations. Eliza was going to Burnt Ridge where she was contracted to work for a T. Webb for 3 months from 19 October 1855. The shipping list also indicated that William, Maria and Eliza could read while the others had no education. All were Wesleyans.

William worked as a labourer on the Swanston's station at Inverleigh. Originally known as the Weatherboard, the station's lease was taken up by Charles Swanston's Derwent company in 1837. It was leased to the Mercer brothers from 1843 until September 1854 when it was sold to a William Harding who divided it into a Number 1 and Number 2 properties. These were taken over in May 1855 by Swanston's son, Charles L. Swanston, who transferred his interests in the Number 2 property to a William Berthon. The Number 1 property became known as 'Englewood'. At about the time of William and Maria's arrival, the station homestead was built. Living conditions for most of the other settlers and workers, however, remained very primitive with most living in either bark huts or tents. William Flavell died of typhoid fever at Inverleigh on 28 July 1863, aged 58 years. Maria remained in the district until 1879 when she went to live with one of her sons at Wickliffe in central Victoria. In 1897 she moved to Watchem to live with her daughter Eliza Bruce (formally Free). She died at Watchem on 27 November 1907, aged 91 years.

Not long after she completed her contract at Burnt Ridge, Eliza Flavell married William Free in Winchelsea on 26 May 1856. Click here to read about their life and times in Victoria.


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Frees in England Cambridgeshire BDMs
Free family Rootsweb site Free family photographs
William Free in Australia Eliza Flavell and her
English ancestors

last updated: 19 December 2009

Image sources:
Isaac and Mary Ann Hardman (nee Claydon nee Free), courtesy of Dave Hogue
Samuel and Ann Coxall (nee Finkell), courtesy of Jessica Rielley
John Free at Ballarat and John Free's descendants, courtesy of Leigh Mills
James and Dorothy Coxall, courtesy of Tony McGurk

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