On this web site, you will find information on, stories about and photos of those of my forebears (and their descendants) who first came to Australia, either alone or with their families. Most of these first arrivals came as assisted emigrants although two, Samuel Hickmott and John Cheeseman, were transported to Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales respectively.

elsie hickmottlaurie cheesemanThe first arrivals on my father, Laurie Cheeseman's side were: Benjamin Cheeseman and Clara Jane Cheeseman (nee Bass) from Kent in England, John Saunders Wright and Sarah Wright (nee Bodger) from Huntingdonshire, Thomas John Kersley from Hampshire, Bridget Buckley from County Cork in Ireland, and Alexander and Catherine Laurence (place of origin unknown but probably Ireland). To see Laurie's known forebears, click here.

The first arrivals on the side of my mother, Elsie Cheeseman nee Hickmott (pictured on the left), were Samuel Hickmott, Henry Hickmott and Sophia Hickmott (nee Goldsmith) all from Kent, William Free and Eliza Flavell from Cambridgeshire, Elizabeth Ann Owen from Wales, John Shepherd from Devonshire, and Johanna Mulchay from County Galway in Ireland. My mother's known forebears are shown here.

All arrived in Australia in the 1840s or 1850s. Some were forced by economic necessity to move from their loved ones and familiar surroundings and try their luck on the other side of the world. Some were lured by the stories of the gold rushes and the prospect of making their fortunes. All came from the labouring classes and, as such, had to work hard to support themselves and their families. It is likely that none had any real idea of what lay ahead of them, or of the hardships and heartaches they would have to endure. While none made a fortune, all remained in Australia and became part of the pioneering families of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

To find out more about each 'first family', just click on the links listed below:

Or click here to see a full listing of the web pages contained on this site, and here to see some of the newly received photographs.

You can also use the box below to search the site for names, places or any other information.

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As you will see, the website and the information it contains are 'works-in-progress'. If you see anything that is wrong or missing, can identify any of the unknown photographs, have any extra information, stories or photos you would like to see added, or would like, simply, to say hello, please send me an e-mail at

Other websites containing information about one or more of our 'first families' are shown at Useful Links.

Listings of births, deaths and marriages, compiled for some of these and related families from various parish registers in the United Kingdom, are shown here.

In September 2011 the 'First Families' website was included by the Australian National Library on its Pandora web archive. This comprises a growing collection of Australia's online publications and involves such other collection partners as the Australian War Memorial, National Film and Sound Archive and the various State Libraries. The webside was re-archived in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. It will continue to be annually updated ensuring that the people, photos and stories described therein remain available for public viewing well into the future.

kate middleton bri and sunny

What do these two women have in common? Answer: they are both the 4xgreat granddaughters of
John and Rebecca Goldsmith of Maidstone in Kent. Click here for more details.

Recent additions and updates

March-April 2017

As part of our sweep through the Australian Hickmotts, we have been reviewing and updating the families and descendants of the daughters of Henry Hickmott and Sophia Goldsmith. To date we have reviewed the material on Rebecca Smith (1851-1914) - adding in the process a new page of Smith Family photographs - and Eliza Osborne (1848-1912). Note the information on the descendants of Eliza's daughter Louisa Sophia Bassett nee Osborne was further updated on 15 November 2017 using information and photographs provided by Louisa's great grandson, Mike Bassett.

Information and photos obtained from the Wills Family Tree on Ancestry have been used to update our web page on Richard Alfred and Alice Amy Wills nee Cheeseman (1880-1917) and their children. It includes a new page of Wills and related photographs. Additional information supplied by Jenny Tapungao has also enabled us to update what we know about some of Alice's siblings including, to date, Sarah Jane Haggis, Ralph Edward Cheeseman, Ellen Frances Blackie and Ada May Allan (including photos of her eldest son Jack Allan (1908-84) and his wife Mona).

February 2017

Using as our basic source the late Win Noblet's books, The Hickmott Story 1825-1981 (Cambridge Press, Bendigo 1981) and The Hickmott Story continued (Digital Print Australia, Adelaide 2014), we have put together an overview of the family and descendants of William Henry Hickmott (1887-1976) and Frances Alice Free (1891-1979). Given the sheer size of this line of the Hickmott family, the overview is less a detailed family tree and more a compilation of snippets of information, selected memories and anecdotes and accompanying photographs.

January 2017

Photographs provided by Jenny Tapungao, a descendent of Rosina Olive ('Rose') Tulloch nee Cheeseman (1891-1969) has enabled us to update the relevant section of the Alfred John Cheeseman (1849-1922) and family webpage as well as include a new page of photographs of Rose and her family and relatives. The photographs included one of Herbert Benjamin Cheeseman which has been included in an update of his family and descendants.

Nov 2016 - Jan 2017

Using information provided some time ago by Norman Carter plus Ancestry, Trove and other sources, we have begun to update the Western Australian Hickmotts webpages. To date we have covered John James Hickmott and his family as well as the families and descendants of five daughters of Henry Edward Hickmott: Sophia Elizabeth, Alice Ann, Ruby Minnie, Ella Adeline and Rebecca Elsie Hickmott. The additional material here includes a new page of Hickmott and related photos.

We have also written a review of the ten years the girls's father, Henry Edward Hickmott, spent as a Western Australian MLA. A final draft of the review can be viewed as a pdf file here. It would be fair to say we have been more pleased and impressed than disappointed by Henry's experience. While neither suitable for, nor aspiring to, party leadership or ministerial roles, he proved to be a conscientious, hard-working and generally well-liked and respected local member. An inaugural member of the Western Australian Country Party, Henry also entered Parliament in interesting times. His experience, and those of his Parliamentary colleagues, provide important resonances to politics in Australia today and so are worth considering from a broader political as well as a family history perspective.

February 2016

Extracts from Laurie Cheeseman's memoirs

Over the last few years of his life, my father wrote about his experiences before, during and after the Second World War (in which he served with the 2/2nd Field Ambulance). He had got to around 1969 when he died in his sleep at Dandenong in 1982. After his death, my mother compiled and edited his hand-written notes and had them printed. The 40-page mimeograph was passed on to me some years ago together with Laurie's collection of photographs which he had also been dating and annotating.

These two sources inform the extracts of Laurie Cheeseman's memoirs that you can view here. Although they are about a particular person, they also provide a fascinating snapshot of the lives, times and spirit of our parents' generation. The complete memoir will eventually be made available as a pdf file.

I have also begun supplementing Laurie's account of his early life with extracts taken from his sister Winnie's memoirs beginning with her more detailed account of the family's time at Skipton.

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