Henry Edward Hickmott (1853-1931) and
Elizabeth Ann Owen (1855-1923)

(last updated: 7 April 2011)

Henry Edward Hickmott was the only son of Henry Hickmott and Sophia Goldsmith. He was born at Mount Barker in South Australia on 17 May 1853. When he was three years old, he moved with his father and stepmother to Clunes in Victoria where he lived for a few years before going with them to the Wimmera township of Charlton. On 24 April 1877 Henry Edward married, at Kingower near Bendigo, Elizabeth Ann Owen, the sister of his good friend and cricketing colleague, John Richard Owen. After their marriage the couple lived at Charlton where Henry continued to work as a farmer, brick maker and road contractor (see below).

The Owen Family

elizabeth owenElizabeth Ann Hickmott nee Owen (pictured on the left) was born at Emerald Hill in Melbourne on 15 July 1855. She was the only daughter of Edward Owen, a miner, and Elizabeth Evans. Elizabeth Owen nee Evans' death certificate states that she was born at Llanidloes near Aberystwith in the Montgomeryshire of central Wales and was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Ann Evans (maiden name unknown). The LDS IGI shows that an Elizabeth Evans was baptised at Llanidloes on 14 February 1818 but that her parents were James Evans and Hannah Lewis so it might not be our Elizabeth. Edward was said on his various certificates to have been born near Bangor in north Wales. His father, also called Edward, worked as a labourer. It seems his mother was also named Elizabeth Evans (probably not that unusual in Wales).

edward owenElizabeth Ann's parents, Edward Owen and Elizabeth Evans, were married at the Church of St David in Liverpool in England in 1849. Their wedding certificate shows that Edward was a widower and Elizabeth a spinster, both were of 'full age' at the time of their marriage, and both were then living in Liverpool (Edward on Scotland Road and Elizabeth on Park Street). The wedding was witnessed by a Francis Howeth and a Maria Owens. All members of the wedding party signed the certificate with a 'mark'.

Three years after their marriage the couple emigrated from England to Australia. The exact date of their voyage remains uncertain. Shipping records show that an Edward Owen and an E. Owen arrived at Port Phillip as unassisted passengers on the LORD STANLEY in January 1852. The ship's manifest shows Edward was a farmer aged 28 years and Elizabeth was aged 34 years. Maureen Gates believes that the couple emigrated to Australia on the WANATA which sailed from Liverpool on 9 June 1852 and arrived in Melbourne in October the same year. The photo on the right, which was supplied to us by Roger McKee, may (we think) be of Edward although that is still to be confirmed. We know that it was taken at Maryborough in Victoria but don't know when.

After their arrival the couple lived for a time at Emerald Hill near South Melbourne where their first two children - Elizabeth Ann and her older brother Edward James - were born. No doubt lured by the news of fresh discoveries of gold in the Kingower/Inglewood region in the mid-1850s, Edward, or Taffy as he was known, and his family moved from Melbourne to Bet Bet near Dunolly in around 1857 (where their son John Richard Owen was born) and then on to Kingower (the place of birth of their third son, Robert William Owen, in 1860). The old couple appear to have remained at Kingower (pictured below in 1869) through the town's boom and bust periods, seeing the local population peak at around 8000 in the 1860s before steadily declining to under 100 by the time of Edward's death in 1908.

Elizabeth Owen nee Evans died at Kingower of senile debility and epilepsy on 21 June 1893. Her death certificate states she was '76 years and 18 weeks old', and was buried in the Presbyterian section of the local cemetery on 23 June. The burial was conducted by the Reverend Lewis W. Benison and was witnessed by Miles Whitlock and Edward James Owen (Elizabeth's eldest son). Following his wife's death, the 80 year-old Edward later married Mary Ann Ward at St Augustines Church of England in Inglewood on 27 October 1904. Their wedding certificate shows that both were living at Kingower at the time. Edward was then 80 years old, was said to have been born at 'Llanbutno' in North Wales, was a miner by profession and had been widowed on 21 June 1894. Mary was 66 years old, came from Sydney and had been widowed on 23 March 1890. She had nine children in her previous marriage, two of whom were deceased. Her parents were George Coffier, a stone mason, and Ellen Bailey. Both Edward and Mary signed their wedding certificate with a cross.

kingower 1869

Kingower in around 1869.

The Kingower cemetery records show that Edward died four years later and was buried at the local cemetery on 12 May 1908 (they also show that his third wife, Mary, was buried there in 1921). Edward's death certificate, which was informed by his son Edward James, indicates that he died of senile decay, and that his burial was administered by Ernest Victor Coates of the Church of England and was witnessed by Edward James Owen and Robert 'Leoned' Owen (probably Edward James' son, Robert Lemuel Owen). It further states that Edward was born at 'Carnarvon' (probably Caenarfon) in Wales and had been 56 years in Victoria. He was said to have been first married in Wales when he was 19 years old (his wife's name was recorded as 'not known') and secondly at Inglewood (to Mary Ann Ward a widow). Curiously, Edward's second wife (and Edward James' mother), Elizabeth, is not mentioned even though the certificate lists all of her children (Edward and Mary had no children).

What of Edward and Elizabeth's children and their children? As described above, they had three boys in addition to our Elizabeth Ann: Edward James (born at Emerald Hill in 1854), John Richard (Bet Bet, 1858) and Robert William Owen (Kingower, 1860).

Born at Emerald Hill in 1854, Edward James Owen married Ellen Dowsett at Serpentine Creek at East Loddon on 10 November 1879. Their marriage certificate shows that Edward was a 25 year-old bachelor farmer who was then living at Serpentine Creek but normally resided at East Charlton (where his brother and sister lived). Ellen was a 21 year-old spinster who had been born at Chelmsford in Essex. She and her parents and three siblings had emigrated to Victoria on the NORFOLK in 1861. At the time of the wedding she was living at Serpentine Creek with her parents Thomas Dowsett, a farmer, and Mary Ann Peckham. The wedding took place at her parents' home and was conducted by I. H. M. Lachlan, a Presbyterian minister. It was witnessed by James Lemuel Dowsett and Mary Ann Dowsett. Further information about some of Thomas and Mary Ann's descendants is contained on the Dowsett Family Tree on Rootsweb (last updated on 25 May 2005).

After their marriage Edward and Ellen lived at Charlton near where - at Buckrabunyule and Woosang - Edward leased land in 1881 and where their first three children were born: William Edward (in 1881), Robert Lemuel (1883) and Thomas Ernest Peckham Owen (1887). By the time of his father's death in 1908, Edward was living on Grant Street in Inglewood and was working as a railway ganger. The Commonwealth electoral rolls show that he and Ellen continued to live on Grant St until Edward's death at Inglewood in 1945. Edward's death certificate shows that he and Ellen had one more child, Ruby May Selina Owen, who was born in 1894.

We know nothing of Ruby or her eldest brother William beyond their birth dates. The Commonwealth electoral rolls show that Edward and Ellen's second son, Robert Lemuel Owen, lived and worked at Inglewood in Victoria between 1909 and 1924, first as a labourer and then as a grocer's assistant. During this time, he married Janet Georgina Leitch Robinson, the daughter of Henry Robinson and Isabella Leitch. At the time of the 1930 and 1933 elections, Robert, who was now said to be a grocer, and Janet were living at 112 Grafton St in Woolahra in Sydney. In 1936 they were at 36 Hardie St in the nearby suburb of Darlinghurst. Around this time they left Sydney for Brisbane where, in 1939, they were registered as living at 11 Cochran St in Paddington. Janet died in Brisbane the following year. The 1943 electoral roll shows Robert, again working as a labourer, living at 'Glostermin' at 402 Hamilton Rd in Hamilton in Queensland. The Queensland Government BDM index shows that he died in Queensland in 1960.

The Commonwealth electoral rolls shows Thomas Ernest Peckham Owen living and working as a labourer at Inglewood in Victoria in 1909. The 1914 roll shows Thomas working as a railway employee and living at 67 Mary St in Richmond in Melbourne. With him was a Linda Marshall Owen who we think was his wife although that has still to be confirmed. In 1919 Thomas, a railway guard, and Linda were at 8 Hartley St in Brighton in Melbourne and in 1924 they were at the Gatehouse in Georgiana St in the nearby suburb of Sandringham. Around this time Thomas and Linda seemed to have parted. At the time of the 1931 and 1836/7 elections, Thomas was registered as living at 1 Bath St Sandringham whereas Linda was at 24 Kensington Rd Prahran and then at the Yarram Hotel in Gippsland (where she worked as a chef). The 1942/3 electoral rolls show Thomas and a Nancy May Owen, a factory worker, living at 7 Wentworth Ave Sandringham. Linda had returned to melbourne and was living at 60 Dudley St in Hotham. Thomas died and was buried at Inglewood in 1948. As in the case of his brother Robert, we don't know as yet whether he had any children.

john richard owenBorn at Bet Bet in 1858, John Richard Owen (shown in the photo on the left with his daughter, grandson and great granddaughter) spent much of his early life at East Charlton where he was a good friend of Henry Edward Hickmott. He married Catherine Buist at Charlton in 1878. Catherine was born at Port Fairy in Victoria in 1854. After their marriage the couple initially lived at Charlton before moving to Maryvale Station at Boulia in Queensland in around 1882. John and Catherine had six children: John Edward, Sarah Elizabeth, William Robert, James, Ethel and Charles Henry. He died in Cairns in Queensland in 1937. Catherine died near Cairns in 1923.

Click here to read more about John and Catherine and their descendants.

Robert William Owen was born at Kingower in 1860. He married Jane Ah Tue in 1904. They had three children we know of: Leslie, Arthur Leonard and Jane Owen. More details of Robert and Jane's family can be viewed on Christine Owen's Owen Family Tree on Ancestry.com.

Henry Edward and Elizabeth Ann Hickmott nee Owen

Life at Charlton and Lalbert

At the time of Henry Edward's marriage, the township of East Charlton boasted two mills, two restaurants and five hotels, the latter being: Klug's East Charlton Hotel, the Globe Hotel, the Golden Fleece, the Telegraph and the Cricket Club Hotel. It is likely that Henry, his half brothers James and William, and brother-in-law John Richard Owen frequented the last of these establishments, if not for imbibing or playing billiards, then certainly for planning and issuing challenges to such opposing cricket teams as St Arnaud, Donald, Mount Jeffcott and Buckrabunyule. Unlike John Owen, who was thought by his descendants to play for Victoria, Henry was what was described by the East Charlton Tribune as a 'trundler' who sometimes 'disturbed the peace' of his opponents' 'timberyard' and, very occasionally, scored a few runs. Perhaps his most notable performance was against St Arnaud on 20 October 1879, where he took 2/19 and participated in a last wicket stand which resulted in an historic win over East Charlton's arch rivals. The joy of winning was to be short lived, however, as East Charlton, and Henry's bowling, were thrashed in a return match held at St Arnaud a couple of weeks later.

An Edward Hickmott (1850-1934) played ten first class cricket matches for Kent between 1875 and 1888. He was born at Maidstone on 20 March 1850 and died at West Malling in Kent in January 1934. A batsman/wicket-keeper he was engaged at the Mote cricket ground in Maidstone as a bowler and groundsman for many years. In 1904 a match between the Gentlemen of Kent and the Players of Kent was played at the Mote for his benefit. Edward's nephew William Edward Hickmott (1893-1968) played in three matches for Kent (1914-21) and 34 matches for Lancashire (1923-34). A right-hand batsman and slow left-hand bowler, he averaged 10.7 with the bat and took 92 wickets at an average of 25.6. We don't know for sure whether Edward and William Edward are related to our Henry Edward although it is quite possible given that a number of Hickmotts from his line of the family lived at Maidstone.

While Henry Edward would have helped his father on the latter's farm, it is likely that, while at Charlton, he worked mostly as a brickmaker and builder. His main customer would have been the local businessman Peter Johnson who, as Grace Cadzow describes, 'kept the town's brickmakers almost constantly employed in making bricks for his [various] constructions' around the place.

The Gazette Notices contained in the 8 June 1881 edition of the East Charlton Tribune showed Henry had an application approved for the lease of a block of land at Charlton West. On 6 December 1882 he was reported to have sold 30,000 first class bricks to the builder R. Westacott in preparation for leaving Charlton. Henry stayed on, however, forming a brickmaking and contracting business with James. In 1885 the two brothers each had built (by Westacott) a four-roomed brick house on Camp Street in Charlton, 'directly behind Foreman's Mill'. The houses were, the leader writer for the local newspaper suggested, 'additional evidence of the increasing development of the rapidly rising town of Charlton which, at the present rate of progression, promises to become a large and populous provincial centre of activity' (East Charlton Tribune, 25 March 1885).

minnie hickmottBy the mid-1880s Charlton had indeed some of the hallmarks of 'a progressive town'. Steps had been taken to give it 'a better appearance by forming streets and footpaths' which prevented bullock drays and other heavy vehicles being bogged in the town in winter. Kirk's coach factory had commenced business and a Mechanics Institute was opened in 1883, 'providing Charlton residents with meeting and reading rooms [that were] well stocked with books and daily and local newspapers' (Cadzow, p.17). On 20 April 1883, after much agitation by the locals, the railway line joining Charlton to Cope Cope was finally opened. While the visiting dignatories were wined and dined in a specially erected marquee, Henry Edward and members of his by now large family, comprising Sophia Elizabeth, John Edward, Edward James, Florence Mary, Alice Ann, Edith Olive, William Henry, George Alfred, Ruby Minnie (pictured on the left not long before she went with her parents to Western Australia in 1909) and Ella Adeline, would have joined the other residents of the town in taking the free train ride to Korong Vale and back.

In January 1886 Henry and James undertook a contract for the Korongshire Council for the 'forming and metalling [of] about 20 chains in High and Halliday Streets Charlton, and making two chains of footpath and kerbing by Ogburn's'. The contract earned them 227 10s. In March the same year Henry gave a 'short but stirring speech' at the local Wesleyan Church on the occasion of the retirement of its minister, the Reverend E. Taylor. Henry's civic duties were expanding as were his business interests. In October 1887 he began selling 'colonial salt', obtained from Lake Kunat Kunat near Echuca, on behalf of his brother-in-law Joseph Smith of L'Albert.

On 1 June 1888 Henry and his half-brother James dissolved, by mutual agreement, their business partnership. Henceforth, an advertisement in the 3 November issue of the East Charlton Tribune announced, 'all debts due to or by the late firm will be received or paid by Jas. J. Hickmott'. The Victorian Government Gazette shows that on 22 February 1889 the Victorian Railways issued Henry Edward with a contract 'for excavating a tank at Barrakee' for 186. In the previous month the local land board approved his application to lease a 227-acre block of land (block no. 103) at Buckrabanyule near Charlton (his application to lease a further block (no. 887) at East Charlton was not approved). On 23 October 1889 the land board refused to grant an application by Henry to transfer the lease of his block at Buckrabanyule.

henry and elizabeth hickmottNot long after this Henry Edward sold his farm at Charlton and moved his family northwards to the Lalbert district where Henry's sister Rebecca Smith and her family had lived since moving there from Bungeeluke North. Henry and his family lived initially on his brother-in-law, Joseph Smith's 186-acre block of land (allotment 47B) located on the eastern side of the town. The Hickmott and Smith children made up the bulk of the early pupils attending Lalbert School No 2990 which had opened on 18 March 1889. From 1895 the locals began agitating to have the original school moved to a more central location. In a communication to the Department of Education in that year Henry wrote on behalf of the community: 'I beg to inform you that the parents have agreed to erect a building on the site proposed...Building to be twenty-six feet by thirteen. Eight feet walls, iron roof. Hardwood floor. Walls of Bush pine...two windows, one door, spouting all around and lined and ceiled throughout'.

The Department agreed and the relocated school was opened on 1 April 1895, operating initially in conjunction with School No 2583 at Tittybong. Eighteen months later the school was transferred again, to the Mechanics Institute in the Lalbert township, and, from 1901, began operating independently of Tittybong. Even then, the Hickmott and Smith families accounted for seven of the twenty-member class. By this stage Henry and his family were living on a block of land at the far end of Joseph Smith's allotment, some three miles east of Lalbert. Close by was the property of Samuel and Frances ('Fanny') Free whose eldest daughter Frances Alice would marry Henry Edward and Elizabeth's son William Henry in 1910. Frances attended school at Talgitcha while William went to the Lalbert School with Frances' cousins, the children of William and Margaret Free. Click here to view a photograph of Frances and her teacher Frances Elliott at a Lalbert/Talgitcha reunion.

In 1903 Henry was invited by Frances Elliott to adjudicate a debate at the Lalbert East (Talgitcha) School. The teacher later recalled her adjudicator in her book, I Loved Teaching, as 'a Councillor who had never attended school, and yet he could write a very good letter. Having a step-mother, he had to go out and earn his living at an early age. He told us that the different people he worked for were always very willing to help him in his willingness to learn. He made a very satisfactory adjudicator [she concluded and] ... later became a Member of Parliament in Western Australia'.

Over this time Henry (pictured on the right with his wife Elizabeth and youngest son James Arthur) continued to contribute to the life of the local community, conducting road works in and around the township, overseeing on behalf of the council engineer the clearing of mallee scrub from the area, and serving for a time both as a Trustee of the Lalbert Cemetery and Chairman of the local Vermin Board. As the photograph below shows, he also once again with his sons took to the cricket field.

lalbert cricket team 1900

The Lalbert Cricket Team in 1900.
As numbered: 1. Joe Nalder, 2. Dick Smith, 3. Local Minister, 4. Local School Teacher, 5. Henry Edward Hickmott, 6. Mat Nalder,
7. Donald Kennedy, 8. Al Smith, 9. Billy Nalder, 10. George Nalder, 11. Charlie Smith, 12. Phil Willoughby,
13. George Hickmott, 14. Tom Power and 15. Billy Hickmott.

Remarkably it seems that he also found the time to invent and patent a 'pug mill' for use in brickmaking. This was described in advertisements placed in a number of newspapers, including the Western Australian on 11 December 1896, as follows:

This pug mill is for the purpose of effecting a uniform consistency to the clay before it is moulded for brickmaking, and by this invention the clay is thoroughly mixed.

I obtain this valuable result by securing knives to the vertical shaft of the pug mill, and these knives revolve almost immediately over and above a fixed plate, which is meshed to a gauge of about 212 inches, and the action of the knives is to force the clay through these meshes. After the clay has passed through the upper mesh it is subjected to a pulverising treatment by means of vertical revolving pegs or pugs, which are secured to horizontally re-volving arms bolted to the central shaft. The clay is afterwards again forced through another meshed plate, and is ready for moulding into bricks. I may use any number of meshed plates and knives to suit the nature of the different clays; also the meshes are arranged for this purpose. A better and more consistent brick is obtained by pugging the clay with this invention ; also the brick is more dense and solid.

An order for a mill fitted with this invention has already been obtained by the inventor and patentee.


In spite of these interests, Henry and Elizabeth decided, in around 1909, to sell up and move to Western Australia where they would purchase a farm on the ouskirts of Brookton. They were accompanied on the journey by a number of their children and would be joined by a number of others who had either earlier travelled to the west or would do so once their parents had re-settled. Those who relocated to Western Australia were Sophia Elizabeth, Florence Mary, Alice Ann, George Alfred, Ruby Minnie, Ella Adeline, Rebecca Elsie and James Arthur Hickmott. Click here to read of their life and times, and those of their parents in the west. Three of Henry and Elizabeth's children remained in Victoria: John Edward, William Henry ('Willie') and Edith Olive Hickmott (who, as we have seen, died at Charlton in 1912).

Hickmott family Rootsweb site Western Australian Hickmotts
Henry Edward's sister Rebecca Smith Henry Edward's son William Henry Hickmott

(last updated: 7 April 2011)

Image sources:
Win Noblet's The Hickmott Story 1825-1981 (Bendigo: Cambridge Press, 1981),
Maureen Gates (John Richard Owen and descendants),
Roger McKee (Edward Owen), and
Private photograph collection (Ruby Minnie Hickmott).
State Library of Victoria, Online Image mp003376 (Kingower in 1869).