Henry Hickmott in South Australia

(last updated 6 November 2019)

emigrating to AustraliaHenry Hickmott would have been working as a labourer and apprentice brick maker when his father and uncle were arrested in 1840 and transported to Van Diemen's Land for sheep stealing. He married his first wife, Sophia Goldsmith, in the Parish Church at Hackney in Middlesex on 18 June 1848. Their wedding certificate showed that Henry and Sophia both lived at Lea Bridge Terrace at the time. Henry's father, Samuel Hickmott, was said to be a labourer, while Sophia's father, John Goldsmith, was a carpenter. The marriage was witnessed by two of Sophia's siblings, James and Mary Ann Goldsmith, who, like Sophia, signed the certificate with a 'mark' (Mary Ann Goldsmith married Henry's older brother, Edward Hickmott, at Maidstone the following year. Click here to read about Edward and Mary Ann's lives and family as well as the family connections between the Hickmotts and Kate Middleton, the future wife of the Prince of Wales, Prince William).

Less than a year after their marriage, Henry and Sophia Hickmott emigrated to Australia. This momentous decision may have been motivated by Henry's desire to be reunited with his father or by a simple determination to escape the bustle and grime of London life. The incentive to go was probably heightened by advertisements appearing in the London newspapers at the time encouraging artisans of all kinds, including brick makers and bricklayers, to take up offers of free passage to Australia. Perhaps because he had had news from people who were already there, Henry chose to emigrate to the newest of the colonies, South Australia. And so, at the age of 23 years, he and Sophia (21) and their daughters Emma (1) and Eliza (infant) boarded the 580-ton barque the EMILY at the port of London on 4 May 1849. They departed the same day and, after a brief call at Plymouth, headed out into the Atlantic Ocean. They reached Port Adelaide on 8 August 1849, the EMILY's arrival and its passenger list being reported in the 11 August edition of the South Australian Register.

port adelaide 1847After spending some time on the outskirts of Adelaide, where in March 1850 Henry, said to be a brickmaker of Onkaparinga, joined numerous other Adelaideans in signing a petition in support of John Stephens, the proprietor and editor of the South Australian Register, the couple and their family headed inland to Mount Barker on the outskirts of which, at a place called Littlehampton, were a number of recently established brickworks. The journey, most likely by either horse and cart or bullock-drawn wagon, required them to negotiate the long slow climb from the outskirts of Adelaide to the top of the surrounding Mount Lofty ranges (pictured below). On reaching the top they would have been able to look back and see the whole of the Adelaide township, the creek and all the vessels lying at anchor, and the sea stretching beyond to the horizon. In front of them were waves of tree-covered valleys and ridges.

mount lofty from adelaideWhile tired from the climb, much of which had to be made on foot in order to reduce the stress on the animals, it is likely that they, like travellers before and since, would have been struck by the sheer beauty of the scene before them, and exhilarated by the thought that they were to be pioneers in this strange and silent land.

The township of Mount Barker (pictured below in around 1865) had been proclaimed in 1836 and surveyed three years later. At the time of the family's arrival, it contained a local court and police barracks, a post-office, and two inns of which the Crown Hotel was thought the better establishment. Their initial impressions of the place were likely to have been quite favourable since the first settlers had sought, with some success, to adapt the local landscape to reflect that of rural England. The district at the time was thus 'a grassy park landscape with formal hedgerows of gorse and hawthorn...gardens abounded in British fruits and vegetables, and the avenues were lined with the loveliest forest trees and garden flowers' (cited in Bob Schmidt, Mount Barker: Mountain Upon the Plain, Mount Barker District Council, 1983, p. 55). The impression of rural England was enhanced by the fact that most of the existing dwellings were 'wattle and daub' constructions, with whitewashed walls and thatched roofs. The rich black soil was also perfect for growing potatoes whose deep green foliage covered large parts of the valley and were cultivated by the many German and Irish labourers who had come to South Australia. Not everyone was entranced by Mount Barker however. A visitor to the area in 1851 subsequently reported that the place was neither very populous nor attractive:

It contains about 250 inhabitants, perhaps rather less than more, occupying sixty tenements. The appearance of the township itself, embedded in the valley, is not favourable as contrasted with the scenery with which it is surrounded. The black soil of the flat (although admirably adapted for potatoes), some rubbishing fencing, and the piles of brushwood around the mill, together with the confusion of the blacksmiths and carpenters' yards [around Littlehampton] give it a factory-like effect, which the volumes of smoke heighten into dinginess. Matters seemed to us rather backward considering the early survey made of the district (cited in Martin, p. 19).

mount barker c1865

Gawler Street in Mount Barker c1865

It is likely though that Sophia would have loved the small cottage they would have been able to rent, with its tranquil and bountiful garden. Henry, too, would have appreciated the shed for his tools and the brushwood and spare wire he could fashion into a run for their hens and other animals. As a 'London Brickmaker', Henry would probably have been employed at either Hombin's brickyard, which was located near the Great Eastern Hotel in Littlehampton, or McDonald's brickyard which was on the northeast corner of the site of the present Mount Barker showgrounds. These had both been established in 1847 and supplied the bricks for the houses that were beginning to replace the region's older wattle and daub establishments. While at Mount Barker Henry and Sophia had two more children: another daughter, Rebecca Hickmott who was born in 1851 and their last child and only son Henry Edward Hickmott, born at Mount Barker on 17 May 1852. As there was then no local church, these may have been baptised at the St James Anglican Church at Blakiston. It is possible that the couple's two older daughters also attended the St James School which had been established in 1847 and to which many children from Mount Barker made the daily trek across the hill to attend.

henry and harrietSometime after Henry Edward's birth, Sophia died and Henry married Harriet Waters, in Adelaide on 24 July 1853. We don't know the circumstances of Sophia's death or where she is buried. There is no mention of either event among South Australia's (admittedly limited) records of the times. My guess is that she died in childbirth at Mount Barker and was buried either there or at Blakiston. It is also possible that she is buried near Echunga where, early in 1852, gold was discovered and to which hundreds of prospective miners and their families flocked from Mount Barker and other nearby towns and villages (by year's end Echunga's alluvial deposits had been worked out and most prospectors, including Henry, began to look to the Victorian goldfields to make their fortunes).

Harriet Waters (pictured on the left with Henry and their two youngest sons) was born at Bethesden in Kent in England in around 1834. We think that she emigrated to South Australia with her parents, William and Harriet Waters nee Webb, and three siblings on the sailing ship the SOMERSETSHIRE in 1839. The family seemed initially to have lived at Mount Barker before moving to Green Hills sometime before 1848 (Henry and Sophia's youngest daughter, Rebecca Smith nee Hickmott, named her last residence in Victoria 'Green Hills'). They may have still been there when Harriet married Henry or they may have moved to the nearby township of Meadows. Henry and Harriet had two children while in South Australia: James John, who was born at Meadows on 24 December 1854, and Sophia who was born late in 1855 and probably died soon after. A newspaper report of the Echunga District Council indicates that Henry was still at Meadows in September 1855. His obituary indicates that shortly after this Henry and some colleagues travelled overland from South Australia to the goldfields at Mount Alexander. He seems to have done well, returning to South Australia and bringing his family back to Victoria by sea. After a brief stay in the colony's capital, Melbourne, the family went to live at Clunes in central Victoria where Henry and Harriet's third child, Samuel Hickmott, was born in 1857. Click here to read about Henry's life and times in Victoria.

What of Henry's father, Samuel, and his uncle, Thomas Hickmott. On 11 February 1859, the South Australian Register contained a report of an inquest into a bush fire that had destroyed grassland and a number of properties in the area of Watergate near Macclesfield and Meadows. The report included the following testimony by an Emma Lloyd: 'Our family have always been in good terms with the neighbours with the exception of Mr Hickmott, and we have not been long unfriendly with him. The first person to put the fire out on the previous Monday was Mr Hickmott'. On 7 April 1859, the same newspaper reported that the Strathalbyn Court had earlier heard a case of GADD vs Hickmott for an amount of 3/11/4 that was owed by the latter (Hickmott was ordered to pay 2/16/4 of the claimed amount). The Hickmott mentioned in both cases is most likely Thomas rather than Samuel Hickmott (who we suspect went to Victoria with his son). This likelihood is enhanced by a later court hearing (at Strathalbyn in January 1862) in which a 'John Ramsey, licensed storekeeper of the Meadows...[was] charged with having sold to Thomas Hickmott a quantity of wine less than two gallons'. The charge was dismissed after the defendant showed the wine was the produce of his own vineyard. Like Henry and Samuel, Thomas eventually gravitated back to Victoria where he died of 'influenza accentuated by old age' at the Warrnambool hospital on 23 August 1871.

goldmining at forest creek

Forest Creek Diggings, Mount Alexander 1852

The newspaper archives show that the Hickmotts had not entirely done with South Australia however. Almost exactly two months after Thomas' death, a Miss Hickmott arrived at Port Adelaide from London on the 1040-ton DAVID BRUCE. The person mentioned was probably Caroline Hickmott who lived in the colony until her death there on 20 September 1907. Her death notice published in the Adelaide Advertiser indicates she was 'formerly of Clapham in London', had not married and had died at the residence of her sister, Mrs A. J. Wright of the Adelaide suburb of Malvern. Caroline's death certificate shows she was born in around 1843 which suggests she may have been the daughter of Samuel and Thomas' older brother, Edward Hickmott, and his wife Elizabeth Jenner.

Born at Staplehurst in 1842, Caroline was living with Edward and Elizabeth at Clapham in Surrey in 1851. At the time of the 1861 and 1871 censuses she was working as a domestic servant for a William E. Hardy, a professor of mathematics and writing master, at 10 Stockwell Park Cresent in Lambeth. On 31 March 1862 Caroline and an Edward Hickmott were witnesses to the wedding, at the Clapham parish church, of Mary Ann Jenner and Adkisson James Wright. Mary Ann was baptised at Staplehurst in 1835, six years before her mother, Elizabeth Jenner, married Edward Hickmott. Although the parish records don't say who Mary Ann's father was, it was most probably Edward (her marriage certificate gives no details of Mary Ann's father although her first son's birth certificate states her maiden name was Mary Ann Hickmott). As described below, Mary Ann and Adkisson Wright emigrated to Australia the year after their marriage, living initially in Queensland before moving to South Australia. In 1867 Caroline was a witness at the wedding of her only brother, Theodore Charles Hickmott, to Mary Ann Adams at Lambeth in London. Two months later, Caroline's mother, Elizabeth Hickmott nee Jenner died and was buried at the South Metropolitan Cemetery. Caroline's father, Edward Hickmott, died and was buried there in August 1871. A month after her father's death, Caroline sailed to South Australia to live with her older sister and her family in Adelaide.

As mentioned above, Caroline Hickmott died a spinster at the residence of her sister in the Adelaide suburb of Malvern in 1907. Her sister, Mary Ann Wright nee Jenner, had married Adkisson James Wright at Clapham in 1862 and, as detailed in Adkisson's obituary, published in the Adelaide Advertiser on 12 October 1915, emigrated to Australia the following year:

Mr Wright was born at Portsea, Hampshire on February 17 1834 and was educated at private schools. He served in the employment of Messrs Marvin and King, auctioneers and estate agents, of that town up to 1862. He emigrated to Queensland in 1863 and came to Adelaide in 1865. He first entered the service of Messes McArthur, Kingsborough & Co and was with Mr Edward Spicer for a short period before he joined the postal service as a clerk in 1866. The deceased was mail agent on board the branch mail steamers which ran to and from King George's Sound, and had charge of the sorting of the mail en route, from December 1866 until this service terminated. Up to 1876 he acted as mail agent at Glenelg, to receive the English mails landed there, and was issuer of stamps and clerk in the money order office during 1877. Subsequently he filled the position of inland clerk and senior inland clerk ... before being appointed, in June 1884, to the position of chief clerk in the letter branch ... [and later] superintendant of the mail branch ... [there followed more details and some of his reminiscences before ending with] ... Mr Wright has left a widow and three children - Mrs C. M. White (Malvern) and Messes G. E. H. and C. T. Wright, the latter of whom is English mail officer at the GPO.

Mary Ann Wright nee Jenner died in Adelaide on 19 August 1920 and is buried with her husband and eldest son in the North Road Cemetery in the Adelaide suburb of Nailsworth. She and Adkisson had four children. Their youngest daughter, Amy Caroline Wright (1866-67) died very young. As described below, their other three children all reached adulthood, married and, between them, provided their parents with five grandchildren we know of.

children's window kooringa

1) Charlotte Elizabeth Wright (1864-1951) who was born in Queensland and married Charles Montegue White (1866-1952) in Adelaide in 1893 and had two children we are aware of: Eric Barnard White (1895-1982) and Joyce Rosalind White (1899-1988). Charles was born at Kooringa near Burra in South Australia, the son of Frederick Richard White (1843-1905) and Eleanor Miller who were married in Portsea in Hampshire shortly before they emigrated to South Australia. The 'Duncan-Miller' family tree on Ancestry tells us they had six children in addition to Charles, two of whom - Eleanor Sarah and Harold Bernard White - died as infants at Kooringa where Frederick was the local schoolmaster. Eleanor certainly and probably Harold are memorialised in a stained glass 'Children's Window' that was created by the Adelaide artist Edward Brooks and installed in the original St Mary's Church at Kooringa in 1873. A restored version of the window (part of which is pictured on the right) containing the roundel devoted to Eleanor and one for an unknown ninth child (most likely Harold) is currently in a light box at the rear of the present-day church,

His miltary record in the National Archives shows that Eric Barnard White enlisted in the 1st AIF at Adelaide on 11 April 1916. He was then a 21 year-old engineering student whose NOK was his mother Charlotte White of 78 Cambridge Terrace, Malvern. He sailed from the Outer Harbour on the A53 ITRIA on 14 Sept 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth om 30 October the same year. After undergoing pioneer engineer training at Perham Downs Eric proceeded to France on 10 April 1917 to join the 5th Pioneer Battalion. He served out the remainder of the war in France, returned to England in January 1919 and sailed back to Australia on the ANCHISES on 28 February 1919.

The 'Genealogy SA' database shows Eric married Eve Hannah [Victoria] Hewitt in the Adelaide suburb of Unley in 1929 (321/844). According to the 'Thompson' and 'Pallant' family trees on Ancestry, Eve was Adelaide-born, the daughter of an Englishman, Charles Joseph Hewitt (1865-1929) and Martha Susannah Pallant (1870-1966). Martha had been born near Strathalbyn in the Adelaide Hills, the second daughter of George Thomas Pallant (1841-1910) and Mary Kitto (1846-1929) who came respectively from Barford in Norfolk and Crowan in Cornwall and were married at Strathalbyn in 1864. Eric and Eve seem to have lived much their married lives in Adelaide where Eric, who worked as an engineer and public servant, died in October 1982. He was then residing on Boucat Street in Glen Osmond and is buried in the Centenniel Park Cemetery in Derrick. Eve died in Brisbane in 1989. She and Eric had two children.

eric barnard white

From the Australian War Memorial archives, this photo is of members of the 5th Pioneer Battalion of the
5th Australian Division outside the chateau at Cerisy-Buleux in the Somme region of northern France. It was taken
at the end of the war when the troops were being moved back to England before returning to Australia.
2458 Pte Eric Barnard White is third from the right in the second row from the front.

2) Charles Theodore Wright (1869-1923) who married Mary Anita Baily (1867-1946), the daughter of James and Mary Elizabeth Bailey nee Kenworthy, at Port Adelaide in 1913. Although still to be confirmed, we don't think Charles and Mary had any children.

3) George Henry Edward Wright who was born in Adelaide in 1867 and married Mary Dawson in the Adelaide suburb of Parkside in 1892. According to the 'Roberts Family Tree' on Ancestry, Mary was born at Toxteth in Lancashire, the eldest daughter of a Henry and Mary Dawson. Mary died in Adelaide in 1947. She and George had at least three children we are aware of: 1) Henry Adkisson Wright (1893-1903) who died at Parkside; 2) Dorothy Wright (1895-1928). Also born at Parkside, Dorothy married David James Roberts (1888-1947) in the nearby suburb of Prospect in 1922. According to the 'Roberts Family Tree', David was the eldest son of two Adeladians, David John Roberts (1854-1918) and Ellen Craigie (1857-1917), who were married in the South Australian capital in 1883. It adds that Dorothy and David had four sons all of whom were born in Adelaide: Howard James (1923-32), David Charles (1924-79); John Lawrence (1926-2005) and Colin George Roberts (1928-72) who married Betty Edith Dorine Peters (1932-2009) in Clapham in Adelaide in 1954 and had five children and at least two grandchildren; and 3) George Adkisson Wright (who was born at Adelaide in 1902).

Hickmott family Rootsweb site Henry's father Samuel Hickmott
Henry in Victoria Rebecca Smith (nee Hickmott)

Image sources:
Emigrant ship from Illustrated London News, 1849
'Port Adelaide 1847' by Samuel Thomas Gill (1818-1880), Art Gallery of South Australia
'Mount Lofty from the Terrace, Adelaide c1840' by Martha Berkeley (1813-99), Art Gallery of South Australia 0.851
Mount Barker c1865, State Library of South Australia Image B31047
Forest Creek Diggings, Illustrated London News, 1852
Henry and Harriet Hickmott and their two sons, courtesy of Graeme Hickmott.