Tag Archives: Diwell

I Wish I Were Related to Chris Coulson

I am sure most of you have come across a person in your research who,while not related, still captures your imagination.  I have found myself off on a tangent many times with a family who have married into my own, only to rein myself in to focus on my direct relatives.

One such person is Christopher Coulson who I first encountered when I found his son Frank married my 2nd great grand-aunt Harriet Diwell.  Chris was a horseman and had some involvement with the early days of  Western District racing, and this tweaked my interest.

Christopher Coulson was born at Scarborough, Yorkshire in 1817 and married Mary Frances Stubbs in 1841.  Not long after, Christopher began working as a groomsman at the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace during  Queen Victoria’s reign.  Christopher and Mary had one child at that time, Francis Stubbs Coulson (Frank), born in 1842, and they had three more children at the Mews.  The 1851 Census shows the family living at the Royal Mews. Christopher’s occupation was recorded as “helper in the master of the horses department”.  In 1855, Queen Victoria set up the Buckingham Palace Royal Mews School for the children of those working at the Mews.

In 1856, Christopher, Mary and the four children sailed for Australia on the “General Hewitt” arriving in Portland.   The Coulsons’  immigration record shows Christopher was to be employed by Mr McKellar of “Ardachy” at Branxholme for twelve months.  At some stage, Chris went to “Rifle Downs” at Merino to work as a trainer for Richard Lewis who owned such horses as thoroughbred “King Alfred” and Clydesdale stallion “Agronomer”.  “King Alfred” was revered throughout the district and Adam Lindsay Gordon wrote of him. He is worthy of his own story.  He stood at stud with “Agronomer”  who competed in local shows and was sire to many of the heavy work horses in the area.  Eventually Chris selected his own land at Dwyers Creek and became a sheep breeder, but always remained a horse lover.  He died in 1904 aged 86.

Chris Coulson Obituary - THE FRUIT INDUSTRY. (1904, August 2). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), p. 5. Retrieved May 30, 2011, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article19293600

Christopher and Mary had five children, four born in England and the fifth Georgiana born in Australia at Digby.  Sadly Georgiana died aged five in 1865.  The remaining four children all married and raised families.  They were:

Francis Stubbs Coulson – Born 1842 Yorkshire Died 1916 Victoria.  Frank married Harriet Diwell, daughter of William Diwell and Margaret Turner in 1873.  They had 13 children and lived in the Dwyers Creek/Merino area during their married lives.  Descendants’ surnames include Miller, Cameron and Gull.

Betsy Ann Coulson – Born 1845 Westminster, London, England Died 1896 Casterton, Victoria.  Betsy married Joseph Wombell and they had six known children.  Descendants’ surnames include Petterd, Chester and Rowely.

Christopher Coulson Jnr – Born 1847 Pimlico, London  Died 1893 Merino, Victoria. Chris married Lorina Ann Eastick in 1872.  They had nine known children and their descendants’ surnames include Crawley,  Grant, Ames, and Stanmore

Amy Oliver Coulson – Born 1852 Pimlico, London Died 1926.  Amy married Alexander Cameron in 1875.  They had three known children.  Descendants’ surnames include Milward and McCombe

I have researched enough of my family tree  to know I will not unearth an ancestor who had contact with the early days of the racing and horse breeding industry in the Western District.  A romantic time when Adam Lindsay Gordon wrote of the fields of Coleraine, there was a racecourse in most towns and the early horses, ancestors themselves to many Western District progeny,  where swum to shore from boats.  That is why I wish I were related to Christopher Coulson.

Elizabeth Ann Jelly


Richard & Elizabeth Diwell and family

This is Richard and Elizabeth Diwell and their family  in the spring of 1900 in Hamilton.  The eldest child, Margaret was 19 and the youngest, Martha was two. Elizabeth, at 44, is in the last months of pregnancy and is radiant.  Martha’s hand rests comfortably on her mother’s growing stomach.  Edith clutches the arm of father Richard, a successful bricklayer and keen gardener, a member of the Hamilton Horticulture Society.  Chrysanthemums were one of his specialties.   Within months, this serene family scene had been shattered.

Richard Diwell and Elizabeth Jelly were married in June 1877 at Casterton.  Richard, born at Portland in 1854 was the son of William and Margaret Diwell and was their first  born on Australian soil after their arrival in 1852.  William too, was a bricklayer .  Elizabeth was the daughter of  George and Jane Jelly and like William was her parents’ first born in Australia.  They had arrived in 1855 on the Athletae and moved to Casterton were Elizabeth was born in 1856.

Sadness came early in Richard and Elizabeth’s marriage with their first born child, Ada Jane, dying  within her first year of life.  Six more children, Margaret, William, Jane, Ralph, Edith and Ernest were born in Casterton over the next 11 years until 1891.  It was in that year that Elizabeth, her mother and sister-in-law, Annabella McIntyre, signed the Victorian Women’s Suffrage Petition along with one hundred other Casterton women.  It was their contribution to the cause championing for equal voting rights for women.

Later in 1891, the Diwells moved to Hamilton.  The following year tragedy would occur again with the passing of five year old Ralph.  In 1893, Ethel was born and  another pregnancy in 1895 saw the birth of Rebecca but she sadly died in 1896 aged 10 months.  George was born in 1896, Martha in 1898.

Which brings us back to 1900.  Despite the losses of  the past, life was continuing on for the Diwells.  In March, William was voting in favour of the cancellation of that month’s Hamilton Horticulture Society flower show due to drought and Elizabeth was pregnant for the 12th time at the age of 44.

Midway through October Elizabeth fell ill in and was nursed for the next three weeks until she gave birth to a daughter on November 2.  The baby was weak and died two days later.  Elizabeth was also gravely ill and underwent an operation after the birth of the baby.  She battled to stay, but succumbed to peritonitis 10 days later on November 12.

Elizabeth’s obituary from The Hamilton Spectator on November 13 read:

“… Another death which has evoked the deepest sympathy of all who knew her took place yesterday when Mrs Diwell, the wife of Mr Richard Diwell, bricklayer of this town, died after a short illness.  The deceased was the second daughter of Mr George Jelly of Casterton where she was born, and she came to Hamilton with her husband in 1891. 

She was taken ill three weeks ago and on the 2nd instance she was confined, the child living only two days.  On Sunday evening she had to undergo an operation as the only hope of saving her life but at 3 o’clock yesterday morning she died of exhaustion, the diagnosis being peritonitis. 

She leaves a husband and eight children – three boys and five girls – the eldest of who, a daughter is only nineteen years of age – to mourn their irreparable loss. Mrs Diwell who was only 44 years of age was highly respected by all who knew her and the deepest sympathy is felt with the stricken family in their bereavement.  The funeral will take place a 3 o’clock this afternoon”

The headstone in the Hamilton Old Cemetery is a tribute to Elizabeth and demonstrates the devotion Richard and her children had for her.  Her headstone read:

“None knew how sad parting was, nor what the farewell cost, but God and his loved angels have gained what we have lost”

Despite having several young children, Richard never remarried.  The older girls Margaret and Jane would have taken on mothering duties of their younger siblings.  Margaret married in 1905, but Jane did not marry until 1915 at 30 by which time youngest Martha was 17.  Richard passed away in 1920 and was reunited with Elizabeth.

Life was not altogether easy for the Diwell children, although they always managed a happy disposition.  Margaret had seven children, however three  died, two as newborns.  Edith, my great-grandmother, suffered through an unhappy marriage and spent much time as a single mother.  Jane was married twice, both husbands dying, the second after being hit by a taxi.  She never had children.

Grandma (Edith) and Auntie Mat (Martha)

Ethel had four known children, one dying at childbirth.  Martha or Mat as she was known was 41 when she married and she also had no children.  The boys, William, Ernest and George all married and became bricklayers like their father and grandfather before them, but Ernest passed away at just 48.

I was not lucky enough to know any members of this family but my mother fondly remembers and often talks of Grandma (Edith), Auntie Janey,  Auntie Mat (Martha) and Uncles Bill and George.  The photo above of Grandma and Auntie Mat depicts them just as Mum remembers, always laughing and smiling.

As I look at the Diwell family photo I see Elizabeth as a devoted wife and mother but also a strong woman whose marriage was a partnership of two equals.  I can see the woman who was confident enough to sign the Suffrage petition and I see a happy, kind person, traits she passed to her children.

Next time I visit Richard and Elizabeth’s grave in Hamilton, I will be sure to take some Chrysanthemums.

The “Duke of Richmond”

On October 20, 1852, the barque “Duke of Richmond” sailed from Birkenhead, England bound for Portland Bay, Victoria, Australia.  Among the 236 passengers on board were two couples, each from different parts of England and one with small children.  They were my great, great, great grandparents James and Susan Harman and William and Margaret Diwell.  William and Margaret, from Kent had two daughters under five.  Another daughter had passed away before the journey.  James and Susan were from Cambridgeshire and been married only two months.

After around 140 days, Captain Thomas Barclay sailed the “Duke of Richmond” into Portland Bay on March 4, 1853.  The Portland Herald reported on March 11, 1853, that Captain Barclay and Dr Webbers, the Surgeon Superintendent, had attempted to make sure all immigrants were comfortable and happy in an almost competitive way.  However the voyage was also reported as arduous with much illness and over 20 deaths.  Measles claimed many of those that died.

The Diwell family disembarked and stayed in Portland  for another five years before moving to the Casterton area.  William was a bricklayer and left the ship on his own account.  James Harman was to be engaged by a Mr Robertson of Port Fairy for six months with wages of £50.

It is doubtful the two families came together again until 1945 when my grandparents, William Gamble and Linda Hadden were married in Hamilton.

I have done some extra research on the other passengers aboard the “Duke of Richmond“.  A number moved to the Byaduk area.  Some of the family names include Clarke, Everett, Gibbons, Looker, McIntyre, Merry, Patman and Spong.  There were several families from Cambridgeshire.  If anyone had family on the “Duke of Richmond“, it would be great to hear from you.

A full list of the passengers can be seen at the Public Record of Victoria (PROV) Index to Assisted British Immigrants 1839-1871.


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