More of the Blackwell Family Emigrates to Australia

Part IV of An Australian Emigrant Family

Peter Blackwell, Ph.D. Brown University '88 (Rhode Island) and Mark Blackwell, B.Com. B.D. (Euroa, Victoria, Australia) [blackwell@upssystems.com]

Edwin Orlando, the youngest child in the Blackwell family, was at the docks in Liverpool on the 22nd. of May, 1857, where his father and older brother had been two years earlier. The ship he was to board, Sir W.F. Williams, was a far less pretentious vessel than the Lightning. She was merely an 870-ton wooden barque which the Liverpool company of Shaw and Co. used to trade between Liverpool and Hobart-Town. The journey would take them 91 days.

Edwin had plenty of company. He sailed with his mother, Ann Francis (36), his sisters, Caroline (12) and Ann (7), and his brother, Thomas (9). His widowed grandmother Margetts, now 69 years old, joined the voyagers with her companion, Miss Emma Woods. There was also his uncle, William Margetts (39) and his wife, Mary (27), and his cousins Thomas Butlin (2) and William Peck (2 months). Aunt Anne Margetts (33) with her three year old son, Stephen Peck, was on her way to join her husband, John, who had sailed with George and George Blackwell Junior two years earlier.

The families were finally reunited in the beautiful but still developing north-west region of Tasmania in the shadow of Cradle Mountain. The Margetts family initially settled on a farming and grazing property in the New Norfolk district, later at Hagley and Black Sugar Loaf at Westbury, eventually moving to the small settlement of Wynyard, which was one of small communities struggling for identity and permanence along the coast. Stanley was the first settlement of any substance. In 1842 it had been surveyed and opened to purchase and it grew at a remarkable pace and by 1849 it was a thriving town with a population of several hundreds.

In contrast, the settlements to the east made slow progress. John King was the first settler to come to Table Cape. By 1850 most of the land on the west of the Inglis River had been leased as far as Jacob's Boat Harbour. Three brothers, John, Joseph and Matthias Alexander named the little community Alexandria and by the middle 1850s there was a small town reserve, a general store, a draper's shop, a shoemaker's shop, a blacksmith as well as the Wynyard Arms Hotel owned by Joseph Alexander. Matthias took over management of the hotel until his death in 1865. The small settlement stagnated and eventually disappeared in the 1860s.


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