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Cadet lines in Western Australia, 1851+

Albert Baskerville, Storekeeper, forester and timber worker of Stoke Lacey (Herefordshire), then Bunbury, Busselton, The Vasse, Cattle Chosen, Wonnerup, Bunbury, Ludlow, Capel, Karridale, Jarrahwood and Claremont, WA

  • baptised 20 July 1845, Stoke Lacey, Herefordshire
  • died 12 June 1925, at his home, Princess Road, Claremont WA
  • parents John and Harriett Baskerville, nee Stringer
  • Married 14 April 1870, St Mary's Church of England, Busselton WA,
    to Mary Ann Knapton, aged 18, of Ellenbrook near Busselton
  • Children
    • Harriett E. 1872 - 1872
    • John 1873 - 1951
    • Albert Edward 1875 - 1875
    • Alethea Eloise 1876 - 1878
    • Louisa 1878 - 1878
    • Bertha Olive 1880 - 1969
    • Charles 1881 - 1972
    • Henry Thomas 1884 - 1948
    • Harriett A. 1886 - 1886
    • Ethel C. 1887 - 1888
    • Amy Grace 1888 - ?
    • Albert Victor 1891 - 1962
    • Clarice Augusta 1894 - 1895

John Baskerville arrived back in Herefordshire from India in the summer of 1843, introducing his wife Harriett to his family, who could be found in many of the parishes across the county. It seems that they settled firstly in Stoke Lacey, a small village of about 400 people some twelve kilometres to the north east of the City of Hereford, near the border with neighbouring Worcestershire (1). It was in this Parish that their first child was born, a son, who on the 20th July 1846 was baptized Albert in the local Church of England (2).

Warmer climates and opportunities, however, were calling, and in the mid-summer of 1850, John and Harriett and their two children Albert and Emma left Herefordshire, and after a journey across England on the "Great Western Railway" to London, and then onto Gravesend, they finally boarded the 521 tonne convict transport Hashemy, where John joined the Enrolled Pensioner Force (EPF) under the control of Colonel Bruce. The Hashemy left England behind on the 22nd July 1850, almost five years to the day since little Albert's birth.

In the Colony of Western Australia the convict system had recently been introduced after being ended in New South Wales. The second convict ship to arrive was the Hashemy, the last of the convict ships to land a cargo in New South Wales. The Hashemy arrived at Fremantle on the 25th October 1850, and 231 people disembarked from her, 100 of them being convicts. Among the 131 free passengers was John Baskerville, his wife and family, who with several other EPF men had earnt their passage as guards to the convicts.

The Hashemy anchored in Gage Roads, off Fremantle, there being no entrance across the bar at the mouth of the Swan River at that time. As all on board readied themselves to leave the ship, they must have wondered about what lay behind the ranges of high, bush-covered sand dunes that stretched along the coast in both directions, offering only a barren, almost desert like view of the new land. Long flat bottomed barges came out from the mainland, and were soon ferrying the new arrivals from the Hashemy to the Fremantle Jetty.

Within a few months John and Harriet had settled in Bunbury, where John worked in the local convict establishment. Other children were born, and Albert grew up the little coastal town.

Busselton and the Vasse: the promise unfulfilled

Albert, the only son of John and Harriett to survive the hazards of infancy, was twenty two years old in 1867 when his father died in Bunbury, leaving his wife and three daughters aged sixteen, eleven and four years old to mourn his sudden passing. Albert must have already been in a situation of some steady employment, probably working on one of the many farms as a labourer; perhaps cutting sandalwood in the interior behind the Darling Ranges, or maybe working deep in the forests among the giant Jarrah trees for one of the timber milling companies working a lease in the area between Bunbury and Perth. There is also a possibility that Albert may have been employed in a local store or bakery, as he was later often described as a storekeeper or baker, the two terms seemingly being applied indiscriminately. Albert's life may have been one of few worries and few needs, with none of the responsibilities that the more settled people of the Colony may have felt. His father's untimely death, however, would have meant that Albert suddenly found himself with having to at least partly support his mother and three sisters.

Whatever Albert was up to in 1867, he quickly settled down a little further along the coast in the village of Busselton, and by 1869, he is listed as the owner of Busselton Town 2 Lot 125 of some 2 023m2 (3). He apparently also had an interest in Lot 123, both of these Lots running from Kent Street through to Prince Street. Lot 123 also appears to have been the site of a store or bakery which Albert ran (4). In the following year of 1870, Albert decided to marry and on the 14th April, in the beautiful little St. Mary's Church of England (5), on the banks of the Vasse River in Busselton, Albert Baskerville and Eliza Ann Knapton were married by the Rev. W. Brown, the witness's being Eliza's father, George Holland Knapton, and her cousins Flora Guerrier and Nathaniel Abbey.

The year 1870 would seem to have been a good one for Albert at least on the surface. However, the necessary business acumen that can make or break the small storekeeper would seem to be an attribute that Albert did not possess as keenly as he might have, for currents were already adrift that would soon change his life and his dreams.

The last of the convicts had arrived in Western Australia in 1868, and when the convicts stopped arriving from Britain, so did the flow of cash spent by the Imperial Government in maintaining the Convict Establishment in the Colony. This absence of hard currency caused a system of barter to arise in most rural areas, and consequently, many farmers felt little desire to increase or even maintain their production levels, as it could only be exchanged for other goods and rarely for cold, hard cash needed to pay their debts. The absence of currency may explain why, when Albert sold Lot 125 to local woman Henrietta Avis Allen in March 1871, he received a mere 6 for it (5). It is possible that he received more than 6, with the balance being paid in goods of some kind. Whatever, Albert's attempt to remain solvent was unsuccessful, and on the 5th September 1871 he was adjudged a bankrupt, with the unusual 'honour' of being one of the first people to be so declared under the new Bankruptcy Act of 1871 (6). Albert and Eliza Ann Baskerville left Busselton soon after, moving to Bunbury where Albert ran another store, presumably for someone else. Eight months later, Albert purchased sub-lot 37, a half hectare of Leschenault Location 26, generally referred to as the Stirling Estate, in Stirling Street, Bunbury for 30 and then sold it (7) the same day to George R. Teede, the Bunbury schoolmaster for 70 (8), although this quick profit did not release him from bankruptcy.

1872 also saw the birth of the couples first child, a daughter named Harriett, who sadly died within a few weeks at Bunbury (9). Albert and Eliza Ann then moved back to the Vasse to join Alberts mother and three sisters, and in January 1873 Harriett, the eldest of Albert's sisters, married at St. Mary's Busselton to Henry Caporn, a Bunbury (10) saddler. George John, the second child of Albert and Eliza Ann was born on the 22 October 1873 (11), and Albert is described in the Baptism Register of St. Mary's as a "General Operative", or labourer, and with his wife was living some eight kilometres west of Busselton at "Newtown". This property was taken up by Thomas Abbey, who arrived at the Vasse in the 1830's with his brother. Thomas married Mary Ann Minion, and they had a family of four sons who were born and raised at "Newtown" Thomas, David and twins Nathaniel and John. Nathaniel married Adela Guerrier, one of the daughters of George and Mary Ann Guerrier. While at Wonnerup, George Guerrier had built a wayside Inn known as "The British Queen", and then in 1847 be opened Busselton's first place of refreshment, the "Ship Tavern". By 1864, the Guerriers had tired of the Inn-keepers life, and they retired to Yalingup, about 30 kilometres west of Busselton on the ocean side of Cape Naturaliste (12). In 1870, as previously mentioned, Nathaniel Abbey and Flora Guerrier, a sister of Adela, were witness's at the wedding of Albert and Eliza Ann. In 1876, Emma Baskerville, a sister of Albert, married Thomas Abbey, whom she may have met through her brother. Thomas was the youngest son, and also heir, to "Newtown", where Emma now came to live with her new husband and his family after their wedding in Bunbury.

The Western Australian Almanac for 1873 and 1874 lists (13) Albert's mother, Harriett, as living in Busselton with her son. At the beginning of 1873, Albert's eldest sister Harriett had married at Busselton to Henry Caporn, then gone to Bunbury to live with her new husband, so it may be that Albert was already living and working in Busselton at the time of his father's death in 1867, and that the whole family lived there afterwards, until about 1875, when Harriett seems to have returned again to Bunbury with her two daughters, now aged twelve and nineteen, perhaps to live for a time with Harriett and Henry Caporn.

In 1875, Eliza Ann Baskerville gave birth to their third child, another son named Albert Edward, who only lived for two days. In 1876, the couple's second daughter was born at "Cattle Chosen", named Alethea Eloise; "Cattle Chosen" being the property first established at the Vasse in 1832 by John Garrett Bussell, and apparently Albert was working there at the time. In October 1876, the Registrar of Bankruptcy sold the southern half of Lot 123, which faced Prince Street, to Thomas Hunter Carter, a carpenter of Busselton. This sale raised the sum of 36, an amount that, once again, was not enough to release Albert from his creditors (14). By 1878, Albert was back at "Newtown", working for the man who was now one of his brother's-in-law, Thomas Abbey, and in this year, another daughter, Louisa, was born. Six months later, however, little Alethea, now two years old, died, and then two months later, so did baby Louisa.

After eight years of marriage, Albert and Eliza Ann were in an unenviable situation. Eliza Ann had given birth to five children, and had already attended the heartbreaking task of seeing four of them buried; Albert bad been a bankrupt for seven years now, and was in the employ of his brother-in-law as a farm labourer. They seem to have been moving from cottage to cottage within the district, never being able to put down their own roots, dogged, it would seem by a never ending series of misfortunes. The colonial economy was in the doldrums after the relatively prosperous years of the Convict Era, and it must have seemed as though Western Australia was to be, at least to it's inhabitants, the Cinderella of the Empire.

Lady Luck, however, now seemed to be prepared to at least cast a glance at some of the colonists. In 1880, we find Albert working as the Caretaker at the "Working Men's Association" rooms in Busselton (15) and that year also saw the birth of a fine, healthy daughter, who was given the robust name of Bertha Olive. In 1881, another son, Charles, was born at Busselton, and Albert had ventured into the timber industry, working at Wonnerup for the "Western Australian Timber Company", who had been operating the "Ballarat Timber Mill" in the area since 1869 (16).

In 1884, another son, Henry Thomas, was born at Busselton, and the family were now living on the Quindalup Road. Sometime after the new baby's birth, Albert and Eliza Ann and their growing family left the Vasse. Eighteen months previously, Albert had finally been discharged from his bankruptcy on the 12 June 1882 (17), and free at last from the financial grip of the gnomes of Fremantle, Albert and Eliza Ann travelled overland by Bullock wagon, moving their family and home back to Bunbury (18).

The family stayed in Bunbury until 1889, although Albert spent much of that time away from them working. In 1888 the Almanac lists him as an employee of the "Western Australian Lumber Company", of Ludlow and Capel, two small hamlets between Busselton and Bunbury. Eliza Ann returned to the home of her parents for the birth of another daughter, Harriett, in 1886, and again in 1887 for the birth of Ethel. Both babies were taken back to Bunbury after the confinements, and within a few months they had both died. 1888 saw the birth of Amy Grace, this time in Bunbury, and, not being required to face the arduous overland journey from Busselton, she survived.

In the summer of 1889, Albert and Eliza Ann and their family boarded the SS "Bullara", and sailed from Bunbury southwards to Hamelin, a small but very busy port that had been built as the summer harbour for the "MC Davies" Company's timber milling operations that bad begun at Kudarup, or Coodarup, a small hamlet just north of the old failed settlement of Augusta. This was the district that for Albert and Eliza Ann Baskerville provided a contentedness and calmness that they had seldom experienced during their nineteen years of marriage.

Karridale: the promise realised

The last decade of the nineteenth century began, naturally enough, in the year 1891. It was to be a decade of a type that the Colony of Western Australia had never experienced before, beginning a momentous ten years as a dependency of the British Crown, and ending them on the first day of the new century as an original state of the world's only nation to cover an entire continent, the Commonwealth of Australia.

For Albert and Eliza Ann Baskerville and their family, it was to be a time of consolidation and of quiet confidence in themselves and in the future as the benefits of economic prosperity and political responsibility spread through all sections of colonial life.

They disembarked from the SS "Bullara" at the port of Hamelin (19) on to a long and very solidly built jetty of some 549 metres in length, constructed a few years previously in 1882 by the M.G. Davies timber milling operation. It was also in 1882 that Maurice Coleman Davies had been granted a timber license by Governor Robinson giving him the Right to cut and remove the whole of the timber standing, growing or which might grow upon a lease of 18 630 hectares, for 42 years at 150 per year. This lease also gave M.C. Davies the power to construct tramways or railways anywhere through the area, and the pre-emptive right to purchase, at 10s per acre (4 050m2) certain locations within the lease area and at Hamelin Bay. The lease covered a superb, untouched forest of Karri, Jarrah and Redgum, the same forest that had forced the abandonment of Augusta during the 1830's, and it was the fact that this forest was in close proximity to two natural harbours at Hamelin Bay and Flinders Bay, coupled with experience gained from an involvement with the "Rockingham Jarrah Timber Company", that gave M.C. Davies an advantage over many of the other timber operations in the colony. M.C. Davies also had another ace in that while Jarrah was already known on the worlds markets as a top quality, durable hardwood Karri was virtually unknown outside of Western Australia. The M.C. Davies lease covered the most easily exploited part of the Karri forest, and this enabled the Company to create a virtual monopoly on Karri, and to make a considerable impact on the colonial economy by it's exploitation,

The first mill was located at Coodarup (now known as Kudarup), some six kilometres north of Augusta, and about the same distance south from Hamelin. It began processing the Karri forest in 1883, with the timber being sent to Augusta, on Flinders Bay, for shipment in the winter, and to Hamelin during the summer; the mill output being hauled to the ports by horses over a track of wooden rails. In 1884, this mill was closed, and a larger mill with a vertical breaking down type saw, and a capacity of about 28 500m3 of timber was erected at Karridale, about eight kilometres further north of Coodarup. In 1891 a larger mill was built at Boranup, about four kilometres north of Karridale. This was almost immediately destroyed by fire, but quickly replaced by an even larger mill, this one employing up to 300 men separately from the mill at Karridale. In 1889, when Albert and his family arrived, wages ranged from 7s per day to 13s 4d per day, while 43 kilometres private railway line ran to various points of the lease, which were continually being extended to new blocks of majestic Karri, well in advance of the fellers.

Albert and Eliza Ann were members of this community for some twenty five years. Some of their children attended school in Karridale, and Albert worked for M.C. Davies until their amalgamation in 1902 with eight other Westralian timber companies to form the London-based "Millars Timber & Trading Company Limited", with whom he continued in employment until his retirement just before World War One exploded over the world. Certainly, all of his sons entered the timber industry at some level or another, and Albert himself resided at Karridale until after the Karri had all been felled, and there was nothing left for the mills to consume, in 1913.

For Albert and Eliza Ann Baskerville, Karridale proved to be the exact opposite of what Busselton bad been. It must have seemed as though some strange curse had been lifted after the endless bad luck and pain of Busselton, which bad started out with so much hope and promise before the dream quickly soured into a sombre, unrelenting reality of bankruptcy, semi-employment, home-moving and infant burials. Karridale, by contrast, had provided Albert and Eliza Ann with a permanent home, steady and reliable employment, a cool but pleasant climate - in a word, Security - their one need that Busselton could not fulfill. And yet, even the idyllic Karridale had a serpent. In 1895, Eliza Ann gave birth too, and then buried another baby - a little girl named Clarice Augusta (20). Eliza Ann Baskerville appears to have been a strong willed lady, managing to keep herself, and her family, together and maintain a belief in the promise of tomorrow, despite the burial of seven of her infant children by the turn of the century. In 1899, women in Western Australia gained the Right to Vote, and the following year, Eliza Ann was probably amongst the 251 female voters in the Sussex Electoral District who turned out at the Polling Booths to exercise their newly gained Right by voting at a referendum to decide whether or not Western Australia should join the proposed federation of the British Colonies in Australia. 720 electors in the district voted, and by a majority of 228 they voted against the proposal (21), a trend that did not reflect the way the majority of voters in the Colony cast their vote. In 1904, the newly-titled State Government made available the first set of printed Electoral Rolls, and Eliza Ann Baskerville, married woman of Karridale is listed, along with her eldest son, George John, a benchman at the Boranup mill. Albert Baskerville is noticeable by his absence.

Retirement in a warmer climate

Albert and Eliza Ann moved to Jarrahwood, a hamlet about midway between Busselton and Nannup. They lived near the hall, where Albert ran a small Market Garden (22), until sometime around 1916 when he retired and moved with Eliza Ann to the warmer metropolitan area around Perth. They purchased a home in what was then one of Perth's newly developing western suburbs, Claremont. With retirement, Albert now seems to have found time to at least be able to sit back and take it easy, and in 1917, he is listed on the roll for the Claremont Electoral District as a 'Gentleman' of Princess Road, Claremont, along with his wife (16). Soon afterwards, their eldest daughter, Bertha, is also found on the roll, living at the same place (l7).

Some years later, in June 1925, Albert died in his home, his cause of death being given as "Gastric Carcinoma", the seemingly innocuous name hiding an agonizingly painful death from Stomach Cancer. He was buried the next day, the 13th June 1925 in the Anglican section of Karrakatta Cemetery, Perth (18).

Eliza Ann stayed on at home in Princess Road with Bertha, the dutiful daughter who had stayed with her ageing parents. Eliza Ann and Albert bad been married for just over fifty five years, and after four years alone, Eliza Ann passed away in September 1929, and was also interred in Karrakatta Cemetery with her husband (19).

Within a few months, Bertha had disposed of the Claremont home, as the effects of the Wall Street crash in far away New York and the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 were beginning to make themselves felt. By the age of 49, Bertha had discharged her 'filial' duty.

References and reading

Originally published in Baskerville, B., John Baskerville 1807-1867: his life, family and descendants of Western Australia, thesis for Diploma in Family Historical Studies conferred by Society of Australian Genealogists, Sydney 1984. In this extract, I have only made minor alterations to the text, with grammar, capitalisation, and so on remaining much as it was originally written over twenty years ago.

  1. The population of Stoke Lacey Parish at the 1831 census was 381: Smith, F., Genealogical Gazetteer of England, Baltimore 1977.
  2. International Genealogical Index, Card B0107, 1982 Edition, WA Genealogical Society, Perth.
  3. Town Lots, Description Book, Busselton 1841-1883, Battye Library, Acc 660/445
  4. Busselton Rate Book, extracts in letter to author from Busselton Historical Society, 15th February 1975.
  5. Marriage Certificate, 3089/1870, copy issued 10th March 1983.
  6. Old System Land Title, Book VII, Memorial 361, Land Title's Office, Perth
  7. Government Gazette, 12th September 1871
  8. Old System Land Title, Book VII, Memorial 684, Land Title's Office, Perth
  9. Old System Land Title, Book VII, Memorial 685, Land Title's Office, Perth
  10. Birth Certificate 13834/1872 Bunbury and Death Certificate 6276/1872 Bunbury
  11. Register of Marriages, St. Mary's Church, Busselton
  12. Register of Baptisms, St. Marys Church, Busselton
  13. Busselton Historical Society, Historic Busselton, the Society, Busselton 1970: 3 & 9
  14. Western Australian Almanac, card index 1862-1889, Battye Library, Perth
  15. Old System Land Title, Book VII, Memorial 2281, Land Title's Office, Perth
  16. Western Australian Almanac, card index 1682-1889, Battye Library, Perth
  17. Busselton Rate Book, extracts in letter to author from Busselton Historical Society, 15th February 1975.
  18. Government Gazette, 17th June 1882
  19. Fall, op. cit.: 53.
  20. Birth Certificate 2107/1894 Karridale; Death Certificate 39/1895 Karridale
  21. Battye, J.S., 'Cyclopedia of Western Australia, Vol II, Adelaide 1912
  22. Electoral Roll, Collie Electoral District, 8th September 1914, 31st March 1916