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Thomas Lansdown was born circa 1817 in England and died 24 August 1885 in Towrang, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia of unspecified causes. He married Jane Kelly (c1830-1872) 4 November 1850 in Yass, New South Wales, Australia. He married Rebecca Best (1834-1921) 10 April 1873 in Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.


Thomas Lansdown the enigma

Thomas is known to have used 2 names in Australia, the name of Thomas Digby, and the name of Thomas Lansdown. That Thomas Digby, the baker from Yass, and Thomas Lansdown, the farmer from Goulburn who was married to Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best are the same man is revealed in a court case in Goulburn on late December 1857.

Thomas Lansdown was a man who was hiding his true identity. It is therefore not known what his true surname was, where he was born, or who his parents were.

When he married in 1873 Thomas Lansdown claimed that he was 54 years old (born 1818/1819) born at Yeovil, Somerset, the son of Thomas Lansdown and Mary Spenser. It is not known if this is true, or if this is fabricated. There is an entry on the International Genelogical Index that states that Thomas Lansdown was born at Yeovil on 17 December 1817 to Thomas Lansdown and Mary Spenser. This entry is personal family information that was Community Contributed and not sources from original records. There is no record of a baptism in the parish register for Yeovil, nothing to substantiate the entry on the IGI. None of the details that Thomas provided have been able to be verified.

When their daughter Martha had been born in 1857 his wife Jane Kelly recorded that Thomas was 37 years old (born 1819/1820) born at Southampton, Hampshire, and that his name was Thomas Digby. Either this information was told to Jane by Thomas, or it was fabricated by Jane. Either way there is no reason to believe that it is correct. Also nothing has been found for a birth under the name of either Digby or Lansdown at Southampton in that period.

What is known is that Thomas Lansdown was living as Thomas Digby in Yass in 1850-1851, and working there in his own business as a baker, confectioner (baker of cakes), and brewer.

In 1850 Thomas Digby was living at Yass with his wife Ann who in May of that year gave birth to their son Thomas Digby Jnr who only lived for 6 weeks. Subsequent events show that Thomas's wife Ann also died.

On 4 November 1850 the widower Thomas Digby remarried at the Presbyterian Church at Yass. Thomas was about 32 years old. His bride was 20 year old Jane Kelly. They were soon expecting their first child.

By September 1851 Thomas had moved to Sydney with his new wife Jane. Their first child was born in Sydney in that month. Thomas had, however, changed their surname to Lansdown, the surname that he used for the rest of his life.

Thomas Lansdown next went gold-mining near Braidwood for about 12 months in 1851-1852 during the New South Wales gold-rush while he left his family in Sydney. Thomas Lansdown then moved his family to Goulburn where he became a farmer. For the rest of his life he went by the name of Thomas Lansdown.

As it is not known when Thomas first moved to Yass, it is possible that before moving to Yass that the baker Thomas first worked Thomas Lansdown, cook, at the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum at Gladesville, Sydney in 1847. If so Thomas then moved to Yass before 1850, changed his name to Thomas Digby, and opened a business as a baker, confectioner (baker of cakes), and brewer. If he first changed his name from Lansdown to Digby he borrowed the name of Digby from the surname of the Supervisor of the Asylum at Tarban Creek. It is known that Thomas had moved to Sydney by September 1851 and changed his name (back?-)to Thomas Lansdown. Thomas then worked for what appears to be about 12 months as a gold-prospector when he found enough gold to provide the capital required to fund a move to Goulburn where he become a farmer.

Immigration to Australia

When Thomas died in 1885 his wife Rebecca Best claimed that he arrived in Australia in about 1847/48 (death certificate). This has not been able to be confirmed. It is also not known what name Thomas was using when he immigrated, or if he immigrated as a married man with his wife Ann, or alone as a single man marrying his first wife Ann after he arrived in the Colony .

Not the convict from Essex

Thomas is not the convict Thomas Digby (1795-1855) born about 1795 in Essex who arrived in New South Wales aboard the "Fortune" in 1813. The convict was sent to the Maitland district near Newcastle north of Sydney, where he had to stay under the terms of his ticket of leave, and was never in the district of Yass or Goulburn. The convict's dead in 1855 at Liverpool, New South Wales also precludes him.

Not the convict sent to Tasmania in 1848

For a long time it was believed that Thomas Lansdown who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, had arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia on 14 July 1848 as a convict aboard the ship "Bangalore". It is now known, from new research undertaken in 2013, that the convict Thomas Lansdown (1821-) is a different man. Records kept in Tasmania, English census documents, and parish records reveal that Thomas Lansdown the convict was born in 1821 the son of William Lansdown (1792-1875) and Anne Fussell (1788-1872) in the small village of Stoke Lane, Shepton Mallet, Somerset. Records in Tasmania show that he received a Conditional Pardon on 29 August meaning that he could leave Tasmania as long as he stayed in the Australian Colonies or New Zealand. From 13 March 1851 when his sentence expired he was free to travel anywhere. When his brother William Lansdown (1828-1905) arrived as a convict in Tasmania on 19 September 1851 the records in Tasmania recorded that the convict Thomas Lansdown was "at sea". The records held in Tasmania also reveal that the convict was illiterate, and Thomas Lansdown who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, could read and write (court records, marriage registration).

Possibly employed as a cook at Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum

There is a story that has been passed down in the family that Thomas told one of his sons that he helped with the cooking on the voyage out from England to Australia. Research undertaken in 2013, that has confirmed that Thomas had owned his own business as a baker, confectioner (baker of cakes) and brewer and therefore that he had cooking skills, does not confirm this story but makes it plausible.

On 15 May 1847 a Thomas Lansdown was employed as a cook at Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum (Gladesville, Sydney) by the then superintendent Joseph Thomas Digby (1812-1899) (superintendent 1838-1847, steward 1848-1850). A letter written to the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales shows that this Thomas Lansdown arrived in the Colony of New South Wales as a free man, and was to receive a salary of £20 per annum. Further research needs to be undertaken to establish if this is Thomas Lansdown who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, or another different Thomas Lansdown.

Did not marry Sophia Todd in 1850

For a long time it was believed that on 25 November 1850 Thomas Lansdown was in Sydney marrying Sophia Todd (1831-1916) and that either Sophia had died shortly after the wedding with her death being unrecorded, or that the marriage had broken down as Thomas had a child with another woman, Jane Kelly (c1830-1872), in September 1851. It is now known, from new research undertaken in 2013, that Sophia did not die shortly after her wedding but moved to Victoria and lived until 1916. It is also now known that Thomas Lansdown who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, did not marry Sophia Todd but that Sophia married another different man by the name of Thomas Lansdown. Thomas Lansdown who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, was literate (as proved by a court case in 1857, and his marriage to Rebecca Best (1834-1921) in 1873 where he signed the marriage register with his signature), and Sophia Todd and her husband Thomas Lansdown were both illiterate (as proved by the marriage register which they both signed with their mark, that is a cross).

Marriage of Thomas Lansdown to Jane Kelly

It had been passed down in the family of Thomas Lansdown that he had been married to Jane Kelly, the mother of his eldest children. A marriage explained why Thomas Lansdown and Rebecca Best (1834-1921), in an era when divorce was the perogative of the rich, were not able to marry until after Jane's death, and why Thomas stated that he was a widower. It also explained why Jane Kelly never married the widower William Garner (1809-1868). A court case held in Sydney in January 1863 also evidenced that a marriage had taken place between the couple. No record of a marriage between Thomas Lansdown and Jane Kelly, however, had been able to be found. The only record of a marriage that had been found was a marriage between Jane Kelly and a Thomas Digby in Yass in 1850. It was believed, incorrectly, that Thomas Digby and Thomas Lansdown were different people, and that Thomas Digby must have died allowing Jane Kelly to marry Thomas Lansdown at a time and place that were unknown.

From research undertaken in April 2013 by the Goulburn & District Historical Society into Goulburn newspapers that had not been at that time not been digitised on-line by the National Library of Australia, it is now known from a report about a court case in December 1857 that Thomas Lansdown married Jane Kelly at the Presbyterian Church in Yass in 1850, and that the ceremony was performed by Rev Ritchie. The record of the wedding in Yass, however, is that the name of the groom in this wedding was recorded by the minister as "Thomas Digby", a "member of the Australian Presbyterian Church", who signed the register as "Thomas Degby". Thomas Lansdown and Thomas Digby are the same person. Thomas Lansdown, as Thomas Digby, married Jane Kelly at the Presbyterian Church in Yass on 4 November 1850, and the ceremony was performed by Rev William Ritchie. Witnesses to the wedding were Patrick Curran (c1813-1859), a publican at Yass, and his partner Ann Griffiths (c1818-).

First confirmed records of Thomas using the surname of Digby - Yass, Mar 1850 - Mar 1851

The first records of Thomas Digby, and his first wife Mrs Ann Digby, are found in 1850 and show that they were living at Yass.

In 1850 and 1851 Thomas Digby of Yass is shown in the newspapers to be a brewer (Sydney Morning Herald 6 Nov 1850), confectioner (baker of cakes) (The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyll Advertiser 22 March 1851), and baker (Sydney Morning Herald 25 March 1851) at Yass. In April 1850 he signed a letter to the newspaper as one of the "inhabitants of the town and district of Yass". Alternative spellings for his surname that turn up in the records are Degby and Degley.

Newspapers of the day reveal that 50 girls from the Earl Grey scheme who had arrived at Sydney on 3 February 1850 on the "Thomas Arbuthnot" were sent to Yass. When the 50 Irish orphan girls arrived in Yass on 2 March 1850 looking for placements, heavily pregnant Mrs Ann Digby, hired 15 year old Bridget Canny (c1835-1869) for a period of 2 years. On 17 April 1850 Thomas Digby, together with other citizens of Yass, signed a letter mentioning the "general good conduct of the fifty girls who have obtained situations amongst us" from the "Female Irish Orphan Immigrants". Bridget Canny was soon, however, removed from the Digby household and resettled with more 'Christian people' as heavily pregnant Mrs Ann Digby had proved to be 'violent-tempered'. Thomas Digby Jnr, conceived in late August 1849, was born in Yass in 18 May 1850. Unfortunately the baby only lived for 6 weeks. Subsequent events show that Mrs Ann Digby also died in 1850, but unfortunately it is not known when as there is no record of her death. It is possible that she had died in childbirth, or soon after.

On 4 November 1850 the widower Thomas Digby remarried. His bride was 20 year old Jane Kelly who had moved from Goulburn to Yass. Thomas was about 32 years old. (It would have been impossible for Thomas to remarry in such a small community as Yass in 1850 if his first wife Ann was not deceased.)

About 6 weeks after the wedding, in mid-December 1850, Thomas's and Jane's daughter Isabella was conceived.

Both Thomas and Jane were still living at Yass in March 1851 when a court case was held in Yass about property of Thomas's that had been stolen at Yass. Jane was mentioned in evidence, and Thomas was a witness. Before 4 September 1851, when their daughter Isabella was born, however, Thomas and Jane were living in Hunter Street, Sydney, and the newspapers show that uncollected mail for Thomas Digby was being returned from Yass to the central post office for New South Wales in Sydney. With the move to Sydney Thomas had changed the family surname from Digby to Lansdown.

It is not known why Thomas changed his name from Digby to Lansdown in 1851, or why he stopped being a baker. It is also not known why he subsequently settled with his family near Goulburn, especially as Goulburn is only 80km (50m) from Yass, with people regularly travelling between the two towns, Goulburn lying on the route from Yass to Sydney, and Yass lying on the route from Goulburn to Melbourne. It makes no sense for a man who had changed his name for whatever reason to live in an area where he would be recognised, but this is what he did.

First confirmed record of Thomas using the surname of Lansdown - Sydney, Oct 1851

The first confirmed record in Australia of Thomas using the name of Thomas Lansdown is at the christening of his daughter Isabella Lydia Lansdown (1851-1911) at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral in Sydney. (It is not known why Isabella was baptised at the Catholic Cathedral as both parents were protestant, and this is the only record of either parent being associated with the Catholic church.) Isabella Landstone(sic) was born on 4 September 1851 and christened on 6 October 1851. Isabella was baptised as the daughter of Thomas Landstone(sic) (about 33 years old) and Jane Kelly (c1830-1872) (about 21 years old). The christening register records Isabella's date of birth and that Thomas and Jane were living at Hunter Street, Sydney. It also records both Thomas Landstone(sic) and Jane Kelly by those names. (Isabella was also christened for a second time on 27 November 1857 confirming her date of birth, that her mother was Jane Kelly, and that her father was Thomas Lansdown. That she was born in Sydney is also confirmed at her marriage in 1900, and at her death in 1911.)

The Lansdown-Digby connection

  • Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885) (Part 1)
    • Possibly arrived in NSW in about 1847
    • Family stories that he worked as a cook aboard the ship to Australia
    • Possibly working as a cook at Tarban Creek in May 1847 for Joseph Thomas Digby (1812-1899)
  • Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885) as Thomas Digby, baker, confectioner (baker of cakes), and brewer at Yass (Part 2)
    • Had a son born with his wife Ann Digby born in Yass in May 1850. This baby died 6 weeks later
    • Married Jane Kelly in November 1850 in Yass
    • Court records show that he is still living in Yass in March 1851
    • Left Yass with Jane before September 1851
    • Uncollected mail returned from Yass to main post office In Sydney in September 1851
  • Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885), farmer of Boxers Creek, Goulburn (Part 3)
    • Moves to Sydney before September 1851 and changes his surname from Digby to Lansdown
    • Birth of his daughter Isabella in Sydney in September 1851
    • Isabella baptised in Sydney in October 1851 as daughter of Jane Kelly and Thomas Landstone(sic)
    • Prospected for gold at Braidwood in 1852, family left in Sydney
    • Moved family to near Goulburn at the end of 1852 and commenced work on the farm/estate of William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896)
    • Purchased first land at Boxers Creek near Goulburn in April 1856
    • Break-up of relationship with his pregnant wife Jane in September 1856. His wife Jane reverts to their former surname of Digby
    • Is described by his wife Jane when their baby is born in May 1857 as Thomas Digby, baker
    • Began relationship with Rebecca Best by July 1857
    • Is sued for maintenance by his wife Jane in Goulburn in December 1857. For the court case Jane uses the name of Jane Lansdown to sue him in the name he is known by in Goulburn which is Thomas Lansdown
    • Married Rebecca Best in 1873 after the death of his wife Jane in 1872
    • Died 1885 near Goulburn
    • Daughter Isabella Lansdown lists his occupation as baker at her marriage in 1900


  • Jane Kelly (c1830-1872)
    • Alternative names: Jane Lansdown, Jane Digby, Martha Digby, Jane Garner/Gardiner
    • Arrived in NSW in April 1849 aboard the "Digby"
    • Married in November 1850 in Yass to Thomas Digby, baker of Yass
    • Daughter Isabella conceived in December 1850
    • Record that she is still living in Yass with Thomas Digby in March 1851
    • Left Yass with Thomas Digby before September 1851
    • Birth of daughter Isabella in Sydney in September 1851. Thomas has changed their surname from Digby to Lansdown and Isabella is baptised as Isabella Landstone(sic) the daughter of Jane Kelly and Thomas Landstone(sic)
    • Relationship with her husband Thomas breaks down in September 1856 while Jane is pregnant
    • Jane reverts to their former surname of Digby
    • Jane's and Thomas's daughter Martha is born in Goulburn in May 1857 and her birth is registered as Martha Digby. Her father is named as Thomas Digby, baker
    • By August 1857 had begun a relationship with William Garner/Gardiner
    • Jane sued her husband Thomas for maintenance in Goulburn in December 1857. For the court case Jane uses the name of Jane Lansdown to sue Thomas in the name he is known by in Goulburn which is Thomas Lansdown
    • Died 1872 in Sydney as Jane Digby


  • Isabella Lydia Lansdown (1851-1911), daughter of Thomas Lansdown and Jane Kelly, born September 1851 in Sydney. Married Henry Conquit in 1900
    • Alternative names: Anne Maidman, Anne Lansdown, Isabella Digby, Isabella Conquit
    • Raised from the age of 5 by her father after her mother and Thomas Lansdown split in September 1856
    • In records for the death of her eldest son in 1891 she is shown as both Isabella Digby and Isabella Lansdown
    • When her youngest son died in 1932 the informant listed his mother’s name as Isabella Digby
    • When she married in 1900 she listed her father as Thomas Lansdown, baker


  • Rebecca Jane Lansdown (1852-1923), daughter of Thomas Lansdown and Jane Kelly, born December 1852 near Goulburn. Married David Forrester in 1880
    • Alternative names: Rebecca Digby, Rebecca Forrester
    • Raised from the age of 3 by her father after her parents split in September 1856
    • When one of her sons married he listed his mother’s name as Rebecca Digby


  • Mary Anne Lansdown (1854-1921), daughter of Thomas Lansdown and Jane Kelly, born January 1854 near Goulburn. Married David Lamb Sutherland in 1894
    • Alternative names: Mary Anne Sutherland
    • Raised from the age of 2 by her father after her parents split in September 1856
    • When she died in 1921 Martha Jager nee Digby, her younger sister, was a witness to her death


  • Thomas Lansdown (1855-), son of Thomas Lansdown and Jane Kelly, born January 1855 near Goulburn
    • Alternative names: Frederick Davis
    • Raised from the age of 1 by his father after his parents split in September 1856


  • Ellen Henrietta Lansdown (1856-1932), daughter of Thomas Lansdown and Jane Kelly, born January 1856 near Goulburn. Married Walter Hardy in 1886
    • Alternative names: Ellen Hardy
    • Raised from the age of 7 months by her father after her parents split in September 1856


  • Martha Digby (1857-1926), daughter of Thomas Lansdown and Jane Kelly, born May 1857 near Goulburn. Married William Hugh Rabbits Craddock in 1876 and George Jager in 1896
    • Alternative names: Martha Craddock, Martha Jager
    • Conceived when her mother Jane Kelly was still in a relationship with Thomas Lansdown
    • Her mother, using the name of Jane Digby, registered her birth as Martha Digby. Her mother stated that Martha’s father was her husband Thomas Digby, baker
    • Raised by her mother from birth until the age of 7 when she was placed into care in Sydney
    • Witness to the death in 1921 of Mary Ann Sutherland nee Lansdown, her older sister


  • Ann Jane Digby (1858-1943), daughter of Jane Kelly and William Garner/Gardiner, born May 1858 near Goulburn. Married John Poulter in 1879
    • Alternative names: Ann Jane Poulter
    • Raised by her mother from birth until the age of 5 when she was placed into care in Sydney



  • Cecilia Digby (1862-1862), daughter of Jane Kelly and William Garner/Gardiner, born March 1862 near Goulburn. Died December 1862 in Sydney


  • Cecilia Digby (1863-1864), daughter of Jane Kelly and William Garner/Gardiner, born April 1863 in Sydney. Died April 1864 in Sydney

Prospecting for gold near Braidwood in 1852

After 6 October 1851 Thomas Lansdown joined in the New South Wales gold-rush and went to the gold-fields at Bell's Creek to try his luck. Bell's Creek, which is about 100 miles south of Goulburn on the Braidwood side of Araluen, was first pegged out for gold prospecting in September 1851. Thomas had some success in his gold prospecting as a newspaper report in the Sydney Morning Herald of 21 September 1852 lists that Thomas Lansdown sent 134oz of gold (8lb 6oz, 3.8kg) that he had found at Bell's Creek to the Colonial Secretary in Sydney. This gold was worth about £420. £420 was 21 times the £20 annual wage that had been paid to the cook at Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum in 1847.

For a long time it has been believed that Thomas Lansdown when he joined in the gold-rush had taken Jane and baby Isabella with him. Court records from December 1857 instead establish that he left Jane and Isabella in Sydney while he went to the gold-fields on his own, and that he would travel from the gold-fields back to Sydney to visit his family.

For a long time it has also been believed that Thomas and Jane's next child, Rebecca Jane, was born on 25 December 1852 near Braidwood. No birth registration exists for Rebecca, her place of birth was not recorded when she married, and her death registration, filled in by her son Herbert, shows that Rebecca told her family that her place of birth was Goulburn. Her elder sister Isabella, in repeating information that she had been told by her father, informed the family that she, Isabella, had been born in Sydney, something which has been substantiated by official documentation. When Rebecca said that she was born in Goulburn she was only repeated what she had been told by her father, and this information was probably correct. It therefore appears that Thomas moved his family to Goulburn after September 1852 and before Rebecca was born on 25 December 1852. It also therefore appears that Thomas involved himself in gold-prospecting for about 12 months.

To confuse matters in 1855 there was another different Thomas Lansdown in the gold-mining area of Major's Creek, nearby to Bell's Creek. "The Goulburn Herald and County of Argyle Advertiser" in February 1855 shows a different Thomas Lansdown, of Major's Creek, advertising in regard to a horse that had strayed. (Major's Creek was 100km from Goulburn and covered by the Goulburn newspaper as the largest settlement in that area). At the same time Thomas Lansdown who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, was working and living at "Springfield", Tirrannaville, Goulburn in 1855 with Jane Kelly (c1830-1872) and their then 4 children, with their youngest child, baby Thomas, having been born there as recently as January 1855. The "Sydney Morning Herald" in April 1855 lists people who had subscribed to the Patriotic Fund. Listed among those identified as living at "Springfield" was Thomas Lansdown who subscribed 5s. This clearly shows that in 1855 there were 2 different men by the name of Thomas Lansdown both living within about 100km of Goulburn.

In 1868-1876 there was a Thomas Lansdown living at Larbert near Braidwood. He is mentioned in the "Empire" newspaper of 17 September 1868 as a (gold-)digger and farmer who had found some diamonds whilst digging for gold, is listed in the Grenville's Post Office Directory as a miner living at Larbert, Braidwood in 1872, and is burying his daughters in the Braidwood Cemetary in 1873 and 1876. At the same time Thomas Lansdown who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, was living closer to Goulburn with his family at Quialigo and then Boxers Creek. This clearly shows that in 1868-1876 there were 2 different men by the name of Thomas Lansdown both living within about 100km of Goulburn.

The Thomas Lansdown living at Larbert, Braidwood in 1872 was Isaiah Thomas Lansdown (1823-1900) who was also known as Thomas Lansdown. Isaiah Thomas Lansdown, also known as Thomas Lansdown, married in Sydney in 1852, and his first child was born in Sydney on 27 June 1853. As he moved his family away from Sydney after the birth of his first child, birth registrations do not exist for his subsequent children to confirm where he was during the period from 1853 to 1867. It is possible that he was the gold-miner at Major's Creek in 1855. He is known to be the gold-miner at Braidwood in 1868-1876 as he had 2 daughters buried at the Braidwood Cemetery in the period. There was Louisa in 1873, with her parent's names given as Thomas Lansdown and Catherine McAra, and Eliza in 1876, with her parent's names given as Isaiah Thomas Lansdown and Catherine McAra. After Eliza's death Isaiah Thomas Lansdown moved his family to Goulburn. His eldest daughter married at Goulburn in 1877, and he is described in the marriage notice in December 1881 for his son Thomas William Lansdown as "Thomas Lansdown, late of Goulburn". Catherine Lansdown nee McAra died at Leichardt in 1896, where their son Thomas William Lansdown was living with his wife and family. Isaiah Thomas Lansdown, who had been born in 1823 in Crickdale, Wiltshire as the son of Richard and Susan Lansdown, died in Parramatta in 1900, and his death is registered under the name of Thomas Lansdown.

There were therefore 2 known Thomas Lansdowns living within about 100km of Goulburn in the period 1855 to about 1881.

  • (1) Thomas Lansdown who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, who was gold-mining at Bells Creek near Braidwood in September 1852 and who was living at "Springfield" and Boxers Creek near Goulburn from late 1852 to 1885.
  • (2) Isaiah Thomas Lansdown known as Thomas Lansdown who was gold-mining and farming at Braidwood in 1868-1876, and possibly as early as 1855. After 1876 he moved his family to Goulburn, but had left the district by 1881.

The many Thomas Lansdowns

A number of Thomas Lansdowns have been identified as in Australia in the period 1847-1855. Allowing for possible overlaps in the records, this identifies between 3 and 6 different Thomas Lansdowns in Australia at the same time. Immigration records only exist for 1 of these men. Death records exist for only 2 of these men.

  • (1) Thomas Lansdown (1821-), illiterate, the convict, the son of William Lansdown and Anne Fussell, who was transfered to Tasmania aboard the Bangalore from Bermuda in 1848, and who in 1849 is recorded as in holding a Conditional Pardon. The terms of his Conditonal Pardon restricted him to the Australian Colonies and New Zealand until his 7 year sentence expired on 13 March 1851. When his brother William Lansdown (1828-1905) arrived in Tasmania as a convict on 19 September 1851 the Tasmanian authorities recorded this Thomas Lansdown as "at sea". May have learnt to swim during his 5 years as a convict in the British penal colony in Bermuda.
  • (2) Thomas Lansdown the seaman who was working as a member of the crew on the Irish built ship Emma on a trip from Hobart to Sydney (Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 1850). The Emma was working in Australian waters and regularly sailed between Sydney and Hobart. He was a good swimmer as he dived into the sea to save a drowning man. It is possible that this man was (1) above.
  • (3) Thomas Lansdown, illiterate, who married Sophia Todd in Sydney in November 1850 and then moved with her to Melbourne. Found in the records from 1850 (Sydney) to 1858 (Melbourne). It is possible, however, that this man was (1) and/or (2) above. He could only have been (2) above, however, if he could swim.
  • (4) Thomas Lansdown (1817-1885), literate, the farmer of Goulburn, NSW, who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best. Went by the name of Thomas Digby at Yass in 1850-1851. Found in records in September 1852 as a gold-prospector at Bells Creek near Braidwood, NSW, substantiated by court records of December 1857. Death registration of 1885 states he immigrated about 1847. Found in records from 1850 (Yass) to 1885 (Goulburn). If he could swim it is possible that he is (2) above.
  • (5) Isaiah Thomas Lansdown (1823-1900), also known as Thomas Lansdown, the gold-miner and farmer of Larbert, Braidwood, NSW. Believed to have been the gold-miner of Majors Creek near Braidwood, NSW found in records in 1855. Death registration in 1900 in the name of Thomas Lansdown. Found in the records marrying in Sydney in 1852, and having his first child in Sydney in June 1853. He is also found in the records living in Braidwood in the period 1868 to 1876. He then moved his family to Goulburn. His eldest daughter married in Goulburn in 1877, and he is described in the marriage notice for his son Thomas William Lansdown in December 1881 as "Thomas Lansdown, late of Goulburn". It is possible that this man is (2) above, but not likely as the seaman could swim, and swim well enough to jump into the water to try to save a drowning man, and this Thomas Lansdown was not raised near the sea.
  • (6) Thomas Lansdown who worked as a cook at Tarban Creek Asylum, NSW, in 1847 after arriving in the Colony of NSW as a free man. It is possible, however, that this man was one of the men (2)-(5) above.

Move to Goulburn

Thomas who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, moved with his family to Goulburn. There he obtained, possibly in advance from one of the employment agents in Sydney, work from William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896) on his property "Springfield" at Tirrannaville, 20 kilometres south of Goulburn. It was there that Thomas and Jane's second daughter, Rebecca Jane Lansdown, was born on 25 December 1852. It was there that their daughter, Mary Anne Lansdown, was born on on 21 January 1854. Their son Thomas followed on 11 January 1855, and their daughter Ellen Henrietta followed on 26 January 1856 (place of birth as Springfield, Goulburn confirmed by her death record). Birth records do not exist for these children, but their dates of birth are recorded at their baptism at the Presbyterian church in Goulburn on 27 November 1857.

First Parcel Of Land Purchased at Boxers Creek

Thomas Lansdown who married Jane Kelly and Rebecca Best, at about the age of 38 purchased his first land at Boxers Creek. He purchased 55 acres (22 hectares), block no. 119 at Boxers Creek in the parish of Towrang, on 3 April 1856, for the cost of £1 per acre. The purchase was made from the Government. Even though he owned and farmed land at Boxers Creek from 1856, Thomas did not live there for quite some time. He continued to live on his farm on land that he already owned at Quialigo. Unfortunately no record of the purchase of the land at Quialigo has been found. It is assumed that the money that he used to purchase his land came from the proceeds of the sale of the gold that he found at Bell's Creek.

Breakdown of one relationship, and beginning of another

In late September 1856 the relationship between Thomas (about 38 years old) and Jane (about 26 years old) broke down. At that time Thomas had "brutally beaten her (Jane's) naked body with a whip". At the time of the beating Jane had been 6 weeks pregnant with their next child. The beating that she received put Jane into hospital for 3 weeks. (Court documents, December 1857.) As a result Jane had been compelled to leave behind her 5 young children, from 5 year old Isabella to 7 month old Ellen. Jane also had no means to support herself, let alone her children.

In late September 1856 Thomas (about 38 years old) needed to hire outside help to care for his children, and he hired the "very old woman" Sarah Jane Ash (c1775-1860). In the court case of December 1857 Sarah gave evidence that she lived in the home of Thomas Lansdown for about a 12 month period taking care of his children. About 9 months after she began working for Thomas Lansdown "he brought home a young woman known as Rebecca Blazes(sic). The two lived together afterwards as man and wife. In consequence of this conduct, I left Lansdowne’s house." She added that the "woman Rebecca is near her confinement". This evidence agrees with what is known that Rebecca conceived a child with Thomas Lansdown in mid-July 1857, and that she was to give birth to this child, Henry Best Lansdown, 3½ months after the court case in December 1857.

Rebecca Best (1834-1921) had arrived in Sydney on 18 October 1855 on the Gilmore as a single female immigrant at the age of 21 years. The ship indent shows her to be illiterate, a general servant, from Compton Dundon in Somerset. She obtained a job on James Butcher's property at Bronte, south of Goulburn. was still working there in February 1857 when she was called to be witness for "Mr. James Butcher of Bronte" in a court case and deposed that she was "in Mr. Butcher's service". In June 1857 Rebecca left her job at the Butcher property and began to live with Thomas Lansdown.

On 25 June 1857, after moving into Thomas Lansdown's home on his farm at Quialigo near Goulburn as his defacto, Rebecca, 22 years old, entered into a written agreement to hire 82 year old Sarah Jane Ash (c1775-1860) "to look after the children and make herself generally useful for the term of three months" for a remuneration of 2s 6d per week (court documents, November 1857). The three month agreement was to terminate on 25 September 1857. Rebecca, who was illiterate, was not able to draft this agreement herself, and it is likely that the agreement was drafted by Thomas Lansdown who was literate.

In mid-July 1857 Thomas and Rebecca's first child was conceived.

On 14 November 1857, 22 year old Rebecca was before the courts being sued for wages by 82 year old Sarah Jane Ash (c1775-1860). Rebecca was sued for £1 12s 6d in unpaid wages, which was the entire wages for the 3 months that the written agreement covered. In other words since the time that Rebecca had to begun to live with Thomas Lansdown Sarah Ash had received no wages. The court contrasted the 2 women before the bench as "a decent old woman", and a woman who "has lately been several times in the police court". Rebecca swore that Sarah Ash had only been engaged by the month (and therefore by implication she only owed 1 months wages and not 3), but her evidence was contradicted by the written agreement. In lieu of payment of the outstanding £1 12s 6d in unpaid wages Jane offered goods instead of cash, goods that were brought to the court "by a man named Lansdowne with whom she lives". These goods were accepted, but Rebecca was still ordered to pay Sarah Ash's legal costs of 18s 6d.

On 27 November 1857 Thomas's children Isabella, Rebecca, Mary Ann, Thomas and Ellen were baptised at the Presbyterian Church in Goulburn. Isabella who had been previously baptised as Catholic was rebaptised as Presbyterian. From this baptism record we learn that Thomas was a settler (that is farmer) at Gulaga(sic) (he was living at Quialigo) near Goulburn . In the parish register the minister records the name of the children's mother as Jane Kelly for Isabella and Rebecca, but in error as Mary Kelly for Mary Ann, Thomas, and Ellen. Due to the acrimosity between Thomas and Jane Kelly (c1830-1872), Jane was not invited to the ceremony. Thomas's and Jane's youngest daughter Martha, born after their relationship had broken up, was therefore not baptised with her siblings.

In late December 1857 Thomas was sued for maintenance by his wife Jane Kelly (c1830-1872). It is this court case that establishes that Thomas could read and write. Thomas, however, never taught his and Jane's children to read and write, and their children were illiterate. In late December 1857 Jane was 4½ months pregnant with her first child to newly-widowed William Garner (1809-1868) whose wife had died nearly 2 months previous on 3 November 1857, and with whom she was living. Regardless Jane had been supporting herself and Thomas's daughter baby Martha by working. Jane had been working for the "last five months past" as a servant for Rev John Watson, but this job had now ceased. Jane was awarded spousal maintenance of 8s a week to be paid by Thomas to the Chief Constable each week. Thomas was also ordered to pay to the Chief Constable Jane's professional costs of 3 guineas (£3 3s) and the costs of court.

Thomas Landown and Rebecca Best's first child Henry Thomas Best Lansdown was born on 12 April 1858, followed by Frances Mary Best Lansdown on 7 April 1860, Susan Best Lansdown on 10 May 1862, and Robert Best Lansdown on 1 August 1864. Three more children were to follow: Emma Best Lansdown on 1 June 1866, Frederick Best Lansdown on 27 September 1868 (he died in 1869), and Edith Best Lansdown on 17 March 1870. Thomas and Rebecca did not marry until 1873 after the death of Thomas's wife Jane Kelly.

Tuesday, 29 December 1857: 1st day of court case of December 1857

In December 1857 Jane and Thomas Landown were before the court in Goulburn with Jane, using the name of Jane Lansdown, suing Thomas Lansdown for spousal maintenance. Their older children with the surname of Lansdown, Isabella, Rebecca, Mary Ann, Thomas and Ellen then ranging in age from 1 to 6 years, were living with Thomas Lansdown. Their youngest child, baby Martha Digby 7 months old, who had been born after Jane had been compelled to leave the family home leaving behind her older children, was living with Jane. At the time that this case was before the courts Jane was pregnant to her newly-widowed new partner William Garner (1809-1868), and Thomas was expecting his first child with his new partner Rebecca Best (1834-1921).

There is much to be learnt about both Jane Kelly and her husband Thomas Lansdown from this case that was reported in the "Goulburn Herald" on Wednesday 30 December 1857.

Standing before the court was "Thomas Lansdowne, of Goalago(sic), appeared to show cause why he should not be compelled to support his wife, Jane Lansdowne". Jane was being represented by Mr C.H. Walsh, and Thomas was representing himself.

First, however, Jane had to establish that she was married to Thomas, otherwise she had no grounds on which to sue for maintenance. Placed before the court was an affidavit from Jane stating that "in the year 1850, she was married to Thomas Lansdowne, at Yass, by the Rev. Mr. Ritchie, a Presbyterian minister; that the clergyman has since died; and that she had not the means to procure the attendance of the two witnesses to the marriage". The affidavit met the conditions of proof of marriage, and the case was able to proceed. The interesting thing about this evidence is that Jane had not married "Thomas Lansdown" in 1850 at Yass but "Thomas Digby". This shows that Thomas Lansdown and Thomas Digby were the same person, that is that Thomas Lansdown also went by the name of Thomas Digby.

Jane's case

Mr C.H. Walsh opened Jane's case by stating that "if what his client related was true – and there was no reason to doubt that – hers was one of the most pitiable tales that could be well heard". He summarised Jane's case as follows:

"She was married to the defendant, at Yass, in the year 1850, and had several children by him. Some fifteen or eighteen months back, the husband ordered her to bring a charge of rape against a man in his employ, and on her refusing to do so he beat her so severely that she had to go into the hospital, where she remained under surgical treatment for three weeks. Since that time Lansdowne had taken another woman to live with him, and of course his home was no longer a fit residence for his wife."

Jane was placed into the witness box and stated that she had left the family home in September 1856. The day before she left Thomas had "tied me up to what he called the triangles. He said that they were used for punishment in the old times of the colony. Such of my clothes as he could not tear off he cut with a knife. While undressed, he struck me on the bare back with a whip, which I think he must have made for the purpose"..."My breast and stomach, as well as my back, were much hurted"..."I was six weeks advanced in pregnancy when he thrashed me." (She had since "been confined" or given birth.)

Jane gave evidence that the next day she made it into Goulburn (20 kilometres or more) and went to see Rev William Sowerby (1799-1875), a Church of England minister, who managed to get her admitted into the hospital so that her wounds could be dressed. Jane had then "remained in the hospital, under Dr. Hanford’s treatment, for three weeks". These circumstances demonstrate that when Jane left the family home to go into Goulburn for help, which had resulted in her being hospitalised for 3 weeks, she had been compelled to leave her 5 children, the youngest being a baby of only 7 months, behind with their father.

Jane also gave evidence that before she had been beaten her husband Thomas Lansdown had wanted her to bring rape charges "against a man who was living with him" (his Employee Burns). "He told me if I would not do that he would have my “bare life.” He had thought of other charges against this man, but none would do so well as rape, as he said it would make me a party to the man’s committal. In consequence of my refusal to enter into his plans, he beat me." She added "I dare not continue to live with him after his ill-treatment".

Jane finished her evidence with a statement about Thomas's means, their children, and her attempt to get her children back.

"The defendant is a splitter; he has a farm, and carts and horses, and cattle, and is altogether well to do. I have six children by Lansdowne; five are living with him. I offered to take the children if he would give me a small sum of money to set me up in business in Goulburn. He would not give me any assistance whatever." (Thomas's sixth child who was not living with him was baby Martha Digby who had been born after the Jane had left the family home.)

Sarah Jane Ash (c1775-1860), a "very old woman" (82 years of age) then gave evidence. This evidence was designed to reflect on the moral character of Thomas Lansdown. Sarah's evidence was that she had "taking charge of the children" and lived with the family for about 12 months. About 9 months after starting to care for the children (about June 1857) Thomas Lansdown had brought "a young woman" into the home and "two lived together afterwards as man and wife". She added that "In consequence of this conduct, I left Lansdowne’s house. The woman Rebecca is near her confinement", that is pregnant.

Rev William Sowerby, a Church of England minister, then gave evidence for Jane. He stated that she was "admitted to the Hospital on my application". He added as a testimonial of Jane's character that he had seen or heard of Jane frequently since she had moved into Goulburn (in late September 1856) and that "she has behaved with great propriety" (conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals). In regard to Thomas Lansdown he stated:

I made a personal application to the defendant for support for his wife; he refused to give anything, or to have anything more to do with her. He alleged as a reason that she had been unfaithful to him.

Rev John Watson, another Church of England minister, was Jane's last character witness. He gave evidence that Jane had been working for him, that she "has been in my service for the last five months past"..."Her engagement with me as servant has ceased." He added, "She is a remarkably quiet and well-behaved young woman."

Thomas's case

Thomas, who was defending himself, "declined to put any questions to the witnesses, but made a long statement in justification of his conduct." He admitted that Jane was his wife, but stated that she had been "unfaithful to him". "He admitted giving her some blows with a cord on the occasion referred to in her evidence, but emphatically denied having her tied up to triangles. He struck her in his rage on discovering her in the very act of adultery."

Thomas also accused Jane of the following:-

  • Leaving the family home on 3 separate occasions.
  • "In consequence of her bad conduct" Jane had caused him to leave Yass.
  • That when Jane was living in Sydney, on one of his returns from the (gold-)diggings he had "found her in a house of ill-fame". "On another occasion, Jane introduced a woman of infamously bad character to his house, under the pretence that she was her sister."
  • "Since he had been living in the neighbourhood of Goulburn, Jane left her home with a man, and remained away for three weeks at a stretch."

Thomas then stated that in April 1857 he had seen Jane at the Goulburn Hospital. He gave evidence that "Her conduct was very violent; she threatened to take his life, and pursued him with a large knife as far as Mr. Bradley’s wheat paddock." The reporter added: "[This portion of the man’s statement is true. The poor woman was at the time suffering from puerperal mania.]" Thomas has to have mistaken his dates when he gave this evidence as puerperal mania is the sudden onset of psychotic symptoms following childbirth, and Martha was not born until May 1857. Puerperal mania is rare and it is unlikely that Jane was actually suffering from it. It is more likely that her anger over the beating that she had received, and Thomas's refusal to help her earn a living so that she could get her children back, had surfaced and she was unable to control her rage. (It is interesting to note that Thomas visited Jane in hospital after the birth of their sixth child, Martha Digby.) Thomas added in his statement to the court that "after her conduct to him he refused to admit her to his home again on any terms; he would be constantly in fear of his life".

As a result of the previous evidence and Thomas's statement it was now clear that Jane feared for her life at the hands of Thomas Lansdown, and that Thomas claimed that he feared for his life at the hands of Jane. By refusing to admit Jane "to his home again on any terms" he was denying Jane any access to her older children.

Thomas then spoke to his having "taken another woman to live with him". "What could he do?" he said. "He had five young children, deserted by their mother to take care of." In this he not only made an excuse for his behaviour, but accessed Jane of having deserted her children.

Thomas then addressed the character references that had been provided for Jane by Rev William Sowerby and Rev John Watson. He said that "What had been stated by the Rev. gentlemen as to his wife’s conduct might be true. She had been making a mantle (putting on an act) with which to hide her faults."

When Thomas had finished the magistrate then asked Thomas if he could prove his statements to the court. Thomas said that he had no witnesses in attendance, but if the case were adjourned he would produce some.

Jane's legal counsel, Mr Walsh, had no objection to an adjournment, provided that Thomas would name his witnesses.

Thomas said that he would call "Mr. Huggart, Mr. Faithfull’s superintendent, who could prove that she was absent from her home for three weeks on one occasion."

The magistrate then asked Thomas "But can he support your more serious charge, that your wife has been unfaithful to you." Thomas replied to this question "No, your worship."

The case was then remanded to resume in 2 days time on the Thursday.

Thursday, 31 December 1857: 2nd day of court case of December 1857

On Tuesday 29 December 1857 was resumed the hearing of what the reporter of the "Goulburn Herald" called "this extraordinary case". In recapping the case in the newspaper of Saturday 2 January 1858, the reporter wrote that on the first day of the court case Thomas Lansdown had justified "his refusal to pay maintenance to his wife" because "she had been unfaithful to him". Jane had given evidence to the court that in September 1856 Thomas had "brutally beaten her naked body with a whip". Thomas's evidence had not denied the beating, but he had given as the reason for the beating that on that day he had found Jane with his employee Burns in "an improper intimacy".

On this second day of the case Thomas, in defense of his conduct, placed a letter dated March 1857 before the court "purporting to have been written by his wife." He said he had forgotten about the letter previously, but now wanted it read before the court as it would show the "abominable nature of his wife's conduct". He also desired to have Jane re-sworn in order that he may put questions to her. The letter which was signed "your affectionate wife Jane" had a tone "intended to bring about a reconciliation between the husband and the wife" and contained "admissions and exculpations [excuses] in about equal proportions". The admissions in the letter included that Burns had been in her bedroom, that he had "pulled her about" on various occasions, that she had not told her husband as she feared he would want her to take Burns to court "and she was averse to that course from motives of delicacy". The construction of other parts of the letter admitted by implication that there had been improper intimacies between Jane and Burns, and that Jane had not been guilty of "bad conduct" until the "wretch" Burns had "taken liberties" against her consent (that is until after Burns had raped her). Jane's legal counsel, Mr C.H. Walsh, privately read the letter and then retired from the court for a few minutes to consult with his client, Jane. On his return to the court he addressed the Bench and stated that "the letter, if a genuine one, would be a complete answer to the case for the prosecution, for it amounted to an actual confession of 'guilty' to the charges brought aginst the woman by her husband". His client, however, "most expressly denied" that she had written the letter. She said that the handwriting was not hers, and nor had she authorised another person to write the letter for her. He had read parts of the letter to his client, and she said that she had never, on any occasion, stated anything of the kind. She said that all the statements were utterly untrue. He believed his client to be telling the truth, "and if such were the case a greater piece of rascality than that of which the defendant [Thomas] had been guilty could not well be brought before any court of justice". Walsh stated that Lansdown, anticipating that at some time he may be before the courts as he was on that day, had deliberately written the letter himself, had mailed it to himself back in March 1857 so that the post-mark of the Goulburn Post Office would appear on the letter with a March date to "give to it the appearance of genuiness", had then put the letter aside and produced it today "to bolster his disgraceful charges against his wife". He asked the Bench if they could really believe, if it was a genuine letter, that Thomas had not produced this letter on the first day in court because he had forgotten about such an important document.

Thomas then told the court that he had not forgotten the letter but had not been able to find it as it had been mislaid. He had only found the latter subsequent to the last hearing (2 days earlier). Walsh then again addressed the court stating that it was improbable that Thomas's statement was true. He then proposed to put Jane back on the stand to "give her version of the matter". Jane gave evidence that she never wrote the letter, nor asked anyone else to write it for her. She said the document was in the handwriting of Thomas Lansdown.

Thomas "vehemently declared that he had not written the letter". As proof of this Thomas produced for the court a document bearing the date 4 September 1856 purporting to be a receipt for wages signed by the man Burns. The body of the receipt was in Thomas's hand, and Thomas claimed that their Worships would be able to see that the writing in the two documents was dissimilar. Jane's Walsh then stated that Thomas had just proved Jane's case. The receipt was not genuine. It should have been dated 24 September and not 4 September, and, although the paper had been crumpled and dirtied to give it an old appearance, the ink was hardly dry. (It was the statement about the dates that show that the horsewhipping occurred in late September 1857.) Walsh contended that if their Worships compared the two documents they would find that the handwriting was the same and that they were written by the same person. Thomas had already admitted writing the receipt dated September 1856, so he had then to be the author of the latter dated March 1857. Their Worships Police Magistrate Jenkins, and Messrs. Thomas Gibson and W. Chatfield did inspect the two documents, and agreed in their opinion with Walsh, Jane's legal counsel, that the two documents that Thomas Lansdown had produced had been written by the same person, and that therefore the letter had been written by Thomas Lansdown.

Jane was awarded 8s per week maintenance to be paid by Thomas Lansdown to the Chief Constable. Thomas was also ordered to pay Jane's legal costs to her counsel, Mr Walsh, of 3 guineas (£3 3s) and costs of the court.

Residence at "Springfield" and then Quialigo near Goulburn, c.1852 to c.1872

A story that has survived in the family is that Thomas worked a stock overseer at the "Springfield" stud of William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896) for about 20 years, a period which would extend from about the end of 1852 to about the end of 1872.

Co-incidentally it appears that Thomas was living at "Springfield" and then Quialigo for the same period from about the end of 1852 to about the end of 1872. For the start of the period Thomas's daughter Rebecca, who was born on 25 December 1852, told her family that she was born at Goulburn. For the end of this period newspapers reveal that Thomas was still living at Quialigo in April 1871, and Thomas's marriage in 1873 reveals that he had moved from Quialigo before April 1873.

The time of Thomas's move from "Springfield" to his own farm at Quialigo may have then been between January 1856 when Thomas's daughter Ellen was born and September 1856 when Thomas's marriage with Jane Kelly broke down. Thomas's daughter Ellen told her family that she was born at "Springfield" and her son Alfred recorded this as her place of birth on her death registration in 1932. Court records from December 1857 reveal that Thomas was living at Quialigo in September 1856.

The seat of the "Springfield" stud, the homestead and its adjoining acres, was in the parish of Mangamore, about 20 kilometres south of Goulburn, adjoining the road from Goulburn to Braidwood, and in the modern day suburb of Tirrannaville. The farm, however, also extended over large tracts of land that were owned by William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896) and encroached into the adjoining parishes of Terranna, Gundary and Quialigo (The Goulburn Herald and Chronicle, 9 January 1867, 1900 map by Department of Lands of NSW Government).

Newspapers of the day show that Thomas Lansdown did live at "Springfield" by 1855 and to be living at the stud by assumption he had to be working there. His time working at the "Springfield" stud, however, was much shorter than 20 years, and there is no evidence that he ever worked there as a stock overseer.

By September 1856 Thomas Lansdown was farming on land he owned at Quialigo near "Springfield". He was described in a court case in December 1857 as Thomas Lansdown of Goalago(sic) and described by his wife Jane in the same court case as "a splitter; he has a farm, and carts and horses, and cattle, and is altogether well to do", evidence that Thomas Lansdown did not dispute. This same court case showed that Thomas was aquainted with senior employees of the "Springfield" stud again confirming that he had previously worked there. Thomas was to call Mr Huggart, Superintendent for the Faithfull family property "Springfield", as a witness at the court case.

In 1862 Thomas supplemented his farming income by accepting a job as ranger on the "Springfield" stud. It is not known for how long Thomas held this position.

Newspapers of the period provid the following information:-

  • In Aug 1860 Thomas Lansdown described himself as Thomas Lansdown, Quialigo
  • In May 1862 Thomas Lansdown was appointed ranger of Springfield "with orders to prosecute all trespassers, and impound all stock found upon my lands" by William Pitt Faithfull, Springfield.
  • In Apr 1863 Thomas Lansdown, who found 1 small brown mare "on the run at Quialigo", describes himself as Thomas Lansdown, Quialigo
  • In May 1863 Thomas Lansdown was fined for illegally impounding 3 head of horses
  • In Sep 1865 Thomas Lansdown from Quialigo impounded 2 horses "out of grass paddock"
  • In Aug 1866 Thomas Lansdown impounded 20 cattle for "trespass in his grass paddock" at Quialigo
  • In Apr 1871 Thomas Lansdown of Quialigo was selling 2 horses and some small pigs

Marriage to Rebecca Best

On 10 April 1873, at the Wesleyan Parsonage in Goulburn, 55 year old Thomas Lansdown married 38 year old Rebecca Best (1834-1921). They were both residing at Boxers Creek. The details that Thomas provided included his age (stated age 54), place of birth and parent's names. The place of birth that he gave was Yeovil, Somerset, England and the parents names he gave were Thomas Lansdown and Mary Spenser. None of the details that he gave have been able to be verified. The details Rebecca provided included her age (stated age 40), place of birth and parent's names, details that have been able to be verified. Thomas signed the marriage register with his signature, and Rebecca signed the marriage register with her mark (that is a cross). They married after the death of Jane Kelly (c1830-1872) in 1872, and Thomas recorded his marital status as widower. Rebecca's marital status was single.

Residence at Boxers Creek near Goulburn, c.1872 to 1885

Their marriage certificate from 1873, and newspapers of the day reveal that Thomas and Rebecca were living at Boxers Creek, 6 kilometres east of Goulburn in the latter years of Thomas' life.

  • In 1873 Thomas Lansdown and Rebecca Best both give their place of residence as Boxers Creek
  • In 1875 Thomas Lansdown placed an advertisement warning trespassers to stay of his purchased and leased land at Boxers Creek
  • In 1876 Thomas Lansdown of Boxers Creek advertised to sell a horse
  • In 1879 Thomas Lansdown of Boxers Creek won a tender to plant trees for the local government
  • In 1882 Thomas Lansdown of Boxers Creek received a license to slaughter
  • In 1884 Thomas Lansdown of Boxers Creek posted a reward for the return of a dog.

More Land Purchased at Boxers Creek

Goulburn map

CLICK ON MAP FOR ENLARGED VIEW.
Detail of 1900 map of Goulburn showing from the original map: in brown the proposed Federal Capital Territory; and in grey-blue the proposed Capital site. Highlighted details contained on the original map are: (1) in yellow the boundaries of the parishes; (2) in green the site of Dr Andrew Gibson's property "Tirranna" that he was granted in 1828, and in green (shaded) lands that had been added to the original grant (marked on the map are only lands purchased from the government -additional lands were purchased from private vendors); (3) in mid-blue the site of William Pitt Faithfull's 1280 acre (518ha) property "Springfield" that he was granted in 1827, and in mid-blue (shaded) lands that had been added to the original grant (marked on the map are only lands purchased from the government -additional lands were purchased from private vendors); (4) in pink major roads (Sydney Road being the road at the top of the map, and Braidwood Road being the road travelling through both Dr Andrew Gibson’s “Tirranna” property and his brother-in-law William Pitt Faithfull's "Springfield" property); (5) in pale blue Shaw's or Boxer's Creek (so named on the map); and (6) in red blocks of land owned by Thomas Lansdown. For the two blocks of land owned by Thomas Lansdown the one to the left is 55 acres and was purchased in April 1856. The one to the right is 40 acres and was purchased in October 1876.

In October 1876 Thomas is known to have purchased, at the cost of £1 an acre, an additional 40 acres (16 hectares) from the Government which was described in the newspapers as being at Towrang. The land was block no. 199 at Boxers Creek which was in the parish of Towrang. This block did not adjoin Thomas's original 55 acres, but was just to the east. This block also had a small creek on its southern boundary.

Thomas had continued to purchase land by private sale after his initial purchase of 55 acres (22 hectares) at Boxers Creek in 1856. Before his death in 1885 he even subdivided some of his land and sold off smaller lots. In The "Goulburn Eveing Penny Post" of 26 August 1882 is an advertisement for Lots 7 & 8 of Section 2 of the Lansdowne Subdivision fronting Boxers Creek Road.

At the time of his wife Rebecca's death in 1921 the farm, then known as "Shaws Creek", comprised of 255 acres (103 hectares), all at Boxers Creek, Goulburn.

WOOD & CO.
HAVE received instructions from the Executor in the Estate of the late Mrs. Lansdowne Vaughan, to sell by auction, on Saturday, 21st May at 12 o'clock sharp, at the Town Hall, Goulburn, that Snug Little Grazing Property known as Shaw's Creek, at Boxer's Creek, 4 miles from Goulburn, comprising 255 Acres of Good Grazing Land, which will be submitted in two lots; viz., 224 Acres Homestead and 31 Acres which does not join the homestead. This property has all conveniences for carrying on a dairy or trading depot, in easy distance of factory and market, and can be a suburban home, half mile from school; mail passes every other day; very sound country; well watered, and richly pastured; has been used chiefly for dairying for the past thirty years.
Terms and full particulars at sale.
(Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 14 May 1921, emphasis added)

Death

At the age of 67 (stated age 66) Thomas died on 24 August 1885 at Towrang, just 2 months after the death of his youngest daughter Edith at Boxers Creek. Towrang is 15 kilometres north-east of Goulburn, and about 10 kilomtres north of Thomas's land at Boxers Creek (in the parish of Towrang). There is a story in the family that Thomas died at the Towrang Hotel. It is interesting that Thomas was described in the marriage notice for his son Robert in January 1886 as “the late Thomas Lansdown of Towrang”, describing him by the parish that he had lived in, rather than the place.

Thomas is buried at Goulburn. His stated age at death was 66 years.

After Thomas' death his wife Rebecca continued to farm Thomas's land at Boxers Creek. Rebecca had been left use of the land and its profits for the term of her life, after which the land was to pass to his at that time unmarried son Robert, and then on Robert's death to any children that Robert may have. Thomas's will was written before his daughter Edith died in June 1885, and under the terms of the will Edith was to inherit if Robert died without issue. Executors of the will were Richard Styles of Bullamalite, Grazier and James Worrall of Goulburn, Miller. When probate was granted on 22 September 1898, James Worrall was living at "Cargo near Orange", and Thomas's place of death was stated to be Boxers Creek.

Nearly 20 years after Thomas's death Rebecca married Michael Vaughan on 21 Septmeber 1903 at Moss Vale.

Rebecca died on 20 January 1921 at Towrang, Goulburn. When Rebecca died the then 255 Acre (103 hectare) farm at Boxer's Creek was placed up for auction by her estate.

Frederick Thomas Lansdown (1849-1910)

Two of the Thomas Lansdown's grandsons, the sons of his son Robert Best Lansdowne (1864-1945), married two of the granddaughters of Frederick Thomas Lansdown (1849-1910), the daughters of his son Henry Thomas Lansdowne (1878-1959), in Murwillumbah in 1934. From that time onwards these two Lansdowne families became intertwined. This then provides an explanation for the origin of the following stories.

Frederick Thomas Lansdown (1849-1910) is not the natural-born son of Thomas Lansdown of Boxers Creek. For a long time in both families, however, it has been believed that he may have been. This was because it was believed that Thomas Lansdown had married Sophia Todd (1831-1916) in 1850 after which it was believed that she must have died, possibly in childbirth, and it was believed that Frederick may have been her son.

There is also a story that has become folklore within the family. In this story Thomas Lansdown had an adopted son by the name of Frederick, and his birth surname was either Day or Faithfull. It is known that Thomas Lansdown worked on the "Springfield" Stud of pastoralist William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896) at Tirrannaville near Goulburn, the only Faithfull family associated with the Goulburn district in that period. William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896) had been granted land in the district in 1828, and married in 1844. One version of the story states that Frederick was the son of a Miss Faithfull and an employee by the name of Day who became scared of what her family would do to him and absconded. Thomas was then given some land as consideration for adopting this child who was an embarrassment to the Faithfull family. There was, however, no Miss Faithfull of child-bearing age in the Faithfull family in that period. Neither has a record of transfer of ownership of a piece of land been found. In 1838 William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896) did himself father an illegitimate son, Henry Pitt Faithfull (1838-1896), with a female employee working on his farm. This child was raised by his mother and given the Faithfull surname which he retained even after his mother married. He then married one of his Faithfull cousins. This is the exact opposite of a precedent of adopting out illegitimate children of the Faithfull family, or of being ashamed of them. There also appears to be no truth in the story that Frederick was adopted by Thomas Lansdown. Thomas had all of his children, except for his youngest Martha who was with her mother, baptised together at Goulburn in November 1857 including his eldest child who was rebaptised. There was no child by the name of Frederick baptised among these children. Also in the court case of December 1857 it was stated that Thomas was the father of 6 children who have all been accounted for (Isabella, Rebecca, Mary Anne, Thomas, Ellen, and Martha), and who do not include Frederick.



Children


Offspring of Thomas Lansdown and Ann Unknown (-1850)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Thomas Digby (1850-1850) 18 May 1850 Yass, New South Wales, Australia 29 June 1850 Yass, New South Wales, Australia

Offspring of Thomas Lansdown and Jane Kelly (c1830-1872)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Isabella Lydia Lansdown (1851-1911) 4 September 1851 Hunter Street, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 12 July 1911 Orange, New South Wales, Australia Thomas Narin
Henry Conquit (1863-1906)

Rebecca Jane Lansdown (1852-1923) 25 December 1852 Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 6 November 1923 Orange, New South Wales, Australia John Dyger
David Forrester (1839-1907)

Mary Anne Lansdown (1854-1921) 21 January 1854 "Springfield", Tirranaville, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 28 March 1921 Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia Charles Gale (1852-1877)
David Dyger
David Lamb Sutherland (1860-1924)

Thomas Lansdown (1855-) 11 January 1855 "Springfield", Tirranaville, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
Ellen Henrietta Lansdown (1856-1932) 26 January 1856 "Springfield", Tirranaville, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 8 June 1932 Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia Walter Hardy (c1850-1904)

Martha Digby (1857-1926) 18 May 1857 Goulburn Hospital, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 20 August 1926 Petersham, New South Wales, Australia William Hugh Rabbits Craddock (1845-1889)
George Jager

Offspring of Thomas Lansdown and Rebecca Best (1834-1921)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Henry Thomas Best Lansdowne (1858-1918) 12 April 1858 Quialigo, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 6 April 1918 Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia Eliza Emily Ford (1870-1953)

Frances Mary Best Lansdown (1860-1933) 7 April 1860 Quialigo, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 13 October 1933 Murwillimbah, New South Wales, Australia James Marsh (1860-)

Susan Best Lansdown (1862-1933) 10 May 1862 Quialigo, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 10 May 1933 Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia Robert George Edwards (1858-1910)
Charles John Hermans (1863-1941)

Robert Best Lansdowne (1864-1945) 1 August 1864 Quialigo, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 29 July 1945 Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia Ada Mary Sidwell (1869-1938)

Emma Best Lansdown (1866-1938) 1 June 1866 Quialigo, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 4 July 1938 Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia John Parnell (1865-1923)

Frederick Best Lansdown (1868-1869) 27 September 1868 Quialigo, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 1869 Quialigo, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia
Edith Best Lansdown (1870-1885) 17 March 1870 Quialigo, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 3 June 1885 Boxers Creek, Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia

Siblings

Residences

Footnotes (including sources)

¶ Death
  • Informant for the record of his death was his wife Rebecca.


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