Week 01: Firsts

auld kirk sidmouthWho was my first ancestor to arrive in Australia?

His name was James Reid. He arrived as a free settler, with his wife Annabella (Murray), in Hobart Town, on 15th January 1823. He had three children with him – Ann, James and Henry Grey.

James was my third great-grandfather. He was the son of a very well-to-do merchant from Edinburgh and Leith, also named James.

To emigrate to Australia, James had to apply to the Colonial Department. He had to prove that he had enough money to support his family once he arrived in Australia, approximately £5 000.00 per head of each family – in his application he stated that he had at least that much for each member of his family – about $4.5 million in today’s value! So together with his brother-in-law, he chartered his own vessel, the Urania and with about 62 people on board, they sailed from Leith in mid-June 1822.

You’d think that with that kind of backing his life would be successful and his business would prosper in Tasmania. For some time, it was indeed. With his wife Annabella, he had seven more children. He bought and settled land near Campbelltown and called it Greenhill but when the wool trade failed, he lost most of his money. By 1830, he had settled on the Tamar River on a property called Richmond Hill, near Sidmouth.

He built up a prosperous property and an excellent reputation in the colony, but his life was dogged by tragedy. Within a period of twelve years, he lost four of his children – his sons, James and Thomas drowned in their early twenties, Ann, his daughter died in childbirth and his son, Henry Grey fell from the back of a bullock dray. Despite this, he maintained a strong faith and was instrumental in not only donating the land for the Auld Kirk in Sidmouth but also in raising the funds for its construction. His three sons, his wife Annabella and he are all buried in the churchyard.

2 thoughts on “Week 01: Firsts

  1. Hi Chris, I look forward to following your blog and learn much of what I don’t know about early family. Guess this is on your Mum’s side of the family.

    1. It is indeed, Mary. However, Week 03 – Challenge is about our earliest settler. John James is Elsie Alma’s grandfather and his is an interesting, and as yet, unfinished story.

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