Week 11 – Large Family

I was born in Burnie, Tasmania in 1950, Christine Alice Atkinson, fourth child and second daughter of Eric George Atkinson and Mavis Beryl (nee Reid). My Atkinson ancestry meant that I became a member of a large Atkinson clan.

This clan began in Tasmania in 1854. My great-great uncle George Evans Atkinson gives a brief account of this arrival in his Family Bible.

Thomas Atkinson Snr – born Ireland 1 Jan 1817 – died 10 Mar 1900 “Ashgrove” Tasmania


“George Evans Atkinson born Feb 5 1851 in Tipperary Ireland, left Ireland My 15 1854 with both parents [Thomas and Eliza (nee Evans)], sister [Sarah Ann] and two brothers [William Henry and Thomas Jnr]*. Sailed from Southampton, England, in the ship ’Kingston’ May 26 1854. Arrived at Hobart Town on August 26 1854. Came to Launceston by coach. Sailed for Emu Bay in the ‘Mary Ann’ on Sept. 19 1854. Arrived at Burnie Sept 29 1854, being landed at Cam River. …”

And thus, the Tasmanian Atkinson “dynasty” was begun. They settled eventually on top of the hill on a large area of land which was cleared and farmed. Two homes were built at either extremity of the land which were named ‘Fairmount’ and ‘Ashgrove’ [covering the areas now known as Upper Burnie, Acton and Shorewell].

Sarah Ann, Thomas and Eliza’s eldest child and only daughter never married and remained living with her father and mother.

WH Atkinson Snr 2
William Henry Snr – born    Ireland 14 Apr 1844   –   died 10 Dec 1918  at “Fairmount” Tasmania

William Henry Snr married Eliza (nee Spooner) in 1865. By 1873, five children had been born – Thomas, Fanny, Elizabeth, William Henry Jnr and Annie. Eliza died a few months after Annie was born of puerperal sepsis.


William Henry Snr then married Amelia Frances (nee Byworth) in 1875. By 1896, they had produced eleven children – May Louise, Percy, Florence Edith, Emma Amelia, Donald Campbell, George Frederick, Daisy Ella, Ethel Maud, Muriel Evelyn, Roydon Lachlan Allan Byworth, and Doris Irene. All survived into adulthood except for Percy.

Of William Henry Snr’s sixteen children, all but one married and of those only two had no children.

From the first family, Thomas married and had fourteen children and forty-one grandchildren. After her marriage, Fanny had seven children and thirteen grandchildren. Elizabeth (Lizzie) married and had eight children and eight grandchildren.

William Henry Junior
William Henry Jnr – born 8 Jul 1872 Burnie Tasmania – died 8 Nov 1948 Campbellfield Victoria

William Henry Jnr married Elsie Alma (nee Elliott) and produced eleven children (Eric, my father is the third youngest) and twenty-nine grandchildren of whom I am the third youngest.


Annie married and had five children and at least fourteen grandchildren. Sadly, she, too, died in childbirth. Her youngest daughter, Jean, was adopted by relatives and the other children were farmed out amongst the family to be raised.

From William Henry Snr’s first marriage there were five children, forty-five grandchildren and 105 great-grandchildren born, and from his second marriage there were twenty-one grandchildren and forty-two great-grandchildren born to his eleven children. William Henry Snr certainly left an inheritance in children behind him with a total of sixteen children, sixty-six grandchildren and 147 great-grandchildren.

Records for Thomas Jnr (son of William Henry Snr) and George Evans are not as detailed but include eleven children and fifteen grandchildren and upwards of seven great-grandchildren.

Dad 06 - 1940
Eric George – born 20 Dec 1915 Burnie, Tasmania – died 2 Mar 1996 Burnie, Tasmania

Taking these into consideration, a huge clan of Atkinsons had been produced in a century of existence in Tasmania. From their 1854 arrival with their four surviving children (three had died very

Christine 1953
Christine Alice – born 8 Oct 1950 Burnie, Tasmania

young in Ireland*), until 1954, four generations on, Thomas and Eliza had four children, twenty-seven grandchildren, eighty-one great grandchildren and more than 150 great-great grandchildren, a total of more than 260 descendants. There are up to four more generations in existence up to now and Thomas and Eliza’s clan has grown to approximately 1000 at the latest estimates. It certainly has become a large family!


My part in this clan is this – Thomas and Eliza’s son William Henry Snr had a son William Henry Jnr, who had a son Eric, who had a daughter Christine, who has two children of her own, 3x great grandchildren!

2 thoughts on “Week 11 – Large Family

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