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James COLLITS

Male 1806 - 1880  (74 years)


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  • Name James COLLITS  [1
    Born 21 Mar 1806  Castlereagh, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Gender Male 
    Residence Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Residence 1820  Castlereagh and Evans, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Residence 1828  Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Residence 08 Jul 1834  Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Residence 24 Sep 1844  Wellington, New South Wales Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Residence 1852  Cook, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Residence 02 Jun 1869  [1
    Died 30 Dec 1880  Carrawobitty Station, Forbes, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Buried Forbes Cemetery, Forbes, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Anglican Section (Unmarked)
    Notes 
    • James Collits
      Seventh child of Pierce and Mary Collits.
      Born: 21/3/1806. bapt. 24/6/1810 at St. Johns Parramatta
      Died: 30/12/1880 aged 74 years at “Carawobitty” and buried C. of E. portion of Forbes Cemetery.
      Married:
      1. Eleanor Leech 6/8/1832 (C)
      “Brothers” arrived 7/5/1824, 7 years.
      Born: / / 1796 Ire. died

      2. 31/8/1840 at Hassan’s Wall by Rev. C. Stewart to Sophia Higgins (nee Field)
      Born: 21/6/1807 at “Edinglassie” Penrith
      Died: 21/7/1871 and buried Forbes Cemetery.

      Presbyterian Marriages -No. 75/732
      I Colin Stewart of Hassan’s Walls, Minister of the Vale of Clwyd do hereby certify that James Collits residing at the Lachlan and Sophia Higgins, widow, of the same place were joined together in Wedlock by me on 31st day of August, 1840 at Hassan’s Walls in the presence of:
      Witnesses: Thomas Morris
      Sophia Morris
      Colin Stewart, Minister.

      ------------------

      Biographical Data

      James Collits was one of the first white men to take up pastoral country on the Lachlan River. Sir Thomas Mitchell, the surveyor, tells in his diary of meeting James Collits on March 28, 1836 with an aboriginal. The pair had been 70 miles down the river from Grudgery near Forbes, where Mitchell met them searching for water and grass for stock. He says that Collits told him that, but for the help of the blackfellow, he would have died for want of water.

      James Collits was granted 640 acres of land at Canowindra in 1831. He received this in 1829 for having pointed out a line of road from Mt. York to Bathurst, thus avoiding the terrifying decent from Mt. York. The reward of land was offered in 1827 on 13th August by Governor Darling and the grant was given to James in 1829

      In addition, James Collits owned great tracts of land around Canowindra, today situated in the Parish of Collett. He also owned a store and had the first hotel at Canowindra on the spot where the Royal Hotel now stands.

      The Castlereagh Bann Register records banns being read on 22nd July, 29th July and 5th August, 1832 prior to his first marriage to Eleanor Leech. It gave her age as 30 years, arrival “brothers” convict, 7 years, to James Collits, native born, 26 years.

      James Collits tenure of the 640 acres was ended in 1837 when the block was purchased, with the owner’s permission by Thomas Icely, who was amassing the huge estate of Bangaroo, and from his position of influence, was bale to oust the son of a former convict from this choice block which Icely requested be names Canowindra. James Collits was to continue his association with Canowindra north of the river and give his name to the Parish of Collett there, despite variations in spelling. (Canowindra and District Historical Society 1979).

      It was on 23 January, 1839 that James’ daughter Caroline was born at Canowindra. She was later to marry Thomas Field, second son of Edward Field 11 and Esther Lees.

      During the 1840’s and 1850’s James Collits had a line of buildings fronting the road along the boundary of 317 acres north of the river from the hotel. In 1858 he purchased 2 ½ acres from William Robinson, a five chain square, and built a brick shop at the planned street junction opposite the hotel.

      An unknown correspondent Old Timer wrote in a 1937 Canowindra Star: “The late James Collits disposed of the whole of his Canowindra property to Benjamin Clements in the early seventies.” The abstract of the title reveals that he sold to Alfred Stokes in September, 1876, who immediately sold to Benjamin Clements,
      grazier of Forbes in November, 1876. Clements sold to Robert Rice of Mount Macquarie near Carcoar on June 15, 1878.

      James Collits is generally credited with keeping the first hotel in Canowindra on the site of the Royal Hotel, but nothing definite is known of the inn on James Collits’ land until Raphael Tolano of Bathurst was granted the licence for the Canowindra Inn, leasing it for seven years from James Collits. The Bathurst Free Press reported in April, 1849:
      “We understand that Mr. Tolano is fitting up his hotel in superb style which is greatly required in the neighbourhood of Canowindra and deserves encouragement.” (C. & D.H.S.)

      On a knoll overlooking the town, Glastonbury homestead, believed the oldest house in Canowindra, occupies the obvious site for a house on the 317 acres first granted in the name of Worzilla to Pierce Collits (father of James Collits).

      To compensate him for loss of trade when his inn at the foot of Mount York was bypassed by the new road down Victoria Pass, Pierce Collits successfully requested a grant of 320 acres to build a new inn at Hartley near the River Lett bridge. By the time the grant was conveyed to him, he had shrewdly changed his mind, asking for three acres only at Hartley, where he had already built his new inn, and the remaining 317 on the Belubula River at Canowindra opposite the 640 acres earlier granted to his son, James.
      Both blocks were measure in 1834 and James inherited the 317 acres block from his father in 1848.

      Though James Collits is known to have lived in a one-roomed bark hut, the first of several buildings that developed into a village on his land near the sheds of the present Royal Hotel, another settlement of huts and sheepfold emerged on the higher ground near Glastonbury, was first applied to Hart’s property adjoining the Worzilla block on the north, but when both properties were owned by Robert Rice, Glastonbury was used as the name of the two. James Collits retained title to Worzilla unto 1876 though he had not lived there for many years. From the fifties, despite regular appearances in Canowindra to collect rentals, he lived down the Lachlan at Bandon and Bundaburra. Family records sum up his latter years as having fallen on bad times. He died at Carrawobbity in 1880 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Forbes cemetery. (C. & D.H.S.)

      -------------------

      Forbes & Parkes Gazette, Lachlan & Bogan Advertiser.

      31st December, 1880.

      Gone – Yesterday Mr. James Collits, perhaps the oldest inhabitant of the Lachlan, passed away in his long home at the ripe old age of 84. During his long life he has passed very many vicissitudes (i.e. changeability, variations, variety or simply the ups and downs of life), and seen many startling changes. At one time he was owner of Bundaburra station, and was also employed by the Government to guide Sir Thomas Mitchell in his celebrated overland trip. He has two brothers who survive him and was connected by blood and marriage with most of the old families in the district. Another old land mark has been taken away, and many who are left behind will gratefully remember old Mr. Collits. The funeral takes place this afternoon, when doubtless on the last day of the waning year, many will testify their respect to the memory of the deceased.

      It is a curious thing to think that such a prominent and respected man of his time should be buried in an unmarked grave, as stated earlier. Ed.

      ************************
      Icely owned Bangaroo and then bought what James Collits had been granted which is now Canowindra, as James needed money to get his son out of trouble with the police.
      (Mrs.Thyra Mobbs)

      ------------------------

      The story of Trundle - by Chas. Wright

      By 1836 the squatters were beginning to move out along the Lachlan. Mitchell on his expedition along the Lachlan (1836) met Mr. James Collet of Mt. York near present Bedgerabong. Collits told Mitchell that he had been 70 miles down the river in search of a run for his cattle but had found none. He also stated that without the aid of the blacks who were with him on horse back, he could not have obtained water. (Mitchell Journal, March 28th, 1836). despite this bleak opinion James Collit’s father Pierce and his brother Joseph were among the first squatters to take up runs along the Lachlan.

      -----------------

      S.A.G Collett, Pierce of Orange – Case of sheep stealing. Pardoned. N.S.W. Supreme Court Cases 1876. Page 295.

      -----------------

      Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday, September 25, 1932

      Historic Tombstones and First pioneers of the Lachlan......
      Unmarked graves in the Forbes Cemetery by Geo. G. Reeve.

      As the “Back to Forbes” week takes place some Lachlan history concerning the Collits should prove of interest to Forbesonians and others.

      In the Forbes cemetery there are many head stones of interest. One of them relates to Kate Kelly, whose history was so closely related with the Kelly gang in Victoria, and who spent the last years of her life in the Forbes district.

      Another headstone marks the grave of Ben Hall, the highway man of the 1860’s , who was surrounded and shot down by the police under the late Inspector Davidson near Nelungaloo. The headstone is plainly inscribed, bearing the simple inscription “In Memory of Ben Hall. 5th May, 1865. God Bless Him” . The date is that on which the unfortunate man met his end, being then 28 years of age.

      There are also to be seen in the Church of England portion of the cemetery memorial inscriptions to those splendid pioneers of the district, the Fields (whose place of origin in Australia was Castlereagh village, near Penrith), the Rawsthornes and the Stricklands.

      The Lachlan pioneer who founded the Bundaburra line, was Josiah Strickland (obit.1881) also a native of Castlereagh village. (Son of Maria Strickland nee Collits).

      On the other hand, sad to relate in unmarked graves in the same portion of the burial ground at Forbes that splendid family of native-born Australians, the Collits, also of Castlereagh, in each instance are sleeping their long last sleep. There were four pioneer brothers, all of whom were sons of old Pierce Collits, who landed in this country in the year 1802, and ultimately became District or Chief Constable of Penrith, and who is also identical with Pierce Collits, who established the historical “Collits Inn” at Mt. York on the Cox Pass road beyond Mt. Victoria, in the year 1824. The original building as still intact and used as an accommodation house, the visitors and guests of which go to the old place by way of train., via Hartley Vale.

      Old Pierce Collits died in the year 1848 and the foundress mother of all the Collits, Mrs. Mary Collits, departed this life in 1829. Of this historic couples four sons, the one who achieved most as an explorer and pioneer cattle pastoralist, in hte first case was domiciled at Canowindra in the year 1833, his mane was James Collits, second son of the pioneer Collits. James Collits marries twice, and left descendants, but appears to have fallen on bad times shortly before his death. He died at “Carawobitty”, Forbes on December 30th , 1880 in his 75th year.
      Knowing the great achievements of James Collits on the Lachlan River, at its various points of settlement, from Canowindra to Bandon, and to Bundaburra, and other stations in the district, it is painful to know that he lies in an unmarked grave in Forbes cemetery. Likewise also he does his brother John Collits, who married Hannah Lees, one of the daughters of pioneer John Lees, of Castlereagh. Also Joseph Collits, who was a wealthy man at his death in 1888. he was twice married, firstly to Mary Field and secondly to Mrs. Martha Haynes a widow, but in each case there was no issue. Joseph Collits left his station properties, which included Bogabigal holding, to an adopted boy who had grown up in his service. The adopted one did not show his appreciation of his benefactor’s goodwill, as no stone or commemorative tablet marks Joseph Collit’s grave.

      William Collits, the younger son of the Collits couple, is also interred in a nameless grave in Forbes cemetery. The wife of William was brutally and foully murdered on the Mitchell Pass Road just beyond Mt. Victoria, on 4th January, 1841 for which crime her brother-in-law, married to Mrs. Caroline Collits sister was executed at Bathurst Jail on 3rd may, 1841. At the trial it was stated that Mrs. Collits was no more than 17 years of age, and had been married to William for some 18 months before her death. At the time of her murder the Stockade at Mt. Victoria was in full swing, and most involved evidence was given by some of the convicts stationed there. From a full reading of the evidence in the contemporary Sydney newspaper of the time, it would appear that some of the soldiers then stationed at the Mt. Victoria Stockade, belonging to the 80th Regiment of Foot, appear to have been connected and in some ways cognisant of the fact when Mrs. Collits was being battered to death with a large boulder, and later, savagely mutilated.

      It may be of interest to admirers of Henry Lawson, the writer-poet to know that his father Peter Lawson is buried in the historic Mt. York cemetery, near the Collits couples tomb. Peter Lawson died at the age of 55 years on December 31st, 1899. His grave also is unmarked, although the exact locality is known.
    Person ID I115  The Rawsthorne Family Tree
    Last Modified 14 Nov 2015 

    Father Pierce COLLITS,   b. 1765, Thomastown, Kilkenny, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Sep 1848, Hartley, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 83 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Mother Mary HARDWICK,   b. 24 Dec 1769, Kilkenny, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 04 Aug 1841, Hartley, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years) 
    Relationship Natural 
    Married 15 Nov 1795  St Dunstanes, Stepney, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [4, 5
    Family ID F182  Group Sheet

    Family 1 Eleanor LEACH,   b. 1796, Dublin, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married 06 Aug 1832  Castlereagh Church of England, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [6, 7
    Last Modified 14 Nov 2015 
    Family ID F48  Group Sheet

    Family 2 Bridget CLIFFORD 
    Children 
     1. Caroline COLLITS,   b. 23 Feb 1840, Canowindra, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Mar 1907, Nyngan, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 67 years)
    Last Modified 14 Nov 2015 
    Family ID F49  Group Sheet

    Family 3 Sophia FIELD,   b. 21 Jun 1807, Edinglassie Nursing Home, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Jul 1871, Forbes, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years) 
    Married 31 Aug 1840  Hassans Walls, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [6
    Notes 
    • Presbyterian Marriages -No. 75/732
      I Colin Stewart of Hassan’s Walls, Minister of the Vale of Clwyd do hereby certify that James Collits residing at the Lachlan and Sophia Higgins, widow, of the same place were joined together in Wedlock by me on 31st day of August, 1840 at Hassan’s Walls in the presence of:
      Witnesses: Thomas Morris
      Sophia Morris
      Colin Stewart, Minister.
    Children 
     1. Pierce COLLITS,   b. 14 Mar 1842, Hartley, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Dec 1928, Petersham, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years)
     2. James Grant COLLITS,   b. 18 Jun 1848, Hartley, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 May 1926, Gooloogong, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years)
     3. Sophia Jane COLLITS,   b. 11 Jun 1851, Carcoar, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified 14 Nov 2015 
    Family ID F50  Group Sheet

  • Sources 
    1. .

    2. [S221] New South Wales Births, Deaths & Marriages.
      Castlereagh, NSW, V18062172 1A

    3. [S221] New South Wales Births, Deaths & Marriages.
      Forbes, NSW, 1881-6873

    4. [S363] Collits history book.

    5. [S513] Pallot's Marriage Index for England: 1780 - 1837, Ancestry.com, (Name: Ancestry.com Operations Inc; Location: Provo, UT, USA; Date: 2001;).

    6. [S79] From a Distant Field, Colin Field, Book: Version 3 (Self Published).

    7. [S221] New South Wales Births, Deaths & Marriages.
      V18321011 16