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Thomas Steven HIGGINS

Male 1792 - 1839  (46 years)

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  • Name Thomas Steven HIGGINS 
    Born 21 Dec 1792  Ballingarrane, Limerick, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died 26 Jan 1839  Nanami station, Canowindra, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Buried Belabula Station, New South Wales, Australia (Unmarked) (See Notes) Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Arrived as a convict on the Surry on 20/12/1816

      As printed in the Field Family Newsletter, Edition 1:

      Thomas Higgins was born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1791. He was convicted (offence unknown to me) in December 1815 and transported to Sydney. He arrived on the second voyage of the Surry in November 1816.

      He had been sentenced to 7 years servitude, and upon his arrival he was assigned to Sir John Jamison of Regentville. It seems he was a good servant for in 1827, some years after he was freed by servitude, he made application for land. In his application he wrote that since completing his sentence, I have rented a farm of 30 acres from him (Jamison). I have since purchased 50 acres.

      On 7th June, 1824, Thomas Higgins married Sophia Field, a daughter of one of the original landholders in Castlereagh. The marriage appears in the Castlereagh Register, and Joan Sullivan and Elizabeth Morriset signed as witnesses. The 1828 Census shows Thomas and Sophia as having 2 children, aged 3 years and 15 months, and as being farmers on 70 acres at Evan.

      At that time of his 1827 land application, Thomas listed property held as:
      50 acres of land 100-0-0 pounds
      20 acres of land by rental
      6 Horses 230-0-0 pounds
      25 head of horned cattle 125-0-0 pounds
      70 bushels of wheat 17-0-0 pounds
      200 bushels of maize 50-0-0 pounds
      800 lbs of tobacco of my own curing 200-0-0 pounds
      1 plough 1 harrow 6-0-0 pounds
      1 cart 1 harness 12-0-0 pounds
      1 steel mill 6-0-0 pounds
      746-0-0 pounds

      I can find no direct reference of any result to this application but he did eventually receive land in the Kurrajong district. It was mentioned in his will, and also in a notice to Thomas Higgins, dated 10th May, 1836, 100 acres in lieu of like quantity authorised by Sir Thomas Brisbane, in an unnamed parish in the county on Northumberland at Curryjong on the Cunmary Road , in lieu of primary grant of 2nd December, 1828. Original grant 14th April, 1825; bounded by Davidson's farm.

      Similarly, I found a notice dated 14th April, 1837:

      Thomas Higgins of George St. Sydney. purchased that lot containing nine hundred and ninety acres situated in the county of Bathurst at Milburn Creek. This land, Portion 4, Parish of Milburn, is shown on Lands Department maps, with Thomas Higgins as the original owner. Milburn Creek enters the Lachlan River upstream from Cowra and is a parish boundary. Portion 4 is at the junction of these waterways.
      Thomas seemed to have prospered as his address in 1837 is given as George Street in Sydney. His grand-daughter recalled many years later that he had purchased property here from Harris, and in his will he bequeathed the Dog and Duck to his wife. In her article, Gai Rimmer mentions that Joseph Collits held the licence of the Dog and Duck in 1834. Years later Geoffrey Scott in his book Sydney's Highways of History, when describing George Street in the Haymarket, says........ the Haymarket became a favoured locality for inns. The Wheatsheaf, Dog and Duck, Black Swan, Steam Engine, Woolpack and Square and Compass all stood within a few yards of each other. Some of them were dens, all were uproarious, and they suffered heavily when the law wiped out a multitude of pub licences in the 'eighties' .

      It appears that Thomas Higgins had been married in Ireland as, at the end of 1838, his son Michael, accompanied by his wife, arrived as free settlers on the Adelaide. In later years, his daughter wrote that she understood Michael lived for a while in George Street, Sydney, and then moved to Chippendale as a school teacher. Reference is made in contemporary papers of a law suit between Michael and his step-mother, but details are sketchy. However, it seems that Sophia won the case, as in the 1844-45 Directory of Sydney, a Michael Higgins is shown as living at 103 George Street, while the Dog and Duck is shown as 93 George Street. At about the same time , Thomas Higgins' sister Mary McMahon also came to Sydney.

      In the mid 1830's there was a general movement from the Hartley district to Canowindra. Pierce Collits received land to replace his by-passed Mt.York Inn: John Grant of Moyne Farm opened up Belabula Station. Apparently, Thomas Higgins accompanied Collits and, may have worked as a stockman while waiting to obtain and develop his Milburn Creek property.

      In 1839, Thomas was killed in a riding accident at a place later known as Higgins Waterholes (now called Gilgais) between Canowindra and Eugowra. He was buried on Belabula Station, and though his headstone has disappeared, the inscription read:

      Thomas Higgins
      Died 26 July, 1839
      Husband and Father

      In a cutting from the Sydney Morning Herald (undated but written shortly after the death of Mary, relict of the late Pierce Collits) I read that Herbert J.Ramsey, F.S.G., reported as follows:- Only a couple of weeks ago , I discovered in a small station cemetery in the Belabula, near Canowindra, the grave of one of Collits' stockmen, Thomas Higgins, a former George Street hotelkeeper, who had gone west with the Collits, and had been killed by accident in 1839.

      Thomas Higgins left a will, dated 25th July, 1839, which would be the day prior to his death. The will is interesting for two reasons: it shows the property which Thomas had acquired in his short free life; and the details of his instructions.

      (As printed in the Field Family newsletter Edition 2)

      Thomas Higgins, New South Wales, to witt:
      The last will and testament of Thomas Higgins, formerly of Sydney but now of the Lachlan River in the said colony. I, Thomas Higgins, as aforesaid being sound in mind but weak in health and constitution and well knowing that all mortals must die do make this, my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is, First, I bequeath my body to the earth, and my soul to its Divine Maker in the humble hope the Almighty Creator of all things will have mercy on it and forgive me all of the sins and manifold transgressions through the merits of my Divine Redeemer.

      I bequeath to my sister, Mary McMahon, now in Sydney for her family's benefit a fifty acres farm situated at Curry Jong with all my rights interest and title thereto as will appear by the deed thereof. Also to my sister three cows in calf, my black horse "Captain" and cart and harness.

      I bequeath to my son Michael Higgins, now in Sydney, ten cows in calf with a filly foal for his family's benefit and by no means to sell or dispose of the aforesaid stock and the increase thereof as follows: i.e. the males to be sold when saleable and the females to be retained by him for the purpose on future increase.

      My house in George Street, Sydney, known as formerly by the sign of the "Dog and Duck" I give to my wife Sophia Higgins, in trust for my son, Thomas (to be retained by her towards the support of herself and her children, Thomas, John, Mary Ann, Elizabeth and Catherine Higgins, until my said son Thomas shall attain the age of twenty-one years, then my will is that my aforesaid son Thomas shall take possession of my aforesaid described house and premises to whom I bequeath all my title, right and interest therein with a restriction never to sell, exchange or dispose of during his life time but shall fall after his decrease to his heir and if he should die without leaving male issue lawfully begotten in wedlock then the said house and premises to become the property of my son John, his heirs etc., the said premises always to be the property of a Higgins of mine and my son's offspring.

      I bequeath to my son John Higgins my one hundred acre farm situate at the Curry Jong aforesaid subject to the said restriction of non-disposal but to descend to his heirs in the male line and of the name Higgins.

      I bequeath to my servant Favel one cow in calf.
      I will that the present male part of my stock of horses and cattle be sold (with the future male increase but no females from time to time to enable my wife to support herself and my five children aforesaid to whose parental care I bequeath them, and according as my children attain their majority, that is my sons to attain twenty-one years of age and my daughters eighteen years, the female part of my stock to be retained for the purpose of increase and at the above periods to be divided equally among my wife Sophia Higgins and my aforesaid named children, that is Thomas, John, Mary Ann, Elizabeth and Catherine Higgins with the residue of all other property, firstly paying all just and lawful debts due by me.

      I appoint to this my last will my wife Sophia Higgins, executrix, Edward Markham and John Neville of Melbourne Creek and Timothy Maher of George Street, Sydney, executors.

      Given under my name and seal, this twenty-fifth day of July, 1839.
      Thomas Higgins
      Witness V. Freeling
      William Archer

      And how do I come into this? I am descended from Thomas Higgins, but not from Sophia. In 1840 a daughter was born to Michael Higgins and his wife (nee Ann Ryan) who lived then in George Street, Sydney. She was named Catherine Philomena. On 8th September, 1837, there occurred the baptism of Michael Morony, of Milltown Malbay, County Clare, Ireland. At about the age of 21, Michael Morony came to Sydney.

      On 10th December, 1865, at the Catholic Church in Araluen "Catherine Philomena Higgins , spinster, of Araluen, servant was married to Michael Morony, Batchelor of Araluen, golddigger". Their first born son, named Thomas St. Vincent Morony. The family stayed at Araluen until the early 1870's, then after a short sojourn in Parramatta, they went to the Gulgong goldfields, living in Gulgong and later at Home Rule, where Michael had a store and post office. Thomas, the eldest (six children survived infancy) attended school there, 'shepherded' gold claims for prospectors who had more than one claim, and delivered supplies to station properties in surrounding districts. later he went to Cooma where he worked in a general store. In the mid 1890's he came to Sydney and later married Catherine Mary Anglim. The Aglims had lived at Eurunderee, near Mudgee, and Catherine had attended the local school, famous as Henry Lawson's old school. She became a pupil-teacher, then studied at the Hurlstone College and taught at Erskineville, Crown Street and other inner city schools.

      Thomas St.Vincent and Catherine Mary had 3 sons: Gerald Thomas (a doctor, deceased), John Arthur and Thomas Anglim; I am the last named.
      Thomas Higgins was my great-great-grandfather, and I came from the line that inherited 10 pregnant cows and a filly foal!-


      As printed in Field newsletter edition 5

      Regarding Thomas Higgins, given to him by Esma Barlow. If anyone has any more information about Thomas let us know.

      1. Thomas Higgins, born in Kathkale, Ballengarry, County Limerick.

      2. He was sentenced on 24th December, 1815

      3. The family thought he got 7 years for burning haystacks.

      4. Had a Squatters Licence on Nanima Station

      5. Buried at Milburn, in Coundra Area, on the side of a hill. (This is different to H.J.Ramsey’s report, “Only a couple of weeks ago, I discovered in a small station cemetery in the Belabula, near Conowindra, the grave of one of Collits’ stockmen, Thomas Higgins, who had gone west with Collits, and been killed by accident”. Edition One page 4.)

      6. A road built over the old cemetery in 1969.

      7. He had 5 Inns in Sydney:

      Dog and Duck at Brickfield Hill
      Daniel O’Connell beside the above
      Robin Hood
      Cherry Tree
      Golden Tree


      From Field Newsletter 5:
      Forbes Road,
      Mr. Rumsey,
      Dear sir,

      I received your letter in which you mention, Mr. Thomas Higgins I gather from your letter that you think Mr. Higgins is buried in a cemetery at Nanimi, that is not so, his grave and tomb stone is in a very old cemetery near Mr. George Grant’s Senior’s property or it may be on his property on the Mandurama Road between Canowindra and Mandurama. It was my sister who visited the old cemetery, she lived with my mother and as my mother was not well enough to travel to the cemetery my sister went for her. The stone was very much over grown with moss and my sister copied it but not correctly as it was so covered with moss and it did not correspond with the dates Mr. Reeves has secured them since that time my mother asked Mr. George Grant to go to the cemetery for her and get it again. and Mr. Grant took a brush and scrubbed the stone and copied the inscription correctly and sent it to my mother who showed it to me just one month before her death. Since my mother passed away my sister and I were wondering if she had sent it along. The last she had collected, it was really the last hobby of her life she took a great interest in it. But as you are still asking about Mr. Higgins I conclude that she has not sent it. We have not found it amongst her papers so far, as soon as we do find it we will send it on to Mr. Reeves as my mother went to a good deal of trouble to get the inscription from what I can remember her telling me it was the same as Mr. Reeves had.

      As to the cemetery at Nanimi my mother said she did not know about any at Nanimi all the same there may be as it was a station at one time. It is now owned by Mr. W. Wright on the Eugowra side of the Lachlan River and Mr. Paul Weny on the Goolagong side of the river, therefore you would take the Forbes Goolagong road it is about 10 miles from Goolagong there may be some graves at Nanimi, the owner’s could tell you but if it is the place where Mr. Higgins is you will find it between Canowindra and Mandurama at Mr. Grant’s it is one of the oldest cemetery in the locality.

      I will always be pleased to forward any information but I am not old enough to know much of the old days. I hope I have made the position clear and that You will not have any difficulty in finding the cemetery.

      I am yours faithfully,
      E.B. WILCOX

      Information from the Genealogical Society

      On the Belubula River about 4 1/2 miles east of Canowindra on the Mandurama Road there was a grave yard on John Grants property.

      It still existed in 1932 when the inscription from Thomas Higgins tombstone was copied by Herbert J. Rumsey (President of the Australian Genealogical Society) when he found all the stones lying on the ground inscriptions face up.

      Sacred to the Memory of Thomas Higgins
      Who died January 26th 1839
      A husband kind and father dear
      A faithful friend lies buried here
      Our loss is great which here we sustain
      But trust in heaven to meet again.

      The Canowindra Historical Society says that the graveyard no longer exists, and has been ploughed over. 1990

    Person ID I913  The Rawsthorne Family Tree
    Last Modified 14 Nov 2015 

    Father Michael HIGGINS 
    Relationship Natural 
    Mother Bridget CRATTIE 
    Relationship Natural 
    Family ID F6366  Group Sheet

    Family 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 07 Jun 1824  Castlereagh, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Mary Ann HIGGINS,   b. 15 Sep 1825, Castlereagh, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 01 Oct 1918, Bundaburra Station, Forbes, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 93 years)
     2. Elizabeth HIGGINS,   b. 15 Jul 1827, Castlereagh, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 04 Jul 1923, Manly, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 95 years)
     3. Thomas Stephen HIGGINS,   b. 26 Dec 1829, Castlereagh, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 05 Feb 1865  (Age 35 years)
     4. John HIGGINS,   b. 11 Nov 1831, Castlereagh, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 03 Jul 1874, Bogabagil Station, Forbes, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 42 years)
     5. Catherine HIGGINS,   b. 18 Oct 1833, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Jul 1922, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 88 years)
    Last Modified 14 Nov 2015 
    Family ID F286  Group Sheet

  • Sources 
    1. [S197] Lyndal HOLLAND.

    2. [S367] Field Family Newsletter, Dorothy CEFARIN, Edition 01 (December 1999).