J is for John Curry

John Curry was born in Ancroft, Durham, England in 1831.  The 1841 Census shows that he lives with his parents James and Elizabeth and his two sisters and four brothers.  Their home is in Adderstow, Bells Hall, Bamburgh, Northumberland.  In 1851 he is 20, still living at home and is now an agricultural labourer, like his father and three brothers.  The remaining sister is a farm servant and the youngest boy is still a scholar.  They have a servant living with them but whether she works for them or the estate is not clear.

Ten years later John is a married man of 30.  He is now a coal miner in Weetslade in Northumberland at Seaton Burn Colliery House.

Seaton b
Seaton Burn Colliery from Seaton Burn Memories Project

His wife Margaret Patton is two years his senior and gave birth to Andrew in Doddington in 1852, two years before their marriage.  She was a servant in 1851  in the house of Richard and Elizabeth Thompson who farmed 1500 acres.  On some other family trees  both  parents died around 1851 although they were still living with their son John at the time of the Census.  I have still to find an official record of their deaths.

The ship’s record on The “Percy” shows John aged 39, a miner, Margaret aged 42 and John aged 9.  Ellen Curry, 14, is on another page, listed as a servant.  The two boys Andrew, 17 and James, 12, are on another page again.

In the Blog “C for Curry” I described the voyage from England to Australia.  The ship sailed to Pernambuco, Brazil before heading South East, past Prince Edward Island (1900 kilometres south of Cape Town) and assisted by the Roaring Forties it arrived in Melbourne after 104 days.

There had been nine deaths on the voyage from suspected typhus, fever and the effects of overcrowding.  The ship was placed in Quarantine at the Sanitary Station  on arrival in Melbourne on 17th April, 1870 until 25th April.

We noted on the shipping list that four people were detained for another week after the rest of the passengers were towed on board the ship to Hobson’s Bay.

birth of marg
The reference is to John and Margaret and indicates confinement

Two of those were Margaret and John Curry!  Trying to decipher the almost illegible handwriting we found from other sources that on the 21st April Margaret gave birth to a baby girl, Margaret.  I wonder what happened to the rest of the family  (aged 17, 14, 12 and 9) while the parents stayed at the Sanitary Station?

Family legend has it that the family tried their luck in Ballarat or Bendigo, looking for gold.  They moved on to Newcastle, NSW where black gold proved more readily available than the shiny stuff.

andrew curry
Andrew Curry and Emily Jones

John and James joined the Police Force in 1882.  Ellen married in 1876 and Margaret, (born at the Sanitary Station), married in 1888. Both women  moved to Western Australia after their marriages in Newcastle, NSW.  Andrew mined for coal in the Newcastle area, became a delegate for the Northern District Miner’s Association, then was the District Registrar of Birth’s, Death’s and Marriages.  He was elected Mayor of Merewether in 1888 and filled the mayoral position on and off until 1917.

As for John, the man who brought his family to Australia to strike it rich in the goldfields, he died in Merewether in 1904 followed by Margaret in 1907.  Maybe he went back to mining.  It would be a bitter blow after seeking a new life in a new land.

11 thoughts on “J is for John Curry

  1. Interesting that he was a labourer on a farm but had a servant. My great Grand father also had a servant but was a labourer. It must have been a common thing.
    His garb was interesting. It looks like a gown for graduation or a society, such as Masons. Any clues?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We know nothing of his time on the goldfields. We do know one son became a stockman before joining the police force. The other one was a labourer. Andrew went into coal mining so they certainly didn’t find any nuggets to set them up for life!


    1. Oops, I made a mistake on that caption and have just corrected the error. Amy Paul married John Sutton in 1858 (the son of the Mayor of Sydney) and came out to Australia around 1842 aged around 4. My husband picked me up on the mistake as I confused two of his relatives. Andrew Curry married Emily Jones.


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