Wales – Keegan – Heycox Families – Bee-Farmers, Timber Getters and Miners

Isaac Wales, has not been much documented in books, unlike other Sherbrooke residents such as the Knight, Reeve and Brown families. Nor were they included in the Illawarra Family History Groups Ilawarra Pioneers Pre 1900 and Pre 1920 – even  though they had been in the district since at least the 1870’s. There is a mention of his granddaughter Lily Drinknall’s Sherbrooke memories in Westie Hapgood’s “Deep Valleys, Tall Timbers, Tough Men and Women.”

Yet, you can find details of the Wales Family of Sherbrooke, by searching  online newspapers via Trove. From those old newspapers Isaac emerges as  a person who “gave life a go”, not withstanding a few knocks. And there’s also their story, in essence, a typical family involved in their local community – farming, storekeeping, would-be wine bar proprietor, mining, quarrying, church, cricket, flower shows, debating, school, progress associations, political issues as needs be. Also the experiencing of financial setbacks, a disastrous fire, and then the compulsory resumption of their property for Cataract Dam – their relocation to another farm at Cobbitty near Camden and becoming part of their new community. Overall their life in Australia seems to have been prosperous for the family. This story focuses on Isaac Wales and son George William, but touches on Isaac’s father and granddaughters, including Lily Drinknall, George’s daughter – four generations in all.

Isaac Wales, son of Isaac Senr, was born in 1831 in Egglestone, Durham England, married in 1853 to Mary Coulthard. There were at least five children, with four recorded as being at Marske, Yorkshire,  in the UK Census of 1861. Ann’s birth may have followed soon after the 1861 census, given her 1884 marriage in Australia.

At the time of the Up and Down Bulli Mountain – Discovering the Lost Village of Sherbrooke, it had not been clear when the family arrived in Australia after the 1861 UK Census, however it was known that tIsabella in 1869hey were in the Illawarra by 1869. Since then information supplied by Allan McMaster and Gillian Baker confirms this. In addition Allan McMaster has shared that the Wales family left England for New Zealand in 1864. Two years later, in 1866, they were in Bulli, where Isaac was a miner, and where youngest daughter, Annie,was born.  And Isaac was certainly on Bulli Mountain, by 1872, when his occupation was listed as Miner. So perhaps it was the opening up of the Bulli mine that atracted them.

Isaac was evidently on Bulli Mountain in 1878, when a stray dark brown mare was apparently running loose on his farm up there Isaac was noted for his honey, and in 1879 it was to be exhibited in Sydney, along with his Blackbutt Shingles, and his honey was again reported in the Illawarra Mercury in 1884. Also, in 1884, Isaac applied for a wine license at premises in Bulli – however as there were four nearby premises already he was unsuccessful. And later in 1884,  he was listed as a storekeeper in Bulli facing insolvency charges, not to mention for allowing stock to stray.

Around 1886, there were some contentious issues with the School, and Isaac Wales, seems to have been one of the parents involved in lodging the complaints. A year or so later the School Teacher left and was replaced by a Mr De La Motte, who performed agricultural experiments and studied rust problems in wheat.In 1888, Isaac, listed as a householder of  North Bulli,  was one of a long list of signatories,opposing the creation of the Bulli Shire Council. And in 1893 and 1894, Isaac Wales of Sherbrooke, was still well regarded for his bees and honey.

Isaac Wales and Honey - Illawarra Mercury January 3 1894.

Isaac Wales and Honey – Illawarra Mercury January 3 1894.

There must also have been trouble faced by the Brown’s of  Ferndale Orchards in 1896, as there was a public  notice of support by Isaac Wales and other Sherbrooke people – and in 1896,  there appeared to be some discord in the Sherbrooke Union Church, which usually had the reputation for unity.

Isaac and son, George William Wales, were listed as owners of Lots 143, 144 & 145 at the time of the resumption of Sherbrooke for the Cataract Dam (Nb Isaac had passed away a year earlier in 1901). The sandstone quarry was on Lot 143

Sherbrooke at time of resumption - Wales owned Lots 143, 144 & 145

Sherbrooke at time of resumption – Wales owned Lots 143, 144 & 145

An excellent Wales family history has been prepared by Allan Hugh McMaster, a descendant of Isabella Wales and her husband James Keegan, which is hoped to be added to the Sherbrooke site.

Isaac and Mary Wales’  son Robert Coulthard Wales had married Grace Harley in 1878. (NSW BDM 5219/1878), however he appears to have left Sherbrooke, but remained in the northern Illawarra. The following is a story shared by a Heycott descendant, whose family are connected to Robert Coulthard Wales …

“Robert Coulthard Wales and Grace Harley are Henrietta Wales’ parents, her siblings are Mary Ann Wales, Martha Wales, Albert A L Wales, Alice May Wales, Stanley G Wales. Henrietta Wales married William Albert Alexander Heycox….. William is my Great grandfather’s brother’s son, there are other Wales that were from down Braidwood, Nelligen that have married into Heycox. I am a decendent of Charles Hickox – our names have changed,  Heycott , Heycox many variations. Henrietta and William Heycox are buried up at Bulli… KerrieAnne, my Great grandfather Charles Hickox jnr (Heycott)was a timber getter up the top of Bulli. They would go up cutting timber for weeks when they were coming down the mountain  and they would hang a light out off the mountain on a pole to let the families know they were coming down in the morning. The timber would go to a timber yard up from where Bulli pass rd is to the north. My Great grandfather had something to do with the first jetty constructed in Port  Kembla which is listed on Trove. I don’t know what the capacity of the work on the jetty was, whether it was supply of timber, which would have came from Bulli. He lived at Bulli and my grandfather was born there 1900, later they moved to Bass St Port Kembla.”

Isaac  and Mary Wales’ daughter, Annie, was a pupil at the Sherbrooke school in 1880.

Sherbrooke School pupils - 1880 included Annie Wale

Sherbrooke School pupils – 1880 included Annie Wale

Annie Wales married William Hill in 1884 (NSW BDM 5428/1884). Annie Hill, died in Helensburgh in 1912 – perhaps her father Isaac was living with her ? As in 1901, Isaac Wales had passed away in Helensburgh, and a year later in 1902, two of Isaac’s granddaughters, Mrs A English and M Wales had placed a memorial notice in the Sydney Morning Herald.

At  some point around 1885, Robert and Annie Wales’ brother, George (?) Wales,was a part of the Sherbrooke Cricket team, which often featured as many as 8 Brown brothers. Isaac Wales had also been the Sherbrooke Wicket Keeper at one stage, according to Westie Hapgood.

George William Wales had wed Charlotte Gale of Woonona at St Augustine’s Bulli in 1886 – the family farm, at Sherbrooke, was given as Rosedale. Yet to be confirmed – that Charlotte Gale was related to the Mr Gale, expert on bee-keeping Apiculture, mentioned in the bees at Sherbrooke article above ?

George Wales was in the Sherbrooke Cricket Team of 1891, with 7 Brown brothers, with 2 Rixon’s and a Wilson. In 1892 there were 8 Brown brothers, George Wales, a Cavill and a Rixon, in the Sherbrooke team.

In 1891, George Wales also became part of the Sherbrooke Progress Committee, and again in 1892-93-94-95-96. George was also later involved in the Debating Society in the years around 1894.

Tragedy struck in 1895, when George and Charlotte Wales’ Sherbrooke residence was totally destroyed by fire.

And by the end of 1902 the fate of Sherbrooke was being determined, with George Wales property and the Brown’s Ferndale Orchard, slated to be the first to be resumed, with a tramway to be installed, to connect to a quarry. By March 1903, George Wales was one of the Sherbrooke landholders appealing the resumption decision, but to no avail. Because by that same March of 1903,  400 men were already clearing the area and building a tramway to Wales quarry. Westy Hapgood wrote of George Wales’s daughter Lily Drinknall 1981 memories in his “Deep Valleys, Tall Timbers, Tough Men and Women”

“The Government resumed our property, our orchards, and all the other peaceful homes in Sherbrooke, and began to build the Cataract Dam. There were railway lines through our beautiful orchards; engines and trucks clattered all day; about eighty canvas tents were erected near our back fence. There was constant noise of blasting as the men blew out the sandstone in Dad’s quarry to make the reservoir (ie Cataract Dam). To a child’s mind all the workers seemed orderly and quiet people, but all our free happy times were ended.”

George William Wales and  family were compensated with 1,000 pounds, and living at Woodstock, in Cobbitty in 1908, after leaving Sherbrooke, following the resumptions – there George was elected as a  Sidesman at St Paul’s Cobbitty in 1908. In 1925, George and Charlotte’s daughter, Lottie May married Bertram Everard Owens of Myalla via Cooma, and was attended by her sister, Hazel Wales.

By the time of their Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 1946, George and Charlotte Wales were living at Bethshean in Cobbitty, near Camden, where they had lived for more than 40 years.

George William Wales passed away in 1949,  aged 91 years, with probate granted to his two sons Charles and Isaac Jnr in 1949. George Wales’ widow remained in Cobbitty until at least 1953.

The Wales family tree :

  • Isobella Wales b c.1855 –  married John Keegan/Geegan, a miner, on 1/7/1869 at Wollongong, according to Gillian Baker, who is currently researching Illawarra Women from European Settlement to Suffragette Era in 1902 for the Illawarra Family History Group.
    • Thomas Keegan b. 1870 Wollongong (may have married either Emmie Hopkinson in 1897 or Lucy Ross in 1891)
    • James Keegan b. 1871 Wollongong
    • Mary Elizabeth Keegan b. 1874 Wollongong
    • Ann Keegan b. 1876 Wollongong
    • Catherine Keegan b. 1878 Wollongong
    • John I Keegan b. 1881 Wollongong
  • Robert Coulthard Wales b. c 1857 – married Grace Harley
    • Mary Ann Wales b.1878 Wollongong
    • Martha Wales b. 1881 Woonona
    • Isaac Wales b. 1883 Woonona
    • Henrietta Wales b. 1887 Woonona
    • Albert A. L. Wales b. 1889 Woonona
    • Alice M. Wales b. 1892 Woonona
    • Stanley G Wales b. 1895 Helensburgh
  • George William Wales b. c 1858 – married Charlotte Gale in 1886
    • Edith B C Wales b. 1886 Woonona
    • Charles Wales b. 1887 Woonona
    • Mary C Wales b. 1888 Woonona
    • Lily Wales b. 1890 Woonona mzarried Drinknall
    • Isaac Wales b. 1892 Woonona
    • Lottie M Wales b. 1893 Woonona
    • Florence Wales b. 1896 Woonona
    • Charlotte Wales b. 1899 Woonona
    • Hazel S Wales b. 1907 Camden
  • Mary Wales b. 1860 – d 1861
  • Annie b.1866 in the Bulli area, (according to Allan Hugh McMaster’s research)  – note she was not listed in the UK’s 1861 Census, and nor is her birth is listed in the NSW BDM register – married William Hill in 1884 – died in 1912
    • Mary E Hill b. 1884 Woonona
    • Violet M Hill b. 1887 Woonona
    • William Hill b. 1889 Woonona
    • David J Hill b. 1891 Woonona
    • Thomas V Hill b. 1894 Woonona
    • George R Hill b. 1900 Helensburgh
    • Albert E Hill b. 1902 Helensburgh
    • Madeline H Hill b. 1905 Helensburgh
    • Myrtle A Hill b. 1906 Helensburgh
    • Frederick L Hill b. 1911 Helensburgh

Additionally there was a William Charles Wales ( – 1947) who lived in Wooonona and who married Ruby Minnie ( – 1952). Their daughter Valerie married ? Hurry (1).

5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gillian Baker on April 20, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Isabella Wales married John Geegan on 1/7/1869 at Wollongong- her parnets listed were Isaac Wales and Mary Cholmar.


  2. Thanks Gillian – would John Geegan’s name also be spelled as John Keegan ?


  3. Posted by Shanan Miller on August 23, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    George William Wales’ wife Charlotte’s maiden name was Gane (rather than Gale).
    Lily Drinkall (George and Charlotte’s daughter) was my grandmother on my mother’s (Coral Kelly nee Drinkall) side. Charlotte Gane’s sister Annie Maria Gane married Patrick Joseph Kelly in November 1886 in Hunter’s Hill. Annie Maria and Patrick Joseph were my grandpartents on my father’s side (!!).
    Shanan Miller (nee Kelly)


  4. Posted by Linda Warren on September 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Lottie May Wales married Bertram Everard Owers. They are my grandparents. Linda (nee Owers)


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