Tuesday, 13 May 2014

52 Ancestors #23 Charles Septimus Smith

Researching a family member with the name of Smith can be a challenge.  We can only be grateful that, in this case, the parents provided their son with a distinctive second name that he regularly used.

Charles Septimus Smith was born on 9 February 1833 at Newington, England. His parents were John Smith (1800-1885) and Ann Dodson. Charles had two older sisters and four younger brothers. On 9 March 1834 Charles was baptised at St Peter's Church, Walworth in Surrey and the family address on the register was given as Beresford Street, Walworth. In the 1841 census the family address was Vauxhall Street, Walworth and in 1851 the address was 52 Chryssell Road in London, around the corner from Vauxhall Street. So Charles' early life was spent living in London. The occupation of his father in 1851 was listed as warehouseman - silk while Charles' occupation was warehouseman - woollen.

Notes to my father from a cousin stated that Charles came to Australia (Sydney) as a representative of Wilcox & Gibbs chain stitch sewing machines. He probably arrived towards the late 1850s as on 22 June 1859 Charles Septimus Smith married Sarah McCallum at St Matthew's Church of England, Drayton, now a suburb of Toowoomba, Queensland. On 22 June 1909 the following notice appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald under the heading Golden Wedding Anniversary:

SMITH-MCCALLUM - By special licence at St Matthew's Church, Drayton, Darling Downs, Queensland, on Wednesday June 22, 1859, by the Rev. Benjamin Glennie, Charles Septimus Smith, of London, to Sarah McCallum, of Glasgow. Present address Glen Rest, Glenbrook.

Locations where Charles and Sarah lived can largely be determined by the birth place of their fourteen children. They must have lived in Queensland for a while as their first daughter, Ellen Cumming Smith, was born in Ipswich, Queensland on 9 May1860. By the birth of their second child, John Charles, on 20 April 1861 they were living in Maitland, New South Wales.  When their fourth child, Annie, was born on 10 April 1864 they lived in Singleton. (In August 1863 Charles purchased two blocks of land in Singleton). When their sixth child, Robert Dugald Smith, was born on 27 August 1867 they were back in Maitland. The next five children were born between 1868 and 1874 in Wollongong. Lily was born in Singleton in 1875 while the two youngest children were born in Newtown, a suburb of Sydney in 1878 and 1880. Some of the birth entries have the name, Patricks Plains, which was an earlier name for Singleton. Charles name appears in a number of the Sands directories for Sydney initially in Campertown (on Newtown border) from 1890 until 1887 when addresses appeared in the Marickville area until 1897. When Charles died in 1912, he and Sarah were living at Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains.

 As we have seen Charles' occupation at age 18, in London, was a warehouseman dealing with woollen cloth. Charles possibly sold Willcox & Gibbs sewing machines in Australia but this may not necessarily have been the reason he came to this country. The Wilcox & Gibbs Company was started in the USA in 1857 and the first machines were in production in 1858. Machines were quickly exported to England and from there to Australia. Searching in Trove provides numerous advertisements plus some articles about these machines. The Wilcox & Gibbs Company ceased production in 1973. When Annie was born in 1864 Charles' occupation in Singleton was listed as a warehouseman. A Notice in the Sydney Morning Herald, 29 April 1875, referred to Charles as a draper in Newcastle. A similar notice published in the Sydney Morning Herald 20 November 1884 referred to him as a draper in Parramatta Road, Leichardt, near Sydney.

Charles was not the only member of his family to come to Australia. Some years after the death of his wife, John Smith (Charles' father) came to Australia, sometime in the 1850s.  Elizabeth, Charles' sister, came to Australia as an assisted migrant aboard the Java arriving in 1853. Articles in Trove show that Charles' brother, Robert Hancock Smith, was living in Australia at Windeyer, gold mining town, between 1861 and 1872. Frederick Smith was living in Sydney in 1885. Other family members may have also come to Australia but that has not yet been established.

Charles Septimus Smith died at his residence, Dunoon, Glenbrook on 8 July 1912. He was 79 years old.

Charles Septimus Smith was my great (x2) grandfather.


  1. Vicki
    Whilst taking another look at your research, I have remembered I have found the descendants of John Smith 1840-1925, son of John and Ann Dodson, through an Ancestry family tree. (Did I tell you this already?)
    I, too, will be doing other things for some weeks, after which I can tell you all about this branch. However, meantime, off top of my head Di Black has a Boatwright tree with all the names. John died Manning River.

  2. Kathleen, Thanks for this information. I will investigate but it may have to wait until after the England trip. Cheers, Vicki