Migration to Australia : the Barwick Family Story



altFollowing on from the article on Poverty in Great Mongeham Helen Barwick Middleditch has written about the migration of her own ancestors to Tasmania. The photograph shows her great grandfather. 



In 1836 the two eldest sons of Anne (Graves, b. 1784) and Joseph (b. 1783) were given the opportunity to escape the poverty in which they lived and to emigrate. Perhaps they had been considering it for some time, but they would have believed it beyond their wildest dreams: the fare was £20 for an adult, with Bounty advances available to pay the fare, but there were few takers, as for most labourers £20 was a year’s wages and it would be impossible to repay the advance. Then the unheard of happened – the government was offering free passage. There was a need for non-convict labour and free single females in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) so a shipload of young women, accompanied by families selected from parish poor, who would act as their protectors, was to be sent to relieve the problem. No doubt parishes put forward the names of eligible families. In October of that year the William Metcalfe left London with 275 passengers, including Edward and Joseph Barwick and their young families. They had six children between them, and Edward’s wife was seven months pregnant.


The journey was far from pleasant. Food was insufficient and of poor quality. Dysentery was rife, and there were several deaths, including Joseph’s wife, Elizabeth (Pierce), his two tiny sons, Richard and Thomas, and Edward’s daughter, Eliza. Edward’s wife, Elizabeth (Jarman) gave birth on the 9th December to a son, Edward William Metcalfe Barwick, named as customary after the captain and the ship. Miraculously he survived. The passage, however, was very fast : they left on 6th October, 1836 and arrived in Hobart Town on 24th January, 1837, sailing without stopping. It should be mentioned that at the beginning of the journey bad weather kept them sheltering in Deal Bay for almost 2 weeks, no doubt in sight of St Martin’s Church tower!

Oatlands_High_StreetOatlands High Street in the 1870’s. The buildings on the right may be the ‘Midland Hotel’ and the ’Oatland’s Emporium’, both built by William.Once in Van Diemen’s Land things began to look up. Unlike many of their travelling companions, both brothers seem to have found work as farm labourers quite quickly. To begin with they were separated, but after two or three years they were working together near the town of Oatlands, almost exactly half-way between Hobart and Launceston.

In 1840 the fourth son, James, was sponsored as a Bounty emigrant and went to NSW, where he settled in the township of Scone.

The following year Joseph and Ann, accompanied by their four youngest children, William, Stephen, Elizabeth and Andrew, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land. I am unable to find out how the journey was financed; it is possible either that Edward and Joseph had been able to save enough to finance it, or they had received bounty grants .

There were still three sons in the Eastry district. In 1841 Thomas was living with grandfather Thomas Graves. The other two sons, Richard and John were also married and living in Northbourne or Sholden.

Halfway_HouseHalf Way House, Antill Ponds, in the 1960sThe families in Van Diemen’s Land did very well in the 1840s, despite a serious economic depression which affected the colony. Joseph snr set up as a brewer in Oatlands, and Edward became a hotel licensee, as did his eldest son, Joseph. Oatlands was a major coaching stop on the main north-south road, and at one point Joseph ran the famous ‘Halfway House Inn’ at Antill Ponds. I remember driving past it as a child; by that time it was derelict, but I didn’t know there was a family connection. Joseph jnr settled to farming, after remarrying. His second wife was a young woman named Mary Ann Hackett who had accompanied them on the William Metcalfe, and became my great- great grandmother. (He later married a third time, and had a third family.) William, the entrepreneur and businessman of the family also went into the hotel business. They all put their profits into land, and as the 1850’s dawned, all the brothers were leasing and later The_Midland_HotelThe ‘Midland Hotel’ is one of three original hotels which still exist today (although much rebuilt).bought considerable holdings of between 1000 and 2000 acres, on which they successfully ran sheep and grew wheat. William built a hotel and general store, and sat on the municipal council for a term. Andrew and Stephen farmed together. Elizabeth married well, but was widowed when her husband was murdered by bushrangers. She later remarried and moved to New Zealand.

In 1854 Richard followed the family to the colony with Thomas’s eldest son, John. John then applied for his father and family to join him. Now all the children and grandchildren of Joseph and Ann were in the newly renamed Tasmania, with the exception of John, who never migrated.

Richard and Thomas did not become land owners, but all the other sons did. On their deaths they divided their land between their families, giving each child a good start in life. They were a very fecund and healthy family – Ann and Joseph had over 60 grandchildren in Tasmania and 12 in NSW, of whom over 50 lived to adulthood. There was much marrying of cousins within the first Australian generation, due to the social restrictions caused by the huge convict population. My great grandparents were Frances Amelia, daughter of Edward, and Thomas Graves, son of Joseph and Mary Ann, so I am descended from both original emigrants.

St_Peters_Anglican_Church_OatlandsSt_Peters_Anglican_Church_Oatlandswhere many pioneering Barwicks are buried.Joseph snr lived until 1863, dying in his 81st year. He died in his home, which he had named ‘Mongeham Cottage’. Ann survived until 1871, her 88th year. Longevity is also a mark of the family. Helen (1839-1931), daughter of Thomas, lived to be 92.

Their grandchildren, most of whom were born in Tasmania, became pillars of the rural society in which they lived. Several were municipal councillors. Many were hotel licensees or storekeepers. One was a police constable with many interesting encounters with bushrangers. Most were farmers, rearing prize merino sheep for wool and growing wheat. Occasionally things went wrong and individuals went bankrupt, but they always bounced back. They served the community as church wardens, justices of the peace, sat on licensing boards and show committees, and many other small town boards. They had a keen interest in agricultural developments. Two donated land for the erection of Anglican churches. They were great sportsmen in many fields, especially athletics, cricket and Australian Rules Football, and include an Olympic long-distance runner in their number. Sixteen sons from Tasmania served during WWI. Four won Military Medals, and three gave their lives. One of them wrote a war diary which is now in a museum, and another was later chosen as part of an Australian contingent at George VI’s coronation, and stood guard at Buckingham Palace.

Going to Australia was the making of this branch of the Barwick family. Obituaries describe them as friendly, honest, hard-working, and community and church oriented. They never became famous, or did anything worthy of mention history books, but they have many column inches in the local papers, and were true pioneers.



Anstey Barton homestead, nr. Oatlands. When the property was split up and sold off in 1860, Joseph jnr, Stephen and Andrew all bought plots. Joseph’s included a ‘substantial stone dwelling of two stories (sic)' which I think must be the building in the picture. Andrew and Stephen also had cottages, possibly the other two visible.









#1 Vicki Hefford 2012-04-05 03:18
This article has been great, my maiden name is Barwick and Joseph is my great great grandfather as well. My father Mervyn Joseph passed away in 2006, and his Dad Joseph Stephen passed away before I was born in 1958, the stories i am finding out has opened up a whole new lot of family history, I was unaware of there is lots of us Barwick's out there now, thankyou so much for making this information available to us.
+1 #2 Jim 2012-04-05 13:34
There is a Barwick family society for which I could provide you with contact details if you like. The Barwicks commonly named their sons Joseph. We bought our house from the heirs of a Joseph Barwick who died in 1983.
#3 Julia 2013-01-11 03:05
Very interesting article. I knew most of the facts but have never seen them written up as a history before. I am descended from Elizabeth Barwick who went to New Zealand with her second husband in the 1860s. One of her sons, George Sturgeon (named for his father and grandfather) refused to go with them and stayed on in Tasmania under the care of his grandfather.
#4 Irene 2013-05-21 01:34
Hello Jim, could you direct me to the Barwick family society please.
#5 Jim 2013-06-11 10:42
I am sorry, I seem to have mislaid the contact details. Is there a member of the Barwick family who could help Irene please?
#6 philip keene 2013-06-15 00:18
iremember going to vist joe + elsie barwick in the 50s,think the house was called memories,had a daughter trixie,she is my aunt.
#7 Jim 2013-06-21 11:09
We bought this house from Joe Barwick's family after he died. The house is still called Memories, although it was originally Palmerston Villa. I wrote an article about the house which can be found on this website.
#8 Elizabeth 2013-11-24 04:59
One of the descendents of Joseph and Ann (through Edward Metcalfe Barwick, the baby born on the ship) was a Barwick called Archie. He is my grandfather. He served in Gallipoli and France in the 1st Battalion of the AIF. Two books have been recently published about Archie: a) In Great Spirits (his diary from WWI) and b) The Unknown Anzacs. There is also a TV series in the pipeline called "The War That Changed Us" which should screen I 2014. Archie features as one of 5 WWI soldiers. Archie was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the King of the Belgians during WWI. Archie did make history - he was a true war hero.
#9 Elizabeth 2013-11-24 05:07
Family stories link the Barwicks to smuggling. Does anyone know if there is substance to this. I would be very interested. :-) Also, does anyone know where the name Sturgeon comes from within the family? After ship?
#10 Elizabeth 2014-03-25 00:58
Could someone give me the details for the Barwick family society?

Add comment

Security code