Stranded in Australia: the Padangese family Townsend


TOWNSEND – Captain William (56), Edwin James (17), George Robert (16), Isabella Rachel (14), Mary Catherine (12), Victor (10), also Elizabeth Salmon Thomas (26) – Governess; passengers on The Netherby when it hit the rocks on King Island, Australia.

It is largely due to Captain William Townsend that the history of the wreck of the ship the Netherby has been so fully told. He and Mr Vincent, another first class passenger, issued a newspaper on board, The Netherby Gazette, which compiled a thorough record of the journey. Apparently, it was popular at the time to have a little press on board and sufficient paper to stimulate some creativity on the long and boring journey. Interestingly, perhaps to avoid confusion, Captain William Townsend called himself Mr Townsend during the journey. The Netherby Gazette was later published as a compilation with additional material relating to the rescue and its aftermath. 

Captain William Townsend (1810-1893) was born in Padang, West Sumatra, Netherlands East-Indies, on the 6th of June 1810, the eldest son of Edward James Townsend (c.1779-1841) of London and Cornelia Johanna Dederingh (1790-1860), of Padang. It appears that Edward came to Padang in about 1804 as a merchant (koopman). Here he met and married Cornelia Johanna Dederingh on the 20th of May 1807, in Padang. Edward was commander on the vessel Henry, of 196 tons, as at the 31st of December 1804, and was the first Townsend in Padang. Edward and Cornelia established their family in West Sumatra during the period called ‘Interregnum’, from 1795 to 1815, during the Napoleonic Wars in mainland Europe, when the United Kingdom controlled the Dutch East Indies under the governorship of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles.

Captain William Townsend before he left the Dutch East Indies

With an English father and a Dutch mother, it is likely that William grew up speaking English, Dutch and the local language Bahasa Melayu. Like his father, William became a seaman in his early twenties and travelled to Calcutta (possibly in the service of the East India Company or the British Steam Navigation Company). In Calcutta on the 4th of March 1832, William married Clementina Cecilia Sophia Chew (1812-1862).

She was the daughter and seventh of thirteen children of John Chew (a mariner, Commander and later Branch Pilot with the Bengal Marine in India), and Isabella Rachel Stewart of Calcutta, who were married in Calcutta on 17th of March 1801.

John Chew was born in Boston, Massachusetts, North America, in 1767, son of Roger Chew. An autobiographical letter of John states that he never knew his mother, but understands that she was married before to a Mr. Robertson and that they had a son named George Robertson. She then married Roger Chew, and apparently died shortly after giving birth. Roger Stew married again, and apparently John did not get along well in the home, because he ran away at least twice. He became a mariner and in 1786 and ran away to the West lndies, and then went to the East and began working for the East lndia Company in Bombay and later in Calcutta, Bengal. He became Commander and later Branch Pilot with the Bengal Marine in India. From India he wrote home several times, but never received an answer. He therefore gave powers of attorney to several friends who were visiting the United States, and they were to take the necessary steps to protect his interest in his father’s estate. He was first recorded as seaman on 20th September 1793 as Commander of the H.C. Brig ‘Sophia’ armed with 18 guns. On a mission up the Naaf river near Shaporee island in Burma, he was captured with his crew on 20 January 1824 by representatives of the Rajah of Arracan and released on 16th February 1924. He was pensioned 19th October 1824 as Branch Pilot and died 2nd February 1829 in Calcutta. John Chew was buried at North Park Burial ground in lower Circular Road Junction with McLeod Street in Calcutta, Plot nr. 292. This graveyard was cleared in the 1950s. When he died his wife Isabella Rachel was given a Marine pension of British Pounds 100/annum.

There is also a John Chew who accompanied the prisoners of the 1st Fleet to Australia in 1787. This John Chew returned to England in 1792 and could very well be the same as the above person.

Isabella Rachel Stewart was born in Fort William, Calcutta in 1775, daughter of a Dr. Matthew Stewart and died there in 1846 and buried in the family grave where her husband was buried previously. No information on her mother has been found (yet). Was she adopted? Was she Eurasian? 

William and Clementina’s marriage was blessed with fifteen children over the next 24 years. They lived in Calcutta for the first couple of years, then moved to Surabaya in Java, before establishing themselves in Padang, where William’s parents and siblings lived at the time. The birthplaces of their children indicate that they returned to Calcutta between 1844 and 1845, but returned to Padang, where Clementina died on the 17th of June 1862.

Captain William Townsend was a captain for many years, including the bark ‘Diederika’, 111 ton, (1833-1934) and was also became vessel owner. On 1st July 1845, he re-associated himself with A. N. van den Berg as general commission agents under the firm of ‘Townsend en van den Berg’, suggesting he had done so earlier. A clear indication that he had more aspirations than being a captain.In January 1849 he was appointed as ‘boot- en havenmeester’, Harbour Master, in Padang, a position he held until 1855. This was a lucrative and prestigious position. 

The Townsend family would have lived a privileged life in Dutch East Indies. The Dutch East Indies had two legal classes of citizens; European and Indigenous. The European colonialists formed a privileged upper social class of soldiers, administrators, managers, teachers and pioneers. They lived at the top of a rigid social and racial caste system. Whilst England had abolished slavery in 1834, it continued in The Netherlands until 1860. Even then slavery in the Dutch East Indies did not disappear immediately. On Sumatra’s west coast slavery was finally prohibited in 1876.On 1st December 1955, he established and general trading company ‘Handels Commissiehuis’ in Padang.

Despite this comfort, it seems that Captain Townsend was keen to seek a living elsewhere, as it appears that he made an initial attempt to establish himself in Australia in 1855. This is referred to by Herman Neubronner van der Tuuk, in his infamous poison pen letters “II Naar de Bataklanden, 1849-1857.” An extract has been translated from Dutch as follows:

“Several months ago, Mr Townsend, Harbour-master of Padang, went to try out his fortunes in Australia. The position of Harbour-master, which is very lucrative as it provides a monopoly of cargo vessels, etc., was thought to be vacant, and was deemed timely to be filled by someone else. Mister Townsend happened to be father-in-law of the Assistant-Resident and Magistrate of Padang, and therefore was able to abuse his position towards the indigenous people. No new Harbour-master was appointed, but instead the position was covered by one of the controllers, as the success of Mr Townsend’s trade mission was by no means certain. And would he be unsuccessful, he would surely return and expect to take up his previous position. This proves the practice by the Padang government of protecting certain people. And indeed, Mr Townsend did lose his fortune, and resumed his previous position.”

It is true that Captain Townsend’s son in law, Henri Maximillian Andrée Wiltens, held the position of Assistant Resident of Padang from 1847-1856. How much of the other information in the letter is correct, we may never know, but it does point to a situation of intrigue, conflict and jealousy, which may have been behind William Townsend’s wish to emigrate. If William did travel to Australia in 1855, he soon returned and remained firmly ensconced in Padang. William was one of the six founding members of the Freemasons Lodge, ‘Mata Hari’ (meaning ‘eye of the sun’), and was ranked ‘First Overseer’ on the 14th of May 1859. 

Two years after Clementina’s death, William married on the 18th of June 1864, in Padang Adelina Jessey Maidman (b. Padang, 19 September 1836). A daughter, Letitia Wilhelmine Townsend, was born in Padang on the 31st of March 1865 (d. 1934). This short lived marriage ended with William departing Padang, with his five youngest children from his previous marriage, for Holland and England and ultimately, in April 1866, for Australia on board the Netherby. Many of his older children were married and working in Padang by this time. The variation in their employment is notable though, with some holding senior positions as notary, army captain and his son in law ‘Assistant Resident,’ while others worked in relatively low ranked positions such as prison warden or clerk at the city gate. This is surprising given the position and wealth of their father.

Sometime between the date of his second marriage in June 1864 and early 1865, William Townsend sold his schooners and other interests in Padang and took his five youngest children to leave the Dutch East Indies forever. The date of his departure is not known (yet), but it must have been at least five months prior to the date of a letter, sent on the 24th of September 1865, from his daughter, Euphemia Clementina living in Dutch East Indies, to her children studying in The Netherlands. It would have taken two to three months for him to have reached England, the same for his letter to have made its way to Euphemia in Indonesia and the same again for her letter to reach her children. She writes: “Grand Papa is now in England. You might see him. Write to Edwin & George in English and always give your love to Grandpapa, Bella, Mary and Victor when you see Grand Papa, give my love.”

We can assume from this that William Townsend and five of his children left Padang late 1864; in any case no later than March 1865. The second marriage was over it seems within nine months and it is likely that William Townsend never met his daughter Letitia, by Adelina Maidman. The Townsend’s visited relatives in The Netherlands and England before beginning their ill-fated journey to Australia on the Netherby in March 1866 and shipwreck on King Island, Bass Strait, Tasmania, Australia. The island is located South of Melbourne.

Following the remarkable rescue and despite efforts by the Mayor of Melbourne to stimulate them to settle there, the family travelled from Melbourne on the “City of Melbourne” and landed in Brisbane on the 6th August 1866. Seven months after their arrival in Brisbane, on the 22nd of March 1867, William Townsend purchased, for £1,154, the two storey former Brighton Hotel and surrounding 900 acres of lands in Sandgate, which became the family’s home for about ten years. He established an orchard and ran a herd of cattle on the land. The register of holdings in the Parish of Caboolture at the time showed that William’s family held about 300 acres of land (probably from the land grant) on the flood plains of the Caboolture River in Morayfield, some 30 kilometres to the north. In 1868, William became a Justice of the Peace and involved himself with the Acclimatisation Society and East Moreton Farmers’ Association. In about 1872 he was involved in the campaign to establish the Queensland National Bank (later to become the National Bank of Australia) and stood, (unsuccessfully), as a candidate for Director. He became the Bank’s auditor in February 1873 and was also a member of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce from the 25th of February 1873, to 1875. In 1873 he was made a member of the Marine Board and became Treasurer of a committee to establish the first primary school in Sandgate.

His health began to deteriorate about this time, but he was still well enough to present a successful petition to the Colonial Treasurer in support of the construction of a jetty at Sandgate. On the 14th of December 1876, he sold his cattle. In 1877, he bought a house nearby called “Mango Cottage”. The main house and property were leased soon after, and then finally sold on the 8th of May 1882. Still he continued with his public works, and in 1880 he was involved in establishing the village of Sandgate as a Borough, elected as one of the six founding aldermen of the Borough, and chaired the first meeting at which Edward Barton Southerden was elected Mayor. William was also involved in the founding of St Margaret’s Anglican Church, in Sandgate. In his later years, his deteriorating health and the onset of blindness saw him withdraw from public life. 

The children who had accompanied their father to Australia had some big adjustments to make, from a life of luxury with many servants in West Sumatra to a life at the frontier. An undated letter from Euphemia Clementine Townsend (third child of William), to her children in The Netherlands, outlines news from the family soon after their arrival in Queensland: 

“Your Grand Papa [William Townsend] wrote they had been shipwrecked on King’s Island, there were 450 souls on board, fortunately all lives were saved, it seems Grand Papa has lost almost everything. The family bible in 3 vols (you remember them?) valuable papers, books, trunks of clothes, portraits. Bella [Isabella] writes that the places they have now, to put the little clothes they have left, are worse than what our servants had at F. D. Kock*, she says they will now have to work, one cook, one look after the dairy, one of the boys will have to take the produce of the garden to market, & so on. I only hope it is not as bad as Bella writes, as George writes me at the same time, that he & Victor were going to school there, & Bella & Mary also. Edwin would help Grand Papa. George writes Bella is very anxious to visit me.”[1]

*F. D. Kock, [Fort De Kock, West Coast of Sumatra, 90 km from Padang, now called Bukittinggi]

William Townsend had nineteen children in all. The youngest five of the 15 children born to William and Clementina came to Australia with him. A further three were born in Australia after William married his second cousin, Elizabeth Salmon Thomas, on the 20th of February 1872, at St. John’s Cathedral, Brisbane. Elizabeth came from London to Australia with William as governess to his children and must have remained in that position for their first six years in Australia. William obtained a special license to marry Elizabeth, after having declared his second wife (Adeline) dead since he had not heard of her for more than seven years. The marriage, however, became bigamous with the arrival of documents from Padang deposing that Adelina was still living. A copy of a document dated, the 27th of November 1877, in the files of the Queensland Historical Society, states: “The undersigned, Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the District of Padang, West Coast of Sumatra, hereby certifies that Adelina Jessy Townsend, wife of William Townsend of Queensland Australia, is this day alive.”

It appears that family contact with his second wife and their daughter was not irrevocably lost as William consented to the marriage of his daughter Letitia on the 9th of April 1884. The gossip columns of the Brisbane Courier on the 2nd of May 1896, reported that who they refer to as “Mrs William Townsend,” visited Brisbane at least once after William’s death, staying at Indooroopilly with her step-son George. The purpose of the visit is unknown, but may have been related to the inheritance, since William and Adelina were never formally divorced.

On the 11th of August 1893, Captain William Townsend died at the age of 83 at “Mango Cottage”, Sandgate, and was buried at the Bald Hill Cemetery, Sandgate, which he had helped to establish. “Mango Cottage” is still located at 32 Park Parade, Shorncliffe. It was named “Barnstaple” for a while, then “Berwick on Tweed” for many years, but it is now again “Mango Cottage”.

Elizabeth Salmon Thomas died on the 26th of June 1907, at Charters Towers, where she was buried the same day. At the time she probably lived with or near her second son Charles Thomas Townsend at Prior Street. William bequeathed his entire estate to Elizabeth and upon her passing to any children he had with her – which at the time his Will was written, 15th of March 1875, included only William Ambrose (1872) and Charles Thomas (1874). Frances Mary was born the following year. The Will names Elizabeth as his sole executor and was most explicit that only Elizabeth and her children would inherit any part of his estate. Elizabeth in her Will divided her property equally between her three children but provided an additional £200 legacy to her daughter and to Mary Catherine (youngest daughter of William and Clementina) who was described as a widow at the time her Will was drawn up on 18th June 1907. Her second son Charles was appointed executor.

Children from William’s first marriage to Clementina Cecilia Sophia Chew, who did not join the Netherby 

1.   Isabella Cornelia, born 1833, Calcutta; died 1836, Padang.

2.   Eduard, born 1834, Surabaya, Java; died 1836, Padang.

3.   Euphemia Clementine, born 1835, Padang; died 1913, Den Haag, Nederlands; married 1850, to Hendrik Maximiliaan Andrée Wiltens (1823-1889), three sons who were sent to Holland for their studies and never to return.

4.   William Roger, born 1837, Padang; died 1863, Padang.

5.   Louisa Cecilia, born 1840; died 1929, Bogor, Java; married Friedrich Ludwig Wilhelm Vogler, the garrison physician, in 1857 in Padang, 12 children of whom six died young. 

6.   Isabella Sophia, born 1841, Padang; died 1841, Padang.

7.   Maria Augusta, born 1842, Padang; died 1926 Padang. Married Theodorus Elink Schuurman, 1862, Padang; ten children of whom three died young.

8.   Austin Edward, born 1844, Calcutta, India; died 1895, Bogor, Java, Netherlands East Indies. Legalised one child by Sien Pannio before first marriage with Suzannah Sarah Van Der Vlist, 1869, Batavia, six children; second marriage with Diedja, one child. 

9.   Clementine Rosalie, born 1845, Calcutta, died 1888 Penang. Married Adrianus Johannes van Ginkel, 1863, Padang; one child, divorced 1868. Second marriage to George Batten, no children. 

10.  Henry John, born 1847, Padang; died 1905, Bloemendaal, The Netherlands.

Children from William’s first marriage to Clementina Cecilia Sophia Chew, who did travel on the Netherby 

11.  Edwin James, born 24 October 1848, Padang; died 31 May 1895, Coen, Queensland; never married.

Edwin reached the rank of Sub-Inspector of the now notorious Native Police in 1874, and was stationed for quite some time in the Palmer River Goldfields area. When gold was found at Palmer River in 1873, a staging post was founded at Laura. Edwin was appointed Sub Inspector, in 1874 (POL/4/574) Native Mounted Police. A Native Police Camp was established at Laura in 1876 to control the frequent violent clashes with local Aboriginal people, who resisted the invasion of their lands by the miners and pastoralists. Edwin was one of the Sub-Inspectors of this camp. It is likely that Edwin would have been stationed there before 1880, when the book reports: “In 1880, an entire detachment of Native Police troopers based at the Upper Laura barracks deserted, with 1 trooper attempting to kill their commanding officer Sub Inspector Stafford.” He was suspended for drunkenness and ‘refusal to obey orders’ (Police Staff file AF/1762/A/40172) after saying he had an “assignment with a lady” he wanted to keep. There are other references to him being extremely intoxicated and behaving wildly around this time. He resigned 1881 (Pol/4/617). He tried to get re-appointed in 1881 and 1889 but was refused. Edwin Townsend died three years later, in 1895, at the age of 47. 

Edwin is also mentioned in ‘The Palmer Goldfield: Early Days and Experience’, by William Hill, published in the Cummins and Campbell Monthly Magazine, 1938, Townsville: “Townsend, the officer in charge of the Native Police camp at The Laura, was a character, a good-hearted ‘fool-to-himself’ sort of fellow, and many a long, rough ride we have had together, as I was authorized to requisition his detachment when on any special or urgent duty. We frequently passed hordes of heavily loaded Chinamen, in single file, carrying goods to the Chinese merchants at Maytown. I have seen them carry over two hundredweight on a bamboo across their shoulders, under a blazing Palmer sun, twenty miles a day. They often collapsed and died on the road.”

12.  George Robert Townsend, born 8 June 1850, Padang; died 28 August 1917, Windy Ridge, Wooloowin, Australia. 

The ‘The Netherby’ survivors brothers George Robert and Edwin James TOWNSEND

George married Jessie Jane Sinclair (b.1858) on the 23rd of February 1881. She was a journalist living in Sydney but must have lived in Brisbane at some stage as her father, John Sinclair, was Lord Mayor of Brisbane from 1880-1881. George and Jessie had two children and were living in Indooroopilly in 1896. Like his older brother Edwin, George worked for the Native Police. According to the previously cited book, The secret war: a true history of Queensland’s native police, (2008), George was appointed Sub-Inspector in 1875. He was reprimanded for “furious riding in the streets of Cairns in 1878, and discharged for drunkenness in 1881.” He also reapplied unsuccessfully the following year and again in 1883. In 1884, he was appointed as a clerk in the Immigration Department where he appears to have remained for at least 14 years. The Brisbane Courier of the 17th of April 1898, states that he was “clerk in charge of the Government Labour Bureau,” which was a branch of the Immigration Department. The Brisbane Courier of the 12th of May 1898, recounts an incident when Richard Doherty, on remand, was charged with assaulting George Robert on the 14th April thereby “occasioning grievous bodily harm”.

Both Edwin and George Townsend are also mentioned in: ‘A Question of Necessity – The Native Police of Queensland, Griffith University (p 94 of 446), Jonathan Richards in his PhD thesis, 2005, Griffith University: ‘Brothers Edwin and George Townsend were both sacked for habitually ‘nipping’ in 1881; Edwin Townsend’s file was also marked ‘refusal to obey orders’. Police Staff Files, Edwin J Townsend, A/40172 and George Robert Townsend, A/40207.

13.  Isabella Rachel Townsend, born 19 February 1852, Padang; died October 1931, Eventide Home, Sandgate, Queensland. 

Isabella Rachel Townsend

Isabella’s first marriage to Donald Grant Maclean, on the 4th of April 1874, in Brisbane, lasted just over one year. Donald was educated at the Royal Military College of Scotland. He died on the 1st of August 1875 of tuberculosis, which he had contracted before his marriage, unknown to his bride. She only found out about his health condition through a letter she found from Donald’s sister expressing surprise that he was still alive. Donald Grant Maclean was buried at the Bald Hill Cemetery, Sandgate. Their only son, Donald Fitzroy “Fitzy” Maclean, born on the 26th of February 1875, was dropped to the floor soon after his birth by the nurse, whilst Donald was flirting with her. Donald Fitzroy “Fitzy” Maclean, died on the 11th of September 1875, just over 6 months old. Isabella had married, borne and lost a child, and a husband within a year and a half before her 24th birthday. Isabella’s second marriage, on the 21st of July 1880, in Sydney, was to Robert Raff (1845-1920). He was the son of George Raff, a successful merchant, sugar grower and a founding Queensland politician, and Harriet Agnes Bourne. Robert appears to have worked initially at his father’s Sugar Plantaton at Caboolture. Advertisements around 1875 indicate that Robert Raff was breeding and selling both cattle and blood and draught horses from his Morayfield property. Most of the mentions of Robert Raff in the Brisbane newspapers centre on shipping reports of his trips to and from Cooktown and of the delivery of pearl and pearl shell from Torres Strait to Cooktown. It appears that he left Cooktown in 1879-1880, just before marrying Isabella. In the next decade, they are in and around Normanton, in the Gulf Country. On the 15th of August 1887, a report in the Brisbane Courier from Normanton, mentions: “No returning officer for the Burke District has been appointed in place of Mr. Robert Raff, who resigned some six months ago.” According to oral history Isabella was very kind to the Aborigines at their station, in contrast to her husband. One of the Aboriginal servants at the station had skin disease and was not allowed to relocate to Brisbane with the family for that reason. He nevertheless walked the distance. Isabella took the man to the doctor and had his skin treated. He remained a loyal servant until his death. Isabella and Robert Raff had six children: George Wyben (b. 1881 on Thursday Island, d. 1952), Wyben was the Aboriginal name for the area and George is believed to be the first white boy to have been born there; Harriet (b. 1882 Brisbane); Robert (b.1883, Brisbane – d. 1968); William Morey (b. 1886); Isabella Clementina (b. 1888 – d. 1979, Brisbane); Charles Stuart (b. 1890 – d. 1981, Brisbane). His second name was incorrectly spelled as Stewart in the Courier Mail.

14.  Mary Catherine Townsend – born 6 December 1853, Padang, Sumatra, Dutch East Indies; died 24 January 1944, Brisbane. 

Mary Catherine Townsend

Mary first married Robert Rickard Davidson, on the 29th of July 1874, in St John’s Catherdral Church, Brisbane. The Brisbane Courier’s report of the marriage, on the 1st of August 1874, states that Mary Catherine was the youngest daughter of William Townsend. Frances was not yet born and clearly Letitia (from Williams second marriage) was not taken into consideration. Before his marriage to Mary, Robert Rickard Davidson was Honourable Secretary of the Battery of the Volunteer Artillery, in 1870, and of the Brisbane Football Club in 1870-71 and beyond. In 1880, he was signatory to a petition requesting the establishment of the Shire of Toowong, East Brisbane. Mary and Robert seem to have lived mostly in Townsville, where the local papers show they were socially active during the 1890s. After Robert’s death, (in January 1899) Mary returned to Brisbane in February 1899, with her three children. They lived at Coorparoo House, Princess Street, Coorparoo, a very grand estate located on what is now Camp Hill, Brisbane. In 1916, at the age of 63, Mary met William Smith and married in 1927 (Qld. BDM index Ref B1279). He was good at growing vegetables and looked after the garden. They lived at 13th Avenue (still a sandy track at the time), Palm Beach, a seaside resort on the South Coast of Queensland. She was the most charming woman, proper and fun. Late in life she moved to the Nazareth House, Brisbane, originally built for retired nuns, but converted to be an orphanage and old people’s home at the time. No electoral roll entry for Mary Catherine can be found after 1925. Robert was buried in West End Cemetery, Townsville. Mary was buried at Balmoral Cemetery (Qld. BDM Index ref B 64915).

15.  Victor Louis – born 8 January 1856, Padang, Sumatra, Dutch East Indies; died 8 October 1933, Brisbane, Queensland. 

At 22 years of age, Victor Lewis (Louis) Townsend was convicted of the theft or embezzlement of monies from the Bank of New South Wales in 1878, and was sentenced to seven years penal servitude. He was released early due to illness. He married Sarah Ann Winn in 1882, only four years later. In December 1890, Victor Townsend was sentenced for cattle stealing to two years in goal. (11th December 1890 Logan Witness, Beenleigh). A newspaper report on the 4th of July 1884, on the commencement of construction of a bridge at Pimpama, (approximately 47 kilometres south of Brisbane), mentions Victor Townsend’s stud poultry farm as being one of the beneficiaries of the new bridge. Other reports from the 1880s attest to his involvement with the Beenleigh Show Society and the wider Beenleigh district, including his regular showings of fine poultry. Beenleigh was a very prosperous town, about 36 km south of Brisbane, and was home to Dr Marshall Webster at that time. Victor was also involved in the cattle industry. Around 1894, Victor had been insolvent, with notice of discharge from insolvency being published in the Brisbane Courier on the 11th of August 1894. This insolvency may have been the result of a successful lawsuit brought by Alexander Costello in 1888, demanding the repayment of over £100 allegedly loaned to Victor Louis some years earlier when the pair endeavoured to set up a breeding program for improved table birds. The proceedings of the trial include the details that Costello was married to Sarah Ann Winn’s aunt, and that Costello had advanced some money to allow Victor Louis and Sarah Ann to return to Queensland from Sydney. After only eight years of marriage and with three children – Alma Chew (1884-1907), William (1886-1900), and Edwin Louis (1887-1913) – Sarah Ann died in 1890.

Victor’s second marriage was to Daisy Ferrers Shirley in 1898. Daisy was the daughter of Emily Day and John Frederick Shirley, an eminent teacher and school inspector in Queensland. Victor Louis was listed as a dairyman in 1903, residing at Stanmore, (about four kilometres south of Beenleigh), and after that at Wharf Street, Beenleigh. Victor was appointed by Beenleigh Shire Council as Poundkeeper in 1911, and Inspector of Nuisances in 1915. In 1916, he was made Bailiff for the Beenleigh area. On 7th of September 1923 the court granted a decree nisi with application to be made in three months for a decree absolute. Daisy was awarded custody of teh children. In 1925 Victor is registered as living at Coffey’s, Cordelia Street, South Brisbane, whilst his wife remained in Beenleigh. Victor had ten children from his marriage to Daisy: Claude (1898-1969), Colin(1900-1987), Garnet (1901-1957), Ina (1903-1985), Mabel (1905-1985), Enid (1906-1979), Beryl (1908-1979), Olive(1909-1991), Owen (1911-1991) and Donald (1913-1989). Despite his prize-winning poultry, Victor fell on hard times again and was known to help himself in the kitchens of his relatives late in life. Victor Louis Townsend is buried in Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane, Queensland, in an unmarked grave with two other people that had died at the same hospital.

Child from William’s second marriage to Adelina Jessey Maidman

16.  Letitia Wilhelmine Townsend, born 31 March 1865, Padang; died 19 September 1934.  

On the 9th of April 1884, William Townsend gave his consent “to the marriage of his daughter Letitia Wilhelmina Townsend with Karel Van Erpecum, 1st Lieutenant of Infantry, both residing at Padang, Sumatra.” This is the only known involvement of William with his daughter from his second marriage. They had a daughter Theresia Louise (1885-1960) and four sons, Karel (1886-1917), Laurens (1888-1954), Gerrit Willem (1891-1892) and Willem (1894-1924).

Children from William’s third marriage to Elizabeth Salmon Thomas 

17.  William Ambrose Townsend was born on the 27th of August 1872, probably at Sandgate; died on the 17th of April 1928, in Brisbane Hospital, and was buried in Toowong Cemetery on the 18th of April 1928. 

He was a marine engineer on large ships. No marriage can be found in the Queensland or New South Wales registered under his real name. But in 1905, he married Nina Mary Hibberson, under the name of William Ambrose at his wife’s request. She used the surname Hibberson (her grandmothers name), but also used the names Morris and Flood at that time. They were divorced four years later in New South Wales, in 1909, after a much publicised court case. It is not known whether William had any children. Electoral Rolls for 1925 have him residing at 18 Arthur Street, New Farm, occupation traveller. No other electoral registration has been found.

18.  Charles Thomas Townsend was born in 1874, probably at Sandgate, and died on the 25th of October 1921, in Gympie, Queensland. 

He married Gladys Mary Johnson on the 17th of April 1900. On 12th May 1900 they were reported as returning to Charters Towers from their honeymoon in Kuranda, to reside at “Sellheim”. They had six children: William Lewis Charles (1901-1955), Phyllis Gwendolen (1903-1903), John Graham (1903-1903), Francis Sydney (b. 1904), Edmund Ernest (1911-1950), Gwenneth Marie (b. 1913). In 1907 he resided at Charters Towers and was the Manager of the Cyanide Works.

19. Frances “Fanny” Marie Townsend was born in 1876, Sandgate, Queensland, and died there on the 20th of September 1962. 

She was an accomplished musician, studying first in Brisbane and later in London. She married Dr George William Frederick Paul, a Health Officer at the South Brisbane City Council, on the 27th of December 1905, in Christ Church, St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria. They were registered at 826, Vulture Street (Corner Vulture and Main Street), Kangaroo Point, Queensland, on the electoral rolls dated 1913, 1919, & 1925. Frances Marie Townsend was registered at the same address on the electoral roll dated 1937.  She is also registered that year at “Ilford”, Amarina Avenue, Ashgrove along with William Noel Paul and Hilma Brazier Paul.  In 1943, she is back in Sandgate at “Ilford”, Sunday Street, but is also registered at Drayton Street, Nanango.  She lived in Nanango with William Noel and Hilma at Drayton Street in 1949.  She then moved to Sydney, where we find her at 10, Waratah Street, Darlinghurst in 1954. They had two children: Emily Gwendoline Elizabeth (b. 1906) and William Noel (b. 1900). 

This history was collated by Thomas Helmer (descendant of (child 5: Louise Cecilia Townsend) and John Townsend (grand-son of (child 15: Victor Louis Townsend) including oral history from Mona Ainslie (grand-daughter and only descendant of (child 13: Isabella Rachel Townsend) and information sourced from ‘Captain William Townsend: An Interesting Life and Family’, unpublished manuscript, written by the late Geoff Drew, Sandgate, 2013 (researcher at the Sandgate and District Historical Society). It will be a contribution to the book about the Netherby in preparation by Helen Vivian, Melbourne. 

[1] Source – Andrée Wiltens dossiers held at Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal, Land-en Volkenkunde /Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Further reading: Charlwood, Don (2005). The Wreck of the Sailing Ship Netherby: A miracle of survival. Burgewood Books. ISBN 1-876425- 18-0.


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