Ss – is for Sailing South and Single

Did Amelia and John know each other back home in Wedmore, Somerset, England? Was it Serendipity that they travelled separately, and single, to a new life in South Australia and then met and married “within the blink of an eye”?  Did they travel separately to avoid detection or is there a simpler explanation? Some things we can only wonder about as we explore the lives of our Ancestors. In this post to the Gould “Family History Through the Alphabet” challenge it’s a pleasure to share a little of the lives of my children’s paternal Great Great Grandparents, John and Amelia Hembury, when they chose to emigrate and create a life far from their homeland. Am also delighted to introduce the amazing book “A 300 Year History of the Hembury Family”, which has been a long time in the making and is soon to be released.


The history of Wedmore, the birth place of both John and Amelia Hembury/ Hembry, goes way back to the Iron Age and, as I understand it, the Hemburys have been an integral part of this rather small community, in Britain, for many hundreds of years. So it seems rather unlikely that John and Amelia did not know each other before both deciding to emigrate to South Australia separately and within about 5 weeks of each other.

John (aged 23) left the shores of Britain, from Plymouth aboard the “Adamant”, as a single man & Government assisted migrant on 4 Jul 1863. He arrived at Port Adelaide, South Australia on 25 Sep 1863.

Amelia (aged 15) left her homeland with her sister Jane (aged 16) aboard the “Sir John Lawrence” arriving in Port Adelaide just 6 weeks later – 30 October 1863. 

Within 6 weeks of Amelia’s arrival in South Australia she and John were wed in the beautiful “Holy Trinity Church”, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia – 17 Dec 1868.

Amelia and John Hembry/Hembury had 16 children – 9 survived infancy. Their sixth child, William Henry Hembury, is my children’s Great Grandfather.

William Henry Hembury married Emma (Amy) Kowalick at the residence of Amy’s mother Mary Ann (Forster) Kowalick at Margaret Street, North Adelaide, South Australia on 25 Dec 1894 and they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1944. Within a few years both “passed on” and share a burial place in the Dudley Park Cemetery, South Australia.

Amelia Hembury(c)K.Francis

William Henry and Emma had 3 children; Mary Eveline, Vera Adeline and Beatrice Amy Hembury. Mary Eveline, known as “Ev“, is our Nana Andy, my children’s great grandmother, on their father’s side, and a very special lady indeed.

Enough now about who is related to whom… except to say that when Amelia and John Hembury/Hembry decided to sail south and create a whole new life here, in the Antipodes, their descendants have never forgotten that their origins go way back to Wedmore, Somerset, England.

Kay Francis has been working, for 16 years now, on compiling detailed documentation of our Hembury Family which takes us back 300 years. The book “A 300 Year History of the Hembury Family” has grown to 461 colour/ black and white A4 paqes with many pictures, anecdotes etc. to enthral and intrigue. I can hardly wait to get my hands on it 🙂

Here’s how to order a copy:

PLEASE NOTE:   Postage to UK and USA  (on top of price of book)
                             – $30 Sea Mail and takes 3 months
                             – $50 Air Mail (which includes a surcharge for customs declaration, payable on Air Mail only) and takes 3-10 days.

Here in info about the book launch and reunion:

 Am so looking forward to the publishing of the book, and the family reunion and pleased to be given the opportunity to put our Nana Andy’s “Hembury line” into this publication. Sincere thanks to all whom have helped with this GIGANTIC task 🙂

Maybe we’ll catch up at the Book Launch/ Reunion on 25 Nov 2012? … Sure hope so.


Copyright © 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel

A Child on the Goldfields

One and a half hours drive, 132  kms north of Kalgoorlie and 729kms east north east of Perth, is Menzies, a mining and pastoral town in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia.  The Shire of Menzies covers an approximate total area of 125,000 square kilometres. The first gold discovery in the area, later named Menzies, has been credited to a prospecting party led by James Speakman in 1891. His find was reported and it’s unknown why Speakman failed to return to the area.

The following year discovery of the rich Coolgardie field tempted prospectors further inland and the track to Ninetymile (Goongarrie), north of Coolgardie, became well known as people trying to make their fortune ventured forth.

L R Menzie and J E McDonald, accompanied by Jimmy an Aboriginal tracker and Cumbra an Afghan camel driver, were prospecting for a Perth syndicate headed by Sir George Shenton.  Whilst inspecting a shaft at the Ninetymile, which they were considering buying, Menzies stumbled upon a rick alluvial deposit east. Following the line of the reef to the tip of a rise they found many very rich nuggets and quartz specimens studded with gold. Leaving Jimmy and Cumbra to guard the find they packed as much as they could in their saddlebags and hurried back to the nearest Register’s Office at the mining centre of Coolgardie. It was a rich gold find and the Mining Warden for the area recommended a township be declared, naming the place Menzies after the prospector. The townsite was gazetted in August 1895 and proclaimed a Municipality on the 20 December 1895

The news of a strike this big spread rapidly and soon the area was crowded with prospectors hoping for similar good luck. According to the writings of Warden Owen, it was estimated that in 1896 the population was 10,000, half of whom resided in the town and the other half in the surrounding land.

Three months after the gazetting of Menzies, my children’s paternal great grandmother was born at home, in North Adelaide, South Australia, the first child of William Henry Hembury and Emma (Amy) Kowalick.  Named Mary Eveline Hembury she was generally known as Ev but to us she was Nana Andie.

It was to Menzies in Western Australia that William Hembury took his wife and young daughter, about eight years after the first find. The Electoral Roll has them first enrolled for voting in Menzies in 1903 with William’s occupation labourer and Emma’s home duties.                                          Mary Eveline Anderson (nee Hembury)

Nana spoke of living in a tent on the Goldfields and carting water. In common with many of the towns in the North Coolgardie Goldfields, these early residents had to endure heat, flies, lack of water, poor diets and limited transportation, often for little or no reward. Sickness and disease plagued the early inhabitants, claiming many lives, especially among the young. The materials used to build the early buildings were an extreme fire hazard, and fires took a heavy toll.

Despite all these hardships, the people strived to make Menzies a vibrant profitable town. Water was carted to the town from surrounding lakes and underground supplies. The Government built a dam in 1897 and in 1901 this supplied water to the residences. The railway line between Kalgoorlie and Menzies was officially opened on 22 March 1898. The local Fire Brigade was formed to help control the damages caused by fire, and a Council by-law making it compulsory for at least one wall of business premises to be made of brick helped prevent the spread of many fires. Improved sanitation and a 50 bed hospital helped control the spread of disease.

However, this prosperity was not to last. From around 1905 the gold mining industry experienced a downturn. The gold which had made Menzies a town of major importance at the turn of the century was becoming more elusive a decade later. Figures show that production fell from 35,000 ounces in 1905 to 2,787 ounces in 1909. The population by 1910 had fallen from 10,000 below 1,000 and the decline of Menzies had begun.

The Hembury’s stay on the goldfields was brief.  The electoral roll has them still enrolled in 1906, however the SA Railways Records show that William was back in their employ on 14 February 1906 working at Islington as a glut labourer earning 6/- per day, later increased to 7/6.  Furthermore, their next child Vera Adeline was born on the Chicago Blocks, Islington on 11 May 1905. 

There is a family story that Grandpa Hembury did “quite well on the Goldfields”.  His daughter, Mary Eveline, lived to the age of 90 and left many journals full of her memories of a long life, well lived, which includes those childhood years on the Goldfields at Menzies.  What a joy it would be to read those stories.


SOURCES:  A Brief History of Menzies.
                   Menzies, Western Australia.                                                   ,_Western_Australia

 Copyright (c) 2012 Catherine Crout-Habel