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John Trewin Westaway
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John Westaway and Louisa Harris

by his great grandaughter, Joanne Adderley

John Westaway was born at 7:00 AM, on March 4th, 1848 in Ashburton, Devon, England, son of John Westaway and Mary Anne nee. Passmore. John Westaway, senior was a woolcomber. John died June 30, 1912 in Kew, Victoria Australia. He was buried on July 4, 1912, at the Fawkner Crematorium & Memorial Park, Victoria, Australia.

In the year 2000 a memorial plaque was placed at his gravesite stating: In Loving Memory of John Westaway, Born Devon, England, March 4th, 1848, Died Melbourne, June 30th, 1912, Dearly beloved husband of Louisa, Devoted father of John, James, Louisa, Frederick, Thomas, William, Simeon, Edwin (Percy) and Ellen.

Click to view larger image





Placed in Remembrance by his great grand daughters Geraldine and Joanne. Rest in Peace Click to view larger image

In 1851, John aged 3 years was living with his parents in North Street Ashburton, Devon. In 1851, John was living in North Street and was a woolcomber, like his father.

John WESTAWAY Head M 30 M Woolcomber Ashburton-DEV
Mary Ann WESTAWAY Wife M 29 F --- Chawleigh-DEV
Susan WESTAWAY Daur - 6 F --- Ashburton-DEV
John WESTAWAY Son - 3 M --- Ashburton-DEV
Address: North Street, Ashburton
Census Place: Ashburton Newton Abbot, Devonshire
PRO Reference: HO/107/1871 Folio: 321 Page: 16 FHL Film: 0221019

In 1861 he is still listed as living with his family, he is now aged 14 years. However by1871 he had joined the Royal Engineers as he was a sapper in the School of Military Engineering in Gillingham, Kent.

John travelled to New Zealand on the 'Dilharee' under R McNeilly; Captain. Originally a full-rigged ship built for trooping to India, the Dilharee, a composite built vessel of 1293 tons, was rigged as a barque when she came to New Zealand in 1874 and 1875. She was a well found craft, and was pronounced admirably suited for carrying immigrants, as she had very roomy accommodation, having been built for a troop ship. She belonged to Messrs. J Lidgett and Sons, London. The first port she visited in New Zealand was Lyttleton. Source: White wings Sir Henry Brett

The Dilharee sailed from Plymouth on December 13th, 1873 and arrived at Lyttleton on March 11th, 1874. John Westaway, aged 25, Farm Labourer, is listed as a single man bound for Lyttleton. Family stories say that he travelled from Ashburton, Devon to Ashburton NZ which was like its UK namesake a sheep farming area. There is no information on John until his marriage in 1879. He is listed as 26 years of age and yet he was really 31. His occupation is listed as Plasterer. So at sometime between 1873 and 1879, John changed his livelihood.

Louisa Harris

Louisa Harris was the only daughter of Thomas Harris and Mary Stephens and their youngest child. She was born August 22, 1861 in Charlestown, St Austell, Cornwell, UK, and died March 17, 1903 in Keele, St, Collingwood, Vic, Australia. It is believed that John and Louisa were courting in England, but her family did not approve of her relationship with the much older Mr Westaway. The true details are not known but John and Louisa must of kept in touch after his arrival in New Zealand as Louisa joined him there in 1878.

Louisa Harris travelled to New Zealand on the OPAWA, under Captain Triston. The OPAWA departed Plymouth on September 7th, 1878 bound for Timaru in New Zealand. There was the usual sea sickness, births, contagious diseases, a man overboard, rough weather and seas. The OPAWA was unable to berth at Timaru due to gale force winds. She dropped anchor in Diamond Harbour, Lyttleton, at 10:00 AM, December 7th, 1878. Louisa Harris is listed on the passenger list as a single woman, aged 20 from the County of Cornwall, with the profession as a General Servant. I have often wondered whether she was given family approval for this journey, as she states her age as 20 and yet she was only 17 years of age. However, there were other Harris's from Cornwall travelling on board the OPAWA they were James Harris, aged 35, Farm Labourer, Catherine Harris, his wife aged 22 and their children John James Harris aged 6, Mary J Harris aged 4 and Elizabeth A Harris aged 1. I have absolutely no idea whether these Harris's are related to Louisa.

John and Louisa

John and Louisa were married on May 10, 1879 in the Wesleyan Parsonage, Timaru, Ashburton, NZ. Louisa's age on her marriage certificate is listed as 21 and yet she was only 18. Unfortunately the certificate does not show witnesses to the marriage.

Their first child John, was born in New Zealand in 1881. John Snr. is listed as a plasterer on the birth certificate. Louisa's age on the birth certificate for her first child John is listed as 18 should be 20. A second son James Thomas was born in 1883. Louisa's age on the birth certificate of second son, James Thomas is listed as 21.

Between 1883 and 1885, I have no idea where the family was or what they were doing but they must of travelled to Australia as their first daughter, Louisa was born in Australia in 1895, however I have been unable to discover shipping records that confirm the exact date that the family came to Australia. According to this child's birth certificate the family were living in 24 Westbourne Street, Prahran, Victoria, Australia.

In early 1886, the family is still living in Westbourne Street but by the end of the year they had moved to 43 Spring Street, Prahran, Victoria, Australia. A third son Frederick, was born in 1887. The family address is Beach Street, Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and John's occupation is listed as Hotel Keeper. Throughout 1888 the family remain at the Freemason's Tavern, Beach Street, Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia but by 1889 they have moved to the George Hotel, 164 George Street, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. John is still listed as Hotel Keeper.

Then came one of the biggest moves, the family returned to England and in 1890 a fourth son Thomas was born. Thomas was born at the "Red Lion Pub" in Fore Street, Okehampton. John's occupation on Thomas's birth certificate states - Licensed Victualler (Hotelier)

After carrying out a search I have not been able to ascertain who the registered publican was at the time of Thomas' birth. Following is a list of known publicans:

1823/24 - Richard Rich - Pigots Directory, 1893 - 1897 - John Powlesland - Kelly's Directory, 1902 - WF Batchelor

This poses five questions -

1. Why did John take the family to Okehampton and not Ashburton?

2. Did John have relatives living in Okehampton in 1990 & if so - who?

3. Was John the registered publican of The Red Lion?

4. Why did the family return to Australia?

5. Did Thomas remain in Okehampton?

Many of these questions will be answered in later entries.

John travelled back to Australia in August, 1890 aboard the 'Austral' with wife Louisa and children John, James, Louisa and Frederick. There is no mention of son Thomas, but as he was extremely young he may not of been listed in the passenger lists. Another point to note is that the eldest son John, did travel back to Australia with the rest of the family. Another interesting point is that Louisa's brother Luke Harris also travelled with them, so at some point during this trip Louisa must have been in contact with some members of her family.

Following is a description of the Austral.

The AUSTRAL was a 5,524 gross ton ship, built by John Elder, Glasgow in 1881 for the Orient Line (which later became part of the P&O group). There was accommodation for 120-1st, 130-2nd and 300-3rd class passengers. She started her maiden voyage from London via Suez to Melbourne and Sydney on 18/1/1882. Her second voyage was a catalogue of misfortunes which started with a series of engine defects while on passage from London to the Cape, where she was detained at Simons Bay for a week due to an epidemic of small-pox ashore. More engine trouble was encountered during her passage from the Cape and at one time she was forced to maintain steerage way by means of sail alone until repairs could be effected. On 11/11/1882 she sank at her coaling berth at Sydney, 4 lives were lost, and on 28/3/1883 was refloated and temporarily repaired at Cockatoo Island. Between 1883-4 she was refitted on the Clyde and in April 1884 was chartered to the Anchor Line and used on their Liverpool - New York route. On 12/11/1884 she resumed London - Sydney sailings and started her last voyage on this service on 21/11/1902. She was then sold to Italian ship breakers and scrapped at Genoa. [North Star to Southern Cross by John M.Maber]

In 1892 the family is living at the Early Bird Hotel, Johnston Street, Abbotsford, Victoria, Australia. John is listed as Publican on the birth certificate of their new son William. However John's age on this certificate says 42, when in fact John was 50. The family remain at this hotel throughout 1893.

In 1894 the family is living at the Carters Arms Hotel, 33 Gold Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia but registered under the name of Mrs Louisa Westaway. In 1895 the family is found living at the Wattle Tree Hotel, Palmer Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia again registered under the name of Mrs Louisa Westaway.

In 1896 their son Simeon (my grandfather) was born, the family is living at 16 Gold Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia and John's occupation is listed as plasterer on the birth certificate. In 1897 the family address is 16 Gold Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia. In 1898 the family are living at 76 Sackville Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia. it was registered under the name of Mrs Louisa Westaway - Home Duties. It was a timber house owned by Catherine Saunders according to the Council Rate Books.

Yet another move in 1899 - 370 Smith Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia. This house is registered under the name of Mr John Westaway - Plasterer it is a brick dwelling operated by Trustees Estate (J Walsh) - Rate Books. The family move again in 1900 to 22 Gold Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia. Registered under the name of Mr John Westaway - Plasterer, this is Timber House owned by Thomas Dalby - Rate Books. Yet another move in 1901 to 75 Keele Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia (late Ryrie Street). Registered under the name of Mr John Westaway - Plasterer it is a brick dwelling operated by Australian Deposit and Mortgage Bank - Rate Books. The family remain in this property throughout 1902 and 1903. According to the electoral roll of 1903 John is listed as a builder living at 76 Keele Street, Collingwood.

Louisa sadly passed away in March of 1903 and it appears that the family life became more erratic and unsettled.

In 1904 John and some of his children are living at 206 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. It is believed that following the death of Louisa, John became "unable to cope" and eventually farmed the children out to relatives. In 1905 the family address is 109 Reilly Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia. It is registered under the name of Mr John Westaway - Plasterer. A timber home owned by National Bank, Clifton Hill - Rate Books. There are 8 people living in the house but I have not been able to determine who the eight people were. In 1906 John is living at 16 Gold Street, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia. Registered under the name of Mr John Westaway - Plasterer, this property is brick / John D Cadle (Dealer) - Rate Books. There are 5 people living in the house.

From this point there are many house changes 48 Barkly Street, Carlton, Victoria, Australia, registered under the name of Mr John Westaway - Plasterer (P/O Directory). 1910, 6 Chapel Street, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia, registered under the name of Mr John Westaway - Plasterer. A 4 Room, Brick House was owned by James Cranley. Mr Cranley lived at No: 10 and also owned Nos: 4, 6 & 8 - No: 4 was vacant land. There were 4 people living in the house. John remains in this house until the beginning of 1912 when he moves from Chapel Street to 25 Rae Street, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia and then 15 Palk Street, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

He is admitted to Melbourne Hospital and later transferred to Kew Asylum.

Following is copy from his admission forms at Kew:

  • John, WESTAWAY, born England, Plasterer
  • 65 years, admitted May 16, 1912
  • VPRS 7388/P-23, Page: 225
  • Son Thomas added to admission forms (nearest relative) 28-05-1912
  • States reason for admission is senile changes and shock from death of son - this turned out to be the eldest son John who died in London.
  • Previously in Melbourne Hospital
  • Diagnosis - Senile Dementia
  • Prognosis - Bad
  • Mental Condition on Admission
  • Much demented. Incoherent. Cannot reply to questions. Says he is as strong as a horse although he is weak and almost bedridden. Quite disorientated for time and place. Restless.
  • Physical Condition on Admission
  • Thin and frail and in indifferent bodily health and condition. Pulse irregular. Heart:- action feeble - 1st sound re-duplicated
  • June 14th - In C Ward
  • June 21st - Transferred to B Ward and put to bed suffering from inflammation of the foot as a result of an old corn. This got better in about 3 days
  • June 30th - He continued in bed and today he died suddenly at 11:30 AM as a result of sudden heart failure the result of heart disease
  • An inquest into his death was held - Reference No: 825 - Date: July 3rd, 1912 - Result: Tuberculosis lungs, Coroner: R N Colo
  • He was buried on July 4, 1912.

Notes by Joanne

According to family stories, John became a reasonably wealthy man, purchasing hotels renovating them and selling them (an early developer) all in all he had 15 hotels in the Collingwood, Fitzroy areas. Unfortunately he lost most of his money due to the land boom. I have confirmed this story - in part, as I have established that he in fact did own most of the hotels I mentioned in his story, unfortunately I have not been able to confirm how he lost his money. Most certainly he obviously had some wealth to take the family back to the UK in the late 1800's as on their return they were travelling in the equivalent of today's 'first class'. I wonder if I will ever discover why he went back to the UK?

His hospital report is quite depressing and does a lot to explain the sadness of his eyes. It clearly states that he was in a state of disorientation "due to the shock from death of son". I imagine that this time was hard for him, his eldest son John, dead in the UK, the next son James in gaol, eldest daughter Louisa living in India, whom he relied on greatly after the death of Louisa to help raise the younger children - it must of been of great concern as to what would happen to the young children - my grandfather was just 16 at the time of his father's death and younger brother Edwin Percy was not quite 13 years of age.

One thing I have just noticed on the hospital report is that John was temperate. Seems strange that a man who spent much of his life involved with liquor was temperate. And how amazing that you can read these reports a million times and still find new information.

John and Louisa had nine children: (Click on tree for larger image)

Many thanks to Joanne for sharing this with us

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