James Matthews and Betsy Goode

The Parish Register of Harston, and Hauxton, Cambridgeshire, list a John Matthews and his wife Mary Newman who married at Hauxton on 8 November 1766. John Matthews, a shepherd, was buried at Harston on 15 January 1783. Mary was buried thirty years later on 27 December 1813 [1].

The register at Harston also records the births and deaths of the children of John and Mary Matthews. They had at least seven children: Ellen, baptised at Harston on 21 May 1769 (She died aged 21 and was buried on 10 March 1790); John, baptised on 4 November 1770; Mary, baptised on 7 June 1772 (She died and at the age of 32 was buried on 11 June 1804); a second John, baptised on 30 May 1773 (He became a shepherd, was drowned, and buried on 22 January 1786 aged only 13); Susan, baptised on 26 May 1776, however she must have died and a second Susan was baptised in March 1778 and died soon after, being buried on 10 July 1778; and finally a son William, baptised on 14 May 1780.[2]

May of Cambridgeshire showing Harston, Haslingfield and HauxtonThe Parish records indicate that William a Tailor of Harston, married Sarah Lambert of nearby Hauxton on 13 April 1802 in the Harston Parish Church. Both were of the parish. A William Prime and an Allen Hays were the witnesses. William Prime regularly witnessed marriages at the church. William Matthews signed the register, while Sarah made her mark.[2a]

William and Sarah Matthews lived in Harston and Parish records indicate at least two children, John born in 1804 at Harston, and James born at Harston on 25 October 1817. Other records suggest that there were two other sons, Thomas born around 1814, and David, born around 1821.[3] William, the Tailor, died aged 45 and was buried at harston on 10 March 1825.

Thomas and David emigrated to Sydney on board the Marquis of Hastings from Plymouth on 12 October 1840, arriving at Sydney on 4 February 1841 . James remained in Harston.

Map pf CambridgeshireThe village of Haslingfield was two miles north of Harston, fifty five miles north of London, and five and a half miles south west of Cambridge. Its church, All Saints, was erected in 1352. The main crops grown in the area were wheat, beans and oats, and the population was just a few hundred . The name Haslingfield derived from an old English name meaning the field of Hazels or Ash trees .

In Haslingfield lived David Goode, a Master Bricklayer, and his wife, Susan Hall. They had married at Haslingfield on 11 April 1822 and subsequently raised a family of ten children. Their first child was Betsy, born at Haslingfield on 5 October 1823.

James Matthews and Betsy Goode met and became close friends. James was twenty eight and Betsy twenty two, when they married at Haslingfield on 30 March 1845. The marriage had become something of a necessity, as exactly four months later, on 30 July 1845, their first daughter, Ann, was born at Haslingfield.

Soon after Ann's birth James and Betsy moved to back to Harston and lived in Church Street where their second daughter, Eliza, was born on 5 April 1847. The third daughter, Mary Ann, was born on 31 March 1849. Nine months later, on 27 December 1849, the first daughter, Ann, died, aged only four. A fourth daughter, Susan, was born on 4 January 1852.

In 1854 James and Betsy Matthews decided to emigrate to New South Wales following his brothers, David and Thomas Matthews, who had gone to Sydney thirteen years earlier. Undoubtedly news of the gold discoveries prompted James and Betsy to join them.

They arranged a passage on board the Tantivy and set sail for Australia. But the voyage was to take its toll for both Mary Ann, aged five, and Susan, aged two, were to die during the voyage in July 1854. Soon after James and Betsy's arrival in Sydney a fifth daughter, named Sarah Ann, was born on 11 February 1855. Alas, she died less than three months later on 1 May.

By 1856 the James and Betsy Matthews and his younger brother David, with David’s wife Elizabeth Nesmith and three children, had moved to Victoria. James and Betsy settled at Amherst, while it appears that David and Elizabeth remained closer to Ballarat and Buninyong. James and Betsy’s daughter Eliza may have remained in Sydney with the older brother Thomas. Eliza later made her way to Forbes in New South Wales where, at the age of 16 she married John Jeffries.[4]

James and Betsy had several more children after their move to Amherst.

Elizabeth Matthews was born on 28 February 1857 at Amherst . In 1883, on her twenty sixth birthday, she married James Green at Talbot. James Green was a bootmaker, who had been born at Brighton on 27 December 1852. His parents were Matthew Green, a farmer of Manchester, England, and Jamesina McLay of Morayshire, Scotland .

James and Elizabeth Green subsequently had a family of nine children. They were Charles Horace, born in 1881; Elsie Emma in 1884; James Alexander, 1886; Ninna and Violet, both of whom died at birth; William McPherson, 1892; Archibald Matheson, killed in the first world war; Helen Mitchell, 1897; and Norman McLeay, born in 1900.

David Thomas Matthews, or Tom, was born on 23 August 1859. He married his first wife, Sarah, on 20 December 1884, but she died in May 1889 aged only twenty four . Some years later he married Harriet Amelia Bunting who was seventeen years younger than him. For most of his life Tom worked as a miner around Amherst, but during the early years of the twentieth century he took a position as Sexton at the Amherst Cemetery . He died, aged 71 in 1930. His wife Harriet died in August 1959 aged eighty three .

James David Matthews, always known as Dave, was born at Amherst on 25 August 1861. On 27 June 1886 he married Jane Reeves, the daughter of William John and Mary Ann Reeves, at her sister's house at Narrigal. David and Jane moved to Maryborough after their marriage but returned to the White Horse Reef after David's mother died in 1889 . His life is described in detail in a later chapter.

Emma Matthews was born at Amherst on 14 September 1863 . She married Llewellyn Davis on 14 April 1885 and had three children, Stanley, Elsie and another boy . Sarah Matthews was born at Amherst on 18 October 1865 and married Dennis Baldwin on 21 April 1886.

William Frederick Matthews was born at Amherst on 22 June 1867 and later married Barbara. Their first child was named Mervyn Sylverton. The second was named William, and their daughter was Sylvia. William Matthews worked as a signalman on the railways at North Melbourne during the early 1900s and his son Mervyn became a tailor in Melbourne. Sylvia married, changed her name to Turnbull and went to Queensland.

Before coming to Australia James Matthews had worked as a builder and farm labourer. His father in law had been a master bricklayer. After moving to Amherst in 1856 he put his skills to work and built a brick and stone house about a mile north west of Amherst, about two hundred yards from the White Horse Reef where the Cosstick brothers had established the Amherst United Quartz Mining Company. To have a solid house was something of an achievement, as in 1862 forty two percent of the Victorian population lived on the gold fields, and thirty percent of those lived in tents. Many others lived in timber houses.

As James grew older and mining became too energetic for him, and the gold became harder to find without resorting to the hard work of digging shafts and crushing tons of quartz, he, like many others, turned to market gardening to supply his family's own needs and supplement his income. The land around Amherst had been sold for dairy farming and cultivation blocks since the early 1860s. Many gold miners either purchased or leased land and established vegetable gardens, orchards and small farms with domestic animals. Some of the land, like that near the White Horse Reef, was not the best quality for cultivation, so good soil had to be carted in from elsewhere. there existed, and still exists, at the foot of James Matthews' garden a small stream formed by the miners for the White Horse reef operations. James was able to cart water from this stream to his garden by means of a Chinese yolk, which was carried across the shoulders and supported two suspended buckets .

The White Horse Reef had been a very busy place at times and James Matthews would have had plenty of customers for his excess fruit and vegetables. There were two major reefs in the vicinity of James Matthews' house the White Horse, and the Briseis. The Briseis was in a direct line about half a mile south of the White Horse, closer to the Amherst to Avoca Road. It was about six to seven feet wide and at times had given a yield of about four ounces of gold per ton of quartz crushed. The reef had been worked to a depth of four hundred feet before water made mining too difficult . In later years James Matthews' grandchildren would swim in the waterholes left by the mining of the Briseis Reef.

The White Horse Reef had been one of the richest in the district and it was Henry Cosstick and his brothers who first took out a lease to mine the reef on a large scale in 1859. The Cosstick's lease for the Amherst United Quartz Mining Company was very close to James Matthews' house and he and his family would have got to know the Cosstick brothers well.

James Matthews did not make headlines as easily as the Cossticks and worked quietly on his mining and gardening activities.

Matthews Family BibleOn Sunday 13 January 1889 Betsy Matthews died of hepatitis. She was buried in the Wesleyan section of the Amherst Cemetery on Tuesday 15 January. The Talbot Leader announced the funeral:

Our obituary column contains the announcement of the death on Sunday las of Mrs. James Matthews of White Horse Reef, Amherst after a brief illness. The deceased was well advanced in years, being 69 years of age, and much respected. The funeral will leave her husband's residence this day (Tuesday) at one o'clock for the Amherst Cemetery, to which friends are invited.

Seven years later, on 25 July 1896, aged seventy eight years and nine months, James Matthews also died. He had been a resident of the Amherst district for over forty years. After the death of Betsy he had lived with his son David at the family home at White Horse Reef. The Talbot Leader described him as a “straightforward hardworking man” . He was buried with his wife at the Amherst Cemetery .


[1] Parish Records seen and transcribed by John Jeffries in 1996.
[2] Parish Records seen and transcribed by John Jeffries 1996.
[2a] Additional confirmation from the Marriage Register for Harston obtained by Diane Jacuban 2008.
[3] Shipping Lists for Marquis of Hastings arriving in Sydney 1841.
[4] Details from John Jeffries 1996 - John Jeffries descended from Eliza Matthews who married John Jeffries at Forbes, NSW in 1863, aged 16 but no parental consent indicated on Marriage Certificate - Wesleyan/Primitive Methodist. Eliza sometimes called herself Mary Eliza Matthews.

1 comment:

stv1x said...

Douglas, thank you for publishing this. Betsy was my 2nd great grand aunt (sister to Reuben - 1840, my 2nd great grandfather). Visiting Haslingfield in June of this year, a small and relatively isolated village, I am struck even more by their life changing decision to move to the other side of the World following in the footsteps of two of Betsy's siblings. Well done on sourcing the facts that make this journey for them so intriguing and, of course, for enabling some of the gaps in my search to be filled. I hope that you received the transcripts of All Saints Church, Haslingfield, and photographs which I sent to you? With our best regards, Steve Brown.