merrick.doc                                                                                                                      26 May 2011



                                                                                                                                                                by Ken STEWART


Charles Barnes Merrick was baptised on 4th April 1824 at St James Clerkenwell in London, the son of Barnabas MERRICK and Ann (nee BOWDEN), a turner of Aylesbury Place in Clerkenwell.


His father Barnabas MERRICK was born 23rd April 1792 and baptised 2nd September 1792 in the Spitalfields Christ Church in Stepney, the son of Barnabas MERRICK and Martha (nee BOX) of Spitalfields in London. Barnabas & Martha had seven children – Martha Mary (1786 - ), Barnabas (1791 - 1792), Barnabas (1792 - 1856), Martha Elizabeth (1794 - ), John (1795 - ), William (1803-), and Joseph (1805 - ). John (1795) with Elizabeth HIGGS had a family of 8 children in Spitalfields. 


Barnabas (1792) was married three times. His first marriage was 12th April 1815 in Wanstead in Essex to Ann BOWDEN who was possibly born 23rd October 1793 and baptised 1st December in 1793 in St Leonards Shoreditch in London, the daughter of Thomas BOWDEN and Eleanor. (see earlier family and other marriages in the MERRIK3 file). From the first marriage of Barnabas and Ann, there were 5 known children –John Barnabas (1816 - ), William George (1818 - ), Ann Martha (1820 - ), Charles Barnes (1824 - 1878) and Mary (1826 - ), although only Charles has been found to have a future. The mother Mary Ann (nee BOWDEN) apparently died sometime early in 1826. There was a death recorded of Mary Ann MERRICK in 1827 in St Leonards Shoreditch Workhouse, aged 35 years. She likely died of childbirth as the youngest, Mary, was born on the 7th March in 1826. The fact that the year of death was in 1827 points to a lingering ailment after the March 1826 birth.


The father Barnabus (1792) married just three months after March 1826 to his second wife Sarah JONES on 3rd June in 1826 at St Ethelburga Bishopgate in London. There were no children from this second marriage.


The third marriage of Barnabas (1792) was on 19th March in 1837 in Radford in Nottinghamshire to Sarah ROCKLEY, and they raised a family of three children in Leicester – Joseph Rocklea (1838 -  1897), Henry (1840 – 1921) and Charles Barnabas (1846 – 1925). A grandson from this third marriage, a son of Joseph Rocklea, was Joseph Carey MERRICK, the renown Elephant Man.


Barnabas (1792) died on the 12th April in 1856 at the Union Workhouse in St Margarets Leicester with Sarah Coltman of the Union Workhouse in attendance. He was a journeyman bobbin turner aged 64 years and died of heart disease and dropsy.


With the third marriage of his father in Nottinghamshire, and their subsequent young family growing up in St Margarets Leicester, Charles was left to fend for himself in London. He does not seem to be installed into an apprenticeship, as later records show he was not a turner like his father. He may have been apprenticed to a bootmaker, as his later life showed he was quite skillful at that occupation, but that boot making trade may have been learned in Australia.


Charles Barnes Merrick is first seen in London records at the Old Bailey.

CHARLES MERRICK was indicted for stealing, on the 5th of March, 6lbs. weight of pork, value 3s., the goods of Jane Wing.

       JANE WING . I live in John's-row, St. Luke's—I am a widow, and keep a pork-shop. On the 10th of March, I had two bellies of pork, one on each side of my window—I saw them safe a minute before one of them was taken—I merely walked into my room from the shop, when a little girl called me, and told me something—I ran to the door, and a witness brought back the prisoner, and the pork, which was one of the bellies I had in my shop.

       GEORGE STOCKSLEY . I am a butcher, and live in Bath-street, opposite John's-row. I saw the prisoner and three others come down John's-row—they stopped near my shop—the prisoner then went and took the pork out of the prosecutrix's window—one of the other boys took it from him as soon as he had taken it out of the window—they came towards ray shop—I took the prisoner, and the other boy threw down the pork—one of the other boys picked it up, but they were pursued, and he dropped it again —a man took it up, and gave it to me, and I took it back—the other boys escaped.

Prisoner's Defence. I saw two boys go and take the pork—they began to run, and this man took me—I am innocent.

SENTENCE: GUILTY . * Aged 16.— Transported for Seven Years.—Convict Ship.

Charles was firstly detained in Parkhurst Prison, but immediately ran foul of the prison authority when he attempted to steal the sum of ₤15. For this he received an additional sentence of 3 months. This sentence was apparently added to his 7 years transportation.


Charles was transported on the “Runnymede” departing London on 20th December 1839 and arrived in Van Diemans Land on 28th March 1840, after a voyage of 99 days. On arrival he claimed that he was 17 years old and said that Clerkenwell was his native place. He was actually just 16 years old. A physical description gave the following – height 4 ft 11 inches in bare feet, brown hair, clean shaven, hazel eyes, fresh complexion with freckles, a long visage with small mouth, nose and chin. His 4 ft 11 inches as a 17 year old was very small, but probably just a sign of those lean times.


During his early years of servitude he had a few run-ins with the authorities.

2 September 1841 - Misconduct making away with some tobacco. Three days of solitary confinement

9 January 1843 - Absconding from Newtown Station. Three months hard labour, the first and last 30 days of which to be passed in solitary confinement.

2 January 1843 - Insubordination, no sentence stated.

19 April 1843 - Absconding, to be kept to hard labour 3 months the first and last months in solitary confinement.

6 Nov 1843 - Disorderly Conduct, 10 days solitary confinement and then kept to his station.


He served out his remaining sentence in Tasmania with just these few sessions of hard labour and solitary confinement. These were not overtly the actions of a criminal, more the actions of a restless lad growing up away from home, but enough to keep him in the scrutiny of the authorities. He was eventually awarded a Free Certificate on 4th July 1846, being 7 years and 3 months after his sentence. He was a free man in Tasmania for the Convict Muster of October 1846.


Fifteen months after getting his free certificate he was on the “Thomas Lord” bound for Sydney. He left Launceston on the 22nd October 1847 as a free man, “free by servitude”, and headed to Sydney. The “Thomas Lord” was a 72 ton schooner carrying flour from Launceston to NSW, and on that trip carried 8 passengers, landing in Port Jackson on the 28th October 1847.


After spending some time in NSW, he moved to Victoria and took up residence in Cumberland Street, Geelong, in about 1854. When he died his family stated that he had been 6 years in NSW and 29 years in Victoria. There was no mention of the 7 years he spent in Tasmania, so this may have been in their ignorance, or more likely the concealment of his early convict ways.


On the 20th July 1857, at the age of 28, Charles married Mary Ahern.  The ceremony took place in the house of the Reverend Alfred Scales on Virginia Street in Geelong, performed by the Rev. Scales of the Independent Denomination.


Mary Ahern was a 23 year old spinster from Youghal, County Cork, Ireland, daughter to James Ahern, a baker, and Elizabeth Lee. Mary was born in Youghal around 1834 and arrived in Victoria close to May 1857 aged 22. She was married on 20 July 1857 aged about 23, so was in Australia very few months before she was married. Her address was also Cumberland St when she was married and she could write her name but Charles signed his name with a mark.


These dates point towards Mary's arrival on the "Arabian" - on 27th January 1857 aged 25(?). (Another Mary Ahern aged 22 arrived on 6th June 1857 but was from County Clare.)

On her arrival,  Mary Ahern was engaged by Mrs Graham of Mercers Hill in Geelong from Jan 30th 1857 for 3 months for wages of 20 (shillings?). It is likely that the Hannah AHERN aged 19 years also from Cork, who appears next on the “Arabian” shipping list was her sister. Hannah Ahern was engaged by Mrs Carman of Little Pyramid in Geelong from Jan 31st 1857 for 3 months for wages of 20 (shillings?).


Charles Merrick and Mary Ahearn's family were

     David                     b 1858

     Charles                   b 1859 Brunswick

     James                      b 13 May 1861 Brunswick

     Ann Martha            b 1863

     Mary                       b about 1864 (died very young)

     William Edward     b 1865

Mary Ahearn died in childbirth, with the stillborn child, on 27th October 1867 leaving four boys and a surviving girl, all under twelve years of age.


Charles Merrick remarried quite soon after, in 1868, to Bridget Cunningham, the thirty year old daughter of an Irish farmer, Thomas Cunningham and Bridget O'Connell of County Clare, Ireland.  Charles had a further three children to Bridgit Cunningham, all sons.

     Thomas       b 1869 South Melbourne

     Michael      b 1871 Brunswick d 16 April 1897   aged 26 years

     George       b 1873 Brunswick


Charles Merrick worked as a boot-maker for many years in his place at 248/250 Elizabeth Street.  He had the same postal address from 1865 until he died on 9th July 1878. He was lucky not to lose the lot in a massive firestorm on the 15th May 1868, which destroyed a lot of property around him.


GREAT CONFLAGRATION IN ELIZABETH STREET: (between Franklyn Street and A’Beckett Street) – “Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers”, Melbourne, Saturday 20 June 1868, page 8.

“About ten o’clock on the night of the 15th ult, a fire broke out at the Albion sawmills and timber yard, owned by Halstead & Kerr, corner of Elizabeth & A’Beckett Streets. The fire brigades were quickly on the spot, but for several hours their efforts to subdue the flames were perfectly futile.

Mr Hoad’s official report of the injury caused by the fire .... No. 248, C. Merrick, boot and shoe maker: Stock damaged by removal. Insured for ₤100.

The evidence adduced did not tend in any degree to solve the mystery as to how the conflagration arose. ... The jury returned an open verdict, but expressed an opinion that the fire occurred accidentally.”


In 1878, his eldest son David, then aged 20, took over as the family breadwinner operating as a boot-maker from Sydney Road in Brunswick. He was soon joined by his brother Charles.


Bridget died at 31 Wilson Street, Brunswick on 10th October 1905, where the youngest son George was living. At this time James, the third son was living nearby at 41 Wilson Street, and William, the fourth son was at 57 Wilson Street.




The two eldest sons David and Charles both became boot-makers in Brunswick. David Merrick, Boot-maker, appears continuously in the Melbourne Post Office Directories for the 42 years from 1879 til 1911 with quite a few changes of address - the principal changes being

     Sydney Road, Brunswick    11 years

     Burnley St, Richmond       9 years

     441 Swan St, Richmond      6 years

Charles Merrick junior does not appear in the directories, however in the 1899 Electoral Roll prior to Federation, Charles is given as a boot-maker of 382 Burnley Street, one of the earlier addresses of his brother David.


From 1895 until 1904 the "EBC Boot Company" operating from various street numbers, mainly at 378/380 of Burnley Street, and would have been a partnership of David and Charles both living along Burnley Street


The third child of Charles and Mary Ahern was James Merrick, my grandmother's father.  His story continues below.


The fourth son of Charles and Mary Ahern, William Edward Merrick was living in 57 Wilson Street, Brunswick according to the 1899 Electoral Roll, and was like brother James, practicing as a Potter.  The youngest of the family, George is given as a labourer of 31 Wilson Street, Brunswick in 1899. He would have been aged around 26 at this time so had not taken up a trade.  His mother died at this address in 1905


               JAMES MERRICK

James was a Potter, aged 21, of Richmond when he married on the 20th August 1881 at the Registry Office, to Margaret O'Mahoney, daughter to Thaddeus Mahony and Jane Stafford.  In 1894 he was a potter of Montague St Footscray when his youngest daughter Ethel Margaret Merrick (my Grandmother) was born. James assumed the middle name of Bond for the births of some of his children, but I have yet to find out where this supposed family name originates from. James Bond Merrick is a well-known Victorian potter, but I have not found much on his potting fame.


He is not located in the 1899 Electoral Roll, however two different entries for James Merrick appear in Brunswick after this date, one of which is at 41 Wilson Street, Brunswick in 1904.  Indeed a third James arrived in Brunswick firstly in 1910 - James T. Merrick - at 15 Goodman Street, the next generation moving in to reside.




James and Margaret MERRICK (circa 1883) with

children James (1881) Maud (1879) & Lillian (1883)


Margaret Merrick is remembered by several of her grandchildren as the active old girl who liked her drop of beer.  In her desires she was known to have hocked anything she could lay her hands on - tablecloths, silverware and whatever - for another jug or two.  At one time she broke her leg climbing over a fence to get a jug of beer. 


James Bond Merrick and Margaret Mahoney had nine children born in different parts of Victoria and NSW, (see family on Merrick2 file)

            Maud Christina Merrick (1880 Vic. - )

            James Thaddeus Merrick (1881 -1967)

            Lillian Myra Merrick b. 12 Mar 1883 Lithgow, NSW – 1970)

            Mary Merrick (1884 – 1885)    

            Doreen Merrick b. 1888 Brunswick, Vic. (see Dora's story below)

            Annie Merrick (1890 - )

            John Merrick (1892 - )

            Ethel Margaret Merrick b. 26 Feb 1894 Montague St, Footscray. (see Ethel's family in

             the KITTO family file [link]

            William Charles Merrick (1898 – 1977)

Six are known to have reached adulthood, and four have descendent families, but none are Merricks.


The family did not always operate harmoniously. It seems that James was at some stage separated from Margaret. There was at one stage a need for Margaret to claim maintenance from James.


BRUNSWICK COURT – Wednesday. Claim for Maintenance

Margaret Merrick v. James Merrick claim by a wife for maintenance. As the police had not been able to serve the summons in this case, it was extended for seven days.

the Argus - Saturday 29 September 1883, page 2


This was some time after their third or fourth child. They were together again for five more children


The fourth son of Charles and Mary Ahern, William Edward Merrick was living in 57 Wilson Street, Brunswick according to the 1899 Electoral Roll, and was like brother James, practicing as a Potter. 


The youngest of the family, George is given as a labourer of 31 Wilson Street, Brunswick in 1899. He would have been aged around 26 at this time so had not taken up a trade.  His mother died at this address in 1905


Dora MERRICK          from Claire DUNCAN written 1996


Dora MERRICK married William WILSON in 1911 at the Methodist Manse in Adelaide.


Dora, the grand-daughter of two convicts, was working as a housekeeper in Burra, SA. a bustling copper mining town, when she met William. He was the first Australian-born child of William WILSON and Agnes SMITH who had emigrated from Scotland in 1877 on the ship "Forfarshire"

Dora and William returned to the Richmond area and lived in rental homes until 1930, as their three children grew up.


Doris, born in 1912, was apprenticed to the Richmond Tailoring Company, but ventured into the country-side to become a lady's companion in Wangaratta at the age of 18 years. Later, while working in Lithgow, she met and married Austin RYAN.


Frank was born in 1915. He worked as a trainee conductor on the Melbourne tramways. He was unemployed for most of the 1930's and helped his father build a shack in Hurstbridge. He joined the army in 1940, training at Seymour Army Camp, but died as a POW in the fall of Singapore.


Lorna, born in 1920, remembers her father giving her twopence to cheer her up when he went away to attend William senior's funeral in Adelaide. She had a strong bond with her father and was treated as his favourite. Lorna gained her merit certificate from Richmond Central School after several house and school changes.


William was quite clever despite his lack of training. His father was a chair carver, no doubt introducing woodworking skills to his sons. William devised a folding stool which was a popular item among his football loving friends. While he worked as a shunter on the cable trams in Elizabeth Street during the 20's and 30's he used his spare time following Richmond Football Club and rabbiting. He also built a six-valve radio, the first in the street.


The family owned a Fiat car by 1926 which allowed for picnics, especially to Ferntree Gully, and rabbiting trips to Sunbury and beyond.


The Fiat was sold when the family bought a house in Campbellfield in 1930. Dora drove William to and from the Fawkner Railway Station using the horse and cart. While there was a motor rail from Fawkner to Somerton, it was very unreliable. The horse and cart was replaced by a Harley motorbike with a



side-car to cope with the odd times of his shift work.


William, Lorna, Frank, Doris, friend, Dora. (Photo 1926)


The Campbellfield house has no fond memories foe Lorna. It cost $120 and they were paying it off at 1 pound per week. The house was very small, had hessian-lined walls and was home to many unwanted vermin. The acre of land allowed for chooks and a house cow. More than once, Dora would find a drowned mouse floating on the cream in the milk separator.


William was hit by a car while at work and was moved to lighter duties of cleaning buses for the Tramways-owned Clifton Hill Bus Depot. At this time, electric trams were beginning to replace the cable trams.


They separated during the 30's. He was living at Hurstbridge while Dora, with Lorna, became cook and housemaid t a variety of sheep stations. They were at Chumley Station near Euroa during the Black Friday Fires, and later at the Fairbairn Station in Albury.


William died in 1957.


Dora continued as a housekeeper until she was 75. She retired to Rye, living in a small home built by Lorna and Lloyd. She died in 1984 at 96 years.