New Horizons in New Tiers

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Clematis growing by the fence

Once upon a time in a classroom far away, a classmate of mine explained how Adelaide was superior to the eastern states as it had not been colonised by convicts. Kim being Kim, I couldn’t let this pass without comment and pointed out that the lack of a convict settlement did not lead to a heritage devoid of a criminal past as the Adelaide Hills had been populated by escaped convicts and other unsavoury characters. Being declared correct by the nodding of the teacher’s head was icing on a delicious cake.

Fast forward several decades, and I find myself googling a town called New Tiers as this is the area my 3rd great grandparents were living in the 1850’s. Google also illustrated that in 1990 my family were living 11kms from where they settled.

The Tiers were described in this 1935 article:

“The Tiers were the rendezvous of some rather ‘tough guys.’ Ticket-of-leave men from New South Wales or Van Dieman’s Land (engaged there felling stringy-barks, and cutting posts, rails and palings), out and out cattle stealers, escaped prisoners, and rough but honest bushmen, all helped to comprise the tough class known as the ‘Tiersmen’.
(1935 ‘“THE TIERS.”’, Sport (Adelaide, SA : 1911 – 1948), 3 January, p. 2. , viewed 31 Dec 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article216264103)

John and Hannah West arrived in South Australia aboard The Marion in 1849. Initially they lived in an area called Fourth Creek. Four years later they were living in The Tiers. I can only assume that the West’s were rough but honest bushmen as there is no evidence to suggest any of the other possibilities listed above. The family lived in the Adelaide Hills (in the Tiers and Norton Summit) for the next 36 years where they raised 15 children.

In Cottingham, Northamptonshire, John’s occupation was that of a sawyer as was his father’s – the only two in Cottingham !! After marrying in Hannah in 1845, the couple settled in Geddington where two children were born to the them. The eldest, Henry died at 3 months.

Throughout the 1840’s there were articles in the Northampton Mercury discussing emigration to the Australian colonies. In Nov 1849, the Bishop of Adelaide wrote a letter to the Guardian providing detail of what new emigrants to Adelaide could expect:
(1849 “EMIGRATION TO AUSTRALIA”, Nothampton Mercury, 24 November, p. 2., viewed 31 Dec 2016, http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000317/18491124/014/0002?)

  • an emigration would meet with them upon arrival and evaluate their “condition and discipline”, provide guidance as necessary as well as provide them with a fare to Adelaide if the arrived destitute
  • housing is available in Port Adelaide where passengers fail to procure accommodation before being forced to leave the ship (generally after 14 days)
  • passengers can look for employment at the Colonial Labour Office
  • he advised against arriving penniless however, noted that wages remained high and “there is no fear of starvation” and cautioned that South Australia “is no place for weak or unskilled labourers”

I can only imagine that emigration to Australia was a hot topic and this is how John and Hannah learnt of it as neither could write and it is possible they could not read either.

John and Hannah were government emigrants so we can safely assume that they were “sober, industrious, of general good moral character and have been in the habit of working for wages.” (http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/SAassistedindex.shtml).

Unfortunately, that is all I know about John and Hannah’s life in Australia. John died in 1889 and twenty-one years later, Hannah died in Hahndorf.

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