CHAPTER ELEVEN Adelaide:- A colourful connection

Before continuing the story of Thomas and his young wife Caroline, I will give a background to the events which bring Caroline into this story.

On Nov 3rd 1833 a young man named William Francis disembarked in Hobart from the "Eliza" which had arrived that day after a four month journey from Dublin. He was accompanied by his wife and a 2 year-old son and his occupation was given as 'bricklayer'. The fact that the "Eliza" sailed from Ireland does not necessarily mean that William and his family were Irish. Their names do not suggest it, nor do those of most of the other passengers. In different documents William's birthplace is given as both Ireland and England which does little to clear up the matter. Perhaps he was born in England and later moved to Ireland, or possibly the ship's voyage commenced in England with Dublin being an additional port of call. Whatever the explanation in regard to their origins, the family members apparently lived in Hobart for the next four years. A daughter Rachael was born in Hobart on Nov 21st 1836 and baptised at Trinity church on December 18th of that year. William's occupation at the time was given as "stonemason". William, his wife Caroline and children William and Rachael were also listed in the NewTown census of 1837 in which their religion was given as Church of England. William signed his name in the space reserved for the 'head of the family or householder'. What happened next however is not clear. 1

All that is known for sure is that the family moved to Adelaide sometime around 1837 or 1838. Certainly they were there by the latter part of 1838 as the burial of Rachael is recorded as having taken place in Adelaide on Sep 4th 1838. Different documents give different versions of how William arrived in South Australia.

According to one source he arrived overland from New South Wales, whilst another source more likely to be accurate, records that he arrived by ship:- the "Lady Eunica" (this may be a misprint and could in fact be the 'Lady Emma' which seems to have been a vessel which made frequent trips across Bass Strait from Launceston at that time). The basis for the former belief is an entry in the Admission register of the Adelaide Hospital which records the treatment of William for a broken leg in late 1864. According to the register William was then 60 years of age, born in England, married, a Presbyterian and had lived in the colony for 27 years after having arrived overland from Sydney. His occupation was given as "mason" He was admitted on Sept 12th and discharged on Nov 4th. An entry which is identical in background detail is recorded for a second admission for a broken leg on Mar 28th 1865 and for which he was discharged on May 28th of that year. A William Francis was also admitted for a fractured leg on Feb 22nd 1886 and discharged on April 27th. It was this entry that gave a birthplace as Dublin, his religion as Church of England and recorded that he had arrived in South Australia aboard the "Lady Eunica" (or 'Lady Emma') although all other details recorded at this time were consistent with those recorded at the time of the earlier admissions. Do the entries refer to the same person? 2

Another daughter was born to the couple in Adelaide on July 1st 1840, and baptized with the name Caroline at Holy Trinity Church on August 16th of that year, by the colonial chaplain Charles Howard. The address of the family at this time was Grenfell St. The family continued to live at this address for at least the next five years as William's name heads a list of eight residents of Grenfell St who wrote to the Governor on behalf of one George Wells who, according to the letter which was hand-delivered by his step-daughter was "lying in a state of heart-rending destitution being frequently without any of the necessities of life" so that he "must inevitably perish from want unless something can be done for his relief". The letter goes on to say that the man had been "chiefly depending on the assistance of neighbours who can ill-afford the miserable pittance their sympathy has awarded" and concludes by appealing to the Governor to assist. The letter is signed by William Francis, Sampson Saunders, T Murphy, Robert Dadyson, John David Gee, Charles Myers, William Carman and Philip Santo all of Grenfell St. There is no record of whether or not any assistance was forthcoming for the unfortunate man but there were at least some follow-up enquiries made. 3 William appears to have continued with his trade in Australia as records referring to his occupation give it as mason or stonemason except on the death certificate of his daughter Caroline where he is described as a publican. Two further children were born to the couple; Mary-Ann (Sept 29th 1842) and William (June 6th 1845) the first born child named William having died just before the birth of his brother after which he was buried at West Terrace cemetery on May 3rd 1845.4

A number of other references to William and Caroline and their family can be found in the Adelaide press over the following ten years. Firstly according to the "South Australian Register" of 14 Feb 1845, a William Francis of Grenfell St signed a petition opposing the introduction of convicts to South Australia. Then in 1849 the "Register" published a series of letters in relation to an incident alleging that a certain Dr Bayer had recklessly driven his horse and gig through a line of Sunday school children outside St Johns church. The original accusation was leveled by the Rev K T Miller and denied by the doctor. In the course of the correspondence the following letter was also published. "I hereby certify that my daughter Mary Anne, was run over by Dr. Bayer's gig at St. John's Church about 6 months since, and was confined at home about a week in consequence." (Signed) CAROLINE FRANCIS, her mark X

Two happier events involving the children of Caroline and William are also recorded in the "Register". On Thurs Dec 9th, 1852 Caroline Francis received a book as a prize for 1st place in catechism among the girls at the annual examination of the children attending the Pulteney Street Schools. Again the "Register" of Sat Jun 24th 1854 lists Caroline Francis and Mary Ann Francis among the members of the girl's 1st class who were awarded certificates of merit at the same institution. (Pulteney Street School opened on Monday, 29 May 1848 twelve months after the original trustees had met to establish a school for the children of Adelaide. The School was a foundation of the Church of England but was open to those of all faiths and denominations. It was located on Town Acre No. 228 at the corner of Pulteney and Flinders Streets with the school building being erected immediately north of the present St. Paul's Restaurant. At the end of the first week there were 50 names on the roll and by December the number was 270. The Pulteney St School later evolved into Pulteney Grammar School - one of Adelaide's premier schools.)

In Sep 1850 the "Register" records the granting of the application of William Francis for a licence to operate the Old Colonist Inn, Wakefield street. In presenting the application to the Bench of Magistrates on behalf of William, Mr Smith made reference to "the favourable report of the police, and also produced a memorial numerously signed". There was no opposition. It seems that the licence had to be reviewed and re-approved on a regular basis, as reference again appears in the press to the renewing of the licence in 1852 and in 1853. For the application in May 1852 it is reported that Mrs. Francis appeared on behalf, of her husband, who was at that time "absent at the diggings".

Perhaps William should have stayed at home and exercised closer supervision of the management of the inn, as the "Register" of Thurs Nov 4th 1852 reports that Caroline Francis, landlady of the Old Colonist Inn Wakefield Street, was fined 20 shillings for supplying Jemmy, an aboriginal native, with two quarts of beer. The report states that "he had induced her to serve him by saying he was sent for it by a 'white fellow'; but the Magistrate held that this was no legal excuse, the Act being imperative on the subject".

It would seem that William did not succeed in making a fortune at the diggings either, as he inserted the following notice to creditors in the 'Register' on 17 Jan 1853: "ALL PERSONS having CLAIMS against Mr. WILLIAM FRANCIS, of the Old Colonist Inn, Wakefield street, are respectfully requested to send in their ACCOUNTS forthwith, and they will be immediately liquidated; and all DEBTORS must discharge their AMOUNTS to prevent unpleasant proceedings, the undersigned wishing to close all matters with the public of South Australia at once, and commence afresh, as the treatment his family received when he was at the diggings can hardly be called a good intention for an Old Colonist of 15 years' standing. WILLIAM FRANCIS, Old Colonist Inn. Wakefield-street.The nature of the "treatment" inflicted on the family is not known.5

It would seem that the "fresh start" did not eventuate as towards the end of 1856 William Sr became involved in a situation that seems to have had profound consequences both for himself and for his newly-wed daughter and son-in-law. Not all the information relating to the incident and its sequel have been found, but enough has been gathered to piece together what seems to have taken place. Some of the details of what occurred can be gleaned from the rather garbled report that appeared in the "South Australian Register" of Friday October 3rd (p.3 col.1) which is summarised at the end of this chapter.6 What is known from the records of the Supreme Court of South Australia is that on Nov 25th William Francis was charged with aggravated assault. The assault was on a certain William Thompson whom it was alleged was thrown to the ground and severely beaten with a stick. The assault took place at Thompson's home in Adelaide on Oct 1 st. In this interval between the actual assault and the formal laying of the charge William signed an indenture with his son-in-law Thomas Cassidy whereby the former's property was made over to Thomas for the sum of 5 shillings and upon trust Thomas agreed to pay all legal costs of the criminal prosecution that was pending against William Francis. He also undertook to discharge mortgages and care for the finances on behalf of the three children of William then under 21 yrs of age:- Caroline Cassidy, Mary Ann Francis and William Henry Francis. Whether or not William was in fact guilty or whether or not he was found guilty is not known, but it seems the above arrangements were to prepare for the worst.

An indication that the worst may have eventuated may be found in the fact that on Dec 1st Thomas Cassidy sold the property that had belonged to William Francis to John Plunkett, who was a sergeant of police in Adelaide. Perhaps William went to prison but more likely he did not as his name does not appear in the register of those admitted to the Adelaide gaol. There is nothing further known of him nor of his wife Caroline until their deaths more than twenty-five years later (see Ch 12). The sale of the land referred to does not appear to have solved the financial difficulties that Thomas seems to have found himself in. Thomas appears to have been involved in a series of land transactions at this time, and it would seem fair to assume that these transactions represent an attempt to extricate himself from financial difficulties that may have been caused by the legal situation with regard to his father-in-law.7

However it is also possible that the flurry of buying and selling of land may be an indication of a restless or enterprising nature. It is interesting to note that during 1851 and 1852 the shipping records for the port of Adelaide record the following passengers:-

Thomas Cassidy on the "Fawny" which left for Geelong on Nov 7th 1851
Thomas Cassidy on the "Cantaro" which left for Melbourne on Jun 15th 1852, and
Thomas Cassidy on the "Marshall Bennet" which returned from Melbourne on Apri1 16th 1852

Perhaps these references represent more than one Thomas Cassidy; perhaps they do not refer to the subject of this account, but if they do, they are consistent with a picture of an elusive and even shadowy figure that begins to emerge with regard to Thomas. His movements over the next few years, described in the next chapter tend to confirm this image. 8

Caroline Cassidy (formerly Francis)

 

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