Samuel Lamprey

First white birth at Port Sorell

My Great Great Uncle, Samuel Lamprey, is thought to have been the first white person born at Sassafras on Tasmania’s northwest coast.[1] He was born at Northdown in 1843. There appears not to be any formal record of his birth or baptism.[2][3]

Samuel’s parents, John and Martha Lamprey, had migrated to Van Diemen’s Land the previous year, sailing on board the Royal Saxon with their first born son, Albert, and baby Sarah. Sadly, Sarah died during the voyage. Still grieving the loss of her daughter, perhaps Martha was already pregnant when she and John, with three-year-old Albert, made their way from Port Dalrymple to the new frontier settlement of Burgess (now known as Port Sorell).

John worked as a shepherd and farm labourer at Northdown for about ten years before taking up 300 acres of land of his own at the head of Green’s Creek at East Sassafras. No doubt the move to ‘Hill Farm’ was very exciting for Albert and Samuel. They would have been old enough to help with the challenging task of clearing the land and constructing the bush-crafted building that was to become home.

By this time, Samuel had another five siblings. Maria was born in 1845, Mary in 1846, Martha in 1848 and finally another brother, John, in 1850. Then came Sarah, in April1853, the year that the family moved to their own property. Two year’s later, my Great Great Grandfather, William, was born on 8 January 1855. Samuel’s youngest sibling, Arthur, was born in 1858.

Notwithstanding the work required to establish Hill Farm, it seems that John and Martha understood the value of education and Samuel was to continue to go to school for another few years. He left school to join his father on the farm at the age of fourteen.[4] Apparently Samuel remained on the farm for another sixteen years, before deciding to move further southwest, to Nook, where he was to reside at ‘Westwood’, an estate of 110 acres under grass and potatoes.[5]

Marriage and children

Samuel was 31 when he married Mary Ann Carey (eleven years his junior) at Nook on New Years’ Day, 1875.[6] Mary Ann was one of a dozen children born to Charles and Eliza Carey who had migrated to Van Diemen’s Land the same year as Samuel’s parents. Arriving on the Arab in March 1842, Charles and Eliza settled initially at Evandale and then moved to Longford where most of their children were born. In 1856 the family moved to Deloraine and then later to Green’s Creek, where Mary Ann would soon have met her neighbor and future husband. In 1874 the Careys bought a bush block at Nook, perhaps explaining Samuel’s move to the district.

Samuel’s younger brother, John, married Mary Ann’s older sister, Louisa, at Port Sorell in 1871. They also moved to the West Kentish district. Both families practiced as Christian Brethren, very much influenced by the visits of the evangelists Brown and Moyse in 1873. Brown and Moyse preached the Gospel of the Grace of God to early settlers in houses, barns and wherever a suitable place could be found. ‘Many conversions to God through faith in Christ were recorded and believers soon found it necessary to establish a place of worship.’[7] The first Gospel Hall was erected on the West Kentish Road about two miles from Sheffield.

On 18 November 1875, Eliza gave birth to a daughter, Marion Martha. Mr Morris, the Constable at Green’s Creek, registered the birth at Port Sorell.[8] The registration describes Samuel as a farmer but there is no information about where the family is living, although perhaps the fact that the birth was not registered until 21 December suggests that the family was some distance from the town.

A second daughter, Mary Edith, was born on 12 May 1878. This time Samuel registered the birth, indicating that he was a farmer at Sheffield.[9] Almost nine years was to pass before a third and final child, Louisa Alice, was born on 31 March 1887.

Selling the farm

In July 1901, the North West Post reported that Samuel had sold his farm and was auctioning a range of stock and implements. The advertisement provides an interesting list of goods, including: 50 crossbred ewes, 19 well bred pigs, pure Boar and Hog, a grey cart mare, a bay cart horse and yearling cart colt, a pony, four bullocks, five very choice cows; a wagon, truck and bullock dray; a gent’s saddle, various ploughs, harrows and other farming machinery; a copper, tank, grindstone, palings, and ‘lots of useful Furniture and Sundries’.[10]

Mary marries

Samuel moved his family to East Devonport. In September 1902 the family’s new home was to host the wedding of daughter Mary and local Harford man, Henry Martin[11]:

A very pretty wedding took place last week at the residence of the bride’s parents, East Devonport, the contracting parties being Mr H Martin, the fourth son of the late Mr John Martin, of Harford, and Miss Mary Lamprey, the second eldest daughter of Mr S Lamprey. Pastor J Casely, of Sheffield, came down specially to conduct the ceremony, the Misses E Thomas and L Lamprey being bridesmaids, and Messrs J Thomas and A Lamprey were in attendance upon the bridgegroom. … The same evening [Henry and Mary] were escorted to the railway station and left for their future home at Boat Harbour amid showers of rice and flowers, accompanied by good wishes.[12]

Presumably it was Mary’s departure to Boat Harbour that led her parents to move from East Devonport to their next home, on the main road at Detention near Rocky Cape.

Tragedy

Sadly, it was here that tragedy struck a few years later. Shortly after 10:00 on the morning of 18th of March 1907, thirty-one year old Marion was driving the light pony trap, as she had many times before, when the two cream cans it was carrying began to rattle. The cart was on the road that ran through the farm, close to home. Samuel was walking ahead of the trap when he heard the rattling and turned to see the pony galloping down the track towards him. Marion had time to call “Father” before the wheel of the trap caught a piece of fern beside the track and turned over. Marion was thrown from the trap and her head struck a nearby stump. Samuel could not lift his daughter and ran to the house for help. His second daughter, Mary, came out and by that time Mr John Bingham and Mr Hedley James were also on the scene. Marion was breathing but she could not speak and blood was flowing from above her left temple. The three men carried Marion into the house and Thomas Anderson, the mail coach driver who had also just arrived, was dispatched to fetch Dr Muir. Unfortunately Dr Muir did not arrive until 2:00pm, when he declared that Marion had died. Witnesses at the inquest confirmed Samuel’s testimony that the pony had been thoroughly reliable and was frequently seen being driven by various members of the family. The coroner found that Marion had been accidently killed when her head struck the stump of a tree, fracturing her skull. He further found that there had been no negligence.[13]

Potateos being carted to Old Rocky Cape Jetty, PH30_1_1551

Potatoes being carted to the old Rocky Cape jetty (courtesy LINC Tasmania)

Louisa marries

On 25 March 1910, Samuel and Mary Ann’s home was opened to around fifty guests celebrating the marriage of their youngest daughter, Louisa, to Thomas Benjamin Moles:

A very pretty wedding was celebrated by Pastor E. A. Salisbury on Wednesday, May 25, at the residence of the bride’s parents, the contracting parties being Miss Louisa A. Lamprey, youngest daughter of Mr. S. Lamprey, Rocky Cape, and Mr. T. B. Moles, fourth son of Mr. H. Moles, Sisters Creek. The bride was charmingly dressed in cream silk, and wore the usual veil and orange blossom, carrying, a shower bouquet, and was attended, by Miss M. Dobson as brides-maid, who wore a very pretty dress of pale green silk. Mr. L.A. Elphinstone acted as best man. After the ceremony the guests, numbering over 50, sat down to a sumptuous breakfast provided for the occasion. Afterwards the happy couple were driven to Burnie en route for their honeymoon tour, the bride’s travelling dress being a navy blue coat and skirt and silk vest. [14]

The article went on to itemise the presents given by many of the guests. Amongst them were a gold bangle and gold brooch; a set of carvers, teapots, tea sets, cups and saucers; glass dish, jug and shaving mug; vegetable dishes and live poultry; a salad bowl and cheese dish; a lamp; a sliver cruet; a set of furs; bread and butter knives; ruby salts, set in silver; a Victoria table cloth; an oak tray; half -dozen silver teaspoons and mustard spoon; a set of saucepans and Japanese work box; a pickle jar and sauce bottle and sucking pig; a cake dish and cake stand; and numerous other items for a well laid dining table.[15]

Death of an ‘Old Pioneer’

On 25 March 1917, Samuel Lamprey died at the residence of his sister and brother-in-law, Frances (nee Carey) and Edward Smith, in Rooke Street, Devonport. The papers reported that blood poisoning, which had started in one of his hands, had caused his death. Samuel was 73. A number of the local papers referred to him as a North-West Coast pioneer, having been born at Northdown, spent quarter of a century in the West Kentish district and another sixteen years at Sister’s Creek. Samuel was buried at the Mersey Bluff Cemetery in Devonport ‘in the presence of a large and representative gathering’.[16] Mary Ann died a few years later, on 6 January 1921. She was at the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Louisa and Thomas Moles, at Sister’s Creek.

 

Endnotes

[1] Charles Ramsay, With the Pioneers, Devonport: Latrobe Group National Trust, 1957, 1995, p58

[2] 1917 ‘Personal’, Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), 4 April, p. 6, viewed 25 Mar 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article152840969z

[3] The Cyclopedia of Tasmania, Matiland and Krone, Hobart, 1900, p352

[4] The Cyclopedia of Tasmania, Matiland and Krone, Hobart, 1900, p352

[5] The Cyclopedia of Tasmania, Matiland and Krone, Hobart, 1900, p353

[6] RGD 37/34. Marriages, 1875, Australia, Tasmania, Civil Registration, 1803-1893, Archives Office of Tasmania, Family Search, familysearch.org, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-35345-16495-41?cc=2125029&wc=M93C-984:633601471

[7] K R von Stieglitz, A Short history of Sheffield, the Kentish Municipality and its Pioneers, 1951, p 49

[8] RGD 33/53. Births, 1875, Launceston and country districts, B-W, Australia, Tasmania, Civil Registration, 1803-1893, Archives Office of Tasmania, Family Search, familysearch.org, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-35350-12510-92?cc=2125029&wc=M93C-9FJ:n1870766344

[9] RGD 33/56. Births, 1878, Launceston and country districts, B-W, Australia, Tasmania, Civil Registration, 1803-1893, Archives Office of Tasmania, Family Search, familysearch.org, https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-35349-23650-41?cc=2125029&wc=M93C-9FR:709556799

[10] 1901 ‘Advertising’, The North West Post (Formby, Tas. : 1887 – 1916), 4 July, p. 3, viewed 26 Mar 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article200574780

[11] Henry Martin’s sister, Mary, had married Samuel’s brother, Arthur Lamprey, at Green’s Creek in 1883.

[12] 1902 ‘Devonport’, The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times (Tas. : 1899 – 1919), 25 September, p. 2, viewed 26 Mar 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64900939

[13] 1907 ‘The Inquest’, Circular Head Chronicle (Stanley, Tas: 1906 – 1954), 20 March, p. 3, viewed 25 Mar 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160982210

[14] 1910 ‘Wedding Bells’, The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times (Tas: 1899 – 1919), 3 June, p. 4, viewed 26 Mar 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65180239

[15] 1910 ‘Wedding Bells’, The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times (Tas: 1899 – 1919), 3 June, p. 4, viewed 26 Mar 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65180239

[16] 1917 ‘Death of an old pioneer’, Examiner (Launceston, Tas: 1900 – 1954), 26 March, p. 3. (DAILY), viewed 27 Mar 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50917705