18. Eliza Robinson Austin
In 1807, in Bath, Eliza married Major John Cecil Goldfinch (1775-1824) of the Oxford Militia and lived at Chewton Priory in Somerset, and they had seven children: John William (1807- ), Henry Austin (1809-1879), George Frederick (1813-1827), Eliza Mary Ann (1815-1844), Anne Louisa Sarah (1817- ), William James and Adelaide Augusta Maria. Their mother, Eliza Robinson, is mentioned as providing a home for her cousins’ children during their school holidays.
Married by Rev.John Gardiner of Bath
Maj. John William Goldfinch
Of the Oxfordshire militia
22. Sarah Austin
Sarah married John Bruce Knight Bruce-Pryce, J. P. (1784-1872) in 1807. He was a wealthy coal magnate from Duffryn, South Wales. In 1805 John Bruce Knight Bruce-Pryce took the name Bruce on inheriting his uncle’s estate of Duffryn, Aberdare, South Wales, and added ‘Pryce’ in 1837 on inheriting from his cousin the estates of Duffryn St Nicholas and Monknash, though his children kept only the name Bruce. It was he and his family who financed the Indian mission in Essequibo run by Anna Maria Austin and called the Duffryn Mission.
Sarah and John had twelve children, who were known by the surname Bruce. Of these: John Wyndham (1809-1868) became a Barrister-at-Law but went blind; Henry Austin (1815-1895) was raised to the peerage - see below; William (1816-1894) took Holy Orders and was at one time Canon of Llandaff, marrying Mary Elizabeth Conybeare, daughter of the Dean; Robert (1821-1891) became a Lt.-Col. and C.B. and married Rachel Frances Corbet, and was known as ‘Hurricane Bob’. One of their eight daughters, Constance Mary, married Sir Francis Gore, and one of their daughters in turn, Mary Elizabeth, married Sir Charles Edward Coleridge Cave 4th Bt. (1927-1997). A member of the Cave family, Lt.-Col. Stephen Cave O.B.E. is the present owner of St Nicholas Abbey, St Peter, Barbados. The remaining children of Sarah and John were: Lewis Knight-Bruce (1829-1894) who became a became a Second Lieutenant in the British Army; Margaret Frances (1811-1862) who married Charles Alleyne and had eight children: Charles was an absentee proprietor from Barbados whose family owned several sugar estates there, though residing latterly in England; Blanche (1813-1873) who married the Rt. Rev. James Campbell, Bishop of Bangor; Sarah Elizabeth (1818-1869), Isabel (1819-1859) who married Reverend Trevor Roper Tyler, son of Admiral Sir Charles Tyler; Mary Sinclair (1824- ), Elinor Maria (1825- ) and Gertrude Emma (1827- ).
Henry Austin was created 1st Baron Aberdare of Duffryn, South Wales in 1873. He was called to the Bar in 1837 and elected the Liberal MP for Merthyr Tydfil (1852-68) and Renfrewshire (1869-73), became Home Secretary under Gladstone, Lord President of the Council and the first Chancellor of the University of Wales. He married twice, his first wife being Annabella Beadon (?-1852).
The Bruce children kept in touch with relations by correspondence although they never visited the West Indies. In hard times they also provided financial assistance. Information on some further descendants of Sarah and her husband John is given in Chapter 17.
After Sarah died, her husband married Alicia Grant Bushby in 1844.
John Bruce Knight Bruce-Pryce J.P.,D.L.
Wealthy Welshman, a coal magnate from Duffryn.
Helped Anna Maria build Duffryn Mission for Arawaks at Suddie
His sons omitted Pryce from their surnames and it is probable that he did too as he is known as John Bruce Bruce at his wedding to Sarah Austin in Bath in 1807
64. John Wyndham Bruce
Became a Barrister-at-Law and apparently went blind.
Bishop James Colquhoun Campbell
Bishop of Bangor.
68. Canon William Bruce
Canon of Llandaff
Mary Elizabeth Conybeare
Daughter of the Dean of Llandaff
Rev. Trevor Roper Tyler
Son of Admiral Sir Charles Tyler
71. Lt.Col. Robert Bruce C.B.
One of their eight daughters, Constance Mary, married Sir Francis Gore, and one of their daughters in turn, Mary Elizabeth, married Sir Charles Edward Coleridge Cave 4th Bt. (1927-1997). A member of the Cave family, Lt.-Col. Stephen Cave O.B.E. is the present owner of St Nicholas Abbey, St Peter, Barbados.
75. Lewis Knight-Bruce Bruce
Became a Second Lieitenant in the British Army
24. Ann Austin
Ann was the only child of Hugh Williams and Sarah to return to the West Indies for she married a Dr George Saunders of Demerara. One of their daughters, Sarah Catherine (1819-1876), married Dr Edward Patrick McNaughton, Jnr. They were the grandparents of Marie Louise Kleber (1890-1971) whose great interest in the Austin family has already been noted. The other children of Ann and George were: Georgianna, William Austin, Maria Austin and George.
Dr. George Saunders
78. William Austin Saunders
Lived and died in Nevis
26. Archdeacon William Austin
He was born in England and went to school at Charterhouse and then to Exeter College, Oxford. He is not to he confused with his cousin and near contemporary, William Piercy Austin who became a bishop. The latter was also at Exeter College, but a few years later. They both took Holy Orders and they were both ordained by Bishop Coleridge, a cousin of the poet, in St Michael's Cathedral in Bridgetown, Barbados. Demerara was then part of his Diocese. They were also both well-known members of the community in mid-Victorian times, but this William had returned to the colony as soon as he had taken his degree at Oxford. He held several cures before becoming Rural Dean of Essequibo, which post he held for the rest of his long life, becoming known as ‘The Old Dean’. His rectory was in Suddie, capital of the county, where he built St John's Church.
William made a romantic marriage with his cousin Anna Maria, daughter of his half-uncle Edward Austin. Their daughter Henrietta wrote to J.G.A.:-
‘I must tell you the correct version of my parents' marriage. After my grandmother's death, my mother was taken by her sister (i.e. the child's aunt) and provided for in Barbados until she was old enough to be sent away to school. War broke out between America and England (1812, when the White House was burnt) and the ship in which my mother was a passenger was taken by an American Privateer and she was taken to America where she was placed at school until peace was declared. She then went on to England to school. My grandfather's sister, Mary, told me that during the fight the captain was wounded and my mother tore up her flannel petticoat to bind up the wound. When my mother left school, my grandfather brought her out here (British Guiana) and my father who was in delicate health, came out with them. They had a six or eight weeks voyage and the young people naturally fell in love with each other. This made my grandfather very angry and he thought it best to send my mother back to her Aunt's care in Barbados. Father would not give her up but followed in the next schooner. H.M.S. 'Hyperion', a man-o'-war, was in Carlisle Bay, the chaplain of which was a fellow collegian and friend of father's, the Rev. J. Briggs by name. My father told him the story and it was arranged that the marriage should take place on board, which was done and Father told me that, as they rowed up to the ship, the band struck up 'See the Conquering Hero comes'. To satisfy the relations a second ceremony was gone through a year later in St Michael's Cathedral.’
The Old Dean’s first wife was in poor health in 1836 and he took her on a visit to his brother in Lennoxville, Quebec, probably to convalesce. Perhaps the journey was too arduous for her, for she died in Lennoxville in the same year.
The Old Dean married a second time to Anna Day from Essequibo, in 1837. She may have helped to bring up the children of his first wife.
In spite of his ‘delicate health’ in youth, William lived until 1884, dying in harness in Essequibo at the age of 85. In St Peter’s churchyard at Plantation Golden Fleece, Essequibo there is a tombstone bearing the inscription:
Sacred to the memory of Wm. Austin: Born in London, August 27, 1799: Died St John’s Rectory, Essequibo, May 17, 1884.
He was Rector of this Parish for 58 years six months, and was only absent from it for seven months of his Ministry.
Memories by Margaret Young
I wonder if anyone in Essequibo today remembers old Dean Austin, such a charming gentleman, his height and silver hair marked him out in any assembly. To everyone's dismay, he was once tossed by a runaway bull on Airy Hall stelling, but the magnificent Austin physique of which he had his full share caused him surprisingly few bad results. The latest off-shoot of that family, now about two months old, looks as if he has his full share of that magnificent physique.
In my childhood a visit to Dean Austin was a great pleasure, to sit in the drawing room of St.John's Rectory, Suddie, with the candles lit, two always stood in tall silver candle sticks, under large barrel-shaped glass shades, resting on the polished round table, which was at that time a feature of every drawing room, the shades were quite two feet high I think. Sitting there in the candlelight always gave me a curious sense of enjoyment; it reads like a page from some old book, does it not?
Maria's Lodge (probably named after his wife), St.John's House (Rectory), St.John's Church are all at Suddie, Essequibo.
The Duffryn Mission was a few miles down the coast at the mouth of the Ituribisi.
Anna Maria Austin
William said she was born 9 April 1801
81. Edward William Austin
Edward William went to the U.S.A. when quite young and fought in the American Civil War, probably on the side of the victorious North for he was granted a gratuity and a small pension, his health being poor. He was married to Eliza Ann, but the marriage was dissolved in 1860, in Ohio. He died in a Veterans’ Home. His sister relates that he left a little money to his two sisters who were in great want, but ‘a wicked lawyer behaved in a dishonourable way about the money he left. I wrote to Harry Austin in Montreal who was trying to get it out of the Probate Court when he was stricken with paralysis and died.’
82. Henry Bruce Austin
He died in infancy and is buried in the family burial plot at Land of Plenty.
83. Emma M. Austin
In 1836 the family went to Canada on account of their mother’s health. On the voyage little Emma contracted ‘sore throat which they now call diphtheria’ and died at sea. Her mother, Anna Maria, died three months later in Canada aged only 34 and leaving four young children.
85. Anna Maria Austin
Anna Maria was born in Essequibo and named after her mother and grandmother. When her mother died in Canada she was sent with her elder sister Henrietta to Barbados. When she was grown up and returned to Essequibo she started a mission for the American Indians, at the mouth of the Ituribisi Creek, some miles west of Suddie, to which she devoted her time and energies and whatever money she had. At first the mission must have been financed by the rich Bruce cousins in Wales for it was called the Duffryn Mission after the coal magnate, John Bruce-Pryce of Duffryn.
Henry Kirke, in his ‘Twenty-Five Years in British Guiana’, writes of Anna Maria:
‘Here this exemplary woman has lived for years, surrounded by the gentle Indian people, whose children she has taught to read and sew, whose wives she has protected when the men were away fishing and wood-cutting. She has been a sort of protecting goddess to these poor people, a small remnant of the once great Arawak tribe. This good lady nurses the sick, advises and guides the whole community, teaches the children, and by her example and precept, prevents crime and immorality. Her people are devotedly attached to her and her sole recompense has been their love and devotion. Miss Austin was no austere religieuse; she was a jolly, plump lady, with a beaming smile, and always ready for any reasonable amusement. I can recall two or three merry evenings at the mission, when we used to dance in the schoolroom, the open windows and doors almost blocked up by the faces of the Indian women and children who were curious to see how the ‘buckras’ [white people] enjoyed themselves.’
By the end of the century Henrietta records that ‘poor Anna’s health had failed and money was very scarce’. She was obliged to close her orphanage for lack of funds but struggled on gamely, occasionally visiting her sister and niece in Suddie when she was well enough and could get transport. She was regarded as an eccentric by younger relatives in Georgetown. She was buried in Suddie.
Founder of the Duffryn Mission for the Amerindians, at the Ituribisi Creek, Nr.Suddie, Essequibo.
Financed to start with by the Bruce cousins in Wales, hence the name.
AMIA called her Hannah Maria
86. Theodore Austin
This youngest member of the family was only a year old when his mother died. He is not mentioned in Henrietta’s letters to J.G.A. for he died long before they were written. He appears to have been a barrister in Canada, and did not marry.
27. Thomas Austin
Thomas was born in England, probably in Bath as he was baptised there in the parish of Walcot. He seems to have spent most of his youth in Bath with his mother and stepfather, Major William Coffin. He probably accompanied them and their young family when they spent three years in Quebec City, Lower Canada. This was the time of the war of 1812-1814 when the United States invaded British North America. Major Coffin may have rejoined his regiment while the family stayed with his father (a United Empire Loyalist from the American Revolution) who lived in Quebec City. The family returned to Bath, England in 1815 after the war was over.
Thomas was living in St Augustine’s parish, Bristol in 1823 when he married Charlotte Theresa Whitchurch, a direct descendant of King Edward I and daughter of Samuel Whitchurch, a merchant from Bristol who lived in Frome, Somerset. It is not known where Thomas and Charlotte lived for the first few years but they later settled in Bitton, Gloucestershire. In the various registers, Thomas always gave his occupation as ‘gentleman’ in entries for the baptism of his children.
In August 1830 Thomas was admitted to the freedom of the City of Bristol for which he qualified because he had married the daughter of a burgess. By 1832 the family had moved to Clifton, Bristol. Thomas appears to have become involved in politics around this time, for in a letter to Lord Edward Somerset many years later, he reminds him of his help in an early 1830’s election.
Thomas's half-brother, William Forster Coffin, had gone to Canada in 1830 where he had become a lawyer and was destined to become influential in the affairs of Lower Canada. Probably with his encouragement, Thomas, Charlotte, their five sons and one daughter arrived in Canada in the spring of 1835 and by summer had settled in Lennoxville, then a small village south of Montreal and not far from the American border. Here, Thomas invested heavily in real estate including a home in Lennoxville, several tracts of land in and near the village and was a partner in a brewery. In 1836 he was appointed Commissioner of Small Claims and Justice of the Peace for the District of St Francis.
During the rebellion of Lower Canada in 1837-1838, when the French Canadian patriots rebelled against British colonial rule, Thomas raised and commanded the Queen’s Mounted Rangers, a cavalry troop. Such troops were used mainly to reinforce the border defences, particularly against raids by some of the patriots who previously had escaped to Vermont. In 1838, the British government suspended the power of the Assembly in Quebec. Sir John Colbourne appointed Thomas Austin to his Special Council which governed Lower Canada from 1838 to 1841 except for the five months Lord Durham was in Canada. Lord Durham’s report on the rebellion recommended that Lower and Upper Canada be joined under one assembly and this resulted in the Act of Union 1841. This was the first step towards responsible government as it allowed at least some of the membership of the assembly to be elected instead of appointed.
After spending two years in St John where Thomas was registrar, the family moved further up the Richelieu River to Chambly, a town surrounding Fort Chambly where the British garrison was quartered. Thomas served as Registrar Chambly County from 1844 to 1864. He was also Justice of the Peace for the district of Montreal and Commissioner of Oaths for many years while living in Chambly. In 1847, Thomas Austin retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel from the 2nd Chambly Battalion of the Lower Canada militia.
Thomas's wife, Charlotte, died in 1863 and is interred in the Austin family vault in St Stephen's churchyard, Chambly. Thomas and Charlotte’s great great-granddaughter, Marie Louise Barber née Austin and her husband had this vault restored in 1982 and put a commemorative plaque on the door. The coffins were temporarily removed to the church basement, the interior walls were re-bricked, the roof replaced with a copper one and a steel door heavy enough to hold the plaque was put in place using the hinges and lock from the original door. Also interred in the vault are three of Charlotte and Thomas's sons, Henry William Austin (1825-1893), Frederick Piercy Austin (1829-1912) and Wyndham Bruce Austin (1831-1904), and two grandsons, Thomas Adolphus Austin (1857-1858) and William Winchester Austin (1863-1937).
Shortly after Charlotte’s death, Thomas returned to England where in 1864 he married Henrietta Nevillia Colston (1813-1899), an old family friend. Most of their time was spent in Clifton, Bristol where Thomas died. He is buried in Redland Green Churchyard with Nevillia. In the same churchyard is the grave of Major William Coffin.
Nephew Thomas Colston Bridges signed his death certificate in Clifton
Charlotte Theresa Whitchurch
Daughter of Samuel Whitchurch and Mary Evans of Frome, Somerset.
A direct descendant of King Edward I
89. Thomas Adolphus Austin
He died as a child when his family lived at Lennoxville.
28. Bishop Dr. William Piercy Austin D.D.
He was born at The Crown Inn at Stone in Staffordshire, while his parents were staying there on their return to Bath from a visit to the Hendersons in Scotland, Eliza Henderson née Piercy being Mehetabel’s eldest sister.
When he was four he was taken to Demerara where he lived on his father’s plantation, Land of Plenty (in Essequibo), but returned to England when he was eight where, with a younger brother and two sisters, was left in the care of their grandmother, Mary Gardiner, in Bath. When William was old enough he was sent to school at Hyde Abbey, Winchester, together with Mary’s own son George Gardiner who was not much older than William.
One of his successors in the diocese of British Guiana in a memoir of Bishop Austin described his university and ecclesiastical career:
‘From school he went up to Exeter College, Oxford, where he earned a special name as it was due to his strenuous efforts that the first University Boat Race was rowed in 1829. In University boating history he is represented as ‘the stalwart Bishop of British Guiana who was a crack oar in his time.’ He made the ‘Grand Tour’ during which time he must certainly have visited his mother and sisters at Bonn. He returned to Oxford in 1830 to take his B.A. degree and was awarded his M.A. degree in 1835.’ He received further degrees: D.D. Oxon: in 1842, LL.D. Cantab. and Durham in 1882 and also D.C.L. Oxon:.
In 1831 aged 24, he married his cousin Eliza Piercy Henderson of Foswell Bank, Perthshire and on the way north to his wedding he stopped at Stone to visit the scene of his birth, The Crown Inn, which is now a three star hotel - a Georgian building with an exceptionally fine front.
‘That he was born at an Inn seemed to cause him special delight, a little point of union with his Master. He seems to have had little thought of returning to the West Indies, but Ordination had been his purpose for some time and a curacy in Gloucestershire had actually been accepted and was being ‘kept’ for him by a relative until he had been ordained. The sudden death of the Bishop of Gloucester in 1831 caused the ordination to be deferred, and meanwhile, urgent family affairs called him to Demerara. Thither he bent his steps with his wife, stopping on the way at Barbados, which at that time suffered one of the worst hurricanes ever recorded there. Bishop Coleridge, the first Bishop of Barbados whose diocese then included British Guiana and the Windward Islands, was no doubt eager to obtain such a recruit and urged him to accept the offer of a curacy at St George’s, Demerara, under his former tutor Mr Lugar. In the Cathedral of St Michael, Bridgetown, being used at the time as a hospital for the victims of the hurricane which had taken place ten days earlier, William Piercy Austin was ordained deacon on 21st August 1831. He went at once to Georgetown. Before long, however, he decided to go home to see his mother, but owing to the miscarriage of a letter they actually crossed one another on the high seas ... He settled for a while as curate of Easton and Embrough in Somerset and was ordained priest by the Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1833.’
He returned to the colony in 1834 and went again to live on his father’s estate, intending to assist in the general work of the diocese. He acted at St George’s for Mr Lugar while the latter was ill and later in Essequibo for his cousin, William Austin, who had taken his family to Canada on account of his wife’s health. It is reported (Diocesan Magazine, August, 1978) that on Emancipation Day in 1834, William Piercy mixed with the freed men and women as they thanked God for his mercies.
On the death in 1837 of Archdeacon Eliot, Commissary for Guiana, Bishop Coleridge appointed William Piercy to the office. Mr Lugar, his old tutor and uncle by marriage, who had expected this appointment, was much chagrined and wrote to his nephew urging him to recall his acceptance. Shortly after this, Bishop Coleridge wrote to William Piercy saying that Mr Lugar was to look on him as his ecclesiastical superior. A month later, the appointment was confirmed by the Queen. At the request of the Government Secretary, who complained of the inconvenience of having to communicate with him in Essequibo, William Piercy went to live in Georgetown. From 1846, he lived at Kingston House.
When the See of British Guiana was created in 1842 William Piercy became its first bishop at the age of 35 and was consecrated at Westminster Abbey, London. The following day he went to kiss the hand of the Queen (who was then 28) and she is said to have remarked ‘Here comes my youngest and most handsome bishop’. He was granted a coat of arms (reproduced in this book) and the citation states that the arms may be borne by all Austin descendants of his grandfather Thomas Austin. William Piercy chose as the motto for his coat of arms mens conscia recti [a mind conscious of rectitude]. This motto appears in Carmen Pascale (A Song of Easter) by the fifth century Irish poet Caelius Sedulius and may have been adapted by Sedulius from a passage in Virgil’s Aeneid. It is possible that Bishop Austin, whose mother was from an Anglo-Irish family, chose the motto both for its literal meaning and its Irish association.
In 1844, the Bishop founded Queen’s College, Georgetown and was its first principal. The college is to this day the premier school in the country. Doubtless the education was originally strictly classical.
Older Guianese described the Bishop’s travelling, in full canonicals, in the local flat-bottom boats called ‘coorials’ into the remoter regions of his enormous diocese which was as large as England, being rowed by a crew of Amerindians.
In old age the Bishop was described by Archdeacon Thomas Farrar, in his book ‘Notes on the History of the Church in Guiana’ :
‘…our Bishop stands out as the Epoch-making man of his period, while a liberal education, exceptional social advantages, the athletic training in his ‘College Eight’ in unique Oxford, and above all the special training made necessary by his early appointment to his high office, in the peculiar and graceful virtues of tact, moderation, and what, for want of a name, may he termed courtliness... A man of more than average height (he stood 6 ft 2 inches in his stockings), and with shoulders proportionately broad; a face full of benevolence and eyes both gentle and firm, deep-set in the large head with its broad forehead; the manner and bearing of a nobleman, touched with that slight condescension which sits so well on more than eighty years of life and experience; moreover a voice deep, sympathetic and strong, almost as strong to-day as it was twenty years ago.’
In 1883 William Piercy Austin became Primate of the West Indies, being its senior bishop. In 1891 Queen Victoria appointed him Prelate of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George. He died in harness, aged 85, in 1892, having celebrated his jubilee as a bishop. His body was briefly rested in the new cathedral (the building of which was not completed). The funeral service was then held in the pro-cathedral and the body, after passing through streets crowded with mourners, was laid to rest alongside that of his wife Eliza, who had predeceased him by some years, in the churchyard of St James the Less, Kitty, Georgetown.
Kingston House, the Bishop’s residence in Georgetown, is now called Austin House in his memory.
Eliza Piercy Henderson
She was William Piercy's first cousin and daughter of Col.Henderson of Foswell Bank,Perthshire
93. Eliza Austin
She died the day she was born
97. Mehetabel Wickham Austin
She was one of the two ‘Mets’, the other being her first cousin, daughter of uncle Hugh Williams Austin. Mehetabel Wickham married Josias Booker (1828-1881), a son of the founder of the well-known firm of that name. Her parents and the family in general did not approve of her marriage because Booker was much older than Mehetabel and ‘rough’. J.G.A. said ‘Met has made her bed and must lie in it.’ It seems that she went blind on the birth of a child which did not live and she herself died in England aged only twenty six. There is a window to her memory in the church of St John and St Anselm, Clifton, Bristol, and a brass to her name in St George’s Cathedral, Georgetown, which reads:
‘This Tablet is placed here by Josias Booker, of
Liverpool and this Colony
In fond memory of his devotedly attached wife,
Second daughter of the Right Revd. William Piercy
Austin, D.D., Lord Bishop of this Diocese, and Eliza
Piercy, his wife.
Born in London, 1st April, 1841.
Died in Liverpool, 2nd May, 1867, aged 26 years.
Her remains rest with those of her two infant brothers,
In the churchyard of St John’s, Redland, Clifton.’
Partner with his brother John of Booker Bros. together with John McConnell
98. John Coleridge Austin
He did not survive childhood.
99. Mary Lockhart Austin
Known as Locky, she died unmarried.
29. Mary Austin
Mary, the eldest of the four daughters, was the only one to marry. Her husband was Charles Pierrepont Gardiner, ‘a captain in the Hon: East India Company’, the surname being only a coincidence for he was no relation to Mehetabel Piercy Austin’s stepfather, Dr John Gardiner D.D. of Bath.
Mary and Charles had one son, another Pierrepont, to whom J.G.A. was much attached, so much so that he named his eldest son (who died in infancy) after him.
The earliest of J.G.A.’s letters to survive (written in the most beautiful copybook script, remarkable for a child of 9½) is to his cousin Pierrepoint Gardiner.
Pierrepont Gardiner in early youth emigrated to Australia to seek his fortune. For some years he wrote to his parents but then disappeared. It is presumed that he lost his life during the violent and lawless period of the first Australian gold rushes.
Mary Gardiner was known in the family as ‘Aunt Gardiner’. After her husband died, she lived in Worthing where she kept in touch with her Uncle Jeffrey’s widow, Fanny Piercy (see Chapter 17, the Piercy Family) and was always considered to be comfortably off. However on her death it was found that a trusted maid had acquired everything of value and her money.
Capt. Charles Pierrepoint Gardiner
Hon. East India Company
The surname was only a coincidence. He was no relation to
Mehetabel Piercy Austin's stepfather, the Dr.John Gardiner DD of Bath.
31. John Gardiner Austin Snr.,C.M.G.
The fourth child and second son of William and Mehetabel Austin was born at Lowlands Plantation, Demerara. His mother named him after her step-father, Dr John Gardiner D.D. of Bath. With his elder brother and two sisters he was left in the care of this step grandfather and his grandmother in Bath and this is where he was staying when news was received of his father’s death in 1819.
He went to the same school in Winchester as his brother William Piercy.
D.H.A. expresses surprise that John Gardiner did not follow his brother to the University, for the days of great financial stringency had not yet arrived. However when school days were finished John Gardiner returned to Demerara and took over the management of the family estates. In 1836, aged 24, he married Emma Wilday. The couple settled in Georgetown but presumably he paid visits to Land of Plenty and Lowlands, for he was manager of these plantations.
The Austin estates were among the first to produce centrifugal sugar which made a handsome profit when landed at Bristol and the effect of the emancipation of the slaves (1834) was not yet felt. On the strength of this prosperity John Gardiner determined to take his family to England and establish himself as a country gentleman. Accordingly, in 1840, a schooner (the ‘Eleanor’) was chartered and they set forth on the long voyage. The party, besides himself, his wife and his three small children, consisted of his parents-in-law Charles and Sarah Wilday, Sarah's sister (Aunt Polly), Emma Austin's two unmarried sisters her brother Charles Wilday and four servants. The cabins had to be furnished and enough food, ‘dead and alive’ to provide for a voyage which might, with bad weather, last ten or eleven weeks. The ‘live’ provisions included chickens and cows to give milk for the children. D.H.A. says that on a visit to Sweden she read a diary kept by Charles Wilday of this voyage which was fascinating. Unfortunately it has long since disappeared. The party landed at Bristol in July and after visiting relations the Austins settled at Thickthorne, a small manor house a mile to the south of Kenilworth in Warwickshire. There once existed a small watercolour of this house (which is still a residence) on which was written ‘The Seat of J. Gardiner Austin Esq.’, but this has also disappeared. In 1841 another son was born, Hugh Piercy, and yet another in 1843, Thomas Bruce-Pryce.
In 1844 there came a disastrous slump in sugar and with it ended John Gardiner's ambitions of being an English country gentleman. The family returned to Demerara to save what they could from the wreck. John Gardiner took a post in the Government service as Stipendiary Magistrate (1843-44), as Assistant Government Secretary (1850-53) and as Immigration Agent (1853-64).
The elder boys must have been among the very first pupils at the newly opened Queen’s College (founded 1844) of which the first principal was their Uncle William Piercy Austin, the Bishop.
In the following years five more children were born bringing the number to ten, but two boys died in childhood, Thomas Bruce-Pryce at Land of Plenty, and Jeffrey Paul Piercy who was lame.
In 1854 the eldest daughter Mehetabel Piercy (Belle), aged fourteen was sent to her aunts in Germany to complete her education. Two years later she was followed by Emma her mother whose health was failing after twelve years in a tropical climate. The five younger children went with her, accompanied of course by Mimmy, a faithful servant who, according to family tradition, had been given to John Gardiner and Emma as a wedding present. Mimmy remained, greatly loved, with the family until her death.
In 1858 John Gardiner took leave and settled his dependants, including Belle, in Porchester Terrace, Bayswater, London and there they lived for many years although he himself went abroad again.
After emancipation of the slaves, labour on the West Indian sugar estates became very scarce and it was suggested that Chinese immigrants should be encouraged to fill the gap. Sir Cecil Clementi in his book ‘The Chinese in British Guiana’ tells the story of this effort which did not in the end prove successful and it was the importation of East Indian labour which eventually saved the sugar industry. Sir Cecil says:
‘The combined Court of Policy voted a salary of £1,500 a year, exclusive of travelling expenses, for the payment of an officer to be employed in China for the promotion of emigration to British Guiana and in a letter dated 25th May 1858, the Governor with the approval of the Secretary of State, offered this appointment to Mr J. G. Austin who was then on leave in England. He accepted the appointment and reached China early in 1859.’
In a letter to his sister Belle (11th November, 1858) J.G.A. writes from Demerara:.
‘I am sorry you did not give the date of Papa’s arrival at different stations as I have no idea of the rate of his travelling’. It would be interesting to know whether he travelled round the Cape, or, as is more likely, through the Mediterranean and overland from Port Said to the Red Sea. This was the beginning of a connection with the Far East which lasted for more than twenty years and later, John Gardiner must have been one of the first travellers through the Suez Canal which was opened in 1869.
Sir Cecil Clementi describes the four ‘Seasons’ which Mr Austin spent in recruiting Chinese labour and the ships which he despatched with the numbers of emigrants in each, men always vastly in excess of women. The headquarters were in Hong Kong but John Gardiner travelled to coastal towns in China such as Amoy, in search of recruits. This was not without its dangers for he relates:
‘Even in Hong Kong money had to be brought to the office under the charge of a Sepoy with a loaded musket, and I have often sat with a loaded revolver at my side to guard the dollars which were being paid out. I never cross to Hang-thai but with the greatest caution, concealing my movements as much as possible and never parting with my revolver day or night, holding it in my hand repeatedly during the whole of the latter. On one occasion two piratical junks were placed to intercept me; on another, my sub-agent was beaten and robbed of everything he possessed and a price was set upon the head of every foreigner.’
In 1862 his health broke down and he left Hong Kong in April.
J.G.A. wrote to Belle:-
‘I hope sincerely our dear Father won't return to China. It would be far better for him to return to his old post in Demerara in the event of nothing better turning up elsewhere.’
Something better did turn up, for the following year John Gardiner Austin was appointed Lieutenant Governor of British Honduras, having been thanked for his services in Hong Kong by the emigration agents. Sir Cecil Clementi says:
‘No one can fail to be impressed by the energy and sagacity with which Mr Austin took full advantage of a singularly opportune moment of organising family emigration, enlisting the sympathy in his enterprise not only of missionaries and consuls, but even of the local Chinese officials.’
On the other hand there was some criticism of his expense accounts, which included champagne, a fish-pond and pew rent. No doubt the first was necessary for entertaining Chinese Mandarins as they gazed at the carp in the pond, while the brother of a Bishop would consider pew rent an essential.
It was decided that Emma and the two older unmarried girls, Emmy and Louisa, should follow John Gardiner Austin to British Honduras. Helen being only ten, was left behind, either with her aunts in Germany or with her eldest sister Belle in Sweden. She was of an age to share a governess with Belle’s step-daughters. J.G.A., who was on leave in England, saw his mother and sisters off from Southampton with some misgiving.
Little is known of this governorship and no letters from British Honduras have survived but it appears that it was not altogether a success. ‘Papa’ was inclined to be impetuous and irascible. He did not suffer fools gladly and his children stood in awe of him.
J.G.A.’s eldest son, Ruff, wrote to his sister D.H.A. many years later:-
‘Father always told me that our grandfather had some row with the Colonial Office which was the reason he had to resign from British Honduras but 'this' seems pretty authentic.’ ‘This’ was a newspaper cutting of reminiscences of someone who had lived in B.H. at the time:-
‘I remember the Governor, Mr J. G. Austin, selling a large quantity of land to some American syndicate. This was disapproved of by the Colonial Office and a telegram came to say 'Land sale disallowed'. Mr. Austin was recalled and given the Colonial Secretaryship of Hong Kong.’
Ruff’s letter continues:-
‘Anyway they kicked him upstairs for Hong Kong was a far better job than the other and he eventually retired on quite a decent pension.’
So in 1868 John Gardiner Austin set forth, alone, for the Far East. Emma and the girls settled at 71 Harcourt Terrace, South Kensington and this was the family home for many years in which ‘papa’ spent his leaves from China.
He had the sadness of losing in Hong Kong two of his younger sons for whom he had obtained posts in the firm of Jardine, Matheson & Company. He is said to have been the first to set up a summer home on the Peak. After the Peak tram (a funicular railway) was built this became the fashionable European section. His house was a favourite objective with his friends for an afternoon walk up the old Peak road and they called it the ‘Austin Arms’. Mt. Austin is also said to be named after him and when he was appointed C.M.G. in 1876 he was the first Colonial Secretary and official of Hong Kong upon whom the honour had been conferred since the foundation of the Colony. He outstayed two governors and towards the end of his service a new governor was appointed. This was none other than Sir John Pope Hennessy who, as governor of Barbados in 1876, had caused the ‘Pope Hennessy riots’ there when he tried to alter the constitution and take away the right to self-government of which the island was proud. He was a hot-tempered Irishman and within living memory, if a little Barbadian boy were noisy and troublesome he was described as a ‘regular Pope Hennessy’!
It was unfortunate that there was a muddle over the arrangements for the official welcome of the new governor to Hong Kong. Sir John’s grandson (James Pope-Hennessy) in his book ‘Verandah’ relates the incident:
‘One Sunday morning of late April 1877 a crowd of officials and residents thronged Pedders Wharf to welcome the new governor. By some error, the ‘Zambezi’, the ship in which he was travelling, perversely moored off Westpoint Wharf where nobody was waiting... At neither Wharf was there any sign of the Administrator, old Mr Gardiner Austin, whose duty it was to board the vessel and bring the Vice-Regal party ashore in the Governor’s official launch. Mr Austin had simply not been expecting the ship that evening and had stayed up in the cool, damp air of Mountain Lodge, the Governor’s eyrie on the Peak. Hearing the signal, Mr Austin hastily mounted into his palanquin, a fine Government House chair lined with mirrors, and was borne down the steep and tortuous lane which linked the Peak with the city below. Although the Chinese bearers, in sealing wax red liveries with white gaiters, round mutton-pie felt hats with scarlet tassels on their shining pig-tailed heads, moved at a dog-trot, he reached Westpoint Wharf quite late and it was nearly 7 before the Governor and his wife landed amid the cheers of those whose patience had held out to the bitter end’.
The name of Austin must have been anathema to the fiery-tempered little Irishman for not only had old Mr Gardiner Austin failed to meet him on time in Hong Kong, but young Mr Gardiner Austin in Barbados had been one of the strongest opponents to his policy there and had been personally reprimanded for not attending a function at Government House, whilst Preston Bruce Austin as editor of the ‘Agricultural Reporter’ had represented the opposition of the ‘plantocracy’ and had also been the bearer of a petition to London from the Island for the removal of Pope-Hennessy as governor. This was not a happy introduction to his Colonial Secretary nor to his governorship which, as his grandson reports, ‘brought turmoil to Hong Kong.’
It was just as well that John Gardiner Austin, now 65, was due for retirement. In 1878 he left the Far East for good and joined his family in London. Things did not go as happily for him as they might have done for before seven years had passed his wife and daughters had all died, leaving him alone at Harcourt Terrace except for the faithful old West Indian servant, Mimmy.
When the news of Louisa’s death reached Sweden, his daughter Belle, waited only to clothe herself and family in deepest black (described by her niece visiting Sweden at the time) before hastening to London to plan for Papa’s future. It was decided to give up the house in Harcourt Terrace and settle the old man at Hove. Mimmy, the old black servant, went back to Sweden with Belle and lived to a ripe old age.
In Hove in 1886, John Gardiner married a nice middle-aged woman, Mary Christina Goodhart ( -1904), who was much liked by all his relatives. He saw the new century in, outlived all but two of his children and died when nearly 88 years old.
His Colonial Office pension died with him and such other income as he had was left to his widow, as was only right. He left Belle all family plate and miniatures which had belonged to his father, together with many other items. J.G.A.’s name was not mentioned in the will. In this connection D.H.A. writes:-
‘I feel that my grandfather showed a strange antagonism to his son whom he passed over entirely in his will. My father was deeply hurt by this action. In Grandfather’s eyes J.G.A. was a failure for he had no business sense.’
John Gardiner Austin’s long life had almost coincided with that of Queen Victoria’s and he saw the British Empire at the height of its power.
Colonel in the Colonial Service; Lt.Gov. of British Honduras,
1864-1867; + Secretary of Hong Kong; Honored with C.M.G.
Lowlands was previously called Mariasburg and was of 195 acres.
From the Colonial Office List 1888:
C.M.G.13 March 1876
Was acting stipendiary magistrate in British Guiana from Nov.1849 to May 1850;
Assistant government secretary from May 1850 to June 1851;
Acting government secretary June 1851 to Dec.1851, and Dec.1851 to Feb.1853;
Immigration agent-general from Feb.1853;
Lieut-Governor of Honduras 1864;
Colonial secretary of Hong Kong 1868; performing also the duties of treasurer, that office having been been abolished in 1871; administered the government during Oct.1874 and from Mar.11th 1875;
Retired on pension 1878.
Three brothers, all over 6 ft., known as "The Trinity."
103. Charles Wilday Austin
He was known as ‘Toto’ to his family and friends and is always referred to thus by J.G.A. He was the eldest of the ten children and Emma named him after her father and brother. As a small child he was for a few years in England at Thickthorne where his father aspired to be an English country gentleman but the best of his youth was spent in Demerara, and, when old enough, he was sent to the newly founded Queen’s College.
From the first of J.G.A.’s letters to his sister Belle in 1855 (the year after she left the Colony) we gather that he was a tall, lanky youth then 18 years old and over 6 ft in height, probably very like his nephews of later years in appearance. On leaving school he had a minor post in a government office or perhaps a business firm. Early in 1856, J.G.A. reports ‘the Governor has given Toto a commission in the Militia as 2nd Lieut:. He is obliged to go every morning and afternoon up to the Garrison to drill, so with his office work besides he is pretty well engaged.’
In May that year their mother left for ‘Home’ with the six younger children, Toto and J.G.A. remaining with their father in Georgetown. A little later on father too left Demerara on leave, and while in England, was sent to Hong Kong as immigration agent. Not long afterwards J.G.A. was offered and accepted a post in Barbados, leaving Toto behind, so we hear less about him. It is not known when Toto himself left Demerara, but the probability is that his father, on his first tour in Hong Kong, met the original Jardine of the famous firm of Jardine Matheson and Co: who offered the young man a clerkship with far better prospects than in Demerara. He possibly accompanied his father on his return to China for the second tour at the end of 1860. Toto was then 23.
At all events he was in Hong Kong in 1862 for according to Mr Cecil Clementi ‘Mr J. G. Austin, when about to leave China, appointed his son Charles to be his locum tenens under a power of attorney. After Mr Austin’s departure there was difficulty with regard to funds to finance the despatch of Chinese to Demerara and instructions reached the Governor to reduce the immigration establishments on instructions from his father in China. In Hong Kong, Mr C.W. Austin had already given up the buildings rented for depots and dismissed all clerks, writers etc.’
This responsibility must have been a great worry and anxiety to the poor young man. He lived in Jardine’s Mess at East Point where, towards the end of the same year (1862) he contracted a virulent form of dysentery which proved fatal. The news of his death was not received in England and Barbados until the following January, a very great grief to his family, none more than to J.G.A. who was heart broken at the loss of one who, he says, ‘had been his best friend and companion as well as his brother’.
106. Hugh Piercy Austin
He was the other child born in England (at Thickthorne). He was one of the first pupils at Queen’s College, Georgetown, which had been established by Bishop Austin in 1844. In a letter to Belle when Piercy was 13½, J.G.A. (about 16 himself) describes him thus:
‘Piercy is too fat. You have no idea what a size he is. I daresay you remember what I was. Well he is just about double my size and not so tall. You can imagine what a rum puncheon he is. I, on the contrary, have grown thin and very tall. I am very near Toto. There is only 2 inches between us.’
Piercy accompanied his mother to England soon after this and ‘assumed a more respectable size’. At one time there was an idea that he should go to sea, but instead he went to Hong Kong as a clerk in Jardines, where he died of fever, a bachelor. He and his brother Toto lie in adjoining graves in the Happy Valley Cemetery in Hong Kong.
107. Thomas Bruce Pryce Austin
The little grave of Thomas Bruce Pryce, one of the children born at Thickthorne in England, is at Land of Plenty.
108. Emma Sarah Burnett Austin
She was known as Emmie. She is described in an early letter from J.G.A. as a ‘dreadful creole’ presumably because she spoke with a strong West Indian accent and as he was keen that his sisters should be good pianists, he added with disappointment, ‘to my infinite disgust she does seem to care about knowing how to play although she says she is fond of music and likes to hear it. You must do your best to rub her up.’
At the age of 11½ she too left Demerara and we know little of her adult life, except that she accompanied her parents to British Honduras when her father was appointed Lieutenant Governor. She was always delicate and died in London when only 34, the year before her mother. She had not been married.
109. Fanny Louisa Neville Austin
She was known as ‘Pig’ to her brothers and sisters and met with more approval, for J.G.A. wrote to Belle:
‘I think you will be pleased with Pig's playing on the piano, not that she is at all forward, but her touch and manner of playing.’
Louisa did not survive her sister very long but died at 71 Harcourt Terrace, London where she was keeping house for Papa, after an attack of ’flu in 1885.
110. Jeffrey Paul Piercy Austin
He was lame and died a child. Rather morbidly, his sister Belle cherished his tiny crutch for years.
111. James Henry Alleyne Austin
In an early letter to Belle, J.G.A. describes him thus:
‘Alleyne is a little misery, he is as thin as a match and inclined to be tall’ and later, ‘Alleyne (also referred to as Sextus, the 6th son) is a regular young pickle but such a dreadfully thin little misery you don't like to see him whipped, though never does a fellow require it more. I daresay you will have some specimens of his pranks and humours.’
Alleyne went to England with his mother when he was six and in due course his father got him a nomination for the Bluecoat School, then still in London. On leaving school he started to work for a firm of tea tasters, probably with connections with Hong Kong where his father then was. That summer his mother and sister were staying in Sweden with Belle, leaving him in lodgings. Here he fell ill with scarlet fever and his landlady sent him to hospital. Legend says that he died on his way there in a cab. She did not have his parents’ address and it was some time before he was identified by means of a letter which was in his pocket from his cousin Maitland Burnett whom the hospital contacted, a sad end to the ‘little misery’.
112. Helen Elizabeth Barkley Austin
Known as Eliza, she was only a baby when Mama and the younger children left Demerara. She was a great favourite of her big brother’s, who says in 1855:
‘Now for the Pet of the family. I hope she won’t be spoiled. She is beginning to creep and has two little teeth and is a good tempered ugly little thing.’
Helen spent much of her youth in Sweden with Belle, sharing a governess with the latter’s stepdaughters, and her grown up years in London at Harcourt Terrace.
Sometime in the eighties, she had been on a visit to relations in Scotland, either the Burnetts or the Dudgeons who were relations of the Dicksons. She was seen off in a train for London, apparently perfectly normal, but on arrival at Euston was found to have suffered a nervous breakdown (she had been assaulted on the train) from which she never fully recovered, relapsing into a state of gentle melancholia. She died in a nursing home in Scotland 1893.
Belle survived this last of her sisters by over 50 years.
35. Hugh Williams Austin
Compared with his two brothers little is known of this Hugh William’s life. He was the third Austin to bear these Christian names.
He was born at Land of Plenty, British Guiana, and as a baby was taken by his mother Mehetabel Piercy Austin to Europe. He probably spent his childhood in Germany with her, being sent to England for his education.
On leaving school, he joined the Colonial Service in a minor capacity and was stationed in Jamaica for some years. Here he married Maria Theodora Margaret Stewart (1833-1863), sister of the better-known Lady Barker. Lady Barker was married successively to two colonial governors, the second of whom was Sir A. L. Napier Broome (1855-1907). At one time Sir Napier was Governor of Barbados and then of Western Australia where a town is named after him.
Mary Austin died young leaving a son. Hugh Williams was married a second time to Jane 'Jeanie' Gordon (1837-1898), a niece of Sir Bowcher Clarke of Barbados. They had three children.
When Hugh Williams retired the family returned to England and lived at Sydenham where Hugh Williams died in 1898, the same year as his second wife Jeanie.
Civil servant in Jamaica
Three brothers, all over 6 ft., known as "The Trinity."
Maria Theodora Margaret Stewart
She was the sister of the better-known Lady Barker, who was married successively
to two colonial governors, the second of whom was Sir Napier Broome. At one time
Sir Napier was Governor of Barbados and then of Western Australia where a town
is named after him.
113. Cecil Williams Austin
On the death of his mother, he joined his grandmother’s ménage in Bonn. When an adult, he joined the Austrian Army, but died a bachelor.
Niece of Sir Boucher Clarke of Barbados.
115. Jeanie Gordon Austin
She died a spinster.
116. Mary Mehetabel Austin
Known as ‘Met’, she entered St Peter’s Sisterhood, Kilburn, London, where her elder cousin Sarah (‘Tal’) was Mother Superior.
38. Rev. Wiltshire Stanton Austin
The eldest son of Richard Austin and his first wife Sarah Stanton was, like his father, in Holy Orders as well as being an officer in the West India Regiment. He inherited a small estate, probably from his mother, called Vaughans in St Joseph, Barbados, just below the present parish church. J.G.A. says in one of his letters that he was out riding ‘and passed Vaughans, which used to belong to Preston’s father’.
When ordained Wiltshire followed his father to Demerara and was chaplain to the British forces in Georgetown 1821-1824, where he got into trouble for sympathising with Rev. John Smith, a missionary at Le Resouvenir from the London Missionary Society (LMS), who had tried to educate the slaves and was involved in the slave uprising of 1823. Smith was thrown into prison where he died from tuberculosis only months before King George IV’s pardon arrived in the colony. Wiltshire was a staunch friend of Rev. John Smith of the LMS. In 1823 he performed the burial rites for Rev. John Smith in St. Philip’s churchyard. This act so enraged the sugar planters that they petitioned the Commander of the Forces that he should be removed from his post. Also, Smith’s grave in St. Philip's Churchyard was razed and made level with the ground. An open letter by ‘An Episcopalian’, dated April 1824, addressed to the pew-holders of St George’s church, printed in the Galana Chronicle (of Demerara) accused Wiltshire of unspecified ‘criminal’ behaviour and generally assassinated his character, concluding by demanding that pew-holders should not revisit his church. This was at a time when the planters were anxious to retain their slaves, without whom they believed they would be unable to produce sugar on their plantations. The planter’s belief ran against the tide of enlightened opinion in Britain, the slave trade having been abolished in 1807. Clergy who had been exposed to anti-slavery thinking, including Wiltshire and his father Richard, as well as the missionaries John Smith in Demerara and John Wray in Berbice, were the targets of much abuse for daring to upset the status quo. Wiltshire was not imprisoned but was ordered to leave the colony for good. In 1824 he had been married at St George’s Church in Georgetown, now the Cathedral, to a Miss Webster who had the unusual Christian name of Dunkin.
On leaving Demerara the couple settled in England, where they lived for many years, moving from one parish to another as is recorded by the places where their numerous progeny were baptised. They stayed longest in Pembroke, South Wales, a place to which they were all very attached. Wiltshire Stanton Austin gave evidence on ‘the life and conditions of Barbados’ slaves’ to a parliamentary select committee. His evidence was published in pages 178-183 of the Report of the Select Committee on the Extinction of Slavery throughout the British Dominions (Parliamentary Reports for 1831-32, vol. 20).
Wiltshire and Dunkin must have gone out to Barbados for two or three years, however, for one son was born there in 1838, the same year as his second cousin J.G.A. and there is an account of a wedding in the Barbadian Newspaper of 24th March 1838 at which the officiating clergyman was the Rev. Wiltshire Austin. They had returned to Pembroke by 1842 for their youngest son was born there that year.
Wiltshire died of jaundice in 1857, at Rectory House, Great Bentley, near Colchester, England, and Dunkin died in 1861. Both are buried in Highgate Cemetery.
This was a big family of eight sons and two daughters but we have little information on those who did not go to the West Indies. It is alleged that there was an eleventh child, Leonard Strong, but we have no information on this. At least four of the sons were in Holy Orders, and the most outstanding personality of these was the third son, Preston Bruce Austin.
In the opinion of D.H.A. this branch of the Austin family was more intellectually gifted than any other and Preston Bruce certainly had great abilities. D.H.A. says of him that he was ‘brilliant but unprincipled and married for money’.
118. Dr. Wiltshire Stanton Austin
He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, receiving a B.A. degree in 1849. He became a barrister-at-law and is described as ‘of Lincoln’s Inn’ in 1850. He owned Vaughan’s Plantation of 92 acres in the parishes of St Joseph and St John. At some time he was a priest in Abbott’s Waltham, Essex and he may also have been a journalist. He wrote under the pseudonym of V. Dayrell and edited ‘Weeds from the Isis’, a miscellany of prose and verse by a few Oxonians, published by Blackwoods, London in 1856. Wiltshire Stanton died in London.
124. Charles Alleyne Sumner Austin
He was born in Barbados in the parish of St John, though strangely enough for a clergyman’s child, he was not baptised until he was three years old by which time the family had returned to Wales.
He was a brilliant scholar of whom his family was very proud and J.G.A. remarks wistfully:
‘Ah, Belle, I wish you had a brother like that fellow. How I wish I possessed one tenth of his amount of brain!’
Charles never returned to the West Indies, but became a Senior Fellow of St John’s Cambridge. In those days Fellows were not allowed to marry. He died at Boar’s Hill, Oxford.
125. Mother Sarah Frances Austin
Sarah Frances was always known as ‘Tal’ and is referred to thus by J.G.A. She was the only surviving daughter of Wiltshire Stanton Austin in the large family of sons.
In 1860 she came to Barbados on a visit to her brother, Preston, who was already married and with a growing family of boys. She knew J.G.A.’s sister Belle in London to whom he writes of the arrival in Barbados:
‘Tal landed on Dec. 5th after a long and very dull passage. She is well and enjoys the climate excessively now that the cool weather has set in. It is certainly in the shade one of the most delicious climates in the world.’ However a little later he reports:
‘Tal’s feet are so swollen with mosquito bites that she can’t get on her boots.’
Tal and J.G.A. soon struck up a friendship and in his next letter he says ‘Tal and I have already opened terms of confidence. She is such a thoroughly sensible girl that you can’t talk the usual twaddle that is used by Bims and I anticipate much pleasure from her society’, adding sadly ‘how I wish I were in a position to have you to stay out here with me for a few more months.’
He does not appear to have fallen in love with Tal, perhaps she was too ‘sensible’ and anyway his salary then was only £150 p.a. Preston would obviously not approve of such a match for his only sister!
Christmas 1860 was spent by J.G.A. with Preston, Annie and Tal at St James. On Christmas Eve the young clerk hurried through his work at Cavan’s, which had included boarding a steamer, and drove from Bridgetown with his carriage full of greenery for decorations. Having stayed up till 2 a.m. adorning the church (Preston and Annie had retired), he and Tal were up again at 5 a.m. to do the same in the house.
An innovation and highlight of the service conducted by Preston, the new incumbent, was to be the singing of a hymn which J.G.A. and Tal had practised.
‘Singing is a thing unknown in this neglected parish so that it was a bold business. Preston was to start us with a tuning fork, but the fellow struck the wrong end, so no sound came. When it did at last, the fork caught in his surplice and the sound suddenly stopped. You can imagine the astonishment of the congregation. At last, out we came, both in a different key and the first four lines were sung as discordantly as possible. We got right, however, after that and Preston said that the last two verses sounded very well ... I was completely done up after the Christmas dinner and plum pudding and turned in early, but was up early the next morning to return to town.’
Things were not too easy at the Rectory, perhaps Annie was a little jealous of Tal’s popularity, for J.G.A. reports later:
‘Tal was too wide-awake a girl to quarrel with Annie. At the same time there was no love lost between them.’
In March the following year he writes:
‘Tal sailed away in the steamer yesterday for Demerara. I shall miss her when I go to Preston’s for we are great friends.’
In Demerara Tal stayed with her brother Francis and Jo who had now been married three years. She planned to go home in August but ‘Francis says there is a chance of her remaining with him while poor Jo is away.’ Poor Jo was evidently in bad health but survived another six years until she was in her thirties. In the event Tal went home as planned.
On her return to England she saw a good deal of Belle, then living in Porchester Terrace whilst ‘Papa’ was away in China.
Eventually Tal followed the family church tradition and entered the Anglican Convent of St Peter’s, Kilburn, becoming in due course, its Mother Superior. She died in 1904, two years after her old friend J.G.A.
41. Mary Jane Austin
Mary Jane Austin married Benjamin Fuller Tuckniss (1806-1898) of Demerara. He was at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge during 1826-31 (his brother-in-law, Charles Adye, was there during the same period) and became parish curate at Raskelf, Yorkshire, where he officiated at the baptism in 1832 of his nephew Richard Austin, son of Charles Adye Austin and Sarah Jane Webster. Benjamin seems to have returned to Demerara with his wife Mary in about 1845. They had two sons, Richard Austin (1823-1864), and William (1824-1864). Both were educated at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and were ordained priests. After she was widowed, Mary travelled from England to visit her father Richard Austin in Surinam shortly before he died in 1851, following which she returned to England.
Richard Austin Tuckniss married Margaret Stewart in 1949, in Douglas, Isle of Man, and they had a daughter, Mary Louisa Tuckniss (1851- ), born in Askham Bryan, Yorkshire.
William Tuckniss married Margaret Ellen and they had two children, William Wentworth Tuckniss (1862- ), and Edward Vernon Tuckniss (1864- ), both born in London.
42. Rev. Charles Ayde Austin
The unusual name ‘Adye’ is a diminutive of ‘Adam’. Charles Adye was born in Barbados. He married Sarah Jane Webster (1817- ), almost certainly the sister of Dunkin, the wife of his half-brother Wiltshire Stanton. As Charles Adye and Sarah were both from Barbados, it may be presumed that they were married on that island, probably before Charles Adye went to Cambridge. Charles Adye was educated there at St Catherine’s College, where he had been admitted in 1828, and received his B.A. in 1832, when he was ordained a deacon. After leaving Cambridge, he was appointed a priest in Chester (1833), became a curate in Heywood, Lancashire (1832-1834) and in Ripon, Yorkshire (1834-1835). In 1835 he took up an appointment as Consular Chaplain in Pernambuco (now Recife), Brazil. He retired from Brazil in 1865, and afterwards was curate at Wyham-with-Cadeby and of Nun Ormsby, near Louth, Lincolnshire. He died in Cheltenham in 1875.
Evidently Charles Adye and Sarah Jane visited Plantation Kleinhoop in Surinam in the 1840’s, for it is recorded that Sarah Jane ‘felt terribly frightened by the Indians who, unannounced, used to walk into the drawing room in their loincloths and feathers’. At that time, Kleinhoop was owned by Charles Adye’s father, Richard.
Charles Adye and Sarah had several children.
Sarah Jane Webster
Almost certainly the sister of Dunkin, the wife of his half-brother Wiltshire Stanton
130. Charles Adye Austin
The second Charles Adye was born in Rochdale, Lancashire and like his father was educated in St Catherine’s College Cambridge, where he was admitted in 1854. He was Acting Consul at Rio de Janeiro (1876-1879), at Santos, (1876) and at Bahia (now Salvador) for various times from 1893 until his death there in 1897. He does not appear to have married.
132. Catherine Emma Austin
She was born in Pernambuco and married Thomas Comber, a British subject who had been born in Brazil. Thomas became a magistrate in India. Catherine Emma died before 1881, by which time Thomas had remarried.