Passenger Ship Bound for Australia
The emigrant passenger ship the Joseph Rowan left Liverpool on the 21st March, 1854, with around 376 ‘government passengers’ bound for South Australia. The passage for these emigrants may well have been covered by one of the assisted-government schemes. The Australian colonial governments particularly wanted skilled labourers and single women.
Amongst the passengers were Robert and Elizabeth Clarke and their five children. The passenger list gives Robert’s occupation as a ploughman.
Elizabeth Clarke’s brother, agricultural labourer, James Barham and his wife and two year old daughter Jemima, also appear on the passenger list.
Both families left Rocklands for a new life in Australia.
An Address Given at the Birkenhead Depot
The Joseph Rowan was one of many emigration ships to leave Liverpool bound for Australia at the beginning of 1854. Robert Clarke and James Barham together with their families, would have been amongst the travellers who were assembled in one of the ‘spacious rooms’ at the Birkenhead Depot to hear an address given by schoolmaster and religious instructor Charles Kerr.
‘Industrious Honesty would be Well Rewarded’
Kerr, a 38 year old a single man from Midlothian, was also travelling on board the Joseph Rowan. He was reported to have reminded the assembly of the debt of gratitude that they owed the Government for the comfortable arrangements “for their transmission to a land where industrious honesty would be well rewarded”. He urged the emigrants to be “good, obedient, religious, industrious and persevering”.
The assembled emigrants, appeared in fine spirits as they expressed their appreciation by offering ‘three cheers’ to each of the Government, Queen Victoria and the countries of England, Ireland and Scotland.
The Arrival of the Joseph Rowan in Adelaide
The Joseph Rowan arrived in Adelaide on the 16th June after a voyage of some three months. There had been two deaths at sea and, sadly, another passenger died the day after the ship arrived in Adelaide. There had also been four births during the voyage. Save for the births and deaths, the voyage appears to be uneventful.
We do not know what prompted Robert Clarke and James Barham to leave their homes in Rocklands. Was work becoming scarce or their wages dwindling? Maybe Robert and James just saw emigration as an opportunity for a new and better life – albeit on the other side of the world?
Did they respond to an advertisement in the local paper offering ‘free passage’ and the improved life opportunities for them and their families? Perhaps they overheard a conversation about emigration or, maybe, they themselves were involved in local discussions.
Whatever the reason, the Clarke and Barham families left Rocklands for Liverpool during the first few months of 1854.
Just a year later, Robert Clarke’s brother Charles would take his wife and children to Australia. Other members of the Clarke family would also follow, including Ellis Clarke, who emigrated much later in his life.
Robert was the son of James Clarke and his wife Ann (née Houchin).
James and Ann Clarke married in St James’s Church, Great Ellingham on the 23rd December, 1811. Robert, their firstborn, was born around nine months after the marriage. He was baptised on the 27th September, 1812, in the very same church in which his parents married the previous year.
Great Ellingham Church of St James. Postcard BCV
Robert had four siblings: Stephen born in Great Ellingham c.1814, John c.1816, Charles c.1819 and Ellis c.1822 were all born in Rockland All Saints. Sadly, Stephen died at the age of 13 in 1827.
Parish Church of Rockland All Saints. Photograph taken July 2019
On the 6th June, 1838, Robert Clarke and Elizabeth Barham married in the Church of All Saints, Rocklands. They were both single and living in the village at the time of their marriage. Along with their witnesses, Francis Norton and Harriet Mann, Robert and Elizabeth put their mark ‘X’ in the marriage register. This suggests that neither Robert nor Elizabeth (nor their witnesses) could read or write – or, at the very least, that their skills in reading and writing were limited. However, this was not unusual for the times.
Elizabeth was born in Rocklands on the 24th April, 1814. She was baptised just a few weeks later on the 15th May in the Parish Church of Rockland All Saints. Her parents, Thomas Barham and Rebekah (Rebecca) Norton, married in the village of Deopham (five miles from Rocklands) on the 27th October, 1807.
Thomas and Rebekah Barham had at least 7 children, including Elizabeth and her brothers Thomas born 7th May, 1811 and James born the 21st April, 1821.
It is possible that Elizabeth Barham gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Rebecca, in January 1837. Sadly, one year old Rebecca Barham died and was buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Rocklands in March 1838.
The census of 1841 captures Robert and Elizabeth Clarke (née Barham) with their two sons, James aged 2 and one month old Charles, living in Union Lane, Rockland All Saints. Elizabeth’s mother, Rebecca Barham, is also with the family. Robert’s parents, James and Ann Clarke, were not far away in Town Street. Elizabeth’s brother, Thomas Barham and his wife Mary were also living nearby.
‘The Cross Roads’ Rocklands
By 1851, Robert and Elizabeth have five children. The census of that year captures the family of 38 year old Robert Clarke with his wife Elizabeth aged 36 and children James 10, Charles 9, Mary Ann 7, Rebecca 4 and two year old Jemima in Union Lane, Rockland All Saints.
Also in Union Lane is Robert’s brother Ellis with his wife and children. His brother Charles and his wife and family are nearby in White Hart Street. However, elder brother, John, had moved to Market Weighton in Yorkshire.
Elizabeth Clarke’s brother, 29 year old James Barham and his wife and family, are also living nearby in 1851. They are in Chapel Street, Rockland St Peter. Elizabeth and James’s mother, widow Rebecca Barham aged 70 is with the family.
Just over six years earlier, James Barham had married Eleanor (Ellen) Fisk in the Church of All Saints, Rocklands on the 8th November, 1844.
Ellen’s illegitimate Daughter
Prior to her marriage, Ellen Fisk had given birth to a daughter, Sarah Ann around 1838. Perhaps James Barham was Sarah Ann’s father?
Following their marriage, James and Ellen Barham had two children in Rockland St Peter. Elizabeth born in 1847 and Jemima in early 1851. Tragically, young Elizabeth Barham died at the age of 4 between April and June 1851.
Just three years after the 1851 census, James and Ellen Barham together with James’s sister and brother in law, Elizabeth and Robert Clarke, packed up their belongings and with their children, began their 10,000 mile journey to South Australia.
Sarah Ann Fisk
Ellen’s daughter, Sarah Ann Fisk(e), also emigrated to Australia. However, I do not know when Sarah left England.
A transcription of the passenger list for the ‘Joseph Rowan‘ lists singlewoman Sarah Fisk, a domestic servant, aged 21. However, at that time, Sarah Ann would have been around the age of 16. Even so, I wonder whether this Sarah Fisk is in fact Ellen’s daughter and, for some reason, her true age was concealed or incorrectly recorded?
Life in Australia
On arriving in Adelaide in June 1854, Robert Clarke and his family proceeded by bullock dray from Adelaide to ‘the Reedbeds‘. They then moved on to Magill where Robert worked for Dr Penfold gathering in his harvest.
When this work came to an end in January, 1855, Robert and his son James walked to Echunga (a small town in the Adelaide Hills some 22 miles from Magill) and found work with the Sander Brothers at a £1 per week for food. Later, Elizabeth and the remainder of the children followed.
Robert and his brother-in-law, James Barham, farmed in partnership Meadows, which is another small town in the Adelaide Hills.
Much later, James Barham paid for his brother, Thomas Barham and his wife Mary (nee Caney), to visit the family Australia.
Elizabeth Clarke née Barham (1811-1900) and Robert Clarke (1812-1902). Courtesy of Kim O’Brien, a descendant of Robert Clarke’s brother Charles Clarke
In later life, Robert retired to Strathalbyn and lived in a property named ‘Belvedere’. He died at the age of 90 on the 14th September, 1902 at Strathalbyn. Robert was notably a ‘pioneer farmer’.
It certainly appears that the emigration of the Clarke and Barham families from Rocklands to Australia was a success.
Their legacy is their descendants who still live in Australia today. However, their roots are firmly in the villages of Rocklands and Great Ellingham, some 10,000 miles ‘on the other side of the world’.
The Albion March 20th, 1854. Viewed via https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk 26th September 2021
Rockland All Saints with Saint Andrew Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office; Norwich, Norfolk, England; Norfolk Church of England Registers; Reference: PD 335/3. Viewed via https://ancestry.co.uk. Ancestry.com. Norfolk, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1919 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Also transcription viewed via FreeReg https://www.freereg.org.uk/
Deopham with Hackford Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office; Norwich, Norfolk, England; Norfolk Church of England Registers; Reference: PD 485/4. Viewed via https://ancestry.co.uk. Ancestry.com. Norfolk, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1936 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Great Ellingham Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office. PD 609. Also available at https://www.familysearch.org/
Rockland St Peter Parish Registers. Norfolk Record Office PD 336. Transcription viewed via FreeReg https://www.freereg.org.uk/
The Ship List website. http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/josephrowan1854.shtml Accessed 25th September 2021
https://digital-classroom.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/assisted-migration-introduced Accessed 25th September 2021
GRO Index. https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro Also available via FreeBMDwebsite https://www.freebmd.org.uk/
1841 census HO107/781/14, HO107/781/15, HO107/785/29
1851 census HO107/1823/155, HO107/1823/149, HO107/2357/530
My thanks to Kim O’Brien and the large number of descendants of the Clarke and Barham families in Australia