John Williams & Eliza Harvey

By Joan Warin

'The only remains of the family’s occupation are the daffodils that come out each winter near Mt. Ridley Rd where there house was situated'   J. Clohesy

John Williams (pictured at left) was the second living son and fourth child of James Williams and Alice percy.  He was born in Bishopstone, in Wiltshire, England, in 1834.

Eliza Harvey was the second child and daughter of Charles Harvey, yeoman and Mary Elliot of Chase Farm, Wiltshire, England.  She was born in Handley, Dorset, England, on 23rd of May 1834.  Charles Harvey employed 15 labourers on the 250 acre property, one of whom was John Williams, who was head plough boy.

John Williams and Eliza Harvey were married on the 9th of May, 1855 in St. Edmunds Church, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England one of the five satellite churches of Salisbury Cathedral. 

The young couple sailed from Southampton on the vessel 'James Fernie' on the 14th of December, 1856 arriving in Melbourne on the 12th of March 1857.  John Williams was sponsored and employed by Thomas Oliver upon his arrival in Australia, for ₤60 for three years.  He was later employed by Frederick Race Godfrey at Mt. Ridley Homestead as a gardener for 17 years.  Whilst there he planted a row of pine trees on Mt. Ridley which were visible for miles around, and as recently as the 1980's were cut down due to old age.

Eliza (pictured left) and John had 11 children, 5 of whom died from diphtheria in 1876, and one in infancy in 1861.  After the diphtheria epidemic and the loss of so many children the family moved further down the hill, where they farmed on a small scale and after two years, Eliza died from pneumonia, on the 26th of November, 1878 aged 44 years.

- John and Eliza's Children -

Emily 1855-1876, Alice Mary 1857-1876, Frederick Harvey 1859-1943, John Tom 1860-1861, Charles James 1861-1876, Herbert John 1864-1952, Mildred Adeline 1866-1876, Bertha Rose 1868-1956, Frances Lucy 1870-1876, Walter George 1872-1931, Hedley Osborne 1875-1952.


In 1884 John Williams married Lillius Alexander a housemaid and local midwife whom had spent most of her life in the Mt. Ridley area.  Lillius was the 5th daughter of the stonemason, James Alexander and Marion Collins whom Captain Pearson brought out from Scotland to work at the station in 1855.  Mt. Ridley Station was partly built by James Alexander in 1854, they had another 10 children of their own.

-  John and Lillian's Children -

Victor Charles 1885-1951, Vernon Stanley 1886-1943, Edith Alberta 1887-1906, William Ernest 1889-1916, Albert James 1890, John Thomas 1893-1963, Lesley Norman 1895-1963, Jessie Rubina 1897-1991, Frank Raymond 1900-1989, Mildred May 1902-1965.

John died 13th of January 1926, aged 91 years. His epitaph in the Age 14 January 1926 reads:

WILLIAMS, on the 13th of January, at Mickleham John beloved husband of Lillian and loving father of Rose (Mrs. Richards) Mildred (Mrs. Ingram) Jessie,  Edith (deceased) Walter,  Hedley, Fred, Herbert, Victor, Vernon, William (deceased) Albert John, Leslie (deceased) and Frank, aged 91 years.



This photo was not taken as the Old Mickleham Cemetery but probably at the stonemasons.  It does not include the death of Eliza Williams which was added later.