Sarah Elizabeth Sims – first white child born in Adelaide?

This was one of the family myths about Sarah Elizabeth Sims born in Bowden Village, Adelaide on 13 January 1843.  She was the first of her family born in Adelaide but definitely not the first white child born there.  Adelaide was founded in 1836 and Sarah’s parents Robert Harvey Sims and Mary Ann Hammond arrived there on board the Buckinghamshire on 11 March 1839 having left London, England on 11 December 1838. They traveled with their two children, Mary Ann and Harvey John, their son George John already dead.  The family came from Dover in Kent.  Initially I had only found Robert and Mary Ann with their children arriving in Adelaide.  However after a trip to Adelaide and some research there I found that Robert’s entire surviving immediate family had followed them to Australia including his mother, Ann Harris, at the age of sixty-three!

But first…. Robert and Mary Ann had four more children in Australia.  Sarah Elizabeth mentioned above, then Eliza born July 10, 1845 in North Adelaide and Emma born August 1, 1848 also in North Adelaide.  Robert was a builder who paid his own way to Australia.  In the archives I found some tenders by Thomas Jones and Robert Sims for the bonded stores at Port Adelaide.  Was this ‘our’ Robert Sims?  Then gold was discovered in Victoria.  Nearly every man left Adelaide for the Victorian goldfields including Robert Sims and his family.  Sadly Robert was to lose his wife Mary Ann after she had a baby at Forest Creek (Chewton, near Castlemaine), Victoria on November 11, 1852.  She left a son 12 days old who I assume did not survive as I can find no record of him.  Robert returned to Adelaide with his three daughters on board the Anne in February, 1853.

Robert’s three surviving brothers had emigrated on the Emily in 1849 from London with their families.  These were James George Sims and his wife Elizabeth Clarke, sons Frederick John and Henry William, William John Sims and his wife Ann Elizabeth Beer and two children one of whom was Robert John aged eight and Edward Isaac Sims and his wife Cathrine Cooling.  James George and Elizabeth had a son, William Moir Wilson (named for the surgeon on board the Emily) born on board on August 8. However their son Henry William Sims died at sea on May 15, 1849.  William John and his wife Ann also lost their young son Alfred Edwin at sea on June 28.  It must have been a very sad voyage for the family.  Edward Isaac survived the journey only to die in Adelaide a year after arriving on August 23, 1850, he was only 23 years old. His wife remarried on 11 February 1851 at St John’s church Adelaide to Joseph Frederick Mitchell.

Robert’s sister Sarah Ann Sims and her husband William Revel with their two daughters, Emily Maria aged 3 and Sarah Elizabeth aged 2 migrated on board the Indian from London in 1849.  His mother, Ann Harris came with them, aged 63, although on the ship’s list she is aged 57.  I imagine all the families followed them to Adelaide as Robert and Mary Ann gave glowing reports of their life in Australia and because they were doing well.  That is until they chased the gold to Victoria. After Mary Ann and their young son died, Robert returned to Adelaide with his three girls, presumably for his mother to look after them.  His eldest daughter Mary Ann married John Baker on January 11, 1852 at the Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide.  She was not on the ship’s list returning to Adelaide so may have remained in Adelaide while the rest of the family went to Victoria.  No sign has been found of their son Harvey John after the 1841 census of South Australia.  Robert remarried in Hawthorn, Victoria on March 28, 1855 to Honore Welsh (daughter of James Welsh).  Robert was a builder, said to be 40 and she a servant aged 36.  She hadn’t been married before according to their marriage certificate and was born in Silvermines, Tipperary.  I have not been able to locate either of them after this.

Sarah Elizabeth Sims
Sarah Elizabeth Sims

Then my 2 times great grandmother Sarah Elizabeth Sims married at the Pentland hotel, Pentland Hills, Victoria (the residence of her guardian) on January 10, 1860 to James Boyd with the consent of her guardian, Charles Shuter of Blackwood, police magistrate.  She was sixteen.  I believe Charles Shuter may also have been the guardian of orphans on the goldfields.  This suggests her father (and perhaps step mother) had died but I have found no evidence of their deaths to date, some possibilities but nothing definitive.  Her younger sister Eliza married Robert Jackson at Truro in South Australia on December 6, 1865.  What was she doing in Truro?  Her grandmother had died, Sarah was living in Victoria and her older sister Mary Ann was married and living in Adelaide. There are plenty of unanswered questions with this family.

There is also a connection between the Harvey family, Ann Harris’ mother’s maiden name and a family linked through marriage to one of John Joseph Johnstone’s granddaughters.  This will be the topic of a future post.  As usual I welcome any contact from anyone associated with any of these families and have all the references that I have used for this blog.

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