William and his tribe…

… of which I am definitely one.

We saw last time how William Whitfield, my great-great-grandfather, and at least also his sister Mary (1808-1872), fetched up on the shores of Port Jackson in 1826. Mary married Daniel Sweeney, convict transported on the “Daphne” to Sydney in 1819, and they had three children.

Extract from the marriage record of Daniel Sweeney and Mary Whitfield at St Matthew’s Windsor. 15 January 1827.

My grandfather’s full name was Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield – though he tended to deny it. See also Continuing my trawling through Trove and family history. William went on to sire quite a tribe with Caroline Philadelphia West. Here is one version, which does have some errors in it. The links do not open new windows. My great-grandfather is #2 on that list. I rather doubt he was born in Braidwood.

Children of William Whitfield and Caroline Philadelphia West are:

  1. +Richard John Whitfield, b. 17 Nov 1840, Braidwood NSW Australia, d. 27 Jul 1929, Braidwood NSW Australia.
  2. +William Joseph John Whitfield, b. 14 Aug 1836, Braidwood NSW Australia, d. 22 Jun 1925.
  3. +Jacob Whitfield, b. 28 Oct 1838, Braidwood NSW Australia, d. 22 Oct 1885, Braidwood NSW Aust.
  4. Susanna Rose Whitfield, b. 27 Sep 1842, Gundagai NSW Australia, d. 21 Apr 1941.
  5. Mary Anne Whitfield, b. 14 Aug 1844, Sydney NSW Aust, d. 22 Dec 1923.
  6. Martha Whitfield, b. 3 Jan 1846, Penrith NSW Australia, d. 29 Jul 1882.
  7. John Whitfield, b. 15 Sep 1848, Mongolo NSW Australia, d. date unknown.
  8. Caroline Philadelphia Whitfield, b. 10 Jul 1850, Mittagong NSW Australia, d. 29 Dec 1947.
  9. Esther Whitfield, b. 3 Dec 1852, Picton NSW Australia, d. 24 May 1944.
  10. Rebekah Whitfield, b. 27 Oct 1854, Picton NSW Australia, d. 17 Jul 1907.
  11. Sarah Whitfield, b. 30 Jul 1856, Picton NSW Australia, d. May 1917.
  12. John Joseph Whitfield, b. 14 Sep 1858, Picton NSW Australia, d. 8 May 1938.
  13. Elizabeth Whitfield, b. 20 Apr 1860, Picton NSW Australia, d. 4 Oct 1952, Rookwood NSW Aust.
  14. Isabella Whitfield, b. 3 Mar 1862, Picton NSW Australia, d. 31 Aug 1958.

What is amazing is there are several there who lived well into my lifetime, though I never met any of them.  I did meet several of the next generation though. Bob Starling’s history is titled Jacob Whitfield’s journey from Cootehill County Cavan Northern Ireland to the land down-under  and he rightly notes where the tribe went: “Jacob’s wife Mary and four children migrated on the “Thames” in 1826. Mary and two children died on the voyage. William, the only son of Jacob to survive was responsible for the Whitfield name propagating to towns of Picton, Braidwood and the NSW South Coast.” It appears that by 2011 Bob Starling had concluded that Mary (Gowrie) died on the Thames.

What Sydney did William arrive in?




Pictures by Augustus Earle vividly recall the time and place.

Earle left Hobart for Sydney aboard the brig Cyprus, arriving there on 14 May. He soon established a reputation as the colony’s first & foremost artist of significance. Upon setting up a small business, Earle received a number of requests for portraits. These commissions came from a number of Sydney’s establishment figures & leading families. Throughout this time, Earle also continued to produce a number of water colours which mainly fall into three categories : landscapes, Aboriginal subjects, and a series of views of public and private buildings that record the development of the colony. One of his most famous works is a lithographic print entitled Portrait of Bungaree, a native of New South Wales, with Fort Macquarie, Sydney Harbour, in background.

Earle also made several excursions to outlying areas of the colony, travelling north of Sydney via the Hunter River as far as Port Stephens and Port Macquarie and, between April and May 1827, he travelled to the Illawarra district south of Sydney. Gaining acceptance within Sydney ‘society’ he decided to apply for a land grant, this was denied however, due to his lack of capital…

The third picture above is of a skirmish with bushrangers in the Illawarra – that is around Wollongong.  In the middle picture the street sign on the right above the basket of fish says “George Street.”

No doubt William would have seen Bungaree at some point.


There is a link here William would not have foreseen: in due course my brother married one of Bungaree’s descendants.



It is late April and a dozen of Australia’s leading Aboriginal artists have gathered inside a former naval cottage at Georges Heights above Sydney Harbour for some brainstorming.

Master of ceremonies is indigenous curator Djon Mundine, his signature dreadlocks trailing the floor. But Mundine has a surprise in store, asking his artists to put down their usual tools and play with some theatrical props – a 19th-century cocked hat and red military jacket. Their mission is to get under the skin of one of colonial Australia’s most enigmatic figures, a Garigal man from Broken Bay who, in circumnavigating the continent with Matthew Flinders in 1802-03, was coined “the first Australian”. His name was Bungaree.

“He was the first north shore person, looking at the people on the south shore, just watching them,” Mundine says. A young man when the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Bungaree was a silent witness to the founding of a colony among the sacred trees and fishing grounds of Tubugowle or Sydney Cove. His curiosity and sense of adventure led him to join the crew of Flinders’s Investigator. A decade later, Governor Macquarie honoured him with farmland at Georges Heights and the title of “Chief of the Broken Bay Tribe”. Greeting ships that arrived in Sydney Harbour wearing his trademark cocked hat and redcoat, Bungaree became the first Aboriginal entrepreneur, immortalised by Augustus Earle’s famous 1826 portrait but shrouded in mystery following his death in 1830…