Unnamed Free: Birth: 8 AUG 1853. Death: 9 AUG 1853
Note: William Free was baptised at Haslingfield in Cambridgeshire on 2 March 1829.
The 1841 census shows him, aged 12, living at Haslingfield with his parents and siblings: Mary (15), Elizabeth (12), John (8), Harriet (6), Sarah (3) and Ann (1).
William married Louisa Chapman at the Haslingfield parish church on 16 November 1848. He was a bachelor shepherd aged nineteen years, she was a spinster who lived in Barrington. The marriage was witnessed by John Free and Jane Barnard where all parties signed the certificate with a cross or mark. The couple then went to live in Barrington where their first child, Rebecca Louisa, was born on 29 June 1849.
The 1851 census showed William, aged 22, living at Barrington with Louisa (19) and Rebecca (1). The couples� second child, John, was baptised in Barrington on 13 April 1851.
William and Louisa and their two children emigrated to Australia from England on the LADY KENNAWAY under the British Government�s assisted emigration scheme paid for from the proceeds from the sale of land in the colonies. It is likely that they were recruited by Josiah Johnson who served as both an official for the Chesterton Union and an agent for the Colonial Land and Emigration Commission (CLEC). While the government paid for their passage, either the union or the parish of Haslingfield probably helped them pay their application fee, purchase the clothes and other items they were required by the CLEC to take with them, and cover the cost of travelling from Cambridgeshire to emigrant depot and departure port of Southampton.
The ship sailed from Southampton on 9 May 1853 and arrived at Hobson�s Bay at Port Phillip on 15 August the same year. On 7 August, Louisa gave birth to an (unnamed) male child who died the next day and was buried at sea (the marine register shows that the child was born prematurely at latitude 40 degrees south and longitude 120 degrees east. He was buried at latitude 40 degrees south and longitude 123 degrees east). The ship�s passenger list shows that, on arrival, they were engaged by a Mr Patterson of Collingwood for 6 months from 26 August 1853 for the sum of eighty pounds plus rations. All were recorded as belonging to the Church of England and none could read or write.
It seems that the family may have lived initially with William�s cousin, William Free and his wife Eliza Morley, in Upper Hawthorn (where the latter�s only son, Henry George, was born on 13 September 1853). For this is where Louisa died from chronic diarrhoear on 2 September 1853. Her death certificate shows that William was present when she died and that she was buried at the Melbourne General cemetery the following day. Louisa was 22 years old and had been in the colony a mere 15 days. The couple�s first son, John, died of diarrhoea following a bout of measles in Boorandara (Camberwell) on 13 January the following year. Rebecca stayed with her father and eventually married a George Collett in 1875. She had one child, Frederick, before she was married (father unknown) and at least seven with George: John (born in 1876), George (1878), Florence Louisa (1880), William James (1881), George Alfred (1883), Benjamin Charles (1885) and Samuel (1890). Rebecca died in Dunolly in Victoria in 1891.
After his son�s death, William went to work as a shepherd on the Mount Hesse sheep station (Hesse was sometimes spelt Hefse which has been transcribed in the BDM index as Hope). Mount Hesse was named after the Hobart barrister George Brooks Legrew Hesse who, together with his friend Joseph Tice Gelligrand disappeared in the area in 1837 while on a trip of exploration from Point Henry to Corio Bay. Some believe they were murdered by blacks while others think they starved to death after becoming lost in the bush. It lies due due west of Geelong, near where the town of Winchelsea is today.
The land around Mount Hesse was first leased as a sheep run by John Highett in 1837 and was managed by his partner William Harding who had arrived in the colony in 1841. According to Peter and Phyllis Kininmouth�s book, �Mount Hesse: History, Humour and Hazards on a Sheep Station, 1837-1985� (Melbourne: Robert Anderson, 1987) Harding found himself �in charge of a run of some 67,000 acres� located on a largely treeless plain with some honeysuckle and acacia trees on the Mount. The grasses were mainly �kangaroo grass growing in clumps, with the silver tussock covering the swampy country� (p. 10)
It seems that, around the time of William�s arrival in 1854, the original run was divided into the Mount Hesse and the Mount Hesse No 1 runs where the first was leased by the Hopkins brothers until its lease was cancelled in 1870. The lease to Mount Hesse No 1 was held jointly by the Geelong merchants William Timms and John Wilson between December 1853 and October 1856 when Timms took over the lease until it was cancelled in January 1862. William was employed as one of the shepherds on the property who �were allocated an area of country known as a �run� on which to graze their flock [that] had to be kept out from sunrise to sunset, when the sheep were enclosed in a few permanent stone-walled folds�. A major task for the shepherds was to keep sheep from different properties separate, a job that was not made easy by a complete lack of fences. �Apart from the usual station �jobbing�, cropping, lamb marking and shearing, great importance was [also] placed on the washing of the sheep prior to shearing�.
William married Elizabeth Flavell at the St. Thomas Church of England in Winchelsea on 26 May 1856. According to Glenice Bayliss, Inverleigh is located �103 km from Melbourne and 28 km west of Geelong, a tiny township on the Hamilton Highway at the junction of the Leigh and Barwon Rivers. The town was first settled in 1836 when the Derwent Company moved into the area. It is probable that the town grew up when a blacksmith, William Lawson, established a business near the present site of Inverleigh. His aim was to provide blacksmith services to the people on the local Derwent Company station, which was known as Weatherboard, and to service those horses which were being used by squatters who were making their way towards the western district from Geelong. Lawson expanded his activities when he opened the Horse Shoe Inn in 1842 and it is around this hotel that the town developed with many historically significant buildings being completed in the 1850s and 1860s�.
William and Elizabeth together with William�s daughter, Rebecca, may have lived in Winchelsea or, more likely, in one of the shepherd�s huts located on the run at Mount Hesse (indeed given the shortage of labour at the time, it is likely that Eliza would have been employed as William�s hut-keeper). The huts were small, single-roomed honey-comb stone buildings measuring 15 ft by 13 ft with walls just over 6 feet high and a roof made of wooden shingles.
William and Eliza�s first four children - John, William, William and Samuel - were born at Mount Hesse between 1857 and 1861. There first daughter, Phoebe Ann, was born at Teesdale on 7 July 1862. The birth certificate shows William to be a butcher, suggesting that he left the Mount Hesse No 1 run after its lease was cancelled in January of the same year. Sometime between then and 1864, the family moved to Raglan (a small town a few kilometres north of Beaufort) where they stayed until around 1880. It is possible that William worked as a shepherd on the Eurambeen station near Mount Cole. While there one of their twin sons, Alexander, died at the age of 13 weeks and was buried at the Buangor cemetary (the Corack History Society believe that Alexander was the first person to be buried what would become the Corack cemetery). In 1880 the family moved onto a farm at Corack East, near Donald.
The area around Corack was first settled in the 1840s with the establishment of the Corack and Banjenong sheep stations. The Corack station was around 100, 000 acres in size and was owned by a series of people including, from 1870 to 1882, a Samuel Craig (Craig sold the property to Edward Perry and his two sons Frank and Henry). Working for Craig at the time was a boundary rider, John Shepherd, whose daughters would later marry William�s sons Samuel and James. As elsewhere in Victoria, the 1869 Land Act broke up the squattor�s holdings and opened the way for selectors to move into the area. Early selectors in the the Corack district included the McCallum, Gilchrist and Bruce families into who some of the Free women would later marry. Establishing farms was not easy since �most of the country was heavily timbered with native pine, buloke and box, and had to be cleared prior to cultivation. Clearing had to be done by hand using axes, picks and shovels, [although] some settlers used a bullock team and a few even owned a grubber, which was also known as a �forest devil�� (Cambell, 1997: 9).
A number of Frees apart from William and his family seemed to be living in the area during this time. In 1893, for example, the Corack North State School (No. 1784), which operated between 1877 and 1894, included the following Free children: Enosh (aged 11), Frederick (10), Marion (9), Eliza (7) and Emily (6) all of whom lived some two and a half miles from the school (there was also a sister Sarah, aged four years, who was elligible to attend in the following year).
The 13 October 1883 edition of the �Donald Express� reported that William and a number of others were arraigned before the district court for neglecting to send their children to school for the requisite number of days. In William�s case, �the truant inspector stated that the defendant was continually in default, and asked for a severe penalty. [He was] fined 5s and 5s costs, in default of twelve hours imprisonment�. The same paper reported, on 15 June 1888, that William was fined 2s 6d in the Donald Court of petty Sessions for the non-attendance at school of his son George.
In March 1889 William wrote a letter to the St Arnaud Shire Council �drawing the Council�s attention to the very bad state of road between the properties of Mr John Shepherd and Mr Sands - referred to the engineer with power to act�. This had followed a letter written the previous week �drawing attention to the bad state of the road between his selection and R. Sands� one-chain road; also between Mr Shepherd�s two selections, and another bad place between Mr Fagey and Mr Sands - Engineer to call tenders�.
In June 1890 William commited suicide by drowning himself in his dam. The �Donald Times� recorded the event as follows:
�The residents of Corack East were startled yesterday with the intelligence that Mr Wm. Free, an old resident of the district, had committed suicide. From the information to hand, it appears that Mr free got up in the morning as usual, and taking a reins with him, went out as if to feed the horses. Some time afterwards as he did not return, one of his sons went into the paddock to look for him. About 300 yards from the house there is a small dam, near which was a haystack and here Free�s body was found, with a rope around his waist and attached to a sheaf of straw. It was at once evisent that he had drowned himself as there was no evidence of any foul play. It is stated that has been peculiar of late, but it is not thought that he would attempt to take his own life. His having attached himself to a rope tied to a sheaf of straw is supposed to have been done with the object of letting his family know that he was in the dam. Deceased leaves a widow and large family. Constable Corbett and a Justice of the Police [sic] proceeded to Corack this morning for the purpose of holding an inquest� (Donald Times, 3 June 1890)
�Mr J. A. Meyer J.P., held an inquest at Corack East on Tuesday on the body of William Free, who was found drowned in a dam near his residence on the previous day. The evidence adduced was to the same effect as that published in our last issue but the rope attached to a sheaf of straw was round deceased�s neck and not round his waist as previously stated. After hearing the evidence, the jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased drowned himself while of unsound mind� (Donald Times, 6 June 1890).
The report of the investigating policemen, Mounted Contable Ryan 4192 �relative to the man found drowned� read as follows:
�I have to report that a man named William Free aged about sixty seven [later changed to sixty one] was found drowned in a dam in one of his own paddocks about half a mile from his residence. The deceased complained of being ill for the last couple of days but got up this morning apparently alright he fed some horses that were in the stable near the house and was seen by his son (James) about 7.30AM going in the direction of a haystack where there were some more horses to be fed. About an hour after the son had occasion to go to the haystack and on seeing a coat and boots close to the tank he went to look and saw his father in the water he pulled him out and found life quite extinct he used all the usual means to restore animation but of no avail. I visited the place this afternoon examined the body there were no external marks of violence I had it removed to his late residence awaiting enquiry I don�t think there are any suspicious circumstances in the case the people are respectable and I believe it to be a case of suicide.�
A deposition to the coroner�s inquest written for Eliza (who signed it with a cross) read as follows:
�The deceased William Free was my husband. On yesterday 2nd June my husband got up as usual about 7.30 am, I gave him some clean clothes to put on he said that is right. I saw him shortly afterwards putting on his coat and going around the house. at breakfast time he had not returned and I sent my son Ernest to call him. The boy came back and said father is not there. The next I heard of him being found drowned in the tank in the paddock which is about half mile from the house. My husband was failing in health for the last two years, for the last fortnight he was somewhat worse and was very low spirited which I thought was caused through his illness, and occasionally complained of pains. For the last week he appeared quieter than usual. There was no disagreement between him and any of the family, they were all in the best of terms with him. I do not know of any reason why my husband should commit suicide except it might be through his illness. We had a family of twelve children eight of those are living at home and were about on yesterday morning. Eliza x Free Mark. Witness to mark Wm McWat�
A statement deposited by William�s son, James, who found his father�s body, read:
�The deceased was my father. On yesterday the 2nd June about half past seven I was at breakfast. I heard mother say to Earnest how is it your father is not in to breakfast. She said go and call him in. The boy went out and came back shortly afterwards and said I could not see him. I said he is likely gone down to the stack for a sheaf of hay for his horse. After I finished breakfast I came out and looked towards the stack and could not see him. I then went to the paddock and got my horse. I met my brother Alfred when I came back and asked him if father had gone up to my brother William�s place, he replied no I have seen him for the morning. I then rose down to the sheep paddock as I thought he may have gone down there and not seeing him there I went to the hay stack where it was customery [sic] for him to go for horse feed and to feed some of the horses. As I approached the stack I saw his coat hanging on the fence. I got off my horse and looked round and saw a sheaf of hay near the edge of the tank which was close by and next saw a red shirt floating on the water. a rope was attched to the sheaf of hay. I got hold of the roap [sic] and pulled it a shore and found it was tied round my father�s neck. I brought him to the bank and found him quite dead. I then got on my horse and galloped home and told my mother and brothers. My father had been failing in health for the last two years and was subject to cramps he appeared much worse for the last tywo weeks. Our reason for being anxious for him being absent on yesterday was that he usually was into his breakfast and it being a damp morning we thought he may have got an attack of those cramps. There was no disagreement between him and any member of the family. I do not know of any reason why father should commit suicide. James Free.�
William�s death certificate shows he was buried in the Corack cemetery on 4 June 1890. His issue at the time of death were recorded as: John (deceased), Rebecca Louise (41), John (34), William (deceased), William (31), Samuel (29), Phoebe Ann (27), James (26), Charles (24), Alice Martha (23), Alexander (deceased), Alfred (21), Benjamin (19), George (15), Mary Ann (11) and Oswald Ernest (9). A photo of his (and Eliza�s) grave can be viewed on the Corack Cemetery Headstone and Burial Index at <www.ritegirl.centells.net/cemetery/corack/index.html>. According to this, William�s parents were Samuel Free and Mary �Pinkler� and he was �Related to the McCallum family�.
Note: Inquest shows he commited suicide by drowning
RootsWeb.com is NOT responsible for the content of the GEDCOMs uploaded through the WorldConnect Program. The creator of each GEDCOM is solely responsible for its content.