Stephen Kerrison (1798-1881) and Mary Goodings (1802-1880)

Our Great Great Great Grandparents

Stephen Kerrison was born on 13 May 1798 at Wymondham, the first child of James Kerrison and Mary Long. He was baptised at Wymondham on 3 June 1798.

Mary Goodings was born on 25 September 1802 at Wymondham, the daughter of Michael Goodings and Elizabeth Curston. She was baptised at Wymondham on 17 October 1802.

Stephen and Mary married at Wymondham on 12 October 1820. They had thirteen children, the first seven born at Wymondham and the remainder in Van Diemen’s Land:

  1. Caroline (1820-1876) – she married John Steven Hancock on 4 July 1836 and they had eight children: Sarah (b.1843), Sarah Ann (b.1846), Archer (b.1848), Cornelius (b.1850), Eliza (b.1856), Layer (b.1858), Rose (b.1861) and Robert (b.1863). From the birth places of their children it can be inferred that John and Caroline left Van Diemen’s Land for Mt. Barker South Australia before 1846 and remained there until after 1858 when they moved to Victoria, where Caroline died.
  2. John (1822-1890) – he left Van Diemen’s Land with his younger brother Stephen in 1845 and settled in Adelaide. He married Mary Dermody in 1847 and they had one child, Margaret (b.1860). He then married Harriett Peddey neé Cox in 1871 and they had two children: George (b.1871) and James Henry (b.1873). He then married Jane Tossell neé Way in 1880 but there were no children. He died at Moonta Bay, South Australia.
  3. Eliza (1823-1905) – married James Taylor in Launceston in 1840 and they had nine children: James (b.1845), Joseph (b.1847), Joseph (b.1848), Maria (b.1850), Catherine (b.1854), Edward (b.1856), Mary Jane (b.1859) Emily (b.1861) and Adelaide (b.1863). From the birth places of their children it can be inferred that James and Eliza left Van Diemen’s Land for South Australia before 1850 and then moved to Victoria by 1854. Eliza died in Victoria.
  4. Stephen (our ancestor - 1828-1889)
  5. Harriet (1831-1900) – married John Morris in 1847 and moved to Mt. Barker, South Australia soon after. They had ten children there: Henry (b.1851), Stephen (b.1853), John (b.1855), Betsey (b.1857), Richard (b.1859), Elizabeth Jane (b.1862), Allan (b.1865), William James (b.1867), Richard Cornelius (b.1870) and Ernest Alfred George (b.1874). Harriett died at Mt. Barker.
  6. Cornelius (1831-1902) – married Catherine Hart in 1853 and they had at least seven children between 1861 and 1875: Cornelius (b.1861), an unnamed female presumably stillborn (b.1863), Mark (b.1864), Solomon (b.1866), Joseph (b.1868), George (b.1870), and William Ernest (b.1875). Cornelius died at Beaconsfield, Tasmania.
  7. James (1833-1870) – did not marry and died in Tasmania.
  8. George (1836-1874) – died along with seven others in an explosion aboard the steamer Little Nell, aboard which he was a passenger, on 18 February 1874.
  9. Elizabeth (Betsy or Betsey) (1838-1895) – known as Betsey, married James Goodson in 1851 and they had eight children: an unnamed female presumably stillborn (b.1857), Cornelius (b.1861), Eliza (b.1865), Emma (b.1866), William Kirkwood (b.1867), Susan (b.1868), Solomon (b.1870) and Flora Ida (b.1872). Betsey died at Westbury, Tasmania.
  10. Henry (1840-1905) – married Mary Ann Williams in 1860 and they had nine children: Stephen Francis (b.1861), George Lewis (b.1865), two unnamed males presumably stillborn (b.1867 and 1869), Walter Harold (b.1878), Edward James Taylor (b.1881), Catharine Mary Ann (b.1882), Leonard Lempriere (b.1873), Herbert Henry (b.1877). Henry died at Launceston.
  11. Mary (1841-1889) – married Robert Scott in 1856 but there were no children. She then married William Brown in 1860 and they had seven children: Caroline Eliza (b.1866), William Edwin (b.1871), Martha (b.1873), James (b.1874), Elizabeth Jane (b.1876), Daniel Frederick (b.1878) and Harriet Agnes (b.1881).
  12. Robert (1845-1918) – married Elizabeth Stonehouse in 1871 and they had five children: Ellen Jane (b.1872), John (b.1873), Alice (b.1875), Robert Leonard (b.1876) and an unnamed male presumably stillborn (b.1878). This last birth seems likely to have resulted in Elizabeth’s death in 1878. Robert then married Elizabeth’s elder sister, Nancy Stonehouse, in 1880, but there were no children.
  13. Solomon (1848-1932) – married Martha Bartram in 1868 and they had fourteen children: Robert (b.1869), George Emmanuel (b.1870), an unnamed female presumably stillborn (b.1872), Nathaniel (b.1873), Martha (b.1875), Ethelleaner (b.1876), Solomon (b.1878), Martha Hannah (b.1880), Ellen Jane (b.1882), Joseph Walter (b.1883), Alice Ruth (b.1886), Stephen (b.1887), Cornelius (b.1890) and Gordon (b.1892). Solomon then married Mary Ann Blades in 1906, but there were no children.

According to the University of Tasmania's Companion to Tasmanian History, "There were far more pregnancies: 23, according to the family". According to info at there was a set of twins born in 1825. Mary was baptised on 10 May and died on 28 May. Stephen the other twin died on 20 May.

Charles Kerr shipOn 9 July 1835, Stephen, Mary and their family of seven children set sail aboard the Charles Kerr from Gravesend bound for Van Diemen’s Land. They arrived at Launceston on 20 November after a voyage of 134 days. The 'Charles Kerr' was a ship (i.e. at least 3 masts, all square rigged) of 463 tons, and had been built at Sunderland in 1826. She later made at least one voyage as a convict transport, arriving in Hobart on 9 October 1837 after a voyage of 123 days.

…the Charles Kerr [was] one of fourteen female emigrant ships the British government commissioned the London Emigration Committee to send to the Australian colonies to provide much-needed female labour. By 1835 the government paid the women's passages. Although many passengers were single women, a significant proportion comprised families with daughters eligible for 'the bounty', as in this case. Stephen had already been engaged to work as a bailiff or shepherd for James Cox and paid his own passage, but the government paid for the two eldest girls, Caroline (15) and Eliza (12). Caroline had been hired to work for James Henty. In the mid-1840s Stephen was living at Swan Bay, East Tamar. The last six of his children were baptised in St Matthias' Anglican church, Windermere and Stephen was involved in the life of this church. In 1852 he moved to Winkleigh where he purchased land and 'by honest industry' established a 'comfortable home, gaining the respect of all classes'. He and Mary had thirteen surviving children. There were far more pregnancies: 23, according to the family.

Stephen, with William Brown, played a leading role in establishing a Methodist community on the West Tamar from about 1857. The Launceston Methodist Church provided them with a minister to take monthly services at their two houses, and Stephen was one of four lay preachers who took other Sunday services. He gave a substantial donation towards the building of the Supply River Methodist church (1861, the first Methodist church on the West Tamar, and was actively involved in church affairs for the rest of his life. The descendants of Stephen and Mary number over 10,000. The majority of the descendants of five of their children are still in Tasmania.1


The report of free emigrants of that voyage shows the following details about the family:

No 133 Kerrison, Stephen 35, Bailiff; Shepherd. Received Govt. Bounty. Conduct of whole family on board ship "very good". Went into service with Mr J. Cox (wage figure blurred).
No 134 Kerrison, Mary 33, with her husband. Whole family landed on 21.11.1835 except Caroline who went ashore two days earlier.
No 135 Kerrison, Caroline 15, single-farmer's servant employed by Mr J. Henty. Wages £8. Landed 19.11.1835.
No 136 Kerrison, John 13, staying with friends
No 137 Kerrison, Eliza 12, staying with friends
No 138 Kerrison, Stephen 6, staying with friends
No 139 Kerrison, Cornelius 4, staying with friends
No 140 Kerrison, Harriet 4, staying with friends
No 141 Kerrison, James 2, staying with friends


The Mr J. Cox who employed Stephen was the James Cox of "Clarendon", Evandale. James Cox's father was the man who built the first road over the Blue Mountains. James Cox married Eliza Eddington, the illegitimate daughter of David Collins, who was in charge of the first settlement of Hobart. It is likely that the property where Stephen worked was at Swan Bay on the East Tamar.

photo of Stephen Kerrison and Mary Goodings
Photo believed to be of Stephen Kerrison and Mary Goodings. Date unknown.

Confusingly, the writing on the back of this photo says "Harriet Kerrison mother of Harriet Kerrison, Thelma Rogers grand mother and great grand mother". This cannot be correct because Harriet Kerrison was in fact Thelma's mother, not grandmother.

We believe it is possibly Thelma Rogers' grandmother Mary Duncan Turnbull, and her great grandmother Mary Kerrison (nee Goodings), which partly matches up with the inscription on the back of the photo.

The younger woman has a very strong resemblance to Mary Duncan Turnbull, who was one of Thelma's grand mothers. If that assumption is correct:

  • The photo is probably from around 1860 or so because she looks to be in her 20s and she was born in 1838.
  • The older woman cannot be Harriet Kerrison because she was 30 years younger than Mary, and it can't be Harriet's mother (Elizabeth) because she was born in 1833, only 5 years before Mary. And it can't be Mary Turnbull (nee Duncan) because she died in 1849 when the younger Mary would have only been about 11.
  • So the older woman here is most likely Mary Kerrison (nee Goodings), who died in 1880. There is a similarity between this photo and the photocopied one above.

However if the name in the inscription is correct then the younger woman is Harriet Kerrison and the elder one is Mary Goodings' daughter, Elizabeth Godfrey. The only people who know for certain are now deceased.

Mary Duncan Tuyrnbull and Mary Kerrison


Mary Goodings died on 24 January 1880. Her death notice reads:

Kerrison – On the 24th January at Wyndham Cottage, Supply River, Mary, the beloved wife of Stephen Kerrison, aged 78 years.2


Stephen Kerrison died in Westbury the next year, on 28 October 1881, aged 83. There are two obituaries written for him, both with the inevitable errors in the detail:

An Old Colonist – We learn that Mr. Stephen Kerrison, senr., whose death at the age of 83 was mentioned in our last issue, arrived in Tasmania about the year 1836 in the immigrant ship Charles Curr, and finally settled down at Winkleigh, West Tamar, where he died. His sons and daughters number 14, and their children and grandchildren number over 180 souls, so that there is not much fear of the family name becoming extinct.3


Death of another Old Colonist – A correspondent writing from Glengarry, under date Nov. 8th says, “We have lost this month one of our oldest and most respected neighbours, Mr. S. Kerrison, who came to the colony about the year 1837, bringing letters of introduction to the late Mr Youl, and also Mr Cox of Clarendon, with whom he lived for some years. Mr Kerrison afterwards moved to West Tamar, where he purchased land, and by honest industry established himself and family in a comfortable home, gaining the respect of all classes by his kindly manners and obliging ways. Mr Kerrison held the position of class leader in the Wesleyan body at West Tamar for some years, and he was also a member of the Road Trust. He leaves a large family to mourn his loss. Some of your readers will remember the explosion of the little Nell on the River Tamar some years ago, by which one of Mr Kerrison’s sons lost his life. The other members of his family are all grown to man and womanhood.4



2 Launceston Examiner, Thursday 27 January 1881, p. 2.

3 Launceston Examiner, Monday 31 October 1881, p. 2.

4 Launceston Examiner, Thursday 17 November 1881, p. 2.


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