4. William Hibbs – Elizabeth Woodbury – Illawarra Connections

Illawarra descendants of  First Fleet Sailor, Peter Hibbs,  and his 2nd Fleet Convict wife, Mary Pardoe are descended either from :

  • their 4th child, William Hibbs and his wife Elizabeth Woodbury,
    • eldest child Elizabeth Hibbs married John Toomey
      • third child Elizabeth Toomey married Alfred Oyler Tighe
        • second child Elizabeth Mary Tighe married John Pye
          • Gwendoline May Tighe married Joseph Davis and so the Davis family have been in the Illawarra for at 60  least years including the prominent local historian Dr Joseph Davis
    • fourth child Mary Ann Hibbs married William Henry Sutton
      • seventh child Elizabeth Sutton married John Woodbury
        • Ethel (Eathel) Woodbury married Frederick John Woodbury – their children included
          • Ryan (John Jack Judd) Woodbury
          • Bede Emmett “Blue” Woodbury
          • Edgar Stanley Woodbury better known as  the controversial trade union & political activist, the late Stan Woodbury
          • William Harold Woodbury – buried in Wollongong Cemetery – Roman Catholic Section
        • Note although Jack and Blue Woodbury’s families did not live in the Illawarra, they periodically visited Stan Woodbury in the Illawarra; and several of their descendants also participated in the 2015 Commemoration of the 225th Anniversary of the Wrecking of the HMS Sirius on 19.3.1790,  which was held at Norfolk Island in March 2015,
    • Note the descendants of their fifth child did not live in the Illawarra –  Sarah Rebecca Hibbs married Vincent Seymour – however their line has been included for information as three descendants were also part of the March 2015 Commemoration of the 1790 Wrecking of the HMS Sirius off Norfolk Island.
      • fourth child Jane Frank Seymour married Charles Stubbs Woods
        • sixth child Alfred Albert Woods married Leila Winifred Bryant
          • eldest child Patrick Woods married Hazel Seldon Bendle – three of their descendants participated in the HMS Sirius commemoration

… OR

  • their 5th child and only daughter, Sarah Hibbs and her husband Francis Byrne, an Irish Convict.

In fact I had known during my South Coast Labour Council days – and I have known Dr Joseph “Joe” Davis for my entire life – having attended the same schools in Thirroul and Bulli. He’s one of a group I had affectionately dubbed the “Bulli Heritage Mafia”  – Joe Davis, Meredith Hutton, Michael Organ and Mick Roberts. That was in the days when I was a Councillor on Wollongong City Council and chairing the Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee. The “Bulli Heritage Mafia”  had all either been born, educated or grew up in Bulli  and at least some of them had been mentored by UOW History Lecturer Dr Winifred Mitchell. They had all developed a passion for their local heritage by their 30’s – and were active in their communities in promoting local heritage awareness.

Joe has often answered questions about my own Callcott family including their connections to the writer D H Lawrence and his “Australian” novel – “Kangaroo“. And then there’s the sons of William Manning Cook from Benares” Dapto, Alick Cook and Alfred Cook, who married into my Hicks family – Joe shared Cook-Benares information with me.

Glen Roy Bungalow owned by Captain Henry Thomas Hicks Jnr and wife Eva Kate

Glen Roy Bungalow owned by Captain Henry Thomas Hicks Jnr and wife Eva Kate

Joe has contributed enormously to Northern Illawarra locals’ knowledge of their local history – although he claims a huge passion for the Dapto Avondale area. However he lets other relatives do the Family History, and he concentrates on local history. Joe and wife Inga Lazzarotto have published various books out of their Wyewurry Publications – such as “Greetings from Thirroul “- featuring old photos of the village.  He has written many articles and even the real estate call him to do articles when they are selling some of the old charming houses still left in Thirroul, eg Glen Roy Bungalow (once owned by my great uncle Captain Harry Hicks) & Wollorowong (once managed by my great grandmother & real estate agent Lucy Callcott.

Joe’s a man  who speaks his mind. So with all of the above, it was quite a shock to discoverJoe Davis was in my husband David Christian’s Hibbs family tree – that they were actually some sort of cousins. Anyway I was curious as to how did Joe, the little boy that I had known at Thirroul Public School evolve into this amazing person. So I asked him about how it all began.

Joe Davis Uncloaked – Questions and the Answers :

How did you get into Local History ?

I was tricked. Dr Winifred Mitchell, a History Lecturer at Wollongong Uni, said she had to go somewhere and because she knew I could write asked me to edit the Illawarra Historical Society Bulletin for a month.” That was in 1988. It turned out I had to not just edit it but also fill it up with articles as few were ever contributed. That month turned into a 12-year sentence. No pay. No holidays. Twelve editions a year. 

That’s why I hate history.

 I was trained in Pre-Shakespearian Elizabethan poetry and my specialty was Robert Greene. I did like Russian History (the Soviet Civil War 1918-1922) a bit but in order to study that at Wollongong you had to do second year Australian history first and Winifred Mitchell was my Australian History tutor (she was former NSW Premier Bob Carr’s history tutor at UNSW as well). 

How did you find out you were descended from Peter Hibbs and Elizabeth Woodbury ?

Peter Hibbs - The Book ; "Sailing on the Hibbs Line" by Allen Maunder (1995)

Peter Hibbs – The Book ; “Sailing on the Hibbs Line” by Allen Maunder (1995)

I already knew my mum was descended from another first fleeter – Matthew Everingham – because a woman called Val Ross (whom I met once) wrote a book about him which was the first full-length biography of a first fleet convict published in Australia. She then followed up with three more books on the Everinghams. So with Allen Maunder doing the Peter Hibbs first Fleet stuff and Val Ross having done all the work on the Everinghams I never had to do any research at all.  

And I must say I’m pretty glad as I’ve found most family history rather tedious (although very helpful that people do so much of the leg-work which can help with other kinds of political history that I’m more interested in than local stuff).

Why did you collect postcards (of Thirroul) ?

I got sent to Narooma in 1980 to teach English and was around after the big excitement of the finding of the William Henry Corkhill glass negatives of Tilba had settled down and got to meet Norm Hoyer who was identifying the individuals depicted in them.

 They were such beautiful delicate little things that I was just impressed with how marvelously detailed a glass negative photograph could be.

 I guess I also sort of dimly realized that most early photographs must have been prints from glass negatives – but I’m not sure about this, as I doubt I was thinking very deeply about such things back then.

 Then in 1985 my wife and I were in Perth (Western Australia) and in the window of a shop there was a coloured postcard of Bulli Pass. And after we went in and bought it we thought, “Hey, if there is one of these in Western Australia there must be lots of postcards of Thirroul and Illawarra all over the country. So whenever we went anywhere we’d track them down (in junkshops usually) and found thousands. The local ABC even interviewed Joe about his collection –  hint click on the blue bars & then white arrow to get the video going.

How did you get into researching guesthouses, D H Lawrence etc ?

When I was editor of the Illawarra Historical Society for just that one months (which turned into 12 years) in 1988 the owner of “Wyewurk” – the bungalow in Craig Street where D.H. Lawrence wrote the novel Kangaroo – wanted to put on a second storey.

 I’d actually sat out in the surf on my surfboard looking at the house nearly every day since I was about thirteen and so I wrote a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald and the Illawarra Mercury saying I though the house was pretty important and shouldn’t be altered.

 Leo Schofield somehow got hold of the info in the letter and did a story all over the back page of the Sun Herald. The Illawarra Mercury only published my letter the next day – a Monday.

 Amazingly I was then immediately asked to join A SAVE WYEWURK group made up of all sorts of luminaries including Manning Clark, Patrick White and Tom Fitzgerald (the editor of Nation).

 In order to get some more publicity for the cause I took it upon myself to write an article for the Illawarra Mercury on D.H. Lawrence and Thirroul’s vanishing architecture.

 Coincidentally, my article got published on the very day I was to go to Sydney by train for a meeting of the Save Wyewurk Group which Manning Clark was chairing.

 As lots of people left their copies of the Mercury on the train after it stopped at Central, I picked them up and took them along to the meeting.

 I gave them out at to the assembled multitude and kept one for myself.

 But I was just one newspaper short of having enough copies for everyone at the meeting and this bloke I didn’t know called Tom Thompson pleaded with me to give him the copy I’d kept for myself.

 I reluctantly gave it to him but, unbeknown to me, he turned out to be a commissioning publisher for Angus & Robertson (now Harper Collins) books.

 The next weekend he rang me and asked me if I’d write a book about D.H. Lawrence in Thirroul (KC Note – see Review by Snappa aka Michael Organ).

 So I became that rare sort of author who got published without even first submitting a manuscript – and have been fortunate that people have kept asking me to write books ever since.

 As for the guesthouses, the very first article I wrote for the Illawarra Historical Society was called “Tourism in the Twin Towns: Thirroul and Austinmer 1888-1930.

Mt Hope Guesthouse Thirroul - owned by Wogomans then Captain Henry Thomas and Mary Ann Hicks

Mt Hope Guesthouse Thirroul – owned by Wogomans then Captain Henry Thomas and Mary Ann Hicks

 Strangely, I hate travel and detest tourism. I actually think it’s akin to prostitution and also very environmentally damaging. But only ever having lived in two places – Thirroul and Narooma (both of which were tourist resorts) I’ve always met people who think tourism is great.

 And as I’ve got this weird obsession that I seem to want to know all I can about any place I’m in (I taught at Lake Illawarra High School for 30 years and, typically, ended up writing books about it too) I therefore had to learn something about tourism in Thirroul, Austinmer and Narooma.

 I’ve since extend that interest to every coastal town between Stanwell Park and Eden in News South Wales

 Oddly, it’s partly this interest that has made me hate travel.

 I tend to read far too much about a place before I go there and so I usually find it a disappointment and also that the locals often haven’t read anywhere near as much about the place as I have.

 Here endeth the sad story of my life

From Kerrie Anne Christian

As I indicated above,  had also known the controversial trade union and political activist, the late Stan Woodbury, my time with the South Coast Labour Council, and in recent years I had wondered about his Woodbury surname. During a week spent on Norfolk Island for the Commemoration of the 225th Anniversary of the Wrecking of the Sirius in 1790, I discovered that Stan, like Joe Davis, was also a descendant of William Hibbs. Stan’s niece and nephew were also on NI for the commemoration and they swapped a few yarns about their Uncle George, as Stan was known in the family. I had commented that Stan could get really get wound up – his nephew said Stan would go off like a machine gun.

2 Responses to 4. William Hibbs – Elizabeth Woodbury – Illawarra Connections

  1. Pingback: 4. William Hibbs – Elizabeth Woodbury – Thirroul Connections | KerrieAnne C's FridgeMagnets

  2. An interesting site Kerrie. Robyn S

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