#52Ancestorsin52Weeks Wk31/52 John Thomas TAYLOR 1845-1899

 Ahnentafel Number 26

Context for discovery:

This biography was written as part of the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks exercise devised by Amy Johnson Crow.  You can join in too here. The theme for this week is "Help”

Amy says:

This week's theme is "Help." When did an ancestor give or receive help? My first thought is of the neighbours who brought meals to my great-grandparents and their children while they were sick with the Spanish Flu. Another route you could take is when you've received help in your genealogy research. Who helped you and what did they help you discover?

John Thomas Taylor was my 2nd great-grandfather on my mother’s side. 

This blog post is a compilation of several blog posts I previously wrote about my great-grandfather.

Murrumbidgee river Yass Mitchell Library State Library of NSW 



Birth Date/Place:

John Thomas Taylor was born 24 December 1845 at Murrumbidgee River near Yass, New South Wales, Australia.[i] 

                                                        This was the year of the Irish potato famine.

The 1841 Census was taken on 2 March and is indexed and held on microfilm by the State Records of NSW (referred to as AONSW in Vine Hall's book) and the National Library of Australia (NLA).  You can search the index on State Records site here or you can look at the digitized version on Ancestry.

Page 8 of the Abstract gives the totals for the area called the Murrumbidgee.  They are as follows:

Males - 1258 (782 free and 476 bond)

Females - 281 (272 free and 9 bond )

Hmmm....there's something to think about there for a start.

Of the 167 dwellings, all were wood and only 7 were unfinished.

The majority of people were employed looking after sheep or in agriculture. The next highest occupational group was domestic servants.

867 people identified as Church of England and 482 as Roman Catholic. The next highest group was Church of Scotland.  Three people were identified as Mahomedans or Pagan and 4 as Jews.

The gold rushes in NSW and Victoria began six year later in 1851.

John’s parents were Samuel Taylor and Margaret Jones, both ex-convicts. Samuel was a grazier and Margaret was a dairymaid.

He was the 4th son and 7th child born to Samuel and Margaret. Other siblings included:

1.     Samuel born 1833 baptised in Goulburn[ii]

2.     Susanna born 1835 baptised St Philips, Sydney and died in 1836[iii]

3.     Margaret born 1837 and baptised at St Philips, Sydney[iv]

4.     Henry born 1839 in Bong Bong, Berrima and baptised at Yass [v]

5.     William born 1841 at Gundaroo and baptised at Yass[vi]

6.     Susannah born 1843 at Gundaroo and baptised at Yass[vii]

7.     John Thomas born 1845

8.     Rowland Owen born 1849[viii]

9.     George Robert born 1851 – the last three also were born at Gundaroo[ix]

1854 was the year of the Crimean war and when the first steam railway line opened in Melbourne

Baptism Date/Place:

John was baptised on 4 February 1856 by Charles Ferd Brigstocke at Yass at the age of 10.[x]

In 1868 convict transportation to Australia ended.

In a newspaper article from 1858[xi], Margaret is censured for falling of her horse in a state of intoxication, despite her advanced years.  She broke three ribs and dislocated her shoulder which would have made life rather difficult without the comforts of today's automated household appliances and probably at least four children still at home.

Bank of NSW Queanbeyan H Glennie Manager and Bridge Queanbeyan Hunts Hotel c 1871 courtesy State Library of NSW

Margaret and Samuel were not alone in their vice.  Errol Lea-Scarlett's account of the district is as follows:

The Queanbeyan court, at all events, abated one widespread social evil at Gundaroo, and that was drunkenness, a fault created largely by the isolation and loneliness of convicts assigned to remote properties, coupled with the total absence of social contacts for the poorer classes.[xii]

When he was 25 John’s father died and his mother died 4 years later.  In his mother’s probate, John describes himself as John Thomas Taylor of the Murrumbidgee River near Yass in the Colony New South Wales Farmer, possessed of property to the amount of one hundred pounds over and above all his just debts.[xiii]

Married Life

Marriage Dates/Places:

John married Emma Case at the Weslyan Church in Yass, NSW 7 May 1876.[xiv] Emma was 21 years old.  John was described as a labourer on the marriage certificate but, a year later, on his daughter's certificate, he was described as a farmer.

Children’s Birth Dates/Places:

1.     Margaret was the eldest daughter of a family of eight children of John Thomas Taylor and Emma (nee Case). She was born in Lower Gundaroo, New South Wales, Australia on 17 August 1877.[xv]  Her father was the informant on her birth certificate.  He was a farmer aged 30 years born in Yass.  Her mother, Emma Case, was 22 years old and born at Lower Gundaroo.  The witness was Mrs Maria Hardwick. 

2.     1878 - 28 August - Thomas Roland (Uncle Rolly - again from same notes) baptised 22 Sep 1878 Gundaroo (cannot find in NSW BDM Index)

3.     1880 21 January - William Charles – baptised 20 March 1880 Gundaroo[xvi]

4.     1883 14 October - Alice May – Bourke (NSW BDM index says 1882)[xvii]

5.     1885 8 May - Emily Maria - Bourke (NSW BDM Index says 1884)

6.     1887 10 April - Henry James (Uncle Ben)– Barringun[xviii]

7.     1890 3 March - Alfred – Barringun (NSW BDM Index says 1889)[xix]

8.     1892 - George Robert – Bourke – I suspected George died as a baby, but I would need to order his death certificate to be sure – Taylor being a reasonably common name.[xx]

9.     1894 8 Sept - Edward Gordon (Uncle Ted)– Bourke[xxi]

Life in Yass

Panorama of Yass 1870-75 American and Australasian Phooraphic Company

John claimed a lease of Crown land adjoining his freehold in 1876 – 360 acres, rent £1, 2s, 6d. county of Buccleuch, parish of Chiedowla.[xxii]  He also claimed 120 acres, at Bongongo.[xxiii]

In 1879 there is a report of John acting as a witness for his niece in a very sad and distressing case which I won’t dwell on here.[xxiv]  Suffice to say, that this and I think the following two cases may have made John’s life difficult in Yass over the next few years and prompted his family to move to Bourke in around 1883.

In 1880 we find a case of William Lawrence v John Thomas Taylor; work and labour, £3, 63, 8d.  Mr Iceton is acting for the plaintiff.[xxv] The newspaper report a week later is somewhat incomprehensible. “After some evidence for the proof of the debt had been given by plaintiff’s brother, a verdict was given for the amount claimed.” [xxvi]So, does this mean that William Lawrence’s brother was working for John Taylor and William was acting on his behalf?  I’m confused.

In 1882 we find another case in the Southern Argus – Peter Drummond v John Thomas Taylor – Goods £28 12/3.  Mr Iceton for plaintiff.  Service not served; case to be continued. [xxvii]

I have not been able to find more out about this case.  I’m not sure where I would look if I wanted to find out more but perhaps Yass Historical Society.

Life in Bourke

PS Pilot and other river boats at Bourke Darling river approx 1883 -Part of Godson Collection State Library of New South Wales

                                                            1885 Railway came to Bourke

I have not been able to find out any information about John’s life in Bourke. Short of ordering his children’s birth certificates to confirm whether or not he continued farming, I can look at books at QFHS that document the history of Bourke.  The Bourke Public Library also has 13 volumes of the history of Bourke online here.


Senior Years

Date and place of Death

John died in 1899 at the age of 54 of typhoid fever as per this newspaper article.



 15 November 1899 Western Herald Bourke Page 2


A very telling quote in the Leader (Orange) from the period described Bourke in Summer as “Sewerage in a frying pan”. [xxviii] 

And from the Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser :

“While the thermometer registered 100 degress in the shade at Bourke on the 2nd (November, a shower of rain fell.  The immediate result was an exhausting humid atmosphere which prostrated many residents.”[xxix]


No probate has been found so far.


I really feel that my poor ancestor really had very little help in his life; he was just one of many children to parents who as ex-convicts, were probably regarded as being close to the bottom of the social scale and whose behaviour probably didn't endear them to society.  He lived in small country towns which had little in the way of the conveniences we enjoy today e.g. access to sewerage, comfortable climate, transport or technology.  Life would have been very difficult indeed, particularly raising nine children during a period of economic depression with all the attendant floods and droughts that the Australian climate seems to favour. I hope John had the odd chance to escape the drudgery and sit in a boat either on the Murrumbidgee or the Darling, like the chap in the photo at the beginning of this post.


[i] Baptismal Certificate John Thomas Taylor NSW Registry Office Reference Number 2051/Vol 155

[ii] Ancestry.com, Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981 FHL Film Number 993951

[iii] Ancestry.com, Australia Birth index, 1788-1922, V18432086 28

[iv] Ancestry.com, Australia, Births and Baptisms, 1792-1981, FHL Film Number 993954

[v] Ancestry.com, Australia, Birth and Baptisms, 1792-1981,

[vi] Ancestry.com, Australia Birth index, 1788-1922

[vii] Ancestry.com, Australia Birth Index 1788-1922

[viii] Ancestry.com, Australia Birth Index 1788-1922

[ix] ditto

[x] John Thomas Taylor Baptismal Certificate 2051 Vol. 155

[xi] Trove. "Dangerous Accident" Empire, March 23, 1858, p. 3 accessed June 14, 2016 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60429392

[xii]  Lea-Scarlett, Errol, Gundaroo, Roebuck, Canberra (ACT), 1972, p. 15

[xiii] Probate for Administration of Margaret Taylor’s estate 9 July 1875

[xiv] John Thomas Taylor and Emma Case Marriage Certificate, NSW Registry Office, 4631/940

[xv] Birth Certificate Margaret Taylor 17 August 1877 Registration No. 19565 registered 8 October 1877 Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia.

[xvi] Ancestry.com, NSW Pioneers Index: Pioneers Series 1788-1888 Registration Number 27617

[xvii] Ancestry.com, Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922, Registration Number 12571

[xviii] Ancestry.com, Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922, Registration Number 16727

[xix]  Ancestry.com, Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922, Registration Number 16344

[xx] Ancestry.com, Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922, Registration Number 7580

[xxi] Ancestry.com, Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922, Registration Number 7254

[xxii] "GOVERNMENT GAZETTE." The Yass Courier (NSW : 1857 - 1929) 7 July 1876: 4. Web. 6 Jul 2022 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article263900567>

[xxiii] "CONDITIONAL PURCHASES." The Yass Courier (NSW : 1857 - 1929) 16 May 1876: 2. Web. 6 Jul 2022 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article263900477>

[xxiv] "THE MITCHELL RAPE CASE." The Burrangong Argus (NSW : 1865 - 1913) 8 October 1879: 4. Web. 6 Jul 2022 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article247736287>

[xxv] "YASS DISTRICT COURT." The Yass Courier (NSW : 1857 - 1929) 8 June 1880: 2. Web. 6 Jul 2022 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article263968853>

[xxvi] "YASS DISTRICT COURT." The Yass Courier (NSW : 1857 - 1929) 15 June 1880: 2. Web. 6 Jul 2022 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article263969477>

[xxvii] "DISTRICT COURT." Southern Argus (Goulburn, NSW : 1881 - 1885) 24 January 1882: 4. Web. 6 Jul 2022 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article102062690>

[xxviii] COUNTRY NEWS. (1899, November 1). Leader (Orange, NSW : 1899 - 1945), p. 2. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article252160111

[xxix] "Country Items." The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912) 11 November 1899: 1182. Web. 14 Aug 2022 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article163699344>.


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