Members interests

Rationing card for motor vehicle tyres during WW2, [YDHS Inc]

Members are invited to submit brief historical research and family history enquiries for inclusion on this site. It is an easy and effective message board for researchers wishing to make contact with others who have an interest in the Yass district.

Information should be concise (maximum of 250 words) and include contact details with either an email or postal address. Entries will be edited as necessary.


By submitting your listing to this website you are agreeing to the publication of your name and contact details. The Yass and District Historical Society will not be held responsible for contact made by any persons.

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Members listings

RYAN, HOWECROFT, SHEA: Seeking descendants of an Irish Famine orphan who arrived on the shipThomas Arbuthnot in 1850. Ann RYAN of Scarriff, Co Clare was hired by Edward 'Ned' Ryan of Galong in March 1850. She married John HOW(E)CROFT in 1852 and had two daughters Ann and Mary, before her death in October 1855. She is buried in Galong cemetery. Her husband remarried in 1856 to Mary SHEA at Binalong and had another two daughters before he died in 1863. Any information appreciated.
Please contact Cheryl Mongan

HISTORICAL MATERIAL SOUGHT: Yass & District Historical Society would appreciate contact with members of the public who have historical material ie. documents, images, etc., that they would be willing to allow the Society to copy. The material will be added to the collection for historical research and to allow researchers to gain a better knowledge of the town and district.
Please contact the Society

BURKE, SOMERS, COUGHLAN: Information is sought on Irish Famine orphan Bridget BURKE of Corofin, Co Clare who arrived on the shipThomas Arbuthnot in February 1850. She was hired as a house servant to Edward 'Ned' Ryan of Galong before her marriage to John SOMERS in 1851. They had at least one daughter, Mary before John's death in 1852. Bridget remarried to Michael COUGHLAN in 1857 and had a further five children Daniel, John, Joseph, Catherine and Michael.
Any assistance will be greatly appreciated by Cheryl Mongan

ROBINSON, JONES, NIBLETT, HILLIER: Descendants of John Robinson and Sarah Jones (née Niblett) who married at St Edmond's Anglican Church, Gunning in 1863, are seeking information on the family and in particular John Robinson, believed to have been born in England c1836, possibly in either Portsmouth or Portsea. Details of his parents and siblings, date of arrival in the colony, date and place of death are sought. From Sarah's previous marriage to Charles Jones, she had three children Richard 1850, Elizabeth 1852 & Charles 1855 and a further eight children, Jane 1859-1936, William 1860-1945, Robert 1863-1867, John 1866-1867, Robert 1869-1958, John 1871-1953, Samuel 1874-1963 and Sarah 1876-1877, from her marriage with John Robinson. Enquirer has a special interest in their son John Robinson born 1871, who married Elizabeth Hillier at the Union Church, Lade Vale on 22 Dec 1897. Children of this marriage were Edith Frances b 1898, Thomas William b 1900, Lindsay Robert b 1901, John (Jack) b 1903, Richard Henry b 1905, Elizabeth Jane b 1907, Mildred Ellen b 1909, Leslie Charles b c1912, Louisa Charlotte b 1912, Ernest Kenneth b 1915, Walter James (Jim) b 1917, Edna Margaret b c1918 and Jessie Isobel b c1920.
Please contact Sue Robinson, 4 Audral Close, Cundletown NSW 2430 or email

MURRUMBATEMAN FIELD DAYS: I have been asked to write a complete history of the Murrumbateman Field Days and would be grateful for any information others may have that could be useful in compiling this history. Personal anecdotes, photographs and memories - all would be welcome. I want this history to be reader friendly and as historically correct as possible. Any assistance would be most welcome and I will be happy to interview/collect material etc.
Contact Meryl Hunter at or by phone on 6227 5757.

BLAKE: My interest is in the descendants of Dr Isadore Maurice Blake and his cousin Judge Isadore John Blake. Anyone with information may contact Helen Blake at

CHAPMAN, TOOMEY: Seeking information on descendants of John Toomey(Irish convict) who married hannah Moore (per 'Red Rover") in 1834 at Sutton Forest. Their four daughters were Johanna (b1836, Bungonia), Wlizabeth (b 1843 Reedy Creek, nr Yass), Bridget (b1845 Reedy Creek nr Yass) and Mary (b1847, Derringullen). Hannah died in 1849 at Wargeila. Bridget Toomey married John Stephen Chapman (b1832, Sydney) at St Augustine's, Yass in 1861. He was a shepherd who died at Boorowa River in 1872. Information is also sought on his parents Stephen and Anne Chapman whose children were John Stephen (b1832, Sydney), William (b1834, Sydney), Anne Cameron (b1836, Maitland) and Stepehn (b1838 who died at the Male Orphan School, Bringelly, aged 7 years). Please contact maria Whipp at or message at 9875 3061.



George and Mary Ann Davis, nee Butt and formerly Lawrence, were both convicts. 

George Davis was convicted on 6th March 1813 at the Winchester Assizes, Southampton Circuit for ‘unlawfully, wilfully, knowingly and feloniously aiding and assisting Gaspard Henry Van Tilburgh and others, alien Enemies and Prisoners of War in His Majesty’s Dominions, on parole and at large in Andover in the Parish of Hordle, did aid the said Gaspard Henry Van Tilburgh and others to escape from his Majesty’s Dominions’. George and five other companions were charged with using the Smuggling ship Freeholder to attempt to transport the French Prisoners of War over to France. The probable owner or captain of the ship was given a life sentence and all the others where given a 7 year sentence.

George Davis and his fellow prisoners were among 200 men embarked on the Earl Spencer, which sailed from Portsmouth on 2nd June 1813 and arrived in Sydney on 9th October, calling at Madeira to replenish stores on the way. Only four deaths were recorded on the voyage.

On arrival in Sydney Town, George was assigned to be a member of the boat crew of the Naval Officer, making use of his qualifications as a ‘seaman’. In February, 1814, Capt. John Piper was appointed ‘Naval Officer’ and he played an important role in the rise in station and fortune of George Davis. Capt. Piper was instrumental in obtaining a conditional pardon for him in 1818, which was gazetted on 31st January, 1818. George Davis also applied for a Grant of Land in1821 and he was granted 60 acres, to be taken up when and where he chose.

Mary Ann Lawrence, nee Butt was born at Blandford Forum, Dorset on 22nd July 1786, daughter of John and Elizabeth Butt. Mary Ann was working as a maid, possibly in the house of Mr Thomas Courtin, when she was brought to trial at Dorchester, charged with stealing a gold watch, chain and key, the property of Mr Courtin. She wasn’t charged with ‘Break and Enter’, which leads us to believe that she was probably working for Mr Courtin. She was committed to prison on 14th April 1813, aged 22 and a widow.   Mary was brought to trial on 4th August 1813 and was condemned to death, as the watch, chain and key was valued at over 40/-, which demanded the mandatory death penalty. Mary and others appealed the sentence and the appeal was granted. She was then sentenced to 7 years transportation.

Mary Ann Lawrence was discharged from prison on 21st December 1813 and put on board the ship Broxbornebury, sailing for Sydney via Rio de Janeiro, on 22nd February 1814. The voyage lasted for 156 days, arriving in Sydney on 28th July. Two convicts and two children died on the voyage to Sydney. By November 1814, Mary Ann Lawrence, nee Butt had been assigned to Mary Reiby, according to the 1814 Muster. Mary received her Ticket of Leave on 7th February 1816 and this enabled her to then live with George Davis. George and Mary Ann were married on 3rd February 1818 and the marriage is recorded in the Register of St Phillip’s Church, Sydney. By this time George and Mary Ann Davis already had two children.

George Davis continued to work for Capt. Piper and in 1822 George applied for the position of ‘Coxswain’ to the boats of His Majesty’s dockyards.  Piper added a recommendation to the request, however we don’t know if he was given the position.

In the 1825 Muster it is shown that George, Mary and their children, Hannah (called Harriet in the Muster list), George, Elizabeth and James, were all at Alloway Bank, Bathurst, residing on the property of John Piper. However in 1826, John Piper was in severe financial difficulties and had to mortgage his properties for £20,000. He took all his family and possessions up to Bathurst in 1827.  These conditions possibly caused George Davis to look elsewhere for employment.

Samuel Terry, the ‘Botany Bay Rothschild’, also had land at Bathurst and many other places, including Yass NSW, so it was quite possible that they knew one another there. William Davis, third son of George and Mary was reportedly born at South Creek, now St Marys, in 1826. George and Mary Davis travelled from there to Yass for George to take up the position of overseer for Samuel Terry at Yass, arriving about 1827/28. This was a distance of over 200 miles (320.8km) through almost virgin bush, coping with bullock drays and teams of oxen, creeks and rivers and occasional aboriginals, who might not have been very friendly

On arrival in Yass the family of two adults and five children then had to set about building shelter for themselves and their animals. In 1829 George and Mary Ann Davis had their last child, Thomas. Mary or ‘Granny Davis’ as she came to be known, was said to be the first white woman to have a child in the district! She died in 1899, aged 103 years.

After they were finally settled George Davis then applied to take up his grant of land and chose his 60 acres on the Murrumbateman Creek, which he called Gounyan. This was granted and was gazetted in the Government Gazette by the Colonial Secretary, Alexander McLeay in 1836

George Davis farmed his land, slowly increasing the size of his holding by buying small portions around the perimeter. The family grew up and the boys continued to farm in the surrounding district, while the two girls married and moved away. By the time of his death in 1867, George had created a dynasty. The eldest son was always named ‘George’ and he inherited Gounyan. This continued for seven generations, the farm only going out of the family when the current George Davis, who had no interest in farming, sold it in the 1990s.

In 1914, a cemetery on the property, which had been in use since the beginning of the settlement, was deeded to the Anglican Church of the Canberra/Goulburn Diocese. It is still being used today and various members of the Davis family are slowly restoring many of the old headstones.

On 5th and 6th April 2014 the family will be holding a reunion to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the arrival in Australia of George Davis in October 1813 and Mary Ann Lawrence, nee Butt in July 1814. The reunion will be held at Murrumbateman, near Yass and enquiries can be made to Diana MacQuillan on 02 6226 – 2950, or Nola Bindon on 02 6226 – 2132. We would like to see as many descendants as possible of this remarkable couple, whose descendants, spouses and children now number over 23,000 people.

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This page last updated:21 June 2016