Wilcox Story told by Sydney Wilcox in 1938
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AS TOLD BY SIDNEY WILCOX, ELDEST SON OF GEORGE WILCOX & elder
brother of George Seaborn, TO ALAN WILCOX (his nephew) May, 1938.
cabin that George and Annie Wilcox had on the first voyage of the
ship to Adelaide in 1864 is not known.
No.2 was occupied by George and Annie Wilcox with children, Edith,
Sidney and Nellie, on voyage to England, which began September 1872,
round Cape Horn. The passage taking 140 days to Plymouth.
ship was to have gone by way of Cape of Good Hope, but the winds
would not allow of it, and the ship having drifted so far South, the
Captain decided to go by Cape Horn.
Wilcox, the second son, was born in Cabin No.2, on 30th January 1873,
just off the Scilly Isles.
this voyage George Wilcox had hired Cabins 4 and 6, which he had
fitted up with cages for thousands of Shell Parrots, Spotted Love
Birds, Blue and Red Finches, Galahs and White and Yellow Crested
Cockatoos. Two tons of seeds were loaded to feed them on, and special
provisions had to be made for drinking water for them.
do remember, though I was only 6 1/4 - 6 1/2 years old, helping to
feed and water the birds, and clean the cages. A quantity of sand had
also been placed on board to keep the cages decently clean.
we arrived off Land's End, Father decided with others, to leave the
ship and land at Penzance in Cornwall, by the Pilot boat, taking
train to London in order to sell his birds before the ship arrived at
the dock - he took me with him.
those days it was 48 hours to London and another 6 or 7 hours to St.
Neots where his family lived. Anyway, about 3 nights on the way,
little "Jimmy" was pretty grimed and black by the time he
got to grandmother in St. Neots. She shoved him into a hot bath and
soaped him - in a moment or two she rushed out calling "Joe!
Joe! the child is as white as our own, not the nigger we expected."
saved the other kids, Ede, Nell and George, from being dubbed the
same - "Australian Niggers."
carrying the story along, Father had very few friends left in
England, it was cold to him, ugly cold and dreary to us children all
crying out for the sunshine.
was decided Mother and the four children should return to Adelaide in
the ship "City of Adelaide" at the end of May 1874. The
ship was stranded on the coast at Kirkaldy Beach, now called Henley
Beach, on the night of 24th August, 1874. Passengers were taken off
after 48 hours by tender.
had arrived earlier by P.& O. Mail, and was on the beach at 10am
25th August, 1874, but of course could not help.
went to lodgings in Augas Street, and about the end of September got
a 2 story semi-detached house near the corner of South Terrace, East,
and Hanson St., South East.
Murray was born November 9th, 1874. Ede was then 9 1/2 years old, I
(Sidney) 8 1/4, Nell 6 11/12, George 1 10/12 years.
the time of Murray's birth, father was in bed very ill with Bright's
Disease. George, your father (George)was also in bed very ill with
what today might be called Infantile Paralysis (Poliomyelitis).
Matters were not too flourishing at that time, and it meant the usual
old monthly nurse for mother had to look after father as well as she
could with only a bit of general help from a girl.
(9 1/2) had to take your father George, and mother him, and she did
it well. I, (Sidney) (8 1/4) had to take Murray and do the best I
could, and of all the pesky kids that ever came into the world, well
"Nip" was that one. Poor little beggar, he could not help
all of that, it was his bad luck to appear on the state at that time.
I have often wondered why I did not drop him on the brick floor of
the kitchen, when he had a pesky fit and break, his neck to quieten
2 years or more, Ede and I did not have much of a childhood in such a
of course could push a go-cart, but in those days it was a double
side-by-side seat pram, pretty heavy, and I think Nell was a bit of a
sticker. Anyhow, she used to land "Nip" a few heavy ones,
and he never cared much for Nell. I dare say I might have landed him
some also. You see as time went on, George and I, being closer in
years, palled up, and rather drifted away from the 3 older ones.
There were constant scraps.
suffered a good deal from Asthma, South Terrace evidently was not a
healthy site for any of us, so in 1881 we moved to our big old house
"Eynesbury" at Lower Mitcham. There Mother was a good deal
better till she died of heart trouble in April 1897.
(George Snr) was troubled with his Brights Disease up to about 1890
and it seemed to be easier then for some years. He later in 1905
developed "Phlebitis" in both legs and gradually suffered
increasingly very great pain till he died September 5th, 1917, two
years after your own father died, July 14th, 1915. I often found him
at his desk with streaming eyes, but nothing could be done,
about ANCESTRAL HISTORY. The tradition of the family is they Were
"Huguenot" of the name of "Villon" silk weavers
from Lyons in France, then Leon. They settled in Spittalfields,
London, where the Silkies congregated.
name "Villon" gradually became corrupted or Anglicised to
"Wiliox", "Willcocks", "Wilcox."
skip a long period now, however one of the descendants was a Joseph
Willcocks, who married the only daughter of William Jennens
(Jennings) by his second wife. William Jennens was reputed to be a
very wealthy Coal Merchant of Manchester, and was dubbed "Solomon
the Magnificent" for his ostentation. He evidently was a bit of
a lad, as he had run away with a girl.
Jennens family was supposed to be of some note, the eldest girl of
the first wife of William, married the Lord Howe of Howe Castle,
Norwich. On the death of Solomon the Magnificent, the Lord Howe
seized all his estate, and it's from that, that the famous case of
the Jennings Millions in Chancery (made much of by Dickens) came to
fame, but there was never any Jennings Estate that got into Chancery;
what little there was left the Lord Howe got and put away quickly.
Great Aunt Sue (firstly Mrs Peppercorn, and then Mrs Gutheridge) was
a great believer in this Chancery Estate, and spent a lot of money on
it. It was not until I got to London in 1902 and met a Jennings of
Norwich and had a good talk over it that old John Wilcox and Reg
helped me to persuade her to chuck the whole job and burn all the
papers and rubbish she had collected.
to continue, Joseph Wilcox was a bit of a lad. All we really know is
that he was with Wellington in Spain - being a tailor by trade and a
smart looking chap. Tradition says Wellington adopted him as personal
Batman, although he had to carry his gun when needed. Tradition again
says he "well dolled Wellington up for the day of Waterloo."
those days "women followed camp", that is, common soldiers'
wives followed them, and more or less did the cooking and camp work.
Mrs Joseph Wilcox was there, and either the night before or the night
after Waterloo, her third child William Wilcox, was born in the camp
on the actual field of Waterloo. We don't know her Christian name,
and we don't know where Joseph and his wife are buried. All we know
is that Joseph and his wife had 3 children, Joseph born 1911, Mary
born 1813, William born 1815, on Waterloo day.
(1815) married but had no family, came to Adelaide and was in the
Railway Service till he went to England in 1873/74. I just remember
him as a porter who had lost an arm in the rail service, and he
conducted us from the train at Port Adelaide to the ship "City
of Adelaide" in 1872. Mrs William Wilcox, I don't know who she
was, died first. They had adopted her niece, who got badly disfigured
by the bursting of a kerosene lamp.
left all his little fortune to a trust, to give her £1 weekly - old
John Wilcox, Reg's father, was Trustee. John thought it a nuisance
and as she was weakly and might die at any time, got her to agree
that he should take the capital and give her £1 a week for life.
She bucked up and lived many years, and John lost many hundreds over
it; it all came out in 1903, when I was over there; she was still
(1813) was a woman of some character. She heard the owner, John
Bushell, of, the Swan inn, at Leighton Buzzard Lines - had lost his
wife and consequently wanted a housekeeper. She got the job and
quickly married him. It was a big place that had been drifting. She
re-made it and being on the old Posting Road, London-Lincoln-York,
they had a mob of post horses, coaches and boys. With the advent of
the railway, the Inn drifted again. She was left the remains of it
when John Bushell died. She had only one child, John, he only had
one child named John again, who died young with ho family.
(1811) became a tailor, and was the leader of his calling in St
Neots, getting all the gentry jobs, uniforms in particular for the
Dukes of Manchester and Rutland. He did very well, was a speculator
in Argentine and Brazil stocks, and had a good spin. Up to mid-life
he was a wowser of the first vintage in the Congregational Chapel.
What cards, the theatre, a spot. On your life you daren't mention
them, till one time about 1880 (he died in 1893) a new parson came to
the Chapel - a very liberal minded man who bucked up the Chapel. One
day he said to Old Joe, "There's a fine Shakespeare play at such
and such a theatre tomorrow night, and the return fare is 2/6 (60
miles each way) Pit Seats 2/6, will you take me to it Old Joe
bucked, Sally his wife came in and said "you old fool, it's time
you did something, and the parson says its good. Go, you have got to
go!" Joe did, and, it was about a monthly job afterwards. Then
came Card parties, then 'a spot or two. Sally was a good, old sort,
and a sport. She was Sarah Emery, her father was in the Howard
Britannia Implement Factory. One of the family kept the "Blue
Cow Inn" on the London-Bedford-Huntingdon Post road to
Leicester and Manchester. It was of quite some importance in pre-rail
days about 1833. They had some 12 or 14 post horses.
as said, married Sarah Emery. They had 12 children.
who married Priscilla Heydon had 6 children.
died young Nil children.
born 1838, married Annie Fuller in 1864 and
was your Grandfather had 5 children.
m.1 Peppercorn, m. 2 Gutheridge had Nil children.
married Eliza Mayfield had 7 children.
married S. Shiison had 3 children.
married Mary Redman had 3 children. (Reg
and Frank's father)
died young Nil children.
married Crowley a Canadian had 3 children.
not married Nil children.
was a mob, and they came pretty quickly, one after the other, and had
to be provided for.
was apprenticed to a Linen Draper and Costumier, Geord's at St.
Neots, and later married one of the girls, Patricia Heydon.
nothing really known of him, but possibly followed his father as a
tailor. George, apprenticed at 12 years old for 7 years to Bedells, a
big Grocer at Leicester. Joseph at the age of 12 was sent to George
in Gawler, South Australia. In fact he was sent out with Priscilla
Heydon in about 1860 when she was on her way out to marry Thomas.
followed his father, in St. Neots as a Tailor, till he was appointed
London Agent in 1880 for my father, George (then William Mofflin and
Co., in 1889 George Wilcox & Co., and 1918 Wilcox Mofflin Ltd. He
moved to London in 1889.
became a doctor of medicine in Dublin. Ernest was a doctor of
medicine in Edinburgh.
was a Licentiate of a Pharmacy in Lincoln with Sue's husband,
was the first to come to Australia. I think in 1856, with William
Barker. Barker I think came from St. Neots also. I believe old Joseph
gave Thomas £500 to go into business with Barker, whether they came
out together, I don't know; and why they went to Gawler, I don't
know, unless Barker already had friends there.
it was not long before they got into trouble. Old Joseph sent Emery
out to clean up matters. Emery was a drunk and made things worse.
That would be in 1858
(Snr) had made up his mind to come to Australia about that time his
first idea was Sydney, where he had Leicester friends; Keeps, Beards,
Schlenkers, Parsons. Joseph gave him a free hand to go to Gawler, and
properly clean up the job, fire Thomas, Emery and Barker, and sell
up. He fired the lot and found a business could be made as Gawler was
the nearest big town to the city of Port Adelaide. All the traffic of
the big copper mines from Burra-Burra and Kapunda had to pass through
Gawler. George arrived in Melbourne late in 1858 ex the Auxiliary
Steamer "Great Britain." He arrived in Adelaide in March
1859 ex coastal steamer "Admella." The "Admella"
was wrecked on the next voyage near Mr. Gambier, and most of the
people on board lost.
as early as late 1839, when George (Snr) had fired the other crew,
there was talk of building the railway from Pt. Adelaide to Gawler,
to catch the copper mine traffic. George could see that it would much
add to the success of a general store. Having money of his own he
proposed to go into full partnership with old Joseph, the firm to be
J. & G. Wilcox, Merchants. That's how that started.
had disappeared. Later he was heard of in Sydney where he had
married. I know he had 3 daughters - 2 I think married brothers named
Douglas, both in the Machine Department of Sydney Morning Herald. The
son went into N.S.W. Survey Department, and was articled to Koeford,
your mother's aunt's husband, then in charge of the Wagga District,
and later Consul for Denmark in Sydney. Koeford spoke well of the
youngster, but he did not use the name of Wilcox then, though Koeford
knew of it.
Emery's children were quite young, he disappeared again, for good. He
was believed to have gone to South Africa, and lost there. Why Mrs
Emery and family did not continue under the Wilcox name I never
heard, and I cannot recall the name she used.
Joseph was sent out with Priscilla Heydon. They arrived about the
time Thomas was fired. George had to provide for young Joe and took
him into the shop. Joe in 1872 bought the business from George.
(Jnr) had quite well learned his job in the 12 years 1860-1972.
going back a few years. Towards the middle of 1863 George thought it
time for a trip to England, and possibly to find a wife. Sailing
ships usually left between September and November to have the summer
weather round the Cape or Cape Horn. George took passage in the
"Murray" Captain John Legoe, (the father of our Glen Legoe)
unknown to one another, both had got together a big mob of birds and
animals. Legoe had wondered why George had hired 3 cabins. The agents
didn't tell why. When Legoe saw the live stock going on board there
was the devil of a row, and he could swear, but could not alter the
matter. However, they were not such bad pals in the end, though
George left the boat at Plymouth, hurried to London, and sold his
collection to Jamracks, and Captain Legoe had to take second place at
lesser money. That's been a joke with us right up to today. Anyway
as you know the acquaintanceship opened up to partnership and
life-long friendship of the Legoes and Wilcoxes.
met Annie Fuller. Her eldest sister had married Bedells, who had been
apprenticed alongside George with Bedells senior at Leicester. Annie
Fuller was the daughter of Thomas Fuller, a fairly large family at
Leicester. It was something over 300 acres.
and Annie were married 3rd June 1864 and almost immediately sailed
for Adelaide in the new ship "City of Adelaide."
Fuller married an American, Green of Greentown, Green County, New
York, and as Old Thomas used to say, "The best export ever from
is mentioned in "Doomsday Book."
went there a good deal as a kid, we all loved old Grandfather Fuller.
He had 3 children, Mary, who married Bedells. (One Bedells girl
married in South Africa, one single in Perth, Western Australia, 2
single in England, 2 sons of Bedells, one still alive in Perth, and
the married one died in West Australia.
came our Mother Annie, and the youngest Emily, married Nicholson and
had no family.
Fuller had 2 sons. One went to the Bolivia-Peru War, the other son
George, died at about 33, unmarried.
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