Our Hodgetts Family Saga- Henrietta Hodgetts,1820,Tasmania-Part 2

Here we continue the story of Henrietta Hodgetts-Piper, who was born on 20 May 1820 in northern Tasmania.

See  Our Hodgetts Family Saga- Henrietta Hodgetts,1820, Tasmania-Part 1

At her baptism on 1 March 1821, recorded at St John’s Church of England, Launceston, her father was claimed to be ‘John Piper of Port Jackson’. Although it has been claimed by many, I believe Captain John Piper of Point Piper could not have been her father, for reasons discussed in my last blog. I now introduce another possibility.

There were other Piper families in the colony at that time, including those of Edward and Francis Piper, convict brothers, who arrived on the ‘Minorca’ on 14 December  1801.  The wives and children of these two men were able to travel on this ship with them.

Soon after arrival, the families were on the Hawkesbury River, but after Edwards’s death in about 1806 the families returned to Sydney. Edward’s wife, Dulcibella, later remarried. The families acquired land in Market, Erskine, and Kent Street’s Sydney.

Edward and Dulcibella Piper’s eldest son, John, had been born in London in 1793. He arrived on the ‘Minorca’ as a young boy with his parents. It is believed he was apprenticed in Sydney as a shipwright when a young child.

He is listed in the 1811 and 1814 General Musters of New South Wales.

On the 14th November 1814 at the age of 21 years, John married Mary Hogan at St Phillip’s, Sydney. She was the daughter of Michael Hogan and Ann Regan. The Piper’s lived on the southwest corner of Kent and Erskine Streets in a house said to have been given to John by his stepfather, George Wood.[1]

Two sons were born to this couple. George was born on 19 January 1815 and baptised on 19 Feb 1815 at St Phillip’s. He died on 17 January 1816 and was buried the following day.[2] Another son, John Jr was born on 30 August 1816 and was also baptised at St Phillip’s, on 29 September 1816. [3]

John Piper Sr worked as a ship’s carpenter and sailed between Port Jackson and other colonial ports.[4]

It seems that his wife, Mary Piper, was not happy and left John. An advertisement in the Sydney Gazette read-” This is to caution all persons whatsoever against giving trust or credit unto Mary Piper, the wife of the undersigned, from whom she has withdrawn herself, as he will not hold himself responsible for any debt or debts, charge of board, or any other charge, claim demand or debt whatever, which she may contract hereafter, or have contracted from the period of her leaving home in October last. December 27th,1817, John Piper, Carpenter.“[5]

Four months later John Piper advertised his intention of leaving the colony again and requested all claims be presented. [6]

He sailed on the David Shaw on 21 May 1818 and was listed as the ship’s carpenter. [7] His mother and other members of his family reported that they received a letter from the Cape of Good Hope a few months later, but nothing further. Was the David Shaw lost at sea?

John Piper’s estranged wife, Mary, is said to have taken their surviving infant son, John Jr, to Hobart Town in Tasmania about the end of 1818.

Hobart in 1819 as illustrated by George William Evans [8]

The David Shaw had a difficult voyage from Australia to Cape of Good Hope, but finally arrived in England on 16 November 1818 and returned to Australia the following year.[8]

She sailed from England on 11 June 1819 and arrived in Hobart in early October 1819. [9] As most ship’s crew signed on for the round trip, it is possible that John Piper was back in Tasmanian waters in late September to early October of that year. He may have been made aware that his wife and infant son were in Hobart at the time. However, he was not on board the  David Shaw when she returned to Sydney.

He may be the John Piper, ship’s carpenter on the ‘Minerva’ which departed Hobart on 10 November 1822.[10]

Perhaps it would be of interest to return to the Piper family story. When John Piper sailed from Port Jackson in 1818, his mother, sister, and brother-in-law were in possession of his Kent-Erskine street properties. The family maintained that they did not hear of him after the letter from Cape Town. After the mother’s death, various members of the family vied for ownership of the family properties, including John’s. Court cases ensured. In one such case in 1837, John Beatie, the brother-in-law produced a document that had reportedly been signed by John Piper Jr, of Hobart. However, the Court dismissed the claims and instructed the family to locate John Piper’s wife and son if they were still living. Consequently, an advertisement appeared in the Hobart newspapers seeking information on the mother and son. [11]

John Piper Jr, now in his majority, saw the advertisement and travelled to Sydney to present his claims to the Courts for his inheritance from his father’s estate. He won the case as well as additional claims. He sold the allotments to a George Green and is believed to have returned to Hobart.[12] He was also recorded as a mariner.

At this stage, it is an outside chance that the above-mentioned mariner, John Piper, maybe Henrietta Hodgetts- Piper’s father. The time frame is rather tight, but not impossible, for the ‘David Shaw’, but we also need to consider that John Piper may have arrived back in Tasmania on board another ship, which had left England much earlier. In short, much more work needs to be done in Tasmanian Archives concerning ‘John Pipers’ of Tasmania to eliminate him as a possibility.

Here my research into this part of the Hodgetts story will rest until I can get another lead on this family puzzle. If someone comes along with a well-documented proof that leads to another John Piper, as a more plausible contender, then we will have to rethink the story yet again.

A list of my references is available to family members and interested researchers on application. Please leave a request in the comments box below indicating your interest.

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