Our Hodgetts Family Saga- Henrietta Hodgetts,1820,Tasmania-Part 3

Henrietta Hodgetts-Piper the illegitimate daughter of Sarah Hodgetts was born in northern Tasmania on 30 May 1820. There have always been questions about her paternity.

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

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

 I now continue with Henrietta’s story.

Many family historians following the Hodgett line have indicated that as nothing could be found in the records of Henrietta Hodgetts-Piper after infancy, she must have died young. This is not so.

Sarah Hodgetts, (Henrietta’s mother) married Richard Lawson on 22 August 1825 at St John’s Church of England, Launceston. [1]

Henrietta Hodgetts-Piper remained with her mother and came to be known as Henrietta or Harriet Lawson. She grew up with her Lawson half-siblings in the Norfolk Plains area, including Elizabeth, born 1826 [2]; Thomas, born 1827[3]; Richard, born 1829 [4]; Daniel, born 1830 [5]; William, born 1832 [6]; Henry, born 1835 [7]and George Hatton, born 1837.[8]

The foundations of St. John’s Launceston, as a parish, date from the arrival of the Revd. John
Youl in 1819, in Port Dalrymple. Divine Service (as Sunday services were called) was held under the trees or in a blacksmith’s shop (John Hodgett’s); when wet. Youl called his congregation together by striking an iron barrel with a mallet, walking through the settlement in his “canonical dress”. When it first opened its doors in 1825, the parish church existed under the Diocese of Madras, Calcutta in India. [9]

On 19 December 1843 at St John’s Launceston, Harriet Lawson (AKA Henrietta Hodgetts-Piper), married Robert Symmons of Moat Farm, near Westbury.[10]

They had a number of children including- Henrietta Symmons, born 1846[11]; Elizabeth Symmons, born 1848 [12]; John Symmons, born 1849 [13]: Robert Henry Symmons, born 1851[14]; Jessie Symmons, born 1853 [15]; Thomas Richard Symmons, born 1854 [16]; Eleanor Symmons, born 1856 [17]; Blanche Symmons, born 1858 [18]; Alfred William Symmons, born 1859 [19] and Osborne Frank Symmons, born 1863.[20]

The family farmed at Moat Farm for some time and several of the children were born there.

They later bought property near Deloraine, which was known as West Park.

The family farmed at West Park for over thirty years until Robert Symmon’s death on 1 December 1890. [21]Henrietta Symmons died on 3 February 1892.[22]

I have been encouraging all our family historians, and my students, to gather as much information as they can for three events in our ancestors’ lives- that is their birth, marriage, and death records. Consequently, Robert Symmons and Henrietta (Harriet) Piper-Hodgetts-Symmons marriage and death records can be found in the State Library of Tasmanian archives.[23][24]

However, an online search in Trove through the National Library of Australia gives us so much information about the lives of our ancestors as the following newspaper items illustrate. A careful study of these gives us clues to research other branches of this family.

Fire Report for House of  Robert Symmons [25]

House Sale Advertisement [26]

Property Sale Advertisement [27]

Death and Funeral Notice for Robert Symmons [28]

Death Report of Robert Symmons [29]

Death Report of Robert Symmonds[30]

Death Report of Robert Symmons [31]

Probate Notice for Robert Symmons [32]

Property sale for Robert Symmons [33]

Death Notice of Henrietta Symmonds [34]

Funeral Notice of Henrietta Symmons[35]

Probate Notice of Henrietta Symmons [36]

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.


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.

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

There have always been questions concerning the paternity of ‘Henrietta’ Hodgetts, the daughter of Sarah Hodgetts. Sarah was the third daughter and fourth child of Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts.

Sarah was born in Sydney on 1 September 1797 and was baptized at St Phillip’s on 24 December 1797, by Rev Richard Johnson.

See Our Hodgetts Family Saga- Sarah Hodgetts,1797, Sydney-posted 10 August 2020.

Sarah Hodgetts went to Norfolk Island with her parents in 1800 and returned with them to Sydney in 1805. After some time in Sydney, where Thomas was employed in Government business the family went to the Hawkesbury River and settled at Pitt Town.

In early 1819 Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts decided to follow their eldest son, John, and his family to northern Tasmania. The family set sail on the ‘Sinbad’ in February 1819.

See Harriet Hodgetts Journey’s by Sea- part 4 posted 27 February 2019

On 30 May 1820, Sarah Hodgetts had a daughter. She was named Henrietta and baptized on 1 March 1821 by Rev John Youle of St John’s, Launceston.[1]

In this baptism entry, Sarah claimed Henrietta’s father to be a ‘John Piper of Port Jackson’. Over the years several family historians have claimed this to be ‘Captain John Piper of Point Piper.’ Perhaps, convinced by the fact his home at Point Piper was called  “Henrietta Villa”.

However, for various reasons, I believe it is not possible for Captain John Piper of Point Piper to be Henrietta’s father. There is no doubt that Captain Piper would have known the Hodgetts family when he and they were on Norfolk Island. Nor is there any doubt that Captain Piper is known to have had children with women other than his wife. The fact remains Henrietta Hodgetts was conceived in northern Tasmania between late August and early October 1819, and Captain Piper’s movements in Sydney on Government and private business are well documented for that small window of time.

At the beginning of 1819 when the Hodgetts family sailed for Port Dalrymple in northern Tasmania, Captain John Piper was one of the busiest and richest men in the colony.

As Naval Officer [2] for Governor Macquarie, he was responsible for the collection of customs duties, excise on spirits, harbour dues, control of lighthouses, and crime on water. At 5% commission, this was a very remunerative position and he became the highest-paid official in the colony.

In 1816 John Piper married Mary Ann Shears, a daughter of convicts, with whom he already had several children. He moved his family to “Burwood Villa”, Burwood, which was leased from Alexander Riley.

He also acquired a large parcel of land at Eliza Bay, which is on the western side of Rose Bay, where he proceeded to build his new home.[3]

This was known as Piper’s Naval Pavillion of Eliza Point. Although it was begun in 1816, it was several years before it was completed at a cost of £10,000. A staggering amount of money for the time.

It was later to be officially named “Elizabeth Henrietta Villa”, shortened to “Henrietta Villa”, in honour of Governor Macquarie’s second wife, Elizabeth Henrietta Campbell, whom he married in 1807. The house was demolished in the 1850s and Woollahra House was later built on the site.[4]

Elizabeth Heneretta [i.e. Henrietta] Villa c 1820. Mitchell Library, Macquarie Street, Sydney

 Now we move to the middle of 1819, shortly before Henrietta’s conception. Let us look at the life of Captain John Piper of Point Piper at this time.

The New South Wales Government Gazette of 10 July, recorded that ” His Excellency the Governor has been pleased to nominate and appoint John Piper…to be a Justice of the Peace and Magistrate in the Town of Sydney…“. He was required to sit with other Justices of the Peace as a judge in the Courts of Petty Sessions.[5]

On 7 August, along with other officials, he was listed as a benefactor to the Benevolent Society with a gift of two cows.[6]

The Government Gazette of 18 September, announced his appointment as a member of the Committees of the Female Orphan, Male Orphan, and Public School Institutions. [7]Then a few days later as a member of the board of Native Institutions.[8]

On 26 September Commissioner John Thomas Bigge arrived in the colony on the John Barry. He had been appointed by Lord Bathurst, head of the Colonial Office in England to examine the effectiveness of transportation as a deterrent to crime and to hold an investigation into Governor Macquarie’s civil administration of the colony.[9]

As Naval Officer, John Piper had major responsibilities in the ceremonial welcome and other harbour duties.

The arrival of Commissioner Bigge began a round of balls, parties, and other official functions for the elite of Sydney’s society, including Captain John Piper and his wife.

A few weeks later Uranie the French survey and discovery ship, sailed into Port Jackson under Captain de Freycinet. His wife accompanied him. A ball on the ship continued the festivities.[10]

On 2 December, John Piper himself hosted a huge garden party at his mansion on Eliza Point. At this lavish event, he formally changed the name of the locality from ‘Eliza Point’ to ‘Elizabeth Henrietta Point’ in honour of the wife of Governor Macquarie, his benefactor. [11]

Now we know the house was named “Henrietta Villa” several months after the Hodgetts family left for Tasmania.

A careful search of all the Musters of Masters, Crew, and Passengers leaving and entering Port Jackson between January 1817 to January 1820 proved that Captain John Piper did not arrive on board or leave Sydney on any ship in that time period. [12]

 It should be noted that Captain John Piper acknowledged all the children he fathered. However, he did not acknowledge Henrietta Hodgetts as one of them.

If Captain Piper could not be Henrietta’s father, who could the ‘John Piper of Port Jackson’ be?

 It has been the lore of the sea for mariners, whether in a navy or in other forms of maritime service, to be identified by a particular ship they are known to be serving on at the time, or by their home port. In this case, ‘Port Jackson’ is John Piper’s home port.

Is there any way we can identify who this John Piper may be?

I will continue the story in the next blog.

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.

Our Hodgetts Family Saga-Sarah Hodgetts,1797,Sydney

The ninth document for our Hodgetts family in Australia was the baptism entry of Sarah Hodgetts, the third daughter of Thomas and Harriet Hodgetts.

I found the first mention of this record in John Cobley’s Sydney Cove 1795-1800 Vol V, The Second Governor. The entry states:-



Dec 24 Sarah Hodgats  d of Thomas and Harriet Hodgats. B 1st September 1797.[1]

I then checked for references in the online index of the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages in Sydney at https://bdm.nsw.gov.au/

HODGETS  SARAH       495/1797 V1797495 4 d of  THOMAS and   HARRIOT

HODGETS SARAH M   662/1797 V1797662 1A  d of THOMAS and  HARRIET

Using these references I was able to search for entries in the Archives Authority of New South Wales (now State Records) Genealogical Kit (1988) for baptisms 1788-1855. The early colonial baptism, marriage, and burial records of some 164 volumes cover the time before civil registration in New South Wales. This includes Victoria and Queensland which was part of New South Wales at that time. These are held as Government records by the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages for New South Wales in Sydney.

Many of these records were microfilmed and released to the public in the Archives Authority of New South Wales Genealogical Kit in 1988. Of the 164 volumes copied, only 123 volumes were released in the kit covering the time frame 1788-1855. Volumes 124-164 were not included in the kit.

This was because some of the records contained in the volumes were after 1855 so fell outside the parameters of the historical project and were subject to state privacy laws. Other volumes were not included because they were so fragile and the handling of those volumes would have destroyed them.

Returning to our Hodgetts research I found Volumes 1 and 4 were in the above-mentioned records, and I was able to view microfilm copies of the original records on AO Reel 5001 and 5002. These were Rev Richard Johnson’s original baptism register and the chronological list he sent to the Governor’s Office.

Although you can view these records at your library you cannot make a printout as it is a condition of use of these records and is stated at the beginning of each film. The copyright belongs to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages.  At the time I was able to make transcriptions and add appropriate notes.

HODGETS,Sarah,1797,Sydney,Baptism Transcription 1

HODGETS,Sarah,1797,Sydney,Baptism Transcription 2

By 1797, Thomas Hodgetts had completed his sentence some two years before, and as a ‘free man’ was able to set up a business for himself in Sydney. We would like to think he set up as a blacksmith, as it has always been presumed to have been his trade in Australia. However, I have found no evidence of this in colonial records. I believe he would have found it difficult to get any employment, which paid any reasonable income.

Although still on meagre government rations, I believe the family lived in very poor conditions.

Eastern View of Sydney,1797,by Edward Dayes

Eastern View of Sydney, 1797

By Edward Dayes

Contributed By National Library of Australia [PIC Solander Box A28 #R286]

From <https://dictionaryofsydney.org/media/59789


My share documents for this baptism can be found under the  Resources and Examples Tab on this website under-

HODGETS, Sarah,1797, Sydney, Baptism Transcription 1

HODGETS, Sarah,1797, Sydney, Baptism Transcription 2

[1] Sydney Cove 1795-1800 The Second Governor (Volume V), John Cobley, Angus & Robertson Publishers,1986,Sydney, p188