Saturday, 3 January 2015

Joseph Antoney - a great great grandfather (52 Ancestors #1)

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - well this is certainly a challenge. I wonder what will unfold during the year. It will certainly be interesting to look back on 31 December 2015. I hope you will enjoy the journey with me.

Week 1, Fresh start — Seems appropriate for the beginning of the year. I am going to start with Joseph Antoney my maternal great great grandfather. 

Fiery Star (ship) - Wikimedia Commons
Joseph was born on 4 September 1842 in the Azores, Portugal and died on 24 December 1923 in Mackay, Queensland, Australia aged 81 years. Joseph was a seaman and arrived in Queensland aboard the Fiery Star on 20 November 1864. He was fortunate to leave the ship in Brisbane as on its return voyage - 19 April 1865 - a fire engulfed the ship 400 miles off New Zealand.

What made Joseph leave his ship and settle in Australia? I will never really know. From his naturalisation papers in November 1921 he had been on sailing ships for many years and had shipped to America, New Zealand, Calcutta, China, Hawaii, Nantucket Island, and Mauritius. Joseph had certainly travelled the world from the Azores. On these papers he stated he had spent 2 years in and around Brisbane,  3 years in and around Bowen (Port Denison) and the remainder in and around Mackay. He selected some land near Bowen and married Elizabeth Hannah Young on 30 July 1867 at St Mary's RC Church in Bowen. 

Joseph & Elizabeth Antoney with Annie Jacintha
His first child Francis Albert was born in Bowen on 9 November 1869. His next child Manuel Silva (Emanuel) was born at Walkerston outside Mackay on 1 April 1877. Joseph's first daughter (my maternal great grandmother) Annie Jacintha Mary Elizabeth was born 24 June 1879 in Mackay. Another son Enoch Henry born 1882  and another daughter Daisy Elizabeth born 1884 in North Eton outside Mackay.

Joseph selected land at Eton outside Mackay in late 1870 and farmed there until he retired from farming in around 1918.

North Eton Mill c1895
Joseph was part of a consortium of cane farmers who opened the first cooperative sugar mill in Queensland at North Eton in 1888. The mill closed in 1988. There is an excellent book written by Frank Rolleston (1987). The Defiance – The story of North Eton Co-operative Sugar Milling Association Limited, 1888-1987. North Eton, QLD: North Eton Co-operative Milling Association Limited. 

I did not know Joseph and only know of him from my maternal grandmother, Dorothy May Thomas. Dorothy May (Nan) told me many a story about her grandfather Joseph. Nan told me that her grandfather grew tobacco, grapes and sugarcane on his farm. She also told of him employing Japanese labourers and was fascinated about them having very hot baths in big tubs. I have since found that Japanese were in fact employed in the Mackay region. There is evidence of Joseph growing tobacco as he was required to have a government licence for same. I believe the grapes were used for wine.

So why did Joseph leave the sea? I think he saw an opportunity for a fresh start in a new land with endless opportunities for hard work. I don't know if Joseph spoke English when he arrived in 1864 but I expect he quickly learned as he took up land and married in 1867. My grandmother said he had a musical voice and loved telling her stories. At the time of his death in 1923 Joseph left four surviving children, twenty-two grandchildren, and fifty-five great grandchildren.


  1. Hi Helen. Did you know that Joseph ANTONEY (shareholder in the North Eton Central Sugar Mill Co.) gave evidence before a Queensland Government Committee? You can read his statement in Queensland Votes and Proceedings (Parliamentary Papers) 1889 vol.4 p.293.

    There are also at least two entries for Joseph ANTONEY in Queensland Crown Land Sales triplicate deeds of grant (Qld State Archives series 46, book 53, deed numbers 54719 and 54730). They are dated 1884 and they are for the county of Carlisle, parish of Eton, town/village of Eton. The indexes may be on FindMyPast by now, but I bought them on CD.

    1. Thanks Judy. Yes I have those details and more, Joseph had quite a few deeds of grant over his lifetime, he protested strongly at one stage about a road going through his land. He was a very interesting character.

    2. That's good, Helen. I thought that an experienced researcher like yourself would probably know to look for the Crown Land Sales records as well as the (easier to find) land selection files.