Life at Pontville
1. Joseph and Ellen: Family Background
2. Joseph and Ellen Crothers: In England
3. The Voyage
4. In Tasmania
5. Joseph’s Police Career
6. Life at Pontville
7. Joseph's Estate
There is little evidence of Joseph and Ellen’s life in the Brighton area, apart from the registration of their children’s births.
The first of three children born at Pontville, Elizabeth, was baptised at St Marks, on 28 June 1857. The witnesses who signed as sponsors were her mother and William Elliott, a policeman, and Mary McGuinnes, the wife of a policeman.
On 31 January 1858, Ellen was witness at the wedding of William Elliott, 37, and Eliza Williams, 25, at St Marks.
Robert was born on 24 December 1859 and William on 15 November 1863.
Ellen died of dropsy on 31 May 1864, aged 42, according to her tombstone. The death register shows the date as 1 June and her age as 41. She was buried on 3 June, in a ceremony performed at the graveside by John Burrowes.
At the time of their mother’s death, John would have been aged 14, Henry about 10, Elizabeth almost 7, Robert 4 and William 6 months. William was brought up by Edward and Elizabeth Thwaites of Pontville. As Edward and Elizabeth, nee Griffiths, were not married until 22 March 1865, it may be that Edward’s first wife, Emma Smith, was still alive in May 1864 and Elizabeth virtually inherited William.
In 1867, Joseph purchased 50 acres (description below), for the sum of 58 pounds 15 shillings, on the slopes of Mount Dromedary, about 10 kilometres west of Pontville. He erected a hut there but did not cultivate any land.
In 1868, Joseph Crothers, Constable of Pontville, was registered as the father of Annie Maria Theophila Hughes, who was born on 14 April. Annie's mother, Jane Hughes, was probably a live-in maid and/or housemaid for Joseph. They did not marry, so Annie was born illegitimate. At the time, William was 4, Robert 8, Elizabeth 10, Henry 13 and John 18. Perhaps, Joseph offered to marry Jane and she refused because she was unwilling to take on such a family! If so, a wise decision, given that Joseph died less than 3 years later.
(Jane married Thomas Pilkington in Hobart on 13 January 1875, and died, aged 64, on 13 March 1912 at her home in Bridgewater. She was buried at Back River Church, near New Norfolk. Annie died as Mrs Burke in Launceston on 15 April 1952, a day after her 84th birthday, and was buried on 17 April at Carr Villa Cemetery.)
When Joseph died on 16 February 1871, John was aged 21, Henry 16, Elizabeth 13, Robert 11 and William 7. An inquest was held the following day, in the Epsom Hotel, Pontville. Alexander Finlay served as the Coroner. The eight jurors decided that Joseph “came to his death by a sanguinous fit of apoplexy” – that is, a heart attack. Family lore has it that Joseph was riding and fell from his horse when the attack occurred.
He was buried on 19 February, next to Ellen, in a ceremony performed at the graveside by John Burrowes. His superior, Charles Wright, later billed the estate for 3 shillings and 5 pence (35 cents) for the cost of telegraphs to and from Green Ponds “asking the police to follow Crothers’ funeral.” There was evidently a procession from the Police Station in the middle of Pontville up the northern hill to the cemetery.
The Dromedary Purchase
RD 1/62 page 61 No. 12641
In the Supreme Court of VDL 2 August 1867
Parish of Melville County of Monmouth
On the SE by 17 chains and 65 links SWly along land purchased from the Crown by George Thomson and along a reserved Road commencing at a point distant 2 chains and 90 links in a SWly direction from the N angle of that land on the SW by 14 chains NWly along another reserved Road on the NW by 5 chains NEly along another reserved Road again on the SW by 20 chains NWly also along the lastmentioned Road and along land purchased from the Crown by John Blacklow again on the NW by 12 chains and 65 links NEly along Crown Land and thence on the NE by 34 chains SEly along land purchased from the Crown by Jeremiah Tonks and along Crown Land to the point of commencement.
Quit Rent – one peppercorn
Signed: 29 July 1867 Governor Gore Brown Richard Dry Colonial Secretary