2nd Edition of The Cossticks Available Now

The Cossticks 1700-1900 2nd Edition available now

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7. William Cosstick and Sarah Hamilton

On 30 August 1852 twenty one year old William Cosstick arrived at Melbourne on board the Negotiator . His brothers Henry and George, and sister-in-law Sophia arrived a year later on the Appleton . As described earlier, William then went back to England and brought out his younger brothers, Charles and John, on board the Anglesey in 1856. The mining activities of William, Henry and their brothers and partners over the next few years have been largely described in earlier chapters.


William and Sarah CosstickOn 13 April 1862 William Cosstick, aged 30, married Mrs Sarah Henderson, 38, at Christ Church in Maryborough . Sarah was the daughter of Richard Hamilton who had emigrated from Kent, in England, to South Australia in 1837 . She previously married Thomas Henderson on 19 March 1842 at Holy Trinity Church in Adelaide. Witnesses to the marriage were Sarah’s brother, Robert, and sister-in-law, Elizabeth Ann Hamilton .

Thomas Henderson

Thomas Henderson came to South Australia in 1837, at the age of sixteen. He was on board the Coromandel and was accompanied by his father, also Thomas, his mother, Sarah, and fifteen year old sister, Agnes. The family was from Langcliffe in Yorkshire, although it is possible that before that they lived at or near Delgaty Castle in Scotland. A Thomas Henderson married Janet Allan at Delgaty Castle in 1820 and the name Allan was subsequently used in the family .

Entries in the South Australian Biographical Index suggesting that Thomas Henderson, the First, and his wife Sarah, were married in 1818 at Settle, Yorkshire appear to be incorrect . Similarly, suggestions that the mother’s name was Elizabeth are not supported as there was no Elizabeth Henderson on board the Coromandel during the voyage in question .

The 662 ton Coromandel left Blackwall in London on 1 September 1836 with around 156 passengers including Thomas and Sarah Henderson with their children, Thomas and Agnes. Thomas Henderson, the First, was appointed Deputy Assistant to the ship’s surgeon, Doctor Thomas Young Cotter , to help with maintaining good order in the berths on the starboard side of the ship . The Hendersons themselves were in berth 70.

After reaching Cape Town and taking on fresh stocks of fruit and vegetables the Coromandel continued on to Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, and then to Holdfast Bay, arriving there on 17 January 1837. Although William Light had surveyed the River Torrens and ships were able to navigate the river to what became known as Port Adelaide, Captain William Chesser of the Coromandel preferred to anchor in Holdfast Bay . This meant that the passengers had to reach the shore in small boats, often with the assistance of sailors or others who came to meet the ships .

It seems that William Tuckey, a crew member of the William Light’s ship, the Rapid, had assisted Agnes Henderson ashore and declared that she would one day become his wife . Indeed, they were married on 1 January 1840 at Holy Trinity in Adelaide . Their first son, William, was born on 28 November 1840 and another son, Thomas, was born on 23 March 1843.

Soon after their arrival in Adelaide the Hendersons acquired a town block in Melbourne Street, North Adelaide. It was common for early purchasers of the one acre town blocks to later subdivide them and sell small portions to newly arrived settlers. Block 1007 was originally purchased by John Barton Hack. Thomas Henderson, the Second, purchased part of this on 5 October 1839 .

The South Australian Almanack for 1840 indicates that there was a Thomas Henderson operating a store in Melbourne Street and another Thomas Henderson as a carpenter in Gilbert Street . It is not clear from the directories whether this was Thomas the First or Second, or whether the carpenter in Gilbert Street was a different person.
The Henderson and Tuckey families were living at the Melbourne Street address at the time of the 1841 Census of South Australia - Thomas the First, his wife Sarah, and William and Agnes Tuckey, as well as young William Tuckey . Thomas Henderson, the Second, was recorded at the Hamilton’s property on the day of the census .

After the 1841 Census there are no distinct references to Thomas the First and his wife Sarah. The 1841 South Australian Almanack lists a Robert Henderson, builder, in Craigie Place, Adelaide, but no other Hendersons . The 1842 Almanack again lists Robert Henderson, builder, in Craigie Place, and a James Henderson in Grenfell Street, but no others at all . The James Henderson of Grenfell Street may have been in partnership with James Hamilton, also of Grenfell Street, both of whom occasionally listed themselves as a Hamilton and Henderson partnership .

The 1843 South Australian Almanack lists Thomas Henderson as a gardener at Melbourne Street and also a Thomas Henderson at Balkannah . After 1843 there appear to be no reference to any of the Henderson family in the Directories . There appear to be no deaths registered for Thomas Henderson the First or his wife Sarah in South Australia during the 1840s. It is possible that they left the colony.

It has been suggested that Thomas Henderson the First might have returned to England doing work for George Fife Angus of the South Australian Company but was lost at sea . Two ships that are recorded as having sunk during that period did not include Thomas Henderson as a passenger . It is possible he may have fallen overboard from a ship that eventually arrived safely in England, although if this was the case his name should have still been recorded on the original passenger lists. Another possibility is that if he went on board as a member of the crew his name would not have been listed.

By 1842 Thomas Henderson the Second, had moved to Section 87, in an area known as the Black Forest , not far to the east of Richard Hamilton’s property on Section 148 on the Sturt.

On 19 March 1842 Thomas Henderson the Second, and Sarah Hamilton, were married at Holy Trinity. The ceremony was witnessed by William and Agnes Tuckey .

After their marriage the younger Thomas and Sarah continued to live close to the Hamiltons near the Sturt, but later, perhaps around 1847, moved to Happy Valley, a short distance to the south. It was around this time that William Holmes Hamilton, Sarah’s brother, also moved to Happy Valley . The Melbourne Street property was sold in 1859 to Otto Hanssen, a storekeeper, for £40 .

While Thomas Henderson generally recorded his occupation as being that of a farmer, he also became more involved with operating bullock teams and drays, or wagons .

In early 1856 Thomas Henderson joined several members of the Hamilton family – John, Richard, Robert and Alfred - and journeyed to Victorian goldfields . The Hamiltons had previously visited Amherst in 1852 but had returned to Adelaide after the death of their father, Richard Hamilton .

In 1856, when moves were being made to establish a school at Amherst, Sarah and Tom Henderson listed their younger children - Henry, aged 10, Robert, 9, James, 7, William, 6, and Anne, aged 4 - as being potential pupils at the new school. The fluctuations in population meant that the school was not established in that year .

After arriving at Amherst, still known as Daisy Hill, Tom began a carting service between Amherst and Melbourne. It would seem that the Hendersons purchased a block of land own of Amherst .

Accident at Saltwater Creek

Sarah and Tom had eleven children before his death in a wagon accident at Saltwater Creek on 2 June 1858. On 1 June 1858 Thomas Henderson and three sons had just begun their return trip to Amherst when the accident occurred.

An inquest, held the next day, found that

Thomas Henderson’s death was accidentally caused by the injuries which he received by being crushed against a fence by a loaded Bullock Dray whilst crossing Raleigh’s Punt at Footscray, June 1st 1858 at half past six o’clock while on his way to Daisy Hill from Melbourne.

Tom Henderson’s sixteen year old son, the third Thomas, had been accompanying him, and was required to give his account of what happened:

Yesterday, the 1st of June, I started from Melbourne with my Father Thomas Henderson, and two younger brothers, in charge of three loaded drays for Daisy Hill near Maryborough, we got as far as Raleigh’s Punt. My Father’s dray was the first to get on the Punt, while in the act of getting the dray on the Punt the near wheel struck against a post which caused the Bullocks and Dray to swerve unexpectedly - and knocked my Father against the Rail, and jammed him up, before we could extricate him, we had to shove the Pole Bullocks off. When loosened he fell down from the injuries he had received at the lower part of his body across the Hips and Bowels. After this we helpeded him to the Punt Keepers House, we then got the other two Drays over the Punt and put my Father on the last and took him as far as Raleigh’s Paddock. We put him to bed, he kept crying out from the pain and was continually asking for drinks. My age is 16 years. My brothers are younger than I am. We did not think he was so much injured. We offered two or three times to fetch a Doctor but he would not allow us to go - he gradually got worse and died about six o’clock this morning. My father was rather under the influence of drink when the accident occurred. He has left a wife and nine children. He resides at Daisy Hill and has lived there about two years.

Young Thomas Henderson signed the statement both with a cross and a shaky signature.
Thomas Kerr the Puntsman at Raleigh’s Punt also gave an account of what happened.

Last night about half past six o’clock Henderson the deceased man’s son came across the punt and asked me if I could assist his Father wo had been bruised against the fence by the Bullock Dray - I went across at once - and found him leaning against the Fence in a kneeling position. I got him carried over to my House - but he would not go inside, he asked for five minutes rest, then he thought he would be all right again - I wanted to send for a Doctor, he would not allow of it and said he would be soon able to proceed with his Dray - he was afterwards assisted on the last Dray to go to the Camping place. After this I heard no more of him till this morning when I was informed by Doctor Gibson that he was dead.

Deceased smelt very strongly of drink - could not say whether he was drunk or not. It was quite dark at the time - I have seen the deceased cross the Punt on several former occasions. If he had properly kept the Pole Bullocks further from the Fence the accident would not have occurred. This Fence is put up to guide Cattle on to the Punt and deceased did not keep the Bullocks sufficiently off to clear the Post.

I did not think deceased was so much injured .

Thomas Henderson was buried at the Old Melbourne Cemetery, but the grave was later transferred to the Fawkner Cemetery .

The children from Sarah’s marriage to Thomas Henderson were:- Thomas, born in 1843; Hamilton, 1844; Henry, 1845; Robert Allan, 1847; James Spice, 1849; William Holmes, 1850; Ann Holmes, 1852; Catherine, 1853; Charlotte, 1854 ; Agnes, 1856; and Sarah, 1858. At the time of her marriage to William Cosstick Sarah's eldest son was nineteen and the youngest just two years old. It was William Holmes Henderson who was involved in the accident at Opossum Gully mine on 12 February 1867 when Thomas Alston was fatally injured. William Holmes Henderson later opened a drapery business at London House in Talbot, which was eventually taken over by his brother Allan Henderson in 1882 .

The Cosstick brothers had arrived in Amherst at around the same time as the Hendersons and Hamiltons and clearly Sarah Henderson came to know William Cosstick fairly well, if not before Thomas’s death then certainly during the years that followed. One family story states that William married Sarah Henderson “for the boys” . After their marriage in 1862 William and Sarah added three more children to the family Samuel, born in 1863; Alfred, in 1864 and George, in 1865 making a total of fourteen children.

William’s brother, John Cosstick, had fifteen children, giving a grand total of twenty nine children between the two brothers! By the time the youngest of John Cosstick's children was born in 1885, the oldest of the Henderson boys was forty one. In fact Thomas Henderson was already twenty one when his youngest stepbrother, George Cosstick, was born in 1865.

In February 1865 William and Sarah Cosstick travelled to Melbourne, without all the children, and took the ship South Australian to Adelaide. they were, no doubt, going to visit her family, the Hamiltons.

Croydon Battery

Croydon Reef, Opossum GullyThe story of the Croydon Reef has been told earlier. After Henry left to visit New Zealand and Queensland William took over the running of the mine and the battery himself. In 1876 he was granted a license to occupy just over nine acres of land on which the battery and his house were located .

The reputation of the Cossticks and of the Croydon Battery spread throughout the district and beyond, and William Cosstick became known as “Boss Cosstick” by those who knew him or worked for him . The Croydon Battery and the mine were producing good dividends, not only for his own family, but for several members of his brother John's family as well. It must have been a blow to him when John was killed at Yorkey's Crossing in 1890, and it must have been a greater blow when on 21 September 1893, Sarah, his wife of thirty years, died after a long illness which had confined her to bed for several years.

The Talbot Leader in reporting Sarah Cosstick's funeral on Saturday 23 September 1893, remarked that although it was

an awkward day for businessmen to get away, there were a very large number of representative men of the district, as well as some from Maryborough, in the funeral cortege, thus testifying to the esteem in which the deceased and her numerous family are held .

With his many sons, daughters, nephews and nieces to support him, William Cosstick continued his work for the district.

In September 1893, just before Sarah’s death, the Talbot Leader reported that
Matthews and Party, working in Mr.A.Cosstick’s paddock had a cleaning up for a fortnight’s work, the return giving good wages. E.Cosstick and party also had a crushing which was payable. In connection with these crushings, it may be mentioned that owing to the liberal manner in which the parties were treated by Mr.Cosstick, they were able to make very good wages out of what would otherwise be hardly worth crushing .

Throughout the rest of 1893 the Croydon Battery crushed stone for the Federal Reef Company, at Adelaide Lead, the No.1 South Federal Company, and the No.1 North Federal try Again Company as well as many others.

Matthews - Reeves Mine at Jubilee ReefIn June 1897 the Croydon Battery had the honour of processing the remarkable finds of David Matthews and William Reeves at the Jubilee Reef. This reef, discovered just beside the Adelaide Lead Road about a mile north of Amherst, gave its finders, in the first two months, 425 ounces of gold from 46 tons of stone crushed at the Croydon Battery. Matthews and Reeves earned over £1,000 this gold which came from a reef only eighteen inches wide and seventeen feet deep . David Matthews married William Reeves' sister Jane in 1886. Their daughter, Sylverton Ivy Matthews was later to marry Richard Martin Cosstick, a grandson of John Cosstick. The story of the Matthews and Reeves families is told elsewhere .
Matthews - Reeves Mine at Jubilee Reef

Opossum Gully Cyanide Works

It was during 1897 that William Cosstick decided to build the Opossum Gully Cyanide Works, which was to be subsequently managed by his son, Alfred. The gold coming from the Croydon Reef was becoming more difficult to obtain without going to great expense, despite G.D.Reid's comments about “a little money and brains” making the mine more profitable.

On Friday 19 february 1897 the Talbot Leader reported that

The Cyanide works to treat the sand at Mr.Cosstick’s battery are progressing. The extraction house is completed, the brick vats are almost completed, the woodwork is progressing steadily, and the whole is expected to be in working order in four weeks time. It is estimated that there are from 100,000 to 150,000 tons of battery sand to treat and should it turn out as payable as the tests have given there should be work for many years .

The rest of this chapter is in the book.


Full references and sources are available for this information and are published in the book. Please email me if you would like source references.

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