The Australian Willgoose Genealogy and Family History Page

This page is Garry Willgoose's genealogy and family history page. This page contains information and web links collected by him about the ancestory of the Willgoose family in Australia. If you wish to provide updated information please email me ( or snail mail me (100 Barton St, Scone, 2337) with updated information. I will then update the database and post an updated version of the tree.

Pedigree: Garry Willgoose

To provide some context for my interest I have created a pedigree for myself. My ethnic descent is primarily English and German, with minor lines from Scotland, Wales and Canada.

The family surnames in my pedigree (with links to short descriptions below) are: Anson, Baikie, Binder, Brotchie, Clark, Clouston, Colditz/Colette, Collinson, Davis/Davies, Durham, Dyer, Evans, Forker, Hathaway, Haywood, Hemming, Hewitt, Hill, King, LawsMcNeall/McNeal/McNeil/McNell/MackNeal, MacDonald, Mason, Midwinter, Monkton, Monks, Perron, Pick, Pursglove/Purseglove, Saxon, Smith, Thompson, Thornton, Wheat, Willgoose, Williams, Wilson, Wragg/Ragg.

The known ships that family members immigrated to Australia on are "Abergeldie" (Willgoose), "Cesar Godeffroy" (Colditz), "Sultana" (Durham), "John and Lucy" (Williams), "Hillsborough" (McNeal), "HMS Buffalo" (Anson), "Lady Sinclair" (Laws), "Emigrant" (Dyer), "Berry Castle" (Wilson, Orkney Islands to New Brunswick).


The Colditz's come from Hildesheim, Germany. Heinrich (Henry) Colditz emigrated to Dalby, Qld in 1856 and subsequently moved to Tenterfield, NSW where he established a tin smithing shop opposite the Saddlery shop (owned by the entertainer Peter Allen's grandfather, featured in the song "Tenterfield Saddler"). Descendants are concentrated in the SE Qld, and the Sydney-Newcastle regions. Some of Heinrich's brothers and sisters are believed to have emigrated to the Detroit/Chicago region of the USA around the 1860's.

We have recently become aware of Colette's in Australia who believe they are related to Colditz because their ancestor was a Colditz who subsequently anglicized his name to Colette. They are not related. Apparently he used the false name of Colditz to escape Germany in the 19th century. His correct German name is unknown.

The descendants of Henry Colditz had a family reunion in Tenterfield, NSW, Australia on the weekend of 14-15 January, 2006. Photos from the reunion are here.



Thirza Collinson met Herbert Henry Willgoose while he was an engine driver in Nottingham (she lived around the corner) and had their first child (Arthur Willgoose, my grandfather) before emigrating to Sydney in 1884. Thirza died soon after their arrival in Sydney and is buried in an unmarked grave in Rookwood cemetery. Herbert continued to correspond with Thirza's sister, Agnes (Aggie), in Nottingham who appears to have visited the family in Australia in the early 1900's.

There appear to be two lines of Willgoose's in Australia. The first is our Tenterfield line, while the second is an unrelated line who have been historically concentrated in the Bombala region in NSW (though we know of members of this line in Mildura, Vic and Denman, NSW).


Thomas Durham and his wife Joyce (nee Thornton) of Hampnett, Gloustershire emigrated in 1855 and established themselves as farmers in the Singleton region at First Creek. Subsequently, the family has spread primarily to Muswellbrook but also to Newcastle (where my family line comes from). The Muswellbrook clan have been involved in the coal mining industry and my great grandfather, Francis Durham was killed in a mining accident in 1927 at Muswellbrook Colliery when he was crushed between two coal skips.


The Dyer family (Thomas Dyer, Grace Hill and their 8 children ) of Longlode, Somerset, England emigrated on the "Emigrant" in 1849. Their 4th child Ellen Dyer subsequently married Richard McNeall in Maitland, NSW.


Mary Ann Laws arrived as a free settler between 1802-1805 (age about 14-16) on the "Lady Sinclair". Free settlers that were not part of the military were very unusual at that time of colony. She subsequently married James McNeall, the pardoned convict.


James McNell (sic McNeall) was convicted of stealing and sentenced to death at the Old Bailey, London on 23 May, 1798. He was transported "for life" on the "Hillsborough" (the infamous typhoid ship where one third of the convicts died on the voyage) to Sydney in 1799. Shortly thereafter he was pardoned. He and his son established a coach factory in Philip St, Sydney. After his father's death his son shifted to Maitland, NSW in the 1820's where he and his descendants established a coach factory near where the High St railway station currently is. The factory passed to other lines in the McNeall family. The factory operated under a name of commercial names including "McNeall and McPherson" (1867), and "McNeall and Hunt" (1868) and "Great Northern Coach Factory" (1867, 1888). The spelling of the surname has changed a number of times and descendants are scattered throughout NSW (McNeil, Armidale; McNeall/McNeal, Hunter Valley).


The Mason's arrived in Australia from New Brunswick, Canada, though they appear to have only been in Canada for one generation, having immigrated from Midlothian, Scotland. John Wilson Mason arrived about 1856 from Canada and settled in Newcastle, NSW. We know little about their Scottish ancestory.

We have recently identified that the Wilson family (John Wilson Mason's mothers line) originally eminated from the Orkney Islands, Scotland, with Clouston and Baikie ancestors having been born there. John and Euphemia Wilson are believed to have immigrated from the Orkney's to Miramichi, New Brunswick (then known as British North America), in 1817 on the ship "Berry Castle" (Campey L H (2007) "With Axe and Bible: The Scottish Pioneers of New Brunswick 1784-1974"). A Clouston family history (Clouston, J S (1948) "The Family of Clouston") traces the Clouston family in the Orkney Islands back to the 12th century and Viking ancestors from Norway (King Magnus the Good of Norway), but to date we have not been able to identify the (likely) link between our family and family line described in the Clouston book.

The Mason family appears to have continued to be concentrated in the Newcastle area.


The Thorton family had moved around Gloucestershire living in Northleach and Chedworth.  Thomas Durham and his wife Joyce (nee Thornton) of Hampnett, Gloustershire emigrated in 1855 and established themselves as farmers in the Singleton region.  Joyce's spinster sister, Sarah, and brother, Methuselah, emigrated with them. They are all buried at Whittingham cemetery just south of Singleton. We can find no evidence of Methuselah marrying. Accordingly, we believe that it is unlikely that there are any Thornton relatives from that generation in Australia.


Helen Child Wheat married George Willgoose in Sheffield in 1852. Their son Herbert Henry Willgoose emigrated in 1884 to Australia, while they remained in England. However, Helen's older brother, Mathew Henry Wheat, and his son, Benjamin Law Wheat, migrated (independently or together, not sure which) to Sydney sometime between 1881 and 1886. Their descendants are concentrated in Sydney and Canberra.

Almost all existing Wheat's in Australia are descended from Benjamin. The exceptions to this are (1) an almost extinct line (all children were girls) decended from a Polish immigrant who anglicized his surname to Wheat, and (2) a line of Wheat's we have found in the NSW birth death and marriage index in the late 1800's who seem to be unrelated to any existing Wheat we have contacted in Australia.


The Willgoose's come from Derbyshire (Crich and Whitwell) and Sheffield (and for a very short time Nottingham) in England. Herbert Henry Willgoose (born in Sheffield) emigrated to Sydney from Nottingham in 1884. He had been a engine driver in Nottingham for 4 years, had met his wife (Thirza Collinson) and they had their first child (my grandfather Arthur Willgoose) there.  After the death of his English wife, Thirza, in Sydney he moved to Tenterfield and remarried, establishing what is the "Willgoose" farm on the New England Highway just south of Tenterfield. Descendants are scattered along the east coast of Australia. Another, independently emigrated, group of Willgoose's are concentrated in the Bombala region of NSW and elsewhere in Victoria.

Photos from a Willgoose reunion in Matlock Bath (near Crich) in March, 2005 are here.


Thomas Williams and his wife Charlotte (nee King) of Cheddar, England emigrated to Sydney in 1857 and established themselves as farmers in the Singleton region (Dargin Farm; First Creek, Glendon) of the Hunter Valley. Williams is such a common name we have been unable to track the family much further, though it seems reasonable that some of the Williams in the Singleton region are related.

Last Updated August 2009