Smeathman, Henry Osborn Green and Eliza Smeathman (mother)

Full name:

Smeathman, Henry Osborn Green and Eliza Smeathman (mother)

Dates recorded for being in Berrima:


Occupation if known and land ownership:

Clerk to the Bench and Registrar of the Court of Requests


Arrived Free

Henry Smeathman was born in 1819 in the UK and arrived in Sydney with his parents in 1826. His father was appointed by the government as a coroner. The 1828 Census lists his father Charles Thomas Smeathman, aged 50, his mother Esther (Eliza) aged 50 and Henry Osborn aged 9 living in Sydney.

Unfortunately Charles Thomas Smeathman died in 1835 aged 57 when Henry was just 16 years old. In June the following year Henry is listed as an extra clerk in the post office in Sydney and in March 1837 is appointed as clerk to the bench and registrar of the Court of Requests in Berrima with a total salary of £130 per annum.[1]

No fewer than 20 notices appearing in various newspapers between 23 August and 20 December 1838 reveal that he was living with Eliza Smeathman in ‘Alpha Cottage’, Berrima. The Eliza in question was his mother, widowed in 1835:

ALL Parties are Cautioned against Purchasing any Property belonging to the Undersigned, unless with her written permission to that effect.
Alpha Cottage Berrima, 16th Aug., 1838.
                                                  The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 18 December 1838

The notices indicate that either they were being taken advantage of financially or that Eliza needed to get a tighter control over their spending. In March 1840, Smeathman ceases to be clerk of the court and spent three days in Berrima Gaol as a debtor. His debts were met by a Mr Samuel Nolbrow, at the residence of Dr Bland, the latter a friend of his late father.[2] Henry left Berrima for Gosford soon after and purchased two allotments for a total of £38. But money continued to be an issue and the Sydney Morning Herald of 19 December 1842 lists him as an insolvent.

Eliza remained in the district, the 1841 Census for Berrima District showing her occupying a property near the Crossroads, south of Berrima. She had inherited land from John Lake and when this is contested by Lake’s wife, Eliza once again hits the newspapers asserting her rights.[3] The  Supreme Court upholds Eliza’s ownership in May 1842.[4]

The Sydney Morning Herald of 1 January 1845 mentions Henry Smeathman as living with Dr William Bland, the man who had assisted Henry’s exit from Berrima and who, a year later, was to marry mother, Eliza.

[1] Returns of the Colony, 1837
[2] Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser, 18 May 1840
[3] The Sydney Herald, 2 December 1841
[4]; Case no 1082, 11 August 1842 by the Commissioners appointed under the Act of the Colonial Legislature