Name: John Watts Rainford
Birth: 12 Nov 1815 Preston, England
Christen: 26 Nov 1815 St. Johns, Preston, England
Death: 4 Jul 1879 Kew Asylum of Brain Disease Age: 63
Burial: 5 Jul 1879 Melbourne General Cemetery
Religion: C of E
Father: Richard Rainford (ch. 1802-)
Mother: Margaret Warrington
1: Helen Ryan
Birth: 19 Feb 1812 Sussex, England
Death: 28 Jun 1888 146 Bridge Road, Richmond Age: 76
Death Memo: Died from bronchitis & old age
Burial: 29 Jun 1888 Melbourne General Cemetery
Christen: 1 Mar 1812 Felpham, Chichester, Sussex, UK.
Religion: C of E & Catholic pre Rainford era.
Father: Robert Ryan
Mother: Catherine Barrett
Children: Jane Elizabeth (1840-1910)
Margaret Watts (1842-1911)
Richard Albert (1844-1875)
Mary Ann (1847-1920)
John Watts (1849-1925)
Notes for John Watts Rainford
The story of the Rainford family in Australia begins in Lancashire, England with the birth of John. Believed to be the child of Richard & Margaret Warrington, John was born in 1815, probably in Preston. The reason for this uncertainty is that no documents have been found that show record of Johns parents, such as a marriage certificate. The names of his parents are absent from his death certificate. However, given there is no other record of a John Rainford being born in Lancashire at this time and the fact that the names Richard and Margaret are repeated in the next generation and that he has a cousin Thomas Waddington and an uncle William Haddington; both of which could be surname variations on Warrington, we can be reasonably sure this information is correct.
At this time no documentation has been found concerning the first 14 years of Johns life, such as his place of residence and where he was educated.
By age 14 John Rainford was a convict, found guilty of stealing two stockings, the property of Elizabeth Hamilton and one ball of twine, the property of James Bramwell and having before that time been convicted of felony. Former conviction 3 months. He was convicted with his cousin Thomas Waddington on April 21 1830 and was aged 14. Each was sentenced to be transported for 14 years. ( From Lancashire county Records Office ).
John arrived in Sydney on 28th July 1831, aged 15 , aboard the Exmouth with a party of 289 male convicts. The journey took 148 days leaving from Woolwich, London with 290 convicts on March 2 1831. A muster was held on board the ship 1st. August 1831. The Surgeon Superintendent was William Watt. Does this explain the Watt in his middle name? On the muster roll he is said to be 4 ft 11 quarter inches, dark complexion with freckles, black hair, brown eyes, small scar over left eyebrow and two small scars on the back of the left hand. The note, on the muster roll for the Exmouth says Uncle William Haddington 5 years earlier, means that Uncle William Haddington was sent to Australia five years before John.
John was sent to Hyde Park Barracks ( now a museum ) when he first arrived in Sydney for two weeks and from there was sent to Carter Barracks, which was like a reform factory for juvenile convicts, attempting to give them a trade for assignment to settlers. Accommodation for the convict boys was very crowded. Sleeping space amounted to 14 square feet, with a three foot passage between the rows of hammocks. Today Carter Barracks is occupied by the Central railway Station and yards. A plaque marks the spot where Carter Barracks once stood.
John was assigned to Rev. Thomas Hassall at his farm at Denbigh, Cobbitty, near Camden in NSW in April 1832. A Government Gazette in NSW under Index of Employers of Convicts lists John Rainford 15/8/1832 as assigned to the Rev. T Hassall.1 The Denbeigh estate was Hassalls headquarters. Hassall was a keen wool grower and acted as a magistrate and was Australias first bush parson.
On October 7 1839 John was given a Ticket of Leave to Maitland. John then worked on a property owned by a settler called Edward Sparkes known as Woodlands in the Hunter district. The farm was nine miles from Newcastle. The neighbouring property Weblands Park was owned by Edwards son William. Daughter Jane is born at Woodlands on August 26 1840. On the 30th September 1842 his ticket of leave was altered to Newcastle. Daughter Margaret in then born there on July 3 1842.
About October 1843 John takes possesion of an English grindstone. Joseph Dunn was indieted for stealing the grindstone at Newcastle on the 30th March 1844. The grindstone was found in the prisoners possession sometime after this. When asked how he came by it he said he found it in the river. The prisoner made no defence, nor called any witnesses. The jury retired for about four hours, and then returned a verdict of guilty, and the prisoner was sentenced to be worked in irons for a period of two years.2
On the evening of December 12 1845 John was present in the house of James Farquharson, inkeeper, with the landlord, Thomas Smith and William Hudson. John Rinker, constable of Newcastle, claimed that Farquharson upon opening the door, did push him in the breast and so kept him back until he and others cleared the table and that Thomas Smith interfered with him in the execution of his duty and that Farquharson caught him by the throat, and held him, as did also William Hudson, while Thomas Smith stood up on a stool and struck him several blows. On the 15th the constable afirmed this on oath. On December 19 the others in the room brought a charge that the constable had wilfully and corruptly perjured himself in affirming the oath. The case opened and the clerk of the Court read the information against the constable and Farquharson, Smith and John Rainford were duly sworn to it. The proceedings continued and John Rainford took the stand. He said that Thomas Smith did not in his presence either get on a stool or strike Rinker, nor did Farquharson lay hold of Rinker after being called upon and only sufficient to seperate Smith and Rinker. John said that he helped them in this matter saying that he did not like to see Smiths head broken by the constables staff, and therefore interfered.
Upon cross examination John said that he saw Farquharson lay hold on Rinkers stick while raised in the act in the act of striking at Smith. He said that Rinker was admitted by Farquharson at the bar door after knocking. He then said he thought Rinker said something about being let out. John said he was present when Rinker took Smith into custody and so was Hudson at the time and that Hudson said No. no, that is a free man and a sober man, you cannot take him in charge; why will you take him to the watch house? John then claimed that Hudson endeavored to keep peace by keeping Smith and the constable asunder and that the scuffle was the work of a moment, Hudson, Smith and Rinker arguing amoungst themselves, and it was not till the stick was raised that he interfered; he went over of his own accord, but Farquharson was called by Rinker in the Queens name. John Rainford was close to the door when Rinker went out and that he saw him go out, but not after he went out. Rinker was fully committed, and was afterwards admitted to bail.3
On Monady January 12 1846 John Rainford appeared on summons to answer the information of constable Charles Lane for forcibly rescuing certain horses from him on their way to the pound, and for using threatening language to him while in the execution of his duty. Mr Ward, from Maitland, appeared for John Rainford; and after the bench had heard the witness for the prosecution, the defendant was committed for trial, but allowed bail.4 On April 4 1846 there is a mention in the court that the case is to be tried at Maitland Quarter Sessions for rescuing cattle5. On April 11, 1846 John Rainford pleaded guilty ( on the floor of the court ) to a charge of rescuing three horses which had been seized at Newcastle, for the purpose of being impounded, and was sentenced to pay a fine of 20s. It was represented to the court by Mr. Holroyd, with the concurrence of the Crown Prosecutor, that no circumstances of aggression attended this case, and that therefore a very lenient punishment would satisfy the ends of justice.6
On the 27/8/1849 John Rainford left for the Californian Goldfields on board the Margaret. As he left without his family he must have returned by 1851 to take the family to California. On Jan 7 1851 Mr and Mrs Rainford and 6 children departed for the Californian gold rush aboard the Ralph Bernal. This was quite a comfortable ship to travel to California on, and one of the first to provide this passage at the start of the gold rush. They returned to Australia, departing San Francisco on 24 Aug 1852, and arriving Port Jackson 3 Dec 1852 ( Mr Rainford, wife, 3 boys and 4 girls ) aboard the Palermo. The last three children were christened together, at Newcastle in December 1850, because they wanted them baptised before they left NSW ( reports of Cholera and other diseases were in the news). Since Joan Catherine married in August 1855 in Ballarat, the family travelled from NSW to Ballarat in the 2.5 years between Dec 1852 and Sep 1855. On Joans Marriage Certificate in September her usual residence is stated as Sydney and present address as Ballarat. This could indicate that they family had only recently arrived in Victoria. A search of shipping records has not turned up any evidence of the family arriving from Sydney by ship. Did they travel overland?
During this time the family lived in Carngham and Piggoreet and perhaps other places in the Ballarat area. The Snake Valley Historical Society have a book entry that shows John paid rates on a tenement at Carnham in 1865 & 1866. This is why the girls Margaret & Jane state Carngham as their usual place of residence on their wedding certificates. This would indicate that the Rainford family had been living in the Carngham area from at least May 1858. There is mention of John owning a house and land in Carngham in a police statement made by Helen Rainford on the 23rd March 1876. Carngham Station was owned by Philip Russell. His wife was keen on education and operated a small school on the property and perhaps some of the Rainfords attended classes there.
The early 1870s may have seen the Rainford living in Ballarat. Son Richard Rainford weds in Ballarat and two of the children, Jane & Robert Sutter are born there with Ellen Louise born in nearby Skipton in 1871. The marriage of John & Ellens son John Watts in early 1875 is the first date we have for the Rainford family in Richmond Melbourne. The Rainford family were to have a long association with Richmond.
On the 25th. October 1875 John was with his son ,Richard, at Russells Creek in Gippsland. Richards wife & children had stayed in Richmond, most probably with Ellen Rainford in Lesney Street or at a residence in Church Street. Richard was working as a splitter and was injured by a falling tree and died after two hours. John witnessed the death. On Richards death certificate John is an informant and it seems strange that in the column regarding marriage and issue was the entry unknown.
John entered the Kew Asylum on the 23 March 1876. On the 15th. March 1876 he wandered away from Richmond to Hotham and was arrested on 17th. at 2:30 am illegally wandering around the Hotham Town hall ( North Melbourne ) without purpose. Helen Rainford attended the Hotham Police Station on the 23rd March to make a statement. Helen said John had not been right in the head since the death of Richard, his son, in Gippsland the year before and had been taking drink ,but not sufficient to make him drunk. He had been living at 18 Lesney Street with Helen and their daughter-in-law Jane Rainford. John had been unable to work for about 3 months previously.
In his case book at Kew it is recorded that his thumb had been amputated some time ago. He was allowed out on leave 17/4/1876 and returned 18/4/1876. On May 5 1878 he was involved in a fight between 5 am and 6:30 am and needed medical attention. He had wounds on the right side of his forehead and several broken ribs. He was placed in a single cell, his wounds dressed, a bandage placed around his chest and he was given brandy. He had a good pulse but looked seedy and was placed on an extra diet.
He died at Kew on the 4th July 1879 at 9:30 am.
John is buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery with his son-in-law, George Augustine, and his grandson, also called George Augustine.78
Notes for Helen (Spouse 1)
On Helen Rainfords childrens baptism records her name is stated as Caroline with no mention of surnames. On the girls marriage certificates her name is Ellen Sturguss on Janes certificate and Catherine Sturges on Joans certificate and Ellen Rainford on Margarets certificate. By the time of Joan Catherines second marriage she states her mothers name as Caroline Rayner. On Mary Anns marriage certificate her name is stated as Catherine Wilson. Helens death certificate does not mention Mary Ann in the issue column. The informant was her son John Watts Rainford. On John Watts and Christina Ricketts marriage registry ( 1875 ) her name is written Helena Rayner . On her death certificate her fathers name is written Not known Smith On John Watts death cert. ( 1925 ), his mothers name is stated Ellen Elizabeth Rainford.
The first mention we have of a wife to John Rainford is when the second daughter Jane is christened on October 11 1840. Caroline is then mentioned on the subsequent christening of the other children. The last known baptism being on December 9 1850 for Richard, Mary Ann and John Watts.
There are very few clues as to the background of Helen and her parents. Using what little evidence we have Louise Wood has been able to produce a strong & well researched case for Mrs Rainford being a convict called Ellen Ryan. The second marraige of daughter Joan Catherine gives her parents as Robert Wilson and Caroline Rayner providing a direct link to the Wilson Ryan family. Joan Catherine gives her maiden as Rainford for the first marriage and Wilson for the second. On sons James birth certificate she gives her maiden name as Rainford and then with the next child her maiden name is Wilson.
Tried in Chichester UK on 21-10-1831 aged 20 years and sentenced to seven years transportation. Ellen Ryan had been charged with stealing a childs cap, value 5s. and a pair of childs shoes value 1.s 9 Bill for subsistence of prisoners in gaol. Ellan Ryan 86 days from 28 July L1. 16s. 0d. extra allowance, washing etc. by order of Doctor L1 6s. 0d. f.19 Evidence of James Thomas of Chichester breeches maker and Catherine wife of James Smith of Selsy. ( Catherine Smith is Ellan Ryans sister. ) Ellen Ryan said her sister Margaret had given her the cap and shoes before she went to London some time ago. On the marriage certificate for Catherine and James Smith we find that Catherines surname is Nunnon and she was born in Ireland and on of the witnesses is, signed, Ellen Ryan.
Ellen arrives in Sydney aboard the Burrell on 20 May1832. The journey took 133 days with a party of 101 convicts leaving from Woolwich, London on January 8 1832.Convict women were taken the journey of fifteen miles from Sydney to the female factory at Parramatta by boat where they were employed spinning wool. Ellen probably made this journey. On 24 October 1832 Ellen Ryan is assigned to Mrs Kinchela at Hereford House, Sydney.10 She then meets and subsequently marries a Robert Wilson also assigned to Hereford House.
By March 13 1833 James Wilson is listed as an absconder from Employer Judge John Kinchela, Esq. No doubt wife Ellen had left with her husband. By 1837 the paths of John Rainford and Ellen Wilson have crossed. John assigned to the Rev Hassell at Denbigh and Ellen living at nearby Wivenhoe, a Regency country house. It is significant that Joan Catherine Wilson was christened by the Rev. Hassell as he was John Rainfords employer. No doubt Ellen had good reason to leave James Wilson, his absconding being one indicator of his character perhaps, and even more reason to hide her new identity from Judge Kinchela who had a fearsome reputation for corporal and capital punishment. This would explain the need for the change of surnames on the childrens marriage certificates.
On Jan 7 1851 Mrs Rainford is listed as a passenger aboard the Ralph Bernal and then on her return from California to Port Jackson on December 3 1852. With the marriages of the six of the seven children Helen Rainfords name appears between 1855 and 1875 on the various marriage certificates placing her and husband John at various locations on the goldfields and in Richmond Melbourne. From 1875 Richmond Melbourne becomes the base of activities for the Rainford family. This is the beginning of a long association the family was to have with this suburb. The reason for the family becoming largely urban based from this period is that the surface gold had all but dried up on the gold fields.
The year 1876 seems to have been a particularly busy time for Helen. By this time she is living in Lesney Street Richmond. In March she attends the Hotham Police Station to make a statement concerning the mental state of John Rainford. In May she attends a christening for Jane & Robert Sutter Rainford at St Stephens Church in Richmond. In June Helen single handedly delivers John Albert Campigli in Springdallah.
In Piggoreet on July 22 1878 she delivers with Jane McNamee William Herbert Campigli. On the 2nd November 1878 Helena signs the burial certificate for George Augustine. The certificate gives daughter Janes address as Wangaratta Street Richmond. As Jane Rainford ( nee Stevens ) had remarried to John Beavis and was probably living in Collingwood or Piggoreet by this stage Helen may have living with daughter Jane Augustine.
1. Index of Employers & Convicts, 1832, NSW, 15/8/1832 Denbeigh GGP236 John Rainford.
2. Maitland Mercury, 12 October 1844.
3. Maitland Mercury, 27 December 1845.
4. Maitland Mercury, 14 January 1846.
5. Maitland Mercury, 4 April 1846.
6. Maitland Mercury, 11 April 1846.
7. Marie-cousin of Margaret Stevens. ( on the Stevens F H trail), 1997.
8. Letter from Margaret Stevens, 9/1/2002, Carnegie.
9. Chichester City Quarter Session Roll: f.14, October 1831, ( ref N39 ).
10. GG P.361, 24/10/1832, Sydney, NSW.
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2003
Created: 29 Dec 2004
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