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Muckleston Family History Group

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Illidge Connection

Harriet (or Harriot) Muckleston went to Australia after the death of her husband. Of Harriet's ten children seven survived to adulthood and six of these children decided to emigrate to Australia [the seventh went to live in the West Indies with her husband Sir Lucas Percival]. There were many descendants and Harriet can be said to have played her part in populating Australia.

The following article is written by Neil Priddy a direct descendant of Harriet and her husband Thomas Illidge.


Thomas was born at Codsall, Staffordshire, England on 31st December 1771 and was baptised on 7th February 1772 at St Giles in Newcastle under Lyme. His parents were John Illidge and Hannah Bailey.


When he was old enough he learnt the trade of glass engraving and etching.


At some stage in his life he left his native town and went to live in London where he later became a Magistrate.


Thomas was a well educated man and could speak both Greek and Hebrew, he also used a dash of shorthand.


On the 29 May 1791 he married a widow the name of Mildred BYRNE. She had been born about 1758 and was a foundling. They had a family of five children:- John born 24 Nov 1793, George born 4th September 1796, Mildred born 15 March 1799, Hannah born 15 Jul 1801 and a another child whose name is unknown.


By 1794 Thomas and his family were living at 6 Bartholomew Close, West Smithfield, Middlesex. He conducted his business from this site for over thirty years.


When his father made out his will on the 18 May 1804 he appointed Thomas as one of the executors. One of the witnesses was Ebeneezer GILES who was apprenticed to Thomas. 


When Thomas’s father died in 1805, all of his personal estate was divided into equal shares. One half went to his son William, because of “his very dutiful and disinterested attention to my welfare”. The other share was shared equally between his children – Thomas, George, John, Joseph and Kitty. His total estate was sworn to be under £300.


It appears that at some stage Thomas and Mildred separated.


Thomas became involved with a lady by the name of Harriet MUCKLESTON who was born in London on the 14 May 1790. She was baptised at St Michael Crooked Lane on the 6 June. Her parents were Rowland and Sarah MUCKLESTON (nee TURNER). Rowland was a calenderer (textile industry worker) by profession. Over the next few years they had 3 children: Harriet Mason born 18 December 1808, Vivant baptised 13 January 1809, Josiah Mason born 27 December 1814. 


Late in 1816 Thomas and his son, probably George, decided to open a business in Birmingham, Warwickshire. He placed the following advertisement:



            Respectfully inform the MERCHANTS and MANUFACTURERS of (or in) Birmingham and its Vicinity, that they have commenced Business in the above Line, at No.33 Cherry-street, nearly opposite the end of Cannon-street, where a great Variety of Specimens of Engravings and Etchings may been seen, ARMS, CRESTS, REGIMENT BADGES, rich and plain CHYPHERS, FRUITS, FLOWERS, BORDERS, and FANCY DEVICES executed in a superior Manner. INDIA and all other SHADES, MOONS, and CHIMNEYS bordered or otherwise ornamented. LIQUOR BOTTLES, ACID BOTTLES, and CRUETS lettered and labelled. SMELLING BOTTLES screwed, and handsomely engraved. DRILLING. All Kinds of MEASURES for CHEMICALS and other PHILOSOPHICAL Purposes, graduated into any Number of equal Parts, Cubic Inches and their Decimals, or in any other Manner. The various MEASURES for the use of APOTHECARIES, as ordered by the London Royal College of Physicians, kept for sale, or graduated and figured to order with the utmost Accuracy.


            T. Illidge, sen. begs leave to add, that besides receiving particular instructions from the late Mr. Timothy Lane. F.R.S. the inventor of Apothecaries’ Measures, he has been favoured with the following Testimonial from the Gentleman appointed by the College to edit their last Pharmacopoeia.


                        ‘From my Intercourse with Mr. Lane, and the Communications and Explanations which I had with him at the Time of the Adoption of his Division of Liquids by Measure or Bulk for Medical Use, I believe that the Principals adopted by Mr. Illidge, to be those which were applied in their original Formation, and to afford the Means of obtaining correct Measures.

                                                                        R. POWELL, M.D.

            Bedford Place, Dec. 24, 1816’


            It is T. Illidge, sen.’s Intention to spend much of his Time in Birmingham, personally to superintend the Execution of the Orders which they may be favoured with, and he trusts that the Quality of their Work and their Punctuality and Despatch of Business will merit their Approbation, and secure the Encouragement and Confidence of their Employers.


            Letters addressed to T.I. and Son, either in London or Birmingham, will be duly attended to.


During this period of time all glass was cut by hand and glass engravers were respected as artists.


Mildred, Thomas’s former wife, died on the 26 July 1818 and was buried in Section 14, Grave No.55 Bunhill Fields burial ground at 4 o’clock, Monday, early in August. The entry for her burial in the Interment Order Book for Bunhill Fields Burial Ground 1789-1854 reads:


Date of order for interment: 1 August

Name: Mildred Illidge, age 61

Brought from: Bartholomew Close

Grave: 12 feet deep

Stone: to be put up

Minister’s Fee: 3/-

Interment Dues: Lsd 1/5/-

East & West: 68

North & South: 36

When Buried: Monday, 4o’clock

Undertaker: Bunney, Webb St, Southwark


Mildred’s death gave Thomas and Harriet a chance to marry. On the 6th June 1819 they were married at St Mary, Lambeth in Surrey.


They had a further 6 children born to them: Sarah Turner born 24 August 1821, Thomas born 4 October 1823, Rowland born 3 January 1825, Mary Bailey born 28 October 1829 and Susannah Warner born 13 May 1831. Another male child died sometime prior to Harriet’s death in 1884.


It was the fashion at this time to include a relatives surname as a middle name for a child, hence the names Mason, Turner, Bailey and Warner as middle names.


In 1828 Thomas received £100 from the will of his uncle, Thomas BAILEY.


About 1832 the family moved to 15 Cole Street, Great Dover Road in Newington, Surrey.


In 1835 his aunt Mary, who was the widow of Thomas BAILEY, died. At some stage of her life she had received her father’s Book of Common Prayer. On the front page is written in ink Isaac Tovey his Book 1747. This book was given to Thomas ILLIDGE, probably on her death. In her Will she also left him £400 and a large portrait, a wax miniature of the Rev. Mr.----, a wax portrait of Rev. Mr.---- and a portrait of Mr. George Illidge and any of my books, not otherwise bequeathed, that he selects. She also left a Marsellas quilt, my best tea service white and gold to Harriet, the wife of my nephew Thomas Illidge.


His eldest son, Josiah, decided to migrate to Australia in 1837. Thomas wrote the following letter to him:


                              London  15 Cole St, Great Dover St.

                                Nov 27, 1837    Boro. Southwark


Dear Children,


The joy this first news of your safe arrival at Sydney afforded us has already been told you. We secured Oct 9/1837 "the Colonist" from General Postman for which I paid one penny. It was dated May 25 and gave an account of the arrival of the "Persian" the day before (May 24), naming among the passengers you 3. At Lloyds I found she had sailed from Sydney May 28 (I mean "The Fortune" which brought the paper to England). I am well pleased that you acted as you did as we waited patiently for the next arrival. When the first letter came I had several hours before set your mother on a week's tour to Ramsgate. I opened and read it with avidity but felt great disappointment at the shortness of it, and far more disappointment and vexation after I had read it when I considered that you were 16,000 miles from us and had no doubt of your love to us with which your letter was filled. I said to myself this letter he might have written in my shop and sent it down to us below. I wanted to hear how it fared with you on the passage - when you arrived - how you were received and what you were doing or likely to do and a 1000 other questions, for affection is inquisitive, but your letter was blank on all these subjects. However, I felt satisfied that this which was dated July 8 and received by General Post October 28 could not be the first letter you had written us. I therefore determined that your mother should not feel the same pain I had done and meant not to tell her until she returned, but as Tom was anxious to fetch his mother home, I sent it by him, and soon after he was gone I received your letter dated June 14 on November 6. This I found was your first letter and that which I received first was your second. This last letter we received answered our wishes to a great extent. I cannot say all our wishes for we are still asking a 1000 questions. The ceremonial of passing the line - the jokes, larks, tricks, humiliations and insults - detail them. Your log book I long to see it and shall enquire concerning the return (if she ever does return) of the "Persian". Your 2 letters as above (and we have received no other) were each accompanied by a newspaper. On the outside of your letter dated June 14 was an oval impression in Red Ink and some other letters and words to me unintelligible and a Postmark by Post Master in Red Ink I therefore concluded this was the Sydney Postmark and that you had paid 3d for its ship receipt. or ship conveyance. When it came to me our Postman charged me one shilling for the letter and 1d. for the Newspaper.


Your letter dated July 8 has on the back in a square and also a red oval mark similar to the above, but which is altogether unintelligible, and also a red post masters 3 as above. For this letter I was charged 1/3 and 1d. for the Newspaper. I have enquired at the Post Office and find that all letters for Sydney must be paid for at the window 1/1 and Newspapers 1d. before they can go and the charge for letters from Sydney will depend on the distance of the place from London, i.e. there is a certain charge to Government, as I understand that the letters be landed wherever they may and to this is added the usual General post charge from that Post to London. I well remember when Mr. Nelson was in West Indies there was a ship charge of 8d. and to this was added the Postage from the place where the letters were landed to London. So much for your enquiries concerning the charge of letters and newspapers, and in return I beg to know of you the charges made to you for Letters and Papers.


We are sorry for your anxiety concerning the non receipt of Letters and Papers from us for so long a time, as we fear it must have been before you received the first tidings from us. At present we are Novises (sic) and knew not at first how to send except by parcel through Mr. I.E. Saunders. Your mother's first Letter was written at different periods after your departure and ended on May 1, giving a line of information respecting Elizabeth's safe delivery. This letter Mr. Saunders was so kind as to undertake the charge of and he sent it to Jerusm. Coffeehouse. (But I cannot get them to receive one from me). Some time later we sent you a Packet of Letters (one from me respecting Measures etc.) was kindly favoured by Mr. I.E.S. to his brother for you, in which was a letter from S.B.I., Mr Jones also from me, Mother, Harriet etc. and our next was by favour of Mr. I.E.S., who had a friend sending a quantity of Tracts for Sydney and which I believe I saw in his counting house. By this conveyance I sent 2 small parcels each the size of a thick Octave Book directed for you. They were a quantity of Newspapers which I had pressed tight together in the mangle and various Letters from self, Mother, Harriet, etc. And last Saturday Nov 25 I took to Mr. I.E.S. inclosed in one inclosure, Letters from Mother, Harriet and Tom, which he promised to inclose with the Invoices and Bills of Trading to his Brother. In one of the packages of the goods now shipping for Mr. A.S., I expect this letter and accompanying Newspapers will be put for you.


I beg you to return to Mr. A.S. our unfeigned grateful acknowledgement for his very kind conduct towards you, on your arrival especially. I can never read your account of it without weeping. Render yourself, my dear boy, worthy of such a friend. He has laid a foundation for your prosperity, never forget the stepping stone to it. Identify yourself with all his Interests and I have no doubt you will thus best secure your own.


I cannot account for my son John's feelings. Although he knows I have heard from you, he carefully abstains from making the smallest enquiry, and when I introduce the subject, find him quite silent and indifferent. I do not approve (very far from it) of the manner in which he has carried himself, either towards your mother or her children. So far from love, aversion has generally been manifested by him. I silently feel indignant at it and will never encourage my present family to call him brother. He keeps himself apart from them and them from him to such an extent that I wish my present family not to name him or his as any relation at all beyond that of his being my son. If these remarks apply to the younger children at home, how much more to you and Harriet, to whom he will not speak or nod if he meets her. Let these remarks sink into your ears. Never call him brother and never be forward in speaking of him or my Brother as related to you. It may lead to exposures that will neither be pleasant or interesting to you or us. If you write to Sarah B. Illidge send it to our house with SBI on its head, but say nothing of Mr. Jones in it as I dare say her mother would see it.


I have another information to give you. Among the Staffordshire Newspapers which I have sent you on a former occasion you will perhaps have observed that Richard Illidge, a lad 17 years old the Brother of George, committed a Robbery early in January last at Burslem, 3 1/2 miles from Newcastle, Staffordshire. The newspaper which contains this account was, I think, a Staffordshire Advertiser of latter end of January, which gives an account of him and his (and George's) Mother being sent from Newcastle in an open cart to Stafford Gaol 16 miles distant, the one for stealing and the other for receiving the same knowing it to be stolen, and they lay in the Gaol until Saturday March 18, when they were tried (the time of their imprisonment was severely cold and frosty). I sent you 2 papers concerning. One of about the end of January or beginning of February and the other March 25. There you will find the account. Another Staffordshire paper of March 25 says the Learned Serjeant who tried them summed up the case very minutely and the Jury returned a verdict of Guilty against George Illidge (a misprint for Richard, but it is a unfortunate misprint) but acquitted the Mother. He was sentenced to transportation for life, having previously committed a felony. The mother was acquitted. The Learned Sergeant feelingly addressed the Mother and said she would have cause to "reflect upon her conduct as long as she lived, for her son would have to spend the remainder of his life in a foreign land in misery and disgrace for a crime in which, although acquitted, (she) did not stand free of blame". The Learned Serjeant did not make any mistake with respect to either of them and were it not for the strong feelings of my Brother, I should have been glad if she also had been sent out of the country. My hope was that he might not go to Sydney on your account and therefore I said nothing about it in my former letters, but as he has now sailed in a Convict ship "The Moffat" from Woolwich and Sheerness, from both which places George went to see him the two last first Sabbaths. I understand she is bound for Sydney (but may perhaps leave her prisoners at Hobart Town). My intention in writing this is not only to advise you of the fact, but to induce you to be on the look out and to caution you against (him) for though only 17 he is an artful old rascal. If you hold intercourse with him I fear it will be a great injury to you. If you should hear anything about him you can privately inform me, but be sure that you have nothing to do with him and if George should ask your assistance, I beg you to decline it (as) far as you can on account of the evil it might do to you and yours. This sentence has been thought by some to be severe and cruel one for so young a lad, but from a child he has addicted himself to it and the sentence in our judgement was the only merciful one which could have been given. If he should conduct himself well he will find in a few years a new consideration will be given to his case, but it is said what is bred in the bone will come out in the flesh. Pray are not the names of all Prisoners brought there in a Convict Ship printed on their arrival.


Lastly let me advise you not to use any means to urge Brother George J. Muckleston, Mr. R (?) or any other to go over to Sydney. If they should not succeed they would lay all the blame on you and curse you. As to George, I am sorry that you should attempt to disturb his mind. He is in a good situation in a very reputable house with a good salary with every prospect of increasing success. I think he should leave well alone. I should be very sorry if he proves ungrateful to Christys and that he should leave a comfortable certainty for a job of uncertainty. He talks, I am told, of either going next spring or next spring 12 months to a certainty. Poor fellow he has not counted the Cost. He has asked your mother if we will permit Sarah to go with them; and she answered No. Rosa is to go with them; this is the talk. Pray do tell them what it will cost just for their base passage, then for a sufficient supply of Clothing and various articles of food to take with them, then in case they should be wrecked in the Downs or on any foreign shore on the passage, or any other mishap should befall them, how much money it will be necessary they should have with them to meet such exigencies, and finally what it will be necessary they should bring with them in goods to turn to some account when they get there. My fixed belief is that he has not put a single 6d. by for his voyage. If and when he will raise the wind sufficiently to waft him over I know not. And it will be 2 years and 1/4 before he will be of age to receive the 200 pounds left him by my uncle.


Send us all the news you can. Who are the rascals that make it so necessary that you should carry a stick and be accompanied by a fierce dog in your walks for safety and who prevents females appearing alone in the streets of Sydney. We long to hear of you in business. What is the population of Sydney and its size. Also the amount of our congregation and Church. At Park St they have chosen a Pastor and the Church is not to be strict Communion. This will separate me from it as I have ever been and will be a strict Baptist. Eliza (?) in Dover Rd (?) has been before Mr. Green's Ch is to be baptised 7th next month and sec. a Member (?) 1st Sabbath in January. Give my love to your wife and hope that you will unite an unremitting attention to business with an economical management of all your affairs and that you will with these unite your guileless devotion to God the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit.


Your Affectionate Father ThosIllidge


Tom is to go every afternoon to Boro' Road (?) school and now gone for first time.


Douglas ILLIDGE now has the original of this letter.


In 1844 Thomas gave the Book of Common Prayer that had originally belonged to Isaac TOVEY to his daughter, Mary.


About 1847 Thomas and his family moved to 6 Charles Street, George Street, Old Kent Road, Surrey. It was there that he died from influenza on the 5 December 1847, after an illness lasting about a week. He was buried on Tuesday, 14 December in the Bunhill Field cemetery. The entry for his burial in the Interment Order Book for Bunhill Fields Burial Ground 1789-1854 reads:


Date of order for interment: 11 December 1847

Name: Thomas Illidge, age 76

Brought from: Charles St. Old Kent Road

Grave: 9 feet deep

Stone: 5/-

Minister’s Fee: Not shown

Interment Dues: Lsd 2/3/-

East & West: 68

North & South: 36

When Buried: Tuesday, 10 o’clock, 14 December

Undertaker: W. May, Old Kent Road


In the ensuing years most of the children migrated to Australia. The only one that didn't was the eldest daughter, Harriet. She married Sir Lucas PERCIVAL and went to St Martin Island (Leeward Is, West Indies) to live.


Harriet, the mother, followed her children to Australia and arrived in Sydney about 1857.

Josiah and his family moved to Maryborough in Queensland during 1870 and Harriet lived with them there until Josiah’s death in 1879. She then went to live with her daughter Mary, at Widgee Crossings, just on the outskirts of Gympie.


Between the years 1866 and 1875 Harriet kept a diary in which she made an entry on her birthday each year. She appeared to have been well prepared for her death, which she expected to happen at any time. Most of the entries were followed by verse which she appears to have made up. She also mentions the deaths of her daughters, Sussanah and Sarah. There is also a separate piece of paper which has newspaper clippings pasted on to it. These clippings record the death of her mother and husband and also some of her children and grandchildren.


Although she had been expecting her own death for many years, Harriet did not pass away until she was 93. She died at Widgee Crossing on the 8th February 1884 from diarrhoea after an illness which lasted 4 days. She was laid to rest in the Tozer Park Road Cemetery the following day.


Harriet’s daughter Mary Bailey and her husband John Heilbron lived on a farm at Widgee Crossing called “Muckleston Farm” which was probably named after Harriet’s father Rowland Muckleston.