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Douthat Family

Posted by on March 3, 2012

Researched by Lynne Douthat from family letters, interviews and the Public Records Office, Melbourne, 1988

“William Bowen Douthat was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1817. In 1848 he married a Spanish girl named Isabel Maria Fieri. Their son, Emanuel William was born in Vigo, a fishing village and port on the Spanish coast, in 1850.

On 10th August, 1852 four members of the Douthat family embarked on the ship ‘Winchester’ as unassisted migrants, bound for Port Phillip, Australia. All members of the family were recorded as ‘British’ on the ship’s passenger list.

  • William Bowen Douthat Age 36 Gentleman
  • Isabel Douthat 30
  • (Emanuel) William Douthat 2
  • Jedidiah S. Douthat 42 Gentleman (cousin of William Snr.)

The ‘Winchester’, captained by James Curry, took five months and ten days to complete its journey. The ship, with 152 passengers and crew, arrived at Port Phillip on the 20th January, 1853.

The family settled in Melbourne for a time, where William and his cousin Jedidiah set up a hide and wool merchants’ business, Douthat & Co.’. In 1854, a second child, Robert Henry, was born in Melbourne. By 1855 William, Isabel and their two sons had left Melboume for the goldfields. Jedidiah went into partnership as a general merchant with Emanuel Lopes continuing at the same address in Melbourne.

Jedidiah had come to Australia as a widower. His young son had been left behind in Lisbon, but came to Australia in 1858 at the age of thirteen on the ship Magi, presumably to join his father. In 1863 Jed. married Elizabeth Varty who was born in Cumberland in 1848. Elizabeth worked as a housekeeper at Schnapper Point near Mornington. The marriage did not last for very long. Elizabeth married Frederich Sonnenberg in 1881 and stated on the marriage certificate that she had ’neither seen nor heard from her previous husband for eleven years’. So she married Frederich without a divorce or knowing if Jed. was dead or alive. It seemed that Jed just disappeared. William, his son, was listed in a postal directory as being a dairyman in the Footscray area in the early 1860’s, but no other information is known of his whereabouts. The hide and wool merchant business reverted to Lopes who continued at the same address with a ‘Marine Dealer’ business.

William and Isabel first came to the Victorian goldfields as suppliers of goods to the miners, but like many other families who followed the rushes they settled on small holdings and became self-supporting. Not long after their arrival at Jones’; Creek, their third child Emily was born in 1856. William, Isabel and the three children lived on about an acre of land commonly called ’the island piece’, because it was almost surrounded by the Waanyarra Creek. This portion of Crown land is situated behind where the remains of Bohwen Douthat’s house stands today. The house on the ’island’, by all accounts was a long slab and mud construction. The roof was made from shingles. A feature which many people remember about the house was the ‘Seven Sister’ climbing rose which grew over much of the roof and around the doorway. The rose flowered in clusters of creamy-yellow blooms.

William and Isabel planted many fruit trees along the banks of the creek, some of the trees still bear fruit. The medlars, figs, grapes, plums, apricots, pears and apples do not bear as well as they did in the early days. But many people still come there for their annual taste of mulberries and quinces. These old trees are known to produce well each season. Following generations of Douthats continued producing food and gardening, in general, and from onions to orchids their reputation for growing things is faultless.

William Bowen Douthat (born 1817, died 1891) and Isabel Maria Fieri (born 1822, died 1906)

Their family:-

  • Emanuel William born Vigo Spain 1850, died 1903 m Mary Arm Cogswell, 1881
  • Robert Henry born Melbourne 1854, died 1908 m Margaret Wilshusen 1890
  • Emily born Jones’ Creek 1856 m Haistead, no other information.
  • Richard born Jones’ Creek 1857, not married, died Orbost
  • Thomas born Jones’ Creek 1861, not married, no other information
  • Isabella born Jones’ Creek 1866, no other information.

There were also at least two children who died in infancy.

Bohwen and Family c1920 - Mary, Bohwen, Dick, Sarah with Milly, Sally

Emanuel William and Mary Ann Cogswell issue:

  • William married Mary Ellen Cassidy then Jane Kimpton
  • Bohwen married Sarah Ann Thorp then Emma Jane Lockett
  • Mildred Ann not married
  • Emanuel James, married Mary Lenon

Robert Henry and Margaret Wilshusen

  • Isabel died in infancy
  • Elsie Vera married Henderson then Sinclair
  • Robert Henry not married
  • Lesley no information
  • Alver not married
  • Harold Edward married?
  • James married?

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