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The Cogswell Family – From Wiltshire to Waanyarra

Posted by on March 3, 2012

Researched by Lynne Douthat and first published in her book “The Footsteps Echo”

The Cogswells originated from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England. The family has been researched back over many centuries and has branches in New Zealand, the U. S.A. and one or two in Australia.

The Cogswells who came to Waanyarra began further back than shown here. But more can be read about the family’s early beginnings in M. & A. Cogswell’s book “Search for a Heritage”.

James Cogswell and his wife Mary Ann nee Cogswell , (she was believed to be a cousin of James) had 14 children in 19 years of marriage. James was a shoemaker, whose trade did not bring in enough money to support his large family, Like many other large families in the working class areas of England in the 1800’s, the Cogswells were regarded legally as paupers. As a consequence of this situation the Parish of St. James Church, Trowbridge cared for their welfare, and buried their children. Mary Ann died in 1842 aged 35, leaving James to care for the young family.

1. Grace baptised 18.10.1823, Trowbridge
2. John buried 13.11.1825, Trowbridge (Parish burial)
3. Louisa baptised 26.12.1825, Trowbridge
4. Sarah baptised 5.10.1828, Trowbridge (Parish burial, died age 7 months)
5. James baptised 18.5.1830, Trowbridge. Married Ann Waite, Trowbridge, 29th June, 1852
6. Thomas baptised 1835, Trowbridge
7. A child not baptised
8. John baptised 7.8.1836
9. George born first quarter 1839, Trowbridge
10. Mary born second quarter, 1841, Trowbridge
11. Martha twin to the above, Trowbridge
12. A child, Parish burial 1835, 1841, 1842.

After his wife’s death, it was clear to James that he would have had to find someone to look after his children. Elizabeth Bannister, a widow and owner of land, married James in 1844 and took on the task of rearing his children.

Young James was 14 when his father married ‘Eliza’ and was an apprentice blacksmith in Trowbridge. By 1852 James Jnr. had met Ann Waite and soon after their marriage in June of that year they sailed to Australia to begin a new life away from the poor conditions in Trowbridge.

“The Hope” which brought Ann aged 19 and James aged 21 to Port Philip on the 18th March, 1853 as assisted migrants on their own undertaking, sailed out from the Port of London on the 8th November, 1852.

Collingwood was where James and Ann first set up a home after their arrival in Melbourne. The living conditions in Collingwood at that time were generally very crowded and unhealthy. It was here that their first surviving son, James Henry was born in 1854. Two other children were born in Collingwood to James and Ann but both children died in infancy.

In the 1850’s in Melbourne there was a great inward stream of gold-seeking migrants. Many of the migrants were skilled in some trade and were readily employed in the busy growing city of Melbourne. But the gold rushes took a large majority of skilled workers and labourers away from the city and James and Ann were among them.

James and Ann followed the ‘rush’ to Maryborough. James made a reasonable living prospecting and using his blacksmithing skills to mend and make miner’s tools. Their second surviving child, Mary Ann, was born at White Hills near Maryborough in 1858. Jones’ Creek had been “rushed” by this time and the family moved on to that area where they would eventually settle for the remainder of their lives.

A Cogswell Cow Bell

A Cogswell Cow Bell

At Jones’ Creek, James and Ann ran a store in conjunction with the blacksmithing trade. The store which sold bits and pieces of everything was also licensed to sell beer and ’colonial wine’ and was named The Blacksmiths Arms Hotel. Four more children were born into the family at Jones’ Creek – John, Matilda, Henrietta and Sarah,

James Henry and John Thomas Cogswell remained unmarried but the Cogswell girls married into the local families of Pearce, Douthat, Bofill and Kaye. The name Cogswell died out, but many reminders of the blacksmithing skills remain.

Descendants and friends treasure hand crafted cowbells, a shot gun, gold jewellery and a knife made from a file as some mementos of the Cogswells artistry.

James Cogswell bought land in Waanyarra in the 1870’s, as did his son James at around the same time. Old James must have been proud of his eldest son for on the land sale papers he stated that he was purchasing the land for his son as “A reward for well doing”.

On their land they built a slab-sided shingled roofed hut. The land was cleared of timber, the cut logs were used for fencing and a dam was dug out later to hold water for stock. They grew oats and wheat on their 20 acres and stored the grain in the slab hut, but they remained living at the store at Cogswell’s Crossing, about a mile away from their land.

Mary Elizabeth Morton (nee Sturni), John Thomas Cogswell, Matilda Louisa Pearce (nee Cogswell)
Edward Morton, Jesse Pearce

Mary Elizabeth Morton (nee Sturni), John Thomas Cogswell, Matilda Louisa Pearce (nee Cogswell) Edward Morton, Jesse Pearce

Mary Elizabeth Morton (nee Sturni), John Thomas Cogswell, Matilda Louisa Pearce (nee Cogswell) Edward Morton, Jesse Pearce

The family of James and Ann Cogswell

James Henry born at Collingwood 1854, died at Waanyarra 1918, buried at Tarnagulla.

Mary Ann born at White Hills 1858, died at Waanyarra 1904, buried at Tarnagulla. Married E.W. Douthat.

John Thomas born at Dunolly 1862, died at Waanyarra 1944, buried at Tarnagulla. John lived with the Pearce family, and was well looked after by ‘Pink’ (Mary Pearce) until his death.

Matilda Louisa born at Dunolly 1871, died at Bealiba 1942, buried at Bealiba. Married Jesse Pearce.

Sarah Jane born at Dunolly 1876, died … Married Wm. Kaye

Henrietta Grace born at Dunolly 1873, died Tarnagulla 11. 10.1951 buried at Tarnagulla. Married Martin Bofill.

James Cogswell Snr. died at Waanyarra on the 29th June, 1889. Ann died on the 17th August, 1908 at Waanyarra. They are buried together at Tarnagulla cemetery. Their sons James and John are buried in adjoining graves.”

Information regarding the early Cogswell family in Trowbridge was obtained from M & A Cogswell’s book ‘The Search for a Heritage’.

Alan and Mickey Cogswell of Yealmpton, Devon, U.K, kindly gave permission for their findings to be printed in Lynne’s original article.

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