browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

Edmund and Isabella Thorp

Posted by on April 20, 2012


Edmund Stephen Thorp

The background stories of this man and his wife Isabella show them to be two of Waanyarra’s most interesting early pioneers.
Edmund was the fourth child of John Robert Thorp and Mary Ann Stevens who were married on January 12th. 1821. He was christened on the 15th. of October 1826, at the Stepney Spitalfields Christ Church in London.
A census shows the family lived in Fashion St. John was a porter of some description.
On the 13th. of June 1836 young Edmund pleaded guilty in the Old Bailey Central Court to having stolen four sovereigns and two half sovereigns from his father.
He could not yet have reached twelve years of age, but was sentenced to seven years transportation!
After sentencing Edmund was confined on the old prison ship hulk the “EURYALLUS”, probably for the whole of the fifteen months until he was placed aboard the convict transport ship “ROYAL SOVEREIGN” which sailed for Van Dieman’s Land on September 7th. 1837, arriving January 9th. 1838.
Perhaps he and his father organised this “robbery” so that the young lad could have a better life in the Antipodes? Maybe Edmund was indeed a bit of a rebel. His convict record shows that he gave the authorities many opportunities to punish him with solitary confinement on bread and water, hard labour and even instances of “stripes” with the lash.

Typical entries in Edmunds Convict Record include :-

Repeatedly absenting himself from the muster grounds when confined thereto, and insolent conduct when reported—3 days solitary confinement on B & W. Pt. Ar. (Port Arthur)
Positively refusing to wash up a mess kit when ordered by an overseer—12 stripes on the breach. (Cleft or crack—“Backside”) Ed.
Secreting bread on his person contrary to orders—48 hours solitary confinement on B & W. Pt. Ar.
Making use of imperfect language and absenting himself from the muster ground—3 days solitary confinement Pt. Ar.
Misconduct in being on the racecourse without leave, representing himself further attempting to pick pockets—12 months hard labour.

Pt Ar. = Port Arthur B & W = Bread and Water

Edmund was given his freedom certificate in 1844.
He died in December 1885 and is buried in the Amherst cemetery where his burial plot is marked by a small bronze plaque erected by his descendants.


Isabella was born in Falkirk Scotland, circa 1820. From her criminal records we know that she had sisters Mary and Elizabeth, and a brother James. Her mother was Elizabeth.
Isabella was described as a country servant.
She married Alexander Halley on September 3rd. 1841 in the town of Stirling, Parish of Falkirk
On the 21st. of November 1842, Halley had been found guilty of robbery and assault, and exiled for seven years. At this time Isabella and Alexander had one child.
Halley arrived at Corio Geelong aboard the “
SIR GEORGE SEYMOUR” in March 1845.
Like Edmund Thorp he had been taught the trade of shoemaking whilst in gaol.
Tried at the Stirling Court of Susticiary on April 21st. 1845 for stealing £86 from cattle dealer John Robinson, an assault and stealing a pair of boots, Isabella was sentenced to seven years transportation, twelve months gaol and twenty days gaol respectively. Her convict record shows she had been twice previously convicted and had “bad connections.”
Isabella arrived in Van Dieman’s Land on June 5th. 1846. She had travelled on the “
EMMA EUGENIA”, a thirteen year old ship built at Whitby Yorkshire, the port where James Cook worked as an apprentice shipwright.
Edmund and Isabella must have met soon after her arrival—probably at the expiration of her six months gang probation—as their first child was born circa 1848, another in August 1850 and another in 1852.
They married in Hobart on the 21st. of February 1853. Isabella had been given her Ticket of Leave in November 1849 and her Freedom Certificate in April 1852.
Isabella must have decided to bury her past and forget all about husband Alexander and their child. She described herself as a spinster on her marriage certificate and gave her name as Black. She also knocked a few years off her age stating that she was twenty eight, when she was more likely to have been thirty three. Edmund also lost a couple of years!
Precisely when the family moved to Victoria has not been established, but they had set up home at Fryers Creek by mid 1854 when
Amelia was born.
Isabella survived Edmund by almost twenty three years, eventually dying at the Bendigo Asylum in August 1908.
She was buried in an unrecorded location at the White Hills cemetery Bendigo. Her burial there is marked by a small bronze plaque in the memorial area established for the recognition of people buried in unknown locations in the cemetery.

By Dick Thorp (Born I907) at Waanyarra
Youngest Child of William Harvey Thorp and Elizabeth Jane Stone

I went to school at Waanyarra in I913. There were about I50 pupils going to the school then, with only two teachers and a sewing mistress. When I left school there were only 35 pupils and one teacher, the gold mining people had left the area by then.
We had dances and “send-offs” at the school. The “send-offs” were mainly for the ones going to the First World War. I remember reciting’When I grow up to be a man, I want to be a sailor if I can’, I was dressed up in a sailor’s uniform. Dick Douthat played the accordian at the dances. But before his time Albert Chamberlain used to come along and play his violin.
Waanyarra had a cricket team. The pitch was up the road past the school on the right, near the Dunolly road.
There were a lot of houses at Waanyarra in the old days. Ravens had the Post office, Cogswells had a store where we used to get our bread and other things, Jarrys had the ‘White Swan Pub’, sister Sarah had her wedding turnout there. I don’t remember Morton’s old stone place ever being a pub. I remember it being a store which sold wine and beer. It was never run as a pub as far as I can remember.
When we were kids there was never a kangaroo or a wallaby about. Now they’re thick through the bush. There were plenty of fruit trees around Waanyarra. Bohwen Douthat had beautiful fruit trees, peaches, apricots, pears, figs, quinces, apples.
Mortons had beautiful apples. You’d walk up there and you could smell the apples, they had like a white fur over them. They were beautiful apples to eat.
The first person I can remember to have a car at Waanyarra was Ed. Scholes. He bought a’Chev. Four I think it was. Then ’lcksey’ Jones got a ’T Model’ Ford, Aulichs also had a car.
We had kerosene lamps for lighting and a Coolgardie safe on legs for keeping the food cool. We got most of our meat from the butcher, but we always had a pig to kill every year. Jack Cogswell used to come over and kill it for us. We’d pickle a lot of the meat and also have some for bacon.
In the dry seasons we’d often run out of tank water, then we’d cart water from a natural spring at Bohwen Douthat’s place. It was beautiful water. A lot of people use to say the water came from the dam nearby, but it didn’t. The well would have to be cleaned out every year, the sides were all stones and the the water used to seep in and settle. You could see that water coming out between the stones.
After the rain we’d often go “ specking” for gold. We’d get a lot of gold off the old heaps. Mum used to go out and ’dish’ the heaps, she’d get quite a lot of gold sometimes. We also dug for gold during the depression. There was still an awful lot of gold around then.
The nephew, Dick Douthat and I got 35 ounces of gold from a place at the top end of Long Gully called “Toss Up”. Dick was Bohwen Douthat’s son. Bohwen married my sister, Sarah.
I left Waanyarra when I was about 25. I went to different places working. I was at Mildura grape picking, wood cutting, spraying oranges and that sort of thing. I was married at Korong Vale to Mary Grace Meriton. We lived at Waanyarra over behind Bohwen’s then moved to Baker’s old place. A while after that we went to Melbourne and I worked as a wood machinist. Then I went to the war and spent I3 months on the Kokoda Trail, I don’t want to go back there. I got my Fitter’s Certificate after the war and worked at the Ordnance Factory for I6 years, then I got a job at the Railway workshops in Bendigo.
During the Depression I worked with Ed. (Edgar, old Ted Mortons son) Morton for a while cutting eucalyptus shoots. ‘Knocking shoots’ was about the only job you could get then. It was good work. We made about £4.I0.0 a week, we’d start at about 7.30 a.m. We’d cut in an area about six or seven miles around Waanyarra and towards Dunolly.
The ‘eucy’ was taken by truck back to the Government Eucalyptus plant at Waanyarra. Jimmy Read rented the factory from the Government and ran the plant. Jimmy was a Scotsman, he also had a store in Tarnagulla.
Crowds of people came to Waanyarra during the I930’s Depression. They used to get three months work on the State Forest cutting down trees. We’d cut the butt legs off the trees then the townspeople would cut the rest up, and stack the bushes and that sort of thing. It was funny to see them cutting a tree down. They had no idea, they were absolutely useless. William Harvey Thorp and his wife, Elizabeth Jane (nee Stone) came to live at Waanyarra around I897. With them were their three children, Harriet, Rose and Sarah. In the following years more children were born to Elizabeth and William. Emma was born in I899, Edwin John in I904 and Richard in I907.
William worked as a forestry foreman in the Waanyarra district. His wife Elizabeth often walked, pushing a pram to Dunolly to the Doctor or to get supplies. This was, even in those times, considered a long walk with small children in tow.
All the Thorp children went to the Waanyarra school.
Harrict married Jack Thomas and lived in Dunolly. Sarah married Bohwen Douthat and lived at Waanyarra.
Rose married Eddie Thomas, a soldier who served in France. They lived in Melbourne, Bendigo and Geelong at various times over the years.
Emma married Frank Tomlin, whom she met whilst working in Melbourne.
Edwin (Ted) married Dorothy Else at Tarnagulla in I935. They lived in the old Thorp family home at Waanyarra. Ted and Dorothy had three daughters during the time they lived there, Alison, Dorothy and Elizabeth (Betty). Alison and Dorothy attended school at Waanyarra. Richard went away to work at Korongvale. He married Grace Merriton at Tarnagulla. During World War 2 Richard served overseas in the armed forces.
Elizabeth Jane Thorp (nee Stone) moved to Dunolly after the death of her husband, William Harvey Thorp in I933.


By Dorothy Gordon (nee Thorp)

“My first memories of Waanyarra are of a small farm with one cow, one horse, a few hens, a Rosella and a pet Curlew.
My cousin Nancy Joslin, my sister Alison and I would roam the bush at will picking wildflowers and playing in the creek. One time we had stayed out too late and were afraid to go home because we’d be in trouble. We could hear people calling for us and see our parents searching for us, but we hid until they went past, then ran home. We did not know the worry we caused or of the dangers our parents knew were around us, we were happy wandering about picking everlasting daisies and wax flowers in the beautiful bush. I was very young at that time and could not help myself when all was calm and everyone was glad to see us safe, I said ‘Uncle Bert, we hid, we tricked you’. I don’t think I will ever forget that day.
We would often walk along the dry creek bed to visit Grandpa Else. He always made time to read to us from his many bird books. He was very clever at wood carving and taxidermy, using local animals and birds as his subjects. Grandma Else was not a very active or healthy person, but she would knit us socks and toys.
We looked forward to the days Meer Khan the Indian hawker would arrive with his wagon filled with pots and pans, materials for making clothes, knitting wool and all kinds of things. He would give us ribbons or pretty buttons for our new jumpers.
We walked to school, calling at Mrs. Morton’s on the way. Ken Morton would ‘dink’ me to school on his bike, because I was so little and would get tired walking.
I had a pet hen named Henrietta. She was bitten by a snake one day and died. The next day Mum and Dad found the snake curled up in a bag of wheat. They killed the snake and put it on to an ants’ nest.
Dad would take us to the cricket matches played in the district. And I remember one great picnic where we had raspberry drinks and lots of games. It was a happy time that I remember
at Waanyarra.


4 Responses to Edmund and Isabella Thorp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *