Joseph Starbuck & family (The James T Foord Cholera Ship)


(Hickling Standard: July 2020)

Two members of our group have taken on the monumental (in all senses of the word) task of recording all the gravestones in the churchyard and assembling the family stories and the links between families and generations; eventually, it will all appear on our local history website but in the meantime there is considerable checking, cross-checking, proofreading and revising. Sometimes there is a gap and sometimes that gap just has to remain – in this instance; What happened to Joseph Starbuck after he appears on the 1841 census?

The James T Foord
The James T Foord

Lockdown seems to have focused minds all over the world on their families and tracing their family histories – our enquiries have certainly increased! And so it was, in early July that we received a message from a lady in Melbourne – their second lockdown had just begun and she found herself with time to return to her family tree; specifically, the Starbuck family and, very specifically, George and Anne Starbuck who lived in Hickling in the early 19th Century. The team went into over-drive and it turned out that the Melbourne connection filled one of those frustrating gaps!

In summary, George and Anne Starbuck married in 1813 and had 10 children(!); their eldest daughter died aged 9 but their remaining children all survived. They were a family of farm labourers and life would have been hard. John (b.1816)  and Joseph (b.1822) went on to marry sisters; Ann and Jane Hill – John and Ann also went on to have 10 children and they remained in Hickling. But, until our enquiry from Melbourne, all we knew was that Joseph was living with his parents in 1841 and then—just a gap. As soon as we learnt that he had travelled to Australia details of his marriage, his children and their voyage to Australia combined into one story and the gap was filled.

England in the 19th Century suffered from appalling outbreaks of cholera; the consequences of the outbreaks in 1832 and in 1848/9 were particularly bad and Hickling experienced deaths in both. In summer 1849 Joseph and Jane Starbuck decided to uproot their family and emigrate to Australia (taking advantage of the Government sponsored schemes of the time). Parish registers show that they had four children:

  • Mary 24 April b.1842, father labourer
  • Selina 4 August b.1844, father labourer, later note in registers “Australia”
  • Thomas 10 May b.1847, father labourer, later note in registers “Australia”
  • Emma 3 June b.1849, father labourer, later note in registers “Australia”
1849 deaths at sea; James T Foord 1 National Archives
1849 deaths at sea; James T Foord 1 National Archives

When they began the journey to join the ship in Gravesend, baby Emma was just  a few weeks old. What the family had no way of knowing, was that they were travelling into a terrible cholera tragedy which would mean that only Joseph and their eldest daughter, Mary (age 7), would make it to Australia.

When the family joined the ship in Gravesend baby Emma and 4-year-old Selina were unwell and by the time they had reached Plymouth to pick up the remaining passengers accounts of the voyage record that they both seem to have died (although only Emma’s death is registered in Plymouth). Panicking that illness would delay his departure (costing him money), the captain decided not to quarantine passengers and the voyage went ahead.  Soon, after departure Jane (mother) and 2-year-old Thomas had also died.  54 emigrants died on the voyage (including 34 cholera deaths and 23 child deaths) – all were buried at sea. 7 children were born.

Conditions on this voyage were more than usually appalling: on arrival in Port Phillip on 7th November 1849, the James T. Foord was quarantined, passengers interviewed and an enquiry carried out. It was found that the aggressive and fraudulent behaviour of the crew meant that passengers were eating rotten food, deprived of rations and water and deprived of basic health supplies such as soap.

This is not the end of the story, though. Also on the ship was Thomas Peach’s family and they also suffered the deaths of his wife, his eldest son and his newborn baby. In February 1851, the widowed Joseph Starbuck married Thomas’s daughter Ruth Peach (aged 17) in Melbourne, Australia and they settled  to a farming life and began a family of their own. Life continued to be hard, though, and in 1860 Joseph was declared insolvent when his crops failed, he died in 1887.

Mary (Joseph and Jane’s only surviving child from Hickling) married  Joseph Dredge in April 1866 and it is her direct descendent who has been in contact with us having traced Mary’s birth records and found the village website. Sadly, Mary died aged just 46 in January 1888.

Quarantine Ground Port Phillip Bay
Quarantine Ground Port Phillip Bay

Hickling Parish records tell us that the family, here, knew that they had gone to Australia but how did John and Anne (brother & sister respectively to the emigrating couple) feel about this departure? Did news of the James T Foord ever get back to Hickling; no further notes were added to the Parish records and the passenger records tell us that, whilst Joseph and Ruth could both read, they couldn’t write. What was life like for Joseph and his new young wife, Ruth in a new country and after that journey? How did 7-year old Mary fare in a new country without her mother and siblings and in a new family?


“The term ‘assisted immigrant’ refers to those people whose passage was subsidised or paid for through one of the several assisted immigration schemes which operated to New South Wales from the United Kingdom and other countries.”

(New South Wales State Archives & Records; Assisted Immigrants Index)

What happened to Mary (age 7) after the Voyage?

A little girl born in Hickling who went so far and went through so much …

Mary Starbuck and her father, Joseph, were the only members of the family to survive the voyage on the James T Foord; she was only 7 years old when they disembarked at Port Phillip in Australia in November 1849 and she had seen the deaths of her mother and brothers and sisters on the way, as well as enduring appalling conditions.

In early 1851 her father, Joseph, married Ruth Peach (who had travelled on the same ship with her own family) and they had children of their own – half-brothers to Mary.

Interestingly, from a Hickling perspective, it is a descendant of Mary Starbuck who has contacted us with the family’s story; as the only surviving child from the family that left Hickling in 1849 it has been a pleasure to see that she married and had a family of her own. Sadly, Mary died aged 46 in 1888 (a year after her father) and after 12 pregnancies; it seems that she died during childbirth and her baby, also Mary, died a few days later. She was survived by her husband, one daughter and six sons.

Mary and Joseph Dredge married in 1866 and seem to have led a reasonably prosperous life following their marriage; in 1872 Joseph Dredge is recorded as the President of a newly formed cricket club in Portarlington, later that year he is recorded as buying land in a Crown Land sale and he is elected to the Board of Advice for the Portarlington School District.

However, Joseph Dredge does seem to have had a reckless/adventurous side to his character. Before his marriage he spent time in New Zealand taking his chances in the goldrush in the Dunedin/Otago region (arriving in Dunedin on the Ring Dove in August 1862 and returning sometime before his marriage in 1866 – there is no record of how he fared in his search for gold, though). Then in December 1877 he is inviting tenders for the construction of a Bathing House through the Portarlington Sea Bathing Company. This latter venture resulted in his being declared insolvent less than a year later.

Following Mary’s death in 1888 the family seems to have struggled without her. Mary died in January and just a few months later her sons start getting into trouble. Especially Peter, who was made a ward of the state; the notes on his records state that his father was addicted to drink and had left the family to earn some money leaving the older boys to look out for the others. Perhaps Joseph left to avoid or hide from his responsibilities? Perhaps Mary had been the backbone of the family and they just couldn’t manage without her? There are no clues, so far, of what happened to the family during the years between Joseph’s insolvency and Mary’s death – there must, at least, have been periods of great sadness with so many child deaths.

There are a number of stories of Mary and Joseph’s children; snapshots of what life was like for them: read more

(March 1907): “DREDGE – On the 17th March, at No. 38 Nelson street, Port Melbourne, Joseph Dredge, the dearly beloved father of Frank, William, Joseph, Peter, James and Oliver Dredge, and Mrs. Wm. Edwards, aged 65 years. Passed peacefully away.”

Mary’s direct descendent, Kristyn (through Mary’s son Oliver Dredge) still lives in the Melbourne area of Australia and she continues to work on the family history.


Mark Starbuck: Hickling to Australia and then to New Zealand.

Alongside the Joseph Starbuck family there is also a Mark Starbuck on the passenger list for the James T Foord voyage – he is listed as a single male and aged 19 from Nottingham.

  • He is not listed as part of Joseph Starbuck’s family for the voyage.
  • None of our currently available graveyard stories of the Starbuck family mention Mark Starbuck.
  • Parish records for Hickling show the baptism of a Mark Starbuck on the 25th January 1829. His parents are William and Hannah Starbuck.
  • A Mark Starbuck is listed (aged 11) in the 1841 census as part of the Wild household in Upper Broughton.
  • There is no apparent familial link between Mark Starbuck and the Wild household but he is listed as an ‘Ag Lab’ on the census return. Joseph Wild was a farmer and at the young age of 11 (not unusual at this time) Mark appears to have been a living-in worker – the only one listed for this household. Perhaps a sense of rootlessness from an early move away from his family and home village contributed to his willingness to emigrate when he was 18/19?
  • Mark’s parents, William (age 40, 1801) and Hannah (age 30, 1811) are listed in Hickling in the 1841 census ages (children listed: Ellen 9, Joseph 7, Richard 5, John 3, Anne 1). They also appear in the censuses of 1851 & 1861. William seems to have died in 1869 and is probably the William Starbuck buried in Hickling. There are some contradictions over Hannah’s birth dates & this part of the family needs some further checking/verification.
  • William is likely to be the brother of George Starbuck (father of Joseph whose family emigrated on the James T Foord); making George Starbuck Mark’s uncle and Joseph Starbuck Mark’s cousin.
  • Oddly, Joseph had a brother called William who married a Hannah – the records and dates are all over the place but they don’t seem to match … (this needs looking into further).
  • Lastly, a Mark Starbuck (no age) is listed as having died in the Bingham District in 1850.
  • There are no further records (census returns etc) for a Mark Starbuck in Nottinghamshire or Leicestershire to match any of these dates.

Mark Starbuck’s records raise questions that we haven’t been able to answer with any certainty. If the Mark Starbuck who travelled on the James T Foord is the same man who was born in Hickling in 1829 then it seems likely that he knew the Joseph Starbuck family (Joseph & Mark seem to be cousins).

  • It is difficult to find passenger lists coming into the UK for this period; there is an outside possibility that this Mark Starbuck turned straight round (after the terrible voyage) and returned home, only to die in 1850.
  • It wasn’t uncommon for passengers to use aliases on the Gov’t tickets (when, for some reason, they were ineligible themselves); is it possible that an ill Mark Starbuck allowed someone else to travel under his name?
  • Nevertheless; there is a traceable history of a Mark Starbuck with the same birth date of 1829/30 and he can be placed in Port Phillip in Australia and later in New Zealand.
  • to be entirely sure, we would like to trace the Mark Starbuck whose death was recorded in the Bingham District in 1850 …

Mark and Elizabeth Starbuck – Australia and New Zealand timeline:

As far as we have been able to trace; Mark Starbuck settled in the Port Phillip area, marrying Elizabeth Eyles (also a migrant) in 1850 with the birth of their daughter, Laura, following soon after. Mark and Elizabeth (and, we believe, Laura) moved to the Otago/Dunedin area of New Zealand in 1863. They seem to have led an unsettled life until 1870 when Mark Starbuck is listed as licensee of The Plough Inn, West Taiori. He sold up in 1875 and the sale/auction advertisements show a reasonably substantial land holding. After this, Mark and Elizabeth Starbuck can be found in the Southland region of New Zealand; Elizabeth died in 1896 and Mark died in 1900.

  • Elizabeth Eyles arrives in Port Phillip on the William Stewart in May 1848 (age 16) – she was born in Wiltshire
  • Mark arrives in Australia on the James T Foord 1849 (age 19)
  • Mark Starbuck and Elizabeth Eyles marry 1850 (there are two records with this date but a third suggests 1859 but miss-spells Elizabeth’s surname – unconfirmed but 1850 is the most likely date).
  • Only daughter, Laura, born 1850.

Note: 21st Aug 1862; Joseph Dredge (Mary Starbuck’s husband-to-be) arrives in Dunedin – gold rush (Taieri River? see below). Joseph Dredge married Mary Starbuck (only surviving Starbuck child from the James T Foord) in April 1866. (Mary Dredge (nee Starbuck) died 1888, Joseph Dredge died 1907)

  • There is no sign that Joseph Dredge returned to NZ but his short venture into the goldrush may have been the reason for Mark & Elizabeth Starbuck making the trip?
  • Would Mary & Joseph have met before Joseph went to NZ in 1862?
  • It is likely that Joseph was still in NZ when Mark & Elizabeth arrived in 1863?
  • There are no records of Mark and Elizabeth’s life in Australia between 1850 and 1863.
  • The Starbucks arrive in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1863 (no record of the ship’s name)
  • 2nd July 1863; Mark Starbuck – uncollected letters (Dunedin, general)
  • 24th December 1864; Mark Starbuck unclaimed letters (Dunstan Creek – 120km north of Dunedin?)
  • Electoral Roll records 1867,1868, 1869 & 1870 – all in Caversham.
  • It is possible that Mark Starbuck was following the new Otago goldrush in this period.
  • 1869: Mark Starbuck recorded as licensee of the West Taieri Hotel.
  • 2nd March 1870; licensing meeting – James Middleton transfers the Plough Inn, Maungatua to Mark Starbuck. At the same time, Mark Starbuck transfers the West Taieri Hotel to Richard Paterson.
  • 19th August 1870: Mark Starbuck applies to lease 3 acres (nearly surrounded by the Waipori River in the Berwick area) from the Waste Land Board – he didn’t appear at the hearing to support the application & it lapsed.
  • 7th May 1872; Mark Starbuck is barred from the electoral roll because he has no household (place of abode cited as Caversham/Roslyn District – in Dunedin)
  • 3rd April 1875; farm sale (lower Waipori)
  • 10th July 1876 – Mark Starbuck applies to purchase land; section 227, Forest Hill Hundred, 200 acres (Southland).
  • 17th October 1876; sale of house & farm – sections 1 and 2, block iv, Township of Berwick (near Waipori/Dunedin)
  • 31st January 1878; notice in the name of Mark Starbuck to make a fence bordering his land (Forest Hill Hundred area)
  • 29th April 1887; Southland Land Board gives permission to build bridges on his farmland – mention of ‘his own & his neighbour’s children’ (there is only a record of Mark & Elizabeth having one child, Laura, born 1850; does this notice refer to his workers’ children? His grandchildren? Other unknown children of his own?)
  • 1890-1; Mark Starbuck is listed on the sheep farmer’s register in Hokonui, Southland as having 22 sheep in 1890 and 50 sheep in 1891.
  • 1893: Elizabeth Starbuck of Hokonui (Southland) appears on the electoral roll & signs a petition for women’s suffrage.
  • 1893 & 1896: Mark Starbuck is listed on the electoral roll as a farmer in Forest Hill, Awarua.
  • 1896: Elizabeth dies at the age of 64
  • 1900-1901; Mark Starbuck is listed on the sheep farmer’s register in Hokonui, Southland as having 97 sheep in 1900 and no sheep in 1901 (following his death).
  • 24th September 1900; death of Mark Starbuck (farmer, late of Hokonui) reported in Southland – funeral to be in Winton
  • 9th & 12th October 1900 – notice for any claims against the estate of Mark Starbuck
  • 13th October 1900 – notice of auction; estate of Mark Starbuck – the farm, Springhills, Hokonui (itemised)
  • April 1901: Supreme Court – Mark Starbuck (deceased) motion for remuneration to executors

Did Mark & Elizabeth stay together throughout?

  • Elizabeth is only recorded in Southlands after their arrival in Dunedin (but records are vague, particularly for a woman, so this may not be surprising).
  • Mark Starbuck’s movements are quite erratic in these early years in New Zealand – might he have been following the gold rush? Was Elizabeth (& daughter, Laura?) with him during this time or did she/they settle in Southland?
  • 1872; Mark Starbuck is barred from the electoral roll because he has no ‘household’
  • Mark Starbuck’s death in 1901 is reported in the Southlands area and newspaper reports indicate that he moved from the immediate area of Dunedin in 1875 and set up a new farm in the Southlands near Waipori at the same time; remaining in the Southlands until his death.

Laura Starbuck

Initially, we couldn’t find any reference to Laura Starbuck after her birth in 1850 and it wasn’t even clear whether she made the journey to New Zealand with her parents in 1863. Although we still don’t have much evidence of Laura Starbuck’s life in either Australia or in New Zealand, when we were pointed towards a newspaper article from 1934 written by Mark Starbuck’s grandson (Thomas Moore George), it was possible to work backwards and find some detail.

Thomas George’s probate record lists his parents as Thomas Clark Glasson and Laura Ellen which led us back to his birth record; his father is listed as Thomas Clark and his mother as Laura Ellen Starbuck. So far, we haven’t been able to confirm any further detail but it would appear that Laura Starbuck married Thomas Clark (Glasson?) in the Southland area of New Zealand sometime between 1875 (when the family moved to the area) and 1879 (when Thomas Moore George was born). However, we have no marriage or death records for either Laura or Thomas Clark Glasson.

Mark Starbuck - grandson's letter to newspaper 1934
Mark Starbuck – grandson’s letter to newspaper 1934

Confusingly, later records for Laura’s son, Thomas Moore George, introduce further names to complicate the searches; perhaps his father was absent or died young and Laura re-married?

These are all areas for further research.

However, we do have records to show that Thomas Moore George removed to Australia (his mother’s place of birth) and that he married in Victoria, Australia in 1903. All further records locate him in the Maidstone area of Victoria, Australia (for example, embarkation records for WWI) – including his letter to the newspaper in 1934.


Did the Otago Gold Rush bring two Melton/Hickling families (back?) together?!

This is a story/area of research which takes us in to the very dangerous waters of speculation. However, there is a significant coincidence which we have been looking into.

  • In 1848/9 the Woolley family emigrated from the Melton area and are said to have built The Plough Inn in the Dunedin/Otago area of New Zealand (because of memories of a Plough Inn from home).
  • In 1848 Mark Starbuck (born in Hickling) emigrates with his cousin’s family to Port Phillip in Australia. In 1863, Mark Starbuck moves to Dunedin and, in 1870, he takes over as licensee of The Plough Inn, West Waipori in the Dunedin/Otago area.
  • 5th Feb 1868; “for sale – Country Hotel; Plough Inn plus farm, West Taieri – apply Thomas Gordon”. This Plough Inn is described as being ’25 miles from town’ which indicates that there were at least two Plough Inns in the area at the relevant time. 
  • Note: Samuel Woolley refers to his Plough Inn as a hotel.
  • Note: When Mark Starbuck moves to Southland in 1875 he sells his farm in West Taeiri.
  • The newspaper account of the Woolley family’s story gives an account of the Plough Inn being on the Dunstan Rd – Dunstan is west of Waikouaiti and north west of Dunedin; is it possible that this is the West Taieri Plough Inn associated with Mark Starbuck?

Our ‘to-do’ list:

  • We would like to confirm the origins of Samuel Woolley’s journal record; what is the story behind The Plough that he sold to fund the family’s emigration in 1848?
  • Can we identify where Samuel Woolley and his family were between 1841 (census) and 1848 (emigration)?
  • Where exactly is The Plough Inn that Samuel Woolley built in the Otago/Dunedin region of New Zealand?
  • Samuel Woolley and Mark Starbuck were in the same area at the same time; can we find/confirm a link between them?

(JF November 2020)