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 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?

(JF July 2020)


Joseph & Mark Starbuck Australia - property map
Joseph & Mark Starbuck Australia – property map

Records in 1856 show both Joseph Starbuck and Mark Starbuck (see, below) were leasing properties (200 acres + house) in Melbourne, Australia. Mark’s property was at Deep Creek, South Bourke and Joseph’s property close by. 

“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)

Joseph Starbuck and Ruth Peach:

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

  • Joseph Starbuck died in 1887. Ruth (Peach) Starbuck died aged 82 on the 22nd June 1916 in Coburg, Victoria.
  • Joseph and Ruth’s son, John Thomas Starbuck, was born in 1853.
    • John Thomas Starbuck married Sarah Archer and had at least one daughter; Henrietta Ruth Starbuck (born 1890).
    • There are reasonable records for some members of the Peach family in Australia; particularly helpful are the Will and Probate records for Alfred Arthur Peach (Ruth’s nephew) who was born in 1862 and died aged 23 in 1885 in Yielima, Victoria, Australia. These documents give full details of his parents and siblings:
      • Alfred was the son of Ruth’s elder brother, Thomas, who also voyaged on the James T Foord. He married Mary-Anne Jenkinson Burgess on the 29th September 1853; they were both aged 21 when they married. Mary was born in 1832 at Billinger in Lincolnshire.
      • Thomas and Mary-Anne had a large family: Edwin Bird Peach; Walter Peach; Francis Jenkinson Peach (sole beneficiary of Alfred’s Estate) John Peach; Herbert Charles Peach; Arthur Peach; Ambrose Thomas Peach (all siblings sign over their rights to Ambrose to administer Alfred’s Estate) and Alice Peach.
      • They are all based around Ballerat and Yielima; all have farm-based occupations.
    • In 1913 there are records of a marriage between Henrietta Ruth Starbuck (Ruth’s granddaughter) and Victor Stanley Francis Peach (grandson of Thomas Peach (Ruth’s brother) and son of Ambrose Peach); this seems to indicate that the Peach and Starbuck families stayed in contact with each other.
  • In March 1863 Joseph posted a ‘Missing Friends’ message in the Otago Times for Amos Peach. Amos was Ruth’s brother and he is listed as age 8 on the James T Foord passenger lists; making him about age 22 in 1863 – it would seem that he went to New Zealand but then lost touch with his sister (research is ongoing).
    • Why was Joseph Starbuck trying to contact Amos Peach?
    • There is no trace of Amos Peach in Passenger lists for this time.
    • Manoah Peach (brother of Ruth and Amos) moved to New Zealand in the 1860s; did they travel together or at separate times?
    • Mark Starbuck (cousin of Joseph Starbuck and also a passenger on the James T Foord) sailed to New Zealand on The Ceylon in 1863 (with his family following later); are there any links between Amos’ journey and Mark Starbuck?
    • There are no further records for Amos Peach (although a Henry Amos Peach married Mary Miller in New Zealand in 1867).
  • However, another of Ruth’s brothers (from the James T Foord voyage) can be placed in New Zealand at this time, too; her younger brother Manoah Peach (born 1840).
    • There are two possible passenger records from Australia to the Otago/Dunedin region of New Zealand:
      • Mr Peach on the Rialto in April 1863
      • M Peach on the Indiana in Feb 1863
    • Marriage record; Manoah Peach to Mary Moffat (from Dublin, Ireland) in 1869.
    • There is a death record for Ruth Peach, age 9, (born 1878, died 1887). Her father is Manoah Peach and her mother is Mary.
    • There are a number of records for Manoah Peach as farmer and sheep farmer in the Ashley area near Canterbury; also records in Papers Past. Records of his death in 1913 in Canterbury give his age as 73 and a birth date in 1840.
    • An obituary in 1913 reports that he was born in Huntingdon (England) and that he migrated to Australia before moving to New Zealand in the 1860s when he was ‘engaged for some time carting stores to the Otago goldfields” before acquiring land in Ashley, north Canterbury where he farmed successfully. “He leaves a widow and a grown-up family of four sons and seven daughters.” He left a substantial Estate valued at £13,614.
  • Further research is needed into Ruth’s other surviving siblings (Ephraim, Amos and Elizabeth).
Otago Times; 20th March 1863

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.

Mary (Starbuck) Dredge:

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 (the foundations of the bathing house can still be seen at low tide).

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.

Mark Starbuck
Mark Starbuck

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.