Mary Reece who stitched the sampler (1825-1856) was great- aunt of
Elizabeth Jane Drew Knox(1846 –1925 the grandmother of Peter, Pam and
Titia Knox. Mary Reece was sister to Annie Reece Drew(1821-1900-gt
grandmother of Peter, Pam and Titia Knox.
These words above were carefully stitched into a sampler in 1839 and
have been handed down in the Fearby family through Heather (Bill)
Fearby. The fragile sampler is now in the possession of Janet Fearby of
Gunnedah, New South Wales, co-author of these Chronicles and the
granddaughter of Lilian Knox who married John Thomas Wright Fearby.
Lilian Knox Fearby was the eldest sister of Errol Knox. They were both
the children of Joseph Knox and Elizabeth Jane (nee Drew).
beautiful stitch work was done in 1839 by a teenager called Mary Reece
born in 1825 to David Reece and Hannah Hillas. This is perhaps a
strange place to start when tracing the maternal forebears of Elizabeth
Jane Drew who married Joseph Knox in 1870. However, the sampler is the
only connection we have to Annie Reece whom we assume was given this by
her sister Mary Reece, or it may have been given by Mary Reece to her
niece Elizabeth Jane Drew.
could easily have started with the arrival of the Hillas family in
1801, or indeed the arrival of the convict David Reece, a rope-maker
from Pembroke in Wales who arrived in Sydney 22nd July 1816 on-board
the Atlas aged 19, 5’ 6”, complexion fair pale, hair brown, eyes hazel.
However, after examining scores of birth, marriage and death
certificates it is always the physical evidence that connects us all
that is most compelling.
It is made more so as we see that Mary Reece was born on 16th August
1825 and baptised on 29th January 1826, and it appears that she died in
1856. When David Reece, supposedly her father, died in that same year,
her name was not listed as a daughter on his death certificate.
However, her baptism certificate shows David Reece as father and Hannah
Reece as mother. Strangely our gt gt gt grandmother Hannah (if that can
ever be definitively proven) would only use her married name, McCarthy
or McCartney, for her sons. Although even then, sometimes a son turns
out to be a daughter (see Isaac and Eliza). It is important to focus on
the sampler as circumstantial proof that somewhere there is a familial
link that connects Hannah Hillas to those of us living in the 21st
century. So herein lies the tale of Hannah Hillas, her husbands and the
convict who was father of at least five of her children so that we can
continue with our Knox Chronicles that will eventually link us all to
the current generation.
are very lucky in that many before us have done considerable amounts of
research and work on the Hillas family, which does, in part, give a
structure to the complex lives of the early settlers in Australia. Vera
Briggs, a Drew descendant who lived in New Zealand, was a pioneer in
the Drew research.
Mark Pearce, from
Kellyville NSW, has very kindly devoted many hours of study on the most
minute details, including the interpretation of Church registers and
complex documents. He has generously given of his time to share both
his findings and knowledge with us. This is truly a team effort to sort
out extremely complex lives of the early Australian settlers.
Kevin Hilferty from Sydney has, in particular, has also provided his
valuable time and contributed a great wealth of historical knowledge,
background and expertise, through a keen historical perspective of life
in early and mid 19th century New South Wales. It would no doubt amaze
our ancestors today if they knew how much we admire and respect their
great spirit of survival.
John and Barbara Hillas gt gt gt gt grandparents to the children of
Titia, Peter and Pam Knox and the Fearby family.
The following research was contributed and written by Kevin Hilferty and Mark Pearce (see Glossary).
Hillas was born in Wakefield in Yorkshire, circa 1769, and it was there
he married Barbara Dealtry on 18th March 1789. She seems to have been
three or four years older than her husband. It is possible that Barbara
may have been descended from the Huguenots but that has not been
They had three children born in Yorkshire, Mark (circa 1790), Hannah (1795/1796) and John (circa 1797).
In 1800 they were selected to join a group of artisans and farmers to
go to New South Wales, where their skills were needed by the new
The settlers and their families traveled on three
convict transports, the Nile, Canada and Minorca, which sailed from
Portsmouth via Rio de Janeiro and arrived in Sydney on 12th December
The Hillas family were passengers on the Nile (of 322
tons). The colonial records show that there were ten male passengers on
the Nile, nine women and 21 children. The Nile also carried 96 female
convicts and four children of convicts. Kevin Hilferty writes: “It must
have been a long and tedious voyage for the Hillas family. The three
transports stayed together during the voyage presumably for protection
– this was during the Napoleonic wars. French and Spanish warships or
privateers were prowling about the sea-lanes. The three ships were
armed. The call at Rio was to take on waters and stores. The Government
complimented the three captains and the ships’ surgeons on the good
care they provided for the convicts during the voyage.”
The Minorca (407 tons) carried as passengers seven
men, eleven women and 20 children plus 99 male convicts. The Canada
(403 tons) carried as passengers six men, twelve women and eleven
children plus 101 male convicts.
As a farmer, Hillas was granted land at Toongabbie
where he established Hillas Farm. If he and the other new
settlers improved their land, built sturdy homes and outbuildings and
increased their wheat harvest, they were granted cattle or sheep from
the Government herds. John Hillas is recorded as receiving such cattle.
He and Barbara had three more children in the colony.
Ann was born circa 1804 at Parramatta as were her brothers George, born
circa 1806 and James, born circa 1807.
On 31st March 1802 John received a grant of land in
“western” Sydney’s present day Kellyville, which he called Hillas Farm.
This was followed by a further grant of 160 acres on 11th August 1804
in the same area, this land being called Stanhope Farm. A number of
advertisements appear in the Sydney Gazette during these years
advertising John Hillas’ Stanhope Arms Inn, which was one of the
earliest refreshment houses established on the road between Parramatta
In 1806 a new Governor, William Bligh arrived in the
colony. (This was the famous Captain Bligh of the Bounty). Bligh came
with orders from London to stamp out trafficking in spirits, a
profitable racket involving officers of the garrison regiment, the New
South Wales Corps. This led to tension between the Governor and the
officers, led by Captain John Macarthur.
On January 26, 1808 the officers arrested Bligh and put him on a ship bound for England.
On 6th May 6 1808 five "loyal settlers" from the Baulkham Hills
district (which then included Toongabbie) sent a letter to the
Lieutenant Governor, Colonel William Patterson, supporting Bligh "to
whom we are most zealously attached" and urging that he be permitted to
The officers took their revenge. They ordered the
settlers to report all their property at a general muster. When the
settlers did not comply, the officers sentenced them to a month¹s
imprisonment. Not daunted by this harsh treatment, on November 11, 1808
John Hillas and 25 other free settlers and farmers from Toongabbie
signed a letter to Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State for War and
the Colonies, reporting on the sad situation in the colony since the
removal of Bligh. They added: "Several hundred more signatures
could have been obtained but the system of terror which reigns in
the colony prevented us from venturing further."
Hillas and eight other free settlers from the Baulkham
Hills district sent a further letter to Castlereagh complaining
about conditions in the colony on 22nd February 22 1809. Governor Bligh
confined to a ship in Hobart awaiting passage to England also wrote to
Castlereagh complaining about the officers' treatment of Hillas and the
other free settlers.
Hillas is mentioned in the historical records in a
letter to Bligh's successor, Governor Macquarie, from Lord Liverpool,
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (and subsequently Prime
Minister) dated at Downing Street, London on 10th March 1809.
Liverpool refers to an application made to him on
behalf of Hillas and adds: "I am induced to desire that if you find him
to be a Person deserving the Encouragement of Government and likely to
be benefitted by it, you will allocate to him a Proportion of cattle
and offer him such Assistance you may think is reasonable."
The Hillas family were successful farmers, and John’s
sons owned extensive land holdings at Benneby (near Goulburn, NSW) and
on the Murray River. John died at Hillas Farm on 19th March 1837; and
Barbara died some 7 years later on 8th May 1844, aged 78. Both are
buried in the St. John’s Church of England Cemetery at Parramatta and
their headstone is still there in excellent condition (along with some
of their descendants). ~ Mark Pearce – October 1989
A Brief Summary So Far
Generation 1 John Hillas b. Wakefield Yorkshire 1769-1837. Buried 22nd
March 1837 St. John, Parramatta. Married Barbara Dealtry (b.1765- 9th
May 1844) (533 vol: 29) Parish of St. John – 78 years old. Barbara
Dealtry b. c 1765 in Yorkshire may have been from a Huguenot family.
Further research is being made on her family.
Children of John Hillas and Barbara Dealtry
Mark b. Yorkshire 1790-1872.
Hannah b. c 1796-1838(aged 43) – see separately
John b. Yorkshire 1796-1847. Married Martha Pearce 1826 – V182652 10/1826 & V18263897 3B/1826.
Ann b. 1804-1841 married James Magauran on 2nd June 1823 - see separately
George b. 1805-1875. Married Elizabeth Bourgin.
James b. 1808 d.1837.
The lives of the Hillas sons have been well documented but it is the
lives of the daughters that appear so interesting and certainly more
relevant to the descendants of David and Annie Reece and the Knox
Family. Again we thank Mark Pearce for putting together as much
information as we may ever be able to find out. The reason that Ann
Hillas has been somewhat of an enigma is that at first glance it would
appear that our gt gt grandmother Ann Reece was born to Ann Hillas and
not Hannah. It clearly states “Ann” on the birth certificate but
Hannah’s name was interchangeable with Ann. As Mark Pearce points out
it would be unlikely Hannah would have remained in a stable
relationship with David if he were having children by her sister as
The following is Mark Pearce’s research written 19th January 2005.
Known facts about Ann Hillas:
The “2nd eldest daughter” of John & Barbara Hillas.
1822 General Muster -
Ann Hillas, born in the Colony, servant to J. Palmer at Parramatta.
5th May 1823 Sought permission to marry (Colonial Secretary’s Index).
Married 2nd June 1823 JAMES MAGAURAN at St. John’s Parramatta.
17th July 1824 fined for selling liquor without a license. Appears as
McGourin. (Bench of Magistrates, Parramatta/Colonial Secretary’s
1823,4,5 General Muster – Family group listed as –
McGOURAN, James, Parramatta (Convict, Surrey 1816, Life).
(Government Servant to Ann Ellis or McGouran)
McGOURIN, Ann, Born Colony (Wife of James McGouran).
McGOURIN, Francis, 2 Born Colony.
1828 Census – Family group listed as – McGOURAN, James, 30 Parramatta
(Arrived on the Surrey 1816, Life). McGOURAN, Ann, 22 (Born in the
Colony). The 1828 census shows her niece Elizabeth – Hannah and David’s
first-born daughter living as “servant” aged 10 to the Magaurans.
McGOURAN, Francis, 4 McGOURAN, James (Jun), 2 months
Married 1st August 1834 WILLIAM GREEN at St. John’s
Parramatta (marriage entry shows her surname as McGOVERIN but she
signed it as MAGAURAN). Her age was then said to be 27.
Died 10th August 1841 aged 36 or 37 years.
Buried 12th August 1841 and buried at St. John’s Parramatta.
Deduced from the above –
She was born between 1804-1807 (from ages given at 1828 census, at 2nd
marriage and at her death), however she was born by Marsden’s 1806
Female Muster, therefore possible birth dates are 1804 or 1805 or maybe
early 1806. (Mark Pearce January 1,9 2005).
Anne Hillas/Magauran/Green is buried with her parents
in St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta – the inscription reads: also Anne
Green his second eldest daughter who died August A.D. 1841 Aged 37
years (see headstone 3.I.9 St. John’s Parramatta).
Generation 3 – the life of Hannah Hillas
gt gt gt grandmother of Knox/Fearby family
There have been no easy answers connecting Hannah Hillas to her
daughter and our gt gt grandmother Annie Reece. One of the difficulties
is perhaps because there seems strong evidence that she may not have
been able to read or write and much of the documentation was written
phonetically. This is what we do know from musters, birth marriage and
death certificates and the 1828 Census and why Ann, Hannah, Anna can
Hannah was born in Yorkshire circa 1795 to John and
Barbara Hillas. She arrived in Australia in 1801 aged 6. The first
documented evidence of her existence is in the 1806 Musters showing:
1806- From Samuel Marsden’s 1806 Muster:
No. of legitimate children
Males 3* (Mark, John and George)
Females 2 (Hannah and Anne)
* James born 1807
1811 Hannah marries John McArthur (1305 Vol: 3A) on 23rd December 1811
at St. Matthew’s Church Windsor. According to Mark Pearce who examined
the register – both bride and groom signed the register with an “X”
probably indicating that neither of them could write their names.
1814 General Muster there is an entry
HANNAH McCARTY Came Free on the Nile (Wife to T. McCarty).
1815 - Hannah and John McCarthy have daughter Susanna – however, we
have no further documented evidence except per Vera Briggs research.
There is a Susannah Reece aged 13 years living as a Lodger in the home
of William T. Bayliss in Cornwallis. According to the census he was 34
years old married to Louisa Bayliss with one child. Presumably Susannah
was sent to work in household even though she is listed as “lodger”.
There is certainly no further supporting evidence that this Susannah is
the daughter of our Hannah and John McCarthy.
It is not clear at what point Hannah and John McCarthy
parted ways. There is evidence that a John McArthur passed away and was
buried on 14th December 1819 - V18194469 2B/1819 burial at St. P.
Sydney E aged 36 years, but there is another John McArthur - V18173919
2B1817 aged 33 in 1817. This John McCarthy lived at Portland Head – he
was buried on 27th December 1817 – ceremony performed at Wilberforce.
However, there is no doubt that Hannah met David Reece who played an enormous role in her life.
Mark Pearce’s Summary of Hannah’s Life:
Known facts -
Born Yorkshire, England approximately 1796.
Came to Australia with her parents (John & Barbara) and 2 brothers
(Mark & John) on board the “Nile” which arrived in Sydney on 14th
Married 23rd December 1811 to JOHN McARTHUR at St. Matthew’s Windsor. Neither bride nor groom were able to write.
1814 General Muster –
Listed as HANNAH McCARTY - came free on the Nile (wife to T. McCarty)
1818 a child, Elizabeth, by DAVID REECE is baptised (V18184830 1B/1818 and V18181154 148/1818).
1822 General Muster –
Listed as HANNAH McCARTHY - came free on the Nile (no further details given).
22 May 1823 had a child, Isaac, by DAVID REECE. This child was baptised
at St. John’s Parramatta on 3rd August 1823. His mother’s name is given
as HANNAH MCARTHUR. (We have subsequent information to believe that
Isaac should have read "Eliza" and it is probably that Isaac never
1823,4,5 General Muster –
REES, David (Free by Servitude, Atlas, 1816, 7 years) Landholder, Seven Hills
REESE, Elizabeth 1818 Born Colony Child of David Reese, Parramatta
REESE, Ann 1820 Born Colony Child of David Reese, Parramatta
REESE, Elisa 1823 Born Colony Child of David Reese, Parramatta
16th August 1825 had another child, Mary, by DAVID REECE. This child
was baptized at St. John’s Parramatta on 29th January 1826. (This is
the young girl who stitched the sampler)
1828 a child, George D., by DAVID REESE is baptised (V182868 12/1828) Mother’s name given as Hannah McCarty.
1828 Census – Family group listed as – REES, David, 33 Free by
Servitude, Arrived Atlas 1816, 7 years Curobungee, Cookbundoon REES,
Anna, 34 Came Free (Nile 1802) * Ann Rees, 7 living with her Hillas
grandparents as lodger REES, Eliza, 5 Born Colony REES, Mary, 3 Born
Colony REES, George, 6m Born Colony Other Relevant 1828 Census Entries
REECE, Susannah, 13 Born Colony (Lodger Wm. T. Bayliss, Cornwallis)
REECE, Elizabeth, 10 Born Colony (Servant James McGouran, Paramatta)
REECE, Ann, 7 Born Colony (Lodger Jno. Hollis, Windsor Road, Upper Nelson)
1830 a child, Jane, by DAVID REECE, is baptised (V183010148 1C/1830)
On 17th November 1832 Hannah Hillas (widow) married WILLIAM BRINKLEY at
St. James’ Sydney. Her alternate names of ANN ELLIS and HANNAH HILLIS
and HANNAH HILLAS are listed.
Hannah Hillas, Ellis, Brinkley, Reece died on 9th July 1838 aged 43 years.
Hannah was buried 11th July 1838 at the Sydney Burial Ground. She later
moved to Bunnerong Cemetery. Also buried in this plot is JANE REECE
(her daughter by David Reece) who died 28th June 1841 aged 10 years and
9 months. Deduced from the above –
Hannah was born 1794-1795 (age at Census and at her death)
We are certain that David Reece and Hannah were not married. At Isaac’s
baptism he is listed with the surname of McArthur. This was only ever
done where the children brought for baptism were born outside of a
Isaac's name does not ever get mentioned again, nor does it appear in any Musters. There is an Eliza Reece
Previous research not able to be confirmed –
We have been unable to find a record of the birth of Susannah in about
1815. She is listed in the 1828 Census under the surname REECE (see
above). So it seems likely that she was an infant when her mother began
a relationship with David Reece, and she was given his surname. Our
records also show that Susannah married a JOHN WALTON in 1839 but we
can find no record of this marriage in the NSW Indexes– above details
provided by Mark Pearce NSW. It has become very likely that the name
Susannah Reece may have been a red herring and that the only connection
is the surname. No doubt Vera Briggs recorded her name based on
David Reece gt gt gt Grandfather to Knox/Fearby Family
David Reece appears to have been a rope maker from Pembroke in Wales.
Whatever his transgression he was shipped over in the “Atlas 3” Sydney
22nd July 1816 aged 19, 5’ 6”, complexion fair pale, hair brown, eyes
hazel - it appears he had a 7 year sentence.
It is not clear when he got his ticket of leave.
According to Kevin Hilferty “a convict's ticket of leave was usually
granted by the colonial governor four years into the standard seven
year prison term. There were exceptions, of course, but this was the
general rule. This meant that the convict was free to go into the
normal workforce (although he or she could not return to Britain until
pardoned - a rare event). The system saved the colony from the
cost of the convict's upkeep. Marriage or a stable relationship would
have been a factor, which a governor would have taken into account when
considering granting a ticket of leave.
For whatever reason, perhaps because John McArthur was
still alive, Hannah and David Reece never appear to have married. When
Hannah married William Brinkley in 1832 she calls herself a widow even
though David Reece did not die until 1856. In fact on 17th November
1832 her name is listed as Ann Ellis or Hannah Hillis or Hanah Hillas,
aged 37 years, Nile 1802 (widow) by Banns – witnesses James Clements of
Pitt Street and Ann Magauran of Parramatta (her sister)
In the 1828 Census – David Rees is shown “free by
servitude” Protestant aged 33 years, living at Curobungee, Cookbundoon.
Mark Pearce found the location of Cookbundoon listed in the Wells
Gazeteer of the Australian Colonies of 1848 as follows:
“COOKBUNDOON, a river of NSW situated in the country
of Argyle. It rises on the Cullarin range and flows into the Wolondilly
River, 12 miles from Goulburn plains.”
In the census it shows David Rees living with Anna
Rees aged 34 years, Eliza Rees aged 5 years, Mary Rees aged 3 years,
George Rees – 6 months, a James Heacock – herdsman 27 years, James
Hillas, 21 years (see James above born 1807 – Hannah’s brother and
Robert Plumb aged 40 years, a shepherd.)
This would indicate that David Rees by 1828 had
already become a Farmer and Grazier as indicated at the birth of his
daughter Jane in 1830. Here we find no trace of Isaac but we see Eliza
for whom we have no birth certificate also born in 1823.
The children of Hannah and David Reece – Generation 3
(including our gt gt grandmother Annie Reece)
1818- a child, Elizabeth, by DAVID REECE is baptised (V18184830 1B/1818 and V18181154 148/1818)
Elizabeth Reece born November 18 1818 and baptized 27th June 1819 (4830 Vol: 1B – Registered Parramatta B
In 1828 aged 10 she is living with her aunt, Ann Magauran, who is married to James Magauran.
Elizabeth Rees or Reece (spinster) married George Watson (bachelor) in
the Parish of St. James on 12th November 1839 by license. George N.
Wood was the officiating Minister and David Hill of Pitt Street and
Eliza Reece of Parramatta Road were witnesses (126 Vol.23B). George
Watson dies either in 1844 (V1844443 29/1844 age 35 or V1849871
340/1849 age 41. Elizabeth marries George Spears in 1850. In 1856 it is
George Spears who is witness at David Reece’s death certificate.
Ann (our gt gt grandmother) - 1821 – 16th January -
Ann born to David Reece and Ann Reece – Parramatta, baptism St. John’s
on 29th April 1821 (see Ann Reece separately - this is our Annie Reece
grandmother of Joseph Knox)
1822 General Muster –
Listed as HANNAH McCARTHY Came Free on the Nile (no further detail given)
Isaac 1823 – 22nd May had a child, Isaac, by DAVID REECE. This child
was baptised at St. John’s Parramatta on 3rd Aug 1823. His mother’s
name is given as HANNAH MCARTHUR and he is baptised Isaac McArthur.
(This we believe should have been Eliza Reece).
There is no further mention of Isaac – there is an
Isaac Reece (widower) marrying Ceary Sims (widow) in 1840. However, it
is unlikely he would be a widower by 16. We have been unable to find
anything further on this and as of this date Isaac remains somewhat of
a mystery. More mysterious still is that another child, Eliza, who
seems to have been born in 1823 and there is no indication that they
could have been twins.
Eliza Circa 1823 We have never found a birth
certificate for Eliza but she definitely exists as Eliza or Elisa
Reece. She first appears in the 1823 General Muster as indicated below
born 1823 and in the 1828 Census as aged 5. In 1840 there is an Eliza
Reece of Parramatta Road who is a witness at Elizabeth Reece’s marriage
to George Watson. There is an Eliza Reace of the Parish of Petersham
(829 Vol: 24B) who marries Richard Guise Junior from the Parish of
Hume. They were married in the Parish of Petersham in the County of
Cumberland on 6th April 1840. There is an Elizabeth Guise of Philip
Street aged 27 years who dies on 11 March 1852 in the Parish of
Camperdown. There is no indication of the parent’s names on the New
South Wales Births, Deaths and Marriages Register. Initially this would
appear a likely candidate to be our Eliza Reece. The only question mark
is “Eliza” shown as living in 1856 on David Reece’s death certificate.
Elizabeth’s second husband George Spears witnessed the certificate.
Since Eliza had been a witness at the wedding in 1839 one might suppose
that she would know if her sister had passed away and would not be
shown as “living” if in fact she had died four years earlier. In
addition the Eliza shown as “children of David Reece” is aged 35 in
August 1856 – which would indicate a DOB of 1821. Conclusion: no record
of Eliza Reece being born and no record of what happened to Isaac Reece
or Isaac McCarthy. It may be safe to assume that Isaac was in fact
Eliza but we have to be careful, since no other dates coincide as shown
by data available.
1823,4,5 General Muster:
REES, David (Free by Servitude, Atlas, 1816, 7 years) Landholder, Seven Hills
REESE, Elizabeth 1818 Born Colony Child of David Reese, Parramatta
REESE, Ann 1820 Born Colony Child of David Reese, Parramatta
REESE, Elisa 1823 Born Colony Child of David Reese, Parramatta
Mary (who stitched the sampler) 1825 16th Aug 1825 Hannah Hillas
apparently had another child, Mary, by DAVID REECE. This child was
baptised at St. John’s Parramatta on 29th January 1826. 4 Vol: 10.
David Reece is listed as Farmer, living at Seven Hills. Hannah is
listed as Hannah Reece on Baptism Certificate 7339 Vol: 1c it is “not
stated”. There is a Mary Reese of the Parish of Murrumbidgee who
married John Gordon of the Parish of Tarcuttah Murrumbidgee on 13th
February 1847 at Gunendro Murrumbidgee by license. However, there is no
conclusive evidence that this is the same Mary Reece.
Most likely Mary Reece never married as we have found:
Mary Reece – abode Infirmary age 21 years who died on1st February 1856
in the Parish of Camperdown in the County of Cumberland. It is most
likely that the 21 should read 31. This would make sense that Mary
moved close to her sister Eliza Guise and died very young. Whether she
had already given her sampler to her sister Annie, or it somehow got
passed down is not clear. As indicated above, we can only make an
assumption about the reason for her being in Camperdown, as 1856 was
the year that David Reece died and according to the records at hand,
her sister Eliza.
George David 1828 – 27th April and baptised on 10th
August 1828 at the Parish of Saint John Parramatta in the County of
Cumberland to David Reese and Hannah McCarty – Profession of father –
farmer. 1828 a child, George D., by DAVID REESE is baptised (V182868
1828 Census – Family group listed as –
REES, David, 33 Free by Servitude, Arrived Atlas 1816, 7 years Curobungee,
Cookbundoon REES, Anna,34 Came Free (Nile 1802) REES, Eliza, 5 Born
Colony REES, Mary, 3 Born Colony REES, George, 6m Born Colony
1830 – 3 November and baptised 21st November 1830 - Father David Reece and mother Hannah Reece (V183010148 1C/1830).
Jane Reece died 10 years later.
Hannah Brinkley (nee Hillas) Hannah was buried in the Old Sydney Burial
Ground with her daughter Jane in July 1838 at the very young age of 43.
David and Hannah Why Hannah left David Reece aged 37 for the
31-year-old Calico Printer William Brinkley marrying him on November
17th 1832 is not clear. She claims to have been a widow, although she
was technically married to David Reece, although there never appears to
be a certificate. Hannah or Ann Ellis/Hannah Hillis/Hannah Hillas, was
also 37 at the time of this 2nd/3rd marriage. When she died 6 years
later in 1838, William Brinkley is listed as a Publican. She was buried
where she married in the Parish of St. James Sydney, County of
The building of Central Station and her headstone was moved to Bunnerong years later.
She is listed along with other family members in the book “Gravestone
Inscription”, New, Vol 1, Sydney Burial Ground by Johnson and Sainty
As much as the mystery behind Hannah marrying William
Brinkley is what happened to David Reece. We do know that in 1833 the
Australian newspaper records that David Rees of George County assigned
all his cattle to the children of Hannah McCarthy.
The story of David Reece – to be continued as part of
the Knox Chronicles It is possible that David Reece went to live with
his daughter Elizabeth Reece and her second husband George Spears in
Surrey Hills. On 30th November 1854 we see that David Reece purchases
the “Horncastle” filly three years old belonging to a Richard Trowle.
This order was placed through a Mr. James Howlett Wolgrove.
Much more research has to be done on David Reece – how
he assimilated so quickly from being a 19 year old convict in July 1816
to a cattle owner is unclear. It is possible that he was fortunate to
have been working for the Hillas family. Whether he was actually the
father of all of Hannah’s children is also unclear. Isaac and Mary’s
name are not found on his death certificate and Anne is given a wrong
age. Why Hannah and David would call their first born Elizabeth and
second born Eliza is as mysterious as why the Hillas parents would call
their eldest daughter Hannah and second daughter Anne – as the names
are interchangeable leading to confusion. Documentation certainly
points to our forebears being David Reece and Hannah Hillas. The fact
that it is only on Anne Reece’s birth certificate that her mother is
called Anne is most likely a clerical or phonetic error. The only other
question remaining is why would little Annie Reece aged seven not be
living with her parents and siblings but with her grandparents in the
1828 Census. This can be answered that children, especially the girls
were sent away at very young ages (see 1828 Census), children were
listed as lodgers as young as seven as in the case of our Annie Reece.
It is only by skipping a generation that the name
Hillas appears again, with the birth of Leslie Haldane Hillas Knox
(Errol Knox's brother). Here we see we see Annie Reece’s grandson being
given his great great grandfather’s name.
There is certainly much more to add here. Isaac Reece
remains a mystery – as it is unlikely the Isaac Reece who married aged
16, as a widower is the same Isaac born in 1823. Eliza remains a
mystery, as there does not seem a birth certificate for her. No doubt
these mysteries will be resolved but the only conclusion that can be
drawn is that Isaac is really Eliza and since it appears that neither
David Reece nor Hannah Hillas could write there could have been a
misunderstanding at the font. This is not a very satisfactory
We will now move on to the next generation and hope that the many questions still unresolved will find answers.
The next generation is much easier as again Carol Baxter and others have already done much work.
We start again with Mary Reece – who was born in 1825 but beyond that
all we know is that she stitched a sampler still in the possession of
the descendants of David Reece and Hannah Hillas, namely the co-author
of these Chronicles, Janet Fearby. This is the link that survived the
Hillas/Reece/Drew/Knox and onto to the present day Fearby/Knox
Mary Reece’s older sister Annie Reece born on 16th
January 1821 married George Drew on 9th January 1843. The marriage took
place in the Parish of Hunter’s Hill in the County of Cumberland.
George Drew is listed as being of the Parish of Baulkham Hills
(Bachelor) as is Ann Reece. The witnesses were listed as Standish Drew
(brother) of Baulkham Hills and Charlotte Drew of Parramatta.
The next segment of the Knox Chronicles continue with
the story of George Drew who married Annie Reece – gt gt grandmother to
Janet and Tom Fearby and Jane Knox and all the descendant of Joseph