Ancestral home in Cornwall
Bolithos came to Australia mainly from the Cornish parishes of St
Just in Penwith, Mawgan in Meneage, and Wendron. Church records, though
incomplete, allow us to trace the name Bolitho back to 17th century
Wendron. Other records show Bolithos living in 16th century Menheniot,
Penryn, Crowan and Helston. Bolitho as a place name is associated with
Crowan as early as 1280 and with Menheniot as early as 1395.
William Bolitho (c1764-1790)
The first known Bolitho to set forth for Australia was William
Bolitho. When the Second Fleet sailed from Portsmouth in England on 19
January 1790, William was among the convicts in the hold of the
Neptune. He found himself in that position because he had taken to
the ways of a highwayman and, on 19 July 1787, had robbed William
Singleton at Stithians in west Cornwall. Found not guilty of the capital
offence of highway robbery but guilty of stealing, he had been sentenced
to seven years' transportation and, at the age of 21, sent to the
Dunkirk hulk at Plymouth. The voyage of the Neptune was a
disaster. As a result of brutal treatment and starvation, 158 of the 499
prisoners perished, among them William Bolitho.
Cecilia Hooper Bolitho (c1820-1907)
On present knowledge, the first Bolitho to become a permanent
resident of Australia was Cecilia Hooper Bolitho. Cecilia left her birth
place of Ruan Minor in 1847, arriving in South Australia on 4 September after
a 95-day voyage on the Aboukir. Among the other steerage passengers
on the Aboukir were 30 Cornish miners. Cecilia and her husband,
Jeremiah Swift, lived for a short time in Adelaide before settling at McLaren Vale.
Elisabeth Bolitho (c1808-1870)
Another early arrival was Elisabeth Bolitho, who on 19 July 1848 came ashore
from the Westminster at Port Adelaide with her husband, Joseph
Orchard, and their family. The Orchards came from Mawgan in Meneage and
took up residence in Adelaide.
Jenifer Bolitho (c1817-1891)
Three months later, on 15 October 1848, the Santipore docked
at Port Adelaide. Among her passengers was
from St Just in Penwith. She was accompanied by her second husband,
Richard Eddy, and their son, also
Richard Eddy , as well as two children
from her first marriage (
Thomas Bolitho Trezise and
Elizabeth Jane Trezise). This family
spent three years at the mining town of Burra in South Australia, before
moving to Clunes in Victoria. Jenifer is my great-great-grandmother.
Thomas Bolitho (c1835-1861)
The discovery of gold in Victoria in the 1850s saw the beginning of a
steady flow of Bolitho immigrants to that state. Many of them copper and
tin miners in Cornwall, they would soon turn their hand to winning gold
from the rich reefs of Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Maldon and
Among the new arrivals who walked down the gangplank from the
Saldanha in June 1854 was 19-year-old
Thomas Bolitho from St Just. Eager to
meet up with his brother Samuel, who had made the trip the previous
year, Thomas made his way to Ballarat. There he found work at the Burra
Burra mining claim and married his cousin
Elizabeth Jane Trezise in his tent on
the goldfields. Thomas and Elizabeth are my great-grandparents.
Sadly, Thomas was killed in a mining accident in 1861. Elizabeth,
then only 21, was left a widow with three small children. Within two
years, sickness claimed the lives of two of the children, and Elizabeth
was forced to remarry. Her sole surviving child,
Walter Bolitho, born in 1859, is my
Bolithos and the mining community
The Cornish people were drawn to mines all around the world, and
eventually Bolithos were to be found not only in South Australia and
Victoria but in the mining communities of all other Australian states.
© 2001 Bob Bolitho
Updated 29 July 2005.