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Augustine and Wilcox Families
Submitted by Laurie Augustine


UPS AND DOWNS

A Family History of the Augustine and Wilcox Families, Early Australian Migrants.

Con & George Augustine, born in Samos, Greece

Samuel Wilcox born in Milfred Tavern, Wales

This is the story of an unusual marriage. The husband was a grandson of a Greek family. The wife was a grand daughter of an Welsh and Irish family. Their ancestors were all early migrants to Australia.

The husband was one of six children of John Augustine who was one of seven children of a Greek immigrant, Con Augustine. Jim the husband had three step sisters and a sep-brother. They were May, Myrtle, Eily and Jack. When his father remarried he had Jim ,a brother Arthur and a sister Hazel. Jim’s mother was Anne Johnson, one of three sisters. After John died, Anne remarried a man called Robert Gordon and Jim was brought up by him. John died at 55 when the children were very young.

The wife Eily, also came from a big family. Her father Frederick Wilcox, married an Irish girl, Mary Anne Dunn. They had the following children: Frederick, , Lillee Irene, francis, Ivy,Sam, Edward and Daniel Charles. Two other children died near birth.. Frederick senior was the son of Welsh migrants, Samuel Wilcox and Fanny Davis.

Samuel Wilcox was born in Milfred Tavern ,Wales in 1830. He married Francis Davis in 1861. She was also from Wales and was twelve younger than Samuel. They had two children, Alice in 1864 and Frederick in 1870. Fred was a carpenter similar to his father who was a ship’s carpenter. Little is known about Samuel Wilcox. He was born in the same year that King George 1V dies and William 1V ascended the English throne.

Samuel Wilcox was born to a world far different to that of his grandchildren.

Only one year before Samuel was born Catholic Emancipation took place. Catholics were given civil right for the first time since the Reformation. Samuel was born in a Protestant, autocratic world. The King still considered himself head of state, despite challenges from Parliament. He w2as reluctant to sign the Emancipation Bill and refused to have any Catholic peers. England had just beaten Napoleon and together with other European Nations were able to dictate appointments to the royal throne of Greece. Yet Samuel’s family were to unite with a Greek family and have descendants called Augustine. Many of the Wilcoxs were to emigrate to America where they played a leading part in the liberal politics of that democratic nation. There are sixteen Wilcoxs in one edition of the American Who’s Who. Yet we are concerned with a Wilcox who migrated to the recently convict nation of Australia. They too were to play a part in that nation’s movement to democracy.

Sam may have been wealthy but his descendants were up and down in the economic scale. Some became middle class and married into Greek and Irish families. Jim and Eily both had Catholic mothers. From the autocratic days of William 1v to the Labor politics of working class Irish was great jump. But both Jim and Eily were born in working class families . They still proudly consider themselves working class despite living in middle class Blackburn in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Wily was born in working class North Melbourne and lived in North Fitzroy and Northcote before she was married.

Jim was born in South Melbourne in 1906 and lived in the country and several suburbs of Melbourne before he was married. His mother and father lived in their own house in Brunswick when he was a child. Jim had several elder sisters and brothers. When the First World War broke out his brother Jack enlisted. Jim was too young to go to the War but was later a part time soldier. During the War his father had to sell up and go to live with relatives in Kalgoorlie. John therefore followed his father George to a gold field. Geoge was a gold miner in Rushworth and Kalgoorlie was a gold mining town during the war. Jim and Hazel had to be put into homes as they were to young to travel. Jim went to a home in Clayton where he learnt gardening his life-long career. While in Kalgoorlie, John died after a short illness, at the age of 55.

Among the notices put in the Melbourne and Kalgoorlie Papers was the following:

"Augustine died on the 7 January at Kalgoorlie. The beloved husband of Annie Augustine late of Jones St, Brunswick. Loving father of May, Myrtle. Eileen,Arthur and Hazel."

According to notices in the "Kalgoorlie Miner" there was a large funeral from Mr Richard Augustine’s residence "Naretha" Boulder Road, to the Church of England portion of the Kalgoorlie Cemetery.

John died in a gold mining town like the one in which he was born. However things had changed in those 55 years. His father George was on the Victorian gold diggings. He may had fought in the Eureka Stockade uprising , when the miners protested on unfair government regulations on the diggings. He was a Greek migrant who may had jumped ship to join the gold rush. The diggings were at first close to the surface, but as time went on deeper shafts were necessary. Many of the owners of these mines were migrants from Ireland, Prussia, Canada, America and Peru.

George Augustine was born in Samos, an island off the Turkish coast under the control of the Greek government. In 1828 his father, Con Augustine was born in Samos. Changing their name slightly from the Greek they migrated to Australia. Con’s wife was called Zocharlena. From a small Greek island where little happened, the Augustine family moved first to the excitement of the Victorian diggings. John may had wanted the same excitement when he went to Kalgoorlie but by that time Kalgoorlie was a place of deep company mines.

The War dominated the news as the causality list grew. 1918 was ushered in with a call for peace by all the churches.

The British Prime Minister , in his New Year message, rejected the ‘the crazy Bolsheviks of distracted Russia’call for peace negotiations with Germany’. He claimed that the allies objective was not aggression or territorial conquest, but (1) the recognition of the rights of race or tongue to self government; (2) the security and sanctity of international treaties and (3) the establishment of security against the recurrence of war. These were the aims of the gold diggers of Ballarat, and are still the claimed aims of the world today. While the newspapers and most political parties supported the war, two referenda had rejected conscription for Australia. Australia was slowly growing away from just being a carbon copy of England.

We do not know what side the Augustine family took in this conflict, but, as sons of Greek migrants whose country was an ally of Britain and was engaged in a conflict with Turkey their feelings may have been mixed. Jane Rainford, George’s wife, was a Catholic and married at Pleasant Creek on the 29 April 1858. The Catholics who were mainly Irish were opposed to conscription and the Irish Catholic Archbishop, Dr Mannix, led the campaign against conscription.

However, even the Catholic Church in Western Australia supported the war. John died a member of the Church of England, but, Annie his wife, died a Roman Catholic. Their father may have been a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.

On the day John died it was warm and hot in Kalgoorlie. There was the start of the Flu epidemic, which was to claim more lives than the war in the next few years. Only in recent years has death from flu gone down to pre -war levels. Eily’s uncle Joe died in the flu epidemic at the Exhibition Building, Melbourne.

We do not know why John died at the young age of 55. It may have been, flu or miners disease. It may have been as one story goes of an accident in the gold mines.

After John’s death Annie returned to Melbourne. She does not appear to have been as wealthy as she was before the journey to Kalgoorlie. She is said to have run a boarding house to make money. Jim stayed in the home for some time but eventually moved to Footscray with his mother. The time in Footscray made him a life time supporter of Footscray Football Club. These were the times when Footscray were Association Premiers and even defeated the League Premiers in a challenge game. Footscray joined the League in 1925 and never won another Premiership until 1954.

As Australia moved towards a depression, Jim had to leave home. There was little work for gardeners, so he went to the country to work as a dairy farmer. He spent six years at Warrnambool where he learnt the job. He was also given work by a labour exchange in various farms in Gippsland. Because of his experience he was often left in charge of large number of cattle. Conditions during the depression were a little better in the country than in the city. However, as men left the cities to go on the trail for work in the country jobs became harder to find. Wages of One Pound a week plus keep were sometimes offered but rarely given for long periods. You were better to stay in a place where you were known because they would look after their own to a certain extent. There weren’t any jobs for strangers in a country town.

Eily’s mother Mary Anne Dunn was born of an Irish- Australian family. Her mother was born in County Clare. Ireland. Her father was one of Australia’s early settlers born here in 1840. Mary was born in the Rocks area of Sydney. This was one of the first areas settled, but gradually became an area of the poor working class of Sydney. Mary’s mother passed on the Catholic faith and the Irish ability to survive amidst great difficulties. Her parents were not happy when Mary married a Non-Catholic. She was cut off from her family and rarely visited them.

Despite the attitude of her parents and the mixed marriage, Mary brought up her children as Catholics. Eily went to a Catholic school. - St Brigid’s North Fitzroy. The school founded in 1883was staffed by lay teachers at first but in 1886 the Sisters of Mercy took over the teaching. This was just after the Bill to provide free, compulsory and secular education was passed by the State Government, removing State aid to Church schools. Government aid was not to be reintroduced until the 1960s. During this time the working class Catholic community had to provide their own schools and pay all the cost themselves. The Catholic Bishops refused to allow their children to go to "Godless" schools. The religious orders mainly from Ireland were invited to staff these schools.

However despite these problems, Mary and Fred gave their children a happy and fruitful childhood. Their children went mainly in the trades. Eily left school just before the depression and worked in chocolate and shoe factories. After their eldest daughter got married the family moved from North Fitzroy to Croxton near Northcote. There is some debate about the effects of the Depression on Australia. Unemployed in Australia according to Trade Union figures was 31.8% from 1930-4. This was the second highest in the developed world. For the Wilcox’s it meant that only two of their children were working. Others were out of work for four years and many do not believe the depression ended to the start of the Second World War.

Jim and Eily were married at St Joseph’s Church, Northcote on 19 September 1936. They moved to a new weatherboard house in Moonee Ponds. They had two children , twin boys Kevin and Laurie. Eventually one of Kevin’s four children married a Greek completing the cycle.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Blainey, Geoffrey The Rush that Never Ended, Melbourne MUP, 1963

Grimshall, P Families in Colonial History, Sydney, 1985

Robson, Peter Australia and the Great War, Macmillan,1970

Lowestein, Wendy Weevils in the Flour

O’Farell The Catholic Church and Community in Australia: A History, Nelson Sydney 1977

Ziegler, Philip King William 1V, Collins, London, 1971.


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Last modified: May 20, 2006