Gregory Hawson, father of Henry Hawson

The oldest ancestor we have managed to find in our Hawson family is Gregory Hawson. He is the father of Henry Hawson, who came to Port Lincoln in 1839.

Based on his age at this death (aged 74 in 1835) Gregory was born about 1760. We don’t know where he was born but he spent his adult life in Dartmouth, Devon, so possibly he was born there as well.

Gregory married Mary Tapley on 17 January 1787, in St Petrox church, Dartmouth, Devon.

Dartmouth is a port city, overlooking the English Channel. Britain was always a major trading town and the 18th century was a huge time for this.

Gregory appeared to be involved in merchant shipping, and later became part of the British navy for a short while.

Gregory lived his adulthood during the period of the French revolution and the subsequent wars that ultimately led to the Napoleonic Wars (ending in 1815).  He had at one stage during the late 18th century invested in a merchant ship and was involved in importing goods from Europe to Britain. On one such trip he was captured and imprisoned by a French privateer.

~ read more ~

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Henry Hawson named in Will of James Cross from Newfoundland

Extract from the Will of James Cross from Newfoundland Will books volume 1 pages 76 & 77 probate year 1829. In the Estate of James Cross deceased.

(Source: the Newfoundland’s Grand Banks Site)

Saint John’s Nfld 17th Decr 1828. My dear Friends George Lilly and Henry Hawson, As I am about to embark for Britain and as more or less danger attends crossing the Atlantic, I think it right before I sail to express my wishes as to the disposal of my property in the event of my not returning again to this Island.


I beg Mr. Hawson’s acceptance of a Bedstead (now in the S. side store) with the curtains (Blue) belonging to it, and Mr. Lilly’s acceptance of the Bedstead and Curtains in his house belonging to me.

I remain my dear Friends Affectionately yours James Cross.

Certified Correct
D. M. Browning

(There may be errors in these transcriptions.)

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Henry Hawson, Pastoral Pioneer of South Australia

Here is an interesting book dated from 1927, about the Pastoral Pioneers of SA.  In it Henry Hawson is listed.  You can find it as a PDF from here:

Pastoral Pioneers of South Australia Vol II.

There is, of course, a Volume I as well, that is here.  It includes information of Charles Dutton, the first husband of Ellen White.  She was widowed when Dutton disappeared in the bush, and later married Thomas Bond Hawson.

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Anniversary – Gregory Hawson

Today is the anniversary of the marriage of:
Gregory Hawson and Mary Tapley.
Married 1787, in Dartmouth, Devon.

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Mention of Frank Hawson’s death in book by Edward John Eyre

Explorer Edward John Eyre talks of Frank Hawson’s death in his book Journals of Expeditions of Discovery into Central Australia, and Overland from Adelaide to King George’s Sound, in the years 1840-1.

This book is available from the University of Adelaide ebooks, a fantastic source.  The book is downloadable and copyable.

In Chapter 9 of the book he talks of a “Boy Speared by the Natives — Anomalous State of Our Relations with the Aborigines.”

“October 6. — In the course of the afternoon I learnt that a little boy about twelve years old, a son of Mr. Hawson’s, had been speared on the previous day by the natives, at a station about a mile and a half from my tent … ”

This gives an account of the spearing of Frank Hawson, but also examines the issue of the friction between Aborigines and White people and examines in a very open and understanding way the reasons why Aborigines may feel very aggrieved at the infiltration of their land by white people.  It shows that those in the 19th century were not as openly racist, aggressive and ethno-centric as is often assumed in the modern 20th/21st century.

Eyre had worked with Aborigines in his expeditions and was known for his understanding of their needs.



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Surname Database: Hawson Last Name Origin

Interesting article about the possible origin of the name ‘Hawson’ along with some titbits of medieval people with the name.  (Don’t know anything about the accuracy of the info)

Surname Database: Hawson Last Name Origin.

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Death of Henry Hawson

Henry Hawson died from the old-fashioned version of a car accident.  That is, he died from an accident in his horse and cart, when his cart was upturned and he was pinned underneath it.  In the old colonial days with no modern transport, communications or ambulance services, his body was not found for 24 hours.  He was aged 57.

Here is an article on the accident in the SA Register, 1849 (retrieved from TROVE)

South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), Wednesday 8 August 1849, page 3

Death of Henry Hawson, SA register, 1849

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Portrait of Mary Tapley, mother of Henry Hawson

MaryTapleyJust surfing the net for various family history titbits, doing a bit of googling, you never know what you might find, when I found a page of family history by J Stiles, a fellow member of the Hawson clan, Hawson Family of Devon, Newfoundland & Australia.  On this page she included not only some great info on the Hawsons in the UK, but also some wonderful photos.

Here I am linking to a photo of Mary Tapley.  She is the mother of Henry Hawson, the one who came to Australia and helped found Port Lincoln.  She was born in 1763, in Dartmouth England.  She married Gregory Hawson in 1787.

One of my great drives in researching family history is to go back as far as I can.  To think that this woman lived at the time when the British first started settling (invading) Australia, at the time of George III, the American War of Independence, and the French Revolution, and that Jane Austen was born after her  – and this woman is a member of our family – she’s one of us!

I didn’t think she looked much like my family until I printed a copy of the picture and put it in my family history photo album next to one of my mother – whew!  I am certain there is a family resemblance.  Wow.

[On her website J Stiles said,  ‘According to a Hawson family history booklet written by Mary Carrick, there was a  painting done of Mary Tapley in 1779 by Sir Joshua Reynolds.  The painting is now owned by a descendant of Thomas Bond Hawson.]




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Book – Abeona and the Hawson Family

Abeona and the Hawson Family is a small book published in the 1990s by Mary D Carrick, which outlines some history of the Hawsons, going back to ancestry in England.

It is very much a pre-desktop publishing book, typed up on a type writer and photo-copied.

The book is actually written by my step-grandmother (my mother’s stepmother).  She spend many years researching the Hawsons in the days before computers.  It was my aunt who did the typing for her.

I don’t know how accurate it is but I do know my step-mother would have done the best she could to make it accurate.

The book is available here

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Frank Hawson

Frank Hawson was the 12 year old son of Henry Hawson who became a victim of the inevitable clash between the British invaders and the indigenous inhabitants of South Australia.

In the very early days relations between the British settlers and the local aboriginal tribe seemed smooth, but early clashes soon occurred, many quite violent.

One of the first clashes was with the Hawsons. When the British starting taking over the tribal land of the aboriginals, and pushing them away from their hunting grounds, naturally there would be trouble. Many early settlers seemed to make some arrangements to provide the local tribespeople with food, most probably as an agreement so that they would no longer hunt on what they would have still considered as their land.  That land now had domestic sheep and cattle, animals that were extremely easy to hunt, but had few kangaroos or wombats. Also, their usual foraging food, a mainstay of their diet, would have been eaten by the grazing animals. The situation would have very quickly become desperate for the local tribe.

Henry Hawson may have had such an arrangement; aboriginals would come to the shepherd huts and be given food.

On 5th October, 1840, an aboriginal group came to one of the Hawson shepherd huts looking for food. At the time only one of the younger sons, 12 year old Frank, was in attendance.  No doubt the boy was very scared.  What  happened we do not know; the aboriginal men may have tried to use the situation to pressure a young boy into allowing them to take far more food than was the agreed amount. We do not know.  Frank was speared by one of the aboriginal warriors.  He did have a gun in his hand, so we do not know when he grabbed it and how aggressive he had been.  He survived the immediate attack and did get help, a doctor was called, but he ultimately died.

There is a newspaper account of the incident written almost 100 years later which emphasizes the bravery and manliness of the boy in the face of these ‘savages.’ How accurate it is, is unknown.  This can be read via the National Library’s TROVE site.

A monument to remember him was erected in Port Lincoln and still stands today.

Frank Hawson has been mentioned in various other websites:
National Library of Australia – Picture Australia
This shows several photographs regarding the event
Has the original newspaper article
Monument Australia
Contains the public monuments and memorials which have been erected to commemorate the conflict between indigenous Australians and immigrant settlers. (WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this theme may contain images of deceased persons.)
Role play of Eyre Peninsula Aboriginal history (PDF)
This is some educational material helping to illuminate how the British “settlement” was so traumatic for aboriginal people.  Within it is mentioned the death of Frank Hawson.
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