Having decided to seek out some information on the forebears of our branch of the Jarvis family it was necessary decide when and where begin. The obvious choice fell on the first of our line to migrate to Australia, because he surely played the leading role in shaping our destiny.

Many members of the Jarvis family have sought verified and supplied proven data which enables this story to be written but one cannot resist including some interesting fragments been passed by word mouth down through several generations.

HENRY JARVIS (1817 - 1872)

Henry Jarvis was born in the English county of Norfolk in 1817 and when an adult moved to London, residing at 96 Park Street, Lambeth reputedly earning his living as an "egg merchant" - importing eggs and bacon from Normandy in France. On April the 25th 1841 he married Ann Tubbs at Marylebone in London. There was only one child of this union, a daughter Ann, whom his wife did not live to rear.

On January 14th 1843 again at Marylebone he married Ann Dear Dibben, who bore him eight children, five of whom were born in England. They were namely Fanny, Mary Ann, Emily, Henry James and Harriet. During these years we presume they were still domiciled in London, as records show the christening of the youngest child Harriet at Christchurch, Greyfriars, Newgate, London in 1852.

It is somewhat surprising to find that Henry Jarvis came to Australia in 1852, whilst his wife and family remained in London. It is said his reason for migration was "that due to asthma he had not had a good night's sleep in five years", and he obviously had great hope in the climatic change. (Being one of several of his descendants who have the same problem there appears to be credence in that statement.)

In November 1852 he joined the Victorian Police Force in Melbourne, being stationed for three and a half years at the Little Bourke Street Watch-house and for the first year or so probably living in the Police Barracks. The police records describe Henry Jarvis thus :- "Fair complexion, light brown hair, blue eyes and five feet six inches tall."

Early in March 1854, his wife Ann accompanied by their four children and the daughter of his first marriage sailed on the barque "Historia" from Plymouth, England to join Henry in Melbourne. The passenger list omits their third child Emily's name and the only document thereafter on which it appears is her mother's death certificate where she is stated as deceased. We therefore presume she died before the family left England.

On August 7th 1854, after a voyage of approximately 140 days the family was reunited. One feels Ann must have been a very capable woman, to undertake such a journey with five children who's ages ranged from twelve years to only one and a half years old.

Prior to their departure Henry wrote to his wife offering much advice for the sea voyage. The original letter is still in the possession of a family descendant but portions are indecipherable. The following is a transcription of the sections which are still legible.

"In case you have no boxes you cannot do better than to buy them at "Silvers" in Gracechurch St. where I bought my outfit don't have more than 2 boxes in your cabin unless you have plenty of room if you have plenty of room put all the boxes you can into it but they must not stand on top of one another or the rolling of the ship will throw them about have plenty of cording rope to fasten the boxes to the side of the cabin to prevent them from rolling or sliding from one side to the other if you had better have 2 Boxes for Cabin use with a Title <= to them you ......

so very handy be sure to provide yourself"

so if you have money to spare you'll know how to lay it out. If you cut slices of bread and bake them you will find them very nice at Tea, and keep good any length of time on the voyage, a baked piece of bread just dipped in water and just baked in the Cook's Oven will eat as fresh as at first.

Be careful in making acquaintances on board everybody is very pleasant at first, in two or three weeks you can tell who are to be depended on there is nothing like life on board a ship to discover a person's temper.

(Don't forget to have some arrowroot handy which if .......... a little Sherry wine is the best thing you can take after being seasick."


In 1855 their first Australian child Edwin was born, but he died before his first birthday.


Henry was discharged from the police force in June 1856. The records list many misdemeanours and show that he was not a highly exemplary character. During his three years of service we find on his Defaulter's Sheet that eleven charges were laid against him. For three of these he was merely admonished but for the remaining eight the punishment awarded was a fine in sums of money ranging from 2/6 to 60/-. For loitering and smoking on his beat and also for drinking in a public house he was fined 2/6 and 10/- respectively. Being absent all night from the barracks and from general inspection parade he was fined 20/-. Finally on June 16th 1856 his misdemeanour cost him his job and also a fine of 60/- (a very large sum of money). His offense is written thus:- "Absenting himself from Little Bourke Street Watch-house at 10am on June 15th and leaving .... in charge of a prisoner (Huxley) remanded on a charge of forgery." Twelve days later he was discharged from the force.

He then apparently resumed his earlier occupation operating a grocery store in Rathdowne Street Carlton. We would presume the family lived in the same premises as the rate notices of the day list it as a three roomed wooden house in 1855 and a store the following year. Also when legislation was passed in 1857 re male franchise in Victoria, we find Henry Jarvis registered on the Elector's roll of 1856 as a grocer with dwelling house in Rathdowne Street in the electoral division of University. (It is interesting to note the Victorian elections of 1856 were the first secret ballot elections held in the world.)

There being no formal education available in Carlton at that time, if the Jarvis children attended any school, it would have been one of the small private schools held in houses in the area.

However circa 1857 their lifestyle would have changed greatly when they, like many others, were lured to the goldfields. Leaving Carlton they undertook the hazardous journey in horse waggons, (which would have taken about three weeks) to Hurdle Flat which was about half way between Beechworth and Stanley in North-Eastern Victoria. In 1853 gold had been discovered there which adjoined other rich fields spreading out towards Stanley.

When they arrived Hurdle Flat would have been a typical gold shanty town, but it grew very rapidly. Their daughter Harriet, many years later, described in a letter the housing at Hurdle Flat in the early days - and I quote; "I recollect the houses as rough but serviceable. Wooden slabs composed the frames, the interior walls being paper lined, roofs were generally made of calico, though in some of the better class houses bark was the material used, while shingle roofs were enjoyed by a favored few. Windows were absent from many houses, their places being supplied by openings in the wall with accompanying flaps."

From this same source, we know she and "about eleven other pupils" attended Mr. Thomas Barry's school, but ten years later the number of pupils had climbed to "one hundred and seventy-five or so" and the fee for tuition was one shilling a week. This is indicative of the rapid growth of the area.

In 1865 there were one hundred and twenty-four miners in Hurdle Flat and the ever-increasing population soon supported several hotels and arace course which boasted a two storied grandstand providing a popular diversion for the townsfolk.

Henry must have been actively involved in mining as he made two mining claims, one in 1859 and the other in 1865. He also appears to have been a dairyman, farmer and merchant and finally in 1868, 69 and 70 a runner - or in today's terms - a messenger.

During their residence at Hurdle Flat two more children were born - Fredrick William in 1859 and a daughter Emma in 1862. His wife Ann died when Emma was only sixteen days old and is probably the first Jarvis to be buried in the Beechworth cemetery.

The family being motherless, Harriet though only ten years old left school to help with the home duties. Home life must have been very difficult without their mother, possibly a contributing factor to Frederick running away at the age of twelve or thirteen.

Henry moved to Two Mile near Beechworth and lived there until at least the 1870's. After two months of illness during 1872, he died in a Melbourne hospital at the age of fifty-five and was buried in a common or pauper's grave in the Melbourne General Cemetery. Only five of the nine children he had sired outlived him.


Carlton                       3

JARVIS Ann                    1

JARVIS Emily                  1

JARVIS Harriet                1

Lambeth, London               1