the son of John (a labourer) and Mary (née Agate)
Austin, was born on August 23 1839 in East Grinstead, a
town which stands at the meeting point of the four
English counties of East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent and
Surrey and is situated on the Greenwich meridian. He was
christened there on 6 October 1839.
George married Eliza Hodgskins (or Hodgkins or
Hoskins), ‘according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the
Established Church’, in the Church of St Mary the
Virgin, Ide Hill, in the Sevenoaks district of Kent, on
19 October 1872. The daughter of David (a labourer) and
Sophia (née Welch) Hodgskins (m. 10 November 1834),
Eliza, was born on 27 September 1850 in nearby Hanging
Bank, the site of a former gallows which is rumoured to
be haunted by a poltergeist.
At the time of the 1851 census Eliza’s family, who were
living in the village of Sundridge in the Sevenoaks
district, were listed as follows: David (39,
agricultural labourer), Sofey [sic] (43, wife), John (13
agricultural labourer), David (11), Sarah (9), Elizabeth
(6), Eliza (6 months), and Sarah Hodskins (72, parish
relief). The last mentioned was probably Eliza’s
maternal grandmother). The oldest child, Rebecca (bap. 9
August 1835), who was included in the 1841 census, had
evidently left home or died.
With their two children¾William
(aged 3) and Mary Ann (a babe in arms)¾George
and Eliza Austin travelled to Australia as free
passengers on the 1243-ton Juliet (Captain
William H Duguid) which left Gravesend on 3 May 1874
with 488 immigrants on board. The ship moored in the
Brisbane River near the Victoria Bridge on 4 August
1874. One passenger, Charles Hunt of Cornwall, fell
overboard en route and despite efforts to save him was
On 11 January 1878, a few years after their arrival in
Brisbane, George applied successfully to select Portion
17 (88 acres 3 roods 3 perches) in the Eight Mile Plains
Agricultural Reserve. There he and Eliza raised a family
which was large even by the standard of those days. In
addition to the English-born William (b. 1871; d. 2
1890) and Mary Ann (b. 1874; d. 10 May 1876), their
children were: Eliza (b. 25 January 1875; d. 22 May
1875), George (b. 8 March 1876; d. 5 May 1947), Emma (b.
31 March 1878; d. 1 January 1943 Horsham, Victoria),
John (b. 11 May 1880; d. 21 July 1961 Gympie), James (b.
9 August 1881; d. 17 January 1955), Ellen (b. 27 March
1883, known as Nellie; d. 20 May 1948), Joseph (b. 8
November 1884; d. 15 January 1944), Minnie (b. 23 August
1886; d. 7 August 1924 Beenleigh); Alice Maud (b. 10
March 1888; d. 26 October 1926), Kate (b. 8 October
1889; d. 13 November 1964), Walter (b. 13 April 1891; d.
20 December 1974 Cardwell, Queensland), and Edwin (b. 19
November 1892; d. 26 October 1958). Details of the
marriages of these children are endnoted.
worked as a farmer, raising cattle and cultivating fruit
trees, until he succumbed to a heart condition and died
at his residence near the Kuraby Railway Station on 3
December 1906 at the age of ‘67 years, 3 months and 12
days’. Present in official roles at his funeral in the
Cooper’s Plains Cemetery on the following afternoon
were: Stephen Glassop (Baptist minister of religion),
Alfred Cannon (undertaker), George Boyland and WPG (WG?)
died tragically, having taken her own life, on 24
January 1912. At the time, she had been living for a few
years in Peterson Street, South Brisbane, near the
Gloucester Street residence of her daughter Alice Maud.
She was laid to rest beside her husband George on 26
January 1912. In addition to family mourners, those
present included Alex Gow (undertaker), the Reverend
William Bell (Baptist minister), William S Smail and J
Horn (official witnesses). A magisterial inquiry into
the circumstances of Eliza’s death was held in Brisbane
by Robert D Neilson JP on 19 March 1912.