Louisa Dennis
Ester Louisa Prudence Dennis

John Dennis
, the paternal grandfather of the Dennis children buried in God’s Acre, was born to George and Ann (née Johns or John?) Dennis in Cornwall, on 11 April 1802. He married Mary Ellis (b. 11 November 1803), the daughter of William and Mary Ellis, in Morvah, a village about 6 miles north-west of Penzance, on 27 November 1830. The following details give the composition of their household at the time of the 1851 census of Receven, Cornwall: John (47, farmer of 25 acres), Mary (46), John Jr (18, tin miner at Morvah), Jane (16), Mary Ann (15), George (14), James (8), Nanny2 (7), Sybella (6), William2 (4), Esther Ann (8 months), and Mary’s 82-year-old widowed mother Mary Ellis.

Two of these siblings, as we shall see, were to have children who now lie buried in God’s Acre. Mary Ann died soon after this census was taken and was buried in the grounds of the church in Morvah where the remains of two of her siblings, William1 and Nanny1, had already been interred soon after birth.

John and Mary Dennis were in their mid-60s when they decided to emigrate to Australia with their eight surviving children and their grandchildren. They set sail on the 1139-ton Black Ball ship Flying Cloud (Captain Henry C Keen) which left Gravesend with 482 passengers on board on 10 November 1863 and reached the Brisbane Roadstead on 19 February 1864. In a letter to the Courier, the Captain noted that there had been two births and 20 deaths en route. A young man named John Gardner, who had become mentally deranged, went berserk after the steamer Settler brought the passengers up the Brisbane River and died overnight in the police watch-house.

Some of the passengers were transferred to the temporary Fever Hospital at Green Hills (now Albert Park above the Roma Street Parklands) soon after their arrival or, as in the case of George (admitted on 29 March) and John Dennis Jr (admitted on 24 April), some weeks later. Both brothers were discharged on 3 June.

John Dennis Sr passed away at Mundoolun near Beaudesert on 3 April 1886 and was buried in the Woodhill Cemetery (Veresdale) on the following day. Mary died aged 96 on 5 January 1900 and was laid to rest beside her husband.

George Dennis, one of the sons of the above John and Mary, was born in Morvah, Cornwall, where he was christened on 5 March 1837 (IGI). He married Elizabeth Barnes, the daughter of James and Prudence (née Matthews) Barnes, in the historic Wesley Rock Chapel, Heamoor, Cornwall, on 24 January 1863. Elizabeth was the sister of James Barnes who married George’s sister Nanny in Penzance on 3 October 1863. Both couples made the trip to Australia on the Flying Cloud.

George and Elizabeth Dennis became the parents of three girls: Mary Ann (bap. Sancreed 9 May 1863), Louisa (b. Brisbane Hospital 23 June 1864) and Esther Louisa Prudence (b. Cooper’s Plains 16 July 1866 with Mrs Banks in attendance). Louisa Dennis died from marasmus at Oxley Creek on 24 December 1864 and, in the presence of Edward O Edwards who acted as undertaker, was buried in God’s Acre on the following day (Christmas Day). Esther Louisa Prudence Dennis passed away on 13 September 1866 and was laid to rest beside her sister on the following day in the presence of E Shebbin [sic] (possibly Elijah Stubbins) who certified the burial and witnesses James and Nanny Barnes, her uncle and aunt.

George, whose wife and surviving daughter were living at Eight Mile Plains, had been working as a ‘weekly labourer’ at Messrs Ham and Co’s Albert River Noyea sugar plantation for about 18 months when a freak accident caused his death. An inquest conducted by Mr L (?) Chisholm JP took place on 1 February 1869. Depositions were provided by William Henry Rosser who managed the plantation, James Sloan who had known the deceased for 3½ years, and John Hamer.

The following report of this tragedy, written by its Logan correspondent, appeared in the Brisbane Courier:

A sad accident was reported here over from the Albert yesterday [1 February]. A young man, named George Dennis, in the employ of Mr. Ham, was sent with horse and dray to a waterhole for a load of water, but not coming back in the accustomed time, Mr. Rosser, the manager, sent over to see after him, when the dray was found backed up to the waterhole and tipped up, and the man’s hat floating on the water. The body was soon after got out. Full particulars are not obtainable, of course, but the surmise is that the man commenced to load the water without the dray being “cottered” down, and that it upset and pitched him in, very likely the cask upon him also.

After the death of her husband, Elizabeth Dennis married Richard Rendall in Maryborough on 14 October 1873. They moved to East Fremantle in Western Australia where they raised their children—William (b. 30 November 1870; d. 1955; bur. Fremantle), Maud Elizabeth Govett (b. 3 January 1874; d. 12 February 1909), Edith (b. 2 June 1876 Bundaberg), Bertha Annie (b. 12 March 1878; d. 22 October 1975) and Richard (b. 2 February 1883; d. 3 June 1958). Mary Ann, Elizabeth’s daughter by her first marriage, did not accompany them but was cared for by her uncles James Dennis and James Barnes.

Richard Rendall was born on 8 August 1842 in Litton, a small village in the district of Clutton, Somerset. He died on 13 August 1908 and was buried two days later in the Fremantle Cemetery. His wife Elizabeth passed away on 31 July 1927 and was laid to rest beside him on the following day.

John Dennis
Jr, the elder brother of George, was baptised on 17 June 1832 in Morvah, He married Mary Hall the daughter of John and Elizabeth (née Nicholas) Hall, in the Wesley Rock Chapel on Christmas Day 1856. Their children, as far as this researcher has been able to identify them, were as follows: John (b. 1857?), George1 (b. 27 June 1858; died as an infant), George2 (b. 15 April 1860), Elizabeth (b. 16 June 1861), Mary (b. 1864), Percy (b. about 1862), Isabella Jane (b. 15 June 1866).

Their daughter Mary Dennis, the cousin of the above-mentioned Louisa and Esther, died at Eight Mile Plains aged 3 years on 16 April 1867. Her death was certified in writing by her uncle William Dennis who, together with John Eggleton, was a witness at her funeral two days later. The belief of some people that she was laid to rest in God’s Acre is not supported by her death certificate which states that she was buried at Eight Mile Plains. Her name is one of 15 which were inscribed on a metal plaque affixed to a cairn in the RACQ property at Logan Road, Eight Mile Plains, honouring people who were buried in that district. To this researcher the location of her burial is an open question.

John Dennis, who had worked as a tin miner in his native Cornwall, was attracted to Gympie by the discovery of gold in 1867. He succumbed to ‘brain fever’ and died on 12 May 1868. He was laid to rest in the Woodhill Cemetery (Veresdale). Mary his widow married John Bell on 27 July 1874 and settled with him at Five Mile Camp near Gladstone. She died there aged 55 on 2 February 1891 and was buried in the Gladstone Cemetery on the following day.

Nanny2 Dennis, a younger sister of George and John, also has links with God’s Acre. She married James Barnes, the son of James and Prudence (née Matthews) Barnes, in Penzance, Cornwall, on 3 October 1863, shortly before they left for Australia with the Dennis family on the Flying Cloud in 1864. Their daughter Mary Louisa Barnes (b. 8 May 1865; d. 22 January 1866), the eldest of a large family, was laid to rest in God’s Acre on 23 January 1866. Full details of this family may be found in the Barnes section of this book.