William Overton Pearson
William Pearson
Elizabeth Pearson

William Overton Pearson
, the son of William (a farmer and later an upholsterer) and Elizabeth (née Overton) Pearson, was born in Wybunbury, Cheshire, in 1824. He and his wife Hannah Rogers (b. Horton, Staffordshire), whom he married on 4 February 1849 at Biddulph in Staffordshire, became the parents of four daughters—Emma, Mary Ann, Sarah and a girl who died very young.

The English census of 1851 records the Pearson household in Biddulph as follows: William (27, engine worker, b. Henterson, Cheshire), Hannah (33 b. Horton, Staffordshire), Emma (1), Mary A (1 month), and Elizabeth Dakin (12, visitor, farmer’s daughter). Ten years later, on 7 April 1861, the decennial census gives the family details as follows: William (37, engine tender, b. Wybunbury, Cheshire), Hannah (42), Emma (11), Mary Ann (10) and Sarah (7). The family residence was in Victoria Street, Tunstall, Staffordshire (‘Beer House Gray Hound Inn’). There are not infrequently discrepancies in such records.

After Hannah’s death from phthisis on 20 September 1861 at the age of 43, William (by then an innkeeper) was faced with the task of raising three young girls. He remarried on 3 October 1861 in Christ Church (Anglican), Tunstall, this time to the widowed Elizabeth (née Wallace) Lowe. Elizabeth, the daughter of Samuel Wallace (a modeller) had two children from her previous marriage to William Lowe (a cabinet maker)—Catherine and Fanny—but it would appear that there were no children of this new union. According to shipping records, William Pearson (then aged 39) left Liverpool on the Black Ball Line’s 869-ton (or 862-ton) David McIvor (Captain Samuel Manley) on 19 February 1863. One of 414 emigrants bound for Australia, he was accompanied on the voyage by Elizabeth (39; his second wife), Emma (13), Mary Ann (11) and Sarah (9). Also on board were Elizabeth’s two daughters, Catherine (8) and Fanny (7) Lowe. The passengers saw the Moreton Bay lighthouse at noon on 2 July 1863; and, after the ship dropped anchor in Hervey’s Bay some days later, they proceeded to Maryborough on 9 July. On a date yet to be determined by the researcher the Pearson family moved to Brisbane and settled in Cooper’s Plains where William became a farmer and the first licensee of the Horseshoe Hotel, popularly known as Pearson’s Hotel (1874-84). He built this 10-roomed wooden structure on a 160-acre selection (portion 386) where he had lived since 1870.

Elizabeth Pearson died on 19 March 1866 and, according to her death certificate, was laid to rest in ‘Grenier’s Cemetery, Cooper’s Plains’ on 26 March. There was neither an undertaker nor a minister of religion present at the burial which was witnessed by Francis Leahy.

On 21 May 1868 William married for a third time, his new wife being Mary Carty, the daughter of Patrick (a mason) and Elizabeth (née Goran) Carty, who hailed from County Wexford, Ireland. The wedding took place in St Mary’s Church of England, Kangaroo Point, in the presence of David Green and Joseph ?? (witnesses) and was presided over by the Reverend James Robert Moffatt. At that time William (44) was a farmer at Cooper’s Plains and Mary (32) was a servant at Kangaroo Point. Their o

nly child, also named William but known as Willie, succumbed to croup, a common childhood illness, shortly before his fifth birthday and was buried in God’s Acre (see below).

William Overton Pearson died from heart disease on 12 September 1884 at the age of 60 years and was buried in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery on the following day. His demise was certified in writing by John Barter (himself buried in God’s Acre)  who was then a tenant of the Pearsons. The Reverend James Samuel Hassall of the Church of England conducted the service at the graveside in the presence of official witnesses John Tudman (the son-in-law of the deceased) and Joseph Thompson.

In his will, dated 26 August 1884 and witnessed by John Barter and Thomas Gittins, William Pearson left his ‘real and personal estate share and share alike’ to his wife and his three daughters, naming Mary Pearson and John Tudman, as his executors. Ernest Winter acted as proctor. Mary took over the running of the hotel (1884-85) until the licence was transferred to James Rogers (1885-86) and later to James Ruddy (1886).

Unfortunately, the writer has not succeeded in determining the subsequent history of Mary Pearson.

For the record, details of the marriages of William and Hannah Pearson’s daughters follow. Emma Pearson married John Tudman, a timber-getter from the Upper Logan district, on 22 December 1869 and they became the parents of a large family. The son of Thomas and Sarah (née Brown) Tudman, John was admitted to the Goodna Asylum on 11 March 1913 and died there on 30 May 1913. His remains were interred two days later in the cemetery attached to the mental institution. Emma Tudman died at the residence of her daughter and son-in-law, Mr and Mrs Gordon Harken, Curtis Street, South Bundaberg, on 1 March 1926 at the age of 76 years and 3 months and was buried on the following day.


Mary Ann Pearson
married Peel Wright Jr (a farmer), the son of Peel and Mary Anne (née Chapman) Wright, on 16 June 1873. The wedding, which took place in the residence of the Reverend Samuel Savage, South Brisbane, according to rites of the Congregational Church, was witnessed by William and Sarah Pearson. Mary Ann Wright, who was born in Tunstall, Staffordshire, on 26 March 1851, passed away at her residence in Goomeri, about 75 km west of Gympie, on 5 August 1923 aged 72 years.

Sarah Pearson married John Thomas Payne (b. Bedfordshire 1859), the son of Thomas and Eliza (née Thompson) Payne, on 31 October 1883. They lived in Bowen where John worked as a mail coach driver and packhorse mailman to the Bowen River Hotel via the Normanby gold fields before securing the license of the Central and Grandview Hotels. He died on 12 February 1938 aged 78 having outlived Sarah who passed away aged 72 on 5 February 1926. Both are buried in Bowen as is their daughter Muriel Maud Payne (d. 8 January 1920 aged 32).

Catherine Lowe married a widower, James William Ayscough, the son of Francis and Jane (née Harper) Ayscough, in the residence of Peel Wright, Lily Vale, Upper Logan, according to the rites of the Wesleyan Church, on 19 July 1876. Catherine died on 1 February 1922 and was buried in the Toowong Cemetery (5 38 18) in a grave that had already received the remains of her daughter Fanny Lowe Ayscough (bur. 18 April 1906).

William Pearson, the only son of William Overton and Mary (née Carty) Pearson was born on 8 October 1869 and his birth was announced without delay in the Brisbane Courier. After Willie’s untimely demise on 6 September 1874, his remains were interred, as his death certificate indicates, in ‘Grenier’s Burial Ground, Cooper’s Plains’ on the following day. The names of the minister of religion and witnesses to the burial are given as: WG Mitchison?, Martin Freney and George Ralph.