John Hellmrich (1812-1870) and Margaret Mathieson (1815-1898) – The Scottish Stonemason

John Hellmrich was born 3rd March 1812 in Parskene, Aberdeenshire in Scotland.  He was one of six children to Charles Hellmrich (1779 – 1879) and his wife Elspit Summers (1778 – 1862). * Elspit’s name is spelled several different ways in records.  On the 26th March 1812, John was christened in Skene, Aberdeen, Scotland.  His mother’s name was recorded as Elspet.  John’s siblings were Alexander Burnett Hellmrich b. 1805, Mary Burnett (?) Hellmrich b. 1808, Charlotte Hellmrich b.1810, Charles Frederick Hellmrich b. 1814 and Isabel Hellmrich b.1816. Isabel died nine and a half years later still in childhood and is buried with her father.

On the 11th December 1836 John married Margaret Mathieson at Banchory-Devenick, Kincardineshire, Scotland.  Margaret was born and as I understand raised in Banchory-Devenick.  John was 24 and Margaret 22 respectively when they married.

Church Skene

Church Skene

Margaret Mathieson was born around 1815. She was the daughter of John Mathieson (1790 – 1837) and Margaret Mathieson both of Scotland.  John and Margaret (confused yet? –  yes the same names as her parents!) had six children.  John Lambertus Hellmrich b. 1837, George Donaldson Hellmrich b. 1841, Charles G Hellmrich b.1845 , Margaret Hellmrich b. 1843, Alexander Burnett Hellmrich b. 1850 and Mary Jane Hellmrich b.1852.

John and Margaret must have had adventurous souls because at some point in the proceedings they  decided to emigrate from Scotland to the colony of Australia. They boarded The Lady Kennaway which departed Leith Roads on 19 April 1838.


John and Margaret came to Australia as assisted bounty immigrants in a group of 283 immigrants.  Assisted bounty immigrants were free people who had been ‘located’ by an agent and were given free passage to Australia and some assistance to help them with setting up their new lives in the colonies.  The agents were paid a fee by the government of the colonies and Britain. This was  to secure young immigrants, mainly from the working classes or trades who could settle into the new country that desperately needed labour to ensure it’s growth.

John and Margaret fitted the bill.  They had only married two years beforehand and were both fit and  young.  John had a trade as a Mason. They sailed with their six month old son John from Leith Roads.  Leith Roads being a stretch of water about 2 kilometres long from the coastal town of Leith in Scotland where ships were able to dock and sail out from.

According to the shipping records the journey was largely uneventful for the Hellmrich family.  On the shipping records they are recorded as Helmwich, no doubt a clerical error. They also sailed with Thomas Mathieson and his young family. Likely these were relations of Margaret Mathieson . Thomas was listed as a Labourer.  Both families hailed from Aberdeen in Scotland.  All of the Hellmrich’s and Mathieson’s (adults) could read and write. They gave their religion as Presbyterian. John’s father by this time was deceased and his mother recorded as a housekeeper in Aberdeen, Elspath Somers.  They arrived in Port Jackson, Sydney, New South Wales on 12th  August 1838.  Between 1842 – 1843 the electoral rolls show John, Margaret and their family living in Clarence Lane in Sydney.  During their time in Sydney they also lived at Gordon Street in Paddington.

From 1846 whilst the family were living in Two Fold Bay, John was employed as a stone-mason/builder on Boyd’s Tower.  Boyd’s Tower is a 23 metre stone tower which was built from Pyrmont sandstone from Sydney.  Benjamin Boyd a fellow Scot had commissioned the tower to be built. The initial purpose of the tower was for it to be used as a lighthouse. Boyd’s tower is now a popular tourist destination for those visiting Sydney.   Poor old Boyd some years later went broke and lost all of his money.


In February of 1851 gold was discovered near Bathurst at an area that becomes known as Sofala.  Within months the area was teeming with gold prospectors hoping to make it rich quick .  John joined them on the gold rush diggings.  On the 27th December 1851, aged 39,  John is reported in the Empire newspaper as one of the many miners who has joined the gold rush and had some success.  In John’s case this was a modest 6 ounce find at Sofala in New South Wales.  In today’s money that is worth about $5,400.

By 1853 the electoral rolls show John once again living back with the family in Paddington a comfortable suburb of inner Sydney.  In 1865 the family were recorded with John at the age of 53 in the Sands Directory with his occupation given as stonemason living at Gordon Street in Paddington.  John is also recorded in the Sydney Morning Herald 27 April 1864 as a Councillor for his local area.  He attended regular council meetings. John would have had to be voted into this position.  On the 11th May 1870 John’s death was recorded in Paddington. His name was spelled Hellmrich. Registration number 2053.  John’s fathers name is given as Charles and his mother as Elspeth. He died at his home at Gordon Street in Paddington.  In 1886 Margaret is recorded in the Sands Directory as living at Mary Street in Newtown as Mrs Hellmrich.

Margaret died in 1898.  Neither of her parents names are included on the index of her death. Rather oddly they are marked as unknown.  Her death was recorded in Newtown. Margaret’s name is also recorded with the spelling of Hellmrich.  After this generation Hellmrich becomes Helmrich as one of the l’s is dropped.


3 thoughts on “John Hellmrich (1812-1870) and Margaret Mathieson (1815-1898) – The Scottish Stonemason

  1. Hello

    The information you provided was essential for my research. I am great grandson of Robert Pollock Davison, captain of the ship Lady Kennaway.

    I discovered some evidences of 2 trips conducted by Robert Davison to Australia: one in 1836 and another in 1838. The secont time he transported your ancestors.

    Do you have more data about this trip? I would appreciate to see what you have.

    Best regards
    João Davison

    • Hi João,
      Thank you for your generous comments. I’m delighted the research was able to be of help. I’ve found some information you might be interested in as below. I suggest that your Captain Davison did indeed transport all manner of people from convict through to settlers and all types of cargo as would have been appropriate for the Lady Kennaway. She seems to have been beleagured by recalcitrant sailors and poor old Captain Davison like many other Captains was frequently in court with wayward sailors. I think if you have a look at you will find an abundance of information particularly in the newspaper archive sections. Good luck and happy searching. Cheers. Darienne

      This is from The Windosr & Richmond Gazette, 2nd November 1917 about the Lady Kennaway and her voyages; THE “LADY KENNAWAY”
      In the commercial room of the Royal Hotel, Windsor, is an oil painting of the trim little barque the “Lady Kennaway.” The following particulars concerning this interesting vessel have been kindly supplied us by Captain J. H. Watson, Hon. Research Secretary of the Australian Historical Society, through Mr. Frank Walker, a past President of the society, who was on a visit to Windsor last week:— The “Lady Kannaway” was a barque built in 1817, at Calcutta, and was owned at that time by Thomas Ward, of Boston, England. She was of 584 tons, a large ship, and was a frequent visitor both to Sydney and Hobart. She carried troops, convicts, and passengers. In 1835 she was commanded by Captain Bolton, in 1841 by Captain Spencer, when she brought immigrants. In 1848 Captain Avery was in charge. Her voyages were irregular, and like many ships of the period she did a little whaling after leav-
      ing the ports at this end. Her present destination, or location, if afloat, cannot be ascertained, but her name is not in the Shipping Register of 1862.

      This is from the Sydney Monitor, 13 August 1838; News by the ‘ Lady Kennaway.’
      By the ‘Lady Kennaway, which arrived yesterday afternoon, we are in receipt of English papers up to the 24th of April last. This vessel has brought 276 Scotch Emigrants. We make the following extracta : ( Our Helmrich’s and your Captain Davison were on this trip).

      Pursuant to the journey a Timothy Tod wrote this letter into The Colonist (a Sydney paper) on the 5th September 1838.

      Original Correspondence
      The Lady Kennaway
      Sir:- Among the immigrants lately arrived here by the Lady Kennaway from Scotland, was a family of the name Robertson, consisting of ten persons, (the father, seven sons and two daughters). Of these five or six found suitable employment shortly after their arrival; the remaining four or five individuals, including the father and two little boys were informed on Saturday last, that rations would be issued to them no longer by the Government,, and we have been assured a few days ago by the party most dearly concerned, the father of the family to which we have just alluded, that the barbaerous threat has been fully carried in execution. Thus are these simple and confiding people, who left their home under the auspices, as they imagined, of Her Majesty’s Government, cast off friendless and pennyless for aught the Government functionaries care, to starve on a foreign shore. If this is the way in which emigrants who happen not to be fortunate enough to find eligible employment immediately on their arrival, are to be treated by our men in
      office, I fear we shall find it difficult in future to induce shepherds and labourers to quit their native land. Your most obdient servant, Timothy Tod.

      From the 15 August 1838, The Colonist (Sydney).
      AUGUST 12. — Lady Kennaway, ship, Davidson, from Leith April 19, and the Downs April 25, with 276 emigrants, J. Waugh, Esq., R. N., Surgeon-
      superintendent. Passengers, Dr. Hope, Miss Hope, Miss Waugh, Miss Ann Waugh. 13. — Bee, brig, Hunter, from New Zealand 4th instant, with 95 tuns black oil. Passengers, Mr.and Mrs. T. Jones and two children.

      Two years earlier on the 13th October 1836, Shipping News, The Sydney Herald.
      Lady Kennaway, Captain Davison, with 298 male prisoners, under the superintendence of James Wilson, Esq., Surgeon, R. N. The guard consists of Major Baker and Lieutenant Morris of H.M. 80th Regiment, 25 rank and file of the 80th, and 5 of the 50th Regiment. Passengers – Mrs. Morris, 6 women and 5 children.

      24 November 1836, Police incidents; The Sydney Herald
      One of the seamen belonging to the Lady Kennaway, who had been sent on board the ship the previous day by the police, was charged with
      desertion. Captain Davidson stated that by the direction of a Bench of Magistrates the prisoner, with some other men who had deserted, had been
      taken on board the ship, when he had refused to work, and about three o’clock had deserted from the ship by swimming on shore. Mr. Windeyer
      directed the prisoner to be conveyed on board the ship, which was all he could do ; the clothes and wages of the prisoner having been declared for-
      feited on the previous day.

  2. Thanks Darienne for all that information! Much of it was pretty new to me and I included in book I am writing about my family.

    I was aware of another Police Incident, but very similar to this one you have found. I believe it was a hard time that days.

    It is interesting to see that your family settled down in Australia/Tasmania after my grandfather took you there! He took many immigrants to New York as well, but I didn’t found any of their descendants (yet!)

    Many thanks
    João Davison

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s