The Verran Family

Cornish Born, South Australian Emigrants

The Cornish Connection, thin but known

Even if one tries very hard, there seem to be walls of silence which have to be confronted when chasing the ancestors of even a great grandfather and great grandmother. So it is with Martin Verran who is said to have been born in Veryan CON on 6 August 1809. No further information was found during two visits, 1989 and 1992. As time has passed, there was a growing connection evident with Verran families who lived in Kea and Perranarworthal CON. With help from David Verran in New Zealand, it has been found that a son Martin was born to Martin Verran and Catherine nee Coad and he was baptised at Kea Parish Church on 4 March 1809.

Similar difficulties occurred with Sarah Ann Hitchins apparently born in St Austell CON on 28 June 1814. She certainly married Martin Verran from Kea and Perranarworthal on 18 March 1835 at St Blazey CON; her father was possibly William Hitchins. Two children were born to them in Cornwall; Sarah Ann Verran Jr in 1840 and Martin Jr on 14 February 1844.Work was getting very lean in Cornwall at that time and emigration elsewhere in the world was inviting.

Martin and Sarah Ann Verran embarked with their two children on the ABBERTON at Plymouth in September 1846 and departed for South Australia, sailing via South America. They arrived in Port Adelaide, South Australia in December 1846 and by this time they had three children. During the voyage, a second daughter Victoria was born.

Adelaide, Burra Burra and Armagh

From this time forward, Martin and Sarah Ann stayed in Adelaide for a short while, with Martin undertaking well-sinking and brickwork. South Australia was in a desperate state economically at that time and the wealth of minerals which are now mined in Australia was entirely unknown. It was in 1845 that copper was found in the Burra Burra Creek by a shepherd, Thomas Pickett. The rich copper ore find at Burra Burra saw the beginning of the Monster Mine of the South Australian Mining Association which rapidly absorbed any Cornish miners and Welsh miner/smelters who were available.

It is not surprising that Martin and Sarah Ann moved to Burra where Martin became a carpenter/overseer for about two years. About 1848, Martin and Sarah Ann moved their family from Burra in Armagh just to the west of Clare. He had two bullock teams to move the family and their belongings and they settled to run a farm in that area. Two other children were born, Mary Jane in 1849 and William Hitchins Verran in 1851. Martin acquired Armagh Allotments 69,70 and 76 from William Henry Clarke on 4 August 1854 for 18-10-0 (Conveyance No.287 Book 72). However, the big gold finds in Victoria in 1852 were too much for Martin and he left the family in Armagh in an unsuccessful attempt at finding wealth in gold.

Martin only lived to be 46 years old and, on his death on 27 September 1855, was buried in the churchyard of St Barnabas Church of England in the larger town of Clare. Sarah Ann Sr had to carry on with a young family of five, Sarah Ann Jr being about 15 and the youngest William Hitchins about 4 years old. It is not clear from the Land Titles just what happened on Martin's death though the land may have passed to Sarah Ann Sr and then eventually to Martin Jr. There is an entry on 4 February 1884 to indicate that the land was divided - Allotments 69 and 70 passed to Joseph Mueller an Armagh gardener and 76 to John Butler. Victoria Verran had married into the Butler family and may have been involved in this transfer. Sarah Ann Sr died on 29 October 1895, aged 81 years, and was buried alongside her husband Martin.

A young man who had emigrated from Somerset and found his way to land quite near the Verran property was William Lloyd in about 1855. He married Sarah Ann Verran Jr on 23 September 1858 and they went to live on William's property at Emu Creek in South Armagh. William had purchased Section 134 with an area of 77 acres from Joseph and Edward Hunter for 300 by Conveyance No 211 Book 98 completed on 20 March 1856. It is worth noting here that William had increased his land holdings to about 340 acres by 1866 and to close to 900 acres by 1888. William's origins in Somerset are given in the Lloyd family history.

The Descendants of Martin and Sarah Ann Verran

We have already mentioned Sarah Ann Jr and some of the other children of Martin and Sarah Ann but here we can provided some more detailed background. The source of some of the material given below is listed in the Acknowledgements.

Sarah Ann Verran Jr was probably born somewhere in the St Blazey area of Cornwall about 1839/40 and may have been baptised at St Blazey Parish Church in 1840. She was said to be 19 years old when married William Lloyd and this would suggest that she may have been born in 1839. Prior to her death, she was living in Gleeson Street, Clare. She died in October 1910 and was buried alongside her husband William Lloyd (d. 1902) at Clare General Cemetery where there is a monument to them both and some members of their family.

Martin Verran Jr was said to have been born on 14 February 1844 at St Blazey but as yet it is not clear if this was a birth or a baptism date. It seems that he would have developed on his father's Armagh property as a farmer but became one of the first settlers to take up a selection on the Condowie Plains, dated July 1871, comprising four sections making up 526 acres. This land had been offered at auction but was not sold and were selected on credit by private contract at 1 per acre. Martin's purchases were completed in August 1876 and he named it View Farm by virtue of its excellent view of the surrounding country. His brother-in-law William Lloyd also selected nearly 240 acres in the vicinity in late December 1875 with completion in January 1882.

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Martin married Elizabeth Clegg (1848-1919) in 1872 and they lived in one of the first houses on the Condowie Plains. They had twelve children of whom four died young and were buried in the Condowie cemetery. Martin purchased Nyora Gardens in Mintaro, south of Clare, in 1913 and it was here that he and Elizabeth stayed until their deaths, Elizabeth in 1919 and Martin in 1930.

The photograph of the Verran family of ten in 1909 has Thomas, Bertha, Marg, Violet and James in the back row (l to r), Martin, Albert, Annie and Elizabeth in the front row (l to r): Inset, John in front of Martin and Albert (by courtesy of the B.C.B. Committee and the Verran family).

Mary Jane Verran was born on 18 October 1849, possibly in Armagh. We have little information about her and we are still searching.

William Hitchins Verran, the fifth child, was born in 1851, most likely in Armagh. Without a father from the age of about four years, his brother Martin who was some seven years older would have been an important person in his life as both his sisters married young. It seems probable that William assisted Martin in the development of the four sections on the Condowie Plains in the early 1870s. William married Mary Elizabeth Cooper on 10 September 1877 at the Magpie Creek Bible Christian Church, two miles east of Brinkworth. William and Mary Elizabeth achieved a notable milestone in the life of the church as theirs was the first wedding there, performed by Rev. John Dingle of Crystal Brook. The church was built by the people of the surrounding district, using 'pine posts and lathes and plaster', 30 ft x 18 ft with an iron roof, opening in November 1875 free of debt. The church was used until a severe storm blew the roof off in November 1894.
William had taken up Section 219 in 1875 and the newly married couple went to lived there. He later owned four more sections and in 1894 his property was subdivided on the west side of the railway line to form the western side of Brinkworth township. In the Centenary Book on p.30, there is a copy of the title deed relating to the Portion of Section 219 which was made into allotments for the Township of Brinkworth. Under the drawing of the plan is William Verran's signature in fine script writing, as he registered proprietor "as per Certificate of Title registered Vol 590 folio 170".
William and Mary Elizabeth had five children and there are descendants still farming the original property and living in Brinkworth. Mary Elizabeth died in 1930 and William in 1936, both being buried in the Brinkworth cemetery.

Acknowledgements

In preparing this Verran family history, I wish to thank the Clare Regional History Group for its support in investigations to do with both the Verran and the Lloyd families, and for their advice that the Brinkworth Centenary Book Committee was to publish a book which would have information about the Verran and Lloyd families.

For material included in the sections about the Condowie Plains, Brinkworth and the involvement of the Verran families, I am most indebted to the Brinkworth Centenary Book Committee which, in 1992, compiled and published:


MAGPIE CREEK JUNCTION: A History of Brinkworth & District
To commemorate the Centenary of the Brinkworth Township 1892-1992.

For those interested in learning more of the Brinkworth region, copies of Magpie Creek Junction may be obtained from:
Blyth Snowtown District Council, Railway Terrace, Snowtown, South Australia 5520.

Apart from the selections made for this Verran story, the broader history which it gives provides a wonderful coverage of the region from its early Aboriginal inhabitants through its growth in the 19th and 20th Centuries, carried forward by a stalwart group of families.

I am grateful to the Brinkworth History Group (BHG), which is a follow-up committee to the Brinkworth Centenary and the Brinkworth Centenary Book Committees, for their permission to reproduce the Verran family photo above and to publicize information on Condowie and the Verran family from the book.

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Prepared by John Symonds and first presented on 10 April 1996.