08 July 2011

Josiah Horsey

My great great great grandfather Josiah Horsey was born on 13 Nov 1809 in South Petherton, Somerset, England and died 29 Nov 1863, at his residence, 46 Hunter St, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He was the youngest son of Elizabeth (nee Glyde) and John Horsey, a sail cloth maker, of South Petherton.

Josiah married Sarah Irish in South Petherton on 22 Jul 1839 when he was 29 and she was 23. He was described as a yeoman on the marriage register, as was his father and Sarah's (Sarah's father was also known to be a publican). I'm not sure that either of the Horseys were actually landowners, but they appear to have been well respected in the community. The Somerset electoral register for South Petherton parish has Josiah as an occupier of lands in Palmer St from 1846-1848, and both were also chosen as church overseers in the South Petherton parish. One record says that in his role as an overseer he was given £20 for collecting the Church and Poor Rates.

Josiah, Sarah, and their children Elizabeth, 8, Rosetta, 7, Selina, 4 and Frederick, 2, emigrated to Australia, leaving Plymouth in Oct 1848 on the Harbinger, and arriving in Sydney in Feb 1849. Also on the Harbinger was Sarah's brother, Charles Irish, and his family. Josiah's occupation was listed as "farm labourer". Charles was a tailor.

By 1850 Josiah and his family were living at 328 George St, Sydney. In 1854 he and the family were still residing in George St, and Josiah was working as a hay and corn dealer.

In September 1857 the license of the pub Jew's Harp, on George St, Brickfield Hill (now part of Surry Hills), was transferred to Josiah. He held the license until 1858. I can't find exactly when the licence transferred to the new licensee, however in the Sydney Morning Herald on 15 Mar 1858 Josiah Horsey was declared insolvent, with total debts of £319 10s 9d. His occupation was given as dealer and his address as Castlereagh St, Sydney.

I find it strange that Josiah, a seemingly upstanding member of the church community (at least back in England - I have no knowledge of his church-going in Sydney), took over the license of a pub. Perhaps his dealing business was not going so well and so, with influence from his wife (whose father was in the inn-keeping business), he took on the pub as well. With hindsight it seems ill-advised - he certainly didn't retain the pub for long. Whatever the case, it was perhaps the tipping point, and may have sent him into insolvency.

Meetings with creditors went on for a number of years until finally, on 11 Nov 1863 a notice appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald advising that a certificate (of discharge?) had been granted to Josiah, on payment of costs and charges.

Sadly, just 18 days later Josiah died, aged only 54. Josiah's death certificate states that he died of "debility", the duration of which was one month. Who knows what that means in relation to his health. Speculating though, the very short period between his financial state being positively resolved and his death suggests that perhaps he hung on until he was cleared. It must have been a strain on him (and perhaps his health) to go through such an embarrassing financial situation when he had once been such a respected member of the South Petherton community. During the time he was insolvent Josiah had a fruit shop at 46 Hunter Street, Sydney. This may have been a less risky business venture than his others (people always need fruit and vegetables) and presumably helped him regain his financial freedom.

Interestingly, in the second week of February 1858 there was a court case of Horsey v. Irish at the Banco Court in Sydney. I have not been able to find out any further details of this, but it was possibly between Josiah and his brother-in-law Charles Irish. Certainly, Charles, also a corn and hay dealer of George St, was listed as insolvent in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24 Feb 1858, with total debts of £91 11s 6d. Did Josiah sell his badly performing hay and corn dealing business to Charles, which then caused him to go under? That would definitely be a reason for going to court.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Prue
    Love your family history posts. I am trying to work out where you fir in with me as we obviously share the Weiss's, Von Holsts, Horseys's and Irish's.

    The info about the weiss Family has me really excited. i could never get back past Charles Nicholas.