William Rich was my great great grandfather. My mother and I have done a lot of digging on William Rich but there are still a lot of questions about his life.
He was born in somewhere (there's a possible contender in Sutcombe) in Devonshire, England(1) in about 1832 to William and Elizabeth Rich(2). He apparently had at least one sister, Avice(3). At some stage he came to Australia, by means unknown, though presumably he didn't swim! His sister Avice also came to Australia, with her husband Robert Bindon.
The first we hear of William in Australia is when he married Mary Jane Bindon on 19 April 1860 at the Scots Church, Sydney(1). William was noted in the marriage notice as a goldminer from Peel River (near Tamworth). On July 22 1861 Mary Jane gave birth to a son, William H Rich, at their residence at Dernon Point, Peel River diggings(4). William jnr died in Sydney the following year(5). It would appear that the marriage produced no more children. Mary Jane died, aged 34, in 1872 in Victoria(6). Why was Mary Jane in Victoria? Was William with her? When did they leave Peel River? I have not been able to find Mary Jane's death record in the Victorian BDM index (which I find quite irritating to use at the best of times), otherwise I might have more information on this. Perhaps there were more children born to Mary Jane and William in Victoria, but I can't find any records regarding that either, possibly because there may not be any!
William Rich next appears in the public record in 1875 in Sydney, when he married widow Lavinia Bennett (neé Huxley, grand daughter of Thomas Huxley)(7). Lavinia seemed quite flexible with her name and she was also known as Laurina, Lawina, Laura, and possibly other names as well. William and Lavinia had eight children: Lily (1877-1912(8)), Avice (1879-1973(9)), William Milton (1881-1950(10)), Laurine (1883-1952(11)), Emma (1885-1958(12)), Florence (1887-1977(13)), Christina (1889-1971(14)) and Ethel Louisa (1891-1971(15)).
In 1908 when William's sister Avice Bindon (neé Rich) died, they were living at "Mount View", 82 Gordon St, Paddington(16). They were still there when their daughter Lily died in 1912(17).For some reason in 1915 William and Lavinia seemed to be living in separate locations, as shown by their son William Milton Rich's military service records - William snr was listed as living at La Perouse, whilst Lavinia's address is 7 Jackaman St, Bondi. The Sands Directory for 1916 gives William's address as 9 Jackaman St, Bondi - is this next door to his wife, or is she with him?(18). By 1922 William was listed as living at "Milton", O'Sullivan Rd, Rose Bay, where he appeared to live until soon before his death(18). He died on April 25 1927 at his daughter Avice's house in Willoughby, but the death notice states he was late of Milton, O'Sullivan Rd, Rose Bay(19) - perhaps Avice nursed him in his ill-health until his death. Lavinia died two years after William in 1929 in Katoomba(20).
William Rich's death notice also says that he was a Crimean veteran(19). Unfortunately I am unable to access British Crimean war records without either visiting the British National Archives in England or paying someone to research it for me. I guess that he must have come out to Australia soon after the war was over.
The most mysterious thing about William is what he did for a crust. The only occupation I have for him was as a goldminer in Peel River. I have not found any directory listings (or anything else) which list any occupation for him. Did he find a fortune in gold and live off that for the rest of his life?
I think I probably need to order a transcript of William's marriage record to Lavinia, and also his death record. That might shed a bit more light on him.
- Marriage notice in Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), 21 Apr 1860.
- NSW BDM death record 6651/1927.
- Funeral notice for Avice Rich Bindon, SMH, 18 Nov 1908.
- Birth notice, SMH, 3 Aug 1861.
- NSW BDM death record 307/1862.
- Australia Death Index (Ancestry.com.au).
- NSW BDM marriage record 344/1875, Lavinia listed as "Lawina".
- NSW BDM birth record 3508/1877, listed as "Lilly". Interestingly there is no father recorded.
- NSW BDM birth record 779/1879, listed as "Avis".
- NSW BDM birth record 3953/1881.
- NSW BDM birth record 8741/1883.
- NSW BDM birth record 10431/1885.
- NSW BDM birth record 9422/1887.
- NSW BDM birth record 5147/1889.
- NSW BDM birth record 38803/1891.
- Funeral notice for Avice Bindon, SMH, 18 Nov 1908.
- Funeral notice for Lily Rich, SMH, 17 Apr 1912.
- Sands Directory (Ancestry.com.au).
- Death notice for William Rich, SMH, 27 Apr 1927.
- Death notice for Lavinia Rich, SMH, 21 Jan 1929, Lavinia is listed as "Laurina".