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Ephraim Leggatt

Ephraim was born on 6 February 1810 in the Parish of St Clemence, Ipswich, Suffolk, England. He was the son of Robert Leggett and Mary Dorkin. He was christened in St.Nicholas-Wesleyan Methodist Church, Colchester, Essex, England, on 27 February 1810. Colchester is about 100 km north east of London. Ipswich, Ephraim's birthplace is a little over 30 km north east of Colchester. Betty Grocott has advised that Mary Leggett's name before marriage was Mary Dorkin.

Ephraim was reported convicted of break and enter on 12 August 1829 in the Parish of Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds. He was accused of breaking into the house of Elizabeth Arnold of Rougham and stealing a coat (valued at six shillings) and a velveteen coat (valued at six shillings) and razor blades owned by George Arnold. He was charged on the oath of George Arnold and others. On 20 August 1829 he was charged with suspicion of breaking into the house of Robert Farrow of Bradford St Clair and stealing one handkerchief (value one shilling) and two gold sovereigns owned by Robert Farrow. It is reported that the death sentence was imposed but reduced to transportation for life.

Ephraim appeared in court in Bury St Edmonds, north of London, on 27 March 1830 charged with house-breaking, of which he was convicted and, although it was recorded that he had no previous convictions, he was sentenced to be transported for life to the penal colony of New South Wales. On the same day in the same court at Bury St Edmonds some other young men were convicted and also sentenced to be transported to New South Wales : Abel Garrard, a ploughman, was also sentenced to life for house-breaking; a 14-year-old boy, surname Baine, a weaver and labourer, was sentenced to 14 years for "receiving" (stolen goods); 21-year-old twins Robert and William Pane, who were a butcher and ploughman respectively, and 32 year old David Mott, a labourer and (?) keeper, were all convicted of stealing sheep and sentenced to be transported for life. All the above-named were among 193 prisoners, all male, on the convict transport ship Royal Admiral when it sailed from Portsmouth on 5 July 1830.

In the months between being sentenced in court and transported to New South Wales, Ephraim was locked up in the prison hulk HMS Leviathan (source U.K. Prison Hulk Registers & Letter Books, 1807-1849). The Leviathan had participated in the battle of Trafalgar and, being no longer seaworthy, was moored in Portsmouth Harbour and used as a floating prison from 1816.

The master of the Royal Admiral, on the journey to New South Wales, was David Fotheringham and the ship's surgeon was George S. Rutherford. The Indents to Convict Ships (held by State Records of New South Wales) list the convict arrivals in the colony. The record shows that all 193 convicts survived the journey and arrived in Sydney on 9 November 1830. A muster was held on board the ship on 15 November 1830 for the Colonial Secretary. The records show that all the convicts were English, with the majority being protestant religion. Among them was 20-year-old Ephraim Leggatt, a protestant from Suffolk, who could both read and write. His trade is recorded as "gardiner (sic) and groom". Only 46 of the 193 convicts were 5 feet 6 inches (approx. 165 cm) or taller. Standing at 5 feet 10½ inches (approx 1.78 metres), Ephraim Leggatt was the third tallest of the convicts on the ship. His complexion is described as "ruddy freckled", his hair was "brown" and his eyes were described as "light hazel". It was also noted "Dark raised mole top of nose right side. Two dark moles on upper part left arm. Small scar on centre of forehead the ... (?) ... right and one under left eye." The newly arrived convicts were assigned to various property holders. The record shows that Ephraim Leggatt was assigned to "Alex B. .. by Huntr River". (State Records of New South Wales Fiche 677, Page 049, Film 905, shelf 4/4016). From checking other records of the time, the best interpretation of that name appears to be Alexander Busby who had property in the Hunter River area. Busby had been granted 960 acres at the Munmurra River by 1831 and (when he was only 23 or 24 years of age) was appointed as local magistrate in October 1832 (the role frequently went to the major property holder in the area, seriously compromising the possibility of justice in some instances). In 1835, Busby was granted the property of Cassilis in the upper Hunter Valley and later acquired the nearby property of Dalkeith. An unofficial village developed on the Busby Station and was known locally as Cassilis. It is understood that the Busby family still operates Cassilis station.

The modern town of Cassilis began in the 1830s as a private village called Dalkeith which served the Cassilis and Dalkeith properties. The former Dalkeith village became known as Cassilis and was gazetted as a town in 1860. Today Cassilis is described as "a pleasant little village of a hundred people which is located ... on the Munmurra River. It is 43 km north-west of Merriwa, 86 km. north-east of Mudgee and 358 km north-west of Sydney"( The original village would not have been such a pleasant little village in the 1830s. In 1836, two men were tried in the Supreme Court of New South Wales for murder and aiding and abetting the murder of a convict. One witness's evidence started "I am assigned to Major Druitt, upon his farm at Cassilis; on the 21st May, I was in the lock up of Mr Busby, for being in the bush; I was sentenced to corporal punishment, but had to wait ..... " ( One can wonder if, and how often, Ephraim Leggatt found himself in Mr Busby's lock-up and if, and how often, he was subjected to corporal punishment.

The General Return of Convicts in New South Wales in 1837 was probably the largest census of its type undertaken, but is known to have been incomplete. Ephraim Leggatt's name has not been identified.

Ticket of Leave number 39/208 records that Leave was given to Ephraim Leggatt on 18 February 1839. In contrast with the description on his arrival in Sydney more than eight years earlier, his height is described as six feet, his complexion as "sallow", his hair as "dark brown" and his eyes as "blue". The general remarks section notes "mole or small wort (sic) on nose two moles on right arm". The ticket also includes the information "Allowed to remain in the District of Cassillis on recommendation of Cassillis Bench, dated October 1839". The ticket of leave is overwritten "CP June 1844" with some illegible notes which appear to state that Ephraim was granted a conditional pardon (No 530, dated 13 August 1845). A conditional pardon meant that he was free as long as he remained in the colony, but he was not permitted to return to England. (State Records of New South Wales Reel 932, shelf 4/4126). Ephraim's pardon was publicly noted in the New South Wales Government Gazette dated 30 June 1847.


marriage certificate of Ephraim Leggatt and Barbara Simpson
click to enlarge


The certificate of marriage for Ephraim Leggatt and Barbara Simpson has been obtained and is based on information from the Records of Marriages in the Presbyterian Church. The marriage took place on 20 February 1851 in the parish of St Andrew's Church, Sydney. Barbara is identified as a member of the "Presbyterian Church of Scotland" while Ephraim's religious affiliation is a dash, indicating apparently no religious affiliation. The current St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney is Anglican. The location of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in 1851 is not known.

The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in New South Wales holds two records of marriages between Ephraim Leggatt (note spelling) and Barbara Simpson (1851 record no. V18517 80) and between Ephraim Leggett and Barbara Simpson (1851 V 18512003 73C). It appears to be the same marriage recorded twice with a variation in spelling of the surname.

Information about the children of the family is provided separately with information about Ephraim's wife.

At some stage the family relocated to the Merriwa district, not that far distant from Cassilis where Ephraim had previously worked. Merriwa would have been a busy town in those times. Although the Blue Mountains had been crossed by foot earlier in the 19th century, it was not an easy road to travel and some of the traffic (horses and carts etc.) travelled from the Mudgee district to Merriwa and then to the coast, probably at Newcastle. The route over the Blue Mountains gained popularity only after the railway was constructed. Interestingly the famous Blue Mountains crossers had some connections with the Merriwa district : Lawson's daughter was married to J.B.Bettington, Ephraim's employer; and W.C.Wentworth had been the first non-Aboriginal owner of the land on which the Galli Gilli station was established.


Welcome to Merriwa sign


Merriwa had consisted of 60 or 70 inhabitants in ten houses in 1846. The early dwellings were usually slab huts with earthen floors and bark roofs. By 1851 a further 20 houses and a school were established. By 1858, Merriwa had three respectable inns, five stores and two blacksmiths.

(information about Merriwa and district obtained from Helen Bettington's book The Lure of the Land : Historic Merriwa, NSW State Library N994.45/4 and Tess O'Brien's Down Came a Jumbuck, NSW Mitchell Library Q338.7636368/3)


entrance sign at Galla-Gilla property in 2001

In later years it came to be known as Galla-Gilla. In the earliest years it was known as Galli Gilli. The property is on Coulson's Creek Road which links Merriwa to Willow Tree. The photograph above was taken in 2001.

Not much is known of Ephraim's life in this period but one source of information has been identified. The University of New England at Armidale, NSW, houses regional archives ( When the archives were established in approximately the 1960s, various rural station properties were invited to lodge old documents. Among the holdings are a few records relating to the Brindley Park property at Merriwa, which had been owned by the Bettington family. During a visit to the archives centre in Armidale it was possible to view the original documents. One of the documents (accession no.A229) is a daybook covering years from the late 1830s to the early 1860s and six references were found to Ephraim Leggatt.

June 28th 1856
Mr Ephraim Leggatt engaged as Overseer for Two years at Galli Gilli - 3 months notice to be given to annul agreement. Rations .... (indecipherable). Salary £70 - to commence from period of taking charge.
(other entries noted in the book include a watchman being employed at £18, shepherds at £26 to £32 and an overseer to be in charge of Colston's Creek, another property, at £60. Ephraim's salary was the highest noted and suggests he was a responsible and capable man who demonstrated managerial skills and was worthy of a relatively high salary.)

July 5th 1856
Mr Ephraim Leggett took charge of the Establishment at Gallie Gillie this day.

November 3rd 1857
Received from Galli Gillie per Leggatt 333 Pure Ewes.

March 6th 1858
To Galli Gilli per Leggatt
                3 New Chisels
                3 Do  Gimblets
                3 Do  Augers
                ½  Doz  Handsaw Files
                ½   1   Cut Files

December 2nd 1858
Leggatt took to Galli Gilli: 12 lbs Tea

On October 1st 1858 it had been noted that 10 yearling colts and 10 fillies had been cut and branded, bringing the total to 136 head (horses) on the property including 14 Hacks which were named with one being called "Doctor"

September 1st 1859
Ephraime Leggatts Horse "Doctor" broke his leg and .. (indecipherable) gave him in lieu 1 chestnut colt.

While not conveying a lot, these excerpts reveal a world lived on horseback, herding sheep, occasionally drinking billy tea, and using tools probably for constructing fences and buildings.


buildings at Galla-Gilla, previously Galli Gilli
In 2001, there was little to be seen at the Galla-Gilla property. Two residences and some sheds.
The oldest building sighted is the old workman's cottage shown in the photograph above,
however it is thought that even this building post-dates Ephraim's time as overseer at Galli Gilli, as it was then known.



view at Galla Gilla. © FamilyOrigins network, 2001
A view at Galla Gilla property in 2001. This was the land that was central to
Ephraim Leggatt's work as overseer of the property from 1856 to 1863.


Sometime around the end of 1862 Ephraim became paralysed. One story suggested that he had acted heroically in attempting to save a worker being injured but he himself was injured; possibly it was something to do with a well. However it has not been possible to confirm this.

For the last six months of his life he was paralysed and he died at Galli Gilli, near Merriwa, NSW, on 28th May 1863. He was buried the following day at Merriwa. The location of his burial place is not known. The death certificate records that the official informant of the death was James Bettington JP who was the deceased's employer and that Ephraim's occupation was "sheep overseer". On his death certificate it is noted that he had three sons and four daughters. As noted below, his wife had given birth to her first child before the marriage; it appears he accepted his wife's child as his own. According to his death certificate, his wife's name was "Mary Simpson" but all other available information refers to "Barbara Simpson". Perhaps she may have also been known as Mary, or possibly there was a mistake on the death certificate. Perhaps Ephraim's employer did not know his widow well enough to accurately recall her name. Ephraim was originally employed at Brindley Park when it was run by James Brindley Bettington the first, who was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council (the only house of "parliament" for the colony until representative government was granted in 1856).

J.B.Bettington, the first, died while on a sheep purchasing tour to Europe; Ephraim's employer at the time of his illness and death was James Brindley Bettington the second.


Merriwa Anglican Church grounds.  © FamilyOrigins network.


Above is the cemetery in the grounds of the Merriwa Anglican church. While Ephraim's burial place is not known, this cemetery is the family burial site for the Bettington family, the burial site for at least one of Bettington's employees who died while in the service of the family, and the burial site for Annie Ramsy Price, Ephraim's sister-in-law. Burials had commenced in the cemetery prior to the date of Ephraim's death. While the location of his burial is not known, this cemetery is a probable site.

For many of his descendents, Ephraim who came to New South Wales in 1830 will be the earliest arrival in Australia of an ancestor.


Some of the above information about Ephraim Leggatt was obtained from Kathy Jackson, Jenny Haynes, John Collins and Rebecca Houlahan. Thanks to these people for sharing the outcome of their research. Thanks also to Kathleen Sumpter for information about Cassilis village.




Ephraim Leggett in the
Family History Index
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Ephraim Leggett



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