Finding the Family of Uncle Ern Hicks aka Youngest Son of Captain Henry Thomas Hicks JP

I knew only a little of Richard Ernest Hicks (4.9.1887 – 11.4.1953 Kogarah) aka Uncle Ern, aka youngest child of Captain Henry Thomas Hicks JP  (eldest son of James and Margaret Hicks) – that is  he was living in Goulburn at the time of the death of his mother, Mary Ann Hicks nee McKenzie.

Ern’s Parents and Siblings ?

Well in 1887, the year of Ern Hicks’ birth was also about the time that his  father, Henry, was becoming more politically & publically involved – viz the year of Henry’s  election as an Alderman on the North Illawarra Council, serving on various committees eg Committee lobbying for the creation of Bulli Shire Council, the Trust Fund for widows of the 1887 Bulli Coal Mine Disaster, hearing Court Cases as the Senior JP of the District, Captain of the Bulli Reserve Rifles, Church Warden,  and presiding at an untold number of public meetings. Ern’s mother Mary Ann seems to have also been involved in Community and Church organisations.

So one wonders how Henry had time in those years to run the farms in North Bulli (Austinmer) and later at Mt Gilead (Thirroul), not to mention taking on the Mt Hope Guesthouse and still give some time to his large family. Well – nine of Henry’s 10 living children were unmarried and still living at home in 1887 – presumably they had all pitched in to help with the family enterprises ?

Over the years, two of Ern’s brothers would become Army Captains (Harry and George), another would be a Mayor and also President of the Miners Federation (Alex). And the brothers in law – a Council Alderman (Alick Cook) , a Council Auditor (John Charles Joy), a highly respected Community Leader in Agricultural associations and the like (Alfred Cook) – one brother in law even became NSW President of the Master Builders Association ( Arthur “AF” Webb).

So perhaps there were rather big shoes to be filled by the baby of  Henry Thomas and Mary Ann Hicks’ family, Richard Ernest Hicks ?

Periodically, I would have a look at Uncle Ern’s part of the Hicks family and gradually bits and pieces surfaced. Ern seems to have followed his sister Ida McKenzie “Jummie” Hicks ( later Webb) into the teaching profession and so he seems to have been posted to various country regions in New South Wales, Australia.

In 1913, at his Tamworth posting,  he married Teresa Catherine Creevey (1885-1963) and later that year their eldest child Daphne Josephine Hicks was born there.  Teresa was the grandchild of Irish immigrants Bernard Creevey, Thomas Fitzsimmons and Theresa Behan. Her parents,  John Bernard Creevey and Elizabeth (Fitzsimmons), had the property “Limbri” near Moonbi in the Tamworth area.

Moonbi Countryside

Moonbi Countryside

Ern and his family  also lived in Goulburn in 1930, and then in  Uranaa small southern NSW town down near Corowa, and also Oaklands, where my husband’s uncle and cousins have been farming for decades. Not too many people I know had lived near Urana to be honest – so this was an interesting discovery.

In 1937 Ern moved most of his family back to Mt Gilead, the Hicks family farm in Thirroul where they lived for at least 1937-38. Unfortunately in July 1938, Ern, still at the Mt Gilead Hicks Family Thirroul farm,  was then pleading guilty  to selling two cases of adulterated milk – to Board of Health Inspector Williams – Source Illawarra Mercury July 1, 1938. Hmm – no doubt his father, HT Hicks JP, would have been disappointed. 

By 1939 all of Ern’s three daughters had married, and their husbands soon headed off to WWII Service, in either the Australian Army or the RAAF, Australian Airforce. Probably Ern and Teresa left Thirroul around the time that the Mt Gilead farm was being sold, to be subdivided in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s.

Well Ern hadn’t joined two of his four older brothers in serving in WWI, Captain George and Captain  Harry, not to mention quite a few of his Hicks family cousins. And it might have seemed that he was  almost too old for WWII – nevertheless, Ern enlisted in WWII (Citizen Military Forces) – although it looks like he dropped his age by about 7 years – giving his year of birth as 1894 instead of 1887 in order to be accepted! However it was probably not all that surprising that Ern enlisted – with the two brothers in WWI, another older brother, Alex,  had almost enlisted in the mid 1880’s Sudan conflict. And their father, Henry Thomas Hicks, had been a Captain in the local Bulli Reserve Rifles from 1890.

So for at least some of the war time period around 1943, his wife, Teresa, was living at the 225 Carrington Rd Coogee home of  her daughter Thelma –  whose own husband had also enlisted in the Army. In 1943 Teresa moved onto 33 Ocean St, Kogarah,  with another of her three daughters, Marjorie Mary Morley nee Hicks, when Marjorie’s own husband James Alexander Morley enlisted as well.

After the war, Teresa and Ern lived at Ocean St Kogarah, and where Teresa would continue to mostly live on after Ern’s death in 1953. At the time of his 1953 death, there were only a few of his 13 siblings remaining – Alex (1866-1957), (Captain) George Hicks (1873-1956), Edith Joy (1880 – 1958), Ida “Jummie” Webb (1883-1967)

  • The twins Catherine and Ann had died soon after their 1862 birth
  • Unnamed male died in 1869 –   (in childbirth ?)
  • Henry William died in 1873 at 5 years of age
  • James Alexander Hicks and wife Edith died in 1939 after being mown down by a vehicle near their Croydon home
  • Alice Mary “Biddy” Cook died in 1945 – Penshurst
  • Henry Thomas “Harry” Hicks Jnr died in Kogarah in 1946
  • Christina Woolley died in Lismore in 1951
  • Margaret Cook died in Ballina in 1952

Ern and Teresa would have four childrenDaphne Josephine, Marjorie Mary, Thelma and John Henry Hicks.

Below is a photograph of three  of their children Daphne, Marjorie and John, with 

Mary Ann Hicks with Children Grandchildren 1917-19 Back Row - Mary Constance Joy, Mary Alice Cook, Edith Florence Joy, Kenneth Charles Joy  Front Row - John Henry Hicks, Daphne Josephine Hicks, Mary Ann Hicks, Gwynneth Mary  Webb, Marjorie Hicks, Enid Rhys Webb

At Everest – Seaview Terrace Thirroul – Mary Ann Hicks with Children Grandchildren 1917-19
Back Row – Mary Constance Joy, Mary Alice “Biddy” Cook (older sister of Ern), Edith Florence Joy (younger sister of Ern), Kenneth Charles Joy
Front Row – John Henry Hicks, Daphne Josephine Hicks, Mary Ann Hicks, Gwynneth Mary Webb, Marjorie  Mary Hicks, Enid Rhys Webb

Tracking down Ern and Teresa’s children proved a bit of a challenge – when I asked my aunties and uncles who were in their 70’s and 80’s – well,  memories of their mother’s cousins were understandably fading. So here is what I’ve uncovered so far …

  • Marjorie Mary Hicks (- 1975)  married James Alexander Morley in Bulli in 1939. James was from the Redhill property near Boree Creekwhich is also near to Urana.  James and Marjorie took over the Redhill farm of James’ father Thomas Morley, presumably after WWII, as James enlisted in the Army. It was at Redhill, where they raised their family, and then it appears that Redhill was in turn taken over by their son, Barry James Morley. However in recent years it was placed on the market, by the Richens family, and so presumably has not been in the  Morley family for 20 years or more.
  • Thelma Hicks ( – 1967 Sydney ) married  in Parramatta 1938 to George Little ( – ) who was possibly in the regular Army including during WWII. They moved to Sydney’s eastern suburbs at 225 Carrington Rd Coogee,  and were there till at least 1954 – Thelma’s mother Teresa was living at the Carrington Rd address during 1943, when her father Ern had also enlisted for  WWII related service. In 1963 George was still at Carrington Rd with a daughter Patricia Therese Little, however Thelma had moved to  Battery St Randwick.
  • John Henry Hicks ( – 1954 Redfern) had been a labourer and living at his parents home  at Urana until 1936. He became a dairyman in 1937, when he moved back with his parents to the Hicks Family Farm, Mt Gilead, in Thirroul. In 1942 he married  Yvonne Philomena Webb ( – 2012) in Bulli, and in 1943 they were living in 37 Dolphin St Randwick, where he was a bricklayer – the Mt Gilead Farm having been sold off for residential subdivisions. Sadly John died in 1954, aged only 39 years, which was incredibly young. Yvonne continued to live in their Dolphin St Randwick home, after her husband’s death for many years.

They had one daughter, Maree Philomena Hicks ( – ) who was married in Sydney in 1960 to Laurence Clay Richards, now deceased.

Below are photographs of Daphne Josephine Callaghan nee Hicks – who of Ern’s four children, had the most contact with Edith Florence Joy nee Hicks’ descendants – (Edith was my great grandmother).

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  • Daphne Josephine Hicks (1913 Tamworth ? – 1966) was living with her aunt, Edith Florence Joy nee Hicks at 598 Forest Rd Penshurst around 1936-1937. Sometime from September 1939, she was married, in Paddington to a divorced taxi driver/bar tender, Victor George Callaghan ( 1908 – 1975).   

Previously, Victor had married Rita Verne on April 9 1932. They lived with Rita’s parents and unmarried brothers (Allen, Leslie & Jules) in the family home at  Waverley; and were still  together in 1936, but separated in 1937 & divorced by September 1, 1939. Rita stayed at the Verne family home and Victor was living elsewhere.

After the 1939 marriage and until at least 1949, Daphne and Victor lived at 17 Carruthers St Penshurst, which backed onto her aunt Edith Florence Joy’s Penshurst home, which had been built on a large double block. Victor enlisted in the Airforce in WWII.  They had only one child Kevin John Callaghan in 1941 – he  died tragically in an accident in 1961.

It seems that at various times Victor had run-in’s with the law, and this may have placed strains on their marriage, so that by 1954 Daphne and Victor were living apart. Daphne was living at her mother’s home, 33 Ocean St Kogarah in 1954, and Victor had moved back to the eastern suburbs, Campsie. Later Daphne lived at Glebe, and may have even entered the workforce, and then was at 23 Alfreda St Coogee prior to her 1966 death. In the last decade or so of her life, Daphne had certainly seen her share of tragedy and heartbreak.

A bit more digging,  and it was clear that Rita and Daphne’s ex – Victor was one of those “accident prone” characters, who perhaps also got caught up with the wrong crowd in his youth, and then again much later in life. When Victor was 13  he was lucky not to have become a paraplegic or quadraplegic, when he dived into shallow water at Coogee in 1915 – the story even made the Adelaide News  (i, ii).

Later it got more colourful. Oh well, he provides a few skeletons in the closet of the Hicks and Callaghan families – ironic in that Daphne’s grandfather, Captain Henry Thomas Hicks, had been a JP, presiding at criminal court cases – so there weren’t too many criminal court appearances by Daphne’s Hicks family members. Nevertheless Victor had enlisted in the Airforce  in WWII becoming a Sergeant in fact, which probably helped him keep out of trouble for a few years. 

    • 1925 –  April – 16 year old Victor Callaghan of Paddington reported missing by the NSW Police – source : NSW Police Gazette
    • 1925 – May – 16 year old Victor Callaghan charged with stealing a horse and sulky – one of his co-accused had been missing with him in April 1925 – source : NSW Police Gazette – outcome unknown but presumably the charge was dismissed or he was acquitted
    • 1927 – February – 18 year old Victor Callaghan charged with breaking, entering and stealing – source : NSW Police Gazette – subsequently acquitted
    • 1935 – Victor Callaghan taxi driver pleads innocent in court to a charge of dangerous driving at Liverpool – acquitted
    • 1935 – Victor Callaghan public notice that he will not be responsible for debts without his written consent
    • 1948 – Victor Callaghan in court appealing a verdict – outcome unknown but presumably the charge was dismissed or he was acquitted
    • 1952 – Victor Callaghan in court appealing a verdict – also  later that year
    • 1952 – Victor Callaghan trial – jury being called for Darlinghurst court – later that year acquitted of larceny
    • 1954 – July – Victor Callaghan back in court again
    • 1954 – August 7 – August 9August 10 – Victor Callaghan’s case at Darlinghurst court – getting “mentioned” daily
    • 1954 – August 23 – August 24August 25 – August 26August 27 – Victor Callagahan’s case at Darlinghurst court is underway
    • 1954 – August 27 – Victor Callaghan found guilty with co-accused Patrick Brady, and awaiting sentence
    • 1954 – August 28 more – Victor Callaghan  escaped jail sentence & given fine with 5 year bond – considered to have been influenced by co-accused Patrick Brady who got  a 5 year jail sentence – so no leniency for Brady, as he had long  experience with the law – possibly interesting to compare the harshness of the jail sentence compared with today’s sentences ?

Previously,  Victor had married Rita Verne of Waverley in 1932 – they were still  together in 1936. Rita was one of the seven children of Paul and Margaret Vern(e) of Waverley. It was the 1930’s depression era years –  when Victor and Rita had lived with their two children at Rita’s family home at 125 Carrington Rd Waverley in Sydney’s eastern suburbs – along with her parents and unmarried brothers (Allen, Leslie & Jules) – three generations under the one roof. So it must have seemed crowded at times. Verne family folklore is that they were related to the author Jules Verne – still not verified though. By 1937  they had separated – Rita still at the Verne family home with her children and unmarried brothers – Victor was living elsewhere. They were divorced in 1939, and then Victor married Daphne Josephine Hicks.

Over time, some parts of  a family’s history fade away. So Victor’s great granddaughter found me on Mundia and asked for some help in tracking down some of Victor & Rita’s family – wondering if we were related. I was unaware there had been any children of Victor and Rita Callaghan’s marriage prior to Victor’s  marriage to Daphne Hicks. And Rita’s great granddaughter was also unaware that Victor and Rita Callaghan had divorced, then Victor remarried to Daphne Josephine Hicks and that they had a son, Kevin John Callaghan, who had died tragically in 1961.

So we’ve discovered that in marrying Victor Callaghan, Daphne  Hicks had also “inherited” two step children, Victor Callaghan Jnr and Myrtle aka Merle Callaghan. Victor Jnr had 4 children, Paul, Gary, Shauna and Suzanne, but it is believed that Merle did not have a family. And about 20 years ago, some of the descendants of Daphne’s step son,Victor Jnr. moved to Bellambi – which is quite close to where Daphne’s great grandparents, James and Margaret Hicks had their Russell Vale Farm from the 1830’s. So we now have  a few  extra members of the extended Hicks family.

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About Kerrie Anne Christian

Interests - Travel, Photography, Developing Websites, Social Media, Writing, Local History, Researcher, Genealogy
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4 Responses to Finding the Family of Uncle Ern Hicks aka Youngest Son of Captain Henry Thomas Hicks JP

  1. Hayley says:

    Wow! Thank you Kerrie! Very insightful article! You weren’t wrong about my rogue of a great grandfather! I believe Merle did have children maybe a son and
    Daughter. Will let u know once I speak to my father. Thanks for all your extended research! It I’d very enjoyable for my brothers, aunts and uncle xx

  2. gpcox says:

    An excellent family history. My godfather’s name was Harold Hicks, I wonder if he was some distant relative.

    • Thank you for your kind words – it certainly was quite a detective puzzle tracking down Uncle Ern’s family. Our part of the Hicks have been in Australia since the early 19th Century – since then they have spread far and wide across Australia – and even throughout the world – so you never know – we just may be connected.

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