1. About

From the Early Days …

Pumpkins washing up on a lonely south coast beach ….

Charcoal Will – some say he was an Aboriginal Leader, Duwerra, of Sandon Point and Stanwell Park … called the “King of Bulli”

Leading a European official down a steep and treacherous coastal cliff to pumpkins and cedar on the beach

Another shipwreck along a coast that would see many more and jetties smashed by its often dangerous seas

All lives aboard were lost from a cutter on one of its runs from the Five Islands up to Sydney in mid 1829

Only its cargo of pumpkins and cedar lying on the beach giving a clue to its fate

A young man now responsible for his widowed mother and at least four of his five siblings in Wollongong

He’s illiterate, un-educated, the eldest son of convicts,  and not yet 19

He’d already cheated death by violent means down south in the Kangaroo Valley

It’s six months later – he’s found 50 acres under the escarpment

Just a few miles north of Wollongong where his mother had been living

He gets someone to write a letter to the NSW Governor begging for the land

Explaining the loss of the Foxhound off Coalcliff in 1829 and now his family to support

He uses the wrong words, father-in-law, instead of step father, for Thomas White, the Sawyer – Cedar Cutter who’d perished

Probably stretches the truth a little, but the letter’s essence is mainly true

James Hicks occupied, but wasn’t given that 50 acres land grant officially until 1839

He left the Illawarra for a while, marrying Margaret in 1834, a family begun in Windsor

By 1842 he’d returned, never living outside the Illawarra again

It’s said to have been a difficult journey back to the south  …. three young sons

He’d never learn to read or write – would always make his mark on documents with  X

Even on his will of 1891 …

James’ death would be reported in many newspapers in Australia in 1895 – see obituary 

Looking down over Austinmer where James & Margaret Hicks lived with their family

Looking down over Austinmer where James & Margaret Hicks lived with their family

Before his death he’d bought and owned nearly all of Austinmer … a self-styled “Farmer – Gentleman”

He’d been one of those who lobbied for a road north, the railway, schools

And he’d seen all eight sons and five daughters grown to adulthood

One even an alderman on the Local Council and the most senior JP of the district … hearing criminal court cases

Seventy seven grandchildren – and perhaps even more after his death

One would be a Mayor, also Illawarra Miners Federation President who’d speak in Mt Kembla’s Mining Disaster Inquiry & fight for the 8 Hour Day

James’ family spread from Melbourne to Cairns even up to Thursday Island to Perth to New Zealand to London

Farming, Soldiers, Government, Educating, Sport, Arts, Entertainment, Trade Unions, Mining, Factories, Building, Engineering, Church, Railways, Waterfront, Science, Volunteering

This is our Story


Stories and photographs of the Hicks, Howe, White, McKenzie, Joy, Callcott, Small, Bradley and Adams families were collected and held by James Hicks’ great great granddaughter, the late Joan Lois Adams (nee Callcott), since the late 1950’s. Joan collaborated with her son in law David Christian, as well as  Hicks and McKenzie cousins Marilyn McDonald and the late Ted Finn – not to mention the late Peter Doyle of the Illawarra Family History Group. Joan’s son in law, David Christian,  has maintained an extensive and ever-growing family history database for many years.  The stories collected were passed down to Joan’s daughter, Kerrie Anne Christian (Adams), and her siblings Julie Maree Lock Lee (Adams) and Daryl James Adams.

Our family’s  stories are starting to be shared on-line by Kerrie, with help from other family members, as they in turn share their own memories.It’s always going to be a big story when you have a family with literally 1000’s of members across 200 years of history. You can use the Index link to find your way around this web site – or the links down the left and right hand sides of each page.

Looking up Hicks St Russell Vale towards the Illawarra Escarpment

Looking up Hicks St Russell Vale towards the Illawarra Escarpment – in the area of James Hicks’ first 50 acres land grant – later sold to Francis Patrick McCabe in 1858. James purchased another 48 acres nearby before moving to Austinmer.

A lot of information is also contained in a book (and its extensive bibliography) “Beyond Bulli Northern Illawarra Pre Railway Pioneers 1820-1888” written by Michael Adams, who is also associated with the Lawrence Hargrave Centre.

Headstone on Grave of James and Margaret Hicks St Augustines Bulli – death notice for James Hicks in 1895

There are very few photographs of James Hicks’ eldest child, Henry Thomas Hicks and his wife Mary Ann (McKenzie). And so far none have been found showing them photographed together.

Mary Ann Hicks (nee McKenzie) and Henry Thomas Hicks – photocopy of photographs – these appear to be Cabinet Cards which were popular in the second half of the 19th Century – more from Wikipedia

Below – Mary Ann Hicks , widow of Henry Thomas Hicks shown around 1917-19 with two daughters, Mary Alice Cook and Edith Florence Joy,  and seven of her many grandchildren.

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

Mary Ann Hicks with Children &  Grandchildren 1917-19 at Everest Seaview Terrace Thiroul
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

The family history of the William Hicks branch, 2nd child of James and Margaret Hicks has been compiled over many years by his great granddaughter, Marilyn McDonald (nee Hicks).

Wayne Leslie, descendant of Richard Hicks, the 3rd child of James and Margaret Hicks, has enthusiastically shared photos and information on his branch. And we hope to hear more from another descendant, appropriately named Richard Hicks – but of course!

Recently contact has been made with a descendant of the 4th child, Annie Broadhead nee Hicks and we hope to learn more of that branch.

Family history information and photographs of George Hicks, 5th child of James and Margaret Hicks, and his descendants, have also been collected. It is currently held mainly by Charles Joseph Hicks (Jnr), George‘s  great grandson.

George Hicks b.1846 - source Charles Hicks

George Hicks b.1846 – source Charles Hicks

Dianna Stocker and Ann Gray are providing insights into their ancestor Deborah Woodford nee Hicks, 6th child of James and Margaret Hicks.

We know we won’t hear from any descendants of several other of James and Margaret Hicks children, viz James Hicks (7th child) and Thomas Hicks (11th child) – as neither married.

We’ve at last found a descendant of Alice McEwen, 8th child of James & Margaret Hicks, so in time we may learn more of their stories.

No luck with direct descendants of Mary Jane Collings, 9th  child of James and Margaret Hicks, but we have founds some connections on the Collings side. So perhaps one day we may find some of Mary Jane’s direct descendants.

We’ve had contact from Terry Hicks, a Grandson of Thomas Hicks, son of Hamilton Herbert Hicks, the 12th child of James and Margaret Hicks. Later we heard from Nancy Cosgrove another of Hamilton’s descendants, and are still learning more about that branch of the family.

The descendants of James Hicks youngest and 13th child, Minnie Margaret Blundell’s step-children, Margaret Love and Stan Blundell, are now beginning to research their branch of the family as well and it has been wonderful to make contact with them.

Stained Glass Memorial Window to Minnie Margaret Blundell (nee Hicks)

Stained Glass Memorial Window to Minnie Margaret Blundell (nee Hicks)

So that leaves only descendants of Charles Hicks (10th child) to be located of the 13 children!

More details of each of the Hicks family, and of other connected families can be found at the following :

Grave of Henry Thomas Hicks, former North Illawarra Council Alderman, and of his wife Mary Ann Hicks


19 Responses to 1. About

  1. Dianne Hicks says:

    Hi Kerrie George Hicks and Catherine Murphy are my Great Grandparents. I have been researching my family history and have been sharing with my family. My Great niece is currently going to uni at Wollongong and is excited to hear about her ancestral connection to the area. My Grandfather was William John Hicks who married Violet Louisa Russell, my father is their second child Charles Arthur Hicks who married Eunice Joan Milton. I grew up in the Northern Rivers area of NSW. We had a dairy farm at Federal until the early 70s then lived in Lismore. I now live in Perth. I am very grateful for the information you have provided on this site. I have been trying to find Richard Hicks family in the U.K. Without success. It is easy to attach the wrong relatives due same names used.Cheers Dianne Hicks

  2. Sherri Viccars says:

    Hi, I am related by adoption to the family of Murphy’s of Eurara, Murphy’s Lane, Kieraville.
    Let me know if you are interested in information/photo’s of ‘Mick Murphy’ and family/friends.
    Kind Regards
    Sherri Viccars

  3. HI there, just found this today via FB post by a cousin. I am the GGG Grandson of James Hicks. My Great-Grandfather was James Hicks McEwen, son of Alice Hicks and William McEwen. Constance Evans had an equally fascinating family through her father Edwin Evans and the Colless family at Bungle Gully/Come-By-Chance. My Grandmother was Joan McEwen who lived in Ballina/Byron Bay. There is a large family spread across the country descended from James/Constance.

    • My grandfather was James Hicks McEwen. married to Constance Maude Evans. My mother was Joan Timms (nee McEwen). My aunt Lal (Alice Amy McEwen) was named after Alice Hicks. James was employed as an itinerant teacher with the Cobb and Co Travelling School. He taught at numerous schools around Lismore, finally ending up at Cooper’s Shoot, overlooking Byron Bay. I remember him well.

  4. Diane says:

    What a fascinating story! James must have been a very determined man.
    Congratulations on your blogiversary, Kerrie!

    One question, where did the pumpkins come from?

  5. Robyn Cavuoto says:

    My great grandfather was Hamilton Herbert Hicks the 12th son of James and Margaret Hicks. My grandmother IRENE Hicks was Hamilton’s and Eliza Jane Withers 4th child, born 1892 in Lismore, married Frederick Arthur Rogers in 1914. My mother Eva was the 9th or 10th ( her twin Jessie insisted she was born first) of there 11 children. Only two are still surviving Sylvia born 1927 and IRENE born 1929, both now residing in Casino NSW. To date I have only researched the Rogers side of my family, so it was a surprise and a delight to come across this site. What amazes me when I look at the both sides of the family is the same given names are constantly reoccurring. Even in my generation. Thank you for all your hard work.
    Robyn IRENE Cavuoto

  6. Jane Ferris says:

    Hello Kerrie
    I am the great grandaughter of Richard and Emma Hicks ( nee Payne).. I am delighted to find this website.I live in Woodford Queensland.

    • hi Jane – it’s really nice to have people find the Hicks family website – there have been a few from the family who’ve found it over the last year or so – I’ve always wondered how Woodford got its name – Richard’s sister Deborah married a school teacher called William Woodford and they or their family lived in Lismore – Murwillumbah area though I expect some were in Queensland – would be interesting to know if any were ever at Woodford cheers Kerrie Christian

  7. Hi Kerry Anne, welcome to Geneabloggers!
    I am sure you know Shauna Hicks (@HicksShauna). If not here is her blog:
    Good luck with your research.

  8. Kim says:

    This looks like a great blog and it’s obvious you’ve done an awful lot of research! Welcome to Geneabloggers and from a fellow Australian researcher. Good luck on your journey!

  9. celticmama36 says:

    The children in the photograph are adorable. 🙂

    I found you through the Geneabloggers newsletter. Welcome! I am now following you via the Feedly Reader. Have a great weekend.

    • thank you – I have enjoyed the Geneabloggers site too – it was an inspiring influence for me in working on this website – and is one of a number of family history blogs that I follow via Feedly (I used to use Google Reader too until a week ago).

      • celticmama36 says:

        You’re welcome. 🙂

        I was using Google Reader initially, too. When they first announced that it was going away, I went right away to find an alternative. I’ve heard rumors that Feedburner is going away, too, but nothing substantiated yet. Unfortunately, not all blogs and websites have feeds for Feedly to pick up and that is quite frustrating. If I just bookmark them, I never find them again in the chaos of my bookmarks!

        Have a great week!

  10. Marilyn MacDonald says:

    Hi, my name is Marilyn MacDonald formerly Hicks . I am the great grandaughter of William Hicks and his wife Margaret, formerly Southam formerly Jessop.
    I have been researching my Hicks family on and off since about 1968 when a birth certificate from N.S.W. was 12/6.
    In the early to mid 1980’s I was really caught up in the research with not much material around except microfiche.
    I visited Joan and Ross Adams in 1984 and we shared information on the Hicks family and many times in letters as well and the occasional ‘phone call.
    I found this site, which was forwarded to me from a rellie, to be very interesting and so many names that it will take me days to go through it all.
    I am not sure if Joan has ever mentioned my nam as we were quite close I thought. I was a member of the Illawarra Family History group for a number of years and in fact my work has been published in the Pioneer Register that they had produced in the 1980’s. Just thought I would let you know how much I have researched my family in the past and to say I found this site fascinating and interesting to see all the names and places we have spread out throughout Australia.
    Kind regards,
    Marilyn MacDonald nee Hicks

    • kerrieannec says:

      Hello Marilyn,
      Mum (Joan Adams) used to talk about you a lot.
      Sadly she passed away last November.

      I am Joan’s eldest daughter and have most of her records and photos – I am trying to share it all with as many Hicks family members as possible.

      We are heading north in about 6 to 8 weeks and hoped to catch up with a few family relatives … perhaps we can catch up with you too – my email address is kcact@tpg.com.au – phone 02 42 671488

      all the best

      Kerrie Christian (nee Adams)

  11. kerrieannec says:

    Kerrie Christian has spoken to Stan Blundell, and they hope to catch up in late 2013. The Blundell’s are investigating their family history and some are now back in the Wollongong area, after nearly a century.

  12. Stan Blundell says:

    Good Morning, my name is Stan Blundell and I am the great grandson of Archibald Blundell (though he died long before I was born). During the Christmas break I have been doing further research into the Blundell family tree and came across a link to the Hicks family website, which is a well produced website, most impressive. We Blundell descendants, certainly don’t have any family fortune that was handed down from our ancestors, and being the eldest son, of the eldest son, of the eldest son of Archibald, I would be aware of any fortune. There were 2 World Wars and a Depression between when Archibald married Minnie and when I was born, so anything could have happened.
    I live in north western Sydney close to the M7, only about one & a half hours from Wollongong. My wife’s mother lives in Nowra and we pass through Wollongong when we visit her. I would like to meet with someone from the Hicks family and discuss our family connections. I can be contact by phone (0419-795893) or via email blundell44@bigpond.com.
    Hope to hear from someone soon, all the best, Stan Blundell.

    • kerrieannec says:

      Hey Stan – you could be right – the Hicks seem to have sold off most of the Russell Vale and Austinmer land before James Hicks’s death. James left his remaining estate to wife Margaret – she in turn left all her assets to youngest daughter Minnie, including a property at Bulli. The Bulli property was to go to her grandaughter Charlotte Louisa Collings in the event Minnie had no children of her own …. dispelling all those rumours of the lost family fortune .. !

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