Category Archives: READY PETER MARK


Jan Russell said

March 20, 2011 at 11:48 am e

What a wonderful find. It has filled out names into people altho it doesn’t continue my branch past Peter Mark Ready and Sarah Ann Benson. They were my great great grandparents,by way of their daughter Elizabeth Hannah,who married John James Smith (aka Thomas Smith).Their daughter Mabel Mildred lambert was my grandmother. She married Frederick Eager Lambert , my father Donald Caitcheon Eager Lambert was their elder son.





In his will JOHN CURTIS left everything to ANN in trust for his children, ELIZABETH, JAMES, JOHN, PETER and CATHERINE.

Ann having an equal portion in the rest. To his married daughter ELIZABETH READY he also left 10 head of cattle.

This left 26 head of cattle and 2 mares, a certain house in the township of PARRAMATTA , and a 30 acre farm along the SYDNEY ROAD which he had bought from JAMES WRIGHT. These were to be divided as evenly as possible between ANN and the children but if ANN were to remarry ad the childrens’ shares become endangered , then his friends, JOHN LACEY and THOMAS GARTY were to become the guardians of his children’s property until they were able to look after their own interests. Witnesses to his signature were JOHN LACEY, THOMAS GARTY and his son-in-law JOHN READY.

Two months after John’s death, a letter came from J MEEHAN ordering him to remove his herds etc from his land at TOONGABBIE as it was now required by the Government. ( NSW COL SEC in letters p 14 reel 2167 ) .

ANN had received a grant of 100 acres at PARRAMATTA ( Vol 18 p 169) and was leasing two small blocks nearby one of 36 perches ( Vol 16 pp 339 and one of 38 perches Vol 16 p 231 ) In 1822 she is reported as supplying yeast for the prisoner’s barracks at PARRAMATTA (A 766 p 2 ML)

As ANN’S brewing licence had expired although her eyesight had been damaged in an accident she went to SYDNEY on 5 MARCH 1822 to renew the licence. Upon her return she found that her brewery with most of its stock had been destroyed by fire. There was always the danger of this happening for at that time there were only wood fires for cooking or oil lamps for lighting. The fire was put out with the help of several people and in the 14th March Edition of the AUSTRALIAN Ann thanked them for their help. At the same time she circulated a petition for help from the local populace to get started in business again so that she could feed her children. ( petition to the people of SYDNEY from ANN CURTIS )

The 16 October 1822 edition of the SYDNEY GAZETTE carried an advertisement from Ann advertising that she was leaving the Colony but in November that year a court case COOPER V CURTIS took place with the verdict being found in favour of COOPER.

On the 10 November 1822, J T CAMPBELL placed a notice in the SYDNEY GAZETTE,

Pursuant to levy I will cause to be set up and sold. one Cow and calf, 1 pig,a small quantity of sugar and sundry household items of furniture . I will further sell by auction at my office in HUNTER STREET at 12 noon the defendant CURTIS’ right, title and interest in and to the house wherein she now resides situated near the Turnpike gate at PARRAMATTA on the road leading to WINDSOR being on a corner of the road leading to the ORPHAN SCHOOL.

On Tuesday 25 November 1823 JOHN CURTIS’ request for land was granted ( too late for JOHN ) : 80 acres at PILGRIM HILL, LIBERTY PLAINS. (Bk p 4 D 225 ) . The following year 1824 on page 4 of the 19th February Edition of the SYDNEY GAZETTE Ann’s home was again advertised for sale and she moved to the 30 acre farm on SYDNEY ROAD where in 1826 she was listed as  property owner ( Wentworth Papers A 767 p39).

As soon as he was old enough PETER CURTIS was apprenticed as a BUTCHER to WILLIAM SHARP in HUNTER ST SYDNEY and on 5 DECEMEBER 1828 gave sworn evidence for SHARP when SHARP was accused of dishonesty. Apparently Sharp was unable to read and signed a document read out to him by one BENJAMIN KIRKBY purported to be an agreement to lease a house which Kirkby was about to take from one MERRITH. it later turned out that what Kirkby had really tricked Sharp into signing was a bill of exchange for 50 pounds and it was only because of PETER being there at the time that he was able to appear as a witness for SHARP.

By 1828 John and Ann Curtis’ eldest son JAMES had reached the age of 22 and had met and courted MARY PARSONS born in the Colony in 1811. During the year they were joined in marriage and set up home together.

When the Census was taken in November of 1828, there were only 15 year old Catherine, Ann and 72 year old JOHN BRYAN left living at the SYDNEY ROAD property. Bryan had arrived on Sat 15 Feb 1806 aboard the TELLICHERRY and was working as a labourer for ANN.

(This census shows ANN as arriving on the ATLAS but careful research shows that none of the three Anns who arrived aboard that ship married a CURTIS. AS THE ATLAS and HERCULES had left the same port on the same day sailing most of the way together it is reasonable to assume that a mistake has been made in the entry.)

1829 saw the birth of a son JOHN HENRY to JAMES and MARY CURTIS and to ELIZABETH READY who had given birth to a daughter in 1826, a son- PETER MARK READY.

WHAT part if any ANN played in the events that shook the family in 1829-30 is not known but one day in 1830 her son-in-law JOHN READY arrived at her farm with some cattle which were branded JC on their rumps . These beasts he left at the farm and departed. The next day they were removed by the Police. Later JEREMIAH DALEY who lived at the farm testified that JOHN READY was the one who brought them there.

Two years later on 6 October at the age of 60, ANN died and was buried at the SYDNEY BURIAL GROUND, at that time where central Railway Station now stands. About 73 years after ANN’S burial, when the land was required to build the Railway Station and tracks her remains were transferred to the PIONEER SECTION of BOTANY CEMETERY where her headstone still stands today among those of numerous well known early settlers. 



3 1807 JOHN  

JAMES CURTIS became a very successful cabinetmaker, upholsterer and UNDERTAKER carrying on his business in HUNTER STREET , SYDNEY and several times having to move into larger premises. After the death of his wife MARY in 1848, JAMES with a family of 7 children to care for remarried , his wife being ELLEN SWEENEY.

CATHERINE continued to live at the SYDNEY ROAD property until she married GEORGE ECCLESTON who had arrived in NSW as a soldier and was later a founding member of the NSW MOUNTED POLICE.

Very little is know of JOHN CURTIS JNR and although there is an interesting story of a JOHN CURTIS who was executed in 1828 for stealing a cow at BRINGELLY belonging to W C WENTWORTH, the account does not appear to tie up with our JOHN whom I believe was in the MOLONGOLO PLAINS AREA where he advertised in 1844 for three lost horses which had strayed. It was to this general area that PETER CURTIS and GEORGE ECCLESTON moved after their respective marriages with George setting up his cattle station BLACKFOREST near COOMA and PETER running a very successful cattle and butchering business there . The last known of JOHN JNR was at DIAMOND CREEK in VICTORIA . After that there were too many JOHN CURTIS’ to distinguish one from another.

PETER CURTIS raised a family of four girls and one son  and lived until 1885 , his wife ADELAIDE, having died in 1875 at the age of 52. 

CATHERINE and GEORGE ECCLESTON had a family of two boys and eight girls. both George and Catherine died in 1882. George on the 18 May and Catherine on 22 September at the age of 62.





On the 21st April 1851 Peter Mark Ready aged 21 married Sarah Ann Benson at St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney. The ceremony was conducted by John Kavanagh and witnessed by Peter Mark’s sister Bridget and their cousin William Curtis. The first of their five children Sarah Ann Ready . named after her mother, was born on the 7th March 1852. ( Sarah Ann Benson – daughter of Thomas Benson and Hannah Hutchings )

Caught up by Gold fever Peter Mark set out with Sarah and their daughter for White Hills in the Maryborough district of the Victorian Goldfields.

The road up from Melbourne through Castlemaine was crowded with traffic of all kinds whilst the town of Maryborough was made up of canvas and very lively. Freight was 40 pounds per ton from Melbourne  and flour sold at famine prices. However, as mutton was quite cheap, the whole town lived on that and damper. The water supply came from the deep creek at Carlsbrook five miles away and sold for 1 shilling 6 pence a bucket. The gold lead however ran for 8 miles with a great deal of it on the surface and some very rich gold was obtained. because of the shortage of water the washdirt had either to be stacked until the rains  came or carted to Carlsbrook.

The mine at White Hills was sunk through what was known as white cement but once through into the pipeclay underneath the nuggets picked out paid the men very well for their hard work. Gold was found in almost every hole dug despite the distance from water and within three months of its beginning there were 30 000 men on the field.

It was here at White Hills living under these conditions in a canvas shelter with a shortage of water and an open fire for cooking that the second of Peter Mark and Sarah Ann’s daughters was born. Elizabeth Hannah on 30 march 1853, followed 4 years later on 12th June 1857 by their first son Peter. Three years later again on the 12 January 1860 Catherine Louisa was born, hopefully by now in something a little more substantial.

Hearing of a rich new discovery of gold at Back Creek near Amherst which was situated on the main road between Castlemaine and Adelaide  and where gold had been discovered by a party of travellers in 1852, Peter Mark    decided to try his fortune there. Packing their few possessions the family set out for the new diggings at Back Creek.

Amherst had been the centre of the district with many hotels and businesses and in 1857 a hospital had opened which was to operate for another 76 years.

The diggings at back Creek had commenced in late 1858 when a few parties of diggers were prospecting in shallow ground skirting the two flats near Amherst later famous as Kangaroo and Scandanavian Flats. A lead following down to one of the fltas bottomed out at a depth of fourteen feet on some very rich paydirt and very soon there  were 30000 men working on this field. Other leads were soon discovered nearby and these turned out to be the richest three fields in the Colony. Nuggets from 10 to 80 ounces were often found and one party found 64 ounces in their first lead of washdirt.

With the number of men growing at such a rate at Back Creek it was only a short time before framed  calico covered stores arose with tools , clothing, provision, bottles of ales and spirits and other items required by diggers brought up from Melbourne in carts and wagons.  These were soon disposed of by the storekeepers and the hawkers who threaded their way around town.

With the amount of gold being dug up money was abundant and as a result business was brisk. Soon there were dancehalls, billard rooms, barber shops and restaurants and by 1860 Back Creek had taken over from Amherst as the district’s centre A substantial Police Camp already existed in the town by this to deal with the unruly elements which usually tagged onto these mining towns. The town also had its own Gas Works and the Courthouse Hotel ( later it was to boast 40 hotels ).

  By 1861 the name of the town had been changed to Talbot and a fine theatre , The Theatre Royal, which played to packed houses and was unfortunately burnt down later that year , was built. A Brewery and a Court House were also completed  and a private hall later to become the Town Hall erected.

On the 2nd June 1862 tragedy struck Peter Mark’s Family at Back Creek.

Peter Mark had commenced work at 8pm with several of his mates at their claim at Rocky Flat. After about 1 1/2 hours at the windlass, Peter Mark and some of the others stood around a fire near the claim. When the others left, Peter Mark, Franci Park and Robert Louden went to a shanty nearby where they drank 3 gins each. According to Francis Park , they were all quite sober when he (Francis) went to his tent, whilst Peter Mark and Robert Louden returned to the windlass. Louden suggested that they have something to eat or lie down for  a while but Peter Mark was determined to work and started to wind up the windlass. Louden then went to assist him and they wound up the bag of mullock to the top.

After securing the windlass Louden turned to help Peter Mark take the bag off the rope but found him missing. He called for assistance and Francis Park ran over to assist in removing the bag.

Mathew Green who was working one hundred feet below at the bottom of the shaft heard some gravel fall and then a noise like a bag falling. He had just stepped back into a drive where , about ninety to a hundred feet along, another mate was working , when Peter Mark crashed heavily to the bottom.

Mathew called to the others to get a  doctor . They secured Peter Mark to the rope and hauled him to the top but as the doctor stated he was quite dead, his neck being dislocated and his skull fractured.

At the subsequent inquest, the jury brought in a verdict that Peter Mark was accidentally killed by slipping down a hole at Rocky Flat and that no blame attached to any of his mates.

Peter Mark’s funeral was held on Thursday 4th June 1862, just nine weeks after the birth of his second son , Henry James Ready, on the 31st March. The funeral which cost 7 pounds 5 shillings was paid for by George Moore whose father , also George Moore, had arrived aboard the Atlas I on its second voyage to the Colony arriving on 24th July 1822 from England.

The Talbot Times of Friday 6th June 1862 carried an article:

A sad accident happened on Monday evening last at Rocky Flat resulting in a miner named Peter Hogan ( surname of Thomas Hogan his stepfather) meeting with a very sudden death. The particulars of this melancholy case are reported in full in another column to which we refer our readers. The accident happened about two and one half hours after the various ‘night shifts’ had commenced their work in their claims and on it being known along the lead all the miners to the number of 150 ceased work and hoisted flags to half mast high on their claim as a token of respect for the departed.

That accidents of this nature are not more frequent on our leads is somewhat surprising when we pause to consider how  unprotected are all of the shafts and how, in the darkness of the night, men work at the mouth of their claims as though they bear a charm against accident. The funeral of the deceased took place yesterday and was attended by a very large number of persons chiefly miners.

The deceased leaves a widow and five children in destitute circumstances and for whose relief a subscription has been opened. “

Devastated by the loss of her husband and her means of support, left in this newborn town of miners and those whose livelihood depends on them, with five young children to feed Sarah was in a perilous position. It was fortunate that John Thomas Hogan, Peter Mark’s half-brother was around. He supplied the information for Peter Mark’s death certificate although he was unaware of what Peter Mark’s father’s given name was and as so often happens in cases where people are faced with a sudden crisis such as this , John Thomas got the name of his sister-in-law wrong giving it as Sanders instead of Benson ( interesting ! ) .

The other miners too had been most considerate  and had not only shown their respect by stopping work but had rallied to aid the grief stricken widow.

Peter Mark’s grave , no longer evident, at Amherst Cemetery bore the name of PETER Mk READY HOGAN.



  • SARAH ANN                 1852
  • PETER                         1857
  • CATHERINE                 1860
  • HENRY                         1862