The First to Australia

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Thomas Lake Crommelin (1805-1877)
(picture taken in 1836)

Thomas Lake Crommelin was born September 11, 1805 in Ghazepore, India, and died April 7, 1877 in Sydney, NSW, Australia. He was the founder of the Australian and New Zealand branches of the Crommelin family, and possibly that of South Africa.
He married (1) HARRIET ANN MINARD September 14, 1839 in Clerkenwell, Div. 16-1-1860.
He married (2) ANNE BYLES May 30, 1860 in Braidwood, NSW, Australia. She was born Abt. 1829 in Lymington, Hampshire, England/Lymington, England, and died February 8, 1916 in Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Thomas was the penultimate child of Charles Russell Crommelin and Anne Wilkinson (a well-connected Huguenot). Though he was born in India, he was reared mainly in England. He had money from his father and became involved with a fast and aristocratic set. He was a gambler and owned the winner of the Cambridgeshire Stakes in 1847, a horse named "The Widow". When he died, there were long obituaries in the English newspapers and in "The Field".

He emigrated to Australia aboard the clipper ship "Anglesey" with his wife, family, a maid and her baby. While still in London the maid had given birth to Lizzie Annie Crommelin. It must have been a stormy crossing because immediately after arriving at Sydney, New South Wales on 16 December 1852, his wife, Harriet Ann Minard, returned to England aboard the same vessel with her children (4 sons and 2 daughters).


Clipper ship "Anglesey"
Click to enlarge.

Two years later, in October 1854, George Whiting (age 7), Thomas Jr., and James Crommelin returned aboard the "Sovereign of the Seas" to rejoin their father. In 1854 the "Sovereign of the Seas" sailed from London to Sydney in 84 days [August 4 - October 22]. Doing so, it claimed to have made a 410 miles day's run.

Thomas divorced his wife and married the maid, Anne Byles, on May 30, 1860 in Braidwood, NSW, Australia. Thus there are two branches of his family in Australia - one legitimate, and one later legitimised. Anne Byles died in 1916 and was buried at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney.

He had a rough and tumble life in Australia and ended up as the secretary to the Gentlemen's Club in Sydney. His mother, Anne Wilkinson, never returned to India and died in Wales while his father, Charles Russell Crommelin, never returned to England and died in India.


Children of THOMAS LAKE CROMMELIN and HARRIET MINARD are:
i. THOMAS HENRY CROMMELIN, b. December 9, 1839, St. Mary's Paddington, Middlesex, England; d. September 13, 1888, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Thomas Henry died unmarried.
ii. ANNIE CHARLOTTE ISABELLA CROMMELIN, b. June 27, 1842, London, England; d. England; m. SAMUEL OCTAVIUS GRAY, August 27, 1872, Lezaque, Isle of Man, England.
Notes for SAMUEL OCTAVIUS GRAY: Chief accountant Bank of England
iii. JAMES CHARLES WILKINSON CROMMELIN, b. March 11, 1844, Finchley House, London England; d. December 8, 1889, Silverton, NSW, Australia.
iv. GEORGE WHITING CROMMELIN, b. August 20, 1845, Finchley House, London England; d. May 7, 1905, NSW, Australia.
v. CHARLES EBDON CROMMELIN, b. December 6, 1847, England; d. April 13, 1903, Tenterfield.
vi. LAURA HARRIET J. CROMMELIN, b. July 19, 1849, Finchley House, London England; d. September 28, 1885; m. CORNELIUS WALFORD, June 6, 1883.

Children of THOMAS CROMMELIN and ANNE BYLES are:
vii. LIZZIE ANNIE CROMMELIN, b. July 29, 1852, London , England; d. September 4, 1918, Sydney, Australia; m. HENRY ROLAND HILL, August 20, 1881, Grenfell, NSW, Australia; d. September 2, 1914.
viii. FREDERICK LAKE CROMMELIN, b. April 29, 1854, Braidwood, NSW, Australia; d. July 18, 1923, Grenfell, NSW, Australia. Frederick married Margaret Rowen in Sydney, 1878. They had ten children - 5 male [Arthur Lake (d. 1919), Victor, Frederick, Frank, and an infant who died young], and 5 female [Madelin, Kathleen, Frances, Anne (who married O.J.B. Clarke and had a daughter, Margaret), Eileen].



Thomas Lake Crommelin

Excerpts from George Whiting Crommelin's memoir:

[1872 (after his shipwreck)] "After remaining a few days in Sydney, Father came for me and took me to Albury where he was then living at the Rose Hotel kept by Mr. and Mrs. King. Father was then Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Riverina. I then went to Gingerrick on the Murray to see my brother James. Gingerrick was managed by Mr. Sindwick. I stayed a few weeks there for my brother James was taken very ill with inflammation of the lungs and I had to help nurse him...

[1877]"Some time later we (Mr. Brain and I) were living in the new house when I too came down with Ophtalmia and became quite blind. The hot water from my eyes burnt my cheek. We tried everything until Dodd told me soap was the best. So I made a good lather and it was wonderful how it soothed me. I got a little better, but had to leave on account of my eyes. The doctor in Walgett said if I remained there I should go blind. Just at this time I got a telegram stating my Father's death (1877). [Thomas Lake Crommelin died at Sydney 7 April, 1877. His warmhearted, gentlemanly nature is glowingly described in C. Fetherstonhaugh's book, "After Many Days."]

"I rode seventy miles that day in the heat, taking the mail coach from Castlereagh. There the landlady gave me some golden ointment which had a wonderful effect. When I reached Sydney where my Father had died, I was too late for the funeral. I stayed with Sir John Bowie Wilson at whose home my Father died and got my eyes thoroughly well..."