Patrick and Sophie Harrison

When he was 21 Patrick Harrison, then a miller, also abandoned the religion of his birth and married Sophia Skinner at Chalmis Free Church in Hobart on 6 Feb.1883. Their marriage was witnessed by her mother Mary Ann Skinner, and Thomas N Bromfield. Patrick’s first job may have been in a flour mill for he gave ‘miller’ as his occupation on getting married. Sophie was a domestic servant and probably lived with her eldest sister, Nell Connor, at 18 Kelly Street Battery Point




Sophie was the fifth child and fourth daughter of William Skinner and Mary (nee Williams). It is possible that Sophie’s father was the twenty-four year old William Skinner convicted for taking part in robberies and sentenced to 14 years transportation in York in January 1840. But this means he was born in 1816 not 1818 as was later recorded. This man arrived in Hobart in June 1840 on the Mandarin and spent a year and a half on probation and received a ticket of leave in December 1848. He a bit rebellious but well behaved and a good worker. He worked in many parts of Tasmania before finally being certified as free in Longford in January 1854. He was born in Sheffield England. Two other men of the same name arrived as free immigrants – one on the Cumberland in January 1825 and another on the Calypso from Geelong in December 1854. One of these two might also be Sophie’s father.

William and Mary were married in St. George’s Church, Sorell on 16 July 1855. Mary was only fifteen at the time and less than half the age of her husband. Both were illiterate and he was a farm labourer and she a servant. William and Mary Richardson witnessed the marriage. Mary Richardson was born in Hobart in 1813 and was also only fifteen when married to Charles Richardson at Pittwater in 1827. (Charles may have been the convict Charles Moore.) She inherited half a farm from her grandfather William Hambley at Sorell Rivulet. Ten years after their marriage they witnessed the marriage of Henry Williams and Jane Brown at Sorell. Although her birth was not registered it seems very likely that Mary Williams was the first child of Henry and Jane Williams. Several factors seem relevant –
-their first son, Stephen was registered by Luke Provis, a friend of Mary Richardson’s daughter Susan.
- their second son by Mr Richardson. Both were born at Sorell.
- Mary Richardson and her son William witnessed Mary Williams’ marriage.
Perhaps Jane named her first born after her employer and friend.

Henry Williams was 27 when he married but Jane Brown was 10 _12 years older. Jane was transported for life in 1818 when she was 20 years old. The Convict Record shows neither personal details nor subsequent convictions. She was a house servant of ‘excellent character’. Henry was probably also a convict – there were about six men of that name arriving at about the right time. It is possible that Jane was assigned to Mary’s family and later worked for her after the marriage to Charles Richardson. Henry and Jane appeared to move with the Richardsons up to about 1855.

Apparently William and Mary Skinner, and her parents family, moved from Ragged Tier to the Dunbabin property between 1855 and 1858. The last Williams child, Henry, was born at Bream Creek in August 1858. when his mother was almost 60 years old. John Dunbabin’s property
Marchwiel stretched along the foreshore of Marion Bay. Thomas Dunbabin later recorded his family’s history in great detail in the book A Farm at the end of the World. His father John, and his mother Mary, were both former convicts who had propered. Thomas was particularly proud of the fact that the property overlooked the site where Abel Tasman stepped ashore in December 1642 as the first European to see Tasmania. The Dunbabins also raised George Patterson who married Emily the seventh child of Mary and Charles Richardson. The Council Roll for 1862 shows that the Williams lived on Marchweil but William Skinner owned four and half acres of land and a hut in his own right. (Perhaps owned should be leased.) The place is still known as
Tasman Penninsular in a larger map" rel="self">Skinner’s Paddock
and is readily seen on satellite photographs. It is on the Marchweil Road, 1 km north of the main house and stretches from the road to the banks of Bream Creek where that stream leaves the hills and begins to cross the flats.. Across the Creek is the long expanse of Marion Bay beach with Maria Island 15 km to the northeast. In 1871 the Roll shows that that property was owned by C. Kingston. After 1873 the entries for Skinner disappear. After 1868 Henry and Jane Williams are recorded as living in a cottage on a 100 acre farm at Ragged Tier just to the west of Bream Creek. By 1873 it seems he had bought that property.
William Skinner was a farm tenant/worker for the Dunbabins from the late 1850s. William and Mary had five daughters and a son whilst living at Bream Creek. Four of the girls followed their mother’s example and married as teenagers. The family lived at Bream Creek until 1873 when they moved to Hobart by 1873 when their last child, Joseph, was born. It seems they originally lived in West Hobart before moving to Battery Point. (see next chapter) William Skinner died on 16 December 1891 at 24 Kelly St.


Patrick and Sophie had ten children -

William Henry, (named after Sophie’s older brother). Born 26 Jan. 1884 and died 14 Aug. 1932) married Margaret Knight in 1905. Their children were Vera b 1916, Ron and Nell.
Percival Herbert (born 26 August 1887 married Mary Jane O'Neil 3 Aug. 1907, died Fleurs France 5 Nov. 1916)
Ethyl Rubylin May (born 25 Jul. 1889, married George Beck in Launceston in August 1913), died Hobart 26 Feb 1952.
Hilda Berthina Ella (named after Sophie’s younger sister?) Born
28 Apr. 1891, died as an infant New St. Hobart 7 April 1892),
Claude Vernon. (born 13 September 1892) was a butcher who enlisted in the AIF and served at Gallipoli and France and was skilled at Poziers on 23 July. 1916),
Dorothy Lillian ‘Doll’, (born 3 Jul. 1895 d 24 Oct 1963. married Bollard Kempton Spence (born ca 1878 died 4 Feb. 1946) as St Georges Barry Point 7 Jul 1915.
Harold James (Joe) (born 21 December 1896 Liverpool St. and died 13 Aug. 1953 Percy St Bellerive) . Married Helen May Rennie 7 Dec 1921 also at St Georges. She died June 1969.
Pearl Irene (born 6 March 1899 married Ernest Haas (Hayes), born 1898) on 5 January 1922 also at St Georges.
Gilbert Thomas (born28 August 1904, died 6 August 1917).
( There is a family story that another child Margaret (Lydia?) actress left Tasmania to live in Sydney, there is no record of her existence.)

Between 1883 and 1900 Patrick and Sophie lived at various addresses in central Hobart. (
See P markers in map H2)William was born in 1884 when they lived in Melville St. When Percy was born three years later they were in Liverpool St. and still there when Ethyl arrived in July 1889.(Ethyl’s birth in 1889 was registered by a friend ‘Maria Lester of Moodie’s Row’). Around 1890 he gave up work as a miller and began work as a self-employed carrier. Hilda was born in 1891 in Goulburn St. and Pat was described on her birth certificate as a luggage van proprietor. When she died of dysentery eleven months later the death certificate described Pat as a carter and gave their address as New Street. Claude was born seventeen months later and by then they had moved to 30 Barrack St. and Pat was a ‘parcel delivery proprietor’. They stayed there until 1896 when they moved to Liverpool St.; in 1896 and 1897 at 287 then a few months at 201 then at 209 and in 1899 at 9 Liverpool St. and then back to 287 in 1901. However some of these may have been commercial addresses.

In 1901 Pat rented a house and stables owned by David Sergeant at 31 Melville St., three doors from the corner of Argyle St. towards Elizabeth St. Pat had a contract with Black Brewery (on site of present Black Buffalo Hotel) and his son Percy worked with him.
Percy’s youngest sibling, Gilbert, was born in Wells St Sandy Bay in August 1904. Soon after his parents moved there. The carrier business operated from Sandy Bay for some years.

The eldest son, William Henry, was married on 31 March 1905 to Margaret, daughter of William Knight, He was 21 and she 34. (She was born in Bothwell to William and Margaret (nee Burke) ??). The ceremony was performed by Rev. Isaac Palfreyman at his house on the corner of Andrew and Arthur St. North Hobart. William and Margaret apparently lived with Pat and Sophie for some time after their marriage.

Percy was married in St. David’s Cathedral on 7 August 1907 (see later). On Percy's wedding certificate Pat’s occupation was stated to be 'luggage van proprietor’, After his marriage Percy began his own business as a carter and employed his brother Bill. In 1914 he bought a touring hire car to replace the carts.

Ethyl married George Beck in 1913 and her sister “Dol’ married Bolland Spence in 1915. She later they lived at Bellerive and she operated a kiosk near 12th Tee on the Royal Hobart Golf Club at Rosny for over 30 years. Their children were Jack, Dulcie, Peter, Henry Charles and Kathleen.

Pat and Sophie moved to 63 Colville St., at the corner of St. George's Terrace and Colville St. Battery Point, around the time of Ethyl’s marriage in 1913. (Sophie’s sister Nell still lived nearby in Kelly St.) Pat operated his carting business from this house and it was said that his horse would bring him home unaided from the nearby Shipwright’s Arms. It was believed that Patrick received money 'from overseas which stopped when World War I started'. (From his grandfather?) Claude was unmarried enlisted in the AIF a fortnight after the War began but Percy’s wife was pregnant so he waited until the new son was safely delivered. Bill was older and had five children but decided to go with Percy to join their younger brother in August 1915.

In 1916 Claude and Percy were killed in France during World War I (see later). Joe was then sent back to Australia. The youngest child, Gilbert, died aged twelve in 1917. The loss of three sons in quick succession and the war injury to William was a terrible blow. In 1920 Pat and Sophie lived at 15 Brisbane St. but in March 1921 he bought a house in Queens Street Sandy Bay. Pat’s youngest living son Harold, known as Joe, married Helen May Rennie, the daughter of neighbours in Queen Street, Arthur Tasman Rennie and
Harriett Alecia (nee Davis), at St. George’s Battery Point on 7 Dec. 1921, A month later the youngest Harrison girl, Pearl, married Ernest Haas they lived at Cornwall in the Fingal valley where he worked as a coal miner.

Five months later Sophie fell ill and was taken to Hospital where she died on 15 May 1922 aged 55. She was buried at the now abandoned Queenborough Cemetery two days later. Fourteen months after Sophie’s death Patrick married a widow, Mary Elizabeth Belcher, he was then 61 and his bride 49. She was born in Hamilton, Tasmania to Henry Richards and his wife Mary Ann Collins. Her first marriage to William Belcher resulted in eleven children and so between them Pat now had 20 children, but not all of them were still alive. .Mary moved into the house at 37 Queen St. Pat died in the Royal Hobart Hospital on 20 October 1943 and was buried at Cornelian Bay Cemetery the next day. In his will he left £50 to his stepdaughter Elizabeth Louisa Kerslake and his household and personal goods to his widow Mary. The remainder of his estate was to be invested by the Public Trustee and from that fund 12/6 (per week/) went to Mary the residue was divided equally between his three surviving children Harold, Dorothy and Pearl.

Joe and Helen later lived at Bellerive and had three children Alan, Geoffrey, and Thea. Helen died 3 June 1969 in Geoffrey’s home in West Moonah.