The Third Generation

Archibald William Black was twenty-eight when he married the beautiful Clara Breakwell in a house at 611 Bourke St Sydney on 20 July 1890. She was from Birmingham, the youngest child of a skilled machinist John Breakwell and his wife Emma. The family travelled to Plymouth and boarded the Nineveh, a ship of 1174 tons commanded by John Ross, in June 1877. They were a part of a group of 433 assisted migrants. The Government paid the ship owner £12.3.6d. for each adult passenger. On board the ship were seventy-two couples, 109 single men, 46 single women and over 200 children. Their five children accompanied John and Emma -
Thomas Henry then aged 19, an iron turner
Emma aged 15, a dressmaker
John Abraham aged 13, an iron turner
John W aged 11
Clara aged 8

Emma’s father, John Carter, was a steel toolmaker and the couple were married in the Birmingham suburb of Edgbaston in 1858. The emigration record states that John was a Unitarian, Emma a Wesleyan but two of the children were baptised in the Church of England. Emma and John William were christened at St Martin's Birmingham on 14 March 1864, shortly after John’s birth. All the family could both read and write and whilst passing through Plymouth Sound on June 28 inscribed the flyleaf of a new bible in flowing copperplate script. The Nineveh made a quick passage of eighty-seven days and arrived in Sydney on Sunday 23 September 1877.

The 1851 Census of the St Phillips Parish in Birmingham records that John Breakwell aged 42 and his wife Mary A., aged 39 lived at 2/3 of No. 5 Summer Street with their son John aged 9 and daughters Mary A., aged 6 and the 3 month old Clara. John was an iron bedstead japanner. The IGI records that John and Mary Ann Breakwell, children of John and Mary Ann were baptised at St Thomas Church on 27 July 1847 and Clara was baptised there on 9 February 1851. None of this family were recorded in the 1881 Census. Breakwell was not a very common name in Birmingham and due to consistency of names and ages It seems likely that the younger John referred to was our Clara’s father.

The Breakwell family may have come to Australia to join other members of the family already here. A three year old girl, Ellener M Breakwell of Liverpool St., died on 3 February 1869 and was buried in the Balmain Cemetery. A plumber, Henry Breakwell lived at 208 Liverpool St. He died aged 83 in Leichart in March 1910 and his wife Mary Jane died in July the next year. Both were buried at the old Balmain Cemetery. Other members may have followed for in 1879 an A Breakwell, machinist, lived at 61/2 Bligh St. in 1890 a T.W. Breakwell, turner, and Mrs Breakwell, a milliner, lived at 8 Beattie St. Balmain.

On arrival John readily found work in the shipyards at Mort Dock in Balmain. They settled in to house on the south side of Campbell St. right on the edge of Mort Bay. At the top of Campbell Street was a grocery operated by Henry Jesson. Less than six months after landing in Sydney tragedy struck when young John, aged 12, died. The boy had been ill for a week but despite the attendance of Dr Owen Evans he died of enteritis at the house in Campbell St. He was buried in the Balmain Cemetery on 15 December 1877. Two Hughan children - Bertha Kate, and Roy O A, died aged 1 year 9 months and 3 years respectively in 1886 and 1891. Both are also buried in the Balmain Cemetery.

Emma and her brother John were both married at Balmain in 1886: she to William Wright Hughan, and he to Annie Barron. William was born in Dalbeattie, Dumfriesshire in Scotland in 1863. He came to Australia when he was nineteen in 1882 with his parents and brothers. His father George Hughan, a carpenter, lived at 39 Elliott St. on the western side of the Balmain Peninsular. William was a master stonemason a played a leading role in the construction of both central railway Station and the GPO. It seems that the newly weds lived with George and Mary Hughan (nee Wright) for at least seven years. Emma and William's first child, Alice, was born there in 1889.

Around this time John Breakwell moved from Campbell Street Gipps Street, on the corner of Cameron Street on the crest of the hill overlooking the shipyard. This appears to signify that his skills as a toolmaker had ensured progression in his new country. Clara was now twenty and still living at home; her eldest brother Thomas was thirty-one and also still at home. At the same time between Dural and Glenorie Walter and Archibald Black were 26 and 27 years old respectively and clearing trees from on parts of the family land along the Northern Rd. Their elder brother, Henry George Black II, was killed by the falling tree in November 1889. Before their father died he had subdivided his property to make viable units for his children. Archibald told the coroner that he had also been felling trees ‘on his selection’ about half a mile from his mother’s house. Apparently this reference is to his inheritance rather than a true selection of crown land. How Archibald, the fruitgrower from Dural, met the young beauty from Balmain is uncertain but family stories suggest that they were brought together by a mutual love of horses.

Archibald owned a horse called Ratther which ‘won all the races at the Moore Park track’. The horse was stabled in Surry Hills and it seems likely that Clara’s visits to her elder brother’s new two-storey terrace house at 611 Bourke St. Surry Hills brought her into contact with lucky race-horse owner from Dural. It must have been a whirlwind romance for on 27 October 1890 Archibald and Clara stood before Rev. James Hill of the Congregational Church and Alfred Wigzell and Charlotte Small to be married. Perhaps they did not tell their parents for Hill recorded nothing about the Blacks or the Breakwells on the certificate. He did not even record their ages. This is somewhat strange for Mary Black and John and Emma Breakwell were alive. However Clara’s brother Thomas at least must have facilitated the marriage.

About the same time Tom Jesson took over the business at 219-221 Darling Street Balmain from his father and expanded his range to include ironmongery. The shops were on the northern side of the road near the junction of Curtis St. The shops still exist on the site opposite the London Hotel. The congregational church in on the other corner of Darling and Curtis Streets. Emma and William Hughan had a second daughter, Emma L. and, in 1892, a son Sydney B. This happy period was followed by tragedy when the infant boy and his grandfather died in quick succession. John Breakwell Snr. died at of an aortic aneurism at 9 Cameron St. Balmain in May 1893 aged fifty-five. It is not clear whether the family lived at this address or whether he made have taken ill at work and been taken to this house which is adjacent to the shipyard. He had been suffering from a heart ailment for the past three months and had been seen by Dr Davidson the day before he died. He was buried the next day in the Church of England cemetery at Balmain. The following day his son in law Bill Hughan registered his death but was apparently unaware of John’s parents. Thereafter Bill assumed responsibility for family.

Emma Breakwell Snr. was apparently something of a martinet and she did not re-marry and continued to live in Sydney until her death of stomach cancer in 1905. She died at Thomas’ house in Surry Hills on 1 October 1905 and may have lived there after her husband died. The Congregational Minister Charles White buried her in Rookwood Cemetery. The religious affiliation of the family seemed to vary. It appears that Emma was baptised a Methodist but adopted John’s Congregational beliefs after their marriage. John was buried in the Congregational part of the Balmain Cemetery. Clara was married by a Congregational Minister and another buried her mother. But the Church of England buried her husband John as was his son John in 1877. Clara’s second marriage was in a Presbyterian Church but the Church of England also buried her in 1931.

John William R Breakwell Jnr. and Annie also continued to live in Balmain for a while but may have moved around a little as two of their nine children, Annie and Arthur O, were born in Windsor . Clara, William, Thomas H and John E were born in Balmain between 1887 and 1902. After young Thomas died in 1903 the family moved to Rockdale and two more children, Thomas H 2 and Euphemia were born there in 1906 and 1908. The Sand’s Directory for 1910 records J W Breakwell at Riley Street Kogarah. In 1929 he lived at 77 Cronulla St. Hurstville. John died there in 1934 aged seventy.

Tom Breakwell was somewhat of a dreamer and a scholar. He is said to have had a deep knowledge of ancient Greek and translated the Orthodox Bible into English. He continued to live in the Surry Hills house until 1906. Bill Hughan and Emma continued to live with parents and Elsie Hughan, the youngest child was born in Balmain in 1893. Bill built up considerable wealth through investments and was said to have held a large share holding in the Australian Gaslight Company. However his death certificate records his occupation as clerk in the Public Works Department. When his father died in 1905 they moved to a house of their own in George St. Ashfield and in 1907 to another in Illawara St. Marrickville . Tom Breakwell gave up his house in Surry Hills and moved in with them at the same time. About seven years later they moved to the new area of Challis Avenue Dulwich Hill. They lived there in the house called Dundrennan for the rest of their lives. Bill and Emma’s daughter Emma L taught music there around 1915. Emma Hughan married William Edmunds in 1916. Two years later the thirty-one year old Elsie married John Houston but continued to live at number 25 Challis Avenue with her father and uncle. She had a daughter, Joyce and two sons James and Maxwell.

Lurline recalls that when she was at school being delivered to Challis Ave to wait for her father. She received a pound note and a ten shilling note from her uncles at birthday and Christmas. In 1935 Thomas contracted gangrene in his leg and died in Marrickville Hospital. Bill died aged 79, in November 1942 in Lydham Private Hospital, Marrickville, from pneumonia and heart disease.