James Williams and Margaret Cooper

After his acquittal in Hobart in March 1825 (see The Children of Frances Williams) James decided not to return to Lake Tiberias and abandoned Mary Faulkner and their two sons. She soon found a new partner. James’ new friends were the Group described previously who were often associated with the hotel business. After some years he returned to Black Brush when his sister and brother-in-law were released from Maria Island. That may be where he met a Lincolnshire dairymaid, Margaret Cooper. She had been transported on the Mary (3) arrived 19 Oct 1831 from London and Ireland and was described as having been sturdily made with a short neck and large hands. It seems that Margaret and a Mary Smith may have been convicted together and both came on the Mary in 1831.

Soon after her arrival in Hobart in 1831 Margaret Cooper was assigned to Frederick Roper. He had arrived from England in 1829 and was quickly appointed a Magistrate and Coroner at Bellerive and Brighton. He soon became an influential figure in the community and was praised for his ‘suppression of felonies and disorderly behaviour’. By 1832 Margaret was assigned to George Stokell a merchant and farmer. During the 52 years he lived in the colony he owned 36,000 acres, nine major farms and several large houses.


Margaret Cooper applied for permission to marry James Williams on 11 Nov 1834 so it was it was quite feasible for them to have met during the three years between her arrival at Roper’s house late in 1831 and the application. As Roper was the Magistrate it was quickly approved and they married a month later.

When James married in Hobart at Trinity Church, then in Brisbane St and attached to the gaol, on 15 December 1834 he said he was a widower and 29, that is born about 1805. As Margaret said she was 22, he would scarcely have put his age up so that suggests he was not Jane Williams/Cropper/Davis’ son. I think he lowered his age to better match Margaret’s and was in fact born on Norfolk Island in 1796. It was (is) quite common for couples to ‘adjust’ their age to match that of their partner. He was thus 38 when he married and 56 when he died. (His life before 1834 is told in The Children of Frances Williams. The witnesses at the marriage were William and Maria Carroll, were they relatives of Ann Geary (nee Carroll)?

Margaret’s two younger sisters, Mary 19, and Sarah 18, arrived in Jan 1833 having been tried together at Holland QS on 5 July 1832 for stealing money from a house. They appeared to be much prettier and both subsequently married in Campbelltown: Mary to a freeman Michael Lambert and Sarah to an ex convict Robert Ashford. Mary had two children.

The Stowell Arms Hotel

The inquest into James’ death stated that he had previously been the licensee of the Stowell Arms Hotel in Elizabeth St Hobart. It stood next door to the present Black Prince Hotel in Elizabeth Street between Melville and Brisbane Streets: it was first licensed to a Thomas Williams in 1827.



The Stowell Arms circa 1870 when run by Annie Foster



The land was originally granted to William Lindsay and John Robertson. Lindsay, who owned a lot of property, took out the licence in his own name after Thomas Williams. In August 1838 Lindsay transferred the licence to a John Fletcher and in May 1841 it went to John Cleghorne who held it for 10 years.



The next licensee was our James Williams. Being from Norfolk Island, and about the same age, he probably knew Rachel and her son Thomas even though they were not related. Thomas also had a farm at Black Brush in the same area as the farm of James’ sister, Jane Davis. It would have been logical for them to associate when James began to be associated with the hotel business through Charles Probin and friends after 1825.

It seems probable that James spent the decade from 1825 in Hobart learning the hotel business. He maintained contact with his sisters at Black Brush, after Jane and William were released from Maria Island in 1830. During these visits he met Margaret Cooper and married her at the end of 1834. A new hotel in Liverpool St. Pickwick Tavern near the junction of Watchorn St., was the first hotel he was responsible for obtaining the licence in September 1839. . James held the licence for the Pickwick until August 1846 but for the previous twelve months he was also the licensee of the Stowell Arms.

[He may have been the James Williams who received two grants of land . One, between 1819 and 1821, was in Hobart for 1 rood 10 perches in block right in the heart of the city. If you walk from the Elizabeth St Mall up Cat and Fiddle Alley towards Murray St. his block was on the left about half way up. The second, before 1835, was for 50 acres north of the Rivulet in Springfield now bounded by Tenth Ave, Springfield Avenue, Springfield Garden School and north to about Reibey St. This land was relinquished in 1835 and it was reallocated to George Hull. ]

James and Margaret’s son Joseph was born a year after their marriage and a daughter Nancy arrived on 28 Feb 1839: both were baptised in the church where their parents were married.
Margaret had been granted a conditional pardon on 1 May 1839 when Nancy was then 2 months old. In November 1841 Margaret received a free pardon at the direction of the Colonial Secretary because she was ‘ about to proceed to England on the Tasmania with her husband.’ It appears that did not happen for the census taken in January 1842 records James and Margaret living in one of William Lindsay's houses, this one in Macquarie Street. The two adults between 21 and 45 in the house were Margaret then 30 and James 45. The male child between 2 and 7 is Joseph, 6. No mention of Nancy she must have died before that date. James was the male who arrived free, Joseph was male born in the colony and Margaret was free by other (ie servitude).

In 1848 James also held the licence for the 'Help Me Through the World' Hotel in Liverpool Street from November 1847 to February 1849. This may be the time when his health deteriorated and his marriage began to unravel but he was still the licensee of the Stowell Arms in 1850.. Margaret may have then run the hotel with the help of John Frederick Propsting even though the licence briefly returned to William Lindsay. She got the licence in 1851, the same year her husband died. The Hobart Town Courier of 3 June 1853 carried a report of a court in which both Margaret and Propsting were witnesses. He was referred to as a resident of the Stowell Arms and she as the landlady.

Margaret and John Frederick Propsting

Joseph Williams was about 14 when his father’s health declined and his mother began an affair with John Propsting while she ran the Stowell Arms Hotel. As yet we do not know how Joseph viewed his mother’s liaison with John Propsting nor of his reaction to his father’s infirmity and subsequent death in April 1851. It seems very likely his father James was depressed by events and this may have contributed to his drowning. James’ will drawn up in September 1847 left all his possessions to Margaret and made her executor of his estate.

John Frederick Propsting was born in Hadley Middlesex on 9 January 1824 the seventh son, and ninth child of Ferdinand von Propsting and Ann Maria Bispham. His grandfather was Baron von Probstein from northern Germany. The Propstings originated in northern Germany as the von Probsteins. John’s father had adopted the anglicised spelling after he settled in Middlesex and married in 1806. John was born in Hadley in Middlesex in 1824 the second last of eleven children Fredinand von Probstein had with his wife Anna Marie Bispham.

James Williams’ will drawn up in September 1847 left all his possessions to Margaret and made her executor of his estate. It was drawn up by Thomas Nicholson and witnessed by him and his wife Amelia. (The fact that their daughter-in-law married James’ grandson Henry Williams in 1868 is another pointer to this James’ Norfolk Island heritage.)

Margaret, then 42, married the 30-year-old Propsting in 1854 when Joseph was 19. He and his wife Kezia were the witnesses. Margaret and John Propsting jointly held the licence for a year or so until Joseph was 21 when he was given the licence in 1856. John Propsting held the licence for the Woodpecker Hotel in upper Harrington St just before the junction with Warwick St, from 1886 to 1893. A two-storey sandstone building still stands there but a contemporary print suggest the Inn was of brick.

The first Propsting to arrive in Tasmania was John’s brother Henry, then who was transported on the Argyle in 1831 for seven years for stealing a goose. Henry survived his convict years and in November 1834 married Ann Beazer Newbun and she provided Henry with 15 children in the 23 years of their marriage.

By 1846 Henry’s prosperity allowed him to bring three of his siblings to Hobart: John, George and Sarah. George was 24 and married soon after his arrival. Sarah was nearly 40 when she migrated and remained single and was an active participant in Henry’s business, travelling often to England to purchase merchandise. Two other brothers also came to Hobart, Richard arrived around 1845.
and James in 1856 with his wife Harriet and baby daughter Harriet.

Two days before Margaret married Propsting in January 1854 a marriage settlement was drawn up on 19 January 1854 between three parties - Margaret Williams, Propsting, and his brother Henry and her son Joseph. It provided that Barossa Farm would be held for the use of Joseph and Henry Propsting. After Margaret’s death it could be sold and the proceeds divided equally between her husband and her son.

Ann died in 1857 aged 42, when John was 23, and his father married Hannah Cater two years later. Hannah gave birth to two sons, Charles in Feb 1860 and William Bisham in 1861. By now Henry was a prosperous businessman and property owner and a prominent member of the Society of Friends. His son William Bispham became a teacher, then a lawyer, and entered the Tasmanian Parliament in 1899. Henry Propsting died a proud man on 16 Dec 1901.Two years later W B Propsting became Premier.

John Frederick Propsting died in July 1894 and was buried in Cornelian alongside Margaret who had died in 1890. In his will, drawn up shortly before his death the substantive beneficiary was his adopted son, the 5 year-old Frederick Webb. Webb was a son-in-law of Joseph Williams and grandson of Margaret.


CIVIL SITTINGS.
Wednesday, March 10.
Before His Honor the Chief Justice.

Jury-Messrs. Burns, Murray, Kissock, and Wilkinson.

Williams executrix, &c, v. Rosendale.


This was an action brought to recover £100 lent by the deceased shortly previous to his death. Defence, that the sum was a gift. The payment of the cheque to the defendant was satisfactorily shown, and witnesses were called to prove that the deceased should say that he had given the defendant £100 some long time previous to his death. The jury retired for a short time, and brought in a verdict for plaintiff. Damages, £100. Mr. Macdowell for plaintiff (Crisp, attorney) and Mr Brewer for Defendant.-

Colonial Times Fri 12 March 1852 page 3


From the above it seems that James was well off at the time of his death. George Rosendale Jnr said at the inquest into his death that James had not lived with Margaret for ‘some months’ before April 1851 and had not taken a drink for more than two months. George Rosendale snr may have used the loan to purchase other properties in the area as his family later owned houses and a hotel there. His son, Robert, still lived at 32 Forster St when he died in 1899.

Barossa Farm

A little west of James Williams’ grant in Springfield and a bit over 2 km northwest of Noah Mortimer’s farm in Newtown lies Barossa Farm on the western slope of Barossa Hill. Originally it was at the end of Barossa Rd than runs from Glenorchy (then O’Brien’s Bridge) up the valley towards Lenah Valley.


Although the farm was later divided it still exits in its original form at 117 and 123 Barossa Rd.


Looking west.



Barossa Farmhouse in 2009. The original farmhouse is now flqnked by two timber wings


Originally part of George Hull’s 2000 acres Thomas Claydon had bought 55 acres for £220 with the help of a loan from Rev Simson of Glenorchy. In July 1853 Margaret Williams bought the land, the homestead and outbuildings using a mortgage of £500 from James Robertson, and presumably the £100 returned by George Rosendale.

Before Margaret married John Propsting a marriage settlement was drawn up on 19 January 1854 between three parties - Margaret Williams, Propsting, and his brother Henry and her son Joseph. It provided that Barossa Farm would be held for the use of Joseph and John’s brother Henry Propsting and when Margaret died it could be sold and the proceeds divided equally between her husband and her son. The involvement of Henry Propsting presumably was to see fair play.

In August 1854 the mortgage was repaid by Margaret and John Propsting and John’s brother Henry, then a butcher and Margaret’s son Joseph.

In September 1863 an indenture allowed the farm to be mortgaged to a farmer of Clarence Plains, Joseph Holmes for £130 and interest. In November 1865, when Joseph was described as a farmer of O’Brien’s Bridge (now Glenorchy), another indenture was signed. In this it appears that Joseph agreed to give up his rights to the property to his stepfather for the payment of £50. Propsting was also described as a farmer of O’Brien’s Bridge.