Royal Reels: Gambling


The E-bay seller had more than 40 covers posted to several family members over a period of 50 years. The present cover was addressed to Mrs. H.M. Higgins, Burnt Oak, Currency Creek, South A/lia with a Melbourne/ -2 AP-6-P/ 1925 postmark, with a complete roller cancel: BRITISH EMPIRE EXHIBITION/ ALWAYS ASK FOR/ AUSTRALIAN PRODUCTS, on a KGV 1½d red stamp (Figure 1).

There was no postmarking on the reverse. The Currency Creek post office had opened on 22 May 1844, it had a numeral cancel of ’72’, which was followed by a Squared Circle, in use from 1877 to 1922, and the post office finally closed in 1988..

South Australian family members of the Higgins family could trace their roots back to the heritage town of Trim situated on the River Boyne in County Meath, Ireland. Two brothers, Joseph and Ralph Higgins in 1725 built a Gentleman’s House called ‘Higginsbrook’. There was a gap in the family history for they came to live in Dublin in the late 1700’s. Lieutenant Thomas Walker Higgins senior and his wife Sarah (born Simpson, from Yorkshire England) had a son Thomas Walker Higgins (junior) who was born 28 January 1810 at Bexhill in County Sussex, England.

Thomas Walker Higgins jr. lived his early life in Doncaster, Yorkshire but he moved back to Dublin to live with an Aunt, Catherine Higgins. He married Jane Franks on 30 April 1839 at St. George Church in Southwark, England and on 28 May 1839 they sailed on the 448 tonne, 3 mast sailing ship ‘Anna Robertson’ from London, arriving at Port Misery (Port Adelaide) on 30 September 1839. A picture of Thomas jr. is shown in Figure 2.

They lived for a while in Adelaide where Thomas found employment with the Post Office as a clerk. Their only child Thomas William was born 19 April 1840 in Adelaide. City life did not suit the family and the same year they journeyed to the Fleurieu Peninsula where land was plenty and they bought land near Currency Creek ( shown by green arrow in Figure 3).

In the nearby Goolwa they built their home and called it after the family’s ancestral home in Ireland, ‘Higginsbrook’. The home was built on a hill with a scenic view to the sea. By August 1843 their land leases were extensive stretching from Currency Creek to Port Elliot. Thomas bred Devon cattle to supply the whaling station at Encounter Bay. He also had mixed farming and he leased land to new residents for growing cereal crops.

In 1849, Thomas Walker Higgins jr. purchased land at what was to become the township of Middleton, naming it after his family’s connection with Middleton in Ireland. He was a grazier, and he became a justice of the Peace in S.A., sitting on many Police and Coroner’s courts in the area. In addition he was the first Chairman of the District Council of Port Elliott and Goolwa, and was commissioned in the Volunteer Military Force. In November 1866, as a major he was in command of the Goolwa Cavalry, and subsequently he became a Colonel. He resigned his commission in 1869. In 1872 his wife Jane died at ‘Higginsbrook’ and she is buried at the Currency Creek cemetery.

On 3 February 1874 in the chapel at Yatala Labour Prison, their son Thomas William Higgins, the 3rd, married Heloise May Scott (her father Edward Bate Scott being the superintendent of the prison). Heloise May was the recipient of the cover which prompted this paper. On 24 May 1899, Thomas Walker Higgins jr. died at the Austral Club in Adelaide, and he was buried alongside his wife Jane in Currency Creek.

Thomas William III and Heloise May Higgins had 4 children: Thomas Edward 1877-1905, Mabel Janet Celia 1879-1946, Blanche Isabel Mary 1882-1948 and Hugh William Desmond 1885-1937. Thomas William Higgins III had a mixed farm at ‘Burnt Oak’ and he died in 1915. Their only son who survived childhood, Hugh William Desmond Higgins married Mabel Yseult Vasey 25 May 1915 in Glenelg and they built their home ‘The Brook’ at Goolwa. They had 3 sons and 2 daughters and the oldest continued as a farmer and grazier at ‘Burnt Oak’.

To-day, the homes of ‘Higginsbrook’, ‘The Brook’ and ‘Burnt Oak’ still stand but the first two have gone out of the family, whereas ‘Burnt Oak’ property remains in the hands of a family member who won an award for tree conservation in 1998. An illustrious family with a remarkably well documented family tree.

Categories: Business, Family History