G2 1 Timothy Sullivan

This story about Timothy Sullivan is pivotal in this family history. Timothy was born in Ireland, went to sea at 15, married and raised a family in St Ives Cornwall, and migrated to South Australia in 1859. This story is about Timothy and his immediate family. The stories of bot his forbears and descendants can be found in "Our Family History".

This story covers what has been discovered to date about his birth, life, and what sort of person he was. 

G2     TIMOTHY SULLIVAN (1815 - 1887)

The earliest documentary record of Timothy Sullivan found so far is his marriage certificate, recording his marriage to Ellen Grose Wearne in the Parish Church in the Parish of St Ives, Cornwall on the 16th of August 1840, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Established Church by banns. An image of a certified copy of the Marriage Certificate is shown below.


The marriage was also reported in the Cornwall Royal Gazette, August 21st 1840 as follows:

At St Ives on Sunday, Mr T Sullivan to Miss E G Wearne

All this document tells us about Timothy was that he was a bachelor over 21, a mariner, living in St Ives, and his father, Jeremiah Sullivan, was or had been a farmer. Where was Timothy born, and who were his parents? The clues are in the Marriage Certificate. 

Birthplace and Origins

Research into records relating to merchant mariners based in St Ives Cornwall around this time has provided much information about Timothy’s birthplace and origins.

First, The Merchant Seamen’s Act at the time required a “Schedule D” six monthly report of voyages undertaken by merchant ships, including details of the crew.  The 6 monthly return for the voyages of the “Superior” of “burden” 60 tons operating out of St Ives ending 30th June 1847 (1)  records the ship completing 9 voyages in the coasting trade between Truro, Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot, carrying coal and copper. Listed amongst the crew of four is Timothy Sullivan, seaman, aged 32, born in Baltimore, Ireland. He had joined the ship on 1 December 1846, having previously served on the “Redruth.” He had been registered on 7 December 1844, with Register Ticket No. 92.275

Second, an examination of this Register Ticket 92.275 (2) shows the information Timothy provided. He was born 26th September 1815 in Baltimore Ireland. He went to sea at age 15 in 1930. His profession was fisherman and seaman, and his Register Ticket Number 92,275 was issued at age 29 on 9/12/1844 at St Ives. At that time he was described as 5ft 51/4 inches tall, dark hair, blue eyes, fresh complexion with no markings. He was able to write. He had not served in the Royal Navy or in the Foreign Services. When unemployed he resided at St Ives Cornwall.

Third, his “Mates - Claim for Certificate of Service” (3) submitted on 6 October 1855 lists his place of birth again as Baltimore, Cork, and in this instance the birth date was 26 September 1814.



 This claim also lists the particulars of service in the British Merchant Service as follows:






Dates of Service


St Ives




06/1833 to 08/1834


St Ives




08/1834 to 01/1835


St Ives




02/1835 to 08/1835


St Ives




09/1835 to 04/1836


St Ives




08/1838 to 01/1840


St Ives




01/1840 to 05/1840

Tom Bowling

St Ives




05/1840 to 08/1840

Countess of Fortescue

St Ives




08/1840 to 04/1841


St Ives




04/1841 to 05/1844


St Ives




08/1844 to 09/1846


St Ives




10/1846 to 10/1848


St Ives




04/1849 to 04/1850


St Ives




11/1854  ongoing

Footnotes to the application include:

From 04/1836 to 08/1838 I was fishing;”    
“From 10/1848 to 04/1849 I was fishing;”
“I have been in sundry coasting vessels as mate and seaman from 04/1850 to 11/1854.”

There is an obvious inconsistency between his listed “particulars of service” and the 6 monthly return for the “Superior” which would have occurred during the listed time on the “Apollo”.

He was granted his “Mates Certificate of Service” (67.490) on 16 October 1856 (4), again listing his place of birth as Baltimore and year of birth as 1814.

Margaret Sullivan (deceased), a great grand-daughter of Timothy, noted in her family history research the Sullivan folklore that “Timothy had been a mate on a ship.”

As far as birth date is concerned, Timothy’s South Australian Death Certificate issued in 1887 (24) lists his age as 72, again putting the birth date at 1815. His death notice of April 9th 1887 in the newspaper puts his age at 72 years and 6 months.

No baptism record that might conclusively show Timothy’s parents and place of birth has yet been found despite on-line searching, paid research by the Skibereen (Cork, Ireland) Family History Group, and a personal visit to Ireland’s National Library in Kildare St Dublin. The census records from 1821 to 1851 covering all Ireland have been lost (fire 1922).  The only option then is to search for a Jeremiah Sullivan, a farmer, Timothy’s nominated father, in or near Baltimore, Cork around 1815 to 1840.

The Tithe Applotment Books were compiledbetween 1823 and 1837 in order to determine the amount which occupiers of agricultural holdings over one acre should pay in tithes to the Church of Ireland (the main Protestant church and the church established by the State until its dis-establishment in 1871). There is a manuscript book for almost every parish in the country giving the names of occupiers, the amount of land held and the sums to be paid in tithes. The information is available free online (5).

Baltimore is in the parish of Tullagh, and the records compiled in 1829 show a Jeremiah Sullivan and brothers together with a man surname Bryant holding 75 acres in the townland of Slievemore on SherkinIsland about a kilometre offshore from Baltimore. There were three other holdings in Slievemore of similar size, each held by various members of the Driscoll clan predominant in the Baltimore area. There was also a second Jeremiah Sullivan farming 18 acres at Pookeen, well inland from Baltimore and to the north of the parish. 



  The “Primary Valuation”(also known as “Griffith’s Valuation”) was published between 1847 and 1864. There is a printed valuation book for each barony or poor law union in the country showing the names of occupiers of land and buildings, the names of persons from whom these were leased and the amount and value of the property held. The information is available free online. (6) The valuation for the parish of Tullagh was done in 1853, and of the 13 Sullivan’s recorded there is only one Jeremiah, in the townland of Slievemore on SherkinIsland. Assuming it is the same person as in the Tithe Applotment valuation, then this Jeremiah Sullivan must have survived the Famine.





The photos below are of land currently cultivated (2014) and a ruined dwelling, both on the upper part of section 8 of the Griffiths Valuation Map above, this being the area recorded as being tenanted by Jeremiah Sullivan and a Daniel Sullivan.

IMG 8875 Cottage

 There is a long history of fishing, coastal trading and even shipbuilding on Sherkin Island, (7) and this would have made it easier for Timothy to leave home at age 15 to take up a life at sea.

One of the trades associated with shipbuilding on SherkinIsland was rope making (8), and Samuel Sullivan’s marriage certificate in Ballarat in 1878 records father Timothy Sullivan at that time and at the age of 63 as being a “roper” or rope-maker. (9)

Slate was also mined on the island in the 18th and 19th centuries (8), which may have given Timothy knowledge to add to his Cornish experience when starting his first job in South Australia as a miner.

In summary, there is no proof that this Jeremiah Sullivan was Timothy’s father, but the probabilities suggest that the Jeremiah Sullivan of Slievemore on SherkinIsland is the most likely candidate. Unless further documentary evidence can be found, confirmation will require a future DNA match that could trace back to Jeremiah through a possible brother to Timothy (the Daniel Sullivan of Griffiths Valuation?) or to Jeremiah’s father through any of the “brothers” mentioned in the Tithe Applotments entry.

If Sherkin Island was Timothy’s birthplace and this Jeremiah Sullivan is Timothy’s father, what factors would have influenced Timothy’s going or being sent to sea at the age of 15 in 1830?  First, he may not have been the first born son, and hence would not inherit a sustainable land holding. It seems he had at least two uncles (the brothers) working the same holding as his father in 1829, and this additional competition for land could also have influenced the decision. Fishing and going to sea would have been commonplace on SherkinIsland at that time, and familiarity with sea-going may also have influenced the decision.

So, having gone or been sent to sea at age 15, what happened to the youthful Timothy Sullivan?

The St Ives Years

The near quarter century Timothy lived in St Ives is characterised by his reaching adulthood, his marriage, starting and raising a family, and career progression in his work-life as fisherman and mariner. It is worthwhile examining the prevailing economic, social and other conditions especially towards the end of this period that may have contributed to the family’s decision to emigrate – the “push factors.”

The 1841 UK Census in Cornwall only lists around 40 persons with the surname “Sullivan”. Timothy Sullivan is not recorded in the census, although his new wife Ellen is. Nor is Timothy recorded in the 1851 UK Census, but with again Ellen recorded, now with children. The only conclusion is that Timothy must have been away at sea during both Census.


IMG 9743We know from the 1841 Census (10 ) that Ellen was living in Back Road St Ives. Her parents, Richard and Mary Wearne, and many siblings, were at the same time living in Fore Street. (11 ) Back Road is a narrow street winding up the hill from the pier as Back Road East, and becomes Back Road West along the ridge behind Porthmeor Beach until it runs into “The Digey” which runs back down the hill into Fore Street. The latter, a slightly wider street, runs parallel to the harbour and is the second street back.


 2014 Photo of Back Street by R Sullivan 


 Richard Wearne was listed in the 1841 Census as a Blockmaker, and as Ellen’s father, a carpenter on the 1840 Sullivan / Wearne marriage certificate, and similarly as a carpenter on the 1849 Phillipps / Wearne marriage certificate. As a blockmaker it is likely that he made the wooden blocks for pulleys for hoisting ship’s rigging. Both Richard Wearne and his wife Mary died before the 1851 Census.

The Sullivan / Wearne / Phillipps family history is closely associated with the area around the Hayle Estuary, including St Ives, Hayle, Phillack, Gwithian and Gwinnear:

  • Richard Wearne, capenter, of Phillack, married Mary Grose of Gwinnear in the Gwinnear ParishChurch in 1809;
  • Eleanor Wearne baptised in Copperhouse (Hayle) Wesleyan chapel in 1819;
  • Mary Anna Grose Wearne (born Phillack) of St Ives married John Phillipps also of St Ives in the St Ives church in 1849

The area around St Ives was at the height of its prosperity during the first quarter of the 19th Century, with all the mines working, and fishing and agriculture very profitable. However, before the middle of the century, decline had set in. Steam navigation was the death-blow to her large fleet of sailing vessels and ship-building interests, and then mining and fishing also began to fail. The decline was followed by a heavy and prolonged emigration

As an illustration of occupational significance, the following table shows information on father’s occupation from the baptism records from the St Ives Primitive Methodist Circuit. (12)  The 1851 Census on Religious Worship showed 60% of Cornish churchgoers as being Methodist. (13)

Years App. Total Baptisms Fisherman Sailor Miner
1843 / 1844 120 30% 20% 15%
1858 / 1859 140 25% 16% 29%

Fishing (14) was the main source of income for most of the residents of St. Ives throughout most of the 19th century. Boats from the port supplied pilchards to places as far away as Italy. From Timothy’s Mates Application we can see several extended periods where he switched occupation from mariner to fisherman. As the 19th century drew to a close, however, the fishing industry fell into decline and eventual collapse. 

Mining (15) in Cornwall was at its zenith in the earlier decades of the 19th century, with the majority of the world's copper being sourced in this small area at the time, occasioning the building of many rows of cottages across the county to house the expanding population. Within forty years the number of active mines rose from 75 to 200 and the population all but doubled. However, as the population swelled, so the standard of living fell only worsened by the shocking lack of safety in the mines. Average life expectancy had plummeted by the 1850s, with up to a fifth of miners in some areas dying as a result of their work.

For the working miner, mining had always been hard and hazardous with just enough reward, if he was fortunate in the kind of ground he had to break or the quality of the ore he dug out, to keep him and his family above the poverty level. So even when the miner was in work he had little to lose in deciding to emigrate to another country where minerals were being discovered, and nothing at all when his mine closed down and he had no hope of alternative employment.

A trade depression in England in the period 1838 to 1844 seriously affected the Cornish mining industry and marked the beginning of the emigration of the Cornish miner on a large scale. Of the discoveries of minerals overseas the first to attract the Cornish miner abroad in any numbers was the finding of copper in South Australia in 1845, and gold in California in 1848 and Australia in 1851. In the 1850s and early 1860s the mining of Cornish copper and tin remained profitable. Then the import of copper from the newly found and vast deposits at Lake Superior and from Spain depressed the price with the inevitable consequences. This virtually marked the end of copper mining in Cornwall and the beginning of the second great wave of emigrants.

Timothy’s in-laws on his wife’s side, the Phillipps, left mining in Camborne in 1853 for South Australia, arriving in 1854, and by early 1855 John Phillipps had resumed copper mining, now at Burra.

When the miners left Cornwall the demand for all kinds of labour declined and many employed as masons and carpenters, blacksmiths, general labourers and in many other ways were thrown out of work But the emigrants in their new land recreated this demand and reports came back - from Australia for example, in 1839 - ‘The demand for carpenters, bricklayers and plasterers is unlimited' and mechanics could ask anything they liked. Land workers, general labourers and servants were also required at wages unheard of in England at the time. As the result of this situation more and more miners and their families decided to exchange a hard life in Cornwall, with little or no future in it, for a new one and another occupation overseas. For this reason many miners had emigrated to South Australia and Victoria before the discoveries of copper and gold were made, but when these were known in these States they were quick to revert to their old calling and to make use - often with much profit - of their old skills. (16)

Shipping. (17) The 6 monthly return for the voyages of the “Superior” operating out of St Ives ending 30th June 1847 (1) (see above) on which Timothy was employed as a sailor records the ship completing 9 voyages carrying coal and copper in the coasting trade between Truro, and the principal 19th century smelters on the South Wales coalfield at Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot. This sort of coastal voyage would have involved sailing unloaded from St Ives around Lands End and The Lizard to Truro to collect a cargo of copper concentrate. Then back around Lands End heading up the Bristol Channel for South Wales where the copper ores were to be unloaded for smelting. The coal carried on the return voyage to St Ives would then have been consumed by the steam powered mining industry.

9 trips in six months suggests a round trip of about 15 to 20 days. Subject to winds, typically there would be a day’s sailing from St Ives to Truro, about 4 days to the South Wales ports, then about 2 days back to St Ives, say about a week’s sailing in all. Added to this would be loading and unloading times in the various ports, typically 5 days for each.

Steamships were late arrivals into the South West coasting trade. One of the main advantages of the steamship over the sailing ship was that the length of voyage under sail could vary considerably according to wind and tide, whereas steaming time could be guaranteed, and voyage times were quicker. The larger steamships had more crew and higher running costs, so fast turnaround times in port were essential for the steamships. However many of the Cornish mining ports were unsuitable because of small size, inconvenience, shallow and drying out at low tide, so the small schooners with their lower running costs could better tolerate the low returns on the ore trade, and as long as a regular supply of ores could be achieved cheaply for the Welsh smelters, the duration of each voyage was immaterial. So the steamships tended to become colliers servicing the larger Cornish ports.

The smelters preferred to leave the risky business of shipping to others. But although coastal shipping remained independent of mining and smelting interests, the influence of the Welsh smelters was strongly felt and resented, especially with freight rates that were controlled and kept low by the major smelting companies. Freight rates were forced down after about 1840, and some owners preferred to lay by their vessels in winter for several months rather than take ores at these lower rates.  

Most of the ships were owned in the South West, with St Ives being the largest home port, for about 20 or 30% of the regular coasting traders in 1845, but falling to 7 or 15% by 1855 as vessels settled on Hayle and Truro as home ports. Ownership of the St Ives vessels was confined to mainly small family shipowners, captain–owners, widows and a variety of tradesman in the town. The typical schooner had a crew of about five or six, and if hard pressed as happened as freight rates fell, or as the copper industry began its rapid decline around 1870 could be managed by three on a short voyage.


 Daughter Ellen Wearne Sullivan was born on 17 January 1842 and baptised in the St Ives Wesleyan Methodist Chapel 3rd March 1842.

Son John Sullivan was born in January 1844

Son Samuel Grose Sullivan was born on18 May 1846

Son Richard Wearne Sullivan was born in 1847, baptised PrimitiveMethodistChurch, Penzance, 11 May 1848

Son Timothy Sullivan was born on 6 June 1850, and baptised in the St Ives Primitive Methodist Church on 22 May 1851, and subsequently died in 1853.

Father-in-law Richard Wearne died in 1846. Mother-in-law Mary died in 1850.

Church Life  (13),(18), (19), (20), (21)

 Church life in St Ives at this time would have been dominated by Methodism, as it was in many other parts of Cornwall at the time.The 1851 Religious Census for Cornwall shows that 32% of the 50% of the population who attended a service were Methodists, against the 13% of Anglicans. Methodist Chapels became the hub of the community in many Cornish mining towns and villages, bringing people together for social events as well as services. Music also had an important role to play, with Charles Wesley writing many of the early Methodist hymns. The development of male voice choirs also stemmed from this period.John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, also set up health and literacy facilities in order to help the impoverished improve their lot, thus making Methodism the religion of the people in contrast to Anglicanism, which had always been the preserve of the rich.

 In the early 18th Century a rift had developed between the Cornish people and their Anglican clergy. Industrialised communities have long appeared to weaken the pre-eminence of the Church of England, and Cornwall's people were moving from land to industry in large numbers, with the growth of mining and engineering.The Church of England remained firmly middle class, and the working classes' allegiance was broken. By 1851 Cornwall was the only county outside of North Wales where attendees at Methodist chapels were in the majority and by the mid nineteenth century Methodism in Cornwall had become so widespread that an Anglican vicar was  forced to admit that 'the religion of the mass is become Wesleyan Methodism.'

There were a number of factors that drew the changing Cornish community towards Methodism:

  • For a community of miners, farmers and fishermen facing danger at work every day, and threatened by increasing uncertainty in a world being rapidly reshaped by industrialisation, Wesley's simple doctrine of justification through faith and instant salvation offered comfort, security and hope.
  • Methodism was very much a community faith; meetings were held in cottages and barns which made services easily accessible and ideally suited to the close-knit societies that were formed around Cornish metal mining.  The domestic setting helped integrate spirituality and rationality with Cornish indigenous folk beliefs.
  • Many charismatic Methodist lay preachers belonged to an emerging class of local mining captains and entrepreneurs, who helped to imbue the new faith with a welcome sense of social inclusion by speaking in the local dialect. These and the many itinerant lay preachers were able to travel, interact with and evangelise in different communities in ways that would have been near impossible for the Anglican clergy, who were tied to the church building itself.
  • The link between mining and Methodism was strengthened by the role played by the newly emerging entrepreneurial and merchant class, which was becoming particularly conspicuous where the influence of the Anglican Church was already in decline. The numerous mine captains who were also Methodist preachers communicated to their communities the powerful messages of respectability and self-improvement, thus helping to ensure that Methodism became the most relevant religious institution for labourers and the working class.
  • The outburst of ‘cottage religion’ from the 1780s to the 1830s allowed women to actively aid the spread of the Methodist message at grass roots level. Over 56% per cent of the West Cornwall circuit (groups of congregations) were women in 1767, showing the significance of their early involvement in its spread in Cornish communities.

At least six denominations or connections of Methodists were represented in Cornwall in varying degrees of strength:

  • The Wesleyans were the original Methodists, founded by John Wesley in the eighteenth century, from whom the other groups broke away. They were always the strongest denomination in Cornwall and were represented virtually all over the county.
  • The Bible Christians were founded in 1815 by a Cornishman, William Bryant or O'Bryan. They were strong in Cornwall, particularly in the rural areas.
  • The Wesleyan Methodist Association was formed by secession from the Wesleyans in the 1830's.
  • More reformers seceded in 1849 and they united in 1857 to form the united Methodist Free Churches. They had circuits throughout Cornwall: most were small, but in the Camelford area the United Methodist Free Churches were stronger than the Wesleyans.
  • The Methodist New Connexion spread to Cornwall in 1834, but was only represented in Truro, Penzance and St Ives.
  • The Primitive Methodists began work in the county in 1825: they were strongest in the industrial areas, and did not establish themselves at all east or north of Liskeard.
  • The Wesleyan Reform Union consisted of 1849 reformers who did not join the United Methodist Free Churches. They had only two Cornish circuits.

In St Ives there were a number of Non-Conformist chapels besides the 15th Century Anglican church. The Wesleyan chapel in Chapel Street was a large building capable of seating 750 persons The Primitive Methodists also had a chapel in Fore Street, erected in 1831, which was capable of accommodating 800 persons. The Bible Christians built a chapel in Back Row for 400 persons, in 1858. The Methodist New Connexion also had a chapel in Chapel Street. The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion had a chapel in Fore Street which was built in 1800

From 1 July 1837 Methodists could get married in their own Chapel if it was licensed for marriages, but the Superintendent Registrar of the area had to be present and record the details in his own register. Before this date, except for Jews and Quakers, all marriages could only take place in the Church of England (Anglican) churches. This being the likely reason for the Sullivan - Wearne marriage in the Anglican church.

Cornish Methodism was also carried overseas to areas such as South Australia, Canada and the American Upper Mid West, where Cornish communities flourished, a continuing reminder of the symbiosis of mining and Methodism.

Deteriorating economic and social conditions, and the demise and dispersion of the in-law Wearne family, may all have been factors prompting Timothy and family to consider joining the exodus of emigrants. But what were the reasons that led them to choose South Australia?

Bound for South Australia (16), (22)

Many Cornish emigrants came to settle in Australia’s developing mining regions in the mid-19th century. Nearly half of all immigrants in South Australia by 1865 were Cornish. Cornish workers had a big impact not only on Australia’s mining industry but also on the culture we associate with the country today.

In 1841, Wheal Gawler at Glen Osmond became the first metal mine in Australia. Copper was then discovered in Kapunda and Burra, where mining began in 1844 and 1845 respectively. More settlers, including Cornish miners and their families, were drawn to Southern Australia to take part in the great copper boom and by 1850 the region had developed into the third largest copper producer in the world.

Timothy and his family arrived in South Australia in 1859, the same year in which a shepherd discovered traces of copper in South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula. This prompted a rush for mining leases. Soon after, mines had been established in Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo. But the development of the “Copper Triangle” was too late to have influenced the family’s emigration decision.

One of the “pull factors” is likely to have been favourable correspondence from the in-laws, John Phillipps, wife Mary (nee Wearne) and family who had migrated to South Australia in 1854 and found work at Burra. The Phillipps family relocated from Burra to the Ballarat goldfields around 1858. It is not known at this time if there were other families from St Ives who might also have encouraged the Sullivans to make South Australia their destination.

Now Timothy was a sailor, a mariner, and a ship’s mate. But there was no demand for these skills in the fledgling colony. So at the age of 44 Timothy took the humbling step of re-classifying himself as a labourer in order to improve his eligibility for assisted passage to South Australia.

(23) From 1834 to about 1860, assisted emigration was mainly financed from the sale of crown land and was administered by the ColonialLand and Emigration Commission in London. It was the Commission who managed the money, selected the emigrants, and chartered the ships. Other emigrants under land grant or nominee schemes travelled on private ships.

When South Australia gained representative government under the SA Constitutional Act of 1855/56, one of the colony’s new responsibilities was the administration of the land fund. Consequently, in 1858 South Australia sent their own Immigration Agent to London; the first colony to do so. Along with control of the land fund, they also took over the selection and transport arrangements from the Colonial Land and Emigration Commission.

The Sullivan family’s passage to Adelaide was eventful, as described in the following extract from The South Australian Advertiser, Adelaide, SA, 3rd October 1859:

“The boats left the Semaphore station before daybreak on Saturday morning, the 1st inst for the purpose of boarding a barque which had been signalled on the evening previous, but the vessel did not reach the anchorage in time for the Press to board her owing to a strong adverse wind and ebb tide ; this vessel was found, to be the Peregrine Oliver (particulars of which are elsewhere reported). From her deck, by the aid of a telescope was observed an object far to the south, previously considered to be two sloops sailing in company, but afterwards perceived to be a vessel of considerable tonnage, presenting a most distressing appearance, with signals of distress flying on her ensign halyards at the peak, indicating the words "send a steam-tug immediately." This signal was answered with the utmost dispatch, the tug getting up steam as soon as the bunting could be made out ashore. The reporter's boat immediately bore down from the Peregrine Oliver and after the crew had pulled for two hours, got alongside the ship, which turned out to be the Lady Ann, with nearly 300 souls on board, from London and Plymouth, and under the command of Captain Alexander Sinclair, a gentleman who had several times made this port with emigrants. His last two vessels were the David Malcolm and the Nile.

 On being boarded, the Lady Ann presented a crippled and singular appearance, the waist being perfectly clear of spars, masts, both standing and running rigging, and the only indication of the vessel ever having had a mainmast being a short stump showing above the main deck. The immigrants crowded along the bulwark, and such indications of a catastrophe having transpired, caused the almost immediate enquiry whether loss of life had occurred, which providentially was answered in the negative. 

The following was reported by the captain to our shipping reporter:— The Blackwall liner, Lady Ann, sailed from the London Docks on June 17, with emigrants, and on her way down Channel put into Plymouth Sound for the purpose of taking in her complement of remittance passengers; sailing from thence on July 8, having made, when the trying circumstances which retarded her progress are considered, one of the quickest voyages for the antipodes that has been accomplished for some time ; and although under jury rig from the longitude of St. Paul's Island, has accomplished her voyage in 85 days from Plymouth. Nothing transpired worthy of notice until Sunday, September 11, at 9 o'clock in the evening latitude 45° 30' south ; longitude 70° 7'east. The captain was promenading the poop. The ship had all canvas set together with fore end maintopmast studding-sails. The weather was cloudy but fine, with a fresh breeze blowing from W.N.W. The single females had providentially gone from the poop to their berths. The ship was noticed to give a sudden lurch to leeward, when the mainmast was most unexpectedly carried away about 15 feet from the deck, dragging with it in its fall the foretopgallantmast, mizentop mast, top-sail-yard, and cross-jack-yard, breaking the mizen top, starboard bulkwards, poop rail, and quarter boat hanging to the starboard davit. The wreck beat heavily against the ship's side, and it was found impossible to secure it and preparations were speedily made and carried out reluctantly, but of necessity, to cut adrift the whole of the wreck of the mainmast and mizentopmast, together with all the yards, booms, and sails, the running and standing rigging attached in order to prevent danger to the hull of the ship. The foretopgallant and royal yards, together with their respective sails, were saved. The crash is reported as being instantaneous and tremendous, but resulting in injury to no one ; and although three boats were lashed to the skids, viz., the gig, jolly, and a lifeboat, close to the mainmast, not one of them was injured, all the wreck being blown over the side and striking in its fall the quarter-boat (before mentioned). The total loss is very severe, and it is the wonder of all on board that no life was lost. The loss consists of mainmast, maintopmast, topgallant and royal masts, with all their respective yards ; also the cross jackyard and sails, maintopmast, and two topgallant studdingsails with booms and yards, and the entire standing and running rigging ; also the main and mizen topmaststaysail. No damage was done to the hull. 

On the steam-tug getting out to sea she proceeded down to the Lady Ann, but the chief pilot, Mr. Creer, found he did not require steam until yesterday morning, owing to the tides not permitting her to cross the bar that day. The emigrants appear clean and healthy, and when the ship was boarded, despite the disaster that had occurred, she presented the appearance of being under the supervision of competent officers, and her 'tween decks were remarkably clean.”

One wonders how passenger, mariner and ship's mate Timothy would have reacted to the calamitous loss of mast and rigging, and the jury-rigged remainder of the voyage.

The family arrived Pt Adelaide 07/10 1859 aboard the Lady Ann (59/5) as a Remittance Emigrant origin England (there were lots of origin Ireland on the boat) Accompanying Timothy who is described as a labourer aged 43 were: Wife and child (Richard), daughter Ellen 17 a domestic servant, son John 15 labourer, Samuel 13.

From here the story of Timothy, his family and descendants becomes the story of the family in Australia.

The South Australian Years.

This time period covers the 28 years between arriving in South Australia in 1859, and Timothy’s death in Moonta in 1887. The first 5 years or so were spent mining at Burra.

On 08/04/1861 Timothy Sullivan appears as one petitioner of about a hundred in a petition in the "Advertiser" as representatives of the electors of Burra and Clare seeking G S Kingston to represent them in Parliament in the House of Assembly.

Ellen Wearne Sullivan age 19, father Timothy, marries John Henwood age 27 blacksmith on 22/06/1861 at St Mary’s church Kooringa near Burra. Father Timothy is described as a miner residence Burra. (24). 

The Electoral Roll 1862 for the Legislative Council, Burra district, includes Timothy Sullivan as a leaseholder, of Kooringa. (25)

The next reference is from Samuel Sullivan’s church obituary (26), which states that the Sullivan family settled in Burra, Samuel joined the local Methodist church, and at age 19 (1865) preached his first sermon as a lay preacher.

Around 1866 Timothy now aged about 50 appears to have left Burra and moved some 60km or so south to Lower Wakefield, where he appears to have tried his hand at farming. The property was close to the former St Josephs Catholic church, and the population in the area was reported as being much larger than at present.

IMG 3109

The 1868 rates assessment No. 419 from District Council of Lower Wakefield for section 111- “Sullivan, 192 acres, 30 fenced, balance clear, assessed value 40 pounds.” (27)

The "SA Gazette" 11/11/1869 contains a petition from ratepayers residing in the southern part of the District of Upper Wakefield with Timothy Sullivan among the petitioners. There are further references through until October 1870 in various Gazettes.

The 1870 South Australian State Directory/Almanac lists Sullivan, farmer, Section 111, Upper Wakefield.

A title search found Section 111, Vol 53 Folio 118, was owned by a George Hamilton from

1865 to 1869 when ownership transferred to Robert Stuckey and George Farr. So it appears Timothy was a tenant farmer.                                                                                                  2011 Photo by R Sullivan

The land can be identified on Google Maps, and has been visited. As agricultural land it seems marginal, especially when compared to the likely farm of his birthplace on SherkinIsland. There is no apparent remains of any dwelling.

During this time daughter Ellen Henwood and family left Burra and moved to Ballarat to try their luck on the goldfields. Sons John and Samuel also left during this time to also try their luck, but it appears that youngest son Richard remained.

Around the early 1870s Timothy now in his mid-fifties appears to have moved across to Kadina on the Yorke Peninsula.

Son Richard Wearne Sullivan, age 24, a bootmaker married 09/03/1872 to Susan Harris age 18. Timothy Sullivan of Kadina father, and marriage witnessed by Ellen Sullivan of Kadina. The marriage takes place at the dwelling of the groom’s father, so Timothy must be living in Kadina. (24)

Son Samuel Grose Sullivan, age26, also a bootmaker, married  23/12/1872 to Lucy Ellen Hart 20 spinster  of Kadina at her father’s house (Thomas Rusher Hart, Clerk of Courts Kadina). Both bride and groom are resident in Kadina, but the Samuel is “late of Ballarat” but “now of Kadina.” Father Timothy is present and mother Ellen is again the witness. (24)

There is an entry in the Kadina Rates Assessments of 1874 of a “Mrs Sullivan” living in Ewing St Kadina. (28)  Other than that there is no other record, which may mean Timothy and Ellen living or boarding with another dwelling occupier. The most likely family member to put them up would have been son Samuel.

In 1875 Timothy Sullivan of Kadina appears in a list of “gentlemen” advertising in the newspaper (Wallaroo Times and Mining Journal 17 Feb 1875) regarding the return of their local member.

An extract from the February 1878 electoral role of persons claiming to vote at Kadina includes Sullivan S.G. of Kadina and Sullivan Tim. of Wallaroo Mines (a suburb of Kadina). (25)


Widower son Samuel remarries 18/07/1878 in Ballarat to Hannah Maria Phillipps, with Timothy Sullivan “Roper” as father and Ellen Wearne mother. Mother of the bride is Mary Anna Wearne, father John Phillips “Cooper. (Certificate image is available). 

So Timothy’s sons John and Samuel both marry cousins on the maternal side, the cousins both being daughters of John Phillipps and Mary Anna Phillipps nee Wearne.


The photo is the only known image of Timothy Sullivan.  The well-known photographer Thomas Foster Chuck worked in Ballarat from 1876 to 1890, so it is reasonable to assume the photo was taken around the time of Samuel’s remarriage in 1878 when Timothy would have been about 63.




Photo courtesy of Mrs C Griffin



The 1885 birth certificate for Eric Wilfred Sullivan, son of Samuel Grose Sullivan, lists Timothy Sullivan, grandfather, of Kadina as informant (with his signature). The signature is consistent with that on his various earlier mariner’s documents. (24)


In May 1886 Samuel Grose Sullivan took up a new appointment as the head master of the Moonta Mines School, joining his sister Ellen Henwood already living with her family in Moonta. It is likely that parents Timothy and Ellen would have chosen to move from Kadina to Moonta around this time to be closer to their children and their families.

Timothy’s death certificate shows he died at Moonta Mines age on 09-04-1887 aged 72, cause “senile decay”. His occupation was listed as labourer. (24).

The newspaper death notice is as follows:

SULLIVAN.—In loving remembrance of Timothy Sullivan, who died at Moonta Mines April 8, 1887, aged 72 years and 6 months. Safe in the arms of Jesus.  

“Home at rest, my labor done,
Safe and blest, the victory won;
Jordan passed, from pain set free,
Angels now have welcom'd me.”
Inserted by his loving wife, Ellen Sullivan.”

Timothy is buried in the Moonta Cemetry in an unmarked grave, plot . Plot viewed and photographed.

There are as yet unanswered questions about Timothy’s life:

  • Who were his actual parents?
  • Why did he go to sea at 15?
  • Where did he learn to write?
  • What were his religious beliefs and how important were they to him?
  • What and/or who persuaded him to migrate to South Australia?
  • How successful was he s a miner?
  • How successful was he as a farmer?
  • What did he do in the last 15 years of his life and where?
  • Why was he buried in an unmarked grave?



(1)        BT 98-1407 Registry of Shipping and Seamen, Agreements and Crews Lists Series 1 Port of Registry St Ives 1847 Ship Names N-Z UK National Archives

            LDS Microfilm Copy held by R Sullivan.

(2)        BT 113/47 Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Register of Seaman’s Tickets 92001-94000 (1845 – 1854)    UK National Archives        Photocopy held by R Sullivan.

(3)        Caird Archive and Library, National Maritime Museum, Royal Museums, Greenwich UK

(4)        ibid

(5)        http://titheapplotmentbooks.nationalarchives.ie/         Search on “sullivan”, “jereh”, “Cork”, “Tullagh”

(6)        http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/        Same search as (5) above.

(7)        Sherkin Island – A Local History. Author Dolly O’Reilly, published 2013. Chapter 6.

(8)        ibid

(9)        See under G2 – Samuel Grose Sullivan

(10)      UK 1841 Census  HO 107/144/5

(11)      UK 1841 Census HO 107/144/6

(12)      http://west-penwith.org.uk/ivespmb1.htm

(13)      http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/community-and-living/records-archives-and-cornish-studies/research-guides/cornish-methodism/

(14)      http://www.world-guides.com/europe/england/cornwall/st-ives/st_ives_history.html

(15)      http://www.cornwalls.co.uk/history/industrial/

(16)      http://www.berryman.uk.com/emigration.htm

(17)      http://www.aditnow.co.uk/documents/personal-album-272/Copper.PDF

(18)      Cornish MiningWorld Heritage Site http://www.cornish-mining.org.uk/delving-deeper/religion

(19)      Cornwall Guide – John Wesley and the Methodist Movement  http://www.cornwalls.co.uk/history/people/john_wesley.htm

(20)      Cornish Methodism or Methodism in Cornwall?        http://bernarddeacon.wordpress.com/cornish-methodism-or-methodism-in-cornwall/

(21)      Genuki St Ives: http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/Cornwall/StIves/

(22)      http://www.cornish-mining.org.uk/delving-deeper/cornish-mining-australia


(24)      Microfilm of District Certificate - held by SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society

(25)      Microfilm of Electoral Roll - held by SA Genealogy & Heraldry Society

(26)      Original clipping held by R. Sullivan

(27)      Records held by Clare Regional History Group.

(28)      Kadina Rates Assessments – SA State Records GRS 14408 Sub Series 0001 Unit 1