G3 2 John Sullivan

This article is about John Sullivan, first son of Timothy Sullivan, born in Cornwall in 1844, who migrated to South Australia with his family in 1859. The story covers his family life and career in South Australia, and then more importantly in Victoria, and explores what sort of person he was.

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GR3     TS/JOHN SULLIVAN (1844 - 1890)

John Sullivan was the second child and first son of Timothy and Ellen Sullivan. He was born in St Ives Cornwall in January 1844. No record has been found to date of his baptism.


Timothy Sullivan, wife Ellen and children Ellen, John, Samuel and Richard emigrated from St Ives Cornwall and arrived at Pt Adelaide 07/10/1859 aboard the “Lady Anne” (59/5) as Remittance Emigrants from England. Father Timothy is described on the ship’s manifest as a labourer aged 43 with wife (Ellen) and child (Richard), daughter Ellen, 17 a domestic servant, sons John 15, a labourer, and Samuel 13.

The Sullivan family after arriving in Adelaide moved to Burra where Timothy worked as a miner.

An newspaper article dated December 15 1965 reported : "The annual Soiree of the Kooringa Wesleyan Mutual Improvement Association was celebrated onTuesday, the 12th inst., by a tea and public meeting held in the Schoolroom adjoining the Chapel. Several excellent recitations were given in very creditable style by Messrs. S. and J.Sullivan.  During the evening several prizes were awarded to members of the Association, for the best papers on the Spanish Armada and the Lord's Prayer. The first prize was awarded by the Judges to Mr.John Sullivan, for his essay on the first-named subject."  

After 7 years in South Australia (John Sullivan's Death Certificate - see below) around 1866 elder son John Sullivan left Burra for the Victorian goldfields, possibly to link up with his Aunt Mary’s (mother Ellen’s sister) family, the Phillipps, who were at Ballarat where his uncle John Phillipps worked as a cooper, after leaving Burra himself in 1855.

It is also possible that John Sullivan came across to Victoria with or to be with his older sister Ellen, who was now Ellen Henwood.  The Henwoods came across sometime between October 1864, when their daughter Julia was born at Kooringa, and when next daughter Ellen was born in Smythesdale in 1968, which is probably the closest they came to Ballarat. The Henwoods then moved north, to Creswick where daughter Mary Jane was born in 1870, and probably then to Bendigo (Sandhurst). The 1872 Sandhurst Directory records a John Sullivan, miner, at Barkly St Sandhurst (Bendigo) at the same time as a John Henwood blacksmith residing in Booth St, less than 3kms apart. Long Gully, California Gully and Happy Valley  (adjacent to these streets) were known for their concentration of Cornish miners. First daughter (see below) Ada Phillips Sullivan’s birth certificate in 1873 records John Sullivan of Long Gully Sandhurst

Family Life

The link between John Sullivan and the Phillipps family became formal when John married Mary Phillips, his cousin on 30/03/1872 at the Wesleyan Parsonage, Barkly St, Ballarat. John, 28, born St Ives Cornwall, bachelor and miner from Sandhurst Victoria, parents Timothy Sullivan (miner) and Ellen (Wearne) Sullivan, marries Mary Phillipps 21, born Camborne Cornwall,  spinster, home duties, from Sandhurst Victoria, with parents John Phillipps (cooper) and Mary Ann (Wearne) Phillipps. Hannah Phillipps, Mary’s younger sister, is a witness to the marriage. Ellen Sullivan and Mary Phillipps are sisters, maiden name Wearne. 



JohnS70s       MaryS70s

 John Sullivan and Mary Sullivan in the 1870s.
Photos courtesy of Mrs C. Griffin 

John and Mary had eight children

Ada Phillipps Sullivan was born in 1873 in Sandhurst (Bendigo) (V5388) but died just 9 weeks later (V269). When Ada died as an infant she was buried in Ballarat rather than in Sandhurst. Two of the young Phillipps children (effectively an aunt and uncle) had already been buried in the Ballarat cemetery.
Horace Rundle Phillipps was born in 1874 at Sandhurst (V10700)
Lucy May Sullivan was born in Sandhurst in 1877 (V6940)

 Around 1878 with John aged about 34 the family relocated from Sanhurst to Ballarat, possibly wife Mary wanting to be closer to her parents

Arthur Herbert Sullivan was born in Ballarat in 1878 (V287)
Next was Charles Frederick Sullivan, born in Ballarat in 1881 (V13943)
Daughter Clarice Sullivan was born in Ballarat in 1883 (V13979)
The family remained in Ballarat until around 1884 when, with John aged 40, they relocated to Dunbulbalane where John took up farming.

Twins Edwin John Sullivan (17134) and Albert Wearne Sullivan (V17135) were born in Dunbulbulane in 1885.

In 1890 about 6 years after the move to Dunbulbalane John Sullivan died at age 46 at Sandhurst Victoria (V17502). Cause of death was stomach cancer from which the death certificate records he had suffered for 9 months, so he may have been in Sandhurst (Bendigo) for medical treatment.

He was buried in the New Ballarat Cemetery in Area Wesleyan A, Section 9, grave 1, the same grave as his first infant daughter Ada. There is no headstone remaining, and there is no headstone record held by the Ballarat Historical Society.


 John Sullivan's family at Dunbulbulane probably a little time after the turn of the century.
Back Row, from the left: Albert, Frederick, Lucy and Arthur. Front Row from the left: Edwin, mother Mary, Clarice and Horace.
Photo courtesy of Mrs C. Griffin

Mary Sullivan aged 39 survived at Dunbulbalane with 7 children Horace 16, Lucy 14, Arthur 11, Frederick 9, Clarice 7 and the twins Edwin and Albert 5. For more details on life at Dunbulbulane read the article on John's wife Mary Sullivan.

 Working Life

It is likely that John Sullivan joined his father Timothy working in or on the Burra copper mine, and grew into manhood during that 7 year period through to 1866 

When gold was discovered in Bendigo, the Cornish miner was one of the first to join the rush from the South Australian copper fields. These fields were predominantly populated by Cornish people. The migration to Victoria from South Australia, was such that the established mines at Burra and Kapunda, were forced to suspend operations for a time.

Based on his childrens’ birth records, John Sullivan continued to mine in Bendigo, probably as a hard rock miner. After the easy gold started to disappear, and all the get rich quick diggers had moved on to greener pastures, those that remained began to work on the hard quartz. The ability of the Cornish in Bendigo and Victoria to mine in quartz became legendary to the extent that even cornishmen who had never been down a mine were considered to have great powers. 

It has been estimated that in 1880, 48 % of the male adult population of Bendigo were miners and 80% were Cornish. They came with their families bringing their hopes and dreams of getting a job and starting a new life. Cornish miners, bringing with them their strong Methodist tradition, were concentrated in the gullies to the west of Bendigo and Long Gully became the centre of "Little Cornwall".

It's uncertain at this stage what John did between his move from Sandhurst to Ballarat in 1878, and the move to the farm at Dunbulbulane in 1894.

NumurkahDunbulbalane was a small settlement on Broken Creek east of Numurkah and north of Invergordon in Victoria. It is a 7 mile coach trip from the Katamatite railway station, with Invergordon a further 3 miles on.

On the adjacent map Dunbulbulane was where the asterisk is.

Government legislation in  the 1870's opened up the way for the average person to select up to 320 acres of farming land for a reasonably small initial outlay, and pay this selection off over a period of time. This saw vast areas of the GoulburnValley selected. Many men from Bendigo and Ballarat – where the easily won gold was petering out – applied for farms.

Many of those who arrived in the general area were known to each other from the Sandhurst gold fields where they had been active members of the Wesleyan church. For example, the Eddy family who were neighbours, had a similar background, also coming from Burra to Dunbulbulane via the Victorian Goldfields, and also being members of the Dunbulbalane Wesleyan church. (Richard Eddy in Family History Index, Family Origins Network)

The 1880 Shire of Yarrawonga voters roll (Katandra and District History Group) lists as landowners John Sullivan at Dunbulbalane (and Richard and Thomas Eddy), so John Sullivan may have applied for the land well before moving from Ballarat.

The map shown below is an extract from a map  “Village of Dunbulbalane, Parish of Dunbulbalane, County of Moira” a cadastral town map of the village of Dunbulbalane showing landowners, held by the National Library of Australia.

The John Sullivan farm shown at Dunbulbalane in 1887 shaded green was bounded by Gribben Rd in the north, Union Rd to the East and Broken Creek to the south. 


Recent photos of the site can be found in "Photos and Images."

For more details on life at Dunbulbulane after John's death in 1890, read the article on his wife Mary Sullivan.