Monday, 2 July 2012

Our house?

  • When I first began to investigate our COLEY ancestors, two questions demanded attention.
  • Did they have anything to do with Captain Coley's cottage in Brisbane?
  • Were they from Coleyville (south-east of Ipswich)?

The cottage which stood near the current Queensland Parliament House was reputed to be the first privately owned home in Brisbane. It was built in the late 1840s and said to be still standing early in the twentieth century.

Richard James COLEY (almost always referred to as Captain Coley, although his links to the sea are undocumented, except in his obituary) was a well-known merchant in the colony and was appointed the Sergeant-at-Arms of the first Queensland Parliament. This position has responsibility for keeping order in the Assembly and protecting the Speaker. Fortunately the role is ceremonial, because by then Captain Coley was over 60 years old and in failing health.

Any links I could find to such a prominent early citizen of Queensland would be a terrific limb for the family tree. Nevertheless, I reminded myself that manufacturing links to desirable ancestors is not acceptable practice.

Sadly, Richard James COLEY died from a gunshot by his own hand in 1864. The Coroner ruled that it was due to "temporary insanity". An examination of his financial affairs showed the Captain was close to penury and that the famous cottage was heavily mortgaged. His son, also Richard James, died in Roma in 1872, allegedly by taking strychnine.

Perhaps a connection to this COLEY group would not be well-regarded when the family gathered? However, I must press on.

Richard COLEY had arrived in Brisbane in 1842 from van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). He had lived there since 1835 engaged in farming (and perhaps, coastal trading) with his brother-in-law after migrating from Norfolk in England. He was born in London in 1797 to Ann BLINKERN and Richard James COLEY (who had been a merchant Captain).

Since I now know that our proven COLEY ancestors were labourers who left the Black Country of the Midlands to arrive in Moreton Bay in 1866, there is no possibility of a link to the Captain and his famous cottage.

Was the time spent chasing down a negative result wasted? Certainly not, when I have learned so much about the context of the new colony into which our real ancestors moved.

And Coleyville? As always, that is a tale for another time.

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