My Wray Family

George Wray was born in Whitby, Yorkshire, England in 1793 (although conflicting evidence suggests 1798). Whitby is a sea town on the north east coast of England. Television viewers would know it as the town by the sea that the residents of Aidensville regularly visit on ABC's 'Heartbeat' series. His father George, was a mariner, and George junior followed in his footsteps and became a master mariner. He most likely served his apprenticeship at Whitby on the vigorous North Sea coal trade. The east coast was treacherous and was reckoned to be the 'best nursery for seamen'.

He married twice. George Wray married Ann Corner in Whitby, Yorkshire, England on February 1, 1820. Ann was born in 1798.

The Hobart Town Courier reported on the arrival of the Timandra in Hobart Town, Van Dieman's Land, Australia on December 27, 1828:

Arrived at Launceston, on Wednesday the 17th instant, the ship Timandra, 370 tons, G. Wray, from London, with 376 ewes and 14 rams, 16 ewes and 1 ram having died on the passage. 35 tons salt and 10 tons iron for the Van Diemen's land Company, besides about 40 tons of goods for private individuals. Passengers, Mr. John Archer and son.

The Hobart Town Courier on January 3, 1829 advertised the goods due for arrival at Hobart Town by the Timandra. They included casks of earthenware, complete dinner services "of the latest and most fashionable patterns", a few bales of slops, consisting of striped and white cotton shirts, velveteen jackets and trowsers, coduory jackets and trowsers, and lamp cotton.

The arrival of the Timandra and the Lady Rowena at Hobart town was delayed, as upon the vessels arrival in Tasmania they had first visited Port Dalrymple (at the mouth of the River Tamar), and then Circular Head (now Stanley), where the Van Dieman's Land Company was located. The Hobart papers were critical in that "The owners or charterers of the vessels ought to have been candid in London, and have explained to the shippers the delay that would thus be incurred before the delivery of goods at Hobart town, which would then have been put on board some more direct conveyance".

The Timandra finally arrived in Hobart town on Sunday January 11, 1829 - almost a month after first arriving in Tasmania. She remained in the harbour for a few weeks before heading back to England.

George Wray made application for an allotment of land in Jerusalem (now Colebrook), Van Dieman's Land, Australia on April 15, 1829. The land application was for land in the Ormaig district, upstream from Richmond. George's application had been made in February and he was allotted by Lt Governor Arthur 1,000 acres for a quit rent of 4/-.

The land was located in "the space between the grants of Lewis and Underwood fronting on the Coal River, running as far back as Underwood's South West Corner, then extending in a southerly direction as far as extent of the 1,000 acres may require". By 1830, 100 acres was fenced and 45 was in cultivation. There was erected a dwelling house, barn and other out buildings. This land was transferred out of George's name on October 14, 1831.

George Wray was Assistant Harbour Master in Hobart Town, Van Dieman's Land, Australia in 1843. His wife Ann died from consumption (tuberculosis) at Battery Point, Van Dieman's Land, Australia on Saturday morning, September 13, 1845. It had been a protracted illness. George Wray then married Elizabeth Toddhunter at St George's Church of England at Battery Point, Van Dieman's Land, Australia on March 25, 1846. Elizabeth Toddhunter was born in 1808.

A notice appeared in a newspaper in Hobart Town, Van Dieman's Land, Australia April 6, 1852. The Hobart Town Gazette, page 316 reads:

GOVERNMENT NOTICE No. 50. Colonial Secretary's Office, 3rd April, 1852. The Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to ap- point Mr. J. A. Babington to be Harbour Master, and Mr. George Wray to be Assistant Harbour Master, for the Port of Hobart Town. By His Excellency's Command, P. FRASER

In notes provided by Ian Woolley of Claremont, Tasmania, George Wray applied for an increase in pay on July 2, 1852 together with Ian's ancestor Mr. J. A. Babington. Perhaps this pay rise was not granted, for on January 4, 1853 George was appointed as a second class pilot at Williamstown, Victoria, after having been on trial for several weeks, at a salary of £300 per annum. His appointment was made by the Lt. Governor and was confirmed by the pilots board. In an 1853 list of 'Descriptions of the licensed pilots of the Ports of Melbourne and Geelong', George Wray was described as 48 years of age, dark complexion, hazel eyes, 5 foot 8 inches tall, a native of Whitby. On July 1, 1853 George was promoted from the junior class of pilots and was appointed harbour pilot, with an annual salary of £365.

For more than one hundred years, harbour pilots at Melbourne operated in conjunction with the sea pilots, although they held no financial interest in the pilot ships or plant. Their function was to pilot ships bound for up-river berths to and from their destination, relieving the sea pilots in Hobson's Bay or vice-versa for outward bound ships. In early 1855 the harbour pilots operated a separate service at an additional 1d a ton for vessels proceeding to Melbourne, Footscray or Yarraville wharves. The harbour pilots operated their own boats and did not share the sea pilots establishment until 1957.

At the time when George Wray started working as a Harbour Pilot, Williamstown was a busy port. In 1853 The Argus estimated that there were in excess of 500 ships at anchor off Williamstown. Many of these ships were dismasted and were sinking at their moorings. As this was at the height of the gold rush, ship's desertion was an ever pressing problem for ships' captains.

George Wray was appointed second class pilot in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia on January 4, 1853. The following is a transcript of a letter from the Harbour Master to the Colonial Secretary, requesting authority for the appointment of Messrs Nicholson, Wray and Hannah as 2nd Class Pilots. It is dated 4 February 1833. The original is held by the Public Record Office of Victoria, at the Laverton Repository:

Harbor Masters' Office
Williams Town 1 Feby 1853
I have the honor to submit for the approval of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor that the persons mentioned in the margin may be appointed 2nd Class Pilots for the Port of Melbourne and Geelong to date as expressed against their respective names.
The above mentioned persons have been on trial as Pilots for some weeks, and have satisfied me that they are qualified for the office of Pilots.
Their Salaries to be at the rate of Three hundred pounds per annum.
I have the honor to be
Sir
Your most obed. Servt.
Harbor Master

George Wray was a senior pilot of Port Phillip in Victoria, Australia in 1855. The Victorian Government "Blue Books" for 1855 show that George Wray was paid by pilotage in proportion to actual services rendered.

George retired from the pilots board in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia in November 30, 1855 due to ill-health. He was known to be ill early in 1855 as he wrote to the president and members of the pilot board on March 1, 1855 requesting leave of absence for a month so that he could go to the heads to re-establish his health. The letter read:

Wms Town
March 1st 1855
To the president and Members of the Pilots Board
Gentlemen
Having been unwell for a length of time with desyntree [sic]. I respectfully ask leave of abscence [sic] for one month I wish to go to the Heads - I think one week or a fortnight would restablish my Health as Dr Willims has removed the ?dea... - I now want - a change - to strength me -
I have the Honor to be
Gentlemen
Your Obt. Servant
GWray

George died from constitutional decay and paralysis in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia on May 14, 1856. His death certificate listed his occupation as master mariner. At the time of his death, he was described as needy and poverty stricken. He was buried at the Gellibrand Point Cemetery in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia. His funeral expenses of £13 having been met by the pilot board. In 1899 all the graves at the Gellibrand Point Cemetery were exhumed and transferred to the Williamstown Public Cemetery, the old cemetery site having suffered from vandalism and decay. In total some 800 bodies were exhumed and transferred to a large grave at the Williamstown Cemetery.

George Wray and Ann Corner had the following children:

George Wray and Elizabeth Toddhunter had the following child:

George Wray and Ann Corner had the following children:

The Family of Robert James Wray

Robert James Wray (father: George) was born in Pitt Water, Van Dieman's Land, Australia in 1835.

He married twice. Robert James Wray married Ann Jane Woods at the Presbyterian Church Manse in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia at the Presbyterian Church Manse in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia on September 21, 1859. Robert and Ann were married according to the format of the Presbyterian Church and in the presence of Ann's parents, John and Ann Woods.

Ann Jane Woods was born in 1839 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She was the daughter of John Woods and Ann Jane Roberts. Ann lived at 42 Railway Place in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia in 1887. Ann died from a fibroid tumor at Railway Place in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia on September 8, 1887 at 2 a.m. She left behind a young family, Lily was only six and Burt was three at the time of her death. Ann was buried on September 11, 1887 in the Williamstown Cemetery in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia.

Robert James Wray married Mary Watson in Victoria, Australia in 1889. The marrige is the only mention I have found of Mary Watson. I have not found her death, and when Robert died in 1902, he was at the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum and details of his marriages and children were not known by the informant.

Robert lived at 42 Railway Place in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia in 1893. In 1893 his boat building business was located Nelson Place in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia. An article had appeared in the Williamstown Chronicle regarding a boat he had built in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia on December 19, 1891. The boat had won a race at Gippsland Lakes.

Robert died from senility and exhaustion at Melbourne Benevolent Asylum in North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on January 19, 1902. The Melbourne Benevolent Asylum was a private charity, set up in 1849 with a government grant of ten acres of land near the old cattle yards (North Melbourne). It was part of the benevolent asylum network which was the mechanism for caring for the destitute age in the second half of the nineteenth century. The objects of the Society were ".... to relieve the aged, infirm, disabled or destitute poor of all creeds and nations; and to minister them the comforts of religion...". The asylum continually faced problems of overcrowding - funding was a problem. The government provided 50% of the operating funds, however over the years, the amount received decreased, despite increasing numbers of people requiring care. The asylum also faced continual complaints of being cold, dirty, insufficient water, no water and absence of medical comforts. Complaints of this nature continued until the Society built a new facility in Cheltenham. Eventually the benevolent asylums of Victoria developed into geriatric hospitals funded entirely by government. Robert James Wray was buried on January 22, 1902 in the Melbourne General Cemetery in Carlton, Victoria, Australia.

Robert James Wray and Ann Jane Woods had the following children:

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© 1997-2003 Lauren Thomson, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
Last revised: April 20, 2003
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