William Watson and Elizabeth Hill

William Watson and Elizabeth Hill lived in Whitby, Yorkshire and were married in 1811. William whose family originally came to Yorkshire from Bishop Briggs near Glasgow, had family who settled in Bradford. William and Elizabeth had four children, two sons and two daughters.

John born 12 April 1814, died 2 November 1881. Married Amelia Alomes (25 Sep 1849).
Thomas born 6 May 1816, died 8 March 1864. Married Mary Ann Garlick (21 Jan 1851).
Martha born 28 Aug 1817, died 20 Mar 1900. Married William Winspere (8 June 1847).
Hannah born 1820, died 5 February 1911. Married Christopher Calvert (16 Jan 1837).

They were steerage passengers on the ship Harvey which arrived in Hobart Town in May 1825.

William Watson was allotted a land grant at Muddy Plains (Sandford) on June 11, 1825, which he called York Grove. However within two years, William died and was buried in St. David's Cemetery. In February 1827 George Stokell, a creditor and friend of William, was granted rights of administration over his estates.

After the death of Mr Watson, word was received from England in effect that property had been left to his widow and children. The consequence was that Mrs Watson, Thomas, Hannah and Martha returned to England. Thomas and Martha remained in England for some years with Mrs Watson and Hannah returning to York Grove to where John was managing the property so well that it was classed as one of the best in the state. He was no doubt advised by his father's old friend George Stokell, as he was only thirteen years old when his father had died and left him the property.

Elizabeth Watson, widow of William Watson, died on Thursday 29 November 1877 at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Winspere, Muddy Plains,formerly of Whitby, Yorkshire ; aged 86 years.

Land Grant
It was believed that the original grant of land that became York Grove was to William Watson. It appears that no-one has been able to find proof of the actual land grant for William Watson in 1825 because it never existed!

The State Archives has a land grants map shows the land (670 acres) was actually granted to Edward Paine Butler and Robert William Nutt. These two gentlemen were lawyers in Hobart in the 1840s. The family law firm Butler, Nutt and Butler later became Butler, McIntyre and Butler which is still a well known law firm in Hobart.

An original index at the Lands and Titles Office in Hobart indicates the land was granted to Butler and Nutt in 1843. Soon after, it appears that William's son John took out a mortgage and lease of the land. In 1853, it appears the mortgage was discharged and John took over ownership of the land. John of course was only 11 years old in 1825 and his father died in 1827. In 1843, John would have been 29 years old.

The original land grant document is on microfilm in the State Archives. The current title for the land shows Butler and Nutt as the original land grantees. The area of the land sold by my grandfather has since been subdivided into two lots.


York Grove Centenary

Extract from “The Mercury” – September 1925
York Grove Centenary
Record of the Watson Family
100 Years in Tasmania
Celebrations at Sandford Today

Watson Centenary 1925

The centenary of the Watson family, of Sandford, will be celebrated in that centre today. The late William Watson and his wife, with their two sons (John and Thomas) and two daughters (Martha and Hannah) arrived from Whitby (Yorkshire), at Hobart Town on May 1, 1825, in the ship Harvey, an old East Indiaman commanded by Captain Peache, the voyage occupying 11 months. The vessel was compelled to put back to Plymouth owing to the very boisterous weather on the English coast that winter, and remained there about a month. They also called at Santiago di Cuba, where an exchange was made with beef and goats’ flesh. The following were the names of the other passengers:- Mr. Thos Lempriere, wife and two daughters ; Mr. Wm Sams, mother, wife and child, and a female servant; Captain William Sunster; Mrs. Johnson (wife of Mr. Johnson, of the White Horse public house); Mrs. Honey and child; Mr. Rayner; Mr. Wise; Major Loane, wife and four children; Mr. W. Wilkinson; Mr. James Robertson; Mr. Duncan Cameron; Mr. V. Clarke; Mr. J. Jackson; Mr. J. Salter, wife and three children ; Messrs. T and C. Fenton; Mr. John Grose; Mr. John Ayers; Miss Mary Smith; Mr. F. M. Banks; Mrs. Colson and four children; Mr. John Garth; and Mr. Colin Stewart.

Temporary Sojourn in England

Mr. Watson received his grant of the York Grove Land from Lieutenant-Governor Arthur on June 11th, 1825. He died a few years after his arrival in the state, and was buried in St. David’s cemetery. After the death of Mr. Watson word was received from England to the effect that property had been left to his widow and children, and in consequence Mrs. Watson, her son Thomas, and her daughters, Martha (afterwards Mrs. Winspere) and Hannah (afterwards Mrs. Calvert of South Arm) returned to England. Thomas and Martha both remained in England for some years and followed up some farming pursuits. Prior to returning to Tasmania, the latter married Mr. Winspere in England, but on the voyage to Tasmania Mr. Winspere died. Mr. Watson’s widow died on November 29, 1877, aged 86 years.

After Mr. Watson’s death the estate of York Grove was left to his eldest son John, who was born on April 12, 1814. It was mainly through his energies that York Grove was transformed into one of the best cultivated farms in Tasmania. He married, when 35 years old, Amelia, the daughter of Robert Alomes, who was the first man as sergeant of marines under Colonel David Collins, R.M. (afterwards Lieutenant-Governor) to plant the Union Jack at Hobart Town at the spot where Risby Bros.’ mill is now located. Mr. J. Watson was an enthusiastic sportsman, and gained a great reputation as a marksman, and also distinguished himself as an oarsman in some of the State’s early regattas. It is said of him that he was a good father, a faithful friend, and that his hospitality was well known throughout the district. The name of John Watson was a household word for miles around. Besides cultivating York Grove, he rented several adjoining farms as well as leasing Crown Land, all of which was greatly improved under his management. He died on November 2, 1881. His funeral was one of the largest ever known in the district, being attended by nearly all the residents of South Arm, Sandford, and Clarence, whilst Hobart, Bellerive, and Sorell sent representatives to testify to the respect in which he was held by all. His remains were interred in the Rokeby cemetery. He raised a family of three sons and 12 daughters. The surviving members of the family (two sons and eight daughters) are all married. Mr. J. Watson’s wife survived him for many years, dying on September 16, 1917. His brother Thomas died on March 8, 1864, at the age of 42.

York Grove’s Splendid Setting

It would be interesting to give a short description of York Grove. The land was included in what was called in the early days the York district, also Muddy Plains, and later Sandford, after Bishop Sandford, as it was the first place in Tasmania where he held a confirmation service. The property is situated on a charming spot, having a panoramic view beginning from the entrance of the Derwent and stretching across Storm Bay, including a good view of the Derwent light, Bruny and Franklin Islands, Tasman’s Peninsular, and Frederick Henry Bay – truly a wonderful and picturesque scope of scenery. On the property is a very large stone barn, which has been in existence for a great number of years. In the distance it could easily be mistaken for a fine homestead. The land is very fertile, producing wheat and root crops in abundance; sheep thrive on large portions, and wonderfully good clips have been obtained for many years.

After the death of John Watson, the estate of York Grove was left to his eldest son, John Edwin, who has three sons and one daughter. The other surviving son of John Watson sen. is William (Will) Robert who is well known in the sporting community. Like his father, he is a successful shot with the fowling piece, and a great cricket enthusiast, having been captain of a team on several occasions. Although he will attain his 70th anniversary in a few months, he has had the pleasure of securing a trophy recently for the second best bowling average in the club to which he belongs.

The youngest son (James Theodore) died during 1900, at the age of 40 and his widow (Eleanor) followed him in 1908, aged 44. One daughter and two sons were left. The first mentioned served as a sister in the A.I.F. at Salonika. One son was munition worker, and the other, John T. (youngest) in an infantry battalion at the front. He is well known in Tasmania and in the other States as a champion cyclist, having held records for distances of 50 and 100 miles, the latter being the world’s professional record.

Watson Centenary 1925 ID


John Watson Died at Sandford, December 2nd, 1881.

On Monday the 5th December the remains of the late John Watson of ‘York Grove’, Sandford, who died at his residence on Friday, 2nd inst. in his 68th year were consigned to their last resting place in the Rokeby Cemetery.

The deceased was one of the pioneers in the Sandford district having with his parents arrived when he was only 10 years of age, this was about the year, 1825, by the ship Harvey. They settled at Sandford to hew a home out of what was then a forest. There he resided till the time of his death. His father died shortly after their arrival and the deceased was left the chief support of his mother and the rest of the family. His efforts were attended with success and the well cultivated farm and neat homestead of York Grove bear testimony to his untiring energy and perseverance. In his younger days he was a keen sportsman and his prowess as a marksman was widespread whilst he also distinguished himself as an oarsman in our early Regattas. When advancing years precluded him from taking an active part in field sports he loved to talk of his past achievements and would tell many a good story of his younger days. He married at the age of 36 and leaves a widow and children to mourn their loss. He was a kind husband, a good father, a faithful friend, whilst his hospitality was proverbial throughout the district and made the name of John Watson familiar as a household word for miles around. The deceased had been ailing for some months but his end was sudden as he was in Hobart the Monday before he died. The funeral was one of the largest ever known in the district, was attended by nearly all the residents of South Arm, Sandford and Clarence whilst Hobart, Bellerive and Sorell all sent representatives to testify to the respect in which the deceased was held by all who knew him. Among those present were Messrs. Gellibrand, Calvert, Morrisby, Winspere, Stanfield, Tolman, W. Barnes, Jordan, Bellette, Chapman and others. The service was read by the Rev. H. Finnis of Bellerive.

His Widow Mrs. J. Watson of York Grove, Sandford, died at Hobart aged 88 years, 1917.

There passed peacefully away on September 15th, 1917, at her late residence Park Street, Hobart, Mrs Watson relict of the late John Watson of York Grove, Sandford. The deceased was born in the Sorell district on August 2nd, 1829 and was the daughter of the late Robert Alomes who arrived in this state under Lieut. Bowen * in the Royal Marines. Her parents were about one of the first couples married in Tasmania and when the event took place they were entertained to a wedding breakfast by Lieut. Governor Collins at Government House, the latter on that occasion having presented Mr. Alomes with 50 sheep including several lambs. The subject of our notice has many descendents those of whom have held prominent public positions. They comprise 15 children, 31 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren. Four grandchildren are serving at the front and one has already laid down his life for his country. She was much respected for her kindly disposition and pleasant demeanour which won for her many friends.


The funeral took place on the 17th, and her remains were followed by relatives and others belonging to Hobart, Rokeby, Sandford and South Arm. The Rev. Bramwall officiated at the Church and the Rokeby Cemetery her last resting place.

  • Editor note: Robert Alomes arrived in Van Diemens Land with Lieut. Collins in 1804.


Who are the 80 people in the photo?

1 Florence Lilian May Watson (nee Ibbott)
2 John Edwin Watson (son of John Watson and Amelia Alomes)
3 Alice Eliza Bellette (daughter of John James Bellette and Eliza Jemima Lyons)
4 William (Will) Robert Watson (son of John Watson and Amelia Alomes, built The Bungalow in South Arm)
5 Ada Amelia Harriet Alomes (previously Gorringe, nee Watson)
6 George Alomes (Les's half brother)
7 Doreen Ethel Goodwin Watson (adopted daughter of John Edwin and Florence Watson, niece of Florence Watson)
8 Alexander (Alec) Percy Watson (son of John Edwin and Florence Watson)
9 Horace (Horrie) Charles Gorringe (son of Eveline Sophia Watson and Lowther Gorringe)
10 Bertram (Bert) John Watson (son of John Edwin and Florence Watson)
11 Ethel Muriel Shaw (married Edwin James Watson the following year in 1926)
12 Edwin James Watson (eldest surviving son of John Edwin and Florence Watson)
13 Oscar Derwent Calvert, husband of Queenie Calvert
14 Cedric Vere Calvert (baby son of Oscar and Amy Isla Calvert)
15 Amy Isla (Queenie) Calvert (nee Lazenby)
16 James O'May, husband of Margaret Elizabeth O'May (nee Watson, daughter of Thomas Watson)
21 Walter Honey
35 Minnie Alomes (nee Watson)
39 Ernest Watson O'May (son of James O'May)
40 Ruby Brown (daughter of Amy Maria Watson and Charles Brown)
45 Amy Maria Brown (nee Watson)
46 Emily Georgina Honey (nee Watson)
47 Elizabeth Tasmania Tolman (nee Watson), widow of John Gibbs Tolman
48 Les Alomes, husband of Minnie Alomes (nee Watson)
54 Charles Brown, husband of Amy Maria Brown (nee Watson)
56 William Calvert (eldest son of Hannah and Christopher Calvert)
67 Jack Tolman (grandson of Elizabeth Tasmania Watson and John Gibbs Tolman
76 Lowther Gorringe