William Charles Johnson (1839-1911)
Alice Henrietta Griffits

William Charles Johnson was born on 26 Aug 1839 (date also confirmed in the family bible) in Sydney, the oldest of William Jonathan Johnson & Eliza Harris Tompson‘s 12 children. He was baptised in St James church on 21 Dec 1839; his father shared the post of organist and choir master there with his uncle James Johnson.

William married Alice Henrietta Griffits on 22 Dec 1866 in Sydney (record 1101/1876). Alice, one of seven, was born in London in 1847, her parents being Henry Griffits (1816-1860), a solicitor, and Elizabeth Norton (1829-?). From The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 23 Jan 1867:

JOHNSON—GRIFFITS—December 22nd, at Christ Church, by the Rev. George Vidal, B.A., William Charles, eldest son of the late W. J. Johnson of Erskineville, Newton, to Alice Henrietta, second daughter of the late Henry Griffits, of Aylesbury and Wendover, Buckinghamshire, England, solicitor.

It appears that William joined the post office service, aged 18. He was appointed postmaster at Yass on 01 Dec 1971, Goulburn on 21 Sep 1878 (see the 1981 record), and was transferred to West Maitland on 13 Jun 1883. His service record confirms his birth date as 26 Aug 1839.

There is some confusion about his death. NSW records have a William C Johnson who died in Newtown in 1911 (record 15657), his parents being William J and Eliza, which is consistent. There is such a person who lived at 15 Telopea St, Newtown; his wife was Margaret and they had at least one daughter, Mary Ellen Whitworth.

However, there is this death notice in The Maitland Daily Mercury on Tue 10 Dec 1912:


The death occurred at his late residence, Roseville near Sydney, on Saturday last, of Mr William Charles Johnson, late Postmaster at West Maitland. The deceased was widely known and respected in Maitland where he resided for a number of years, having previously been postmaster at Goulburn. On leaving Maitland he retired from the service on pension.

and this notice in The Sydney Morning Herald on Tue 10 Dec 1912:

JOHNSON.—December 7, at Roseville, William Charles Johnson, late of West Maitland, aged 74.

This man is buried in Gore Hill, and his tombstone clearly shows the Henrietta part of his wife’s name to the left:

Alice Henrietta Johnson’s death on 07 Jan 1929 was announced in the The Sydney Morning Herald on 10 Jan 1929:

JOHNSON.-January 7, at Longford private hospital, Lindfield, Alice Henrietta (relict of William Charles Johnson, late of Neutral Bay), in her 82nd year.

William Charles Johnson & Alice Henrietta Griffits had 8 children:

01. William Henry Ernest (b. 20 Mar 1868, d. 27 Jan 1941) St George record 4505/1868

02. Leslie John (b. 15 May 1869 at Nelson’s Point, St Leonards, d. 30 May 1935 at Tumblong, NSW) record 5280/1869

03. Walter John (b. 1871 in Sydney, d. 08 Jan 1951 in Queensland) records 2708/1871; B030481

04. Percival Wrentmore (b. 15 Nov 1874 in Yass, d. 26 Sep 1941) record 21921/1874

05. Marion Louise (b. 1876, d. 22 Jan 1945 in Roseville, Sydney) record 22837/1876

06. Harold Frederick (b. 29 Dec 1878, d. 17 Jan 1951 in Albury, NSW)

07. Annie Eda (b. 1880, d. ?) Yass record 14290/1880

08. Ethel M (b. 1886, d. 02 May 1894 in West Maitland) birth record 25821/1886, death record 7929/1894.

Generation 2

01. William Henry Ernest Johnson was known as Ernest. He became a solicitor in Goulburn aged only 22.

He first married Caroline Mary Harris in St Saviour’s Cathedral Goulburn on 18 Jul 1894 (see The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, Sat 04 Aug 1894). They had one son who passed away aged 4½ months – see the Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Thu 13 Jan 1894.

01. Robert William (b. 1897, d. 02 Jan 1898)

Caroline may have been unwell at the time of his birth because within a couple of weeks she succumbed to pneumonia, passing away on Tue 07 Sep 1897 (see the Evening News, Wed 08 Sep 1897); probate was granted on Apr 14 1898.

Ernest next married Fanny Caroline Hall on 11 Apr 1900 in St Johns Church of England, Ashfield (see the Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Sat 14 Apr 1900). The couple had three children:

02. Richard Mercer (b. 01 Aug 1902 in Goulburn, d. 29 Jun 1980 in Goulburn)

03. Helen Margaret (b. 18 Apr 1904, d. 1993)

04. James Philip (b. 01 May 1906 in Goulburn, d. 05 Apr 1949 in Bathurst)

Ernest was a well known identity in Goulburn and, as a solicitor, his name is reported in many newspaper articles.

His wife Fanny passed away on 24 May 1937 in Goulburn. Her obituary appeared in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post on Mon 24 May 1937:

Death Announced

The death occurred of Mrs. E. W. Johnson of “Lawrenny,” North Goulburn, this morning. Mrs. Johnson had been ill for several months, and was operated on in February of this year in Sydney. She was brought home by ambulance about five weeks ago.

Before her marriage, Mrs. Johnson was Miss Fanny Caroline Hall, and she was the daughter of the late Mr. Victor Branchcombe Hall, of Lake Bathurst, where she was born 69 years ago. He was a son of Mr. E. Smith Hall, known as “Monitor” Hall, in the Sydney of those days, as the was the owner of the opposition paper to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Monitor, which the Herald ultimately bought.

Mrs. Johnson was married about 37 years ago. She leaves a widower, Mr. E. W. Johnson, two sons, Mr. Richard M. Johnson, of Goulburn, and Mr. James Johnson, of Banley Grove, Bathurst, and a daughter, Mrs. Bruce (Helen) Stevenson, of Bathurst.

Mrs. Johnson was secretary of the C.W.A. since the formation of the branch. She was also as member of the Goulburn branch of the N.S.W. Benevolent Society, of which society her grandfather, Mr. E. Smith Hall, was the founder. Her loss to the Goulburn branch of the C.W.A. will be a serious one, which it will be hard to fill. She was held in the warmest regard by all the members. Mrs. Johnson, with the exception of a year or two at Ashfield, in her young days, has lived in this district all her life. She took a keen interest in the work of the church, both St. Nicholas’ and St. Saviour’s Cathedral, and all her life had been associated with the church organisations.

The keenest sympathy of Goulburn residents will be with Mr. Johnson and family in their loss. The remains will be cremated at Rookwood at 3 p.m.tomorrow.

Ernest died of a heart attack on 27 Jan 1941. The Goulburn Evening Post carried William’s obituary on Tue 28 Jan 1941:


Mr Ernest William Johnson, principal of the Goulburn legal firm of Messrs. Johnson and Sendall, and for many years a prominent figure in the life of this city, died suddenly at his home, “Lawrenny,” 24 Belmore Street, early yesterday.

Shortly after he had left his bed yesterday morning Mr Johnson suffered a heart seizure and passed away within a few minutes, his demise coming as a profound shock to his relatives and host of friends throughout the Goulburn district. Although in apparent good health, he had been receiving medical attention for some time.

The late Mr. Johnson, who was Goulburn’s oldest practising solicitor, would have attained his 73rd birth day on March 23 next. He had had a somewhat unique legal career and by rigid adherence to the ethics of his profession over the past half century, had gained the respect, confidence and high regard of both colleagues and clients. By his death Goulburn has lost not only a legal luminary, but a man who in daily life lived up to his religious convictions and in every other way showed himself to be one of nature’s gentlemen.

Born in Maitland, Mr. Johnson came to Goulburn at an early age and received his education at “Hurstville” private school, conducted in Hurst Street by Dr. Sly, who was one of Goulburn’s early schoolmasters. At the age of 13 he showed natural aptitude for the Law and entered the office of the late John Davidson, to whom he was subsequently articled.


In August, 1890, Mr. Johnson, who was then 22 years of age, became a fully fledged solicitor and in the 51 years since had continuously practised in this city. He joined Mr. Davidson in a partnership and when the latter relinquished , Mr. Johnson carried on alone, his offices being situated in the London Bank Chambers, Montague Street.

Some 40 years ago, Mr. Johnson entered into partnership with Mr. A. E. Sendall, whose death occurred on July 23, 1923. Subsequent to that he practised on his own until 1929, when his eldest son, Mr. R. M. Johnson, and also Mr. D. B. Fraser, were taken into partnership, while a year or two later, Mr Neville Sendall, son of the late A. E. Sendall, also joined the firm.

Mr. Johnson, who specialised in conveyancing, established a district wide reputation in this respect and in the early days of his career often made journeys on horseback to Crookwell, Tuena and other centres in order to undertake work for his clients, while on other occasions he made trips by coach to courts as far afield as Araluen.

An astute lawyer and a most able advocate, Mr. Johnson ranked highly in the estimation of the judiciary, legal associates and clients alike in the years when his work took him to the courts. All his cases were conducted with the same quite dignity and gentlemanly bearing that characterised his private life, but for all that he was a keen fighter and one who delighted in matching his legal knowledge against that of an opposing solicitor, His clients’ interests were his first consideration and those who were brought into professional contact with him found him to be a man of high principles, broad vision and sympathetic understanding. To many people the late Mr. Johnson was more than a Counsellor: he was their friend and a friend for whom they had affectionate regard.


His passing has deprived the Church of England Diocese of Goulburn of a man who had served his Church faithfully over a period of many years and his place will be difficult to fill. For a time he was warden of St. Saviour’s Cathedral and served for many years on the Diocesan Council in the capacity of chairman of committees. He had a long association with the Church of England Property Trust and also the Anglican Synod, holding office as chairman of committees. In all those directions his advice was most helpful, while his contributions to debates from time to time were always listened to with the utmost respect. He was also a regular attendant at divine service at the Cathedral.

At one time Mr. Johnson manifested a very keen interest in the affairs of the Goulburn District Hospital and as a member of the board of management and also as honorary solicitor for many years he performed much useful service on behalf of the institution.

It was due largely to his foresight that Goulburn today possesses what has been developed into one of the finest country golf courses in N.S.W. He realised the possibilities of the site and, in association with Mr. G. M. Shaw, a former Goulburn bank manager, acquired the property on behalf of the Golf Links Ltd, the present owners.

To within a short time ago Mr. Johnson was a most active and enthusiastic member of the Goulburn Bowling Club, and during his term as president, the club continues to prosper. He filled the chair most ably and enjoyed the confidence and brotherly regard of his fellow members.

Since February 9, 1911, he had been chairman of the City of Goulburn Gas and Coke Co directorate, and for many years had occupied a similar position with the flour milling firm Wm. Conolly Pty. Ltd. He had also interested himself in the affairs of the Soldiers’ Club, of which he was a trustee.

For several years the late Mr. Johnson was City Solicitor and since 1923 had been a vice-president of the Goulburn Club. During the late Bishop Radford’s episcopate, Mr. Johnson interested himself in the Church of England Girls’ Grammar School in Goulburn and was a member of the board of management.


Gardening was his principle hobby. A great lover of flowers, he delighted to be in their midst and took pride in the well kept and picturesque gardens surrounding his home at Lawrenny. Besides his widow, Mr. Johnson is survived by two sons, Mr R. M. Johnson (Goulburn), and Mr. James P. Johnson (Bathurst), and one daughter, Mrs. Bruce Stevenson (Bathurst). He also leaves three brothers, Walter (Lismore), Percival (Collaroy, and formerly manager of the Bank of New South Wales at Goulburn), and Harold (Albury) and two sisters, Mrs. Dryhurst (Roseville), and Mrs. Johnstone (Collaroy).

Following a service at St. Saviours Cathedral this morning at 10.15 the funeral left for Rookwood, where there will be a cremation at 4 o’clock this afternoon.

Generation 3

02. Richard Mercer Johnson married Mary Gordon Barritt in Young on 15 Dec 1928. Richard became a solicitor in 1928 (The Sun, 23 Nov 1928) and immediately joined his father as a partner. In 1934 he was appointed one of three executors of his father-in-law’s estate; Herbert Edward Barritt of Burrangong, near Young, was a grazier who left his widow and children an estate of £101,406. Richard and Mary had four daughters.

03. Helen Margaret Johnson married Bruce Humphries Stevenson, also a solicitor, in Goulburn on 23 Apr 1931. The wedding was reported in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post on 24 April 1931. They set up home in Bathurst, Bruce’s home town. Bruce passed away in 1973, Helen in 1993. The couple had a son and two daughters.

04. James Philip Johnson married Judith Anne Terrey in Sydney on 02 Feb 1937. He became a grazier near Bathurst, but passed away on 05 Apr 1949, aged only 42. James and Judith had two boys and two girls.

Back to Generation 2

02. Leslie John Johnson entered the Commercial Banking Co as a clerk and rose to branch manager, retiring as manager at Campbeltown after 28 years of service. He married Alice Maud Marshall Bootes on 11 Sep 1895 in St Peters Church, Gundagai, NSW. While a bank manager he applied for land and was allocated about a 14-year lease of 40 acres on the main southern road at 4s per year. After retirement the couple managed the estate Mundarlo at Tumblong, NSW. Leslie died aged 62 following an operation for appencitis. His obituary, which appeared in The Gundagai Independent on Mon 03 Jun 1935, indicates he was well-known and respected in that part of New South Wales. He wrote several letters the the editor on local and political matters.

Gundagai District Loses A Wonderful Man

As briefly announced in our last issue, the death occurred at Welwyn Private Hospital on Thursday night of Mr. Leslie John Johnson of Mundarlo.

Mr. Johnson was one of those people the Gundagai district can ill-afford to lose. He was an exemplary citizen, an energetic man behind any cause for the betterment of the district or for the assistance of any charity, and, above all, he was friend to those who really needed friendship.

The late Mr. Johnson was a well-known and popular figure throughout the Southern part of New South Wales, and in Gundagai, which was Mr, Johnson’s town, his death is universally mourned.

When word came through last week that the late Mr. Johnson was very ill and that he was to undergo an immediate operation for appendicitis, the whole population of Gundagai and district were grieved and, on Thursday afternoon, when the word of his demise reached here, the blow struck knell-like in the hearts of the people, who appreciated the worth and revered the memory of the genial L. J. Johnson.

Born at Yass, 66 years ago, Mr. Johnson first set out to earn his own living as clerk in the Commercial Banking Co., of Sydney. In his 28 years of service, he was in many of the country towns of N. S. Wales. When manager of the Campbelltown branch he resigned his position to take over the control of the Mundarlo Estate at Tumblong, which he successfully did until his demise.

Mr. Johnson married a Miss Bootes, and besides his wife, a son and daughter survive – Mr. Wm. Johnson (Mundarlo), and Mrs. Artlet (Batlow).

The funeral took place at Wagga on Friday afternoon. The cortege left St. John’s Church for the C. of E. cemetery. The coffin was covered with floral tributes, and many Gundagai people went over to Wagga to pay their last respects to a wonderful man.

Alice passed away on 17 May 1945 in Sydney; from the Daily Advertiser, Tue 22 May 1945:


The funeral of the late Mrs Alice Johnson, of Mundarlo Station, Tumblong (widow of the late Leslie Johnson), who died in Sydney on Thursday last, took place yesterday morning, the cortege moving from St. John’s Church of England, Wagga, after a service conducted by the Ven. Archdeacon S. J. West at 11.30 o’clock. The casket was carried by Messrs. John Graham, Wallace Horsley, A. L. Adams, W. Goldson, P. W. Williamson and Harry Fraser, while the flower tray, laden with tributes, was carried by Messrs. Thomas Paton, O. M. Evershed, R J. Hill and John Baker. Interment took place in the Church of England portion of the Wagga cemetery, where the Archdeacon again officiated. Relatives and friends present were Mr. W. L. Johnson (son), Mrs. F. Artlett (daughter), Mrs. O. Barnos (cousin), Archdeacon S. J. West and Mrs. West (relatives), Miss Neta Shields, Mrs. E. Stinson, Mrs. Wallace Horsley, Mrs. F. Horsley, Mrs. Basil Wilson, Miss Helen Blake, Mr. W. F. Bootes (brother in-law), Mr. E. A. Brown, Mrs. Horsley, senr., and many others. At St. John’s Church Mrs. Sutherland presided at the organ and the “Nunc Dimittis” was sung. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. J. C. McDonald, Wagga.

The couple had three children.

01. Edgar Bootes Johnson was born in 1896 at Blayney. He became a clerk before enlisting in the Australian Imperial Forces on 11 Feb 1916. He was killed in action in France in October, 1917; his service record can be read on line here.

02. Ethel Irene Johnson (known as Girlie) was born on 17 Mar 1899 in Blayney and married Frederick Lewis Brooks Artlett (b. 15 Oct 1900 in Glebe. He was an orchardist, and, according to voter registers, the couple lived in The Shack, Batlow, New South Wales in the 1930s. In the 1943 and 1949 registers they had moved to Mosman, living at 73 Raglan St; in the same household is one Edgar Frederick Artlett (b. 1925, d. 2003), described as a student in 1943 and a jackaroo in 1949 – presumably their son. Between 1939 and 1948 Frederick served in the RAAF (Service Number, 267604; his record is not yet availble on line). Ethel died on 10 Mar 1986 at Punchbowl, Sydney; we are unsure when Frederick passed away.

03. William Leslie Johnson was born on 07 Nov 1900 in Blayney. He married Dora Broughton Bluett (born 13 Dec 1899) on 03 Dec 1935 in St Clements, Yass. Between 1939 and 1948 William enlisted in the Citizen Military Forces. He passed away on 29 Apr 1975, Dora on 09 Oct 1969 in Canberra. Their son Adrian Johnson was born on 22 Feb 1937 and died in Wee Waa, NSW, on 23 Dec 1989.

Back to Generation 2

03. Walter John Johnson: not much is known of Walter apart from the Queensland death record.

04. Percival Wrentmore Johnson married Ruth Annie Thompson (born on 04 Dec 1876 to John Gilbert Thompson & Fanny Mary Giles) on 08 Apr 1905, as described in The Sydney Morning Herald on Sat 29 Apr 1905:

The Summer Hill Congregational Church was prettily decorated by friends of the bride on Saturday April 8 in honour of the marriage of Miss Ruth Thompson eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Thompson of Northridge, Victoria-street, Ashfield with Mr. Percy Wrentmore Johnson, fourth son of Mr. and Mrs. William Charles Johnson, of Tregaer, Meredith-street, Homebush. The Rev. R. A. Thompson, B. A., officiated and the ceremony took place beneath a wedding bell of white flowers in the presence of a large number of guests and spectators. The bride was given away by her father and wore ivory duchesse satin trimmed with chiffon and a bertha of rose point lace and a wreath and veil. She carried a shower bouquet of tuber roses and asparagus fern, this and a pearl ring being gifts from the bridegroom. The bridesmaids were the Misses Maud Thompson, Ethel Cormack, Elsie Pratt and Muriel and Kathleen Thompson, all of whom wore white muslin made over glace silk trimmed with Valenciennes lace. They carried bouquets of red cactus dahlias and asparagus fern which with pearl and turquoise crescent brooches were gifts from the bridegroom. Mr Harold Johnson acted as best man and Mr. George Thompson as groomsman. After the ceremony a reception was held at Northridge, the residence of the bride’s parents. The bride’s travelling dress was a tailor made costume of champagne-coloured cloth trimmed with pale blue cloth and silver braid and a brown chenille hat. A number of useful and costly presents wore received.

Percy was the manager of the Bank of New South Wales branches of Goulburn, Bombala and Maitland. Percy died in 1941, Ruth in 1954, both in Manly. There had at least five children.

05. Marion Louise Johnson married Ernest Robert Dryhurst at Mosman in 1900. Ernest died in 1939 and Marion on 22 Jan 1945 in Roseville. They had two children (and possibly a third, William). They were Florence E (b. 1901) and Claude R. (b. 13 Jan 1905). Claude married Silvia Irene Moore Sims in 1932 and passed away on 04 Nov 1984.

06. Harold Frederick Johnson married Florence May Peapes in Sydney in 1910. Florence was born in Sydney on 27 May 1877 and died on 28 Aug 1960 in Albury. There are newspaper references to a Harold Frederick Johnson being manager of the Gilgandra branch of the Bank of New South Wales; a Government nominee on the Gilgandra Repatriation Committee; manager of the Colonial Mutual Assurance Society Ltd, Albury; appointed as a justice of the peace in Albury. They may all be the same person, however our records indicate that at the time of his death in 1951 Harold lived at 596 Kiewa St Albury. Harold and Florence had three children:

01. Betty Griffiths (b. 04 Sep 1911, d. 15 Jul 2001), married John Broughton Barker in St Philips Church, Sydney in 1933. The couple had two sons and a daughter.

02. Nancy Elaine (b. 05 Dec 1912), married Joseph John Vile in Albury in 1937. The couple had three sons.

03. Frederick William George (b. 17 Apr 1917, d. 16 Jun 1944), married Gloria Elaine West in Neutral Bay on 16 Jun 1944. The couple had one daughter.

07. Annie Eda Johnson married Arthur Algernon Johnston, a Sydney solicitor, in St. Clement’s Anglican Church, Mosman on 07 Feb 1903 (The Sydney Morning Herald, Sat 21 Mar 1903):

JOHNSTON-JOHNSON.-February 7, at St. Clement’s, Mosman, Arthur Algernon, eldest son of the late Algernon Johnston and Grandson of the late Captain Johnston, R.N., of Annandale House, to Annie Eda, second daughter of William Charles Johnson, of Tarana, Mosman’s Bay.

Arthur became enmeshed in a public affair with a well known actress. From the Western Mail on Fri 18 Dec 1914:

Sydney, Dec. 10.

In the Divorce Court to-day, Mr. Justice Gordon had before him a petition by Annie Ada Johnston, formerly Johnson, for dissolution of her marriage with Arthur Algernon Johnston, a Sydney solicitor, on the ground of misconduct with Miss Jesse Lonnen, the well-known actress. The suit was not defended.

Mrs. Johnston said in evidence that the marriage took place at Mosman in February, 1903. In September last she told him about something she had heard concerning him and another woman, but he denied it.

Shortly afterwards he said he was going on a trip to the Islands. He was away for six weeks, and on his return, when questioned, he admitted that he had been touring New Zealand with Miss Lonnen.

He promised to have nothing more to do with Miss Lonnen. She said, she would forgive him for the sake of their child.

Ernest W. Johnson, solicitor, brother of the petitioner, stated in evidence that the respondent in September last had, when taxed, admitted that he had been living with Miss Lonnen at a house in the city.

Respondent said: “It is true. I know I have made a fool of myself, but I hope you will not tell your sister, as she has great faith in me. She has not been very well, and if you tell her it will be a terrible blow and break up everything.”

Leslie John Johnson, another brother of the petitioner, deposed to having seen the respondent come out of and go into a place in Macquarie-street with Miss Lonnen. On one occasion respondent walked with Miss Lonnen to the door of the theatre and on another occasion respondent met Miss Lonnen outside of the theatre after the performance. They then went off together in a cab to some house in Macquarie-street.

Mr. Justice Gordon said that, while he had no moral doubt, there was the legal question of condonation in relation to Mrs. Johnston’s admission that she had forgiven her husband after his return from New Zealand. He was not satisfied as to misconduct subsequent to that.

The hearing was adjourned for further evidence.

Further evidence must have been forthcoming, because on 15 Sep 1915 The Ballarat Courier published that the divorce was made absolute. We are unsure how many children there were. Records show an Algernon H. (born and died in 1904) and a Langloh H. in 1906. Possibly the latter is the child referred to in the divorce proceedings.

07. Annie Eda Johnson died on 02 May 1894. Her headstone was brought to our attention by a distant cousin Adele Whitmore (née Tompson):

Thy will be done.
Youngest Daughter of
Who Died May 2nd 1894
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