West family

The West family migrated from Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on two separate occasions. There are three Major Wests in the wider family and sorting out the family stories can get quite tricky. The following image might facilitate an understanding of the West family structure:

The history of this family was well documented by Archdeacon Oakes in Bathurst’s National Advocate on Wed 25 Jun 1930, although there were a few errors in his early reconstruction. In particular, the ages are hard to be certain about, so what we have used are reconstructed from their own census data.

(By G. S. O.)

Archdeacon Oakes, historical recorder of the Australian Pioneers’ Club, is collecting family histories, to be shortly published by Angus and Robertson. He will be glad to receive material, such as original documents and photographs, pertaining to old pioneer families.


Thomas West was 53 years of age when he landed in Australia in 1821. He was accompanied by his wife, two sons and four daughters. He obtained a grant of 700 acres of land, now known as ‘Westham,’ on the Macquarie Plains, nine miles from Bathurst. Later he purchased James’ Park in the Cowra district and Merri Merrigal on the Lower Lachlan, 300 miles from Bathurst. His four daughters all married, one Robert McPhillamy, of Gorman’s Hill, another John Grant of Lowther, near Hartley, another her cousin, Major West, of Macquarie Plains, and a fourth married Henry Fulton, a son of a clergyman, at Penrith, and lived on his property, Jerula, near Cowra. The chief Industry in those days was cattle breeding. The first cattle came from the Cape, and were of the black variety. When Governor Macquarie left in 1833 there were 109,000 head of cattle in the colony, many of these went wild and were shot, and the rest were not of much value. Thomas West died on June 12, 1852, aged 88 years, leaving his property to the eldest son Joseph West. Joseph West married Miss Peisley of Parramatta. One son, Alexander, was a solicitor in Bathurst, and the other three followed pastoral pursuits. Another son Alfred Robert West lived at Waverley and attained his 87th year. His son Harry O. West, was a resident of Orange and now resides in Sydney. Joseph West died at ‘Westham’ in 1875 at the age of 75 years. One of his daughters married Sylvanus Daniel, of Wellington, and died in her 88th year. Another married George Pinnock, solicitor, of Bathurst. Another married George Chambers solicitor of Maitland. Mrs. Alfred West was a daughter of William Ousby of Cowra. Mr and Mrs A. West had seven sons and five daughters all of whom with one exception, lived to grow up. Mrs. West is now 82 years of age and enjoying excellent health. She and her husband lived in the Cowra district for 50 years, and had some exciting experiences during the bushranging days. Thomas, brother of Alfred West, represented Carcoar in Parliament. What interests us most is noting the sturdy stock, from which these old families sprang and the great age to which they lived, despite the hardships and privations of the early days when the journey from Sydney to Cowra was by bullock team, and occupied six months. There were men nowadays who undertake it in as many hours, not to mention aeroplanes, which could easily go there and back in one day. The pioneers blazed the track, and it is right that their names should be recorded.

The following address was presented to His Excellency Lachlan Macquarie Capt. General, and Governor in Chief of New South Wales:-

On Friday, July 13, 1821, Governor Macquarie on his return from a tour of inspection in Van Dieman’s Land, was presented with an address at Parramatta as follows.- We, the clergy, magistrates, public officers and holders, principal and free inhabitants of New South Wales, do offer our earned and unfeigned congratulations to your Excellency on the safe return to Sydney, of yourself and your family from your tour of inspection in Van Diemen’s Land.

Among the signatures appear those of Henry Fulton, John MacHenry, John West. Thomas West, Major West, surgeon: Charles Throsby, Edward Wolstonecraft, Thomas Raine and R. Mansfield, Wesleyan Missionary. This is also of interest because it was the first time the brothers John and Thomas were mentioned after arrival in N.S.W. in the year 1821.

The following particulars of the West family have been supplied by Miss M. K. West, the Matron of the Royal North Shore Hospital of Sydney and confirmed of records in Land Titles Office and Mitchell Library and other sources. The West family originally came from Londonderry, Ireland. Dr. Major West came to New South Wales, as surgeon of the Frances & Eliza about 1815. He had a grant of 900 acres called Muff Farm, between Cabramatta and Prospect. His brothers John and Thomas did not arrive till 1821 and settled near Baulkham Hill Parramatta. Major West opened the first infirmary at Parramatta. In 1822 he returned to Londonderry and died there.

As a matter of interest the following is a copy of the letter in Historical Records. It is written from Downing Street from Lord Bathurst to Governor Macquarie, dated October 20, 1814.- “Sir, Having received a very favorable report of the character and professional abilities of Mr. Major West, who proceeds to N.S.W. as surgeon of the convict, ship ‘Frances Eliza,’ and who is desirous of settling in the colony, I am to desire that in the event of a vacancy occurring in the medical establishment at Van Diemen’s Land, you should appoint him to act as an assistant surgeon in these settlements and that in the meantime you do instruct Lieutenant Governor Davie to give Mr West a grant of land and the usual privileges allowed to free settlers in Hobartown of Port Dalrymple, according to the place where he may be inclined to establish himself.”

Major West’s family consisted of three sons and one daughter. Major married Margaret Perry, and his grand daughter, Miss Baldock, married A. J. McDonald, late of Bathurst. Another son, Joseph (Tertius) married a daughter of Sir William Egan, and by a second marriage, Martha Oakes, of Parramatta. John married Ellen Agar Hansard. His daughter, Kate Louise, married George Thompson, of Adelaide and another, Sarah Maude, married Canon Dunstan of Mudgee. Ellen Edith married William Henry Garnsey, of Forbes.


John and Thomas West senior who came to New South Wales in 1821, acting on the advice of Lieutenant Lawson, applied for grants of land at Bathurst with the following result. John West, 700 acres, adjoining Dockaine. The whole property was known as Macquarie Plains. Thomas West had 700 acres adjoining, which he called Westham. At one time West Bros owned 13,400 acres of Macquarie Plains, extending from the top of the Four Mile Hill and including the river flats to O’Connell. Major West also owned a cattle station on the Lachlan, called Yowale, and another on the Paroo in Queensland. John West’s original homestead is still standing on the banks of Macquarie River. He had 5 sons, William, Joseph, James, John, and Major amongst whom his land was divided. The houses were built of mud, with shingled roofs, and were warm and comfortable. They raised cattle and sheep and bred good horses. Wheat and oats were cultivated, besides orchards containing a variety of fruit trees. Charles James West, who still lives at Macquarie Plains, is a son of Major West Junior, and a grandson of John West Senior. He was born at the old homestead in 1848, and in his day was a noted cricketer, one of his most noted achievements being that he bowled W. G. Grace out on two different occasions. He was educated at the Hermitage, Bowenfels and was a foundation scholar of Newington College, Parramatta River. His son, Arthur Thompson West was born at Euarra, and was elected a member of the Australasian Pioneers’ Club, Sydney in 1927.

In 1850 before the gold rush at Forbes, the three sons of Major West Senior owned cattle stations on the Lachlan viz, Binda, Nanima and Omar, Major West Junior survived his brothers Joseph and John, and was a wealthy man at the time of his death.


There were the Lawsons at Macquarie House, the Streets at Woodlands, the Mackenzies, at Dockairne and Milbank, the Lords, at Littlebourne, the Cox family at Hereford, the Hawkins, at Blackdown, the Pipers at Alloway Bank, and Westbourne, the Rankens at Saltram, the Suttors at Brucedale the Stewarts at the Mount the Lees at Claremont, and the Kites and Cousins at Kelso. When these families visited each other, they were obliged to ride or drive. Mrs. Major West, Junior, was an expert horsewoman, and both before and after her marriage, broke in her own horses, and would ride the most obstinate buck-jumper. The original name of the railway station, Macquarie Plains was changed to Brewongle on May 29, 1880 and the view from there is one of the most beautiful between O’Connell and the lovely City of the Plains.


There were not many ministers of religion at Bathurst at that time. The Rev. Thomas Hassall was much beloved by the people of the plains, O’Connell, and Macquarie, and when he was removed to Camden in 1827, the principal settlers, and others in the district signed a testimonial which was presented to him, showing their high appreciation of his work amongst them and particularly his influence with rising generation. Amongst others signing are to be found the names of John West Senior, John West Junior. Joseph West Senior and Joseph West Junior, Thomas West Senior.

Holy Trinity Church was later built at Kelso, 6 miles distant from Macquarie Plain. The names of several of the Wests, amongst them John Senior and Thomas Senior appear on the first Church Council there.

(Signed), BATHURST

The article above indicated that Major West returned to Londonderry in 1822 and died there. However, there is a Major West who married Sarah Keeling/Keiling in 1825 (record 143/1825 V1825143 127). Also in the 1828 census, Major West, shown as a surgeon who arrived on board the Fr & Eliza in 1815, is married to a Sarah Jane; Sarah is shown as arriving in 1820 on board the Janus, a convict transported for 7 years. She was assigned as a housekeeper for Major West; her age is shown as 23, giving her year of birth as 1805. Major’s age is shown as 36, suggesting his year of birth to have been 1792. He died, aged 55, in 1832 (record 1525/1832 V18321525 16)

Dr Major West’s trip to Australia in 1815 was eventful. The following is an excerpt from Free Settler or Felon: Convict Ship Francis and Eliza 1815:

… On 4th January 1815 off the Coast of Madeira the Francis and Eliza having parted from the convoy in a storm, was taken by the Warrior privateer. She was plundered before being given up and allowed to continue on the journey.

In correspondence written from Santa Cruz dated 13th January 1815, and printed in the Caledonia Mercury on 27 February 1815 some of the details were revealed…..The case of the convict ship Francis and Eliza affords a new proof of the total disregard in which the Americans hold the rights and usages of civilized nations, while in a state of hostility with one another. Their conduct towards the above mentioned vessel would disgrace a Barbary corsair, and violates every principle of international faith, generosity, and forbearance which their magnanimous President so clamorously affects to advocate. The Francis and Eliza was captured on the 4th instant off Madeira, by the American privateer Warrior, of New York, Captain Champlin, and instantly stripped of all her arms, rigging, provisions, medicines, charts, stores, and in short of everything necessary for pursuing her voyage to NSW.

These marauders even plundered the Captain and passengers of their clothes. They then put on board the master and crew of the brig Hope, Robert Pringle, from Greenock to Buenos Ayres, and, after setting the convicts at liberty, and throwing their irons into the sea, left the Francis and Eliza to her fate. The scenes of horror that ensued, it would be impossible to describe. They were everything that depravity, desperation and inebriety could produce. The Captain’s life was repeatedly attempted, and conspiracies to scuttle and blow up the ship and to set her on fire, were happily discovered and frustrated.

The Sydney Gazette later reported – Captain Harrison was removed on board the privateer, and detained many hours but was afterwards liberated and restored to his own ship. His private losses were very severe, as are those also of Mr. West, the ship’s Surgeon, from whom an investment of a thousand pounds value was wholly taken, together with most of his wearing apparel, surgical instruments, and the ship’s medicine chest, which latter loss, but for the favour of Providence, might have been followed by the most fatal consequences to the numerous persons on board. Having also taken out all the arms and ammunition, they left her to her fate. The prisoners no longer submitted to the restraints, but nevertheless conducted themselves with the most exemplary propriety, dividing themselves into watches, and performing the duty of the vessel at a time when we are sorry to say the ship’;s company themselves had to an alarming number become refractory and insubordinate.

The spirits and other liquors were treated as common plunder, and the most dreadful scene of riot and intemperance prevailed, until their arrival at Santa Cruz, in the island of Teneriffe, on the 10th of January and the ship having been several times set on fire. Here the Captain received every friendly attention from Mr. Duplex, Chief consul, who thought it prudent to impose a ten days quarantine upon the vessel, but took the necessary means to restore good order, which was the better accomplished by the transfer of the most disorderly of the crew to a King’s ship then lying there. At Teneriffe she rejoined the Canada, which had had the better fortune to escape the vigilance of the American cruisers and under convoy of the Ulysses frigate went with her to Senegal next to Goree and afterwards to Sierra Leone. [1]

It was reported later that the surgeon of the Warrior had deprived Major West of a valuable electrifying machine as well as his other medical supplies. The above version was refuted in the American newspapers. The Nile Weekly Register printed the following article….

An article, copied from a London paper of February 27, is running the rounds of the American prints, containing the most flagrant falsehoods, respecting the capture of the English ship Francis and Eliza, on the 4th of January last, by captain Champlin of the privateer Warrior. Captain Champlin assures us, that so far from releasing the convicts, (as there stated) he found them in a state of mutiny and insurrection, and supplied the captain with a guard to suppress it. He also put a crew on board of her, (of British prisoners he had captured) which made her number of seamen superior to that of the convicts. No plunder, whatever, was permitted, and she was left with a bountiful supply of everything, proper for a three months’ voyage, with Madeira only 50 miles to leeward, where any succors could have been procured.(Nile Weekly Register, p. 173) …

The extended family can be followed on their Australian Royalty page. Click each of the three brothers to view their family, and click each child to see their bio data.

What follows is a summary of this information.

Family of John West & Martha Ross

01. Joseph (1800-1875)

02. William (1803–16 Mar 1882)

03. John (1805-?1900)

04. James (1808-1896)

05. Major (1810-1863) married his first cousin Susannah West, but known as Sarah

An obituary of James West was published by the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal on Wed 22 Jul 1896 [his death age is incorrect]:

Death of a Centenarian.

Another of the few remaining links binding the early days of the colony to those of the present has been snapped asunder by the death of Mr. James West, of Macquarie Plains, at the age of 104 yrs. Mr. West was one of four brothers who came to the district early in the twenties, and had continued to reside in the vicinity of Bathurst for a period of 75 years. He never married, but lived with his brother, the late Major West, and subsequently with Mrs. Major West. He has always lived a retired life, and for the last quarter of a century has been little known outside a very limited circle of friends. He retained his faculties to the last, and the accounts given by him of some of the earlier events of colonial history were interesting in the extreme. He often referred to the Irish rebellion of 1798, of which event he had a lively recollection. About a fortnight ago he met with an accident, having fallen in his bedroom and broken his thigh. Every care was bestowed upon him, but he never recovered the shock to the system and died yesterday morning. He was buried to day in the Wesleyan Cemetery at Macquarie Plains, the Rev. W. G. Taylor officiating. The three brothers of the deceased will be remembered by some of the older inhabitants. They were; Mr. Major West, Mr. William West, and Dr. West. The widow of Mr. Major West is still living and, with her sister, often drives into town. Her son, Mr. Charles J. West, is a grazier at Macquarie. The families of the other brothers are scattered over the different colonies.

Family of Thomas & Elizabeth West

01. Joseph (18061875) married Sarah Hannah Peisley on 25 Apr 1829 at Parramatta; there were 9 children.

02. Frances Jane (18081868) married Henry Matthias Fulton on 02 Jan 1827 in Sydney

03. Elizabeth (18121885) married John Grant in 1833; there were 3 children.

04. Ann (18141891) married Levi Stonestreet in 1835; there were 7 children.

05. Susannah  (18171898) known as Sarah, married 05. Major West (see above)

06. Catherine  (18201896) married Robert McPhillamy (record not found to date)

07. James  (18221886)

Family of Dr Major West & Sarah Keeling

01. Major  (18211890)

02. Joseph  (18231891) married Martha Oakes on 11 Apr 1867

03. John  (1824–20 Dec 1884)

04. Sarah Jane (18261917)

Generation 2 – family of Major West & Sarah West

Major West married (Susannah) Sarah West on 03 Feb 1840 at The Grange, Brewongle near Bathurst. (Note that on 01 Sep 1879 Macquarie Plains was renamed Brewongle) There were 9 children.

01. Edward Major (b. 23 Sep 1840, d. 24 Jul 1926 in Mosman)

02. Elizabeth Ann (b. 1842, d. 19 Nov 1892 in Macquarie Plains)

03. Henry Ross (b. 1844, d. 02 Apr 1852 in Macquarie Plains)

04. Samuel James (b. 1846, d. 02 Apr 1847 in Macquarie Plains)

05. Charles James (b. 1838, d. 1935 in Bathurst)

06. Ellen F (b. 07 Feb 1851, d. 18 Mar 1937 in Ballina)

07. Agnes Jane (b. 09 Jun 1853, d. 1925 in Chatswood)

08. Sarah Selena (b. 1855, d. 1862)

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