George Abblitt and Margaret Hunter

George William Abblitt was born on 25 October 1831 in Ramsey, Huntingdon, England, the son of Thomas Abblitt and Phoebe Edwards. He was baptised on 7 November 1831, also in Ramsey, Huntingdon, England. Thomas and Phoebe had married on 15 April 1831 in Ramsey and would ultimately have seven children, George being their oldest.1

For reasons unknown, George is next found in the justice system, when on 16 October 1848, just over a week short of his 17th birthday, he was charged with larceny and sentenced to three months imprisonment at the Huntingdon County Sessions. His reported age was 18.2 Was this a symptom of someone attempting to make ends meet in an impoverished family, or was George just a troubled youth? At this point these questions haven't been answered.

Ramsey, Huntingdon, England
Google Maps

Either way the stint in gaol did not change George's behaviour, and on 15 October 1849 he was back before the Huntingdon County Sessions, this time for Housebreaking, where it was noted that he had been previously convicted of a felony. He was sentenced to transportation for seven years.3

George was transported to Van Diemen's Land on the Pestonjee Bomanjee on its fourth voyage to the colony. The ship departed Plymouth on 18 April 1852 and arrived in Hobart on 31 July 1852. The master was Ed. Montgomery and the surgeon Daniel Ritchie.4

[July] 31—Ship "Pestonjee Bomangee" 596 tons, Montgomery, from London. Sailed from Plymouth, 18th April, with 287 male convicts; Surgeon-superintendent D. Ritchie, Esq., R.N., Mr. W. Irwin, religious instructor; Guard of 30 pensioners, 24 women, 9 children, 6 adult passengers, 6 deaths, 2 births on tbe passage.5

Upon arrival George’ convict conduct record was created, which reads as follows.6

Ablett, George

Tried at Huntingdon A[ssize]s 15 Oct 1849
Arrived 31/7/[18]52 CoE 7 Years
Can read & write a little

Transported for _Housebreaking_
Single Gaol Report Good
Stated this offence Housebreaking
Stealing a Handkerchief
Pr[ior], at Whitleson For Housebreaking 3 months
Trade: Farm Labourer, can plough; Height: 5’9 ¾; Age: 20; Complexion: Fresh; Head: Large; Hair: Light Brown; Whiskers: Brown [?]; Visage: Oval; Forehead: Med[iu]m; Eyebrows: Brown; Eyes: Grey; Nose: Med[iu]m; Mouth: D[itt]o; Chin: D[itt]o
Native Place: Ramsey, Huntingdonshire Remarks: None
[?] On Arrival 18 mo[nth]s CS less 2 Mo[nth]s
12.7.53 T[icket] of L[eave] [?] (for meritorious conduct)
4/4/54 Ticket of Leave Revoked
31 May 54 TL|Hort[o]n|Not reporting himself|Fourteen days hard labour
T of L Restored 27.3.55 absence &
Cert. to Stanley 24 Oct 1856
2.7.73 Russell Larceny 6 Mos HS Russell
26.1.78 Larceny 3 Mos HS
6/8/52: P.B.
30/9/52: J. Bay
1/10/52: P.B. &. to Constaby
11th P.B. &. to G. Burgess, Oats
4.6.53: J. Ferguson Circular Head
To be granted a T[icket of] L[eave] for merit[oriou]s cond[uc]t CH 9/7/53 filed with [?]

George’s Convict Indent added that he was of the Church of England, and recorded his family as Father: Thomas, Mother: Phoebe; Brothers [Thomas?] and William, Sisters Mary, Eliza and Sarah.7

George Ablett's sentence was reported to have expired in November 1856 in the Government Gazette.8

George Abblett, 27, married Margaret Hunter, 28, on 10 February 1858 in the Stanley district.9 Margaret has been reported as being born on 4 April 1827 in Scotland but no parents are recorded, and there is no matching record in Scotland's People.10 Using the Scottish naming pattern, and keeping in mind that Margaret's daughter Janet had the full name Janet Craigie Hunter Abblitt, a good match for her birth is the Margaret Hunter born on 2 April and baptised on 13 April 1828 in Newburgh, Fife, the daughter of Robert Hunter, weaver, and his wife Janet Craigie.11

Birth and Baptism Record of Margaret Hunter

Birth and Baptism Record of Margaret Hunter
General Records Office of Scotland

Margaret may be the individual by that name who arrived in Tasmania, age 28, aboard the Forest Monarch, departing Glasgow and arriving in Hobart on 21 July 1857.12 A Margaret Hunter arrived two years earlier in 1855 on the Storm Cloud from Glasgow but she was only 16, making her birth year about 1839.13

George and Margaret had the following children.

  1. ABBLITT Phoebe Elizabeth, born 16 March 1859 in the Launceston district (registered as an un-named female at birth).14
  2. ABBLITT William Thomas, born 19 August 1860 in the Launceston district (registered as an un-named male at birth).15
  3. ABBLITT Janet Craigie Hunter, born 2 July 1862 in Perth, Tasmania (birth not registered).16
  4. ABBLITT James Henry, born about 1864 in Tasmania (birth not registered).17
  5. ABBLITT Mary Jane, born 15 Jul 1866 in Tasmania (birth not registered).18
  6. ABBLITT Henry Robert (later known as Robert) born 7 November 1869 in the Horton district.19

George William Abblett was convicted of larceny on 2 July 1873 at Stanley. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment.20

George and Margaret's oldest child, Phoebe Abblitt, 19, married Alexander Walters, 20, on 23 October 1877 in the Horton district.21 Alexander was born on 17 September 1857 in the Horton district, the son of James Walters and Bridget Honan.22 Phoebe and Alexander would have 14 children that have been traced.

In January 1878 George Abblitt was back to his old habit of larceny. The following entry in the "Reports of Crime" publication in February of that year describes "warrants issued and now in this office"..

Stanley. On the 25th ultimo, by G. Anderson Esquire, J. P. for the arrest of George Abblett, charged with having, at Circular Head, on or about the 25th ultimo, stolen a quantity of potatoes and onions of the value of 13s., the property of Michael Finnerty.

Description: 45 years of age, 6 feet high, hair and whiskers brown, eyes grey, stout build, an Englishman. Well known to the local police. Since arrested by D. C. Grubb, Circular Head.23

Reports of Crime Record for George Abblett

Reports of Crime Record for George Abblett

On 26 January 1878 he was tried at Stanley and convicted of larceny. He was sentenced to three months imprisonment. George was recorded as a native of Ramsey in England, had arrived in the colony on the P. Bomanjee 4, was 48 years of age and 5 feet 11 1/4 inches in height. His hair was brown and he had a mole on the right side of his nose, and a mole on the left side of his left eye.24 There is a separate report of crime for the week ending 2 February 1878 that includes the same crime and sentence, that may in fact be the same event, or it may represent another event.25

George and Margaret's oldest son William Thomas Abblitt, 25, married Rachel Louisa Saward, 19, on 6 June 1886 in the Horton district.26 Rachel Louisa Saward was born on 1 September 1866 in the Horton district, the daughter of George Henry Saward and Rachel Williams.27 William and Rachel had nine children that have been traced.

Just two months later Janet Abblitt, 24, married John Archer, 24, on 9 August 1886 in Emu Bay.28 John has been reported as being born on 18 April 1862 in Launceston but no parents are recorded, and there is no corresponding entry in the Tasmanian Pioneer Index.29 Janet and John had six children that have been traced.

According to an Ancestry Public Tree, George and Margaret's youngest child, Robert (Henry) Abblitt, married Elizabeth Ann Smith on 14 May 1890 in Black River, Tasmania.30 Elizabeth was born on 24 May 1869 in the Horton district, the daughter of John Smith and Elizabeth Williams.31 Robert and Elizabeth would have nine children that have been traced.

George Ablett died on 7 May 1892 at Black River, Tasmania at the reported age of 64. He was in fact just 60. His death was registered as occurring in the Stanley district, with George recorded as a labourer. The cause of death was recorded as "dropsy", an archaic term for the retention of fluid.32

An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.

Edema is often more prominent in the lower legs and feet toward the end of the day as a result of pooling of fluid from the upright position usually maintained during the day. Upon awakening from sleeping, people can have swelling around the eyes referred to as periorbital edema.

The Middle English dropesie came through the Old French hydropsie from the Greek hydrops which in turn came from the Greek "hydro" meaning water.33

George was followed six years later by the death of his son, James Henry Abblitt, on 14 October 1898 in Stanley, Tasmania. James was recorded as age 34, born at St. Leonards, living at Black River, with the cause of death recorded as Pulmonary Phthisis, also known as Consumption at the time but what we now call Tuberculosis.34

Death Registration of James Abblett

Death Registration of James Abblett
Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office

The following year Alexander Ainslie Walters, the husband of Phoebe Elizabeth Abblitt, died on 17 March 1899 in the Stanley district. The cause of death was recorded as 1. Cellulitis following injury to hand and 2.Septicaemia. Alexander was recorded as 43 years of age, a farmer at Black River. The event was registered by his brother, W. E. Walters of Black River.35

On Friday last, very much to the general regret, Mr. Alexander Walters, of Black River, died at the comparatively early age of 41. The immediate cause of death was blood-poisoning, occasioned by a wound on the hand inflicted by barbed wire. The deceased was a member of a family long settled in the district, and leaves a widow and large family.36

In the first decade of the new century, William Thomas Abblitt died on 3 July 1908 in West Montagu, Tasmania at the relatively young age of 47.37

The sudden death of Mr Wm. Abblitt, at West Montagu, on Saturday morning, came as a great shock to Stanley residents. Deceased paid a visit to Stanley about 10 days ago, and appeared to be in good health, but a relapse of influenza brought about the above result.38

William was buried on 6 July 1908 in Montague, Tasmania.


On Friday evening Mr. W. Abblitt breathed his last, after about a fortnight's illness. The last sad rites were celebrated at Montagu in the Gospel Hall cemetery on Monday afternoon, the funeral being one of the largest seen in the district for some time. Leaving West Montagu about 1 o'clock a number of horsemen and vehicles followed to Montagu where they were met by a great number of relatives and friends. Deceased, who was always a cheerful and obliging neighbor, will be greatly missed in every way. He came to Montagu when quite a young lad, and resided there up till the time of his death, in his 48th year. He leaves a widow and six children, the oldest being about fifteen years. The deepest sympathy is expressed with them in their sad bereavement. Mr. Abblitt's aged mother is still living, and had lived with deceased these many years.39

Margaret Abblitt, nee Hunter, the wife of George Abblitt, died on 4 March 1912 in Forest, Tasmania.40

John James Archer is reported to have died on 7 January 1923 in Waratah, Tasmania.41 No associated news reports could be found to substantiate that assertion.

Rachel Louisa Abblitt, nee Saward, died on 17 April 1925 in St. Margaret's Hospital, Launceston, Tasmania.42 Delma Carne, who wrote about the Saward family, recalled the following about William and Rachel Abblitt.

Rachel, generally known as Lou, was 19 years of age when she married William, age 24 years, at her father's residence at Montagu. The marriage took place the same day as her father George Henry Saward married his second wife, Mary Enniss. The same minister officiated and the witnesses were the same for both.

William drove the coach between Stanley and Montagu for some years.

Rachel lived at Montagu all her married life and for some years after William's death. She then moved to a farm at Marrawah where she spent the remainder of her life. They are both buried in the Montagu Gospel Hall yard.

Phoebe Elizabeth Walters, nee Abblitt, the wife of Alexander Walters, died on 20 August 1930 in Somerset, Tasmania.

WALTERS. On August 20, at the residence of Mrs. Von Bibra, Somerset, Phoebe Elizabeth, relict of the late Alexander A. Walters, late of Black River, aged 73 years.

WALTERS. The funeral of the late Mrs. Phoebe Walters will leave the residence of Mrs. Von Bibra, Seabrook Road, Somerset, at 11 a.m. on Friday, August 22, for interment in the Forest cemetery at 2 p.m. Friends please accept this intimation.43

Janet Craigie Hunter Archer, nee Abblitt, died on 7 July 1932 in Footscray, Victoria at the reported age of 80. Janet's parents were recorded as George Abblitt and Margaret Hunter.44 Janet was buried in the Footscray cemetery the next day on 8 July 1932.

ARCHER. The Friends of the late JANET C. H. ARCHER are respectfully invited to follow her remains to the place of interment, the Footscray Cemetery. The funeral is appointed to move from her residence, 31 Blackwood-street, Yarravllle. THIS DAY ( Friday) 8th July, at 3 p.m.45

Mary Jane Haywood, nee Abblitt, died on 26 January 1941 in Ulverstone, Tasmania.

Sudden Death:

The death occurred suddenly at the residence of her son, Mr. Henry Haywood, Alexandra road, yesterday morning, of Mrs. Mary Jane Haywood, at the age of 71 years; Mr. Haywood went to his mother's room prior to going to work yesterday morning, and gained the impression she was asleep. Later, when another relative went to the room it was found that Mrs. Haywood had expired. The matter was reported by Sergeant W. B. Taylor to the Coroner (Mr. H. H. Pearn), who ordered a post-mortem examination. This was conducted by Dr. F. A. Ferris, who found that death was due to natural causes. The late Mrs. Haywood resided for many years at Forest, in the Circular Head district, and had not long been at Ulverstone.46

Mary Ann was buried on 28 January 1941 in Ulverstone. An obituary was published the following day.

Mrs. M. J. Haywood,

The funeral of the late Mrs. Mary Jane Haywood, who died suddenly at the home of her son, Mr. Henry Haywood, Alexandra Road, Ulverstone, on Monday, took place yesterday afternoon. The late Mrs. Haywood, who was a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Ablitt, of Black River, lived in the Circular Head district practically the whole of her life. She went to Ulverstone with her only son, Mr. Henry Haywood, some two years ago, and had lived there since. Her husband died some 28 years ago. The funeral took place yesterday afternoon, interment being at the Church of England cemetery. Rev. R. C. Brown officiated. The chief mourners were the son. Mr. Henry Haywood; grandsons, Messrs. J. A and E. Haywood, and daughter, Miss S. Haywood.47

Elizabeth Abblitt, the wife of Robert Abblitt, died on 16 April 1950 in Scottsdale, Tasmania.

ABBLITT. On April 16, 1950, at the Nesm Hospital, Scottsdale, Elizabeth, beloved wife of Robert Abblitt and loving mother of Mary (Mrs. W. Partridge, Nabowla), Phoebe (Mrs. Partridge, Vic.), John (Vic.), George (Forest), Joseph (Vic.), James (Burnie), Rachele (Mrs. Mackey, Hobart), Charlie (Alcomie), Myella (Vic.); aged 82 years.48

Robert (Henry) Abblitt died on 27 June 1953, Hobart, Tasmania.

ABBLITT. On June 27, 1953, at Royal Hobart Hospital, Robert, beloved husband of late Elizabeth Abblitt, of Alcomie, loved and loving father of Mary (Nabowla), Phoebe (Vic), Jack (Vic), George (Forest), Joseph (Vic), Jim (Burnie), Rachel (Hobart), Charlie (Alcomie), and Liela (Vic); aged 84 years. At rest.

ABBLITT. Friends of the late Mr. Robert Abblitt, late of Forest, are respectfully invited to attend his funeral, which will take place on Wednesday next, July 1. Service will be held in St. Bartholomew's Church, Forest, at 2 p.m., prior to interment in Church of England cemetery. Forest.49