On board the Harbinger which docked in Sydney in February 1849 was the 13-member bounty immigrant Wearne family from Cornwall. Joseph, a miller, and his wife Susannah landed with their children: Ann 18 dressmaker, Jane 17 draper’s assistant, Joseph 16 clerk, John 15 blacksmith, Thomas 13, William Carvosso 12, Elizabeth 10 (she died at Liverpool in 1860), James Teare 8, Susan 7, Emma 5 and Charles Wesley aged one. The Wearnes went on to have so many children (11 each was the norm) and so many of them took on a parent’s or dead sibling’s name that, in an effort at clarity, those with known direct Glebe connections have been highlighted in bold type.
A fellow passenger on the Harbinger was Henry Breakspear, a painter, who married Joseph’s eldest daughter nine months after landing. When they wed in the Wesleyan chapel, newly built among paddocks in Chippendale, both parties gave their address as ‘The Glebe’. Ann’s sister Jane was married in 1853 in the same church to Ralph Broadbent, a draper from Yorkshire.
The Wearnes retained their connection with the Chippendale Chapel on Botany Road (now Regent Street) for at least 60 more years. One incident involving a family member is recorded in some detail. In 1864 Charles Wesley Wearne, a nominal Methodist, was in the church with other teenagers at a revivalist meeting conducted by visiting preacher ‘California’ Taylor. He said ‘I don’t feel a bit like going up to the front, but I don’t want to keep the other fellows back’. Stepping out into the aisle, he said, ‘come along, boys!’ and lining up after him in a body they went up and were converted that night.
After digging on the Victorian goldfields Joseph senior set up a bakery and the Collingwood Flour Mill at Liverpool (Wearne Road Bonnyrigg still exists) before his death in 1856. Many of his descendants carried on his trade. Son John and grandson John junior operated the National Mills in Goulburn Street. From the mid-1880s John senior lived at 126 Glebe Road. ‘A very old colonist’ and a JP, he died at his home (132 Glebe Road) in 1900. Educated at Fort Street, John junior lived at 114 Rowntree Street Balmain before moving to137 Johnston Street Annandale where he died in 1909. He owned mills in Gunning, Cootamundra and Wallenbeen – the last rebuilt after destruction by fire.
Thomas was apprenticed to a tinsmith and lived with the family for seven years before settling at Liverpool in the late 1850s. A metal nameplate inscribed ‘Thomas Wearne’ for Anchor Flour Mills held by the Powerhouse Museum indicates that by 1869 he had set up a foundry in Sussex Street. Within nine years Thomas established the Glebe Foundry at 4680 Cowper Street, making tram and railway rolling stock and bridge parts. He let it be known that he could manufacture all types of equipment: brake vans, first -class composite passenger cars, single and double deck tram cars, the ‘Jumbo’ combined car and engine, Baldwin type steam tram motors and Middleton’s consolidated locomotives. Thomas’ firm built iron bridges for railways at Goulburn and at Wells Street Redfern, iron cargo sheds at Circular Quay, and a tramway – track, wharves and rolling stock – from Duck River to Parramatta Park.
After the NSW Government bought the Chisholm estate at Eveleigh for railway yards in 1880 (another Glebe connection – Mary Chisholm had subdivided AB Spark’s land grant at Glebe Point in 1853) tenders were called to build 100 engines as demand for livestock waggons was outstripping supply. The protectionist Commissioners were keen to use colonial labour and materials and gave a contract to build 25 goods engines to Thomas Wearne, also a protectionist, at the Glebe Foundry. After nearly finishing two and preparing the components for two others Thomas, the victim of bank foreclosures, had to relinquish the contract and the four engines were sent to the Eveleigh workshops for completion. Newly appointed Commissioners then sent an urgent order to their traditional suppliers in the USA and England for the rest of the stock.
A devout Methodist, Thomas was superintendent of the Chippendale Sunday School and steward of the Glebe Circuit. He was also a JP and a long-serving member of the Glebe Borough Council in the 1880s when he was living in Elizabeth Cottage 123 Derwent Street Forest Lodge. Thomas junior, an engineer and ironfounder, was listed at 2 Wentworth Terrace, Cowper Street in 1882, at 80 Cowper Street in 1887, and by 1890 had moved to 35 Derwent Street.
Another son, William Jeffrey, was also in Cowper Street in 1882. A coachbuilder, he married Jane Turton of Forest Lodge in a Wesleyan cere- mony at 9 Westmoreland Street in 1884. Their daughter Ruby Eleanor (who became a teacher) was born in 1886. In 1887 the family was living at 103 Glebe Street, but by 1890 had moved to Yule Streetm Petersham – possibly to Wearneville where Joseph, another miller, lived.
Thomas senior died at Liverpool in 1914. In 1870 he had begun making fireproof safes with his nephew William Breakspear who worked with him from boyhood. One Wearne and Breakspear safe was transported to Bingara for use by his brother James Teare’s son Walter, a stock and station agent who went on to become a grazier and State parliamentarian. A Wearne and Breakspear safe can still be seen in the old Court House in the town where James opened a flour mill in 1881. The safe-making firm remained in operation until at least 1913.
William Carvosso was living in St Johns Road by 1882 and by 1895 was set up as a property valuator at number twelve. In 1899, after he had moved to 4 Ross Street, his directory listing was in large bold type, perhaps indicating success. In 1903 he was listed as a general agent at 4 Elger Street. He died in 1904.
A son Frederick Charles, born at Moulamein in the Riverina, became a JP, a commercial traveller and representative for the Newcastle Morning Herald. With an office in the city, he lived in 1898-9 at 69 St Johns Road, moved to 171 Wigram Road in 1900, and by 1906 was at 119 Derwent Street. He subsequently went to Pymble, then Hunters Hill where he died in 1934. Frederick married twice. Frederick M Wearne was born in Glebe in 1897 to his first wife Lucy Caldwell, possibly a relative.
William Carvosso had married Martha Caldwell in 1856 at Parramatta; the following year his older brother Joseph wed her sister Isabella.
By 1861 Joseph and his brother John occupied premises, including a steam flour mill, at 69-75 George Street in The Rocks. (Wearne’s mill was one of the buildings demolished during the bubonic plague scare of 1900.) By 1864 Joseph had gone into partnership at Bathurst Street and 124 Parramatta Street with flour miller James Pemell, a fellow worshipper at the Chippendale Chapel, a Sydney alderman and returning officer for the 1859 Glebe council elections. The firm Pemell and Wearne became the Anchor Flour Mills. At Bathurst Street hot showers and a Turkish bath were provided for the mill hands.
A friend of Henry Parkes, Joseph entered politics and was MLA for West Sydney 1869-74. His private residence then was 398 Crown Street, but he may have moved his household to Arundel Terrace by 1882. He died in 1884 at Collingwood House, Liverpool, leaving an estate valued at £1800.
In 1889 Joseph’s eldest surviving son Joseph Herbert died at Liverpool. (A brother Joseph Henry had died as a toddler in 1861 – it was a common Victorian practice to name children after dead siblings.) The next year Joseph’s widow moved to Glebe.
With her five surviving children aged from 17 to 29, Isabella Wearne settled in Restcliffe adjacent to Tranby Villa, probably to be close to her sister Martha, married to William Carvosso. Isabella’s address was by 1896 given as 58 Boyce Street. By January 1897 the family had moved to Edenhurst (now reverted to its original name Margaretta Cottage) 6 Leichhardt Street. Martha Elizabeth kept house, while sisters Amy Mabel and Minnie Flora were teachers, as was their brother Richard Arthur. Another brother, William Taylor was a chemist; he became a dispenser at Sydney Hospital. Isabella died in 1901. By 1907 William and his sisters had moved into 8 Leichhardt Street; by 1910 they had left the area.
Minnie and her brother William, both unmarried, moved to Collingwood at Wentworth Falls. William died in 1925; Minnie in 1932.
Joseph’s youngest child Richard was educated at Sydney High and Fort Street Training School. He was a pupil teacher at Ashfield and North Granville primary schools before graduating BA with English Honours. In 1897 he was appointed science and art master at Ipswich Grammar. He was a keen geologist. In 1901 he became principal of Ipswich Technical College and from 1918 head of Central Technical College, Brisbane. Among other positions held he was chair of the Local Coal Tribunal, the Wages Board, and the Education Board of Queensland. Hundreds attended his Brisbane funeral in 1932.
In the 1890s clairvoyant Madam Wearne conducted seances and held private consultations in rooms at 61 Broadway. Was she a descendant of the Harbinger immigrants?