Damper in a Wok : A Mixed-up Australian Family Tree

Tombstone of Johanna Howell

Johanna Catherine Van TassellAge: 46 years18041850

Johanna Catherine Van Tassell
Given names
Johanna Catherine
Van Tassell
Married name
Johanna Catherine Howell
Married name
Johanna Catherine Collier
Married name
Johanna Catherine Goldsmith
Birth about 1795

Note: Calculated from headstone and obituary.
Birth about 1804

MarriageJohn CollierView this family
before 1819 (Age 15 years)

Note: Date of marriage assumed since their children's birth certificates infer they are married.
Birth of a daughter
Francis Collier
May 2, 1819 (Age 15 years)
Birth of a daughter
Johanna Ann Collier
May 12, 1820 (Age 16 years)
Birth of a son
Thomas William Collyer
July 25, 1824 (Age 20 years)
Note: check reference in Cessnock Pioneer Registrer
Death of a husbandJohn Collier
1830 (Age 26 years)

Religious marriageGeorge GoldsmithView this family
April 19, 1831 (Age 27 years)
Address: St Luke's Church of England, Liverpool
Birth of a daughter
Mary Ann Goldsmith
November 10, 1831 (Age 27 years)
Note: NSW BDM Index:
Birth of a son
George Goldsmith
November 13, 1833 (Age 29 years)

Birth of a son
John Goldsmith
October 3, 1835 (Age 31 years)
Baptism of a sonJohn Goldsmith
October 22, 1835 (Age 31 years)
Death of a husbandGeorge Goldsmith
June 5, 1836 (Age 32 years)
Religious marriageJohn HowellView this family
November 7, 1837 (Age 33 years)
Birth of a son
James Howell
August 18, 1838 (Age 34 years)

Note: NSW BDM Index: (unconfirmed) V18381554 24A/1838 HOWELLS JAMES JOHN JOANNA
Birth of a daughter
Johanna Catherine Howell
March 13, 1841 (Age 37 years)
Birth of a grandson
Thomas William Collyer
November 5, 1844 (Age 40 years)
Baptism of a daughterJohanna Catherine Howell
March 17, 1845 (Age 41 years)

Address: Parish of Hexham, County of Northumberland
Birth of a granddaughter
Jane Collyer
January 11, 1847 (Age 43 years)
Note: NSW BDM Index: V18472177 32A/1847 COLYER JANE THOMAS SOPHIA
Birth of a grandson
John Collyer
May 11, 1849 (Age 45 years)
Note: NSW BDM Index: V18493351 34A/1849 COLLYER JOHN THOMAS SOPHIA
Death November 26, 1850 (Age 46 years)
Note: No entry in Early Church microfiche for RC burials of 1850.
Burial 1850 (Age 46 years)
Address: Site_Plot I 23 Roman Catholic Wollombi Cemetery 1 SECTION I LOT 23 SUB_NUM RELIGION Roman Catholic CEMETERY Wollombi Cemetery SURNAME Howell GIVEN_NAME Johanna Catherine DIED 26/11/1850 12:00:00 AM Interment 1
Cemetery: Wollombi Cemetery
Note: Sacred
Tombstone of Johanna Howell
Tombstone of Johanna Howell

Note: Image courtesy of Reg McDonell.

Last change February 16, 201722:20:30

by: Kerry Choy
Family with John Collier - View this family
Marriage: before 1819
6 years
-5 years
1 year
Family with George Goldsmith - View this family
Marriage: April 19, 1831Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia
7 months
2 years
23 months
Family with John Howell - View this family
Marriage: November 7, 1837Wollombi, New South Wales, Australia
3 years
-3 years

Calculated from headstone and obituary.
Date of marriage assumed since their children's birth certificates infer they are married.
No entry in Early Church microfiche for RC burials of 1850.
Sacred To the memory of ? Johanna Catherine Howel who departed this life on the 26th of November 1850 in the 55th year of her age The Lord have mercy on her soul. Let grief retire to weep alone And pity's rights be sadly paid. To she who lay within the tomb In silence and in dust is laid.
BurialTombstone of Johanna HowellTombstone of Johanna Howell
Format: image/jpeg
Image dimensions: 400 × 600 pixels
File size: 42 KB
Type: Tombstone
Highlighted image: yes
Note: Image courtesy of Reg McDonell.
A wife of the 57th

This is the story of Johanna Howell as best I can make out. Some of this is supported by douments but there is some speculation on my part.

I don't know where Johanna was born. Her maiden name is documented once in death registration of one of her children. While a connection to the Low Countries is implied there is no hard evidence. All three of her husbands were with the 57th Foot Regiment of the British Army. The postings for this regiment offer some tantalising suggestions. The 57th received battle honours in the Penisular Campaign (1808-1813). They then joined the garrison in Canada before being recalled to Europe. They arrived too late for Waterloo (1815). As part of the Army of Occupation in France, they were stationed in Belgium and France. While she could have met the regiment in any of these deployments, the most likely hypothesis would be that she met John Collier during the 1815-1818 time frame.

Being a camp follower was a hard life. They had little official status in the army. They marched behind the army on campaign and when a regiment redeployed by ship, the official number of followers allowed was small. Usually a small number would be selected by lottery to travel with the regiment. The rest would be abandoned. Apart from other comfort, they would have cooked and cleaned for soldiers. Some would have been in service to officiers. Officiers were able to bring their families with them so there was a potential for camp followers to be in service to the officier's famlies.

There is another anecdote (source please!) that says that Johanna came to Australia as a servant to one of the officiers. Given the number of years she had been with the regiment maybe she had the trust of the officiers. While there is no hard evidence for this, we can observe a connections with the Shadforth family. Lt. Col. Thomas Shadforth had number of servants with him when he same to Australia with the 57th although no names are recorded. Johanna remarries after John Collier dies enroute to Australia. Her exact arrival in Australia is uncertain, but she appears in the records as a widow who marries George Goldsmith of the 57th. Lieutenant Henry Shadforth of the 57th and son of Thomas is a witness to the marriage. Subsequently George retires from the army and takes up a selection at Cedar Creek, Wollombi. George dies before the five year term of the land grant expires. Although he had a will the Colonial Secretary doesn't find the terms of the will binding. Despite this, the court was sympathetic to her plight. The land is granted in trust to the Lt. Col. for the benefit of George's heirs, Subsequent to this, tiile on the land is recorded as passing from Shadforth to Johanna's third husband, John Howell.