Wednesday, October 2, 2013


One of my daughter's great-great-great-great-grandfathers Joseph Stanton was born in Leicestershire, England ca 1792.  He married Mary Cave and they had 6 daughters: Hannah, Mary, Elizabeth, Comfort, Ann and Esther.

It would seem that Mary Stanton died prior to 1841 as Joseph with his 3 youngest daughters (Comfort, Ann and Esther) decided to come to Australia.  They arrived on the "Diadem" on 10th April, 1842 and their destination was the Australind settlement south of the Swan River Colony.  Joseph on the list of passengers is shown as 'single'.  Their hopes were short-lived as the settlement failed within a few months of their arrival.  See story below about Joseph's unfortunate demise at the age of 52.


Australind was the site of an unusual and ambitious land scheme during the 1840s.  In 1840-41, only a little over a decade after the establishment of the Swan River Colony, the newly formed Western Australian Land Company purchased land in the area and surveyed a town site which they named as a kind of bizarre combination of Australia and India.  There was already a horse breeding station in the area and it was hoped that the horse trade would be the beginning of a continuing trade relationship between Australind and India.

The first settlers arrived in 1841 and by the following year over 440 immigrants had settled in the area. Marshall Walter Clifton was appointed Chief Commissioner.  The plan was to divide a huge land grant of over 40,000ha into small farming lots of 40ha and establish an English style village in the centre of this project.  The philosophy behind the plan was similar to that of Edward Gibbon Wakefield who had developed the notion of settlements for ordinary citizens to ease the burden of poverty which characterised so much of English society at that time.  In the case of Western Australia the settlement had the added bonus of providing the infant colony with a much needed labour force.  The settlement was short-lived and had been abandoned by 1843. (see website below giving the full story)

There is a monument on the Old Coast Road in Australind dedicated to the people who came in the hope of making a new lives for themselves and their families:  Here are the front and back views of the monument as well as the plan of the settlement itself:

The inscription on the memorial reads:

"The Australind Settlement (On Wakefield Principles) was formed in 1841 on the eastern side of Leschenault Inlet by the Western Australian Company.  A town site of 1,000 acres was surveyed and the division of 100,000 acres into small farms was planned. Through causes beyond the control of settlers and despite the labours of the Chief Commissioner Marshall Waller Clifton F.R.S. the achievement fell short of the vision.

This memorial recalls the vision.  Commemorates those hardy pioneers who continued to labour here in face of great difficulty and records the benefit Western Australia received from the coming settlers and officials in the ships.

Island Queen December 1840
Parkfield March 1841
Diadem April 1842 (the ship that Joseph and his 3 daughters were passengers on)
Trusty December 1842

Erected by public subscription and the Western Australian Historical Society 1938."

My thanks to "Monument Australia" for the information and photographs about the settlement scheme explained above.

Little is known about what Joseph Stanton did until we find his death (by suicide) on 26 July, 1844 at the age of 52.  There was an article on page 3 of "The Perth Gazette" which read as follows:

"SUICIDE...A man of the name Sta(u)nton, who had previously made an attempt on his life, by endeavouring to cut his throat, committed suicide at the Murray Districts by blowing his brains out with a pistol.  He was in the employ of Mr R. Brockman, and and had for a long time laboured under an imaginary delusion, that his daughters were misconducting themselves.  So firmly had this been implanted in his mind that he proceeded to Fremantle, where they had good situations, and on his return committed the 'rash act'  He himself was at the time in good circumstances, and his children have ever borne unimpeachable characters.  We do not know that any magistrate instituted an inquiry as we believe there was none on the spot at the time of the occurrence.  Here is another instance of woeful absence of some competent authority, whose sole province it would be to investigate these cases, and we confess our inability to give full particulars from any credible data.

It would seem that the failure of the Australind scheme had a profound effect on Joseph's mind which eventually lead to his tragic death.  His daughters went on to have good marriages and between the 3 girls they had about 20 children so Joseph had many descendants in Western Australia.  His 2 eldest daughters married in England and had children but his third daughter Elizabeth appears to have died as an infant when only a few weeks of age.  Joseph's daughter Ann (wife of John Nicholls) was my daughter's great-great-great-grandmother.

If anyone is interested in reading the full story of the Australind Settlement Scheme and why it failed (and it is very interesting to anyone who enjoys history) I suggest you log onto


  1. Wow. What a story. Poor Joseph, and his poor daughters. He must have made life very difficult for them with his false accusations. And sadly, mud sticks so there were undoubtedly people who wondered.
    Life for the early settlers was quite tough enough, without adding mental health problems to the mix.

    1. It's so difficult to imagine what many of our early settlers went through. Fortunately it would seem the 3 girls went on to lead very good lives so it would seem their father's behaviour didn't cause them any problems.

  2. Oh this is so sad poor Joseph and his daughters. It was very hard for early settlers in your Australia it was hard for Canadians too the winters were very harsh. They were very strong and some just could not except the failures and so many failures were back then. I am proud of my ancestors and I am sure you are too. Hug B

    1. My daughter is proud of her ancestors (she even has two convicts who became very respectable citizens). I think our harsh Western Australian summers must have been difficult back then and it took a long time for them to be able to shed some of their clothing to cope with the heat. They had to look respectable in keeping with the times.

  3. If it wasn't for our pioneering ancestors we wouldn't be where we are now enjoying the lives we do....they endured such hardships.

    1. Delores we have a lot to be thankful to them for, but our indigenous people didn't fare too well particularly in the very early years of settlement all over Australia.

  4. So sad that Joseph believed his daughters were doing wrong. I wonder what happened to convince him so firmly that he took his own life? At such a young age too.
    I wonder if it was a combination of missing his wife and the much harsher conditions here in Australia.

  5. One can only ponder what went on in Joseph's mind. He obviously had lost his wife and 2 daughters had remained in England. Even today it is difficult to know what causes depression. Joseph was seemingly doing quite well. I personally think he was terribly lonely and perhaps his girls had deserted him, particularly if to them he had gone a bit 'strange' They would have their own children to consider. It is a very sad story of the failure of the settlement and of Joseph as well.