Tilson plaque unveiled

June 22, 2017

Descendants of the Tilsons - Vicky, Leanne and Richard Tilson and Max Bennetts.

The plaque commemorates Tatura's Charles and Mary Tilson.

Descendants of Tatura settlers Charles and Mary Tilson - Kathleen McGuire and Max Bennetts.

Descendant Max Bennetts was instrumental in the organisation of getting the plaque installed and the unveiling ceremony held in Tatura.

Descendants of Tatura pioneers Charles and Mary Tilson gathered at Tatura Cemetery last week when a plaque commemorating the pair was unveiled.

About 20 fourth-generation descendants came together to celebrate the couple’s lives after they arrived in Australia by boat in the 1800s.

One of the drivers of the project and descendant, Max Bennetts welcomed those in attendance and introduced Frank and Jeanette McGuire.

‘‘With Jenny’s support, Frank researched the Tilson history for decades; well before the world wide web and,’’ Mr Bennetts said.

According to Mr Bennetts, Frank spent tireless hours researching the Tilsons’ history, and wrote the book At the Hazards of Life, which delves into their past.

Frank and Jeanette’s daughter Kathleen — a sixth generation descendant — was then introduced and she explained how Charles and Mary ended up in the country all those years ago.

In an English court on March 16, 1829, Charles Tilson pleaded guilty to a charge of highway robbery and was sentenced to death, which the judge commuted to life transportation, Kathleen said. Arriving in Sydney on December 3, 1829, Charles Tilson was first assigned in Sydney to a public works convict gang until early 1831, when he was assigned to a settler farmer named Frederick Jones at Illawarra near Wollongong.

In 1837, Jones moved his flocks (and servants) to Tarcutta in southern NSW and by May 1838 Jones received a letter granting Charles Tilson a ticket of leave, which then entitled him to travel freely anywhere in Australia.

Charles Tilson left Tarcutta and travelled to Melbourne in early 1841, where he met Mary Maloney — a migrant girl from Ercourt, County Galway in Ireland.

Mary had arrived with her sister in Melbourne in 1839 as a Bounty Immigrant, aged 18, to work as a nursemaid.

The pair travelled throughout Australia and by 1877 they had settled at their final resting place — Tatura.

An article regarding Charles’ death in December 1891 said he was highly respected by all who knew him and his experience as a farmer and grazier was eagerly sought after.

In November 1900 Mary’s death was published, which stated she had been an invalid for the past three years and her health had declined up until her passing.

Last week family members celebrated the unveiling with a glass of champagne at the Tatura Cemetery where Mr Bennetts thanked everyone for their attendance.

‘‘Let’s put our hands together for our genealogist/historians and for everyone else I’ve mentioned, including ourselves for being here on this most significant day,’’ he said.

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