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Private Thomas Nash (.1808......1864.)

Back to Surnames of the 80th Regiment Soldiers who stayed
  • Born : 1808 (baptized 6 March
  • Where Born : Macclesfield, Cheshire
  • Occupation : Laborer / Soldier
  • Date Arrived :
  • Ship Arrived on :
  • Port Arrived :
  • Rank on Discharge :  Private
  • Date of Army Enlistment : 31 Dec 1843.
  • Where Enlisted Army :
  • Regimental # : 
  • Date Discharged Army : 1842
  • Comments Regarding Army Discharge :  
  • Where Discharged :
  • Died : 2 August 1864 
  • Where Died / Buried :  Melbourne Victoria,
  • Parents Names : Joseph Nash & Sarah Watts
  • 1st Spouse's Name : Elizabeth Sunister
  • Date Married : 17 April 1827
  • Where Married :Malew, Isle of Man
  • Spouse's Parents :
  • Born : 1804
  • Where Born : Lancashire
  • Occupation :
  • Date Arrived :
  • Ship Arrived on :
  • Died :7 / 5 / 1841
  • Where Died / Buried Parramatta
  • 2nd Spouse's Name :  Joanna McSweeney (or Sweeney )
  • Date Married :   1844 
  • Where Married :  Melbourne
  • Spouse's Parents :
  • Born :
  • Where Born :
  • Occupation :
  • Date Arrived :
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  • Died :  
  • Where Died / Buried
  • Descendants

    Caroline Cavanagh

    Thomas and Elizabeth had five children:  
    Thomas served in the British Army, 80th Regiment of Foot, Staffordshire
    Volunteers.  From muster rolls, he enlisted 7 Dec 1825 and served at
    Castletown (Isle of Man, where he married Elizabeth), Chatham, Sunderland
    and Ireland before transferring to the Australian colonies.  He left England
    on 23 May 1836 bound for Sydney.  In Australia he served at Port Phillip
    (Melbourne) from 1st April 1836 to 1839 when he was transferred to Windsor
    and was later discharged on 31 Dec 1843.
    There have been suggestions that Tom served at Norfolk Island but this is
    not proven in the muster rolls although the 80th Regiment did a tour of duty
    of Norfolk Island.   A small hand-made decorated shoe was presented to
    Thomas Nash jr by convicts as a mark of respect for Thomas sr.
    Tom was supposed to have obtained the 'Post Office Block', on the corner of
    Little Bourke and Elizabeth Streets in Melbourne, either through a poker
    game win, or for purchase at 5 pounds, or through trading a cow.  As Tom was
    most probably stationed at Victoria Barracks, it is unlikely that the Nash
    family ever actually lived on the site.  In these early days, the original
    post office was elsewhere but the GPO was established sometime in the late
    1800s.  An 'old tin shed' (trading, at one stage, as a hardware shop)
    remained on the block for many years in the early 20th century.  The
    question of ownership was raised in the 1930s when the Victorian Government
    wanted to extend the neighbouring GPO to take over the vacant block. Bill
    Carmichael (son of Susan) sought legal advice on staking a claim.  No title
    deeds or grants appear to have been passed on to Tom and the Government's
    view was that the site was Crown Land.  The only evidence the Carmichaels
    had was a flimsy hand-written declaration giving Bill power of attorney 'to
    transact all business on my behalf which may arise concerning the Post
    Office Block of Elizabeth Street Melbourne'.  The page was signed by Thomas
    Peter Nash (son of Thomas jr) and declared in 1923, with a JP as witness.
    Bill did not pursue the claim as legal advice stated that although the
    estimated value was six million pounds, the proceeds would have to be
    distributed to every descendant and, more importantly, the back-taxes would
    have swallowed most of these proceeds.   Hence, the land was declared to be
    a Reserve for 99 years, after which it will revert to the Crown if no
    definite private ownership can be found.  Some Nash family have apparently
    researched the Block and claim that it has already reverted to the Crown.
    By 2006 the site had been built upon.
    Following wife Elizabeth's death in 1840, Thomas is said to have been
    allocated a nursemaid for his young children - Joanna McSweeney (or
    Sweeney).  They married in 1844 in Melbourne and had three children who
    appear to have all died in infancy.  Nash family descendants in Mt Gambier
    believe that he took up land at Baccus Marsh after leaving the army in 1842.
    Born Elizabeth Sunister (but surname may have been Simmister, or a
    variations) in 1804 - no baptism can be found although Sunister and Simister
    families did live in Lancashire around the time of her birth.  She died on 7
    May 1841 and is buried in Parramatta (in Australia's oldest [European]
    Elizabeth [Lizzie] Nash - nee Simester / Sinister
    born about 1808 (England); died 1841 (Sydney).
    What would Lizzie Nash think of the impending move to the Antipodes, given
    her husband's announcement that he was being transferred to New South Wales
    with his military regiment?  It was early 1836 and she had married Thomas,
    four years her junior, only eight years earlier when he was posted to
    Castletown, Isle of Man.  Those years saw the couple move to various
    counties in northern England, according to Thomas' movements with the 80th
    Regiment, the Staffordshire Volunteers.  They had three children (whom we
    know of so far) born in England.
    It is not known if Lizzie traveled with her husband when he embarked for
    the colonies in May 1836 or whether she took a separate passage with the
    children.  The first Australian records of the Nashes are in Sydney with the
    birth of daughter Eleanor in March 1837.  Muster rolls show Thomas in Port
    Phillip, later known as Melbourne, in 1837 and by January of the following
    year the rest of his family had followed him.
    Lizzie's life in Port Phillip, whilst only for a short period, was rather
    noteworthy.  Her first appearance in the records was within two months of
    arriving, when she was in receipt of goods stolen by a convict[1]:
    Melbourne Court Register, 12 March 1838:  Mr John Stafford, being sworn,
    states:  "The lace collar now produced is my property.  It was stolen from
    my house.  Its value is about three pounds".
    Elizabeth Nash, being sworn, states: "I received the lace collar from the
    prisoner Catherine Mulane (Margaret 1837, seven years) about seven or eight
    weeks ago.  She brought it for the purpose of making it a present to my
    [sentence]:  Nine months third class in the Factory.
    However, Lizzie was to gain much more notoriety than fraternising with
    convicts.  She ran a sly grog shop from the family's small hut within the
    soldiers' quarters on the government block at the south-west corner of King
    and Collins Streets.  She is regarded as one of Melbourne's earliest
    Dealing in such an illegal trade brought Lizzie into contact with the law
    and justice system on several occasions.  One such recorded incident was
    when she was knocked down by a customer as they argued about an overdue
    payment in the side parlor of Carr's public house.  At that time Lizzie was
    five months pregnant with her fifth child.
    From the Historical Records of Victoria[3]:
    Melbourne Court Register, 26th October 1838:  Special Constable Henry
    Grimaldi, being sworn, states: "I was going my rounds yesterday afternoon.
    On passing Carr's I went in, there were several people in one of the rooms.
    Mrs. Nash and the prisoner Thomas Lowry had some words about a pot of beer.
    I afterwards saw Lowry strike Mrs. Nash which caused her to fall.  It was a
    violent blow.  The prisoner was drunk.  I took him to the watch house."
    Elizabeth Nash, being sworn, states:  "I went into Mr Carr's public house
    yesterday and being in one of the parlours the prisoner came in and gave me
    a shove by the neck which caused me to fall down."
    The prisoner in his defence declines saying anything.  Sentenced to pay a
    fine of 2.
    In the same month, October 1838, the babe Eleanor died and was buried at St
    James in Melbourne.  Four months later the last child Thomas (later to be
    known as Noddy) was born on 2 February 1839.
    By this time, Lizzie's reputation as conducting a 'notorious sly grog shop'
    [4] was well known.  The police attempted many times to witness her dealings
    and enable charges to be laid.  Perhaps the locals were supportive of her
    enterprise, as it was reported that a constable on late night surveillance
    was knocked out by a person or persons unknown[5].
    Whilst Lizzie was heavily pregnant with young Thomas, her husband was posted
    back to Windsor with his regiment.  On account of her pregnancy, and the
    need to care for the other children, Lizzie stayed in Melbourne.  There may
    have been another reason for her remaining behind.  The law had finally
    caught up with her, and she was given the hefty fine of 50:
    A soldier belonging to the --- [sic] Regt. now on duty at Windsor, left his
    wife behind him in Melbourne, with three children, the youngest an infant in
    arms, the eldest about four years old.  The wife has been found guilty of
    selling spiritous liquors and fined 50[6].
    Elizabeth was unable to pay the fine[7] but she must have undertaken some
    form of punishment, perhaps a stint in prison, according to a later
    reference from the authorities.
    In early February 1840 Lizzie applied to Captain Smith of the 80th Regiment
    for free passage to Sydney, a benefit afforded to family of military
    personnel.  Smith wrote to Superintendent Latrobe outlining the situation,
    neglecting to mention the sly grogging enterprise.  Latrobe corrected this
    oversight in his minute to Police Magistrate Lonsdale, asking if it should
    still be considered that she receive the free passage.  Lonsdale's reply was
    a simple and direct refusal.
    From Historical Records of Victoria[8]:
    Letter from Capt. C F H Smith to C J Latrobe dated 8 February 1840:  'I have
    the honour to forward a request from Mrs Nash, the wife of a private of the
    80th Regiment.  She informs me that upon the 28th Regiment relieving the
    detachment of the 80th Regiment, to which her husband belonged, she remained
    behind in consequence of her approaching confinement, which took place in a
    few days after the vessel had sailed.  She now prays that she may be allowed
    the indulgence of a free passage for herself and three children to proceed
    to Windsor to join her husband, who is still doing duty with the 80th
    Regiment.  I beg to state that upon inquiry I find this woman's statement to
    be correct.'
    Latrobe's minute, not dated:  'Mrs Nash having been brought up and punished
    since her confinement for sly grog selling, the Superintendent begs the
    police magistrate to state whether the circumstances under which the offence
    was committed are of a nature to admit of this indulgence being extended to
    her at this time'.
    William Lonsdale's minute, not dated: 'Decidedly not'.
    Somehow Lizzie raised the fare for her and the children to travel to Sydney.
    A move to a new home should bring hope for a brighter future.  It was not to
    be, for as the ship entered the Heads of Sydney Harbour, Lizzie was washed
    overboard and drowned.
    We have not been able to find any corroborating evidence about Lizzie's
    death in any ship's manifest or newspapers.  However, the story of her death
    has been passed down the generations.  In his later years, Thomas junior
    called her "my sainted mother" in recognition of her tragedy.
    A burial service was held at St John's Church in Parramatta and she was
    buried in the nearby cemetery on 9 May 1841.  Her grave is unmarked.


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    Last revised: February 10, 2007.