My maternal great grandfather Robert Eason Cook’s family tree can be traced back to 1837 in Dundee Scotland.
His father, James Eason Cook, was a boat builder and born about 1837 in Dundee Scotland, in Angus, a maritime county in the east of Scotland. On both his marriage and death certificates his place of birth is given as Dundee.
On his marriage certificate to Ann Lord Senior his mother’s name is Isabella Hodges. I have been unable to find his birth record or to find his family on any of the Scottish census records.
He came out to Australia about 1850. His death certificate states he spent two years in NSW and three years in Western Australia and 59 years in Victoria. A direct descendant of James and Annie Lord Senior told me the three years in Western Australia were in Kalgoorlie and he was gold mining there. Gold was discovered in Kalgoorlie in 1893 so it had to be some time after then. He also told me that James Eason Cook was married three times.
I have found a record for a James Cook who came out in 1854. This is possibly but not definitely him. If he was born in 1837 he would have been 17 when he arrived on the “Kurrajong” in Sydney. The “Kurrajong” was a merchant ship. He may have put his age up. If he was 17 that makes him 22 when he married Mary Condon in 1859.
Ship’s Passenger List the “Kurrajong” 14 Oct 1854
He married Mary Condon, an Irish woman from Co Cork, in 1859 at the Church of St Francis Melbourne Victoria. His occupation was given as seaman and his father was a boat builder.
Marriage Certificate of James Eason Cook and Mary Condon Melbourne 1859.
The Condon family came from the townland of Ballynamona in the Catholic Parish of Mitchelstown in the Diocese of Cloyneand the Civil Parish of Brigown in Co Cork. Later another, no doubt related, Condon family from Ballynamona emigrated to Victoria. That was Garrett Condon and his wife Ellen nee O’Gorman and their son Maurice. In the 1901 and 1911 Census records for Ballynamona there are lots of Condons still residing there.
Ballynamona is a small townland and in Griffiths Valuation in the 1850’s there were eight Condon families living there out of a total of nineteen entries. Condon seems to have been a common Cork surname.
Mary Condon came out in on the Star of the South with her sister Bessie on Aug 5 1857. She was aged 20.. A brother and sister Bridget were already in Melbourne.
They lived at Snapper Point Mornington and had eleven children between the years 1860-1879. The township of Mornington developed from the first settlement at Snapper Point. Mornington had a good deep water port and became the link between Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula.
There is a record on the Victorian Heritage database of James Eason Cook having built the schooner “Sybil” at Mornington in 1874. In 1877 The Argus 31 July reported him as standing for election as mayor at the municipal elections. He was unsuccessful. Unfortunately in 1880 he was declared insolvent.
Melbourne’s cable cars began operation in 1885 so if James was involved he may have worked for this company.
Gold was discovered in Kalgoorlie in 1893 and James may well have spent the next three years over there trying to get his finances in order.
His wife Mary Condon died of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1896 in Prahran Melbourne. She had been in Victoria for 39 years, so came out about 1857. She is buried with a Bridget Condon, most likely her sister, in Melbourne Cemetery. Bridget died when she was 22 in 1859, the same year that Mary married James Eason Cook. On Bridget’s death certificate it states she had been in the colony for six years which would mean she came out about 1853.
The sale of the Mary Cook’s farm at Mornington was advertised in The Mornington Standard on 25 Feb 1897.
After his wife’s death James Eason Cook moved from Mornington to the city of Melbourne.
In 1898 he married Annie Lord Senior and they had two children, Margaret Newbury and Joseph William. In 1909 James was living at 385 Swan St Richmond with Annie and working as an ironmonger. The descendant of Annie and James also told me that James Cook designed and built the first rail car (tram) in Melbourne.
Annie Lord Cook was 45 when James died in 1910. He was 75. James was helping to move a grand piano when he died. Annie lived at 28 Clyde St St Kilda for the rest of her long life and worked as a charwoman. She died in 1956 aged 89. She and James are both buried in Boroondara Cemetery in Kew Melbourne.
His will and probate papers are online at PROV.
The eleven children of Mary Condon and James Eason Cook were Isabella who married William Stanley, George who married Louisa Davie, John, James Thomas, Mary Ann who married Robert Alexander Jones, William, Ellen who married David Carrick Trainer, Alfred Eason married Rebecca Elizabeth Putt, Robert Eason married Annie McSweeney (See McSweeney Family History), Thomas married Amy Annie Drake, and Anna.
Robert Eason Cook was my great grandfather. He was born in 1874 at Snapper Point. He was a clerk. In 1893 he married Annie Teresa McSweeney.
They had four children: Grace Annie Frances born 2 Nov 1893 in Prahran Melbourne, James Alexander Thomas Eason born also in Prahran in 1896, John Walter Clemont born South Yarra 1901 and a stillborn child born on 18 August 1904.
Robert died in Brisbane in 1906. He was working there as an indent clerk and his brother Thomas who was living in Perth WA was also there. Robert was living in Wickham Terrace.
Robert Eason Cook was 32 when he died and was buried in Toowong Cemetery Brisbane Queensland Australia.
Annie was with Rupert Owen Croxton Collier, the son of James Lyon Collier, the long time Clunes post master and native of Northamptonshire England. They had five children and married in 1908 in Collingwood Melbourne. Their first child was born in March 1906 in Bacchus Marsh and Robert Eason Cook died in Sept of that year in Queensland. I think we can assume their marriage had broken down.
Rupert Collier died age 37 in 1916 of the Spanish Flu. Annie died three years later of pneumonia aged 46. I remember being told by my grandmother that her parents had died during the Spanish Flu epidemic. They are buried together in Springvale Cemetery Melbourne.
After Annie’s death there were eight children as orphans. I was told some were put in an orphanage.
The Age, Sat 26 August 1911, has the marriage announcement for Grace Cook and Ernie Wilson:
“Wilson-Cook On the 19th July (by special request) at St Ignatius’ Church, Richmond by the Rev Father Brennan, Grace, only daughter of the late Robert Eason Cook, St Kilda, eldest daughter of Mrs Rupert Collier, Carlton to Ernest Ralph Wilson, second son of the late Mr Charles Wilson and Mrs Mary V Wilson of Richmond”.
When my grandmother Grace married Ernie Wilson they came to live with her and she raised eleven children all together, including her own four.
Grace was married three times. After being married to Ernie Wilson and having three boys to him she met James Knighton and after divorcing Ernie married Jim Knighton.
He was my grandfather. They had two children but one was stillborn. Jim left to live with a French woman Juliette and the marriage broke down. In 1941 Grace wanted to remarry and divorced James Knighton to marry a Scottish seaman Arthur White.
Arthur was born in 1901 in Lerwick the capital of the Shetland Islands, in the very north of Scotland.
They were living together in 1943 and 1949 but I was told he went back to Scotland to see his mother. His father was deceased when they married in 1941 he had been a fisherman. His mother’s name was Margaret Watt. I can only assume he didn’t come back.
Descendant Report of James Eason Cook