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The Pockley family: Family of Robert Pockley (born 22-05-1795)

Back now to Robert Pockley and his wife Sarah. Their first child Robert Francis, was born in Deptford on 10 March, 1823. The bride and her babe must then have endured a long period alone, while the mariner was away, because the second child was not born until December, 1829; their last child was born in 1841.

By 1832 Robert Pockley had become Master of the ship Matilda, a vessel of 483 tons, built at Kings Yard in 1819 for the South Seas trade. In the Matilda Pockley made a remarkable and record voyage to the South Seas of only 11 months and a few days. When the whaler anchored in the Thames, on his return to England the owner, who had expected the trip to have taken the usual three years, hurried out to the ship's side. "What the hell brings you back, Pockley? " "Full ship, Sir." "Full of what?" "Full of oil, Sir, water barrels and all."

Lloyd's register 1840-43 shows the brig William Fulcher, 225 tons built in 1839, and sailing between London and the West Indies, as owned by Pockley. He ultimately became Commodore of Green's Whaling Fleet, and died at Madras on 4 July, 1844, aged 49; he was Master of the Fulcher at the time. His widow died on 7 May, 1862.

When dealing with the children of Robert and Sarah Pockley, since obviously the story of my grandfather is considerably longer than that of his brothers, I propose to deal with them first.

William Henry, the second child, was born on 29 December, 1829. He married Elizabeth Ballard, and also followed the call of the sea. His elder brother, who had arrived in Sydney when William was only 13, had quickly realised the potentials of the new land, had determined to make his own home and life here, and lost no time in urging the others to follow him. Their father died when William was 15, and he arrived out here in time to be a witness at his brother's wedding in 1854.

In the Evening News of 26 October, 1901, there appeared an article quoting extracts from papers of 50 years ago. On 2 October, 1851, the brig Two Friends left Adelaide for Sydney, and had on board a steward named Charles Robson. When the vessel arrived in Sydney on 17th, Captain Farmer charged Robson with insubordination on the high seas. He said that on the voyage Robson was "frequently in a beastly state of intoxication". Two days before, when the Captain gave him "a necessary order, he broke out with the most violent and threatening language, collared the Master, and in his rage smashed 20 plates, and said he would not die happy till he had the Captain's life blood. He rushed upon Mr. Pockley, the First Officer, saying he would rip his heart out, interlarding every other word with the most recherche expressions. Great credit is due to Mr. Pockley for his extreme forbearance". The article went on: "The prisoner in his defence pointed to his head, and a sorry sight it was; where the eyes should be, nothing could be seen but the garnishing round about. Gentle as a lamb, and in the most elegant strains, he poured forth his grievances. Plates, chairs, tables, spoons, forks, and whatever else came handy, the Captain and Mate were ever pelting him with, which was the cause of appearing before His Worship in such a disfigured state. Mr. Pockley then mentioned how the prisoner met with his disfigurements. A few days before coming in to harbour, while carrying some crockery on deck after dinner, drunk as usual, he suddenly disappeared, and on looking down the hold, there he lay, with the dinner things around him, and when carried up, both his head and eyes showed the effects of the fall, from which he was now suffering. " Robson got "Thirty Days Hard Labour".

In November, 1855, William arrived in Sydney from Melbourne as Master of the 90-ton steamship Breadalbane; she had a crew of 13. He joined the P. & O. Coy, and was Chief Officer of the Nubia when she arrived in Sydney in 1871; two months later he was back, "still suffering from his bad leg". By April, 1877, he was in command of the Tangore and later that year of the China.

The Daily Telegraph of 6 June, 1899, reported:

"A Sensational Story".

"Probably the most sensational of all the gold robberies from ocean-going vessels was that recorded 22 years ago, when 5000 sovereigns were lost. The incidents surrounding the robbery made up one of the most extraordinary chapters in the annals of crime". One Martin Wieberg, a ship's carpenter, was convicted of extracting the gold, using special tools to cut round the seals of the boxes in the ship's store-room. He did such a neat job that the robbery escaped detection until the ship, the China, reached Ceylon.

In those days the mail steamers proper made Melbourne their terminal port. The Avoca belonged to the P. & O. Coy, and was employed on the Sydney-Melbourne run, to connect with the mail steamers. At the time of the robbery, William Pockley was Captain of the Avoca. The Melbourne police got word of the robbery on 4 September, 1877, and for some time were puzzled as to whether the gold, belonging to the Oriental Bank of Sydney, had been stolen on the voyage of the Avoca from Sydney to Melbourne,' when it was trans-shipped to the China, or on the China itself. When the Avoca returned to Melbourne, a vigorous but fruitless search of the ship was made for the gold. The P. & O. Coy. sent out a special officer from London to investigate, and this resulted in the dismissal of the Chief Officer of the China, and the carpenter, Wieberg. Pockley and the Chief Officer of the Avoca were also dismissed, on the grounds, as it was alleged, that they had gone ashore at Melbourne, contrary to the rules of the Company, which stated that the Captain must not leave his ship while any treasure remained on board. Pockley accepted his dismissal quietly, but the Chief Officer of the Avoca went to London and laid an action for damages against the Company, with the result that he received substantial compensation, believed to be about £2,000.

When Wieberg was dismissed, he married a barmaid, and settled at Tarwin, on the Gippsland Lakes. He was arrested in October, 1878. His wife had somehow learned her husband's secret. They quarrelled and she told her mother, who gave him away to the police. One thousand sovereigns were found in a tin of fat, and more in a carpenter's plane. He told the police that if they would take him to Tarwin he would show them where a further 1800 were. This was done, and Wieberg, while professing to look for the gold, struck one of the detectives a blow on the head and made off. He was finally recaptured in the scrub several days later. The police found out that he had sent 1000 sovereigns to buy a small schooner to get away in. They found 1600 sovereigns in a house in the suburbs, and 50 more in his wife's possession. He was sentenced to 18 months hard labour. After serving his sentence, he returned to Tarwin, and somehow got possession of a small boat, with which he traded on the shores of the Lakes. Ultimately he was reported drowned, his boat having been found bottom-up.

Some little doubt existed, however, as to whether Wieberg was in fact drowned, for later a strange co-incidence happened. Years later, Dr Frank Antill Pockley was attending a patient at Prince Alfred Hospital. In those days, patients were known by number, and not by name. Dr Pockley casually asked one of the nurses what patients had left the hospital. Several names were mentioned, amongst them that of Wieberg. Thinking of the Avoca incident and his uncle, Dr Pockley asked the nurse what the man's Christian name was. "M. Wieberg", said the nurse. "Did he give his occupation?". "Yes, ship's carpenter".

When the Avoca turned up in Sydney on 14 November, 1877, she was under the command of Capt Almond, and strangely enough, Wieberg was still shown as ship's carpenter. William Pockley was a passenger. He and a fellow passenger, a Miss Buckhurst, went to stay with his brother Robert; Miss Buckhurst had "dreadful Hysterics". They stayed 12 days and returned to Melbourne. He came back on New Years Day, 1878. Grandfather got him a job as Manager of Associated Wharves, but he retired on 14 October, and on 16th he sailed for Hong Kong as Master of the E. & A. Coy's Somerset. He stayed with the ship till Capt Green had recovered his health, and by June 1879, he was out of a job again. He went to Melbourne to attend the trial of Wieberg, and returned to Sydney.

On 25 May, 1880, he left for England in the Aconcagua, and was later reported to be ill there. From London he went to Bombay, where he was appointed dock-master, and he remained there until his death. The Sydney Morning Herald 5 November, 1881, reported: "Died on 12 June, at Bombay, India, W. H. Pockley, for many years Commander in the P. & o. Company, aged 51 years".

William had 2 sons, Walter and Sidney. This was the Walter to whom reference was later made as having outstayed his welcome at Lorne. On 6 January, 1909, the East London Daily Despatch announced the wedding of Mr Sidney Pockley to Miss Mabel Atchison. A fornight later it was announced that the Ladies' Committee of the Searnens' Institute had held a function to farewell Mrs S. R. Pockley who for many years had done much good work, and had acted as Hon. Sec. Mr and Mrs Pockley were wished the happiest of times in the Old Country. It was said that Mrs and Miss Pockley left for Uitenhage where he would shortly join them. This sounds as though Sidney had a sister, who lived with him and his wife even after they were married.

The next three children of Robert and Sarah Ann all died in infancy; Sara Matilda, Sara Ann and John George.

The sixth child was George Fulcher Knott, born on 18.10.1838. He arrived here on 4 February, 1867, aged 28. First mention of him in my grandfather's diaries was on 6 June, 1870, when he turned up from Gyrnpie. He lived with his brother's household, but despite his having done so for years, he never got a mention till some time after he arrived. The inference is that Grandfather did not think much of him, or at least that he was rather devoid of personality. At Christmas, 1890, there were 19 to dinner at Lorne, but "Brother George is here also, but does not dine with us".

Grandfather being a Director of the Swansea Tin Mining Coy. - one of his many mining ventures, on which he lost a lot of money - George was appointed Manager, and left to take up his position on 18 March, 1874.

The mine failed, and he returned to Pictonville on 2 January the following year. In December, 1877, when Grandfather embarked on another of his disastrous ventures - this time a business at Inverell in partnership with a cousin, C. C. Maitland - George went there "to find occupation, induced to proceed there by prospect held out by Mr Maitland". By October he was back again. Then in 1879, when Grandfather had bought a farm at Lane Cove, he was sent there to erect a workman's house. Again when Grandfather bought the Red House, later known as "Brookside", at Picton, George was left there to take charge of the necessary repairs.

Peter Antill has an old sea chest, given to him by my mother, on which are the initials GFKP. It contains a set of old tools, all bearing the same initials. Legend has it that George had an unsuccessful romance in England; he gave the girl much of his mother's jewellery. She went off with that, but without him.>

It should be noted that the photograph on page 49 of the book about the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Sydney Sails, and entitled "Captain R. F. Pockley", is in fact that of George Pockley. The photograph is also in the Mitchell Library, together with one of his brother Tom.

George died on 20 April, 1900, aged 61.

Thomas Ford Graham was the youngest child, born on 11 August, 1841, the day after his eldest brother finally left the parental roof. He arrived unexpectedly at Pictonville on 26 January, 1860, the day on which his 8-months old nephew lay dead. Tom was then 18, and he joined the Commercial Banking Coy of Sydney, which sent him to Yass as an accountant. In 1863 he was a ledger-keeper at Head Office, and in 1865 he was Manager of their Gayndah branch.

In 1867 there was stationed in Brisbane a detachment of the 50th Regiment, nicknamed "The Dirty Half Hundred", commanded by my great grandfather, Gen. Sir Richard Waddy. The detachment was commanded by a Capt. Greagh, who was very keen on fox hunting. Missing the sport sadly, he decided to do something about it. He got a few enthusiasts together, and they started hunting kangaroos with kangaroo dogs. A Gayndah man, Dickie Stuart, had a go at the exciting new sport when visiting Brisbane, and returned to tell his friends all about it. Gayndah at the time was a major centre for horse racing, and the men from there were famed for their skill in rough riding through scrub. Under the guidance of Mr Bligh, the local Police Magistrate, and T. F. Pockley, the Bank Manager, a formal meeting was held, and with spectacular enthusiasm the Gayndah Hunt Club was established. Rules provided that it be run according to the very best traditions of the English hunt - pink riding coats, white britches, hunting saddles, caps, spurs, horns and all the rest.

There was a family tale that Tom was somewhat of a dandy, and on one occasion the Governor was his guest. Over the port on a particularly hot night, Tom summoned his manservant, and asked him if he had run the warming pan through His Excellency's bed. He was assured he had, so Tom dismissed him for the night. When he had gone, the Governor asked if he had heard aright - a warming pan through his bed on a night like that? "Oh yes, Sir, I always have him run a pan filled with ice through my sheets before I retire."

Tom later managed the Bank's Nashville - later named Gympie branch; he managed the Casino branch in 1872, and Murrurundi in 1872-4. He was promoted to the Goulburn branch in 1879 and left there in 1880. After relieving jobs at Gunning and Queanbeyan, he went to Singleton, where he stayed till 1909. He was a member of the Union Club, and I think he may have died there.