Category Archives: Whitfield

Bankruptcy

William Whitfield’s 1894 promissory note

Australian immigrants have generally been enterprising but opportunities were always associated with risks which led to economic failure and all the attendant consequences. Some ancestors survived more than one insolvency but others were ruined for life. Insolvency in 1845 did not hinder Thomas Adam‘s building interests in Newcastle and while a subsequent bankruptcy in 1874 through investment in tin mining near Tingha was a setback, he started a profitable saw milling venture at Raymond Terrace.  John Adams was far less fortunate. Being a pioneer of the Alstonville district meant that despite successful clearing of the Big Scrub on his property, sugar growing was in its infancy and processing was primitive and costly. Bankruptcy in 1876 cost him his conditional land purchase. The family fortunes never recovered and a second bankruptcy in 1899 was the last straw. Edward Scrivener, initially a successful draper in George Street Sydney succumbed to economic failure in 1865 and 1869. He never operated his own business again but unlike John Adams’ sons, Edward’s son Frederick Scrivener became a comparatively wealthy man after he moved north to the Richmond River as a storekeeper. Hugh Childs, as a railway construction contractor on the Southern Line, was so mortified that he could not pay his workers in 1863 that he encouraged his sons to become railway employees rather than entrepreneurs. It was advice that sustained the family through the bad times of the 1890s and 1930s Depression. William Whitfield, already a broken man through losing his Pilotage Certificate, escaped his creditors in 1894 by returning to England after the failure of his investment in a Parkes hotel. He died in Hull just six weeks later. His family was left to fend for themselves.

The Mittagong McCallums

From Argyllshire to New South Wales 1776-2004

First published 1997 Second edition 2004

ISBN 0 9578 150 26

Scottish immigrants John and Ann McCallum arrived in NSW as the railway industry was in its infancy. Although John worked in that industry in Glasgow, he established a successful coach building business in Mittagong by the time the Southern Railway reached that fledgling town, providing it with an economic stimulus. Prosperity followed but in time his sons were to find that technology made their trade redundant.  New directions were taken by different branches of the family with varying degrees of opportunity and fulfilment.

Perilous Seas

The Whitfield Family – Ancestors & Descendants England & Australia 1605-2012

Published 2012

The Whitfield family farmed in the Tyne Valley of Northumberland before moving to iron works on the Derwent River in Cumberland where two daughters drowned in separate accidents. Descendants experienced contrasting fates. One, James Whitfield made a fortune on the Australian goldfields before becoming a successful entrepreneur in Workington. His siblings lived and worked in industrial towns and the youngest, William Whitfield became a master mariner in Australia, experiencing a number of misfortunes before returning to Hull, Yorkshire, leaving his Australian family behind.