The Perry Family of Frenchay...

            and Letters from Australia 1865 to 1869

Winterbourne Family History Online...        

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James Perry (1805 - 1896), a baker of Frenchay, and his wife

Esther Belinda (1805 - 1888) had six children as follows...

Emily (1832 - 1927) - she never married. You can read her obituary from the Frenchay Parish Magazine.

Samuel (1833 - 1917) - he twice emigrated to Australia and worked in the gold mines near Ballarat, Victoria, where he married a Scots girl, Jessie Bennet Milne. See his letters below...

James Thomas (1835 - 1862) - he died unmarried, before Sam returned to Australia.

Elizabeth (1837 - 1901) - Lizzie emigrated to Australia with Sam on his second trip in 1865. See her letters below...

Louisa (1840 - ?) - she became a servant and worked for a time in Brislington, Bristol. Most of the letters in this collection were addressed to her. She married William Fox.

Mary (1844 - ?) - it is thought that she was the one referred to as Polly in letters from Australia. She married James Green Bowen.


Samuel Perry and his wife Jessie Bennet Perry, nee Milne.

Read Samuel's letters below, sent from the Australian gold fields in Victoria.

These two images were supplied by Anthony Wilkinson in Australia, and sent in by David Cole. Thankyou Anthony & David.

We are very fortunate to at last have a picture of Sam and Jessie, the writers of most of these interesting letters below.

If anyone has a picture of Lizzie, we would be very pleased to add it here. That would complete the trio..!



In the above picture, the young girl is Nancy Cole, nee Fox, with her Granny Louisa Fox nee Perry, the lady to whom most of these letters were sent.

A visitor to this web site, David Cole, has kindly supplied these interesting letters for us all to read, together with the photo' of Louisa, above, to whom most of the letters were sent during the 1860's.

Thank you David.

     The Letters...

Letter 1 - Oct 1865 from Sam to Louisa, in which Sam takes his sister Lizzie down the gold mine.

Letter 2 - Oct (1865?) from Lizzie to Louisa. Lizzie tells of her visit to Rocky Lead to see Sam.

Letter 3 - Nov 1865 from Sam to Louisa. A fatal accident at the mine has occurred and the American Civil War is over.

Letter 4 - Nov (1865?) from Lizzie to Louisa & Polly Lizzie is living in South Yarra, so this could be 1865.

Letter 5 - Jan 1866 from Sam to Louisa. Sam goes to Melbourne to meet Lizzie's friend Jessie Milne. Could this be love?

Letter 6 - Feb (1866?) from Lizzie to Louisa. Lizzie seems to be trying to make love matches for both Sam & Louisa..!

Letter 7 - June (1866?) from Lizzie to Emily. Sam is to be married at Christmas.

Letter 8 - July 1866 from Sam to Louisa. The claim is nearly worked out and Sam thinks to take up some land.

Letter 9 - Nov 1866 from Sam to Louisa. The claim is finished and Sam has taken up land, but he is not yet married.

Letter 10 - Dec 1866 from Lizzie to Louisa. It is Christmas and very hot. Lizzie advises Louisa not to marry unless she likes him.

Letter 11 - Apr 1867 from Sam to Louisa. Sam has married Jessie Milne and Lizzie was at the wedding.

Letter 12 - June 1867 from Sam to Louisa. Sam compares food costs with those of Home.

Letter 13 - Jan (1868?) from Sam to Louisa. Sam talks of Burke & Wills. Makes no mention of new baby, so could be 1868.

Letter 14 - March (1868?) from Sam to Louisa. Sam and Jessie have a new son and an attempt has been made to kill Prince Alfred.

Letter 15 - Sep 1868 from Jessie to Louisa. Jessie gives more news about son James; and Sam is building fences.

Letter 16 - May 1869 from Jessie to Emily Sam is away building fences and Jessie is looking after the cows and all.

The letters are written by Samuel & Elizabeth Perry who emigrated from Frenchay to Victoria, Australia in 1865, sailing on the SS Great Britain. It was Sam's second visit to the colony, having gone there in April 1853 on the 'Albus', at the start of the Victoria Gold Rush in the Ballarat area. Sam is thought to have been present at the battle at Eureka Stockade in 1854. [New evidence just discovered shows that Sam may have returned from his first trip to Victoria on the 'Prince of Wales' in October 1863 - watch this space for further developments..!]

The Letters tell of Sam's continued involvement in  gold mining, but when the claim runs out he takes up a plot of land and gets married to a friend of Lizzie's, Jessie Milne from Scotland.

Sam was living at Rocky Lead, near Daylesford, about 12 miles North-East from Ballarat. (See 1890 Rail Map of Victoria, [in .pdf format for Adobe Reader] )

Lizzie first lived at South Yarra, Melbourne, but soon moved to Queenscliff, on the end of a peninsula East of Geelong, at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay.

Sam mentions the explorers Burke & Wills, who just a few years before (1860/61) had completed the first South-North inland trek of Australia, from Melbourne to the North coast. They both died on the return journey.

When an attempt is made to assassinate Prince Alfred (the first Royal to visit Australia, in 1868) at Clontarf, Sydney, Sam writes that the man who did it, O'Farrell, is known to him slightly because he was a partner of a shipmate of Sam's at Ballarat.

If there are any Aussies out there who know any more about what happened to Sam & Lizzie, we would be very pleased to hear from you. It is known that Sam & Jessie had seven children and that at least two of them had off-spring. (See the Cole/Perry Family Tree... [in .pdf format for Adobe Reader] )


Latest information, received September 2007 from David Cole, is that Lizzie married William Hall in 1879. She died 2nd October 1901 aged 63 and is buried in St Kilda cemetery, Victoria. She had no children.            Thanks, David.


<< This picture is an example of these remarkable letters from Australia. It is part of letter 5, and you will notice that, to save weight for posting, the writer, Sam Perry, has written in two directions, and has used both sides of the piece of paper!

The writing is very clear in each direction, and is perhaps a fine testimony to the school education he received while at Frenchay National School.

Our thanks are again owed to David Cole for sending this in.

Samuel Perry's first son, James, is mentioned in the letters.

Sam and Jessie had a second son in 1870, also called Samuel. He married Elizabeth Lamprell, and their first son (1896) was Leslie Samuel Milne Perry, pictured here in his Australian Army uniform...

The story in the Perry family is that when Leslie visited them in England during the Great War,  Evelyn Florence Fox, grandmother of David Cole ( see above), took quite a shine to him; so much so that Evelyn named her son after him. Unfortunately, the baby died at birth; but the name still lives on because David Cole himself was given the names David Leslie James.

Now, so that you can catch up with that, Evelyn's husband was Charles James Fox, second son of William Fox and Louisa (nee Perry), to whom most of these letters were sent.

Have you got that?



   SS Raranga, referred to in the letter above.

 Leslie Samuel Milne Perry


Pte Leslie Samuel Milne PERRY
Regimental number 3356
Religion Presbyterian
Occupation Driver
Address Hawksburn, Victoria
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 21
Next of kin Father, S J Perry, 379 Malvern Road, Hawksburn, Victoria
Previous military service 22nd Battery Australian Field Artillery
Enlistment date 10 September 1917
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 38th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/55/3
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A38 Ulysses on 22 December 1917

HMAT A38 Ulysses at Port Said, December 1914


Rank from Nominal Roll Private
Unit from Nominal Roll 38th Battalion
Fate Returned to Australia 8 September 1919

Information obtained from website...  AUSTRALIAN ANZACS IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918