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Brick Wall Solutions - Still Looking for James Henry Trevaskis (1839-?)

In previous Brick Wall Solutions blogs, I have written about my success stories. This time I am writing about a brick wall that has yet to crumble. I certainly hope that someone reading this blog has the answer or clues that I can follow up on. Other family members, as well as myself, have tried many times over the last thirty plus years to solve it but without success.

My gg grandfather was James Henry Trevaskis born in St Hilary Cornwall in 1839. He married Ann Semmens in 1859 in Perranuthnoe, Cornwall and they had three children James Henry Trevaskis (1859), Nicholas William (1861) and Annie (1863). 

In 1864 they decided to emigrate to Australia and arrived in South Australia on 20 December 1864 on board the Rockcliff. They went to live in Moonta where James Henry found work in the copper mines.  Less than three months later his wife Ann died in March 1865 leaving him with three young children. 

Six months later he married Elizabeth Rosewarne in Wallaroo in September 1865. Their first child, Dorcas Trevaskis was born in Moonta in June 1866.

Some time after Dorcas' birth the family made the decision to move to the new copper mines in Queensland at the appropriately named Copperfield, near present day Clermont in central Queensland. Here their second child John Trevaskis was born in June 1868. 

Financial reports of the Copperfield Committee of Works published in the Peak Downs Telegram, Clermont, Copperfield and Springsure Advertiser in October 1868 mention a contractor named Trevaskis employed sinking a well.

Assuming this is my James Henry, then these are the last references to him. Searches for his death certificate or a record of burial have been unsuccessful despite a number of descendants researching this family. No one has been able to confirm his death or explain his disappearance.

We assume his death between October 1868 and November 1873 because his wife Elizabeth remarried as a widow to George Guy in Copperfield in November 1873. So somewhere in that five year period James Henry Trevaskis died in Copperfield. The Copperfield cemetery records have no record of a James Henry Trevaskis being buried there and, as Elizabeth remarries in Copperfield, we assume that the family did not move from there during the five years in question.

Searches of post office directories, electoral rolls, probate and inquest records were also unsuccessful. 

We don't believe that he simply left his wife and family and if that were the case, could Elizabeth have remarried as a widow without an inquiry into his disappearance. 

With the release of the Queensland BDMs online, I tried again with all sorts of name and spelling variations but no luck.

A search of the World Vital Records Australasia database reveals one entry for him in the Queensland Government Gazette, confirming the work for the Clermont and Copperfield Municipality.

The answer is out there somewhere, but where?

Brick Wall Tips

  • Check alternative spellings of given names and surnames
  • Try middle or even first names as surnames
  • Check all available sources
  • Recheck as new resources become available
  • Advertise your 'brick wall' just in case someone else knows the solution
  • Don't give up - new resources and ways of searching online are being developed all the time.



Thanks for all the comments - now to follow up all the clues.



This is an added thought

Check for Mining Accidents between September 1867 and November 1873 where there is a potential that not all bodies were recovered and they not knowing how many remain underground.

Look for possible contracts to dig wells but not paid for as he may have gone to a location to dig a well on his own but had an accident.     eg : well walls caved in and no one knowing location to go check on him.

Without a body a death certificate may (would) not have be issued.

Death Certificate may have been issued but unable to read it to be able to transcribe it.

Also look for any deaths of John Does in the above period.       

        eg : May have died in a location with no id. 

Also look for any John Does that were Hospitalised or Insitutionalised.      

         eg: May had a stroke or accident with no id or not able to communicate id.

Death may not have been Registered but if a religious service was held that record may still be in existance.


Taking into account Financial Reports are for the previous Financial Year then are shown to the Board of Directors and Share Holders then it is published in the papers so your search should start between 1st July 1867 and 30th June 1868 as the WELL was paid for in this period.

To narrow down the starting point for search even further the second child (John Trevaskis) was born June 1868 so you count back 9 months to find the approx. starting point and that would be about September 1867.

So now the search period is from September 1867 to November 1873.

Now seeing that his work was involved around the mining industry of the time you need to look in all places that did Mining at that time.

James Henry Trevaskis could have travelled to Kapunda (or other Locations) to see what work there is available leaving his wife and family behind then send for them later.

 There were other Trevaskis families living around Kapunda (Copper Mining) at that point in time and could have been related to James Henry Trevaskis so he could have stayed with them.

Now then looking in the "South Australian Deaths Registrations 1842 to 1915" there is a death recorded of a


died : 5th January 1868  Kapunda , dist Kap    ( book 30  page 540 )

age : 43y     status : not known     relative : not recorded 

This one is a possibility taking into account they may not have known true  birth date to be able to give correct age.

Possibility that 1839 is not the true birth of James Henry TREVASKIS

I have found in marriage records that ages can be reduced anything up to 20years so that age difference is not notice by anyone that see's marriage certificate   eg : Parents  


Now that will take some

Now that will take some beating - keep at it - just one day someone somewhere will anser your question and open up a whole new query


Have you tried any Police Gazettes for the period, not necessarily in Qld? They're full of misery and desparation, but still interesting.

Or the digitised newspapers via the National Library of Australia: http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/home

Maybe he was on a trip to NSW for some reason and died and was buried there.

Good luck!


Have you considered he may have gone over to New Zealand or taken a trip back to the UK. Try NZ records Outward passengers maybe marine deaths.

Hannah Pedroja(Goodwill)

Do many others have an ancestor who seems to alternate between two names?

My gg grandmother came out here in 1851 as the convict Elizabeth James, married Thomas Ingham in Tasmania and had at least two children there before ending up in Melbourne a few years later and seems to have adopted another name Hannah Goodwill. But she also alternates between both these names and mixes both the first names with the second names at times.

She married a Pasquale Pedroja sometime in the late 1860's(I think) in what looks like Castlemaine on her death certificate in 1899. I have found a record on the 1841 UK census for a Hannah Goodwill with her family and she lives nearby to where I believe Elizabeth also lived as a girl. So I am thinking maybe she took Hannah's name when she came to Victoria and started afresh in a new environment.

What I would really love wuld be to find a descendant of Hannah or Pasquale Pedroja so I could know for certain if Hannah was really Elizabeth with a name change or maybe even if Thomas Ingham remarried.

Hannah Goodwill


A follow up; the ship was Lucie, not Dulcie (my error). My grandmothers birth cert lists her mother as Hannah James, her death cert as Hannah Goodwill. I think this confirms that she is one and the same, with other names to boot! Love to know more about Elizabeth; have some convict records but not the prison and where she came from.


Hannah Goodwill



My gg was Pasquale Pedroja and i've been trying to solve the riddle of the names. I have P's wife as both HG and HI so this sheds some light. PP was a miner who came from Switzerland on the Dulcie with his brother and father(?). As far as your specific q is concerned, i don't have the answer but I think your summation looks valid.


Hannah Pedroja(Goodwill)

I have a family where a woman was born Susan Bennett 1874 was adopted by a family called Ironside so became Susan Ironside then decided she liked the name Isabel or Isabella Ironside. Married Louis Pedro so became Isabel Pedro then Louis Pedro changed his name to Charles Lewis so she became Isabel Lewis.

I am interested in your Pasquale Pedroja the Louis Pedro I mention above was from Mauritius just wondered if there was any link as I have not found too many Pedro's. I was also told that it is common for Mauritians to have multiple Christian names and go by the second one and sometimes change anyway.