52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, Names of Interest, The Lives of the Tree

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 9: Where There’s a Will

Coming up with something for the Week 9 – Where There’s a Will, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge was hard.  Do I do a will left by the deceased, someone with will and determination, or someone named Will?  I finally decided on the latter, although he certainly had will and determination as well.


Week 9 – Where There’s a Will


William Crittal

Swan River Colony, Western Australia 1831
Swan River Colony, Western Australia 1831 – Image courtesy of Fremantle Western Australia

William Crittal, my third great-grandfather, was born on 18 November 1804 in Ightham, Kent, England.1,2  He was the son of William Crittal and Sarah Bratton.2  I know nothing of his early life, however, he immigrated at 25 years old to the Swan River Colony aboard the “Caroline” on 12 October 1829, a mere four months after the colony had been established.1,2,3  The Swan River Settlement in Western Australia was founded by free settlers on 2nd May 1829 by Captain Charles Fremantle.4  He was one of the first settlers arriving on the 13th Ship into the colony that year.4


Western Australia

Alfred Hawes Stone, October 1861 - Image Courtesy of State Library of Western Australia
Alfred Hawes Stone, October 1861 – Image Courtesy of State Library of Western Australia

William arrived as an indentured servant to Alfred Hawes Stone, a solicitor.1,2  Alfred had a plan to become a farmer and employed William as an Agriculturalist.2   William arrived with Alfred and another indentured servant, Thomas Thomasett, aboard the “Caroline”, having spent the entire trip in steerage.2


Three weeks after arriving in the colony, Alfred, was granted 7 acres on the Canning River, and 5230 acres in Avon, in the interior of Western Australia.2  On the smaller grant, William and Thomas built “Speldhurst”, a small stone cottage, and then built their own accommodation.2   William’s main task, however, was to prepare the grounds for the vineyards and orchards that he was to supervise.2  Unfortunately, around this time, Thomas drowned in the river.2


Alfred was struggling to make a living in the fledgling colony and, in December 1829, Captain Stirling appointed him as a Justice of the Peace.3  He became a Magistrate of the Court towards the end of 1830.3  It is around this time that William was most likely released from his indenture.2


By August 1834 William was working as a carpenter on Stoke Farm, near Bassendean, a property of James Henty, leased by J.Phillips.2  Phillips was struggling and had to request food for William from the Commissariat.2  As the Avon region continued to expand, William headed over the hills to Toodjay, where there was plenty of work, to work as an agricultural labourer and carpenter.2



William and Betsy Criddle - Image courtesy of Geraldton Historical Society
William and Betsy Criddle – Image courtesy of Geraldton Historical Society

In 1840 William was working in Grassdale, when he married his wife, Betsy.2  At some point, prior to his wedding, the spelling of his name changed from Crittal to Criddle.2  He married Elizabeth Thomas in 1840 in the Church of England, Toodjay.1  At this time, William was 36 years old and his new bride a mere 18 years old.2


In 1842 he built the Toodjay Police Barracks.1  With continued hard work, William’s position in life was good and he was able to lease a 200-acre farm on Old Jimperdine Road near Toodjay.2


Family Life

Their first daughter, Ann was born in 1841, followed by William in 1844, my great-grandmother, Susan, in 1848, and Henry was born in 1850.5  At the time of the 1849 Census William and Betsy had two sons (William and Henry) and 2 daughters under 12 years (Ann and Susan).2  He owned 2 courses, 3 horned cattle, 11 swine, and 6 acres of wheat.2


Irwin, Midwest Region

By late 1850 William’s lease had expired and in the winter of 1852 when Lockier Burges was visiting the Avon Valley to find men and their families interested in moving north to Irwin Valley, William went.2  The family of William, Betsy, and 5 children travelled to Irwin where they remained until 1859.2  He was employed by Cattle Co. as a herdsman supervisor.5,6


Bootenal Western Australia courtesy of Trip Suggest
Bootenal Western Australia – image courtesy of Trip Suggest

Whilst working for Cattle Co., William purchased 80 acres in 1859 on the north front flats approximately a mile South East of Bootenall Springs.2,5,6  Their portion faced Gregory Road near William road and he set about building a mud-brick house.2  He planted a palm tree in front of the home.2  In the 1862 floods the 3-room house was destroyed so he built a new one that was destroyed in the 1872 floods.2,6  He built their third home with limestone from the quarry at Rudd Gully on higher land.2,6  Throughout all this the palm tree continued to flourish and stood 40 foot high 100 years later.2


In 1852 Mary, the first European child to be born in the region, arrived, followed by John in 1855, James in 1857, Sarah in 1859, Eliza in 1861, Emily in 1862, George in 1864, Charles in 1867, and finally Phoebe Elizabeth in 1870 – a total of 14 children.1,5,6


William’s Legacy

William was a founding member of Victorian District Agricultural Society.5  This illiterate man became a much-valued member of the region, employing 15 Ticket of Leave men.5.  William Criddle died at 70 years on 12 May 1875 in Greenough, Western Australia.1,2,7


I am proud to be descended from such a man. He was a founder of the state of Western Australia. Many of his descendants still live in the region, as well as other parts of Western Australia, and Australia. His great-grandson went on to become, Sir David Brand, the longest-serving premier of Western Australia from 1959-1971.8


Do you have a Will in your ancestry who was tenacious?  Comment below to tell me about him.

  1. Western Australian Museum, ‘Welcome Walls – Criddle (Crittal), William’, http://museum.wa.gov.au/welcomewalls/names/criddle-crittal-william, Accessed 18 March 2018.
  2. Family Tree Circles, ‘William Criddle 1804-1875, http://www.familytreecircles.com/william-criddle-1804-1875-37781.html, Accessed 18 March 2018.
  3. Trove, ‘Stone, Alfred Hayes (1801-1873), https://trove.nla.gov.au/people/1485322?c=people, Accessed 18 March 2018.
  4. Wikipedia, ‘Swan River Colony, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swan_River_Colony, Accessed 18 March 2018.
  5. Erickson, Rica and O’Mara, Gillian. The Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians. V. 9. Convicts in Western Australia, 1850-1887. Nedlands, W.A.: University of Western Australia, 1987-[1997].[Revision of Dictionary of Western Australians Vol. 2 Bond 1850-1868. Alphabetical listing of convicts and short biography of each].
  6. Baskerville, Bruce ‘Felon to Farmer: Thomas Harrison and his family of Greenough, Western Australia’, http://www.brucehassan.id.au/Matrix_HarrisonFH.html, Accessed 18 March 2018.
  7. Death Index, ‘William Criddle’, Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Western Australia, 8456/1875, Accessed 18 March 2018.
  8. Adb.anu.ed.au. ‘Sir David Brand’. https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/brand-sir-david-9571. Accessed 10 June 2016.

2 thoughts on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 9: Where There’s a Will

  1. Great biography of William It seems like he was a very determined man. Having his house destroyed by floods and still build it back in the same place to have to do it all over again. It also takes a lot of courage to move from your home with your wife and five children and start over again. Rough times they had don’t you think? My grandpa was named William on my mother’s side don’t know a lot about him he was sick and bedfast the best I can remember.

    1. Hi Fred

      There was some real determination in William! To have travelled from his homeland to an unknown place that was only settled that year really takes some courage. It would be interesting to know more about your William too. Let me know what you find out!


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