William Henry Arrowsmith

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William Henry Arrowsmith


Jerseyman William Henry Arrosmith's first store in Gulgong

William Henry Arrowsmith was baptised in St Helier, Jersey. His father was a boat builder. His brother, John, was born in 1835 in "foreign parts". In 1840, his father, William Arrowsmith died in Durham at the age of 39.


The 1841 census shows William Henry and his siblings living with their Toshack grandparents at Long Back, South Shields, Durham. His mother, Sophia, is not listed on the census.In the 1851 census William Henry, aged 17 years, a sailmaker's apprentice, was living with his widowed mother, Sophia in 2 Thornton Street, Weslow, South Shields, Durham. Sophia kept a small school.

In 1855 William Henry, aged 23, was part of the crew on board the Light of the Age sailing from London to Sydney, arriving on 14 December 1855. His mother died two years later. In 1860 William Henry, 29 years old and a sailmaker, was on board the Asia, sailing once again from London to Sydney, arriving on 28 April 1860.

This time he stayed in Australia. We have no knowledge of his whereabouts until his marriage to Mary Ann Corbett in Grenfell, NSW on 20 January 1868. He is listed as a sail and tent maker on the marriage certificate. Later that year a son, William Henry, was born in Queensland, followed in 1871 by a daughter, Mary Ann in Orange. Mary Ann died in Orange the following year.

In 1873 James Thomas was born in Gulgong; in 1876 Charles Joseph, was born in Gulgong; in 1879 Ernest Toshack was born in Gulgong; in 1881 Nina Jane was born in Cootamundra; in 1885 Clarice was born in Cootamundra and in 1889 Carmen was born in Cootamundra.


William Henry's premises were in Medley Street, Gulgong, just up from the now Ten Dollar Motel. He also had a branch at Home Rule (about seven miles from Gulgong and the scene of a very prosperous gold mining venture).

William's name appears on a petition for a Municipality of Gulgong published in the NSW Government Gazette dated Monday 6 October 1873. The petition was signed by 275 people for their locality to be erected into a municipality under the name Borough of Gulgong. The name Arrowsmith does not appear on a list in December 1880 for the committee for Mr H L Beyers, candidate for Parliamentary election for the Mudgee district.


William Henry and his family probably went to Cootamundra around 1880. He purchased a newsagency.

  • Cootamundra Herald, 13 January 1883: Sewing machine and Piano depot:
"On Saturday last a depot was opened by a local agent (Mr Arrowsmith) of Messrs Beale and Co. The colonial agents for the Wertheim Sewing Machines and Hapsburg pianos. These are sold on both cash and time-payment terms: the depot will afford the people of this and surrounding district the opportunity of securing these valuable household requirements. We would recommend readers to pay a visit of inspection to the depot, next to Mr O'Sullivan's in Wallendoon Street"
  • Cootamundra Herald, 1 September 1886 - Advertisement:
"The undersigned wishes to inform the inhabitants of Cootamundra and district that he has opened business in the following lines, consisting of tobaccos, fancy goods, stationery, fruit, confectionery etc, and wishes to merit a fair share of public patronage. W H A is also local agent for Beale and Company, Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Mail, Evening News, Town and Country journal, Telegraph, Tribune, Bulletin, Globe, Illustrated Sydney News, Once- a- Week, Melbourne Age, Leader and Sportsman. The abovementioned papers are delivered on immediate arrival of mail trains. W H Arrowsmith"
  • Cootamundra Herald, 19 April 1884
"W H Arrowsmith named on working committee for Mr James Watson, seeking election in Gundagai electorate"
  • Cootamundra Herald, 20 December 1884: Notice.
"The undersigned having been appointed Sole Agent for the Evening News, subscribers are respectfully informed that the above paper will be delivered daily (Sundays excepted) from this date. W H Arrowsmith Cootamundra"
  • Cootamundra Herald, 31 December 1884:
"Master James Arrowsmith elected new member of shorthand class run in conjunction with Literary and Debating Society, Cootamundra"
  • Cootamundra Herald, 20 May 1899:
Mr W H Arrowsmith, now of Sydney, late inspector here, has been severely affected by blood poisoning as the result of a bite from a bat. He has slightly recovered, but occasionally suffers severely from it"
  • Cootamundra Liberal, 3 September 1902: Wedding: Arrowsmith-Alcock
"Mr C Arrowsmith, son of W H Arrowsmith, to Miss Jessie Alcock, daughter of the late Mr J Alcock. New home to be in Waverley"

Gold rush

William Henry ran the newsagency until 1887, when he sold it, settled his family into a home, and when the gold rush came to Wyalong, he purchased a horse and sulky and set out to Wyalong to make his fortune. Family stories have him walking back to Cootamundra, a very disappointed man. In 1889 the family left Cootamundra and settled in Rennie Street, Paddington, Sydney. Mary Ann died in 1908 and William Henry in 1911 from injuries received after being knocked down by a cart, aged 79 years. Both he and Mary Ann are buried in Waverley Cemetery.

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