Arthur Bastable a Patternmaker from County Cork

My ancestors came from many walks of life and many counties of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Several of my ancestral families came to Australia but not all did by their own choice. One family that did come by choice was the Bastable family and their story, while not complete, begins with my Great, Great Grandfather Arthur Bastable.

Arthur was variously described as a carpenter or pattern maker from County Cork in Ireland. He was the son of George Bastable and Jane Bourke who were married at Mourne Abbey on 8th January 1811[1]. Arthur was baptised there in 1812, as was his sister, Jane in 1814[2]. Mourne Abbey is situated about 5 miles south of the village of Mallow where Arthur was born.[3]

The surname Bastable is interesting in itself. Obviously of English origin it is said to be a corruption of the town of Barnstaple in Devonshire. There is also a Bastable pot or oven which is a three-legged cooking pot, that looks rather like a Dutch oven. It is placed over the fire in the hearth and is used to make stews and roasts, but also to bake a Bastable loaf or as it is sometimes called, a Bastable cake. I wonder how it came to be called a Bastable – did one of my ancestors make them?

Getting back to Arthur, as is the case with most people’s ancestors, there has been no information come to light on Arthur’s childhood nor his early adulthood. It does appear that he was reasonably well educated though and he certainly could read and write. So, we know nothing from the time of his baptism until he was about 30 years old and marrying in the Parish Church of Ballyclough. I can confidently speculate though that he would have been learning his trade and that would have probably taken seven years.

Arthur was married by license on 19th Feb 1842 to Catherine Ludgate.[4] Catherine had been baptised in Kilshannig by Mallow on 28th Dec 1817 and was the daughter of Michael Ludgate and his wife Elizabeth.[5] From the marriage of Catherine and Arthur three surviving children were born in Kilshannig, two daughters Jane in 1844, Kate in 1846 and a son, my Great Grandfather, George Ludgate Bastable born in 1847.[6]

These were the years of the Irish famine and Mallow was one area hit particularly hard. People were clamouring at the workhouse doors for food and the dead and dying lay about in the ditches. Typhus was also rife in some places. The winter of 1846/7 was the worst ever and soup kitchens were started to help feed the starving masses. The workhouses also raged with fever. In 1848 Cholera was taking its toll.

In 1849 another child, Charles Arthur was born. The Bastables lived through this horror until unfortunately Catherine and her infant son Charles succumbed, probably either to starvation or fever or both. Catherine was buried 5th Sept 1849 and Charles, aged just 6 months was buried 12 days later on 17th September 1849.[7] Sadly, one wonders whether baby Charles died from starvation after his mother died as there was probably no wet nurse to feed him.

Arthur was then left as a widower with several small children to care for three until three years later when he married Mary Ann Burchill on 14th September 1852 in Fermoy Ireland. Who helped him until then? Perhaps his family helped out. Mary Ann was born in 1823 at Desert Serges, Bandon the daughter of Thomas Burchill, a farmer. She had previously been a lady’s maid. [8] Arthur and Mary Ann’s son, Arthur was born in Ireland in about 1853.[9]

Above “Flora” 1852 by Artist Lorenz Petersen (1803 – 1870)[10]

In 1854 the family decided to leave Ireland, perhaps to seek a better life in Australia. They journeyed from Liverpool on 28th December 1854 embarking at Birkenhead Docks aboard a 728-ton ship called Flora pictured above. Arriving in Adelaide on Saturday 7th April 1855, they and another 300 or so passengers had embarked on this voyage, under the command of Captain James Withers. [11]

Arthur had worked as the Hospital Assistant to Surgeon Superintendent, Herbert W Swayne on the voyage. It is assumed that, like other passengers employed on the journey, he was also entitled to free steerage passage as well as the sum of three pounds that he was paid upon satisfactory attention to his duties.[12] This sum no doubt helped to pay their steerage passage aboard the Swordfish departing on 25th April and arriving in Melbourne on 10th May 1855.[13] They then boarded another ship believed to be the Hellespont, another regular on the coastal run that departed Melbourne 23rd May and arrived in Sydney on Friday 8th June 1855.[14] Mary Ann must have found the travelling difficult, not only with 4 children to care for but also as she would have been very pregnant, for on 9th July 1855 in Sydney there was the birth of another son, Charles.[15] I have to say that finding them arriving in South Australia was a big surprise. I knew they were in Sydney in 1855 and so I only looked in NSW and Victoria for their arrival. It was by accident, thumbing through the index, that I found them in the Biographical Index of South Australians 1836 – 1885. Figuring out how they got to Sydney also took a bit of time to research too, painstakingly searching through shipping notices in newspapers.

Why they did not stay in Adelaide is not clear. Perhaps they were so desperate to get out of Ireland they took the first ship heading this way. The Gold Rush was on at that time and so passages were in demand as people flocked to the goldfields of Australia. Perhaps they arrived in Adelaide, which was a very young settlement at the time, and conditions were not as they had expected. Food would have been expensive and comforts scarce. They may have also realised that they were not going to make their fortune on the goldfields and headed to Sydney the best way they could. Cities were experiencing an extreme shortage of labour due to the mass exodus to the goldfields and Arthur’s skills as a carpenter would probably have been in demand in the growing city. Whatever the reason, Sydney seems to have suited them.

The family settled in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield, which at that time was very much a rural area with small farms and market gardens and still had some areas of virgin bush. Here several more children were born to them, though not all survived. Arthur’s occupation was described as a fitter at the time of his death in 1875, however in the first Ashfield Rate Book of 1872 and the one for 1873 he is shown as owning and occupying a brickyard on his land.[16] The claypit that he used to make his bricks would have been on the nearby creek bank. Birch Villa was the family home and it appears from the rate books to have been built in 1873, most probably from bricks Arthur made himself.[17] Birch Villa was a two-storey house of ‘six (main) rooms and attics, built of brick and roofed with slates containing about 4 ½ acres of grounds.’[18]

When I was doing my research it was speculated that the house was most likely ‘built in the Victorian Rustic Gothic Style, with a steeply pitched roof with dormer windows, and two tall chimneys on the western end gable wall.’[19] However, the house that is there now and advertised by real estate at 18A Frederick Street as Birch Villa built 1890 is quite different.[20] I tend to think it may be the original house built 1873, not 1890 and although it has an attic, I don’t believe it was built quite as speculated or else there is a possibility it is not the original Birch Villa at all. There has been a lot of development in the area and street names have changed. A few streets away is a street named Bastable Street.

The assessable annual value of this property was 30 pounds in 1874 but there is no mention of the brickyard so it is unclear what his source of income was after that.[21] Perhaps he used his skills in carpentry and patternmaking to earn his income. He quite possibly had a tool chest like this one.

Above and below a 19th century Patternmakers Tool chest owned by C A Jewett. Photos Patrick Leach, 1995 with permission. [22]

Arthur bought the four lots that were part of the Ashfield Estate, which made up the grounds of Birch Villa on 4th October 1872.[23]  He also mentions in his Will two other properties, some land of 31 ¼ perches in South Kingston and a house in Denison Street, North Kingston.[24] So it appears Arthur & Mary had done very well financially.

Arthur passed away 31st January 1875 at Birch Villa aged 62 years and he is buried in St John’s Church of England Cemetery at Ashfield.[25] Mary Ann, his wife passed away 4th December 1913 aged 80 years. She was still living at Birch Villa at the time and is also buried at St John’s Church Cemetery.[26]

[1] – Online Genealogy, Irish Records Index, 1500-1920, 596422 2627, p. 24 6 of 8 (accessed 2 Feb. 2000).

[2] ibid., p. 24 6 of 8

[3] Marilyn Rowan, Transcription Agent, Death Registration Transcription of Arthur Bastable, died 31          January 1875, Register Births Deaths and Marriages NSW, 1875/2905

[4] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Parish Registers of the Church of Ireland, Ballyclough, County Cork, Ireland, Marriage of Arthur Bastable and Catherine Ludgate, married 19 Feb 1842, Film Number 597159.

[5] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, International Genealogical Index, 1994 Edition Version 3.04, Batch & Sheet C700351

[6] South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society Inc., Biographical Index of South Australians 1836-1885, South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society Inc., Adelaide, SA 1986, entry under Bastable.

[7] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Parish Registers of the Church of Ireland, Ballyclough, County Cork, Ireland, Marriage of Arthur Bastable and Catherine Ludgate, married 19 Feb 1842, Film Number 597159.

[8] Mallow Parish Centre, Parish Database Records, Parish Registers of the Church of Ireland, Kilworth, County Cork, Ireland, Marriage of Arthur Bastable and Mary Anne Burchill, married 14 September, 1852, p. 7.

[9] South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society Inc., loc. cit.

[10] Artnet, Flora” 1852 by Artist Lorenz Petersen (1803 – 1870) last accessed 18/9/2020

[11] South Australian Genealogy and Heraldry Society Inc., loc. cit.

[11] Various papers and reports regarding voyage per ship Flora arriving Adelaide S.A. 8 April 1855, Public Record Office, Adelaide, S.A. GRG 35/48/1855.

[12] Ibid.,

[13] Shipping Intelligence Column, The Age – Melbourne, Friday 11 May 1855, p 4.

[14] Shipping Intelligence Column, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 1855.

[15] Marilyn Rowan Transcription Agent, Baptism (Early Church Records) Transcription of Charles Bastable born 9 July 1855 baptised 5 Aug 1855, Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages NSW, Vol 42B No 4209.

[16] Chris Pratten, Secretary Ashfield & District Historical Society, pers. comm., 4 March 2000.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Nora Peck, Transcription of the Will of Arthur Bastable, died 31 January 1875, Land Title Office NSW, Old System Book 148, No 960.

[19] Chris Pratten, loc. cit.

[20] [1] One the House,

[21] Chris Pratten, loc. cit.

[22] Patrick Leach, The Superior Works: C.A. Jewett’s Patternmaking Chest last accessed 18/9/2020

[23] Nora Peek, Transcription of Records of Land Title Office NSW regarding Lots 48, 49, 50 and 51 of Section 3 Ashfield Park Estate.

[24] Nora Peek, op. cit

[25] Marilyn Rowan, Transcription Agent, Death Registration Transcription of Arthur Bastable, died 31 January 1875, Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages NSW, 1875/2905.

[26] Marilyn Rowan Transcription Agent, Death Registration Transcription of Mary Ann Bastable, died 4 December 1913, Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages NSW, 1913/16146.

6 thoughts on “Arthur Bastable a Patternmaker from County Cork

  1. Sandi McGinnis says:

    Lyn we both enjoyed this very much! Great research.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. crissouli says:

    Congratulations! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in Friday Fossicking at
    Thank you, Chris
    I love your stories and am in awe as always of your detailed research.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. oleatech says:

    nice story. Bastable is not a common name but an Arthur Bastable was chief witness at my grandad’s wedding in 1916 in Cork so I wonder if he was related. Grandad was Patrick Murphy, born 1879, and a seaman who sailed the world so Arthur might have been a seafaring friend.


    • genielynau says:

      Sorry for the slow reply I don’t seem to get notifications anymore. I don’t know if Arthur Bastable would be related. My family left Ireland in 1852 and as far as I know there were no brothers. My Arthur I believe has a sister Jane but I have not found any brothers or Uncles. It is quite likely he did at least have Uncles but I have not been able to link to any. Thank you for commenting – you never know what might turn up. 🙂


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