~ david coombe history

Mostly Coombe in Australia &

Coumbe in North Hill, Cornwall

Family History & Genealogy

Mostly CoombeMigrants - Frances Combe on John Renwick 1837


Fanny was probably the first Coombe to migrate to South Australia. The 21 year old servant applied (0702) for a labourer’s free passage to South Australia on 8 October 1836. Her address on application was given as 67 Tottenham Court Road, although this may have just been a London address in preparation for sailing. She arrived in Adelaide on the John Renwick on 2 Feb 1837. In Dec 1838 she married Joseph Finch, who had arrived earlier on 11 Sep 1836 on the Cygnet, the marriage being reported in the South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, 12 January 1839.


The Holy Trinity Church register for the marriage of Joseph FINCH and Fanny COMBE says that Fanny was late of St Pancras, Middlesex. It seems probable that her christening is that of Frances COMBE on 20 May 1815 at the Foundling Hospital Church of England, Saint Pancras, London.


Joseph and Frances were tried in Nov 1844 for stealing cheques. “The Judge discharged the prisoners, with an admonition to Finch on his imprudent conduct, and his ill-treatment to his wife, which had been spoken to by one of the witnesses.” South Australian, 29 November 1844.


Joseph and Fanny moved to Victoria’s goldfields in about 1851. In 1860, daughter Mary’s marriage announcement referred to her father as “the late Joseph Finch.” In Victoria she styled herself as Fanny nee JACKSON.


Fanny FINCH was one of the first women to vote in a council election in Victoria (Castlemaine) – she opened a Boarding and Lodging House in Castlemaine and as a property owner she was eligible to vote. “However, it was perhaps her appearance in the Police Court on sly grog charges that told against her (The Argus newspaper): if so it was a moral judgement that apparently wasn’t levied at male electors. Fanny was a ratepayer until 1863 – and then she disappears.” (p.3). There is a Voting Card still in existence that Fanny filled in and signed from 1856 – it is housed in the Castlemaine Art Gallery. SOURCE: “The Right To Vote; the Right To Stand – The Involvement of Women in Local Government in Victoria” by Helen D. Harris OAM.


Fanny died 14 Oct 1863 in Castlemaine Hospital, VIC. Her death certificate includes the following information:

  • Parents: navy Captain Francis JACKSON and Cecilia JACKSON formerly Cecilia HOTHAM (not substantiated, maybe invented)
  • Birthplace: London. Age: 38 (expected to be age 48 based on migration age)
  • 36 years in the colonies as 24 years in SA and 12 years in VIC
  • Children: Fanny (age 21), James (20), Mary (19) living and 13 dead children
  • Married Joseph FINCH at 15 years of age (expected to be 23 based on migration age)


Joseph Finch fell on hard times. In the Register newspaper correspondence of 29 Mar 1894: “T. R. Haldane writes:- Poor old Joseph Finch has come to the surface again, with the same old story regarding his connection with Colonel Light's first survey, in which he, as a lad of seventeen, was a chainbearer in 1836-1837, and about his right and title to a block of land in Gilbert-street, which he says he bought at the very first Government land sale held in South Australia. A home such as the Home for Incurables or the Destitute Asylum would be to him an asylum indeed. Could not some of our wealthy colonists do something for the old fellow, seeing, as he says, that he is the oldest living inhabitant in this province, barring none?”


The family is listed below. The following abbreviations are used: ? = uncertain, NI = no issue, ... indicates known descendants, SA = South Australia, VIC = Victoria. Places are SA unless stated otherwise.


Frances COMBE / COOMBE, b.., m. 8 Dec 1838 Adelaide, d.1863 Castlemaine VIC

 + Joseph FINCH, b.c. 1814, d. 1895 Adelaide age 81.

├── Frances FINCH, b. 1839 Adelaide, m. James GRENVILLE 1866 VIC ...

├── Mary FINCH, b. 1841 Adelaide, m. Oliver W. COLLINS 1860 VIC ...

├── James John FINCH, b. 1843 Adelaide, d. 1895 Broken Hill NSW, m. Margaret Ann Constance HOYLE 1865 VIC …

├── John FINCH, b. 1846 Adelaide, d. 1859 VIC

├── Louis FINCH, b.,d. 1848 Adelaide

└── Note: further children were born in VIC; at least Jane 1855, Louisa 1858, but none of them were alive when Fanny died.


See also Marjorie Theobald’s article for Chewton Chat in June 2014: Mrs Fanny Finch: Chewton’s First Business Woman.


For an extended narrative of Joseph and Fanny FINCH see David Wilson’s David also wrote an article which was published in "The South Australian Genealogist" Vol 42 No 3, August 2015.


Please add, contribute, or comment, by contacting David Coombe, Alan Finch and Jennifer Hibbens


Variously known as: Frances JACKSON, Frances Cecilia JACKSON, Frances Cecilia FINCH, Frances FINCH, Frances COMBE, Fanny JACKSON, Fanny FINCH, Fanny COMBE.


Updated: 4 Aug 2017.


2019 Update: Subsequent to this Kacey Sinclair wrote a masters thesis on Fanny - see the article Hidden women of history: Australia’s first known female voter, the famous Mrs Fanny Finch.