~ david coombe history

Mostly Coombe in Australia &

Coumbe in North Hill, Cornwall

Family History & Genealogy

Mostly CoombeMigrants - Lewannick family of John Coombe and Jane Sargent


Feature Story: Thomas Sargent Coombe migrated from Lewannick, Cornwall to South Australia in 1862. Why has he been missing from the Coombe family story? Thomas died in 1870 in suspicious circumstances. Did his publican wife Josephine kill him, as well as another husband and two other men? Find out in the recently published e-book:

Deaths at Josephine’s Gasworks Hotel

A Victorian Investigation


Immerse yourself in Victorian intrigue and the world of publican Josephine. A story never before told. A suspicious death, a coroner’s inquest, a Supreme Court verdict of fraud and a family cut out of a last minute will. Did Josephine kill four men? Author David Coombe investigates. Includes readers’ guide for book groups.


This is a story highly evocative of the times – the language and the social norms. The author brings together, for the first time, the case that Josephine may have murdered four men at her Victorian era Gasworks Hotel – two of them husbands.


This is mostly a story about ordinary people, although some of the characters rose to great heights in South Australia as premier, police commissioner and city coroner. But the story itself is anything but ordinary.


This is the story of Josephine. From 1863 to 1874 she was the publican at the Gasworks Hotel in Brompton, an inner suburb of Adelaide, South Australia.


Click to learn more, buy the eBook or download a free sample.


Migrants - Lewannick family of John Coombe and Jane Sargent


Research Help Requests


Seeking any primary historical material on Thomas Coombe (such as letters, photos or interviews.) Also Alice COOMBE (nee Alice RUNDLE), married to William Charles COOMBE. Seeking contact with any relative who may have photographs, letters or papers from Alice or either of two of Alice’s brothers: Alfred Martin RUNDLE or Elisha RUNDLE. See “Contact” at bottom of this page.


Lewannick Origins


From Lewannick Cornwall, John Coombe, a farmer and Jane Sargent, his wife, saw four of their children migrate to Australia: Richard, Samuel, Thomas and Benedictus Coombe.  At the 1841 census, the family was at Hodges in Lewannick: John Coombe (48), Jane Coombe (47), William Coombe (25), Susan Coombe (15), Samuel Coombe (13), Thomas Coombe (11), Benedictus Coombe (9), Jane Coombe (6), Sally Sargent (80).


The family is listed below (all locations are Lewannick CON unless otherwise stated and mostly the baptisms indicate the family is resident at Coombeshead).  The following abbreviations are used: ? = uncertain, NI = no issue, ... indicates known descendants, CON = Cornwall, SA = South Australia, VIC = Victoria.


John COOMBE, b. 11 Jul 1790, d. 10 Jun 1863, farmer

 + Jane (Jenny) SARGENT, b. 25 Mar 1789 ?, m. 30 Aug 1812, d. 18 Mar 1881

├── Nancy COOMBE, b. 15 Nov 1812 (baptised again 22 Jul 1828 aged 17/18), d. 8 Dec 1880

+ John COWLING, miller, m. 12 Nov 1840 ...

├── William Sargent COOMBE b. 27 Jul 1814 Calstock CON, d. 20 Aug 1877 Sth Caradon Mine CON ...

├── John COOMBE, b. 24 Dec 1816 ...

├── Charles COOMBE, b. 23 Dec 1818, d. 31 Mar 1872 Launceston Union ...

├── Richard COOMBE, b. 17 Jan 1820, d. 19 Nov 1884 Bowden SA ...

├── Isaac COOMBE, b. 5 Feb 1824

├── Benedictus COOMBE, b. 1 Jan 1825, d. 9 Dec 1824 (transcription error in bap or calendar complication)

├── Susan COOMBE, b. c. 1826

+ Frederick COWLING, saddler, m. 22 May 1855 Altarnun CON ...

├── Samuel COOMBE b. 18 Apr 1828, d. 3 Jan 1899 Brompton SA ...

├── Thomas COOMBE, b. 16 Dec 1830, d. 12 Dec 1870 Bowden SA. NI.

├── Benedictus COOMBE b. 3 Jan 1833, d. 21 Oct 1898 Clunes VIC ...

└── Jane COOMBE, b. 1 Jan 1835 (1851 census: St Thomas by Launceston)


John and Jane’s headstone in Lewannick church cemetery was erected by their two sons in Australia: Richard and Samuel. (Read the eBook to find out why Thomas was not included.). John (1816-??) is also buried there.


This family is the subject of a book by Joan Coombe: “Cornish connections: the Coombe family history”; published Black Forest, S. Aust. : J. Coombe, 1993; ISBN 0 646 13021 8. This book includes the Lewannick-born family, brothers Samuel and Richard, and the majority of detail is about descendants of William’s son Joseph. The book contains many photos and copies of certificates. Subsequent researchers are indebted to this prior work.


The Migrants


The migrating children were:

 * Richard Coombe (1849 Himalaya)

 * Samuel Coombe (1849 Himalaya)

 * Thomas Coombe (May 1862?)

 * Benedictus Coombe (1863 Aleeta)

 * Also William Sargent’s son Joseph (1885 Gulf of Mexico).


On Saturday, 17 November 1849, the barque Himalaya arrived in Port Adelaide, and included passengers:

 * Richard Coombe and child: wife Elizabeth nee Knight died at sea, son James.

 * Samuel Coombe, wife and 2 children: Mary nee Knight, daughter Jane, son John.


In the 1851 census, Thomas and Benedictus are miners in St Ive, Cornwall residing with brother William, but only Benedictus is found in the 1861 census. Benedictus departed New York on 19 May 1863 and arrived Melbourne 26 Aug.


Richard Coombe


Richard Coombe’s wife Elizabeth Knight (m. 1846) died from cholera during the voyage. He subsequently remarried and did well at the diggings. He consigned home an impressive 11lbs 1oz of gold, worth £608/7/-, in the first gold escort direct from Mount Alexander in March 1852. This was the largest amount of gold among the more than 300 diggers in that escort.


He donated an acre of land on which the second Bowden Methodist Church was built, opened in 1857, replacing the first one which was opened in 1851.


Richard COOMBE, b. 17 Jan 1820, d. 19 Nov 1884, Third St, Bowden SA

+ Elizabeth KNIGHT, m. 1846, d. 1849 at sea

└── James Knight COOMBE, b. 26 Jan 1847 Lewannick CON, d. 9 Mar 1928, Gympie QLD

    m. Frances Eliza FIELD 4 Jul 1870 Adelaide SA ...

+ Elizabeth HAWKIN nee Elizabeth BROWN, m. 1851 Adelaide SA, d. 1880 age 66 Bowden SA

├── Elizabeth Jane COOMBE, 1853-54 Bowden SA. NI.

└── Mary Jane COOMBE, b. 1855 Bowden, m. Augustus William WINTER 1879 Adelaide SA ...


Samuel Coombe


Samuel CoombeSamuel Coombe on the 1871 Hindmarsh District CouncilSamuel Coombe “was born at Lewanick, Cornwall, on March 11, 1828, and worked on his father’s farm. Being discontented with the condition of affairs in England he decided to emigrate to South Australia, with the intention of entering into farming pursuits, and with his wife and one child and his brother, the late Mr. Richard Coombe, he embarked on the Himalaya at Plymouth, and arrived at Port Adelaide on November 19, 1849, after an eventful voyage of 111 days...” - Death of Samuel Coombe as noted in the Advertiser, 4 January 1899. Obituary.


Samuel Coombe’s estate was subdivided for “Allenby Gardens”. Samuel donated Ethelbert Square, named after his son, to Brompton Council (Advertiser, 2 Aug 1933).


In the following, places names are South Australia unless otherwise specified.








Samuel COOMBE b. 18 Apr 1828 Lewannick CON, d. 3 Jan 1899 Brompton

+ Mary KNIGHT, b. 6 Jun 1828 Polyphant CON, m. 1848, d. 11 Mar 1921 Brompton

├── Jane COOMBE, b. 13 Jan 1847 CON, d. 1934,

   m. PUDDY 1868 Adelaide ... Daughter Maud Mary Puddy, musician, biog and another biog

├── John COOMBE, b.c. 1849 CON, d. 1853 age 4y7m, Brompton. NI.

├── Amelia COOMBE, b. 1 Jul 1853 Brompton; d. 1910, Bowden, m. MATTHEWS 1871 Hindmarsh.

├── Edward John COOMBE, b. 11 Nov 1855 Brompton, d. 1901 Brompton

   m. COULTER 1877 Bowden ..., m. REID 1883 Brompton..., m. KEEN 1887 Hindmarsh ...

├── William Charles COOMBE, b. 10 Dec 1857 Brompton, d. 1935 Prospect, m. Alice RUNDLE 1879 Bowden ...

├── Henrietta COOMBE, b. 16 Apr 1860 Bowden, d. 1932, m. JARVIS 1884 Brompton, Obituary ...

├── Ethelbert Edred Sargent COOMBE, b. 20 Nov 1862 Brompton, d. 1922 Bowden, doctor, Obituary ...

   m. HOLMYARD 1888 England

├── Adelaide COOMBE, b. 26 Nov 1864 Bowden, d. 1920, m. ROWE 1887 Brompton ...

├── Sidney Horace COOMBE, b. 27 Oct 1866 Brompton, d. 1946 Prospect, m. GIBSON 1888 Brompton ...

└── Eustace Herbert Samuel COOMBE, b. 6 Dec 1869 Brompton, d. 1938 Prospect, m. HATTAM 1890 Bowden ...


Thomas Coombe - Murdered by His Wife?


It is thought Thomas arrived in South Australia in May 1862, stayed at the Royal Oak on arrival (which occasioned a Police Court charge). An arrest warrant was issued against him and he headed incognito to the northern mines. His return to Adelaide was prompted by news of his father’s death in June 1863. He married widow Josephine Ingham on 14 Mar 1866 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Pirie St, Adelaide. They had no children together. Josephine was licencee of the Gasworks Hotel, Brompton. After marrying Thomas she transferred the licence to him. But he became ill and died in 1870.


DEATHS. COOMBE.-On the 12th December, after a long and painful illness, at Brompton, Thomas, the seventh son of the late Mr. John Coombe, Lewannick, Cornwall, England, aged 40 years. Register (Adelaide), Wednesday 14 December 1870.


For more on Thomas and his suspicious death, see my e-book Deaths at Josephine's Gasworks Hotel.


Benedictus Coombe


Benedictus Coombe was a copper miner in St Ive, Cornwall in the 1861 census (aged 29, b.c. 1832), together with wife Grace and their four children: Emma Jane, Matthew John, Elizabeth and George. At age 17, a miller, he was briefly imprisoned in 1849 in Bodmin Gaol for a debt of ₤14. Benedictus arrived in Melbourne on 26 August 1863 on the “Aleeta” from New York. He was followed, in February 1865 by Grace and the children on the “Rockhampton”. Their family is listed below; placenames are in Victoria unless otherwise specified.


Is anything known among Benedictus’ descendants about his close brother Thomas? See “Contact” at bottom of this page.


PUZZLE: James Anthony COOMBE, son of John Henry COOMBE and Mary Ann DOIDGE (Gwennap COOMBE family) is understood to be buried in a family plot of the Bendictus COOMBE family in Clunes VIC. And yet there is no apparent family connection.



Benedictus Sargent COOMBE b. 3 Jan 1833, copper miner, d. 1898 Clunes

+ Grace WILLS, b. CON, m. 1853 St Ive CON, d. 16 Nov 1887 Clunes

├── Emma Jane COOMBE, b. Q4 1854 Liskeard CON, d. 1932 Prahran, m. Charles Edwin JONES 1877 VIC ...

├── Matthew John COOMBE, b. Q2 1856 Liskeard CON, d. 1918 Clunes, m. Susan SUTTON 1885 VIC ...

├── Elizabeth COOMBE, b. 1859 Liskeard? CON, d. 1934 Prahran, m. William Weir McKERLIE 1880 ...

├── George COOMBE, b. Q3 1860 Liskeard CON, d. 1944 Northcote. M. Ellen COLLOCOTT 1884 VIC ...

├── Susan COOMBE, b.Clunes, d. 1865 Clunes, age 1d. NI.

├── Josiah COOMBE, b. 1865 Clunes, d. 1866, age 4w. Clunes. NI.

├── Mary Grace COOMBE, b. 1867 Clunes, d. 1948 Ballarat

├── Annie COOMBE, b. 1869 Clunes, d. 1869, age 19d. Clunes. NI.

├── Alfred Henry COOMBE, b. 1870 Clunes, d. 1870, age 7w. Clunes. NI.

├── Laura Louisa COOMBE, b. 1871 Clunes, d. 1949 Glen Iris, m. William Noy OSBORN 1893 VIC ...

├── Ada Wills COOMBE, b. 1876 Clunes, d. 1876, age 7w. Clunes. NI.

└── Alfred COOMBE, b. 1877 Clunes, d. 1877, age 15d. Clunes. NI.

+ Kate CHESTERFIELD, m. 1890 VIC. NI.


Joseph Coombe


Joseph and Harriet Coombe, with their daughter Annie, arrived in Sydney NSW on 24 Mar 1885 on the “Gulf of Mexico” and went on to have a sizeable family. They initially lived in Lithgow NSW then moved to SA in 1906 and settled at Moonta SA. Joseph had married Harriet Clemo in 1882 at Liskeard CON, after returning from his second trip to the mines of Montana USA. This family is comprehensively covered in Joan Coombe’s book mentioned above.


John’s Paternal Ancestry


John Coombe married Jane Sargent 30 Aug 1812, Lewannick, CON.

John Coombe b. 11 Jul 1790, Lewannick, son of

  Isaac Coombe and Mary Brown m. 30 Jul 1781, South Petherwin (banns 1777 Lezant)

  Isaac Coombe b. 14 Jan 1745, Lezant, son of

    John Coombe and Philippa Sargent, m. 5 Sep 1728 Lezant

    John Coomb b. 1 Jun 1711 Linkinhorne, son of

      John Coombe and Debora Bate, m. 29 Dec 1707 Linkinhorne

      John Coombe b. 2 Mar 1673 Lezant, son of

        Thomas Combe and Joan (Johan) Rowell m. 19 Feb 1671 Lezant


John COOMBE and Philippa SARGENT are common ancestors with the South Australian Coumbe family (Velocity, 1855).


Research & Contact


Special thank you also to the following for their research: Joan Coombe’s “Cornish connections: the Coombe family history” mentioned above, Stephen Coombe and Rob Holman.


To add, contribute, comment, contact David Coombe


Updated: 01 Feb 2016.