~ david coombe history

Mostly Coombe in Australia &

Coumbe in North Hill, Cornwall

Family History & Genealogy

Mostly CoombeMigrants - William Coombe, convict on John Barry - 1836


William Coombe was convicted at Devon Assizes for sheep stealing and sentenced to a term of life on 17 March 1835.  Transported as a convict to New South Wales, he arrived in Port Jackson on 17 January 1836 aboard the convict ship John Barry. He left behind a family in Devon, but went on to have a new family in Queensland.


“Convicts were in the eyes of the public considered divorced after seven years, and as the minimum sentence was seven years, many would have been separated from their wives in England for that length of time and were free to marry again ... but the narrowed eyes of Chapel were less tolerant.” Tasmania Over Five Generations. Return to Van Diemen’s Land, John Biggs, Forty Degrees South Publishing, 2011. IBSN 978-0-9870915-0-5


It is thought likely that Coomb Street, Seventeen Mile Rocks, QLD is named after him.


Peter Selley has extensively researched William’s Devon origins (see below).


Jeff Reaney is writing a historical novel based on William Coombe’s life and would welcome information that would help in his factual background research. He is also researching the wives left behind by the three convicts below. See Contact at bottom of page.


Trial with Butcher Forensics


William’s trial was reported in the Western Times on 21 March 1835:


Alexander Croote, William Coombe, and Josias Austin, were indicted for stealing two fat sheep, the property of Thomas Prickman, of Northmolton. The prosecutor lives at Broadnymet, in the parish of Northtawton. On the 17th of January he missed two sheep, which had been in a turnip field near the house - altogether there were 71. Ordered a search to be made - did not search the house of the prisoners. Bartlett on the 17th of January, found the skins of the two sheep, in a field joining the turnip field - these were not skinned in a butcher-like manner. Oliver Sampson found the skins, and afterwards searched the house of Alexander Croote, and found there a leg of mutton dressed and a sack containing about 50 lbs of mutton in small pieces, a stean containing about 8lbs more - a pan with about seven pounds of mutton suet - the mutton found was like the sheep lost - the mutton was salted. Next went into Coomb’s house adjoining, and found pieces of mutton there also - it was fat of the same sort - took the prisoners into custody - the skins belonged to Mr. Prickman, who identified them as his property. W. Durant, constable, found a knucklebone in an outhouse of Coombe’s, which corresponded with the skin - a tendon was gone from the bone which adhered to the skin of one of the sheep here produced. Coombe confessed that they had not found all his meat - there was a stean in the garden hedge, and he would show me - found it there - he said he went into Prickman’s field, and killed two sheep, which were equally divided amongst them. James Stoneman, butcher, of Northtawton, had no doubt the bone produced belonged to the skin of one of the sheep. John Seaward searched Austin’s and said he found there a bag containing about 60lbs of fat mutton, in a rick, near the garden of the house, cut up in pieces, and fresh salted - there was snow upon the ground, and he tracked footsteps from the house to the rick, which corresponded exactly with Austin’s shoes. Cross examined.-The rick is by the side of the turnpike roads; there are few roads near, and one house beside Austin’s. Re-examined. The footsteps did not lead from the road to the house. Skinner put in a voluntary confession of Coombe, made at the time, of having committed the offence charged. Austin, in his defence, said that he did not know how the meat came in the rick. Coombe said that he bought the mutton found in his house at market and Croote, that he received his from his brother. John Shillson, farmer, of Nortawton, spoke to the good character of Coombe, while in his employ, but on cross examination he admitted that he did not bear an honest name. Mr. Tyrrell conducted the case for the prosecution, and Mr. Bird for the prisoners. - Transported for life.


In April 1835, William, aged 25, was moved with co-convict Croote, 41, from the Devon County Gaol to the hulk Justitia at Woolwich from where they later boarded the John Barry. Austin, 35, was moved to the hulk Ganymede.


Devon Origins


Convict records indicate William had a wife, a son and 3 daughters in England. Peter Selley has pieced together this family and documented it on Ancestry. His notes follow.


William Coombe and Grace Manning married Grace’s birthplace of Winkleigh on 20 Apr 1828. They were spinster and bachelor and both were sojourners. William signed his name, Grace marked the certificate with a X. They had 4 children, Mary and William (baptised in Winkleigh) and Jane and Betsey (baptised in North Tawton ). It is likely that they were living at Broadnymett or Greenslade when the 2 younger ones were baptised.


William was convicted in 1835 and by 1841 Grace was back in Sampford Courtenay with her children. (Young William was a servant for the Ash family next door.) Grace subsequently had two children out of wedlock, Henry and Grace. Their baptism records show “base born”. By 1881 Grace was in Okehampton workhouse, a pauper. She died in 1884.


Of the children, Jane and Grace married and had families; Betsey had a daughter who married into the influential Arscott family. Henry the butcher married late in life and had no children.


This period is thoroughly documented by Peter Selley in his Broadnymett. Make sure you also follow the links to the “Broadnymett Three” and then “William Coombe”.




William obtained a ticket of leave 30 March 1844.  He bought some suburban lots in South Brisbane in August 1848, the year before marrying Joanna Murphy at the Presbyterian Church at Kangaroo Point, Moreton Bay (QLD). This land was known as Coombe’s Swamp and is now in West End, Brisbane.  His acreage at West End - Hill End, between Montague Rd and Riverside Drive, is mentioned in various articles on pioneers from 1918, 1922, 1926, 1927 and a 1930 on that area’s pioneers. There is a House Histories map showing Coombe’s block immediately north of that of Adolphus McWilliam.


Johanna Murphy arrived in Moreton Bay in May 1849, aged 18, on board the migrant ship Chaseley, the second ship of free settlers to come directly to Moreton Bay from England in a migration programme organised by John Langmore Lang.


Family Chart


Below is a family chart for William’s descendants. Also separately listed are Grace’s other two children. For William’s first family, all placenames are in Devon unless stated otherwise. For his Australian family, all places are in QLD unless stated otherwise. The following abbreviations are used: DEV = Devon, Oke. = Okehampton DEV, SC = Sampford Courtenay DEV, NSW = New South Wales, QLD = Queensland, BNE = Brisbane (earlier known as Moreton Bay), ? = uncertain, NI = no issue, ... indicates known descendants.


Grace COOMBE (nee MANNING), other children:

├── Henry COOMBE, bp. 15 Aug 1841 SC, m. Emily POTTER 1883 Oke., d. 1913 Oke. No issue.

└── Grace COOMBE, bp. 28 Jun 1846 SC, m. James PIKE 1869 Oke., d. 1905 Oke. ...

William COOMBE bp. 2 Jan 1808, South Tawton, d. 18 Jun 1878 Seventeen Mile Rocks, QLD

+ Grace MANNING, b. 1807 Winkleigh, m. Winkleigh 20 Apr 1828, d. 1884 Oke.

├── Mary COOMBE, b. 1828, bp. 8 Feb 1829 Winkleigh age 1, res. SC 1851 census, m?, d?

├── William COOMBE, bp. 25 Jul 1830 Winkleigh, d. 1903 Torrington

  + Sarah WELSH, b.c. 1835 Dolton,  m. 1854 Torrington, d. 1903 Torrington ...

├── Jane Manning COOMBE, b. 1833 North Tawton, bp. 13 Oct 1833 SC, d. 1917 South Molton

  + James PAGE, b.c. 1835 Spreyton, m. 1857 Oke., d. 1904 South Molton ...

└── Betsey COOMBE, bp. 22 Mar 1835 North Tawton, res. SC 1901 census

     └── Mary Jane Brook COOMBE, b. 1857 SC, m. Henry ARSCOTT 1883 Oke., d. 1931 Oke.

+ Joanna MURPHY, b. 1829/30 Cork Ireland, m. Jul 1849 Kangaroo Pt BNE, d. 24 Mar 1865

├── Mary Jane COOMBES, b. 1850 (NSW BDM), d. 1927 Mount Morgan

  + Patrick William LOWRY, m. 13 Dec 1867, d. 1904

    ├── Edward Henry LOWRY, b. 1868, d. 1947. NI.

    ├── Patrick William LOWRY, b. 1870, d. 1933. NI.

    ├── James Alexander LOWRY, b. 1872, d. 1932 ...

    ├── Joseph Paul LOWRY, b. 1874, d. 1924. NI.

    ├── Mary Isabella Frances LOWRY, b. 1876, d. 1939 ...

    ├── John Aloysius LOWRY, b. 1877, d. 1938 ...

    ├── Elizabeth Helena / Eleanor LOWRY, b. 1878, d. 1953 ...

    ├── Julia Alice LOWRY, 1880-81. NI.

    ├── Richard Mortimer LOWRY, 1882-96. NI.

    ├── Daniel Francis LOWRY, b. 1884, d. 1942. NI.

    ├── Alice Julia LOWRY, 1885-86. NI.

    ├── Percy Arthur LOWRY, b. 1887, d. 1959 ...

    ├── Ernest Parnell LOWRY, b. 1890-91. NI.

    └── William Stenlaus LOWRY, b. 1891, d. 1959 ...

├── Elizabeth Mortimer COOMBE, b. 1 Jan 1853, d. Beaudesert

  + John MORAN, m. 18 Jan 1869

    ├── John Patrick MORAN, b. 1870

    ├── Michael MORAN, b. 1872

    ├── Thomas MORAN, b. 1874

    ├── Elizabeth MORAN, b. 1876

    ├── Timothy MORAN, b. 1878

    ├── Timothy MORAN, b. 1879

    ├── Daniel William MORAN, b. 1881

    ├── James MORAN, b. 1883

    ├── Andrew MORAN, b. 1886

    ├── Francis MORAN, b. 1887

    ├── Peter Leo MORAN, b. 1889

    ├── Mary Jane MORAN, b. 1892

    ├── Margaret Ann MORAN, b. 1894

    ├── Martin Vincent MORAN, b. 1897

    └── Ellen MORAN, b. 1898

├── Joanna Alice COOMBE, b. 1854 (NSW BDM)

├── John COOMBE, b. 1855 (NSW BDM)

├── Rebecca COOMBE, b. 18 Aug 1857

├── Isabella COOMBE, b. 15 Dec 1858, m 11 Sep 1883 Maryborough QLD, d. 1940 Rockhampton QLD

  + Valentine Curtis BRIGG, d. 1909 Rockhampton QLD

├── James Mortimer COOMBES, b. 15 May 1861, d. 1916

  + Wilhemina GUETLE (GIDLEY)

    ├── John COOMBES, 1901-72, m. Valma BURCHARD (BURKCHARDT) ...

    ├── James W. COOMBES, 1910-1910

    └── Walter COOMBES, 1913-

+ Catherine HEGARTY / HEGGERTON (nee Catherine DEAN), m. 12 Jan 1867, d. 1908

├── William Mortimer COOMBS, b. 2 May 68, d. 23 Jun 69, NI.

└── Michael Joseph COOMBS, b. 14 Jul 70, d. 27 Aug 71, NI.


William’s Ancestry


William COOMBE, bp. 2 Jan 1808, South Tawton, son of:

  John COOMB and Mary MORTIMORE, m. 3 Aug 1807 South Tawton

  John COOMB, b. 1785 Sampford Courtenay, son of:

    Simon COOMB and Mary HUXTABLE, m. 15 May 1780 Sampford Courtenay

    Simon COOMB, b. 1753 Belstone


A further pedigree is available to subscribers on Ancestry UK going back to a William Coome b. 1699 around Belstone DEV.




With many thanks to Peter Selley’s research at the UK end. Contact Peter regarding Devon origins.

For the Australian end, to add, contribute, comment, contact: Simon Dunne, David Coombe, Jeff Reaney and Wayne Sollars.


Updated: 15 Jan 2017.