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This blog will be a record of stuff I find interesting, discover or write. Interested in family & local history, cemeteries, reading & libraries, old stuff, research & writing, photography, wine and fine dining plus lots more! Immersed in local history, fascinated by technology and social media and would like more time to spend doing the things I love!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The 1828 Census

I am participating in the weekly blog challenge for National Family History Month 2016 and Week 1 is My Census Story.

The 1828 Census of NSW has always been a favourite research tool of mine. It was published by Sainty and Johnson of Library of Australian History in 1980. It was also one of the first expensive reference books I ever purchased.

Taken in November 1828, it was Australia’s first census and took place in November. Sadly this is the only complete census that has survived from the nineteenth century. The population at the time was 36,598 (20,870 free settlers + 15,728 convicts). The book also has some wonderful statistical information in the beginning including occupations, land holdings and descriptions of where the census was taken.

For my own research, I was able to locate a number of my ancestors in this informative census including John Pendergast (c.1760-1833) who arrived on the "Minerva" in 1800 and Jane Williams from the "Nile" 1801; Henry Warren (c.1801-1876) Aaron Pearce (c.1786-1849) plus Patrick Mannix (1766-1863) to name just a few.  

One unusual thing about the Census was some wrongly interpreted information about Charlotte, supposedly the daughter of John Pendergast and Jane Williams, and born in 1810. The presumption obviously came about due to the way the names were listed. James, a farmer, and his first wife Sophia Hancy or Hancey were living at Lower Portland with their young son. James and Sophia had married at Parramatta in May 1828, their son James was aged about one years.  

Transcribed from the 1828 Census of  NSW
Many people presumed, myself included, that Charlotte and Bridget born in 1810 were in fact twins, as did the census taker. Although a little information was located about my ancestor Sarah (1806-1873) and her younger sister, Bridget (1810-1885) in various sources - nothing could be found about the supposed twin, Charlotte. One day I came across some information about the Hancy sisters who married the Pendergast brothers, James and Thomas. Sophia and Elizabeth Hancy were daughters of William Hancy and Sarah MacDonald who had a large family including their younger daughter Charlotte born in 1810.  Despite there being 247 "Charlotte's" listed in the 1828 Census, Charlotte Hancy does not appear.  Charlotte Hancy is obviously the Charlotte listed at Lower Portland and was either visiting her sister or perhaps living with her when the census was taken. When this information was verified many researchers were contacted however many family trees still include Charlotte Pendergast.

The full list of John Pendergast and Jane Williams children are:

  • James (1803-1865) Hawkesbury m. I. Sophia Hancey II. Susannah Cunneen 
  • (stayed Windsor area)
  • Thomas (1805-1862) Windsor m. Elizabeth Hancey (eventually settled at 
  • Moonbah, nr Jindabyne)
  • Sarah (1806-1873) Hawkesbury m. I. Patrick Tunney II. John Lynch (Hawkesbury 
  • then Wollombi)
  • William (1808-1850 & m. Sarah Holland (stayed around Windsor)
  • Bridget (1810-1885) Hawkesbury & m. Patrick Reed (lived Lower Hawkesbury & Inverell area)

John Pendergast also had a son John (1800-1867) but he was born before Jane arrived and his mother is not confirmed. John m. I. Elizabeth Dwyer & II. Emma Taylor (they lived Campbelltown & then Cooma)


  1. Of course the first thing I did was go off trawling the internet to see if a copy of Sainty and Johnson's could still be purchased. Did you manage to fill in your own census form last night or did everything come to a grinding halt for you too?

  2. Hi Michelle, I was just commenting on another post that I learn so much reading others posts. Others like your post reminded me not to take documents at face value. Great research! You need to go deeper to find the real facts. Looking forward to your next post. Fran.