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Joseph Creer


Joseph Creer and Sarah Ferrers

Joseph Creer

Sarah Ferrers

  Joseph CREERwas born on 6 Nov 1826 in Braddan, Isle Of Man. He died in Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW on 9 Jun 1909, when he was 82, and was buried on 10 Jun 1909 in the Church of England section, South Head Cemetery, Sydney, NSW.


On 14 Jul 1849 when Joseph was 22, he first married Sarah Jane CAIN, daughter of Thomas CAIN & Jane CHRISTIAN, in Adelaide, SA. She was born in 1828 in Isle Of Man. Sarah Jane died in Le Fevre Peninsula, SA on 10 Jan 1856, she was 28.


On 19 Nov 1861 Joseph second married Sarah Needham May FERRERS, daughter of John Henry Needham FERRERS & Mary BENNETT, in Adelaide, SA. sarah was born on 1 Jul 1843 in Hobart, Tasmania. Sarah Needham May died in Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW on 11 Nov 1908, she was 65. She is buried at South Head Cemetery.


The following newspaper articles depict the life of Joseph Creer, from his days as a steam ship captain to his later life as the captain of pilots in Sydney Harbour, living at Watson's Bay.









Captain Joseph Creer, one of Sydneys oldest pilots, died at his residence, Clifton, Watsons Bay, this morning. He had reached the ripe age of 85 years.

With the passing of the old shipmaster goes a link with the past pilot service of the Sydney Heads. He was born in the Isle of Man, and served his time in a little Manx brig, and became master of his first vessel when he was about 21 years of age. He came out to the colonies and joined the Adelaide pilots, and remained in the service for some years. A disagreement arose, however, and the captain severed his connection with the Adelaide pilots and went to sea again, subsequently joining the old Clarence and Richmond River Steamship Company, which has since been absorbed by the North Coast Company. For many years he commanded the steamer Clarence, and singularly enough, the three brothers Creer all met in the companys service. Harry Creer becoming superintendent of the company and Edward Creer became an engineer there at the same time.

The late Captain Joseph Creer left the Clarence and Richmond River Co. to join the Sydney pilots. That was in the seventies when competition between he pilots was very keen, and before the advent of the Government pilot service. They had then to go out to sea in whalers which carried trained and permanent crews of four, and some exciting races for ships were often witnessed. Perhaps half a dozen butcher boats would accompany three or four pilot boats and the sight of the crews racing seaward was watched with interest, but by very few, as the populace of Watsons Bay was then a very small one. There were then five pilots licensed by the old Marine Board, and these included Captains Cork, Coutts, Christison and Creer. Captain Charles Smith was the first master of pilots and he was succeeded by the late Captain Creer, and he held the position until his retirement some few years ago.

The memorable loss of the ship Centurion on North Head is recalled by the veteran pilots death. During a terrible south east gale, the pilot boat had to go out to the assistance of the Maneghan. Meanwhile the Centurion got into difficulties, and it was feared ship and crew would be lost on the headland. Captain Creer, in the old pilot steamer Captain Cook, put out, however, and in the thick of the storm the pilot steamers boats were lowered, and succeeded I taking off the whole of the Centurions crew as she was dashed to pieces and disappeared at North Head. The captain was presented with a gold watch and chain for his gallantry on that occasion.

It is said that although the pilots of Captain Creers early days were in competition and charged 8d per ton in and out, of which they retained 6d and gave the Government 2d, their earnings never exceeded 1000 pounds per year, and of this the whalers crews had to be paid and good oarsmen cost money then. One pilot had to remain at the signal station all night too, and another on the lightship. There was but broken communication between Watsons Bay and town then, and pilot boats often carried passengers backwards and forwards, as did the butchers boats too.

Mrs Creer predeceased the captain by some six months. The captain had been ailing for a long time, but had been in very low health during the past two years. 

The Late Captain Creer


Brave Commander


Petford Allen


Many of the world's bravest men and women often perform heroic deeds that pass public recognition, owing to the obscurity and humble character of their services to humanity. It is after all only a little well deserved praise that is missing; not in a sense of hero-worship, however, bit in a sense of giving honour to whom honour is due.


The late Captain Joseph Creer, of the pilot steamer, stationed at Sydney Heads, was one of these, and I would like to lift the veil of obscurity, by a short reference, so that his work might be revealed, and his name justly remembered as that of one of the bravest seamen of Australia.


One had only to stand for a few hours on the bridge of the frail, old, wooden Captain Cook, on a wild night 15 miles off Sydney Heads in the thick of an easterly gale, to know what danger really meant, when the fury of the tempest was at its height, with blinding rain squalls and darkness, in the midst of all which, to launch a boat, with a pilot and two men, surrounded by overwhelming seas, and this often thrice in succession in a single night, the pilot sometimes being submerged out of sight clinging on to the last rung of the ships ladder.


The late commander, nevertheless, safely navigated his tiny, shell-like craft in the teeth of a gale that swept the coats for 40 years and more, and never lost a life.


When the strongest tug boats would not venture outside, and the Manly steamers had not crossed between the Heads for two days, the dauntless sailor was out with his vessel in the worst night of it, in response to the flash of the signal. Together with his coxswain, the late Henry de Fraser (the South Head signalman) guiding him from the land as to the whereabouts of the vessel in distress by means of leading lights, from the cliff above. He performed this heroic work far out at sea in the face of every peril; but this hazardous work was done mostly at night, the people of Sydney never had the opportunity of knowing what was taking place. In this manner the life long services of an heroic officer have passed comparatively unobserved and without fitting recognition. The rescue work, apart from the ordinary duties performed, were of an exceedingly dangerous character, and it required great skill in handling the little vessel, especially when alongside of a foundering ship, or when in close proximity to shallow reefs and hidden rocks. He has followed his faithful signalman by but a few hours, so soon indeed that one might say it was as though in response to the flash of his signal from the unseen heights beyond! An English sailor of the White Star liner Republic recently became a hero by a single action Commander Joseph Creer, of Sydney Heads, by his skilful seamanship, dashing bravery, and 40 years thrilling rescue work at sea, was a hero whose memory the port of Sydney should ever proudly cherish.

Children of Joseph Creer and Sarah Jane Cain


1. Thomas Edward. Born on 17 Mar 1850 in Currie st., Adelaide, SA. Thomas Edward died on 12 May 1931, he was 81.

On 14 Jul 1892 when Thomas Edward was 42, he married Catherine Agnes NEILL, daughter of John NEILL, in Semaphore, SA. Born on 15 Nov 1862 in Queenstown, Port Adelaide, SA.


2.  Jane Christian. Born on 5 Sep 1851 in Adelaide, SA. Jane Christian died in Le Fevre Peninsula, SA on 27 Feb 1853, she was 1. Buried in West Terrace Cemetery, SA.



Children of Joseph Creer and Sarah Ferrers


1. Sarah Jane CREER. Born on 26 May 1862 in Adelaide, SA. Sarah Jane died in Rose Bay, Sydney, NSW on 1 Jul 1945, she was 83. On 11 Jul 1900 when Sarah Jane was 38, she married James Hannah NAIRN, son of Alexander NAIRN & Jane GORDON, in Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW. Born in 1858 in Whithorne, Scotland. James Hannah died in Neutral Bay, Sydney, NSW on 19 Mar 1915, he was 57. 

They had the following children:

    13    i. Gordon Creer (1902-1954)

    14   ii.  Jean Gwendoline (1904-1984)


2. Alice Amelia CREER. Born on 13 Nov 1864 in Adelaide, SA. Alice Amelia died on 6 Aug 1946, she was 81. On 15 Mar 1888 when Alice Amelia was 23, she married Gavin SCOTT, in Woollahra, Sydney, NSW.

They had the following children:

          i. Archibald G. Born in 1889 in  Sydney, NSW.

          ii. Maisie V (1896-)


3. Edith Miriam CREER. Born on 26 Jan 1866 in Adelaide, SA. Edith Miriam died in Edgecliffe, Sydney, NSW on 15 Oct 1942, she was 76. Buried in South Head Cem., C/E, Sydney, NSW. On 8 Dec 1887 when Edith Miriam was 21, she married Edmund John Baily PLAYFAIR, son of (John) Thomas PLAYFAIR & Ellen (Helen) MATHESON, in Woollahra, Sydney, NSW. Born on 22 Aug 1863 in Sydney, NSW. Edmund John Baily died in Waverley, Sydney, NSW on 6 Oct 1926, he was 63.

They had the following children:

          i. Niedham (Neida) Jessie Ferrers (1888-1969)

         ii. Thomas Alfred John (Jack) (1890-1966)

        iii. Dahlis Mary Ferrers (1893-1978)

         iv. Edmund Strathmore Creer (1894-1965)

          v. Lyon Jack Beresford (Buster) (1904-1979)


4. Isabelle Maud CREER. Born on 17 Jul 1870 in Sydney, NSW.

On 10 May 1899 when Isabelle Maud was 28, she married Herbert J. H. D. GALE, in Vaucluse, Sydney, NSW. 

They had one child:

          i. John (Jack H). Born in 1900 in Moss Vale, NSW.


5. Adeline Mary CREER. Born on 22 Mar 1873 in Sydney, NSW.

On 30 Apr 1895 when Adeline Mary was 22, she married Robert BRANDRETH-PARRY, in Woollahra, Sydney, NSW.

They had the following children:

          i. Gavin Brandreth. Born in 1898 in Vaucluse, Sydney, NSW. In 1937 when Gavin Brandreth was 39, he married Linda  Jean Marguerite STEPHEN, in Sydney, NSW.

          ii. Robert Keith. Born in 1899 in Vaucluse, Sydney, NSW. 

        iii. Geoffrey L Brandreth (1905-)


6. Joseph Dickinson CREER. Born on 24 Jan 1875 in Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW. Joseph Dickinson died in Canada ( or 1920?) on 17 Apr 1936, he was 61. In 1893 when Joseph Dickinson was 17, he married Elizabeth G GIBSON, in Sydney, NSW. 

They had the following children:

          i. Alfred J. Born in 1894 in Woollahra, Sydney,

 In 1920 when Alfred J was 26, he married Jessie LLOYD, in Annandale, Sydney, NSW. 

         ii. William R. Born in 1896 in Vaucluse, Sydney,

 In 1921 when William R was 25, he married Annie MARCHANT, in Inverell, NSW.

         iii. Roy W. Born  abt 1897 in NSW. Roy W died in 1897 in Kiandra, NSW.

          iv. Joseph D. Born in 1898 in Vaucluse, Sydney,

           v. Laurie G. Born in 1901 in Rockley, NSW.

          vi. Marie G. Born in 1906 in Woollahra, Sydney, NSW. Marie G died in 1906 in Woollahra, Sydney, NSW.

         vii. Leonard. Born in 1907 in Woollahra, Sydney, NSW. Leonard died in Woollahra, Sydney, NSW in 1916, he was 9.



7. Ethel Ferrers CREER. Born on 13 Jan 1877 in Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW. Ethel Ferrers died on 13 Mar 1945, she was 68.


On 7 Apr 1900 when Ethel Ferrers was 23, she married Arthur Tarlton STILES, son of Charles Tarlton STILES & Catherine Elizabeth WREN, in Marrickville, Sydney, NSW. Born on 6 Sep 1875. Arthur Tarlton died on 4 Jan 1961, he was 85.

They had the following children:

          i. Kathleen Needham. Born on 20 Apr 1902 in Vaucluse, Sydney, NSW. Kathleen Needham died on 16 Sep 1987, she was 85.


         ii. Gwendoline Doris (1903-1991)

        iii. Marjorie Alice (Topsy). Born on 23 Dec 1905.

 On 15 Jun 1991 when Marjorie Alice (Topsy) was 85, she married Field Marshall ROBERTS. Born on 26 Feb 1904.

          iv. Alice M. Born in 1906 in Bega, NSW.

           v. Charles Tarlton. Born on 2 May 1916 in Bega, NSW. Charles Tarlton died on 6 May 1916.

     23   vi. Judith Barbara (1921-)


8. Amy Beatrice Alderson CREER. Born on 23 Apr 1879 in Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW. Amy Beatrice Alderson died on 17 May 1944, she was 65.On 11 Nov 1907 when Amy Beatrice Alderson was 28, she married Maurice GARWOOD, in Waverley, Sydney, NSW.

They had one child:

          i. Nancy.



9. Herbert Victor CREER. Born on 21 Sep 1881 in Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW. Herbert Victor died in War Veteran's Home, Narrabeen, Sydney, NSW on 5 Aug 1969, he was 87.  

On 30 Dec 1907 when Herbert Victor was 26, he first married Hon Veronique Lillian Violet GREVILLE, daughter of Baron GREVILLE, in Christ Church, North Sydney, NSW. Born on 14 Oct 1869. Veronique Lillian Violet died on 5 Feb 1956, she was 86.

They had one child:

          i. Victor Charles Hamish (1908-)


On 12 Jun 1957 when Herbert Victor was 75, he second married Lynda Mary MARTIN, daughter of WILLIAMSON, in St Stephens Church, Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW. Lynda Mary died in Aug 1957.


On 14 Jul 1960 when Herbert Victor was 78, he third married Bonita ALLEN, daughter of MACKELLAIG.


10. Reginald Charles Ferrers CREER. Born on 21 Sep 1881 in Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW. Reginald Charles Ferrers died in War Veteran's Home, Narrabeen, Sydney, NSW on 29 Jun 1958, he was 76. Buried in Northern Suburbs Cemetery, Sydney, NSW.  

On 15 Jun 1917 when Reginald Charles Ferrers was 35, he first married Eulalie Adela HENTY, in Carlton, Melbourne, Vic. Born on 17 Oct 1891 in Perth, WA. They were divorced in 1927.

They had the following children:

          i. Henty. Henty died in Norway WW2 in Sep 1943, he was 25.  Born on 28 Mar 1918.

          ii. Pamela.

 Pamela married Gerard MELLOR.

         iii. Deidre.


On 27 Aug 1927 when Reginald Charles Ferrers was 45, he second married Kathleen Marianne SILVER, in Darling Point, Sydney, NSW.


11. Gwendoline Needham May CREER. Born on 4 Aug 1884 in Watson's Bay, Sydney, NSW. Gwendoline Needham May died on 1 Jun 1926, she was 41.

On 4 Aug 1904 when Gwendoline Needham May was 20, she first married Alfred B BAKEWELL, in Waverley, Sydney, NSW.

They had the following children:

          i. Edmund Ross. Born in 1905 in Marrickville, Sydney, NSW. Edmund Ross died  abt 1935, he was 30.

     25   ii. Nancy L (1907-1953)


In 1904 when Gwendoline Needham May was 19, she second married William Mason Sykes HARGREAVES, in Waverley, Sydney, NSW.

They had one child:

          i. Bill. Born in 1919.

Bill married Mary.

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