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Creer and Playfair Family History



John Henry Needham FERRERS was born about 1812 or 1814, according to his marriage and death certificates. He had arrived in Hobart before 6 Oct 1842, when he married Mary Bennett; at the time he gave his age as 28. Mary had arrived on board Orleana, with her parents and 8 of her 9 siblings, on 4 July 1841. Their daughter Sarah Needham May Ferrers was born in Hobart on 1 July 1843. On his marriage registration, Henry Ferrers stated that he was a carpenter.


The family moved to Adelaide on board the schooner Water Lily in May 1850.


Henry Ferrers was licensee of the Princes Hotel from 1851 until 1857, and part of 1858, when the license was transferred to Edwin Wallis on the 23rd December, 1858, after the death Of Henry Ferrers.. The inn was in a good position as it was adjacent to the Mundy St ferry that took workers across the river to the patent slip of Mr Fletcher.


The schooner Omeo was registered to Henry Ferrers in 1855, and continued to operate in his wifes name after his death, although this could be due to a failure of the new owners to notify the authorities of any change. In 1866 the schooner left Tumby Bay and disappeared. It was assumed she had been overwhelmed and sunk, taking her three man crew with her. Later wreckage was found on the southern Yorkes Peninsula that was identified as coming from the Omeo. Omeo was a wood 2 masted schooner, 32 tons, built in 1854. It was registered in the name of JHN Ferrers at the time of its demise.


Henry Ferrers owned land in the Port Adelaide area this land was mostly speculative and of very little value after its purchase. Section 763 was at the tip of Le Fevres Peninsula comprising mud flats or sand dunes. Section 914 was in Ethelton about opposite the Princes Hotel, and possibly the area Henry Ferrers lived when he died. Part section 333 was at the North Arm where from time to time speculators tried to have the port moved to without success.


Henry Ferrers, as he was generally known, owned various parcels of land in Adelaide at the time of his death. His death certificate states that he was a licensed victualler and farmer, living at Le Fevres Peninsula. He died intestate, and all his property was given to his wife. His age at death was given as 46.


Mary Ferrers purchased the British Hotel, 13 North Parade, Port Adelaide, on the 15 December, 1859, and continued as licensee and owner until 6 April, 1864. The British Hotel, built in 1847, still stands and is heritage listed. She then moved to live at Watsons Bay in NSW, with her daughter sarah, and son in law, Joseph.


Henry Ferrers died on 16 December 1858, and was buried on the 19th December 1858, at Alberton Cemetery, Le Fevres Peninsula.

Mary Ferrers died at Watsons Bay, and is buried at South Head Cemetery.


The Family Myth


Various family members have told the story that Henry Ferrers was the son of an earl who was hanged, as my grandmother used to say, by a silken cord, due to his nobility! The only Lord that this could be was Laurence Shirley, Earl Ferrers, who was indeed hanged for murdering his steward, in 1760. He had the honour of being the last British Nobleman to be hanged!


There can be no connection between this earl and our Henry Ferrers. The title of Lord Ferrers had been transferred to the Shirley family, for which I think we can be glad. Laurence Shirley was a violent man whom you would not want to claim as an ancestor!


Another family story is that Henry Ferrers was a black sheep, sent to the colonies and kept here by regular payments of gold. Perhaps this story is closer to the truth, but Henry Ferrers was of the working class, so the story of the gold is most unlikely. Unfortunately, any early records such as his marriage and business dealings, contain no genealogical information, and after his death, a notice in the paper, probably inserted by his wife Mary, gives no clues.


The Truth


I wish we knew! Brad Smith has put many hours into researching the origins of Henry Ferrers, but nothing has come to light so far. However, we do live in hope of a link suddenly becoming available, and the mystery solved.