The Deans of Greghamstown, Gregra, Molong and beyond
Samuel Dean was a convict transported to Australia in 1832. He had been found guilty of stealing lead and his sentence was 7 years. He was 15 years old. On arrival in Sydney he was assigned to Robert Williams and lived at Penrith. In 1838 he married Catherine Kinsella, daughter of an Irish convict at St Matthews Catholic Church Windsor. In 1840 Samuel obtained his Certificate of Freedom and he and Catherine moved to Kurrajong. They had 12 children; our ancestor William was born on 25 September 1851.
The family left Kurrajong and took up several grants of land at Greghamstown, approximately half way between Blayney and Millthorpe. The family home was built on 40 acres with access from what is now known as Sherlock Lane. We believe that the property was called ‘Tremaine’ although it is now known as ‘Brightside’. The remains of the family home still stand today although it seems that the property has been subdivided. William Dean had 52 acres next door to the family property. Catherine died 11 July 1898 aged 77 years and Samuel died 4 November 1899 aged 88 years. They are both buried in the cemetery at Millthorpe.
William Dean left Greghamstown in 1873 and acquired by free selection, 420 acres at Gregra, approximately 2km east of where the town of Manildra now stands, on the Manildra/Cudal road. He named the property ‘Melrose’. Today it is known as Kia-ora.
On 1 February 1875 William married Rebecca Frances Ashcroft at St John’s Church of England Molong. They had 6 children; the first was our ancestor, William Henry. In 1909 Rebecca purchased some 4 acres on the corner of Market and Croesus Street just 1 km north of Molong, an area known as West End. Soon after they sold Melrose and moved onto the property at West End. They called this property ‘Rockview’. William and Rebecca lived here until 1918 when they moved to 10 Preddy’s Road, Bexley which had been purchased by Rebecca. They called the home Belmont and they lived here until they died, he on 14 December 1925 aged 74 and she in 1937 aged 83. They are buried in the Woronora cemetery.
William Henry Dean
William Henry was born in 1876. He attended Grega primary school from 1881 and later he went to Sandy Creek Public School where, in 1889 he was in 3rd year. He had beautiful handwriting and had started to write poetry before he had reached his teens. William Henry was a prolific writer. He had many poems and other articles published in the local newspaper, the Molong Argus until he left the district and moved to Sydney in about 1898. He was a mate of Henry Lawson and in the early 1900s they travelled to New Zealand together. William Henry is mentioned in Lawson’s story ‘Stiffner and Jim’ as his mate Bill. He was also a mate of Henry Kendall and spent some time in Gosford. He had two books of poetry published; Home and camp and also Gum leaves.
On 25 September 1911 when he was 35 years old he married Eleanor Wood at a church in Kensington in Sydney. They lived in Park Avenue Mascot and they called their home ‘Deanwood’. William Henry worked as a tram conductor but continued to write poetry and short stories with several letters and articles published in Sydney newspapers. They had two children; my father John Blackham born in 1912 and Helen born in 1914. William Henry died on 11 November 1927 just two years after his father. He was 51 years old. Eleanor died 26 July 1958. They are buried at Rookwood Cemetery.
This brief summary of the history of the Dean family in Australia has been researched and written by Rodney James and Elva Frances Dean.