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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Isabella Donaldson

Born: 1826; Died: 1911; Married: Thomas 'Tom' Jones

Isabella was the fourth child of James and Margaret Donaldson of Dundee, Scotland, where she was born on 15 January 1826. She arrived in Australia in 1837 at the age of eleven. Ten years later she married Thomas Jones in the Church of England at Yass. The ceremony was witnessed by Peter Thompson and Ann Jane Nelson.

It is believed that Thomas was born in Westminster, London, the son of William and Amelia Jones. He was christened at St Martins in the Fields church, London. He appears to have arrived in Australia on the Portland on 26 March 1832 - but his name is a very common one, and may have been confused. The Portland sailed from Portsmouth on 27November 1831, and on arrival Thomas was assigned to work in the County of Murray.

At the time of their marriage Thomas and Isabella were living on the Murrumbidgee River in the Parish of Cavan. Thomas had previously worked at Ginninderra, and they returned there in 1862 with Thomas employed by William Davis on the Ginninderra Estate. In 1875 Thomas selected land near Oak Hill where they built themselves a small home.

Thomas died in 188 aged seventy five and was buried at The Glebe, St Paul's, witnesses being his son William Henry Jones and John Southwell. A street in the nearby suburb of Weetangera - Jones Place - has been named after him, commemorating Thomas as one of the pioneers of the Canberra district. (William Henry was to marry John and Louisa Southwell's daughter, Eva Annie Southwell, a few years later (1893)).

After the death of her husband Isabella lived with her son William Henry for some years at Eva Dell near One Tree Hill, and later in a small house the he built for her behind his shop in Hoskins Street, Hall. She made a living making straw hats and stays for the ladies, a skill that she had apparently acquired as a child. Isabella was affectionately known to the neighbours as Granny Jones and often walked from her home in Hall to the Cricketers Arms Hotel on the outskirts of the village for a glass of beer.

In 1906 she met with an accident when a sulky driven by her granddaughter collided with a gatepost, and she was thrown to the ground. Apart from a dislocated thumb, a few bruises and severe shock, she escaped without serious injury. Her last days were spent with her daughter Margaret at Darlington, Sydney, where she died on 3 May 1911, aged eighty six. She was buried in the Presbyterian cemetery at Rockwood on 5 May

Isabella out-lived Thomas by twenty-three years before she passed away in 1911. OF their eleven children, three dies in infancy. Their children were:

[Edited extracts from Hams (1987) with thanks]


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