skip to content

Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Patrick Coulton

Born: 1818; Died: 1889; Married: 1. Rosa Nixon; 2. Sarah Mills

Patrick Coulton was born in Fermanagh, Ireland, around 1818, the son of Patrick and Mary. Around 1840 he married Rosannah (Rosa / Rose) Heron, from Donegal, and they applied for passage to Australia. They became assisted bounty immigrants sponsored by A.B.Smith Esq. - for the sum of ₤19 for Patrick and ₤18/3/8 for Rosa. They sailed from Liverpool on Margaret on 23 October 1840, arriving in Sydney some five months later.

They settled at Mt. Pleasant in Penrith, where Patrick was listed as a labourer. Four children were born to them there - Mary, Francis, Rose Ann and Sarah. Rose Ann and Sarah both died in childhood in 1860. By then Rosa's life had also been cut short; she died aged 37 in 1854. Patrick remarried a month after his wife's death. Sarah Mills, a maid at a property close to the Coulton's residence in Penrith, was only fifteen when she married Patrick (aged 36), earning her mother's disapproval. Two children - Sarah Ann and Patrick (Jnr) - were born to them before 1860, when they decided to leave their flood-prone home in Penrith and head for the Ginninderra district. A third child, John, was born at Bargo River on the journey south.

Why Ginninderra? It seems that Patrick found employment there as a labourer on the 'Glenwood' estate of James McCarthy (Snr), raising the possibility that he had worked for McCarthy while living at Penrith; McCarthy had a property at Cranebrook, Penrith, as well as his Glenwood holding at Gooroomon Ponds which was granted to him in the 1830's. When McCarthy died in 1869 his son James McCarthy (Jnr) took over the Glenwood property, becoming a very successful farmer and grazier, and a well-known identity. It seems that Patrick and Sarah lived in the Ginninderra area until 1870, when Patrick selected 100 acres at the head of Oakey Creek in the Parish of Wallaroo. The land was secured by a deposit of five shillings an acre. He must have had some success on the land as by 1883, availing himself of the provisions of the Robertson Land Acts, he had acquired a total of 642 acres.

In the following year Patrick, Francis and John Coulton are listed as farmers at Oakey Creek in the NSW County Directory, Queanbeyan Land District. Patrick , we are told, had a dairy herd of forty cows, which the girls milked by hand in a dairy 'as large as the house'. The milk was used to make cheese. According to Landholder's Returns for 1885 Patrick then owned 800 acres, on which he was running 66 sheep, twelve cattle and seven horses. An adjoining block west of the original Oakey Creek known as 'Ballyhooly', was farmed by son John.

Life at Oakey Creek began from scratch - clearing the land, building a dwelling, and establishing the family home. At this stage there were five children; nine more were to be born over the next 25 years. The house was most likely built of slabs cut on the block and stringybark sheets for the roof. Grandson Essol was later to take over the property, and gradually increased the holding to approximately 1525 acres by 1963.

In 1882 Patrick and Francis (eldest son), and neighbour Alexander Boyd (who married Mary Coulton) were members of the group who petitioned for establishment of a school at Glenwood, on a site known locally as 'Rocky Range'. By that time Francis owned land adjacent to the Rocky Range site. A public school was duly established in the following year, with at least four of Patrick and Mary's younger children attending (James, Cecily, Agnes, Charles), and some of Francis'. Some of Patrick's older children may have attended St Francis school at Ginninderra which opened in 1872.

On 24 September 1884 the Queanbeyan Age reported an accident involving Patrick:

'.....Mr Coulton, a well-known resident of Ginninderra, [was] injured in an accident on Yass Road on the Queanbeyan side of the Molonglo bridge. He was returning from town with his three-horse team when a youth named Walsh galloped by and frightened the team. They bolted and ran into Ryan's butchers cart driven by a lad named Carney. Mr Coulton, an old man [aged 66], was thrown out, lying with his dray entangled in the trace chain. Fortunately he was not seriously injured'.

The Goulburn Evening Post added the detail that the shaft of Coulton's dray penetrated Ryan's horse's chest and killed it instantly, while Carney was thrown to the ground and escaped with bruises. Mr J.Wright came upon this troubled scene and took Patrick into town.
Patrick died aged 71 a few years later on 4 April 1889, and is buried at Yass Cemetery, along with son Patrick who was killed in a riding accident when only nineteen. He left his widow Sarah with five children still at school and a farm to manage.

[edited extracts from 'From a distance', a Coulton family history compiled by John Norris and Peter Coulton (see ref.below) with kind permission]


Born in County Tyrone in 1818, Patrick Coulton arrived in the colony on the 28th of March 1841 with his wife Rosa (nee Dixon) on the 'Margaret'. They first lived near Penrith, and had two children - Mary and Francis - before Rosa died. In 1854 Patrick re-married, to Sarah Mills. They moved to the Ginninderra district in the 1860's, and selected land in the parish of Wallaroo. They had twelve children: Sarah Ann, Patrick, John, Elizabeth May, Catherine Bridget, James Cornelius, Cecily, Agnes, Charles, Theresa Ann, Patrick William and Susannah.

Related Photos


< Rediscovering Ginninderra