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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Matthias Smith

Born: 1817; Died: 1903; Married: Rebecca Ellis

John Smith (1790-1903) and Rebecca Bell had married on 14 December 1815 at St Andrews, Great Ravelly, Cambridge UK and had six children, two of whom migrated to Australia – Matthias (1817-1903) and Edward (1822-1888).

Matthias (aka Mathew) Smith (1817-1903) married Eliza/Eunice Fields around 1843 in Wistow and they had ten children. Sadly Eunice and seven of the children had died by 1861, some from the "black fever" – leaving only William 1844, Robert 1846 and Mathew 1857.

Edward Smith had married Mary Kilby in 1841 and emigrated to Australia, so Matthias, Robert and Mathew came out to join Edward at Weetangera, whilst William who was married remained in England.

Matthias Smith 45, Robert 16 and Mathew age 5 arrived in Australia on 12 November 1862 on the 'Northumberland' from Plymouth, after a ninety-six day voyage, listed as widower and family.

They travelled as Assisted Immigrants, with the government paying the bulk of the fare, but Matthius having to pay eight, five and three pounds respectively. Edward had loaned Matthius some of the fare and it was later repaid from his salary when he arrived and worked for his brother.

Matthius and Edward were illiterate, but Robert could read and write.

William and his wife and son emigrated in 1880 and settled in Sydney.

Matthius was only 5' 5", but was said to be very strong and an excellent mower with a scythe.

He was known as "Old Matt" and his son Mathew as "Young Matt".

Matthius worked for wages around the district and did not acquire his own land. His first attempt to sow his own crop was in 1865, which was a bad drought year and he lost everything, so he was happy to work for wages thereafter, working into his seventies.

He was apparently a good friend of Parson Pierce Galliard Smith (no relative) of St John's and worked with him, including planting many trees around the old rectory – 'Glebe House'.

He was described as a rough diamond who lived hard, worked hard and talked hard.

He is said to have possessed a tuneful light tenor voice and had a facility for reciting, although unable to read. He was known and appreciated as an entertainer.

He worked at the old Rectory until old and infirm and retired to his son William's house in Sydney where he died in in 1903 at 86.

His son, Mathew Smith (1857-1937), married Eliza Plummer (1860-1937) on 22 April 1879 at the Weetangera Wesleyan church. They had six children, who attended the Weetangera School:

In 1885 he was recorded as being the occupant of 175 acres with 5 horses and 6 cattle in the NSW Legislative Assembly Votes and proceedings Vol3.

Mathew died on 26 June 1937 at Concord, Sydney and Eliza (Plummer) died on 24 December 1937 at 77 and is buried at St John's Church of England, Reid ACT with her son William.

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