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Peter Stewart

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Best Family

Henry Best, the earliest of my ancestors to arrive in Australia, begins an interesting story of money, intrigue and hardship. Born 1821 in Salisbury, Wiltshire England, he supposedly came from a wealthy family and had started as a tailor when he had a falling out with his family, apparently due to marrying an Irish catholic girl.

At 17 years of age Henry decided to join the 11th Regiment of Foot in 1839. Six years later in 1845 he sailed with his wife Mary (nee Flynn) to Norfolk Island as a guard on a convict ship. From there he went to Sydney in 1848 and then finally to Adelaide in 1849, where he settled and lived the rest of his life working as a policeman and finally as a tailor, the trade he had started as a youth. Although wealth was in his family, Henry never saw any of it, and money was left unclaimed in England. A mystery and whole family tale surrounds his life and events. Henry died destitute and was buried in a pauper's grave.

Of the 9 children that Henry and Mary had only 4 lived past 6yrs and all but one, John Henry, were females. If John (my GG grandfather) had not survived the Best name would have not continued to what it is today. All 4 surviving children have descendants living today, many still in South Australia.

The first child Eliza was born on Norfolk Island in 1846. She only lived to the age of 6 before dying of Scarlet Fever in Adelaide.

The second child was John Henry born 1848. John worked as a tinsmith, plumber and ironworker for most of his life and was attributed to helping put the roof on the old Childrens Hospital. Some of his handiwork still survives in the family in the way of handmade kettles. John is also attributed to being the first baby born in the Victoria Barracks in Sydney where his father served as a soldier. In fact, it's possible he was born there or born at sea on his way from Norfolk Island as the barracks had just been built, so they were some of the first to take up residence. John married Sarah Jennings in 1873 and had eight children. Sarah died of septicaemia 11 days after giving birth to the 8th child Walter. Ten years later John re-married Susan Churcher. Susan already had 3 children as a single mother, Florence May, Catherine Maud (who died around age 20) and George (who died nine days after birth). John Henry and Susan had one daughter together also named Susan.

The third child was Mary Ann born about 1850. Mary Ann married Charles Edward Wilson Morgan in 1872 and had nine children of which only three survived.

The fourth child was Catherine born 1851 and died at age 1.

The fifth child was Harriet born 1855 and died at age 1 month.

The sixth child was Louisa born 1857 and married Charles Mathew Fillmore in 1877 having five children.

The seventh child was Charlotte born 1859 and died just short of her 5th birthday.

The eighth child was Emma born 1863 and died weeks short of her 1st birthday.

The nineth child was Agnes born 1865. Agnes married Wilhelm Ludemann from Hanover Prussia in 1892 and had six children.

I am currently working on the Best story, if you have any material, photos or information of any kind, no matter how small, I would love to hear from you.

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Last file update 4th December, 2001

These records are under constant revision.
If you have additions, corrections or questions please contact me.