Edwin Colenso


Edwin ColensoEdwin, youngest son of Samuel May Colenso and Mary Veale Thomas, arrived in Geelong on the Berkshire, which docked at Point Henry at 10:00am on the 3rd of October 1848. The Berkshire had left Plymouth on the 9th June 1848. His eldest brother William had immigrated to New Zealand in 1834, another brother disappeared to Canada around 1853. One of his sisters, Jane Emily married a Napoleonic soldier, another married a saddler and moved to Walsall Foreign. Cornwall was changing and many of its native population were traveling to all corners of the British Empire.


Edwin was recorded on the passenger list as “Edward Collins” a 24 year-old carpenter from Penzance. I found this record after discovering from his obituary in the Geelong Advertiser that he had arrived in Geelong in October 1848. This narrowed the search down to three ships. Ironically Collins was the name my grandmother chose to replace Colenso, when she changed her name after being divorced by my grandfather.


Obituary Geelong Advertiser, July 1897.


Hardly a week passes without a vacancy occurring in the ranks of the old pioneers who settled early in this part of the colony, and today we have to mention the death of Mr Edwin Colenso, who died at his residence, Noble-street, Chilwell, on the 30th ult. Mr Colenso arrived in the bay in October 1848, and was among the first undertakers who opened business in this town. He joined the mad rush to the diggings early in the fifties, and participated in the Ballarat riots, taking sides with the late Hon. Peter Lalor at the famous Eureka Stockade. He had the rather sensational experience when returning to Geelong, having been "stuck-up" by bushrangers, robbed of his hard earned gold, and was left in a perfectly nude state, by them, lashed to a tree*. He was discovered by a settler shortly after, and was released. He was employed at his trade in one workshop for 42 years, having successively served Messrs W.B. King, J.W. Hudson, and W.B. King and Sons, undertakers of Moorabool-street. Mr Colenso came from the Penzance (Cornwall) family, several of whom have distinguished themselves in the literacy and scientific world, notably the late Right Rev. John William Colenso D.D., Lord Bishop of Natal, and celebrated arithmetician, and the Rev William Colenso, the most eminent living authority on New Zealand botany, and the first printer to set up the press in that Colony for the Royal Missionary Society. Mr Edwin Colenso died at the age of 70 1/2 years.


* I think he probably argued with the bushranger to earn this treatment.






















On the 5th January 1850, Edwin married Eliza Borrill Cook, from Lincoln. They had 4 children, only two surviving infancy, before Eliza died on the 21st October 1858. Their children were:


  • Samuel Robert, born and died in Geelong in 1852
  • Samuel Robert, born in 1853 in Irish Town, died after a long and painful illness on the 8th October 1890. He never married.
  • John, born 22 November 1853 in Irish Town, died in 1933 in Geelong, married Sarah Ann Hopkins and had 11 children
  • William, born 2 March 1856, died 14 March 1857


On the 12th February 1859 Edwin married Martha Austin, from Bristol. They had 11 children.


  • Edwin Austin, born 1860 Chilwell, died 21 Dec 1898 of Typhoid in Melbourne, married Barbara Waixel 31 May 1882 in Fitzroy and had 9 children. He was bus driver when he married.
  • William R, born 15 August 1861 Geelong, died 26 December 1939. He had a son in Sydney in 1887, wife Helena Hand (nee O’Brien) and had another family in Victoria, wife Margaret Jackson with 7 children. The Sydney Branch of the family is most likely descended from him.
  • Mary Jane, born 1863 Chilwell, died 1865 Geelong.
  • Emily Caroline, born 1865 Chilwell, died 7th December 1950, married Alfred Allan Winstanley and had 12 children.
  • Richard Alfred, born 1867 Geelong, died 23 August 1923 in South Yarra, married Grace Ann Hodge 1891 and had two children.
  • Thomas Henry, born 1870 Geelong, died 12 August 1950 in Deepdene. He married Elizabeth Gilchrist Bain in 1894 and had 4 sons and a daughter. After Elizabeth died in 1940 he married Mabel Ellen Ash.
  • Amelia Virginia, born 1872 in Geelong, died 1898 Benalla, married Robert Courtney Feltham in 1890 and had three children.
  • Joseph Austin, born 1874 in Geelong, immigrated to New Zealand in 1902 and died there in 1939. He married a fellow Victoria Emily Ince in 1902 in Dunedin, settled in Oemaru and had three daughters.
  • Benjamin, born and died in Geelong in 1876.
  • Alfred George, born 1877 in Geelong, died in 1950. He married Maria Margaret Edith Ash in 1904 and had one daughter.
  • Albert Ernest, born 1880 in Geelong, served with the Scottish Horse and the Bushveldt Carbineers in South Africa. He married the sister of another Australian Soldier and settled in Durban, dying in 1954. He had a son and a daughter.


Most of the Australian Colenso family is descended from Edwin, the majority still in Victoria, but some moved to Queensland and son William had his original family in Sydney.


Colenso Certificates