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Article by Debra Arkell, Australia, 2014
Always Brothers - Always Rushdenites
From Rushden to Speedwell

It was once stated in a letter "We Rushdenites all hold dearly to the traditions of our home town and in this overseas settlement mingle together as one big family." It was this sentiment that my grandfather James Roland Perkins as a 12 year old boy took with him to Australia as he and his family closed the door to their home at 37 Midland Road, Rushden, for the last time in September 1910. They were leaving to join three of his uncles who had left Rushden and Swineshead just a year earlier to take up settlement in Speedwell, a town 150 miles west of Brisbane in Queensland Australia. My grandfather known all his life as Ro was one of seven children to Fred and Sarah Perkins. His other brothers and sisters were: Lorrie 17, Herbert 16, Frederick Allston 14, my grandfather who was 12, Leonard 11, Bernard 7, and Millie 3. Fred's three brothers William, George and Charles must have found favour in the land that was assigned to them as British settlers that they persuaded their other brother to follow them half way around the world to establish a new home in a new country.

Fred’s three brothers sailed out on the Oswestry Grange leaving Southampton in July 1909 and arriving in Brisbane on the 10th October 1909. The three brothers were: William Perkins 43 and his wife Emily 43. (It was Emily who wrote the diary to her mother Mrs Emma Elstow whose maiden name was Skinner. Her father was William Airyne Elstow and they lived in High street Rushden.) The children of William and Emily who sailed to Australia with their parents were Horace 19, Charles, 16, Henry, 14, George, 10, Grace, 8 and Benjamin 2. The family of George Perkins 33 were his wife Elizabeth 32 and their children, William 10 and Leonard 7. The third brother was Charles Perkins 39 and his wife Francis 36 and they had one child Leonard 8.

As William George and Charles were establishing themselves in Speedwell, Fred and Sarah were preparing to pack up and resettle with their seven children, leaving on the ship the Ayreshire and arriving in Brisbane on the 13th November 1910. On arrival Fred and Sarah initially made their home at Wondai 12 miles from his three brothers. Fred was working at the sawmill of Messrs. Jones Thomson and Thomson, and they built themselves a slab hut to live in. Eventually Fred and Sarah moved to be closer to Fred’s three brothers at Speedwell. Fred and Sarah continued working on the selection for many years until his death at the age of 73 in 1944. Sarah stayed on their farm until her death in 1949. Fred's brother William died in 1935, Charles in 1947 and George in 1950. All except George (who died in Brisbane) are buried close to where they settled. Fred and Sarah had three more children here in Australia with two dying in infancy and a daughter Dulcie who died in 2006. They generated 26 grandchildren and 75 great grandchildren by their eight children. Of the four Perkins brothers the name has had opportunity to expand 7 times with William, George and Charles, and for Fred who had five sons. Altogether the four brothers had four daughters and so the influence of the Perkins name and family history from Rushden has moved vastly throughout Queensland and beyond.

The influence of my ancestors in Rushden continued to touch my life right up until the 1970s when I remember going to visit a relation, who owned a specialized boot making business in an inner suburb of Brisbane, to get school shoes.

Early Rushden Connections:

To date I have researched my family history to Rushden and surrounding area back to the 1700s. With my 5xgt grandfather being Joseph Perkins born in Wymington and marrying Elizabeth Hall in 1760. Of their 6 children, one was my 4xgt grandfather John Perkins born in1766. John married Elizabeth? and they had 8 children with William being my 3xgt grandfather. He then married Rebecca Coleman, and of their 10 children, Joseph Perkins was my 2xgt grandfather.

Standing: George, Henry, Mark, Frederick, Charles
Middle: Joseph & Martha (Nee West)
Seated: Emma, Miriam, Mary (Polly) & Walter

In 1883 Joseph married Martha West and the photo depicts this family with my gt grandfather Fred in the photo. Fred and Sarah [nee George] were married in 1891. In the 1881 census my gt gt grandfather Joseph is listed as an engine driver and he came from Wymington while my gt gt grandmother Martha West came from Podington. Their first child Emma was born in Podington, while twin boys, 2 days old in the census, were born in Rushden. In 1881 Fred and Sarah were living at 149 Wellingborough Road Rushden. In 1891 Fred and Sarah were living at 190 Wellingborough Road. The trade of boot making was a place of work for a significant number of the Perkins clan with William being a boot manufacturer in Station road Rushden up till his time of departure to Australia.


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