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John Collits

by Gai Muchamore nee Collits

Pierce Collits and Mary Hardwick were my 3rd Great Grandparents. They arrived in the Colony on board the ship "Minorca" on the 14th December, 1801, with their two daughters, Maria and Sarah. Two other children were born to Pierce and Mary in London, both males, named Henry Pierce and Pierce, however, these 2 boys did not survive. John Pilmore Collits, my 2nd Great Grandfather, was Pierce and Mary's first born in the colony and their first male to survive.

John was born on 8.2.1803 and was baptised on 11.8.1805 at Hawkesbury. Pierce and Mary were living in the District of Evan at this time.

On the 28th January 1822 John Collits married Hannah Lees at the Castlereagh Church by Henry Fulton. Hannah was the daughter of John Lees and Mary Stevens. John and Hannah had 8 children:

Photo of Maria Collits

1. Maria b. 1824

2. Mary b. 8.12.1826

3. Susannah b. 5.5.1829

4. Jane b. 24.6.1831

5. Esther b. 10.10.1833

6. Sarah b. 30.8.1836

7. Pierce b. 13.3.1840

8. John b. 25.5.1842

Pierce and Mary made their move to Mt. York in 1823, however, John Pilmore is presumed to still have been residing at Evan as their first two children were born in the Castlereagh District. In 1839 John was granted 150 acres at the Vale of Clwydd (known as Hartley). John and Hannah later moved to the Canowindra district and settled on the property "Bangaroo", but were driven off Bangaroo by hostile aboriginals. The following poem was written about them -

With spears and womerahs, and boomerangs too,

They hunted poor Johnny from Bangaroo,

And Hannah and Bridget and children, too,

Were forced to flee from Bangaroo.

Hannah was the first white woman in Canowindra. They later settled at Back Creek, where Hannah died on 26.12.1874 and was buried in the Cowra Cemetery. John Pilmore died on 2.6.1866 at Myall Park near Forbes, leaving his real and personal estate to his daughter, Esther Young, to the value of 285.

My Great Grandfather, also named John, son of John Pilmore and Hannah Lees, married HONORAH HENNESSY in 1868 at Cowra. John and Honorah had 5 boys - Arthur John b. 1869, James Pierce b. 1871, Charles Frederick b. 1873, Ernest born 1875 and Edwin Harold b. 1877.

Their mother, Honorah, died 2 years after her last born, in 1879, leaving 5 boys all under the age of 10 years in the care of their father. However, shortly after her death, John too disappeared.

What actually happened to their father, is still a mystery today. One version of the story passed down through the generations is that John left one morning with a load to take to Sydney, had an accident and was never heard of again. He was possibly attacked by blacks. Another story is, that he was so distraught by his wife's death he just rode out on a horse one day and never returned. The facts are that he was never heard of again and there is no Death Certificate for this man.

The children were apparently split up and brought up by different Aunts.

My Grandfather, Edwin Harold, the youngest, was brought up by an Aunt and Uncle in Sydney. At about the age of 14 or 15 years he decided to return to his home ground and eventually married twice.

1. Mary Adams

2. Eleanor Florence Collits.

Edwin's 2nd marriage was to his 2nd cousin. Eleanor coming from the James Collits line of descent.

I am told there was always some "rivalry" between my Grandparents. John's side was known to be the hardworkers of the family, and James' side had that hint of "larakin" about them.

Edwin had 2 children, both boys, to Eleanor, Leo and John, my father was John and the second born. Both boys are now deceased, but the Collits line is still carried on through their children.