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William Godfree of Kaanlang

William, the youngest son, was left the same sum of money as his brother George and by 1861, was farming in Fifield, Oxfordshire where he was still in 1881. He appears several times in the advertisements section of the Jackson’s Oxford Journal selling wood at auction. He is also mentioned in the petty sessions but not as a criminal..

William left Fifield and sailed on an unassisted passage on the Holt Hill, arriving in Australia in September 1885. Unlike his brother, he does not seem to have been very successful in Australia. He was leasing land for ten years, but lost this and although he was owning land for at least a year later on, by the time of his death he had no assets other than some money in the bank.

Sheep shearing c1900 Wikimedia Commons

It looks as though he continued farming. By 1888, he was in Kaanlang Parish, County of Polwarth. This was an area about 140 kms south west of Melbourne and from the Parish Plan appears to cross the Otway Ranges – the southern parish boundary being the Wye River where it enters the Bass Strait and the northern boundary adjoining Barwon Downs. There are two distinct areas of settlement marked, most of it being State Forest and also taking in Angahook Lorne State Park. Not all allotments are mapped on the plans, but numbers 27 and 29 are in the coastal area, the lowest numbers are on the northern part. From the probate documents, we know that he had an old Crown Lease which was granted on the 1st July 1888 over Allotment 25 Parish of Kaanlang, County of Polwarth but which was forfeited in September 1898.

William appears as complainant in two cases at Birregurra Court of Petty Sessions. The first time, against William Fraser for a work and labour debt on 29th March 1890, the second on 25th October 1899 was against Thomas Victor Smith for sheep stealing.

From 1905-1906, he is listed as Occupier & Owner in the Parish of Kaanglang in the Winchelsea Shire Rate Books. He died on the 5th July 1913 of senile decay. bronchitis and heart failure at Barwon Downs, Winchelsea, County of Polworth and was buried two days later in Warncoort Cemetery.He never married and when he died he, William Godfrey [sic] of Kaanlang farmer, left “everything to his nephew William Godfrey [sic], storekeeper of Charlton” in a will dated 28th June 1913. This was witnessed by John Fitzpatrick, general practitioner of Birregurra , and James Henry Grant, Justice of the Peace of Forrest.

Probate was granted to William Samuel eventually, as the incorrect spelling of his name caused a great deal of paperwork involving proof of identity.

Included in the probate documents, (which can be seen from the link below) is a letter (under oath) from James Henry Grant of Forrest, sawmiller, who prepared the will, who stated ” that in writing out the Will I erroneously spelt the surname of the said Testator as “Godfrey” as the name now appears, being at the time of the impression that that was the correct method of spelling his said surname and also because this is the usual way of spelling the said surname“. He then goes on to say that he had also spelled Wiliam’s name wrong, and anyway it should have been William Samuel and had called him a Storekeeper, although actually he “is by occupation a Grocer“.

The letter from the doctor, John Kirkpatrick of Birregurra, as well as testifying that it was the correct spelling of the surname, also mentioned that “the shakiness of the Testators’s  signature is due to extreme weakness due to Cardiac Asthma.”

Both of them confirmed that the will had been read over to the Testator who “seemed perfectly to understand the same and expressed his approval thereof“.

After six months of toing and froing, probate was granted and the value of the estate was £38 12s 8d. He had left nothing, apart from this amount in an account with the Colonial Bank of Australasia.


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