Phillip MURRAY (1824-1880)
Rosina THOMAS (1836-1919)
of Armstrong’s Forest, Ulladulla
Phillip, the second son of Charles and Susan Murray, married Rosina Thomas in 1853 at Shoalhaven. They were actually married twice on the same day – at Greenhills, Shoalhaven, by a Presbyterian Minister and also at Kiama by a Catholic Priest. Rosina’s parents were Henry Charles Thomas and Rosina (Smith) and according to her death certificate, she was born in Hobart Tasmania in 1835. However, her father’s name was originally Hangan. and she was baptised as Rosina Hangan on 31 May 1835 and the occupation of her father Charles, is recorded as ‘Baker’.
It seems that in 1836 Charles and Rosina Hangan changed their names to Henry and Rosina Thomas and moved, with three children, from Tasmania to Anvil Creek, Glendenbrook, near Maitland NSW. Another son, John Thomas, was born there to Henry and Rosina Thomas on 28 June 1839. Records show the Thomas family then moved to Bateman’s Bay between 1840 and 1842, where Henry Thomas was described as a ‘farmer’. The family, including Rosina who was now one of five children, later moved to Greenhills, near Terara NSW, where Henry Thomas became the Proprietor of the Royal Victoria Hotel – believed to be the second hotel licensed in the district. They eventually had nine children.
Phillip Murray’s sister and brother-in-law, Mary (Murray) and John McCarthy were also living at Greenhills at this time, where John was Proprietor of the Steam Packet Inn. Philip had been involved with this McCarthy undertaking and would have become acquainted with Rosina and the Thomas family when visiting his sister, Mary, in Greenhills.
Phillip was the first of the Murray sons to marry, and it was no doubt at this stage that his father decided to divide up his landholdings and convey portions to the newly married Philip and soon-to-be-married eldest son, James. On 20 December 1854, there were two conveyances drawn up, one to Philip and one to James.
An Indenture was drawn up between Charles Murray of Ulladulla and Susan on the one part, to the effect that they had contracted with the said Phillip Murray –
… absolute sale to him…110 £ …paid by the said Phillip Murray …105 acres…more or less situated in the County of St. Vincent and Parish unnamed at the Big Swamp near Ulladulla commencing at the North East corner of a measured portion of one hundred acres and bounded on the South by that land bearing west thirty chains to Kendalls 1,280 acres and on the west by part of the east boundary of Kendall’s land and a continuation thereof being a line bearing north thirty five chains on the north by a line bearing East thirty chains and on the East by a line bearing South thirty five chains to the commencing point aforesaid. … (Lot 11?)]
A new local newspaper aimed at Illawarra and surrounding districts, the Illawarra Mercury, was established by Thomas Garrett and W. F. Cahill in 1855. Its March 1857 issue carried the following notice:
ULLADULLA. Mr Phillip Murray is Agent for the “Illawarra Mercury”
and is authorised to receive Subscriptions and Advertisements.
Phillip became involved as the local representative.
By 1859 Phillip and Rosina were living in their own home and played host to Phillip’s cousin, Mary McGee when she married, as it turned out, another cousin, Ralph Johnston. The marriage was held on 13 July 1859 at ‘The residence of Phillip Murray, Ulladulla. Ralph’s parents were Alexander Johnson and Mary Shannon of Fermanagh. Witnesses were Phillip Murray and his niece, Margaret Murray.
A Post Office for Milton
When the 1859 petition from 88 residents of the Ulladulla district was drawn up for the Post office at the Ulladulla township (established on 1st August 1842) to be moved to the faster growing Settlement of Milton, it was accompanied by a short note, which stated:
Resolved – That this meeting views with regret the inconvenience which the inhabitants are subject to, by the Post Office being kept in the township of Ulladulla distant from the settlement on an average of six miles; and this meeting is of opinion that the Post Master should be petitioned to remove the same to a central part of the settlement. Proposed by Thomas McGee and seconded by Mr. Phillip Murray carried unanimously Ulladulla January 8, 1859. R. Seccombe Chairman.
It would be some 25 years later that Phillip would lobby for an even more convenient post office for the residents of Armstrong’s Forest.
Sadly for Rosina, her father, Henry Thomas, died on 14 September 1858 at the age of 49 years. His family and all who knew him were deeply shocked. There was a large turn-out for his funeral. Five days after his death, an article appeared in the newspaper:
Death of Mr.THOMAS– I am sorry to announce the death of Mr. Thomas, the spirited proprietor of the Victoria Hotel. He has been ill for a month and died on Tuesday morning. It is meant for high praise when I say, that I firmly believe he has left no enemy in the district. His cheerful voice and energetic manner will be much missed at our public meetings. He was buried on Thursday, at Worrigee, close to the tomb of the lamented Surveyor Begg. Nearly two hundred people followed the body to its last resting place”.
It was many years before Phillip and Rosina became parents. Their first recorded child was born eighteen years after their 1853 marriage, in 1871 – a daughter, Mary. Maybe there were miscarriages. The name ‘Phillip Murray’ was listed in the 1872 Greville’s Post Office Directory as ‘labourer – Ulladulla’.
After such a long wait for their first child, they would be delighted when two more daughters followed on fairly rapidly – Elizabeth Anne in 1874 and Ellen in 1878. But before the arrival of their second daughter, Rosina was working for some time as a sewing teacher. It is likely she was teaching sewing at the church/school from when it started in the mid 1860’s.
Rosina as sewing teacher
In March 1873, a new teacher had been appointed to the [Ulladulla] denominational school at Armstrong’s Forest. He recommended that’ Mrs. Phillip Murray’ be appointed to teach sewing. She was ‘about the most suitable person that can be found. She is willing, and resides close to the school … there are 22 girls at the school, many of them fit to learn sewing’. Cleary enclosed a letter from Francis McMahon.
In that letter supporting Mrs. Murray’s nomination, Francis McMahon wrote that Rosina was ‘a woman of excellent character, very intelligent, mild in her manner and in every way well adapted to perform this work’. Rosina followed this up with a formal application from herself, ‘Rosina Murray, wife of Phillip Murray of Armstrong’s Forest’ D.S. Hicks, Inspector of the Goulburn District vetted Rosina’s application, and recommended –
a salary not exceeding £10 p.a., provided …. she works at least 4 hours per week; the Local Board certifies monthly that she performs the services required of her; that she enters in a Time Book …time of her arrival and departure from the school each day when she attends for the purpose of giving instructions.
Philip as Postmaster 1874
By the year 1873, it appears that Phillip was busy doing a spot of lobbying among the neighbouring farms for a proper post office. On 1st November 1873, a petition was forwarded by the inhabitants of ‘Armstrong’s Forest’ for a Post Office to be established on the mail route. The signatories included everybody in the district, claiming that Milton or Wandandian were too far away for their convenience. It was recommended that the Post Office, if approved, be placed on premises occupied by Phillip Murray and that he be appointed Postmaster. The petition was successful; Phillip Murray was duly appointed Postmaster and the office opened on 2 February 1874.
Rosina vs Schoolteacher Hanrahan
By November 1874 William Ignatius Hanrahan had replaced David Cleary as teacher at the denominational school and Rosina was to lose her needlework teaching position there. Hanrahan lost no time in advising the COE on 3rd November that his own wife would henceforth teach needlework, instead of Mrs. Murray. It is likely that the birth of Rosina’s second daughter in 1874 was behind this changeover. COE file notations on Hanrahan’s letter noted he should ‘be informed that his request cannot be acceded to until Mrs. Murray resigns, and he forwards his marriage certificate’, and finally that ‘Mrs. Murray has tendered her resignaton, to take effect from 31st October ultimo.’ It appears that Rosina was not willing to be hurried off, but managed to stay on the job till the end of October 1874.
By 1876 Phillip’s eldest daughter, Mary, would now be old enough for her schooling to commence. It appears that at this point, Philip, like his brothers, was becoming involved in the Armstrong’s Forest / Yatte Yattah school issues. The establishment of a new public school was petitioned for in October 1876 by A. McLean, Charles Murray, H. McGee and others. Phillip Murray generously provided a portion of his land together with some from Henry Millard for this school. In a letter dated 26th March 1877, he stated:
This is to certify that
I, Phillip Murray, give up all right and title to one acre of land for the purpose of a public school at Yatteyattah as shown on the plan drawn up by P.H. Sheaffe and forwarded to you with the petition for the above purpose. Land selected by C. Murray Snr. about 1862.
Phillip and Rosina’s third daughter Ellen was born in 1879. This would have been a stressful time for Rosina; it is likely about then that Phillip’s health was deteriorating. Early in 1879, her old position of needlework teacher was vacant again at the RC Denominational School at Yatte Yattah/Armstrong’s Forest. With a third baby on the way, the wages would come in handy.
Thomas Henry Arkins, the then teacher, in a letter to the CEO, applied for the appointment of a ‘teacher of needlework’. He then recommended ‘Mrs. P. Murray, who was a sewing teacher from the opening of the school till a few years ago, when the wife of the late teacher Mr. Hanrahan, took charge’.
So, it appears Rosina had been teaching needlework at the school for many years -possibly ever since it commenced. It would be very convenient for her – as she was only a short walk from the school. When the new public school was eventually built on part of her land, it was even closer. However, this caused some problems for Rosina with the schoolchildren on the school side of her fence, as will be seen later.
It took some time, however, before the new Yatte Yattah Public School, together with a teacher’s residence, was actually built and ready for pupils. Brothers, C & H Moore, were the successful tenderers with a price of £880. By 5th July 1879, Philip had completed his contract for felling and burning off the ten acres of school grounds at Yatteyattah at a cost of £12. Eventually, the new public school and grounds were completed and the school commenced operation in July 1879. The parents paid the sum of ninepence per week for one child and an extra sixpence for every other.
The first teacher at the new public school, L.Tierney, had a large family and petitioned for extensions. Some pupils were taught on the verandah and others in a room of the teacher’s residence. Phillip Murray’s name was included in a petition in support of this petition, as well as Charles Murray, Henry Millard and G. Kendall
Phillip Murray’s death
It was surely another distressing time for Rosina and her daughters, then 10, 7 and 3 years of age, when, on 3rd December 1880, at the relatively young age of 56, Phillip Murray died of cancer. Burial witnesses were his brother-in-law, Andrew McLean, and his cousin, Thomas McGee. His death certificate stated he died of a ‘malignant tumour’ and had been ailing for 5 months. It said, also, that he was buried in the ‘Roman Catholic Burial Ground Ulladulla’. The Informant is given as ‘Thomas McGee, Auctioneer, cousin to deceased, of Lake View Ulladulla, and witnesses were Thomas McGee and Andrew McLean.
Rosina as postmistress 1881
Phillip’s widow, Rosina, thereupon applied for the position of Armstrong’s Forest Postmistress. She was appointed in her husband’s place with a salary of £18 per annum. If Philip was in ill-health before his death from cancer, this probably influenced her earlier application to again become sewing mistress at the RC denominational school. But it looked as though the days were numbered for the little RC school on the hill. It closed its doors and ceased operation in 1883.
With the new Public School situated even closer to where she lived, Rosina wrote to the NSW Education Department on 20th February 1882 requesting she be appointed as sewing mistress at Yatteyattah Public School. Her application, this time, was not successful. Miss Millard was duly appointed to the position. In 1883, there were 97 children enrolled and instructed in a building 26 x 17 feet. Things had become very tight because of the sudden influx of 38 new pupils after the Roman Catholic School half a mile away had closed down.
This hill on which the old YatteYattah Public School and teacher’s residence still stand was so called because pioneer Charles Murray owned the land on either side of the present highway (Portions 20, 21, 200 and 19). In former times prominent landmarks were labelled according to natural characteristics or the names of the residents or their properties.
Rosina marries again in 1883
After spending a couple of years as a widow, Rosina maybe tired of widowhood. In 1883, she married Phillip’s cousin, Charles McGee. By the next year, in Sands Country Directory of NSW 1884-85, Charles McGee was listed as the Postmaster at Yatteyattah. This obviously did not pay all that well, because during 1884, he was recorded on school files as being late in paying the school fees for Rosina’s daughters, Mary, Elizabeth and Ellen, at the Yatteyattah Public School. 
It was not all smooth sailing at the public school for the new Mrs. McGee. A parent, Edward McPhillamy Senior, made complaints about ill treatment of his son, also Edward, and an inquiry was conducted. An incident occurred on 13th April involving Rosina, whose property adjoined the school, and Edward McPhillamy Junior, a pupil at the school. He was accused of catching and trying to kill one of her fowls. Twelve months later, in April 1884, the same Edward McPhillamy Jr and Rosina, now Mrs. McGee, were warring once more. This time, he was accused of killing her calf.
Also at the school at this time, as a pupil teacher, was her new husband’s nephew, John McGee and his brother or cousin Phillip McGee (a pupil) as well as Kate Murray. another pupil teacher. Mrs. McPhillamy complained that John McGee had ‘cruelly beaten’ her son through Mrs. McGee’s influence over him. She accused Rosina, ‘It is Mrs. McGee who is the cause of it all!’ It was somewhat unfortunate for the alleged victim to be surrounded at school by McGees and Murrays, who were all related.
It appears that Rosina, after her marriage to Charles McGee, had managed to secure for herself the sewing mistress job at the Yatte Yattah Public School and was, once more, working as a sewing teacher to the local school children. By 1888, her eldest daughter Mary, at 16-17 years of age, was possibly now old enough to help out with the family finances. Mary Murray was the next member of the family to be appointed on 11th July that year as a pupil teacher at Yatte Yattah Public School
Pupil-Teachers in NSW
In New South Wales, until the reforms of the first years of the twentieth century, the teaching service depended on the institution of the pupil-teacher. Most teachers entered the service by becoming pupil-teachers at thirteen or fourteen years of age. After four years teaching, while learning from instruction given by the headmaster and sitting for annual examinations, some of them were admitted to the training college. After one, two or three years there, they were classified 3A, 3B or 3C on the basis of their teaching skill and examination results. There were also allowances for some special positions, eg. for the work of a teacher’s wife in taking needlework classes. The last pupil-teachers were appointed in 1906 so that by 1911 they had disappeared from the service.
Phillip and Rosina Murray’s daughter, Mary, went on to spend many years as a teacher, and may have been a talented pianist as family tradition relates that she was also a popular piano teacher for local music pupils.
Death of Rosina’s mother
It is likely that Rosina’s mother, Rosina Thomas had left Terara sometime after her husband’s death in 1858, when there was a migration of the Thomas families up to the NSW North Coast. She then spent some years with family members on the Far North Coast. Rosina would have missed her mother and her family. On 2nd December, 1889, having reached the age of 87 years, old Mrs. Rosina Thomas passed away.
In the Milton Catholic Church register, among names of parishioners of Milton in 1902, appear the following names of Phillip Murray’s family:
Mrs. McGee (64)
Lizzy Murray (27)
Mary Murray (29)
Ellen Murray (24).
Ellen marries Richard Thomas Poidevin 1908
Philip and Rosina’s youngest daughter, Ellen Murray at the age of 28, married Richard Thomas Poidevin (1880-1951), son of William Hobson Poidevin and Elizabeth Jane McCauley, in the Catholic Church at Milton, on 23rd September 1908. The witnesses were Edward Poidevin and Elizabeth Murray. Richard and Ellen Poidevin later made their home at Wollongong.
As a member of a local tennis club, Ellen’s fellow members presented her with a beautiful silver coffee jug with a bone handle (pictured) as a wedding present. It was inscribed as follows, and is a treasured heirloom for her descendants.
Presented to Miss E Murray
On the Eve of Her Marriage From
The Yatteyattah Tennis Club
19 Sept 1908
Sometime between the years 1902 and 1909, Rosina reverted to using the surname of Murray. In 1909, Rosina ‘MURRAY’ [not McGee any more] was operating as the Postmistress at the Yatte Yattah Post Office at a salary of £41 a year, ‘£4 more than the revenue’. This was described as a small post-office in a room of the old farmhouse.
Phillip and Rosina’s granddaughters
A happy time for Rosina would come with the news of the births of her two grand-daughters in the next couple of years – Mary Elizabeth Poidevin in 1909 and Ellen Elizabeth Poidevin in 1911, followed by the marriage of her daughter Elizabeth during the next year.
Elizabeth marries Michael Skehan 1912
In 1912, the family would all celebrate the marriage of Philip and Rosina’s second daughter, Elizabeth (Lizzy) at 38 years of age to Michael Skehan. In a letter to the Archbishop dated 15th July 1912, Fr. Thos. Vaughan of Milton wrote a letter asking for permission for his absence from a conference to enable him to attend her wedding. Saying:
On that date [of the conference] Miss Murray of Yatte is to be married. She has been a most exemplary Catholic and her marriage has been already postponed on account of the death of her intended husband’s father.
On 27 December 1915, a local newspaper reported on the laying of the foundation stone for a new convent in Milton. A list of subscribers included the names of
Mr. T. Poidevin and
Mr. N. Murray.
Death of Rosina 1919
Rosina Murray/McGee died at the age of 74 years on 6th April 1919 and was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Conjola. The witnesses to the burial were Philip’s cousin, C.M. [Charles Mordaunt] Murray and P.P. Egan. In her will dated 13th November 1918, Rosina left –
… To eldest daughter Mary MURRAY all livestock and poultry of which I am possessed and to her and my other two daughters Elizabeth SKEHAN and Ellen POIDEVEN in equal shares to be mutually arranged between them everything of which I am possessed. To my ward Ellen DUFFY who has been very kind to me each of my daughters must pay to her in cash within 6 months from my death the sum of £10. Signed Rosina Rogers – witnesses C.M. Murray, J.R. Evans – Estate sworn £60 net.
The Ellen Duffy mentioned in her Will was an adopted daughter. One of a large family of children orphaned by the death of their parents, families in the district took in a Duffy child each to raise as their own. She was a much loved daughter to Rosina and sister to her other daughters. There was no mention of Rosina’s second husband, Charles McGee, in the Will and it is not known why she signed it as ‘Rosina Rogers’.
Rosina’s daughter takes over as Postmistress
Rosina’s eldest daughter Mary, who had not married, was now the Postmistress at Yatte Yattah in the little post office in their home. According to the Yatte Yattah Post Office records at the time, the following 1819-1822 entries give some relevant dates:
Date of Doc
|14.4.19||DG Goulburn||P.M. died on 6/4/19 Daughter acting pending appt|
|17.4.19||Miss Murray||Applying for PMship – Petition also from residents for her|
|13.5.19||DG Goulburn||Recomdg appt of Miss M. Murray as PM vice Mrs. R. McGee deceased from 6/4/19 (Approved)|
|1.6.20||Public Trustee||Asking as to disposal of amt payable to late PM to date of her death 6.4.19|
|13.1.21||DG Goulburn||Re PM resigning – for latest figures|
|8.3.21||“ “||Recomdg appt of R.T. Poidevin as PM vice Miss Murray from 8/3/21|
|7.4.22||DG Cooma||Re PM resigning – for reference to acct & for file|
|8.5.22||“ “||L. McDonald apptd PM vice R.T. Poidevin from 6/5/22|
Besides her few years as Post Mistress, Mary was remembered locally as a competent schoolteacher. Her nieces also recall her being gifted at needlework and crochet. Her sewing skills would be a legacy of many hours spent under the tutelage of her mother, Rosina, the talented sewing mistress of many years to the local girls.
Rosina’s grandson 1920
It was sad that Rosina did not live long enough to welcome her grandson. Thomas Murray Poidevin was born on 23rd May 1920, to Ellen and Thomas. He was delivered in the old post office at Yatte Yattah with the aid of a midwife. Tragically, his mother Ellen was to die when he was only eight years of age.
Post Office Hand-over 1922
In 1922, the McDonalds bought out the Poidevins, and took possession of their farm and the post-office. ‘The [McDonald] father was then the Postmaster assisted by his daughters, Annie and Joyce. Joyce later became Postmistress.’ It appears likely that, if the Poidevins were still living then at Yatte Yattah, it was at this time that Ellen and Thomas and their family of three may have moved to live in Wollongong.
Rosina’s second husband Charles McGee dies 1924
There seems to be some mystery as to the whereabouts of Rosina’s second husband, Charles McGee, for some years. He died on 28th April 1924 at the age of 83. His death certificate said he was ‘late of Darlinghurst NSW’, but he died at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home, Randwick. His father’s name and occupation were given as John McGee, stone mason, and his mother as Dorothy (sic) Murray. He was buried on 30th April at the Roman Catholic Cemetery Rookwood NSW. The cause of death was given as senility and cardiac failure.
DEATH REGISTRATION TRANSCRIPTION REF NO 192416421 NAME – CHARLES MCGEE
Date of Death
Little Sisters of the Poor Randwick Municipality
Place of Birth
Time in Aust Colonies
68 years in NSW
Place of Marriage
Milton South Coast NSW
Age at Marriage
Name of Spouse
Children of Marriage
Johanna Keaney Sec Little Sisters of the Poor Home Randwick
Cause of Death
1 Senility 2 Cardiac Failure
Length of Illness
1 5 years 2 21 Days
A P Wall
Date of Burial
Place of Burial
RC Cemetery Rookwood
Minister & Religion
B M Clancy Roman Catholic
Influenza Epidemic in Wollongong
Winter in the year 1929 would have been a time of great sorrow for Philip and Rosina’s daughter, Mary Murray, as well as the extended family. Wollongong was undergoing a serious flu epidemic in that year and, unfortunately, both her married sisters Lizzie and Ellen died after contracting the disease. Lizzie Skehan had no children, but Ellen Poidevin left two daughters and a son. Mary would no doubt play an important role as aunt in the lives of her nieces, Mary (Ena) and Ellen (Nell) and her nephew, Thomas Poidevin, in the years to follow.
Mary lived to the grand age of 85 years and for the last 10 years of her life, when she became blind with glaucoma, she lived at the home of one of her nieces at 309 Blaxcell St., Granville. A regular visitor was her adopted sister Ellen Duffy. Mary died on 20th July 1956, ‘loved sister of the late Ellen Poidevin and Elizabeth Skehan’.
To return to Murray Family parent page, click here.
To go to next Chapter Nine (Mary Murray), click here.
 Mary Nielsen, a descendant, has original Kiama RC wedding certificate and contributed this information about the weddings. (Oct 1999)
 Sharpe, Glenda. Not one life: a sea voyage on the ‘Calcutta’ 1803 to the shores of Port Phillip, and on to Van Diemaen’s Land February 1804, and 200 years of descendancy for the descendants of Henry Thomas 1858-1894 and Margaret Patterson 1860-1927. Thomas family information supplied by Glenda Sharpe in a manuscript dated May 2001. [PO Box 189 Maclean NSW Tel: 02 6647-6459]
 Sharpe, Glenda. 2001
NSW Marriage 60800/1959
 Charles Murray Sr’s wife Susan’s maiden name was SHANNON.
 Milton Post Office History (SAG B4.538 Pamphlet)
 Sharpe, Glenda, 2001
 NSW Archives 5/18262-4 – 77.6735 (attaching map of area with building and document signed by P H Sheaffe)
This was obviously Armstrong’s Forest RC Cemetery. Because the words Armstrong’s Forest or Yatte Yattah did not appear on his death certificate, his name was not included in the compiled list earlier mentioned.
 NSWSR School Files (YatteYattah Public School)
 McAndrew, Alex. Memoirs of Mollymook, Milton and Ulladulla, Epping. 1990 p.50.
 McAndrew, Alex. Congenial Conjola, Epping, 1991, p.48
 who had been sponsored as an orphan child emigrant many years before by his uncle Charles Murray ‘the Elder’
 NSWSR School Files (Yatte Yattah Public School)
 MITCHELL, Bruce. Teachers, education and politics, St. Lucia Qld : UQP, 1975 (p.2-3)
 William’s parents were Pierre le Poidevan and Rebecca Sheridan. Pierre, a French sailor had been captured by the English in 1820, sailed to NSW and decided to stay. (get details from Poidevin book)
 Why was she now reverting to the name Murray? Family members don’t remember him being spoken about.
 McAndrew 1991
 Possibly Ellen Duffy b. 1887 Milton (34696/1887) – (one of 10 children) – Parents John William and Ellen (Harding) Duffy. Mother died Feb 1896. Ellen’s age abt 32 when Rosina died in 1919.
 Telephone interview with Mary Nielsen 29 Oct 1999.
 Post Office File C3629/2, National Archives of Australia
 As related to author by Thomas Poidevin, Dec. 1999
 McAndrew 1991:51
 Newspaper clipping, SAG Index Room