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Martin, Thomas (Port Willunga)

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1797
Place of birth Devon, England
Date of arrival 1840
Principal occupation Farmer and publican
Date of death 1862
Place of decease Port Willunga

Thomas Martin was born in Devon, England in 1797. His parents were Richard and Sarah Martin. He married Mary Evans (1806-1887) in West Putford in Devon, England on 27th December 1827. Mary was also born in Devon and her parents were John and Mary Evans (née Woodcock). Thomas Martin emigrated with his wife, Mary, their 5 eldest children and his father-in-law, John Evans, to Australia in September 1840 on board Lysander. Thomas and Mary Martin had 7 children:

  • Mary Ann (1828-1904) was born in Hartland, Devon, England. She married Elijah Lovelock (1829-1907) on 1 May 1850 at O”Halloran Hill and they had 3 children. She died at Yankalilla.
  • Charlotte Elizabeth (1830-1914) was born in Devon, England. She married John Prouse (1818-1897) on 31 July 1852 at Adelaide and they had 10 children. She died at Victor Harbor.
  • Richard (1832-1913) was born in Hartland, Devon, England. He married, firstly, Elizabeth Higgs (1836-1897) on 12 December 1862 and they had 8 children. After Elizabeth died, he remarried to Emma Blanche Rowe (1872-1958) on 18 September 1899 in Melbourne, Victoria and they had one daughter. Richard died in Victor Harbor.
  • Catherine (1836-1909) was born in England. She married John Cock Ellis (1824-1906) on 23 August 1859 and they had one daughter. Catherine died in Willunga and is buried in St Stephen's Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.
  • Elizabeth (1839-1908) was born in Devon, England. She married Captain Charles Henry Bisset (1827-1886) on 3 May 1862 and they had no children. She died while at sea on 2 October 1908 aboard Moravian, somewhere between British Columbia and Sydney, and she is buried in St Stephen's Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.
  • Thomas junior (1841-1916) was born in Plympton, SA. He married his first wife, Amelia Mary Howe (1854-1874), on 3 April 1873 but she died tragically in 1874, aged only 20. He then remarried, to Mary Hancock (1852-1923) on 17 March 1882 and they had six children. Thomas junior died at Port Willunga and is buried in St Stephen's Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.
  • John (1846-1879) was born at Port Willunga. There is little known about his life. He went to work in the copper mines in Burra. He died 1879 at Kooringa and is buried on the outskirts of Burra.

Thomas’ occupation was listed as Hotel Keeper and Farmer. The family lived at Marion and Plympton for a few years where they farmed some land. By 1846 they had settled at Port Willunga and occupied section 386 of Port Willunga.

Thomas set to work building a large family home on his section of land at Port Willunga. He soon realised that there was a need for a hotel in the busy port, so he turned his home into The Pier Hotel. The building became locally know as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. It was licensed from 1852 until his death in 1862. The family also ran a very successful farm and leased many more sections of land that they also farmed. Their religion was recorded as Church of England/Anglican. Thomas and Mary may have both been illiterate as some of their signatures on documents appear as a mark “X”. These documents include Thomas’ Will and Mary’s Marriage Certificate to Henry Skellett, her second husband.

Thomas, aged 65 years, died on 12 September 1862 after a long illness and was buried in St Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery, Willunga. He left everything to his wife, Mary, in his will. When she died, it was to be divided between their children. The executors of his will were Thomas Whinnerah and John Pengilly, who had been on board Lysander with the Martins.

Mary remarried in 1864, to Henry Skellett, at the Wesleyan Church, Pirie Street, Adelaide. Henry was a local butcher and uncle to Francis Hart. Mary and Henry did not have any children. Henry died in 1904. Mary died 1887 at Port Willunga and is buried with Thomas in St Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.


  • Passengers in History Database – South Australian Maritime Museum
  • South Australian Births – Index of Registrations 1842-1906
  • South Australian Marriages – Index of Registrations 1842-1937
  • South Australian Deaths – Index of Registrations 1842-1972
  • Ratepayer List Willunga & Aldinga Councils 1850-1888
  • Ancestry
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Port Willunga, 1957.
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Port Willunga, 1957.

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