Your cart

The Emily Poppellwell Story

Back in 2014, when I decided to establish my jewellery business, like all those starting down this track, I struggled to find a name which meant something for me and described my business.  At the time, I was out visiting my parents and we were discussing our family history.  My parents had done a lot of genealogical research work in the 1980’s and had quite extensive information on both their families. 

When looking at my ancestral tree, I noticed Emily’s name and my mum reminded me that she had used the name as her business name in the 1970’s when we lived in Gladstone for her handmade spinning and weaving crafts. It seemed appropriate that seeing that I loved the name ‘Emily Poppellwell’ and that my mum had used it previously for handmade crafts that I use it for my handmade jewellery. So that is how the name Emily Poppellwell Jewellery came into existence.

I imagine all family history trees are fascinating and mine is no different.  So here is Emily’s history and how she is my ancestor.

Emily was born on 5 May 1816 as Emily Sutherland in London. During 1833, the immigration Committee of London established the Free Female Immigration program.  This program was set in place to improve social conditions in the Australian colonies and the ladies & girls who immigrated were seen as having good moral characters. Wow!

Three ships were sent, the Strathfieldsaye, the David Scott and the Sarah.  Emily came to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) aboard the Strathfieldsaye. The ships landed between 16 August and 22 September 1834 with Emily landing on 16 September 1834 and was temporarily accommodated at the Orphan School. 

(Extract from *follow the link if you want to read more about the whole process, the other passengers and ships.  

She then came to Sydney as a cabin passenger aboard the Rossendale and landed on 27 October 1834. (Note:  even though the year is accurate, there are possible inconsistencies with the months as differing records have different days/months but they are still around Aug-Sept-Oct 1834). She was 18 and her profession was noted as a nurserymaid.

Not much is known what Emily did in Sydney prior to her meeting her future husband in 1835 but she was more than likely a nurserymaid. She met Henry Messer and married him on 12 October 1835 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian church, Sydney.  Henry was noted as a Collector for Albert Breweries on their wedding certificate. A collector went around and collected taxes and returns from public establishments (Hotels).

Emily and Henry had 4 children, Emily, William, Henry, Louisa between 1836 and 1841.

Henry applied for and was rejected three times before he gained the publican’s licence for the Bee Hive Hotel on the corner of Princes and Argyle Streets.

Henry was a passionate character and had a love of cats. The below fascinating article shows that Henry lost his cat in August 1841 and put a reward in the paper for a significant sum. Given that he had offered a reward of £5 plus another £2 for his cat, this was very generous. It’s not known what the result of the reward was. Henry died in a fight of unknown causes 4 months later on 28 December that year (1841) leaving Emily as administrator of his will and when read after he died, was shown to not exceed £10.  Passionate man indeed! 

Emily went on to apply for a publican’s licence herself for the Bee Hive which she did in April 1842 but was rejected in May 1842.  A later newspaper article from the Sydney Herald shows Edward Cunningham as the Publican for the Bee Hive Hotel for the 1842-1843 period.  The Hotel was demolished nearly 100 years later to make way for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and highway.

Current day map showing Argyle Street where it goes under the road to the Sydney Harbour Bridge where the Bee Hive Hotel was located on the corner of Princes and Argyle Sts.

After Henry’s passing and then burial on 30 December 1841, Emily met Joseph Popplewell, a stonemason from Sydney. I will go off story here to discuss the different spelling between the ‘Popplewell’ name of Joseph and ‘Poppellwell’ name in my business name.

One of the most difficult things that researchers of family history come across is that of changes to spelling of names.  There are many reasons for this, anglicising of names, writing ineligibility making names hard to transfer from one document to another, people wanting to make their names easier to understand or just misspelling. The extract certificate of Emily’s death shows the spelling as ‘Poppellwell’ but all other documents show ‘Popplewell’.  When I started using the name, I am not sure why I used the ‘Poppellwell’ spelling, it may have been that I picked it up from the death extract or it may have been an unconscious choice.  Either way, I love the name.

Joseph arrived in Sydney from England on the ‘Royal Saxon’ on 2 February 1835 at the age of 34.  After Emily met Joseph, she bore him twins Esther and Joseph on 25 January 1845 who unfortunately died not long after birth.  They then married on 20 April 1846 at Maitland, NSW and Emily bore him 6 more children, David, John, Edward, Hiram, Alfred and Mary-Ann.  Joseph was a well-known Sydney stone mason and the below photo shows him outside the Sydney University with his work crew (man with rounded hat).

In 1851, Joseph became the first convert to the Mormon Faith in NSW and only the second in Australia. 

Two years later on 6 April 1853, Joseph, Emily, their children and Emily’s eldest daughter Emily from her marriage to Henry Messer, travelled to California on board the ship the “Envelope”.  They did not stay in California for long, returning on the ‘Jane A Falkenburg” just over 3 years later on 14 April 1856.  Emily’s eldest daughter Emily Messer married shortly after their arrival and did not return to Australia.

Emily passed away on 4 June 1863 of natural causes after 7 days of illness.  Joseph and Emily where not living together at the time.  Her youngest child was only 2 years old and she was 47 years old. She was buried at St Stephens church, Penrith.  I have visited the old graveyard and there is a beautiful imposing headstone erected by D & E Popplewell (her children) for Emily’s grave.  There is also a large board outside the graveyard which tells the story of Joseph and Emily life in Sydney. 

Joseph died nine years later aged 71 on 23 July 1872 at the Sydney Infirmary and was buried in an unmarked grave at Rookwood Cemetery. Not a lot is known about Joseph during this time or why he was buried in an unmarked grave. 

Below is my Family Tree showing the link from my great, great, great, great Grandmother, Emily Popplewell (nee Messer, nee Sutherland) to me: