James and Elizabeth Cubit

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Parents  :     James and Elizabeth's parents uncertain

James Cubit (b 1787, m Elizabeth, m Amy (Essy) Fullerton 1848 Evandale, d 1857 Chudleigh Deloraine Tas)
Elizabeth  (b 1786, d 1846 Longford Tas)     
    Sarah Cubit (b 1811 Agahalee County Antrim IRL)
    John Cubit (b 1814 Agahalee, m Mary Chilcott 1845 Longford Tas, d 1874 Deloraine Tas)
          Ellen Adelaide Cubit (1856 Westbury, m William Mitchell 1880 Sandridge, Melb, d 1937 Wodonga, Vic)
                  Ernest Harold Mitchell (b 1887 Whiteford, m 1914 Liela Muriel Roach, d 1960 Wodonga)
    Ann Jane Cubit (b 1816 Agahalee)
Antrim is NW of Belfast. Irish records have gaps, reflected in our knowledge of James and Elizabeth in Ireland. See Note on Irish Records
Peter Cubit has extensive genealogies of the Norfolk Cubits, but as the Norfolk connection is speculative, this material has not yet been put on the website. See discussion below.

  Chronology      James     The Castle Forbes   Stocker's Hut     Dolly     Did James Cubit kill aboriginies?

When was James born?

The death notice in the "Examiner" has him 70 years old on 19 October 1857, making his birthdate probably 1787.
The headstone in Perth cemetery has him 63 years old on 19 October 1857, making his birthdate probably 1794
When he married Essy Fullerton he gave his age as 54 in 1848 making his birthdate probably 1794
Possibly son John organised the death notice in the paper and gave his correct age. Later on Essy organised his headstone, and loyally gave the age he told her. Its a nice thought.
The description list for the Castle Forbes on which he arrived have him 24 years old at the time of his trial in 1819, making his birthdate probably 1795
The indent list for the said ship states he was tried in Antrim and his age as 34, therefore born probably 1786.
We know the first child Sarah was born in 1811, so 1787 looks right, and assume James lied about his age to his 25 year old bride in 1848.

When was Elizabeth born

The Tasmanian Archives Office record of her death has her year of birth as 1786. In view of the comments below about Elizabeth Cole not being the Elizabeth that James married, it is a little disconcerting that Elizabeth Cole was born  12 Nov 1786

Questions :

(1) The Norfolk connection. Did James and Elizabeth come from Norfolk? At the moment there seems to be no solid evidence that they did. There were lots of Cubit families in Norfolk, but research also provides Cubits in Ireland who could be ancestors. Link to discussion of the evidence.
(2) Those left behind. How did Elizabeth, Sarah (nine), John (six) and Ann Jane (four) manage without James. Presumably things were desparate for a father with three young children to steal a sheep in the first place? When Elizabeth came to Australia with John, Sarah would have been 25 and Ann Jane 20, so perhaps they were in domestic service or married? I could find nothing on family search for Sarah or Ann Jane. Perhaps we can find Sarah and Ann in 1841/1851 census information.
(3) The Reunion, Probably unanswerable human interest questions come to mind around Elizabeth and John coming to Tasmania sixteen years later:  Did he know she was coming? What were James’ domestic arrangements at the time, and what happened to them?
An answer has arrived in the form of an email from Dr Ian Mcfarlane, Cradle Coast Campus of the University of Tasmania, in prime Cubit country

Lieutenant Governor Arthur petitioned Earl Bathurst on behalf of 12 convicts requesting that their wives and families be sent over from England, as the characters of the applicants were good.  James Cubitt was the 4th man on the list.   The date was 24 May 1827.
Many thanks.
Interestingly, there is an eight year gap till Elizabeth arrived. So her arrival might not have been as a resuly of the petition. James' increasing prosperity may have allowed him to  finance the trip himself.

(4) 1848 Tasmanian Census
. Where was James? We have a Census creturn for John as Head of the house  in January 1848 at Brook Mount, and James as proprietor. There is nobody James' age in the household. The houshold consists of six people, four free, two on ticket of leave. James was to marry Essy Fullerton in April


1786 Elizabeth born
1787 James Cubit born
1811 Sarah born Antrim, Ireland
1814 John born Antrim, Ireland
1816 Ann Jane born Antrim, Ireland
1819 James Cubit and David Millar convicted of stealing two sheep, 7 year sentence
1820 James Cubit arrives Hobart on Castle Forbes
1827 James Cubit listed as petitioning wife and family to join him
1831 Stocker's hut incident (see below)
1836 Elizabeth Cubit and son John arrive  Launceston on the Bolina as Unassisted Immigrants
1846 Elizabeth dies at Longford
1848 James marries Essy Fullerton
1857 James dies at Chudleigh


Val Trickett supplied some James Cubit research commissioned  in 1984. It does establish the three children as born in Agahlee.  Full Text of Research Report. The source of this article was Val Tricket, but I believe it originatyed with Simon Cubit
Val also supplied a writeup of James and John, an extract of which follows
    James Cubit born in County Antrim Ireland in 1796, was transported in 1820 per "Castleford" at the age of 24 years to Tasmania. After his release, James worked as a stock-keeper,    and was mentioned by Gov. Arthur's Land Commissioner, Roderic O'Connor in 1828 when he visited the Deloraine area.... he notes on March 6, 1828…."At about four miles distant on the opposite side of the Western River, Stocker, of the Derwent Hotel, has established himself on Crown Land of great extent and fine quality, and has a large herd of cattle. A free man, named CUBIT who looks after them, has frequently been speared by the natives. He had received dangerous wounds a few days before we were there, the Natives telling him that they would have him yet." Cubit was at constant war with the blacks... he is said to have shot more blacks than any other man in the Colony, and in return received a number of spear wounds, none of them, unfortunately for the blacks, fatal. In September 1831, he was wounded 8 times before he could get back to his hut and gun, after going to the creek for a bucket of water,  (Deloraine History.)
    James prospered thereafter and at one time owned….    400 acres at "Brookhill', Chudleigh; 500a :'Homewood'; 644a at Cressy; 185a  "Dungal" Deloraine and land at Gawler & North Motton,
    His is later days were spent at Chudleigh, and he died at "Brookhill", in 1857, the age of 61 years, and is buried at Perth. (Note this is Perth in Tasmania). Full Text of Val's Article
    James was illiterate. He only made his mark when he married Essy Fullertion. Though Essy signed.
    Simon Cubit commented to Jenny Mitchell "James Cubit was an unemployed weaver in Ballymena. He was convicted of
sheep stealing. The other guy was caught, and James was recognised later (23/3/1819)"

    A good  read to get a feel for the world James found in Tasmania is a book "An Account of the Colony of Van Diemen's land, principally written for the use of Emigrants" . Selected extracts

The Castle Forbes

    This is of interest, in that it was the subject of a plot by 20 convicts to seize it, after all its convicts had disembarked. The plot was discovered and foiled. No suggestion James was involved. It is described in Bateson's book "The Convict Ships"

Stocker's Hut

    Stockers Hut seems to be the frontline in a small war. Other accounts of the Stocker's Hut incident above have him assisted by Dolly, a half caste woman who lived with him. Also  Fred Mitchell found in "Convicts Unbound", The story of the 'Calcutta' convicts & their settlement in Australia by Marjorie Thring published by Viking O'Neil a subsidiary of Penguin Books ISBN 0 670 90068 0, p 192 records:
'In January 1826 natives attacked James Cupid, one of Stocker's stockmen, near the Western Creek.  They ran away after he fired, but not before a spear had lodged between his neck and shoulder leaving a four-inch wound. For weeks his recovery was doubtful. Later he guided George Robinson around the Eastern Marshes.  Cupid believed the natives in the area had been very peaceable at first but were driven to commit atrocities because of the outrages inflicted on them.  When he has asked why they attempted to kill white men, one who understood English had said, 'If black man came and took away his lubra and killed his picaninnie would he not kill black man for it?'  This man lived amicably with his own half-caste woman and they had two children, one with very fair hair.'
    One Stockers Hut account describes James as a free man in 1828. His seven year sentence had been completed by then.


The following account was provided by Dr Simon Cubit, a professional historian. I don't know why they bother with TV series on Mary Briant, Dolly seems to had just as eventful a life.
    Dalrymple Mountgarret Briggs, commonly known as Dolly Dalrymple was the daughter of English sealer George Briggs and Woretemoteyenne (c. 1797- 2847), a full blooded Aboriginal woman of the Trawlwoolway people of Cape Portland.
    At thirteen, in an arrangement sanctioned by her father Mannalargenna, Woretemoteyenne went to live with Bass Strait sealer George Briggs. She had five known children to Briggs: an infant girl (died in 1811 after being thrown in to a campfire by Aborigines near Launceston), Dalrymple (1812-64), Eliza (1817- 37), Mary (1818-39) and John (1820-79).
    Dalrymple was abandoned in Launceston and was fostered by Jacob Mountgarret in Port Dalrymple in the early 1820s and taught to read, write and sew. In her late teens Dalrymple left the home of Mountgarret and drifted west to the edge of the European frontier beyond the Meander River where she cohabited with a number of convict stockmen including Thomas Baker, Thomas Thompson, James Cubit and Thomas Johnson. She had children to Baker (in 1826) , Thompson  (in 1828) then another 11 children to Johnson whom she married in 1831.
    Dalrymple came to prominence in 1831 when she defended the remote building in which she lived from attack by a large group of Aborigines. Her long and valiant defence was rewarded by the colonial authorities with a pardon for Johnson and a 20 acre block of land at Perth.
    Later Dalrymple and Johnson became overseer of the Frogmore Estate near Latrobe. They later bought their own property which they names Sherwood a couple of miles up the Mersey River from Frogmore. In the mid 1850s Johnson had a public house called the 'Native Youth'  at Sherwood and a little later owned a coal mine, the 'Alfred Colliery' which shipped its coal from Ballaho Creek , where he had another inn called the 'Dalrymple'. Dalrymple died in 1864 and Thomas in 1867.
    Many Tasmanians trace their ancestry from Dalrymple Briggs whose life and struggles encapsulate much of the experience that has shaped the identity of Palawa (Tasmanian aboriginal) families today.
A couple of links of interest  :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_Aborigines            http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/AS10118b.htm

Did James Cubit kill aboriginies?

Dr Simon Cubit contributed the following comments
Table based on Plomley, The Aboriginal/Settler Clash with additional information.
31 December 1826
Western Creek Stocker 
James Cubit (ST)
‘On Friday last a party of 150 native attached Stockers Hut near Western Creek and wounded one of his servants, James Cupid, in three places with spears after which he succeeded in driving them away by firing at them
Colonial Times
26 February 1828  
 Western Mountains 
   James Cubit
‘A free man, named Cupit, who looks after them [Stocker’s cattle] has been frequently speared by the natives. He received three dangerous wounds a few days before we were there, the natives telling him that they would have him yet.’ Land Commissioners Journal 6/3/1828
Tas 7/3/28
Land Commissioners Journal 6/3/1828
23 August 1831

‘On Tuesday the 23rd, speared James Cubitt at the run of Mr Gibson; this is the ninth time this unfortunate man has been speared.
   CSO 1/316/7578

Friendly Missions, 25 September 1830.
    George Augustus Robinson visits the Western Marshes (Deloraine to Mole Creek area) and reports conversations he has with stockmen concerning contact with the natives. On the day after he learns of Arthur’s plan to mount the Black Line he writes that ‘numerous massacres have been committed here among the unprotected natives’ and lists them. Among them: ‘Punch said that when the half-caste woman [Dalrymple Briggs] lived with Cubitt she assisted in killing natives.’ p 219.
Daily Telegraph, Saturday 11 November, 1893
    ‘The Tramp’ (Daniel Griffin) recounts stories about the early history of the Deloraine district. In one of these stories he tells some stories about Aboriginals. One of these is a modified version of the 23 August 1831 event in which he focuses on attacks on ‘Mr. Cubit.’ In completing this story he offers the comment that ‘it is said of this Mr Cubit that he shot more blacks than any other man in the colony, but these statements may be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, for there are many very much exaggerated stories told of adventures with the blacks in the early days. Still, by all accounts Cubit potted a great many of the Aboriginals.’
    Greg Lehman , descendant of Dalrymple Briggs, in an  honours thesis University of Tasmania 1998? and in other writings (eg. ‘Matriarchs of Survival’ in The Companion to Tasmanian History, edited by Alison Alexander, 2005, pp 229-30) quotes Robinson and Griffin in asserting asserts that James Cubit was an Aboriginal killer.
    Keith Windschuttle, in The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, pp 275 – 279 argues that Punch, the source of the information that suggests that Cubit killed Aborigines, fabricated the information that Robinson presented as fact. Windschuttle, in fact, demonstrates, how implausible and unbelievable Punch’s claims are.
    James Cubit, a stockman in a remote area, was repeatedly attacked by Aboriginals (they will have him yet!). The story that Robinson tells (and it is the only such story) suggests that Cubit helped kill Aborigines. This understanding is perpetuated in local white traditions in the 1890s. It is accepted as fact by Lehman in the 1990s but challenged by Windschuttle in 2002. Did James Cubit kill Aboriginals?


    Researchers on the Cubits have shared their work generously, and I have not been good at noting sources. However, much is owed to Val Trickett, Sue Royce, Beris Wilkinson. Jenny Mitchell and Fred Mitchell. Sue Royce is happy to be contacted by email at  <sroyce@xtra.co.nz>. Also thanks to Peter Cubit for his help on early Cubits. Thanks to Dr Simon Cubit both for  his contributions, and patient attempts to introduce this genealogist to the concept of intellectual rigour.

Research Notes

James Cubitt - 400 acres grant Woodbridge January 1844 (LSD 1/75 p. 246)
James Cubitt - 400 acres Woodbridge (SC 285,269 19/3/1846)
Tasmanian Electoral Roll for Legislative Council Longford 1856 lists Cubitt James    Chudleigh    Freehold    Landowner
Numerous references: Archives Off. of TAS 88/1873.
Convict 240, "Castle Forbes", 1820. CON 31/6
J Land Commr VDL 1826-8 p.80
Launceston Examiner 20/10/1857 p1 col3
Presbyterian Records NS 435/1/201.

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