John Rowe
John rowe
Sex: Male
Birth: 26/10/1805 Ruan Lanihorne, Cornwall, England
Baptism: Unknown
Death: 03/08/1881, Golden Grove, South Australia, Australia
Father: Edmund Rowe
Mother: Martha Treloar
Spouse/Partner: Julianna Long (divorced 1869)
Marriage: 26/12/1829 Gwennap, Cornwall, England

John Rowe was born on 26th October 1805 in Ruan Lanihorne, Cornwall, England. It has not been proved at this stage but it is beleived that his parents were Edmund Rowe and Martha Trealor, and John had a brother Edmund and sister Martha. John Rowe’s place of birth is misspelt as ‘Ruanlennhorne’ on his grave in the Golden Grove Cemetery. Parish records for Ruan Lanihorne in Cornwall have no record of John’s birth or baptism. The records for the family we believe he is connected to are found in Ruan Minor.

When John married Julianna Long, the parish register for Gwennap misread Julianna’s last name as ‘Honey’. Witnesses to their marriage were John Long and T. Clemence. The couple settled in St Day, Cornwall, where they had their first two children, Elizabeth & John. They then moved to Redruth, but their next two children were also christened in St Day. When daughter Julihanna was born, the family were residing in Treskerby. It is not known why at this stage, but soon after John went to live in the West Indies where he remained for two and half years. When he returned, he lived with the family for only two weeks before they decided to set sail for South Australia.

The JavaEdit

Just before John & Julianna decided to emigrate, advertisements such as this were posted in the United Kingdom to entice immigrants to Australia:

"WANTED" - (published at Truro, August 19th, 1839) "An opportunity now offers itself to all married persons of useful occupations particularly to agricultural labourers, carpenters, builders, stone masons, shepherds and blacksmiths of obtaining a free passage to Port Adelaide in South Australia (SA). A free colony where there are no convicts sent and where every person who immigrates is as free as he is in this country. Besides the classes of persons enumerated above bakers, blacksmiths, braziers and tin men, smiths, shipwrights, boat builders, wheel wrights, sawyers, cabinet makers, coopers, couriers, farriers, mill wrights, harness makers, boot and shoe makers, tailors, tanners, brick makers, lime burners and all persons engaged in the erection of buildings are always in great request. The applicants must able to obtain a good character reference as honest sober, industrious men. They must be real labourers going out to work in the colony of sound body not less than 15 and nor more than 30 years of age and married. The rule as to age is occasionally departed from in favour of the parents of large families. As a general rule each child is considered as extended the age plus one year. Sisters of married applicants are allowed to go free if of good character.

Java emigration

Emigration poster for the Java

The province of SA is a delightfully fertile and salubrious country, in every respect well adapted to the constitution of Englishmen and is one of the most flourishing in all our colonies. It is well watered and there have never been any complaints from the colonists of a want of this valuable element. On the contrary, the letters from Cornishmen who have written home are very satisfactory on this point. It should be born in mind that complaints of a scarcity of water do not apply to Adelaide but to other settlements not connected to SA.

Immigrants wishing to obtain a free passage this year must now have that opportunity if they apply immediately to Mr I. Latimer, Truro, who is employed by Her Majesty's colonisation commissioners to engage for that fine first class teak built ship the "Java" of 1200 tonnes. The ship's accommodations are unusually spacious and lofty and are so arranged as to ensure the comfort of all passengers. She will carry 2 surgeons and 2 school masters the latter of whom will be regularly employed in teaching the immigrants and their children. The vessel will call at Plymouth to take in Cornish passengers on or about the 16th of October but, in order to ensure a passage, application should be made forthwith." Mr. I. LATIMER, Truro, who is empowered by her Majesty’s Colonization Commisioners to engage for that fine first-class teak-built ship the JAVA, of 1200 Tons.

A card announcing the sailing of the "JAVA" is still in the hands of descendants of a passenger in Adelaide, of a family that purchased cabin accommodation the card reads:-

For South Australia And under an engagement with Her Majesty's Colonization Commissioners To sail positively on 1/10/1839, (calling at Plymouthto embark passengers on 16th October,) The fine first class teak-built ship Java, Burthen 1200 tons Alexander Duthie Commander Lying in the East India Dock.

This ships accommodations are unusually spacious and lofty and are so arranged as to ensure the comfort of the Cabin and Intermediate passengers. She will carry an experienced surgeon and assistant.

For freight or passage apply to R.Scott Fairlie & Co, 37,Great Winchester Street; to John Pirie & Co., 3, Freeman's Court, Cornhill; to Ritherdon and Carr, 13, Bishopsgate Street within; or to Lachlan, Sons and MacLeod, 22 Great Alie Street, Goodman's Fields; or Lloyd's

The Journey to South AustraliaEdit

The sailing of the "JAVA" from St. Katherine’s Dock was not without controversy for an article appeared in the Weekly Dispatch" on November 3rd 1839 and later printed about the time the "JAVA" arrived in Adelaide, in which it was said that the carpenters who were engaged in fitting her out, declared that the planks would not retain a screw or nail. The article referred to the fact that " in fitting up emigration ships, due regard is always had to external appearances; make the vessel pleasing to the eye, and the principle is accomplished. A coat of paint or varnish, like charity, often covers a multitude of faults in the shape of worm-eaten holes and other casualties. It is true that persons are appointed by the Government to inspect these ships, and report on their sea-worthiness; but unfortunately, those individuals are too apt to be deceived by their eyesight, and neglect to examine a vessel minutely. They go on board and find everything apparently fresh and new, and conclude the ship is all right, whereas, in many instances, if they would only take the trouble to raise a plank or two, and thrust a knife into the sides of the vessel, they would find the wood crumble to pieces like touchwood. " The embarkation number of the family from the ‘Java’ was 3630. Also on board were a Peter Rowe and his wife Anne Hocking. The passenger list shows John with the middle initial of ‘W’.

The journey out was not pleasant, as described by two passengers in diaries. The diaries were made by a William Richards and James Trangmar. James took an instant dislike to Cornish emigrants on board, recording on the very day they set sail, “October 28th…more disturbances amongst us. I begin to have a very bad opinion of our Plymouth Emigrants, the greater part of them are Cornish people, and many of them are miners, they are a very uncouth and dissatisfied lot of people.” On the 25th November, James’ diary recorded: “There are great quantities of flying fish constantly about the vessel today. Sometimes they rise singly from the water and at other times in large flocks, looking in the distance like flocks of birds – they look to be about the size and form of mackerel. We have a fine working breeze S. E. and by E. and are in hopes we have fallen in with the other trades although still North of the line.” The diary entry for William Richards is so very different for the same day – even when he records the death of another ‘gentleman passenger’ there was no matching note of the event in the diary of James Trangmar. William’s diary states as follows: “Caught the S.E. trades. Child died. Mr Watson, Gentn passenger died leaving a wife and 3 children bound to Bathurst having purchased Land there prior to leaving England. When the coffin was thrown overboard, owing to the 5, 181b shot which ran to the foot, the lid flew open and the coffin, with the Body went off erect under water but did not sink. Ship in sight going west, the first we have seen since the 10th.” At some stage he added in the left hand margin of his diary, a sad note about Mr Watson:” Mr Watson was in the habitof spitting blood and nothing but a milk diet prevented it. Previous to his leaving England he paid £250 for his passage with a written agreement signed by the owners and Captn. That he should be supplied with a quart of milk a day. This he had for a week or two, when it was cut off, that the calf might be reared – he soon flaged.”

William was the next to make an entry in his diary: “November 26th. Fine and squally. This day, while at dinner a large ship bore on us. An alarm was given to get letters ready for England. She turned out to be a Dutchman homeward bound. Several vessels seen ahead. We are all covered with a rash which prevents fever. We are in the best part of the ship having free air from the cabin windows which are left open day and night. The Captain is very careful when the squalls come, to avoid them and recover his course again. December 9th. Passed the tropic of Capricorn this morning, steering SSE with a fine wind all day…December 10th. About 5 o’clock this morning saw the spout of a sperm whale several times…December 21st. E. Ahead, great complaints about the provisions, beef thrown overboard, pork stinking. Dr Martin very haughty. The supposed ladies in the cuddy discovered to be bad characters.”

James made an entry on December 22nd: “We are nearing the Cape very fast, the weather is much colder. Another man in irons for insulting the third mate.” William was next on December 23rd: “Christmas eve a double allowance of grog, 1/21b of flour, 1 oz of raisins, ½ oz of suet each.” The next day, Christmas Eve, William recorded: “Puddings, drunkards discovered, too many on board breaking out in boils.”

James wrote at length about Christmas Day: "We have had up to this day a continuation of fine breezes and are making fine progress to rounding the Cape. The day (though much colder than it has been) is so different from the weather that we have been accustomed to at this time of year, that I hardly believe it to be Christmas Day. I spent the morning with Aunt and Uncle and the afternoon and evening with the Intermediates. An unpleasant scene occurred just as we were going to sit down to tea --one of the French passengers came and took a pie out of the Mess chest to take to his cabin. Mr. Walters, the president of the mess, seeing him asked him what he was going to do with it. He immediately threw the pie in his face and followed it up by collaring him and forcing him down the forms. I was the only one near him, so I plunged in, caught the Frenchman by the arms and swung him against the cabins. I stood before Mr. Walters till he had recovered his feet, but the Frenchman did not attempt to touch him. We afterwards spent a very pleasant evening and I enjoyed myself very much."

James completed his diary with entries over the next two days: " February 5th. We have been bearing away well to the South all night, and we now have got a fair wind to run into Investigator's Strait abreast of Cape Border 5 o'clock after running 8 knots an hour, running a race with the ship "Rajasthan", who entered the Straits at the same time as ourselves --- we spoke to her with signals, she has been out 2 days more than us.' February 6th I was on deck all last night, tracing the land (Kangaroo Island) as we ran up the strait --- at times we were running 10 knots an hour. At day break the "Rajasthan" was four miles astern, we had a beautiful view of the coast all the morning. It appears to be just what it has been described to be --- very much like parkland --- in some places there is scarce a tree to be seen for miles, but from the masthead I thought the interior very thickly wooded."''

William made the following final entries in his diary:“5th. Made Kangaroo Island, vessel in sight, overtook and proved to be the "Rajasthan (sic) with emigrants from London. sailed three days before us, got in abreast of the island 6 p.m. 6th. No sleep all night. Got up 3 o'clock. Beat the "Rajasthan", went up the gulf in fine style, anchored in Holdfast Bay, opposite Glenelg 1/4 before 8 a.m. and the "Rajasthan" 20 minutes after us along side, had a shower of rain just after we anchored. We did not go on shore before Saturday afternoon. The Governor came aboard, very disgusted at the starving faces of the children, and the languishing women. We were permitted to go on shore on account of the 3 children with Hooping cough (sic) poor little things nearly starved, had we been a week longer at sea they surely must have died. George and Laura we had no hope of, but the change of air with good nourishing food got them about again.” “The rest of the emigrants were not allowed to come ashore for a week or more. several of the children died since on shore but I did not keep account. I have abridged my Journal to make room for writing and have omitted the shameful conduct and treatment of the Doctor, Captain and three officers or mates towards the emigrants and crew. The crew left the ship; some are in jail and the rest in the mountains. The doctor of the ship, Mr. Smith has stayed behind in love with Miss Watson. He was obliged to keep close until the ship sailed.”''

Governor Gawler, as William Richards and the newspapers indicated, was very disgusted at the treatment , or perhaps better said, lack of good treatment of the emigrants. He initiated an immediate Medical Board to enquire into the events that had occurred on board the "JAVA".

A picture of the Java and more information on the voyage can be found on the following website:

Thebarton / ReedbedsEdit

Once John Rowe and his family left the Java, it appears they settled in the Thebarton area for 3 years. Section 425 at Thebarton/Richmond is recorded as a miner’s village on the CD of SA 1840 Cultivators. ‘John Rowe and others’ are listed as residing there. No crops are listed as being grown, but the extent of the property is given as twenty-eight acres with bank, ditch, posts and rails. Three wells are recorded on the property, each sixteen feet deep, including three feet of water. Three cottages are recorded on the property, which indicates that John Rowe was possibly sharing the property with two other families. John appears with his family at Thebarton in the first recorded census for Adelaide in 1841. He is listed as a male over 50 (which was incorrect), son John is listed as a male under 14, wife Julianna as a female under 35, daughters Elizabeth and Julianna as females under 14, and daughter Catherine as a female under 7. Son Thomas appears to have died by this time. It appears that he did arrive in South Australia as he is listed on the passenger lists, but maybe died soon after his arrival. There is a burial in the West Terrace Cemetary that appears to confirm this - dated 14th June 1841 - ROWE Child of Mrs, aged 8 months of Section 425.

Although recorded at Section 425 at Thebarton/Richmond in the SA 1840 Cultivators and the 1841 census, it is said that after three years, the family moved a little further south to Reedbeds at the mouth of the Torrens River, where they stayed for seven or eight years. This is hard to reconcile with the fact that the next 4 children (Thomas, Emma, Charlotte and Matilda) were all recorded as being born at Section 425. Perhaps a search of the land titles office will assist in determining how far section 425 covered and if John had land in the Reedbeds area.

Golden GroveEdit

Section 2158 at Golden Grove begins at the current intersection of Golden Grove Road and Greenwith Road. Three quarters of the property was on the left-hand side of Golden Grove Road and a quarter of it was on the right-hand side. Cobbler’s Creek runs through the area. The Rowe property at Golden Grove was known as ‘Spring Bottom’, as mentioned in the Register Personal Notices for one of his daughter’s marriages. John and family were living here by 1848. Children William and Thomas Peter were both born there.

John signed a petition that was published in the South Australian Government Gazette on 19/8/1858, abouth the division of the local Highercombe district into two parts, with a recommendation that the northern part of the District be called the 'District of Tea Tree Gully'.

John signed the petition again, along with a man called John Mills, who lived in the Steventon area of the district. John Mills' 3x great-granddaughter (Mahala Mills) would go on to marry John Rowe's great grandson (Herbert Turner).

Petition for DivorceEdit

John appears to have been quite abusive towards his wife Julianna & she petitioned divorce proceedings on 1st July 1869. Under the Matrimonial Act, 1858 divorce was permissible in cases of adultery, cruelty or desertion without cause after two years. Wives could be awarded alimony from guilty husbands, and husbands could claim for damages against adulterous male parties. Julianna’s petition, through Adelaide solicitor Thomas H Hosier, claimed the following:-

That in or about the month of February one thousand eight hundred and fifty nine at Golden Grove aforesaid the said John Rowe, without any provocation used insulting words towards your petitioner and threw her down on the ground and kicked her and said he would blow her brains out if she came near the house in consequence of which your petitioner was compelled to leave her home and go to Salisbury where the said John Rowe was brought before the Police Court and ordered to pay fifteen shillings per week for her maintenance.”

John Rowes will(2)

Part of John Rowe's will

“That in or about the month of October, one thousand eight hundred and sixty eight at Gawler River, while your petitioner was keeping house for her sons William Rowe and Thomas Rowe the said John Rowe without any provocation took up a rail and used violent and abusive language towards your petitioner and swore he would murder her, when your petitioner called to her two sons for help, upon which the said John Rowe went away.”

That in or about the month of March one thousand eight hundred and sixty eight the said John Rowe committed adultery with one Martha Barnes at Golden Grove aforesaid.”

That in and during the months of March and April one thousand eight hundred and sixty eight the said John Rowe frequently committed adultery with the said Martha Barnes at Golden Grove aforesaid.”John had a child out of wedlock with Martha Barnes, who Julianna had named in the petition. The child’s name was Alfred Barnes, born on 21.12.1868 at Norwood. His birth is also registered under the name of Alfred Rowe and John is named on the registration as the father.

John was charged on 12th March 1869 by Martha Barnes for refusing to contribute towards the payment of the child. Mr Brook defended John, who was ordered to pay 5 shillings a week, at a total cost of 2 pounds 19 shillings and 6 pence altogether. By the 23rd June 1870, John was back in court, having let the payments slide and being in arrears. John's lawyer, Mr Bundey stated that they now had evidence that John was not the father of the child, and they had let the matter run on for the purpose of bringing the matter before the Court. The judge said John should move to have the order recinded, but make payment for 10 shillings in the meantime. What evidence was bought before the court and whether it was proved that the child was not John's is not known at this stage.

Julianna eventually moved to Greenplains area to live with her daughter. It was in Greenplains that she died and was buried two years later, in 1871.

Life after SeparationEdit

Advertiser 13031880

Advert courtesy of The Advertiser Newspaper, dated 13/03/1880. John Rowe selling grapes.

Not much is known about John's life after his separation, but he continued to live at Golden Grove. He appears to have spent a lot of time maintaining his property, which included trellised grapes. He is shown in The Advertiser newspaper as trying to sell some. Some of his granchildren are known to have continued his farming and orcharding skills.

Death and WillEdit

John rowe death certificate

John Rowe's death certificate

John died ten years later in 1881. Public notice was given in the Register Newspaper on 29th August 1881, should any creditors want to make any claims on his estate. This was done by the solicitors Symon, Bakewell, and Symon of King William Street, Adelaide. The public notice named his friend John Peter Rowe, farmer of Angle Vale, as his executor.

John was buried at Golden Grove. His grave is the largest in the Golden Grove Cemetery and can be identified easily as large brown marble pillar at the top of the cemetery. It is unusual in that it appears to be designed as a family vault, yet he is the only person buried there. This can be explained by his will (originally dated 21.4.1875), which states:-

“I desire that my body may be buried in the Public Cemetery at Golden Grove aforesaid and therein a plot of land at least twelve feet square shall be purchased for my grave and I direct that my funeral expenses including the cost of such plot of land shall not exceed Thirty pounds. I direct my executors forthwith to lay out and expend a sum of one hundred pounds in procuring and erecting a suitable monument to my memory on my grave and a suitable railing around the same. I bequeath the sum of One hundred pounds to the Trustees or other person or persons or Corporation in whom the said Cemetery shall for the time being be vested and I direct that such sum shall be invested in the Savings Bank of South Australia in the name of such Trustees or person, persons or Corporation and that the income thereof shall from time to time for ever be applied by such Trustees or person or persons or Corporation in replacing and keeping in good and proper repair order and condition my said Grave and the said monument and railing.”

John rowe grave script

The inscription on John Rowe's grave

In his first Codicil to the will, John changed the amount for his funeral, plot and monument from Thirty pounds to Three Hundred and fifty pounds.

John had nominated as his executors his nephew John Benjamin Row (the son of his sister-in-law Catherine Row nee Long) and his friend John Peter Row of near Crystal Brook. In his second Codicil, he removed John Benjamin Row as executor and replaced him with Edward Barnett, a shoemaker of Golden Grove. The executors were entrusted with dividing his remaining estate equally between his children and, in case of their death, any grandchildren. This included the following statement in regards to female children, which was unusual at the time:-

“I direct that the share to which any female shall be entitled under this will shall be for her sole and separate use free from the debts controls or engagements of any husband with whom she may intermarry and so that her receipts alone whether convert or sole shall be effectually discharged for the same.”

2008 0609Jun080006


Name Birth Death
Children of John & Julihanna Rowe

Elizabeth baptised 26/11/1830
baptised St Day, Cornwall
Adelaide, South Australia

John baptised 10/06/1832
baptised Gwennap, Cornwall

Julianna baptised 30/03/1834
baptised St Day, Cornwall
Carclew, South Australia

Thomas baptised 25/12/1836
baptised St Day, Cornwall
before 1842

Catherine Margaret 29/04/1840
Thebarton, South Australia
Nhill, Victoria

Thomas April 1842
Section 425 Adelaide, South Australia
Section 425 Adelaide, South Australia

Emma 04/04/1843
Richmond, South Australia
Kadina, South Australia

Charlotte 25/10/1844
Section 425 Adelaide, South Australia
Heywood, Victoria

Matilda 26/11/1846
Section 425 Adelaide, South Australia
Ballarat, Victoria

William 23/11/1848
Section 2158 Little Para, South Australia
Nhill, Victoria

Thomas Peter 16/07/1850
Little Para, South Australia
Oodlawirra, South Australia
Name Birth Death
Children of John Rowe & Martha Barnes

Alfred (Barnes) 21/12/1868
Norwood, South Australia


  • Birth, Death and Marriage records
  • Baptism records
  • Newspaper of Truro
  • Java sailing card
  • Emigration poster courtesy of SA Memory
  • Weekly Dispatch, November 3rd 1839
  • Diaries of William Richards and James Trangmar
  • Land Records
  • Register Personal Notices
  • South Australian Government Gazette, 19/8/1858
  • Petition for divorce submitted by Julianna Rowe (nee Long)
  • The South Australian Register, 12/3/1869, 23/6/1870, 29/8/1881
  • Will of John Rowe