Martha Betts (Marsden) (1811 - 1895)

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Death: Died in Gladesville, New South Wales, Australia
Managed by: Simon Hulse
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About Martha Betts (Marsden)

Published in the "Empire" of Friday 4 August 1871:

" I recognized the old Parsonage on the highest hill stand- ing alone. More than half a century since-fifty five years-on the 5th of May, 1816, the foundation-stone of that building was laid by the daughter of the Rev. Samuel Marsden, the present Mrs. Josiah Betts, then but five years old. "

Published in the "Windsor and Richmond Gazette" of Friday 10 August 1928:

"CHAPLAIN SAMUEL MARSDEN AND HIS FIVE FAMOUS DAUGHTERS. BY GEO. G. REEVE (For the 'Windsor and Richmond Gazette'). CHAPTER IV.

THE torch he carried, we bear on, The trail he blazed we firmly tread, Though there is much yet to be won, 'Neath southern stars and tropic sun, Right on to victory we are led.

THE fifth and youngest daughter of the Rev. S. Marsden and his wife was Miss Martha Marsden, who was born at the old, parsonage house, before referred to, at the corner of Church and George streets, Parramatta, on the 6th May, 1811.

Martha Marsden was the minister's favorite daughter. As a young lady she was very accomplished, and was a great help to her father when accompanying the chaplain on two of his visits to the Maori missions. On another journey thither, Rev. Marsden's fourth girl, Mary Marsden, went with him. There can be no questioning that Chaplain Marsden's heart and soul were bound up in the welfare of the New Zealand natives, and the minister's efforts were concentrated on the evangelising and betterment of the Maoris' material conditions. It is the account of the chaplain's activities (both at Parramatta and in the North Island of New Zealand) which is the only portion of the 'Life of Rev. S. Marsden', by a Methodist divine named Rev. J. B. Marsden (no rela tion to the chaplain) which is of any value. In other respects the 'alleged life' is a doleful work, containing as it does many inaccuracies and misstatements, and is of little value otherwise to the historical student of the times and life of Chaplain Marsden.


So much for that. When Martha Marsden arrived at woman hood she, married Mr. Josiah Allen Betts, brother of Mr. John. Betts, who had previ ously married her sister, Mary Marsden. Mr. J. A. Betts arrived at Parramatta at the end of the year 1833. He brought with him from the Rev. R. Whittingham, the Vi car of Potton, Bedfordshire, an introduc tory letter of commendation to the chaplain, into whose service he was speedily engaged as bookkeeper, clerk and accountant. He was the right hand man, for with the chap lain's extensive enterprises and multitu dinous interests such a reliable man was a great asset. Not only was it thus, but Mr. Betts aquired knowledge of pastoral interests and stock breeding while there engaged in the duties for some four years, when he decided to study for the Church of England ministry.

To that end the young couple, Mr. Josiah and Mrs. Martha Marsden Betts, went to reside at York Lodge (Brabyn's old cottage), at George-street, Windsor, in order to be near at hand to study the courses in theology from the tutorship of the Rev. Henry Tarleton Stiles, M.A., minister of St. Matthew's Church. The year of Mr. Betts' arrival at Windsor would be 1837. For some three years the studies were continued, but again the desire for an active farming life prevailed, and during the year 1840, Mr. J. A. Betts purchased a large estate and property not far from where the present Riverstone railway station is located. Mr. Betts named his newly acquired property 'Wilmington,' and on a rise there erected a large and commodious two-storied wood residence. On the banks of Eastern Creek he planted a vineyard and fruit trees of various kinds, and cultivation and dairy ing was carried on in a practical way. In those days of nearly ninety years ago, the part now known as the district of Marsden Park and its vicinity was intensely farmed, for the Bettses had as near neighbors the occupiers of the Marsden grant property of 'Tumble Down Barn' (the original name which had no reference of itself to a dilapidated con dition of the house, but just a name given to the house and estate). Then there was the Tompson's at Clydes dale (just off the Richmond-road), whilst Mr. Jonathan Hassall (I.) and his wife lived just across the South Creek, from Clydesdale, at Berkshire Park estate, which had two family houses— one called Jerusa lem and the other Jericho. On the Black town side of 'Wilmington' was Pye's Waa Waarawa or Liberty estate, which was then, as now, extensively used as a sheep pro perty. All these landed proprietors had as signed servants to assist cultivate the areas and increase the flocks of sheep. To the best of my belief I do not think that 'Wil- anington' employed any assigned servants. I mention these matters for the purpose of showing that all the old-time neighbors were friendly to each other, as their in terests were all more or less intertwined within the seasons and progress in a mate rial sense generally. Oftimes there were con vivial gatherings in these old homesteads ere the gold digging days period had com menced, which necessarily changed the whole outlook of the folks who resided on the places named. I will just mention one fact which happened in the middle for- ties. Most of the fat sheep and cattle not needed for consumption were sent to the three or four boiling down works then en gaged at producing the tallow for export. Mr. R. Fitzgerald, at Windsor Farm, now Crosper's stud farm; Mr. Wm. McDonald's, at Pitt Town; Dargin's boiling down establish ment at Rickerby's Creek, and yet another were all fully engaged at the process of boiling down stock right up to the year 1851, just preceding the influx of population.

Of all the old families and original houses on the properties that I have enumerated, old Jerusalem and Clydesdale, and part, of Waa Waarawaa homestead, alone remains. A few broken bricks from the chimneys are all that remain of 'Tumble Down Barn,' where the three founder brothers of the pastoralist, McPhillamy, was born. On the site where 'Wilmington' villa house once stood a soldier settler poultryman from Vic toria has erected a modern villa and extensive fowl pens, etc. The place is called 'Keilambete' nowadays, and is on only a small remainder of the lands of Betts' 'Wilmington.' '

Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Betts had a family of seven children, four sons and three daughters, The eldest son was Edward Marsden Betts, who was born at Brabyn Lodge, Windsor, on 16th December, 1839. This gentleman married Miss Hope, who was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Hope, (nee Mary Ann Hassall), of Geelong, Victoria. Mr. Edward M. Betts was, the only member, of Mr: J. A. Betts' family who was born at Brabyn Lodge, Windsor.

The other six members of the family were born at 'Wilmington,' near Riverstone. They were respectively named:— .

(2) Emily Mary Betts, the eldest daughter, who was born on 17th. January 1843. This lady became in due time Mrs. Julius Shelley, and she died on the 31st July, 1917, aged 74 years.

(3) Arthur Charles Betts, who was by profession a surveyor, and for many years was chairman of the Local Land Boards, both at Cooma and Goulburn, N.S. Wales. On his retirement from the Government po sitions, he resided at his property, called 'Westgrove,' near Exeter (N.S. Wales), where, unfortunately, his, death was caused by a fall from a horse. He died on the 1st November, 1913, aged 69 years.

(4) The third son was Mr. Francis Matthew Betts (dec.) who went to New Zealand, where he graduated and became a barrister at law in the Dominion.

(5), The fourth son was Mr. Robert Betts, who, married Miss Jeanie Stewart, eldest daughter of the late Mr. Neil Stewart, of 'Newlands,' Parramatta, which was the Marsden house built for Mrs. Elizabeth Marsden by Chaplain Marsden. This house is on the North Parramatta side of the river from George-street.

(6) The second daughter of the 'Wilmington' Betts was Miss Elizabeth Betts, who has named her pretty villa at Glades ville, Sydney, after the old home at 'Wilmington,' near Windsor, where all of the family were born except the eldest son. The family have no idea as to the reason for so naming that estate. The original name was that of a large city in the State of Delaware, the capital town of that State in the United States of America. Miss Elizabeth Betts takes a very active interest in Australian historical matters, and has been a member of the Council of the Royal Australian Historical Society for many years, a position which she still occupies.

(7) The third daughter of Mr. Josiah A. Betts and his wife was Miss Edith Jane Betts, who, at womanhood, married the late Dr. Herbert Blaxland, who for many years previous to his death was the superintendent at Callan Park. Mrs. E. J. Blaxland takes an active interest in all matters of progress and advancement in the spheres to which the members of the family have contributed many good works, one of the principal being that of education.

To again make mention of Mr. Josiah A. Betts, that gentleman, about the year 1846, took up a position as pastoral properties inspector for a N.S. Wales Investment Company, and at the same time Mrs. Martha Betts managed the 'Wilmington' estate, The family continued to live there un til about the year 1851, when through los ses and investments, and droughts, and bank failures, to those people having their assets and cash bound up in such institutions (Mr. J. A. Betts being one amongst many others) 'Wilmington' was first of all leased and finally sold, and was cut up into reduced areas. Most of the residue of land which once comprised 'Wilmington' estate is now covered with prosperous poultry farmers' and other residences, and is known as the township area of' Marsden Park, commem orating the chaplain's name.

In the year 1863, Mr. Josiah A. Betts died at the rather early age of 49 years, and his widow having a young and growing up family to provide for in their education and professions, was offered the superintending charge with a residence at the Protestant Orphan School (now the Rydalmere Hospital), near Parramatta. She accepted the offer and appointment, which her splendid management, education and accomplishments well fitted her for. There the good lady, with her younger children remained for many years. She was the last survivor of Chaplain Marsden's famous daughters, the whole of whom, by their work and attainments, have contributed largely and greatly to the advancement of Australia and Australians in ways too innumerable to be recounted in a series like this.

At St. John's cemetery, Parramatta, (adjoining and just on the right facing front ways with the Chaplain Marsden vault is situated the family burial place of the foundress mother of the Bedfordshire Bettses, and there with her husband and sister in law, Mrs. Martha Marsden Betts was buried

Mrs. M. M. Betts was an ardent advocate and believer in the earth burial form of sepulchre, and that probably accounted for that good lady not being interred in the Chaplain Marsden vault family burial place. On a stone cross memorial of sandstone, surmounted with four tiers of pyramidal stones, is recorded the following inscriptions : —

In memory of JOSIAH ALLEN BETTS Died 7th. August, 1863. Aged 49 years. And, MARTHA BETTS, His wife, Youngest daughter of the Rev. Samuel Marsden. Died 26th September, 1895. Aged 84 years 'Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.' Also (Mrs.) SARAH BETTS Mother of Josiah Allen Betts, Died at Parramatta; 1st July, 1860. Aged 89 years. And (Miss) SARAH BETTS Her daughter Died at Parramatta.

On the Marsden vault a brass tablet records the death date of Chaplain Marsden's only son to reach man's estate. It says

In memory of CHARLES SIMEON MARSDEN Eldest son of the Reverend Samuel Marsden, who died at 'Mamre,' South Creek, on the 27th September, 1868, Aged 65 years.

I hold the opinion that the latter's wife (nee Miss Elizabeth Brabyn) along with some members of Mr,. C. S. Marsden's family is buried at the churchyard at St. Marys village (N.S. Wales).

In passing I may state that three sons of 'Mamre' Marsden were engaged as horse team carriers over the Blue Mountains from Penrith, and one, at least, pioneered the first settlement on the land in the prosperous farming and wheat country in the Barmedman and Forbes districts. This settlement goes by the name of Marsden's, as originally the land was taken up for graz ing stock, both sheep and cattle.

Reference should be made here as to there being in the old town of Windsor, another family bearing the surname of Betts, Mr. John Betts, once of Betts and Panton; storekeepers, who succeeded Mr. John Howe (1839), and whose stores were in Baker-street, Windsor, on the site where once stood William Baker's 'Royal Oak' Inn in the twenties of last Century. That Mr. John Betts must not be confused with the Mr. John Betts who wedded Miss Mary Marsden. Although the two Mr. Betts'— Mr. J. A. Betts, and Mr. John Betts, of Betts and Panton — were acquainted with each other, they were not in any way related. After leaving Windsor, where he had acquired a competence, Mr. John Betts, along, with his first wife, Harriet, who came from Surrey, England, went to reside at Glebe Point, (then a more fashionable suburb than it is at present). Mrs. Harriet Betts died on 28th October, 1852, at The Glebe, and Mr. John Betts, formerly of Betts and Panton, then married, secondly, Margaret Erskine, who survived that gentleman. Mrs. Margaret E. Betts died at her residence, Thompson' Square, Windsor, on the 26th December, 1889, aged 77 years. (To be Concluded)"

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Martha Betts's Timeline

1811
May 6, 1811
1839
December 16, 1839
Age 28
Windsor, New South Wales, Australia
1839
Age 27
Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia
1841
1841
Age 29
Windsor, New South Wales, Australia
1843
January 17, 1843
Age 31
Windsor, NSW, Australia
1843
Age 31
NSW, Australia
1844
1844
Age 32
NSW, Australia
1847
January 30, 1847
Age 35
NSW, Australia
1849
May 5, 1849
Age 37
NSW, Australia
1855
1855
Age 43
NSW, Australia