William Sinnott[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

Male 1815 - 1898  (83 years)

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  • Name William Sinnott 
    Born 1815  Carne, County Wexford, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [11
    27 Fitzroy St 
    Gender Male 
    _UID 67631D4B070A4456A605642B8E9D55FE954B 
    Died 7 Jun 1898  Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [12, 13
    18 Gillman St 
    Buried 8 Jun 1898  Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [12, 14
    Melbourne General Cemetery Roman Catholic section compartment E  
    Person ID I74  Treefive
    Last Modified 7 Sep 2019 

    Father Michael Sinnot,   b. 1761, Carne, County Wexford, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Sep 1832  (Age 71 years) 
    Mother Mary Murphy,   b. 1782, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Sep 1832  (Age 50 years) 
    Married 30 Jul 1795  Carne, County Wexford, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [15
    Family ID F751  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Catherine Boyle,   b. 3 Jan 1823, Liverpool, Lancashire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 Aug 1854, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 31 years) 
    Married 18 May 1853  Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [16
    St Francis Church 
     1. William Sinnott,   b. Aug 1854, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Sep 1854, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 0 years)
    Last Modified 12 Sep 2019 
    Family ID F23  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Sarah Jane Richardson,   b. 31 May 1837, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Sep 1872, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 35 years) 
    Married 4 Nov 1854  Geelong, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [17
     1. Mary Agnes Sinnott,   b. 4 Oct 1855, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 Feb 1918, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 62 years)
     2. Ellen Margaret Sinnott,   b. 1857, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 May 1936, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years)
     3. William Albert Sinnott,   b. 7 Apr 1859, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Sep 1860, Emerald Hill, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 1 years)
     4. Michael George Sinnott,   b. 20 Jun 1860, North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 27 Feb 1861, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 0 years)
     5. John Joseph Sinnott,   b. Oct 1861, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Oct 1897, Calcutta, Bengal, India Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 36 years)
     6. Mary Angela Sinnott,   b. 30 Oct 1862, North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Nov 1889, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 27 years)
     7. Theresa Mary Sinnott,   b. Abt Jul 1864, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 13 Dec 1864, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 0 years)
     8. Christina Mary Sinnott,   b. 17 Jul 1865, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     9. William Edmund Sinnott,   b. 22 Jul 1866, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Jun 1917, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 50 years)
     10. Gertrude Mary Sinnott,   b. 14 Aug 1867, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Dec 1933, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years)
     11. Maude Miriam Sinnott,   b. 1869, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Apr 1904, Wellington, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 35 years)
     12. Albert Philip Marie Sinnott,   b. 7 Jun 1870, Collingwood, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Jan 1912  (Age 41 years)
     13. An unnamed stillborn child,   b. Abt 23 Sep 1872, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 23 Sep 1872, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 0 years)
    Last Modified 12 Sep 2019 
    Family ID F24  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    00628 Headstone - Sara Jane Sinnott
    00628 Headstone - Sara Jane Sinnott

    OBT019 William Sinnott - death notice and obituary (1898)
    OBT019 William Sinnott - death notice and obituary (1898)

  • Notes 

    • William was born at Bunarge about 1805. There is a gap in the Carne/Lady's Island parish register from 1802 to 1807, where his birth would have been recorded, and no other record of William’s birth has been found.

      Little is known of his early life. He was a seaman, a ship’s captain, with a colourful career at sea and then in business in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia where he settled about the late 1840s. He died in 1898, leaving a large family with members now mainly in the eastern states of Australia, and in New Zealand.

      A William Sinnott was sailing around Fiji in 1833, but the shipping record noting this voyage is yet to be located.

      The Freak

      The Freak was a barque of 103 tons, dimensions 64 ft 7 in x 19 ft 6 in x 10 ft. It was built at Sulked, near Calcutta, India in 1823; registered at Sydney in May 1834. The barque Freak traded mainly in Australian waters in 1833 and 1834. At times, the master was Captain Sinnott. In early in December 1834, Captain Nelson of the brig Swallow sighted a waterlogged wreck some 130 miles off Kangaroo Island, South Australia. This could well have been the Freak.

      No evidence has been found of any survivors, nor are there any family stories relating to William Sinnott of Bunarge surviving a shipwreck. The 1851 Master’s Claim for Certificate of Service for William Sinnott, born at Bonnarge, notes that he was an apprentice in 1833, and it was not until 1840 that he became a master. This is conclusive evidence that the captain of the Freak was a different William Sinnott.

      Back to William Sinnott

      William was mentioned in a letter from his brother Michael to their brother Robert dated 31 July 1840. William had sailed for Jamaica on the morning of 29 July 1840, and was expected to be in Liverpool again in 6 - 7 months. On Easter Sunday William was in Port au Prince. He admitted to Catherine that religion was not often on his mind. He had recently become the ship's mate, earning 4 pounds per month. He recalled earlier days with Catherine - a tramp to Ferry Carg. William had met their brother John in Liverpool unexpectedly, and said that he scarcely knew John. He had no other news of John.

      In William’s letter to his brother Robert dated 14 June 1849, from Liverpool, William talked of sending emigrants to Buenos Ares, Argentina, including a Mr Boyle (William’s first wife was Catherine Boyle). The letter listed the fare schedule and mentions the wages - much higher than in Ireland. He enclosed 5 pounds for Edmond.

      In his letter to Robert dated 7 Nov 1849 from Liverpool, William tried to persuade Robert to emigrate to Brazil. He includes 7 Articles of Establishment of the settlement, and mentions Pallotis (Pelotas, Brazil).

      In William’s letter to Robert dated 28 August 1850 postmarked Queenstown, Jamaica, he talked of emigrating to Brazil, and the need to take out seeds. He said that the land was productive, and a house as good as that in Ireland would soon be affordable. He mentioned the wildlife, snakes, frogs, ducks and fowl.

      William made many trips over the years in his own ships. He had respectable connections: his brother Michael became the Prior of Downside Abbey in England.

      Susan Priestley in her history of South Melbourne estimates that “William Sinnett” arrived in Port Phillip Bay with a full cargo of wines and spirits on his ship the Dom Pedro in 1842. Both his death entry, and his obituary in The Argus on 14 Jun 1898, put the year at 1845. He set up his own wine and spirits store in Emerald Hill with this stock, probably living somewhere in Clarendon Street, Emerald Hill. In 1845 he helped formed the Emerald Hill Local Committee to agitate for improved conditions from Council. Only the reference to the Emerald Hill Local Committee has been verified, and this was in 1855, not 1845.

      The shipping records and newspapers do not provide evidence for William and the Don Pedro arriving in Australia in the 1840s. He was still pursuing an interest in assisting Irish emigration to Brazil until at least 1850. The Municipality of Emerald Hill was proclaimed in 1855. Further research is needed to determine when William first arrived in Melbourne.

      Lloyds Register for 1849 records the Don Pedro as a barque of 162 tons, owner J. Froes, Master J. Boylan. The ship belonged to the Port of R. Grad, destined voyage was Liv. RioGnd. For the years 1850-1855 the Register records the Don Pedro 2nd as a barque of 162 tons, built Massa 1842, owner Sinnott & Co, home port Liverpool. The master for 1850 was J. Boylan, after that it was J. Rickerd. The home port was Liverpool 1850-1853, after that no home port is given. The destination is given as Liverpool to Rio Gnd (1850, 1851), Liverpool to Hayti (1852, 1853), unrecorded in 1854 and 1855. There is no further record of the Don Pedro 2nd in the Register. There are unresolved differences in the ship's tonnage and its master in Australian waters (see below).

      On 28 Apr 1853, the Don Pedro, a barque of 247 tons, W. Sinnott, arrived at Melbourne, having left Liverpool on 30 Nov 1852. The passengers were Mr Milner (cabin) and 11 in steerage. The agent was Captain Milner.

      Symonds and Perry advertised in The Argus to sell, by auction on 22 June, 50 hogsheads of Whitbread's prime London stout, ex the Don Pedro. The ad does not mention William Sinnott, and it is not clear if he owned the wine or was the shipping agent.

      Meanwhile, on 18 May 1853 William married Catherine Boyle at St Francis Catholic Church, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Victoria. The marriage was short and tragic - Catherine died on 31 Aug 1854 and was buried on 1 September. Their son William died on 22 Sep aged 7 weeks, and was buried on 23 Sep 1854 at Melbourne General Cemetery.

      On 7 Oct 1854 William witnessed a dissolution of the partnership between John Harris and George M. Whitehead, known as Harris & Co., of Clarendon-street, Fitzgerald.

      On 4 November 1854 Captain William Sinnott, aged about 49, married Sarah Jane Richardson, aged 17. This was a scandalous marriage because of the short time since William’s previous marriage ended.

      In the second marriage certificate, March 1854 is underscored as the date William purported to have become a widower: in fact it was 31 August 1854. Six months mourning was regarded as the conventional time before a widow or widower could remarry: William and Sarah Jane married in about two months. There is no known reason for such haste.

      William and Sarah Jane’s marriage took place in the Presbyterian Church in Geelong with both parties attesting that they were members of that faith. They were not. William and Sarah Jane were Roman Catholic, although William had shown little interest in his religious affiliations in a letter he wrote to his sister Catherine in 1840. Geelong was a coastal port some distance away from Melbourne by land.

      The absence of any member of the Richardson family from the ceremony suggests an elopement. The under-aged bride needed the consent of her father to marry before 21. Instead she lied and said she was 22 years old. William also falsified his age – he was about 49, not 36 as he claimed.

      The Don Pedro II

      It seems likely that the Don Pedro II, on which William emigrated to Australia, remained in his ownership for several years, but evidence of the ownership change has yet to be found

      The first recorded trip in Australian waters was its arrival in Geelong from Melbourne on 30 Aug 1853, and subsequent departure for Melbourne on 3 Sep 1853 . The next two trips, from Melbourne to Adelaide and return (Nov-Dec 1853) and Hobart and return (Dec 1853-Jan 1854) were under Captain R. Eustace. A Scotsman, Alexander McDonald, died aboard the Don Pedro on 2 Jan 1854, while it was at Hobart.

      All later recorded voyages in 1854 and 1855 were between Melbourne and Hobart under Captain J. Grant. He carried up to 10 passengers, and up to 11 in steerage, with a variety of cargo including flour, hay, geneva, lime, tea, coffee, brandy, whiskey, potatoes, oats, wheat and skins.

      It is unclear if, or how, the Don Pedro provided the means for William and/or Sarah Jane to travel from Melbourne to Geelong for their marriage on 4 Nov 1854. William’s first wife Catherine and their son William both died while the Don Pedro was on a voyage to and from Hobart (12 Aug to 1 Oct 1854) . The next voyage was 16 Oct-13 Nov 1854 . Both voyages had normal journey and in-port times, so a trip (unrecorded) to Geelong seems unlikely. There were numerous voyages between Melbourne and Geelong in late 1854, and Syme gives no clues as to which (if any) vessel may have carried William and Sarah Jane either to or from Geelong.

      Voyages of the Don Pedro in 1856 and later years, in the 3rd volume of Syme’s Shipping Arrivals and Departures Victorian Ports, do not mention William Sinnott. It seems likely that he sold the ship in 1855-56. There are 35 entries for the Don Pedro II all entering the port of Melbourne:
      1856 – 9 voyages: Master J Grant all return voyages Hobart – Melbourne – Hobart. One via Adventure Bay (on Bruny Island just off Hobart) and another via Warehouse Island.
      1857 – 10 voyages: Master J Grant same as for 1856 and one via Adventure Bay.
      1858 – 8 voyages: Master J Grant for the Jan voyage Hobart-Melbourne-Hobart, then Master J Lovett took over in Melbourne and went to Newcastle. Then a few trips of coal from Newcastle (a big coal area in NSW north of Sydney) and on the 4th trip the return Master changed in Melbourne to G M Evans who remained the Master for all remaining voyages returning to Hobart.
      1859 – 7 voyages: Master G M Evans, all return trips from Hobart.
      1860 – 1 voyage: in August Master G M Evans Sydney – Melbourne – Hobart.

      www.wrecksite.eu gives the owners of the Don Pedro II as W. Facy and W. Fisher. "W. Facy" may have been Peter Facy who was a Tasmanian businessman - he entered business with Captain William Fisher as shipowner, sawmill proprietor and timber merchant engaged mostly in intercolonial trade.

      According to the Australian National Shipwreck Database on the Department of the Environment website, the barque Don Pedro II, Otago to Hobart, went ashore north of Cape Pillar [Tasmania] on the early morning of 16 October 1861. In foggy conditions the vessel ran into the cliffs almost without warning. Conditions were calm, and the seven crew and one passenger managed to get clear in a boat then rowed to Fortescue Bay. The Don Pedro II reportedly sank in deep water after striking.
      According to the Encyclopedia of Australian Shipwrecks, the Don Pedro was carrying returning miners. After landing at Fortescue Bay, they walked to Surveyor’s Bay, from where the Government schooner Harriet took them to Port Arthur.
      The sinking was reported in The Mercury (Hobart) and the Lyttelton Times (Canterbury, NZ), which noted that the ship's owner was Captain William Fisher of Hobart.

      Back on land …

      The Victorian Government Gazette of 3 Aug 1853 lists W. Sinnott, Emerald Hill as a newly-registered Spirit Merchant. The notice by the Chief Inspector of Distilleries, Melbourne is dated 26 July 1853.

      An advertisement in the Argus on 9 Jan 1855 offered goats in full milk with two kids for sale at H. G. Lewis’s, near Sinnott’s Spirit Store, Clarendon-Street, Emerald Hill.

      In May 1855 Mr Sinnott, wine merchant, Clarendon-Street, Emerald Hill was advertising pianofortes for sale. They were ex Ship Australia, and said to be by a first-class English Maker, and for brilliancy of tone and touch were not to be equalled in the Colony.

      Charles Daley in The History of South Melbourne (1940) noted the desire of Emerald Hill residents for secession from Melbourne to achieve separate local government. An important and well-attended meeting was held on 3 May 1855, which decided to form an Emerald Hill Branch of the Fire Brigade. Captain Sinnett was one of those appointed to the provisional committee. Later, a Local Committee was formed, to to take steps to obtain improvements urgently needed for public welfare. Mr Sinnett, wine merchant, was appointed to this committee.

      In Jun 1855 William Sinnott was a signatory, as an elector of Emerald Hill, to a request to 5 named men to allow themselves to be nominated as Councillors of the newly-proclaimed Municipality of Emerald Hill.

      On 3 Jul 1855 the Victoria government gazette had a notice dated 29 Jun 1855 that the partnership between Thomas Paile of Liverpool, England and William Sinnott of Melbourne, Australia was dissolved by mutual consent on 8 Sep 1854.

      On 10 Jul 1855 at the City Court, William Sinnott, an extensive wine and spirit merchant at Emerald Hill, was charged with selling liquors retail, for which he was fined £30. The decision of the Bench in regard to a forfeiture of his stock was deferred for a day; and on 11 Jul, before a full Bench, his matter was reconsidered and all liquors found upon his premises were declared forfeit.

      On 24 Jul 1855 Mr Sinnott, spirit merchant of Emerald Hill advertised that a practical Mining Engineer was open for engagement. The engineer was thoroughly acquainted with Erection, Working, Stamping, Crushing and Washing Gold on most approved principles.

      No references to William have been found in other books on early Melbourne history. Only ten have been reviewed as at Feb 2013, and most of these related to 1850 and earlier, a period when it is not clear that William was in Australia. Note the reference above to Susan Priestley’s 1995 book South Melbourne: a History which claims that William may have been in Victoria as early as 1842.

      At the first Melbourne Crown Lands Sale for Feb 1856, William Sinnott purchased Lot 29 (640 acres) at Evelyn, on the Yarra River about 23 miles from Melbourne. The upset (reserve) price was £1 per acre, William paid £1 4s per acre.

      In Feb 1857 William, as one of the landholders and householders of the Upper Yarra Road District, signed a request to Charles Hackett, the Police Magistrate, to hold a public meeting on 2 March to form a District Road Board. Mr Hackett complied with the request.

      In Jun 1857 Mr W. Sinnott nominated, and Mr R. Causton seconded, the nomination of Mr Charles Chessell as a member of the Municipal Council of Emerald Hill.

      In Jul and Aug 1857 Mr Wm. Sinnott, Clarendon-street, Emerald Hill, was listed as an agent for the Horse-Bread Company.

      On 9 Apr 1859 the Argus announced a birth: “On the 7th inst., at his residence, Emerald Hill, the wife of W. Sinnott, Esq., of a son.”

      Wm. Sinnott was one of many electors of Emerald Hill to sign a request to R. S. Anderson, Esq., M. L. A. to allow his name to be put forward as a candidate (for re-election), to represent their interest in the NSW Parliament.

      On 1 Aug 1859, the Age newspaper of Melbourne carried a notice dated 13 Jul 1859 requesting William Haig M.D, a member of the Municipal Council, to stand for the Legislative Assembly. Among the 12 electors of the district of Emerald Hill who signed the notice were William Sinnott and William Richardson.

      He seems to have moved to North Melbourne at some stage after signing these petitions in support of local candidates.

      Hillside Cottage, Courtney Street, Hotham:

      In The Argus of 12 March 1858 W H Mitchell instructed W Ward and Co to sell “20 excellent weatherboarded dwellings, situate in Courtney Street and known as Hillside Cottages.”

      “The land is a Government quarter-acre, on which are erected 20 cottages, newly built and admirably arranged with great care and judgment for the comfort of the tenantry, and papered and painted throughout.”

      “The property is zinc spouted round each house. Water laid on from the street and the whole of the premises fully insured, and all let to respectable tenants, and producing a splendid income of nearly 800 pounds a year.”
      “Situate in a very commanding position on the side of the fill, in the most healthy part of north Melbourne, opposite the Public Reserves, overlooking the Royal Park, Flemington, the Mount Alexander Railway, and surrounding country, about three minutes walk from the Post Office, near the Government offices and only one street from Elizabeth-street.”

      In Feb 1860 William Sinnott placed a message in The Argus advising Thomas, Edward and Sarah Nelson to contact him at Hillside-cottages, North Melbourne, for news of their sister Jane.

      On 30 Jun 1860 The Argus announced a birth: “On the 20th Inst., at her residence, Courtney-street, North Melbourne, Mrs William Sinnott, of a son.”

      In Feb 1863 Captain Sinnott was listed as one of the many subscribers towards paying the debts of St Patrick’s Grammar School. He paid £1. Of particular note are two of the other subscribers - Mr M. J. P. Hanify (£5 5s) and Hon John O'Shanassy (£25). This is the first known connection between the Hanifys and the Sinnotts. John O'Shanassy was said (The Star, Ballarat, 19 Jan 1859) to be a relative of Michael Hanify, although this has not been verified. O'Shanassy was Premier of Victoria (the first of several stints) from Mar 1858 to Oct 1859.

      In Nov 1863 Mrs Sinnott of Hillside cottage, Courtney-street, North Melbourne advertised for a servant – who must be able to milk a cow.

      The Sands Melbourne Directory for 1865 lists Captain William Sinnott at 23 York-street west, Emerald Hill, and also William Sinnott, ship chandler, of 10 King-street and 23 York-street west, Emerald Hill.

      William's occupation in July 1866 was as a "Gentleman" according to the birth certificate of his son William Edmund.

      In Jun 1867 the directors of the Yarra Yarra Gold-Mining Company gave notice that shares would be forfeited unless all calls, fines and other expenses due on them were paid. William Sinnott owned 10 of these shares.

      On 20 Aug 1867, Captain John Hughes and Captain William Sinnott obtained a seven year lease of crown lands on the south bank of the Yarra River, just below Clarendon Street, for the construction of a graving dock with timber floor and sides.

      At a meeting of the Emerald Hill borough council on 16 Oct 1867 the correspondence included a letter from Mr W. Sinnott. The letter advised the council that the road along the south bank of the Yarra River, as then laid out, materially interfered with the construction of a graving dock then being built such that there would be insufficient length to admit steamers of large size. At the meeting of 11 Nov 1867, the town clerk read a letter from the office of Lands and Survey stating that there was no objection to the proposed deviation of the line of the Yarra-bank road near Mr Sinnott’s proposed graving-dock.

      In Feb 1868 the necessary excavation for the graving dock was nearly completed and pumping machinery installed, including the largest centrifugal pump, the largest yet made in the colony. Vessels were to be floated into the dock, a caisson fixed at the entrance, then the water in the dock pumped out.

      By November 1868 Hughes, Sinnott and Co were advertising that “Having, at a large outlay, completed this Useful and Perfectly Safe Dock, Respectfully Inform Captains, Owners and Agents of Vessels That they can ACCOMMODATE any STEAM or OTHER VESSEL, Not exceeding 250 feet in length Or drawing over 13 feet. ..”

      The new Yarra graving dock was opened on Saturday 7 Nov 1868, when the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company’s s.s. Southern Cross was successfully docked, and the water pumped out in 2 1/2 hours. The dock had been under construction for 2 years, and was 250ft long, 55ft wide at the top and 40ft at the bottom, with 16ft of water in the dock and 13ft 3in of water on the sill at ordinary tides. The iron clipper schooner Cleopatra (later to be owned by William Sinnott) was cleared out for Hong Kong after being in the dock being cleaned and repainted in Nov 1868. But in December, tenders were being called for repairs to iron and woodwork on the Cleopatra, back in the dock after a collision with the s.s. Alexandra on 30 Nov. Among the ships to enter the dock were the screw steamer Maori (Jan 1869) , the barque Japan (Jan 1869), the s.s. Alhambra (Feb 1869) and the Otago (Feb 1869) .

      The new Yarra Graving Dock opened on 14 November 1868 when the steamer Southern Cross was successfully docked, and the water pumped out in 2 1/2 hours. One of the first major repair jobs had been the three-masted schooner Cleopatra, which had been in a collision with the Alexandra (reported in the Argus, 12 Oct 1868). Other ships in the dock in its initial months were the iron screw steamer Maori, the barque Japan, the s.s. Alhambra, and the Otago.

      Daniel McNaughton, contractor, bought an action against Sinnott and Hughes for work done in connection with a floating dock. The defendants changes their minds after about a third of the work was done, intending to have a graving dock instead. After initial agreement on the amount to be paid, a dispute had arisen. The defendants had paid £36 16s 6d into court, but the plaintiff sought £144 3s 4d. The case was heard on 9 Mar 1869, and adjourned until the next day.
      In Dec 1871 Hughes and Sinnott sold out to Wright, Orr & Co. – it seems that they offloaded the dock in a hurry when they got wind of official plans to enlarge the river at that point and for the Harbour Trust to compulsorily acquire it. If anything remains of the dock, it is now covered by wharves.

      The Argus of 27 May 1872 gave a gripping account of a thwarted robbery on Mr. and Mrs. Sinnott living at 7 Princes-terrace, Princes-street, Fitzroy. Mr and Mrs Sinnott were sleeping in the dining rom of the house at the time with the window a little ajar for ventilation, when they were woken by the creaking of the window. A man was getting into the room, but left when he was discovered. Mr Sinnott found under the window a large, rusty old sword of his own, which the robber had brought out of the bathroom – no doubt with the intention of using it if need be.

      William and Sarah Jane had 12 children between 1855 and 1870, followed by a still born baby in September 1872 – Sarah Jane died on 23 September 1872 and mother and child were buried the following day in the Sinnott family grave at Melbourne General Cemetery.

      Captain William Sinnot of East Melbourne was on the Provisional Committee of The Australian and European Bank (Limited) established in 1873.

      William Sinnott was noted in shipping news as the agent for the barque Jeannie Oswald (194 tons) – Melbourne to Newcastle in May 1872 and Oct 1872 , Newcastle to Melbourne in May 1873 , from Western Port to Melbourne in Apr 1874 , from Griffith’s Point, Western Port to Melbourne in Jun 1874 and Jul 1874 , and from Western Port to Melbourne in Aug 1874.

      W. Sinnott was the agent in Oct 1874 for the schooner Eva and the schooner Result and in Nov 1874 for the schooner Charlotte – all on voyages Western Port to Melbourne.

      A William Sinnott was summoned to court by Ellen Ann Barker in Jul 1874 for neglecting to maintain his illegitimate child. Her evidence was that she became acquainted with the defendant about Dec 1872. The confinement took place in his house. Margaret Boyle said that the defendant had admitted to the child being his and had promised to maintain it.

      William said that he was employed by McMeekan and Blackwood and earned 14s per day. He did not support the child because he had not been asked to. He was ordered to pay 10s per week towards the maintenance of the child.

      There is no evidence that this is the same William Sinnott as the ship owner and spirit merchant, and he has no known relationship with McMeekan and Blackwood, although they were ship owners and agents. Margaret Boyle is not known – but William’s first wife was Catherine Boyle. William remarried only weeks after his first wife Catherine died – the reputed relationship with Ellen Barker started only a few weeks after the death of his second wife. So there are coincidences but no facts.

      In May 1875 Captain William Sinnott of Melbourne bought from Mr H. A. Coffey the Cleopatra, a well-known Western Australian trader three-masted schooner. The vessel was to run, in conjunction with the Orwell schooner, in this trade.

      Ownership of the Orwell is recorded in the Watts Index as “SINNOT, William; Melb. Vic. Ship-owner: (ORWELL), -1880”. The Orwell was described in Ownerships: Pt. 2, pp. 90, 147, 154 as “Orwell, 64763. Schooner, 168.42 tons. 103.6 x 22.1 x 11.1 ft,; Built at Jervis Bay, N.S.W., in 1871, by William Wood.
      Registered No. 13/1871, Port of Melbourne. (I.R.)
      Registered No. 27/1874, Port of Melbourne
      Registered No. 19/1880, (no date), Port of Auckland.
      Master: James Robinson.

      Lloyds Register 1880-1991 records the Cleopatra as a schooner of 200 tons, dimensions 116.7 x 23.0 x 12.4 feet, built Dumbarton by Denny 1847.

      The Cleopatra, under master Wm Sinnott, left Melbourne for Fremantle and Champion Bay on 7 Sep 1876.

      At the Footscray Borough Council meeting on Wed 7 Sep 1876 [Wed was the 6th], a letter from the office of Land and Survey was read. It stated that the licence issued to Capt. Sinnott for a site for smelting works was issued under section 47 (the name of the statute was not given) and a special condition that no noxious effluvia was to be permitted to escape. The Argus noted that the meeting was on Wed 6 Sep, and that the letter stated that a site of land in Whitehall-street had been granted to Captain Sinnot for smelting works. In Oct 1878 Captain Sinnott was a witness in a court case relating to unpaid wages at the smelter.

      In 1875, he had been listed (as 'William Synnot') in the Victoria Government Gazette as a shareholder in the Ringwood Antimony Mining Co of Market St, Melbourne. In an application to register the Enterprise Mining Company, Ringwood, Limited in December 1876, the Victoria Government Gazette listed William Sinnott, East Melbourne, sea captain as the holder of 25 shares.

      In May 1878, a Miss Sinnott was on No. 8 Stall (Flower) at a Grand Bazaar and Fancy Fair for the enlargement of St Francis' Church, and the completion of the Presbytery. Among the ladies who promised to contribute to the stalls were Lady O'Shanassy and the Misses O'Shanassy. This is further evidence of a Sinnott-O'Shanassy link in the Melbourne Irish community - recalling that there were O'Shanassy, Hanify and Sinnott contributions to the St Patrick's Grammar School debt relief fund in 1863.

      At the half-yearly meeting of the shareholders of the Ringwood Antimony-Mining Company in Aug 1878, Messrs Boland and Sinnott were re-elected as directors.

      In Feb and Mar 1879 and Feb 1880, W. Sinnott of 33 Flinders-street west, as agent for the clipper schooner Orwell, was advertising that cargo would shortly be received for the ports of Fremantle and Champion Bay.

      In the hearing of arbitration between Fowler and Sinnott in Sep 1879, a motion for a rule nisi to set aside an award was granted. The case related to the payment by the plaintiff of his half share in the joint purchase of the Cleopatra.

      W. Sinnott was the agent for the Cleopatra’s voyage from Melbourne to Fremantle in May 1880.
      It was said that the marriage of William’s oldest daughter Mary to William Hockin in 1880 was one of convenience to handle the business interests of both men. William agreed to settle property on his daughter when she married and this agreement, together with William’s heavy debt load, led to his being declared insolvent in 1881. His nephew Edmund Sinnott then initiated a court case in 1882 to attempt, unsuccessfully, to recoup money he had lent to William. These are significant events for the family, and key parts are reproduced below.


      Insolvency – assets sequestrated (placed in the hands of an assignee)

      The Melbourne Court of Insolvency gave notice on 8 Apr 1881 that the estate of William Sinnott of East Melbourne, shipowner, had been sequestrated and that a general meeting of creditors was to be held on 11 April. The Argus of 17 May 1881 noted William Sinnott, of Powlett-street, East Melbourne, gentleman, as a new insolvent. The causes of the insolvency were depreciation in the value of vessels, losses in business as a shipowner, and losses in mining. Liabilities were £3.151 1s 10d; assets nil; deficiency £3.151 1s 10d. The assignee was Mr. Halfey.


      Court examination of William Sinnott, insolvent

      The Argus of 24 May 1881 reported on the Insolvent Court examination of the estate of W. Sinnott of Melbourne, shipowner:
      “William Sinnott, the insolvent, examined, said that by a deed of settlement of the 11th January 1881, he conveyed all the property he had, consisting of land and vessels, to his oldest daughter, Mrs Agnes Hockin. When he executed the deed he was indebted to Edmund Sinnott, his nephew, in the sum of 264 pounds. The debt due to unsecured creditors mentioned in his schedule amounted to 1,862 pounds. He had no shares now in any antimony company, or Western Port Coal Mining Company, or any coal company, or any shares whatever. Formerly he had some shares in the Western Port Coal Mining Company, but he gave them up to the company. Was not now down on the books of that company as a shareholder, and no one held shares in it on his behalf. He gave up the scrip in the company because it was wanted and was valueless. It was given up to start a new company. He had no interest in the new company. Since the date of the deed of settlement he had obtained his living by loading vessels – assisting to get cargo for them, and getting a commission from William Hockin, his son-in-law, whom he assisted. He had just been making enough to live upon. Was living in Powlett-street, east Melbourne, with an unmarried daughter. The house belonged to Mrs Hockin, and was one of the properties mentioned in the deed of settlement. He paid 30s per week rent for it. Did not know how much rent he had paid for it. Had never paid rent for it in money. His furniture was seized, and Mrs. Hockin claimed 60 pounds rent, which was paid. The furniture was still in the house.
      His daughter, Ellen Sinnott, was the tenant of the house. There were seven of his children living in the house, five of whom were young. His age was now 67. Having conveyed away his property, he trusted to a stroke of good luck to pay the debts he owed. He had no means wherewith to pay the debts.

      The deed of settlement contained two ships, the Orwell and the Cleopatra. He bought the Cleopatra five years ago for 2,500 pounds, and the Orwell for 3,500 pounds about 7 years ago. The Cleopatra was now owned by the trustees of the settlement, and the Orwell was sold to pay debts. It was sold in the beginning of the year for 1,459 pounds to a person in New Zealand whose name witness did not know. With that money Mrs Hockin did what she chose, and paid debts. He got none of the money. He had been a master mariner. His daughter Agnes was married to Hockin in April 1880, and prior to the marriage an agreement was made in writing for a settlement on her. It was signed by witness, and Hockin, and witness’s daughter. He believed it was sealed, and was executed prior to the marriage, and contained all that the deed of January of this year contained. The marriage took place in the evening of the day in April 1880, when the agreement was executed. In the beginning of this year his daughter required him to execute the settlement dated 11th January this year, and he did so. That deed was prepared from the first agreement. Originally Edmund Sinnott, his nephew, was to be trustee, but he refused to act. After the first deed, and until the second, the proceeds of the property were paid by Mrs Hockin in discharge of witness’s debts. Edmund Sinnott was put down in witness’s schedule as a creditor for 760 pounds. The judgment for that amount was recovered after the deed of 11th January, 1881, was executed. Most of the land mentioned in the deed of settlement was under mortgage, and the mortgages appeared in witness’s schedule. He had assisted Hockin since the marriage, and Hockin had supplied him with money to live upon. Did not think that Cleopatra would bring 500 pounds if it were sold.

      To his Honour – Before his nephew brought the action against him he asked for the money due, and witness told him he had no money, and asked him to let things remain as they were, which he declined to do. His estate was sequestrated on the petition of his nephew. He did not agree with his nephew that he should make him insolvent. The demand for payment by Edward Sinnott was made when witness asked him to become a trustee in January last.
      The examination closed.


      Court case Sinnott v Hockin (July 18, 19 1882)

      In July 1882, Edmund took a suit against John Hockin, Ellen Margaret Sinnott, Mary Agnes Hockin and John Halfey [assignee of William’s estate when it was sequestrated], to set aside certain transfers and conveyances of property as having been made in fraud of the plaintiff and the other creditors of William Sinnott.

      The bill alleged that William Sinnott being indebted to the plaintiff and other creditors on 11th January 1881, transferred certain land under the “Transfer of Land Statute” to the defendants John Hockin and Ellen Margaret Sinnott; and by an indenture of settlement of that date also conveyed to the said defendants and their heirs, certain land under the old law as trustees for the settlor’s daughter, the defendant Mary Agnes Hockin, for her life as separate property, free from the control of William Hockin, her husband; and, after her death, to such uses as she might by will appoint; and in default of such appointment to the next-of-kin of the settlor. The settlement went on to declare that the lands transferred under the “Transfer of Land Statute” should be subject to similar trusts. A ship called the “Cleopatra” was, by bill of sale of the same date, transferred to the trustee of the settlement, and was by the settlement declared to be held on the same trusts as the land. The bill alleged that William Sinnott had no property except that so settled, and that the settlement rendered him unable to pay his debts.

      On 4th March, 1881, William Sinnott’s estate was sequestrated, and the defendant, John Halfey, appointed as assignee. The assignee had been requested to take proceedings to have the transfers and settlement set aside as fraudulent, but he refused to do so.

      The bill prayed that the transfers, bill of sale, and settlement might be declared fraudulent and void, and that the trustees might be decreed to transfer the property to the defendant Halfey as assignee of William Sinnott’s estate.

      The answers stated that the transfers and settlement of the 11th January, 1881, were executed in consideration of a marriage between the defendant Mary Agnes Hockin, the settlor’s daughter, and her husband William Hockin, which took place on the 22nd April, 1880; and that prior to such marriage, an ante-nuptial agreement was executed between William Sinnott, Mary Agnes Hockin (then Sinnott) and William Hockin, whereby William Sinnott agreed, in consideration of the intended marriage, that he would upon demand transfer to trustees for the defendant Mary Agnes Hockin, all the lands and the ship so afterwards conveyed and transferred upon the trusts contained in the settlement impeached by the bill, and that the marriage was solemnised on the faith of such ante-nuptial agreement being carried into effect. The defendant Mary Agnes Hockin, by her answer, claimed to be beneficially entitled to the property by virtue of the ante-nuptial agreement, and submitted that her husband, William Hockin, was a necessary party to the suit. The trustees, by their answer, submitted to act in the matter as the Court might direct.

      It was proved in evidence that the settlor had no other property save that settled, except some furniture; that previous to the marriage he had verbally promised to settle the property in question on his daughter upon her marriage; and that the ante-nuptial agreement was executed in pursuance of that promise; that neither his daughter nor her husband knew anything of the settlor’s pecuniary position, or what property he possessed; and both of them swore that they married on the faith of the ante-nuptial agreement being fulfilled. In the ante-nuptial agreement the name of the plaintiff, who was William Sinnott’s nephew, had been inserted as trustee without his being consulted. He afterwards refused to act, and the impeached settlement was executed, substituting the names of the defendants, John Hockin and Ellen Margaret Sinnott as trustees; but otherwise following exactly the terms of the ante-nuptial deed. Subsequently to the execution of the settlement, William Hockin acted as agent for his wife with reference to the settled properties, and with her consent paid off all the large creditors of her father except the plaintiff. William Hockin was a party to the deed of settlement, and executed it.


      This bill is filed by a creditor of William Sinnott, seeking to set aside a settlement made on his daughter and her husband as void under Statute 13 Eliz. Cap. v., by which conveyances to defeat creditors are made void. The settlor became insolvent, and his assignee is made defendant to the suit, so as to bring the fund in for the benefit of all the creditors. There is no allusion in the bill to the settlement being void under the “Insolvent Act”.

      The answer sets up as a defence that the settlement was not spontaneous, but was made in pursuance of an ante-nuptial agreement to settle the property on Mrs. Hockin in consideration of her marriage with Mr. William Hockin.

      The bill was not amended so as to impeach this ante-nuptial agreement. If it was sought to impeach that agreement, the facts impeaching it should have been put in issue. It is a different matter where the settlor is insolvent at the time of the settlement.

      There is evidence that the settlor was deeply indebted at the time of the ante-nuptial deed; and there are facts from which it might be inferred that there was a scheme by the settlor against the creditors, but those facts were not put in issue so as to enable me to deal with them. It is not enough that there should be a scheme by the insolvent alone. It should be shown that there was a scheme between the father, the daughter and her husband to defeat the creditors. No such case is shown on the evidence. I therefore consider the ante-nuptial deed a good contract to settle, and that the settlement was in pursuance of it.

      It is said that in the ante-nuptial contract to settle the property on the daughter, the plaintiff was named as trustee, and that he afterwards refused to act, and therefore that the subsequent settlement without his consent was void. But it is a clear principle of equity that the Court will not allow any trust to fail for want of a trustee; and if one trustee refused to act, another would be appointed in his place. The beneficiaries under the ante-nuptial agreement were entitled to claim a fulfilment of that agreement, and they claimed it, and it was carried out with the exception that other trustees were appointed than the one nominated in the first instance.

      I am of the opinion that the answer furnishes a complete defence to the bill, and shall therefore dismiss the bill with costs.
      Bill dismissed with costs.


      In 1881, after 36 years’ absence from the sea, and at the age of 78 years, William took command of the Cleopatra on her last voyage to Western Australia. The Cleopatra arrived in Fremantle from Melbourne on 10 Sep 1881. The passengers were Messrs Barnett and Sinnott. The Cleopatra left Fremantle on 7 Oct 1881 , and arrived at Port Adelaide on 2 Nov and Melbourne on 26 Nov.

      William Duthie, auctioneer, advertised the Cleopatra for sale by auction at 12 noon on Monday 9 Jan 1882 at the Exchange, Collins-street West, Sydney. The Cleopatra was described as “…a fast-sailing 3-masted schooner, built by Denny at Dumbarton in 1847, of iron, 200 tons register, carries 300 tons deadweight, or 37½ tons weight, and measurement on a draught not exceeding 12ft 6in.

      Length, 116ft 7 in
      Breadth, 23ft
      Depth, 12ft 4in

      This vessel, so favourably known for making rapid passages between this port and Western Australia, was specially constructed to compete with the steamers running at that time between Dundee and London, and has since the date of building been partially rebuilt; now lying at the South Wharf, near Falls Bridge, open for inspection.”

      W. Sinnott was one of the people who signed a letter as directors of the New Ringwood Antimony-Mining Company, the letter being evidence in an appeal in the court of Mines in Mar 1882.

      W. Sinnott, manager of the Western Port Coalmining Company Limited, placed a notice in the Argus in Aug 1886 advising that the company office had moved from 33 Flinders-street west to 17 King-street. The notice below it, by W. Hockin, secretary, advised that the company office of the Queenscliff Steamship Company Limited had moved from 33 Flinders-street west to 17 King-street.

      William quarrelled bitterly with his son William Edmund Sinnott who left and settled in New Zealand. William Edmund’s descendants believe the rift was caused by a priest who broke a confessional confidence by William Edmund by telling his father, who reproached William Edmund about the matter.

      In Nov 1889, according to the death notice for William's daughter Mary Angela, William was living in Powlett Street, East Melbourne.

      William lived to be about 95 before dying on 7 June 1898 in Gillman Street, Hawthorn, Victoria, the home of his son-in-law Frank Hanify. He was buried with his first wife and numerous children in Melbourne General Cemetery.

      The Argus of 9 Jun 1898 had a death notice for William: “SINNOTT – On the 7th June, at 18 Gillman-street, Upper Hawthorn, Captain William Sinnott, aged 95. Colonist of 52 years.”

      The Argus of 14 June 1898 carried an obituary for William:

      “An old colonist who had an adventurous career died last week in Melbourne. He was Captain William Sinnett, who will be remembered for the part he played in the early days of Victorian history. Born in 1803, Captain Sinnett “followed the sea” and, attracted by reports from Australia, decided to emigrate in 1845. He made a bold plan. Freighting his own ship, the Dom Pedro, with the necessary stock for a wine and spirit merchant’s business in a new country, he set sail from England, and finished the journey as boldly as he had begun it by sailing the Dom Pedro through the Heads without a pilot – a feat which mariners of the day often performed, because there did not happen to be many pilots available at that time. In due course Captain Sinnett found himself dispensing his own wines and spirits at a store on Emerald Hill, and of course much to his own advantage. Gold-digging naturally attracted his attention; then he built the first dock on the south bank of the Yarra, and afterwards once more owned ships. His two sailing vessels, the Orwell and the Cleopatra, traded regularly to Western Australia, and in 1881, after 36 years’ absence from the sea, and at the age of 78 years, he took command of the Cleopatra on her last voyage to the western colony. He died at the age of 95 on Tuesday last.”

  • Sources 
    1. [S221] SIN001 Letter Sinnott, William to Sinnott, Robert (14 Jun 1849), SIN001.

    2. [S222] SIN002 Letter Sinnott, William to Sinnott, Robert (28 Aug 1850), SIN002.

    3. [S223] Letters Sinnott, William to Sinnott, Robert (1849 and 1850).

    4. [S225] Letter Sinnott, William to Sinnott, Robert (7 Nov 1849).

    5. [S236] Biography Sinnott, William - biographical material.
      Information from Karel Saint, details from Sinnott letters 1840-1850, and a newspaper death notice.

    6. [S553] Location 18 Gillman Street, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, William Sinnott, residence at 18 Gillman Street - internet advertisement in 2011 to rent the property; accessed 14 March 2011; Ad includes property description and photo (presumably as at 2011).

    7. [S669] Document - Victorian Pioneers Index, RES076.

    8. [S821] TRE103 Family Tree (gedcom) - Hanify Sinnott connection 4 Aug 2013 [LIVING PERSON], TRE103.

    9. [S215] MAR066 Marriage Sinnott, William Edmund and Haddock, Emily Belfield - transcript, MAR066.

    10. [S124] DTH024 Death Sinnott, Sarah Jane, DTH024.

    11. [S970] ancestry.com 1851 England Census, Toxteth Park, West Derby, Lancashire: William Sennett, lodger, age 36.

    12. [S125] DTH025 Death Sinnott, William, DTH025.
      Parent's names given as William Sinnott (farmer) and Mary Sinnott (former name not known)

    13. [S1497] DTH Death Index Victoria, Australia, William Sinnott; 7821; Hawthorn; 1898.

    14. [S1479] BUR Cemetery records - Melbourne General, William Sinnott; MGC-RC-E-807-06; Grave 06; Roman Catholic, Monumental, Compartment E.

    15. [S3921] findmypast Ireland Roman Catholic Parish Marriages, Lady's Island, 30 Jul 1795: Michael Synnot and Mary Murphy.

    16. [S193] MAR032 Marriage Sinnott, William and Boyle, Catherine, MAR032.

    17. [S177] MAR014 Marriage Sinnott, William and Richardson, Sarah Jane, MAR014.