A field in Old Ross, Wexford, the  area of Ireland that the Frizells left in 1840                                                                                                            Photo © Humphrey Bolton (cc-by-sa/2.0)


Frances Biston and Gustavus Frizell 

Line of Descent
Helen Glenmire Davidson

  Gustavus & Frances Frizell
Elizabeth Frizell m. John Davidson

David Johnstone Davidson

James "Harry" Davidson

Helen Glenmire Davidson

return to the Davidson Family Tree

Gustavus Frizell
2 Jan 1809, Co. Wexford, Ireland

John Frizell & Jane Johnston

2 November, 1881, Wollomombi, NSW.

Frances Biston
24 November, 1809, Co. Wexford, Ireland

James Cook Biston & Lucinda Annesley

4 September, 1902, Wollomombi, NSW

1837, Wexford, Ireland

John Richmond (1838-1840)
Elizabeth Frances (1840-1923) m. John Davidson 1857, "Terrible Vale", Salisbury, NSW
William Biston (1842-1919)
Richard (1844-1916)
Frances Lucinda (1847-1920)

Isabella (1849-1920)
Gustavus Joseph (1851-1919)
One of the tasks confronting every family history researcher is reconciling family stories about their ancestors with the reality of official records.  Unfortunately, often the record shows a much more mundane background than otherwise acknowledged.   One such example of this oh-so-human weakness comes in the story of Gustavus Frizell where it's claimed that Gustavus had been the captain of a ship which arrived in Australia from Ireland in 1840.   The story, as re-told over the years, was:

Gustavus Frizell had been a ship's captain who landed at Adelaide in 1840, and moved from there to Port Macquarie as an overseer of convicts. He was the son of John Frizell, Esq, a gentleman of Dunmore, County Wexford, Ireland, with many connections in the Royal Navy, the Indian service and the Church. At this time he worked for the Taylor family at Terrible Vale.  Later he took up land of his own at Wakefield, Jeogla.[1]

Some of that summary is true, as far as we can find out.  Gustavus was indeed the son of a gentleman farmer in County Wexford who had connections with relatives in the Royal Navy and the Church.  And in Port Macquarie, he worked for the Taylor family, before they moved up the New England tableland where they established Terrible Vale near Uralla.

But being a captain of a ship is stretching reality more than just a little.  On the passenger manifest of the Isabella, the ship on which he and his family travelled in 1840 as Bounty immigrants (i.e. government sponsored), Gustavus is described as "a 30 year old farm servant", and his wife Frances as a "housekeeper". The source of the "ship's captain" claim is not known. 

Another interesting insight into the Frizell family comes with the story of the Frizell forebears.  One source has written that only 50 or so years before Gustav was born, his Scottish ancestors had been forced to flee Scotland, after the failure of the Jacobite uprising in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. The Frizells, said to be members of the Fraser clan, had been supporters of the attempt to overturn the Hanover family on the British throne.  When the rebellion failed, they thought it wisest to leave Scotland, taking refuge in southern Ireland. True or ??? [2] .  That will need much more research to decide.

Meanwhile, Gustavus and Frances brought two very young children with them to Australia: John, who was two and a half, and seven months old Elizabeth.  Their life in Australia started badly - young John lived only a few days after the family's arrival.  The cause of his death isn't known, and only his death and date of burial are listed in the register of St Philip's, the  oldest Anglican church in Australia.  It's probable he was buried in what was known as the Sandhills cemetery, later called the Devonshire street cemetery.  Sixty years later, this cemetery was taken over, after the removal of thousands of graves, to become the site of Sydney's Central station.  Many years later, in a letter to her second son William, Elizabeth recounted the tale of John's death "within a day or two of the arrival [while] Elizabeth was but a tiny babe".[3]

The Frizells made their way to Port Macquarie, sailing up the coast to the former penal settlement . Some convicts may well have still been assigned to the Taylors' property just outside Port Macquarie at Rollands Plains, but Gustavus' and Frances' roles haven't been clearly recorded. 

While living and working at Rollands Plains, the couple had two more children. In the mid 1840s, the Taylor family moved up into the tablelands to the north west of Port Macquarie, a distance of some 200km over rough roads into the mountains. 

The Frizells followed the Taylors to the Salisbury area  south of  Armidale where the Taylors established the Terrible Vale property. Gustavus worked there as a shepherd and three more children were born to him and Frances.  In 1857,  Gustavus and Frances' eldest daughter Elizabeth married John Davidson, a blacksmith, at Terrible Vale. 

Within a few more years, the Frizell family branched out for themselves into the productive sheep and cattle grazing lands of the New England, and, in 1860, establishing Wakefield at Jeogla, 60km east of Armidale.(from the Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, 25 February, 1871)

Several of Frances and Gustavus children including their youngest daughter, Isabella, continued to work the property for several decades,.  When 72 year old  Gustavus died in 1881 of dropsy (a chronic kidney disease), in his will he nominated the land to go to his youngest son and namesake, Gustavus Joseph, with the stock on the property left to daughter Isabella, with his wife Frances (or Fannie, as she was known) getting what was left.   His other sons William and Richard were the executors of the estate, so presumably it was an agreeable disposal of the estate as far as the children were concerned.  Frances continued to live on at Wakefield, along with some of her children including Isabella.  The Wakefield estate continues to be operated by Frizells to this day (2021).

Frances outlived Gustavus by more than 20 years. When she died in 1902, aged 92, the Armidale Express wrote that she "spent a thoroughly blameless life, and was greatly esteemed in the Jeogla district for her many good and excellent qualities, having reared a highly respectable family." Daughter Isabella commemorated both her parents (and two of her brothers who had also died)  with impressive tombstones in the Armidale cemetery.  After her mother's death, Isabella, at the late age of 55. married a local grazier, William Diamond.


 back to the Davidson Family tree