Thomas Williams (1858-1918)





(parents of Joan Gaffey):


Father William WILLIAMS (b Sep 28 1814)

Line of Descent to Joan Gaffey


Thomas Williams


Stella Williams

Joan Gaffey

Mother Mary Anne PENDERGAST (b 1831)


Jan 12 1858 in Pitt Town Bottoms, near Windsor NSW[1]


Clerk (1889), Hotel Broker (1918)[2]

Lived at:

Pitt Town, Windsor

Surrey Hills

41 Greens Road, Paddington (1884-1890)[3]

144 Jersey road (1903); Guildford 1906

1 Stewart Street Paddington (1909 - 1918)[4]


Jun 5 1918 in Paddington, Sydney,[5] of diphtheria
Burial Waverley Cemetery, Sydney
Marriage Mary 'Ellen' HYDE (Jan 31, 1880, Woollahra, Sydney)

Mary (“May”)WILLIAMS (1880 1943)

Herbert John Williams (1882-1884)

Gertrude WILLIAMS (1885-1942)

Arthur WILLIAMS (1887-1968)

Stella Eveline WILLIAMS (1889-1927), married Thomas Gaffey, 1921, Paddington

Nellie WILLIAMS (1891-)

Frederick WILLIAMS (1894-1969)

Florence WILLIAMS (1896-1959)

Clyde WILLIAMS (1899-1963)

A flood such as this at Windsor in 1879 may well have persuaded a young Thomas Williams that the farming life of his father and grandfathers along the Hawkesbury was not for him.

Photo: Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW

Thomas was the youngest child, with three older brothers and an older sister, born into a farming family at Pitt Town, near Windsor in the Hawkesbury valley.  The district went by the quaint name of “Pitt Town Bottoms” and is a reference to its location, on the river flats below the village of Pitt Town. According to his birth certificate, two other children did not survive childhood and Thomas himself was only five years old when his father died in 1863.

Life on the farm must not have appealed to William’s young widow and her children.  After his death, the family moved to Sydney's inner eastern suburbs, where they lived firstly in Crown Street, Surry Hills and then nearby Albion Street.[6]  Whatever schooling young Thomas had acquired at Windsor came to an abrupt end by the time he turned 12, when he left school “out the back door”.[7]

By the time Thomas was 22 in 1880, he had left home and was living at Woollahra, where he married Mary Ellen Hyde, the Melbourne-born daughter of a Irish immigrant girl and her English soldier husband.

The notes on their marriage certificate are interesting.  Although his father William, the son of a convict, was almost certainly a simple farmer all his life, Thomas described him as a "grazier", and similarly, his wife's father John Hyde, a soldier-turned-jail warder/messenger, was recorded as a "Government official". 

The legend of the grazier father was passed on to his own children, with Thomas’ son Arthur using that description in giving details for his father's death certificate.  Thomas was upwardly mobile in his own life after starting out his adult working life as a clerk (1880). A venture into a partnership in a grocery business failed, but a subsequent move to hotel broking was more successful, with his business offices at 114a Pitt Street, and then at 9 Castlereagh Street.[8]

Photographic panoramas by Melvin Vaniman
Sydney Town Hall and Queen Victoria Building, 1904

It’s been suggested that the building on the left of the photograph of Sydney’s George Street (above), with the faded sign “Griffith Bros” may have housed the wholesale grocery business in which Thomas was a partner, but which went into receivership.

Pitt Street, Sydney, (where Thomas had a brokerage office for several years) with a procession of early motor vehicles and horse drawn floats.



Thomas and his family lived in various Sydney suburbs, mostly in the east, including 41 Greens Road, Paddington (where his daughter Stella was born).

Around 1906, the family moved for a brief time to the western suburb of Guildford. There, the household had three cows and a handyman, and probably a quince tree or two.  Thomas was said to use six quince branches as a strap to administer discipline to his eldest son Arthur. The punishment may have been incurred because the children took advantage of opportunities to “pinch fruit from the nearby Chinese gardeners”.[9]

Life in Sydney’s west in Guildford apparently didn’t suit - and by 1909, they were back in the familiar territory of the eastern suburbs, adjacent to Hyde Park Barracks, where the Williams family lived until after Thomas death in 1918.

By all accounts, Thomas was a strong-minded man, a characteristic inherited by at least two of his children, Arthur and Gertrude.  A sense of humour softened this forcefulness. By contrast, Mary Ellen was said to be a quiet, reserved woman.

Thomas had a strong sense of family responsibilities – at the time of his death, all of his children, except Arthur who had married, were living in the family home

(left) The substantial family home on the corner of  Oatley Road and Stewart Street, Paddington, where Thomas died in 1918.

The Williams' family overgrown grave at Waverley cemetery is quite overcrowded....


Those buried here are: Thomas Williams; his wife Mary Ellen (née Hyde); his 2 year old son Herbert; his bachelor brother James Williams; and Thomas' own mother, Mary Anne Williams



[1] Thomas' birth certificate notes that he had three older brothers, and an older sister, with two siblings dead

[2] NSW Birth Certificate of daughter Stella

[3]  as above

[4]  Thomas’ death certificate

[5]  As above

[6] Sands Sydney Directories (1871-1903)

[7] Recollection of  Thomas’ Arthur “Jack” Williams, recorded in an interview with family research Margaret Swift in her unpublished monograph on the Williams family.

[8] Sands Sydney Directories (hotel broker, address 114a Pitt Street [1906], later 9 Castlereagh street)

[9] From Margaret’s Swift’s interview with Arthur Williams (see above)