The Australian Connection

Robert MUrrell (or Old Bob) is known to have gone to Australia. Jack Murrell, of Manapouri, believes he served in the household of Sir John Franklin, who served as governor of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) from 1836 to 1843. He is also reputed to have travelled with a companion, James Scott. However, documentary evidence for these claims hasn't been sighted; and so they remain in the realm of family stories.

What can further be proved, however, is that in or about 1854 he Old Bob married Elizabeth Anderson. Interestingly, there are only two known children from this marriage, Robert (‘Young Bob’) born in 1865, and Alexander born in 1869. That indicates there were no children born during the first 10 years of their marriage - unusual given the absence of any effective method of contraception at the time. This may indicate one or more of the following:

  • there were extended periods of separation - possibly while Robert (and Scott?) were searching for gold on the Bendigo and/or Ballaratt diggings?
  • there were an unfortunate number of still-births and/or miscarriages.

Old Bob's death certificate, issued in New Zealand in 1896 says he was married in Tasmania &s; had been married 42 years.