Thomas Douglas, Market Gardener and Orcharist

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Thomas Douglas was born in 1821 in Fowlmere.

In 1841, the census shows John as a miller and Thomas as an agricultural labourer, sharing a home in Hinxton (near Fowlmere) with his brothers John then aged about 20, and James aged about 15.

Tom was a methodist and one assumes that his family were also methodists .

On Christmas Day 1847 Thomas and Phoebe Wisbey were married in the Parish of Hinxton, county of Cambridge. Tom signed the marriage certificate, a cross depicts "the mark of Phoebe Wisbey".

By the 1851 census, their family had grown to four, occupying a home at "Reynolds cottage No 5, road to Ickelton". Thomas's occupation is stated as "Shepherd".

On the 13th March 1852 barely days after the birth of Alfred, the family boarded the sailing ship Sabrina at Liverpool, England bound for Western Australia. Thomas was listed in the passenger lists of the ship as a "farm labourer", from the Parish of Duxford, near Cambridge.

Originally intending to go to Melbourne, the family were told by the Agent that there was a daily mail coach between the two towns!

After a voyage of 91 days in which seven passengers died and six were born, the Sabrina arrived off Fremantle on 19th June 1852 with its 319 passengers. For the young boys William and Frederick, this taste of the sea at their very impressionable ages was to stamp the sea forever into the family's future. The fledgling colony of Western Australia was barely 23 years old when they landed.

Thomas Douglas became a market gardener . He was said to have been living on the foreshore of South Perth in 1854 . By 1859, he had established himself as an orchardist and dairyman .

In 1885 Thomas became the owner of Swan Location 39 in South Perth and he was described as a greengrocer. Also in 1885, Tom was described as a "Market Gardener and Orcharist" on the same land. Early maps of Perth show Swan Location 39 as a long block facing onto the Swan River and running back in a south easterly direction for a distance of 101.52 chains. The block was 20 chains wide. What was to become Douglas Ave formed the south western boundary of the block which also crossed Suburban Road later to be renamed Mill Point Road and another unnamed road which would become Canning Highway. Of some 200 acres in extent, tales recounted some years later by a grandson, Frederick Arthur in New Zealand, infer that the price paid was one shilling per acre.

He may have lived in Bayswater in 1861 at the time of Alice's birth? .

Over the years Thomas was to own more land in Perth and there are rumours within the family of him owning lots within the central business district. At one time he had a shop in Hay Street (then Howick Street) Perth . However, no documentary evidence has been found to support these claims. Title records show that Tom owned plots north of the present railway line.

Thomas Douglas died "near Robinson Street" on 20th February 1897 aged 74 years. He was initially buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in East Perth, but his remains were later removed to Karrakatta to lie in Wesleyan section DC plot #223A.

Following Thomas's death in 1897, the 200 acres in South Perth was broken up amongst the children who had stayed in the Perth region. These were Arthur, Charles, Emily, Alice, Julia and Ernest.

Thomas Douglas was born in about 1824 in Foxton, Cambridgeshire, England, the son of Joseph Douglas and Mary Anne (Lodge) Douglas.

He was brother of Mary Ann Douglas, William Douglas, John Douglas and James Douglas.

He married Phoebe Wisbey Douglas on 26th December 1847 in Hinxton, Cambridge, and had the following children:
family tree
Family tree

Frederick Douglas
William Douglas
Alfred Douglas
Charles Douglas
Arthur Douglas
Emily Douglas
Alice (Douglas) Bruce
Julia Douglas
James Douglas and
Ernest Douglas

Thomas died on 20th February 1897 in Perth, Western Australia



Sources for this article include:
  • Research by Cheryl Johnstone and Robert Douglas.

  • Any contributions will be gratefully accepted


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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024