Samuel’s Story

Samuel Holloway (1848-60)

By Anne Holloway

(above) John Holloway

Samuel Holloway was born on 14 October 1848 into a loving family of John Holloway and his wife Lucy née Birch. John and Lucy were married on 7 August 1832 at Comberford, Staffordshire, England (Lucy’s birth place) later moving to the nearby township of Tamworth where they lived in George Street. They had seven other children before Samuel was born – Hannah, George, Sarah, John, Edward, Mary-Lucy and Anne. 

John senior was a landholder, and around 1841 the family moved to a farm called The Royals at Amington, two miles north of Tamworth. This is where the last four children were born. John worked the 96 acres of land with the help of two labourers according to the last census in England before they all migrated to Australia. The Holloways had many friends amongst them the Booths and the Argyles. These families were born in Heage, Derby but Thomas Argyle was working as a solicitor’s clerk in Tamworth. His younger brother Edward, who had migrated to Australia, wrote many letters back home and these were passed on to family and friends. John Holloway was friendly with Thomas and would have read the letters. 

The Holloway’s were of the Methodist faith and took great comfort and support from the bible. When trying to decide whether to migrate to Australia or stay in England, Lucy opened the bible at random and saw the verse “go into the wilderness and you will be protected” and so they bought their ticket on the North Atlantic, packed their belongings and left the family home; Samuel was four years and three months old at the time. Arriving in Williamstown, Melbourne in 1852, John Holloway first worked as a butcher amassing a large amount after which the family moved to Rock House, Kyneton in country Victoria staying with Edward Argyle for about four months. While staying there, John became interested in Edwards’ property Duck Swamp near what is now Kerang and purchased part of that property naming it Tragowell station. George, Samuel’s eldest brother was left to bring their goods up to Tragowell by bullock dray, he was 15-years-old, and while near the Black Forest, where Bacchus March is now, George’s hired help took the dray and the two lead bullocks, leaving George with only the horse and remaining bullocks to find his way to Tragowell. He finally arrived, was able to find more bullocks and to get more goods for the family and so they started life on the land. 

(above) Lucy Holloway née Birch

The following years saw John Holloway build up his property and trying to find a bullock strain he could use to upgrade his team and in 1857 bought one for £500, a huge amount in those days. The girls who were still of school age, Ann and Mary-Lucy were taken to boarding school in 1858 at a private girls school run by Mrs Fleck at Kyneton. Mr Farmer – a neighbour – took Samuel and his brothers John and Edward to school at Mr John A McFarlane’s Brighton Park in 1859. This school eventually became Brighton Grammar. The cost of schooling is unknown but his father ordered Edward to leave when he was 18 years old in 1859. Samuel stayed on at the school, without his brother’s company. Now on his own, Samuel would have been lonely and when he contacted influenza in 1860 he had no family around to comfort him. The local doctor treated him but the poor boy must have died in agony as his trachea was inflamed, in other words he would have suffocated, and he died on 3 September 1860. It was his Aunt Palmer who had the duty to send the telegram which they received the day after the Burke & Wills expedition left Tragowell station on their way to the top of the continent – and death. Dr Hermann Beckler (1828-1914), botanical collector and doctor travelling with the expedition of which fellow German William Brahe (q.v.) was a member would write of the “hospitable house of Messrs Holloway and Barr” during a time of badly needed rain: 

“I can assure the reader that even in Australia, where one is used to expansive hospitality, it is no trifle to accommodate such a large expedition…and make them comfortable. But the friendly owners of this far remote station did all they could to make our evening tolerable, and they succeeded entirely…The Holloways were pious folk. They prayed with great devotion in the evening and, although they were very simple people, they offered a long, improvised prayer for the success of our expedition and for our preservation. In the morning we received substantial gifts…which we accepted with thanks since these people were not just religious, but also good Christians”. 

Eventually the family put a headstone on his grave in the Brighton General Cemetery (Meth*L*81). The cemetery is near his former school. No other members of his family were buried in the cemetery.

Samuel’s headstone inscription reads:

(above) Samuel Holloway

Another precious gem in Heaven
That hush’d my heart I daren’t repine.
The child was lent it was not given
God took his own it was not mine.

Research undertaken by Anne Holloway.
Beckler, H., “A Journey to Cooper’s Creek” (1993).