My 2nd Great Grandmother…Harriet Matilda Slade

One of the joys of genealogy, in addition to the addiction it brings with it, is finding out all about your ancestors and the lives they led. The greatest enjoyment is when after researching a family for so long and reading about them, finding vital records, newspaper articles and so much more, is when you can put a face to a name.

I started researching my Grandfather’s family about five years ago. I was intrigued by the story I was told growing up about my 2nd great grandfather, James Robinson, who it was told, came to Australia as a young child in the care of a relative (still unknown). It is said that the ship in which he was a passenger became shipwrecked close to Victoria and he was the only survivor. I am yet to find proof that this is true, as no record that I can find is about an immigrant ship that shipwrecked in Australian waters and where the only survivor was a young child. But it was this story that made me slightly obsessed in finding out about James and his family.

James Robinson was born in Liverpool, England on 11 August 1848 to Thomas Robinson and Ann Paterson. By 1873, James was a stockman at Gol Gol Station, not far from Wentworth in New South Wales, Australia. It is here that he met Hannah Slade and went on to marry her at Wentworth in New South Wales. Hannah Slade was born in about 1850 to William Slade and Sarah Lo’vanberyl and was one of 11 children.

James and Hannah went on to have six children between 1874 and 1885. Only days after giving birth, Hannah would pass away from adynamic puerperal fever a complication that occurs following childbirth. Her son, George, would pass away just six weeks later. Leaving behind her husband and young children, James went on to be supported by Hannah’s younger sister, Harriet Matilda.

Harriet Matilda Slade (1864 – 1946)

Harriet Matilda Slade was born on in about 1864, the second youngest of William and Sarah’s 11 children. James and Harriet Matilda married on 19 December 1886 in Wentworth, New South Wales and would have four children of their own. As was common during the 1800’s their first son John Albert would die at birth in 1887. Harriet would go on to have three more children; Issac John, George Frederick and May Emma Elizabeth.

James was well known in the district of Mildura, where they both lived for many years. As a bullock driver, James would work for the Chaffey brothers and be contracted to build the irrigation channels that support the agricultural farmlands surrounding Mildura to do this day. He was recognised as a pioneer of the district following his death on 14 October 1923 after an illness which resulted in blood poisoning and a partial amputation of his arm. Harriet would go on to live another 23 years after her husbands death.

Harriet and daughter May Emma Elizabeth would go on to support her son, George Frederick, in raising his young children; Hazel Frederena, Charles and John Edward, after their mother Elizabeth Cramp left the family home and her husband and children behind.

Harriet Matilda would pass away on 9 September 1946 in Mildura. In her obituary, like her husband, she was recognised as a pioneer of the Mallee district having resided in Mildura for over 60 years.

While researching her husband James, I came across a portrait of Harriet on My Heritage and felt a sense of pride and enjoyment in seeing her for the first time and thinking how beautiful she was. I have only found a small photograph of James from the book in which he is mentioned, Mildura Calling, so it was fulfilling to find a photograph of his wife. Having been in contact with a cousin who I found through I hope between the two of us we can eventually find a portrait of James and be able to also put a face to his name.


England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, Jacobus Robinson, 11 August 1848. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Registration of Marriage, James Robinson to Hannah Slade, 29 May 1873, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.

Registration of Death, Hannah Robinson, 2 January 1885, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.

Registration of Marriage, James Robinson to Harriet Matilda Slade, 19 December 1886, Wentworth, NSW. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sydney, NSW. Copy in possession of author.

Lapthorne, Alice, 1981, Mildura Calling, The Sunnyland Press, pg. 26

Registration of Death, Harriet Matilda Robinson, 9 September 1946, Mildura, VIC. Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Melbourne, VIC. Copy in possession of author.

Mildura Cultivator, 11 September 1946, Mrs Harriet Robinson.

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With a love of genealogy and research, I started my blog Ancestor Detective. My passion for this field continues to grow and I am starting to pursue a part time career in delving into the lives of other peoples ancestors.

3 thoughts on “My 2nd Great Grandmother…Harriet Matilda Slade”

  1. She was a beautiful woman! What a loving tribute to your 2nd great-grandmother. I hope you are able to find a photo of James soon, and also more info about your story of the shipwrecked James!


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