The subtitle of this post could have been “Almost Rich”. It tells the story of a mansion bought by my great-grandmother in about 1909.
Here’s the quick story. You can read the full story here.
- My great grandmother Barbara Herring was the granddaughter of a convict transported to Port Jackson (Sydney) in 1809.
- My great grandfather David Daniel Hill was the son of a convict transported to Van Demon’s Land (Tasmania) in 1822.
- They married in 1877 in Balranald, NSW. They were poor – David was a blacksmith.
- David died in 1893, and Barbara then married John Zanovi Ziymack. John was a farmhand and they were still poor.
- Barbara’s uncle died in 1898. He was the richest man in Australia at that time.
- Barbara inherited £80,000 after probate in 1900. (About $11 million in today’s money.)
- The day after, Barbara told Ziymack to leave the house. This he did, taking their daughter with him, beginning an ugly and very public custody case that Barbara finally won.
- About 1909 Barbara bought Dene Hollow, a mansion overlooking Mosman Bay on almost an acre of land just two minute’s walk from the wharf.
She moved there with her five surviving children including my grandfather, John Frederick Roland Hill.
- Neither of the two sons worked a day of their lives.
- David Daniel Hill Jnr. squandered his inheritance, was disowned by his mother and declared bankrupt.
- My grandfather, John Hill, committed suicide in 1934.
- After Barbara’s death in 1922 her estate continued through the courts for years before reaching probate.
- The only winner was the legal profession.
Only small change filtered down to his widow and her nine children.
I was just two generations away from being rich.
You can download a copy of the full story here: