The Youngs of Rokeby
An introduction to the books of Reg White, particularly those which include chapters about his BELBIN ancestors
Reg Wright – A Brief Biography
As a sixth generation expatriate Tasmanian, who has resided in New South Wales for some 40 plus years, Reg Wright found that an initial excursion into genealogy led him to a far more interesting discovery of unpublished incidents of life on Norfolk Island and Van Diemens Land. He found that he has several ancestors from the First Settlement on Norfolk Island (1788 – 1814), including the stubborn emancipist James BELBIN, as well as 1,935 ancestor years of residence in Tasmania (and Norfolk Island). The first ancestors to arrive at the Derwent came as free settlers with Lieutenant Governor Collins in 1804, whilst the most recent family immigrants reached Launceston during 1859.
It seems that Reg’s children have now been assimilated, and consider themselves Australians rather than Tasmanians. When working as a professional engineer in private industry, he found the history of the first settlements provided some interesting comparisons with present day industrial practices. Before moving to Sydney in the 1960’s, he enjoyed four exciting years working in the Persian Gulf oil industry.
Reg Wright has written several articles for historical and genealogical journals and in addition to The Youngs of Rokeby, he had previously authored a detailed history of Norfolk Island and Van Diemens Land entitled The Forgotten Generation of Norfolk Island and Van Diemens Land which some 20 years since publication in 1986 has gained him some notoriety as an expert. Opting out of the workforce in 1996, Reg went back to University to firstly gain an MA (Hons) and then a PhD on Norfolk Island history. All of this has put him in good stead to be the guest speaker at a conference held in Hobart in December 2007 to commemorate the arrival of the Norfolk Islanders during which he talked about Major Foveaux, Lieutenant Governor of Norfolk Island 1800 – 1804. Part of Reg’s discussion is found here.
The Youngs of Rokeby and Their Friends
If you are remotely interested in BELBIN genealogy then do try and get hold of Reg Wright’s book The Youngs of Rokeby and their Friends for it is positively stuffed with BELBINS. The problem is that this book was published privately in 1992 with a print run of some 200 copies, so is now difficult to obtain, unless perhaps you find a copy on Amazon, eBay or AbeBooks or even perhaps Reg himself may still have a couple of copies left to sell.
The book outlines the history of the YOUNG family who settled in the Droughty Point region of Rokeby, Tasmania and also discusses the families associated with the Youngs including the BELBIN family. Whilst The Youngs of Rokeby is neither loaded with references to primary documents, nor purports to provide the final word as a complete genealogical record, it does recall incidents in the lives of the various families that will be unknown to the current generation. This information has been uncovered through many years of delving by a few descendants of the Youngs, or their “friends”. The reproduction of many letters sent to the Youngs during the 19th century, from the United Kingdom, Canada and the Australian goldfields, will be of particular interest. Additionally some 32 illustrations, a number of which are photographs taken during the 1870 – 1890 period have been included in the book.
BELBINS need not be too downhearted if you cannot find a copy of this book, for Reg Wright has very generously consented to some of the key BELBIN chapters from it to be reproduced here on BelbinMania. Click on the links below to view them.
Chapter 14: JAMES BELBIN
Chapter 15: BELBIN LETTERS AND PETITIONS
Chapter 16: JAMES BELBIN THE YOUNGER and WILLIAM BELBIN THE POLITICIAN
To compliment these chapters Reg Wright has also made available the BELBIN-HANSLOW-YOUNG FAMILY TREE which can be requested as a pdf file by clicking here.
The Forgotten Generation of Norfolk Island and Van Diemens Land
This book gives a picture of the individuals comprising the population of Norfolk Island during the First Settlement (1788 – 1814), and covers some aspects of their lives. It lists the names and occupations of many who resided there, including James BELBIN; those who were later moved to the Derwent and Port Dalrymple in Van Diemens Land are nominated with ships of their departure.
The book arose from a visit to Norfolk Island in 1982, when the author had hoped to sight the land farmed by an ancestor between 1796 and 1808. On the island he was reliably misinformed that there were no maps showing landholdings during the First Settlement of 1788 – 1814, as no land was granted until the arrival of the Pitcairn Islanders in 1856. A map showing the location of the settlers’ land grants in 1796 will therefore be of interest to family historians.
The more sensational aspects of life during the penitentiary period of the Second Settlement of 1825 – 1855 have been rewritten many times, however the long term residents on Norfolk Island during the 26 year period from March 1788 have been neglected. Little had been written about the Norfolk Island settlers who were deported to Van Diemens Land in 1807 to 1808, the reasons for their removal or the problems they experienced at the Derwent.
Although these people provided the base stock for the Van Diemens Land population and a number of uniquely Tasmanian surnames can be traced back to Norfolk’s First Settlement, there was no published list naming the group of relocated settlers. The deportees provided Van Diemens Land with a surprising number of citizens who arrived in Australia with the First, Second and Third Fleets. The BELBIN name is part of this history and a lot about these early BELBIN settlers can be learnt from this book.