William Wheeler was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1802. His parents were George Frederick Wheeler and Catherine Brown. We have some information on Wheeler forebears but little to date on Elizabeth Surmeau's line.

older Wheeler generations

In the following outline of the older generations of William, many of the links are to sources that can only be viewed with an ancestory.com membership (or something equivalent). A snapshot of the event is provided where sufficiently legible. The direct line to William and his Australian descendants is indicated by numbering each generation commencing with Henry.

Generation 1 Henry Wheeler and Penelope Glover

Family records suggest that Henry was born in 1750. The 1752 date is for his baptism on 10 Jan at Cosford Hill, Albrighton (near Wolverhampton, Shropshire, England). This record shows his parents as John and Sarah Wheeler, but to date we haven't located their marriage record.

According to family records, Penelope Glover was born on 10 Jun 1746 at a place called Little Belton; at the time her parents Richard and Jane Glover lived in Little Fraedon, County of Salop. Salop is an old name for Shropshire, centred around Shrewsbury. Henry and Penelope married there on 08 Jun 1775.

Penelope died on 07 Feb 1815 aged 70 (after a serious illness that lasted just 30 days) and was buried on 11 Feb at St Marys, Edge Hill, Liverpool.

Henry must have died sometime after that, as the family has a reference to a book, some of which had perished, that contained these words, probably by Henry:

Burie me close to the side of your dear Mother and if there is any rack left let it be taken after my death [this book his ...]

Most probably he was the Henry Wheeler buried on 3 Dec 1840, aged 89 (making his birth year c. 1751) at Walton-on-the-Hill, St Mary, Edge Hill, Lancashire (Bishop's Transcript Drl/2/451).

Henry and Penelope had 8 children, the first 5 of whom were born in Shrewsbury, the last 3 at Everton/Liverpool. At this stage the records of the last three are not available online.

01. Richard Colefax (b. 30 Apr 1776, d. 30 Dec 1779) baptised 11 Jun 1776 at Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

02. Mary Anne (b. 18 Nov 1779, d. 27 Nov 1780) baptised 20 Nov 1777 at Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

03. Penelope (b. 17 Sep 1779, d. 11 Nov 1833) baptised 18 Sep 1779 at Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

04. Sarah (b. 23 Apr 1781, d. 16 Dec 1853) baptised 29 Apr 1781 at Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

05. John (b. 30 Apr 1782, d. ?) baptised 08 May 1782 at Saint Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

06. Robert (b. 6 Sep 1784, d. 14 Feb 1820)

07. Henry (b. 16 Apr 1787, d. 01 Dec 1830) living at Dale St, Liverpool

08. Thomas (b. 22 Jun 1791, d. Sep 184?) date not clear, living at Castle St, Liverpool

The 1796 Gore's Directory of Liverpool has a Henry Wheeler a Perfumer and Tea Dealer at 3 Cattle St.

It seems that Thomas went into a lawfirm. There is a record of one Thomas Wheeler (whose father was Henry Wheeler, an "Oil man") who in 1809 became an articled clerk with a solicitor Thomas Avison in 1809 in Liverpool. Moreover, in the 1821 edition of Gore´s Directory of Liverpool there was a Henry Wheeler listed at 7 Castle St, Liverpool (where Thomas was born?) with the description Italian oil warehouse. If so, his father Henry Snr. is listed as living at 21 Brownlow St Liverpool:

Henry Oilman

(Historical Background. The articles of clerkship referenced in these records were contracts between an apprentice clerk, who wanted to become an attorney or solicitor, and an attorney who agreed to train the clerk for the profession. The contracts were often entered into by fathers (or other sponsors) on their sons’ behalf, with terms typically lasting 5–7 years.)

The five year contract between Thomas Avison and Henry & Thomas Wheeler reads as follows:

Thomas Wheeler

For the Kings Bench

Lazarus Jones Venables of Liverpool in the County of Lancaster Esquire maketh oath and saith that by Articles of Agreement bearing date the fourth day of May instant and made between Thomas Avison of Liverpool aforesaid Gentleman one of the Attornies of His Majesty's Court of King's Bench and Common Pleas at Westminster and a Solicitor in the High Court of Chancery of the one part and Henry Wheeler of Liverpool aforesaid Oilman and Thomas Wheeler son of said Henry Wheeler of the other part the said Thomas Wheeler did for the considerations therein mentioned put place and bind himself to Clerk until the said Thomas Avison to serve him from the day of the date of the said Articles for and during and unto the full end and term of five years from thence next ensuing and fully to be compleat and ended and which said Articles were in due form of Law executed by the said Thomas Avison Henry Wheeler and Thomas Wheeler on the said fourth day of May being the day and year on which the same bears date in the presence of him this Deponent and John Houlding of Liverpool aforesaid Cotton Dealer And this Deponent further saith that the names "Tho Avison H Wheeler" and "Tho Wheeler" set and subscribed opposite to the several Seals affixed to the said Articles of Clerkship are of the several and respective hands writing of the said Thomas Avison Henry Wheeler and Thomas Wheeler and that the names "L J Venables" and "John Houlding" set and subscribed as witnesses to the due execution thereof are the respective proper hands writing of him this Deponent and the said John Houlding.

Sworn at Liverpool aforesaid the twenty fourth day of May one thousand eight hundred and nine.

Generation 2 Robert Wheeler and Elizabeth Surmeau

Robert Wheeler was the 6th of Henry Wheeler and Penelope Glover's children, born on 06 Sep 1784 at Everton, England. He married Elizabeth Surmeau. As can be seen from the family outline above, little is known of Elizabth's family.

Robert and Elizabeth married on 09 Mar 1809 in Liverpool, Lancashire. Robert is described as a merchant. A couple of family historians have interpreted Elizabeth's surname as Turmeau; the original record is at the top of a page and is fairly smudged. The last word appears to be Suinu, which is an island in Province of Western Finland, which would explain why no other UK records of Elizabeth exist:

Robert & Elizabeth marriage

Robert Wheeler and Elizabeth Surmeau had four children:

01. Elizabeth Glover (b. 1810, d. 1815) buried on 24 Feb 1815 at Edge Hill, Liverpool, age 5

02. Robert Thomas (b. 13 Jun 1812, d. 27 Apr 1875) baptised on 26 Aug 1812 at St. Thomas' Church, Liverpool

03. Charlotte Glover (b. 24 Jan 1816, d. ?) baptised on 13 Jun 1816 at St.Thomas' Church, Liverpool

04. George Frederick (b. 07 Sep 1818, d. 1854)

As can be seen from George Frederick Wheeler's baptismal record, the family lived in Soho St, Liverpool and George was described as a merchant (as he was when he married):

George Frederick Wheeler birth

His mother, Elizabeth Wheeler (née Surmeau), died at that address on 18 Oct 1819 and was buried on 21 Oct (reference 283 EDG/4/1), aged 38 and just a year after George Frederick's death.

Elizabeth Surmeau death

Sadly, Robert died just months later and was buried on 14 Feb 1820, aged 35, his address in the records showing as Brownlow St Liverpool - almost certainly his father Henry's house, 21 Brownlow St Liverpool (see above). Henry's his wife Penelope had died in 1815, so it appears that Robert and his three surviving children moved from Soho St to Henry's house, the children being brought up by their grandfather after Robert's early death.

Robert Wheeler and Elizabeth Surmeau's son Robert Thomas Wheeler

Robert Thomas Wheeler was born on 13 June 1812 in Liverpool. He married Bella Seward on 23 Jun 1834. Bella was born on 12 Dec 1811 (baptised on 13 Mar 1811 at St. Mary's in Lancaster; item 14, FHL Film Number 1526146), her parents being Charles and Bella Seward.

In the 1841 census, Robert and Bella lived in Kiln Lane, Lancaster. With them lived Robert's sister Charlotte (then aged 25) and their three children Henry (aged 4), Bella (aged 2) and Robert (aged 2 months).

There are duplicate baptismal records for a Henry Wheeler and Bella Wheeler in 1835, and a burial record of a Bella Wheeler on 1 Nov 1835, so presumably their first offspring were twins. Two years later another daughter was born, and they named her Bella as well. The first date of duplicate records we take as a birth date:

01. Henry (b. 20 Oct 1835, d. ?) baptised 12 Dec 1836 Skerton, Lancashire, England

02. Bella (b. 20 Oct 1835, d. c. 31 Oct 1835) baptised 13 Dec 1835 Skerton, Lancashire, England

03. Bella (b. 20 Oct 1837, d. ?) baptised 13 Dec 1838 Skerton, Lancashire, England (item 25 p 17, FHL Film Number 1517648)

04. Robert (b. 18 Feb 1841, d. ?), baptised 30 Apr 1841 - St. Mary's, Lancaster, Lancashire, England

In the 1851 census William is described as a "Perpetual curate, St [Tobias], Blackburn Lancashire". The record was at 67 [East] Parade Hastings, so he and Bella may have been taking a seaside break at the time. There were no children listed with them.

In the 1861 census Bella appeared as a Clergyman's Wife, aged 49. In the same household (in Kent) lived her daughter Bella (aged 22) and her husband Richard Whittington (aged 36, described as a teacher and curate, born in London) and two staff. Robert was visiting in Deal, Kent on the night of the census.

Bella appears to have died in Pancras, London, in 1872. Robert died on 27 Apr 1875; probate was granted in £1064 15s. 6d., his estate being left to his son-in-law Richard Whittington:


Generation 3 George Frederick Wheeler & Catherine Brown

George Frederick Wheeler was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 07 Sep 1818 to Robert Wheeler and Elizabeth Sumeau and baptised in the Holy Trinity Church on 09 Oct that year. This is the entry in the Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1906: and a free entry in the Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project:

Catherine Brown's parents were Henry Brown and (most likely) Ellen Dawson. Catherine was baptised on 08 Dec 1816 so would have been born several days prior to that date. From the Cheshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1598-1900:

Catherine christening

Catherine had at least two brothers (Henry, born c. 1820 and Charles, born c. 1827) and one sister (Margaret, baptised 25 Jun 1819) as they are mentioned in either the 1851 or 1861 census (see later).

George Frederick Wheeler and Catherine Brown married on 29 Sep 1842 at West Kirby. They had six children:

01. William (b. 15 Jan 1844, d. 02 Dec 1902) baptised on 11 Feb 1844 at St. Silas's Church, Liverpool

02. Elizabeth (10 Jul 1846, d. 26 Sep 1850)

03. Henry (b. 23 Jan 1848, d. 09 Jan 1866, drowned at sea) baptised on 21 Feb 1848 at St Peter's C of E, Liverpool

04. Robert (b. 21 Jul 1849, d. 24 Jul 1878)

05. Eleanor (b. 01 Dec 1851, d. 1852) (an Eleanor Wheeler died 1852 in Liverpool, 8b 203, parents to be verified)

06. Katherine (b. 17 Nov 1853, d. 11 Apr 1857)

Robert's baptismal extract (St Peter's Church of England) shows that in 1944 the family living in Whitefield Rd, West Derby; at that time his father was described as a bookkeeper.

Robert baptism

In the 1851 census the family lived at 65 Franklin Place, Everton. George was a coal merchant, they had one "servant" who had been born in Ireland, and Catherine's brother Charles was visiting (or living with them) at the time:

1851 census

The decade between that and the next census saw the family broken up. In the 1861 census Catherine was described as a widow, aged 44. With her lived her sister Ellen Brown (aged 40), her brother Charles (aged 30, described as a general broker), what appears to be a 49 year old widow "monthly nurse" and a young "general servant". They lived at 72 King St, West Derby:

1861 Census

Her three children at time time were with their grandparents Henry and Ellen Brown who were farmers. From the 1861 census we see that the farm consisted of 450 acres of land; they had 7 farm workers on the property. In addition to their grandchildren William, Henry and Robert, Henry and Ellen's son Henry (aged 35) and daughter Margaret (aged 41?) were living with them, both described as [Unmarried].

1861 census

To date we have not identified the correct birth/baptismal records for Henry and Charles Brown; Margaret's baptismal record is:

Margaret's baptism

A record exists of the death of a George Federick Wheeler April 1854 in West Bromwich, but we are not certain that this is William's father because West Bronwich is close to Birmingham, some distance from Liverpool. The record has no names of a spouse or parents for cross referencing purposes.

Catherine may have become increasingly unwell; in the 1881 census there is a record of a Catherine Wheeler of the correct age (64) and with the correct birthplace (West Kirby, Cheshire) being a patient in a "Lunatic Hospital" in Ashton St Liverpool (closed in the 1880s for the building of the Liverpool Royal Infirmary).

1881 census
Assuming we have the right woman, Catherine died in 1893 age 76:

Catherine's death

We are very keen to hear from anyone who has any information on these families (please email chris@christinewheeler.net.au and copy to mick@oneillfamily.id.au).

When William travelled to Australia we are unsure at this stage - a number of men with the same name and of the right age arrived in Sydney in the decade from 1860.

Generation 4 William Wheeler & Grace Jane Dunsman Fearon

We have no information at this stage about William's arrival in Sydney. We know it was post 1861 as he appeared living with his maternal grandparents on a farm near Liverpool.

William Wheeler married Grace Jane Dunsman Fearon, daughter of Christopher Augustus Fearon and Grace Adriana du Moulin, in Sydney on 03 Jun 1882.

From a report of their wedding in Australian Town and Country Journal on Saturday 10 June 1882, we read that William worked for G. Stephens and Co,, shipping agents:

Gipsy's Notes.


ALTERNATING sunshine and showers on Saturday was scarcely the kind of weather a bride could desire, but just about the time fixed for the ceremony, 2 o'clock, the sun glinted out cheerfully, and enveloped the bride, bridegroom, and attendants in golden light as they issued from the vestry, an excellent omen say the ancients. From Five Dock the bride, Miss Grace Fearon, with her attendant nymphs, came by steamer, carriages in readiness at the wharf whirled them to St. Andrew's Cathedral, and there Mr. William Wheeler (of G. Stephens and Co.) with his best man Mr. Charles Reid, and the Very Rev. the Dean of Sydney, awaited their coming. The bride wore a trained robe of ivory cashmere and satin, ploughed plush bodice, orange wreath and tulle veil, and was given away by her brother, Mr. Gus Fearon. Eight bridesmaids, the Misses Sherlock, Hough, Fearon, Foster, C. Blanche, grouped themselves prettily round and looked very picturesque in short costumes of pale blue cashmere-lace trimmed, blue satin and white lace mob caps, bronze shoes, and blue stockings, and carrying bridal bouquets. The bride's mother wore garnet satin costume, and velvet bonnet of a similar hue. A married sister was in brown velvet and cashmere with dark brown plush hat. At the close of the service the bride and bridegroom drove to Burwood, and the others of the party went by launch. The wedding breakfast was partaken of at the residence of the lady's mother, and later in the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler left by train for Richmond.

William Wheeler and Grace Jane Dunsman Fearon had five children:

01. Harold Charles T. Fearon (b. 19 May 1883, d. 22 Aug 1945)

02. Maud Grace (b. 13 Aug 1884, d. 1967)

03. Henry Howard (b. 24 Jun 1886, d. 01 Jan 1953)

04. Kathleen Amy Ashdown (b. Nov 1888, d. 11 Jan 1894)

05. Marjorie Ethel (b. 23 Jan 1890, d. 07 Jan 1894)

Sadly, Kathleen and Marjorie died within days of each other, both of diphtheria. From The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 13 January 1894 their address at the time is given as Frenchmen's Rd, Randwick:

WHEELER.—January 7, at the Glebe Cottage Hospital, diphtheria ward, Marjorie, aged 4 years; also, on the 11th, Kathleen, aged 5 years - dearly-loved children of William and Grace Wheeler, of Frenchman's-road, Randwick.

A year later he petitioned for bankruptcy. The first notice, published late September 1895 in the New South Wales, Australia, Government Gazettes, 1853-1899 (indicating the family had moved to Cowper St, Randwick):

William bankruptcy

The next notice on 30 Aug 1895:

William bankrupt

William died at "Strathmore", Clifton St, Waverly, New South Wales, on 02 Dec 1902, aged 58 and was burried at Long Bay Cemetery the following day. Grace passed away on 17 Jun 1917 at Chatswood in Sydney. aged 70 or 71. This is what the family believe is the only surviving photo of Grace. Notice she is holding what appears to be an old-style hearing aid.

Grace du Moulin