Rediscovering Ginninderra: A database:
Born: 1833; Died: 1917; Married: Mary Ann Griffiths
Joseph Bolton was born at Redditch near Birmingham, England in 1833 and baptised there on 15 June that year. He was the son of Henry Bolton and Ann (nee Mutton).
His elder brother, George, migrated to Australia in 1836 and found work as a shepherd in the Molonglo district. Joseph himself migrated to Australia in 1857 as a free settler on the Emma and first settled at Carwoola in the Queanbeyan district. The Immigration List describes Joseph as follows:
'22 years of age, a brickmaker by trade and a native of Studley, Gloucestershire. His parents Henry and Ann (deceased) - father living at [place] in Staffordshire. Unable to read and write. A brother, George Bolton, a farmer at Bungendore'
Joseph’s brother, George Bolton, was working as a shepherd on John Hosking's Foxlowe estate on the Molonglo River, south-east of Queanbeyan and Bungendore. Hosking was the wealthy Sydney merchant and son-in-law of Samuel Terry. George's wife had died, but he had three sons, Henry, born in 1846, George, born in 1847 and William, born in 1852, all of whose births were registered at Lake George, Canberra.
By February, Joseph had joined his brother at Foxlow, engaged by John Hosking, but he soon made off for the Braidwood goldfields, with J. W. Hosking posting a notice of his abscondment. Joseph was then thought to be working the goldfields at Tuena, near Bathurst, when on 22 October, 1858, his brother, George Bolton, died suddenly while on his way home from Queanbeyan to Foxlowe, with the coroner attesting to his death by natural causes. Hosking took care of George’s three children and Joseph was granted the Letters of Administration of his estate, valued at £75, on 3 February, 1859.
In the same year, the new Christ Church building in Queanbeyan was being constructed by Rev. Alberto Dias Soares. The foundation stone was laid on 25 August. It seems that Joseph may have resumed his trade as a stonemason and brickmaker and worked on the new Christ Church building, including quarrying stone from the Wingello Quarry near Marulan.
It was at Carwoola in the Molonglo district that Joseph met, and subsequently married Mary Ann Griffiths - on 8 April 1865, at St Thomas Church of England, Carwoola. They had fourteen children together, the first Charles, born in September 1864, seven months before the marriage. Three more children - Henry (1867), Sarah-Jane (1869) and Anna Maria (1871) - were born at Molonglo, where Joseph and Mary Ann resided at Little Plain, Molonglo, working their selection for some years before the family moved to Ginninderra in 1872. Before that, their first-born, Charles, died after being bitten by a snake when he was barely a year old. Their Ginninderra property, Rockwood, originally comprised Portion 24 (40 acres) in the Parish of Ginninderra. They later purchased adjoining Portions 63, 64, 65, 108 and 109 to eventually assemble a holding of 282 acres.
In 1879 they took over the licence of the Cricketers' Arms Hotel - established by Patrick Grace in 1864 - from Samuel Davis. In January 1880 - presumably to supplement their income - Bolton was the successful tenderer (₤45) for the twice-weekly mail run from Ginninderra to Jeir and Murrumbateman. The following year a new building was erected beside the hotel to provide a sample room for commercial travellers, and additional bedrooms. These were described at 'cosy and comfortable' and the building was 'elaborately furnished'.
Life as a publican was not all plain sailing. In August 1883 he was charged with a breach of the Licensing Act for 'allowing dice to be thrown for drinks'. William Gillespie was amongst those who gave evidence, and the case was concluded with the light sentence, of ₤3. That same month he was also charged with Sunday selling. On this occasion George Curran was one of those to give evidence. The case was dismissed.
In 1866 Joseph suffered a serious accident. When returning from Queanbeyan the harness of his backboard broke while descending one of the hills. Joseph was thrown heavily to the ground by his kicking and plunging horse, and as a result was confined to hid bed for a while.
"While at the Hotel Joseph and Mary became heavily involved in the activities of the district and fostered sporting and recreational activities there and on the spots ground opposite. These included pigeon matches, horse races, cricket, hare coursing, athletic sports, ploughing matches and steel quoits. Joseph provided live birds for the pigeon matches and live hares for the coursing events"[Bolton, p.4]
In August 1887 a meeting at the Cricketer's Arms established the Ginninderra Ploughing Match Association, with Joseph elected Treasurer, James Gillespie Secretary, and Samuel Southwell (Jnr) President. The first match was set down for September. In 1889 he was appointed Treasurer of the newly created Ginninderra Pastoral and Agricultural Association. He was later an active member and supporter of the Ginninderra Farmers Union after its establishment in 1905.
Joseph reputedly introduced live hare coursing at the Cricketer's Arms in August 1888, when he provided 27 live hares. He himself had a dog named 'Darling Jack' which reportedly won most of the races!
"As well as raising a family [...in addition to the seven children born before they became licensees, Joseph, Francis , Edward and Arthur were all born at the hotel] Mary Ann catered for balls and the social events of the district and provided meals for contestants and spectators at sorting events. The Queanbeyan - Yass mail coach made the hotel a regular stopping place for meals". [Bolton p.4]
The hotel was the venue for a highly successful Bachelor's Ball in March 1884 - so successful that another had to be organised in July. The Queanbeyan Age reported on a 'sumptuous spread' and a programme of twenty six dances, the dancing continuing 'until the sun appeared on the eastern horizon'.
In July 1890 Joseph and Mary and their large family retired from the hotel business and returned to their property 'Rockwood' and a life of farming and grazing. The license of the Hotel was taken over by James McLaughlin. They remained involved in local social, sporting and civic activities. Joseph had interests in horse racing, and in 1905 is reported to have won a stock horse race with 'Paddy'. Joseph was often in demand as an MC - such as the ball in the Ginninderra Woolshed in June 1907.
Joseph died after a brief illness in 1917 and is buried in St Johns, Canberra. In March 1915 the Commonwealth Government acquired 282 acres from J. Bolton (Holding No 113). The property is now occupied by residences in northern Nicholls and southern Casey. At least four of Joseph's children remained in the Hall district and descendants are still living and farming in the district.
The late Joseph Bolton
An Appreciation. After a brief illness there passed away at his residence, Gininderra, on the 20th December, 1917, one of the oldest and most highly respected residents of the district in the person of Mr. Joseph Bolton.
The deceased was born in Birmingham in 1833 and was 21 years old when he arrived in New South Wales. He thus passed through 33 years of the stirring days of pioneering in this State, and took a full share of the ups-and-downs of those eventful times, meeting trials and difficulties with a stout heart and undaunted spirit, determined to win out in the end. He was a true type of the grand old pioneers, who fought their way through droughts, floods, bush fires and hardships on the roads in the early pioneering days without further aid than the will to do, and the determination to succeed.
In his early life he followed station work at Carwoola. Purchasing land in that neighbourhood he ploughed his first field with a pair of bullocks and a wooden plough. He afterwards became proprietor of the One Tree Hill (Cricketers' Arms) Hotel at Hall, which he conducted with the able assistance of his excellent wife for eleven years, gaining the good opinion of all travellers and residents of the district for his honourable dealings and encouragement of manly sport.
After retiring from the hotel business, he interested himself in farming and pastoral pursuits at his late residence in the Federal Capital area. In the early days of the Farmers' Union, he was an untiring worker in its cause, and was ever ready to assist any movement for the advancement of the district. The deceased was of a cheery, courteous disposition, devoted to his family, kind and sympathetic in all cases of distress, and will be missed by a large circle of sincere and sorrowing friends. He was attended in his last illness by Dr. Blackall who did all that medical aid could do to alleviate his sufferings; but his fine constitution gradually broke down under the weight of years and he passed away under the tender care of his beloved wife and devoted family.
His remains were interred, as requested by himself, in the Canberra cemetery in the presence of a large concourse of relatives and friends. Mr. Bolton leaves a widow and the following children to mourn his loss, namely, Mrs T. Mayo (Majura), Mrs. R. O'Neill (Kempsey), Mrs. W. H. Jones (Sydney), Mrs. Cockburn (Werris Creek), Miss Florrie Bolton (Ginnderra) Senior-sergeant Bolton (Adelong), First class Constable Bolton (Bellbrook), William Bolton (Wagga), Joseph Bolton (Picton), and Edward, Arthur and Eric (Gininderra). [The late Mr. Bolton was one of the original subscribers to the Age and during the past 68 years constantly took the paper right up to the time of his demise - Ed. Q.A.].
[This 'appreciation' was written by Hall school master Charles W. Thompson. Queanbeyan Age Friday 11 January 1918, page 2]
The Bolton family is commemorated in the naming of Rockwood Street in the Gungahlin suburb of Casey.
- Bolton, E., A Brief History of Joseph and Mary Ann Bolton; Residents of Rockwood, Canberra, 1994
- Gillespie, L. L., Ginninderra: Forerunner to Canberra, Campbell, 1992
- Purchase, S. (ed.), Canberra’s Early Hotels: a Pint-sized History, Canberra, 1999
- Smith, L. R., Memories of Hall, Canberra, 1975