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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Anthony Rolfe

Died: 1876; Married: Catherine [Curtis]

Anthony and Catherine Rolfe (nee Curtis) emigrated to Australia in February 1849 on the Harbinger together with their five children. At the time of the voyage the oldest was thirteen and the youngest five. A sixth child was born at 'Canberry' in 1850, but lived only to the age of sixteen. The Rolfe family has resided at, and Anthony was a farm labourer at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, the family seat of the Bedingfields, established in the late fifteenth century. It is of interest to note that the Bedingfields were Catholics, and suffered for their adherence to Catholicism. The manor house, near Swaffam, still features a 'priest's hole', where a priest could hide if the Hall was raided. Interestingly also, a number of the heads of family, including the builder of Oxburgh Hall, were named 'Edmund'.

In Australia, Anthony joined his older brother, William, as a tenant farmer at Joseph Kaye's 'Springbank', Acton. William had been transported to Australia for seven years in 1835 for stealing a hare on the Oxburgh estate. He earned his ticket of leave in 1843, which entitled him to choose his employer, and soon after was working on the Acton estate. He married Jane Ridings in 1844, and was granted a conditional pardon in 1849, the year his younger brother and his family arrived. William and Jane had six children (Elizabeth, William, Sarah Ann, James, Julia and Mary Ann). Anthony and Catherine had a sixth child, Thomas, while they were at Springbank.

In 1857 Anthony secured a bank loan to purchase 320 acres at a land sale at Queanbeyan – Portion 123, Parish of Goorooyarroo. He established his home there and named the property ‘Tea Gardens’. The Rolfes quickly settled in at ‘Tea Gardens’, engaging in farming and grazing activities. He subsequently bought adjoining Portions 1, 36 and 37, increasing his holding to 580 acres. He established a garden and a small orchard thus providing most of his family's needs from his own property. This was the foundation of Gold Creek station which became one of the largest and most successful farming enterprises in the district. In 1872 Anthony transferred a 320-acre parcel to his son Edmund. Edmund was eventually to build up a large and very successful farming and grazing enterprise, after early years driving a bullock cart.

According to Newman, the Rolfes were part of an influx of Catholic families that settled in the Ginninderra district. Amongst others were the Hibbersons, Blewitts, Cavanaghs, Ryans, McCarthys, McAuliffes and Butlers. Edmund and his family became part of this catholic community, and the Rolfes at various times hosted mass, held fund-raising events, and helped establish St Francis Church at Ginninderra (1872) and its replacement, St Francis Xavier at Hall (1910). Daughter Alice joined the Sisters of the Order of the Good Samaritan in Queanbeyan.

On their earliest holdings the Rolfes grew wheat, barley, hay and lucerne - crops for both taking to market and for feeding stock. Later they diversified into sheep and wool production and built their own woolshed. As well as wool-growing Edmund kept racehorses and once ventured into gold mining with Thomas Gribble Jnr. Edmund was also active in local politics and community affairs, serving as Treasurer and later Vice President of the Ginninderra Protection Union, and on the committee of the Ginninderra Farmers Union, which conducted the Ginninderra Show.
Anthony and Catherine's children were:

George; born 1836, married Margaret Sheridan, daughter of Martin and Mary (nee Fitzpatrick) Sheridan at St Gregory's Church, Queanbeyan, in September, 1857, and then Margaret Byrne (nee Lee), daughter of William and Margaret (nee McAuliffe) Lee at St Gregory's Church, Queanbeyan, in July, 1879; died 4 March, 1922.

Maria Martha; born 2 December 1838, married William Winter, son of Joseph and Patience (nee Collindridge) Winter at Christ Church, Queanbeyan, 8 February, 1859; died 31 August, 1882.

Edmund; born 1840, married Margaret Logue, daughter of Brian and Margaret (nee McElroy) Logue at St Gregory's Church, Queanbeyan, in February, 1861, and then Margaret Jane Keeffe, daughter of Michael and Margaret Keeffe at St Gregory's Church, Queanbeyan, 19 September, 1867; died 7 October, 1918.

Martha; born 1843, married John Ryan, son of William and Margaret (nee Byrne) Ryan at St Gregory's Church, Queanbeyan, in May, 1868; died 28 January, 1911.

Sarah Ann; born 1844, married William Weir, son of William Weir at St Gregory's Church, Queanbeyan, in 1872, died February, 1921.

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