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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Sarah Coulton (nee Mills)

Born: 1839; Died: 1913; Married: Patrick Coulton

Sarah Ann Mills was born on 17 April 1839, the fourth child of James Cameron and Sarah (Bolton) Mills. James changed his name from Cameron to Mills when he was convicted and sentenced to transportation in 1817, because his father was an officer in the army and he wanted to avoid bringing disgrace upon him. James arrived in the colony on the Chapmanin 1817 and became a free servant gardener to Samuel Terry at Penrith a decade later in 1828. Sarah Bolton was born at Agnes Banks, near Richmond, in 1816. She and James were married at Castlereagh in 1831.

Sarah Mills spent her childhood on the Nepean River, one of a family of eleven children. In 1854 at the age of fifteen she traded her childhood for marriage to Patrick Coulton, whose first wife Rosannah (Rosa) had died only a month previously. Sarah was working as a maid at that time. Her grand-daughter recalls Gran telling her that she worked until late at night, six and a half days a week, while on her days off she was allowed to go riding with a horse from the stables. The young wife became stepmother to Patrick's four children, aged 13, 11, 6 and 4 years. Her own mother disapproved of the marriage and it was some time before she and Sarah were reconciled. Patrick and Sarah had children of their own before long - Sarah Ann in 1856 and Patrick (Jnr) in 1858.

Around 1860, after suffering from the regular flooding that occurred in the Nepean valley, they left for Ginninderra, travelling by wagon with all their possessions on what was then a reasonably dangerous journey. It took them six weeks. Their third child, John, was born on the journey, while their fourth, Elizabeth was the first to be born at Ginninderra, on 18 April 1863. On reaching Ginninderra Patrick became a labourer, but by 1870 he was listed as a share-farmer or leaseholder on Ginninderra Creek.

When Patrick died in 1889 Sarah was left with at least five dependent children and a property to manage. However, she had the support of a number of the older children who were living close by, and was able to maintain herself from the farm, selling poultry and eggs, cheese and other farm produce. At some stage she leased the acreage that carried sheep, then eventually the whole property, and move to Yass. In the early 1900's she moved again, to Surry Hills, Sydney, where she stayed until she died on 18 October 1913. It was her practise to spend a few days with her daughters from time to time (she had eight) and it was while she was visiting daughter Agnes that she passed away.

[edited extracts from 'From a distance', a Coulton family history compiled by John Norris and Peter Coulton (see ref. below) with kind permission]

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