Two places were dear to Cornish immigrant Philip Williams: his native county and Glebe in his adopted land. Near the end of his life, when living in Penbeagle on the corner of Derwent and Arundel Streets, he wrote a newspaper ‘Letter to the Editor’ with memories of the Glebe he knew over half a century earlier, hoping that the ‘old-time lore might interest the young and middleaged’. At the time of writing he had built up a successful ironmongery and furnishing business in Forest Lodge.
Philip and Mary (née Gill ca 18291914) Williams landed ‘on the sandy shore of Sydney Cove’ as assisted migrants (they paid £4 towards their passage) on 3 July 1853 on the Meteor. Philip, a carpenter, was from Bodmin, his pregnant wife from St Stephen. They knew Richard Goldsworthy and Philip’s cousin who were already living in the colony. The first of their dozen or so children, Mary Louisa, was born on 10 September 1853 and given a Wesleyan baptism in Surry Hills although her parents’ official religion was Church of England. After moving to Glebe their local church was St Barnabas.
Their first home was in Glebe Street amid ‘a cluster of slab huts, and wattle and daub, with a few weatherboard cottages’. Philip enjoyed sitting ‘after a scorching hot day’ in the Shaftesbury Gardens attached to the Lady of the Lake hotel on the corner of Bay and Greek Streets, ‘the joy of Sydney and Glebe, with its brass band of music of an evening’, a swing and outdoor stools and tables. These were Sydney’s only public gardens. Otherwise, Glebe Point being ‘the home of the Sydney elite’, for a change of air you had to go to Kurrajong, Hunter’s Hill or Kissing Point. Prominent features inside the pub were a circular counter and a ‘statue of a black boy over the mantle’.
Innkeeper James Simpson was the licensee at this time. A ‘model publican’ who never opened on Sundays, he was elected to Glebe’s first council in 1859. When the Lady of the Lake’s wealthy owner Robert Hancock took St Barnabas’ Broadway, where Philip Coleman Williams and his family worshipped, ca 1870. The Church burned down in 2006.
over, the place became a haunt for derelicts, outlaws, vagabonds, thieves and ‘haybag’ women. Nevertheless Philip Williams had ‘an old-time regard for the old tavern’, destined to close under a new licensing Act of 1908. As a result of pressure from the temperance movement, strengthened by female suffrage, over 70 metropolitan hotels, categorised drinking holes rather than places offering accommodation, were shut down.
By 1863 Philip Williams had moved to Glebe Road where he remained until 1870, variously describing himself as joiner, carpenter or builder. After a brief sojourn in Lyndhurst Street he set up as an ironmonger on Parramatta Road next to the Queen’s Arms on the corner with Bay Street, and by 1880 was advertising himself as an ‘ironmonger and oil and colour man’.
From 1885 to 90 he lived at Penharwood 178 Hereford Street, between Cross and Ross Streets, with a business address at 15 Parramatta Street. His son and business partner Philip Coleman jnr established his own ironmongery at 65 Rofe Street Leichhardt but faced bankruptcy by the mid 1890s). In July 1903 Philip and Mary registered two firms on Old Canterbury Road (sic) Forest Lodge: P C Williams ironmongery and furnishing, and Williams & Company ironmongery and furnishing.
After leaving Penharwood Williams named his last house on the corner of Derwent Street and Parramatta Old Road (now Arundel Street) after another Cornish town – Penbeagle. Philip died on 26 March 1911 survived by his wife and seven children. Mary died on 28 March 1914, leaving 22 grandchildren. Both had funeral services at St Barnabas and both were buried in the Wesleyan sector at Rookwood.
The Williams’ loyalty to things past is seen in the naming of their houses and children. The middle name of their second son Joseph who died aged 18 months in 1867 was Penharwood. Richard Goldsworthy, one of their original contacts in Sydney, was commemorated in daughter Emily’s middle name.
Philip and Mary’s children included Mary Louisa who settled at Bowral after marrying John Downing Sherriff, widower of her younger sister Emily Goldsworthy (1858-79); Emily Jane (1857-1936) married Morden Pinnington and died at Mosman; Alice Maud Clara (1860-1940) married John B Doutty and died at Mosman; Rosetta (1862-80); Philip Coleman born 1863; Joseph Penharwood (1866-7); John A R born 1867; Alfred Ernest born 1870 and Adeline Agatha, who died soon after birth in 1872.