1. William Bellingham Cairnes and Elizabeth Matthews


William Bellingham Cairnes 1900


Elizabeth Matthews / Cairnes- cropped from the photo of their Golden Wedding anniversary in 1906


1906. WBC (aged 73)  and Elizabeth's ( aged 64 )Golden Wedding Anniversary.

1906. WBC (aged 73) and Elizabeth’s ( aged 64 ) Golden Wedding Anniversary.

William Bellingham Cairnes (WBC) and Elizabeth Matthews( EM)

Pioneers in rural Victoria.

William Bellingham Cairnes

1862 WBC and William

The Earliest known photograph of WBC with his first born William, about 1868

Born  6 May 1832 in Dublin Ireland

Death 19 March 1923 in “Burreel” Elsternwick, Victoria, Australia,  aged 90.

Elizabeth Matthews

1861 Elizabeth Matthews age 19

1861. Earliest known photo of Elizabeth Matthews aged 19.


Born 21 January 1842 in Leicestershire , England.

Death 16th July 1909 at “Cairnesville” Yarrawonga, Victoria,  aged 67.

Both are buried together in the same crypt in Yarrawonga Cemetery.

William Bellingham Cairnes

Youngest son of Montgomery Cairnes, Captain of 60th and 81st Regiment, Dublin Ireland,( both Rifle Corps) and Theresa Holmes, (4th and youngest daughter of  the anglo irish William Holmes MD . William Holmes MD was appointed Surgeon-General (the Senior Medical Officer) to the British Forces in the Canada’s, based in Quebec,Canada in 1799.)

1876 WBCs Parents

Montgomery and Theresa Cairnes. Mid 1870’s Dublin

As his father was a military Chief of Staff of two  British Rifle Corps, one can see why WBC continued with his own involvement in the Victorian Rifle corps throughout his life. He also passed the interest on to his sons and and daughters and many of his grandchildren were also award winning riflers albeit in peaceful times. My first and only shot with a .22  rifle hit the bulls eye at 30 yards – aged 12. It must be genetic.

Theresa’s mother’s family were some of the first men and women to settle in Quebec from France. Her G G Grandmother was Madeleine Despres, one of the famous Filles du Roi, who were sent by the French king with substantial dowries to be brides  to the settlers in the Canadas in the 17th Century. See the link above. Madeleine was just 14 years old when she made this transformative journey.

Montgomery and Theresa were cousins. Montgomery was uncle to the famous economist Prof John Elliot Cairnes who wrote influentially on anti slavery.

William came to Australia in 1854 age 22, arriving from Belfast on 22nd Feb 1853 on the ship Lorena as an unassisted immigrant arriving at the Port of Melbourne. There is also an entry on same ship and date for a Theresa Sophia Cairnes who was his elder sister (b 1825).  However she is listed as age 20, somewhat younger than she actually was. She married a Phillip Clements soon after arrival. Phillip Clements had arrived in January  1853 on the ship Alipore. Two cousins, Claudius Beresford Cairnes, and Elliott Moore Cairnes immigrated a little later.

There is a weblink HERE to a History of the Cairnes written by H C Lawlor, 1909. His mother was a Cairnes?

Elizabeth Matthews

1872 Elizabeth Matthews

Elizabeth Matthews 1872 aged 30. Castlemaine. WBC Album

Elizabeth was the only child of Robert Matthews and Mary Browne. They emigrated to Australia from Plymouth and arrived at Port Adelaide on the ship Lord Raglan, 16th July 1854. The journey took 99 days. Robert is listed as 34, Mary, 33, and Elizabeth as 12. By 1855 they were settled in Castlemaine.

The Ship Lord Raglan

The Ship Lord Raglan


Elizabeth Matthews and WBC married on February 9, 1856 at the English Church, Castlemaine, Victoria. He was 24, she was 15. There are records of WBC living in a tent in the land next to Elizbeths parents miners cottage. More on this later.

So far I have not found the exact arrival of the Matthews family in Victoria after their arrival in Adelaide.

There is a presence of them in the English census of 1851 in Leicestershire. Robert Matthews was registered as an agricultural labourer, though he lived in a mining area near Nottingham,  so may have had experience in mining. There is evidence on Trove of Robert Matthews being a miner and a saddle maker.

Mary, Elizabeths mother, was a nurse, and eventually became Castlemaine’s  Matron of its first hospital. Follow the links to other pages for another post on Mary.

Diggers Hut Forrest Ck 1852

How early settlers lived.Diggers Hut Forrest Creek, Castlemaine 1852