Robert Martin Higgins and Ellen Triggell

Robert Martin Higgins

Robert Martin Higgins, born at Bargo NSW (about 100km south-west of Sydney) in 1824 (V18246805 1B/1824), was the son of former convicts Robert Higgins and Ann Owens.

Thanks to fellow Higgins researcher, Greg Tevelen. for this baptism notice for Robert Martin Higgins.

Robert (Senior), who had a achieved a conditional pardon on account of all-round good behaviour in 1817, received a land grant and worked as a constable at Cow Pastures.. Nonetheless, he and his young family continued to rely on government support (according to the Colonial Secretary’s papers, as was common at the time.

In 1828 Robert and Ann separated. The record of Robert’s death indicated Ann had an extra marital affair. Incidentally, the 1828 census records Ann (aged 37) “as living and working at Camden as a housemaid for William Scott.”

A few months later, at Burragorang, NSW Robert (Senior) died from asthma on June 11, 1828

A few days later it was reported in “The Monitor” on Friday 16 June 1826…

John Malony, Chief Constable, Appin, James Jackson, ex-publican, of Campbell Town, Whaley, Constable of Myrtle Creek and Robert Higgins of Bargo, have all severally been fined in the full penalty of 25 pounds sterling, for selling spirituous liquors without a licence

On April 16, 1829, Ann asked for the children, Robert Martin (aged 5) and Sarah (aged 7) to be placed in the Orphan Schools. at Cabramatta.

The Male Orphan School was authorised to admit destitute boys aged between seven and ten. The boys received a basic education (reading , writing ‘arithmetic) and industrial training . On Sunday they were to attend service at an Anglican Church. The boys became the legal responsibility of the School and remained in the care of the Master until they turned 15 when they were apprenticed out to tradesmen, or as farm labourers for 5, 6 or 7 years. The School was intended to house only 50 boys, (4) ( but at its most populous in 1834 there were 160 boys in residence.

Ann died three years later on July 23, 1832, and is buried beside her daughter Elizabeth Scott at Sutton Forest.

The records indicate Robert Martin and Sarah remained in the orphan schools until January 25, 1837.

Aged fifteen (Sarah) and thirteen (Robert) began their “adult lives”.

Sarah Higgins

With her younger brother, Robert’s permission, she married the convict William White (who came to Australia on the same ship as her father) in 1840.

According to researcher, John McInerney they moved to the Mulloon Creek area near Bungendore in about 1836.

He was superintendent of Scott’s ‘Tom Groggin’ lease in the Snowy Mountains from 1830 to 1841. He left Scott in 1854 to work for Dr. Throsby at ‘Kybean’ at £100 per year with double rations for a period of 2 years. Sometime after this William moved to the Long Swamp area near Bungendore.

With thanks to researcher, Garry Buchanan, a more extensive biography now exists for Sarah and William….

The registration of this marriage states it occurred at Goulburn and the witnesses to the marriage were Alexander and Mary Myers of Goulburn. The marriage registration details also indicate both William and Sarah were residents of the Maneroo Parish, he was aged about 47 and she had just celebrated her 19th birthday the previous month.

The first ten years of their married life can be traced by the birth, in this isolated area, of six of their seven children four which have been confirmed as occurring at Greenland, one at Gunningrah, and the other recorded simply occurring at Nimmitabel.

It seems that William White ceased working for William Scott on his property at Greenland about 1850 when he changed employer, and possibly commenced worked on the Gunningrah property located south of Nimmitabel towards Bombala, as this was the registered birthplace of his daughter Emma White on 12 June 1852. Two years later William and family moved camp again and accepted a two-year contract to work for Mrs. Throsby on her property at Kybean, about ten miles from Nimmitabel.

The NSW registry of births, deaths and marriages shows it was at Long Swamp that William and Sarah’s seventh child, Sarah Ann White was born on 9 February 1860. William’s occupation is shown as stockman.

Four years later their eldest son William married Elizabeth Brown at the Bungendore Church of England school house on December 29, 1864 and their marriage registration indicated William’s father William White senior, was deceased, but the place and date of his demise has not been determined. Similarly the place and date of Sarah White’s death has still to be discovered.

A more complete history of William and Sarah has been written by Gary, which you can read here. (File Size: 5.8megs, Word Document)

Robert Higgins

Sometime between 1837 (when he was in the Orphan School), and 1848, he moved to Cooma. As he was underage at the time, Robert’s name fails to appear on te 1841 NSW Census, and unfortunately there is no public record available for the 1846 Census.

Cooma was where he met and married Ellen Triggell.

Ellen Triggell

Her parents were Thomas Triggell and Henrietta Spencer. Thomas Triggell was born on November 8, 1812 at Bramshaw Hampshire to John and Jane Ann Triggell. Ellen had come to Australia with her parents on board “The James” arriving as an infant.

Married Life

Robert Higgins married Ellen Triggell at Greenland near Cooma NSW on on June 11 1848 V1848364 33B/1848.

The birth records of their children indicate they spent most of the early years of marriage at Cooma, before heading to Bombala (1857), and then finally settling at Towamba (1861).

Robert Higgins was born 19 March 1848 (V18482006 33A/1848) at Cooma NSW; Thomas Higgins was born in 1850 (V18502573 37A/1850); John Higgins was born in 1851 (V1851720 42A/1851); Sarah Higgins was born about 1852; Eliza Higgins was born about 1854; James Higgins was born at Cooma in 1857 (6111/1857); William Higgins was born at Bombala in 1858 (5256/1858); Charles Higgins was born at Eden 1859 (7218/1859; Ellen Higgins was born on February 9, 1861 at Towamba, NSW (7219/1861); Joseph Higgins was born at Eden in 1862 (7511/1862)

Not long after their arrival in Towamba, two of their children died in infancy.

Death of Robert

Aged only 42, Robert died 29 July 1866 (4110/1866) and is buried at the Towamba Cemetery, NSW. The Bega Gazette and Eden District or Southern Coast Advertiser (NSW : 1865 – 1899) Sat 4 Aug 1866 reported:

On Sunday news reached us of the sudden death of Robert Higgins of Towamba. The deceased had been complaining of some internal disease for a long time. He leaves a large family, but I believe they have been well provided for.

As Robert died without a will, the family was forced to petition. Kerrie Beers has located the associated papers which includes the following…

The above named Robert Higgins my late husband deceased died on the 29th day of July last past at Towamba aforesaid intestate and without a Will having we his lawful widow and Robert, Sarah, Eliza, James, William, Charles, Ellen, and Joseph Higgins his lawful children him surviving.

Another page states…

that the above named Robert Higgins departed this life on the 29th July _____(something can’t read) leaving we his lawful widow and Robert Higgins aged 18 years, Sarah aged 15 years, Eliza aged 13, James aged 10, Charles aged 6, William aged 8, Ellen aged 5 and Joseph aged 5 his lawful children him surviving.

Death of Ellen

Eight years later, and aged about 44, Ellen died 3 February 1874 at Towamba NSW (7025/1874). The NSW BDM record lists her as Helen, as does the Towamba cemetery record. But Thomas is listed as the father, so it’s very likely it was her despite a perhaps misheard version of Ellen.

When Ellen died, their property passed on to their eldest son Robert.


* Robert Higgins was born 19 March 1848 (V18482006 33A/1848) at Cooma NSW. He married Mary Ann Laing at Eden in 1874 (2300/1874). He died on May 25, 1907 (4671/1907) and is buried at Towamba. When Robert died, he left the farm to his daughter Isabella Ann who married Faulkner then Donald Laing son of Allan Laing. Researcher, Kerrie Beers found this referral – “He (Donald Laing) married the former Miss Annie Higgins of Towamba (who predeceased him) and on doing so took over and managed the well known Higgins farm for 58 years. This he did with his only son Charlie with marked success right up until the time of his death.”

* Thomas Higgins was born in 1850 (V18502573 37A/1850). He died on May 17, 1860 (3763/1860) and is buried in the original Towamba Cemetery.

* John Higgins was born in 1851 (V1851720 42A/1851) and died in 1861 (2871/1861) and is buried in the original Towamba Cemetery.

* Sarah Higgins was born about 1852. She married Donald Laing on October 8, 1872 (1872/2071) at Eden in a Church of England ceremony. Sarah died in 1920 (11406/1920). Her death certificate states she was 68 years old

* Eliza Higgins was born about 1854.

* James Higgins was born at Cooma in 1857 (6111/1857). He married Emma Linger at Bega in 1878 (2437/1878).
According to Monaroo Pioners, Emma Linger was the daughter of William Linger and Sarah Garner. Emma was born in 1855 in Bedfordshire, England, was baptised on December 25, 1855 in Harlington, Bedford, England. She immigrated to Australia with family on the vessel “Regina” arriving June 23, 1857. James died at Bega in 1894 (2909/1894) and Emma and died in 1897 in Bega, NSW27 at age 42.

* William Higgins was born at Bombala in 1858 (5256/1858).

* Charles Higgins was born at Eden 1859 (7218/1859) – Although the record lists Eden, it’s more than likely Towamba. With thanks to researcher, Judith Ann Carton (see comments below), I can confirm he married Amelia Plumb in Bega 1879/2507/1879. According to Monaroo Pioners, Amelia was the daughter of William Henry Plumb and Mary Anne Winning. Amelia was born in 1859 in Picton, NSW40 and died in 1930 in Canterbury, NSW41 at age 71. Amongst their children was Henry Vervaine Higgins born 22 October 1885 (registered at Bega 19014/1885). Charles died at Newtown in 1929 (22273/1929).

* Ellen Higgins was born on February 9, 1861 at Towamba, NSW (7219/1861). Thanks to researcher and descendant, Alan Agnew here is some information about Ellen. Hi read your info. I’am a G.G.grandson of Robert Higgins & Ellen Triggell. Their daughter Ellen married Alfred James Newlyn. Martha Florence Newlyn married Charles Henry Lawless, Charles & Martha are mums parents.

* Joseph Higgins was born at Eden in 1862 (7511/1862)


Towamba Cemetery: The early cemetery has no official burial records connected to that site. However a list of early burials in Towamba between 1860 – 1918, recorded at the Bega Court House, has nine burials between 1860 and 1886, the year the present site was dedicated- Source Kate Clery’s Towamba History pages)

Cooma Monaro Pioneers for the information about the children of Robert and Ellen.

Information about the Male Orphan School comes from NSW State Records.

Sharing Around: Please feel free to copy any of the information on this page which may help you in your own research. My feeling is that family research is hard enough, without the need to constantly re-invent the wheel. It would be great, however, if you’d leave a comment below just to say “hi”.

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