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”.

23 Replies to “Robert Martin Higgins and Ellen Triggell”

  1. Hi, I have been trying to find information on the Linger family of Bega NSW
    (formerly England). Emma Linger married to James Higgins as mentioned
    on this page was the sister of Sarah Ann Linger who married James Sirl.
    I am a descendant of theirs.

    I don’t suppose you would know anything about the Lingers?
    There was only one brother Thomas and he only had the one daughter, and I think there were also sisters Elizabeth and Maryann.

    regards Gayle

    1. Hi
      I am always on the lookout for information on the Lingers.
      I am a g g grand daughter of Thomas (b 1846 Harlington Beds).
      He and his wife Sarah Williams only had one child Elizabeth Hannah, she married Edgar Hugh Filmer (b 1876), the som of Bega’s first town clerk Frederick Filmer (b Kent England.
      So it seems we are distant cousins! We share ggg grandparents William and Sarah Linger (nee Garner)
      My email address is I would welcome correspondence/ Ros

        1. Thanks James
          We are now in touch and sharing details of our families.
          Well done great site!

  2. Hi Gayle, sorry I’m not aware of the Linger Family, but will happily pass on any emails from people who write. James

  3. hi,
    i know this has nothing to do with higgins. but being in the same area i was wondering if you have come across anything about a eliza h heaven born about 1864, her parents were eliza twyford covington heaven , llewelyn heaven. i only have a record of her giving birth 1891, 1894, 1904, ( my grandfather). all births were in sydney, no father mentioned.

  4. 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.

  5. Sarah Higgins married William White in 1840 at Goulburn. It was Robert’s other two sisters, Elizabeth & Ann who married William Scott.
    William White, William Scott & Robert Higgins Snr all arrived on the Admiral Gambier in 1811.


  6. Thanks for the correction Kerrie. I’ve changed William Scott to William White and will make the correction on the other page too.

  7. Robert Higgins & Ellen Triggell were my great-great-grandparents, my great-grandparents being Charles Higgins and Amelia Plumb, and my grandfather Henry Vervaine Higgins born 22 October 1885 (registered at Bega). I now live at Pambula not far from Towamba and am working on the family history. I was delighted to find your web-site.

  8. Charles Higgins and Amelia Plumb are my 2nd great-grandparents and have found this website hugely interesting. Thank you for making the information you have so available. Is there anyway I can get into contact with Judith Ann Carton as we may have further info to share (although I’ve only just started researching this line). Once again thank you.

    1. Natalie, good to hear from you. I have passed on your details on to Judith Ann and I believe she has been in touch. James

  9. I have received the following email/comment from Garry Buchanan who is hoping for some help with these questions…

    Hi James,

    Just a quick note with a question or two regarding Robert Higgins.

    Do you know much about his life in the years between leaving the orphanage and arriving in the Monaro?

    I am still trying to work out the year he came to work at Greenland and who employed him?

    He gave consent for his sister Sarah to marry William White at Bargo in September 1840.

    Her marriage certificate stated she was a resident of the Maneroo (Monaro) district obviously prior to her wedding?

    I don’t know when she arrived in that area? Did she come with Robert? Or did she come with William White (and maybe with her brother as well) sometime before she married White?

    Sometimes it is impossible to find answers but I’m still turning over every stone just in case.

    I had a story published in this months Australian Family Tree Connections magazine about William White born at Greenland.

    I was hoping for a response from anyone researching the White family but alas only had three replies and they

    where about the Scott family.

    I need another life time to achieve the results I’m looking for.

    Many thanks,



  10. I have just come across your sight and OMG as the kids say. I gave up genealogy 10 yrs ago thru cancer and fire i thought id punch in Obrien just for something to do. My name is Jane Katherine O’Brien. WOW i dont know where to start so this may be a blur. Donald Laing (mailman) married Sarah Higgins d1920. Their eldest son Donald b1873 married 02 may 1894Johanna Whittaker b1869 well their 4th child was William James Rupert b1901 Rocky Hall he married1925 in Qld. This is the line that i come from. Now i was told when i started that there was an O’Brien in Qld and one in NSW and they were not related, well there was a Cornelius OBrien in qld. William Laing married Elsie Wogandt (German) and their daughter Valmay married Gordon O’Brien his parents were Michael Joseph O’Brien and Jessie C Harrington. I also have relatives at the field of mars and… i have a lot of research certs, govt papers and various other records. Im glad you got records about Scotland as I hadn’t got too far with that. Did u c our castle? The Laings are my paternal mums side. This is strange are my grandpa O’Briens part of your lines as well? I can also help u with the “White” line as well it has been done very well, I know the woman, this could be strange as well- The White married my maternal side of family around the Ryde area. Could you have linked my family through 3 different lines of my grandparents? I’ve just got all my papers the ones that never got burnt and my filing of them is deplorable. If you see more than one posting for this it’s because I wanted to make sure to get you to contact me as technology doesn’t like me and they are all in freehand or typed. Have you included “Kerry O’Brien from the ABC to your genealogy because you can. I have a lot more details and so much to add to your genealogy. I live in N.S.W near Appin and have that 4ish in my years as well…lol. I feel like I’ve just won lotto, you’ve brightened up my year. WOW
    With kind regards
    Jane O’Brien

    1. Dear Jane
      How great to hear from you. It sounds like we have a lot to discuss!!! I also live in Sydney, at Surry Hills. I was actually in Appin a few weeks ago for the 200th anniversary. I’m currently overseas, but will be back in two weeks time. I’ll contact you when I return.

  11. Dear James,
    Do you happen to know of another Higgins who lived in Queensland during the same time period and died 30 Oct. 1862?

    This Higgins was named: Martin Higgins and married (briefly to a spouse named Mary Ann Land)

    Death Registration Year in QLD was 1862
    Rego # 000123 Page.6626

    Name again was MARTIN HIGGINS
    Parents listed as: Archibald Higgins
    Mother’s Name: Mary Ann

    Tyring to trace the history on this particular Higgins. Some connection it seems to the town of Drayton in QLD around the 1860’s time period.

    Kind regards to you (great site by the way!)


  12. I’m trying to find info on Eliza Harriett Heaven daughter of Eliza Heaven and Llewellyn Heaven. If you could help me it would be greatly appreciated.

  13. Hello, I’m a descendant of Alfred Newlyn and Ellen Higgins. It would be great to receive any information about this family line if anyone has any information, please contact me.
    Casey Martone

  14. Hi, I am a g g granddaughter of Charles Higgins born 1859 and Amelia Plumb born 1859 my g grandparents being Charles Edwin Higgins born 1882 and Lavinia Newlyn, their daughter Sylvia Amelia (born Newlyn) Higgins born 1903 married Alexander Cecil Caple born 1902 are my grandparents. Info is scarce so I find it interesting reading all your info and other researchers Regards Tracey

  15. I believe Eliza Higgins born 1854 (daughter of Robert Higgins and Ellen Ann Triggell) married Danish immigrant Peter Miller – they had a daughter Hebe Eliza Miller (1883 – 1915). Hebe married Charles Walker born at Longford Tasmania. Hebe and Charles had four children including Veronica Walker who married William Angus Turner of Junee. Veronica and William’s daughter Thelma Jane Turner married Heinz “Henry” Eugen Grabsch in Junee in 1958. Both Thelma and Heinz have now passed away.

  16. Hi,

    I’m descended from Sarah Higgins and Edward White and I now live in the south west Sydney area not far from Bargo. Thankyou for all your information, very interesting .


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