Shadrach Pearce

The information presented here has been supplemented with data obtained from Don Pearce of Perth West Australia, for which I am very grateful. Don has been researching the exact same ancestors as myself because he is descended from Shadrach through Randolph Hobson. Don's information is far greater than mine with about 8000 people in his database. Don may be emailed by clicking here Don Pearce

We don't have any photographs of Shadrach, but I have included a photograph of a steamer trunk (shown below) which legend has it was part of Shadrach's luggage used on the trip to Australia. There are absolutely no identifying labels or marks that would confirm this however.

Steamer Trunk supposed to have been used by Shadrack

The steamer trunk supposed
to have been used by Shadrach

Included in our records is a good copy of Shadrach's marriage certificate to Emily Berne at St Mary's of Birkenhead on August the 25th 1847. He is described as of full age and having an occupation as a shoemaker. His father Aaron's occupation is also a shoemaker.
Emily Berne is 18 years of age and her father John Berne is described as a Mariner.
Shadrach and Emily's marriage certificate is Entry # 417 of St Mary's of the parish of Birkenhead, County of Chester. Marriage witnesses are John Berne and Mary Ann Pearce. Both signed by their marks. Recently we have confirmed that Mary Ann was Shadrach's sister.

Don has visited England and states "No further records of any Pearce family was found in the records of St Mary's covering the period 1815-1835, or of christenings in the period of 1848-51. Same for Be/urne."

However Don did find that Shadrach (born in Oxford on the 12th of December 1828) was probably the forth child of Aaron Pearce and Damaris King. We now have records extending back to about 1690 for this family line which have come mainly from the Thame church records. (the IGI has references to the christenings of seven Pearce Children including Shadrach) For further information on Shadrach's parents and siblings refer to Aaron Pearce of 1801 and the line of descent summary data either by clicking on these two links or in the drop down menus at the top of the home page.

The other data for Shadrach and Emily after arrival in Australia includes

I have always wondered if Shadrach decided to emigrate in order to join the gold rush, or was the gold rush just coincidental? Shadrach had made use of the assisted passages available at that time for his family however he was not "engaged" by any sponsor on arrival. Perhaps he found he was able to make an adequate living as a shoemaker catering for the miners and farmers of that time.

Shadrach, like many of the period, had money troubles as shown by a couple of newspaper records of court proceedings in 1860 and again in 1873.

Argus 4th of December 1860

Judgement reserved,

            In Re SHADRACH PEARCE,

   Sir G. STEPHENS, for this official assignee opposed the 

granting of this certificate on the ground that insolvent 

had not disclosed and surrendered his effects.

The COMMISSIONER said he did not think that this 

charge had been sufficiently proved in the evidence taken 

in this case, and he should grant the certificate.

Argus 20th October 1873


       Shadrach Pearce of Whittlesea, bootmaker. Causes 

of insolvency Illness of self and family, falling off in business 

and losses from taking a farm at Yea. Liabilities, £158, 12s, 4d. 

: Assets £34, 7s. ;  deficiency £124, 5s, 4p. Mr. Haffy assignee.

It appears that the petition was not granted in 1860 however by 1873 times were even harder for Shadrach and it was. The reference to "taking a farm at Yea" provides another avenue of research.

The familyís movements

 I have not been able to find out if Shadrach had tried his hand on the gold diggings, but, if he did it must have only been for a short time. Conversely he seems to have been content to set up as a shoemaker and, as the family grew, they slowly moved northwards from Melbourne. Most of the information I have obtained is from Birth Death and Marriage records, electoral rolls, rate books, Business Directories, etc.

 The first official mention of Shadrach Pearce that I have been able to uncover is contained in the electoral roles for Heidelberg of 1856, 1857 and 1858. Although we have Emily Louisa Pearce born in Yan Yean in 1857 which is slightly contradictory. 
Next there are the births of Alice Maude Mary and Frederick John in Plenty in 1860 and 1862 respectively. 
The next move is to Toorourrong where Ellen Frances Victoria Albertina is born in 1864. 
Sarah Ann in 1866 then Alfred James in 1868 were both born in Glenvale while the last child Ernest Henry was born in 1872 in Plenty. 
Shortly after this they must have moved to Whittlesea as Ernest Henry was buried in the Whittlesea cemetery in 1873.

 Post Office entries and Baillieres directory mention Shadrach in Glenvale from 1868 to 1872 and Whittlesea in 1875. Additionally Edith is married in Glenvale in 1868 while Emily Louisa was married in Whittlesea in 1873. The least reliable piece of information is the birth of my ancestor, Charles Aaron in 1854, which is stated to have taken place in Greensborough on his marriage certificate. I do not have a copy of the birth record so it has not been possible to confirm the accuracy of this reference.

 The last reference is in the rate books for Seymour where Shadrach operates a business as a shoemaker in 1880 and has a cottage. In 1881 Shadrach died in Melbourne and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Melbourne General Cemetery.

Additional information on movements includes.

1856/7 Electoral roll Shadrach Pearce, Shoemaker Heidelberg, Heidelberg Division.
1858; Electoral Role; Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia. Shadrach Pearce, Shoemaker, Freeholder.

"Baillieres Victorian Directory 1868 to 1872" Index for Tradespeople -
PEARCE Shadrach, Shoemaker, Glenvale (Glenvale is a Postal Hamlet Whittlesea)

Post Office Directories

Directory entry, (PO) 1868; Glenvale, Victoria, Australia. Shoemaker.
Directory entry, (PO) 1872; Glenvale, Victoria, Australia. Shoemaker.
Directory entry, (PO) 1875; Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia. Shoemaker.

In 1880 the Seymour Rate book has two entries for Shadrack as follows; (rate was 12p in the pound)

Rec  Year      Name               Occupation   property owner    Description                              Rates
238  1880  Shadrach Pearce  Shoemaker    Jos Marshall       Cottage - Hanna St - Seymour  £10/10/-
239  1880  Shadrach Pearce  Shoemaker    Wm Solomon      Shop - Emily St - Seymour       £8/ 8/-

This slow movement northwards was quite typical of settlers in Melbourne. Heidelberg was only about nine miles from the city, but quite rural, and there were many people trying to make a living on small holdings. Much of the fruit and vegetables sold in Melbourne were grown around here in the early days of the colony. Also the Heidelberg School of impressionist painters featured much of the scenery from around Heidelberg (hence the name) and it was very rural in character. 

Shadrachís death and burial have always been a bit out of keeping with the rest of the family. Shadrach died in Melbourne Hospital on the 28th of July 1881 of what was described as
Asthma, Moebus cordis and emphysema, occupation still shoemaker. (death certificate number 8059) He was buried in a pauperís grave in the Melbourne General Cemetery. How he came to be in Melbourne and why he was in a pauperís grave I have no idea, it is totally at odds with what happened within the rest of the family. I make a suggestion that perhaps he was in Melbourne and collapsed and died without providing sufficient details of next of kin and, because he was not known in Melbourne, he was assumed to have been without means or a family to see to a proper funeral.