William and Elizabeth Cole

Our thanks to Richard Ickeringill who is a descendent of William and Elizabeth Cole.  Richard and his wife Shirley kindly provided us with the additonal family history information and photos on this page and generously allowed us to use the information on our website!

William Cole and his wife Elizabeth (née Comley) were another pioneering family in the Mickleham area.  The couple came from Gloucestershire, England, on the ship 'Manchester' and arrived here in January 1849.  At this time the couple were not married and are on the ships manifest as William Cole aged 22 and Elizabeth Comley aged 19.

William and Elizabeth were married on 18th January 1853 at St. Peter's in Melbourne four years after their arrival in Victoria.  William was a carpenter by trade and it is possible he was one of a number of Wesleyan families that were active in the church at Pentridge and may have moved from Pentridge to Mickleham around the same time.

William was among the many selectors who chose land at Mickleham and it only seems fitting he named his farm 'Quedgley Farm' after Quedgley the place he came from in Gloucestershire, England.   In an 1868 directory of Mickleham William Cole is described as a farmer at Quedgley Farm, Mickleham.

Like most of the other inhabitants of Mickleham, William and Elizabeth were actively involved with the Mickleham Methodist Church and probably held prayer meetings in their home.  By 1852 is seems the congregation of Methodist Wesleyan farmers in the area had grown to the size where it warranted a permanent place of worship instead of being held in the homes of various parishioners like the Coles.

In 1852 a site was selected on the corner of what is now Mickleham Rd and Mt. Ridley Rd, at that time being the property of the William Cole and for some unknown and unrecorded reason the original site in Mickleham Rd was never used and the acre of land the old cemetery now lies in on Mt. Ridley Rd was purchased by the Wesleyan Methodist Church off Thomas Langford.

William Cole and his wife Elizabeth had 4 children at the time George Henry Cole was born, Emily Cole born 1851, Sarah Anne Cole born 1854, Clare Alice Cole born 1857 and probably most welcome after all the girls a boy was born, George Henry Cole in 1859.  George Henry Cole went on to be a famous evangelist.

In 1878 land was made available to land selectors in the Shepparton/Caniambo area and the Cole family very soon after selected land there and left the Mickleham area.   The Coles are also regarded as "early pioneers" of the Caniambo district.

The children born to William and Elizabeth Cole were:

 • 1850 Emily Elizabeth  - born Rocky Water Holes - married 1870 Archibald Mackay

• 1854 Sarah Ann - born Mickleham - married 1869 Lambert Dans

 • 1857 Clara Alice - born ? - married 1878 William Crilly

 • 1860 George Henry - born Mickleham - married 1886 Elizabeth Cowan died 1893 - married 1895 Mary Marshall

• 1862 Walter Charles - born Mickleham - 1886 married Ellen Skinner

 • 1864 Augusta Matilda - (Tilly) born Kalkallo - married 1882 James Thorn

• 1867 Beatrice Gertrude - born Mickleham - married 1888 Archibald Aitken both buried

Carlyle Cemetery located between Rutherglen and Wahgunyah, Victoria.

In Loving Memory Of

Beatrice Gertrude Aitken

Aged 66 Years

A Perfect Wife and Mother


In Loving Memory Of

Archibald C. Aitken

Died 18th Nov. 1937, Aged 75 Years


Our Beloved Father

• 1869 Jane Clarissa - born Barkstead, Victoria

 • 1871 Florence Amelia - born Barkstead, Victoria - died aged 8 Months

James Thorn and Augusta Matilda (nee Cole)

1910 - Matilda or Tilly Cole, her children - 9 girls and one boy - and husband, James Thorn

In Caniambo Tilly Cole used to collect the mail on horseback and would deliver it home and to nearby neighbours. I suspect the Coles and Thorns were neighbours, and this was how Tilly met her future husband James Thorn, who had also selected land very early on in Caniambo.

Tilly was just 17 years old when she married 28 years old James Thorn in 1882, and they went on to have a large family of 10 children . The photo at left is of a very young looking Matilda Cole possibly aged 17 when she married James Thorn.  The year after their marriage James purchased the Caniambo butchery business, and he also established a local butter factory. With the help of the eldest of their 9 daughters and 1 son, the Thorns prospered and were able to buy out others who left their land for various reasons.

James Thorn became a very wealthy grazier and a well known dealer in livestock and land, and was active in local government for many years. He eventually owned considerable property in the Shepparton area, and by the time James Thorn retired with his family to Shepparton to live in 1904, he was farming 3000 acres in the Caniambo Gowangardie area. James continued to be active in community affairs for many years after his retirement, including adjudicating at courts in Shepparton in his office of Justice of the Peace.

Matilda (Cole) Thorn died in 1937 and she and her husband James are buried at Caniambo.   One of James and Augusta Thorn's daughters, Ruth, was Richard Ickeringill's paternal grandmother. It was the Reverend George Cole who performed Ruth's marriage ceremony in 1912. (He was the bride's uncle, of course.)  At left are James Thorn and his wife Matilda (nee Cole).



GEORGE HENRY COLE (1859-1919) Methodist minister

George Henry Cole didn't go to school much at Mickleham as he was needed on Quedgley Farm to help his father, William Cole.  He wasn't very good at his sums but became very skilled at farming.  He chose to leave home at the tender age of 13 and work along way from home on a station for two years as a boundary rider and by 15 he was a skilled bullocky or the driver of a bullock team. 

Bullock drivers were also known as teamsters or carriers and they transported wool and supplies by drays drawn by teams (either bullocks or horses).  They travelled constantly across the landscape servicing the pastoral stations and settlements in regional districts of Australia which were distant from regional transport hubs and urban centres.

Being A long way from the influence of his family he got in with the wrong people and started to drink.  He had seen the Primitive Methodist cottage prayer meetings when he was a lad at Mickleham but had not attended church since and it was not until he returned to live at Mickleham at 17 that he started to attend church again regularly and realizing he was in the position of being illiterate with no formal education, he took lessons at night school to be able to follow his calling to be a minister in the church.

After years of study he was accepted into the Primitive Methodist Church in 1882 and finally ordained in 1886.

He married Elizabeth Maria Cowan, 6 April 1886, daughter of a farmer. She died in 1893 and on 3 April 1895 at Eaglehawk he married 26-year-old Mary Euphemia Marshall.

Cole became a famous, powerful, evangelist and temperance campaigner over the years.  His own harsh background helped him understand the plight of homeless and delinquent boys and he went on to implement a boys' training farm at Tally Ho, Burwood, Victoria where teaching in agriculture could spiritually reform and educate some of the boys.

Cole died at Tally Ho, 11 July 1919, at Burwood, in Victoria and is buried in the Burwood cemetery.

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