Both Robert and Ellen were born at Norfolk, England, Ellen at Thompson and Robert at Attleborough. Ellen was the second daughter and child of Robert and Susannah Goss. Robert was the second child and eldest son of William and Ann Page.
The Goss family emigrated leaving Liverpool, England in December 1854 travelling with other emigrants aboard the 978 ton clipper “Whirlwind”. At departure, Robert and Susannah were accompanied by their children, Mary (7), Ellen (5), Jane (4) and William (1). Soon after departure disaster struck with scarlet fever sweeping through the passengers, with 44 deaths occurring on the voyage, mostly children. Amongst the deaths were three of Robert and Susannah’s children, Mary, Jane and William. The ship also developed rudder problems along the English coast with the Captain deciding to put into the Plymouth for repairs. The Whirlwind left Plymouth around 6 January 1855 leaving behind a number of passengers still recovering from fever. The Goss family were among those staying behind, resuming emigration around the beginning of April aboard the 1 787 ton extreme clipper, “Blanche Moore”. Soon after departure Susannah gave birth to a son which they name William Moore Goss.
Melbourne was reached on 7 June 1855 and a few days later the family transferred to the 176 ton coastal steam-ship “Lady Bird”. On reaching Launceston they immediately went to live at “Enfield’, Bishopsbourne, Tasmania where Robert’s brother John was working as head shepherd for the William Field family. Robert found work there also and would remain at the property for a number of years.
Robert Page at emigration was 18 years of age and an agricultural labourer. Before emigrating his mother, Ann (nee Crook) had died, in October 1850. Those emigrating were his father, William Page and William’s second wife Sarah, and their 10 children. Sarah’s first husband, Charles Upston, had died in 1847. William and Sarah Page had married on 21 September 1851 at Attleborough.
On arrival both families settled in the Bracknell area and soon would have become known to each other, connecting through work with the Field family.
Robert and Ellen married on 8 December 1866 at the house of William Page, Bracknell under the rites of the Primitive Methodist Church. Robert was 28 years of age and Ellen 16 years. They produced a family of 11 boys and three girls.
Robert and Ellen were short in stature, Robert 5 feet 4 inches and Ellen around 5 feet, and with a number of their sons reaching 6 feet and more, it was speculated they inherited their height from the Goss family, who were known to be well built and tall.
Early in their marriage Robert and Ellen moved to a rented farm at Cluan about four miles from Bracknell, Tasmania. In the 1903 Westbury Assessment Roll, it is described as a 281 acre property with the owner being the Estate of Mrs. Green. The farm was sandwiched between the Cluan/Bracknell road and the Cluan Tiers. The property chiefly occupied a valley and contained good fertile soil, suitable for cropping and grazing. A 40 inch rainfall was also a help.
In the adjoining mountainous Cluan Tiers an abundance of wildlife existed and which included wallabies, possums and rabbits. These were hunted and snared mostly for their skins, with the family becoming proficient in this activity.
In getting established and a large growing family to maintain, life was often a struggle. The family often relates that William Field of “Enfield”, Robert Page’s brother-in-law, provided much assistance, loaning horses and machinery and supplying stud stock. Assistance with girls clothing was also forth coming, passing on the Field’s children clothing to their Page cousins. With these clothes being of the highest quality and fashion it enabled the Page girls to go out well dressed.
Grandfather sometimes mentioned they often worked barefooted, mosly only wearing boots for church on Sundays, with their wearing not liked as the boots “pinched his feet”.
Over the years the family had many horses, needed for work and transport. One horse particularly remembered was Ellen’s horse, a mare, Topsey. In earlier life she had been trained as a trotter for horse racing and couldn’t bear to see another horse in front of her, and if she did, would take off at speed to get in front, resulting in some hair raising occasions.
The family was very active in the life of the Primitive Methodist Church at Bracknell and, to attend, walked across country.
The family became famous as a cricketing family, with their father Robert the captain and 10 of the sons (not usually Stanley who was sickly) playing. The daughters kept the scores. A number of the players were of A-Grade standard and on a good day could win against the best of teams. They were so highly regarded that sponsorship was offered to tour England but having families to provide for and farms to maintain, did not take up the offer.
A glimpse of the family and their activities is had in a poem written by Viv Richardson for the 1978 family reunion. Viv was the husband of Rhoda (nee Page) the second daughter of John and Rose Page.
Both Robert and Ellen died at their home at Cluan and were buried in the Bracknell Primitive Methodist cemetery. Ellen died from the effects of pernicious anaemia and Robert of old age. Robert is remembered as being very active even in old age.
History written by Ivan Badcock, 14 April 2021