Matthias Isaac Lewis in his later years. He drowned, aged 69, in 1885. PHOTO: ANCESTRY.COM
Matthias Isaac Lewis in his later years. He drowned, aged 69, in 1885. PHOTO: ANCESTRY.COM

Matthias transported at age 13

MATTHIAS Isaac Lewis was only 13 years old in 1828 when he fronted the Old Bailey after being caught trying to steal the till from William Wilson's rag shop in Back Lane, St George's-in-the-East in England.

Despite his argument that he was behind the counter with the till on the floor, because someone threw his cap into the shop, he was sentenced to seven years transportation to New South Wales.

He sailed on the Florentia on August 11, 1830 and arrived in New South Wales on December 12, 1830.

When he turned 21 he received his certificate of freedom and was listed as a weaver and described as five foot two inches with light brown hair and a pale complexion.

Matthias had been living in Newcastle but married Mary Anne Tate in 1842 at Brisbane Water on the Central Coast.

After having the first of their children in the area, the family moved to the Northern Rivers and a total of 13 children, were recorded as being born to the Lewis'.

Matthias owned a store in the South Ballina area in the 1860s but it was washed out when floods went through it, forcing him and his family to move to West Ballina.

One errand Matthias ran on a regular basis was to take his boat from Ballina to Yabsley's at Coraki where he would retrieve beef carcasses to take home and salt down to feed his large family.

He was often in the habit of taking a 'blackfellow' with him on those round trips and often told them to 'pullaway, pullaway' when working on the boat.

He said it so often he gained the nickname 'Bullaway' among the tribes.

In 1876 Matthias lost Mary Anne and remarried two years later to Susanna Theoff.

His second marriage only lasted until 1881 when Susanna predeceased him.

Matthias died in 1885 when he accidentally drowned in the Richmond River at the age of 69.

He was buried in the Ballina Pioneer cemetery.


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