Benjamin Farnsworth was born at Clay Cross, Derbyshire, England on 18 March 1857, the youngest of 12 children born to John Farnsworth and Mary Housley.   He was the younger brother of Edwin Farnsworth.   There being a 22 year age difference between the two brothers, Ben would not have known his brother prior to arriving in Australia, some 28 years after Edwin emigrated.


Ben, travelling as an assisted immigrant, arrived on the ship Orontes.   He was described in the passenger list as a single man, 24 years of age, a labourer by occupation, from Derby, England and his religion was recorded as Church of England.   The immigration papers record the fact that both his parents were deceased and that he had a brother, Edwin, living in Sydney.




The Orontes was an immigrant ship which departed Plymouth, England on 18 May 1882 and arrived in Sydney 93 days later on 19 August 1882.   On this voyage she embarked a total of 409 immigrants, 4 of whom died during the voyage.   Nine children were born during the voyage and a total of 414 immigrants disembarked in Sydney.   The master of the vessel was Captain Bain and the emigrant contract price was 13.7.6 per adult passenger.


Also on the Orontes was 23 year old Harry Field, a "Loco Fireman" of Middlesex with no relatives living in New South Wales.   It is more than likely that Ben and Harry met onboard ship as it wasn't long before they were both employed on the railways, and before the year was out, Harry had married Ben's niece Ellen.




On 31 December 1900 Ben married Ellen (Nellie) Embleton at the Holy Redeemer Church of England Church, Helensburgh.   Ben was then 43 years of age, and Nellie was 21 years of age, although their ages were recorded on the marriage certificate as 37 and 23 respectively.   The Rev. John Wilson performed the nuptuals and the witnesses were Katie Embleton and Edwin Fitzgerald.


Nellie was born at Hassan Walls (near Lithgow) on 13 January 1879.   Her parents were Thomas Embleton (a miner at Hartley Vale) and Maria (or Mary) Carty (or Carthy).   Thomas and Mary were both born in England and were married at St Kilda, Victoria on 31 May 1867.   Nellie was the seventh of 10 children born to Thomas and Mary.   The first 5 children were born in Victoria and the remaining 5 children were born in the Hartley / Lithgow area Embleton's still reside in the Lithgow district.


Nellie did not have the benefit of a formal education.   Nevertheless, she taught herself to read and write, and placed a high value on her children having a "proper" education.   During the hard years following the depression, she learnt that her grandson, John, was not to have the opportunity to complete high school.   She visited her son and made arrangements for John to stay in school, paying for a new school uniform (long pants for senior high school) and pocket money for a year.   She was willing to put her money where her mouth was, to give her grandson every opportunity for a successful career.   John made the most of this opportunity and proved that his grandmother's trust was not misplaced.   He completed high school, attended University and rose through the Education system, from country school teacher to Director of Education.




Almost immediately on his arrival in Sydney, Ben commenced employment with the NSW Railways.   On 2 September 1882 he was employed as a labourer in the Metropolitan Division at the starting wage of 7 shillings a day.   He would, no doubt, have been assisted by his brother Edwin who, at that time, was a Sub-Inspector with the railways.   Harry Field commenced his employment with the railways a month later on 2 October 1882.


On 1 July 1883, Ben was promoted to Fettler at Emu Plains on a wage of 7 shillings and six pence a day.   On 7 May 1891, he was promoted to Ganger, attached to the Central Division, at 8 shillings and 6 pence a day.   On 1 March 1893, he transferred to the Western Division, and on 6 March 1900 was promoted to Acting Permanent Extra Ganger at 10 shillings per day.   He was reduced to Ganger and promoted to Acting Permanent Extra Ganger once more before being promoted, on 1 October 1902, to Sub Inspector of Per Way on a wage of 200 per annum.


At this time, Ben and Nellie were living at Lithgow.   Nellie had given birth to one child, who died, and was very much pregnant with their second child.   Following the birth of this child, the family moved to Bourke, where their third and fourth children were born, in 1905 and 1907 respectively.


Ben remained a Sub Inspector until his retirement, although his rate of pay varied over the interceding years from 210 in 1906 to 388 on retirement in 1923.


During the period 1/3/1893 - 22/12/1908 he was attached to the Western Division

                       23/12/1908 - 15/2/1916 he was stationed at Parkes

                        16/12/1916 - 7/11/1924 he was stationed at Bathurst.


In April 1903 he received an official caution "in connection with expenses incurred during flood repairs Brewarrina line 1.1.03".   However, as he had remained "loyal" during the 1917 Railway and Tramway Strike, this previous "offence" was ruling a line through the reference on his history card (of course, no-one would be so crass as to read what was still clearly legible).


In 1918 he was "warned" as a result of an incident which is recorded as "Bogie Wheels of I Class engine No. 526 became derailed at Kelso on the 16th ultimo.   The road at the point of derailment was examined by Sub-Insp Farnsworth on two occasions but he failed to note the defect."


On 31 December 1921 his retirement was approved with "4 months retiring leave and one month after 20 years service".   He applied for retention and this was approved, to 31 December 1922.   This was further extended to 30 June 1923 and then 31 December 1923.   His application for a further extension was not approved, and he retired on 7 November 1924, at the age of 67 years, having completed 42 years service and attaining the position of Sub Inspector.   On retirement he was entitled to "one months leave on full pay after 20 years service and 6 months under Regulations."


The Bathurst Times newspaper of Monday 10 March 1924 reported that


"Inspector G.A. Clarke and Sub-Inspector B. Farnsworth, railway per way officers at Bathurst, will shortly retire from the Railway Commissioners' service.   They are two of the best known railway officials in the western district.   Both are due for six months long service holidays.   Their fellow officers intend to make them presentations at an opportune time."




Official records show the family living at the following addresses -


+ Luck Street, Lithgow (1902)

+ Railway Line, Bourke (1903)

+ Forbes Road, Parkes (1913)

+ Station House, Parkes (1914)

+ 13 Keppel Street, Bathurst (1921)

+ 4 Burke Avenue, Berala (1926)



Ben and Nellie were living at Berala on 21 May 1926 when they puchased a property at 4 Burke Avenue, Berala.   They lived here until their deaths.  




Nellie and Ben had 4 children, 3 of whom survived infancy -


     Winfield Forrester, born on 12 July 1901


     Cuthbert Embleton, born on 18 November 1902


     Harold Housley, born on 18 August 1905.


     Athelred Edwin, born in 1907


 Death And Burial


Both Ben and Nellie died at their home at Berala and are buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery at Rookwood.   Ben died on 16 October 1931 (aged 74 years) and Nellie died on 22 January 1965 (aged 86 years).




Winfield Forrester FARNSWORTH


Winfield was born at Lithgow on 12 July 1901.   He was born prematurely and died at only 16 days of age, on 28 July 1901.   He was buried on 29 July 1901 in the Church of England Cemetery at Bowenfels.


Cuthbert Embleton FARNSWORTH


Cuthbert was born at Bowenfels on 18 November 1902.   At Katoomba in 1928 he married Margaret May Collins and they had 3 children.   Margaret was born at Echuca, Victoria on 11 September 1899 to John Collins and Mary Ada Clingin.   Margaret spent most of her life in Springwood and was an active member of the Springwood Bowling Club, holding the office of President for a number of years.   In the late 1980's she moved from Springwood to a retirement home at Dalmeny and it was here that she died on 18 May 1992.   She was buried in the Anglican Cemetery at Moruya.


Cuthbert and Margaret divorced and he married Alice Margaret Janet Thistleton.   They had 2 children Alice was born at Milton on 30 June 1911 to Herbert Thistleton and Marion J. McInnes.   Cuthbert died at Homebush on 24 November 1981.   His funeral was on 27 November 1981 at Rookwood Cemetery.   Alice died on 6 January 1966.


Cuthbert and Margaret's children were -


v     Benjamin John (John), born at Springwood on 15 May 1929.   He married Jill Margaret FRASER at Eastwood on 27 August 1955.   Jill was born at Brewarrina on 28 December 1935 to Norman Fraser and Daphne Stuffins.   Prior to her marriage, Jill worked in the Bank of New South Wales, along with her father and sister.


          From the age of 18 years, John was a school teacher.   He taught mostly at country schools, including Skeleton Creek, Oberon, Gundagai, Orange, Manildra, Glen Innes, Bega and Coolah.   By the time he retired he had risen to be Director of Education.   John and Jill had 3 children


v     Margaret Helen Mary, born at Springwood on 2 October 1931.  She married Arthur BUTT and they had 3 children before divorcing.   Margaret later married Daniel O'DEA.   Margaret died on 10 October 1988, and was buried in the Presbyterian section of  Springwood Cemetery.


v     Cuthbert Embleton, born at Springwood on 2 May 1932.   He married Valma Joyce TAYLOR at All Saints Church, Bodala on 4 April 1953.   Val was born at Moruya on 8 May 1931 to Alfred Henry Taylor and Jessie Melvie Marsden.


          Cuthbert (junior) was an adverturous character.   At various times he worked as a policeman; in the oil business; in the fishing business; flying a light aircraft (spotting for sharks off Sydney beaches); and he and Val operated a hotel/motel at Forbes, and the Monarch Hotel at Moruya.  


Harold Housley FARNSWORTH


Housley was born at Bourke on 18 August 1905.   He married Myra Ethel PHILLIPS at the Methodist Church, Auburn on 11 January 1930.   Myra was born at Potts Hill (Regent's Park) on 7 September 1907 to Charles W. Phillips and Alice Bowden.


Housley was Chief Industrial Relations officer with the NSW Railways.   On 12 June 1936 Myra and Housley, then a clerk living at Lidcombe, purchased a property at Lots 1, 2, 3, 4 and 30 Boulevard Street (on the corner of Victor Street), Lidcombe.   They sold this property in February 1958 and moved to 9 Fraser Street, Strathfield West.   Housley died at Lidcombe Hospital on 25 June 1989 and was buried at the Uniting Church Cemetery, Rookwood and Myra died on 17 June 2000.


Myra and Housley had 2 children


v     Robert Housley, born at Lidcombe on 21 November 1936.   He married Jocelyn Olive Helen LECKY on 13 January 1961 and they had 2 children.



v     Alan Edwin, born at Auburn on 17 August 1943.   He married Beatrice Elizabeth MASSON or Wasson who was born in Hong Kong or Singapore on 13 January 1940.   They have 2 children


Athelred Edwin FARNSWORTH


Athol was born at Bourke in 1907.   In 1940 at Ashfield he married Caroline Rhoda BOYCE who was born at Redfern on 31 March 1913, the youngest of 9 children born to James Boyce and Margaret Boyce (nee Cummings).   Athol and Rhoda did not have any children.   Their home was at 64 Grosvenor Crescent, Summer Hill.   Athol was a storeman with the railways.   He died at Sydney Hospital on 23 February 1972 (aged 64 years) and Rhoda died at a private hospital at Ashfield on 5 February 1993 (aged 80 years).   Both their funerals were at Rookwood Crematorium.

Neil Wilson 2012 -
If you arrived at this page via a search engine, please click here for the home page