Fiveash Family - F54

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Fiveash Family
William and Justina Elizabeth - F54
Marriage 1851
Brentford in Greater London
Name William Fiveash
Lived Dec 1825 – 1892
Name Justina Elizabeth Steigenberger
Lived b. 1855
Justina Emily Ann Fiveash (b. 1855)
Algernon James Thomas Fiveash (1861 – 1902)

Justina Fiveash - Passenger from London to Adelaide in 1866

When Mrs Justina Fiveash, with her two children Justina (11) and Algernon (5), arrived at Port Adelaide as saloon passengers on the City of Adelaide in October 1866, she was returning from a trip back to London.

As Justina Elizabeth Steigenberger she had married William Fiveash at Brentford in Greater London early in 1851. They sailed on the Mary Harrison for the colony of South Australia, and arrived at Port Adelaide in July 1852. Living in Adelaide, they had four children between 1853 and 1861 – two sons and two daughters – but one of each died before reaching the age of five years.

William Fiveash

William Fiveash (1825-1892) was born at Northfleet, Kent in December 1825. On arrival in Adelaide, William joined his brother Robert A Fiveash in opening a drapery shop, but Robert much preferred to roam the countryside as far away as the Flinders Ranges and to prospect for metals. This resulted in the dissolution of their business partnership in January 1858, and William subsequently became a very successful commercial traveler.

For some years after leaving the shop, William represented the firm Jos. Skelton & Co, and during this period he developed a mutual respect with J E Seppelt of Seppeltsfield. For the remainder of his life he was the Adelaide representative of the son, Bruno Seppelt, and he was mainly instrumental in building up one of the largest wine businesses in Australia. He was also an investor in gold mining in the Northern Territory.

It was probably his close connection with Freemasonry for which William was best known. In 1855 he withdrew his affiliation with the South Australian constituted movement, and founded a local Duke of Leister Lodge under the Irish constitution. After its foundation stone had been laid by Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh in 1867, Brother Fiveash was pivotal in raising the funds for the construction on Waymouth Street of the beautiful Alfred Masonic Hall which was regarded as a monument to his exertions.

He always managed to avoid politics, although he was often urged to stand for parliamentary or municipal office. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace in October 1883. Through his later years, he did not enjoy the best of health, and he had to withdraw from active leadership of his Lodge. He died at his residence, The Pines in Frewville, of diabetes in October 1892 at the age of 66.

Rev W H Mudie read his Church of England burial service, and among the large attendance at the Masonic Hall were J L R and R H Fiveash, his nephews, but as the service was almost strictly Masonic, William’s relatives and friends were “absorbed in the muster of the brethren” who processed in their distinguished regalia, and conducted “the ceremonial peculiar to craft Masonry”. He was buried in the West Terrace Cemetery.[1]


The daughter Justina Emily Ann Fiveash (b 1855) married William Ainslie Mudie, the eldest son of Rev William Henry Mudie, at St Saviour, Glen Osmond in December 1880. They had two sons, and moved to live in Victoria.

William and Justina’s son Algernon James Thomas Fiveash (1861-1902) married Evangeline Sampson at the United Methodist Church, Adelaide in November 1882, and they had one son and four daughters. Algernon, who worked in business with his father, died suddenly at the home he built on Glen Osmond Road at the front of William’s Frewville estate.

Robert Archibald Fiveash (1816-1872)

William’s elder brother Robert Archibald Fiveash (1816-1872), who had arrived on The Planter in 1839, became a businessman and superintendent of the Blinman and Yudanamutana copper-mines. He married Margaret Rees in 1841, and their family home was Gable House in North Adelaide. They had eight children, four of whom died before they were 15 months old.


Their eldest son, John Lodowick Rees Fiveash (1843-1895) soon returned to London, where he was educated and qualified in surveying. After working in South Australia as a licensed surveyor, he joined the brewing firm of Haussen & Co, where he was the book-keeper for 25 years. He became auditor, then councillor, then Chairman of the District Council of Mitcham. John joined a volunteer defence unit early in the 1860s, and steadily rose through the ranks to become Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding the local Artillery Brigade in 1894. He married Eliza Ann Gill in 1865, and the couple had five children at Coromandel Valley and at Prospect, before Eliza died in 1881 at the age of 38. He married Annie Rose Carruthers in 1886, and a year later she gave birth to a daughter at Mitcham.

The second son, Robert Henry Fiveash (b 1846) married Annie Bertha Catchlove, who gave birth to seven children from 1874 to 1884 at Palmerston NT, North Adelaide and Hyde Park.

Robert and Margaret’s youngest child, Rosa Catherine Fiveash (1854-1938) was described as the foremost Australian botanical artist of her day. She specialised in painting Australian flora. and her services were increasingly sought as a versatile illustrator of scientific papers. She collaborated with Dr R S Rogers for thirty years, illustrating his publications on orchids. A portfolio of her flower-paintings so impressed the governor, Lord Tennyson, and Robert Barr Smith that they bought them in 1900 as a gift to the colony. Most of her life's work - beautifully drawn flower portraits in glowing watercolours - is now in the State Library and the South Australian Museum.

Rosa also pioneered china-painting in Adelaide, attending to all stages of the process, including the firing. She was remembered as a little lady of quiet dignity and with a zest for work. Apart from two years overseas, Rosa lived all her life in the family home at North Adelaide with her sister Mary Emily Fiveash (b 1850). They were both unmarried and devout Anglicans.


  1. Observer ; Loyau 1885


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