Edward Norton ( 1819 – 1862 ) and Caroline Ann Hely ( ? – 1879 )

 Rathmines First British Settlers

 Edward Hely bought freehold land at Rathmines around 1840.  This means he could farm the land, but didn’t own it.  He was a “gentleman” settler, which meant that he was a free man with some money, not a convict.

His brother was Francis Augustus Hely who was appointed Superintendent of Convicts of NSW in 1823 and travelled to Sydney with his wife Georgina and 3 children.   He held this position until he died in 1836.  He was an important man in the colony and held many other positions : he sat on several official enquiries; Justice of the Peace ; president of the Board of Magistrates ; acting superintendent of police ; a foundation director of the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney and a member of the Assignment.  He held several land grants, one of which was at Cooranbong called Inglewood.  One of his sons, Hovenden, went on Leichharst’s 2nd expedition.  His wife ran Inglewood after his death.

From the Australian Dictionary of Biography. ANU, 1966. : http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hely-frederick-augustus-2177

More information on his family can be found at :


Possibly Edward came out to administer his brother’s estate.  The older Francis Augustus left a very big and diverse estate that included a house in Sydney, 100 acres at West Maitland, 1500 acres at Cooranbong, 1500 acres on the south bank of Wyong River and 4000 acres at Wyoming – and maybe other holdings not mentioned in the papers or on documents.  His son was too young to take over, his daughter was not yet married.

The Hely family named their farm “Rathmines” after their home town, which is now a suburb of Dublin in Ireland.  Back then it was a small town just outside Dublin.

Edward’s  wife’s name was Caroline Ann Battley, daughter of William B. Battley, the magistrate.  They married at Brisbane Water on 29th September, 1838.  They had 6 children :

V18391297 23A / 1839  : Frederick A Hely

V18432464 30A / 1843  : Thomas Battley Hely

V18412463 30A / 1841  : Edward William Hely

V18457968 121C / 1845  : Charles B Hely

Caroline Elizabeth Hely

Joseph H Hely

Although Edward Norton Hely settled at Rathmines in 1840 or 1841, and applied for a grant of 25 acres on 21st August, 1844, there is no evidence that he received it and his son E.W. Hely is recorded as receiving the first grant in 1882.  The Hely family was buried on the estate of Rathmines, but the graves were moved to Belmont when the property was subdivided because they didn’t own the land they were buried on.

Hely built his home made of brick and plaster on the waterfront near the site of what is now Rathmines Bowling Club.  Over a period of years he grew orchards and vineyards and he raised cattle.  An outbreak of pleuro-pneumonia in the 1860’s wiped out the cattle industry around Lake Macquarie.  A resident of the area in the early 1930’s remembers the remains of the orchards being on what is now the site of the Rathmines Community Hall and its surrounding park.






  1943 Fig tree from the orchards of Mr Hely

The area between Secret Corner and Eltham Roads, adjacent to Fishing Point Road is said to be the site of the farm’s slaughter yards.  It was noted in 1870 that much of the land was under cultivation.

In the 1840’s bushrangers were a menace to settlers.  While returning from Newcastle in June 1842 in his horse and buggy, Mr Hely was overpowered by a bushranger who took his money, property and a fine silver-mounted pistol.  About a week later, he armed himself after being pre-warned of a visit.  He dozed off on a couch and awoke to find the same bushranger standing before him.  The bushranger declared “Well now, sir, I have a pair !”, brandishing the matching pistol.

Caroline was buried at Rathmines on 29th Spetember, 1878.

Edward Norton Hely died on 23rd November, 1862 at 44 years of age.


SMH Saturday, 20th December, 1862

Death notices

HELY-November 23rd, at Rathmines, Lake Macquarie, Edward

Hely, Esq., J.P., in the 44th year of his age.


His eldest son was killed in the Indian rebellion of 1857 aged 23 years.

SMH Thursday, 13th February : Death notice : “ On Tuesday, the 11th instant, George-street, Sydney, Mr Frederick Augustus Norton Hely ( aged 23 years ), eldest son of Edward Norton Hely, Esq JP, Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, and nephew of the late F. G. Hely, Esq, 7th Light Native Cavalry, killed at the siege of Lucknow, 7th August, 1857.”



There is no record of what happened to the second son, Thomas.

In 1872 Greville (NSW) postal directory for Mt Vincent, Edward Hely was listed with his wife, Ann, as farmer at Rathmines.  This would have been the third son, Edward William.  Also listed was Frederick Hely, squatter of Inglewood ( the name of the Hely’s property at Cooranbong ).  This would have been F. A. and Georgina Hely’s son.

Greville (NSW) Postal Directory 1872 MOUNT VINCENT Page 355.

This Francis Augustus Hely was killed in an accident at Inglewood in 1880 :

“The body was interred at Rathmines, on the borders of the Lake Macquarie, near to the last resting places of several near relatives of the deceased. There was a large attendance, considering the remoteness of the locality from any ordinary thoroughfare ; about eighty or ninety persons. Amongst those present were the Rev. J. Dixon, Mr. James, Dr. Pearse, Mr. Bartlett, J.P., Mr. Edwin Hely, Master A. Osborne, Mr. Thomas Russell, Mr. T. Healey; Mr. R. H. King, Messrs. Frost, Douglass, Bonnell, Gamble, Deaves, and Gorman ; indeed most of the residents of Cooranbong. Mr. Reeve, the Police Magistrate, also rode in the funeral train for some distance, but was obliged to turn back soon, having to be in the Courthouse at Gosford at an early hour on the following day. Mr. C. Wyndham of Cessnock, also came over the mountains to Inglewood, to join in the melancholy cortege, as a last mark of respect to his deceased friend ; but he arrived too late to bear any part in the same, the funeral having already left. Mr. Hely was a brother-in-law of Mr. John A. Osborne, J.P., of Gosford, and his family are also nearly connected by marriage with the family of Mr. T. C. Battley, J.P., of Gosford.”.   http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/810729

In 1882 Edward Hely was given ownership of the land at Rathmines.  “Portion 8, E.W. Hely (47 acres), and Portion 9, E.W. Hely (54 acres). Both granted on 11/1/1882”. ( Lake Macquarie Library Local History information on suburbs ).

  He died in 1914 at Gosford.

“| |-3. Edward William HELY (b.3 May 1841-Gosford,NSW,Au d.1914-Gosford,NSW,Aust)
sp: Hannah Matilda FENNELL (b.12 May 1843-Gundaroo,NSW,Au m.1872 d.1879-Newcastle,NSW,Au)”. 

Was Ann a version of Hannah ?  Is this where he went after he subdivided Rathmines ?

There was also a Hely family at Arcadia Vale and Dora Creek according to the Lake Macquarie History of suburbs.  The Hely family called it Arcadia Vale meaning an ideal rustic paradise. The postal department added Vale so as not to confuse it with another Arcadia in NSW. ( from Lake Macquarie Library Local History on suburbs ).

Peregrinations of a Pastoral Parson: Journals of the Rev Alfred Glennie, transcribed & annotated by Ann & Malcolm Glennie Holmes  from the Facsimile Edition  held by  the Muswellbrook Central Library November 1863.

“12. Went by train to Newcastle, to attend the Clerical meeting at Xt. [Christ] Church

Parsonage.  Not having been there  for about ten years, of  course I  saw great changes. In the evening Mr Edward Hely from Rathmines came in.

13. At home all day, with the exception of a call or two in the village. “

Sources :

 Colonial Secretary Index, 1788-1825

Lake Macquarie Library History of Suburbs : http://www.lakemac.infohunt.nsw.gov.au/library/lhist/suburb/suburb.htm

Hunter Vally Genealogy Forum : http://www.huntervalleygenealogy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1032&start=15