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The GEYER Family

Our Australian GEYER family are the descendents of Heinrich Christian Freidrich GEYER (c.1822-1891) and his wives Johanna Henrietta Fredricke nee KNIPPERT (18??-c.1857) and Anne nee COGHLAN (c.1835-1922).

Heinrich, who was known in Australia as Henry, was the youngest of Johann Erhard Christian GEYER (known as Erhard), a mining captain and Henriette Elisabeth FRAAS. He was born in the village of Lautenthal, a well known mining centre in the mountainous Harz region of what was then the Kingdom of Hanover.1 Henry appears to have emigrated to South Australia around 1846. A ship has not yet been identified, but 'Heerjeebhoy Rustomjee Patel' is a possibility.2 Henry was the first of a number of family members to arrive. His nephew George Wilhelm Geyer aboard 'Hermann von Beckerath' in 1847, possibly with his niece Henriette Wilhelmine Louisa. The following year it was his sister Johanne Henriette Wilhelmine, widow of August BERTRAM, with her children. Then in 1849 his brother Johann Christian Wilhelm and wife Christiane Fredericke nee KUHN (parents of George and Henriette) with children Emilie Auguste Henriette, August Frederich Christian, and Karl Heinrich arrived aboard the 'Australia'.3

Heinrich married Johanna KNIPPERT at St James Church in Blakiston on August 9, 1849.4 Blakiston is a small settlement near Mt. Barker. Johanna was also a German from the Harz region, coming from Altenau.5 Their first two children (Johanna Jnr in 1850 and Heinrich Jnr in 1851)6 were subsequently born at Burra Burra (also known as The Burra). We have a little information on how Heinrich was employed. At Burra he was recorded as a miner, although this may reflect he was engaged in mining related activity rather then actually being down a mine. Henry's brother Christian and nephew George William GEYER were smelters, a highly trained and skilled task.7 Henry subsequently relocated to the Mt.Gambier area, where we know he was engaged in engineering work.8 Two more children were born while at Mt.Gambier (Wilhelmina in 1853 and August in 1857).9

Johanna appears to have died in 1857. The death was not registered (nor was August's birth), and no record of her burial has been located. During her illness, family tradition says a young woman named Ann Coghlan assisted with the children (Lumley).10 Anne was an Irish lass, born in County Cork about 1835, the daughter of John COGHLAN. Henry married Anne at the GEYER home in Mt.Gambier on September 7, 1857.11 The new couple went on to have eleven children.

The first three of Heinrich and Anne's children (Anne, Henrietta, and Julia) were registered in South Australia.12 The family then appears to have been on the move, as the fourth (Mary Catherine) was registered in Echuca, Victoria. 13 Henry is believed to have spent several years in St.Arnaud where his nephew George was settled.14 It's not clear whether this was before or after Mary's birth as we have no further information on this period. The family then moved on to New South Wales, travelling up the Darling River. Daughter Victoria Nettly was born (and named after) the Netley station between Pooncarie and Menindee.15 Her birth records have not been located and she may not have been registered. Erchert (as registered but more likely an anglicisation of Erhard, and known as Harty) the next son, was born at Wilcannia in New South Wales in November 1868.16 By 1869 the family had moved away from the river to Hay. The remaining five children (William, Humphrey, Matilda, Christiana, and Godfrey) were all born in Hay.17

Henry appears to have changed his occupation some time after leaving South Australia. Family tradition records him as the first watchmaker in Wilcannia. 1819 He is also known to have worked as a photographer, even receiving a medal for his work at the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879. Anne is believed to have also worked as a midwife.20

Heinrich GEYER Snr died aged 69 years on 17 March 1891 at Lachlan St, Hay.21 The cause is given as cystic calculus, and cystitis in the 12 months prior to his death. His obituary22 reported that he'd had a series of painful illnesses as a result of a stone in the bladder. He was buried in the Hay cemetery with his son Humphrey. Subsequently Anne followed some of her family to Western Australia where she continued her work as a midwife.23 She died on Nov 10, 1922 in Freemantle and was buried in the Karrakatta cemetery in Perth.24

Henrich GEYER
born: c.1822 Lautenthal am Harz, Germany
died: 17 Mar, 1891 Hay, NSW
(1) married 9 Aug 1849 Blakiston SA
(2) married 7 Sep 1857 Mt Gambier SA
(1) Johanna Henrietta Fredricke KNIPPERT
born: Altenau Germany
died: c.1857 Mt Gambier, SA
(2) Ann Coghlan
born: c.1835 Cork, Ireland
died: 1922 Fremantle, WA
Johanna Henrietta born: 14 June 1850 The Burra Mines, SA
died: 19 May, 1920
Henrich Frederick Christian GEYER born: 4 Oct 1851 The Burra Mines, SA
died: 10 Jun, 1905 Old Tintinollogy, NSW
Wilhelminaborn: c.1853 Mt Gambier, SA
died: 27 Jun 1923 Randwick, NSW
August Frederick Leopold born: c.1857 Mt Gambier, SA
died: 26 Feb, 1901, Broken Hill, NSW
Anne born: 21 Oct 1858 SA
died: Unknown
Henrietta born: 16 Apr 1860 SA
died: Unknown
Julia born: 14 May 1862 SA
died: Unknown
Mary Catherine born: 1864 Echuca, Vic
died: Unknown
Victoria Nettley born: 10 Oct, 1866 Netley Station, NSW
died: 21 Nov 1946 Leederville, WA
Erhard born: 7 Nov 1868 Wilcannia, NSW
died: 1953 Bendigo, Vic.
William born: 1871 Hay, NSW
died: Unknown
Humphrey born: 11 Aug 1873 Hay, NSW
died: 22 Oct1876 Hay, NSW
Matilda born: 12 Sep 1875 Hay, NSW
died: Unknown WA
Christina Frances born: 7 Mar 1878 Hay, NSW
died: 9 Feb 1957 Perth, WA
Godfrey born: 1880 Hay, NSW
died: Unknown


  1. Les van der Sluys (2006) Part II, Chapter One
  2. Suggested by Gloria Lumley and Les van der Sluys in correspondence. Known passengers includes a 'Mr Geier' for whom no other details have been located.
  3. Les van der Sluys (2006) Part II, Chapter Three
  4. SA Dictionary of Biography
  5. Passenger List "George Washington" to Adelaide 1849
  6. SA Birth 1850/430834; SA Birth 1851/400301
  7. Les van der Sluys (2006) pp9-10
  8. Riverine Grazier Advertisement August 4, 1875 describing work and naming authors of testimonials.
  9. NSW Death 1901/859; NSW Death 1923/7115
  10. correspondence - Gloria Lumley
  11. SA Marriage 1857/278979
  12. listed in Digger
  13. Victoria Birth 14911/1864
  14. Les van der Sluys (2006)
  15. correspondence - Gloria Lumley
  16. NSW Birth 1869/6172
  17. NSW Birth 1871/011372; NSW Birth 1873/011986; NSW Birth 1875/12824; NSW Birth 1878/14356; NSW Birth 1880/16319
  18. Jean Stephenson
  19. Riverine Grazier Advertisement H.Geyer August 4, 1875
  20. correspondence - Gloria Lumley
  21. NSW Death 1891/7208
  22. Riverine Grazier March 1891, via Ian Beissel
  23. correspondence - Gloria Lumley
  24. correspondence - Gloria Lumley

The menu photo depicts the view downstream from the banks of the Darling river. Photo by Mary Wilson ©2003