As Edith Medway puts it, her latest book is a story of "convicts made good."
The Crookwell-based historian was hooked after discovering just some of the stories associated with the Thorn family, her husband, John Medway's forebears.
Her 56-page offering, The Early History of the Thorn Family in Australia from 1790, also tells the story of some of Goulburn's earliest land and business pioneers. In addition, branches also deeply influenced Parramatta's early development and offshoots spread out as far as Lord Howe Island.
Mrs Medway, who has written six other local history books, spent 16 months researching the subject.
"It has been a very exciting story," she wrote in her preface.
"The Thorn family had many tragedies but also many triumphs and this generation should be proud of its ancestors."
It all started with Humphrey Thorn senior who arrived in NSW on the second fleet in 1789-90. The blacksmith was sentenced to seven years' labour for stealing and was transported on The Neptune, dubbed 'the death ship.'
He later married another convict, Rebecca Richards, and together they had three boys - James, Humphrey junior and John, and two girls - Elizabeth Mary and Mary Ann, who married into important families in Parramatta.
Mrs Medway said John rose to become special constable at Parramatta in 1821 and was awarded for meritorious conduct for capturing the bushranger, William Dalton. He was granted 640 acres, which he named Thorn's Farm. It eventually became the Sydney suburb of Thornleigh.
His death in 1838, after being thrown from his carriage at Berrima, prompted his wife, Jane (nee Humm) to move to Goulburn with her eight children in the early 1840s. The family had applied for land off the Braidwood Road, which they also named Thornleigh.
Steve Tazewell's Grand Goulburn states that the original stone home and stables was built in the early 1840s. It was later purchased by Charles Rogers, who added substantially to the home and named it The Towers.
One of John and Rebecca's sons, Daniel Humphrey, rose to prominence in Goulburn.
"He was appointed to the first council in Goulburn (1859) and went out and bought land everywhere, including Goulburn, the Riverina and Bolong between Crookwell and Taralga," Mrs Medway said.
Thorn's paddock on the Braidwood Road also hosted the first Goulburn Show, according to Tazewell, and Daniel became AP&H secretary upon its formation in 1857.
Together with brother, George, he built a brewery on the property, beside the Mulwaree River's banks. It later became a fellmongery. He was also deeply involved in horse racing, a love inherited from his father.
In 1838, Daniel had married Susannah Payten, whose father Nathaniel built many early Parramatta buildings. They had six children, including Laura, from whom former Goulburn Post photojournalist Darryl Fernance is descended.
Daniel died in 1860 from influenza at age 34, but not before building another nearby home, Wynella, on the current Southern Meats Abattoir site. Susannah's brother, Henry, managed the property until it was sold in 1866. The house has since been demolished but the stone stables remain.
Financial difficulty struck the family in 1886 and in 1888, Charles Rogers bought the Braidwood Road property.
In the meantime, other branches of the family acquired large tracts of land at Gunning, Dalton and Crookwell.
Mr Medway is descended from Margaret (Marnie) Thorn, the grand daughter of Humphrey Thorn junior.
The book also details links with other important Goulburn and district families such as the Dignams and Pyes.
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Mrs Medway said she found this aspect fascinating, given their impact on Goulburn's development.
The almost 80-year-old, who grew up in Goulburn, has history flowing in her blood, thanks to her father, a former school teacher who was born at Wilcannia and wrote his own life story.
She has also written books about Murrays Flat, partly touching on her own family, Biala, The Forest Cemetery at Middle Arm and Goulburn's two oldest cemeteries.
- People interested in purchasing Mrs Medway's latest work can do so for $20 by contacting her on 4832 0652 or emailing email@example.com