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Whatever happened to little Thomas Cracklin ?

Thomas was born in Haverhill,  March 1816.  His parents were Joseph Cracklin and Elizabeth Bailey.  Joseph and Elizabeth married in Haverhill 5th. November, 1815.  Joseph enlisted in the army December 1815.  He
joined the 48th. Regiment at Foot in Naas Ireland in 1817, and marched with them to Cork where three ships awaited to transport them to Australia.  The ships were the "Matilda", the "Dick" and the "Lloyds".  His wife Elizabeth and small son Thomas went with him to the new land. They arrived in Sydney 9th. September, 1817.

It is recorded that for every 100 men, 12 wives and their families were allowed to accompany them on this arduous voyage. In 1818 the Government of the day sent 2 ships to Van Diemen's Land with a detachment of troops to replace the 46th. Regiment which was about to embark on its tour of duty in India.  The ships were the "Minerva" and the "Lady Castlereagh", arriving in Hobart Town on the 7th. and 11th. June respectively.

Upon arrival detachments were sent across the river to Pittwater and another to New Norfolk up river from Hobart Town. Elizabeth and Joseph went to New Norfolk.  Their first Australian born child, William was born in Hobart in 1818 and lived for a brief four weeks.

A further three children were born in New Norfolk.  Mary Ann in 1819, John in 1821 and William in 1823.  But our story is concerned with the Haverhill son, Thomas.

Very little is known of Thomas and his siblings formative years.  There is a record in the Tasmanian State Archives of the Cracknell children being listed as "Orphans but not objects of charity."  This was recorded a census taken for the educational needs of children in the New Norfolk area in 1827/28.

The Cracknell children were not orphans but their father lived and worked in the military barracks and their mother would have found work wherever she could.  At least 12 months she is recorded as being employed as housekeeper for Governor Wm. Sorell at his Government Cottage, New Norfolk, where she received the princely sum of Twenty Pounds per annum.  No other record of her employment can be found.

None of the Cracknell children could read or write nor could their parents, which seems to supply a reason for the many mis-spellings of the family name.  These range from - Cracklin, Crackling and Crackland.  Indeed Joseph was enlisted in the military as "Crackland", which has provided some confusion for researchers.  Cracknell seems to have been used by those writing records in a more educational atmosphere.

Thomas makes an appearance next as an adult serving as a mate aboard whaling vessels out of Hobart Town. Indeed his two younger brothers, John and William were well known and respected Captains of various whaling vessels.

We know that Thomas never married and that he met his death violently. The Mercury newspaper Thursday Sept 27th. 1866, in the death notices reads -

"CRACKLING - On the 24th. inst. Mr. Thomas Crackling, aged 50 years.  The funeral will move from the residence of his sister, Sir George Arthur (hotel) Campbell Street on Friday morning, the 28th. instant, at eight o'clock, when friends are invited to attend, as no circulars will be issued."

In the column headed "Shipping Intelligence" there is more news regarding Thomas death -

"The Offley, whaling barque, from the South West Cape, anchored off Brown's River yesterday to land the body of Mr. Thomas Cracknell, second mate of the "Offley" who accidentally met with his death on board that ship on Monday last under the following painful circumstances, related to us yesterday by Mr. James Chamberlain, mate of the vessel.  The Offley had killed a whale on Saturday last, off the Cape, and they were trying it out in that locality on Monday morning, when a number of whales were sighted, and an order was given to lower boats, and one of the boat-steerers commenced loading one of the bomb lance guns on the quarter deck.  Unfortunately the hammer of the gun slipped through the man's hand, the bomb lance at that time being in the barrel and the cap being on, the charge exploded, lodging the bomb in the right side of Mr. Cracknell, who was standing opposite the muzzle of the gun, clearing his boat for lowering. The unfortunate man immediately became insensible, and his mates knowing the explosive contents of the bomb endeavored with their utmost strength and at imminent risk to pluck it out, but their efforts were unavailing and in a very short period the bomb exploded frightfully lacerating Mr. Cracknell's side and abdomen.  The sufferer recovered his senses immediately after the bomb exploded and retained them fully up to the time of his death, which happened an hour and twenty-five minutes after the dreadful accident occurred.  Mr. Cracknell's body was brought up to town yesterday and placed in the General Hospital for inquest.  Mr. Cracknell, a brother of Mrs. Screen of the Sir George Arthur Inn in this city was about fifty years of age, and had been many years engaged in whaling out of this port.  The Offley is still lying off Brown's River with the flag at half mast as a mark of respect to the unfortunate deceased."

There are further newspaper reports of the inquest which reports in graphic details poor Thomas' mutilated body. The final report of the inquest states -

".. that the said Thomas Cracknell in manner and by the means aforesaid, accidentally casually and by misfortune, came to his death .."

- so that's what became of one of Haverhill's sons - poor Thomas !


Email Dated : 27/07/2001

Author : Dee Cracknell deecracknell@hotmail.com

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