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Orphan Number: 1272
Orphan: Emily CUMMINS
Mother:O'MALLY, Hannah
Father:CUMMINS, Samuel
Mother's ship:Asia
Father's ship:
Age when admitted:14yrs
Date admitted:26 Jul 1847
Date discharged:11 Aug 1847
Institution(s):Queens Orphan School
Discharged to: George Salier, Hobart
References: SWD7, 28

This orphan has been claimed by: Junette Petterwood

Emily only stayed at the Orphan School for one month as she was too old to stay longer, she was discharged to George Salier of Hobart to be employed to help in the home. She married James Short 8th September 1854. James from Bristol was a Master Mariner and an orchardist. They settled in their home “Springvale” in Victoria Huon, later named Huonville. James & Emily had 12 children, 8 girls and 4 boys.

On 6 November 1866 their son Samuel drowned in the Huon River outside their home. The family home burnt down early 1900’s, and Huon Manor was built next to the property by family members. Many of the family married into well known Huon families; Nations, Lomas, Kruse and Clarks. Their youngest son Ernest (my grandfather) married Sarah Mowat, a school teacher at Cradoc and built their home in North Franklin.
Emily died 27 April 1902 at “Springvale” Huonville.

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This orphan has been claimed by: Debbie Norris


Emily’s journey to Van Diemen's Land

In 1846 Emily and five of her seven siblings embarked on a four-month journey across the seas from England with their mother. Jason Lardner, the Ships Surgeon described Emily’s mother Hannah’s behaviour during the voyage as ‘indifferent’. With the now family separated, it any wonder that Hannah was feeling that way.

About Emily’s mother

Hannah married Samuel Cummins on 16 December 1827 in Surrey, England. Between then and 1840 they raised their young family. What happened in the next six years that led Hannah to be in the situation where she was apprehended for stealing is a mystery?

What is known is that on 17 August 1846 Hannah, a native of County Mayo, Ireland, was tried at the Central Criminal Court of the Old Bailey, convicted of Larceny (stealing stolen property and had a previous conviction of stealing a watch) and transported to Van Diemen’s Land with a sentence of seven years.

Then after some twenty years of marriage and raising a family they were separated. Emily and her siblings John (3 years), Joseph (6 years), Hannah (9 years) and Amelia (12 years) all travelled with their mother. They left England on board the convict transport ship Asia, arriving in Hobart Town on 21 July 1847. Their father Samuel remained in England with children Samuel (junior, born 1828) and Mary Ann (born 1837). Yet another breakup of the family unit was five days later when the Cummins siblings were all placed the Queen’s Orphan Schools, New Town, Van Diemen’s Land. 

Emily’s Story

Emily Cummins (Cummings) was born on 11 December 1834 in Middlesex, England. At fourteen years of age Emily was admitted to the Queen’s Orphan School in New Town, Van Diemen’s Land on 26 July 1847.

Emily’s stay in the Orphan Schools was just short of three weeks. Being a 14 year old it was the policy for girls of her age to be apprenticed out. Accordingly, Emily was discharged to George Salier of Liverpool Street, Hobart Town on 11 August 1847.

On 1854 Emily married Captain James Henry Short (a Master Mariner) on 8 September 1854 at the Independent Chapel in Brisbane Street, Hobart. Witnesses were Amelia Cummins and Patrick Malone.

The first of their 11 children Francis Emily Short was born in Hobart on 11 June 1855 when the family took up land and moved to Victoria (known now as Huonville). Francis married William Nation and died in1905.

Mary Harriet was born on 16 November 1856 and died in 1931.

Minnie Ruby was born on 3 October 1858, married Henry Edward Clark (no death notice found).

William Thomas was born on 15 October 1860, married Agnes Bell and died in 1919.

An unnamed son was born in 1863 and did not survive.

Letty was born on 27 June 1865 and died on 23 June 1866.

Samuel was born on 6 November 1866 and died three days before Christmas in 1875 – drowned in the Huon River in front of the family home.

Maud Lillie was born on 5 February 1869 and married Arthur Frederick Nation in 1864. She died in 1953.

Dora May Short was born on 11 January 1871 and married David Jolly in 1900 and died in 1958.

Earnest was born on 15 April 1873 and died in 1937.

Edith Ella Short was born on 20 August 1876 and married Phillip Burns Billing in 1896 and died in Wellington, New Zealand in 1925.

Emily Short (nee Cummins: 1832 – 1902)

In 1872, before the births of her two youngest children Emily and James moved into (built and/or rented out) a house on the corner of Main Road and what became 1 Short Street. The stories related to me by my father, was that his great-great-grandfather (James Short) and Emily operated a shop from the premises that became to be known as the Trading Post. The premises was burnt down and never rebuilt.

An article printed and published by Charles Ellis Davies, at his office (58 Macquarie Street, Hobart reveals an impression of the home from by a ‘special correspondent’.

A pretty house and shop owned by Mr. Short stands the other side of the bridge approach, and a Congregational chapel a little up the road …

The Short house at 1 Short Street

It is heartening to know that Emily lived her life surrounded by family and had been able to maintain contact with at least two of her siblings, Amelia and Joseph, according to witnesses at both Emily’s and Amelia’s marriages show. Amelia married Peter Emslie, with both Emily and her brother Joseph as witnesses in Hobart on 30 October 1855. Emily certainly also suffered some grief during her lifetime with the loss of two sons, but from all accounts maintained a strong connection with family. Sixteen years after her passing a new family home was built on the block next door to where her house/shop once stood.

The new home, built in 1918 by Kruse and Sons builders was evidently the showcase of the Huon area. It was named Duvida (meaning beside the sea) and built by James and Emily’s son William Thomas the year before he died. The home was a wedding gift their son William Thomas Garnock Short and his bride Frances Emmaline Winter. They were married in 1920 and raised four children Margaret Emmaline, Eric Winter, Graeme Garnock and David Stanley. Graeme was my father. The magnificent family home to generations, became to be known as the Huon Manor when both William and Frances had passed away and it was sold.

Frances and William (Bill-Tom) outside Duvida

A note on James Short
from The Cyclopedia of Tasmania

Mr. James Short, Orchardist, “Springvale’” Huonville, was born on 20th January, 1826, at Bristol, England, and at the early age of fifteen years he went to sea. After two years’ trading in th English Channel he joined his father, Mr William Short, in the engineering business, to which he served a five years’ apprenticeship. Fifteen months afterwards he came to Tasmania, and again adopted a seafaring life, trading between Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart. Four years later he was appointed master of the sailing ship “Rebecca,” a command he occupied for no less a period than thirty years. He then took charge of the sailing boat “Katherine,” and after fifteen years’ service in her retired from the sea, and purchased his present property, which comprises about 16 acres. He is a large exporter of apples, having during the last season sent no less than 227000 cases to London. Mr Short has been a member of the Spring Vale Road Trust for about two years, and is also connected with the Church of England. He was married in 1854 to a daughter of the late Mr. Cummings, of England, by whom he had issue seven daughters and three sons, most of whom are married and highly respected throughout the colony.

Connection to the Orphan Schools and Huonville

On 24 July 1870 John William JONES (Orphan 2912), aged 13 years was discharged to James Short, Huon.  John’s mother Maria ELLIS had deserted and his father William JONES died in 1866. They once lived in Avoca, Tasmania.

Another connection

On 20 December 1842, William Talbot (Orphan 5255), aged three years and six months, was admitted to the Queens Orphan Schools whilst his mother served out her sentence of transportation for petty theft. Williams’ mother, Ellen Bell (nee Talbot), my great-great-great grandmother was transported and arrived in Hobart Town on board the Waverley in 1842.

Seven years later on 20 October 1849 William re-joined his mother and her husband John Bell. No marriage certificate has been found to verify their union, but nevertheless the young family then moved to, and settled in, Huonville south of Hobart Town, then known as Victoria. The Huon Valley at this time was a developing into a thriving area, gaining notoriety, especially for farming and logging. William’s future lay amid this community. William was a well-known orchardist and a councillor of the Huon municipality from its beginnings in 1906 until 1921. He also served the community as a Justice of the Peace for 15 years.

James and Emily Short are my paternal great-great-great-grandparents

John and Ellen Bell are my maternal great-great-great-grandparents

© Deborah Norris 2018


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This orphan has been claimed by: Katherine Bousfield

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This orphan has been claimed by: Annette Rees

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This orphan has been claimed by: Cheryl Vincent

Emily and James Short were my great great great grandparents on my mother's side. My line comes through their daughter Mary Harriet who married Joseph Lomas. My grandmother was Beryl Hope Lomas Scott (known as Hope Scott).

I know very little about Emily and James so would be very interested in any information regarding this remarkable family.

Cheryl Vincent

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 Site last updated June 2021