Genealogy has been my passion since the mid 1980s when I was in my early twenties, and amongst the many lines that I have been ruthlessly hunting down in the following twenty plus years, the Hughan family has been my all-comsuming addiction.
They are an amazing family, and their individual stories are closely entwined with many of the defining moments of Australian colonial history. My connection with the family comes from my maternal great-great grandmother, BERTHA HUGHAN,( see left) who was the last of nine children born to ROBERT ALEXANDER HUGHAN, of CREETOWN, KIRKCUDBRIGHT, SCOTLAND, and his wife, HANNAH OAKLEY, from Essex and later Suffolk.
Bertha was the only one of the family to be born in London- the three eldest of her sisters were born in Suffolk and her remaining five siblings were born in Colchester, Essex. Bertha's father made numerous attempts to succeed at his chosen profession- that of a tea merchant- but it seems he was more of a scholar than a business man. The 'London Times' and 'London Gazette' of the 1820s and 1830s record his various failings and bankruptcies, and by the time he moved his family to London in the late 1830s, it was his wife and elder daughters who kept the family financially afloat with their needlework.
Robert Hughan died suddenly in 1844, and Hannah continued to keep her family together until an event in 1847 served to act as a catalyst which saw most of the Hughan family relocated to Australia by the early 1850s. Middle son Robert Alexander Hughan, aged only 19, was sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia for stealing his master's watch. When he sailed for Moreton bay in 1849, his family were to follow soon after.