Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: E is for Emigrant Ancestors

I’m having fun in this ‘Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge‘, and from what I’ve seen from the other bloggers, they are too.

For ‘E’ I thought of writing about various families that start with ‘E’, but instead I came up with another option.  Phillips is my maiden name, so I have always had a soft spot for knowing my direct line history, and George PHILLIPS is one of my emigrant ancestors, so I thought I’d tell you a little about him and his family.

E is for Emigrant Ancestors

Let me introduce you to my 3x great grandpa, George Phillips and his family.

George Snr (as I call him, and is who is pictured on the right) was born in Redruth, in County Cornwall, England in 1845.

At age 19 he  married Mary Ann Kemp who was born in Lamorran, also in Cornwall (she’s pictured on the right too).

Their first child George Jnr, was born in May 1865, and just two months later the small family said farewell to their families, and embarked on a new chapter of their lives, emigrating to South Australia on the ship ‘Adamant’.

Living for three months on a ship wouldn’t have been easy for anyone, let alone being new parents with a baby. But I imagine the conditions in England at that time would have been equally tough, so emigrating was seen as an opportunity for a better life.

They survived the arduous trip, and the family first set up house in Moonta in heart of South Australia’s Little Copper Triangle.This makes sense as George Snr’s occupation on his marriage certificate was a miner – and the Copper Coast region of South Australia was well known for it’s copper mining. Seven of their thirteen children were born at Moonta.

George continued in the mining trade until 1878, when he moved the family to Adelaide, and established a fruit and veg business at the East End Market in Rundle Street, in Adelaide. There is a great photo of the East End Markets in the early 1900s on the State Library of South Australia’s website. While bits of it looks similar now, I image it was largely like that when my reli’s had their fruit shop there. Mary Ann and George added to their Phillips’ clan by having another five children while living in Adelaide.

Things must have been reasonably profitable in the fruit business, as George Snr left his two eldest sons to run the shop at the East End Market, while he and the rest of the family headed back to the Copper Triangle region, this time to the neighbouring town of Kadina. Here George Snr set up another fruit and veg shop. This store was in the Phillips family for generations, until fairly recently.

Sadly George passed away at the young age of 49, and is buried at the Kadina Cemetery. Mary Ann continued to live at Kadina with her family, and died at the age of 83. She is buried in the same plot at the Kadina Cemetery as her husband George.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of visiting this cemetery and as any genealogy ‘cemetery nut’ knows (I do use that term affectionately), when you see headstones of your ancestors it really does give you a strange feeling of ‘finding them’. And to have found the headstone of not just any ancestors, but one of my ’emigrant ancestors’ really was exciting. 🙂

Note: The photo at the very top of this post is the earliest known photo of George Phillips Snr, Mary Ann Phillips (nee Kemp), and their first four children: George Jnr, Mary Emma, Samuel Thomas and Clara – taken c.1871.


4 Responses to “Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge: E is for Emigrant Ancestors”

  1. Alona says:

    A comment from Alan Phillips (my dad who has done lots on the Phillips family) …

    In 1976 I wrote down a record of an interview with Mavis Correll (nee Phillips) grand daughter of Mare Ann. Mavis knew her well, having grown up in the family business of which Mary Ann was matriarch. Mavis was about 18 when Mary Ann died. Amongst other things Mavis related the following curious incident that Mary Ann had told her.
    “While on voyage out (Adamant in 1865) out a fellow passenger was out on deck nursing their eldest child who was only an infant at the time, when she had some premonition. Something seemed to tell her to go and get her baby from this woman. She did so and shortly afterwards a great wave came and washed the woman overboard, never to be heard of again.”
    An interesting family story, but it may be supported (as far as the loss of the woman overboard is concerned) by the following record from the surgeon’s journal which I found 28 years later in Robin Haine’s “Bound for South Australia: Births and Deaths on Government-Assisted Immigrant Ships 1848-1885”, published by Gould Genealogy in 2004.
    “Rosemurgy/Rosenweig/Rossmorgan?, F, 33, 16 October, Drowned/Fell overboard – Mary could not be recovered.”

    Was this the woman referred to in Mary Ann’s story to her grand daughter, Mavis? The date given is incidentally, the same date the ship arrived at Port Adelaide.

  2. Sharon says:

    What a lovely post. The story of the lady washed overboard was especially interesting. How terrible to think that she was looking forward to a new life in Australia, only to be lost at sea. How lucky that the child was saved. It certainly makes you wonder about “impulses”.

  3. Catherine says:

    Wonderful story Alona and one that really resounds with me. e.g At first I thought 1 of my “rellies” and your Phillips family came to South Aust together… then realised that my John Hembury came on the “Adamant” 2 years before. This ship made quite a few emigrant voyages to South Aust.
    WOW!!! The story of young George and Mrs Rosenweig (I’m thinking this may be her name)…took my breath away. Thanks so much for sharing this fascinating part of your Family Story.

  4. Andrew Kemp says:

    Hi Alona,

    If you wish to trace Mary Ann Kemp’s line back further, we have this in the Kemp one-name study site ( here:

    Kind regards,

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