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Winner of Alexander Henderson Award, 2012.

Charles Homer Martin, son of a London victualler, was born in 1795 in Southwark (pronounced as 'Suthuck'), on the southern banks of the river Thames. He was working there for a rope maker when arrested for the highway robbery of the well-known swindler Richard Coster in March 1818.
Arriving in newly-named Australia as a 'lifer' on New Year's Eve, 1818, his city-slicker lifestyle was overturned when he was selected as part of William Cox's workforce at Windsor, in the Hawkesbury district near Sydney. There the 'building materials scam' surrounding the construction of Francis Greenway's iconic St Matthew's Church sent him briefly to Newcastle. He returned to the Hawkesbury and became a self-employed sawyer in the forests of the lower Blue Mountains around Kurrajong.
Charles and his wife Ann Forrester made a home for themselves by 'squatting' with their children on the Wilberforce Common for six decades from 1828. The picture shows part of their old land. Twelve children kept them poor, but they proved to be very enlightened parents,
educating their daughters as well as their three sons.
Four of the Martin children helped to pioneer the Maranoa and Darling Downs districts of Queensland during the 1850s and 1860s, and their stories add much to sparse local histories. The bushranger 'Thunderbolt' and the Martin cousins 'Black Bill' and 'Red Bill' Forrester formed part of their world.
Youngest daughter Emma and her husband George Greentree were early residents of Grafton.
As well as telling the 'Charles and Ann' story, the book contains a separate chapter for each child:
  • Jane Martin, who married Frederick Nicholls
  • Elizabeth Ann Martin, who married Philip Devine
  • Isabella Jane Martin, who married William John Dolley
  • Margaret Martin, who married Alfred Bushell
  • Lucy Martin, who married James Richard Graham
  • Mary Ann Martin, who married John Daley
  • Charles Robert Martin, who married Ann Jane Hill
  • William John Martin, who married Mary Becroft
  • Susannah Martin, who married William Norris
  • Martha Martin, who died young
  • Emma Maria Martin, who married George Greentree
  • Henry Edward Martin, who was unmarried
Southwark Luck: the story of Charles Homer Martin, Ann Forrester & their children is Louise Wilson's third non-fiction book dealing with the early history of the Hawkesbury region. It narrates a life story quite different from that led by Robert Forrester, First Fleeter and Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter, reflecting the great diversity of experience among Australia's convict pioneers.
Thoroughly researched,  Southwark Luck includes local and social history of interest to anyone fascinated by Australia's early colonial years. Readers may like to reflect upon how much luck came Charley's way after his formative years spent in Southwark (pronounced 'Suthuck', which rhymes with 'luck'), and why the oblique comment 'It's the Martin in him' has passed down the generations.

Readers' Comments


The book was released on 31 August 2012. In June 2013 it was judged as the Alexander Henderson Award winner for 2012. Check out the excellent review on Goodreads. Here is some other reader feedback -


A terrific read. Not simply a dry history but reads like a very well-written novel. I found it compelling reading and a fascinating account of life in early white-settled NSW. Martin Reddington, South Melbourne, VIC


My grandfather Charlie Martin was born on the family farm at Freemans Reach in 1910. The only information he offered to me on his childhood was that both his grandfathers had died before he was born and he was named after his father. Then it was "you ask a lot of questions for someone that's only a cupla feet tall, boy". Unfortunately, by the time I was tall enough to ask some more, he had died. Your book Southwark Luck has answered many of those questions. I found it riveting from start to finish, not only for the personal connection but as a glimpse of early Australian life in general. Once again, thankyou for the quality of your work on this book, which is extremely well researched and put together. Daryl Martin, Lismore, NSW


You have done a remarkable amount of digging, and put it all together in a very readable story. I like what you have done with Charles Homer. It is a very fair report and I enjoyed your detective work and creative bits. I loved the chapter on Jane. There was nothing straight-forward about the lives of the Martins in the bush. I'll have to read their stories a few times, because the information is all new to me. I thought your summing up of the Martins that went bush captured the very essence of being an early Australian. Ian Nicholls, Baulkham Hills, NSW


I think the reason we read histories of these families, even when they are not our own, is to get a feeling for the events that possibly shaped the lives of our families. Not only that, I have learnt all about the art of ropemaking! The chapter on sawyers was very educational too, and I think woodcutting may have been the early link with my Hills family and the Forresters and Martins. Lots of illustrations, maps and photos, which I like.  Congratulations. Wendy Plunkett, Doncaster, VIC


The book arrived safe and sound on Wed. We have not put it down since. Have learnt more of the Forrester family and look forward to one on Robert jnr. Congratulations, the research was obviously a gruelling task but the end result superb. The interest in early NSW is growing here. As we meet people who have been to Australia for hols or visit their recently emigrated family, we both take the opportunity to talk of our early history. E.g. yesterday at a National Trust house in Salisbury the steward / guide was more interested to hear about convict life etc than to talk about 'her' room. Cheers, and again, thank you for the 3 books so comprehensively researched and such enjoyable reading. Geoffrey & Narelle Steer, Worthing, Sussex, England


I have read Southwark Luck. You have done such and excellent job of setting out that family's history together with their 12 descendants, and of making such a subject as interesting as possible by including the events of the Hawkesbury district including the floods. It would have required such a great amount of research as well as your time, persistence and infinite patience to sort out all that data and assemble it into book form. The book is well illustrated, something that other history-type books do not often do". John Newland, Birchgrove, NSW 


Congratulations on another wonderful book. As usual it was thoroughly researched but you also included all the facts into a very readable story, it must have been a monumental task, so thank you. We really all owe people like Robert, Paul and Charles and their families a great deal of gratitude for all the hardship they endured while still persevering to settle and develop this great country. They were quite unique men who achieved different results, but that mix is possibly what helped develop the "Australian character". John Daley, Mooroolbark, VIC 


Louise I just wanted to thank you for writing this book. You put a huge effort into this project and words cannot express my gratitude. Thanks to you I have found that Charles Homer Martin was my G/G/G grandfather, Charles Robert Martin my G/G grandfather, William (Billy) Martin my G grandfather. My grandmother was Missie Martin (married to Clarence Roy Willshire), daughter of William. For years I have known nothing of Missie's family as she only ever spoke of her brother Glen. Missie was born at Cameroo - in the book you refer to it as Cameroo Agricultural Farm, do you have any idea where it was? [Louise says - I now think this word might have been Comeroo. Either someone has misread old handwriting, or the spelling has changed in the last hundred years. Comeroo is currently operating as a Camel Station and outback adventure holiday destination and is located on the NSW/QLD border south of Eulo.] Just a point of interest, Beechal Creek is a tributary of the Paroo River, not the same river. [Louise says 'sorry, the map I consulted did not make this distinction clear.'] Another point of interest - Missie & her husband also worked on 'Beechal' as did their daughter Inez & her husband John Dickfos. The paddock where they ran their cows is now the Eulo date farm tourist attraction. I have some details for Missie's brothers Edward Lewis Martin and Glen Martin, but would love to know what happened to her three eldest brothers Charles Robert Martin, William Martin (supposedly killed by lightning), & Henry Alexander Martin. I will be purchasing the book on Robert Forrester in the near future.  Cathy Campbell, Nanango, QLD 


Louise has a wonderful ability to reach out to family members who have done family history and add her own meticulous research to theirs to produce a book which is history as well as family history. I have known so many family historians who have amassed heaps of documents, dates and photographs whose work sits in folders or on computers and is of little value to anyone. The Martin family is very fortunate to have 'Southwark Luck' just as the Forresters and the Bushells are fortunate to have her preceding histories. I, personally, enjoy her stories of local Hawkesbury life and was delighted with the information [in Southwark Luck] about the Wilberforce race meetings at Bushells race track. Paul Bushell has always been my favourite ancestor and here was a story I knew nothing about!.  Shirley Evans, Winmalee, NSW 


News and Updates


UPDATE, Wed 12 Sep 2012 - Careful editing notwithstanding, thanks to Ian Nicholls and his eagle eyes I now realise that there are a few minor discrepancies between the information in Appendix 2 (generated by my data base) and the main body of the text. It is the latter which is correct. My apologies. Also, on page 222, delete the word Windsor from the end of line 5 and, further down the page, 'Meridith' should be 'Meredith'.  Hopefully there are no other glitches. 


UPDATE, Thur 20 Sep 2012 - There is a mass of detail in a family history and keen Hill family researcher Wendy Plunkett has spotted two more minor problems. On page 241 - Elizabeth Pearson was the daughter of one convict, not two. On page 253, line 3 - delete the words 'in Eulo'. I'm making a point of correcting all these minor issues as I have wasted a lot of research time over the years because of errors in the published works of other writers. I'm trying to save other researchers from chasing any 'red herrings' which might exist in my work. 


NEWS, Wed 10 Oct 2012 - Helen Webberley likes 'Southwark Luck' - see ART and ARCHITECTURE, mainly


NEWS, Sat 28 Oct 2012 - Check out the excellent review just added to Goodreads. You're welcome to add your rating and review to that site. 


NEWS, Thu 4 Apr 2013 - Another pleasing review - by Carole Riley in 'Descent', The Journal of the Society of Australian Genealogists, March 2013, Vol 43, Part 1, p 36, PLUS a mention by Donna Newton on the Book Notes page of 'History', the Magazine of the Royal Australian Historical Society, March 2013, No 115, p 31 


NEWS, Sun 23 Jun 2013 - The Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies judged 'Southwark Luck' to be the NATIONAL WINNER of the Alexander Henderson Award, 2012. For more details, see ...  


REMEMBER - keep up to date with Forrester family news via my Blog


Publication Details


Louise Wilson, South Melbourne, VIC, August 2012 
Paperback, perfect bound, 408 A5 pages, black & white illustrations 
- Online using your credit card at Bookpod.
- At Hawkesbury Regional Museum, 8 Baker St, Windsor, NSW Tel 02 4560 4655

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