Sawyers in the Alchin Family

Francis Henry Alchin: Sawyer of Sydney

by Garry Smith

Sawyers working in a saw-pit

The third of three Alchins who never made it to Gunning and District.

Francis Henry Alchin (1830-1901) was born in Bromley-by-Bow, Middlesex, England the son of George Alchin (1806-1856) and Elizabeth Church (1807-1867). He was baptised on 20 June 1830 at Saint Dunstan’s Church, Stepney, London. Francis’s father was a sawyer; he appears on the 1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census as a thirty-five-year old, married to Elizabeth (Church) – they had four children, including eleven-year-old Francis. The family lived at Rope Walk Burchfields.

Saint Dunstan’s Church, Stepney, London

By the time he was twenty-one in 1851, Francis was living as a “lodger” in Robin Hood Lane, Poplar. His occupation was sawyer, like his father. Times were tough for sawyers leading into the late 1840's and early 1850's in England. Changing technologies were adversely affecting many workers. Many sawyers left England for the colonies.
Francis Henry Alchin was one such sawyer. In 1852 Francis married Ann Eliza Christopher (1829-1916); they set about having a family, their first child born in 1853, the second in 1854. Francis and Ann Eliza and their young family were soon on the way to the colony of New South Wales as assisted immigrants. They left Southampton aboard the Rose of Sharon on 10 January 1855, arriving at Botany Bay on 13 April 1855.

List if Immigrants (extract), Rose of Sharon, 1855

Francis took up work as a sawyer in Sydney. In the 1859-60 electoral roll the Alchins were living at 317 Kent Street in the electoral district of West Sydney. In 1863 Francis Alchin is listed in the Sand’s Directory as a sawyer living at 18 Stephen Street, Paddington. Francis Junior, son of Francis Senior also worked as sawyer in Sydney. He was tragically killed in an accident at saw mill in 1875. While cutting a piece of wood with a circular saw, the piece of wood flew up and struck him in the throat.
At least one other Francis Alchin, a cousin to Francis Senior, also came to Sydney. His focus was more on the hospitality trade, hotels specifically. Not surprisingly perhaps, this Francis Alchin died at the age of forty years from “dropsy and disease of liver” in 1882 at his hotel – the Leisure Inn Hotel, St Leonards. He was a native of Limestone, Middlesex.
Francis Henry Alchin and Ann Eliza Alchin (nee Christopher) had at least ten children – two in England and eight in Sydney. Francis, a sawyer most of his life, died at Marrickville, Sydney on 30 April 1901 aged seventy-one years. Cause of death was heart disease. He was buried at the Wesleyan section of Rookwood Necropolis. Ann Eliza Alchin lived until she was eighty-six years old; she died at “Poplar”, Charles Street, Marrickville on 7 March 1916.

Judith Green, great granddaughter of Francis Henry & Ann Eliza Alchin, Rookwood Cemetery