Rowe, John Henry

Date of Birth/Death:


John Henry Rowe was the youngest child and only son of Edmund and Martha Rowe (nee Trevethick). As an eight-year old, he came to South Australia in 1849 from Cornwall with his father, step-mother Elizabeth (as Martha had died in 1844 at Sithney, Cornwall) and sisters on the ship William Money.

He possibly attended a school in the Willunga area for a few years although no record has been found of this. He then helped his father on their property Waybrook Farm on the corner of Edwards Road and Strout Road (closed section), Willunga. Their next-door neighbours included the Jackson family at The Grange farm on Jackson’s Hill Road. This area was then known as McLaren Vale. John Henry was involved in the sporting life of the community. He competed in the Southern Rifle League whose matches were keenly contested affairs where weather conditions often influenced the results of the individual or team competition. As many as 40-50 men from the South participated, and during one of the earliest matches in 1861 the ground was visited by from 150 to 200 visitors, of whom a considerable proportion were ladies. At this match John H Rowe scored a total of 7 points compared to 14 points by the winner Mr St John Mudge of the Noarlunga Company. In 1866 when competitors were tested over 400, 500 and 600 yards John Henry Rowe scored a respectable cumulative total of 46 points. He also played for the McLaren Flat Union Cricket Club in 1869 with team-mates from the neighbouring Jackson, Strout, Manning, Elliot and Vickery families.

John Henry Rowe married Jane Anne Jackson (the girl next door) on 8 December 1864 at The Grange, home of her mother Mrs Jane Jackson, with Rev. E K Miller officiating. John Henry was 23 years old and Jane was 24 years old. She was the eldest daughter of Jane (nee Philipson) and William Jackson. Her father had died in 1859, five years before his daughter’s wedding. The young couple lived on Waybrook Farm after their marriage. John Henry and Jane Rowe had 4 children:

  • Martha Jane Rowe (also known as Jane), born 5 November 1865 at Willunga; married Jospeh (Joe) Leaker (1866-1935) on 19 September 1893 at the residence of Mrs Rowe near Willunga. She died 27 August 1947 at Willunga aged 81 years.
  • Edmund Rowe, born 3 May 1867 at Willunga; married Lydia Miller (1866-1944) on 1 June 1893 at the Registry Office, McLaren Vale. He died at Tweed District Hospital, Murwillumbah, New South Wales on 20 February 1946 aged 78 years leaving 6 children and grandchildren. His wife predeceased him. According to his obituary he had lived in Queensland and moved in 1917 to Tyalgum not far from Murwillumbah. He was a farmer. He was listed in his father’s will made in December 1872.
  • William Jackson Rowe, born 5 October 1868 and died 27 June 1887 at Willunga aged 18 years.
  • John Philipson Rowe, born 2 August 1870 died 25 February 1893 at Willunga aged 22 years.

In 1868 John Henry Rowe was executor of the Yankalilla estate of his brother-in-law John Polkinghorne after his early death aged 38. John’s sister Mary Rowe had married Polkinghorne in 1856 and had five young children when she was widowed. From 1869 John Henry Rowe expanded his farming activities with a lease on nearby section 505 comprising 146 acres with a stone house. In 1871 until his death, he also paid rates on section 769 of 101 acres as well as his father’s Waybrook Farm holdings on sections 704 (72 acres) and 705 (80 acres).

Then in January 1873, only nine years after his marriage, John Henry Rowe died, aged 32 years. He was survived by his pregnant widow Jane and three young children. He pre-deceased his father Edmund and, like his mother before him, was buried at the Strout Road cemetery. It is interesting that he died at a relatively young age, as did his brother-in-law John Polkinghorne and two of his sons who died in their twenties. After John Henry’s death his wife Jane managed the farm, with help from her children – daughter Martha and sons Edmund, John and William. The younger sons, however, both died quite young, in 1883 and 1887 respectively. Daughter Martha Rowe married Joseph (Joe) Leaker in 1893 and they had four children, Harry (1894-1969), Bruce (1895-1960), Walter (1898-1976) and Effie Isabel (1908-2000), married Don Hyde in 1931. Martha Leaker was photographed at the opening of St Stephen’s Church Parish Hall in 1924.

Jane Rowe died at McLaren Flats [sic] on 4 March 1896, aged 56 years. It is unknown where she was buried. There seems to be no record of her burial at Strout Place Cemetery, McLaren Vale. Her will notes her son Edmund and daughter Jane as executors. The Waybrook property passed to daughter Martha and her husband Joe Leaker.


Genealogy SA,

Willunga Courthouse Family history folders

Manning, Geoffrey H (1984).  Hope Farm chronicle : pioneering tales of South Australia, 1836-1870. G. Manning, [Adelaide], pages 143-5 169

“Australia, South Australia, Will and Probate Records”, , FamilySearch( : Thu Mar 07 13:06:18 UTC 2024), Entry for John Henry Rowe, 22 March 1873.

“Australia, South Australia, Will and Probate Records”, , FamilySearch( : Sun Mar 10 09:22:22 UTC 2024), Entry for Jane Ann Rowe, 1 January 1896.

1864 ‘Family Notices’, South Australian Register, 20 December, p. 2. ,

1869 ‘Advertising’, South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail, 13 March, p. 1. , [Improved Farm to Let]

1873 ‘Family Notices’, Evening Journal, 28 January, p. 2., [John Henry Rowe]

1887 ‘Family Notices’, Evening Journal, 30 June, p. 2., [William J Rose]

1893 ‘Family Notices’, Evening Journal, 1 March, p. 2., [John P Rowe]

1893 ‘Family Notices’, Evening Journal, 28 September, p. 2., [Leaker/Rowe]

1896 ‘Family Notices’, The Express and Telegraph, 9 March, p. 2., [Jane Ann Rowe]

1946 ‘Mr. Edmund Rowe’, Tweed Daily, 21 February, p. 2. ,

1947 ‘Advertising’, The Advertiser, 29 August, p. 20. , [Martha Jane Leaker]

FlickrID=50063649868 – Jane Rowe, nee Jackson (1840-1896). Wife of John Henry Rowe. From Ruth Baxendale

FlickrID=50045319036 – St Stephens Church of England Parish Hall. Laying the foundation stone, 1924. Willunga National Trust 36-2-18a.

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