William Walker was born on 25 May 1825 in Portishead, Somerset, England. His parents were Charles Walker and Eliza Fry, both of England. Their marriage date, work and other children are currently unknown.
Mary Ann Bessant was born on 16 Jan 1830 in Portishead, Somerset, England. Her parents were William Bessant (1802-1834) and Jane Atwell (1808-1836), both of Gordano, Somerset, England. The Gordano region borders Portishead.
The Bessant family tree extends back a long way on more than one line. Mary Ann’s third generation great-grandparents, John Bessant (1650-1700) and Lydia Edwards (1655-1698), were both born in Barbados and died in North Carolina, United States.
John’s family originated from Wiltshire, England. and also went by the family name, “Beasant.” Lydia’s family originated from Somerset and London, England. The Edwards line can be traced back to Robert Hywel Ap Ievan Fychan Edwardes (1398-) and Gwenllian Verch Ieuan (1392-1460). Robert descended from Welsh noble families, including Welsh Kings and Lords.
William (23) and Mary Ann (18) were married on 26 Dec 1848 in St Peters Church of England in Portishead. They had their first three of fourteen children while living in England: Ann “Annie” born 1849, Jane born 1852 and William John born 1854.
They had their first three of fourteen children while living in England.
William (30), Mary Ann (24) and their children emigrated to Van Dieman’s Land, arriving in Hobart on 25 Mar 1855 aboard the ‘Ocean Chief’ after a seventy day voyage. They were sponsored by Mr. John Atwell of Spring Valley, Tasmania (In the Westbury District). The Atwell`s are related to the Walker family through Mary Ann’s mother. The Walker family travelled north to Spring Valley, where William worked for Mr. Atwell as a farm labourer. Mary Ann gave birth to their fourth child, Emma Jane, at Spring Valley in 1856.
The family moved to the Deloraine region sometime in the mid 1850s where William continued to work as a farm labourer. Another four children were born in this region: George in 1857, Sarah in 1859, Cordelia in 1861 and Amelia in 1863.
In the mid 1860s, the family moved to “Green’s Creek” near Sassafras. Another five children were born here: John in 1865, Charles in 1867, Ada Ann Elizabeth in 1869, Charlotte in 1870 and Frank in 1872. William also leased some land at the nearby “Christmas Hills.” He and his sons would walk here daily to harvest wheat.
William purchased property in Parkham. On their property, they opened the first post office and store in the region. Some of their descendants would later operate their own post offices around the state of Tasmania. In those days, the post office was responsible for directing phone calls and delivering telegrams as well as handling the mail. There was no power connected in those days.
The fourteen children of William and Mary Ann Walker were: Ann “Annie” (1849-1926), Jane (1852-1922), William John (1854-1942), Emma Jane (1856-1952), George (1857-1926), Sarah (1859-1938), Cordelia (1861 -1947), Amelia (1863-1933), John “Jack” (1865-1944), Charles (1867-1955), Ada Ann Elizabeth (1869-1955), Charlotte (1870-1959), Frank (1872-1899), and Henry Edward (1874-1928).
William (79) died on 15 May 1905. He was buried in the Deloraine General Cemetery. Mary Ann (85) died on 25 Nov 1915. She was buried at the Deloraine General Cemetery with her late husband.
The children of William and Mary Ann Walker went on to have many descendants spanning over six-plus generations.
Portishead to Parkham
In 2000, Arthur Ray Rowland, authored the book on Mary Ann’s heritage:
Bessent Family: (Bezant, Bessant, Beasant, Basnet, Etc.) : Including Edwards and Meredith Family Origins with Connection to the Rowland Family, from England, Barbados, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Beyond
I cannot find a copy of this book but its existence is shown in Google Books in the link below: