James Key was the son of James Key and Sarah (nee PICKETT).
At the age of 11, James travelled to Australia on the ship Protector, with his 15 year old brother, George
Rookes KEY. They arrived at Fremantle in the Swan River Colony on February 26, 1830.
The brothers were indentured as servants to John Randall Phillips who came to Australia on the same ship intending
to work as a farmer and magistrate.
Not long after their arrival in Western Australia, James and George left Phillips’ employ and started work for Henry
Edward Hall, who had also travelled on the same ship. They worked for Hall for six months before absconding to work
on James Henty’s boat Thistle.
Thistle was a brigantine schooner which sailed an intercolonial trade route between Tasmania and Western
By 1846, James had returned to England and was living in Wooden Street, Surrey. He married Frances DYASON of
Cornwall Road, Surrey on 16 July 1846 at Christ Church in Surrey. James’ occupation was listed as mariner and
Frances was listed as a minor (ie under 21).
James and Frances married the year after James’ sister Sarah’s wedding to William PICKETT, and William was a
witness at James' wedding.
They had three children: Ellen born c1848, James born c1850 and Frances (Fanny) born c1853.
To date, I haven’t found any of the family in the 1851 census nor have I found any more on either parent (James or
Frances) after this time.
In the 1861 census, the three children are living at the Central London District School at Hanwell in Middlesex.
Daughter Ellen married George Thomas POOLE on December 2, 1866 at St Mary Newington, Surrey.
Son James and daughter Fanny travelled to Australia in 1870 on the Sea Chief, with their aunt Sarah PICKETT
(nee KEY), who was by then a widow. Their cousin William KEY (son of George Rookes KEY) lived in Collingwood,
On arrival, they settled in Vere Street, East Collingwood and Fanny worked as a dressmaker while James worked as a
In January 1871, Fanny was admitted to Melbourne Hospital and spent the next two months there, before she discharged
herself. She died that same year.
James married Emma ANDERSON in 1871. Their first child, Frances Emma (Fanny) KEY was born in 1872 in
Collingwood, followed by a son James Henry Dyason KEY born in 1873 in Collingwood.
In 1874, James and Emma were living in Varian Street, East Collingwood but by 1875 they had moved to Sydney. Their
daughter Ada Elizabeth Dyason KEY was born in Glebe in 1875.
More children followed: Edith Beatrice Dyason KEY born 1876 at Glebe, Money Dyason KEY born 1878 St George, Amelia
Dyason KEY 1880 St George, and an unnamed baby born and died 1882 at Petersham.
From Sydney the family moved to New Zealand where another son Percy Bell KEY was born in 1884 followed by Adolphus
Samuel KEY in 1885 in Christchurch.
Emma lost her husband that same year - James died on October 8, 1885 in New Zealand.
In 1887, Emma brought her young family back to Australia from Dunedin to Sydney on the Tekapo. The family
settled in the Lidcombe area and lived at Sixth Avenue for many years. Emma died in 1940 in Auburn.