Safari-specific code. For some reason, unfathomable to us mere mortals, safari cannot handle a division which starts with a table.

Samuel Elijah WATTS

Samuel Elijah Watts was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire about 18451 and died in Sydney in 1934.

Samuel’s obituary, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, states that he had received a college education, and was articled to a firm of solicitors in Birmingham prior to emigrating to Australia about 18632.

Samuel married Lydia Sophia Peat on 25th December 1867 at the Church of England in St Peters, Sydney. The marriage was conducted by G H Moreton and was witnessed by Sarah Ann Ley and Clement S Peat, the father of the bride3.

Clements Shenley Peats and his wife, Clarissa Taylor, daughter of Wiliam and Lydia Taylor, had arrived in Sydney on the ‘Berkshire’ on 12 March 1841. Their daughter, Clarissa Jane, aged 4, accompanied them . Clements Peats was a cabinet maker and joiner who was born in Middlesex, England about 1809 and his wife, Clarissa, was a dressmaker who was born on 22 November 1806 in Cupplegate, London4. Their second daughter, Lydia Sophia Peat, was born soon after the family’s arrival in Sydney.

At the time of his marriage Samuel Elijah Watts was a teacher, residing in Botany Street, Sydney. He was employed by the Education Department as junior teacher at the Fort Street, Cleveland and Crown Street Schools. About 1874 he was appointed headmaster of Waterloo School5. Three years later Samuel became principal of Redfern School. He resigned on 30th June 18826.

Between 1871 and 1874, Samuel E Watts audited the receipts and expenditure of the Municipal Council of Waterloo.

Samuel was an active member of the Croydon Congregational Church where he was choir master for 13 years7.

Lydia and Samuel resided at 120 Frederick Street, Ashfield for many years8. They named their home ‘Lothair’and in the probate papers was described as a five room brick cottage with a slate roof.

Lydia Sophia Watts died 7th August 1929 at the age of 87 from senility and heart failure9. Samuel Elijah Watts died 10th June 1934 aged 89 from chronic myocarditis and exhaustion10.

The informant on the death certificates for both Samuel and Lydia, was W P Noller of Parramatta, who stated that he was not a relation. H Saundercock and R E Coleman were witnesses to the delivery of the body of Samuel Watts to the Crematorium at Rookwood.

Although Samuel & Lydia did not have any children, they were part of a large Watts family who settled in various parts of Australia. It is through Samuel Elijah Watts’s gift of writing poetry and song that researchers have been able to connect several of these branches of the family. Samuel Elijah Watts is named as executor in several wills and witnessed several legal documents for various other members of the Watts family and some of the families which were connected to the Watts family by marriage.

Samuel Elijah Watts was the nephew of John Joseph Watts. Joseph John & his wife, Jane, whose maiden name is given in various records as Neale, Craddock and Prosser11, were active in establishing the Wesleyan Church in Smithfield12.

When Jane Watts passed away in 1889 Samuel E Watts wrote a poem in memory of Jane and her husband, Joseph John Watts, who had died in 187313. This poem was simply signed “S.E.W.” and “Ashfield”, as are all the following poems which were written following the deaths of various family members:

  • 9th October 1886 – Mary Ann Olley (aged 34 years) – wife of Jacob Olley and daughter of Daniel & Matilda Amelia (nee Smart) Watts14
  • 9th December 1889 –Samuel McKeller Miller (aged 2 years, 3 months and 11 days) – son of John and Esther Smart (nee Watts) Miller15
  • 14th July 1906 - Emily Adeline Coleman (aged 24 years) – great-granddaughter of Joseph John & Jane Watts16.
  • 2nd January 1909 – Frederick Morris Watts (aged 52 years) – brother to Esther Smart Watts and son of Danial & Matilda Amelia Smart (nee Stockwell) Watts17.
  • 8th August 1918 – Alexanber Robert Saundercock (aged 18 Years) Killed in France, great grandson of Joseph John & Jane Watts18.
  • 24th March 1922 - Edith Alice Glover (aged 17 years) , sister to Ivy Emily Watts, great-granddaughter of William & Charlottte (nee Craddock) Watts19.
  • 15th December1922 – Martha Saundercock (aged 67 years) daughter of Thomas Betts & Mary Anne (nee Watts) of Smithfield20.
  • 14th August 1923 – Mary Jane Hollier (aged 70 years) – daughter of Thomas Betts and Mary Jane (nee Watts)
Samuel E Watts also wrote a poem to celebrate the Golden Wedding of Daniel and Matilda Watts on 20th October 189421.

For the past twenty years several researchers from this Watts family have been endeavouring to determine the links between the different branches of the family with varying degrees of success.

On more than one occasion Samuel E Watts has proved to be the link between these families, not only through his poems, but also by being a witness to various legal documents for different branches of the family.

Other branches of this Watts family include the descendants of Samuel Watts and Mary Ann (nee Butt) of Garrunya, near Moss Vale22, as well as Ireland, Pearce, Harris, Clutterbuck and Noller families.

Christine Sampry, daughter of John Miller & Amelia Matilda (nee Watts) applied in 1923 for the copyright of a song entitled ‘Fathers Day’ written by Samuel Elijah Watts, of 120 Frederick Street, Ashfield. In the appliction it states that the song-writer requested that only his initials S.E.W. be used to identify the author23.

Members of the Watts family in Victoria reported that their elders claimed a relationship to Isaac Watts the hymn writer, but so far this has not been confirmed. However, it would appear that Samuel had a gift for writing poems and while there are ten poems and a song which have come to light, there may be more. One family story indicates that his poetry was published possibly in church newspapers or school magazines.

Watts Family Researchers are keen to locate other poems written by Samuel Elijah Watts, possibly with just the initials S E W and Ashfield on the bottom, or other documents to which he was a witness.

To date researchers have been unable to locate a photograph of Samuel Elijah Watts, which seems appropriate for a gentleman who insisted on anonymity by signing his poems as S.E.W.

  1. Death Certificate #6764/1934- NSW. Information supplied by W P Noller, no relation, of Parramatta.
  2. Obituary SMH 12th June 1934.
  3. Marriage Certificate #1028/1867
  4. State Records of NSW, Globe Street, Sydney – Card Index – Bounty Immigrants. Volume 38.
  5. Obituary. SMH 12th June 1934.
  6. State Records of NSW Reel #1991. Page 1052.
  7. Obituary. SMH 12th June 1934.
  8. Deceased Estate File – Samuel Elijah Watts #84098. Certificate of Valuation #15552 dated 27th June 1934.
  9. Death Certificate #12986/1929 – NSW.
  10. Death Certificate #6764/1934 – NSW.
  11. Death Certificates – Joseph John & Janes Watts. #5448/1873 and #9183/1889 respectively
  12. ‘Fairfield. A History of the District’ by Vance George. Parramatta Historical Society – Journal. Date unknown. Article on “Smithfield”
  13. From Pat Brooks, member of the Betts/Hollier branch of the family.
  14. Copy of poem sent to Uniting Church Archives by Mary E Seccombe
  15. From Lyn Kirkland of Watts/Stockwell/Miller banch of the family
  16. From Rhonda Reese, member of Betts/Hollier branch of the family
  17. See 9
  18. Poem was framed and hung on wall of home of Robert Henry and Martha Saundercock for many years. Copy of poem courtesy of Barbara English, their great-granddaughter.
  19. From Betty Williamson, member of Watts/Glover branch of the family which settled in Victoria.
  20. see 9
  21. see 9
  22. Death Certificate of Samuel Watts #13223/1895 states his parents were Daniel Watts & Sarah Draper
  23. National Archive of Australia – digital copy of item 3464686