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The Button Family

by | Jul 21, 2021 | Exodus, Village Folk | 0 comments

On Thursday 21st May 1857, Betsey Button and her family boarded The Talbot, a ship that would take them from England to Victoria Australia where they were to make a new life. They arrived in Victoria on Tuesday 25th August 1857[1] with 366 other immigrants to the country.

The Talbot was 847 tonnes and on their journey one female and one boy under 14 sadly died.[2] The Button family travelled as ‘assisted immigrants’ which means they had their voyage subsidised either partially or wholly by the colonial government.

The family consisted of Betsey aged 37 and James aged 41 and their children Nash (18), Betsey J (16), Emily (14), Jabez (12), Isabella (10), Rodney (9), Epsey (6) and Charles (1).

chrishall broad green

Prior to leaving they had been living in Broad Green. James was an Ag. Lab. and they had two lodgers, Nash Kemp (aged 67) and William Kemp (aged 22) who were also Ag. Labs. William is listed as being the grandson of Nash. And we think Betsey was a Kemp before she married so it is possible that this is her father and perhaps nephew living with them. In the church records we have the burial of a Nash Kemp on 4 June 1851 aged 68. So it seems likely that he died just after the census was taken and a few years before the family left for Australia.

There were a lot of Buttons in the village at this time and possibly more than on first glance as it seems from the marriage records as though the names Button and Burton were often interchanged. Betsey Kemp is listed as being a witness at two weddings in 1836: John Cranwell marrying Eliza Burgess in June and John Flack marrying Elizabeth Burton (or Button) in November. Betsey would have been 16 and was married and had Nash at aged 19 so perhaps she was already ‘walking out’ with husband-to-be James.


Melbourne Australia 1890s

Melbourne in the 1890s – some 40 years after the Buttons arrived but even at the time of their arrival a very different place to Broad Green!

A relative of the Button family in Australia has done lots of research for which we are very grateful. It seems that the Buttons were friends of the Tinworths from Elmdon who went out to Australia in 1854. Apparently the Buttons worked in Melbourne and Geelong before moving onto Ballarat where the Tinworths were based. James Button became a partner in one of the Tinworth’s mining ventures and is also recorded as a pall-bearer in Charles Tinworth’s obituary.

Emily Button, who was 14 when they left Chrishall, ended up marrying Stephen Cane, also from Chrishall, who left the same year as the Buttons.



Further postscripts:

Amos and Selina (Button) Walters came out to Brisbane Australia in the late 1850’s on the ship “Irene” and lived In Nanango Queensland.Their eldest son John was born on the ship.

James and Betsy’s details from the church marriage register:

James Button married Betsy Kemp on Nov 17 1838. He was ‘of age’ and she was 19. James was a labourer but neither he nor Betsy could read or write. Their fathers were John Burton (Button), labourer and Nash Kemp, labourer.
The witnesses were William Pitches and Rebecca Brand and the vicar was Robert Lascelles.

At least two other couples married on the same day.


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