Sunday 25 March 2012

James Bentley Corbin's ship to Australia

As with the previous item, the information here was emailed out by Ruth with other updates in 2010. Relevant sections of The Story will be rewritten when time permits.


The biggest of the family mysteries which remained unsolved at the time of the reunion in 2008 was 'when did James arrive in Australia and what ship did he come in?'  It has long been thought that he came out sometime in 1861, name of ship unknown. The question has been answered thanks to persistent research by Ruth.
Shipping record for the arrival of 'James Corbin'
on the 'Aerolite', April 1864
(see first column, second last name)

A shipping record has been found which shows that James arrived in Sydney on the ship Aerolite on 26 April 1864.

The age, 19, is consistent with James' known birth date, and the position of Assistant Cook tends to support the family story that he worked his passage to Australia.

These revelations change the story somewhat, not just in the year of travel and the age of James when he emigrated, but also in the fact that when James' father (James senior) died in February 1863 James was still in England.

We speculated in the story pages that a factor driving him to leave England (assuming it was 1861 and therefore that his father was alive) could have been James not getting along with his stepmother. Now we have a different picture - his father had died, both parents were now gone, it was time to move on.

The Aerolite, English-built for 'the Australian and China trades' was promoted as 'the celebrated China clipper and favourite passenger ship ... one of the fastest ships afloat'.  The unusual name Aerolite has its origins in the science of astronomy - an aerolite is a type of meteorite.

If I had known at the time, the name of James' ship could have been added to the title of my 2008 booklet:
Alresford to Australia on the Aerolite !

Friday 23 March 2012

Day 2, Post 2

There is no way I'll be posting every day, or every week for that matter, but due to popular demand (you know who you are!) here is the first of the updates. Don't go looking for this in The Story pages (see right) as it will be a while before I incorporate my updates into the main story. Some of you may have seen this photo already as it was emailed around by Ruth with other updates in June 2010.


A fine photo of James & Margaret's second son, Albert, has been found at State Records. It is a photo he submitted with his application for registration as a medical practitioner, sometime in the 1890s.

Albert Corbin

Earlier, Albert was a student at Sydney Boys High School which was then in Castlereagh St in the city.  He attended between 1885 and 1888.  It was just at this time that his father James was building the Victoria Arcade, also in Castlereagh St.  One imagines them going to town together on weekday mornings from the house in Glebe Road.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Announcing 'The Corbins in Australia'

This new site The Corbins in Australia has been launched today to mark the first anniversary of the passing of Ruth van Aaken. She is often thought of and still sadly missed.

Ruth's website Australian Corbin Trees is now offline. I felt it was important to make sure there was a Corbin family presence on the internet in time for this anniversary - in other words, I could picture Ruth scowling at me from beyond the grave! So here it is.

This site, The Corbins in Australia, being a blog site, is fairly basic, with a limited number of pages, but I'm optimistic that the blog format of regular tagged posts will be a good way to present family history research. The research will not extend into present generations, no passwords will be required. Any contributions, such as photos, letters or anecdotes will be very welcome.

The Story (see right hand column) was written for the Corbin Gathering of 2008 and has not yet been updated to reflect recent research. I will post detailed updates progressively on this homepage, and update The Story itself sometime in the future. 

Here's a summary of major recent findings:

- William Corbin & Mary Bentley: marriage details, London 1810.  We now know the exact date and location of this important Corbin marriage. An illustration of the church where the wedding took place, St Michael Crooked Lane, is included (far left) in the header at the top of this page.

- James' ship: The Aerolite, 1864!  It has long been thought that J.B.Corbin came to Australia in 1861, ship unknown, but we now know that he arrived in Sydney in April 1864 aboard the ship 'Aerolite'.

- Victoria Arcade: opened November 1887, drawings discovered.  We now have the opening date for J.B.Corbin's arcade, after finding newspaper reports of the time. And we have found a wonderful set of architectural drawings, one of which was recently on exhibition at the State Library!

- Albert Corbin: photo.  Previously there was no known photo of Albert Corbin, second son of J.B.Corbin, but we have now discovered a splendid photo of him as a young man.

A final word for this first post. Websites can easily stagnate and followers drift away. That might happen here too, except that an email subscription service can be arranged which automatically sends you an email when I add a new post to the site. Set and forget. I have not arranged this yet, but keep an eye out for it.

Steve Corbin
22 March 2012