My 3rd great grandparents John Billin and Mary (nee Symons) with their four children (including my 2nd great grandmother Emma Symons Treloar Billin, aged 5) left Plymouth, Devon, England on 11 May 1849 and arrived at Port Adelaide, South Australia on 23 Aug 1849.

On one of the documents associated with that voyage (see below) there is a column headed "From what County selected" and the entry for John Billin lists "Middlesex".

enter image description here

John Billin was certainly a Tailor after taking over his deceased father's business in Helston, Cornwall, England on 19 Jun 1839 but that business folded on 16 Apr 1845 (see below).

enter image description here

The names and ages of the family all match up with Helston christening records so I am very confident that this is the family in which I am interested.

I am keen to know whether the Middlesex reference indicates that John and his family had moved to Middlesex for perhaps a few years before emigrating (for which I have no other evidence), or whether an alternative theory that John may just have gone there "for an interview" might be plausible.

I suspect that gaining a better understanding of the "selection process" for South Australian immigrants at that time and place might be helpful.

How should the entries in the "From what County selected" column on a document such as this be interpreted?

  • As a possible line of research I suggest looking for other passengers from the same county, then looking for other records from the county in the years immediately preceding the voyage.
    – Jan Murphy
    Aug 17, 2014 at 4:23
  • Google Books: [A hand-book to the colony of South Australia, by the ed. of the 'Australian and New Zealand gazette'.] (books.google.com/…) published 1858 is too late for your question, but see page 23 for the section ASSISTED EMIGRATION REGULATIONS in effect at that time. If you can find a similar guidebook for the decade prior, that might give some insight into the selection process.
    – Jan Murphy
    Aug 17, 2014 at 5:08
  • Also, if you have a University Library nearby, perhaps you could find this journal article: link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF03029555
    – Jan Murphy
    Aug 17, 2014 at 5:17
  • 1
    @JanMurphy I've just found that the House of Commons Volume 40 has a number of mentions about the "Eliza" and other Emigration and policies at that time books.google.com.au/books?id=po8SAAAAYAAJ
    – PolyGeo
    Aug 17, 2014 at 8:10
  • Unfortunately the oldest directory in the collection of Historical Directories of England & Wales at University of Leicester is from 1855, too late for this question; plus the information for these directories is not as extensive as it might be, 100 years later.
    – Jan Murphy
    Aug 18, 2014 at 21:39

1 Answer 1


I think the answer is largely in front of you, "From What County Selected" is where they were selected from for immigration, but not where they are originally from or currently residing.

The bankruptcy / debt notice you posted you posted is where at the time of the filing where announced and which court jurisdiction it was in. Over the four years in between he may have also accumulated more debt else where. His creditors / supplies could have been in multiple locations or like any debt it may have been transferred. So from what I have read from other documents and discussions.

So from what I can tell how you should interpret it is that at the time of selection for immigration the debt resided in Middlesex.

  • +1 Thanks for your input on this, it does seem like his debt resided in London/Middlesex. I wonder if having such a debt obligated him to live near it to help sort out what was owing to the creditors. I think I'll research/ask about whether the deed mentioned would be traceable today and may shed some further light like his address at the time.
    – PolyGeo
    Nov 13, 2014 at 23:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.