Archive for September, 2007

Henrietta Heathorn (Nettie)
Thomas Henry Huxley (Hal)
One possible re-enactment for next year could be the reading of the witty and intense correspondence between Henrietta Heathorn, of Jamberoo,( her father Henry operated a brewery at the Woodstock Mill near Jamberoo, and a business partner of the Menzies) and her fiance of  nearly ten years, Thomas Huxley, who went on to be a famous scientist, supporter of Charles Darwin (Huxley was known as ‘Darwin’s bulldog’)and actually drew the famous pencil sketch of  the Ascent of Man.
'Ascent of Man' by Huxley<

She met the dashing young officer of the 'Rattlesnake' on his scientifc expedition in the Pacific that would help overturn much of current biological classification of species,  especially jellyfish, at a ball in Sydney, and after the ball, Thomas rode over and proposed at 3am and Henrietta accepted, though the engagement lasted nearly ten years. Much of her letters concern the quiet domestic arrangements as she ran her sister's household, only enlivened whent he drunken butler burned the kitchen down. Thomas became world famous for discovering a European woman living with an Aboriginal tribe in the Gulf of Carpentaria ( the full book can be found here http://www.archive.org/stream/narrativeofvoyag01macg/narrativeofvoyag01macg_djvu.txt)Her later letters to Charles Darwin and poems and other writings show a mind equal to her husband as shown in the article ( in full)


The Space between Henrietta and Huxley.  The Huxleys went onto to be three generations of famous British thinkers, including the science fiction writer Aldous Huxley, who wrote ‘A Brave New World’.  Henrietta certainly came a long way from her idealistic longings for a ‘Prince to carry her away on horseback’ and her strict religious upbringing, to become the support of the man who invented the word ‘agnostic’!

Keep an eye out for this book ‘The Evolution of Nettie Huxley 1825-1914’
By Martin Huxley Cooke (clearly using their letters)which has this review in the Church Times here

“HENRIETTA (NETTIE) HUXLEY was the wife of one of the chief dis­ciples of Charles Darwin, origin­ator of the theory of evolution by natural selection: hence the title of Martin Huxley Cooke’s book. That the couple did indeed marry was a tribute to the depth of their love towards each other.

Hettie Heathorn had come out to Australia with her mother in 1843 to join her father, a merchant adven­turer. Her parents had only married four years after her birth — and it was some while before she dis­covered that her illegitimacy was the reason for her half-sisters’ calling her “It”.

from Saturday 16 March 1935 Sydney Morning Herald p.11.
Jamberoo in the Forties.
Referring to the article In the “Sydney Morning Herald” of January 26, 1935. by C. L. B.
Watson, in which he expresses doubt as to Miss Heathorn’s connection with the New South Wales Corps, I can supply the following Information.
The Woodstock mills at Jamberoo were managed by a Captain Collins, and afterwards by Mr. Heathorn. He tried to brew beer there, but the beer would not keep, and it could only be used for blacking (whether for shoes or stoves, I don’t know). There was no miller there, and the houses went to decay.
Mrs. Heathorn had first been married to a Dr. Richardson, in the West Indies, and after his death, she married Mr. Heathorn, by whom she had one daughter, Henrietta, who married Thomas Huxley. Mrs. Huxley corresponded with my father’s cousin, Mr. D. L.
Dymock (now in his 90’s) up till a short time before her death several years ago.
Mrs. Heathorn had a daughter by Dr. Richardson, who became Mrs. Robert Owen, who also lived in Jamberoo.
The sawmills at Woodstock were a great business concern (there were also flour mills there), employing fifty families, and many convict servants. There was a store open for a few hours twice a week, principally for the men. The buildings were taken down In 1873.
Mr. Watson has also been misinformed about Mr. Hart. Mr. Hart, of Edinburgh, had in-
vested a large sum of money in Woodstock Mills, and not being able to get any satisfactory information about it, sent his son, Capt.Hart, and his grandson, Fred, then a lad of 16, out to investigate matters. Captain Collins (late Bengal Cavalry) had erected the buildings with the money received.)

Thomas Henry Huxley arrived in Sydney in July 1847; he was then assistant surgeon and naturalist on board HMS Rattlesnake, and first met his future wife at a ball held at Government House. They rapidly fell in love and became engaged. But there could be no prospect of mar­riage until Huxley was assured of an established post in Britain and a sufficient salary. Their engagement lasted eight years; their only means of communication for much of this time was through letters that took months to reach their des­tination.

Gradually, Huxley began to make a name for himself as a talented biologist. In 1854, he was appointed professor of natural history at the Royal School of Mines in London: his marriage to Nettie duly took place the following year. It was to be a blissfully happy union. Huxley soon conferred on his wife the title of “Frau Prof­essorin”, reflecting his pride in the re­source­ful way in which she combined the twin roles of wife and academic assistant.

She soon got to know Darwin, who realized that Huxley, with his ready pen, witty style of speaking, and driv­ing ambition, was the ideal person to act as his “bulldog” — or champion of the evolutionary cause in the face of widespread initial hos­tility.

Nettie, however, a devout Christian, found herself married to an un­believer. It was Huxley who first coined the word “agnostic” to dis­tinguish his position from that of an atheist. But agnosticism proved just as offensive as atheism to many church­goers, to whom Huxley was an out­right heretic. Nettie therefore forged for herself a new role as bridge-builder between the “lions of science” and the “lambs of theology”. She welcomed many church people to her home to meet her husband — and insisted that he was a good man searching for the truth and someone, moreover, with a respect for spiritual values.

She also, as she grew older, emerged as the Huxley matriarch. She had nec­es­sarily to exercise a dom­inant posi­tion over her seven surviving children, be­cause her hus­band was so often away from home in the course of his work.

Her uncritical devotion to Huxley, in Cooke’s view, was not always a good thing. It instilled in some of her children and grandchildren unreal­istic expectations that they should emulate Huxley’s almost super­human endeav­ours. But Nettie was not entirely un­critical. Cooke reveals how cross she was when she dis­covered Darwin and her husband pricking one of the younger children with a pin and “recording its reaction to pain before giving it some sugar and noting its reaction to pleasure”.

Cooke admits that his biography of his great-grandmother has evolved over a 19-year period. But he has researched to good effect, not least into Nettie’s years in colonial Aus­tralia at the end of the convict era.

He quotes extensively from her poems, many of which were com­posed in honour of family occasions. They had little technical merit, but occasion­ally evolved into something (as one critic put it) “very near the real thing”.

All in all, the book paints an ad­miringly vivid portrait of a Victorian woman of character married to a man who grew into one of the foremost intellectuals of his day. ”

Children of Henrietta Anne Heathorn and Rt. Hon. Thomas Henry Huxley
Noel Huxley1 b. 1856, d. 1860
Jessie Orianna Huxley1 b. 1856, d. 1927
Marian Huxley+1 b. 1859, d. 1887
Leonard Huxley+1 b. 1860, d. 1933
Rachel Huxley+1 b. 1862, d. 1934
Henrietta Huxley1 b. 1863, d. 1940
Henry Huxley1 b. 1865, d. 1946
Ethel Huxley+1 b. 1866, d. 1941
This is Henrietta’s well known description of the road to her home, though in her writings she also refers to the Menzies at Minnamurra House.

‘From Wollongong to Jamberoo, the road was a mere day track through a forest of tropical foliage; gum trees 200 [feet] or more in height, gigantic india-rubber trees with broad shining green leaves, lofty cabbage palms, and many other kinds of tree towered above us, so that their tops made a twilight canopy, unpenetrable to the sunlight, save for an infrequent clearing in the forest made by the settler’s axe. Huge lianas, some as thick as a man’s arm, hung down snakelike from the trees.’

Sydney University held an exhibition called ‘Accidental Encounters’ from 12 February-24 May 2009 at the Macleay Museum, as part of of the anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
This focused specifically on the letters between Heinretta and Thomas!
I will see if I can find out some more of their exhibits.

Here are some quotes from the letters at that exhibition
“I wish you could know me thoroughly – I would not have you deceive in any one point of my character even though it should diminish your love for me” – Hal to Nettie, July 1849

“Dearest, I love you with all my heart and soul, you have taken possession, little witch that you are, of the inmost chambers of my heart – you have become one of the main sources of my thoughts and one of my actions” – Hal to Nettie, October 6, 1847


and here is some details of the exhibits

‘Accidental Encounters explores society both on and off the Rattlesnake, the meeting of cultures during the ship’s voyages into the Torres Strait and Papua New Guinea and the discoveries made by the Rattlesnake. Exhibits include specimens collected around Elizabeth Bay during the 1840s, anthropological artefacts from Papua New Guinea, musical scores and books from the University of Sydney’s Rare Book Library and British journal articles that expose the dramatic impact of the publication of The Origin of Species.’
Here are pdfs of the panels from the exhibition, especially examples of the love letterrs between them.

This is the jellyfish he made his reputation with, and here is the list of the full correspondence preserved at the Imperial College, London.


Here is a poem Nettie wrote called ‘An Agnostic’s Hymn’

An Agnostic Hymn

1Oh! not the unreasoning God for me,
2Foreseeing, knowing all
3That in the wondrous world he made
4His creatures should befall.

5Created them with keen desire,
6Then called fulfilment sin,
7And drove them forth with flaming fire,
8Their toil-earned bread to win.

9And then repenting of his deed,
10A man God did create,
11Who by his death upon the cross
12That sin should expiate.

13The God whom man eats in the bread,
14Whose blood he drinks in wine,
15Such pagan faith be far from me —
16I own a more divine.

17I see in every tree that grows,
18In seed that all contains,
19In every wind, and cloud that flows
20In fertilising rains,

21In every stone whose atoms whirl,
22Yet seems so coldly still,
23Or in the wood with living sap,
24Thy unresistless will.

25In sands that at a vibrant sound
26Of music straightway leap,
27And range themselves in beauteous forms
28From out the inert heap.

29In far off stars, in blazing suns
30That never, never rest,
31What tho’ I cannot understand,
32My God is manifest.

33No knowledge mine that when I die
34I e’er shall live again,
35I am thy creature, and content
36With what thou dost ordain.

37To thee I blow, I lift my soul,
38I, thy all-teeming clod,
39Seen Spirit — yet invisible —
40The Great, the Unknown God!

and more obsure but much better, I think

By Mrs. T. H. Huxley.


Listen, a spirit is singing
Over the earth;
A new birth
Of beauty she carols, swift bringing
Verdure for field, blooms for the bower.
Life’s great heart throbs with stronger beats,
Loveliness grows from hour to hour
In color upon earth and sky,
Hope fills each breast, we know not why;
The joyousness of May entreats.


Clear sounds from tree to tree
Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
Into her shoe
The maiden looks to see
Thread of hair, black, brown, or gold;
Keen her gaze by hope possessed,
As though her fate she could unfold,
And by the rustic spell discover
If dark or fair shall be her lover—
Doubtful knowledge, mystic quest.


Orchards are white with foam of snow;
May has come;
You may hear the hum
Of the bee in the blossoms to and fro;
A wealth of flowers! The golden tress
Of laburnum hangs o’er the garden wall;
There sings the thrush with loving stress
From a bush of lilac. Gay wall-flowers
Blazon the corners by leafy bowers.
Drink deep, that your soul may life’s May recall.


To doubting hearts, sweet May,
Sing, “Joy is duty,
Garner beauty,
Store for the future, for delight
And warmth against the chilly day,
November’s, with the lengthening night.
Joy’s glories, flaming to the end,
As northern lights with darkness blend,
Stream through your hearts when old and gray,
And beautify them till the last pulse play.”

Published in McClure’s Magazine, Volume 9, May 1897, p.573


Huxley directed that his tombstone inscribe the last lines from Hettie’s poem on the funeral of Robert Browning.

24And if there be no meeting past the grave,
25If all is darkness, silence, yet ’tis rest.
26Be not afraid, ye waiting hearts that weep,
27For God still giveth his belovèd sleep,
28And if an endless sleep he wills, — so best.


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Document from the campaign for the women right to vote. Vida Goldstein rain for the senate, the first woman to do so, in 1903 in Victoria.

The Cocks family of Kiama

After a visit this week September , 2007) by South Carolinean Rotarian Exchange students, a search of the Pilot’s Cottage archives has uncovered a certificate entitling Hetti Cocks, a relative of the well-known photographer family the Cocks, (Samuel her brother ran the photographic studio, inherited by his son Seldon, of which so many photographs of Kiama now exist) to vote in 1903, a year after women earned the right to vote in NSW in 1902.
The brother, Robert Sidney Cocks, ran an art studio in Sydney where Orry Kelly did some early training. They also had studios and exhibited, both of them, in Auckland, on many occasions. One of the family played the organ at the Scots Church for a long time. Robert Sidney Cocks is one of Australia’s most well-known watercolour landscape artists.


This has generated some interest from the Powerhouse Museum and Old Parliament House, and may be requested as part of an exhibit in Canberra early next year.
Does anyone have any information on who Hetti Cocks was in the Cocks family tree?

Update August 2009;
Here is the Cocks family tree!

and here is the right to vote, in the very first year women were allowed to vote in NSW!


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As you will read here, the Wave Energy Generator was inspired by Tom Denniss’s childhood watching the Kiama Blowhole, a natural oscillating water column where the waves force out the air, but could be used to turned a turbine to generate electricity. That is base-line power!

http://www.energetech.com.au/  now  http://www.oceanlinx.com/



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Are we seeing the loss of our dairying heritage, or the start of a new one?

Is covering the whole place with housing really the answer?

Surely preserving the ‘Kiama-ness’ which makes us attractive and unique is the answer.






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Reading the week’s papers am I the only one who notes a pattern of vandalism at Gerringong and Gerroa, and not just golf holes?

Is there a pattern here?


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Sarah Levitt  has been appointed to be the new full-time Cultural officer and has already been up to the Pilot’s Cottage with an eye to the future. Is a new era of heritage culture contributing to Kiama’s tourism economy about to begin?

Watch this space!


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kiama-harbour2.pdfThese are the following plaques proposed. Has anyone got any human interest stories to add to them?

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