Looking for descendants

I live in Bramerton and am researching a story about Susannah Holmes from Surlingham who in 1783 was sentenced to death for theft, reprieved and eventually transported in 1786 to Australia with her husband Henry Cabell and baby son Henry Jnr.  as part of the so-called ‘First Fleeters’ to reach Botany Bay. I am interested in the (slight) possibility of any descendants  of Susannah still living locally or elsewhere in Norfolk.

Request received from Dick Meadows

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31 Responses to Looking for descendants

  1. Aaron says:

    You may want to post on genealogy boards the names and timeframe you are searching for, in order to get in touch with others who are looking for the same people.

  2. surlingham says:

    Received from Julie-Anne Kenworthy:

    I am delighted to have come across the story of Sussannah Holmes as she is my great great great great great grandmother. The story also mentions Elizabeth Pulley. Two of her direct descentants are on the committee of our local chapter, Hunter Valley, of the Fellowship of First Fleeters as is another direct descendant of Henry and Susanah. Apparently Elizabeth Pulley delivered baby henry in Norwich gaol.

  3. Rod Hunt says:

    Jim, this is amazing, I just posted on here to tell you that Antonia had passed away, just a couple of minutes before you had posted asking how she was. There must be some Kable family telepathy there. Thanks for your input she appreciated it although never felt up to replying herself. Also coincidentally she died on the day the first episode of Banished appeared on UK TV. So I did not get to see it.

    • Jim KABLE says:

      Dear Rod,
      So sad. Thank you for letting me know about Antonia’s death. And yes, I have no doubt that there is some kind of serendipity at play – albeit in this case with such an unhappy confluence of enquiry and resolution. Could you please pass my condolences on to her family. And later contact me re her and her family – the site manager will pass on to you my email address.

  4. Rod Hunt says:

    Message for Jim Kable,
    Jim, sadly Antonia died last week, so sorry she never felt well enough to get in on this debate herself.

  5. Jim KABLE says:

    Dear Michelle Steley, Greetings from your distant kinsman in Australian. If you have specific questions – and would like to make contact directly with me – seek my email address directly from this blogsite manager. And I will do what I can to provide you with that detail. Jim Kable

  6. Michelle Steley says:

    Wow, this is so interesting. My father was an offspring Of Melvern Lyle Kable’s second marriage. My fathers name is (or was) Jan Kable. His mother eventually remarried after Melverns death and my fathers name was changed to Russel Jan Kable- Cumming. My name is Michelle Steley (nee Cumming). I am trying to put pieces of my fathers past together as his mother told him very little and Melvern (his Dad) died when he was only 8.

    • Rod Hunt says:

      Hi Michelle, I guess that you will have read all the info. on this blog. Just to let you know that your second(?) cousin Antonia has not been well and whilst aware of the contents has just not had the energy to get involved. I spoke to her this morning to let her know you were on here and I’m hoping she will now be in touch very soon. She never knew your common grandfather, he died when she was very young and her grandmother had long since remarried.

  7. Rod Hunt says:

    Message for Jim Kable,
    Hi Jim,
    Sorry not been in contact for a while, Antonia sends her apologies for not contacting you, she has been very ill over the last few months and is going back into hospital today. She has had computer problems which she has not really had the energy to sort out but she will be in contact after she is out of hospital. I sent her a hard copy of this blog and she is very intrigued by it all.
    Regards, Rod Hunt

    • Jim KABLE says:

      Let Antonia know that whenever she is able to get in touch will be fine. I understand about illness/computer troubles – the way life gets in the way of good intentions. Pass on to her my best wishes for her good health – and accept my thanks yourself for acting in this generous go-between manner! Jim K.

    • Jim KABLE says:


      Any news on Antonia?

      Jim KABLE

    • Rod Hunt says:

      Hi Jim, sorry I did not get back to you. She has just left hospital now for the third time, I think they are beginning to eventually get an idea of her problem but she just has been so weak that she has not had the will to contact anyone. She seems to be improving now. I spoke to her this morning to tell that a new cousin had appeared and I think/hope she will get into this site in the next few days.

    • Jim KABLE says:

      Hi, thanks Rod – re Antonia and Michelle. I’ve had a week a week back in hospital myself – commiserations and fellow-feeling to Antonia.

    • Jim KABLE says:

      Rod, I fear asking – but – How is Antonia? Did she recover her health? Tell her to watch “Banished” but to understand it has been made from a fevered imagination and does NOT represent what happened.

  8. Rod Hunt says:

    Well everyone’s been busy whilst I was asleep! I will be speaking to Antonia later today and I’m sure she will be along herself.
    Back to my original reason for posting here:
    Check out this synopsis of the BBC show “Banished”. You will see that there is no mention of Henry and Susannah being characters in the production. I think everyone with an interest in the Kables should contact them to point out that they are ignoring 2 of the most significant people in Australian history. The real story is better than any fiction they can come up with!

    • Jim KABLE says:

      Rod – I have posted the letter below to Sue AFFLECK (copies to Paul convenor of this blogsite and to my cousin June WHITTAKER): Thanks for the lead:-

      Dear Sue AFFLECK

      I am following a link from the Surlingham (Norfolk) Village website – which – if you care to check it out – (maybe you have already) – you will find some interesting tales connected with my own Suffolk/Norfolk great x 3 grand-parents (Henry KABLE and Susannah HOLMES – she from Surlingham itself) who were sent from Norwich Castle Gaol to join the First Fleet (their vessel – the “Friendship” at Plymouth – before being sailed to join the main fleet at Portsmouth)!

      I am sure that the fictional re-telling of this proposed series “Banished” will be interesting – but I am wondering why you might NOT have gone with the true story – far more interesting than any make-believe. Fictional representation will be more than critically observed – looking for ideological/stereotypical imagining – of course. I have no doubt it will be good … but my earlier question remains.

      I wonder who your historical advisers are for this series – I would appreciate leads to any background. One of my KABLE cousins is June WHITTAKER – she has written a trilogy of novels (all together re-issued 12 years back under the title KABLE: The Raking of the Embers; The Flame in the Morning; The Fire in his Eye) based on the story of our mutual ancestor Henry KABLE (b. Laxfield 1764 died Windsor NSW 1846) and his wife Susannah HOLMES b. Surlingham 1765 died Windsor 1825). I believe Bryan BROWN (Australian actor/director) was some years ago interested in her writing as the possible basis for a film – though it didn’t get off the ground. She and another cousin – RAN Commodore (rtd) G. Paul KABLE – put together a book of photographs/documents to flesh out our historical ancestor: Damned Rascals? (A Chronicle of Henry & Susannah KABLE 1764-1846) 2007.

      I hope to hear from you.


      Jim KABLE

    • Rod Hunt says:

      Jim, Glad to see you are contacting the BBC, I emailed Sue Affleck as soon as I saw the article, no response as yet. Antonia and I have both put something on Facebook about it. Antonia seems to be having trouble with here email address at the moment so I’ve not been able to send her a link to this site.
      Vytas was I understand half Russian, half Lithuanian, he had his own tale to tell but I will leave that for Antonia.

    • Rod Hunt says:

      Hi Jim,
      Response from Sue Affleck:
      Hi Rod,

      The Kable/Holmes story is certainly an interesting piece of history, thank you for drawing it to my attention. It’s clear there are many incredible stories that can be told about the first settlers and different ways of telling them.

      This particular production, Banished, is a fictional series rather than a re-creation of historic events and does not tell the stories of individual convicts and the circumstances in which they were transported to the colony. The action takes place across a ten day period during the early days of the settlement and centres on the lives, loves, relationships and battle for survival of a group of convicts, the marines that guard them and the men who govern them, centering around one particular dramatic storyline.

      Jimmy McGovern was inspired to write this series by the fascinating human stories that have emerged about how the men and women transported on The First Fleet under Governor Arthur Phillip survived. As a dramatist McGovern has extrapolated from this starting point and used real names from history alongside made-up names to locate his characters in this particular time and place. The series does not chronicle real events, but it does try to create believable characters that walk, talk, and breathe; so we are catapulted into their world and immersed in their stories episode by episode.

      I hope you will enjoy the series.


  9. surlingham says:

    Dear all – thanks for the lively debate that has developed on this page. I will try to find a way to put it on the main menu of the site so it can be a place Holmes/Kable descendants can come to to link up with others. Leave it with me for a while! Paul – webmaster

    • Jim KABLE says:

      Paul, Thanks for alerting others to the conversation thread here! Looking forward to a lot more contacts! Michael KABLE (Antonia’s uncle) – his byline was Mike KABLE, btw, was motoring editor for The Australian for some 28 years till about 1992 – passed away May, 2000. His elder son Greg is now similarly engaged. Mike was a friend of many of the Formula 1 race drivers – including of course the Australian champion – Jack BRABHAM (but including Juan FANGIO). Jack BRABHAM (recently passed away) has a first cousin – also John BRABHAM – married to another of the descendants of John KABLE (the first pugilist champ of the colony of NSW) and of Prosper Joshua (my great grand-father) – Shirley. The last time I was in contact with Shirley she was hard at work on a book – tales of women and WWII (?) I think.

    • Rod Hunt. says:

      Hi Paul, as you will see I have been corresponding with Jim Kable regarding the Susannah Holmes-Kable family. I would like to send a private message to him which he has invited me to do. Could you supply his email address please.
      Rod Hunt

    • surlingham says:

      Rod – its shoin@me.com. I hope that helps.

  10. Rod Hunt says:

    Amazing, I have just discovered this. A close friend of mine Antonia Royes-Kelly, asked me to research her family tree some years ago, basically to try to substantiate a family legend about an ancestor carrying the first governor of NSW ashore to found the penal colony. I soon discovered that she is the great, great, great, great granddaughter of Henry Kable and Susannah Holmes. Her descent was also via John Kable the boxer.
    She came to live in England nearly 40 years ago and now lives in Berkshire.
    Of interest to you all I’m sure. BBC TV is producing a series to be called Banished which is the story of the founding of the first penal colony. Although Governor Phillip and Rev. Johnson are featured there is no mention of the Kables! I have emailed them pointing out this discrepancy and am awaiting a reply.

    Finally Jim Kable, was your father Melvern Lyle Kable? Antonia remembers being told that her grandfather was killed in a bus accident in the early ’50’s. Her grandparents had divorced and remarried. So you may have niece you know nothing of!

    • Jim KABLE says:

      Greetings, Rod: Thanks for your note – here late Sunday evening. About to turn in – when the signal that an e-mail had landed turned out to be your enquiry.

      Good thinking re possibilities connecting me so closely with Antonia – and noting the proximity of death of her grand-father/my father – but not quite! Slightly more distant than niece/uncle.

      Our mutual direct ancestor was John KABLE (1802-1859) and his wife – Nottingham-born Eliza DOYLE (c 1807-1854). Eliza’s father was Daniel DOYLE – (1780s-May 5, 1811) born in Dromore, county Down – 1st 45th Line of Foot – killed in a skirmish at Fuentes de Oñoro – in western Spain – under the command of the Duke of Wellington against the French. (This information meticulously researched by our mutual cousin Julia KABLE. And just recently I realised/found in an old passport from February 1973 a border crossing stamp – Fuentes de Oñoro!) John and Eliza’s 2nd child/1st son was John Henry (1828-1916) md Rosina Elizabeth MILLS. John and Eliza’s last and 13th living (of 15 births) was my great grand-father Prosper Joshua (1853-1926). His mother Eliza passed away at Carwell near Rylstone – the following year (felodese – euphemism for taking her own life – post-natal exhaustion one wonders – or doesn’t wonder) – and the 1st son & wife John and Rosina – cared for him – initially/significantly – later he ended up in Forbes – and then nearby in what is now known as Parkes – a farmer. Prosper Joshua married Annie DEAN. Their seventh of nine offspring was my grand-father Cyril Prosper (1890-1967) – he of the tall tales firing my 11-year old imagination – including the one of carrying Arthur PHILLIP ashore to Sydney Cove on the morning of January 26th, 1788 – a story long told among various of the KABLE branches – so some element of truth one suspects. Cyril – fought in The Great War – suffering GSW of course – married a Scottish Borders teacher exactly one week after The Great War armistice – and she followed him back to Australia – 1919/1920. They had six children – the youngest two were twins – my aunt Isabel – (she passed away two+ years ago in Canberra not long before her 85th) and my father Stewart Clarence (1927-1951). I was the first born of two from his marriage to my mother – Elaine B. RUSSELL (1930- ) – my date of birth May 29, 1949.

      Back to Antonia’s line of descent. John and Rosina: 4th child of 11 – and 1st son – was George Mills (1857-1929) and he married Annie BAYLISS. Of their nine children, Melvern Lyle was the last: (1904-1952). He married twice (I don’t know the years and my copy of the family tree and accompanying data is a bit ambiguous but it seems each marriage resulted in two offspring: 1st wife was Marguerita LUTHER. (a) Daughter Sally Ann (1932- ) md Ajit RAY. (b) Son Michael John (1936- ) md Joy PIDGEON. MIchael & Joy had three sons: (a) Greg Kimber (1965- ) (b) Gavin Richard (1970- ) and (c) Roger Michael (1973). 2nd wife to Melvern Lyle was Bettina TRICKETT. Two daughters: (a) Jan (married BURNETT?) (b) Sonja Carmen.

      Melvern Lyle and my father Stewart Clarence were second cousins to each other. To Sally, Michael, Jan and Sonja I stand as a third cousin. Is Antonia ROYES-KELLY the child of one of these names – hence my third cousin once removed. I’d be most interested to hear more.

      You might like to ask Antonia to write to me directly:

      36 Tasman Court
      NSW 2281

      Thanks again. Jim

    • Rod Hunt says:

      Hi Jim, Antonia (formerly Antoinette Kranauskas) is the daughter of Sally Ann and her first husband Vytas Kranauskas. She has 2 half siblings (Sally married 3 times), John Hanscombe and Nandini Ray.
      Michael Kable (Antonia’s Uncle) was a well known motoring journalist in Australia, motoring editor of The Australian for a while. Both he and Sally died in recent years.
      I will bring this thread to Antonia’s attention tomorrow. I’m sure she will be delighted to get in touch.

    • Jim KABLE says:


      Fascinating answer (to me, at least). I never met Mike KABLE – could not have told you before his line of descent – which Michael on the vast Family Tree (published in 1983) he was – but I certainly knew his column and that he was a kinsman. Those who wrote the family tree were not concerned (sadly, in my opinion – though perhaps standard practice) to pursue female lines beyond naming a spouse. Vytas KRANAUSKAS sounds Baltic (Lithuanian?), I once worked with a woman called Janet HANSCOMBE (here in OZ) as English a name as can be, that one (though the combe/cwm no doubt has some Welsh/Celtic antecedent) and Ajit RAY – Antonia’s step-father – sounds Indian – though whether Bengali or other I am unsure. There was an Ajit Nath RAY who was a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India – Bengali (Calcutta/Oriel at Oxford etc – born 1912 died 2010). The famous Indian film-maker Satyajit RAY (1921-1992) also from Calcutta (West Bengal). Illustrious! (I have a good mate – a scientist from Burdwan/Calcutta – now doing research in Jeonju in SKorea. Caught up with him in Seoul just last month.) I look forward to hearing further – from Antonia! Thanks!

  11. Jim KABLE says:

    For Dick MEADOWS
    I’ve just read your 2013 essay on my great x 3 grand-mother Susannah KABLE (née HOLMES). Only one or two minor quibbles – (suggesting your informants/research of best quality). I spent some time over a quarter of a century ago and several other times since visiting sites associated with my ancestors – Henry KEABLE (etc) and Susannah. Norwich (Castle Gaol – Nick ARBER), Surlingham, Thurlton – Alburgh (Mistress Abigail HAMBLING – though could not pinpoint her home), Ubbeston, Laxfield, Mendham, Yoxford, etc. I am descended via their son John – or “Jack” (1802-1859 – the first boxing champion of the colony) – though a namesake of Jack’s older brother James (1793-1809) killed by pirates while aboard his father’s vessel – the brig the “Fly” – the master a Captain SHELDRAKE – when anchored off Kepulauan (Archipelago) Masalembo (in mid Java Sea between Java/Madura and Kalimantan – mid-November that year). Henry was picked up the “police” of the day in early 1783 in Yoxford – where it would appear he was hiding out with kinfolk. Barrington CABLE (currently of Laxfield – whom I met years ago when he was living in Metfield I think) is a descendant of the Yoxford CABLES. I’ve tried to get in touch with him in recent years – he held an exhibition in Laxfield two or three years back on the KEABLE/KABLE story…but since just before – no news. Would be interested to hear. Laxfield residents Pam & Denis CABLE – son Jonathan was at Framlingham College as Head Groundsman I think – and noted Suffolkese speaker – on Suffolk BBC – he’s now retired up to Nortfolk with wife Joan as I understand. It seems that Pam must have passed away – no letters have arrived in the past 18 months (and we’d been in regular contact from 1988) – I have no address for Jonathan.

    Hoping to hear back – something. I taught for many years in nSW and in Japan – now on the edge of turning 65.

    • Paul Swift says:
    • Jim KABLE says:

      Thanks for writing Paul! Did not expect instantaneous response! Bravo!

      I had hoped my letter might (eventually/one day ???) be forwarded to Dick M. I realise your site is Surlingham only. I had noted a school production but thought it had already taken place. I’ll check again and if not already finished – will certainly send word to encourage the students! It was late May 1988 when my wife and I first visited Norwich (met Nick ARBER at the Castle Gaol) – saw Surlingham Church (I think the door was locked) noted the distinctive round tower – drove on to Thurlton (I think a thatched roof feature). Staying in Aldeburgh (Mark CABLE – a descendant of the RNLB Coxwain James CABLE guided us around – RNLB man himself – some connection to our B&B owner). No, there is not much you can do – but any leads from Surlingham churchyard re HOLMES headstones – sure – that would be marvellous.

      History was one of my loves from primary school (when we called it Social Studies – but for my university matriculation from high school I was effectively studying four history subjects – and then it was one of my majors at Sydney University – along with English (Lit.) and Education (as befits one wishing to be a teacher)! My paternal grand-mother was Scottish – her grand-father a first cousin to the editor of the OED – my paternal grand-father vied with her illustrious pedigree by firing my childish imagination with a romantic version of his own KABLE ancestors – while my mother’s Kentish grand-father (south from Sittingbourne) had his own stories for arousing my interest beyond these shores. I spent many years teaching abroad (including a year in Spain/Germany) some 16 years in western Japan. Five years ago – almost – back here to NSW.

      I have great respect for anyone who has an interest in history – their own family or that of their local region. Such as you. Two years ago I became a member of the Fellowship of First Fleeters – and have twice attended Australia Day luncheons in Sydney – attended by the state governor (a marvellous woman – Professor Marie BASHIR – this year she spoke on Arthur PHILLIP – our brilliant first Governor – she herself now coming to the end of a decade-long period in office) and other historians who give the keynote address. One of my KABLE “cousins” is on the committee – a retired Vice-Admiral G.Paul KABLE – who on secondments to the RN in the UK did much research, too, in East Anglia.

      My father was killed in a car accident when I was just two – in 1951. It accounts for my intense interest in uncovering my family origins – of course!

      Thanks again for replying.

    • surlingham says:

      Jim – could you use ‘contact us’ to let me have your email address please? That keeps it private. Many thanks

  12. Derry.Kelleher says:

    I will check in the Survey of St Mary’s Churchyard to see if there is any visible evidence of the Holmes family.

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