|Country of Origin||Sweden|
|Date of Birth||1835|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1853|
|Submitted by||Judy Wallace|
Francis Adolphus Patterson was born Frans Adolph Petersson on 10 March 1835 in Varberg, Sweden. He was the son of Pehr Olsson, a public house landlord, and his wife Anna Christina Torsdotter. It was customary in Sweden in those times for a son to take his father’s given name as his surname. Frans’ father died in 1839 when Frans was four years old.
At the age of 16, he ‘escaped’ by sailing away on a ship from the harbour where it is thought that he worked. At that time, every Swede who left the country, or moved from one parish to another, had to have an official exit permit – Flyttningsbetyg – issued by the pastor of the parish, but Frans did not have one. The family’s religion was Lutheran. His family in Sweden never heard from him again and never knew his whereabouts. In appearance, he was fair with very blue eyes.
On 23 October 1853, he arrived in Melbourne as a seaman on the sailing ship “Tarrolinta” which came from New York. He deserted ship for the goldfields. In 1856, he had a miner’s right (No 52) and owned a puddling machine at Golden Gully, in the Bendigo area. A puddling machine consists of a circular space, with a perpendicular shaft moved by steam or horse power, working in the centre of a circle. To the shaft are attached two harrows, which are dragged around the circular space, puddling the wash dirt. The gold is left at the bottom and is finally cleaned by panning.
Frans could not read or write and when it came to settling and being married, he had to register. In his thick Swedish accent, he gave his name as “Petersson” and the authorities Anglicised it to “Patterson”. His given names he changed to “Francis Adolphus”.
He married Elizabeth Colliver, an Englishwoman, on 17 November 1860 in “the usual place of worship”, at Kilmore, Victoria, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England. Elizabeth was the daughter of George Colliver and Margaret (nee Stabb) and was born on 22 June 1838 in Malborough, Devon. She arrived at Port Phillip in 1849 with her parents and siblings on board the sailing ship “Lysander”. Francis and Elizabeth had eight children – Alfred George (Alf ) (born 1861), Margaret Lucretia (Francey) (born 1864), Francis Adolphus (Dolph) (born 1866),Charlotte Josephine (Lottie) (born 1868), Alice Blanche (Blanche) (born 1872), Augustus (Gus (born 1874), Ada Minetta (born 1877) and Bertha Sophia (born 1879). Elizabeth had given birth to a daughter, Adelaide Mary Matilda (Polly) in 1858, fathered by John Westerdale. Elizabeth and Francis brought her up as their own. Bertha died of typoid at the age of 18.
Obviously, Francis did not make his fortune at the goldfields. He and Elizabeth first lived at Kilmore where Francis was a labourer. From 1868 to 1872, he farmed at Duck Holes and then moved to a small farm at Toolamba, near Tatura. A lease of 200 acres of land at Baulkamaugh, near Numurkah, was applied for and granted to Francis in 1876. The family moved there and built a log and shingle house of three rooms, and grew crops of wheat and oats. In 1879, Francis was unable to pay his rent due to failure of his crops through rust, and the bank allowed him six months. As he was unable to write, other people had to write his letters for him, which he then signed in a rather shaky hand. He was granted an additional 32 acres, adjoining his original selection, in 1885.
Francis took a keen interest in the district’s activities, entering in local shows and ploughing competitions. Elizabeth was an expert needlewoman and when they moved to Cobram, she and her daughters set up a dressmaking business.
They moved to Cobram in 1896. In 1908 they moved to Numurkah, and a year later, Francis aged 74, became naturalised. The dressmaking business was continued in Numurkah.
Francis died in Numurkah on 21 April 1912, aged 77. Elizabeth survived her husband by 19 years and died on 29 September 1931 at the age of 94. They are both buried in the Numurkah Cemetery. According to his grandson Frank, Francis always referred to himself as “a fugitive from justice”, which probably referred to the time he left Sweden and deserted ship in Australia.