John Darby

#963, (circa 1819-26 January 1853)
FatherGeorge Darby (c 1779-4 Mar 1853)
MotherElizabeth Aylott (c 1777-Jan 1821)
ChartsAylott Family - descendants
Brett Family - descendants
Darby Family - descendants
Leonard Family - descendants
Wayte Family - descendants
Mike Hill - ancestors
Descendents of Richard Darby

Short Biography

     John was born in Hertford about 1819, the youngest son of Elizabeth and George Darby (a builder and brickmaker).

His mother died when we was about 2years old, leaving his father to raise him and his nine surviving siblings.

In his early life he was probably working for his father as a brickmaker in Hertford along with some of this other brothers. He married Elizabeth Brown at about the age of twenty shortly before he emigrated to the colony of South Australia with three of his siblings and their families.

His brother Thomas and he took up farming together in Morphett Vale, but tragedy struck - his wife died within a year of their arrival. Thomas and he together eventually held at least 570 acres.

He and his brother married within a week of each other in 1848, he to a Mary Leonard.

He and Mary had two sons, and Mary was pregnant again when John died after a few days illness - he was just 34.
     (For a brief history and context on the Darby family see this page)

NOTE: The information on this page is my research to date and is subject to change as I become better informed. I very much welcome any corrections or additional info you might have - my email address is at the bottom of this page - Tim Hill.
+ + + + + + + + + +

John was born circa 1819 at Hertford.1 He was the son of George Darby and Elizabeth Aylott. The city of Hertford dates back to at least 673, and was an important market town surrounded by agricultural land. From the late 16th century, it had access to the London corn markets via the River Lea.

He was baptised at Lady Huntingdon's Connexion on Sunday, 23 May 1819 at Hertford.2 Lady Huntingdon's Chapel was one a series of chapels founded in the 18th century by the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion as part of a Calvinistic movement within the Methodist church. She insisted that they should all subscribe to the doctrines of the Church of England and use only the Book of Common Prayer. It was apparently founded in 1800, and started keeping registers from 1806.

His mother died circa January 1821. He was about 2 when this happened.3 He was a witness at the wedding of John Speller Wright and his sister Martha Darby at St. Pancras Parish Chapel on Wednesday, 11 January 1837 Martha was daughter of a millwright and builder from Hertford at St. Pancras, London.4,5,6 John Darby was a bricklayer, and perhaps had been working for his father (a bricklayer and millwright) up until this time in March 1839.7,8 John and Elizabeth lived on 1 March 1839 at Bengeo, Hertford. or at least John said he did on their application to emigrate.7 John Darby and Elizabeth Brown made an application for free passage to South Australia a month before they were married. They made the application at the same time as John's brother Thomas and their sister Ann and her husband Joseph Peck on 1 March 1839.7 Bengeo is a parish and village just north of Hertford; the village was gradually incorporated into the larger town. The part that ajoins Hertford is lower, rising to agricultural land to the north. The chief crops were wheat, barley and turnips.9

He married Elizabeth Brown, on Thursday, 4 April 1839 at Sutton, Bedfordshire. Within a month they had embarked on their voyage to South Australia.10 John and Elizabeth lived in April 1839 at Sutton, Bedfordshire. or at least claimed to when they were married.11 John and his wife Elizabeth arrived at Port Adelaide, South Australia, on 25 August 1839.12

On his arrival, there were a little over 10,000 people in the colony.13

His wife Elizabeth died March 1840, leaving him a widower. She was buried in Adelaide's West Terrace Cemetery.14

The family was mentioned in a letter from another South Australian immigrant. Describing something of their circumstances on 21 March 1840:
"On the 27th of August, I had the pleasure of seeing Thomas Darby, his brothers, and sisters, but they did not know me at the first sight, I looked so thin and bad ; but I told them I was well and hearty. They received me very kindly indeed, and I helpt them make their bed the first night in the colony; but to them it seemed a miracle that we should all meet here, after talking about it up at their father's house that night their chimney caught fire [perhaps the brickyard straw fire of 2 years previously]. They desire me to send their kind love to you all, likewise to their fathers and mothers, to their sisters and brothers, and to all inquiring friends and relations."

No doubt this letter was very eagerly received back home.15,16 John Darby and Thomas Darby made a declaration of 320 acres which was gazetted by the Commissioner of Crown Lands on 6 April 1847 at Noarlunga.17 John Darby and Thomas Darby made a declaration of 570 acres which was gazetted by the Commissioner of Crown Lands on 11 December 1847 at Noarlunga.18

A visiting English artist drew a landscape of Morphett Vale 1845.
Morphett Vale c1845, artist Alex C. Kelly
(source: State Library of South Australia, A. C. Kelly Collection, image B5765
John Darby and Thomas Darby were evidently sheep farmers as they advertised for sale 850 "Two and Four tooth ewes and wethers, perfectly free from all disease". Richard Edward Tapley, a distant family member, was listed as a contact. on 13 September 1848 at Morphett Vale, South Australia.19

He married Mary Leonard, daughter of James Leonard and Mary Wayte, at the schoolroom on Thursday, 23 November 1848 at Morphett Vale, South Australia. A week later the same place, John's brother Thomas married Jessie Nicholson.20,21

John provided 'the plans and general superindendence' for the construction of the Congregational Union Chapel, which was opened on 10 February 1850 in Morphett Vale, South Australia after being commenced in the previous year. The building still stands today.22,23 John was secretary of the Anti-Dray and Land-Tax League, and presented a petition to the Governor, Sir H. F. Young. There was a suggestion that since he lived 15 miles from Adelaide that he was no longer suitable for the position, but he hung on. Further, there was a suggestion he be paid for the role, but he "begged they would say nothing about it". A few months later he became the auditor of the accounts. He stayed in the secretary's role for at least the next 18 months.24,25,26,27 John and Mary Leonard became the parents of George Leonard Darby circa 1850 at Morphett Vale, South Australia. George was perhaps named after his father's father. It also seems like his birth was not registered.28 He witnessed his brother William Darby's death on 1 July 1850 at Morphett Vale, South Australia. William died in the house his brothers Thomas and John shared.29,30,31

A newspaper article described the coal making process and Abraham Darby's place in it. John, perhaps believing himself an ancestor of Abraham might have felt proud of this.32 Thomas and John became quite politically active in the ealy 1850s on issues such as universal suffrage.33,34,35 John and Mary Leonard became the parents of James John Darby on Sunday, 18 May 1851 at Morphett Vale, South Australia.36,37,38

The following is a fragment of a bullocky toast sung by the Anti-Dray and Land-Tax league:

"Olle heigh Ho
Blow your horns blow
Blow the Southern Cross down if you will
But on you must go
Where fresh gullies flow
And the thirsty crane wets his red bill."39

John's death notice - Hertford Mercury and Reformer - 9th July 1853 p.3
On 9 October 1852 John joined a committee to enquire into building a steam grist mill. Significantly, his father was a millwright.40,41

John died on 26 January 1853 at Morphett Vale, South Australia, after a few days illness. His wife Mary was about 3 months pregnant.1,42 In the later part of his life John made a living as an architect (or at least was described so by his son George as perhaps refering to his interest in the grist mill.)42 John and Mary Leonard became the parents of Mary Elizabeth Darby on Saturday, 23 July 1853 at Adelaide. Her father had died before she was born.43,44


1819BaptismLady Huntingdon's Connexion, Hertford2
1839ResidenceBengeo, Hertford7
1839MarriageSutton, Bedfordshire10
1839ResidenceSutton, Bedfordshire11
1839Immigratn-newPort Adelaide, South Australia12
1848Marriagethe schoolroom, in Morphett Vale, South Australia20,21
1850Residence-hideMorphett Vale, South Australia45
Quotation type 239
1853DeathMorphett Vale, South Australia1,42

Family 1

Elizabeth Brown (c 1818-c Mar 1840)

Family 2

Mary Leonard (c 1816-7 Jun 1861)


  1. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'Deaths' 09 Jul 1853.
  2. [S236] Parish Registers- Hertford Back Street Bethel-Lady Huntingdon, "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 May 2014), Geo. Darby in entry for John Darby, 23 May 1819; citing BACK STREET BETHEL-LADY HUNTINGDON,HERTFORD,HERTFORD,ENGLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 0566026 (RG4 1367).
  3. [S549] E-mails from Eve Mintern to Tim Hill, 2012- 22 Aug 2012.
  4. [S494] London. London Metropolitan Archives, London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 London Metropolitan Archives, Saint Pancras Parish Church, Register of marriages, P90/PAN1, Item 069.
  5. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 17th Jan 1837 p.3.
  6. [S244] The South Australian Register, 1876 'Family Notices.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 30 August, p. 4, viewed 14 January, 2012,
  7. [S558] "Labourers applications for free passage to South Australia - certificates #3361-#9422," 1 Mar 1839 #4122.
  8. [S459] Website SLSA - Pioneers and Settlers Bound for South Australia (…) passenger lists for 'Somersetshire' arrived Port Adelaide 24 Aug 1839.
  9. [415:3;https://enwikipediaorg/wiki/Bengeo:CIT][415:3;https://enwikipediaorg/wiki/Bengeo:CIT]581:3;http://wwwbritish-historyacuk/reportaspx?compid=43637
  10. [S242] General Register Office, England - Marriage Certificates, Certified copy of an entry in a Register of Births 1839 June Quarter, Biggleswade registration district Vol.6 p.113.
  11. [S549] E-mails from Eve Mintern to Tim Hill, 2012- 4th Nov 2012 "Attachments as promised" (attachment).
  12. [S473] Website The Pioneers Association of South Australia ( Ships arriving 1839 (
  13. [S882] Website Pioneers Association of South Australia Inc ( Early SA History -
  14. [S453] Family History South Australia ( Adelaide West Terrace Cemetery.
  15. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 'Emigration from Hertford' 21 Mar 1840 p.3.
  16. [S541] The Hertford Mercury and Reformer, 05 Sep 1837 p.2.
  17. [S244] The South Australian Register, 1847 'Advertising.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 17 April, p. 1, viewed 24 April, 2013,
  18. [S244] The South Australian Register, "Declarations of Acreage" - 11 Dec 1847 p.3.
  19. [S244] The South Australian Register, "For sale or Exchange for Land" - 13 Sep 1848 p.1.
  20. [S239] The Adelaide Times, 27 Nov. 1848 p.2.
  21. [S7] South Australia, Marriage Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages Vol. 40 p.367.
  22. [S244] The South Australian Register, 1850 'LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 18 February, p. 2, viewed 12 February, 2012,
  23. [S653] Webpage The City of Onkaparinga - Local Studies Online (…)… (The building is located at 52 Bains Road, Morphett Vale and is now a private house).
  24. [S244] The South Australian Register, 28 Jun 1850 p.2.
  25. [S464] The South Australian, "Anti Dray Tax League" 14 June 1850 p.2.
  26. [S244] The South Australian Register, "Anti-Land and Dray Tax League" 4 Oct 1850 p.4.
  27. [S244] The South Australian Register, 1851 'Advertising.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 9 October, p. 1, viewed 11 February, 2012,
  28. [S6] South Australia, Death Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages District of Adelaide No.592.
  29. [S239] The Adelaide Times, 2nd July 1850 p.3 col. A and 6 July 1850 p.3 col. A.
  30. [S6] South Australia, Death Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages Vol. 3 p. 130.
  31. [S244] The South Australian Register, Obituaries 2nd July 1850 p. 2 col. D.
  32. [S244] The South Australian Register, "Historical Sketch of The Iron Manufacture" 28 Aug 1850 p.4.
  33. [S464] The South Australian, "Noarlunga" 28 Feb 1851 p.4 (Thomas Darby] (or perhaps his brother John) attended a meeting to draft a Mr. W. M. Peacock to be their local representative. Previously there had been support for a Major O'Halloran, but he had 'forfeited their confidence'.There was also a motion passed to grant 'universal suffrage' although it is unknown what they meant by this term.).
  34. [S244] The South Australian Register, "Noarlunga District" 21 Mar 1851 p.1 Three weeks later, Thomas Darby was the first signatory of a petition for the purpose of granting universal suffrage.
  35. [S244] The South Australian Register, 1851 'MEETING AT MORPHETT VALE.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 1 March, p. 3, viewed 12 February, 2012, John Darby was a prominent member of a committee to ensure the return of W. M. Peacock.
  36. [S393] National Census for England, 1881 (online image) Township of Little Bolton, Municipal Borough of Bolton, West Ward, p.43.
  37. [S453] Family History South Australia ( birth of James Darby 18/5/1851.
  38. [S5] South Australia, Birth Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 1851 Vol. 3 P.222.
  39. [S529] Website Australian Folklaw Unit (
  40. [S244] The South Australian Register, 9 10 1852.
  41. [S392] National Census for England, 1851 (online image) Civil Parish of Bengeo, Source Citation: Class: HO107; Piece: 1711; Folio: 215; Page: 32; GSU roll: 193619.
  42. [S242] General Register Office, England - Marriage Certificates, Certified copy of an entry in a Register of Births Vol. 8a. Entry 314.
  43. [S5] South Australia, Birth Certificate, Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages 1853 Vol. 4 p.182.
  44. [S453] Family History South Australia ( birth of Mary Darby 23 Jul 1853.
  45. [S244] The South Australian Register, 2 Jul 1850 p.2 Col. D.