Our Holt Family Fellowship was established on the 11th January 2000, the bicentennial of the arrival of Joseph and his family in Sydney. In 2006, Gary Holt, published his book, Descendants of Joseph Holt
with contributions from a number of other descendants. He found that Joseph's and Hester's descendants had risen to over 3,000 by the seventh generation. 1,600 were Fowler descendants through the grandaughter of Joseph and Hester, Elizabeth Fowler, nee Holt, who married the convict, Thomas Fowler's son, John, at St Thomas's C.of E. Church at Mulgoa on the 7th April 1858. They subsequently succeeded each other as postmaster and postmistress of the Cox-family-established Mulgoa Post Office following his accidental death in a droving accident on the bridge at the bottom of the church hill on Mulgoa Road, now St Thomas' Road.
Why were they there? Elizabeth Fowler was the Sydney born daughter of Joseph Harrison Holt, General Joseph Holt's younger son. It is thought that he left George Wentworth's employ at his Greendale Estate as one of their mechanics, to help build the second storey for George Cox's 'Winbourne'. He was appointed pound keeper and remained living on this Mulgoa Estate until his death on July 13 1884. He was buried in the nearby St Thomas' Church of England cemetery where his wife, Elizabeth, and many of their descendants are also buried; as are the local William Cox family descendants who donated the land and endowed the church..
After Captain William Cox and his convict team had completed Cox's Road over The Blue Mountains, he and three sons George, Henry and Edward were granted land in the Mulgoa Valley by a jubilant Governor Lachlan Macquarie as the barrier to western expansion in New South Wales had been removed. They built, Winbourne (c.1824), Glenmore (c.1825)
, and Fernhill (c.1842)
respectively. William, remained at Clarendon
, Richmond, and built The Cottage (c.1811)
to allow George and Henry to live in the Mulgoa Valley to manage the family's affairs. It was built on the grant to Edward Cox who was only 4 1/2 years old. William named his own grant, Littlefields
. In all, the Cox family was granted 4,030 acres. Over the years, they established their private Mulgoa village to include a post office, public school, blacksmith, timbermill, dairy, butter factory, vineyard, winery, deer park and Municipal Council building (1893), later to become the School of Arts when the Mulgoa Municipal Council was absorbed into Penrith Municipal Council on July 9, 1913. (www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au/index.asp?hd-1869).
Before this occurred, the Holt family's third generation, John Fowler Jnr had been a municipal councillor on and off since 1904, under the mentoring of Edward King Cox who had employed him as coachman at Fernhill
l following the accidental death of his father, John, the stock manager at George Cox's Winbourne
and Mulgoa postmaster. Prior to the passing of The Heritage Act, the building's historic importance to the Mulgoa/Wallacia Valley with its links to the Cox's and other founding families, was ignored by the Penrith City Council councillors who voted for this historic building to be removed. A new, purpose-built building was erected to house the Mulgoa Bushfire Brigade and its equipment. The original slab post office and residence where John Snr. and Elizabeth Fowler had lived with their family, was consumed in the Christmas 2001 bushfire along with Reg. Blattman Snr.'s adjacent family residence. The saved brick Mulgoa Public School and headmaster's cottage where Cyrus and Emma Malvina Turnbull nee Fowler later lived, had been built beside the original slab Mulgoa Post Office in 1883. "The original school grounds covered 4 acres and were acquired from Mrs A. B. Cox". (Christine Stickley, Penrith City Council Library Service).
The Blattman and Eisenhuth families had been employed to install and manage the Cox vineyards following the religious persecution in Germany.
All families present at the Holt bicentenary reunion held in the Parramatta Reserve on the 11th January 2000, became inaugural members of The Holt Family Fellowship as they had proven descent from the United Irish General Joseph Holt of Mullinaveigue, Co. Wicklow, and his wife, Hester Holt, through their two sons, Joshua & Joseph Harrison Holt. By 2006, Dr Ruan O'Donnell had proven the involvement of Joseph's siblings in the United Irish movement. Free membership was then extended in 2007 to Joseph's siblings' descendants on proof of descent; namely, John, Thomas, William, Joshua, Johnathon and Mary, the children of John Holt Snr of Ballydonnell (Ballydaniel).
Our guests on the 11th
January 2000 were the historians, Dr Anne-Maree Whitaker, a Cox family descendant, and Brendan Whiting. Over 200 Holt members of the descendant families were present and voted unanimously for Lionel Fowler to establish The Holt Family Fellowship. They had been invited to Lake Parramatta by Gay Wilson, Pamela Goesch and Lionel Fowler to celebrate the bicentenary of the arrival in Sydney of Captain Salkeld's Minerva
carrying the United Irish general, Joseph Holt, his wife, Hester, and their two sons Joshua and Joseph Harrison. Gay, the wife of a Joshua descendant, Rob Wilson, was able to contact that branch of the family: Pamela and Lionel, as direct descendants of Elizabeth Fowler nee Holt, contacted the Joseph Harrison branch. It was believed to be the first time that such a gathering had been attempted in 200 years.
Based on their years of experience with the Turnbull family reunions, Dr Ken & Gwen Knox, nee Cork, looked after the directional signage with their son, Roger. The families cooked their own barbecues. The Dixon, Cork and Bishop families are descended from Elizabeth and John Fowler's eldest daughter, Emma Malvina. She married the Mulgoa headmaster, Cyrus Turnbull, who lived next door to the Mulgoa Post Office. They are buried in St Thomas's Anglican Cemetery at Mulgoa.
Those present enjoyed the historical displays mounted by Gay, Pamela and Lionel with additions by others. Pamela Goesch, nee Bishop, with her sister Shirley Paneretto, is another Emma Malvina descendant. She provided additional tables and her research experience. Most brought their own research for comparison. Several discovered that they had been duplicating each others work in isolation. Others discovered that they had been doing business with each other in country towns and villages without realising that they were related.