Richard House

Name:  Richard House

Date of Birth: 1860

Birth Location: Capel River – BDM Registration Number: 5291

Also Known As: Dick

Age at Burial: 79years

Date of Death:    6 August 1939

Death Location: Bunbury Hospital

Date of Burial:   7 August 1939

Denomination: Anglican

Row/Grave:  Unknown – Plaque in situ in Anglican B, Row 9, Grave 108 – after Ground Penetrating Radar on 18th  May 2022 – no detectable grave was found

Grave Transcription:

Family Plaque inscription: Richard Born. 1860 Died 12.2.1939 aged 79 erected by T. J House.

Second Plaque inscription: Richard. House BORN 1860 DIED 6-8-1939 AGE -79 erected by T. J House

Father: William House b- 1811 d – 7.1.1875

Mother: Martha Higgins b-1825 d – 17.6.1902

Grandparents (father): Robert House and Jane Parsons

Grandparents (mother):  William Higgins b- 15.4.1800 d-  10.11.1844 and Sarah Dredge b- 5.10.1799 d- 31.12.1867


William House b-10 March 1842 Twyford, Western Australia.  Died 7 April 1917, Claremont, Western Australia.  Married Martha Pickersgill 1872, she was the daughter of Joshua Pickersgill and Ann Baudin.

John House b- 17 August 1844, Perth, Western Australia.  Died 10 July 1898, Capel, Western Australia.

Edward House b- 13 July 1846, Perth, Western Australia.  Died 18 June 1877, Bunbury, Western Australia.  Married Eliza Dilley in 1869, she was the daughter of William Dilley and Ellen Boyte.

Charles House b – 9 July 1848, Wonnerup, Western Australia. Died 1 June 1929, Claremont, Western Australia.  Married Gertrude Mary Wright, she was the daughter of Thomas Twigg Wright and Maria Dawson.

Anna Ellen House b- 14 August 1849, Wonnerup, Western Australia.  Died 19 June 1911, Capel, Western Australia.  Relationship with Frederick Hawkins resulting birth of one daughter, First Marriage to John Charles Delaporte, Second Marriage to Charles Thomas Harris. (See Anna Ellen Harris story for more information)

Thomas House b – 9 June 1851, Wonnerup, Western Australia.  Died 22 July 1917, Capel, Western Australia.  Married Susan Rutherford in 1879, she was the daughter of John Watson Rutherford and Elizabeth Burton.

Susannah (Susan) House b – 22 February 1853, possibly Wonnerup, Western Australia.  Died 28 January 1929, Perth, Western Australia.  Married Lewis Calder in 1873, son of Alexander Calder and Elspeth Lawson.

Henry Thomas House b – 15 May 1854, Wonnerup, Western Australia.  Died 9 October 1933, Bunbury, Western Australia.  Married Lucy Ann Thomas in 1881, she was the daughter of James Jeremiah Thomas and Margaret Hayes.

Frederick House (known as Blind Freddy) b- 26 May 1856, Capel, Western Australia.  Died 21 February 1941, Capel, Western Australia.

Sarah House b- 1 May 1858, Coolingup (Capel), Western Australia.  Died 24 May 1930, Bunbury, Western Australia.  First Marriage to Charles Frederick Scott in 1877, son of Frederick William Scott and Mary Ann Dawson. Second Marriage to Thomas McTaggart in 1914, he was born in 1856, Ballarat, Victoria.  Died 24 May 1931, Capel, Western Australia

Martha House b- 1862, Capel, Western Australia. Died 1866, Capel, Western Australia

Albert House b- 14 August 1864, Capel, Western Australia.  Died 11 February 1939, Bunbury Western Australia.  Married Anna Maria Scott in 1885, she was the daughter of Frederick William Scott and Mary Ann Dawson

Mark House b- 1 May 1867, Capel, Western Australia. Died 17 May 1867, Capel, Western Australia. Aged 17 days

Spouse: Elizabeth Emily Brock (first Marriage to William Smith)

Children: No Children

Occupation: Teamster and Farmer

Military Service:

Their Story 

Richard’s father William House arrived aboard the ship “Caroline” to the Swan River Colony along with his brother James on the 12 October 1829.  The two brothers were 19 years old and possibly twins (not proven). At their arrival and were indentured servants to Colonel Lautour and placed in the service of Samuel Neil Talbot of West Tarring Sussex.  In May 1930 Lautour went bankrupt and the settlement was not doing well, they were deserted by their boss Samuel Talbot who released them from service and headed off to Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) in late 1930.  Both House brothers were left penniless.  They found odd jobs around the Swan River Settlement but employers who could pay cash were hard to find.  They moved down to the Port Leschenault area where they worked as sandalwood and timber cutters and hauled timber to the port.  William continued in the timber industry until 1848 then moved down to the Vasse area and commenced farming.

Richard’s mother Martha Higgins arrived on the ship “Britannia” on the 6 May 1830 with her parents William and Sarah Higgins.  They were sent by Colonel Lautour to work on his establishment at Leschenault. William had Perth Lots F14 and H17, but while working at Leschenault for Lautour he found himself without a job when Lautour went bust.  He and Sarah opened the Leyson Arms Tavern at Bull Creek. But due to aboriginals burning it down in 1835 they moved to the Capel/Preston River area and took up land.  William drowned in the Preston River in 1844 and Sarah and her children continued to develop the farm with the help of Ticket of Leave men.

At the age of 16 Martha Higgins married William House on the 4 January 1841, he was 30 years old at the time.  It must have come as a great shock to her and her family to lose her father William Higgins just three years later in 1844 to drowning, she already had two young sons at this stage to her husband William House. In 1847 the young family can be found in Vasse, employed as sandalwood carting.

In around 1857 William, Martha and their nine children, arrived in Capel and settled on Lot 38 (45acs) on the banks of the Capel River, next door to George Robert Payne’s Senior’s Flour Mill.  In 1858 William purchased the adjoining Lot 84 (32 acs).  William House and George Payne were both used to working with timber. Following some clearing William built the family house and along the riverbank, they planted various fruit trees, including a mulberry tree and grape vines, grew wheat, ran pigs and grazed dairy cattle.  Martha made butter to sell in Bunbury. William and Martha welcomed another five children while living in Capel including Richard in 1860.

When their son young Freddy was about eight years old (1863-1864) while walking home from school with his brothers and sisters he complained about having sore eyes – a neighbour recommended to Martha that she bathe his eyes in blue-stone water (copper sulphate).  The remedy seared the soft tissue and made him blind.  He eventually recovered and cheerfully set about life without sight.

Life was never easy for the House family and there always seemed to be too many mouths to feed.  Every now and then William House sold off land to meet his debts. In 1863 he sold location 163 on the Capel River to George Robert Payne, who gave the land to his son George Robert Payne jnr, this sale may have solved the problem of the wandering pigs who a few years ago had escaped due to lack of fencing and destroyed George Payne’s best wheat field. The relations between the two families had soured for many years after this event, even impacting on the childrens education as the school was located at the Mill. (Payne’s Mill School).

With so many ageing siblings it wasn’t long before his brothers and sisters started to find marriage partners.  In 1869 Edward married Eliza Dilley and Anna Ellen married John Delaporte. In 1872 William married Martha Pickersgill and Charles married Gertrude Wright and 1873 was the year that Susan married Lewis Calder.

On the 7th  January 1875 Richard’s father William House died at his Capel home, he was 74 years.  Richard’s mother, Martha stayed on the family farm with her children Sarah, Albert and blind Fred who knew more about running the place than any of them.  Richard aged only 15 years had been working as a teamster in Happy Valley but returned home to help Fred run the farm.

In 1876 tragedy struck the House family once again, when Anna Ellen’s husband died, leaving her with four young children to support.  Then in 1877 the House family, lost their brother and son Edward at the age of 31 years, when he was killed in an accident at Ballarat Mill in Wonnerup.

The family kept going and in 1877 Sarah married Charles Scott, Anna Ellen married a second time to Charles Harris and Thomas married Susan Rutherford in 1879.  Henry soon followed when he married Lucy Thomas in 1881.

Richard at the age of 22 years, married Elizabeth Smith (nee Brock) on the 21st August 1882 in the Church of England in Busselton. Elizabeth was 46 years of age at the time of marriage and had been married previously to William Smith and had 10 children.  The couple most likely met at Happy Valley where they were both living at the time. Elizabeth had lost her husband the year previously after a tree had fallen on him. It is understood that most of her children were grown, and she only had the youngest in her care. Elizabeth’s first child was born in 1853 and her last in 1876.


Little is known of Richard and Elizabeth from this point onwards,  a brief glimpse of their life together can be gleaned from Newspaper Articles, though is would appear that Richard does have a close relationship with his stepson’s and Elizabeth’s growing family from her first marriage.

Trove Article – Southern Times – 20 August 1889 – Busselton Local Court – Richard House and Henry Smith v Road Board


On the same date summonses were heard against Richard House and Henry Smith, of Augusta, for driving unlicensed teams over the roads of the district.  The Chairman of the Sussex Roads Board appeared for he Board, and Mr Herbert Davies on behalf of the drivers of the teams.  Mr Davies made a proposal to pay licenses for carts and carriages using the public roads and that in lieu of paying for timber whims and carriages Mr. M. C. Davies would keep the roads in repair from Boranup Bridge to the Hamelin.  Under these circumstances Mr. Yhurkle, on behalf of the Board, asked that the case might be adjourned for one month to enable him to bring Mr Davies’ proposal before the Roads Board.  At a subsequent meeting of the Board Mr. Davies’ proposal was accepted to end of current year.


Note: Henry Smith was a child of Elizabeth and William Smith – or Richard’s Stepson.  Henry would have been 23 years old at the time of the published newspaper article and Richard would have been 29 years old.

Trove Article – Bunbury Herald – 11 May 1899 – Local Court – Richard House v Frank Cook – Judgement for Plaintiff.

Trove Article – Southern Times – 13 July 1899 –  Bunbury Local Court – John Hutton v Richard House – Board and Lodgings

Trove Article – Bunbury Herald – 13 August 1901 – Older Brother Sues – Charles House v Richard House

Trove Article – The West Australian – Wed 29 January 1902 – Bankruptcy

Re: Richard House

First public examination of Richard House, teamster, of Dardanup.  Debtor said that his liabilities amounted to 596 pounds, and he had no assets.  He had been a teamster at Ballarat, near Vasse, and at the same time he employed a man to manage a butchering business, which he had started eighteen months ago.  The butchering business had not paid, and he had closed it up two months ago.  The butcher whom debtor had employed had dept what books there were relating to the business.  Witness could not read or write, and a person who had looked over the books informed him (debtor) that the books were worthless to show how the accounts stood and what had been done with the money.  Debtor “thought it funny” that the money did not come in better.  The butcher had told him that meat had been lost through pickling.  Some of witness’s purchases of stock had also turned out unprofitably, and he had lost a lot of sheep in the bush.  Debtor had also been sick for three months, during which he had had to pay hire for bullocks for his team.  He had sold his own teams for 78 pounds and was now working for 3 pounds per week wages.  He had a wife and 9 others dependent upon him.  Before starting the butcher’s shop he owed over 100 pounds.  Within the last year he had received 50 pounds nett for certain land.  The examination was adjourned for a fortnight.

Trove Article – The West Australian – Wed 12 Feb 1902 – Bankruptcy

Re: Richard House

The Public Examination of Richard House, teamster of Dardanup, was continued by the Official Receiver (Mr. J. L. Clarke), and the debtor was cross-examined by Mr. Alcock and Mr. Wagner on behalf of different creditors.  Debtor said that he had dept no proper banking account but obtained the cash to meet any bill due.  Questioned regarding the sale of two blocks of ground, he said he had sold one block six years for 50 pounds, and the other six months ago for 50 pounds nett.  He admitted that he had only transferred both blocks of land two months before his bankruptcy.  He had sold his bullocks about the same time for 78 pounds.  The examination was closed, and debtor was ordered to furnish what books he had to the Official Receiver Debtor’s liabilities amounted to 596 pounds, and he had no assets.

The West Australian – Wednesday 12 February 1902 – Bankruptcy Court


Tuesday. February 11

(Before Mr. Registrar Moseley)

Re R. House.

The public examination of Richard House. Teamster, of Dardanup, was continued by the Official Receiver (Mr. J. L. Clarke), and the debtor was cross examined by Mr. Alcock and Mr. Wagner on behalf of different creditors.  Debtor said that he had kept no proper backing account but had obtained the cash to meet any bill due.  Questioned regarding the sale of two blocks of ground, he said he had sold one block six years ago for 50 pounds, and the other six months ago for 50 pound nett.  He admitted that he had only transferred both blocks of land two months before his bankruptcy.  He had sold his bullocks about the same time for 78 pounds.  The examination was closed, and debtor was ordered to furnish what books he had to the Official Receiver.  Debtor’s liabilities amounted to 596 pounds, and he had no assets.

Mother Martha died 17 th June 1902 – Trove Article Bunbury Herald

Australian Electoral Role 1903 – Richard and Elizabeth – living at Jarrahwood Mills – Occupation Teamster and Domestic

Trove Article – Southern Times – Saturday 7 January 1905 – Alleged Attempted Suicide

Alleged Attempted Suicide

Inspector Holmes received a telegram yesterday morning, reporting that a man named Richard House, residing at Newlands, had attempted to commit suicide by poisoning himself.

Constable Savage of Donnybrook, who was in town yesterday morning, reported that House’s wife took him some toast to bed. Directly she left the room he sprinkled the toast with strychnine. He is not dead, but in a very bad way.

 Note: Newlands at the time was a small Timber Village south of Donnybrook. Drawings of the time show a small town with a dirt road, and several timber cottages with picket fences. Richard would have been approximately 45 years of age, when he allegedly attempted suicide and Elizabeth was 70 years old.

Trove Article – Southern Times – Saturday 14 January 1905 – Tired of Life

Tired of Life.

Attempted Suicide at Newlands

Richard House, a middle-aged man, was this morning brought up in custody at the Bunbury Police Court, before Messss T. Hayward, N. J Moore and W. Reading, J’s P., charged with having on the 5 th inst. Attempted to commit suicide by taking a dose of strychnine.

Dr. Elliot deposed that on the 5 th January he was called upon to attend the accused about 9.15 a.m. Accused was under the influence of strychnine poisoning, judging by the symptoms which he had developed.  He had been treated before his (the doctor’s arrival, and it was owing to that treatment that his life was saved.  A bottle was handed to him (witness) containing strychnine.  He afterwards handed the bottle to Constable Savage.  Accused made no statement.

To Mr. Eastman – He knew accused by repute.  At the time he saw him, accused was suffering considerable from shock.  It was difficult to say whether accused had suffered from previous illness, but there was apparently some weight on his mind.

Florence Romara deposed that she was a married woman residing at Newlands.  She knew the accused who married her grandmother.  She remembered the 5th inst.  On that date she received a message and went to the house of the accused about 8.30 in the morning.  When she got there, she saw the accused who told her he was going to die as he had taken a dose of strychnine.  She did not see any strychnine about the place.  He said he had taken the poison on a piece of toast.  He was suffering severely from spasms.  He said he had taken it in consequence of worry.  He said he had been ill from cold, and the boys having gone away he had no one to attend to his team.  She sent for assistance and the doctor was sent for.

To Mr. Eastman – He had not been well prior to this, but he did not think he had been confined to his bed.  He was worrying because his stepsons had gone to Perth and had exceeded their holiday.  He was not able to attend to his bullock team.

Constable Savage, stationed at Donnybrook, stated that on the 5 th inst,. In consequence of a message which he received; he went to the house of the accused at Newlands.  He found him lying on the bed.  Dr Elliot was attending to him and two other men were also present.  Accused appeared to be suffering pain. Dr. Elliot handed witness a bottle containing strychnine.  He arrested accused on the 11th inst. On the present charge.

This completed the evidence.

Accused, who pleaded guilty, was committed for sentence at the Quarter Sessions.

Note: Florence Romara (Elizabeth’s granddaughter) as mentioned in the above newspaper article was the daughter of William Smith and Honor Warner she married Thomas George Romaro in 1901 in Bunbury, their first child was born in Newlands in 1901.

Trove Article – Bunbury Herald – Wednesday 18 January 1905 – Quarter Session

Before W L Owen, R.M and Jas Moore, and H.E Reading J’ s P.

 Attempted Suicide

Richard House pleaded guilty of attempting suicide at Donnybrook on the 5th inst. by taking strychnine on a piece of toast and was bound over on his own surety of 20 pounds to keep the peace for six months and to come up for sentence is called upon.

Australian Electoral Role 1906 – Living in Donnybrook with wife Elizabeth – Occupation Teamster/Domestic

Trove Article – South Western News – Friday 19 July 1912 – A Maintenance Case

A Maintenance Case

Elizabeth House, an elderly woman residing at Capel, proceeded against her husband, Richard House, a teamster at Jarahwood, for maintenance,

Mr. J. Wallace Holmes appeared for the complainant, and defendant, who forwarded a sum of three pounds three shillings, to the Court, did not appear.

Complainant stated that House left her some five years ago to go away and work.  He had not since supplied her with the barest necessaries of life, and although she had seen him and asked to be taken home again, he refused, stating that he did not intend to get another home for her.  In five years, she had received 6 pounds from defendant, who was in regular work, earning from 12 shillings to 14 shillings per day.  She asked for one pound per week and a separation order.

Henry II. Smith stated that he was defendant’s stepson.  Defendant had not provided his mother with sufficient to eat.  He (witness) had gone to where she was living on numerous occasions and found neither bread, tea nor sugar in the house.  Witness supplied about 30 pounds worth of goods and endeavoured to get defendant to pay for them but could not then ascertain his whereabouts.  He heard his mother ask defendant to keep her, and his reply was that he would not do so.  For about five years witness had given his mother a home and provided for her wants.  Defendant was a good workman, in regular word and earned 12 shillings a day while on wages: when working piecework he had earned as much at 28 pounds per month.

The Bench granted an order for separation and ordered defendant to contribute one pound per week toward the maintenance of his wife; the costs amounting to 4 pound 16 shillings, would also have to be paid by defendant.

Australian Electoral Role 1913 – Richard living at Jarrahwood – occupation Teamster

Trove Article – The Daily News – Monday 18 Jan 1915 – Death Notice Mrs. House

An old resident of Capel in the person of Mrs R. House has passed away (says the “Bunbury Herald”) in her 80th year.  Mrs House was born in Scotland, and came to Ballarat (Vic), when she was a girl 14 years of age, and landed in W.A in 1878, where she lived ever since.  For several years she has made her home with her son, Mr H. H. Smith, but she had been staying for the last few weeks with her grandson Mr. W. H Smith, near Happy Valley.

Trove Article – The South Western News – Friday 16 July 1915 – Claim for Wages by Richard House v H. H. Smith.

Australian Electoral Role 1915 – Richard living at Jarrahwood – occupation Teamster

Australian Electoral Role 1917 – Richard living at Capel – occupation Teamster

Australian Electoral Role 1925 – Richard living at Wandering Farm Capel – occupation Farmer

Australian Electoral Role 1931 – Richard living at Wandering Farm Capel – occupation Farmer

Australian Electoral Role 1937 – Richard living at Wandering Farm Capel – occupation Farmer

Trove Article – The West Australian – Wednesday 9 August 1939

House – Passed away at Capel, on August 6, Richard loving brother of Fred. Sweet Rest.

Trove Article – South Western Times – Friday 11 August 1939 – Richard House Death Notice

An old Capel identity in the person of Richard House died at the Bunbury Hospital on August 6 at the age of 79 years.

Deceased was born in Capel and lived in the district all his life, following farming pursuits.  He was very well known.  He had spent a long period in hospital before his death.  Deceased was son of late Mr. and Mrs. William House, earliest settlers, of the Capel district.  He was married, his wife predeceasing him.  He leaves no family.  Deceased had one brother living at Capel, Mr. Frederick House.

The funeral took place on Monday, August 7, a service being held at the Anglican Church, Capel, at 2 p.m. The remains were interred at the Capel Cemetery, Rev. F. J. Boxall officiating at both the church and graveside.

The pall bearers were Messrs. D. Farley, J. Strong, J. Summers, W. Roberts, J. Bell and W. Higgins.

Wm. Brittain and Son conducted the funeral arrangements.


Probate: as reported in the Sunday Times 17 September 1939. Wills of the Week

Richard House, late of Capel, retired farmer, to Ernest R. Scott, of Capel;  624 Pounds.

Note: Ernest R. Scott was Ernest Roy Scott (Richard’s nephew) who lived in Capel. Ernest’s parents were Charles Frederick Scott and Sarah House.  Sarah House and Richard House were siblings.


Story researched and compiled by PP (CDCP team member)

Links to other websites with additional information included in story.

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Richard House Plaque
House Family Plaque
Unknown Grave
Anglican B Section