Goninon Family

Early settlers at Beaconsfield standing in front of the courthouse, 1882 (AOT, PH30/1/4083)

The Goninon family, Henry, Mary and their children, migrated from Cornwall around 1860, after mining developed in Australia. Henry first worked at Bendigo (Victoria) and Moonta (South Australia), then from 1880 at Beaconsfield, where legend has it that the manager of the Tasmania Company, Joseph Davies, a temperance campaigner, would only employ teetotallers and churchgoers.

Henry died there in 1886; eight sons followed him into mining and related industries around the island and on the mainland. The eldest son, Henry, was a prime mover in establishing the Primitive Methodist Church at Beaconsfield. A second, William, was a colourful lay preacher. He once led a rescue party into the mine, after a rock fall had trapped a group of men, and eventually needed rescue himself. He was found trapped in water up to his neck, praying and praising the Lord. Today there are more Goninons in Tasmania than in Cornwall. They include, among others, engineers, tradesmen, teachers, accountants and pastors.

Further reading: J Kerrison, Beaconsfield gold, Beaconsfield, 1963; B Smith, Town with a history, Beaconsfield, 1978.

Dot Beswick