BIOGRAPHY OF ALFRED TRIMMER 1866-1935
By Glenys J. Rasmussen, Great Granddaughter, January 2000©
Alfred Trimmer was born 26 January 1866, Froyle, Hampshire, England the third son and child of Henry Trimmer and his wife Harriet Gilbert. The Trimmer family had been in the area for almost four hundred years at the time of Alfred's birth and many branches of the family had scattered over much of Hampshire as well as parts of Surrey, Essex and London Counties.
The main occupation of the Trimmer men was that of agricultural work, predominately labourers as very few ever owned their own lands or homes. Henry Trimmer was such a man. He attended the local parish church in Froyle and probably never went more than a few miles from the ancestral home and town. Alfred's determination to improve himself is sure to have played a part in his decision to migrate to Australia, although his exact motivation is unknown. Many young men and women of the time yearned for a life where personal property meant just that, personal. They wanted to be able to own the home they lived in, work for an income that would provide for a family, not merely subsist - Australia offered such incentives. It also offered inexpensive ship fares and subsidies if you were willing to remain for a predetermined time, most often two or more years. Travel was not easy in those days, so it is fairly certain that the British government was well aware that once a young man arrived in Australia, it was highly unlikely he could or would return to England, and so the more young men who could be enticed to Australia, the better. Still, notwithstanding the elements of migration and its inducements, the country itself did offer a healthier climate, wide open spaces and work. More work than workers to do it. So it is under this climate that Alfred set off.
It is highly unlikely that his education in England was more than very elementary. He did know how to read and write, although to what level is unknown. He grew up in difficult circumstances, with little in the way of comforts and certainly in money and opportunity. He left England, Portsmouth in Hampshire at the age of 17 years and climbed the gangplank of the ship "Star of India". It arrived in Sydney in 1883 (exact date unknown at this time). His religion in England was that of Church of England, the state church, however sometime after his arrival in Sydney he embraced the Weslyan Methodist faith and remained connected to that church for the remainder of his life.
Alfred gained employment quickly after his arrival and began working at the transportation department in Sydney. He worked hard, he developed what must have been a natural inclination toward learning and gradually moved from fitter to electrical foreman with the Tramways Board. Obviously, it took time to rise to the level of foreman, electricity had to arrive and then had to be incorporated into the transportation system. So, even though Alfred had not been in Australia long, he saw the progress from horse-drawn trams to those that ran along tracks powered by an electric arm connected to overhead wires and was himself, part of the transition. He worked with the Tramways Board for almost 40 years.
Marriage among the young men recently arrived to Australia was usually not long in coming and Alfred took only 3 years to find a wife. He was still a very young man - 20 years of age - when he married a gentle and patient girl, Harriet Howieson. Harriet was the daughter of a Scotsman, Thomas Howieson who himself had arrived in Sydney in the 1850's, and an Australian native daughter, Mary Bridges, born in Sydney to immigrant parents from England. Harriet was born 23 Jul 1870 at Redfern, an outer suburb at the time of Sydney. She was to find her marriage to Alfred challenging to say the least but for a tender 17 year old, marriage seemed the answer to her dreams. Alfred and Harriet married at Glebe, Sydney 22 Mar 1888 (one registration entry says 1887). They became the parents of six children: Harriet May born 5 Oct 1888 at Granville, NSW, she married Leslie John Mansley in 1910 at Sydney; Charlotte Caroline born 13 Jun 1891 at Granville, NSW. She married Arthur Harold Ball 22 June 1912 at Sydney and died 14 June 1976; Florence Louisa born 8 Mar 1894 at Clyde, NSW. Florence married Leslie Harold Butler, 20 March 1915, and died 13 Nov 1932; Alfred born 12 Dec 1898 at Granville, NSW married 17 May 1922, Leila Decima Swan and died 25 Feb 1977 at Sydney; Adeline born 30 Nov 1907 at Redfern, married Frederick Hensby 19 June 1936. Her death unknown. It is also believed another male child born ca 1910 but died within hours of birth, was not named or registered.
Alfred was a stern and strict disciplinarian. He demanded near perfection from his wife and his children, difficult even under the best of circumstances. Sadly, the demands made upon Harriet wore her down and she lived with Harriet and Charlotte for a time before her death 2 January 1914 at Granville. She and Alfred had been married for 24 years and Adeline was was only seven years old at the time of her mother's death.
After the death of Harriet, Alfred married again on 31 Oct 1914 to a Mrs. Florence Annie Brown Robinson, the widow of Joseph Robinson. She was born in 1870 at Glebe, NSW to Henry Thomas Brown and his wife Mary Ann Johnson. She died just days after Alfred and was buried 19 July 1935 at the Necropolis in Sydney. She was 65 years old. Alfred himself died 26 June 1935 and was buried 29 June 1935 at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney. His only living son, Alfred, would carry the Trimmer name forward in Australia.
The Family of Alfred and Harriet Howieson Trimmer
From left to right: Florence Louisa; Harriet Howieson (mother); Harriet May; Alfred Trimmer; Alfred Trimmer (father); Charlotte Caroline. Picture taken ca 1906-07.
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