John Chew was a soapbox orator, an interesting character, but also a wife basher. He was described miserably in his obituary as a bit of flotsam and jetsam. His wife Ellen Quill or Wood (the Gaelic for Wood is Coill) and her sister were also convicts. John Chew worked as a bookmaker in Hobart.

His son (also John Chew) came to Victoria, lived in Fitzroy and was buried Fawkner Cemetery.

John CHEW (John 1) was born in 1826 in Bath, Somerset, England, and died on 28 Jul 1908 in Hobart, Tasmania aged 82 years. He was buried on 31 Jul 1908 in Cornelian Bay Cemetery.



John Chew arrived in Tasmania on the Radcliffe on the 12 Nov 1848.  He was tried at Marlborough Sessions, Wiltshire on 20 Oct 1846. Chew was single, and aged 21 years on his arrival in Tasmania. He was sentenced to 7 years for stealing metal (brass pan). A labourer, Church of England faith, John Chew could read and write. Chew was from St James Parish in the city and borough of Bath. His parents were recorded as John Chew and Emelia, both of Bath. He had marks of cupping on his right hip. Chew received his certificate of freedom on the 18 Nov 1853.

A newspaper article dated 29 Mar 1866 – ASSAULT ON A WIFE.- John Chew was bought up on warrant charged with attempting to murder his wife, Ellen Chew but that charge was withdrawn, and a charge of assaulting and beating her on the 22nd inst., substituted. To this information he pleaded not guilty. Complainant deposed that on Thursday morning her husband, who had been absent all night, returned at six o’clock, when they had words, witness telling him his home was his place; he had been away on Saturday night, Sunday and Sunday night and witness said he ought to be ashamed of himself; he then got hold of her by the neck, threatened to bite her nose off, witness would not allow him to do so, held his whiskers and tore them off; he then tried to twist her arm, when witness bit his fingers to make him let go his hold. He then left the house. When defendant pressed her neck she got him off by kicking him in the stomach. Defendant had fastened the doors, and persons outside could not get in, he was a violent man in his passion, but it was soon over. James Ward who lives next door to defendant in Bathurst-street, gave corroborative evidence, but fixed the time of the assault at twenty minutes to two in the afternoon. Robert Ridge, acting Sergeant in the City Police, proved that he apprehended defendant at half-past three on Thursday-upon warrant. Defendant blamed his wife for provoking him, and said he was afraid of her in consequence of the power she had over him, having had him bound, over to keep the peace, since which she had tried all she could to excite him to a breach of the peace. In fact, he ought to have come to the Court for protection against her. The Bench said he was a great ruffian, and they ordered him to be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for six months, at the end of which to find bail himself in 20 pounds and two sureties in 10 pounds, each to keep the peace for another six months, with an intimation that steps would be taken to entreat the former recognisances. The Court then rose.

Article (left) found at Dixson Library, Sydney, NSW written by John Chew about the Incidence of Taxation. He was a soapbox orator and supporter of equality for all.

John Chew died from a Cerebral Haemorrhage. He was buried in the Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart in the Church of England section L. grave 335. An article from the Daily Telegraph 1 Jul 1903 (p3. col3) Forty odd years ago no political gathering in Hobart was complete without John Chew. John took an active part in politics until about nine or ten years ago. He was feeble and poor in the worlds goods. He pleaded guilty to seventy-two, and he is about as strong a democrat as when he held forth in the Murray Street ampitheatre in the end of the fifties. Poor old John is one of lifes wrecks and is now looked upon as a piece of flotsam that is not worth throwing a grappling hook on to save it from the backwash of lifes seas. A few good-natured souls who knew him when he fought hard for political rights and the cause of the worker have helped him a little but their scanty exchequers cannot stand continuous loans. John Chew is one of the links with the political social industrial past. Politics never repay anyone for the time they devote to them. Certainly they have never repaid John Chew.

Noted events in his life were: • He was baptised on 28 May 1826 in St James Parish Ch. Bath. SOM. • He worked as a Bootmaker. John married Ellen (WOOD) QUILL, daughter of Unknown and Unknown, on 17 Jan 1853 in Hobart Town. TAS. Ellen was born in 1827 in Co Limerick. IRELAND, died in Aug 1903 in Hobart. TAS at age 76, and was buried on 11 Aug 1903 in Cornelian Bay Cemetery. Hobart. (C\E Sec L. Gr 335). Descendants of John CHEW

Ellen Quill, arrived per Blackfriar 29 May 1851, along with her sister Mary Quill, both were tried in Limerick, Ireland for stealing a cow, and were sentenced to 15 years, they were 18 and 17 respectively, Roman Catholic, could not read or write, Ellen had a scar on her right cheek, and a mole on her chin.



John Chew was baptised on 28 May 1826 at St James Parish, Bath, Somerset, England. His parents are recorded as John and Millicent Chew. On his convict records his mother is recorded as Amelia. It is thought that she was probably called ‘Millie’ short for Millesent and Amelia. It is interesting to note that the only John Chew that could be found around that area at that time was John Chew born c1760, and the father of Millesent Chew who was baptised 1802 at St James, Bath.

John Chew born c1760 married Elizabeth Miles on 8 February 1802. They had the following children:

Millesent  baptised 1802, St James, Bath

William    baptised 1806, Walcot & St Swithin’s, Bath

John         baptised 24 May 1807, Walcot & St Swithin’s, Bath

Edward   born 29 January 1809; baptised 23 April 1812, Walcot & St Swithin’s, Bath

John        born 30 July 1811, baptised March 1812, Walcot & St Swithin’s, Bath

Henry     baptised 1 May 1814, died 26 January 1815

Mary Ann died 4 March 1815 (5 months)


Elizabeth Chew (nee Miles) died on 28 October 1821 aged 51 years. Her husband John Chew died on 21 April 1830, aged 70 years. He is buried at St James, Bath, presumably with his wife. They lived at Barton Place, Holloway in the parish of Walcot & St Swithin’s, Bath.

There is no record of a birth of John Chew c1760 in Bath, but there is a baptism of John Chew, on 10 October 1759 at Southill, Bedesford, the son of Edward Chew and his wife Elizabeth (Rouse) who had married 8 December 1757 at Southill.



COILL is the Gaelic for WOOD.

Children from this marriage were: + 3 F i. Maria CHEW was born on 7 Jul 1853 in Hobart. TAS, died on 25 May 1858 in Hobart Town. TAS at age 4, and was buried in May 1858 in Hobart Town. + 4 F ii. Helen (Nell) CHEW was born on 11 May 1855 in Hobart. TAS. + 5 F iii. Ada Louisa CHEW was born on 10 Jul 1857 in Hobart. TAS. + 6 F iv. Emily CHEW was born in 1859 in Hobart. TAS and died 0024-1922. + 7 M v. John Hibbert CHEW was born on 23 Nov 1861 in Hobart. TAS, died in Feb 1947 in Fitzroy North. VIC at age 85, and was buried on 21 Feb 1947 in Fawkner Cemetery (Pres Comp DD. Gr 42). + 8 M vi. Frederick Leslie CHEW was born on 10 Oct 1863 in Hobart. TAS, died in Oct 1930 in Hobart. TAS at age 67, and was buried on 21 Oct 1930 in Cornelian Bay Cemetery. Hobart. + 9 M vii. Valentine CHEW was born on 12 Oct 1865 in Hobart. TAS, died in May 1942 in Hobart. TAS at age 76, and was buried on 1 Jun 1942 in Hobart. + 10 M viii. Alfred Saxon CHEW was born on 1 Oct 1867 in Hobart. TAS, died on 12 Jan 1951 in Hobart. TAS at age 83, and was buried on 15 Jan 1951 in Cornelian Bay Cemetery. Hobart. + 11 M ix. Laurence Edward CHEW was born on 5 Jan 1870 in Hobart. TAS. + 12 M x. Walter Eugene CHEW was born on 12 Apr 1871 in Hobart. TAS, died on 8 Jul 1927 in 246 Scotchmer St. Fitzroy North. VIC at age 56, and was buried on 9 Jul 1927 in Fawkner Cemetery (Pres. Comp DD. Gr 42)