|Frederick Hanson and Margaret Alice Houlihan
-a man of mystery and the Irish divorcee -
Frederick Hanson; There is some controversy about where and when Frederick or Alfred as
he was also know, was born. The earliest confirmed record I have found for him is that of his
first marriage in the name Alfred Hanson to Clara Aston in 1884 where he gives his age as
25 and his place of birth as Germany. This would make his date of birth about 1859. He
gives his father as James Hanson, a tradesman but no mother is recorded. According to his
second marriage and death certificates as Frederick Hanson, he was born in Brompton,
London between 1865 and 1867 to parents James Hanson and Johanna [Gedvill Gedrell?]
NOTE: Gedvil/l is a Lithuanian surname with various spellings, sometime spelt Gedwill or
His origins remain a mystery as I have been unable to find a birth or baptism in England or
Germany. Nor have I found him or his parents on the 1861, 71 or 81 English censuses. I
have not found a record of when Frederick or Alfred came to Australia, although according to
his death certificate he arrived about 1883. Oral tradition states he ran away from home and
joined the crew of a ship when he was quite young and there is also the suggestion he may
have been Danish. His recorded occupations are; miner  produce merchant [1906/7]
and labourer  Oral recollection states he was the caretaker of Warwick Farm
Racecourse [possibly between the years 1906 and 1914]
Possible Sighting: Fred Hanson aged 22 born Germany appears in the crew list for the
'Glenelg' between the dates 26th September 1881 and 30 November 1881. His rating was AB
[able bodied] suggesting he was an experienced hand. The Glenelg carried passengers
between Adelaide and Sydney.
Margaret Alice [aka Alice Margaret] Houlihan [Wholighan*], was born 25th October 1880 at
49 Botany Road, Alexandria, Sydney, daughter of William Houlihan and Alice Margaret
Dowling. Her known occupations were general servant and cleaner. Her name is shown as
Margaret Alice Wholighan on her birth certificate, Alice Margaret Hoorrigan on her first
marriage certificate and Alice Margaret [Hourigan] on her second marriage certificate. The
1903 Electoral Roll lists her as Alice Margaret Thomas. The 1930 and 1936 Electoral rolls list
her as Alice Margaret Hanson.
Frederick married Clara Ellen Aston on 18th October 1884 at St Michael's church
Wollongong [ref 5415/1884] Frederick is recorded as 'Alfred' Hanson, a bachelor of Coal Cliff.
His occupation is shown as 'miner' The civil registration shows no details of the bride and
grooms parents, however the church register supplies the following: Alfred Hanson aged 25,
father James Hanson a tradesman, mother not listed, place of birth Germany. These details
are quite different to what Frederick would later supply for his marriage to Margaret Thomas.
Of interest is the fact that Frederick signs 'A Hanson' in keeping with the name Alfred,
suggesting that this is not a clerical error but the name he was using at the time. Clara
Aston is aged 18, a miners daughter, parents Thomas Aston and Emma Jones born England
[Worcester England according to her death cert] Clara's father Thomas Aston gives
permission for the bride to marry as she is under the age of consent. The witnesses are
William Gibson/Gilson and Emma Aston, probably Clara's mother or sister.
1896 NSW Goverment Gazette mentions Frederick Hanson, miner of Bulli.
1897 NSW Goverment Gazette records Frederick Hanson of Bulli as a fettler.
The 1901 census [no individuals listed only head of household and number of male and
female occupants] shows Frederick at Bulli in a household of 1 male and 1 female. He is not
listed by name in the 1891 census.
The 1903 Electoral Roll shows Frederick and Clara residing at Bulli. Frederick is a miner and
Clara is a storekeeper.
Death: Clara died in the Private Hospital 22 Macleay Street, Sydney on 20th August 1904.
[Ref 8132/1904] She was aged 37 born Worcester England. Her parents are listed as Thomas
Aston and Emma Jones. Cause of death was ectopic gestation, hemorrhage [intra peritoneal].
Medical attendant was Ralph Worrall who saw Clara last on 19th August. Frederick and
Clara had no children. Clara was buried at Church of England Cemetery Bulli on 21st
The Illawarra Mercury dated 27th August 1904 reported:
Mrs Hanson a resident of the district [Woonona] for about 20 years died after undergoing an operation in
Sydney last Friday. She was buried in the Church of England cemetery on Sunday.
Margaret married Henry Thomas on 14th April 1899 at St David's Church of England at
Surrey Hills. The 1903 Electoral Roll shows two entries for Alice Margaret, firstly at 8
Edmond Street, Bronte and secondly at 5 Wiley Street, Bronte, home of her parents. Alice is
listed as a domestic servant.
Henry and Alice had the following children:
Thomas: Jane Alice My Grandmother
Thomas: Alexander John [Alec] born 1902. May have married Vera Millicent Hall at
Granville in 1924. Vera may have been the sister of George Thomas Hall who married step
sister Alice May Hanson unconfirmed . [1930 Electoral Roll John Street, Liverpool; 1936
Electoral Roll John Street, Cabramatta - same street as George and Alice Hall]]
In 1905 Alice Maragaret Thomas petitioned for divorce from Henry Thomas [No 5518]
The marriage of Henry Thomas and Margaret Houlihan was dissolved by Decree of the
Supreme Court of NSW on 27th November 1906. Oral history states they parted after a
dispute involving the Baptism of their youngest child Alexander although this is not
stated in the divorce records. Margaret was Irish Catholic. Click HERE for details on the
On 11th December 1906, Frederick Hanson married Alice Margaret Thomas according to the
rites of the New Unitarian Church at 290 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. At the time of his
marriage Frederick was 40 years old, a widower, residing at Surrey Hills. His occupation was
Produce Merchant. Margaret was living at Waverley and gave her occupation as Home
Duties. Her conjugal status is shown as Divorced Petitioner. The witnesses to the marriage
are William Houlihan [Margaret's brother] and Mary May Stirling [Margaret's sister]
Their children were: For more information on children please click HERE
Hanson: Clara, [known as Clare] born 19th September 1907 at 384 Cleveland Street,
Hanson: William Frederick, born 9th October 1910, Liverpool.
Hanson: Alice May, born 13 September 1912, Liverpool.
Hanson: Frederick Albert, born 1915.
Hanson: Margaret Joan [Peggy] born 26th January 1918 .
Hanson: Albert Guildford born 25th January 1920, Guildford.
My Grandmother often made mention of two sisters who were stillborn, Theresa and Mary.
These births do not seem to have been registered.
Known Addresses: 1906 Frederick is at 121 Cowper Street, Waverley. 1912, George Street,
Liverpool. 1914 Belmont Street Merrylands 1916-1936 the family were living at 40 McArthur
Deaths: Frederick died 23rd September 1923 at his home in MacArthur Street, Guildford [ref
11534] Cause of death was a cerebral haemorrahage and arterioclerosis. Duration of illness
was 2 days. He is buried in the Church of England section of the Rookwood cemetery. Area
AN Section h Grave number 0004995
The Cumberland Argus [NSW] dated 29th September 1923 reported:
DEATH. Much regret is expressed at the somewhat sudden death of Mr. Frederick Hanson,
which took place at his home, McArthur street, South Granville, on Sunday night last. He was
taken seriously ill when proceeding to his work on the previous day and died without
regaining consciousness. He had been on the outdoor staff of the Granville Council for a
considerable period. He was 58 years of age and leaves a wife and family. The funeral
moved to the Church of England Cemetery, Rookwood, on Tuesday, Metcalfe and Morris, Ltd.,
having charge of the arrangements. The Rev.. R. O. Todd (Lidcombe) officiated at the
graveside. At its meeting on Tuesday the Granville Council passed a vote of condolence with
the widow and family.
The Cumberland Argus dated 29th September 1923:
GUILDFORD A SAD DEATH. At 9.30 p.m. on Sunday, Mr. Fred Hanson, of MacArthur street,
Guildford, died from the effects of a paralytic stroke, which seized him on Saturday morning,
a few minutes after 'he had left home to go to work. The deceased; who was a very fine
stamp of man, had been in the employ of Granville Council for many years as a day man.
Practically, one could have taken a lease of his life so powerful and healthy he look. He
was always a kindly man,with a quiet retiring disposition, and he was respected by everyone
in Guildford. He leaves his wife and family of seven children to mourn. On Tuesday, the rev
W H Croft held a service at MacArthur street, and the remains were interred that afternoon in
the Church of England Cemetery at Rookwood. Great sympathy is felt for Mrs Hanson and her
Alice Margaret died on 20th August 1960 [ref 23542] at 197 John Street, Cabramatta [home
of daughter Alice or son Alex?] Cause of death was carcinoma of the pancreas which she had
suffered from for one month. Informant was F A Hanson, son. She was buried in the
Catholic Section of Rookwood Cemetery, Mortuary 2 Area E Grave 2495 on 22nd August
1960, the same grave as her mother Alice Houlihan.
Right: Unmarked grave of Margaret buried with her mother
Alice at Rookwood cemetery 8th June 2014