Crest The Elson Family
in South Australia

Provis Family
South Australia

Provis Crest

Provis Crest

Provis Family

The name Provis originates from the official name for  'the provost' the prefect or chief magistrate, or mayor of a town and the name was brought into England at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Clack Priory

Bradenstoke Priory (Clack Priory) near Foxham, Wiltshire in the 19th Century

The Provis Family came from the area around Bath, near the border of Somerset and Wiltshire and there is a record of  a Walter le Provost living in  County Wiltshire as early as 1273. The South Australian Provis Family may be his descendants. Frances Ann Provis, her parents, Joseph Provis and Mary Janetta (nee Hannum), known as Janetta, as well as her siblings except Frederick Joseph, who was born in Bristol, were all born in Foxham, Wiltshire a village near Chippenham, a large market town. Members of the family, however, referred to their home in England as Clack which was the largest town near Foxham, later known as Bradenstoke cum Clack in 1864, when it was carved from the parishes of Christian Malford and Lyneham, which was near Clack Priory, the popular name of  Bradenstoke Priory of the Augustinian Friars which was founded in 1142 by Walter D'Evereux. The monks of the Priory were forced to abandon it on 17th January 1539 when Henry VIII closed the monasteries and it was given to Richard Pexel who converted it into a farm. The guest house, prior's lodge, and great tithe barn were purchased by the eccentric millionaire,William Randolph Hearst, in 1929 who had them dismantled and used for additions to St Donats Castle in Wales, except the tithe barn which was sent in boxes to Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California, but was later "sold on". The boxes containing the tithe barn have recently been discovered and the Bradenstoke community is attempting to purchase it, so it can be rebuilt near where it once stood. All that remains of the priory are the guest house tower and its undercroft.  Joseph Provis's parents were William (born 1772 at Bremhill) and Mary (born 1772). Joseph was born in Foxham on 5th July 1807 and christened on 20th September 1807, marrying Janetta Provis (born in Foxham, 23rd November 1807 to Joseph and Beata Hannum)at the Moravian Church at East Tytherton, Wiltshire on 21st April 1829. Joseph had two siblings: George (born 1799) and Christopher (born 1802) who remained in Wiltshire. Joseph and Janetta had eleven children of which one, Janetta, was born at Atworth in January 1847, and died at Bradford on Avon on 13th February 1847. The remaining children were: Frederick Joseph, Frances Ann, Francis, Joseph Hannum, Louisa Harriet, Mary, Christopher, Matilda Hannum, Caleb and Francis Kirk.  


Mary Janetta  Hannum
(Click here to see personal items)
Foxham, Wiltshire (2008)
(Click here to see photos of region)
Joseph Provis


  Joseph & Janetta in 1870s 
Archdeacon Hale needed a head teacher for his newly established Aboriginal Mission at Poonindie and according to the book: Mathew Blagden Hale by A. de Q. Robin published in 1976 he invited his friend, Joseph Provis, the school master at Atworth, where Hale had been a curate, to take the position. The invitation came at an opportune time for Joseph as he suffered from asthma and his doctor had advised him to move to Australia or South Africa. The decision was also made easier because he had two children already in South Australia, Frederick and Frances. Joesph and his family sailed on the David Malcolm on 19th September 1853 for Port Adelaide, but tragedy struck the family when their youngest child, Francis Kirk, aged two years old died a few days into the voyage while the ship was in the Bay of Biscay. The family reached Affleck Beach on the Eyre Peninsula, now known as North Shields, in January 1854 from Port Adelaide in the Bandicoote. At Affleck Beach they were met by Archdeacon Hale and an Aboriginal choir singing a hymn composed by Archdeacon Hale welcoming the Provis Family. Mrs. Provis and the children were carried on the sailors' backs to shore. Mr. Provis became a teacher at the Church of England Poonindie Mission for Aboriginal children just outside Port Lincoln where he worked for three years while his wife, Janetta, acted as matron. Janetta was much in demand for her medical knowledge as she had acquired medical training from her father who was a medical practitioner. In 1856 Joseph rented a section at what is now the Tumby Bay Racecourse and established a wheat farm there. Three years later the Provis families moved to Whites River and later Little Swamp near Port Lincoln. Some years later he and Janetta moved to Tumby Bay where they rented land from Mr. Mortlock and opened the first post office in the district which Joseph managed for the next thirty years. Joseph was also a Church of England lay reader and conducted prayers at his home. Joseph and Janetta, however, broke with the Anglican Church when Joseph approached the priest at the Poonindie Mission on behalf of the Anglican community in Tumby Bay in 1869 to hold services there and was told "it was too far, for too few". In disgust Joseph invited the Methodist minister in Port Lincoln to conduct services in Tumby Bay at his home, who agreed, and consequently Joseph and Janetta became Methodists much to the disapproval of their Anglican relations and friends. Joseph and Janetta also helped build the Methodist Chapel on Mine Hill Road at Stokes where the first wedding was held for his son Caleb, who married Janette Paterson, and the last wedding in the chapel was that of his grand daughter Janetta Hannum Provis to Charles Octoman. Janetta died at Tumby Bay on 19th February 1877 at the age of 69, while Joseph lived on until  21st October 1901 dying when he was 94 at Tumby Bay after spending his last years with his son, Caleb, and his wife, Janetta (Jessie). Janetta and Joseph are buried beside each other at the Port Lincoln Happy Valley Cemetery.

Poonindie Mission

Frances Ann

Frances Ann was born in a village near Bath called Foxham on 24th December 1831 and was baptised in the Moravian Church in East Tytherton, Wiltshire 5th February 1832 Frances was the daughter of Joseph Provis and Janetta Provis, Joseph was the teacher at the village of Atworth and a friend of the parish priest, the Reverend Hale whose father, Robert Blagden Hale MP for West Gloucestshire, had the Atworth School built in 1828 and paid the teacher's wages. When the Reverend Hale ,who became Bishop of Perth and later Queensland, decided to follow the first Bishop of Adelaide, Augustus Short, to South Australia as archdeacon, after the deaths of his wife and mother in 1845, Joseph Provis probably suggested that Frances accompany him and his two daughters, Amy and Mary, as their governess, since Frances taught alongside her father Joseph and sister Matilda at the Atworth Parish School. Pat Curtis in her Provis Family history states, however, that Frances Anne was Bishorp Short's children's governess and according to John Hale, great grandson of Walter Hale, Maria McKenzie of about the same age as Frances Ann, who later married Walter Hale, a cousin of Archdeaon Hale, was the governess of  the Archdeacon's two daughters. The governesses sailed with the households of Bishop Short and Archdeacon Hale to South Australia on the Derwent, arriving at Port Adelaide in 1848

Tytherton Church

East Tytherton Church, Wiltshire

Frances married William Elson on 27th October 1851 in St. John's Church, Halifax Street, Adelaide. The couple settled soon after in the village of Unley which was just over the Parklands from the church. They had fifteen children altogether, four of whom were born in Unley: Midford born in 1852, Mary in 1854, Alice in 1856 and Frances in 1857, There may have been another child born in Unley after Midford, called Janetta, who died when she was only 15 months old, named after Frances Ann's mother. In 1860 they went to Port Lincoln where William worked as the Postmaster for twelve years. After settling in Port Lincoln the remaining ten children were born: Wilberforce in 1862, Mathew also in 1862, Frewer in 1863, Christopher in 1864, Gertrude Amelia in 1868, Joseph, John, Lydia Maud in 1867, Naomi and Walter John in 1869. William worked as shoemaker in Port Lincoln after being postmaster.William and Frances Ann later moved to Cleve where three sons had children and had already established themselves and some of their daughters were teachers.William had a stroke at his home, Eversley Farm, near Cleve and went into a coma, dying there five days later on 29th August 1883 before the doctor arrived, at the age of  58. Frances died in Cleve 14 years later in 1897, at the age of 65.

Frances Ann

Frederick Joseph

Frances Ann's eldest brother, Frederick Joseph, born on 12th April 1830 in Wiltshire, arrived in South Australia a year after her in 1849. Frederick was employed by Bishop Short for two years after his arrival and was then employed as a coachman for Mr. Hagen at Echunga. He then married Sarah Tarry who was also one of Bishop Short's household. SA government records (GRG 45/43 and GRG 5/30) idicate that he went with his brother-in-law, William Elson, to the Victorian gold fields from where he brought back about 12 ounces of gold in 1852, After returning from the gold fields with William, Frederick and his wife settled in Echunga, where Frederick was employed as the Superintendent of the Sunday School at St. Mary's Church and where one of their children, Joseph Samuel (1852-54), is buried. After his parents moved to Tumby Bay, however, Frederick took his family to join them in 1858. After farming some of the Mortlock's land at Tumby Bay in 1875 he purchased two sections from the government in the Hundred of Yaranyacka near Lipson and farmed there until 1882 when his son, Josiah, took over until his death in 1947. Josiah's son, Eric, inherited the farm and remained there until 1966 when it was sold.

Frederick and his family moved to Stokes in 1882 and he worked with his father in the Post Office there. He died there on 14th October 1908 at the age of 78 and his wife died at the age of 80 in Stokes on 3rd April 1904. The Post Office was continued by son, George, assisted by Frederick's unmarried daughter Janetta until George's death in 1932. Janetta died in Tumby Bay on 22nd April 1945. The Provis Family ceased farming at Stokes when Gregory Provis sold his farm in 1979 and all that is left to mark the Provis Family there is the three acres he donated to the National Trust as the Provis Memorial Reserve in the Hundred of Stokes.

   Frederick Joseph Provis    Sarah  Elizabeth Tarry 

Louisa Harriett

Louisa Harriett was born in Foxham near the village of Atworth on 1st October 1834 and arrived in South Australia in 1854 with her parents and siblings. She married George White, who was born in Bristol, England on 19th May 1824 whose family had settled in the hills near Poonindie at Whites River. The Provis Family and the Whites had settled at about the same time and became friends. The fact that both families came from adjacent regions of England would have been significant in bringing the families together.

Louisa and George started their married life farming at Whites River, but later moved to Tumby Bay and then to Elliston before moving to Western Australia. They had 8 children: four boys and four girls, including one set of twins. Their eldest child, Francis Kirk, and his friend, Jack Redaway, were the first Europeans to travel overland from Elliston to Western Australia. Francis and Jack made their way along the coast, staying for awhile at Eucla shearing sheep on their way to Albany, where they arrived in time to meet Louisa and George, who arrived by ship from South Australia.

George and Louisa remained in Western Australia for the remainder of their lives as have many of their descendants

Joseph Hannum

Joseph was only fourteen when he arrived with his family in South Australia and like his brother, Christopher, became a policeman. His saddest duty in that position was when he had to investigate the tragic death of his girlfriend, Emily Hammond, daughter of the Superintendent of the Poonindie Mission, Dr. Octavius Hammond, who had drowned herself in the Todd River after her father forbade her to continue the courtship with Joseph

Joseph married Mary Hobbs on 6th February 1864 at the residence of George Berryman, Emu Bottom near Port Lincoln and he was well liked as the landlord of the Port Lincoln Hotel where he remained until his death in 1891 at the age of 51. He is buried in the Port Lincoln Cemetery with his daughter, Ellen Alice, who died as a child in 1872. Mary then moved to Victor Harbor to assist her invalid daughter, Elizabeth Bleechmore, manage the Crown Hotel after the death of her husband, Percy Bleechmore. Mary died at Victor Harbor aged 81 on 5th December 1925 and is buried at the Victor Harbor Cemetery.

Joseph and Mary had nine children. The eldest was Joseph Frederick who joined the Western Australian police force while he was on his honeymoon there. On 5th August 1888 he captured the bushranger, James Jarvis, who with Thomas Hughes had been terrorising the area. He later returned to to Port Lincoln and became a farmer. Another son, Oswald, was a mounted policeman who was crippled in a scuffle when a tent peg pierced his knee. Their son, Felix, was the first South Australian taken prisoner during the Boer War while serving in the South Australian Mounted Rifles. During his life Felix owned Gantala Station near North Shields, as well as what is now the Tasman Hotel in Port Lincoln and the Bridgeport Hotel in Murray Bridge.

Matilda Hannum

Matilda was born on the 11th November 1836 in Foxham, Wiltshire and was eighteen when she arrived in South Australia with her parents in 1854. On 11th december 1856 she married George Pidgeon Berryman who was born in Guernsey in 1829. They  farmed at Riverton in South Australia  where some of their 15 children were born, before returning to Port Lincoln in 1861 where they rented land at Emu Bottom from Mr. J. Bishop before taking up scrub land near Tumby Bay which they called Mallee Vale. George died at Tumby Bay on 11th July 1886 at the age of 57.

Matilda, now a widow, purchased some of the Poonindie Mission Station blocks offered for sale in 1896 which was called Pethick after the surveyor. An adjoining  property was added later increasing the size of Pethick to a total of 1400 acres. The land was cleared and farmed by three of her sons: Ben, Will and Alex who built three houses clustered together on the property. The three brothers brought up 13 children there and the family held the Pethic Farm until 1944.

Matilda became the matriarch of the Berryman Family and continued writing verse, gardening, supporting her large family as well as attending the old Poonindie Mission Church where her family first settled in South Australia until she died in her 77th year on 21st October 1913.


Christopher was born in Wiltshire in 1838 and was sixteen when he arrived in South Australia with his parents. He married Julia Allen in Adelaide on 30th January 1864 and became a police officer based at Streaky Bay. He later lived at Clare and Red Hill where he was the inspector of government leases. He spent his later years in Adelaide as a clerk in a government office.


Mary was born  on 2nd March 1842 in Foxham near the village of Atworth, Wiltshire and arrived in South Australia in 1854. Mary married John Thring on 23rd March 1864 who was the overseer at Whites River at the time of his marriage to Mary. Also born in Wiltshire at Netherton, John arrived in South Australia when he was eleven years old with his parents, William and Elizabeth Thring and children: Francis William, Anne and Emma on the Duke of Wellington on 7th November 1849, growing up in the district surrounding Encounter Bay. John was booked to cross Australia from Adelaide to the Northern Territory in the 1861 with John McDouall Stuart, but his brother, Francis William Thring, went instead. Francis William, in fact, was the third officer on Stuart's 5th as well as the 6th and final expedition on which they reached the coast of northern Australia, east of what is now Darwin..

In 1869 John and Mary moved from Whites River with their sons Hedley and William to Tumby Bay where they rented a section of land from Mr. W. R.. Mortlock known as Yalluna which became known as Thring's Paddock. John and Mary built their home at Mine Creek on what later became the Stirling Racecourse. In December 1878 John, Mary and children: Hedley, Edith, Emily, Francis, Frederick and Florence moved inland to the Hundred of Stokes where they established a new farm called Kapinka which is Aboriginal for spring water.Their second son William had died of tuberculosis in 1872. The house they built at Kapinka was the first stone house in the area and was occupied by the Provis family as recently as 1984.

In 1895 Hedley bought his own land in the Hundred of Stokes which he called Cockaleechie which is Aboriginal for black cockatoo. The railway line ran along the entire western side of his property.

In 1903 John and his sons: Francis, Frederick and Percival purchased Blackwood Park at Strathalbyn and moved there leaving Hedley at Cockaleechie. On19th January 1907 Francis and Percival (Percy) sold their interests in Blackwood Park to their father and Frederick to buy their own properties in the surrounding district.

Mary died on 11th January 1911 at the age of 69 and John died on the 27th August 1918 at the age of 81. Their daughters, Emily and Edith, managed their father's share of Blackwood Park until Frederick's death in 1941. Florence worked as a church missionary and was not involved in the property. John and Mary together with their unmarried children: Edith, Frederick, Emily and Florence are all buried at Strathalbyn.

Robert Provis


Caleb was born in 1850 in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire and was only four when he arrived in South Australia with his family. He was the first white child in the Tumby Bay area and his childhood companions were Aboriginal children at the Poonindie Mission and surrounding area. In 1873 he carted the stone to build the church on Stokes Road where he married Jessie Patterson born on 23rd November 1854 at Kadina on the Yorke Peninsula on 27th November of the same year.

They had five sons and four daughters, but 2 daughters, Agnes and Mary Patterson, died of diphtheria in 1888. The surviving children were Archie, Caleb William (Bill), Joseph, Christopher, Franklin, Janetta Hannum and Maud. Janetta married Charles Mashon Ochtomann  (later changed to Octoman) in 1903 and they had four sons. She was very active in public life, becoming the first female Justice of Peace in Lipson and being honoured with an MBE in 1954 for her work with the CWA. Archie became a blacksmith and coach builder before moving to Adelaide where he owned a service station. Christopher became a police officer before taking up farming near Penola. Bill started the first fruit shop in Tumby Bay in 1918 which was later managed by his son, Verdun, and then by his wife, Anzac, and his mother when both men had died. The shop closed in 1958.

Caleb was one of the first settlers to take up agriculture in the Hundred of Hutchinson which were offered for sale in 1868 at one pound per acre. In 1903 he  introduced the use of super phosphate with good results. In 1912 he kept a small herd of cows from which he sold milk to customers in Tumby bay including the old hospital, two hotels, a boarding house and his son Bill's fruit shop..

Caleb was very involved in local affairs and was one of the founders the first government school at Tumby Bay in 1905 and was one of the first officers of the Tumby Bay Lipson Branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society when it opened on 29th May 1908. He also laid the foundation stone of the first stone public hall in Tumby Bay on 24th February 1906.

Caleb died at the age of 71 near Lipson on 11th July 1921 and is buried at the Lipson Cemetery. Jessie moved to Adelaide after his death and remained there until she died in 1930s. 

Robert Provis

 Grave of Caleb Provis, Lipson Cemetery, SA

Hannum Family

Hannum originates from the name of  Hanham, a hamlet in the parish of Britton in the county of Gloucester, five miles from Bristol and official records from 1273 mention Thomas de Hanam of the County of Somerset who may have been an ancestor of Janetta Hannum as Somerset borders Wiltshire near Foxham.


Most of my information about the Provis Family is from the following book: Curtis, Pat Provis family history Port Lincoln : P. Curtis, 1984 (Out of print). Available at the State Library of South Australia and the Flinders University Library. 

Personal items of Janetta Provis

Janetta Book

Cover of book dated 1826 belonging to Janetta Provis

Janetta book2

Hand written notes by Janetta Provis inside book from 1826

Janetta Photos

Photos of Poonindie Mission and possibly Janetta Provis from a family photo album



Click here to see Provis Family Wiltshire Gallery 

Sources of information include : Curtis, Pat  Provis family history 1854-1984, [Port Lincoln, S. Aust. : P. Curtis], 1984. ,  Geneaology SA databasesTrove website,

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