Sarah Dicken Symes

Sarah Dicken Symes

Last Name


Given Name:


Middle Name:


Alternative Name:

Sarah Dicken Thompson

Arrival in Queensland

14 November 1853

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Date of Death

14 July 1900


Toowoomba and Drayton Cemetery

Place of residence in Queensland

Drayton, Leyburn, Toowoomba


Henry James Symes

Place Married

Drayton, Queensland


Sarah Maria (b. 25.2.1857 d. 1898), Alfred Henry (b. 1858 d. 1931), Arthur James (b. 1861 d. 1946), Louisa (b. 1862 d. 1930, Thompson (b. 1864 d. 1866), Harry Hyde (b. 1866 d. 1900), John Hyde (b. 1867 d. 1888), Thompson Stewart (b. 1870 d. 1955), Percival Hyde (b. 1872 d. 1957), Mary Maud (b. 1875 d. 1933), Leonard Hyde (b. 1877 d. 1938), Jessie Blanche (b. 8.3.1879 d. 1961)

Domestic Servant

Sarah Dicken Symes (nee Thompson) was born in Scotland around 1838 and immigrated to Queensland with her parents, arriving on the Caroline 17 November 1853. She worked as a domestic servant before marrying Henry James Symes at Drayton on 4 May 1856. The couple had 12 children. Sarah died at Toowoomba on 14 July 1900 and is buried in the Toowoomba and Drayton Cemetery.

Information for this biography was submitted by Denis Peel, great-grandson of Sarah Dicken Symes.

Sarah Dicken Thompson arrived in Brisbane, aged 15, on 17 November 1853 with her father James and her stepmother Mary, aboard the schooner Caroline. Sarah’s mother Isabella Lowe had died in Scotland and her father James had remarried. Sarah was the only surviving child from his first marriage.

Henry James Symes married Sarah Dicken Thompson on 4 May 1856 at the Parsonage, Drayton. They gave their ages as 23 and 21 wheras by other records they seem to have been 25 and 18. Henry, who had changed his surname from Hyde to Symes, recorded his father’s name as John Symes who he said was an attorney, although in the 1851 UK census he is listed as a law clerk.

Sarah is listed as a domestic servant in the New South Wales Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists and as a servant on the marriage extract. Together Sarah and Henry had 12 children. The eldest child born on 25 February 1857 was Sarah Maria Symes, who pre-deceased her parents and was buried in the Toowoomba and Drayton Cemetery. The youngest child was my grandmother Jessie Blanche Symes, born on 8 March 1879. The 12 births span almost 22 years.

It seems that the family lived in Drayton from roughly 1856 to 1860 and again around 1870 to 1872, before moving in to Toowoomba where they lived through to at least 1900. Henry held the mail contract until 1869 and for most of the 1860s they were living in Leyburn which would have been on the mail route between Toowoomba and Goondiwindi. In August 1864, Henry was also appointed Pound Keeper at Leyburn. With Henry spending most of his week travelling, with generally a minimum of two nights away, as well as in his absence being responsible for the care of the animals which were impounded, additional responsibility and workload would have been placed on his wife, Sarah.

Sarah Dicken Symes died of heart disease on 14 July 1900 at the family home in Hume Street, Toowoomba. Her husband, under the pen-name Sigma, published a poem in memory of his wife in the Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs General Advertiser on 11 August 1900 (see newspaper article ‘In Tribute’). Sarah Dicken Symes was buried in the Toowoomba and Drayton Cemetery with her daughter, Sarah Maria Symes.

In Tribute

Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs General Advertiser
11 August 1900, p. 3


Queensland Figaro
15 May 1902, p. 18

Estates Administered

The Telegraph
30 August 1902, p. 6

Online Resources

Births, Deaths, Marriages and Divorces Queensland, marriage registration details: 1859/C/315
Births, Deaths, Marriages and Divorces Queensland, death registration