The Dance Families of the Forest of Dean














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John Musto Roseblade (1845-1916) was born in the Cotswolds village of Somerford Keynes. His father William (1821) was a farm labourer and his mother Alice Musto (1820) a South Cerney school-teacher. William had seven sons and one daughter, all born at Somerford Keynes near Cirencester. John's younger brother William Roseblade (1855) was also to migrate to Queensland. He married Hazel Rodger (1884) at Townsville in 1905. William settled and farmed at Blackfellows Creek in the Atherton area.


John Musto Roseblade was a stone-mason living at Victoria Road, Coleford, the road leading into Scowles in 1881. His wife Mary Ann Critchley (1843) who he married in 1874 was from a Scowles quarryman's family. 

Her father, quarryman Charles Critchley, was born around 1810 at Bristol. He married widow Elizabeth Jones at Newland in the Forest of Dean in 1830. They had five children and James (1834 -1870), their only son, and daughters Maria (1843), Bella (1840) and Mary Ann (1843-1883), were all born at Scowles.

Mary Ann died in 1883 leaving John with three children, Charles William Roseblade (1875), Susan (1877-1898) and Gertrude (1880). Another child, Elizabeth, had been born on the 18th of February 1882 but died the day after she was born and was buried in Coleford Cemetery on the 20th of February.

He remarried the same year to a Coleford neighbour, laundress Lucy Partridge (1842). She was the locally born daughter of Monmouth carpenter John Partridge (1799).

On the 1881 census Lucy was living a few doors away from the Roseblades. She was single and taking care of her widowed mother Elizabeth Partridge (1800).

In the Scowles School log book for April 1886 the headmaster wrote - "I learn that the Roseblades leave Coleford for Australia early this month. They will be a great loss as they are the most forward children in the school and sure of passing."




Ipswich, Queensland in 1872



The family migrated to Ipswich, Queensland in 1886 where Lucy's older brother William Partridge (1834) had already settled in 1855. John Roseblade had little trouble finding work as a stone-mason. After 5 years there they moved North as farming pioneers at Allumbah Pocket in the Atherton Tablelands near Cairns.




The earliest Europeans on the Atherton Tablelands were engaged in timber and mining. The first gold found in the Shire in 1879 was in the upper reaches of the Mulgrave River. 

The rich soil and cool climate were thought particularly suitable for the development of agriculture. In 1885 a Village Settlement scheme was introduced which offered settlers 40-acre farm blocks with home sites clustered as a village. In 1888 a village settlement was laid out at Allumbah Pocket, later to become Yungaburra. 

At the same time a railway from the port of Cairns to the Tableland was begun, although it took far longer to reach its objective than originally envisaged.


Atherton Tablelands



The first farms at Allumbah were taken up in 1891, though that scheme proved unsuccessful. The railway reached Mareeba in 1895 and Atherton in 1903, greatly improving access to the area. Following new Land Acts in the early 1900s to encourage closer settlement that had more practical requirements, more people took up land around Allumbah.

In 1891 46 year old John Musto Roseblade and his sixteen year old son Coleford born Charles William Roseblade after moving up North from Ipswich, left the rest of their family at Cairns and walked the Robson Track to visit the goldfields. The gold mining in that area was already declining and turned out to be a fairly unattractive occupation for a family man. On their return along the Robson Track they stopped off at Halfpapp's Shanty near Balls Pocket and decided to try farming. 


When Robsons Track from the coastal areas around Cairns to Herberton was opened, it was necessary to establish staging stations along the narrow track to provide food and rest for the teamsters and their horses. One of these stations was the shanty pub built and operated by Fred Halfpapp on the bank of Forest Creek. It was the first building in the area. The popular Fred Halfpapp went on to be a tower of strength in Allumbah. He operated the first store, butcher's shop and post office and also ran a herd of dairy cattle.


Leaving Yungaburra (unknown riders)


The Roseblade family arrived with their pack-horse team at Allumbah Pocket (later named Yungaburra) in April 1891 and set up camp on the bank of Stewarts Gully. They had three months rations and a very small amount of money. It was on the 7th of May that John rode the 18 miles to Herberton and made his application for four blocks totalling 153 acres at the Lands Office. He was to live at Yungaburra until he died in 1916 and became the very first permanent resident of the town.

Their first home was a one-roomed hut partitioned off with sacking. The roof and walls were made of bark from bloodwood trees, the furniture was crude and the floor was earthen. The fire-place was outside and because all building materials and furniture would need to be carried in by pack-horse or hand, local natural resources had to be employed. The beds comprised of forked sticks driven into the ground with sacking stretched over to serve as a mattress.

The next enormous task with long hours of back-breaking work and involving the whole family, was clearing small areas of land, felling and burning the scrub and then sowing grass.

In 1893 a disastrous economic depression and the resulting bank failure forced Fred Halfpapp to close the depot and post service at nearby Kulara and John Roseblade took over the function of post master at Allumbah. He later passed that position to his daughter Gertrude Dillon (born 1880)

In 1895 John and his son erected the first pit-saw in the area, which enabled them to cut logs lengthwise, and then began to build a more permanent and substantial home.


A saw pit is a pit over which lumber is positioned to be sawed with a long two-handled saw by two men, one standing above the timber and the other below. It was used for producing sawn planks from tree trunks, which could then be cut down into boards, pales, beams and posts. Many UK towns had their own saw pits.

The work of a sawyer was extremely physical and monotonous. Sawyers worked in pairs. The sawyer who had the less arduous job but the more responsible one was known as the Top Sawyer or Top Dog . His role was to guide the saw along the marked line on the timber lifting the saw on the up stroke and following on the down stroke.

His partner the Bottom Sawyer or Bottom Dog had the harder and more uncomfortable job. He would be working in semi-darkness deep in the pit, he would pull on the down stroke of the saw and push on the up stroke whilst being covered by falling sawdust and sweating steadily with his feet in water. No wonder legend has it that many sawyers were fond of their drink!

The two-man team could cut about 200 feet per day. So, if you needed 10 foot beams cut flat on all four sides, it would take all day to produce five.

John's  grandson, George Roseblade relates that an old timer had told him that he had seen one man operate a pit-saw with a boulder attached to the saw end. He stressed in the telling, the terrific strain on arms and shoulders in this single-handed effort.


John's son Charles William Roseblade (1875-1969) started to earn his own living packing on the tracks. (Carrying goods by packhorse and mule). One of his regular routes was to the Russell River goldfields and Boonjie with mail and supplies. 

Many pack-teams with their hardy owners travelled daily carrying food and other necessities to the miners and on the return journey transporting mineral ore and other products.

It was on a return trip in May 1899 by Charles with ore to Herberton through Silver Valley with his sister Susan's husband 30 year old Jim Trevenen, that Jim was kicked in the stomach by a mule while unloading for the night. He died with a ruptured spleen. Tragically he had recently lost his wife and unborn child when the first time pregnant, 21 year old Susan (Roseblade), accidentally slipped while carrying a tub of washing. She unfortunately bled to death before the doctor could arrive on horseback from Herberton.



Both James Trevenen and Susan are buried at the Carrington Cemetery which is now known as the Atherton Pioneer Cemetery. Luckily for today's researchers their head-stones have thoughtfully been protected and fenced in.

The cemetery closed for general burials in 1927 due to the wet conditions in the area. However ‘burials under special circumstances’ could still occur after 1927, and from then until 1999 there have been another 16 burials.


Regretfully after 1927 the area became neglected and quite overgrown until 1989 when fortunately for this family and many others, a much respected volunteer named Sam Dansie took over the care and restoration of this pioneers' resting place.


My sincere thanks to Queenslander Pat Gledstone who went to the trouble of taking the cemetery photos.



In the late 1890s Charles Roseblade had selected a block adjoining his father's holding. At that time land cost 2/6 (25 cents Australia, 12.5 p UK) per acre plus the survey fee. He and his wife Ethel Carr and recently born son Cyril moved to their new farmhouse around 1902. It was named Newlands after the UK Forest of Dean area the family had left behind. Unfortunately in 1908 the railway line was surveyed under the verandah of the house so the building, including its bloodwood stumps had to be dismantled and moved piece by piece across a boggy creek by buckboard to its present location. It was later noted in 1978 that the majority of the structural woodwork in the farmhouse was that original timber.

Charles William Roseblade was listed as a Justice of the Peace in 1910.


In 1903 the railway to Atherton was opened and over the next few years more settlers arrived. Allumbah village began to grow.

In 1910 the rail connection reached Allumbah and John's grandson Cyril Roseblade was one of the two children who had the honour of holding the customary ribbon across the tracks when the first train steamed past. The station was named Yungaburra to avoid confusion with the coastal town of Allumba


The grave of John and Lucy Roseblade at Yungaburra (thank-you Averil at the Yungaburra Visitor Information Centre)



Tom, I came across the Roseblade website and thought I would contact you. I am descended from a Thomas Roseblade who lived in Somerford Keynes around 1800AD. His gravestone is close to the church, and my mother has a little book written in around 1800 about him by a missionary lady from London. At some stage my father's branch of the family arrived in Leicester where there are still Roseblades around. I now live close to Somerford Keynes, and assume that the Tetbury branch of the family are distant relatives.
Helen Roberts. (My father's surname was Roseblade)


I notice that you only have 3 children for John Musto Roseblade and Mary Ann . You have missed Elizabeth who was born 18 Feb 1882 at Coleford, Gloucester. Elizabeth died the day after she was born and was buried in the Coleford Cemetery on 20 Feb 1882. I am only interested in this family because Lucy Partridge was my ancestor’s sister, he was William Partridge. We wish you enough.

May & Don Hampton Sunshine Coast, Qld