Jason Donovan - Who Do You Think You Are?

A family reunited in Australia...


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The 7th Episode of season 8 of Who Do You Think You Are follows Jason Donovan's Australian and English roots.

Jason Donovan, most famous for his appearances in Neighbours alongside Kylie Minogue was born in 1968 in Melbourne. Jason was raised by his father Terence Donovan as his parents divorced when he was only five years of age.

Jason discovered that the show business line goes much deeper on his maternal side with his great grandmother, Eileen Dawson, who started her showbiz career aged 17 and made appearances at the Sydney Opera House.

Eileen's grandfather (Jason's 3x Great grandfather), Joseph Lyons was born in London and married to Rosetta. Joseph and Rosetta were tried for 'receiving stolen goods' and on 23/08/1841 Joseph was found guilty and sent to Australia for 10 years, leaving his wife who was found not guilty and their two children in London.

A few years later Rosetta and the children gained passage to Australia with the help of the Jewish community to be re-united with Joseph.

TheGenealogist.co.uk offers access to the census records for England and Wales 1841-1901; it is possible to locate the Lyons family before Joseph was sent to Australia and after the family returned to London in 1856.

The Lyons family in the 1861 Census

The Lyons family in the 1841 Census

Jason discovered more English roots back 7 generations on his maternal side with William Cox (1764-1837) who was born in Wimborne Dorset and later lived in Wiltshire where he met and married Rebecca Upjohn from Bristol. He, his wife and 4 sons set sail for New South Wales in 1799 and along the way the ship collected many Irish convicts of whom William was put in charge of. William built up good relationships with the convicts who had a great deal of respect for him.

In 1811 Cox became principal magistrate at Hawkesbury in NSW and is most famous for his pioneering role in the construction of the first ever road across the Blue Mountains. With the help of 30 convicts they completed the 101½ mile long track in just 6 months.

As a reward Cox was given 2,000 acres of land near to Bathurst which he called Hereford Estate. This listing can be seen in our '1834 New South Wales Post Office Directory with Census Detail' exclusively available to Diamond subscribers.

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