This family has been researched in detail, and published in a booklet form in 1988 by Stephen Sheaffe, a barrister in Brisbane. A short summary follows for the sake of completeness. Those with a special interest in this family should seek a copy of Stephen’s booklet. A second updated addition is to be published in October.
Stephen’s research indicates that the Sheaffe family migrated from Flanders some time in the period 1330 – 1480. The name was changed to the English “Sheaf” which has the same meaning as the Flemish word “Schoaf”.
There are numerous variations of this spelling, but our branch of the Sheaffe family has spelt their name this way since William of Boston in the 18th century.
The Sheaffe in Flanders were most likely descended from the Franks, a German Tribe that invaded and occupied Flanders in the 5th century.
During the Hundred Year War (1337 – 1453) Flanders sided with England against France. As the European cloth industry was centred in Holland and France in this period, Edward III (1327 – 1377) encouraged the creation of an English cloth industry, and assisted migrants, from Flanders with skills in this area.
The ancestors of the Sheaffe family probably settled in Grifford, Norwich, and then later in Cranbrook, Kent.
Thomas Sheaffe (1470 – 1520) is the earliest recorded “Sheaffe” in Cranbrook. The Sheaffe family were successful cloth manufacturers in this period and acquired extreme influence and wealth.
Jacob Sheaffe, with a group of Puritans, migrated from England for Connecticut in 1639. In about 1790, William Sheaffe, for unknown reasons, returned to England from Boston and then Ireland, marrying an Irish Catholic and settling permanently in Ireland.
On the 18th August 1834, his son William arrived in Australia as a member of the Queens Army Regiment (50th). He resigned his commission in 1841 and settled in Dapto, NSW.
William married Rosalie Earle and had 9 children. Two were born on the Isle of Wright, the third at sea, and the remainder in Australia.
Emily Margaret, our ancestor was the 5th child, born in Woolongong, 1839. In 1864 she married Charles Wheeler. Emily died in 1896 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Their children were:
Henry b. 1865 d. 1903 Hugh b. 1877 d. about 1907
Guy Danvers b. 1868 d. about 1920 Portia b. 1873
Henry married Annie Laurie, and their only child, Portia, my grandmother, was born in 1897.