Captain Hector Axup,  brother-in-law

Hector C. Axup (1843-1927) married Mary Sophia Day (1852-1941), the younger sister of Thomas Nevin’s wife Elizabeth Rachel Day, on May 1st, 1878, at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, Tasmania. It was his second marriage.


Hector C. Axup ca. 1880s. Unattributed
Photo courtesy Suzy Baldwin

British census records give these early biographical details:

Hector Charles James Horatio AXUP was born ABT 1842 in Great Yarmouth Norfolk, and died BEF 1884. He was the son of 2. James AXUP and 3. Ann ?. He married Eleanor Hannah SELF 19 APR 1869 in St Nicholas Great Yarmouth Norfolk, daughter of James Layton SELF. She was born ABT 1839, and died UNKNOWN. She was buried UNKNOWN.

Information courtesy of Brian Stuttard

On May 1, 1878, Hector married Mary Sophia Day, younger sister of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day. Both were daughters of master mariner Captain James Day, and nieces of master mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith, married to Elizabeth Day (Liverpool England 1829), James Day’s sister after whom Thomas Nevin’s wife Elizabeth Rachel Day was named.

Marriage Certificate:

DAY-AXUP. Mary Sophia Day married Hector Charles James Horatio Axup (b. 7 March 1843, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England) in the Wesleyan Church, Kangaroo Valley, Hobart Town Tasmania, on May 1st, 1878.
Witnesses were James Day; John Nevin; Margaret McGuigun. The Minister was Nathaniel Bennett.

On the death of Captain James Day, his father-in-law, in 1882, Hector Axup inserted this notice in The Mercury, 21st November 1882:


DAY.- At his son-law’s residence, H.C. Axup, Sloane -street, Battery Point, in the 78th year of his age, Captain James Day, for many years master mariner of this port, and brother-in-law of the late Captain Goldsmith.

By 1885, Hector and Mary Axup had moved to northern Tasmania.

Records held at the State Records Authority of New South Wales: Shipping Master’s Office show that Hector C. Axup served his apprenticeship on board Graces which arrived in Sydney from London in 1859. He did not settle in Tasmania until about 1876, having served on the barques The Planter, and The Queen of the Sea.


“Hector C. Axup, apprentice”

GTDHS Records
Des Wootton of George Town and District Historical Society, Tasmania, has provided these details from records which are summarised below (some verbatim) from original communication:

“Hector Axup was registered on the Assessment Rolls of 1885 as “Hector Axup, Oak Point Cottage Consolidated Marine Board of Hobart 2 acres 20 pound.” Oak Point is now called She-oak point with two old lightkeepers cottages, and two leading lights which are still used as navigation lights to guide ships into the river.”


Low Head Pilot Station: Postcard courtesy State Library of Tasmania

“From records held at the Low Head Pilot Station indexes the following references are listed for the Axups. Most are only short statements, log book entries, however, there are quite a few mentions in the newspaper cuttings:
Hector was based at the Pilot Station and may have been the coxswain. References stated that he was “in charge”. In one book which appeared to be when seamen signed on or off a ship, the date recorded is Sept 6, 1912, name of H. C. Axup, Norfolk Mate, Torous, (Engaged) . He appeared discharged from same steamship on August 6, 1912 and again discharged December 7, 1912. A note reads “left at the coast” no charges. Another entry: H C Axup, Sept 14 1916, British, Mate, Warratea, engaged.
Other Axups mentioned:
Edward Harris Axup, 1890, 5yrs 1mth attended Low Head School.
Ella Axup, 1897, 7yrs 6mths attended Low Head School.
Ethal [sic] Axup, 1897, 5yrs 1mth Attended Low Head School.
Eva Axup, 1891, 12yrs 2mths attended Low Head School.
Harold Axup, 1893, 8yrs 7mths attended Low Head School (Admission 9/9/89)
Sydney James Vernon Axup,1890, 6yrs 6mths Attended Low Head School (Admission 9/9/89)
There was also a Mr T. Axup and a J.H. Axup.Mrs Axup also has references. One was when she was sick.
The letters H. C.Axup wrote to the newspapers in the 1920s are also recorded in the Pilot Station Research Books. A cutting on page 67 is from a cutting from the Examiner newspaper of the 29th October, 1916:
Royal Commission on Tamar Improvements: –
Hector Charles Axup – master mariner expressed the opinion that the Porpoise Rock should be removed first. That and the Bombay Rock were the chief obstacles to a straight run up the River. He had previously been in the pilot service of the Launceston Marine Board for many years.” –
The letters to the newspaper referred to the blasting of two rocks from the Tamar River.”

All information from the Pilot Station records are courtesy of  Des Wootton and are copyright © George Town and District Historical Society 2005-2007.

Sometime during the years 1887-1888 Hector Axup came into conflict with the Marine Board resulting in his suspension and dismissal.

The Mercury 11 December 1882:
Hector Axup, longwhile chief officer of the Acacia, appointed similar position in the barque Natal Queen.

Above and below: the barque Natal Queen ca.1890
State Library of Tasmania
Built at Grangemouth in 1866 ; registered in Hobart 1873 ; wrecked in Adventure Bay 1909
Photographer: Williamson, William, 1861-1926
Ref: AUTAS001126071323; AUTAS001126071315

The Mercury 11 October 1887:
Hector Axup thanked by the Governors of the Boys Home, Hobart, for his donation and wish that the boys be trained for the seafaring life.

The Mercury 16 July 1887:
Recommendation that Hector Axup be dismissed from Marine Board service on several counts: “leaving his station without permission”; language and conduct “most disrespectful and irritating, tending to subvert discipline on the station.”

The Mercury July 1887:
Hector Axup, the assistant keeper at Kent’s Group (Bass Strait), was suspended from the Marine Board.

Kent Group, c1891

Kent Group, c1891
Photograph by John Watt Beattie, in Crowther album 3 No. 10.
W.L. Crowther Library, Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

The Mercury 13 March 1889:
Hector Axup, late master of the Linda, appointed boatman.

At the age of 83, Hector Axup published “A Unique Booklet” titled “The Reminiscences of an ‘Old Salt’ of 83 Years by Hector C. Axup” (Launceston ca. 1926). The photo above of Hector at the Capstan graces the front cover, photographer unknown.

In his “Unique Booklet” Hector roams over subjects as diverse as the launch of the last of the wooden three-deckers, the “Royal Albert” in 1854 which he witnessed as a school boy attending the Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich; the good looks of Princess Alexandra of Denmark; Darwinism; Biblical Geometria; the Apocalypse; the Launceston Marine Board; “British Israel Truth” and Zionism; and a final word on the attitude of Christian men to Disarmament. He was in the end both disillusioned and traumatised by the Great War (World War I).

A copy of the unique booklet is held by Suzy Baldwin, great granddaughter of Hector and Mary Axup.


Hector Axup circa 1925, with other old salts and dog.
Old Salts image courtesy Des Wootton,
© George Town and District Historical Society, Tasmania.

Des Wootton comments:
“Left to right they are Thompson, Axup, Pilot Moncur, Clements, Pilot Mullay in front of the Chart Room (still exists and used). Don’t know the dog’s name.

OBITUARY, 30th November 1927
Tom and Albert Nevin, sons of photographer Thomas J. Nevin and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day, attended the funeral of their uncle Hector Axup at Carr Cemetery, Launceston. They were related to Hector Axup through the marriage of their mother’s sister Mary Sophia Day to Captain Hector Axup at Kangaroo Valley, Hobart in 1878.

Above: Obituary for Captain Hector Axup, 30 November 1927, Launceston Examiner


From left to right:
Thomas & Elizabeth Nevin’s daughter Minnie (Mary) Nevin,
Thomas Nevin’s sister-in-law Mary Axup nee Day,
Mary Axup’s daughter Eva Baldwin nee Axup,
and Thomas and Elizabeth’s Nevin’s daughter May Nevin.
Taken ca. 1938. © KLW NFC & Nevin Family Collection 2009 ARR.

More biographical information and several family photographs of Mary Sophia Axup with adult children can be viewed here. Mary Sophia Axup nee Day, his wife, died in 1941.