There is no real starting point to a family tree.  There is always an older generation to be found, and new generations are always following on.  A document such as this represents only one chapter in a continuum of life.

However one logical focal point for this family history is the arrival of Richard Hutchinson Rennie in Australia.  The following pages trace some of his ancestors and many of his descendents.  Whilst it would be interesting to trace all of his relatives it has to be accepted that some family threads are now lost in time.

This document is a record of factual details collected from many sources, as well as the oral histories provided by many relatives. 

It is hoped that all relatives will record information about their immediate family, thus preserving and extending the records of the descendants of Richard Hutchinson Rennie.

To Family Tree of Richard Hutchinson Rennie and Jane Stanbury

Richard Hutchinson Rennie c1890

There are many conflicting stories about the birth place and birth date of Richard Hutchinson Rennie. 

He was baptized as Richard Hutchinson Renney [sic], on the same day as his brother John Goodchild Renney, in St Giles Church, Durham on July 22, 1821 (St Giles Baptism Register).  Their place of abode was recorded as Houghton-le-Spring.

Information provided many years later by Richard himself on two of his children's birth registrations also indicates that he was born in Houghton-le-Spring, Durham County, England (Buninyong Birth Registrations No.2633/1860 and No.19212/1863).

The date of his birth is less certain.  The only written record of his birth date located was a hand written entry in Jane Alexander Mansell's (his daughter's) birthday book.  This was recorded as August 8, 1816. 

To English family tree of Richard Hutchinson Rennie

The spelling of the name Richard Hutchinson Rennie appears to have changed from the original Renney to Rennie somewhere between 1845 and 1850. (See later for details.)

A number of other sources, such as death registrations and obituaries, provided estimates of his birth date as around 1818-1819. The 1851 census even suggests 1815. 

The birth registrations of two of his children and his own marriage registration suggest his birth date is around 1822-23, which is most unlikely.  He was baptized, along with his brother John Goodchild Renney, in 1821.

His actual birth records in England have not been located.




The middle name Hutchinson does not appear on any records in Australia.  However his name in the 1903 electoral roll for Buninyong is recorded as Richard Hutchison Rennie.  The middle initial 'H' does occur several times in Australian records.  For example a medal presented to Richard by the Ballarat Builder's Association, and his own pocket watch were both inscribed with the initials 'R.H.R.'.

In England the full name Richard Hutchinson Rennie occurs on at least three registrations actually signed by Richard himself, including his marriage registration (Sunderland Marriage Registration No.191/1838).  A photocopy of the signature on one of these documents has been compared with signature specimens found in Australia and they are from the same hand.  One can only speculate as to the reason for rarely using the name Hutchinson in Australia.

On two Australian vital records, Richard's middle name was recorded as Henry (East Melbourne Death Registration 14691/1899 and Williamstown Marriage Registration No.6091/1905).  However both of these registrations were made away from Buninyong where Richard lived and were made by informants whose information cannot be guaranteed as being accurate and they are thought to be incorrect.

Jane Alexander Mansell's (his daughter) birthday book, however, records his name as Richard H. G. Rennie.  This is the only reference found during this research to two middle names.  The only name commencing with 'G' that occurs in the family tree is Goodchild, his mother's maiden name. (One of his grand daughters was named Lillie Hutchinson Goodchild Mansell.)

Name Richard H. G. Rennie in Jane Alexander Mansell's birthday book.

Richard had brother John Goodchild Renney.  John and Richard were both baptized on July 22, 1821 in St Giles, Durham. According to the St Giles Baptism Register, John was born on March 26, 1818.

Baptism records also indicate that Richard had two half brothers; William Wilde Reney[sic] and Robert Atkinson Renney.

John Goodchild Renney died in 1860 and was buried in Bischopwearmouth Cemetery on July 8, 1860. (Cemetery Registers, Sunderland District Record Number: 396726.12) He was described as a River Police Constable. His death was registered in the Public Records Office in the September quarter 1860.  The 1851 and 1861 Censuses  support these details.

To English family tree of Richard Hutchinson Rennie

In 1979 Doris Mansell (grand daughter of Richard) recalled her mother saying that Richard Hutchinson Rennie had (at least) two sisters who were opera singers. No records have been found to support this.


John Goodchild Renney married Mary Scott, daughter of Thomas Scott, on about August 31, 1847 and they had seven children, three of whom died very young. 

The children of John Goodchild Renney were:

Thomas W. Renney, born c1849 died early 1852 (P.R.O.)

Jane Goodchild Renney, born cNov 1850 died March 3, 1851 (Sunderland Death Registration 164/1851)

Elizabeth Jane Renney, born c1853

John Goodchild Renney, born  October  22 (I.G.I.), 1855. Died July 20 1857 (Sunderland District - Record Number: 683565.2).

Henrietta Renney, born December 16, 1857 (birth certificate)

John J Renney, born c1858 (also seen as John T Renney)

Mary Goodchild Renney, born c1860


Richard Hutchinson Renney was the son of Jane Hutchinson Goodchild and Wild Renney

The registration of the first marriage of Richard Hutchinson Renney to Ann Elstob (Sunderland Marriage registration No.191/1838), states that Richard's father, Wild Renney, was a surgeon in Durham. 

The registration of Richard's second marriage to Jane Stanbury  (Northcote Marriage registration No.6755/1888), indicates that his father was Wyld[sic] Rennie[sic] and his mother was Jane Goodchild.  The name Goodchild is repeated in several subsequent branches of the family, both in England and in Australia.  Indeed one of Richard's brother was called John Goodchild Renney.

Jane Renney died and was buried in Houghton-le-Spring on May 11, 1823, aged 28. (Burials, Houghton-le-Spring District Record Number: 380957.2)

Baptism records also indicate that Richard had two half brothers; William Wilde Reney[sic], baptised 13 May 1827 (Baptisms, Houghton-le-Spring District Record Number: 163391.0) and Robert Atkinson Renney, sons of Wilde[sic] Renney and his second wife Martha.  Robert was christened on 13 Dec 1829 (Durham P.R.O.).

 The Commercial Directory, Sunderland Section 1820-22 lists Wild Renney as 'Surgeon of Fawcett St, Bishopwearmouth'. 

A trade directory of 1827/28 states that Wilde[sic] Renney was working as a surgeon in Houghton-le-Spring, residing in Sunderland Street. In 1834 he was working as a surgeon in Seaham Harbour, Co. Durham.

No record of the death of Wild Renney has been located thus far, despite numerous searches, although he is thought to have died between 1838 and 1847. Similarly no record of his marriage has been found so far.

To English family tree of Richard Hutchinson Rennie

Above: Information on the marriage registration of Richard H Rennie and Jane Stanbury (1888) indicates Richard's father was Wyld Rennie, a Medical Doctor. 


Doris Mansell (grand daughter of Richard Hutchinson Rennie) recalled (in 1979) being told that Wilde Renney was a doctor and that he was called out late one night to attend a birth.  The night was foggy and wet and his horse shied.  It is said that he was thrown out of the vehicle and was killed.


Wild Renney was born on May 30, 1793 in Durham.  He was the son of John Renney and Ann Wilde of Hilton Ferry.  He was christened on August 2, 1795 in the parish of Bishopwearmouth (Bishopwearmouth Parish Records 1795, ref: M42/169).  The hand written entry in the church register spells his name as Wild Renny[sic]

See entry in parish records.

John Renney had married Ann Wilde on February 12, 1793 in the parish of Tanfield, Durham (Tanfield Parish Marriage Register ref: EP/Ta 2 P13).  John was of the parish of Bishopwearmouth and Ann was of Tanfield.

A similar name Wilde was used in Australia in a later generation as John Robinson Wilde Rennie. 

Ann Wilde is thought to have been born in Tanfield on 12 August 1770. She was the daughter of Robert Wilde and Jane Chisham.

(However another Ann Wilde was born in 1769 at Barnard Castle, the daughter of William and Mary Wilde. )

Various English relatives have provided (in 2003) the following information about the early Renney ancestry.

Andrew RENNIE was born 1675, and his wife Jean  COWPER, was born 1675, at Kinnell, Angus, Scotland. They had three children; Isobel, Andrew and James.

See Ancestors of Wilde Renney Family Tree

Andrew RENNIE was christened  on 4th March, 1698 at Kinnell. 

About age 18 years, Andrew RENNIE  travelled to Gateshead, County Durham, England, (probably in search of work).  There he met and married a young lady named Elizabeth HILLS at St. Marys, Gateshead on 3rd February 1716. About that time the name was changed from RENNIE to RENNEY, the English spelling of the name.

They had two children; Mary and Richard. Their son Richard RENNEY was baptized 6th March, 1720 at St. Mary's, Gateshead, Durham.

Richard RENNEY married Jane GARDINER, on December 3, 1741 at Gateshead. 

They had eight children. Their oldest surviving son Richard RENNEY, was born at Gateshead on June 4, 1744. Richard married Isobel RUTHERFORD on November 29, 1768, at St Giles Church, Durham City, County Durham.

Their oldest of four children was John RENNEY, who was christened on July 19, 1770. John married Ann WILDE, at Tanfield, County Durham on February 12, 1793.

John and Ann's son Wild RENNEY became a famous Surgeon.

Wild was the father of Richard Hutchinson RENNEY who came to Australia. The name appears to have changed back to RENNIE between 1845 and 1850.


Richard Hutchinson Renney (note the  spelling) married his first wife Ann Elstob in the parish of Monkwearmouth, Durham County, on August 28, 1838.  It was a Church of England ceremony with Geo. Watson the officiating minister.

The marriage registration (Sunderland Marriage Registration No.191/1838) describes Richard as being a 'bachelor, of full age' and a 'mason, resident in Monkwearmouth Shore'.  Ann is described as a 'spinster, of full age' also 'resident in Monkwearmouth Shore'.

Ann was described as a dressmaker in both the 1851 and 1881 census.

In 1839 the Renney family was recorded as living in Villiers St., Bishopwearmouth South.

Richard and Ann's first child was named Richard Pattison Renney. He was born on May 22, 1839 (Sunderland Birth registration No. 138/1839).

The birth registers in London hold the registration in Durham of their second child William Renney in the December quarter of 1843 (Vol XXI Page 603), and the registration in Scarborough of their third child Isabella Goodchild Renney in the March quarter of 1845 (Vol XXIV page 481).

William's Directory - General Directory for Sunderland 1844 lists an R. Renney as living at Crow-tree Road, Bishopwearmouth. But by 1845, with the birth of Isabella, they had moved to Scarborough. 

The birth of Emeline Rennie in Scarborough, Yorkshire was registered with the new spelling of Rennie. (Scarborough Birth registration No.264/1850).

In 1850 the Rennie family was living in Providence Place, North Street, Scarborough and the 1851 census shows the family still in residence there.

The birth of Richard and Ann's last child, Mary Ellen Rennie, in 1852 is the last record of Richard in England. He is thought to have been in Australia by 1854.


It appears that when Richard Hutchinson Rennie came out to Australia, his wife and children stayed in England, returning to Sunderland from Scarborough.  They continued to use the new spelling 'Rennie'.

The oldest child, Richard Pattison Rennie, married in 1859 in Hartlepool, and his family eventually lived at 18 Ann Street, Hendon, Sunderland.  He died at this address on September 23, 1929 at the age of 90 years (Sunderland Death Registration 2/1929).  He had been a Bricklayer (Journeyman).

William Rennie married Mary Ann Wilkinson in 1868 in Hartlepool, Durham.

Isobella Goodchild Rennie married George Henry Taylor in Hartlepool.

Jane Ann Rennie married Thomas Johnson in 1875 in Hartlepool.

Emmeline(sic) Rennie married Thomas Vardy Oliver in 1873 in Hartlepool. (The spelling Emmeline is used on the marriage certificate.)

Mary Ellen Rennie
married Thomas Edward Spensley in 1878 in Hartlepool.

In the 1881 census Ann Rennie (nee Elstob) was (incorrectly) described as a widow. She was living in Hartlepool with her daughter Isobella Taylor and family. She died in 1890 in Hartlepool.

The children of Richard Hutchinson Rennie's first marriage were:
Richard Pattison Renney born May 22, 1839, Bishopwearmouth South, Durham (Sunderland Birth registration No. 138/1839).

William Renney born c1843, Sunderland, Durham

Isabella Goodchild Renney born c1845, Scarborough, Yorkshire

Jane Ann Renney or Rennie born July 19 1848, Scarborough, Yorkshire

Emeline Rennie born August 26, 1850, Scarborough, Yorkshire.  (Scarborough Birth registration No.264/1850).

Mary Ellen Rennie born 1852, Scarborough, Yorkshire

Richard Pattison Rennie,
son of Richard Hutchinson Rennie and Ann Elstob

In 1988, in Sunderland, Richard Pattison Rennie's great grand daughter Blanche Grieff recalled that Richard Pattison Rennie was involved in the building of the Sunderland Railway station.  Mrs Grieff also recalled her mother mentioning that "some of the family went to Australia".

Mrs Grieff recalls her mother talking of great-aunt Bella in Saltburn, about 50 kilometres south of Sunderland.


The spelling of the name Richard Hutchinson Rennie appears to have changed from the original Renney to Rennie somewhere between 1845 and 1850.

His marriage registration (Sunderland Marriage Registration 191/1838) and the birth registrations of his first three children are recorded with the spelling Renney.

However the registration of the birth of Emeline (Scarborough Birth Registration 264/1850) and all subsequent records use the spelling Rennie.  It is likely that the change from Renney to Rennie was made some time after the family shifted to Scarborough.  There is evidence that the whole family must have changed to the new spelling, even those whose births were registered as Renney.

Information recorded on the birth registrations of Richard Pattison Renney and of Emeline Rennie, especially with regard to the name of their mother, clearly indicates that Richard Hutchinson Renney and Richard Hutchinson Rennie are one and the same person.


Ann Elstob was the first wife of Richard Hutchinson Renney.  She was born on May 27, 1815 in the parish of Sunderland, Durham.  She was the daughter of William Elstob and Phillis Smith.  It was recorded on Ann's marriage registration that William was a mariner (Sunderland Marriage Registration No.191/1838).   William's father was also named William Elstob.

William and Phillis were married in Sunderland on December 25, 1810.  They had six children.

A more complete family tree for the Elstobs will be included later. 

Much of the information about the Elstob family has been obtained from International Genealogical Index (IGI) compiled by  the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church).
Ann Elstob died of Apoplexy in Hartlepool on December 31, 1890. (Death certificate)


The story persists in many Australian branches of the family that Richard Hutchinson Rennie was related to bridge and canal builder John Rennie and his son Sir John Rennie, the famous engineer who built London Bridge.

A pocket watch (now lost) was passed down through one branch of the family.  It was said to be inscribed as being a presentation made on completion of London Bridge.  In another branch a rock from the Waterloo Bridge was brought out from England as a souvenir of the Rennie's involvement.  In a third branch there was a photograph (now lost) of Waterloo Bridge in London (designed by John Rennie) that an ancestor is said to have worked on. 

London Bridge was built in the period 1824 - 1831. Even taking the earliest possible date-of-birth of Richard Hutchinson Rennie, this would put his age during the building of the bridge as being from 8 - 15 years. Clearly his involvement is unlikely.

Perhaps Richard Hutchinson Rennie (or a close relative) was 'employed' on such a bridge building project, but no direct evidence has been found that links our family to the bridge building Rennies.

The spelling of the family name as Renney in 1839 indicates that Richard Hutchinson Renney is not directly related to the bridge builder and engineer John Rennie (1761-1821), nor to his son Sir John Rennie (1794-1874).


In England in 1851 a census was held.  These were held every ten years and the complete transcripts of these surveys are still in existence.

Microfilm copies of the 1851 census data for the counties of Durham and Scarborough were searched, and Richard Hutchinson Rennie and his family were located in Scarborough. (The 1841 census for Sunderland was also searched.  However about 80% of the records had been water damaged.)

According to the census, on March 30, 1851 the Rennies were living at Providence Place, Scarborough. The information describing those living at Providence Place occurs on page 183 of the Scarborough census (householders schedule No.209), and is summarized below.

NAME   Richard Rennie (head)

BORN   Haughton Le Skerne[sic], Dur.

STATUS   Married

AGE   36

OCCUPATION   Bricklayer Journeyman

Ann Rennie (wife) Sunderland, Dur. Married 35   Dressmaker

Richard Rennie (son) Sunderland, Dur. Single  11   Scholar

William Rennie (son) Sunderland, Dur. Single   8   Scholar

Isabella Rennie (dau.) Scarborough, Yorks. Single   6   Scholar

Jane Rennie (dau.) Scarborough, Yorks. Single   2

Emmeline[sic] (dau.) Scarborough, Yorks. Single  7 ms.


Journeyman means a 'qualified artisan working for another person'.

Dur = Durham
Yorks = Yorkshire

Note the different spelling of Emeline.  Note also the reference to Haughton-le-Skerne rather than Houghton-le-Spring as stated on several later birth registrations.  This is probably an error.


An analysis of the persons living in Providence Place provides some interesting background information.  Twenty eight houses were occupied at the time of the census.  All but two houses had two adults living there, and twenty one households had children, an average of 2.6 children per family.  Two houses had a grand daughter in residence and only one house had a nanny.

The street obviously had many skilled trades persons living there.  These are listed below.

1 networker 
1 house joiner 
1 bricklayer/plasterer
1 tailor
1 groom
1 journeyman compositor
1 wood turner 
1 mariner 
1 journeyman bricklayer
3 whitesmiths 
1 farrier 
1 journeyman dyer
1 shoebinder 
1 dressmaker 
1 journeyman painter
4 labourers 
1 laundress 
1 shoe and boot cutter
1 coal porter 
1 farm labourer

Today, Providence Place has been largely obliterated by a shopping centre car park.


The last record of Richard Hutchinson Rennie in England was in 1852.

Since his death registration (Buninyong Death Registration No.12166/1906) indicates that he lived in Victoria for 52 years, this suggests that he arrived in the colony circa 1854.

An article in the Country News of the Ballarat Star  newspaper of October 22 1906 titled 'Death Of An Old Resident' states that Richard came to the town of Buninyong in Victoria in 1856 and that he resided there for 50 years.  It also says that his first building contract in Buninyong was to build the 'old Church of England Church'.  This building is still standing and still bears the inscription 'Erected in 1857'.

However, although a number of persons called Rennie were arriving in Victoria each year, there is no mention of Richard Rennie in the lists of new arrivals from 1852 - 1856.  Searches through the records of new arrivals in Tasmania, New South Wales and South Australia also failed to locate the arrival of Richard Rennie.


The town site for Buninyong was surveyed in 1851.  It has the second oldest gazetted cemetery in Victoria.  This was first used in 1848, although its oldest surviving burial records only date back to 1856; the first register being lost in a fire.

The area had been settled in the early 1840's by squatters and shepherds. Buninyong was the first inland township of the Port Phillip colony. It was already a sizable village when gold was discovered there in 1851.

At this time it had a smithy, store, public house, Presbyterian church, and boarding school, with a population of sawyers, splitters, teamsters and many families.  It was however largely a tent city with some buildings of timber and very few brick or stone structures.

In late 1851, with the discovery of large quantities of gold at Ballarat (13 kilometres to the north), the centre of activity and development shifted from Buninyong.  Its development was slowed and it was soon overshadowed by the rapid and dynamic development at Ballarat.

Even today Buninyong remains a quiet backwater, slowly becoming one of the outer suburbs of its sprawling neighbour.

December 4, 1854 saw the skirmish at the Eureka Stockade (2 kilometres from the centre of Ballarat) and it was about this time that Richard Hutchinson Rennie arrived in Victoria.

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The following comments come from relatives in England.

There are two stories that have been handed down in England about Richard Hutchinson Rennie going to Australia. 

One is that he sent money back to England for the passage of the rest of his family, via someone who kept the money and told his wife Ann that he was dead. 

The other version was that his wife Ann refused to go out to Australia. 

It was known in England that he had started a new family in Australia, indicating there must have been some contact with Richard after he left. 

Richard Hutchinson Rennie has always been regarded in England as a Black Sheep.