The Dutch Connection

There has been a family legend treasured by the Australian branch of the Stone family that the family originally came from Holland and had some connection with one of the ships which transported William of Orange and his wife Princess Mary to England in November 1688 before they were proclaimed as joint sovereigns in February 1689, replacing her father, King James II.

The story is outlined in the introduction to “Early Pioneers of Tasmania” which was compiled by Richard T. Stone and Margaret M. Stone at the time of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Thomas and Ann Stone in Hobart.

“One hundred and fifty years ago, on October 11th. 1819 Thomas and Ann Stone arrived in Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land. Their arrival in the small straggling settlement, on the ship “David Shaw” marks the beginning of the story of an Australian family. The follow- ing account is an attempt to piece together the story of Thomas and Ann’s life in Australia.

“Before that story begins however, it is necessary to account the known facts of the predecessors of Thomas and Ann. A little more than one hundred and thirty years before, one Thomas Van Stain had landed in England from his native country Holland. The Van Stain family were merchants who owned and traded a number of vessels around the ports of Europe.

“Of these ships one was chartered as part of the fleet to transport William and Mary of Orange and their suite to England in 1688; it was in this ship the “Betsy Caynes” that Thomas travelled to England. He decided to settle there, changed the name to STONE and reportedly mastered the English language at the age of twenty years. Three times married, his family numbered twenty-one children – eighteen daughters and three sons.

“Of these, one son Ignatius, went to the Cape of Good Hope, and another James married his cousin Lucy Caynes, or Cairns the daughter of Sir John and Lady Grace Caynes. James and Lucy Stone’s family numbered seven – THOMAS, James, William, Sarah, Ann, Emma and Elizabeth.

“Thomas was born at Horfield near Bristol on 28th January 1796. Practically nothing is known of his life until 1817 except that he apparently received a good education. On 13th. July he married Ann Withers who was born on 30th August 1798 and was the daughter of a silk hat manufacturer from Bristol”

Alex. H. Stone and Nancy A. Stone also provide a version of this legend in their history of the Stone family, “Effloresco”, published in 1992 and it has been taken up by many other members of the family in constructing family trees.

I believe that there is no evidence that the family came from Holland. Several family members have put some effort into researching the question without success. Which leads us to consider two further features of the legend.

  1. The story of the “Betsy Cains”.
  2. The relationship with the Caynes family.