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Victorian Naval Forces Muster

for the Colony of Victoria. (muster range 1853-1910)*


Last Name:Coster
First Name:Henry
Rank:Ship's Steward
Birth Date: 15-12-1855
Branch:Victorian Navy

Henry Coster

Ship's Steward

By Rhonda Haines

Henry aged 61

My Great grandfather Henry Coster born 15/12/1855 Woolwich Kent, England, son of John and Margaret (nee McCarthy) Coster was a ship's steward on the "Cerberus" (amongst other ships) and is the last named seaman on the War Memorial at the Williamstown Cemetery.

I am the "minder" of his ship's papers, and his Victorian Naval long service medal as well, which has King Edward the 7th on the obverse side.

Henry Coster was a (Cuddy Servant) in the latter 1800's serving both on merchant ships and in the Permanent Naval Force of Victoria then the Royal Australian Navy.

Service records (in my keeping) state that he served on:
The Lincolnshire (Sailing Vessel)
17/6/1875 - Dep.London to Melbourne
17/2/1876 - Arriving London (round trip)

The Northumberland No: 65640
Horsepower 300 - Tonnage - 1399
16/3/1876 - Dep. London to Melbourne
16/8/1876 - arr. London (round trip)

The Northumberland
21/9/1876 - Dep. London
29/11/1876 - Melbourne (Discharged)

He then served in the Permanent Naval Force of Victoria and the Royal Australian Navy from 1/1/1887 - 31/8/1902 for 15 yrs and on the naval vessel Cerberus

Certificate of Service No. 185 Henry Coster
1st entry 1/1/1887 D.O.B. 15 Dec 1855
Age on Entry: 31 yrs 11 mths. Trade: Steward
Date of swearing in:  
24/2/1887 1 year
22/3/1888 1 year
22/3/1889 1 year
31/3/1890 1 year
17/4/1891 1 year
26/4/1892 5 years
31/12/1897 5 years

Rating Ability Conduct Commandant
31/12/1893 -
Richard White (Capt)
31/12/1894 -
H C Kingsford
31/12/1895 -
G Neville (Capt)
31/12/1896 -
G.Neville (Capt)
31/12/1897 -
F.W.Tickell (Comm)
31/12/1898 -
F.W.Tickell (Comm)
31/12/1899 -
F.W.Tickell (Comm)
31/12/1900 -
J.T.Richardson (Lieut.Comm)
28/2/1901 -
J.T.Richardson (Lieut.Comm)
31/5/1901 -
Wm.J.Colquhoun )Lieut.Comm)
31/12/1901 -
F.W.Tickell (Comm)
31/8/1902 -
F.W.Tickell (Comm)
31/8/1902 -
Discharged owing to reduction in Naval Forces consequent on retrenchment.

Henry and Emma daughter of Ebenezer and Jane Ann (nee Sanders) Crocker were married on 8/1/1878 (Cert. # 324) at the Old Lyons Street Presbyterian Manse by Rev. John Clark who became minister of Presbyterians in 1857 and served in that capacity for 38 years until his retirement in 1895. (Their marriage certificate is no. 963) They had 13 children. Emma's eldest sister Mary Ann Howse's husband Thomas Seabridge also served on the Cerberus at the same time as Henry as a gunner and lost an arm whilst on duty in march 1895 after the bone had been badly shattered.

In a letter Henry's father (in England) wrote soon after their marriage dated 21/1/1878, he asks Henry to write home to his mother as she is anxious to know if he is really married and thinks he is only joking.

About a year or so after he married Emma and soon after the birth of their first child Alice, Henry moved his little family to Sydney (when the round trip trading vessels for the most part were going to Sydney, rather than coming further south to Melbourne) in order to be assured of work.

It is here that little Alice is buried in the Rookwood Cemetery rose garden. She had broken her hip some years before and it had never healed properly which meant she had to be carried everywhere.

She also contacted "Phthisis" a wasting disease (possibly an early term for 'Tuberculosis') and as a result of this she never recovered and died aged five years.

Five more children were born to Henry and Emma in those years whilst they resided in Balmain, Henry John, (who married Florence Ludgate and after her passing his second wife was Isabelle Wright, he worked on the Williamstown Punt, and had one daughter Mabel) Ebenezer Charles, (who married Lillian Jane Williams, was a painter) Emma Pearle, (whose husband Alfred White worked at the Grain store in Nelson Place and whose family owned a shoe shop, corner of Dover Road and John Street, now pulled down, they raised two daughters Pearl and Victoria) And the youngest son to be born in NSW was Alfred William (a twin, sadly only one baby son survived the birth, though the stillborn son is listed in the family bible)

It was after the family returned to Williamstown that Henry joined the Victorian Navy and served on the "Cerberus" (he also served on the "Nelson" and the "Lady Loch", but I have no documentation in confirmation of that) It appears that 16 Rennie Street, Williamstown was originally the family home, after the five years spent in Balmain, then the family moved to 34 Hosking Street, (formerly Elizabeth Street) Williamstown where Henry and Emma would reside for the remainder of their lives, raising their family and taking in many railway workers as boarders.

Henry Coster's long service medal


It was back here in Williamstown that an additional six children were born to Henry and Emma, Arthur Edward, (who worked at Hooper's the drapers corner of Douglas Parade and Ferguson Streets, later at Keig's the draper's in Ferguson Street until their closure and married Louisa Harriet Elizabeth Marriott. They raised two sons Arthur and Edward) Amelia Jane, (who married William Dick a goods train driver with the North-Eastern Victoria Lines, they had one son William) George Ernest, (who married Edith May Free and raised three children Doris, Ivy and George, he worked at the Australian Glass Works) along with his brother Sydney Beales, (who married Eva Ethel Barnes, the grand-daughter of Roger Barnes, one of the early Williamstown Health Inspector's, they raised four children, Sydney, Keith, Nellie and Jack) Ellen Mary, (who married Bertram Ashford and raised two daughters Gwenyth and Veda) and the youngest Annie Martha (my grandmother, who only had the one daughter, my mother Dorothy Sanders).

There are grandchildren aplenty along with great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. I ponder as to whether Henry and Emma are smiling down at all their antics, in my heart feel they are.

Henry died on 17/1/1940 at the Williamstown Hospital aged 85 years and Emma aged 94 years. on 21/9/1950 at her Hosking Street home.

The Coster family were a fiercely proud and noble breed, the men were such a fun mob and the women bless them, kept them in line. If you didn't see at least one of them every day there was something wrong.

I am privileged and forever grateful that the Coster family played such a large role in my growing up years.


More Potos 


More details on this person can be found in the Victorian Navy Certificates of Service This is a very large pdf file of 119 mb and takes 13 minutes to download with a 1.5 mbps internet connection.


* 1853 is given as the commencement date for the Victorian Navy as this is the year that Commander Lockyer (RN) went to Britain to superintend the building of HMCS Victoria.
Although the Victorian Navy ended in 1901 the career of Cerbeus etc continued. In 1910 the new ships started arriving & manning levels increased.

Information & photographs of men who served in the Victorian Naval Forces is eagerly sought. Please contact the webmaster.