William Sheridan Westneat was born in the middle of the Indian Ocean on September 24, 1849, two days after the passing of his older brother John. He was the son of Ezra Westneat 1812-1883 and Mary Ellen Barham 1816-1887. He spent the first 6 weeks of his life surrounded by water and a large group of people in the last stages of their claustrophobic containment on the James T. Foord. Ezra (age 37) was listed as a gardener and Mary (aged 33) as a Housekeeper. They arrived into Port Phillip on 7 November 1849.  William and his parents would eventually settle in Prahran a small town outside of Melbourne where he was joined over the years by three younger brothers. During his childhood he was known to friends and family as Sherry.
As a young man, he soon met and married Priscelia Luce in 1873.. She had been born on the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel. Her father, Francis John Luce and her mother Susannah Defries Luce had come to Australia in 1852.
William Sheridan Westneat remained in Prahran and made his living doing various forms of printing. At times, he also served as a reporter for the Prahran Telegraph. At the age of 50, William Sheridan Westneat listed his trade as "printer" and at his death in 1919, his trade was listed as "compositor". One of the titles found that William published was a book by John Atkins entitled "Notes on the Mining Statute, 1865" published in 1871. He was a musical man who led the Prahran City Band for a number of years. It has been said that he could write out a full score for all the instruments in a composition for a band by reading the score for just one instrument.
Together, William and Priscelia raised 6 children in Prahran. David F. Westneat in his research also found evidence of another birth. "There is a curious anomaly in our information about their family. In the recollections of relatives and descendants, there is reference to Priscelia giving birth, in 1889, to twins, who lived for only a few months. However, the official records of births and deaths in Victoria contain no reference to these children. It is not clear why there is this discrepancy"
On 18 October, 1891, Priscelia died at home, 29 King Street, Prahran. She was buried at St. Kilda Cemetery with her father Francis John Luce.
For the next 7 years, William Sheridan raised his family at 29 King Street, Prahran. Verbal family histories indicate that this was indeed a turbulent time for this family. Malvina took over the duties of running the household. Arthur remained in conflict with his father and at the age of 15, a year after his mother's passing, Arthur left home but remained in the Prahran area until at least 1897. At some point in 1898/1899 William Sheridan Westneat moved from the family home at 29 King Street and into the home of John and Ellen Flentjar. The reasoning for this move is unknown, but shortly after this move, William deeds the property at 29 King Street over to his eldest child Malvina.
Billy, William's oldest son, is shown living at the 12 King Street address at the age of 24 in the 1899 Roll of Voters in Victoria. It is believed that William had moved out of that house and in with the Flentjars by that time. It is also believed that the girls were all living at the 12 King Street address as well.
For the next 3-4 years, William remained a part of the Flentjar household. During these years, the Flentjars, with their children and William in tow, moved a number of times in the Prahran and South Yarra area. In researching the Flentjar family at this time, it is found that each piece of data found has a different address listed as the residence. John Flentjar, who had been employed by the Prahran City Council for years as a laborer had lost his job in 1898 and had been unemployed for a period of 4 years.
Then, at 4:30 AM on the morning of 16 June 1902, William Westneat hears John Flentjar go past his room and into a wood shed in the back yard of 566 Malven Road, Armadale. John Flentjar proceeds to hang himself at the age of 61. William Westneat discovers his body at 7 AM when he goes into the shed for fire wood.
So after a brief inquest, life goes on for William Sheridan Westneat. A few months later, in the summer of 1903 (22 January), William Sheridan Westneat and Ellen Flentjar marry.
Their marriage license lists the couples as William Sheridan Westneat, widower, age 53, six children and Ellen Flentjar, widow, age 54, eight children. Together they moved to Burwood Rd, Hawthorn where they lived for the next ten years. Hawthorn is a suburb of Melbourne and in close proximity to Prahran. In 1913, at the age of 64, William and Ellen suddenly pull up roots and move to Petersham in the Sydney area of New South Wales. It was here, 6 years later that William dies. He is buried in the Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney.
After William's death, Ellen returned to Prahram staying with different members of her family. Flentjar family lore has it that Ellen moved in with her daughter Ellen Free who was busy raising a family at the time as well as running a Country store for income. As the story goes, Ellen refused to help her daughter and would sit around continually talking about Malvina. Ellen Flentjar would tell her daughter how nice Malvina had always been to her and how nice Malvina had always kept the Westneat family home. Finally, Ellen Free got sick of this and shipped Ellen Flentjar off to live with Malvina. Apparently, this did not last long for Malvina had Ellen put into a rented room where Ellen Flentjar lived until her death in 1927 at the age of 79.
Malvina Mary Westneat Lincoln
William Francis Westneat
Arthur Sheridan Westneat
Charles Barham Westneat
Lillian Charlotte Westneat Carrig
Mabel Edith Westneat Cookson (Hocking)
William passed away in 1919
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
William is 28 degrees from Vinnie Hoxie, 30 degrees from Frederic Remington, 32 degrees from Pablo Picasso, 33 degrees from Edgar Degas, 32 degrees from Alexander Calder, 30 degrees from Camille Claudel, 23 degrees from John Bacon, 26 degrees from Barbara Hepworth, 28 degrees from Norman Lindsay, 28 degrees from Frances Loring, 33 degrees from Florence Wyle and 32 degrees from Elaine Weatherall on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.