William Crosby How was born on 27 April 1828 in Brentwood, Essex, England. His parents were James and Mary How (née Skingley) and he was the eldest of six children. The surname is also sometimes spelt with an “e” (Howe).
William married Jane (née Guy) in April 1852 in Billericay, Essex. Her parents were Thomas and Mary Ann Guy (née Benton) and she was born in June 1832 also in Brentwood, Essex. Altogether they had six children, with the first two (Henry and Amelia) were born in England and the remaining four James, Ellen, Ernest and Lavinia) once they had arrived in Australia. The family arrived in Port Adelaide in 1855 on board Mallard which had sailed from Southampton. They settled first in Thebarton before arriving in Port Willunga around 1856.
William had applied for a publican’s license for the Lewis Arms (later the Seaview Hotel) in Port Willunga in March 1864 but was rejected by the licensing board due to unfit health. He subsequently died in December 1864 leaving behind his widow Jane pregnant with their sixth child (daughter Lavinia). She applied for the license herself and was granted it by the licensing board in 1865. She appears to have owned the Lewis Arms from 1867 to 1873 and operated it very successfully for over 8 years.
The Ratepayers lists show that Jane paid rates on The Lewis Arms from 1867 – 1873 as well as on a property in Section 396 in Port Willunga from 1870-1873. That is likely to be the house at 62 Port Road on the corner of Bowering Hill Road. It had started out as a modest two-roomed building and was added to over the years. This house remained in the How family until 1963 and now features on the Local Heritage List with the Onkaparinga Council.
Nearly ten years after William’s death, Jane remarried to George South from Lacepede Bay/Kingston SE in July 1873 at St Stephens Anglican Parsonage in Willunga and Jane transferred the publican’s license to T.Hooper in December 1873. George held the licence for the Royal Mail Hotel in Kingston where they lived but he died in 1887. It is not known where Jane lived after that but she may have returned to Port Willunga.
Jane died in 1917, aged 85 years, in Western Australia, where she had been living with her youngest daughter Lavinia in Pingelly. She is buried in Brookton, Western Australia.
Other notable How family members who have lived in the Port Willunga area included Stan, William (Bill), Thomas and Henry, who were all grandsons of William and Jane. They were expert fisherman and local identities. Bill started fishing at fifteen years old, and he and his brothers worked out a system of catching whole schools of fish by watching for them atop the cliffs in their lookout shelter (known as Bill’s Humpy) and signalling down to the beach where a boat was launched immediately to bring the haul in. On one occasion they brought in 13 tons of Salmon in one haul! They kept their boats and supplies in the dug-outs along the cliff face. In winter when the fish weren’t as prevalent, they would spend time making and mending their nets for the following season.
National Trust of SA (Wilunga Branch)
1. Oil painting of the Seaview Hotel by an unknown artist (dated about 1890) (National Trust of SA Willunga Branch collection)
2. Jane How (née) Guy (dated about 1900)