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Pedigree Chart 1 
Parents James Ostler & Mary Frusher
Link Kingston Historical Website

This is the beginning, of the life of Joseph Ostler. See the above link, for another essay on him

My Great Great Grandfather, Joseph Ostler was most likely a controversial figure in his time. He has been referred to as a rotten scoundrel, by distant cousins and a hypocrite by his father in law. He would blatantly embezzled money from the District Road Board that he was treasurer, clerk and toll collector for, and say that it was to illustrate the results of having a incompetent person as chairman of the Road board[1]. This chairman would happen to be the railway king and one time premier of Victoria, Thomas Best. With a small fortune of reportedly 1000, Joseph fled to America and started a new life as an author of Mathematical text books (a list of these books appear at the bottom of this page). He would stay overseas for about 24 years, and appears to have traveled to such destinations as New Zealand, Scotland, India, Burma and Palistine[2]. During his stay in America, he would take a bigamist wife name Eliza Francesca Augusta Hortigas[3].

Joseph was most likely born in the parish of Walsoken, in Norfolk. Walsoken is a small village about a mile east of the market town of Wisbech, which is the central town in the English Fens. The area of land Joseph grew up in, between the rivers Nene and Ouse is the best agricultural land in mainland Britain. Nothing is known of Joseph's early life. He would learn his father's trade of a butcher. He had left home by the time of the 1851 census, though I have not found him in this census. But he was at Halifax where he married my Great Great Grandmother, Susannah Burgess Mackerill. Soon after they married, they immigrated to Victoria[4]. In his later years, he was considered quite eccentric or even a fraud, with many theories on the great flood and other biblical matters. Family stories suggest that his third wife came to Australia after his death to lived.

I would like to expand upon his time spent in the United States, that's if he wasn't using another alias. Also I would like to add some letter written by him, or about him. The are some notes, and index, that were copied from his bible (before it was thrown out, by a cousin in 2002-2003), that I can also publish.

  1. Article in The Melbourne Age, 29 FEB 1868, p. 5
  2. These a compliments from various teachers of mathematics, from around the world, that he had published with his books, appearing after the main body of work.
  3. Mentioned on his Death certificate; Victorian Death Certificate, 9910-1905
  4. Henry Gillespie, DEC 1852


Born: <late 1827, Walsoken ?, NFK., England.>



  1. Susannah Burgess Mackerill
    22 JAN 1852, Halifax, YKS., England.
    (Witnesses: William Burgess & John Mackerill)
  2. Mary Ann Stone
    1 JAN 1862, Little Brighton, VIC., Australia.
    (Witnesses: Robert Stone & Emma E. Stone)
  3. Eliza Francesca Augusta Hortigas?
    New Orleans, LA., United States of America.


  • Henry Gillespie, DEC 1852 (With wife Susannah).
  • Lightning, DEC 1859 (With wife Susannah and children Susannah and William).

Died: 20 AUG 1905, (Gipps Ward, Melbourne Hospital), Melbourne, VIC., Australia.
(Informant: H. J. Richardson, Hall Porter) 77 years

Buried: 22 AUG 1905, Baptist, Brighton Cemetery, South Caulfield, VIC., Australia.
(Witnesses: J. Sullivan)

Occupations & Businesses:

  • Butcher / East Brighton. <1854 - 1861>
  • Gardener / East Brighton. <1862>
  • Secretary / Moorabbin District Road Board. <30 JUN 1862 - 21 OCT 1863>
    (40 annually from 30 JUN 1862, 30 annually from 10 DEC 1862 & 50 annually from 1 JUL 1863)
  • Clerk / Moorabbin District Road Board. <22 OCT 1863 - 27 FEB 1868>
    (60 annually from 22 OCT 1863, 15 bonus from 18 AUG 1864)
  • Treasurer / Moorabbin District Road Board. <22 OCT 1863 - 27 FEB 1868>
    (65 annually from 22 OCT 1853)
  • Toll Manager / Moorabbin District Road Board. <14 DEC 1865 - 27 FEB 1868>
    (15 annually from 14 DEC 1865)
  • Auctioneer and Commission Agent (Broker) <1866 - 1867>
    Australasian Submarine Working Company (Limited).
    81 Collins Street East, Melbourne and 25 Lygon Street, Carlton, VIC.
  • Auctioneer and Commission Agent (Broker) <1867 - 1868>
    (Name of business unknown, maybe as above). >
    60 Little Collins Street East, Melbourne, VIC.
  • Author and Lecturer. <1868+>


  • Walsoken, NFK., England. [1841 Census]
  • Halifax, YKS., England. <1852>
  • VIC., Australia. <DEC 1852+ > (Date of Immigration)
  • East Brighton, VIC., Australia. <1856>
  • "Hill House", England. <23 MAR 1859>
  • Wisbech, CAM., England. <11 AUG 1859>
  • VIC., Australia. <DEC 1859+> (Date of Immigration)
  • Jasper Road, Moorabbin, VIC <1862>
  • Bay Street, Brighton, VIC., Australia. <1866>
  • Cochrane Street, Brighton, VIC., Australia. <1867 - 1868>
  • United States of America. <1868+>
  • San Francisco, CA., United States of America. <1874, 1877 - 1878, 1883 - 1884>
  • London, LND., England. <1886 - 1887>
  • Glasgow, LKS., Scotland. <1888>
  • 6 Little Arden Street, North Melbourne, VIC., Australia. <1892>
  • Mills Street, North Brighton, VIC., Australia. <1905>


  • High Street, Willoughby, NSW., Australia. <12 NOV 1904>
    (Visiting his daughter Susannah Gresley)

Possible Travels & Residences:

  • Washington, D.C.; New Orleans, LA. & New York City, NY., United States of America.
  • Halifax, YKS.; Birmingham, WAR.; Durham, DUR.. & Liverpool and Manchester, LAN., England.
  • Dennistown, LKS.; Kilmarnock, AYR.; Aberdeen, ABD. & Edinburgh, MLN., Scotland.
  • Auckland, AKL.; Wellington, WEL. & Dunedin, OTG., New Zealand.
  • Jerusalem, Palestine (Israel).
  • Calcutta, India.
  • Rangoon, Burma.

Article: The Argus, 17 MAR 1858, (Wednesday) /
Supreme Court Victoria, Criminal Sessions, New Court (Tuesday) 16th of March 1858, Stealing Monies
Edward Hudson pleaded not guilty to the charge of having, on the 1st of December last, stolen certain monies, the property of one Joseph Ostler. Mr. Adamson stated the case to the jury, and called Joseph Ostler, who stated that he was a butcher residing at Brighton, and knew the prisoner, who was in his employ from December last to the 12th of February. His duties were to take out meat, for which he sometimes received cash. (The witness produced the book kept by the prisoner.) On the 1st of December the prisoner had made an entry of a payment by Mr. Hart of 4, although 6 had been paid. After that time there were no more entries to Mr. Hart's name. Mrs. Ostler copied the entries into her own day book. Joseph Hart deposed to having paid the prisoner at the bar the sum of 6 on the 1st of December last, and produced a receipt given to him by the prisoner. The prisoner in his defence, called a witness, Richard Gr????? who said the prisoner had been in his employment for a month, and had always been a sober, honest young man, and one he could trust to any extent. The jury found a verdict of not guilty, and the prisoner was remanded on another charge.

Article: The Argus, 19 MAR 1858, (Friday) /
Supreme Court Victoria, Criminal Sessions. Larceny
Edward Hudson was charged with stealing certain moneys, the property of Joseph Ostler. Dr. Mackay prosecuted, and Dr. Sewell appeared for the prisoner. The prisoner had been employed by a person of the name of Ostler, a butcher, residing at Brighton, as clerk and collector. Several items were unaccounted for; which was a bill receipted in pencil, which was handed in to the Court. In November last the prisoner handed a bill to Mr. Ilbury, a customer of Ostler's, and received payment, for which he had never accounted. The prisoner had denied the charge, and was offered every opportunity of finding out how the deficiency in his accounts had arisen, but he never went near the prosecutor afterwards. The jury found the prisoner not guilty, and was discharged.

Victorian Police Gazette: 19th February, 1868.
JOSEPH OSTLER is charged, on warrant, with embezzling 423 lls.5d. the property of the Moorabbin Road District Board (sic). He is English, aged 45 or 50, fresh complexion, brown sandy whiskers and moustache, shaven chin, 5 feet 6 or 7 inches high, smart gentlemanly appearance, sharp piercing blue eyes, brushy eyebrows, erect gait, good teeth, and usually dresses well. He was formerly well known as an auctioneer in Melbourne. He has friends in Dunedin and Hokitika.

Article: The Melbourne Age, 29 FEB 1868, p. 5, (Saturday).
A letter received by the chairman of the Moorabbin Board, from Ostler, the defaulting clerk, displays an amount of cool audacity quite equal to his dishonesty. It runs as follows: - "Wellington, 7th February, 1868. - Memo for the chairman of the Moorabbin District Board. The accounts of the board are all correct down to the date of the last annual meeting; since that date the receipts have been misappropriated, partly with the view to illustrate the result which may follow from the appointment of incompetent persons to the office of chairman and members of district boards. the amount will be refunded at some future date.- Joseph Ostler." The letter, although dated from Wellington, has been posted in Melbourne or Brighton, and has a twopenny stamp on it. This, as the letter is undoubtedly in the hand of Ostler, which seem to indicate that he may not yet have left this colony. Should that prove to be the case, the police may yet have an opportunity of teaching him how his "illustrations" are appreciated. One good effect it will produce will be the adoption by the Government of a regulation whereby the moneys due to district boards, etc., will be paid to their respective accounts instead of to their treasurers. To facilitate Ostler's arrest, we are requested to supplement the description in the Police Gazette, as follows: - He is about thirty to thirty five years of age, five feet two or three inches in height, blue eyes, false teeth, coarse voice and confident address, has a furtive look, dresses well, but has a brusque rather than a gentlemanly appearance.

Article: The Melbourne Age, 3 MAR 1868, p.6, (Tuesday).
Mr. Joseph Ostler, the clerk of the Moorabbin Road Board, has absconded with a considerable sum of money belonging to the board. At the last meeting of the board he was not in attendance, and on examination it was found that the minutes of the last meeting that had taken place a month previous were not be entered in the minute-book; nor any financial statement prepared. A letter was found dated the 18th January, from the Treasury, stating that the amount of Government subsidy due the board, 423, was lying there for them. Some suspicion being entertained, as Mr. Ostler was stated to have left the neighborhood three weeks previous, ostensibly to go up the country electioneering, and no letter having been received from him to explain his absence, the chairman instituted inquiries and found that Ostler had drawn the amount due from the Treasury, paid it into his own account, and had drawn it out again the next day. He had also received one month's rent of the Brighton toll, and had tampered with the bank book, making the credit account appear greater than it really is. The exact amount of his defalcations has not been ascertained. In addition to the money taken belonging to the board, Ostler is stated to have obtained considerable sums from friends and acquaintances on various pretences. A warrant was obtained for his arrest on 14th instant, but with three weeks' start, it is not likely that he will be easily caught. Since then he has addressed the following letter to the chairman of the board, which displays an amount of cool audacity quite equal to his dishonesty: - "Wellington, 7th February, 1868. - Memo for the chairman of the Moorabbin District Board. The accounts of the board are all correct down to the date of the last annual meeting; since that date the receipts have been misappropriated, partly with the view to illustrate the result which may follow from the appointment of incompetent persons to the office of chairman and members of district boards. The amount will be refunded at some future date.- Joseph Ostler."

Victorian Police Gazette: 10th June, 1868.
JOSEPH OSTLER, charged with embezzling money the property of the Moorabbin District Road Board, is ascertained to have left Melbourne by the Panama mail steamer in January, last; whether for England or America uncertain.

Article: South Bourke and Mornington Journal, 6 FEB 1884
Many of our readers, especially old residents of Moorabbin and Brighton, will recollect the sudden departure of Mr. Joseph Ostler, who occupied the position of Secretary to the Moorabbin Road Board, prior to the acceptance of the office by Mr. John Keys, some fourteen years since. Mr. Ostler decamped with the Board's funds, it was said over 1000. Since then he has forwarded a remittance for part of it, and at the last meeting a draft was received for the balance. He at least deserves credit for making amends for his misconduct in taking the money.

Newspapers: (Unknown, possibly the Argus or Age)
ROYAL SOCIETY OF VICTORIA, 10 SEP 1896 - Paper read by C. Frusher Howard of Howard's Art of Reckoning entered accordingly to ACT OF CONGRESS. Year of our Lord 1882 in the office of the Librarian of Congress, WASHINGTON D.C.

Deaths: The Melbourne Age, 22 AUG 1905.
OSTLER - On the 20th, Joseph, the beloved husband of Mary Ann Ostler of Brighton.

Funerals: The Melbourne Age, 22 AUG 1905.
OSTLER - The friends of the late Mr. JOSEPH OSTLER are respectfully invited to follow his remains to the place of interment, the Brighton General Cemetery - The funeral is appointed to move from his residence, Mills street, Brighton North, THIS DAY (Tuesday), 22 August 1905 at 4 o'clock.

Obituaries: The Southern Cross, Brighton, 26 AUG 1905, (Saturday).
Mr. Joseph Ostler, 77 years of age, a gentleman closely associated with early municipal life in Moorabbin, died last Sunday in the Melbourne Hospital. On Thursday week, as he suffered from rheumatism, he went to Melbourne to have a Turkish bath, having had two previously. The last proved too severe, and had to be taken to the hospital. The cause of death was chronic bronchitis and pneumonia. His remains were interred in the Brighton Cemetery on Thursday, the Rev. S. Scholes? conducting the service and Mr. Monkhouse the funeral arrangements. In July, 1862, when 34 years of age, Mr. Ostler was appointed the first secretary of the Moorabbin Road Board at a salary of 40 a year, there being 9 applicants, including the present Premier of Victoria. Mr. Ostler held this office till 1868, when he went to America, and returned a few years ago as Professor Howard, the author of the "Art of Reckoning," He possessed undoubted mathematical abilities. Deceased was twice married, his first wife dying in 1861. His present widow is a sister of the late Mr. Chas. Stone.

Obituaries: The Melbourne Age, 29 AUG 1905, p. 5
The funeral took place last Thursday in Brighton Cemetery of Mr. Joseph Ostler, well known latterly as Professor Howard, author of "The Art of Reckoning," and a great demonstrator of arithmetic; Mr. Ostler, who died in Melbourne Hospital, aged 77, was the first secretary of the shire council of Moorabbin. He was elected in that position in July, 1862, in preference to eight other applicants, one of whom was Mr. T. Bent. the present Premier of Victoria, and the salary attached to the shire secretaryship was 40 a year. Like the Vicar of Wakefield, Mr. Ostler was "passing rich" on this stipend, and whatever extra he could earn, until 1868, when he went to the United States, and learned to turn his great mathematical faculties to account. He had been living in Brighton for some years prior to his demise



Howard's California Calculator, the Newest, Quickest and most Complete Instructor for all who desire to be "Quick At Figures." The Business Man's Faithful Assistant, the School Boy's Companion and Friend.

  • 94 p. C. F. Howard: San Francisco, 1874.
    U.K. 8533 de. 6 (2)
  • 96 p. front, (port). 17 cm, C. F. Howard: San Francisco, 1874.
    U.S.A. NH 0553247, DLC., PU., MB., OCTWH., TxU., NB., ICN., QA111.H84, 3-32262

Howard's new table of reciprocals, carried out to ten decimals, showing the net value of bills of exchange, promissory notes, & c. Also the relative values of Gold and currency in American and British Money ... By C. Frusher Howard.

  • Table, 14 x 31 cm. fold to 14 x 8 cm C. F. Howard: San Francisco, [c1877].
    U.S.A.NH 0553250, DLC., HG3865.H8, CA9-228 Unrev'd

Howard's California Calculator and Golden rule for equation of Payments. The newest, quickest and most complete instructor for all those who desire to be quick at figures.

  • ? p. C. F. Howard: London, 1878.
    U.K.8507 b. 6.
  • 94 p. port. 17 cm, C. F. Howard: San Francisco, 1878.
    U.S.A.NH 0553248, CU-B., MB., NU., MH., DAU., ICJ., F855/.7/H682/1878

Howard's Golden Rule for equation of Payments. Partial Payments, and averaging accounts ...Also, Howard's new and easy rule for computing interest for all rates, on a basis of one per cent.

  • 36 p. incl. front. (port), 17 cm, C. F. Howard: San Francisco, London (etc), 1878.
    U.S.A.NH 0553249, DLC., HF5696.H8, 7-13376

Howard's Art of Computation and Golden Rule for Equation of Payments For Schools, Business Colleges and Self Culture.

  • 128 p. front. (port), 18 cm, C. F. Howard: San Francisco, 1879.
    U.S.A.NH0553245, DLC.QAlll.H835, 3-32263

Howard's Anglo - American Art of Reckoning, The Standard Teacher and Referee of Shorthand Business Arithmetic...

  • 126 p. l 1.front.(port), 17 cm, C. F. Howard: London and San Francisco, 1883.
    U.S.A.NH 05553243, DLC., QA111.H86, 3-32264
  • 126 p. C. F. Howard: London, 1884 [1883].
  • 126 p. front. (port), 18 cm, C. F. Howard: London and San Francisco, 1884 [c1882]. 
    U.S.A.NH 0553244, TxU., CU., ZM 511 H831a
  • 126 p. port.18 cm, C. F. Howard: London; John Heywood, Simpkin Marshall: Manchester, 1886. 
  • 136 p. J. Menzies & Co: Glasgow and Edinburgh, 1888.
  • 136 p. Cassell & Co: London, 1890.(Four hundredth thousand).
    U.K.8535 b.24.

Howard's Art of Reckoning, The Standard Text Book and Referee of Shorthand Commercial Arithmetic. For the office, Schools and Self Culture (Counting House and Teacher's Edition)

  • viii, 192 p. Cassell & Company Lim.: London, 1891. (Four hundred and fortieth thousand).
    VSL., VPARL., Australia.
  • 1892. 
    NSL. Australia.
  • 142 p.19 cm, Cassell & Co: London, 1893.
    Australian National Library
  • viii, 192 p. Cassell & Co: London, 1894 [c1882].
    U.S.A. NH 0553246, ICJ. 
    SPL. Australia.
  • Cassell & Co: London, Paris & Melbourne, 1895. One shilling. (Five hundred and Second Thousand).
    SLV., NSL., Australia.
  • Cassell & Co: London, Paris & Melbourne, 1896. Five shilling. (Five hundred and Third Thousand).
    VSL., QU., Australia.
  • Cassell & Co: London, Paris & Melbourne, 1900. Five shilling. (Five hundred and Sixth Thousand).
    VSL., VU., Australia.
  • viii, 196 p.23 cm, Cassell & Co: London, Paris & Melbourne, 1904. Five shilling. (Five hundred and Seventh Thousand).
    U.K.8533.dd.32, (Private Collection)

Tables of Hebrew and British Weights and Measures.

  • 4 p. Cole's Book Arcade: Melbourne, [1896].


Last Updated - Sunday, 26 February 2006

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