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Week 14 : Water – #52ancestors

March 30, 2020

Professional genealogist and podcaster Amy Johnson Crow has put out the challenge to genealogists and family historians, to write stories about 52 of their ancestors in 52 weeks.

I am happily taking up the challenge, and look forward to writing stories, that will collate many years of research results. In most cases, the research for my ancestors is not complete, and possibly never will be complete, but I’m hoping to build a story of the lives they lived with the information I have to hand. I’m hoping to publish these stories in a book at the end of 2020. Each week a prompt will be given as the theme for the week.

Week 14: Water

GODFREY EDWARD JONES, known as Bossy, was born in 1918 at Essendon, Victoria, Australia. He died, unmarried in 1980 at Seaford, Victoria. Bossy became well known in the Seaford area due to the number of people he saved from drowning in the Patterson Lakes. In one week, he saved the lives of five people, as the newspaper article below explains. Over his lifetime, he saved 83 people from drowning in the Patterson River and became well known as the ‘Guardian of the River’.


photo: Chelsea Historical Society

from: Sydney Morning Herald, 10 January 1936

Jones Bossy newspaper



“Within a week, four children and a woman, have been rescued from drowning, at Carrum Beach by Godfrey Jones, 16 years. Each incident occurred near the mouth of the Patterson River, and in each case the boy had to swim into deep water.
Mrs. J. Blackwood was helping several children to cross the channel, near the mouth of the river. She had assisted three children, including a child of her own, to reach the sand on the other side, when she overbalanced, and was carried into deeper water, with a small girl, aged about 7 years. Jones ran to the pool, which he reached just in time to save Mrs. Blackwood and the child, who had sunk more than once.
Last Thursday, Jones was bathing near the mouth of the river, when two small boys were carried seawards by the tide washing through the channel. They were quickly in difficulties in 8ft or 9ft of water. Jones dived in and brought them one by one to the sand.
On Friday evening, Jones was cycling home, when he heard cries from the large pool beneath the Patterson River bridge. A girl who had been carried into the pool by an incoming tide, was in grave difficulties, and was about to sink. Jones dived fully clothed from the bridge and brought her ashore.
Jones, who has been unemployed since he left school, has been in the habit of bathing near the mouth of the river, and he has developed a strong swimming style.”

In 1936, Bossy received an honorary award for those lives saved from the Royal Humane Society.

Bossy went on to save the lives of 83 people and became known as ‘The Guardian of The River”





The following is a transcription of a newspaper article that was published after Bossy Jones’ death in 1980. It was given to me by a family member, but unfortunately there were no source details for it.

BOSSY JONES (the big man) who was fond of a beer is dead….
They’ll miss him in the pub at Carrum where he’d raise a laugh by pouring a glass over his head.
But the people of Carrum are determined that big Bossy will always be remembered – as a hero.
For Bossy was a one-man lifesaving club credited with saving 83 people from drowning in the Patterson River.
A plaque in his memory is to be set up on the foreshore at Carrum and the local council will create a garden.
Neighbors found Bossy’s body when they went to his Attunga Cres, home where he lived alone, because they had not seen him for two days.
He was headed for a pauper’s grave until the news of his death got around and an appeal was opened to pay for his funeral.
“We raised enough for a decent funeral in one day, with enough left over to put up a plaque”, one of the organisers, John Hoyne said yesterday.
“The way things are going, if you made a bit of an effort you could build a lighthouse for him”, Mr. Hoyne said.
Carrum’s feelings for the big fellow were pretty well summed up in a poem, read at his funeral late last week and written by Mrs. Lillian Fisher, whose daughter Christine was one of those Bossy saved;

“A gentle man who spent his time in friendly company
God’s guardian of the river, that’s what he seemed to be,
He loved the open spaces, the sunshine and the sea,
And the laughter of the children as they frolicked merrily.
When danger threatened he was there, to save all 83,
The guardian of the river, that’s what he seemed to be.
Somehow it just won’t be the same, dear Bossy, now you’re gone,
But in our hearts you’ll always live, your memory lingers on”.

One of the many local people who Bossy taught to swim was Mrs. Peg Flanagan, who said yesterday that “all of Carrum thought the world of Bossy”.
“I went to school with bossy. He was awfully good at throwing pens into the ceiling and getting belted around the backside,, but he beat that by shoving books down his pants.
“All he wanted to do was get down by the river, lie on the sand and pull them out”, she said.
And pull them out he did in the days when the Patterson River was deep and treacherous.
Newspaper articles of the ’30’s record the young hero’s feats of pulling five people out of the river in a week when he was only 16, and diving from a bridge fully clothed to save a young girl.

Death Notices

Herald Sun, June 5, 1980

Jones: Godfrey Edward, Loved son of the late Annie and Lloyd, brother of Pat.
Brother in law of Lloyd, uncle of Lloyd,
Trish, Robert, Marcia, great uncle of Sonia and Allison. Rest in Peace, Bossie.

Jones G, Bossy, will be sadly missed – Joan, John Hoyne and family

Funeral Notice
Jones: The funeral of Mr. Godfrey Edward (Bossie) Jones will leave Our Lady of Lourdes, Poulson Street, Carrum Downs, Today, (June 5), following prayers commencing at 2.30 pm for cremation at the Necropolis Springvale.
Tobin Brothers Pty. Ltd.

The above plaque was erected at Patterson River Park in 1980, to commemorate the life and bravery of  ‘Bossy’ Jones. The plaque was funded by the people of Seaford & Carrum Downs.


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From → Family stories

  1. Wow, what a story! I can’t believe he saved 83 people. He must have been a great swimmer.

  2. Diane Anderson permalink

    Jennifer, What a hero he was! His actions made a huge difference in the lives of his neighbors. I’m glad you chose to share his story.

  3. Some people have hobbies. Other people like your ancestor made a hobby of saving lives!

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