Esther Sutton was born on 14 December 1834 at Briston in England. She was the eldest child of John and Elizabeth Sutton who migrated to Australia aboard the Fergusson and arrived at Melbourne on 15 January 1841. After four years in Victoria the young family, which had now grown to five, moved once more, this time to South Australia where they arrived aboard the Teazer in April 1845.
Four years later, Esther, who was now 14 years and 4 months old, married 28 years old Thomas Knowles at Trinity Church in Adelaide. Although Thomas had recently bought a block of land in Hindley Street, the young couple took up residence in King William Street where he worked as a storekeeper. Within a year Esther gave birth to twin boys, Eli and John. Both were named after their respective grandfathers and were baptised on 27 April 1850. They were to have 18, or possibly 19, children, although eight of them died before they were a year old. Only six survived to adulthood.
When the gold rushes were on in Victoria, Esther and Thomas also left South Australia to try their luck. When they returned to Adelaide in December 1853 Esther had given birth to two more children, Esther Maria in June 1852 and Thomas in August 1853. Sadly they both died and were buried in Melbourne. Thomas and Esther now moved to Clarendon Street, where Esther, who was still under 21, gave birth on 2 March 1855 to Thomas, their sixth child, named after the baby who had died in Melbourne.
After the birth of their seventh child John, on 18 July 1856 and named after baby John who had died just 16 weeks old on 5 July 1850, the whole Knowles family moved to the far north of South Australia where Thomas had secured a manager's job at the Chambers brothers Moolooloo station, nearly 20 kilometres north of Blinman.
It was during this time that they got to know John McDouall Stuart, who was a frequent visitor to the station. When Stuart called in during 1860 on his trip to find the centre of Australia he realised that he had no flag to plant at the spot. His problems were solved when Esther offered to make him one. To show his gratitute, Stuart named Mount Esther after her.
During 1861 the family returned to Adelaide and once more settled down in Clarendon Street where a further 11 children were born. After a long life of storekeeping, Thomas died in Melbourne, while visiting his eldest son Eli. on 27 June 1901 at the age of 81. Within 5 months, Esther, who was now 66, married William Simpson, a widowed carpenter of 69 years, at her home in Clarence Park. This remarkable women, who had born at least 18 children had also fostered another two children. Esther died at her home on 13 February 1908 aged 73. More detailed information is available from the book by Barbara Jenkins