Uncovering the life and legend of Australia’s sweetheart Nicole Kidman
Who doesn’t love a history lesson? Especially when that lesson involves the family history of our favourite celebrities.
Whether discovering that Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence are distant cousins or that Delta Goodrem’s great grandmother was a famous showgirl, the stories behind some the world’s most recognisable faces can be fascinating.
But let’s talk about one of Australia’s greatest Hollywood success stories. A woman whose illustrious career spans over thirty years and includes iconic roles in the popular TV series Pretty Little Liars and Aussie classics like Moulin Rouge! and Australia.
Nicole Mary Kidman was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while her Australian parents were studying in the United States, but her roots lead back to the very early days of colonial Australia.
The Kidman Family line
One of Nicole’s paternal great-great grandfathers, Charles Kidman, arrived in Sydney from Nottingham, England sometime in 1845. Four years later, Charlie had met and married Phoebe Goode and they went on to welcome six children together. Tragically, Phoebe passed away after a short illness in August 1860 at just 37 years old, leaving Charles with a large, young family to look after.
Like many people in his position, Charles re-married with some speed to Sarah Matthews just one month after Phoebe’s death. Sarah also brought her own two children from a previous marriage to the family before the couple then extended the family tree further – in June 1865, Sarah gave birth to a son, Arthur Kidman, Nicole’s great grandfather.
A bit cheesy
Arthur’s dad Charles was a savvy businessman and active member of the community, acting as Alderman of Randwick from 1859-1863. Among his many business ventures, Charles owned a shop on Sydney’s Oxford Street and a grocery store on the corner of George and Market Street, as well as several acres of land.
Charles had a mind for marketing well ahead of his time. Every Christmas, he would have an enormous block of cheese specially made. This mammoth block would weigh up to five tons and contained sovereigns and half-sovereign gold coins inside. The giant cheese would be paraded around the streets of Sydney drawn by a team of bullocks. When the cheese returned to the shop, there would be a rush of housewives buying small and large quantities in the hope of getting a coin or two in the slice.
The Irish Have It
Nicole’s other set of paternal great-great-great grandparents James and Bridget Callachor arrived in Sydney from Ireland on the 18th January 1842 on board the Agnes Ewing, with their first child Hugh and 269 other ‘bounty’ immigrants. This difficult journey to Australia from the Emerald Isle would have been a far cry from their lives in rural Cootehill, County Cavan, Ireland.
Luckily the Callachors reached Australian shores safely, finding work as agricultural labourers and briefly settling in Port Macquarie where Bridget gave birth to their second child Phillip, Nicole’s great-great grandfather. Another five children followed Philip, and the growing family relocated to Sydney, taking an active role in the strong Catholic community that formed in Glebe and Forest Lodge.
Uncovering your own connection
These are just a few stories in of Nicole’s family history. Other surnames that pop up in the Kidman tree include Cook, See, Law, Howley, Finn, Mackenzie, Glenny, Gosling, Ladensack, Thompson, Thornton and Gibson and every new surname brings with it a unique tale of love, adventure and maybe even a taste for giant blocks of cheese.
You can watch Nicole Kidman in the second series of Pretty Little Liars on Foxtel.
The Carousel would like to thank Brad Argent, Family History Expert, Ancestry Australia for his contribution.