The search for any traces of the life an historical Australian man in Melksham has been launched on behalf of one of his ancestors.

James Nash, who lived from 1834 until 1913 was historically known as the first person to discover gold in Queensland, Australia, but it has emerged he was born in the West Wiltshire Town.

The hunt for any information started after a living ancestor of Mr Nash contacted Meksham Town Council after finding out he was born in the Beanacre area of the town.

Melksham Town Council referred the letter to Melksham Without Parish Council who cover Beanacre and they are hoping someone will come forward with any information about his life in the area.

Mike Mills, Chairman of the parish council said: “The letter was from someone in Australia, a man I believe, and it is now with the clerk Mary Jarvis.

“He had somehow discovered that James Nash was born in Beanacre and he wrote to us asking if there was a statue or any kind of memorial to him in the area.

“I’m afraid that this is the first we had heard of him and I don't think there is anyone in Beanacre who had heard of him before either.He was living here a long time ago.”

The parish council have since found out that there is actually a statue of Mr Nash in Queensland where he discovered the ‘Gympie Goldfield’.

He was born on September 5, 1834, in the area and was the son of Michael Nash, a farm labourer, and his wife Elizabeth, née Prosser.

It is recorded that at the age of nine he left school for farm work and migrated to Sydney when he was 23 where he alternated between labouring work and working on various goldfields in New South Wales.

It was In 1867 he that found gold near the Mary River in Queensland.

Mr Mills said: “I suppose that the man who wrote the letter had been trying to trace his ancestry. I have been looking in to my family tree recently and I have traced it back as far as the 1500s.

“I even found out that one of my great great great grandfather’s, on my father’s side, was a man called Thomas Mills who fled to South Carolina in the United States after he was hounded out of England for supporting the Americans bid for independence. I found out that he faced being arrested on treason charges for supporting it.”

Anyone with any information about Thomas Nash should call the parish council on 01225 705700.