John Hurst snr, was born in Leicestershire and arrived in Australia in 1845 after a 14-week voyage with his wife, Sarah, and five children. He farmed in the Cow Pastures area near Camden until 1862 before moving to a property on the Murrumbidgee River at Oura, near Wagga Wagga.
John Hurst jnr, one of the children, began paid work at the age of nine. When gold was discovered on the Turon fields in 1851, he was 15 and joined his father on the diggings. They walked all the way.
After slim pickings of gold, John jnr married Keturah Angel, the daughter of the convict Henry Angel and Mary Brooker. Henry, convicted of highway robbery in England, arrived in Australia in 1818 and worked in road gangs before being assigned to a farmer at Appin, near the properties of Andrew Hamilton Hume and William Hovell.