What were the wives of Singleton up to in December 1848? Why were they deserting their husbands? Of course their husbands said it was ‘without cause’.
These two notices appeared in the Maitland Mercury on 20 December 1848. They provide very different reading to the Public or Family Notices of today’s newspapers. While I don’t know what happened to the Witton family, I do know what happened in the Head family as Henry (1810-1877) and Elizabeth (1813-1894) are my 4 x great grandparents.
The couple, together with their four daughters arrived in Australia in 1842 as Bounty Scheme immigrants. By 1843 the family had settled in the Singleton area. Another daughter Eliza was born in that year.
We will never know the stresses and strains on the couple’s relationship, particularly one that must have been suffering from physical and cultural dislocation. Early Singleton was a very different place to Ore in Sussex, where both Henry and Elizabeth’s families had lived for generations.
What we do know is that by the end of 1848 Elizabeth was living with William Levett, a former convict. During the goldrushes the couple moved to Sofala and then to the Lambing Flats district (now Young) where William selected land.
Elizabeth’s five daughters stayed with their father.
Elizabeth is not my only x great grandmother to leave her husband and large family. Elizabeth Carlisle and Jane Wright both left their families. Their husbands put similar public notices, designed to shame the women, into the local newspapers. In Elizabeth Carlisle’s case, the notice her missionary husband placed was far more damning .
That is another story.