Wednesday, 24 July 2013

How some money may have come to Elizabeth Mashford

Latest research has thrown new light on just how Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins could afford to buy land in her own right in Gladstone in the early 1870's.

Elizabeth was very close to her older brother, George May Mashford, who had been involved in a fight with her husband, Peter Lewis, in 1848, who, as reported in the newspaper, threatened to shoot George and accused him of all sorts of calumnies.

But just two years later he would be dead, as would her brother John and her mother and her remaining two sisters and brother would be living interstate. 
  In March of 1848 barely a year after the family arrived in South Australia, her sisters Mary Ann and Jane had sailed for Melbourne on the steamship Juno.

Her brother John Cann Mashford had died a year later in 1849 and, the following year, on September 14, her beloved brother and protector, George May Mashford died, and eight weeks later, to the day, her mother, Mary Cann Mashford died. Barely a month after losing her mother, her remaining brother, Josiah Labbett Mashford sailed for Melbourne on the schooner Amalia.

Sadly, it was a pattern which would be repeated for her daughter, Mary Atkins Ross, who would lose her husband, Charlie Ross and brother, James Haynes Atkins within weeks of each other in September 1907 and her mother, Elizabeth Mashford (Lewis) Atkins, barely nine months later.

Elizabeth had been living with George for a time but with his death, and the departure of her remaining family, she was very much alone. In 1850 Elizabeth had two small children and little Henry would be born four years later, sadly dying before the age of two, but clearly with Peter Lewis as his father.

It would take some six years for George's Will to be finalised and there is a good chance that Elizabeth had no choice but to return to her violent husband, for the duration. It is not confirmed but there is a possible death record for Peter Lewis in Melbourne in 1854, two years before the Will would be finalised, but one presumes Elizabeth if she had been living in her brother's house before his death, would have been able to remain there.

But we now have evidence that George left his estate to his mother and his three sisters and with Mary Cann Mashford dying two months later, the three sisters would have shared whatever he had. Eventually anyway.

The Will seems to have been contested on the basis that George May Mashford appointed a George Aldridge, storekeeper and presumably friend,  to be his executor. It is significant that he did not nominate his brother, Josiah Labbett Mashford and neither did he include him as a beneficiary. There is a good chance that it was Josiah who challenged the Will and hence was responsible for the delay in his sisters receiving their inheritance.

Given Josiah's later exploits in bankruptcy and failed entrepreneurship, one can guess that George did not trust his younger brother to be executor and saw no need to leave him funds, as he was doing with his sisters, which would only be wasted.

And given that Elizabeth would marry Edward Atkins on  J
anuary 12, 1857, and the Will had been settled less than 12 months earlier, it is a pretty good guess that once she had her money she took her two surviving sons and headed north. Whether Peter Lewis was dead or disappeared we do not know. But marry she did, and given how long it would have taken her to get to Bundaleer or the Clare Valley, depending on where she worked,  it looks like she met and married Edward within a ten month period.

It would have made sense to put her money into the bank, beyond what she needed for her travels, and perhaps this is why the funds were never shared with Edward and remained available until she was in a position, or had a need, to buy land in Gladstone. It is conjecture but the new information regarding George's Will, as provided by Luke, does give a credible answer to the question: 'How did Elizabeth Atkins get the money to buy land?'

It looks like George May Mashford had a reasonable estate to leave at his death and given the brevity of his stay in the colony, he was either very fortunate in his business dealings and a man of acumen, once arriving in South Australia, or he had money behind him when he arrived. Either way, the money he left to Elizabeth was no doubt instrumental in giving her the opportunity for a new life for herself and her sons.

Here is the exchange regarding the latest information we have, and Luke writes:

I had a look at the Gaol records for 1840 to see if any of the people who committed the assault against Thomas Wilson went to gaol and they did, but it seems it was for only for one day and got bail and were released on the same day. If the matter went to court then it would seems that they were found not guilty because there are no more records. I was hoping that the Gaol record may have had a record of Edward Atkins’ physical appearance or mentioned the tattoo to match him with Henry Edwin Atkins, but no such luck.

Kylie: I wonder if the case was dropped and that’s why it was never reported?  After investigation police may have found he started it etc.

However, I did find out some other information, but to get any results I will have to go to the Gepps Cross office where all the records are kept. There were no records for an Edward Welsh going to Gaol. Any Police report about Edward Atkins and the assault I will have to go to Gepps Cross. However, all the Police report for the Gladstone from 1877 through to the 1900s are in existence, but again I have to go to the Gepps Cross Office so again it is a working progress.

Some time ago I was told that any criminal Supreme Court records was not available to the general public. This has now changed and the general public can have access to them. So if the court case which involved George Mashford and Peter Lewis was in the Supreme Court we are allowed to have access to them. However, the law has only just changed and The State Archives does not know if they will create their own index list or use the existing index list developed by the Supreme Court so it may be a while before I can find out anything else.
Now, as for George May Mashford he has a will. I knew he might due to the newspaper article below. 

NOTICE: A11 Persons having any Claim on demand on the estate of the late George May Mashford are requested to send in their respective accounts to George Aldridge, Kensington, immediately, in order that the same may be examined and paid, if found to be correct.”[1]

I bought a copy of his will and it is really interesting.

A lot of it I do not understand. I had problems trying to read what the will said. I have written it below. Anything in brackets are words which I think what the will states. Anything in brackets with a (?) I just cannot make the word out. It also does not help because there are no full stops or comers which makes reading difficult. I will photocopy the Will for the both of you, but I will need your address so I can post a copy of the will to you. I think, and I am not sure, but it may be the case that somebody made a challenge to the will in terms of George Aldridge being the executor.

As a result, the matter had to go to the Supreme Court to decide. The Supreme Court decided in the favour of George Aldridge.  As a result, the will was not finalised until long after the death of George Mashford. 

Re George May Mashford
I the Honourable Benjamin Boothley one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the Province of South Australia Do by these present make known to all men that on the Twenty Third day of November in the year of our Lord one Thousand eight hundred and fifty five George Aldridge of Kensington near Adelaide in the Province of South Australia storekeeper the executor named in and by the last will and testament of George May Mashford late of Marryatville in the Province of South Australia shoemaker deceased (a time?) Copy of which said last Will and testament marked ‘A” is (here under written)? did appear in the Supreme Court (aforesaid? Makes sense) and claim probate of the said will Whereupon the same was proved and registered (and? makes sense) the administration of all and singular the goods and chattels rights credit and effects of the said George May Mashford deceased was granted unto the said George Aldridge (who?) the said George Aldridge having first sworn that he (proved?) the (paper?)(valid?) marked “A” then exhibited and filed in this honourable Court to be the last will and testament of George May Mashford deceased who died at Marryatville in the said province  on the fourteenth (should be the fourteenth) day of September one thousand eight hundred and fifty and that he would well and truly execute the said will and testament and that the said George Aldridge would make and exhibit unto this Honourable Court a [time and (file etc?)]  (could this be “true and perfect”?) inventory of all the goods and chattels rights credits and effects of the said deceased on or before the (twenty third day?) of April one thousand eight hundred and fifty six and also under a full and true account of the Executorship of him the said George Aldridge when he shall be lawfully called upon so do and Lastly that the goods chattels rights credit and effects of the said deceased within the Province of South Australia and its Dependencies did not exceed in value the sum of fifty pounds
(given?) at Adelaide this twenty eight day (of?) January in the year of our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and fifty six under my hand and seal of the Supreme Court of the province of South Australia Benjamin Boothley Judge.

Marryatville September 12th 1850 I hereby certify that believing myself upon the point of death I do bequeath to my mother Mary Mashford and to my three sisters  Elizabeth Lewis, Mary Ann Mashford and Jane Mashford my house and land situated at Marryatville now occupied by (Mr Lavington Glyde?) the (same? Makes sense)  to be equally divided between them after all (my First?)(could this be “my just debts”) debts are paid I further wish to appoint George Aldridge as  executor to carry out the same I further bequeath the debt owing to me by (examined and?) (found?) Mr White to be equally divided to the (aforesaid?makes) parties to be a (covered?) probate this is my last will and Testament (whereto?) I (sign?) copy Dated this 12th my name George May Mashford (witnessed?) Thomas (Day?) February (1850?) (Taylor?) (?) George Aldridge   

Could this last bit be:
Whereto I sign this copy my name George May Mashford, this 12th day of September 1850, witnessed Thomas Taylor, George Aldridge.
All muddled up?  Can’t see so am only guessing.  The reason I say Sept is that he died the 14th day of Sept.  if February – was this a earlier close call??
Debt “examined and found” = taken to court to claim it???  This could be another source of information.
I have no idea what a covered probate could be.  Google didn’t help with this one.   

I have not really had the time to study all the implication etc, but Mary Mashford died not long after George so any sale of the house and land he had would have gone to the three sisters.(I think)

(I agree unless Josiah tried for her share. If she had a will that would have come into force and her quarter would have been distributed according to her will)

I believe the will was finalised the 28/1/1856. George died 1850 so it took 6 years to fix the matter up. John Cann Mashford was dead so he is not mentioned and Josiah Lebbot (Labbett) Mashford is not mentioned at all. I wonder if he made the challenge.

If George owned a house, one would assume land.  Next trip to the land office try Mashford. John was married so if he owned anything his wife would have automatically received it so very likely no probate required. 

I would have no idea after George’s debts were paid what money was left to the three sisters. It may have been very little. I have no idea what amount of money Mr White owed George Mashford. However, What I find really interesting is the date 1856. If the court matter was settled in 1856 then the year 1856 corresponded to the year when Elizabeth Mashford went up north. If the newspaper story is correct. 

See below:-

The total net assets was less than £50 or at least anticipated to be less than that.  

1856 Elizabeth Lewis nee Mashford left Adelaide and moved to Booyoolee.[2]
And now some questions:-

·         If money was left to Elizabeth Mashford and Peter Lewis was still around did Elizabeth Mashford just pack up and left him? 

 I suspect he would have been entitled to claim the money.  He certainly would have under English law.  Will have to check SA situation.

·         She may now have been a woman with money so why stay with him? 

She stated in 1848 when she left him that she would support herself.  I wonder if she was working for George.  She was certainly living with him at that time.  She would not have had access until after probate then it would have been up to the executor to decide if anything could be distributed to her.

There must have been a continuing relationship with Peter Lewis because John  was born October 12, 1850 - nearly a month after George May died and a month before Mary Cann Mashford died. You get the sense that perhaps Elizabeth and Peter had a sexually powerful relationship perhaps, given his violence and given the arrival of babies. They married November 9, 1847 and George arrived eight months later so she was pregnant probably, when she married.

It was early December 1848, the newspaper report was 7/12, when Peter tried to shoot George May and then John Mashford was born October 12, 1850 so Elizabeth and Peter must have made up by January of that year.  Or she was living with George but fell pregnant on a 'one night stand' with her husband. Henry Lewis was born, also at Marryattville, in 1854, so either Elizabeth and Peter had been reconciled after George's death, or again, an interlude which resulted in pregnancy.

Little Henry died in 1855 and by the following year, when Elizabeth left Adelaide, she would have had George turning eight in July and John turning six in October,  both ages easy enough for travelling. If little Henry had lived perhaps she would not have moved to the Mid-North, not met Edward Atkins and some of us would not be claiming her as an ancestor.

·         Or even with no Peter Lewis around was it a good opportunity for Elizabeth Mashford to leave Adelaide and start again?

May have been an opportunity to earn higher wages, fully found including children.  It would have been hard to find a job that she could keep her children with her in Adelaide but if they employed her on a run her children would have been included in the food rations etc.  This effectively increased wages that would have already been higher due to the isolation.

·         If the matter took a while to settle than what throughout 1850-1856 happened to George Mashford's house E.g tenants paying rent into the estate therefore more money?

It was being rented at the time of his sickness, according to the will, to a Mr Lavington Glyde (and yes that is his name) He came from Exeter in Devon by the way.  They probably continued to rent it out during this time.  Or they could have occupied it.

·         Did she tell dear old Edward about the money? 

 If she had any brains she would have made an agreement to keep the money herself otherwise it was his.  As a widow she would have had no problem opening a bank account and could have kept it with her husband’s agreement.  If she didn’t tell him he was entitled to it (English law, SA ??)

Perhaps after her experience with Peter Lewis, she was reluctant to 'put all her eggs in one basket' with another man. I know there is no evidence but within the conjecture as to why Elizabeth split with Edward, we have touched upon a possible drinking problem - very common in the times- which might be the real reason behind the 'senile decay' which killed him. But the point is, people often marry the same sort of person second time around and Elizabeth may have had two violent drunks in her life, not one.

I also recall that in the story of the convict Edwin Atkins, he was found 'having a drink' with his mate's wife and perhaps it may have been the drink which got him into trouble in the first place. But we have yet to confirm that Edwin is our Edward.

·         Was it her brother’s money which she eventually used to buy the land at Gladstone? 

 Who knows but it would explain how she could buy them in her own name whether she was still with Edward or not.

I had a look for wills under the names Elizabeth Atkins and could not find one. I also look for Mary Ross, Charlie Ross and John Mashford Lewis and did not find one. There was two people called James Atkins and George Lewis. The wills cost $19.00 each and I asked the lady how did I know if James Atkins and George Lewis were the same person I was looking for she had a quick look for me and the will which belong to George Lewis was a hairdresser which I had a laugh about because somehow I could not image George Lewis ever being a hairdresser.

James Atkins was the same person, but it was just Annie Atkins claiming administration on his estate. I told the lady I did not think he had any estate she said he may have had a small amount of money in the bank under his name. I asked how I could find out the results and she did not know. I said Elizabeth Atkins owned land in Gladstone. She said some people had wills and if the executor or anybody else had no problems then the matter would have processed. (I really did not understand this.)

The executor often just goes ahead and carries out the instructions contained in the will.  If no one argued or required probate it would have just been done and dusted and no one would have worried.  As soon as anyone insists on probate, you have to get probate.  Banks and most business people would have known the family in Gladstone so there would have been little problem with just going ahead with the details without probate.  If you need to fight someone in court for recovery of debts, the court would have required probate.  Sometimes land will not be sold or transferred without probate.  When did Elizabeth sell her land?? Or is that next trip info??

I went to the Land Title Office. However, it took me a while to understand their computer data base. I re-found Elizabeth Atkins title to her land, but nobody else. However, like I said the system is not straight forward so I will have to go back there another day as it may take a while to fully understand how their computer system works, but anybody can just walk in and sit in front of their computer and search all day if they want to.

It has been a long time since we have talked about the Mashford family from Devon, but has anybody done any research on George May Mashford middle name (May). It is not really a name for a male so it may have some connection to another branch of his family like the middle name of John Cann Mashford and Josiah Lebbot Mashford.  NB: Labbett is the correct name but Lebbot often comes up.
I never found the May link.

[1] South Australian Register Tuesday 27 April 1852 p 1.
[2] The Areas Express & Farmers Journal. Friday May 15th 1908.

We touched on this three years ago but found nothing concrete about the Mays but did about Canns and Labbetts.

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