Jane Watchman. South Australian History

Jane Watchman

Jane Bell/Watchman/James around 1911/1912.

During the late 1840s and early 1850s the British Government shipped many hundreds of Irish women to Australia. In 1848 more than 200 Irish orphan girls were shipped to South Australia. On this trip almost half of them had their period for the first time. When they arrived on the Roman Emperor, on 26 October 1848 at Port Adelaide, they were not really made very welcome. The newspapers warned that the colony would become a receptacle for thieves, juvenile bastards and prostitutes. The secretary of the Orphan Immigration Committee, M. Moorhouse informed parties 'desirous of engaging the services of any of these immigrants are requested to apply to the Emigration Agent or at the Native School'.

Among these girls was Jane Bell, orphaned during the potato famine. At the age of sixteen she started her working life as a domestic at Brighton. After two years Jane married Stephen Isaac Watchman and they had two children, Mary Jane, born 7 March 1853 and Isaac born 11 June 1855. During these years Jane and her family lived at Mitcham until the early death of her husband on 19 November 1857 at the age of about forty-three.

Mary Jane Watchman married on 9 March 1876 Thomas Williams, born 25 August 1847 in Cornwall. Their first child, Annie Augusta was born in Port Augusta on 4 February 1877. They had two more children in South Australia before the family left for Bundaberg in Queensland where they had another four children. Thomas died in Bundaberg on 14 February 1934 and Mary Jane on 17 December 1937.

After the death of her husband Stephen, life became very difficult for young Jane and her two small children and six months later she married Thomas James. Thomas, whose wife had just died, after their arrival in South Australia already had five children. During 1858 the new family of nine moved to Coromandel Valley where Jane had a further five children. She remained in the valley even after the death of her second husband. Jane eventually moved in with her son Isaac, who had married Elizabeth Ann Mayger of Kapunda on 23 April 1881, at the home of her parents, and stayed with them until she herself died on 21 May 1914, almost 82 years old and a colonist of sixty-five years. Elizabeth Ann died 24 February 1828 whereas her husband Isaac lived until 3 August 1934.

Isaac and Elizabeth Ann Watchman, nee Mayger, with their six children, they were to have one more child. From left to right, Alfred Ernest, born 3 July 1891, killed in action in 1916 at Posiers, France. Isaac Watchman, Robert George, born 30 September 1888. When he was twenty-three he married twenty-four years old Ada Jane Morley at the Methodist Church in Coromandel Valley on 18 September 1912, Frederick Stephen Mayger, born 28 October 1882. At the age of thirty he married Ethel Clarice Parsons at the Methodist Church in Glenelg on 19 November 1912, Elizabeth Ann and Ellen Jane, born on 3 August 1886. She married Walter Arnold Crane, who later had Crane Avenue named after him. Front from left to right, Walter Stanley, born 16 March 1894 and Ivy May, born 7 October 1896. She married Hurtle Jones. Alma Pearl, born 17 December 1899. She married Gil Penno who had later Penno Parade in Belair named after him.

The recently re-sited memoral shows evidence of a community still immensely proud of its heritage. When originally built some fifty Coromandel families paid the equivalent of two weeks' wages to pay for it.


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