Eliza BODINNAR HOPKINS JAMES (1839 - 1914 )
Eliza HOPKINS appears in the JAMES family tree seemingly out of nowhere in 1900.
Christopher Oates JAMES’s first wife, Elizabeth POLLARD, died in Daylesford, Victoria, on 24 September 1898. Christopher and Elizabeth married in Liskeard, Cornwall, on 16 October 1851 and emigrated to Australia at some time in the 1850’s during the Victorian gold rush. Their first three children died in infancy but a further 8 survived the rigours of the Daylesford diggings: Emma (1860), Richard (1862), Christopher (1864), William John (1866), Benjamin (1868), Thomas Pollard (1870), Ernest Albert (1873) and Charles Henry (1875).
Christopher Oates JAMES was a mine manager, a respected citizen of Daylesford and evidently a staunch Methodist (perhaps even an examplar of the wowser kind: in 1901 he was a signatory of a petition to the Australian House of Representatives calling for a law to “ withhold postal facilities for promoting lotteries, fortune-telling, and other unlawful pursuits”).
Christopher did not remain a widower for long: on 2 July 1900 he married Eliza HOPKINS in Daylesford according to the rites of the Bible Christian Church.
And here begins the mystery of Eliza HOPKINS. The marriage certificate imparts a little information about her: she was a widow and had become so on 7 December 1897; her birthplace was Cornwall; she was 60 years of age; her parents were James BODINNAR and Emma EDWARDS and her father was a farmer.
A search of the Cornwall OPC Database finds the baptism of Eliza BODINNER in the Cornish parish of Breage on 31 October 1839, her parents James and Emma residing at Herland Cross, the father a butcher. Her twin sister, Anne, was baptised with her; Anne did not survive long and was buried on 28 November 1839. (There are marginal notes in the parish registers signifying private baptisms, which may or may not be relevant.)
The 1941 census of England records James BODINNAR (35), butcher, Emma (40), Eliza (2) and James (3 months) living at Little Ruthdown in the parish of Breage.
There is an apparent inconsistency between the claim on Eliza HOPKINS’ marriage certificate that her parents were James BODINNAR and Emma EDWARDS and the actual marriage record for the latter.
The Cornwall OPC Database shows that James BODINNAR married Emma MOFFATT (not EDWARDS, as claimed on the JAMES-HOPKINS marriage certificate) in Breage on 30 May 1839. James is shown as a butcher and a widower and Emma as a widow. And this latter point of course explains the surname discrepancy: the parish marriage registration reveals that Emma’s father is Nicolas EDWARDS and it follows that MOFFATT was the surname of Emma’s first husband. Further searching reveals that Thomas MOFFATT married Emma EDWARDS in Breage on 3 August 1822 and that they went on to have 7 children of which 6 survived. Thomas MOFFATT was buried in Breage on 13 October 1836.
The six surviving MOFFATT children are recorded in the 1841 census as living at Little Ruthdown with James and Emma BODINNAR.
So far, so good: some apparent discrepancies in names are resolved by tracing the complex family relationships that arose in the early nineteenth century because of shorter life spans and multiple offspring.
However, where the mystery arises is in the report of Christopher Oates JAMES’ death in the Daylesford Herald of 24 March 1909, wherein it is reported that “Mr. James’ second wife, who is blind and is the mother of townsman Mr. J. Bodinnar, also remains to mourn the loss of a good husband”.
How is it that Eliza JAMES, formerly Eliza HOPKINS, nee Eliza BODINNAR could be the mother of James BODINNAR?
The 1909 electoral roll (Division of Laanecoorie, subdivision of Daylesford) lists James BODINNAR, labourer, and Keziah BODINNAR, home duties, as living at Perrin’s st., Daylesford. He is the only Daylesford townsman of that name. He can be traced to his death in East Malvern on 2 August 1936, aged 68 years (Argus, Monday, 3 August 1936). This would put his birth somewhere around 1868. The Australia Death Index (via ancestry.com.au) shows his parents as James Symons BODINNAR and Eliza unknown.
So did Eliza BODINNAR marry a James Symons BODINNAR, deliver James BODINNAR into the world in 1868 and later marry some man whose surname was HOPKINS? Or is there a simpler explanation based on single parenthood? At this stage it is all a bit of a mystery.
Since the above was committed to journal, the death registration for Eliza JAMES has come to hand. It reveals that she died in Swan Hill, Victoria, on 30 September 1914 and was buried in the Swan Hill cemetery on 3 October. She was 73 and died from myocarditis (heart failure). She had been in Victoria for 29 years (implying she arrived from England about 1885) and had married William Farthing HOPKINS when she was 47 (about 1886). James BODINNAR was her only child by her first marriage.
The mystery is now reduced to why was her son named James BODINNAR and not James HOPKINS?