James Eather 1839-1934
James EATHER was the sixth son and tenth child of Thomas EATHER 1800-1886 and Sarah, nee McALPIN, he was born at Richmond on 13 December 1839. He was baptised by the Reverend H T STILES on 5 January 1840. James EATHER spent his childhood at Richmond where his father was a hotel-keeper and farmer. By his late teens he had grown to a height of 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm). He was of solid build and he had hazel eyes.
During his teenage years James EATHER learned the skills of saddlery, probably as an apprentice. His father had been apprenticed as a shoemaker when he had been a teenager and he undoubtedly appreciated the value of the skills of a trade. In an era when most travel was on horseback or in a horse-drawn vehicle, saddlery was a trade which promised good remuneration.
As James EATHER later found, the skills that he had gained then in making and repairing saddles and harness generally, proved very useful to him throughout his long life. He probably learned also some of the skills of stock work on his father's farm and these too would have stood him in good stead when, as a young man, he left the Hawkesbury district and joined some of his elder brothers at "Henriendi", the family station on the Namoi River near present-day Baan Baa.
In 1859, at the age of nineteen, James EATHER was stricken with rheumatic fever. According to what he related to his family in later years, his dark hair turned grey after this illness, and he remained grey-headed for the rest of his life. Whether this illness occurred at Richmond or after he had arrived at "Henriendi" is not known, but he was on the Liverpool Plains by the time he was in his early twenties. James EATHER didn't settle permanently at "Henriendi".
He began practising his trade and moved from homestead to homestead repairing saddles and harness wherever he could find customers. It was probably during a visit to one of these stations that he met Victoria PRYKE. She had been born on the 9 June 1840, the daughter of Thomas and Ellen PRYKE, and had been baptised on 18 June in the Roman Catholic Church in the parish of Wollongong. Victoria was a sister of John Thomas PRYKE who was married to Mary Elizabeth EATHER, a grand-daughter of Robert EATHER.
By 1862 James and Victoria were living in a de facto relationship at Cox's Creek near "Henriendi". On 4 April 1863 a son, James Augustus, was born to them at Cox's Creek.
In October 1864 a second son, Augustus, was born. Both of these sons died within three days of each other at Cox's Creek in February 1865. They were probably carried off by some epidemic. The death certificate of Augustus, who died on 16 February, states that he had been sick for two days and no doctor had attended him. It would have been well nigh impossible to obtain the services of a doctor at short notice in that remote region in the years before townships developed on the Liverpool Plains. The deaths were not registered until 31 March when Victoria gave the particulars for the registration.
In 1867 a third son, James, was born to James and Victoria, but he died later in that year at Cox's Creek. Victoria and James parted soon afterwards.
Victoria PRYKE married some years later. James was living at "Henriendi" in 1868 along with his brothers Charles, William, and John Rowland. Perhaps he was using "Henriendi" as a base from which he went out plying his trade of making and repairing harness. Little is known of his life during the next decade. On the electoral rolls for 1878 and 1879 he was recorded as residing at both "Henriendi" and "Breeza", so it appears that he worked from both places from time to time.
On 24 November 1880, when he was forty, James and Isabella Jane were married at Breeza by the Church of England minister Frederick GOUGH. Witnesses were Albert Young and Isabella's sister Evelyn. Albert YOUNG was probably a nephew of James, the son of his sister Ann and her husband Edwin YOUNG. According to the wedding certificate, James was a saddler and his usual place of residence was Breeza. Following their marriage, James and Isabella lived in the Breeza district for about six years and their first three children: Edward Carl (1881), Sarah Elsie (1883) and Pearl Hilton (1885) were born there. A railway line had been constructed northwards gradually across the New England Tableland and by 1884 it was open as far as Glen Innes.
Isabella's brother William joined the railway department and when he was transferred away, his mother Sarah took the remainder of her family with her and moved north to Glencoe, a few miles south of Glen Innes. There she took up the position of railway gatekeeper, which she held until the turn of the century. At the same time, James and Isabella packed their belongings and moved north too, leaving the community where Isabella had lived for almost thirty years.
It was at Glencoe that their fourth child, Ruby Hellice, was born in 1888. By this time James had turned his hand to farming. They stayed at Glencoe for a few years, but by 1894 were further north along the Tablelands at Deepwater.
This was a small township which was developing close by a large sheep station of the same name. In the Post Office Directory for the years 1894 to 1902, James was listed as a farmer. He and Isabella both worked on Deepwater Station for a family named CADELL. James plied his trade as a saddler, mending harness, making whips and tending the horses. Isabella was employed as a cook for the household, and she also attended to washing and ironing. From where they lived they walked two miles (3.2 km) to and from work each day. Their children attended the school at Deepwater which had opened in 1884. After an elapse of almost twelve years, another child was added to the family when Isabella gave birth on 28 December 1899 to another son whom they named Claude Leslie. Isabella was 41 and James had just turned 60. However, their happiness at this new addition to their family was short-lived. On 13 January 1900 baby Claude died after 16 days of "debility and bronchitis'.
The century had ended sadly for James and Isabella, but they were proud of their four surviving children. Edward Carl turned nineteen that year and was quite a young man. By the time Australia became a Commonwealth at the beginning of 1901 the three girls were age 17 years, 15 years and 12 years respectively They assisted with many of the household chores, seeing that both their parents were working. Their duties included carrying buckets of water from the river on each Sunday afternoon in preparation for washing day on the Mondays. This was no mean feat as the river was about 400 metres from their home. About 1902 second daughter Pearl left home and travelled down to Sydney to take up employment with a family who had a young son. Pearl was his "nanny" and earned 7/6 (75 cents) a week. When a second child was born in this family, Pearl's elder sister Elsie joined her in Sydney. Where they lived in Sydney was a far cry from the little community at Deepwater from which they had come. They lived in a two-storey dwelling overlooking Sydney Harbour. When the family for whom they worked was planning to make a trip abroad, Pearl was offered the opportunity of accompanying them. However, she declined the offer because she had met the man with whom she hoped to make her future. Therefore the two sisters returned home to Deepwater.
In 1906, according to the electoral roll, James and his son Carl were both employed as labourers, while Isabella, Elsie and Pearl were all involved in domestic or home duties. Ruby was not yet old enough to be enrolled. The first family wedding took place on 6 May 1908 when second daughter Pearl was married at Deepwater to Robert John Hawksley LOCKWOOD, whom she had known since her school days. Other weddings followed on 21 June 1911 when Elsie married Andrew MOULE, and on 12 January 1914, when Ruby married John William WEBSTER. These weddings were also held at Deepwater. When time permitted, Isabella enjoyed doing embroidery. She was also a very competent seamstress and she stitched ball dresses and the wedding gowns for her daughters. She made everyday clothes for the whole family and later for her grandchildren. She became quite accomplished at making men's jackets and trousers. She also became a capable midwife and it was not unusual for her to be called upon to attend one or another of the wives in the district at the time of a birth. By the time she was in her mid-fifties she had ceased to work at Deepwater Station, but James, although seventy-six, still walked out and back each day and attended to odd jobs there.
According to the 1915 Post Office directory, James was still a saddler. Son Carl was making a living as a hairdresser. Carl was a young man who always had a neat appearance and a quiet demeanour. He worked for some years for the newsagency at Deepwater. He and his sister Ruby both had handwriting skills which won them many prizes in local shows.
In 1917 Carl moved to Glen Innes and joined the staff of the newspaper there. He took up residence in Church Street. By 1921 James and Isabella had joined their son in Glen Innes and were residing in Meade Street. James was then 82 and at last he had retired from work. They always resided in a rented house, and they changed their place of residence on a number of occasions over the years and had a number of different addresses in Meade and Grey Streets at Glen Innes. Carl was still single and hecontinued to live at home with them. Isabella commenced a service doing washing and ironing for prominent people in the town. This entailed a deal of walking between one house and another and back again. She was prepared to work six days a week, but Sunday was always a day for Church and rest. She was not averse to having an occasional bet on a horse-race.
On 31 October 1929 son Carl was admitted to hospital suffering from bronchial pneumonia. James and Isabella visited him in hospital and stayed for long hours, but despite all the care and attention that could be given, he died on 12 November. For a fifth time in his life James had to bear the loss of a son, and he was left with no son to survive him. He and Isabella changed house again soon afterwards, moving back to Meade Street. They were getting away from sad memories, but life was never quite the same again for them.
James EATHER was the longest-lived of all of the children of Thomas and Sarah EATHER, and after the death of his youngest sister Catherine in 1928, was their last surviving child. He was 94 when he was admitted to hospital at Glen Innes in September 1934 suffering from lobar pneumonia. He died on 19 September 1934 and was buried next to his son Carl in the Church of England portion of the Glen Innes Cemetery, following a funeral service in the local Church. The coffin was left open during the service so that those who wished could pay their last respects. Isabella was almost 76 when her husband died, and soon afterwards her daughter Ruby and family moved in to live with her. She was still a strong and independent woman and continued with her washing and ironing undertakings. However she reduced her workload by working just three days each week. For each wash and iron she was paid 5/- (50 cents). She still had a brother and a sister residing in the Glen Innes district and she would see them from time to time.
By 1947 she had moved once again and was residing in McQuarie Street. By then she had retired and no longer did washing and ironing.
When she was 91 Isabella had the misfortune to fall while hanging sheets on the clothes line. She broke her hip and spent the next eighteen weeks in hospital. She eventually made a good recovery and was able to walk quite well again. Her recovery was an indication of the spirit of determination which was a feature of her character. She lived another four years before she was admitted to hospital for the last time. On Saturday 17 July 1954 she died in the Glen Innes Hospital at the age of 95 years. Following a funeral service in Holy Trinity Church of England, her body was laid to rest beside James and Carl. She had survived her husband by almost 20 years. The longevity which they had both portrayed was emulated by the three daughters who survived them. Two lived into their eighties and the third to the age of 94 years.
The children of James EATHER and Victoria PRYKE:-
James Augustus EATHER 1863 1865
Augustus EATHER 1864 1865
James EATHER 1867 1867
The Children of James EATHER and Isabella Jane NOWLAND were:-
Edward Carl EATHER 1881 1929
Sarah Elsie EATHER 1883 1964
Pearl Hilton EATHER 1885 1969
Ruby Hellice EATHER 1888 1982
Claude Leslie EATHER 1899 1900
Eather family Newsletter
Eather Family History