Sarah Eather 1834-1926
Sarah EATHER, the seventh child of Thomas EATHER 1800-1886 and his wife Sarah, nee McALPIN, was born at Richmond on 24 August 1834. The first of the children to be born after her father had become a publican, she was baptised at Richmond on 21 September 1834 by the Reverend R FORREST and named after her mother. Sarah EATHER spent her childhood and teenage years at Richmond amongst an increasing number of sisters and brothers. On 25 January 1854, when she was nineteen, she was married in St Peter's Church to twenty-five years pf age William EATON. The service was conducted by the Reverend J ELDER. The groom was the eldest son of Daniel EATON and his wife Mary, nee THURSTON, farmers who lived near the confluence of the Grose and Nepean Rivers at North Richmond. William's grandfather, William EATON, was still alive and was probably amongst the guests at the wedding, as was Sarah's grandmother, Elizabeth EATHER. Soon after their wedding, Sarah and William EATON left the Hawkesbury district and moved to Murrurundi at the foot of the range on the road from Singleton to the Liverpool Plains. William was in business there as an Inn Keeper by the time their first child, Rowland Richard EATON, was born in August 1855. They were still operating the hotel at Murrurundi two years later when their first daughter, Loretta EATON, was born, and during that year William contributed £2.0.0 to the building of the Murrurundi Roman Catholic Church. On 24 October 1857 he purchased the "White Hart" Inn at Muswellbrook from Richard WARD for the sum of £2,250. Consequently, on 12 November 1857 he advertised in the "Maitland Mercury" that he intended to let the "Australian Arms" at Murrurundi. Soon afterwards William took his wife and children to Muswellbrook. The price of £2,250 that he had paid for the "White Hart" Inn included the hotel on Allotments 9 & 10 Section 5, and Allotment 1 Section 4, which was a block of land across the street from the hotel. On 14 August 1858 William EATON advertised the "White Hart" Inn in the "Maitland Mercury" as being a "first class hotel". During 1858 a valuable horse owned by William EATON was stolen. On 16 July that year he advertised in the "Maitland Mercury" that he was offering a reward of £30 for the return of a stolen horse. During that year he purchased Allotments 68 and 69 in the village of Blandford near Murrurundi from William Henry WARLAND. The purpose of this purchase is not known. At Muswellbrook Sarah and William saw from time to time relatives who called in while travelling to or from the Liverpool Plains. These included some of Sarah's brothers and occasionally her father. On one occasion Sarah's brother William arrived with his wife and children in two spring carts, making their way slowly to the family station "Henriendi" where they intended to settle permanently. They were glad to stay for a few days before moving on up the road. On occasions William's father and brothers called in while travelling between the Hawkesbury district and "Biniguy" and their other runs on the Gwydir River far away to the north. For a few years from 1858 Sarah and William EATON had relatives living at Muswellbrook. William's sister Susannah and husband James WILLIAMS were in business there as the proprietors of the "Family" Hotel in Sydney Street, Muswellbrook. James WILLIAMS was Sarah's cousin, the son of her father's sister Charlotte and the late Robert WILLIAMS. William and Sarah EATON continued to prosper at Muswellbrook. In 1861 William donated £3.3.0 towards the erection of the Muswellbrook Roman Catholic Church and Sarah also donated £1.0.0 to that cause. Sometime in 1861 William purchased from Edward WHITE of Edenglassie, Allotment 8 Section 5, land next door to their hotel. For this he paid £180. Three years later, on 6 December 1864 he advertised that he had 10 loose boxes prepared for horses at the "White Hart " Hotel.
On 29 March 1866 the Muswellbrook correspondent of the "Maitland Mercury" reported:- " At the other end of our town our enterprising townsman, Mr William EATON, contemplates making very extensive additions and improvements to the well-known "White Hart" Hotel; but not as yet having seen the plans, I cannot fully describe them, but I may say that Mr EATON will provide the most ample accommodation for travellers and the public generally."
Two days later the "Sydney Morning Herald" of 31 March 1866 earned the following notice: " To builders - Tenders required by 13th April for building a first-class hotel; at Muswellbrook for Mr EATON. O H LEWIS, Architect, 392 George Street, Sydney". On 16 May 1867 William EATON took out an Equitable Mortgage with the Joint Stock Bank. Allotments 8- 9-10 Section 5 and Allotment 1 Section 4 were listed as collateral. By this time the new hotel had been built and named "Eaton's Hotel" - a name which it retains today. The former "White Hart" Hotel had either been demolished or incorporated in the new hotel. In 1868 part of the land at the rear of the hotel was resumed for the construction of the railway line. William EATON was paid £157/15/6 for the land resumed. During their years at Muswellbrook, Sarah had given birth to six more children, one of whom had died in infancy. Their last child was born in 1870.
Sarah outlived all except the youngest of her children. By 1870 William was one of the important property- owners in the town of Muswellbrook. According to the Muswellbrook Municipal Rate Book, he owned in that year 2 cottages in Market Street, Section 10; 4 cottages and a shop in Bridge Street, Section 4; saleyards and a grass paddock in Sowerby Street, Section 4; and an hotel, offices, store and assembly rooms in Bridge Street, Section 5. However, lie still carried the financial burden of his mortgage with the Joint Stock Bank. Early in 1872 there occurred a serious rift in the marriage relationship of Sarah and William. It was a rift which was aggravated by and may have had its origin in the state of their financial affairs. They parted and William returned to Richmond and his relatives there. Sarah and their children remained in Muswellbrook. On 26 July 1872 there was still an amount of £2,150 outstanding on the mortgage to the Joint Stock Bank. On that day Thomas COOK of Turonville, Scone, agreed to pay to the Bank the sum of £2,150 and to William EATON 5/- and in return he became the owner of the hotel and the allotment of land across the street. In that same month Thomas COOK took out a writ for £1,383/3/-. This resulted in the Sheriff auctioning the two blocks of land that William EATON owned at Blandford, and at the same time Thomas COOK took over four other blocks of land that William EATON had owned at Muswellbrook.
The ownership of the hotel had gone, but for Sarah it was not the end of her association with it. In an arrangement with Thomas COOK, she took out an hotel licence in her own name and became the licensee of "Eaton's Hotel."
On 13 August 1872, Muswellbrook solicitor R G D FITZGERALD wrote the following letter to her husband: " Mr William EATON, Richmond, Sir, I am instructed by Mrs EATON to inform you that on 8th July last she obtained a Judge's Order protecting her and her future property from you and from your debts and accounts, and that she now holds the licence for the hotel which you lately among other property conveyed to Mr COOK and that in the event of your returning you will not be admitted to the home. R G D FITZGERALD"
Sarah EATON remained the licensee of "Eaton's Hotel" for six years until 1878 and then she gave it up. She was followed as licensee by her brother, Charles EATHER, who had been a grazier on the Liverpool Plains and further out, but had struck financial problems during the droughts of the late 1860's and had become bankrupt in 1871. He held the licence in 1879 and 1880 and Thomas COOK remained the owner. The fine hotel which William and Sarah provided for Muswellbrook, still stands. In 1990 the Muswellbrook Family History Society produced a gold-rimmed souvenir tumbler depicting Eaton's Hotel twice - as it was in 1880 and as it was in 1990. The building is a large two-storied structure with at least seven brick chimneys. In 1880 it had wrought-iron lacework on the upper-storey veranda. Today it is little changed in external appearance, but the hitching rails for horses in front of the hotel have gone. Apparently Sarah EATON had been the guarantor for her brother Charles when he was granted his innkeeper's licence. She was residing in Sydney when R G D FITZGERALD, the Muswellbrook solicitor, wrote to her on 15 February 1882 as follows: " Mrs W EATON C/o C W BECK Esq. 132 Elizabeth Lane Sydney, Madam, I am instructed by the Manager of the Commercial Bank, Muswellbrook to apply to you for the payment of the sum of £22/9/6 being the balance due with interest to date, on Charles EATHER's dishonoured promissory note in favour of D EVANS for £84/16/- due 8/2/1879 and I have to inform you that unless the above sum together with one guinea, my charges, be paid to me within seven days from this date my instructions are to commence proceedings against you for the recovery thereof without notice. Your obedient servant, R G D FITZGERALD".
It appears that Sarah EATON settled her brother's debt upon his behalf as instructed. Within a few months of receiving the above letter she travelled north to the town of Rockhampton in Queensland and before 1882 was out had become the licensee of one of the town's leading hotels, the "Criterion". For a few years previously its licensee had been Frederick MORGAN, one of the brothers who discovered gold in the ranges to the south-west and had the mining town there named after them. Sarah remained the licensee of the "Criterion" Hotel from 1882 to 1887 and then relinquished the licence and took a coastal steamer north to Townsville. There she became the licensee of the "Imperial" Hotel, but apparently was not impressed with life in that northern port. After about twelve months there she relinquished the license in 1888 and returned to Rockhampton. In 1889 she returned to the "Criterion" Hotel as licensee and remained there for the next six years. In 1895 she surrendered the licence and became the licensee of the "Grosvenor" Hotel, another of the town's leading hotels. She was still managing the "Grosvenor" at the turn of the century. William EATON was still living at Richmond in 1889 when his father made his last will and testament. He was appointed one of the executors of Daniel EATON's estate. Upon Daniel's death later in that year, William and his brother George, who was a bachelor, inherited "Eatonville", the family farm on the Grose River at North Richmond, which had been founded by Daniel's father in 1804. When George EATON died in 1898 William became the outright owner of the farm. He was then seventy years of age. Whether he and Sarah ever became reconciled is not known, but from the evidence available, it seems most unlikely. He died in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville on 17 April 1906. The family farm then passed down to his eldest son Rowland Richard EATON who sold it. Sarah EATON survived her husband by almost twenty years. Except for occasional holidays in Sydney, where she visited some of her relatives there, she remained in Queensland. When she finally retired from the commercial life of Rockhampton, she went out bush and lived on Glenmore Downs Station in the Clermont district of Central Queensland with her granddaughter Kathleen TOLSON, one of the three children of her eldest daughter Loretta. Sarah EATON (nee EATHER) died at Glenmore Downs on 19 February 1926, at the age of 91 years. Three days later on 22 February her body was buried in the Clermont Cemetery with the Reverend H R SINCLAIR officiating. Her death was registered at Clermont on 10 April 1926 by Kathleen TOLSON, granddaughter, of Glenmore Downs. Of the thirteen children of Thomas EATHER and Sarah McALPIN, Sarah EATON had a longer life than any d the others except her younger brother James. He lived to the age of 94 years. Sarah had had eight children, but sadly, when she died she was survived by only one of them - her youngest son, George Thomas EATON, then age 56 years. She had only a small number of grandchildren.
The children of Sarah EATHER and William EATON were:-
Rowland Richard Eaton 1855 – 1918
Lauretta Eaton 1857 – 1890
Ada Blanche Eaton 1859 – 1889
Florence Mary Eaton 1861 – 1904
Minnie Eaton 1863 – 1864
Annie Thurston Eaton 1865 – 1884
William Daniel Eaton 1868 – 1924
George Thomas Eaton 1870 – 1968
Eather Family history'
Peter J. Moore
Eather Family Newsletter