William John JAMES (1866 - 1941)
William John JAMES was born at Wombat Hill, Daylesford, Victoria, Australia on 26 October 1866.
He was the son of Christopher Oates JAMES and Elizabeth nee POLLARD who had emigrated to Australia from Cornwall in the 1850s and joined the gold rush.
William John married Ellen STEWART in Redfern, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 21 July 1890 according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church. The JAMES family were Methodists and this suggests a certain calling of the shots by Ellen's side of the family. The STEWARTs were highland Scots and Presbyterians. William John and Ellen had their first child, Elsie May JAMES, on 1 December 1890 so one may assume there was an element of urgency to the marriage. The marriage register records that "The consent of Alexander Stewart Father of the Bride was given to the marriage of Ellen Stewart and William John James the said Ellen Stewart being under the age of Twenty-one years". (She was 19.) A. Stewart and John Stewart (presumably Ellen's father and brother) were listed as witnesses.
At this stage William John is recorded as a grocer.
Elsie May Stewart JAMES died in Enmore, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 6 March 1892. William John is recorded in the death registration as a commercial traveller. A second daughter, Muriel Gladys Munro JAMES, was born in St Kilda, Victoria, Australia on 12 December 1892. William John is recorded as a traveller.
Marjorie Jessie Draper JAMES, the third child, was born in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia on 7 November 1895. William John is a grocer again.
William John at this stage becomes somewhat settled. He appears in news reports in the local newspaper, the Newcastle Morning Herald, between May 1896 and May 1898. He was president of the Newcastle Shop Employees' Association and president of the Early Closing Movement.
The Newcastle Morning Herald for 21 December 1897 carried a court report in which William John emerges as a "grocer in the employ" of George Henry Ball. William John had pursued a thief and recovered a side of bacon stolen from the shop on 18 December.
[A feature article about Newcastle commerce in the Sydney Mail for 18 September 1897 includes an image of the Ball Bros grocery store in Newcastle. Five men stand at the shop front and two on a balcony above. It is highly probable that one of the five below, four of whom are wearing aprons, is William John.]
According to the Newcastle Morning Herald for 13 July 1898 William John had left the district. Not long before, on 6 March 1898, a fourth child had arrived, Stewart Christopher JAMES.
Then William John vanishes.
In March 1916 Helena JAMES (nee Ellen STEWART) married Ernest HEINER, a solicitor, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. According to the marriage registration Helena was a widow. The marriage was conducted according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church (the HEINERs were Lutherans and Ernest's father had been a well regarded Lutheran pastor in nearby Ipswich). Evidently Ellen was one to get her way. William John and Ellen's second daughter, now known as Gladys (not Muriel) and her husband Alfred Gunn CRAWFORD were witnesses.
Much more happened after that, needless to say. But the most intriguing outcome was the registration of a death at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum on 28 July 1941 of a William John JAMES, aged 74, a grocer, born in Daylesford and son of Christopher Oats James and Elizabeth Pollard. His children are listed as Elsie and Marjorie, there being no mention of either Gladys or the son Stewart Christopher who at the time was a prominent citizen of Brisbane.
There are 43 years to account for.