1876 Death of Elizabeth
Charles Martin's home page

1st July, 1876 - Death of Elizabeth.

    On the 1st July, less than six months after their move to Melbourne, Elizabeth died. She obviously died rather suddenly, the cause of death being a complaint or disease known as "Perimetrites' , the duration of which was 14 days. At this stage I am not certain exactly what Perimetrites is, although from one of the newspaper reports it appears likely that it may have something to do with pregnancy or childbirth.

    Several articles appeared in the Ballarat newspapers -

The Courier - 3rd July, 1876.

    "We are extremely sorry to have to record the death of Mrs Martin, the wife of our esteemed late fellow townsman, Mr C. Martin, who was for so many years head teacher of State-school No 33, Ballarat. Mrs Martin died at her residence, Carlton, on Saturday last, at twenty minutes past eleven a.m. "
The Courier - 4th July, 1 876.
    "On Monday we referred to the death of Mrs Martin, late mistress of the central State-school, Doveton street. For just nineteen years previous to the time of Mr Martin's promotion to the Melbourne Training Institute, Mrs Martin occupied the position of mistress (or what under the present act is first assistant teacher) with him in the school. She held a second-class certificate for honors under the board. Combined with her abilities as a teacher, she was held in the highest estimation and respect for her many social virtues. Ever a friend to the distressed and afflicted, her heart and purse were both open to relieve the want of the suffering, without ostentation, when­ever called upon to do so. Mrs Martin died at thirty nine years of age, and in connection with an event which usually brings pleasure to the domestic circle, but which in this instance has brought a long period of pain and regret. "
The Ballarat "Star" - 5th July, 1876.
    "With reference to the death of Mrs Martin, who has just died in Melbourne, at the age of thirty-nine years, we may state that the deceased lady came, when twenty years of age, to Ballarat with her husband, to open the Doveton street National school, having been three or four years previously in the service of the Educational Board. She continued her duties here till six months ago, when Mr Martin was promoted to the Training Institute, Melbourne. She held a second class certificate for honors under the board. The deceased was highly esteemed by a large circle of friends and acquaintances for her many excellent qualities and Christian virtues. "
    A grave plot was purchased at the Melbourne General Cemetery. No doubt the service and burial was a very sad occasion. Charles Henry jnr, by now almost 21 years of age and possibly keeping company with his future wife, would certainly have been in attendance (although in view of the entry on the death certificate, maybe he wasn't). Perhaps he and his father had by now reconciled their difference of former years. For all the young children it would have been an experience of numbing grief. As the family trudged the short walk along Cardigan street to their home that Melbourne winter's evening, the future would have looked bleak indeed.
    Charles was to erect a headstone on the site, with the inscription:
"In affectionate remembrance of
the beloved wife of
19 years Mistress of the Central State School,
Born 21st October, 1836; Died 1st July, 1876.
"God hath given to us eternal life,
and this life is in his son." John.
"Christ, our life, shall appear." Paul.
" I will come again." Jesus.

    The bottom line is from the Greek New Testament, and means
"Amen, Come, Lord Jesus.")
    The headstone clearly reveals a strong theology of the hope of the Second Coming of Christ. This would have been a strong point in Charles' beliefs and was undoubtedly a real comfort in the time of bereavement. .
    (NOTES - The Death Certificate poses one or two questions. The informant is almost certainly Francis Longmore, who was not a blood relative, but in the previous year had married Sarah Farr, the daughter of Thomas Farr and Charles' sister Hannah.
    The real mystery which the death certificate poses, however, is that in the list of Elizabeth's children, the eldest child, Charles Henry, is listed as "dead". Now in fact he was very much alive (or I have never been born seeing that he was my grandfather, and this book which you're reading doesn't exist), and it is extremely difficult to know how this came to be entered. It raises a number of possibilities. Firstly, it gives some credence to the oft-repeated story of my mother, that in about January 1872, the boy, aged 16, ran away from home because his father had wanted him to be a doctor, for which he was unwilling. As the story goes, he had boarded a Sydney-bound ship, and was sitting up looking through the porthole at his father and the police searching for him on the wharf. I assumed that he never made it to Sydney, but maybe he did and was there for :-me years before returning to Melbourne. Francis Longmore, the informant, was only a recent addition to the Martin family, so maybe he just assumed that he was dead. However, this is a rather far-fetched scenario for a number of reasons, and seems most unlikely.
    Another possibility is that after the argument, the father "disowned" his son and had nothing more to do with him, treating him as though he were “dead”. This is vaguely possible, as they were both rather strong minded characters, but it still seems highly unlikely. And in any case, the true state of affairs would have been known by the children and relatives, so that when Francis Longmore filled in the death certificate he would have known that Charles Henry really was still alive. Certainly in later years the argument must have been patched up (if indeed there was an argument), because the father purchased the land upon which the son's house and business were built in Port Melbourne and gave him life-time occupancy
    At the time of Elizabeth's death, Charles Henry junior was approaching his 21st birthday, and 12 months later he was to marry Sarah Baker, so it highly likely that he was in Melbourne and already "keeping company" with her at this time. I always assumed that he attended his mother's funeral. In the light of this death certificate maybe he didn't. (If he did, he would have given Francis Longmore quite a fright.)
    Charles stayed in Melbourne for nearly another two years. No doubt they were difficult times for him, as he struggled through the grief process and tried to bring up the children. He had six children to look after, five of whom were aged between fourteen (Leonard) and six (Fred). Charlotte, the, eldest, was by now twenty, and although she may have returned to Ballarat to resume teaching, it is more likely that she stayed at home and took on the role of mother and housekeeper. The correspondence files of the Education Department give some hint of these times in regards to Charlotte -

June 29 (1876) - H.T. (of Dana Street School) has granted leave of absence to Miss Martin and states his case for so doing. (NOTE - This would obviously have to do with Elizabeth's illness and death.).

July 12 - H.T. states that Miss Martin has not yet resumed her duties.

July 21 - From Charles Martin - he cannot consent to let his daughter resume duties. (Once again this is obviously to do with Elizabeth's death.) Charlotte's resignation from teaching takes effect from this date, and she never returned to it.

To Mary and William Davey a son James Francis (8th child – 7 surviving)

Elizabeth's Death registration              Melbourne General Cemetery   Right of Burial      Receipts          Image of Headstone

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