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The connection between the GOVAN family and the NEWMAN family was made when Davina Jane GOVAN married Sydney William NEWMAN.

James GOVAN
born - 22 June 1845 - died 20 November 1886
Eliza Ann GOVAN, née WALDOCK
born - 3 November 1850 married 17 May 1866 died - 8 August 1925
Parents of Davina Jane NEWMAN

My grandfather was born in Dumbarton, Scotland on 22nd June 1845, the eldest child of James Govan(3) and Margaret, née Gall. When he was 10 years old he emigrated with his parents and brothers and sister to Australia on the "Brilliant" which sailed from London in 1855.

As my grandfather James Govan(4) died long before I was born (and, in fact, six months before my mother was born) I never knew him.

On 17th May 1866, when he was 20 years old, James married Eliza Ann Waldock who was 15 years old. On their marriage certificate James was named as a blacksmith but on his death certificate he was named as a quarryman. Eliza Ann is named as a domestic servant. Later in 1866 James and Eliza's first child was born, Caroline Adelaide, named after Eliza Ann's father's sister. I understand that James Govan's stepmother, Caroline, was a great support to the young couple.

Eliza Ann and James were to have eleven children altogether. After Caroline Adelaide there were Annie Margaret (1869), James Govan (1845-1886) David (1871), Robert Edward (1873), Earnest Waldock (1876), Mary Georgina (1878), George Thomas (1880), Edward William (1882), James (1884), Eveline Agnes (1885) and, after her father's death, Davina Jane (my mother) 1887. Four of their children died in infancy. Caroline Adelaide died when she was 8 years old, Robert Edward died aged 2, Mary Georgina died within a year of her birth and James also died very young.


James Govan(4)


The photograph which I have of a James Govan has been dated by the Victoria and Albert Museum as having been taken in the 1870s. At that date James Govan (3) my great-grandfather would have been in his fifties and James Govan (4), my grandfather, would have been from 25 to 35. In spite of the beard I think that the photograph is of the younger man so, in my opinion, it is of my mother's father.

On the 20th November 1886 James Govan was found drowned in several feet of water at the bottom of a disused quarry. He was forty one years old. The following evidence was given to the coroner by William, half brother to James.

"I am the brother of the deceased James Govan. I saw him about 8pm on Friday night last. He was muddled then. He came as far as my side gate and then left me to go home. I saw him later going back to the Albert Hotel. The body lying now here is the body of my brother. He was forty-one years of age and carried on the business of a quarryman. He was married and leaves six children. He was a very good tempered man in drink and not in the habit of quarrelling. The quarry where my brother was drowned is in the side of the main road, Albert Road. There's a short lane way right through the quarry. I think it is called Dudley Street. The quarry has not been worked for about three years. There is no fence around the quarry. There was a fence there a long time ago. The fence was around the paddock the quarry hole is in."

More evidence was given by another man, Robert Mare, who, after describing much the same scene as William, said that James "was not sober. He had been muddled for the last twelvemonths." He went on to say how he had found James in about six to seven feet of water in the quarry. According to an article in the local paper of the day, there had been unusual heavy rain the day before James' death, causing some flooding and filling the unused quarry with several feet of water. A fuss was made about the quarry being unsafe and without proper fencing. The doctor's report stated that James Govan's heart and brain and organs were healthy except for his liver which was much enlarged and contained a hydatical cyst. The cause of death was given as drowning.

As mentioned in William's evidence, James left behind him a wife and six children. What is not mentioned is that not only was Eliza Ann left with six children between the ages of seventeen years and one year (with three of them being under seven), but she was also pregnant. I have been told that her doctor offered her an abortion which she refused. Had she not done so I would not be writing this as the unborn baby was my mother, Davina Jane. She was born six months after her father's death. It is more than possible that had James(4) not drowned while drunk he would have died of cirrhosis of the liver. Not surprisingly my mother, his daughter, had a horror of alcohol. One of her brothers became an alcoholic and her favourite brother (my Uncle Ted) was so afraid of following suit that any alcohol was anathema to him. Maybe he had good cause for his only daughter died an alcoholic.

I understand that James' brother, David, was a tower of strength to Eliza Ann at this stage and my mother was named after him. I expect that the older children in the family were also a great help. I know that Annie Margaret, by then eighteen years old, was almost like a second mother to Davina Jane. How Eliza Ann coped financially in bringing up seven children in those days before Social Security I do not know. It must have been extremely difficult. >Eliza Ann GOVAN, nee WALDOCK

Sadly I have no memory of my grandmother, Eliza Ann GOVAN as she died on my first birthday.

Eliza Ann, nee Waldock, was born in Great Chishill, Essex (now Cambridgeshire), England on the 3rd November 1850. Great Chishill is a very small village now. I wonder, from its name, if it was once much bigger. There is also a Little Chishill close by. There is no sign of the house in Cottage Yard where Eliza Ann Waldock lived now, in fact the whole street is gone. She was the eldest child of Thomas Waldock and Mary Ann, nee Burroughs.

On 5th November 1853, at the age of 3 years, Eliza Ann embarked at Southampton on the "Truro" with her parents and baby sister, Salina on an assisted passage for Australia. Eliza Ann was three years old and Salina six months. They arrived in Melbourne 31st January 1854 - almost three months later. My heart really goes out to these people with the hardships and cramped conditions they suffered in their long difficult journeys to Australia. What was it that made them go to Australia in the first place? Agriculture was going through a difficult time in England at that time and perhaps the tailor in the village was one of the first people to suffer when the farmers around the village could no longer afford new clothes. Thomas and Mary Ann Waldock were the only ones of my ancestors to go to Australia on an assisted passage. All the others paid their own fare. To obtain an assisted passage, Thomas had to have employment when he arrived in Australia. According to information on the shipping list, employment as a labourer was offered for three months by a Mr Smanasta ? of Brighton, Victoria at a wage of 60 (per annum). The shipping list has other interesting pieces of information. The family's religion was listed as Wesleyan. Perhaps Eliza Ann changed to be Presbyterian after her marriage to James Govan. Both Thomas and Mary Ann could read and write. Thomas is named as a tailor. They were provided with rations while on the ship. On his daughter, Eliza Ann's, marriage certificate Thomas was still named as a labourer so it seems he never managed to return to his trade of tailoring. I wonder what happened to his tailoring and the seven years apprenticeship which he had served to become a qualified tailor. After their arrival in Australia Mary Ann and Thomas had two more children, Georgina born in 1856 and Edward born in 1858. Mary Ann died in 1859 not long after the birth of Edward. Eliza Ann would have been nine years old. Thomas married again, so Eliza Ann, like all my other grandparents, had a stepmother. From what my mother has said, Eliza Ann was apparently not as lucky with hers as James Govan was with his. Thomas Waldock was not to live long either as he died in 1877 aged only 49 of pneumonia, vomiting and exhaustion. After a very basic education Eliza Ann was out to work as a domestic servant. I am told that she was very conscious of her lack of education and taught herself to read from the bible. She was certainly competent enough to manage her own affairs very well after the death of her husband.


Eliza Ann Govan, née WALDOCK


Eliza Ann Govan lived for more than thirty eight years after the death of James Govan, her husband. My mother, Davina Jane, had the greatest respect and admiration for her so she must have been a very good person and mother. She brought her daughter up to have a horror of alcohol, I expect with good reason. She was a Presbyterian and from what my mother has said, I think that the Sabbath was kept very strictly. No work was done on that day, even cooking. Cold meals were eaten when the family returned from church. I remember my mother feeling very guilty many years later if she picked up a needle to sew on a Sunday.

Eliza Ann died on 8th August 1925 Her death certificate gives the cause of death as Myocarditis. She had apparently had a sudden heart attack two months previously. She had been living with her eldest daughter, Annie Margaret Hepburn, in Hawthorn.

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