The Bowerman Family of Ewell

The Bowerman family in Ewell c.1910.
The Bowerman family in Ewell c.1910.
Left to right: Henry Ewart, Henry Thomas holding Cyril, Alice Muriel,
Ivy Dorothy Lofting, Marjory (in front), Hephzibah holding Phyllis and Arthur Percival.

I was researching Ewell businesses at the 1911 census and checked them off against the 1911 Kelly's Directory. Having resolved a few discrepancies, I was left with a saddler and harness maker called Henry Thomas Bowerman, who was in the Directory but not on the census. 'Must have died', I thought, but he hadn't. The whole family had just disappeared, which usually means emigration, and I eventually found them in Queensland, Australia, where they went in 1910.

The Bowerman Shop in Ewell 24 December 1904.
The Bowerman Shop in Ewell 24 December 1904.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

Henry Thomas Bowerman was born in Wellington, Somerset, the illegitimate son of Jane Bowerman (born c.1853 Hemyock, Devon, died 1923) and she was in Wellington Union Workhouse when she gave birth on 27 March 1872, having previously been a domestic servant on a farm in Devon. Jane could not write and no father was named on the birth certificate. She carried on as best she could until she married farm labourer Tom Chorley in July 1880 and they set up home, with Henry, in Bradford, Somerset (midway between Wellington and Taunton). The Chorleys had eight children in total, of whom seven were still alive in 1911.

Although the details census are not an exact match, the only reasonable 'hit' we have for Henry in the 1891 census is an Able Seaman on the training ship 'HMS Defiance' at Devonport: this seems feasible, as he was not at home with the Chorleys.

By 1894 Henry had become a harness maker and met bootmaker's daughter Hephzibah Colley (born 1864 Wootton Rivers, Wiltshire); they were married on 9 December 1894 at Faringdon Parish Church, Berkshire.

Hephzibah
Hephzibah

Henry had set up a business in Ewell by 1895 when the couple's first child was born. More children followed (all born in Ewell), as shown below.

Name Born
Arthur Percival 12 May 1895
Alice Muriel 21 November 1897
Henry Ewart 4 February 1899
Ivy Dorothy Lofting 6 April 1901
Marjory October 1903
Cyril 1905
Phyllis 6 April 1907

According to trade directories Henry had two premises, one in Green Man Street/Ewell High Street (which was not numbered at that point, but became 63, with the business being taken over by Horace Tapsell) and the other at 60 East Street, Epsom (which became Thomas Snow's cycle and motor cycle business).

HTB3 (50K)Snow's Cycles at 60 East Street, Epsom
Snow's Cycles at 60 East Street, Epsom. Date not known.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum.

As far as I can tell from census returns there was no residential accommodation at 60 East Street (as the photo above appears to confirm), so it seems probable that Henry used this as a workplace only.

Arthur and (Henry) Ewart are recorded as pupils of Ewell Boys' School, with the former leaving in July 1908 to work with his father. Ewart is shown as having left in October 1910 to go to Australia.

Henry and Ewart Bowerman outside Ewell West Station.
Henry and Ewart Bowerman outside Ewell West Station.
Image courtesy of Bourne Hall Museum

All of the family, except Arthur, sailed on the 'SS Norseman' on 26 October 1910 and arrived at Brisbane in December. We have been unable to establish why 15 year old Arthur stayed behind for a time, but perhaps he was detailed to hand over the premises to their new occupants. In any event my source thinks that he probably sailed to Sydney about a year later and joined up with the family in Queensland.

By 1913 the family was living on a farm at Innisplain, Beaudesert, Queensland and Henry was a dairyman.

HTB4 (59K)A view of Beaudesert c.1908.
A view of Beaudesert c.1908.
Image source: State Library of Queensland via Wikimedia Commons.

Arthur enlisted in the Australian Army on 1 February 1916, giving his occupation as farmer; he was wounded in action (severe gunshot wound in the arm) in France on 21 August of that year and was sent to recuperate in England. He was repatriated to Australia in the following March and discharged. Ewart, also a farmer, had enlisted in February 1915 and was wounded by a bomb and then shot in the leg at Gallipoli later that year; he also suffered from heart strain. Unsurprisingly, he seems to have been a somewhat reluctant soldier thereafter, as there were several instances of overstaying leave or being absent without leave (on one occasion he was court-martialled and sentenced to 90 days' detention). Eventually he was shipped off to France, where he was shot in the arm and sent to England. He finally got home to Australia for good in December of 1918 and was discharged in April 1919.

Arthur and Ewart
Arthur and Ewart

After the war Arthur became a sugar chemist, marrying Frances Mercer Smith (born 1891) on 16 August 1920. During the war Frances had been Secretary of the Australian Red Cross Information Bureau in Brisbane, tracing missing servicemen on behalf of their relatives - a job which she did again in 1940.

Frances Frances
Frances

The couple moved to Mackay, Queensland (known as 'the sugar capital'), where they remained. Arthur died on 3 August 1949, aged just 54, and, after surviving a near-fatal ruptured ulcer and cancer, Frances suffered a stroke following cataract surgery and died on 13 September 1967. There were three children, being Claire (1922-76, married David Black), Ian (1927-2012) and Keith (1930-2008). It was Keith who compiled much of the family tree that I have used for this article and he did it the old-fashioned way, pre-internet, by physically searching for records and interrogating family members.

A street in Mackay c.1926.
A street in Mackay c.1926.
Image source: Queensland State Archives via Wikimedia Commons.

Alice Muriel married Ronald Joseph Moss (1889-1971). They had four children and latterly lived in Beaudesert. Alice died on 18 March 1972.

Alice with her father
Alice with her father

Ewart married Elsie Marguerita De Vere Rogers (1901-80) on 14 April 1920; they had four children and eventually settled in Toowoomba, Queensland. Ewart died in Rathdowney (quite near to Beaudesert) on 13 May 1979.

Ivy married farmer Harry William Bell (1898-1971) on 11 June 1923 and they also lived in Beaudesert, raising five children; she died on 20 June 1978.

Harry and Ivy
Harry and Ivy

Marjory had a rather unusual occupation, which was that of station mistress, and I am wondering if this was on the narrow gauge Beaudesert Shire Tramway, which had a station at Innisplain. There was also a standard gauge railway, but I think the former is the more likely option. In 1933 Marjory married boundary rider Ernest Jesse Hawkins (1907-92); they had one child and eventually lived in Brisbane, where Marjory died on 24 September 1975.

Marjory
Marjory

Cyril was originally a farmer but later worked for the railways; he married Agnes Loeda Moffat (c.1891-1973) in 1955 and it looks as if they subsequently separated. Cyril died in Cooktown, Northern Queensland on 2 August 1960.

Cyril, centre, with Arthur and their father, 1927.
Cyril, centre, with Arthur and their father, 1927.

The youngest child was Phyllis, who married Adam Coburn (1904-91); she died in 1989 in Mackay.

Adam and Phyllis
Adam and Phyllis

We must now return to Henry Thomas, still dairy farming at Innisplain. Hephzibah died on 17 January 1929 and was buried at nearby Tamrookum Cemetery. There is an uncorroborated story in the family that Henry changed her age on the headstone to cover up the fact that she was several years older than he. Whether or not that is true, two years have been taken off (she was 64 when she died)

Hephzibah's Headstone
Hephzibah's Headstone
Image source: Australian Cemeteries Index.

On 4 January 1933 Henry married local woman Amy Ethel Langdon, who was then 49 years old: she died in 1943.

Amy (left) with her parents and siblings, 1905.
Amy (left) with her parents and siblings, 1905.
Image source: State Library of Queensland.

Henry died of cancer at Brisbane Hospital on 18 April 1956, aged 84; he was cremated at Mount Thompson Crematorium. Oh, and one last thing - the name of his residence at Innisplain was 'Ewell'.

Henry Thomas Bowerman c.1950
Henry Thomas Bowerman c.1950

Linda Jackson
October 1913

With many thanks to Heather Rae for allowing me to use her family tree and information. Unless otherwise stated all images are courtesy of Heather © 2013.


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