Emily Gordon (1843-1922)


Emily Gordon

Lily May Gordon

Geoffrey Alfred Boddy


30 September, 1843, Nelsons Plains, near Raymond Terrace, NSW



i) --

ii) Edward Reavley, 28 Oct, 1884, St James C of E, Wickham (Newcastle) NSW



7 December 1922, Newcastle



James Gordon



Lavinia Harvey



Ada Jane Gordon (1868-1942)
Lily May Gordon, (1874 - 1946)
Edward J Reavley (1887 - 1963 )
Sarah Lavinia (Sadie)Reavley (1887-1970)

Emily Gordon is a bit of an enigma. 

Born in the 1840s in the on the Williams River in the Lower Hunter Valley of NSW to an Irish farmer, James Gordon an his wife Lavinia, Emily's upbrining was probably unremarkable.  One of seven children born from James' second marriage, Emily's life would have been a typical one for children of farming families in the area. She would have been able to attend school - we know of the existence of the school house as it was where Emily's baptism was recorded in 1844.

Where the puzzle comes in is that she not only had two daughters, 6 years apart, without a father named for either of the girls, but that she was able to keep the girls with her and raise them until adulthood.

Ten years after the birth of the second girl, Emily, describing herself on her marriage papers as a "spinster" married an engineer Edward Reavley, and at the relatively late age of 43, had twins, Eddie and Sadie.  Her older daughters were always included and acknowledged in the family, but we have no clues as to who their father/fathers were. (The girl's step father, Edward Reavley, was one of the witnesses at the marriage of Emily's eldest daughter, Ada).

Emily' mother, Lavinia Gordon (nee Harvey) had died when Emily was only five years old, and not long after that, Lavinia's husband James left the district and resettled in the Taree area, near Old Bar at the mouth of the Manning River.  Emily may have remained with one of her older brothers, Henry, who took up farming on Mosquito (Moscheto) Island in the estuary of the Hunter River. (Many years later, on the death certificate of Emily's first child, Ada, Henry Gordon is named as Ada's father, but this appears to be the informant clutching at respectability, and not wanting to acknowledge the illegimaticy of her birth).  Mosquito Island is given as Emily's address at the time of the birth of that child in 1868, but by the time of the birth of her second daughter,Lily May, she had moved across the river to the seaside suburb of Stockton.  How she supported herself and her children isn't known.

After Emily and Edward married, the family lived at 82 Henry Street, the Newcastle suburb of Tighes Hill (right). At the time the Reavleys lived in the house, it had a well in the backyard, which was later covered over by the construction of an add-on kitchen.  The house was later the home of Emily's son, Eddie Jnr, and then her great-grandson, Les Sheldon and his wife, Joy.

Her granddaughter, Dorothy Sheldon (née Boddy) who of course knew Emily only in Emily's later years, described her as a "small, white-haired lady who sat in a rocking chair in front of a window in the kitchen", and who used to tell Dorothy that her dresses were too short. (Grandmother Emily said Dorothy's dresses "needed some treacle on them" - a remark it took the child some time to realise was a joke.)

Emily's two surviving photos (at top and left) are of an older woman, who looks rather grimly at the camera - so we have no clues as to the appearance or personality of the younger Emily.

Emily outlived her husband by eleven years, dying at home in Tighes Hill in December, 1922. (The funeral notice below appears to have an error in her address She lived in Henry street, not John Street).

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