The Baptist tabernacle in Laman street, Newcastle, as it was at the time Lily and her husband-to-be Alfred Boddy attended there in the 1890s.

Lily Gordon (1874-1946)


Emily Gordon

Lily Gordon

Geoffrey Alfred Boddy

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21 July, 1874, Stockton, NSW



Alfred Charles Boddy, 24 June 1903, Tighes Hill, Newcastle, NSW



9 August, 1946, Fennell Bay, NSW



 Emily Gordon




Allan Gordon Boddy (1904-1904)

Eric George Boddy (1905-2001)

Mildred May Boddy (1907-2000)

Dorothy Mavis Boddy (1911-2005)

Geoffrey Alfred Boddy (1912-1989)

Lily Gordon's childhood is something of a mystery.  In the 1860/70s, her mother Emily had two children, Lily and her older sister Ada - father/s unknown -and in the days before single parent pensions and organised childcare, she still managed to bring both of them up herself.  It has been suggested that in fact, Lily's father may well have been the man who later became her stepfather, when he married her mother, but nothing has so far been confirmed along that line, although it's an interesting theory.  That stepfather, Edward Reavley, arrived in Australia in 1869, and so was possibly Lily's father, but not her sister Ada's, Ada having been born a year before Edward arrived.

During Lily and Ada's childhood, Emily probably had assistance from family members who returned to the Hunter (or never left) after Emily's father had moved some of the family from the Raymond Terrace area to the Manning River in the 1850s.

At least one of Lily's uncles - Henry - stayed in Newcastle-Hunter River. Henry lived on Mosquito Island, a settlement in the Hunter River, and it was on Mosquito Island that Lily's sister Ada was born, with a Mrs Gordon in attendance.  Lily herself was born six years later in the seaside suburb of Stockton, just across Newcastle harbour from the main township.  Henry obviously also had interests in Stockton, as this is where he was eventually buried in 1903.  So, perhaps older brother Henry took his sister Emily and his two nieces under his wing. (Henry was actually named as Ada's father on Ada's death many years later - presumably in a face-saving gesture by her son-in-law who was the informant for her death certificate - or he might simply have never been told Ada's background).

Whatever their means of survival, it's clear  the young family of Emily and daughters Ada and Lily had an otherwise conventional upbringing.

When Lily was just 10 years old, her mother married. Her  husband, Edward Reavley, worked at Heddon Colliery at Carrington, and Edward took over the role of stepfather to the two girls.  Edward would have had more involvement with Lily, as by that time,  Ada was 16 and probably saw herself as much more independent!.

After school, Lily worked for a time as a housemaid, at the  home of the Newcastle harbourmaster, Captain Allan and his wife. This house (right) was in a commanding position in Baker Street on The Hill, overlooking King Edward Park and the ocean. (A coincidence - Capt. Allan's home was directly opposite Jesmond House, where Lily's grandson David lived in a flat for a few months after his marriage in 1974).

Lily went onto the teach at the Baptist Tabernacle Sunday School in Laman street, in Newcastle's CBD, where she (presumably) met her future husband, Alfred Charles Boddy, who was the Sunday School treasurer.

Lily (on the right), with (probably) her sister Ada, c1890

The bridal party at the wedding of Lily and Alfred Boddy, at Tighes Hill, in 1903.

Lily and Alfred set about starting a family, in a house Alfred, helped by his brother-in-law Joe Taylor, built in Thomas Street, Mayfield (this part of Mayfield was known at that time as Waratah North).  Their hopes for a happy beginning were dashed when, two days after his birth in 1904, their first child, Allan, died of convulsions.  Hard as that must have been, Lily and Alfred did not let it deter them, and another son, Eric George, was born less than a year later.  Within seven years, their family was complete, with two daughters Mildred and Dorothy, and another son, Geoffrey.

above: Lily with her two eldest children, Eric and Mildred above:  The four Boddy children, Dorothy, Eric, Geoffrey and Mildred

During this time, the family had moved around various suburbs - Mayfield, to Newcastle city, to Stockton, a few interludes at Hamilton, and Adamstown, all the while following Alfred's work in grocery stores.  Daughter Dorothy had vivid memories of her mother and the years living in the rooms next door, or above, the shops::
  • Mother was fair to each child, having our favourite food sometime during the week for each of us. We children were often too noisy – mother would say – "What will the neighbours think?"...  about the noise or whatever.

  • One could talk to her and be listened to – but her word was law at times.

  • We were allowed to eat any biscuit that we liked, except for the chocolate ones - these we never did eat!

  • Mother was a very good person, friendly too and cheery and could give advice if asked. She also helped in the shops early in the morning and cleaned the doorway and front each morning.

  • Mother was quick in her movements and in doing her work.   Mostly it was washing and ironing on Mondays, plus cleaning and cooking meals so we would all sit down to table together at dinner at night.  

  • Mealtimes were often interrupted - the shop's customers always came first!

And just as a sidelight on what the town centre of Newcastle looked like in those days, here's  photo of Newcastle CBD in the leadup to Christmas in 1937..  Probably on many days like this, Lily would have been in the crowd that thronged Hunter Street:

As the couple grew older, Lily would have looked forward to a retirement at Lake Macquarie.  Alfred's sisters, May and Ethel, had settled in Fennell Bay, in Lake Rd, and Alf and Lily had plans to build a house in the next street. The shortages and restrictions imposed by World War 11 meant the house project was delayed until after the war (see Alfred's story here), and in the meantime, Lily contracted cancer.

She died on 9 August, 1946 at Fennell Bay.  Her great-grandson Anthony later recalled that in the new house Alfred built in Elizabeth street, Lily's portrait took pride of place, over the mantelpiece.



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