Born c1830 England
Died 26 September 1909
Elizabeth was born in England around 1830. She was said to have been disowned by her family when she ran away with Charles Sea, a ship’s captain. Reportedly she married him on board ship but this marriage registration has not as yet been located. He died and was buried at sea although his death also as yet has not been uncovered.
Elizabeth migrated to Australia where she worked in the Geelong region as a governess to the Abbott children. During her employment, the brother of John Abbott became ill with septicaemia and needed to be nursed.
Love must have blossomed between John Abbott and Elizabeth. He proposed to her with only £15 to his name. Family tradition says that they married and proceeded to Ballarat and gold mining. However a marriage certificate from a Presbyterian church in the parish of Buninyong and Portland which in all probability is theirs records a John Abbott marrying Elizabeth Lee in 1854.
There is also a John Abbott who was involved in the 1853 Bendigo Goldfields Petition who could be a possible husband.
Once the Eureka Stockade was built in 1854 in Ballarat East the small tent the Abbotts were living in was located within it according to family tradition. A trunk which used to be in the family’s possession was used by Elizabeth Abbott to hide behind during the battle, and it became littered with bullet holes. The trunk was burnt in a house fire in the 1930s.
Elizabeth and John Abbott produced a number of children: Harriet b. 1855 Ballarat; John Thomas b. 1857 Steiglitz; Alfred b. 1859 Brown’s Diggings; Isabella b. 1861 Smythesdale; James Emms b. 1863; James Emms b. 1865 Scarsdale; Elizabeth Emms b. 1867 Scarsdale; Arthur William b. 1869 Smythesdale; Louisa b. 1871 Smythesdale.
Elizabeth may be the Mrs Abbott who started a school in Ballarat near Saxon Paddock (now known as the City Oval). This is highly probable as Elizabeth had previously worked as a governess.
The school established by Mrs Abbott was taken over in the 1870s by Matilda Dixie and was the forerunner of Queen’s Church of England Girls Grammar.
In later years Elizabeth Abbott’s husband worked in a mine in the Scarsdale area, where they built a house and lived for the rest of their lives. She died 26 September 1909 at the age of seventy-nine years, and is buried in the Smythesdale cemetery.
Dorothy Wickham, Clare Gervasoni & Wayne Phillipson, Eureka Research Directory, Ballarat 1999, p. 15, from notes supplied by Annie O’Riley.