The Argus, 14 November 1853
Eliza Perrin/Robson, an “ordinary” woman of the Ballarat diggings.
Eliza Hobson was born in Cheshire, England in 1829. In 1851, she married John Perrin in West Yorkshire, just months before he sailed to the goldfields to seek his fortune. A year later, and with her young baby daughter at her side, she decided to join her husband. Upon arrival in Australia after a journey of 147 days, Eliza learned that John was at the Ballarat diggings.
Eliza Perrin: An “Ordinary” Woman of the Goldfields
Laurel Johnson, in “Women of Eureka” has extracts from Eliza’s letters. Two paragraphs from the book:
Unfortunately John was not the man she thought he was. He was a drunk and a layabout. They had two more children but the marriage was a bad one. “I will not say much in writing, but as regards behaviour from him, I have had about the worst. We might have been well to do if he had been like myself persevering but he carried on as he did at home with his drink and jealousy, until at last I brought him before his betters and he was bound over to keep the peace for six months. He went away to his brothers up the country about sixty miles. As I told you in my last letter I was keeping a Refreshment House but he drank and destroyed all that I had before he went away.”
It was only by her own endeavours that she kept herself and her children in a good home. She saved some money and built a house on the main Ballarat to Melbourne Rd. “…and I will take care that he never destroys this.” She had planned to buy two or these acres at the rear of the property “…There is a running stream of water all the year around. I am rearing poultry and fencing in a garden. I can hire a man for fifteen shilling per week and find him meat that will pay me better than a miserable husband.”
Back to the Gold Museum article:
In later years, she and John established a butcher’s shop in Bungaree. Although they had a difficult relationship, John and Eliza had two more children in the mid-1850s. When their marriage broke down completely in the late 1850s, Eliza was not able to legally separate from him because the Divorce Act had yet to be passed in Australia. She went on to “marry” (cohabit with) John Robson and have four children with him. Eliza died in 1869, and is buried in the Ballaarat Old Cemetery.