William Adolphus Ellis
- Born: 13 Aug 1854, Jerry's Plains, Hunter Valley, NSW Australia
- Marriage (1): Eliza Vittoria Bloomfield on 23 Apr 1884 in Wesleyan Church, Denison St, Woollahra, Sydney, NSW Australia
- Died: 8 May 1916, Doyle's Creek, Singleton, NSW Australia at age 61
Eliza, who married William Ellis on 23 April 1884 at a Wesleyan Church in Denison Street, Woollahra, left him while she was expecting their second child. William Ellis, who initiated divorce proceedings in 1896, alleges that Eliza "without just
cause or excuse, wilfully deserted [him]", and said in his petition, first filed on 21 May 1896, that they "had issue of their marriage two children to wit Stephen Gordon William aged 11 years and another child the sex and name of which is
unknown to [him] and aged about seven years" (actually this second child was a girl named Marion, born in 1888). Eliza counter-charged that William was "a habitual drunkard" who was "guilty of cruelty" towards her, and that "between the 23rd
April 1884 and 1st September 1888 at Jerry's Plains near Singleton [where they had lived on land owned by William Ellis' father whilst they were married] committed adultery with various women unknown to [Eliza]". These proceedings dragged on
for nearly ten years, and in 1906 Eliza further alleged that William had "engaged himself to a woman called Kate Barnes whom he attempted to introduce as his intended wife". There was argument and counter-argument about money. Eliza claimed
that whilst they were living as a married couple at 'Sunnyside', near Singleton, their farm produced an income averaging about £2,000 per annum and that their living expenditure was 'upwards of £1,000 per annum'; William responded that "it
never at any time exceeded more than £2 per week as at that time [his] gross income did not exceed £300 per annum'. Eliza alleged that William's father was "a very wealthy man ... said to be worth upwards of £100,000" and that William was being
"totally sustained by his father" and that "he has lived in luxury without stint any restriction being put upon him being with the object of limiting his drinking habits" while she "has been in penury with her two children" and, according to
her solicitor, was "practically destitute". William claimed that his "only source of income" was the "£30 per annum with board and lodgings" he received from his father, and denied that his father "had put any restraint upon [him] in
consequence of [his] drunken habits". Eliza sought payments from William of up to ~250 to enable her to meet expenses associated with 'proving her case'. She obtained a court order for the payment of £25 towards these costs, and William
subsequently claimed that he "had to borrow the £25 to pay [this] order".
My name is Saul Eslake wrote to James Boyce - 'Corinna' is the name of our house in Melbourne, and which we also use as our email address.
In your research you may have discovered that you couldn't find a birth certificate for your great grandfather, William James Bloomfield. That's because at birth, on 9th March 1875, he was given the name George Eslake, his parents being William Roy Eslake and Eliza Vittoria Bloomfield.
William Roy Eslake's real name was William Roy Slatyer. He was born in 1844, in Jamaica, where his father the Rev William Slatyer was serving as a missionary among recently-freed slaves, between 1834 and 1850. The Slatyer family returned to England in 1850, where Revd Slatyer's wife Agnes (nee Roy) died after an illness in 1851. (Revd Slatyer had had two previous wives, both of whom had died in Jamaica, one of an illness, the other after falling from a horse). Revd Slatyer married for a fourth time in 1852, and shortly thereafter emigrated to Sydney, arriving in April 1853 with five of the six children from his third marriage, and also with a baby (Hampton Slatyer) who was born to his fourth wife on voyage. Revd Slatyer's younger brother James Slatyer had previously emigrated to NSW in 1849, had been reasonably successful in land dealings around Redfern, and had accumulated sufficient funds to sponsor his brother William out to Australia as a minister to the Congregationalist flock in Sydney (among this flock was the original David Jones, founder of the department store chain that still bears his name).
Contemporary accounts indicate that the Revd William Slatyer was something of a 'fire and brimstone' preacher. He was described as "not of the type to create a great popular appeal to the incoming multitude", and "having the stern characteristics of a Cromwell without the poetic fascination of a Milton or John Bunyan". The eulogist at his funeral (in 1884) said he had "a keen intellect, accurate memory, powerful reason [and] ... a sublime command of the English language' but also that 'he would tolerate no cooked reports, no insincere compliments, no pious frauds, no doubtful rumours, no painted anecdotes or other exaggerations for effect, nor any suppressed truth. His loathing of all cant often made him guilty of a brusqueness which did not represent his heart". Apparently he severed all dealings with his brother James after James went bankrupt in the late 1850s (as a result of some failed property investments), because he regarded failing to honour debts as a mortal sin, notwithstanding that James had previously paid for his passage to Australia.
Perhaps for these reasons he appears to have fallen out with his eldest son, the aforementioned William Roy Slatyer, who didn't accompany his father, siblings and step-mother on the voyage to Australia in 1853-4, but turned up in NSW some years later, in the early 1860s. At some stage between then and 1875, he changed his surname to 'Eslake'. I have no idea where this name came from. It would appear to be of Cornish origin, but there is no evidence that he had any connection with Cornwall - the Slatyers came from Olney, in Buckinghamshire. One plausible hypothesis is that he may have had a childhood friend in Jamaica by the name of Eslake, since there were apparently Cornish tin miners in Jamaica at that time. But I have no 'hard' evidence for that, either.
In any event, at some stage presumably in the second half of 1874, William Roy Slatyer-Eslake had a brief relationship with Miss Eliza Vittoria Bloomfield, the sixth of ten children of Stephen Evangelist Bloomfield and Mary Anne Croft. Stephen Bloomfield was an architect, he had been born in Suffolk in May 1818, emigrated to NSW in 1833, and married Mary Anne (who had been born in Sunderland in 1822) in Wollongong in January 1843. They lived in South Head Road and were presumably therefore reasonably well off.
It would appear that baby George was in effect 'adopted' by Stephen and Mary Anne, and brought up as their youngest son. George, or William as they called him, would have been 13 years younger than his next oldest sibling, Stephen and Mary Anne's son Frederick, who was born in 1862 (when the Bloomfield family was still living in Wollongong). At the time of George/William's birth, Stephen would have been 67 and Mary Anne would have been 53, so it's most unlikely they could have been his biological parents. Indeed, one of Frederick's grand-daughters, Eleanor Platt, wrote to me in 2008 saying " We had wondered how William fitted into the family given the age of Mary Ann. We had decided he was adopted from another branch of the Bloomfield family, a child named William we couldn't trace after his mother died".
What happened with George/William was not at all uncommon - indeed, perhaps ironically, in 1913, William Roy Slatyer/Eslake's daughter (by a subsequent relationship) had a daughter who was brought up as if she had been William and his then partner Ada's youngest daughter.
As you no doubt know, William John Bloomfield had a successful business career, culminating in his position as Joint Managing Director of the MLC Society. He married a New Zealander, Alice Cupples, in 1903, and had two children, your grandfather William Alwyn and your great aund Coralie Ngarete (Ngare).
Your great-great-grandmother Eliza Vittoria Bloomfield subsequently married (in 1884) William Adolphus Ellis, a grazier from Singleton in the Hunter Valley. They had two children, Stephen (born in 1885) and Marion (born in 1888). Theirs appears not to have been a happy marriage. In divorce proceedings instituted by William Ellis in 1905, some years after Eliza left him, he alleged 'desertion without just cause or excuse' and she (as respondent) counter-alleged that he was 'a habitual drunkard' who was 'guilty of cruelty towards [her]', and that he had "between 23 April 1884 and 1 September 1888 at Jerry's Plains committed adultery with various women". She alleged that he had promised to marry a Miss Kate Barnes after obtaining a divorce and had 'attempted to introduce her as his intended wife', which William Ellis denied.
Both parties pleaded penury, Eliza seeking court orders for payments from her husband to pay costs associated with presenting her case, and William arguing that his income amounted to £30 per annum. Both parties sued and counter-sued for costs, alimony, enforcement of court awards etc.
Eliza died in Roseville in 1922, she is buried in the Waverley Cemetery.
As for your biological great-great-grandfather William Roy Slatyer/Eslake, he subsequently moved to the Tweed River district in northern New South Wales, where some time in the mid-1890s he began a relationship with a Mrs Ada Louise Share, who had been born in Bendigo in 1873, moved with her family to Sydney a few years later, and in 1891 had married an Alfred Creighton Share, who had emigrated from England with his mother seven years earlier. At the time when William met Ada, she and Alfred had two sons, John and Alfred. A third son, was born in 1896, and given the name Benjamin Share: but judging from his appearance, he was almost certainly William's son, not Alfred's. In any event, some time between 1896 and 1899, Ada left her husband and eldest son, taking her second and third sons Alfred and Ben to live with William, with whom she had five more children, not counting the aforementioned grand-daughter whom they brought up as their youngest child.
Alfred Share grew up in the belief that William Roy Slatyer-Eslake was his father, as did his younger brother Ben. At least one of their younger half-brothers, John Eslake, knew the truth but never disclosed it.
Alfred (or 'Freddie', as he was known during his lifetime) Eslake was my grandfather. Hence the connection.
Noted events in his life were:
• Occupation: Grazier, of 'Sunnyside', Broke, nr Singleton, Hunter Valley.
William married Eliza Vittoria Bloomfield, daughter of Stephen Evangelist Bloomfield and Mary Anne Croft, on 23 Apr 1884 in Wesleyan Church, Denison St, Woollahra, Sydney, NSW Australia. (Eliza Vittoria Bloomfield was born on 23 Feb 1853 in Surry Hills, Sydney, NSW Australia, christened on 14 Sep 1853 in St Andrews Cathedral, George St, Sydney, NSW Australia, died on 17 Aug 1922 in 558 Park Avenue, Roseville, Sydney, NSW Australia and was buried on 19 Aug 1922 in C of E Cemetery, Waverley, Sydney, NSW Australia.)
Noted events in their marriage were:
• Divorce: Divorce, 1905.