Eleanor Meredith was born on 17 November 1813, to Frederick Meredith and Sarah Mason. She was baptised on 5 December 1813 in St Philips Church. On 7 July 1828, Eleanor, aged fourteen, was married at St Philips Church Sydney to John Burrows, a police constable, who had arrived in the colony as a convict on the Mariner in 1816.
In the description on John’s transportation papers it lists him as 27 years of age in 1815 which gives him a birth date in 1788, 25 years Eleanor’s senior and close to 40 on their wedding day. By Christmas of that year, Eleanor is already pregnant with their first child and it would appear, homesick for her own family as she takes off! In the Sydney Gazette dated 24 December 1828 was the following notice:
Whereas my wife Eleanor Burrows, better known as Eleanor Meredith, has absconded from her home without just cause. Any person harbouring, trusting or maintaining her, will be prosecuted as the Law directs. And further, I will not be responsible for any debts she may contract. J. Burrows Lower Monto
John, by this time was free by servitude. He was a Constable at Lower Minto and owned four acres and a horse. So they were not living in poverty. Eleanor did return home to John. Did her father, Frederick have any influence in this? In the ensuing years she gave birth to eight children. However by the end of 1843 Eleanor once again has had enough of Liverpool and John. Off she goes again!
Now pregnant with her ninth child and taking with her the fourteen-month-old James Alfred, she leaves John with five children ranging in age from 14 years to 3 years and 10 months (two of their children had died in infancy). John once more placed an advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald dated 16 December 1843, it read:
CAUTION Whereas, my wife, Eleanor Burrows, a native of this colony, has absconded from her home without any cause or provocation on the first day of October last, taking with her one male child, fourteen months old, leaving five more at home, and also taking with her a great deal of property, I hereby give this public notice, that I will not be responsible for any debts she may contract; and any person or persons harbouring her after this notice, I will prosecute them to the utmost rigour of the law. John BURROWS, Red Cow Inn Cowpastures Road.
At this time Eleanor was 30 and John 55. The age difference may have been a problem in the marriage, but Eleanor must have been a strong lady, who would have her way. Taking significant property with her, she took up with Frederick Ferrier. So off she goes to Breeza with Frederick and has a baby on 10 July 1844, christened Caroline Frederica Ferrier. Those dates leave a question mark! With the new home and partner, comes the new name of Caroline for Eleanor and Ferrier for little James Alfred.
Over the following sixteen years at Breeza, Caroline (Eleanor) and Frederick had a further seven children. Frederick who was the first Postmaster of Breeza, also took charge of the store and hotel. During this time his duties also included stock inspector. They retired to Maitland in 1875 and remained there until his death in 1882.
It is interesting to note that there was a Ferrier family bible, which conveniently showed a marriage between Caroline and Frederick in 1840 at Mulgoa. This date attempted to legitimise James Alfred’s birth as a Ferrier, however a marriage did not take place between them until after John Burrows death in 1859.
A curious thing was that, the Burrows children knew their mother was at Breeza with Frederick Ferrier and were aware of their children. Conversely, the Ferrier children were unaware of the Burrows connection. In later years, Sarah, the eldest Burrows girl married John Gibbins and was living in Brisbane. Some of the Gibbins children tried to establish relations with the Ferriers but this relationship was refuted due to the bogus record in the family bible.
Caroline moved from Maitland when Frederick Ferrier died in 1882, to a house in Thorne Street Ipswich, Queensland. This brought her nearer to her daughters living in Ipswich, one being Caroline Frederica Bullmore nee Ferrier who lived at Rockton, where Caroline was a frequent visitor.
Caroline Ferrier died in her Thorne Street home on 20 February 1893 and is buried in the Church of England Section of Ipswich Cemetery. Caroline (Eleanor) left behind many generations of Australians proud of their heritage. During her long life, she witnessed the transformation from a fledgling colony to a blossoming country on the brink of Federation.
Written by Don Newbury: descendant of Eleanor
Children of Eleanor and John Burrows
John Richard Burrows: b. 1829 d. 1889 m. 1850 Jane Knight 1833 – 1906
Sarah Burrows b. 1831 d. 1888 m. 1852 John Gibbins 1811 – 1885
Mary Ann Burrows: b. 1833 d. 1911 m. 1851 John Fonville 1830 – 1906
Thomas Burrows: b. 1835 d. 1835
Frederick William Burrows: b. 1836 d. 1921 m. 1858 Sarah Britton 1841 – 1914
Francis Burrows: b. 1838 d. 1838
Ellen Sophia Burrows: b. 1840 d. 1890 m. 1858 John Swinfield 1838 – 1903
James Alfred Burrows: b. 1842 d. 1911 m. 1865 Lydia Jones 1841 – 1904
Children of Eleanor and Frederick Ferrier
Caroline Frederica Ferrier b.1844 d. 1913 m. 1867 Edward Bullmore 1831 – 1892
Anne Marie Ferrier: b. 1846 d. 1924
m. i) 1865 Amos Lumby 1842 – 1912
ii) John Appleby 1847 – 1924
Frederick Charles Ferrier: b. 1847 m. 1868 Mary Harris 1847 – 1924
George Henry Ferrier: b. 1850 d. 1908 m. (1881) Johanna O’Brien 1856 – 1936
Emma Louisa Ferrier: b. 1852 d. 1938
Betsy Eliza Ferrier: b. 1855 d. 1917 m. 1872 Frederick Burne 1839 – 1916
Walter Andrew Ferrier: b. 1857 d. 1897 m. 1894 Honaria Hewson 1869 – 1946
Victoria Ferrier: b. 1860 d. 1938 m. 1882
Pollet Cardew Ferrier: b. 1856 d. 1916