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Rachel Elizabeth BURLEY (1883-1963)

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Rachel Elizabeth Burley in front of the Ashfield house

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Rachel Elizabeth Owen

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Sis at her Golden Wedding celebrations

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John Owen in front of the Ashfield house

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John at his Golden Wedding celebrations

Rachel Elizabeth BURLEY1 (known as 'Sis'), daughter of John Williams BURLEY (1849-1915) and Sarah Jane PARTRIDGE (1858-1949), was born on 5 January 1883 in Walcha, NSW.2 Her relationship to John is Paternal Grandmother. On 5 January 1883 Sis resided at "Bellgrave" in the Allyn River District in Allyn River, NSW.2

On 6 September 1904, Rachel had a daughter Edna Olive Burley with an unknown father. Rachel's other daughter Sylvia in an interview referred to "Aunty Edna". Although Sylvia probably didn't know, Rachel's parents, John and Sarah Burley, raised Edna as their daughter rather than as a granddaughter. Researcher Vicki Crowther says "My Mum, Patricia Crowther, granddaughter of Rebecca Burley, spoke about Edna and when she was dying of cancer my great grandmother, Rebecca said Edna should be told who her mother was, but Mum said they never did.".3,4

In 1905 (approx.) Sis was a cook . This was her job at the boarding house in Silverspur where her future husband John was staying when he was working in the Silverspur mines. This is how they met.5 In 1905 she resided at Rose Valley Farm in Texas, Qld. She was living with her parents.6 On 2 June 1906 she resided at "Rose Valley" in Texas.7

Sis married John OWEN when he was 27 and she was 23 on 2 June 1906 in Texas. It is believed Jack walked from Sydney to Texas for the marriage, taking about six months to do so. He gained work along the way to purchase food and supplies. Most probably he was a Sundowner.8,9,10

from 2 June 1906 to 20 October 1963 they lived at various locations in New South Wales . They moved around quite a lot due to John following his work as a miner. They lived at Silverspur in Queensland when they were first married (2 June 1906) because John was working in the mines there. John had rooms at the Silverspur guesthouse before their marriage but it is unlikely they lived there. Given Rachel's accident occurred in an outdoor kitchen, they probably lived some time with Rachel's parents (John and Sarah Burley) at Texas. Most likely they were still there for the birth of their son Francis on 12 November 1906. After Rachel's accident, the medical advise was for her to move to a cooler climate and so John went to Adaminaby in NSW and found work. Rachel then set off to join him with a stayover in Orange where their daughter, Sylvia was born. Their son Edward was born in Adaminaby on 9 August, 1909. On 14 May 1911, their son Frederick was born in Texas, Queensland. Whether they were both living there or whether Rachel had just gone back to her parent's place to have the baby is not known. By the time son Thomas was born on 7 August 1918, they had moved to Wollongong. Their last son George was also born in Wollongong on 13 March 1920. Around 1931/32 they were living at 67 McDonald St Lakemba and were buying these premises but they lost the home as a result of the Great Depression. Sometime before 9 December 1939, they moved to 97 Thomas St Ultimo. They were resident there before their son Edward was married. In about 1961/62 they were evicted to make way for the building of a new Technical College. (Now known as the University of Technology). As part of the eviction agreement they were given an apartment in the Northcott Apartment Block, Curtis Place, Block 4, Flat 5 (ground Floor), 53 Moorehead St Redfern, NSW. These were High Rise Housing Commission Flats. They were one of the first tenants into these flats. Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the flats in 1963. They only lived there for a short while as Rachel died in 1963.11,12

After 1906 in Texas Sis was diagnosed with the medical condition of serious burns caused by an accident which probably happened at the Queensland property "Rose Valley Farm". As was common at this time, her husband John had built an external kitchen for the family's cooking. The flue of this stove collapsed and came down over her. Her sleeve caught fire which badly burned her. Her younger sister (which one is unknown, they were all younger) saved her by pouring water over her. She was in hospital for 3 months and ended up with her arm fused to the side of her body so that she couldn't lift it over her head. This condition remained with her for the rest of her life. As a result of this accident, she was medically advised to move to a colder climate and hence they moved to Adaminaby. John went ahead and got a job and a home and then she followed by coach. She was pregnant with Sylvia who was born at Orange, NSW during the journey. Their granddaughter, Margarette Owen says that John never forgave himself for, as he saw it, not having built the flue correctly. She said that at about 90 years of age, not long before he died and with Rachel herself some years gone, he confided in her that he still felt guilty about it.5,13,14 Between 1958 and 1963 in Sydney, NSW she was diagnosed with the medical condition Meniere's Disease. This disease is associated with a middle ear infection. It creates strong nausea and a loss of balance. She had this for the last five to six years of her life.13

Sis was a follower of the Catholic faith . She and her husband John were said to have had a mystical experience which caused their conversion to Catholicism. The nature of this experience is unknown.7

Sis was a worker at home performing home duties . She never went into the paid workforce but as was the custom of the time she stayed at home and looked after her family.7

she had 7 children. Six of them were with John (five boys and one girl, Sylvia). She also had another child, Edna Olive before her marriage to John. Sylvia's daughter, Kay advises that her mother had told her that there was another daughter who died when Sylvia was about two, ie c.1910. At present no birth or death record of this child has been found. It is not known whether there is any association between this child and Edna Olive.15

she died (aged 80) on 20 October 1963 in Kensington, NSW. Her daughter Sylvia says she was in the nursing home for about 2 - 4 weeks. She had a stroke and lost conscientiousness. She went blind in one eye. They took her to Sydney Hospital for tests but nothing could be done. She had an obstruction near the brain. She then went blind in the other eye and eventually died in the nursing home.7,13,16 She was buried in October 1963 in the Catholic section of Woronora Cemetery in Plot 1217 of Section 5 in Sutherland, NSW. The service was held at St. Benedict's Broadway.7,17,18,19

 

Her daughter Sylvia described her as a very generous lady in time, herself and possessions.20

 

She didn't like the name Rachel and so where she had to use a name, she usually used Elizabeth. However she was known to most as Cis or Cissy, except her grandchildren who all called her Nanna. This form of naming possibly had an influence on her daughter-in-law Gladys Collins who from around the time of her marriage to Ted Owen, started to use Betty, a derivative of her second name Elizabeth in place of her first name, Gladys.20,21

 

Visit http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~owenjones/biogind/burley/burley_rachel_0... for more.

 

Unknown (M) UNKNOWN22 and Rachel Elizabeth BURLEY had the following children:

 

Edna Olive BURLEY (1904-1961)

 

John OWEN15 (known as 'Jack') was the son of Thomas OWEN (1839-1914) and Sarah BUCKLEY (1840-1885).

 

In their retirement years, John and Rachel often travelled to Brisbane in the Winter months for the warmer weather and usually stayed at their son Fred's and his wife Rita's house at 62 Isedale St Woolowin. On one such occasion (22 June 1962), Rachel wrote a letter to her grandson John, gently admonishing him for not letting her know whether he had received a birthday present of £1, a rather generous amount for the times.

Two of his grandchildren, Janice and Gerard recall one trip where John (Pop) tried to make himself useful and do the washing up while Fred and Rita were at work. He proudly announced when they got home that with a lot of time and elbow grease, he had been able to get that "black stuff" off the frypan. The "black stuff" was the Teflon coating, a new technology that he caught up with that day.23,24,25

 

When queried about family life when growing up, their daughter Sylvia volunteered the following :

"Our childhood was mainly happy. It was hard but we didn't know. We certainly weren't a privileged family. Pop was strict with the boys when they were young - a bit too strict - while Nanna sheltered them. Pop was a marvellous man. He was a provider, protector and defender of the family. He earned those titles. He really did all those things. He loved children and babies".13

 

There is a family story told of John and Rachel which nicely illustrates the contrasting aspects of their characters. The boys arrived home one day with some cabbages which they had stolen. The number of cabbages is not known but John being the man of high principle that he was, chastised the boys and insisted that they take them back. However their pragmatic mother, who at that stage had very little for the evening meal, met them out the front of the house, commandeered the cabbages and promptly assigned them to the pot.5,26

 

John OWEN and Rachel Elizabeth BURLEY had the following children:

 

Francis Charles OWEN (1906-1967) (known as 'Frank')

Sylvia May OWEN (1908-2005) (known as 'Syl')

Edward Arthur OWEN (1909-1972) (known as 'Ted')

Frederick John OWEN (1911-1974) (known as 'Fred')

Thomas William OWEN (1918-1978) (known as 'Tom')

George Vincent OWEN (1920-2000)

Citations

1{S0019}, Certificate - Birth : BURLEY, Rachel Elizabeth (0014). Custom Id: NSW 1883 / 27597. Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Registration no : 27597 / 1883
2{S0019}, Certificate - Birth : BURLEY, Rachel Elizabeth (0014). Custom Id: NSW 1883 / 27597. Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Primary evidence.
Registration no : 27597 / 1883
3{S0196}, BDM (Qld) Online Birth Index.

{date} {note}. Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Registration no : 1904 / 002806
4{S0256}, Researcher : CROWTHER, Vicki re BURLEY. Custom Id: SUB002. Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
5{S0156}, Verbal ( Personal Knowlege) : OWEN, Margarette Daphne (0763). Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
6{S0594}, Electoral Roll : Federal (Unknown); Qld State (Maranoa); Sub-Division (Texas). Cit. Date: 14 September 2012. Assessment: Primary evidence.
7{S0036}, Researcher : OWEN (nee QUESSY), Marie (0129) : re OWEN. Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
8{S0198}, BDM (Qld) Online Marriage Index. Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Reference no : 1906 / C000653
9{S0363}, Researcher : DOBSON (nee HUDSON), Fay : Various. Cit. Date: 3 September 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
10{S0021}, Researcher : OWEN, John Edward (0001). Cit. Date: 8 November 2010. Assessment: Primary evidence.
John heard the story about the walk from his father when he was a child
11{S0021}, Researcher : OWEN, John Edward (0001). Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
John has a picture of his mother's 21st birthday cake which was taken outside the Ultimo house. His mother was 21 on 9 December 1939, hence the "from" date stated.
12{S0594}, Electoral Roll : Federal (Unknown); Qld State (Maranoa); Sub-Division (Texas). Cit. Date: 18 June 2012. Assessment: Primary evidence.
13{S0015} 1992, Interview : NEWTON (nee OWEN), Sylvia May (0080). Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
14{S0368}, Biography : BURLEY, Rachel Elizabeth (0014). Cit. Date: 29 March 2012. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
15{S0021}, Researcher : OWEN, John Edward (0001). Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
16{S0514}, Memorial Card : OWEN (nee BURLEY), Rachael Elizabeth (0014). Cit. Date: 22 March 2012. Assessment: Primary evidence.
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The front of Rachael's memorial card

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The inside of Rachael's memorial card

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The rear of Rachael's memorial card

17{S0516}, Card (Sympathy and Florist) : OWEN (nee BURLEY), Rachael Elizabeth (0014). Includes letters and telegrams. Cit. Date: 23 February 2013. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Various cards sent to her funeral and attached to wreaths indicated the Church which was their parish Church (St. Benedict's Broadway). One gave a time of 1.45pm
18{S0385}, Cemetery : Woronora (http://www.woronoracemetery.org.au/location-guide). Cit. Date: 31 January 2010. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Text From Source: "Surname: Owen : Type: Burial : First Name: Rachel : Other Names: Elizabeth :
Date of Death: 20/10/1963 : Interred Date: ? : Roman Catholic Monumental, Section 5, 1217"
19{S0629}, Headstone : OWEN, John (0013) and Rachel Elizabeth (nee BURLEY) (0014). Cit. Date: 16 September 2012. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
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John and Rachel's headstone at Woronora cemetery

20{S0015} 1992, Interview : NEWTON (nee OWEN), Sylvia May (0080). Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Primary evidence.
21{S0021}, Researcher : OWEN, John Edward (0001). Cit. Date: 19 August 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
22{S0196}, BDM (Qld) Online Birth Index. Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
Registration no : 1904 / C002806
23{S0366), Letter : from OWEN (nee BURLEY), Rachel (0014) to OWEN, John Edward (0001). Cit. Date: 4 September 2009. Assessment: Primary evidence.
24{S0356}, Biography : OWEN, Janice Anne (1409) [Autobiography]. Cit. Date: 4 September 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
25{S0355}, Biography : OWEN, Gerard John (1415) [Autobiography]. Cit. Date: 4 September 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
26{S0021}, Researcher : OWEN, John Edward (0001). Cit. Date: before 1 July 2009. Assessment: Secondary evidence.
The story is also attested to by Margarette Owen

Compiler of this family history is : John Owen

              

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Ellen & John

Updated : 23 Mar 2014