My dad was born to Irene Ellen Gertrude SMITH and William (Elvis ALLEN) WYATT  in November 1932 but just after dad turned two, his father left them and moved to New South Wales. According to the Denison Electoral Roll (in Hobart) for 1929, William was living at 160 Goulburn St and was a labourer. Also living at this address were Ellen Sarah Avery, Keith Henry Avery and Oscar Clyde Goldsmith Avery. William and Henry (Harry) were both in the Royal Australian Naval Reserves in the early 1930s.

According to Irene’s petition for divorce in 1945, William was working at Hadley’s Hotel as a steward and they had been living in a flat in Hampden Road. She was deserted by William shortly before Christmas in 1934.

How was Irene to look after a two year old child, yet earn money to keep a roof over his head?

Irene worked as a cleaner and general housemaid at Heathorns Hotel then later the Albion Hotel. This involved living on the premises, so dad was looked after by a foster mother for most of the time, Mrs Avery at 160 Goulburn Street, Hobart.

The rest of this post is her story. It is a mixture of research by both my father and myself.

Ellen Sarah GOLDSMITH was the 9th of 12 children born to John and  Ellen Goldsmith nee Barwick. They were married in Oatlands, Tasmania on 10 October 1860 at the parish church. John was a boot and shoemaker aged 20 while Ellen was a farmer’s daughter aged 21. On the marriage record she is recorded as Helen not Ellen. Witnesses for the marriage were John, Ellen and Mary Ann Barwick.

Ellen Sarah Goldsmith was born on 2 July 1877 at Oatlands.

Ellen’s siblings:

  • Jane Goldsmith  Born 28 Oct 1860 
  • Emily Goldsmith Born 5 Aug 1862 
  • Thomas Goldsmith Born 22 Aug 1864
  • Louisa Goldsmith (twin) Born 13 Feb 1867
  • Herbert Goldsmith (twin) Born 13 Feb 1867 
  • Annie Susan Goldsmith Born 30 July 1869 
  • Frederick John Goldsmith Born 2 Aug 1871 
  • Edmund Charles Goldsmith Born 28 Feb 1874 died 22 Dec 1955
  • Pricilla Isabel Goldsmith Born 4 Jan 1880 
  • Clarence Marven Goldsmith Born 12 July 1882  
  • Clyde Hamlet Goldsmith Born 22 July 1886 died 4 Nov 1973 buried at St Helens

The above dates were entries from Ellen’s bible but when checking the Tasmanian names index, I found the following extra information.

  • John Goldsmith born 28 October 1860 – informant was Ellen Barwick, a cousin, living in Oatlands. Is this supposed to be Jane?
  • Annie Susan Goldsmith born 29 July 1869 – informant was Eliza Jane Barwick, an aunt, living in Oatlands.
  • Frederick John Goldsmith born 2 Aug 1871 – informant was Ann Fleming, a friend, living in Oatlands.
  • Ellen Sarah Goldsmith born 2 July 1877 – informant was Emily Goldsmith, her sister
  • Priscilla Isabella Goldsmith born 4 Jan 1880 – informant was L. Goldsmith, her sister
  • Clarence Malveen Goldsmith born 12 July 1882 – informant was Louisa Goldsmith, sister
  • Clyde Hamlet Goldsmith born 22 July 1886 – informant was Frederick Goldsmith, brother

In 1880 Ellen’s younger sister Priscilla died from bronchitis at about 8 months old. The very next year, when Ellen was just 4 years old, her brother Herbert was killed by a falling tree and an inquest was held into the death in October while her sister Jane, died in February that same year from gangrene of the lungs which is a rare complication from a lung infection.

Notice about Herbert’s death 1881

Many of Ellen’s older siblings married over the next decade:

  • 22 April 1885, Emily married Richard Norton, a blacksmith, at St Peters church in Oatlands. Witnesses were Louisa Norton and Thomas Goldsmith.
  • 22 January 1889, Thomas, a shoemaker like his father, married Rhoda Higgins, who was a dressmaker, at the residence in Oatlands of Rhoda’s parents who were the witnesses to the marriage.
  • 8 May 1891, Edmond Charles, a labourer, married Fanny Avery by the rites of the Wesleyan Church in St Helens in Cecil Street. Fanny was five years older than Edmond.
  • 8 June 1892, Annie married John Avery, a butcher, at St Peters Church in Oatlands. Witnesses were Frederick and Louisa Goldsmith.

On 7 October 1892, Ellen’s sister Emily died from labour according to her husband Richard Norton, a blacksmith, in Gould Country, near St Helens, but I can’t find any births or deaths around this time relating to Emily.

16 August 1894, Frederick who was a chemist’s assistant died from Phthisis (TB or consumption) in Oatlands.

25 January 1895, Louisa married Richard Norton, a widowed miner at his house in Gould Country, near St Helens.

Ellen had a bout of typhoid in 1896 and this was mentioned in the newspaper as she was a sorely missed yet very energetic member of the  Band of Hope which met monthly in Oatlands.

Ellen had bout of typhoid in 1896.

According to Ellen’s bible, she left Oatlands on 24 March 1899 to St Helens 28 March 1899. This was probably to be close to her sisters who were now living with their husbands near St Helens.

It seems the Goldsmith and Avery families were very intertwined through marriage because on 18 December 1902, Ellen married Robert Avery.

They had the following children:

  • Oscar Clyde Avery Born 20 Nov 1903 
  • Keith Henry Avery Born 21 June 1906
  • Gwendoline Edith Avery Born 30 December 1909 
Advertising for Sussex House

From April 1904, Robert and Ellen ran a boarding establishment called Sussex House in St Helens. They advertised often in the Daily Telegraph in Launceston. This must have been a tough life for Ellen, looking after three young children as well as catering for those boarders.  In 1896-1898, this house was actually a Ladies School with room for boarders. Miss M Oldham offered tuition there as the principal.

On 29 August 1913, Ellen was part of the decorating committee for the Druids Ball at St Helens. She had also provided the supper for the ball in 1912.

Ellen helped organize a patriotic event at St Helens on Monday evening 12 October 1914.

In the 1914 and 1915 electoral rolls, Ellen is shown with domestic duties and Robert as a labourer.

Unfortunately Robert died after just 13 years of marriage on 6 Sept 1915, leaving Ellen to bring up three young children. 

Death of Robert Avery in 1915

In November 1915, Ellen was mentioned as being an agent for the newspaper Daily Post from Hobart.

Ellen’s father John died at 14 Brisbane Street in Hobart and was buried in Cornelian Bay cemetery on 2 June 1916.

Ellen and the children put the following in the newspaper, two years after the death of Robert.

Two years have passed since that sad day,
When one we loved was called away;
His memory is as dear to-day
As at the hour he passed away.
It is not the tears at the moment shed
That tell how beloved is the soul that has fled,
But the tears through many a long night wept,
And the sad remembrance so fondly kept.

Her sister Annie died 23 May 1919. In the 1919 electoral roll, there are two people with Avery surname – Ellen Sarah and Augusta who was an accountant.

In 1919, Oscar was one of 968 students who qualified for admission into state high schools around Tasmania. There was a total of 12 students from St Helens who qualified. In 1921, Keith (Harry) also qualified as one of 12 from St Helens out of 851 state wide.

In 1921, Ellen moved her family to Hobart after a grand farewell from residents of St Helens.

Farewell to St Helens in 1921


From 1912-1917 the owner of 160 Goulburn Street was James W H White. From 1918-1921 Hubert Applebee was at 160 Goulburn Street, then 1922 was Edwin Doran. The first mention of Ellen was 1923 in the Post Office Directory.

In 1921 Harry was apprenticed with Harris and Marsh and trained as a tin smith. It was a six-year apprenticeship. 

Bob’s memories:

I recall Harry telling me that coming home on the tram he spoke to an old chap about getting a job at either the EZ works or Cadburys. He was told that EZ was a filthy place to work and he would be better off at Cadburys. He got a job there and worked there all his working life.

In the 1922 Denison, Hobart West electoral roll, Ellen and Clarence Henry Avery were living at 160 Goulburn Street. Also living there were Helen G Goldsmith and Clarence Marven Goldsmith, who has no job.

Is this Gwen and her mother mentioned in the newspaper article about a YMCA fair in 1923?

Is this Clarence Avery mentioned in this article where Mrs Avery has made a 3 tier wedding cake?

Was this Ellen Avery raising the second highest amount of money for the YMCA appeal in 1923?

Secretary YMCA Mothers Club

As she had been in St Helens, Ellen was involved with many events especially as secretary of the YMCA Mothers Club in Hobart.

In 1925, when American ships arrived in Hobart, Ellen was there helping with refreshments as part of the YMCA.

The mother’s club entertained the boys at the YMCA and both Ellen and Gwen were there as part of the programme.

Oscar must have been a keen photographer as he won the intermediate section of a landscape competition in 1925. He also won more prizes in 1927. In 1928 the newspapers are now mentioning the names of photographs and one of Oscar’s was Ross Bridge.

By the 1928 electoral roll, Ellen was living with her sons Harry, a sheet metalworker, and Oscar, a clerk still in Goulburn Street. Helen and Clarence Goldsmith are also living in the home. Clarence still has no occupation.

At the “Olde England Fair” held at the City hall in 1928, Ellen was in charge of the Micawber and Co produce stall.

In 1929 Ellen’s only daughter Gwendoline had died in the consumptive sanitorium in New Town. This building had been opened in 1906 and much fund raising was done through Wattle Day each year as well as balls held specifically to raise money.

As part of the Wattle League Appeal, Oscar won a scarf with ticket number 1542a. I wonder if he gave it to Ellen?

Ellen spent some time in hospital from poisoning in 1930.

Poisoned in 1930

Was the poisoning because of life at home in Goulburn Street? Her daughter had died in 1929 and her son Oscar, a bank clerk, must have also been in poor health as he passed away in November 1930.

Ellen’s mother died at 160 Goulburn Street, Hobart, aged 92 and was buried with her husband at Cornelian Bay on 10 Nov 1931.

Clarence Marven aged 50, died at 160 Goulburn Street and was buried at Cornelian Bay on 24 December 1933.

It was about this time that my father Robert Wyatt (Bob) was fostered by Mrs Avery.

I affectionately called Mrs. Avery, ‘Mum’, and my mother, ‘Mummy’. Mrs. Avery became my guardian and I have always regarded Harry as my foster father. Harry once told me that I was his mother’s saviour as she had lost a son, Oscar, in 1930 and her only daughter, Gwen, in 1929 with diphtheria and was very depressed until she had me to look after.

Bob on the verandah at 160 Goulburn Street

In 1936, the electoral roll only had Ellen and Harry living at 160 Goulburn Street.

In April 1938, Ellen spent some time with her brother Clyde and his wife in St Helens. Dad remembers many holidays spent in St Helens.

The 1938 and 1939 Post Office directory also has Ern J Martin living at 160 Goulburn Street.

Mrs Clennett??, Mrs Avery and Bob

Ellen’s remaining son, Harry married Violet Grahame Masterton in 1937 and lived at 192 Main Road Moonah almost opposite the fire station.

Some more of Bob’s memories:

Harry built his wooden dinghy in the back yard and I recall helping him to rivet the planks. Mum(Mrs Avery) used to take me out to visit Harry and his wife that he called Topsy, he would run us home in his car. His garage was only a shed with a curtain to protect the car from the weather. Harry had room inside that he used as a workshop and it was here that he made stencils for Jones & Co. Some time later Harry deserted Topsy and returned to live with his mother in Goulburn Street. They were officially divorced about 1948.

In January 1939, Ellen’s brother Thomas and his wife celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary and were living at Knoll Street, Glenorchy at the time.

Mum had a dog that she called Monty (after General Montgomery.) and I used to take him for walks up to Knocklofty and sometimes I went a lot further. When we got back home I would have to carry Monty inside he was so tired. Mum used to ask where had I taken him and I explained only up the bush.

Ellen with Monty.

During the war, Ellen donated goods to the Comforts fund as part of the patriotic service for the soldiers. She also gave at least 2/6 in the last few months of 1942 towards the Patriotic funds.

By 1943, the electoral roll only has Ellen living at 160 Goulburn Street. Harry had re-joined his mother by the time of the 1949 electoral roll. Also Ellen’s sister, Louisa and her husband Richard are boarding at Goulburn Street. There is a Mrs Jane Murray Clennett at the same address.

In September 1950, Ellen spent a weekend in St Helens with Clyde and Ethel Goldsmith, her brother and sister-in-law. This was mentioned in the local paper.

Ellen passed away on 23 August 1952 and is buried with her brother Clarence.

Death notice of Ellen in 1952.


Headstone of Ellen and her brother Clarence

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