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Bessie Corbett

(1852-1926) and son Arthur CORBETT

Photo provided by
George Standen

William CORBETT m 1871 Elizabeth SHOEMACK
7. Elizabeth SHOEMACK b 1852 Melbourne, bap St James C of E, Melbourne, d/o Amos/Mary [Vic 17629, ECR fiche 299] (known as Bessie)
Bessie CORBETT d 11 Apr 1926 aged 74 yrs Ostend Street, Lidcombe, NSW, parents not known, Informant S C CORBETT, Son, 53 Gallipoli Street, Lidcombe, Registered 12 Apr 1926 Auburn, bur 12 Apr 1926 C of E Cemetery Rookwood. Deceased was born in Victoria and married in Victoria aged 25 years, Spouse: James Robert CORBETT. Children of Marriage: Living: Eva 46, William M 44, Arthur E 40, Stanley C 36, Amy M 32; Deceased: 2 Males, 1 Female. [NSW cert 6229 provided by Lyn Condon]
Deceased children would have been James Robert 1878-<1926, Stanley H 1887-1888, and Phoebe F 1889-1890.

Elizabeth SHOMACK bp South Yarra m Jan-Jun 1871 William CORBETT bp Geelong [Vic 1054]
1. William CORBETT b 1847 Newtown s/o James CORBERT/Helen CROOKE [Vic 2642, Early Church Record f33 St Mary's RC Geelong]
William CORBETT d 1928 aged 81 yrs Ballarat East, parents unknown [Vic 239]
William CORBETT age 81 bur 12 Jan 1928 Creswick Cemetery.
William CORBETT was the informant at the death of his niece Margaret SPARK 28 Mar 1873 Glendaruel d/o James SPARK/Catherine SHUMACK [Death cert No 1878]
Elizabeth/Bessie CORBETT moved to Lambton/Wallsend in the Newcastle area of NSW between 1882 and 1884 possibly with all four of her children: George, James Robert, Evaline Maud and William Middleton. From 1884 James CORBETT was named as the father of five more children for their birth registrations. (No marriage record has been found.) James was the younger brother of Bessie's husband William CORBETT.
5. James CORBETT b 1858 Creswick s/o James CORBETT/Ellen CROOK [Vic 2391]
James CORBETT d 1912 District of Woonona s/o James/Ellen [NSW 1074] Woonona is just south of Bulli.

Death of James CORBETT 1912 [NSW Department of Mines Annual Report 1911-12, p108, Table W, List of Fatal Accidents, Ref SLR 622/New; provided by R Owen 27 Sep 2010]
Accident No. 5, 9 Feb 1912, South Clifton Mine at Scarborough, James CORBETT age 55, miner (killed); Robert FLEMMING, 30, miner (injured).
Cause of Accident and Remarks.
Corbett and Fleming were working in No. 9 pillar, first right flat, No. 8 left district, the width of the lift being about 6 yards, and the height about 5 feet. They were both filling a tub, which was standing within 4 feet of the face; they had just got the body of the tub full when a fall of stone (false roof) occurred (Flemming says without warning), and buried them both, killing Corbett instantly and injuring Flemming on the left leg. The stone that fell was 10 ft 6 in long on the top, and 9 ft 6 in at the centre, tapering to a point at each end. This came away from a well-defined slip on the outside, but which, Flemming said, was not visible before the fall occurred. An inquest was held and attended by the Inspector, when a verdict of "Accidental death" was recorded.


Information provided by George and Bill Standen confirms that the father of Bessie's last four children was James Corbett, younger brother of William. James was deputy manager of the coal mine at Scarborough when he was killed in a rock fall.
Life at Broomfield in the Creswick district had been hard on Bessie with her first pregnancy ending in a stillborn child and her son William Charles dying at the age of seven months. These losses must have been heartbreaking enough but then there was the death of her daughter Mary Ellen at five years of age in 1881. After the birth of her 7th child in 1882 Bessie left her husband William and moved to NSW to live with James Corbett who fathered her next four children born 1884-94 at Lambton and Wallsend. This couple lived as husband and wife and evaded attempts by William to find them by moving to different locations. On several occasions Bessie stated that her maiden surname was Graham, no doubt in order to avoid detection. We can only speculate as to why she chose this name. Graham was a surname of some standing in the community. She would have known people from this founding family. Specifically, at Broomfield, 3k N of Creswick, there is a memorial of granite with a bronze plaque which bears this inscription:

116 Yards North, 10 Deg. East from Here
Rich Gold was Discovered on 11th
May, 1872, by Leonard R. Carter,
Sarah Brawn, Edward Brawn and William Graham.
This Discovery Led to the Opening Up
of the Spring Hill Leads, the Richest Deep Alluvial Goldfield in the World.

The Broomfield Memorial was unveiled on 1st April 1939. [Early Creswick : The First Century, John A Graham, 1942, Facsimilie Edition, 1987, Creswick Historical Museum, p122]

Some of the Shumack children may have attended Graham's Hill school which was a short walk up the hill from their home at Shumack's Bridge Inn on Scott's Creek at Long Point, a little to the east of Creswick, but on Christmas Day 1863 there is a newspaper report of Elizabeth (Bessie) aged 12 and her brother George aged 16 receiving examination prizes at Mr Bowman's school at Ascot. SHOEMACK/SHOMACK extracts 1863

Twelve children of William and James CORBETT and Elizabeth SHUMACK


James CORBETT m 1846 Ellen FOLKS (ms CROOK)

Children of Amos SHUMACK m 1841 Mary SHIER

© Created : 1 July 2004
© Last Modified : 26 April 2011
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