Photo provided by Peter Spark, obtained from Harper family in WA
James SPARK and Catherine SHUMACK SPARK
4. James SPARK born 31 Mar 1844, chr 16 May 1844 Wemyss, Fifeshire, Scotland s/o John SPARK/Ann MITCHELL (WHITEHILL) [IGI Batch number C114598 extracted from parish records]
James SPARK d 26 Oct 1922 aged 78 yrs Arnold s/o John SPARK/Ann WHITEHILL [Vic 14943] bur Tarnagulla Cemetery.
James SPARK was a de facto husband of Catherine SHOMACK from abt 1863-77. (Catherine was married at the age of 16 in 1859 to John SPARK, brother of James, but this marriage had ended in 1861 when her husband was sent to prison for 5 yrs for cattle stealing.)
Occupations for James SPARK: 1859 Farmer at Ascot, 1860 Farmer at Smeaton, 1861 Farmer at Long Point, 1873 Hotelkeeper at Ascot, 1974 Drover at Long Point Road Ascot, 1876 Drover at Ascot, 1878 Cattle Dealer, 1891 Drover, 1917 Butcher.
There are references to him in the Creswick Petty Sessions Court Registers for 1860 when he and his mother, Annie MANGIN were found slaughtering cattle without a license and in 1863 when it was claimed that he demanded excessive charges for 4 cattle that he had impounded.
James SPARK was the Recommender for the admission of his stepfather, Edward MANGAN, to the Creswick Hospital on 22 Sep 1871.
Catherine had nine children to James SPARK. Five of her eleven children were apparently not registered with the civil authorities but the baptismal register of St John's Anglican Church, Creswick, shows that on the 12 Feb 1873 seven children of James SPARK, Hotel keeper, and Catherine, residing at Ascot were baptised en masse. Two more daughters were subsequently baptised and registered.
Photo taken 13 November 2005
1878 was a very bad year for Catherine. She was to learn that her de facto husband of 15 years and father of their nine children had been unfaithful and that a 20 yr old was expecting his child. As a single man in June 1878 James SPARK married Anna ARMSTRONG at Wedderburn and a daughter was born the same year at Charlton. This was their only child.
On 28 Sep 1878 at Ascot, Catherine's mother-in-law, Ann WHITEHILL SPARK, died suddenly of heart disease at the age of 58. An inquiry into her death was held at the Police Station at Coghills Creek on 4 Oct 1878. Kate was present at her death and in her evidence she stated that she was the wife of John SPARK and had known the deceased for 24 years.
Following the desertion of James SPARK and the death of her mother-in-law, it seems that Catherine SPARK was unable to support her eight children and on 10 Jun 1879 three were committed into care at Royal Park for a term of seven years. These were Janett aged 11 yrs, Lavinia aged 5, Christina aged 3 yrs. The other children were Catherine Ann 16, Phoebe Elizabeth 14, Mary Jane 13, James Amos 9, and Margaret 6 yrs. Catherine's parents were living at Long Point so perhaps they helped with the remaining children.
John SPARK was of no help as he had been living with Elizabeth TAYLOR since at least 1871. John eventually married Elizabeth in a registry office at Stawell in 1880, stating that he had become a widower in 1868, but that was false and in 1885 the law finally caught up with him and he was sent to prison for bigamy.
There had been no divorce between John SPARK and Catherine SHUMACK SPARK who also re-married bigamously in a civil ceremony at Inglewood in 1891. Her new husband was William Henry CLIFF who had lived in the area probably since at least the early 1860s. This couple went to Western Australia about 1894 and that was where they ended their days.
© Created : 15 October 2000
© Last Modified : 5 May 2011
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URL : http://users.ncable.net.au/~jburrell/gen/spark/spa_spa.html