Monday, 6 April 2015

E is for Edith Leeson Armitstead ( born Blackledge)

Here we have Edith Leeson Armitstead ( my grandmother) with her first child Dorothy Florence Armitstead in about 1912.
Edith was the eldest child of Louis George  and Eliza Ann Blackledge and was born in the glass making town of St Helens, Lancashire England on 11th November 1883.  Her father was the manager of the glass works and her  uncle William  and  brother Herbert  also worked there.
She was listed on the 1901 English census as a dressmaker and living at home with the family at 48 Denton's Green Lane St Helens Lancashire.
Her grandfather George Blackledge died in 1893, her father died in 1904 and her grandmother Eliza Leeson died in 1908. Therefore I believe that the family decided to leave England.  Louis Samuel Blackledge, her brother, ventured to Australia in 1908 and was working cutting sugar cane near Mackay and must have reported favourably on life in Australia as all the rest of the family followed in 1910 and ended up in Mackay Queensland.
The passenger list for the SS Medic that left Liverpool on 15th December 1910 had Eliza Blackledge, Edith L. Blackledge, Herbert L. Blackledge, George Blackledge and Elsie Blackledge on one page and then on another page John Armitstead. Now Edith and John had been married on 12th September 1910 so why weren't they listed together?
By the time they got to Albany in Western Australia they were listed as John and Mrs J Armitstead.
Perhaps John coming too was a last minute arrangement as Dorothy was born in Mackay Queensland in March 1911.
They arrived in Sydney on the 5th February 1911.
Can you imagine travelling heavily pregnant to Sydney and then having to go to Mackay on a coastal ship and then being taken off the ship at Mackay in a sling into a smaller boat as there were no port facilities in Mackay at the time?
After sometime on  the Pioneer Estate just outside Mackay they shifted to Toowoomba and lived in Lilley Estate where John worked for Nat Green the Chemist. Nat Green also had a shop in Warwick so the family moved to Warwick for John to manage the shop for Nat Green.
The announcement in the Warwick Examiner and Times on 30 August 1913 read "We are pleased to announce that Mr. N. Green, chemist, has disposed of his Warwick business to Mr. J. Armitstead, chemist and optician, who has successfully managed the business for the last 15 months. This news, we are sure, will be well received by the Warwick public, as Mr. Armitstead, by his business ability and courteous manner, has undoubtedly made himself popular amongst his customers. The optical department, has been considerably enlarged, and prospective customers   in this line, will do well to consult Mr. Armitstead, who was formerly optician to the St. Helens Hospital, England. Additional stock has been   placed in the photographic department, this being necessitated by the growth of this branch of the business. As seen by the advertisement elsewhere in this issue, to inaugurate the change of business, a delightful perfumed packet of Parisian Shampoo Powder will be given away to every customer during next week." (1)
John and Edith went on to have 3 more children, Elsie Kathleen, Rene Helen and John Harley Leeson. Sadly Edith died on 6th November 1920 not even making her 37th birthday.

(1) 1913 'BUSINESS CHANGE.', Warwick Examiner and Times (Qld. : 1867 - 1919), 30 August, p. 5, viewed 6 April, 2015,