Saturday, November 21, 2009

Death certificate, obituary and will of Paddy Meehan

Paddy Meehan must have held his housekeeper, Sarah Burdick, in very high esteem, as he left her a bequest in his will of sixty five pounds a year to be paid until her death. Sarah was from Devonshire, England. She was born in c. 1832, the daughter of farmer William Lane and his wife Sarah.On November 7, 1852, at St. Pancras Church, London, Sarah married carpenter Samuel Burdick, the son of carpenter James Burdick and his wife Ann. The Burdicks in the 1841 census were living at Abbotsham in Devon, with 60 year old James being recorded as being a carpenter and his 15 year old son Samuel as a joiner. By 1851, James Burdick was a widower and a pauper,living at Northam, Devon, as a visitor of the Moyse family.I can't locate Samuel in the 1851 census, but the following year he married Sarah Lane in London. Their first child was a son named James Henry Burdick. He was baptised at Holy trinity Church, Paddington, on July 2, 1854, and his parents named as Samuel Burdick, carpenter, and Sarah. The following year, the Burdicks boarded the ship 'Epaminondas' and sailed for Melbourne, arriving in June 1855. Passenger records state that Samuel was 30, Sarah 26 and son James 1 year old. Daughter Mary Elizabeth Burdick was born in Geelong soon after their arrival in 1855( married Thomas Australasia Rider, Geelong, 1873, then Charles Peter Sinclair in 1903). She was followed by William George in 1858, again born in Geelong (He died in 1917 in Heidleberg, aged 56 years). . Eliza Burdick was born at Viaduct, Victoria, in 1861, and died aged three years in Geelong in 1864. I have found a reference to Samuel Burdick from this time period in the Victorian Government Gazette. On Friday, May 30, 1862, the insolvent estate of Samuel Burdick, publican, of Moorabool, near Geelong, was placed under sequestration, and on August 12, 1862, a distribution of available assets of Samuel Burdick's insolvent estate became available. The family moved to the goldfields area around Sandhurst and Ballarat, and daughter Sarah was born in Ballarat in 1863, dying soon after.

Son Eli Burdick was born in Sandhurst in 1864 (he died in Melbourne in 1900, aged 37 years), then finally in Melbourne in 1870 daughters Ann Caroline(known as 'Caroline') and Eliza Ann were born. I have found no other reference to daughter Eliza Ann-there is no record of her death or marriage, and she is not mentioned on the death certificates of either parents(although the death certificate of her father admittedly has no reference to any of his children). Until proven otherwise, I am assuming that she died in very early infancy. Caroline died in February 1876, aged six years. Her father placed a notice in the Argus Newspaper of Saturday, February 12, 1876:- "The friends of MR SAMUEL BURDICK are respectfully invited to follow the remains of his late daughter Caroline to the place of internment, Melbourne General Cemetery. The funeral will leave his residence, off Chetwynd Street,rear of Temperance Hall, Hotham, this day,at half past two o'clock P.M." In 1872, the Burdick family found themselves in financial trouble when father Samuel had to declare insolvency. The notice that appeared in the Argus read: "NEW INSOLVENTS: Samuel Burdick, of 64 Cardigan Street, Carlton, carpenter. Causes of insolvency- sickness. Liabilities: Seventy seven pounds fourteen shillings and two pence. Assets: Six pounds. Deficiency: Seventy one pounds four shillings and two pence. Samuel Burdick must have suffered from ill health for many years. There is a record of him being admitted to Melbourne General Hospital on July 24, 1867: "BURDICK, Samuel. Event: Hospital record 24/07/1867. Birth Place: Devonshire. Age: 40 Status Married Occupation: Carpenter. Religion: C of E" Samuel Burdick died of phthisis pulmonalis(tuberculosis)in Melbourne hospital on November 12,1881, aged 54 years. He left his widow,Sarah Burdick, aged 49, and surviving children- James aged 27; Mary Elizabeth Rider aged 26; William aged 23 and Eli aged 17. His death certificate was registered by J. Rutherford, a hall porter at Melbourne Hospital, and information about Samuel was sadly lacking. It was stated that he had been born in Devonshire,spent 26 years in Victoria and details about his marriage and issue were summarized with "Not known" scrawled across the two relevant columns. It is not known where and when Patrick Meehan met Sarah Burdick in order to employ her as his housekeeper at his farm at Dairy Creek. In 1881, the year in which Sarah Burdick's husband died, Patrick Meehan's daughter Mary had married Michael Coonan. The departure of his daughter to the Coonan property would have left Patrick without a woman to cook, clean and look after him in general, so the marriage of Mary Meehan most likely coincided perfectly with the recently widowed Sarah Burdick having to find herself, at the age of almost 50, a position which allowed her to earn a living(her children being of an age to be able to work and support themselves). Patrick Meehan died on October 2, 1895, at Dairy Creek, Yea. Sarah Burdick benefited from his annuity for another twelve years before she too passed away. She died in Geelong in 1907.

In 1903, the electoral roll for Geelong revealed that Sarah Burdick was living in Ryrie Street with her only surviving daughter, Mary Elizabeth Sinclair. After Mary's first husband Thomas Rider died, she had remarried Peter Charles Sinclair in 1903. Peter was a commission agent, and he and Mary both died in 1922. Sarah Burdick's death certificate states that she died on March 28, 1907, at Upper Autumn Street, Geelong. She was 75 years old, and died of aortic obstruction and exhaustion from which she had suffered for three years. Her parents were William Lane, farmer, and Sarah Lane formerly Unknown.She was born in Devonshire, England, and had spent 52 years in Victoria. She had married Samuel Burdick in London when she was 22 years of age. Her children were James (dead); Mary( 51); William (49);Eli (dead); and Caroline(dead)

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