Eliza Butts

Eliza Butts was the wife of Richard Shortland who came from England to Australia in 1841. I found myself researching Eliza, as it seemed learning about Richard and Eliza, may lead me to learn more about the story I have been told, that my family is descended from Lieutenant John Shortland but she turned out to be interesting in her own right and I have now amassed quite a bit of information, which is published here.

Richard and Eliza married on 15 November 1847, at age 16 in Armidale, New South Wales and they had 12 children – their marriage certificate records Eliza as being a minor but that she is marrying with the consent of her father. Eliza passed away on 19 March 1910, at age 79 in Sydney.

A search of the My Heritage website found that Eliza was born on 5 December 1830, in Bisley, England, to Jacob Butt and Ann Butt.  I have also learned that Eliza’s father Jacob was a clothier named Robert Butt. Eliza’s mother Ann was also the daughter of a clothier named Moses Smart.

Further information about Jacob can be found on the Wiki Tree website below.

The website explains that after they married, Jacob and Ann lived in France Lynch, just north of Chalford where there were mills. However, in the 1830s the industrial revolution had an impact and over a third of the people were unemployed. Many were starving. The Bisley vestry records show that Jacob occasionally obtained financial assistance to enable his family to survive.

In 1837 the Rev Thomas Keble was involved in raising funds to enable 68 people to emigrate to Australia on The Layton. Jacob, his wife Ann and children were chosen. Sadly there was an outbreak of measles on this journey and some of the children died at sea.

An economic history of Bisley can be found below.

Information about the Rev  Thomas Keble can be found on the National Archives website.

The Butt family appear to have been assisted immigrants. Assisted immigrants were able to travel to Australia through the financial assistance of the government, organisations, or wealthy individuals.

Jacob, Anne and their family were among the first group of 13 families (68 people) to leave Bisley in England and travel to Australia, arriving in January 1838 aboard The Layton. I have located information about the family on the WikiTree website below.

The website explains that the barque Layton left Bristol on 8 September 1837, and arrived in Sydney in January 1838. It was carrying 122 emigrants and 110 children. An outbreak of measles caused the deaths of 70 children.

A copy of the passenger shipping records can be found below.

The arrival of the ship in Australia was reported in the Sydney Gazette.

Richard Shortland

I learned about Richard and his wife Eliza after reading through papers given to me by my great aunt Dorothy. Richard it seemed was born in Northamptonshire around 1824 and Dorothy had noted that he had traveled to Australia with the 51st regiment of the British army around 1841, living there until he died in Sydney in 1887.  Further information about the regiment can be found below.

I wanted to learn about Richard and Eliza as it seemed learning about them, may lead me to learn more about the story I have been told, that my family is descended from Lieutenant John Shortland. I have now amassed quite a bit of information which is published here, however, to date, I have only found contrary reports about Richard’s relationship to Lieutenant John.

Dorothy’s papers seem to indicate that Richard was the brother of my great great great grandfather John Shortland, along with three other brothers, named Thomas, William and Henry.  The papers included a birth certificate from 1858 for Richard’s son Joseph (on this Richard is shown to be a Dray Proprietor) and a note, handwritten by Dorothy, which detailed a memorial, showing that Richard died aged 64 in 1887 leaving a wife and 12 children:

  • William Henry
    (born Armidale, New South Wales 1849, married in Camden 17/9/1872 at St. Johns Church, occupation  – Writing Clerk
  • Mary A. (1850)
  • Richard (1852)
  • John (1854)
  • Eliza (1855)
  • Joseph B (1858)
  • George T (1860)
  • Robert A. (1862)
  • Alice (1864)
  • Arthur (1867)
  • Emily (1869)
  • Martha L. (1873)

I believe that prior to marrying Eliza, Richard was married to Anne. A search of the Find My Past website has found that Richard Shortland married Anne Keenan on 2 September 1844 in Sydney, Australia.

Searching for further information, I found the hand written note matched an entry on the Ancestry UK website and this enabled me to locate both the death index, (which names Richard’s parents as Richard and Mary) and details of the grave in Rookwood Cemetery, New South Wales.

Grant Skinner at the cemetery kindly sent me the photos that appear here – these not only showed the grave that Dorothy wrote about but also that other family members were buried in the same place.

Grant advised ‘The rear of the memorial (photo 0348) is all blank with the three x other faces having multiple inscriptions and the plots appear to be over four or five sites wide. It appears that a wrought iron fence of some description has been removed from the kerb set of the memorial some time ago based on the patches in the sandstone, but the memorial itself is in rather good condition given its age with a bit of the kerb set sunk into a slight depression towards the front of the site, but nothing of any great concern’. Death notices for Richard can be found below.

Grave of Richard and Eliza Shortland

However, on studying the photos, I noted that another Richard is recorded. The younger Richard died 24 April 1933 aged 80 years.

I searched the National Library of Australia website and have I believe found newspaper articles relating to the latter and his wife. The articles about Richard state he was a descendant of Lieutenant Shortland and a grand or great grand nephew of Rear-Admiral Shortland, of the Imperial Navy.  The articles also provide detail of the work he did, stating ‘He was principal of the firm of Shortland and Sons who, in the early days of Sydney, were contract carriers for most of the city firms; he retired from business at the outbreak of war in 1914.’



However, I am also in possession of a document, re-produced below,  which states the  relationship to Lieutenant John has been proved to be untrue and that Eliza invented the story.  Could Eliza have made the story up? I am keeping an open mind but for my money, in light of the newspaper articles, I would like to know how the story has been disproved before reaching my conclusion.

The Wheelers of Camden (page one)

The Wheelers of Camden (page two)

More photos