Betsy Dean Henderson

Betsy Deane Henderson was born 22 Dec 1840 in Westham, Essex, England. She immigrated to Australia with her family in 1853 when she was 13 years of age.

Betsy married Joseph Boardman on 13 September 1866 at St Peters Armidale, Australia. It would appear that they met when they were both teaching at what was described on their marriage certificate as the Church of England Denominational School, Armidale.

Joseph Boardman was headmaster of the school which was described in the Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser in 1866 as“a substantially built brick building, and contains one room, of an extra-large size, and sometimes used for public meetings on that account. Adjoining the school room are apartments occupied by the resident teacher and his family. The schoolis well attended, and is I believe in other respects in a flourishing and satisfactory condition. On every hand I heard Mr. Boardman’s ability as a teacher very highly spoken of, and it is to that circumstance doubtless that the present prosperity of the school is mainly attributable”. Based on this description it would appear that Betsy was about to become settled and happily married to a well-respected member of the Armidale community.

Joseph Boardman was a very active member of the community, as well as teaching, he had been appointed meteorological observer for Armidale in 1860; Honorary secretary of Armidale Debating Society in 1861; and Secretary of Armidale and New England Hospital in 1865. This, however, was Joseph’s second marriage and at the age of 26 years Betsy became step mother to six children under the age of ten. In addition to the adjustment she would need to have made to care for such a large family Betsy was to give birth to their first son, Alfred after twelve months of marriage in 1867.

There were signs of significant problems shortly after the birth of their second son, Frederick, in 1869, with Joseph’s removal from his post in Armidale and reassignment to North Kurrajong in May 1870. Their third son, Ernest, was born in this year but his birth was not registered possibly due to the upheaval of the changes which were happening in the family. Just over six months later, in January 1871, Joseph was again removed from this posting and sent to teach at the Sutton Forest Church of England School. Betsey was to give birth to their last child, another son, Arthur, in 1871 while they lived at Sutton Forest.

The reason for the instability in Joseph’s employment now became clear with his dismissal from his position at Sutton Forest in June 1873 and the refusal of the school board to accept his provisional appointment to Canterbury Church of England School due his “intemperate habits”.

Betsy and her family were now in a dire situation and in desperation she returned home to the support of her mother, father and sisters. In September 1873 Joseph was charged with desertion and ordered “to pay the weekly sum of 10s towards her support” (Empire. Page 3. Thursday 25 September 1873). By December 1873 Joseph had not complied with the order and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

In an attempt to support herself and her family Betsy returned to the teaching profession. Her first attempt was to start a Boarding and Day School at Seven Oaks and advertised places for boys under ten years of age in the Sydney Morning Herald in December 1873. With the death of her mother in 1875 and her father’s remarriage there is no further record of the schools operation or if she was successful in this endeavour.

In 1874 Thomas had mortgaged Lot 3 of Seven Oaks in October this may have been used to purchase the property named “Monmouth” in Albert Street, Burwood as a residence for Betsy and her family. It appears that Janette also took up residence with her sister at “Monmouth”.

In May 1876 Betsy’s youngest son, Alfred, died of Scarlet Fever which would undoubtedly have been another devastating blow for Betsy. In October 1877 she received notice that her husband Joseph, who had been living in Queensland had died from tuberculosis. By 1880, in order to support herself and her family, she had taken up a position as sewing mistress at St James Certified Denominational School. Four years later she was appointed works mistress at Camperdown Public School.

Naming their home”Monmouth” after their rescue ship, proved to be appropriate with other members of the family also residing at the house. The Sands Directory of 1892 lists Charles and his wife Frances as living in Albert Street, Burwood, possibly while they were waiting for the completion of the house being constructed for them nearby. Her father, Thomas was also living at “Monmouth” at the time of his death, in 1994, undoubtedly being cared for by his daughters, Betsy and Janette.

All of Betsy’s three remaining sons married. Arthur married in 1894 to Ada Warren. His wife died in 1896 leaving him with their two year old son, Norman. He had been living in Armidale but moved to Burwood to be closer to his mother until his death in 1899 at the age of 28 years.

Both Ernest and Frederick outlived their mother with records from 1897 showing Ernest living with his mother and Frederick living with his brother, Arthur at a nearby address in Burwood. Frederick married Sarah Margaret Shirbin in 1902 and died at Chatswood in April 1935. Ernest married Maude Constance Lindsay in 1896 and his death was registered at North Sydney in 1943.

Betsey died at the age of 79 on 4 November, 1920.  She had been living with her sister Janette until she died at on 4 November 1920. She is buried at St Thomas Church of England Cemetery, Enfield with her parents and her son, Alfred. Her son, Arthur and other family members are buried in nearby.

Children of Joseph Boardman and Betsy Dean Henderson are:

  1. Alfred Boardman, b. 1867, Armidale, NSW, Australia, d. 1876, Burwood, NSW, Australia
  2. Frederick Aubery Crosby Boardman, b. 1869, Armidale, NSW, Australia, d. 1935, Chatswood, NSW, Australia
  3. Ernest Percival Boardman, b.1870, Newcastle, NSW, Australia, d. 1943, North Sydney, NSW, Australia
  4. Arthur N C Boardman, b.1871, Berrima, NSW, Australia, d. 1899, Burwood, NSW, Australia

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