By Helen Ménard
Elizabeth was born in Birmingham, England in 1825 and the fourth of eight children to Elizabeth (Stretton, 1796-) and Joseph Village (1796-1836). Why or when she adopted the name Woodcock is unknown. It also appears than none of her surviving siblings followed her path into crime and transportation. What happened in Elizabeth’s life that set her on a convict voyage to the other side of the world? Did the death of her father when she was only 11 years old impact on her life? As a teenager she had one previous conviction for theft and, by the time she was 21, her second conviction landed her a sentence of 7 years’ transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (VDL).
Yet, even though she had five children of her own, ultimately, she would be separated from all of them and not only isolated from her family network in England but also her family in Australia. Was she the architect of her own misfortune? Why did she return to the UK and depart again for Victoria a few years later leaving her two eldest children behind? Why, once back in Australia, when her new family moved from Victoria to NSW, did she return to Tasmania alone?
Life in England
Elizabeth’s father Joseph Village was one of nine siblings and part of large family network in Birmingham. Of Elizabeth’s own siblings, John (1818-); Mary (1820-); Joseph (1822); Emma (1827-); Thomas (1830-1862); Amelia (1832-1840) and Henry (1835-1840), several married and had large families of their own.
In October 1840, Elizabeth (then Village and 16) was convicted of theft of a pair of boots and sentenced to imprisonment for 3 months. In April 1841 the England census recorded Elizabeth Village as 15 and living in St Martin’s, Birmingham with her mother Elizabeth (45) and brothers Joseph (18) and Thomas (11). By this time Elizabeth’s mother was widowed. Three years later, on 23 October 1843, Elizabeth Woodcock (alias Village) was tried and convicted before the Birmingham Boro Sessions for stealing eight decanters, the property of William Gold, and sentenced to transportation for 7 years.
Transportation and beyond
Elizabeth Woodcock, recorded as 20 - 21 and single, arrived in VDL aboard the Angelina on 25 August 1844 along with 170 other female convicts and 18 children. Three female convicts and two infants died on this voyage.
J. E Ring, the ship’s Surgeon described the journey (in part) as follows:
The voyage may be considered a successful one, for although we had occasional instances of bad language and riotous conduct, yet those unfortunate women, generally speaking, were more manageable than I had calculated upon at sailing.
It would appear Elizabeth found her new life in the colony difficult from the outset. She arrived in VDL during the probation period when female convicts served a term of probation during which they were given moral and religious instruction, and taught domestic skills as required for cooks, laundresses, and servants. After serving the term of probation and, in theory, at least being ‘reformed’, a female convict worked for a master or mistress as a passholder.
After completing her period of 6 months’ probation, Elizabeth was employed as a passholder in private service with a Mr John McDonald in Murray St, Hobart. However, she was almost immediately sent to the Cascades Female Factory for 2 months’ hard labour for being absent all night without leave. In October the same year, having been reemployed with Mary Levy in Bathurst St, she was again sentenced to 4 months in the Cascades for absconding. Barely out of the Cascades in March 1846 and reassigned again, Elizabeth was sentenced to a further 2 months’ hard labour for disobedience of orders. June to August 1846 involved further reassignments and convictions for absenteeism and misconduct in sleeping with three women, which resulted in 10 days’ solitary confinement and 14 days’ hard labour respectively. Elizabeth’s final offences in October 1846 for absenteeism and misconduct, earned her sentences of 3 months’ hard labour and 4 days’ solitary confinement respectively.
In October 1846 Elizabeth was charged with obtaining goods under false pretences but the case was dismissed and was not noted on her conduct record or in any available court records.
For some unexplained reason and for no recorded offence, Elizabeth’s status as crime first class was downgraded to third class in May 1847. Did she upset someone in authority? Was it in any way related to her upcoming request for marriage? Elizabeth was finally awarded a ticket of leave in November 1848 and her certificate of freedom in October 1850.
Elizabeth was now a free woman but the rest of her life was not about to be free from adversity.
Elizabeth and Isaac
Elizabeth was given permission to marry Isaac Tomkinson in June 1847 and on 28 June 1847 they were married in the Wesleyan Centenary Chapel in Hobart.
Isaac Tonkinson was born on 5 May 1821 to Joseph and Sarah and was baptised on 8 April 1822 at St Phillips, Birmingham. His native place, like Elizabeth’s, was Birmingham and on 24 March 1841 he was tried and convicted in the Warwick Assizes, Warwickshire for housebreaking and theft and sentenced to 10 years’ transportation. Single, protestant and a brass founder by trade, he left behind four brothers and four sisters in Birmingham. While awaiting transportation, he spent three months on the hulk York  during which time he was fined 1 shilling for being out at night and later ‘ironed and had his bread stopped for quarrelling’. Isaac arrived in VDL aboard the Tortoise on 19 February 1842. His 18 month period of probation, some of which he spent at Impression Bay, expired in August 1843. He only had three minor offences recorded against him from August 1844 to March 1846 involving neglect of duty, being out after hours and misconduct for which he was sentenced to 14, 7 and 10 days’ solitary confinement respectively. He was granted a ticket of leave in April 1847, a conditional pardon in 1849 and his certificate of freedom in 1851.
The 1848 Hobart census has an Isaac Tomkinson (21-45, male, married, ticket of leave, C/E, artificer) residing at 96 Macquarie St with one female child under 2 years (born in the colony, C/E,) and one married female (21-45, in private employment, Wesleyan). The married female was not listed as a domestic servant or with any other occupation. While both adult descriptions fit Isaac and Elizabeth (as she was not granted a ticket of leave until November 1848) who is the child? Their first recorded child was not born until January 1849. Is it possible they had an earlier child and Elizabeth was pregnant when they married? If so, what happened to that child? Or were they caring for someone else’s child?
Elizabeth and Isaac had three recorded children in Australia before returning to England – Marion Elizabeth born on 30 January 1849 in Liverpool St, Hobart who died (Caroline) seven days later from convulsions; Isaac born on 24 February 1851 in Liverpool St, Hobart; and Emma Jane born on 26 January 1853 in Stephen St, Melbourne, and baptised on 25 February 1853 at St Peter’s Eastern Hill, Melbourne.
Elizabeth and Isaac were to have a further two children when they returned to Australia in the late 1850s.
Leaving the colony
Shipping records suggest that in January 1852, Isaac Tomkinson (29) left Hobart bound for Williamstown aboard the Thalia along with 150 English gold seekers. Undoubtedly, like so many others, he was going to find his fortune in the newly discovered Victorian gold fields. In doing so, as was not uncommon, he left a wife and young child behind. Who supported Elizabeth and young Isaac during this time? Was she managing the business for him in Hobart? Isaac returned aboard the Yarra six months later in May 1852. Shortly thereafter he advertised his business and household goods for auction:
MR. WORLEY Will sell by Auction, on MONDAY. Aug. 16th, at 11 o'clock, without any reserve, on the premises, and by order of Mr. Tonkinson, who is about leaving the colony,
The WHOLE STOCK of a DEALER, embracing more particularly female clothing—Shawls, dresses of every description, dress pieces, flannels, hosiery, stays, linen, calico, bonnets, caps, handkerchiefs, ribbons, pins, needles, cotton umbrellas, parasols, bedsteads, and many varieties.
Also boots, shoes, vests, trowsers, hats, caps, &c., &c.
A quantity of household furniture.
Terms—Cash at the fall of the hammer.
Evidently, Isaac had a degree of business acumen that enabled him to set up and run a drapery and haberdashery business in Hobart – did he go to Victoria to pan for gold or did he see an opportunity to sell his wares on the goldfields? It seems he had accrued sufficient funds to take the family back to Melbourne some time before the birth of Emma in January 1853 and soon thereafter to England. Why did he leave the goldfields at the height of their operation and decide to return to England?
Returning to England
Why did Isaac and Elizabeth return to England? Did they consider life would be more prosperous for them back home? Did they think they could pick up life where they had left off before being transported? There appear to be no shipping records confirming when the family sailed for England, but it must have been in sufficient time for them to have set themselves up in business in Birmingham by 1855. Isaac first appears as a shop keeper in Garden St and later as a licensed victualler at the Wheatsheaf at 1 Bow Street in Birmingham. The children, Isaac and Emma Jane, were both baptised in St Philip’s Parish in Birmingham on 5 November 1855, possibly, if necessary, to be eligible for parish relief.
The Poor Law Act 1601 first introduced payments (funded by parish taxes) for those who qualified for poor relief (paupers) and were based on a person’s residence in a particular parish. The Poor Law Amendment Act in 1834 removed the administration of poor relief from the parishes to boards of guardians. From this time on, direct financial relief declined as workhouses became more prevalent where the poor were sent to work off their relief – a common fate for unwed mothers.
In the 1861 England census Emma Jane, aged 7, was registered as living with her aunt and uncle (Emma and Nathaniel Hill) in Blakesley and Isaac, aged 9, was at the Gem St Free Industrial School in Birmingham. Isaac had been given into the charge of John Harrison sometime in 1854-1855 on the understanding that when his parents returned to Australia they would send for him. They never did. Harrison at some stage trained Isaac as a portmanteau maker and found him to be quick, steady and industrious. Joseph Hughes, appointed as Isaac’s guardian, stated in April 1866:
The boy Isaac Tonkinson was put in my charge by his parents […] than twelve years ago on […] leaving England for Australia with an understanding that they would send […] him as soon as they were […] and from that time to present I have not heard […] them and have every […] to believe them dead.
In April 1866, under his guardian’s authority, Isaac signed into the Navy as a volunteer for continuous service until he became eligible for a permanent engagement contract for ten years in 1869 once he turned eighteen.
So, why did Elizabeth and Isaac decide to leave England and return to Australia? And why did they leave their children behind? Did they think the children would have better lives and futures in England free from the ‘convict stain’ which often permeated several generations? Did they really intend to send for the children once they arrived back in Australia? Were Elizabeth and Isaac in agreement over the abandonment of the children?
Back to Australia
Nonetheless, Isaac and Elizabeth returned to Victoria to the gold fields sometime after November 1855. While in the Victorian goldfields (around Ballarat and Bendigo), they had a second son William born in 1859 at Browns Diggings and another daughter Elizabeth in 1861 at Cochrans. However, Elizabeth’s birth was also registered in NSW in 1861 suggesting that the family had moved on again, this time to NSW.
It seems that Isaac may have gone on a reconnaissance mission to NSW in 1858 as an Isaac Tonkinson departed Victoria aboard the Collaroy bound for Sydney in January 1858. This is consistent with the fact that, by this time, the mining of alluvial gold had reached its peak in Victoria and new exploration sites were opening up in NSW, in particular in and around Forbes in 1861, where Isaac and his family eventually took up residence. In 1860, before leaving Victoria, Isaac bought shares in the Grand Junction Gold Mining Company displaying some degree of business prowess.
The children and the grandchildren in Australia
William married Maria Pickering (1862-1898) in Forbes, NSW in 1885 and they had seven children, all born in Forbes – William I (1886-1886); Claude H (1887-); Arthur E (1887-1957); Edith E (1891-1935); Alfred N (1893-); Ethel M (1896-) and John William (-1938). William (Tomkinson) may have remarried Flora Johnston in Sydney in 1912 after the death of Maria in 1898. William died in 1939 in Auburn, NSW.
Elizabeth (Tomkinson) married Thomas B Hill (1858-1935) in Forbes in 1884 and they had also had seven children, all born in western NSW – Thomas Cyril (1884-1953); William John (1886-1974); Reginald (1889-); Florence M (1891-); Edith I (1894-); Cyril (1897-) and Clem (1904-). Elizabeth died in Paddington, NSW in 1945. After Thomas died in 1935 did Elizabeth go to live with her brother William in Sydney?
Interestingly, Elizabeth’s death certificate shows her father as Isaac and her mother as Edith, even though she was 7 years old when her father remarried Edith Howard. This suggests that Elizabeth’s relationship with her step mother may have displaced that of her biological mother, Elizabeth. Why? When did Elizabeth cease to be part of her daughter’s life?
Isaac and Edith
Isaac Tonkinson married Edith Howard in Forbes in 1868. There is no recorded death for Elizabeth (Tonkinson, Village or Woodcock) in NSW or Victoria from 1861-1920. So, what happened to Elizabeth? Did Isaac divorce her?
Isaac and Edith continued to live in Forbes for the next thirty years being granted the old age pension on 17 August 1901. Isaac’s death a week later was reported as follows:
The death of a very old resident of Forbes took place on Saturday last in the person of Mr. Isaac Tonkinson. For some time he had been suffering from influenza, but that morning he appeared better and was able to get up. An hour or two after breakfast he laid down, and when his granddaughter went to him he was quite unconscious and died within a few minutes. Dr. McDonnell held an examination, with the result that death was pronounced to have been caused by influenza together with senile decay. The old man had reached the ripe age of 82 years and only a few day's [sic] previously had drawn his first instalment of the Old Age Pension. Mrs. Tonkinson, who has also reached her four score years, survives her husband. The old couple have always borne the highest of reputations.
Edith died a year later in 1902 in Forbes and there are no records of any children born to Isaac and Edith.
So, what did happen to Elizabeth?
As there appears to be no recorded death for Elizabeth in NSW or Victoria, it is highly probable that she returned to Tasmania and reverted to the name Elizabeth Woodcock. What happened between Isaac and Elizabeth in NSW? As a married woman with young children, did she find life on the goldfields too difficult? Did they have reasonable accommodation or were they forced to live in a bark hut or a tent, as many did, with poor sanitation and living conditions and limited access to food and water? Was there disagreement about Isaac and Emma being left behind in England? What caused Elizabeth to, yet again, abandon her young children? Was she already dancing with the ‘demon drink’ and unable to care for her children?
Elizabeth Woodcock re-emerged in Hobart in January 1867 before the Police Court pleading guilty to a charge of being drunk in a public street and incapable of caring for herself, for which she was fined 5 shillings in lieu of 24 hours imprisonment. She was recorded as ‘F.S.’ (free by servitude) meaning she was a convict and had come to the colony under a transportation sentence and was now free having served her sentence. This is consistent with Elizabeth having received her certificate of freedom in 1850. There appear to be no other women by the name Elizabeth Woodcock who were convicts in Tasmania. Nor are there any records of an Elizabeth who married a Woodcock in Tasmania.
A court appearance in November 1868 for disturbing the peace, also noted her as ‘F.S.’ and having arrived on the ship Calcutta. While the Calcutta only sailed twice as a convict ship in 1803 and 1837, both voyages were to NSW with only male passengers. However, the Calcutta did sail into Sydney on several occasions as a passenger ship from 1839-1880 and occasionally to Hobart. As the shipping records into Hobart for the 1800s are incomplete, it is possible that Elizabeth returned to Hobart from Sydney on the Calcutta.
Over the next fifteen years Elizabeth appeared constantly before the court in Hobart on charges of drunkenness, obscene language and disturbing the peace. In 1868 she was described in the press as both ‘middle aged’ and ‘elderly’ and in April 1873 her day in court was reported as follows:
Elizabeth Woodcock was charged with having made use of obscene language in, Macquarie-street on the 23rd instant. Constable Birchall stated, that at the time he took the woman into custody there was a crowd of children gathered round her, and the language she used was disgraceful. The magistrate remarked that this was the fourth time within a little more than a year that she had been charged with offences of this kind. He fined her 40s. 6d, or two months in the House of Correction.
By 1879 Elizabeth had thirteen previous convictions and the following year, when pleading guilty to yet another charge of obscene language, the magistrate noted that ‘he had never seen such a long list of charges in the record book against any one as there was against [the] defendant.’
For all of her offences Elizabeth was fined in lieu of a prison term. Court records suggest, in most cases, she paid her fines and, as many of her offences involved alcohol, it is reasonable to assume that she must have had some form of paid employment. Yet, clearly, her life must have been miserable and maybe she chose to relieve the pain of her past with alcohol which led to her disorderly behaviour.
More questions than answers
In 1881, when Elizabeth would have been about 56, she disappears completely off the scene in Tasmania. Did she, once again, return to England? There are no shipping records available confirming any passage to the UK, under any of her names. And, in reality, would she have been able to save enough money for a sea passage back to England?
So, did Elizabeth, as did many of her counterparts, simply die alone, wretched and invisible in the back streets of Hobart - all the while haunted by the heartache of her losses? Did she ever try to contact any of her children? Did any of her children in England or Australia ever try to find their mother? Did any of her grandchildren ever ask what happened to Grandma Elizabeth? What, if anything, were they told?
 ancestry.com; father William, mother Jessy Taylis/Taylor
 England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 Class: HO 27; Piece: 71; Page: 349; Aris's Birmingham Gazette; ancestry.com
 ancestry.com; family trees
 Married Jane Dawes (b. 1819) in 1845 and had 5 children – Amelia, Elizabeth, Rebecca, John and William; ancestry.com; 1851 England census
 Married Nathaniel Hill (b.1822) in 1844 and had 4 children – John, William, George, Sarah; ancestry.com; 1861 England census
 Married Elizabeth Stokes (21, steel pin maker) in 1850 and had at least 4 children – Thomas, William, John and Henry; ancestry.com; 1861 England census
 England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 Source Citation: Class: HO 27; Piece: 62; Page: 325. ancestry.com
 1841 England Census Class: HO107; Piece: 1142 Ancestry.com
 England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 Class: HO 27; Piece: 71; Page: 349; Aris's Birmingham Gazette; ancestry.com
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CON40/1/3 DI 169; CON15/1/3 pp42-43 DI46
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CON41/1/3 DI 169
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: The Hobart Town Advertiser (Tas.: 1839 -1861) Tue 20 Oct 1846 p4 Police Report; No Tasmanian SC records available except via Prosecutions Project and Austlii and only Tas. cases on Austlii from 1824-1843. [https://www.supremecourt.tas.gov.au/publications/decisions-of-the-court/19th-century-cases/] see also Castles’ Index cases Tas. SC 1840-57 – not listed. LIB TAS: Names Index: CON41/1/3 DI 169
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CON41/1/3 DI 169
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CON52/1/2 p207
 LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD37/1/6 No 1072 197
 England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. ancestry.com. Original data: England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CON31/1/17 DI 359
 Prison hulks were floating prisons used from 1776 as temporary accommodation for prisoners from overcrowded jails awaiting transportation. Prison hulks were decommissioned ships and were moored in the Thames, Plymouth Harbour or other ports. https://www.nla.gov.au/research-guides/convicts/convict-hulks
 Ibid; ironed being a term for restraint by leg irons or shackles; https://www.carters.com.au/index.cfm/index/1532-leg-irons-convict-relics/
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CON31/1/17 DI 359
 1 January 1848; https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CEN1/1/87 p37 DI 1
 There are no recorded births for Elizabeth Woodcock, Village or Tonkinson from 1846-48; LIB TAS: Names Index
 LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD33/1/3/No 1265 DI 127
 LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD35/1/2 No 2290 DI 227
 LIB TAS: Names Index: RGD33/1/4 No 189 DI 24
 VIC/BDM 27791/1853
 Now known as Exhibition St.
 St Peter’s Baptism Registry, 1853 p108; ancestry.com
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CUS36/1/512;
 LIB TAS: Names Index: MB2/39/1/15 p64; https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/passenger-records-and-immigration/outwards-passenger-lists;
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: Hobarton Guardian or True Friend of Tasmania (Hobart, Tas.: 1847 -1854) Sat 14 Aug 1852 p2 Advertising
 There are records for a Mr & Mrs S [?I] Tomkinson and 2 children departing Melbourne for London on the Sydney in Dec 1852 but this doesn’t fit with them being in Melbourne in Feb 1853 for Emma’s baptism. [PROV/Outward Passenger Lists (1852-1923)]
 UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories, 1770-1941 [database on-line]. Original data: Midlands Historical Data collection of Trade Directories. Tony Abrahams. Midlands Trade Directories 1770–1941. Midlands Historical Data, Solihull, West Midlands.
 Parish of St Philip , Birmingham, County of Warwick, Baptism Register 1855 p497; ancestry.com
 https://www.findmypast.com.au/articles/world-records/full-list-of-united-kingdom-records/institutions-and-organisations/westminster-poor-law-and-parish-administration---bastardy; https://www.workhouses.org.uk/poorlaws/oldpoorlaw.shtml
 1861 England census: Birmingham; Class: RG 9; Piece: 2146; Folio: 140; Page: 41; GSU roll: 542925; ancestry.com; the Gem St Free Industrial School first opened in 1846 providing food, education and industrial classes for needy and orphan children. It moved to a permanent, purpose built building in Gem St in 1850. http://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/BirminghamFreeIS/
 Continuous Service Agreement, Isaac Tomkinson, The National Archive reference ADM 139/766/36547; ancestry.com
 There are no shipping records documenting their arrival from the UK; PROV/Assisted (1839-1871) and Unassisted (1852-1923) Passenger Lists
 VIC/BDM 7703/1859;
 VIC/BDM 22705/1861;
 https://prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/explore-topic/passenger-records-and-immigration/outwards-passenger-lists; his recorded age of 27 doesn’t fit with Isaac’s age but people often altered their ages to suit the circumstances.
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: The Star (Ballarat, Vic.: 1855 -1864) Fri 30 Nov 1860 p3 Advertising
 NSW/BDM 4847/1885
 NSW/BDM 8288/1912
 NSW/BDM 16884/1939; for more info on William’s extended family FCRC database / research notes
 NSW/BDM 6249/1858, Carcoar, father William, mother Bridget; NSW/BDM 17881/1935, Condolbin, father William, mother Bridget
 NSW/BDM 4095/1884
 NSW/BDM 11637/1945
 NSW/BDM 2669/1868
 NSW/BDM; VIC/BDM
 There are no divorce records in NSW prior to 1873; Supreme Court NSW Matrimonial Causes Index 1873-1923; ancestry.com
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: Forbes Times (NSW: 1899-1902) Sat 10 Aug 1901 p3 Old Pensions
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: Forbes Times (NSW: 1899-1902) Sat 24 Aug 1901 p4 Local and General
 NSW/BDM, 1274/1902
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 -1954) Thu 24 Jan 1867 p2 Law; Aust. Tasmania, Misc. Records 1829-2001, Court records, Hobart Lower Courts /1864-1868, LC247/1/32 DI 770; familysearch.org
 Aust. Tasmania, Misc. Records 1829-2001, Court records, Hobart Lower Courts /1864-1868, LC247/1/32 DI 770; familysearch.org
 LIB TAS: Names Index: CON41/1/3 DI 169
 There was (i) a Mary (Ann) Woodcock who arrived in 1831 on the “Mary” and married Thomas NEADS in 1840; they left Tas. in 1845 and ultimately went to USA in 1849; and (ii) a Margaret Woodcock who arrived in 1817 on the “Elizabeth Henrietta” and married John PATTERSON in 1819.
 LIB TAS: Names Index
 Aust. Tasmania, Misc. Records 1829-2001, Court records, Hobart Lower Courts, 1868-1872, LC247/1/33 DI 161; familysearch.org
 LIB TAS
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 -1954) Wed 4 Nov 1868 p2 Law Intelligence; Tasmanian Times
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: The Tasmanian Tribune (Hobart Town, Tas.: 1872 -1876) Thu 24 Apr 1873 p2 Police Court
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 -1954) Thu 5 Jun 1879 p2 The Mercury
 TROVE: Newspapers & Gazettes: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 -1954) Tue 13 Jul 1880 p2 The Mercury
 Aust. Tasmania, Misc. Records 1829-2001, Court records, Hobart Lower Courts / familysearch.org
 The UK census conducted in April 1881 records an Elizabeth Tonkinson, widow, 56, pearl button carder, born in Birmingham as head of a house of boarders in Carver St Sheffield, St Mathews. [1881 England Census: Class: RG11; Piece: 4630; Folio: 25; Page: 2; GSU roll: 1342118] Is this Elizabeth? It is most unlikely as, while her age is similar, the marital status is incorrect (though not definitive) and, if she was part of the census in April 1881, there was insufficient time for her to travel to Australia before appearing in court in Hobart in May 1881. In addition, Isaac’s family were also from Birmingham and, as he had four brother and four sisters, it could more than likely have been a member of his family.
Furthermore, in the UK census in April 1871 an Elizabeth Village, aged 46, born in Birmingham and ‘visitor’ was registered in the house of James and Elizabeth Village. [1871 England Census Class: RG10; Piece: 3135; Folio: 32; Page: 16; GSU roll: 839227; ancestry.com; this James (recorded as aged 60) was the son of Elizabeth’s father’s brother James (her cousin) and married to Elizabeth Southwell; ancestry.com] Is this Elizabeth? Again, if the Elizabeth Woodcock in Tasmania is Elizabeth, it’s really not feasible (leaving aside the cost of tickets) that she would have returned to the UK after August 1869 and be back in Tasmania by October 1871 (the dates of her court appearances in Hobart) while reverting to maiden name (Village) in England. The Elizabeth Village in this census was most probably another relative from within the large Village clan in Birmingham.