52 Ancestors #4 Alice Zenobia Campell (1870-1946) Part 2

Part 2 of the story of Alice Zenobia Campbell.

Zenobia married Charles Harry Norman Lymburner, in Adelaide, South Australia on 28th August 1893 at the age of 23. (well that’s the age I’ve calculated from her known birth to marriage date, however, the wedding certificate says she was 21!!) Charles was a 29-year-old bachelor surveyor, living in Adelaide. The marriage took place at the Presbyterian Manse, Angas Street.

Lymburner, Charles Harry Norman_1893 Aug 28_Marriage Certificate_Adelaide, SA to Zenobia Campbell

Norma, our grandmother, was born 10th March 1894, 7 months later…! Something is not quite adding up here!! Then in March 1897, baby Frederick was born and sadly died April 1898 in Broken Hill.  No father is listed on either certificate.

When visiting Broken Hill in 2014, Bob and I went in search of Frederick’s grave. We called by the family history society to see if we could find out where the grave would be. I had been told in a previous email sometime before, that they would be able to find the location for me. However, even though we looked at the original undertaker’s books, the entry for Frederick wasn’t there. I remember when the assistant pulled out the records, she was leafing through the book and it was upside down for me. All I wanted to do was take the book from her and look at it myself, but, being the nice person that I am, I resisted!! We did, however, go to the cemetery and walk around for hours, but could not find anything. A few weeks after our return home, my cousin Marie got in contact with the Broken Hill Society and they sent her the exact record that I had gone there to see!! It turns out the burial record is listed under the name of Parker with ‘Ly(u)mburner Real Name’ written in the column to the side. The lady I had originally been in contact with, remembered that the entry was unusual. And, it was her that I saw the day we called in!! Oh well, at least we got this record.

Lymburner, Frederick_1898 Apr 10_Burial Record_Broken Hill, NSW

The question now? Why does Frederick have the name of Parker on his burial record? And the undertaker was ordered by Mr Frederick Parker of South St, opposite Alma Hotel. Is he the father? Going by the writing and the additional name in the column, maybe the undertaker was a bit ‘under the weather’! Zenobia, come back and help me here!!

I can find a Henry A. Parker, licensee of the Prince Consort Hotel which was in Morish Street, Broken Hill. When looking at Google Maps, Morish Street runs across South Street. We did try and find where the death might have happened as it lists South Street on the death certificate. On this burial record, it says opposite the Alma Hotel, which we didn’t know at that time.

Who fathered this child? On reading an article in the Truth, Saturday 18 April 1908 on page 7, where Zenobia is suing Charles Lymburner for maintenance and custody of her child, it has left me wondering if Zenobia may have had an extramarital affair.  The article takes up quite a large portion of the paper and the headlines are quite bold.

Truth, 1908, Marital Miseries

We read that they lived together happily enough for a month when Charles went back into the country on surveying work and she (Zenobia) returned to her people. He promised to send her money but none was forthcoming so she was forced to enter domestic service. Later a child was born which she supported. Sometime in ’94, Charles called on her in Adelaide and they reconciled but did not live together long when he left her again. She did not see him again till ’98 when they met in Melbourne. (note: Frederick was born in ’97 and had died by April ’98). Another reconciliation was effected and they lived together as man and wife, but after 6 months she was obliged to leave him, owing, she alleged, to his misconduct with another woman.

For 7 years she had no communication from him, till she surprisingly received a wire from him asking her to join him in Geraldton. After some consideration she consented for the child’s sake. Charles sent her some money and she joined him in Geraldton. (This 7 year gap brings us to 1905, the year of the photograph taken of Nanna (Norma) when she was 11 years old. I posted her story here.)

Charles was in constant work as a surveyor making over £1000 per annum. After 6 weeks living in Northampton, Zenobia had a heavy fall and she spent some time in the Geraldton Hospital before leaving for a spell in the Royal Standard Hotel in Perth. Charles had not sent her any money although she had asked for £3 a week.

After rigorous cross-examination, Zenobia filled in some gaps. In ’98 she left Melbourne for WA and went to Coolgardie where she was engaged as housekeeper to a man named Hegarty. She admitted being on friendly terms with this man but denied any improper relations with him. So what did you do with your daughter? Did she go with you or was she still in New Zealand at this time?

Until they met in Geraldton she had had no relation with her husband in 7 years. He was kind enough to her there and visited her while in hospital. She did not care to stay alone in Northampton. She went to Perth with his consent and knowledge.

The case was adjourned and resumed on the Friday. Zenobia went on to tell the court that her first engagement at Coolgardie was as a Saloon Barmaid at Brewer’s Hotel. During the 14 1/2 years since they were married, her husband had never provided a home for her and for 12 years she had supported herself and child. On first arriving at Geraldton she received a friendly letter from Charles apologising that he was unable to meet her. He had instructed the storekeepers in Northampton to give them credit, even up to £1 a week for lollies for the little girl, which Zenobia objected to.

Walter Harrison, was then brought to the stand and he said he had met Mrs Lymburner  on her arrival in Geraldton and that he was a friend of Mr Lymburner. She had stayed at his hotel till Mr Lymburner came down. The latter treated his wife extremely well. He had advanced the wife certain sums of money from Mr Lymburner’s account. Mrs Lymburner used to take a drink or two. On one occasion she got a bit obstreperous (noisy and difficult to control) and Harrison’s wife had to speak to her. Lymburner sometimes got on the tank for a day, but it was nothing to speak of. Harrison thought him a very worthy man.

Further character witnesses were called, Sydney Smith who was in charge of the accounts in the Survey Department, said Lymburner was a contract surveyor and that he had earned £582 in ’06 and £493 in ’07. ’08 he had not earned anything. He had known Lymburner for 11 years and he bore a good character and might get a little jolly occasionally, that was all.  John McIllwaine, pastoralist living in Bunbury, testified that he had bought 400 sheep for £220 from Lymburner about 12 months ago, while not a strictly sober man, he had never seen Lymburner drunk.

When Charles entered the witness box, he was described as a short, thick-set man, of tanned complexion. He was wearing blue goggles, and as he raised them occasionally, it was easy to see that his eyes were affected. He said the figures from Mr. Smith were correct and that his only property was an interest in some Conditional Purchase land. When they were living happily together in Melbourne in ’98, he said Zenobia received a wire from Coolgardie offering her a billet there and against his wishes she accepted it. There was no reason for her leaving him. He absolutely denied the act of misconduct alleged. Besides other moneys he had while in Melbourne, given her a cheque for £200. After she left Coolgardie he did not hear from her till about August last (1907) when she wrote to him at Northampton, saying she wished to come to WA and live at Fremantle.

“Considering the child’s interests”, said Lymburner, “I telegraphed for her to come to Geraldton. I sent her £30 to Melbourne and another £10 when she arrived at Fremantle. I also told Harrison to give her any small amounts she wanted. Before she arrived I paid about £40 for furniture with the intention of renting a house at Northampton. However, when she came she said she would not live there.” She had an accident and broke her arm. On Nov 11 he gave her £40 to go to Geraldton for treatment and out of this sum she paid £10 15s to the convent for the child’s fees. Between Nov 11 and 14 he drove down with the daughter to see his wife. He knew nothing about his wife going to Perth.

Charles wired Harrison for the amount of the Bill from money Zenobia had borrowed from his account. That’s when he first heard that she was in Perth from a letter she wrote. His eyes were very bad and he wired telling her this. She replied, and he had not heard from her since. He had received no request for maintenance, the first intimation was the summons. He was prepared to rent a house in Northampton if his wife would live there. “It is my desire to keep my child in the Northampton Convent”. “I do not consider Mrs Lymburner a fit and proper person to have charge of her because of the way she was brought up before she came to this State. She is 13 years old, was very backward and KNEW NOTHING OF RELIGION.”

Charles had received several accounts but had left these in his camp. Zenobia had run up some expenses. The case was adjourned and it would have to be a date after Charles had been into the hospital to undergo an operation on his eyes. He was going to be ‘stone blind’ for 10 days. The hearing would be resumed after Easter.

In the Geraldton Express, Friday, 24 April 1908 pg 3, the case was dismissed. Zenobia had written to Charles that she would never go back to live with him. Mr Walter, in giving his decision, said he would only deal with the evidence after the reunion. It was therefore necessary, to prove that defendant had wilfully neglected to provide for her while in Perth. As the evidence was of such a contradictory nature, other evidence would have to be requisitioned, and he had the evidence of Mr Harrison, which showed defendant to be a generous man, he had no intention of deserting his wife, and as far as he could see, had dealt liberally with her. He therefore dismissed the case.

The story goes on some more in the Truth, Saturday, April 25, 1908. There are accusations going back and forth implying that he was a heavy drinker and that he had bought items of clothing for a couple of women that he knew. In one part of the article, Charles says that he wrote to a fortune teller named Jessie Gray, asking her if she would take my daughter. I don’t think I got a reply, he said. My daughter Norma is in a convent, and I have arranged for her to stay there for two years. I am paying for her about £80 per year. It’s quite true that my wife has kept the girl for about eight years. During that time I’ve only sent my wife about £110. Since we were married I’ve never kept a home for her. We lived in hotels. In giving his decision, Mr Walter said he could not be influenced by what had occurred in Victoria because the parties had condoned all offences. He had only to decide whether the husband had neglected to maintain his wife after she had come to Perth on leaving Northampton. He had decided there was no neglect and the case would be dismissed. As the magistrate left the Bench, Mrs Lymburner exclaimed, “You and he were ‘cronies’ at Northampton.” Anyhow, the Government surveyor cuts a sorry figure in the case.

Zenobia continued to sing after her marriage broke down. The first article that appeared in The West Australian, 10 April 1908, regarding the Maintenance Case, says that after Charles left to go away on business, “she had to earn her living as a barmaid and a singer, and also did sewingShe next saw him in Adelaide and lived with him for about six months. He then went away and she did not see him for over eight years. There was one child of the marriage.”

So Zenobia, you didn’t tell us anything about going to live in Broken Hill, nor about the baby you had there. Who was the father? Certainly doesn’t appear to be Charles’ as you didn’t get back together until 1898, and that was after dear little Frederick had passed away. Are you sure it was 1898 when you got back together? Because I have found an entry in the New Zealand shipping lists where you returned to Sydney in March 1899 with a child! I guess these are some questions, that we will never know, but as a family historian, I’m thanking you for suing Charles and for the reporter who covered your case. He did a fine job of recording everything and having it printed for all to read. You wouldn’t be allowed to do that in this day and age or the reporter and the newspaper would get done for defamation.

Nanna told me that she was placed in the Northampton convent as her father wanted her “to get a better education”, the religion wasn’t mentioned, but she certainly became religious and took on the Catholic faith with a vengeance. She also said her mother went to cook for her father in the surveyor’s camps and she worked in a hotel in Kalgoorlie. Further research has shown this to be correct as the PO Directory for 1914 has Zenobia listed in Mullewa as a cook at the same time as Charles and in 1931 she is living at 24 Dwyer Street, Boulder.   Zenobia eventually went to live on Mumby Farm with her daughter, until her passing on the 18th March, 1946.

Campbell, Zenobia

Zenobia is buried at the Catholic Cemetery in Mary Street, Northampton.

Note: the date of death on her headstone is recorded as 20th March 1946, it should read 18th March 1946 and she was 76 years of age when she died not 72 as she was born in 1870! The certificate and headstone have errors.

What a tangled web we weave! Zenobia, you have had me spending hours and hours researching into your story. I hope you enjoyed your dinner tonight!

Sources used:

Trove – Australian Newspapers

Papers Past – New Zealand Newspapers

National Archives of Australia Passenger Lists

Family Search – New Zealand Passenger Lists



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About Jenny MacKay

Just a person who is looking forward to retirement and enjoying the golden years!
This entry was posted in 52-Ancestors-52-Weeks, Blog, Campbell, Lymburner and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to 52 Ancestors #4 Alice Zenobia Campell (1870-1946) Part 2

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors #49 – Winter – Charles Harry Norman Lymburner [1864-1938] | jenealogyscrapbook

  2. Pingback: 52 Ancestors #29 – Music – Margaret Williams | jenealogyscrapbook

  3. Pingback: 52 Ancestors #4 Alice Zenobia Campell (1870-1946) | jenealogyscrapbook

  4. Pam Batten says:

    Oh Jenny! What a read! So much research and what a story you now have about your great grandparents, Zenobia and Charles Lymburner. It is fantastic that papers are continually being digitised and becoming available for all to peruse. What a hoot the lolly bit is in the evidence brought to the hearing. Imagine how many lollies Nanna Norma would have been able to have a week if Zenobia had accepted that pound!

    • Jenny MacKay says:

      I laugh just thinking about all those lollies. Back in the day, (my day) you could get a bag full just with a shilling!! Yes, loving that the newspapers have been digistised and that a story was a story back then.

  5. tstatton says:

    Wow! Don’t some of our ancestors have some intriguing lives/stories. It is sometimes very hard to follow, or even find the answers to our many and varied questions. You must have taken a lot of time to research Alice Zenobia (nee Campbell) Lymburner’s story. It is certainly annoying when people do not correctly record the name on official documents. Lucky for you other had persisted to try and find the documents. Well, Jenny, Congratulations on yet another very interesting read.

  6. Now this is why we get hooked. One small answer creates three new questions. Yes, I am very sure an evening with Zenobia would be worth its weight in gold. Thanks for this story – and thanks to those old newspaper articles who provide the nitty gritty. Unfortunately today’s reporting barely gives a name unless the case is a “big one”. But for some reason I feel some empathy for Zenobia – perhaps because she has a softness in her features seen in the photographs. Or is this what assisted her throughout her life? If you do get a dinner invite, I’ll be the fly on the wall please.

    • Jenny MacKay says:

      Those newspapers have been the best source of information. I only stumbled on the larger article in The Truth, when I was writing this blog. I knew about the maintenance case, but not all the details. Pays to keep checking back on Trove, new newspapers are being scanned all the time. Yes, you can be my fly on the wall. It pays to have another set of eyes and ears and a fly has lots of eyes. 😊

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