|Helena and Charles Jennings, Nichols family archive|
My Grandmother, Florence Lucy Nichols 1905-1988 was the daughter of Charles and Helena Jennings. Her father Charles Robert Jennings was a sawyer born near Braidwood in 1867. The family moved at some stage to Tomakin on the South Coast, where his father, Robert Jennings, died in 1885. His mother, Lucy Jessie nee Havens married for a second time to Francis Cameron, a timber merchant, at East Gosford in 1889. It is not known when and why the family moved north other than there was work and it is possible Charles obtained work through Francis. The marriage between Francis and Lucy was not happy and did not last long, but that's another story.
Charles married Mabyn Bridge in 1892 in Newcastle. Mabyn was a member of the well-known Bridge family from the Hunter area and the couple had four children Gladys born 1894, Ivy 1896, Mildred 1898 and Warrington 1900. The marriage soured and Mabyn left Charles when Warrie was only a baby, and moved to Sydney. Mabyn eventually met someone else but did not want to return to Charles despite him visiting her in Sydney and begging her to return. Divorce proceedings commenced but did not proceed for some years. In the meantime, Charles employed a young woman, Helena Bridget Smith aged in her early 20s, to housekeep and look after the young children. Eventually, the couple fell in love and moved in together, living as husband and wife at Wyong. They had six children, Florence (my grandmother) born in 1905, Charles 1907, Eileen 1908, Gordon 1909, Lilian 1910 and Gwendoline 1912.
The marriage between Charles and Mabyn was finally dissolved on the 14 March 1916 and just a few days later, Charles married Helena on 20 March at St James Anglican Church in Sydney.
The Jennings family moved to Richmond in the Hawkesbury in the early 1920s where Charles obtained work at the sawmill near Richmond Railway station. It was whilst he was working in Richmond, Charles was involved in an accident and he lost his leg. After a number of years in Richmond, the family moved to Hamilton Road in Riverstone where Charles became a poultry farmer. You can read more about Charles in the earlier post about his wooden leg. Charles died 26 August 1936 and was buried in Riverstone Cemetery. Thanks to the historic digitised newspapers on Trove, available to search online for free, we can read the death notice which appeared in The Cumberland Argus & Fruitgrowers Advocate, 27 August 1936 p. 4.
Mr Charles Robert Jennings (68), of Riverstone, died in the Prince Alfred Hospital yesterday. He leaves a widow and family of ten. The interment will take place at the Church of England cemetery, Riverstone, today.
Helena survived another a few more years. She died 20 March 1943. Helena's death was reported in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette 24 March 1943, p. 2.
The death took place at the Hawkesbury District Hospital on Monday evening of a well-known and respected Riverstone resident in Mrs Helena Bridget Jennings, relict of the late Charles Robert Jennings, at the age of 67 years. A member of the Smith family, of Wollombi, she is survived by a grown family of two sons and four daughters, to whom the condolences of district friends are extended in their bereavement. The funeral takes place this (Wednesday) afternoon, when the interment will be conducted in the Church of England cemetery, Riverstone.