Our great grandmother, Florence Amelia was born on the 2 October 1886. Also known as Florrie, she was the eldest surviving child of hotelkeeper Henry Ponting and his wife, Louisa nee Richey. Born in Temora, in south-western NSW, her siblings were Harry Francis 1888, Alice Maude 1890, Phoebe Louisa 1892 and Lily May in 1893. The eldest child, a daughter, died in 1886.
In the late 1890s her parents parted ways with Henry remaining in Temora operating his hotel, while Louisa left, heading to Sydney. Louisa met Alfred Petty and by 1898 was giving birth to their first child. Henry Ponting died in Temora on 3 April 1903 in Temora, leaving Louisa and Alfred able to marry, which they did, six months later, on 30 October 1903 in Sydney.
Florence met Robert Belshaw and when she was 20 years, the couple married in Sydney on 27 October 1906. The marriage was witnessed by her step-father Alf Petty and her sister, Maud.
|Robert and Florence Belshaw's marriage certificate in 1906|
Florence had four younger Petty step-brothers but lost her brother Harry, in June 1908 just before his 20th birthday. Harry was working as a labourer in Mudgee and died with enteric fever at Mudgee Hospital. Just a few weeks later, Louisa Petty died on 18 July 1908 in Sydney Hospital. The cause of death was a malignant gall bladder. She was only 44.
Her sisters also married in their 20s. Phoebe married John William Nolen in 1912, Maud married John Joseph Moore in 1913 while Lily married chemist, Alfred Hynard in 1915. An interesting incident occurred in 1909, when Robert, and his sister-in-law Maud, were charged with stealing a trunk in Sydney. Read more about this here.
|Rob and Florence Belshaw|
Sadly Flo and Rob lost their eldest daughter Doris from appendicitis, she died in 1915, she was only 8 years old. Read more about the story of Doris here
A lot of Flo’s life was tragic. She lost two more siblings with Phoebe dying in 1936 while Lily committed suicide in 1946. There is more about Lily’s life here Two of her stepbrothers died tragically. Syd Petty died in 1943 in what is now known as Thailand and Abe died in 1944 aged 43 as a Prisoner of War in Indonesia. More about her Petty brothers here.
Flo and Rob had eight children, all born in Sydney:
1. Doris May 1907 – 1915 (She died aged 8 from appendicitis and is buried at Rookwood.)
2. Edna May 1908 -1992 married Arthur F. Green.
3. Florence Muriel 1910 - 1979 (my Grandmother) married John William Leach 1933.
4. Phyllis Roberta Maude 1913 - 1994 Married Alfred George Patterson in 1946 & following his death Clarence Chislett Davis in 1949.
5. Lillian Irene 1915-1982 married Tom Ryan.
6. Robert Francis 1919 - 2012 married Jean Emily Caldwell Wearne in 1948. He had also married Norma Alix McClelland in 1943 who died in 1946.
7. Leonard Allen 1921 - 1991 married Olga Merrickley
8. Arthur Maurice 1923 - 1944 Died Borneo, SIN during WW2.
For many years the family lived in Lower Campbell Street in Surry Hills, one of Sydney's inner suburbs. Flo’s youngest son Artie was keen to join up when he was only 16. He had been in the air cadets and was desperate to enlist and eventually enlisted in the RAAF in the 43rd Squadron in July 1942, three months before he was legally allowed. His older brothers Bob and Lenny had already joined up. Artie, a bombadier, died 21 April 1944 when the Catalina he was in, crashed near Borneo, he had only just turned 21. His family were devastated.
|Rob and Flo with their three sons, L to R Len, Artie and Bobby.|
In the 1940s after Artie’s death, Flo and Rob moved to Melbourne Road Riverstone. Rob died in 1948, family ascertain from a broken heart after the tragic loss of Artie. Flo continued to live in Melbourne Road with most of her family living closeby.
She died from chronic cardiac failure in 14 June 1969. She was not buried with her husband Rob at Rookwood, but cremated at Pine Grove Memorial Crematorium at Eastern Creek.
|Our Great Grandma Belshaw|