Tabitha Plaisted was born 25 August 1806 to Thomas Plaisted and Lydia Wilkes. Her birth was registered at Saint Pauls Deptford, Kent in the non-conformist registers maintained at Dr Williams’s Library. Her maternal grandfather, Thomas Wilkes, is recorded as well as her parents.1

Tabitha Plaisted married William Ewer on 14 October 1828 at St Bride, Fleet Street, London. She was 22 years old. Neither had been married before. Witnesses were Thomas and Elizabeth Plaisted.2Their daughter Eliza Lydia was born 22 October 1831 and baptised 14 November at St Paul, Deptford. William’s occupation was butcher and they were living at Broadway.3

On 1 December 1838 William Green, a gardener aged 26, arrived in South Australia on the Lloyds together with a wife, Elizabeth, aged 28, and a daughter aged 6. On the same ship were William’s sister Sarah (née Green) and her husband Alfred Bessell Bock.4 As will be shown below, it seems likely that William’s wife was in fact Tabitha and the daughter was Eliza. The death certificates for both Tabitha and Eliza indicate they spent time in South Australia before living in Victoria and the time adds up to arrival in 1838. Tabitha was still married to William Ewer but he stayed in England.

Eliza Lydia Ewer married Joseph Torrey in Melbourne on 22 September 1854. They had two daughters: Emeline Eliza born 11 August 1856 at Richmond, Melbourne and Cordelia Grace born 11 August 1858 at St Kilda, Melbourne. Eliza died on 4 March 1859 of dysentery.5

On the 4th inst., at her residence, Sandridge, in her 27th year, after an illness of five days, Eliza Lydia, the beloved wife of Joseph William Torrey, Esq., of Roxbury, Mass., U.S.A. American papers please copy.5

A puzzle was created by an 1859 shipping record I found where the two small Torrey girls are going to Boston to live with their grandparents and accompanied by William and Eliza Green.6 Details do not quite match as the girls names are different but I think it must be them – the timing is more or less right and the details are too coincidental. William Green aged 40 thus born about 1811 is close; Eliza similar name to Elizabeth; two small girls surnamed Torrey who on later US censuses say they arrived 1860 – not exact but near enough. However the girls were Emmeline Eliza and Cordelia Grace – Mary and Sarah do not seem obvious from those names but may have been pet names. I was also not sure when William’s apparent first wife (Eliza/Elizabeth) died. They were pulling into Boston in September 1859 and she was still alive. Did she die in America and then he returned to England and then married Tabitha in November of 1859? Not impossible but awfully fast for a widower to remarry! Importantly, although William Green was related to the Plaisted family by the marriage of his sister Ann née Green to John Plaisted, it was not a close connection to the two young Torrey sisters before he married Tabitha in 1859. The situation seems different though if William’s wife is in fact the young girls’ grandmother who is taking them to Boston, that is William Green’s wife Eliza is Tabitha.

I then realised that when John Plaisted wrote his will he mentioned his sister Tabitha Green. John’s willl also refers to a loan from his Aunt Tabitha Gibbon to his sister and the possibility of Mr or Mrs Green repaying the loan.7 John Plaisted died in 1858, before Tabitha and William married in London. Furthermore if Tabitha Plaisted was in England in 1849 when John left for Australia, then Aunt Tabitha Gibbon could have given her niece the money in person. Instead she sent it via John; giving it to him in 1849 before he left for Adelaide!

William and Tabitha were apparently free to marry in 1859 as Tabitha declared herself a widow when William and Tabitha married at St John, Deptford on 23 November 1859. William Green stated he was a bachelor (indicating he had not been married to Elizabeth / Eliza) and his occupation as gentleman. St Paul’s would have been a closer parish to the usual residences of the Plaisted family than St John’s which is about 1 mile away. The witnesses to the marriage were apparently not related to either Tabitha or William; perhaps they wanted to keep the union quiet having been apparently married for nearly twenty years. A possible death for William Ewer has been found in the April quarter of 1859.8

Tabitha and William stayed in England apparently to look after Tabitha’s mother. On the 1861 census William Green was living 4 Monmouth Place in Deptford with Tabitha and his mother in law Lydia Plaisted. William’s occupation was house agent. Lydia Plaisted née Wilkes died at 4 Monmouth Place, New Cross, on 30 April 1861, a few weeks after the census of 7 April. She was aged 89 and cause of death was given as old age and debility.9

William Green died in Prahran on 15 December 1881. His wife Tabitha was the informant on his death certificate. He was aged 68. She stated he had been 13 years in South Australia and 24 years in Victoria. She stated he had married at the age of 25 years in London, that is in 1838, to Tabitha Plaisted, maiden name Ewer (a transcription error). The number of years in Australia implies that William spent six years away from Australia from 1859, returning about 1864.10

Tabitha died on 18 December 1891 at 93 Lewisham Road Prahran. The informant on her death certificate was her nephew Thomas Plaisted. He stated Tabitha was in Australia for 53 years; 13 in SA, 40 in Victoria: calculated arrival in Australia about 1838. He knew she first married aged 25 but did not know the first name of her husband, stating him to be “unknown Ewer”. He stated her second marriage was aged 30 to William Green in England. He declared there to be no issue by the first marriage and believed Eliza, now dead, to be the child of the second marriage, ie the daughter of William Green. Tabitha’s Plaisted relations were obviously not entirely abreast of her marriage details, which, as can be seen from the information she provided on her husband’s death certificate, Tabitha had been prepared to conceal.10

Tabitha Plaisted is my fourth great grand aunt.

1. Source Citation: Place: Saint Pauls Deptford, Kent, Eng.; Collection: Dr. William’s Library; Nonconformist Registers; Date Range: 1806 – 1806; Film Number: 815998. Index record retrieved from

Diana Stevens notes (email of 21 February 2013): Tabitha’s birth was registered at the Ebeneezer Chapel and later also at Dr Williams’s [note spelling) Library. The Plaisted’s lived in the [CE] parish of St Paul in Deptford.
Non-conformist registers did not have the same standing as the established church and Dr W started a system of registering children from the London area which was accepted as a sort of birth certificate.
Incidentally have you noted that John Plaisted did not bother to have his children baptised after registration presumably because they had state certification and didn’t need the church. Philip was sent to get Tom’s baptismal certificate when he was in London studying music, obviously he needed to prove who he was!

2. Guildhall, St Bride Fleet Street, Register of marriages, 1826 – 1829, P69/BRI/A/01/Ms 6542/8. Retrieved from

3. London Metropolitan Archives, Deptford St Paul, Register of Baptism, p75/pau, Item 006. Retrieved from


5. Death notice in Family Notices. (1859, March 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 4. Retrieved February 17, 2013, from

Death certificate for Eliza Lydia Torrey; Death Place: Victoria; Age: 26; Father’s Name: Ewer Thomas; Mother’s Name: Tabitha Plaisted; Registration Year: 1859; Registration Place: Victoria; Registration number: 1007; Estimated Birth Year: abt 1833. The informant was her husband. He stated that she had been 24 years in Australia: 6 years in Victoria and 18 years in South Australia. He seems to be out by about three years when compared with the shipping record and her mother’s death details.

Birth dates of daughters from photographs of headstone at Forest Hills cemetery, Jamaica Plain, Massachussets from Find A Grave Memorial# 78569432 Retrieved 17 February 2013.

Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1950 about Eliza Lydia Ewer; Spouse Name: Joseph William Torrey; Marriage Place: Victoria; Registration Place: Victoria; Registration Year: 1854; Registration number: 2719. Australia Marriage Index, 1788-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

6. Copy of report and list of the passengers of the Ship Golconda of Boston …, bound from the Port of Melbourne for Boston. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1917-1943; Microfilm Serial: T938; Microfilm Roll: M277_55 Cabin passengers listed include William Green aged 40, Eliza Green aged 48, Mary Torrey aged 3 and Sarah Torrey aged 1. All four were Australian (country to which they severally belong) and all four intended to live in the United States (country of which they intend to become inhabitants).

7. Will of John Plaisted, wine merchant of Melbourne, died 10 May 1858, probate granted 3 June 1858: PROV, VPRS 7591/P1, Unit 7, 1858 2/509 (digitised copy, viewed online 17 February 2013) Page 1 includes “… also the sum of Fifty eight Pounds to my Niece Eliza Torrey and the like sum Fifty eight Pounds to my Niece Lavinia Lydia Robertson … also the sum of Ten Pounds to my dear Sister Tabitha Green as a memento …” On page 2 there is an explanation after the signatures of John Plaisted and the witnesses “Memo: The two sums of Fifty eight Pounds each left to my Nieces as before stated was given to me by my Aunt Tabitha Gibbons in 1849 to be given to my Sister, she after expressed a wish that at her decease she should like it divided between my Nieces, this sum was paid to me in part payment of a debt owing to me and acknowledged in a letter to my Aunt by my Sister. I do not see any probability of Mr or Mrs Green paying it I therefore fulfil her wish by leaving them this amount.” Diana Stevens noted (email of 16 June 2012 ) The note about the two legacies to his nieces is very interesting in light of our new theory. If John’s sister Tabitha was in England why didn’t Aunt Tabitha Gibbon give her the money in person? Instead she sent it via John, gave it to him in 1849 before he left for Adelaide!

8. London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921 about Tabitha Ewer; Spouse Name: William Green; Record Type: Marriage; Event Date: 23 Nov 1859; Parish: Deptford St John; Borough: Lewisham; Father Name: Thomas Plaisted; Spouse Father Name: Charles Green; Register Type: Parish Register. Source Citation: London Metropolitan Archives, Saint John, Deptford, Register of marriages, P75/JN, Item 008. Retrieved from

England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915 about William Ewer; Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1859; Registration district: St George Hanover Square; Inferred County: London; Volume: 1a; Page: 144 Retrieved from Certificate would need to be purchased to attempt to confirm that this is the right William Ewer.

9., 1861 England Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.Original data – Census Returns of England and Wales, 1861. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1861. Retrieved from, Class: RG 9; Piece: 392; Folio: 49; Page: 12; GSU roll: 542629

Death certificate of Lydia Plaisted; Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1861; Registration district: Greenwich; Inferred County: London; Volume: 1d; Page: 360

Monmouth Place cannot be found on modern maps, nor on the Booth Poverty Map of 1898-99. The Booth map ( ) shows considerable rebuilding has occurred over the last 100 years in the area covered by the census and similarly the description of the census enumeration district does not correspond to the street names identified on the Booth map.

10. Death certificate for Wm Green; Death Place: Preston, Victoria; Age: 68; Father’s Name:Chas; Mother’s Name: Sarah Young; Registration Year: 1881; Registration Place: Victoria; Registration number: 11652; Estimated Birth Year: abt 1813

Death certificate for Tabitha Green; Death Place: Prahran, Victoria; Age: 86; Father’s Name: Plaisted Thos; Mother’s Name: Lydia Wilkes; Registration Year: 1891; Registration Place: Victoria; Registration number: 17477; Estimated Birth Year: abt 1805

My thanks to Plaisted cousins Jeanette Richmond and Diana Stevens: we worked together in June 2012 to puzzle out the details of Tabitha’s emigration and marriage.