One of my husband’s maternal great aunts was Rosina Doidge née Sullivan formerly Saunders (1889-1969).

She was the second child of Henry Sullivan (1863-1943) and Anne Sullivan née Morley (1861-1946). (Anne had two children before her marriage to Henry.)

Rosina was born at “Navillus”, the family home in Evelyn Street, East Bentleigh, Victoria.

In 1910 she married John Henry Saunders (1891-1948). They had four children.

John Saunders worked as a linesman, installing and maintaining electrical power, telephone, and telegraph lines. On Christmas Eve 1948 he was killed when he fell through the roof of the North Melbourne Locomotive Depot.

Alfred Doidge (1890-1964), one of John’s work-mates on the railways, went to Saunders’s house to pay his condolences  to the widow. To his surprise he discovered that his mate’s wife Rosina was a girl he had “kept company with” for four years from 1905.

It hadn’t worked out, because Alfred and Rosina had quarreled.

One Saturday evening in 1909, Rosina dyed a white dress black, and spoilt it. ‘Look what’s she done,’ Rosina’s mother said to Alfred. ‘What a shame,’ said Alfred. ‘You didn’t have to pay for the dress,’ said Rosina. There was quite a row, and Alfred and Rosina stopped keeping company …
Alfred  married a different girl and had three children, but his wife, Helen, died in 1930 and he had been a widower for 18 years.

Widower and widow, both of them now 60,  the former sweethearts Alfred and Rosina married on 8 June 1949. Their wedding and the story behind it was reported in newspapers around Australia.

Doidge wedding 1949

Rosina Saunders marrying Alfred Doidge 8 June 1949 at St Silas Church, Albert Park, Victoria

Tiff Over Dress (1949, June 6). Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 – 1950), p. 4. Retrieved from

The graves of my husband’s family are quite often just bare earth. Rosina, however, erected a substantial gravestone at her parents’ grave in Cheltenham cemetery.

Sullivan headstone Cheltenham

The headstone on the grave of Rosina’s parents at Cheltenham cemetery

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I am grateful to our cousin Mark Schmidt for the photo of Rosina and Alfred on their wedding day