Some years ago, one of my Cudmore cousins told me about a legal provision that had been made for two illegitimate children of our forbear James Frances Cudmore (1837 – 1912).

On 24 August 1912, a week after J.F. Cudmore’s death, a woman named Isabella Crowe of Nailsworth South Australia signed an indenture—a legally binding contract—in which she and her one male child and one female child, “alleged to have been fathered” by him, with their present and future descendants, agreed to make no claims on his estate in return for 300 shares in the Federal Coke Company Ltd. (In September 1912 shares in Federal Coke were being sold for 32/6; 300 shares on that basis would be worth about $61,000 today.)

The original of this indenture is held in the Mortlock Library, a wing of the State Library of South Australia. The signature of Isabella Crowe was witnessed by J.K. Cudmore (J.F. Cudmore’s eldest son). He also witnessed Isabella’s signature on a receipt for the shares, which appears on the same document, with the same date. The name “Isabella Crowe” appears several times in the document, always in the same handwriting, which is different from the handwriting on the rest of the document.

My cousin believes that the indenture was drafted in secret while J.F. Cudmore was still alive. J.K. Cudmore, it appears, had instructions to put it into effect when his father died.

Who was Isabella Crowe? I am not sure. I have found the birth of an Isabella Crowe in 1871 in Robe, South Australia, the third of six children of Henry Crowe and his first wife Harriet nee Barnes. Harriet died in 1878. Henry remarried and died in 1904. His second wife died 1897 leaving two children. In November 1891 a Isabella Crowe, aged 21, a servant, religion Wesleyan, living in Norwood, was admitted to the Adelaide Hospital.

I have found no other mention of Isabella, and no marriage or death records. (I had previously identified two children, Constance and Herbert Crowe born 1895 and 1896, as possibly the children of Isabella. The details in the Register of infants born in the Destitute Asylum for these two children indicate they are not the children of Isabella Crowe and J. F. Cudmore.)