In May 1898, three years before her death, my husband Greg’s great great grandmother Ellen Cross née Murray (1836–1901) made a will providing for her unmarried daughters and leaving two specific bequests, her piano and her husband’s medicine chest.

Ellen, born in Dublin, emigrated to Australia in 1854 She was 17 years old and her occupation on the passenger list was domestic servant. In 1856 at Buninyong near Ballarat she married James Cross, a gold miner from Liverpool, trained as a chemist (druggist). They had eleven children, ten of them born in the small mining town of Carngham, west of Ballarat, where she and James had settled with their first child in about 1858.

James died of dysentery in 1882, and Ellen, forty-five years old, became a widow with ten children (one child had died young). The youngest child was three. Ellen continued to live in Carngham. I do not know how she managed to support herself and her large family.

From her will it appears that Ellen was a straightforward and practical woman. I was interested that she had a piano. I am not sure when she would have learned to play. Also caring for so many young children as a widow, when she might have had a chance to play.

As they grew older the children remained close and in touch with each other. Most of them, however, moved away from Carngham.

Ellen Cross and family about 1890. Picture from a great grand daughter of Frederick James Cross and great great grand daughter of Ellen.

This is the last Will and 
Testament of me 
Ellen Cross 
of Snake Valley 
Widow of the late James Cross.

After payment of all my just debts and funeral & testamentary expenses I Give Devise and Bequeath unto my children Frederick James Cross, Ellen Hawkins, George Murray Cross, Ann Bailey Cross, Elizabeth Grapel Cross, Jane Bailey Snell, Mary Gore Cross, Isabella Murray Bowes, Harriet Mercer Cross, and Margaret Plowright Cross, all monies now in my possession, or that I may become possessed of, to be divided in equal parts among them.

I devise my house & furniture to my unmarried daughters, Ann Bailey, Elizabeth Grapel, Mary Gore, Harriet Mercer and Margaret Plowright. In the event of either of these marrying, the property shall remain for the benefit of those still unmarried, and in the event of all marrying, the house and furniture shall be sold and the proceeds divided among all my children then living, in equal parts.

I will and devise my “Piano” to my two daughters Harriet Mercer and Margaret Plowright, jointly.

I bequeath my late husbands medicine chest to my son George Murray Cross for his sole use and benefit.

And I hereby appoint Frederick James Cross and Ann Bailey Cross Executors of this my Will in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 20th day of May 1898

Witnesses to Ellen’s signature were Josephine Margaret Williams and Matthew Daniel Williams of The Vicarage, Smythesdale.


WikitreeEllen (Murray) Cross (1836 – 1901)