Robert Henry (Bob) Whiteman (1883 – 1957), one of Greg’s great uncles, was a labourer from Parkes in New South Wales, the son of a miner. On 29 March 1911 at the Registrar’s Office, Devonport, Tasmania, he married Esther Irene Milton (1894 – 1976), a farmer’s daughter. He was 28 years old; she was 16.
Their children were:
- Cyril Ernest 1911–1987
- Irene May 1912–1985
- Robert Edward 1914–1914
- Kenneth James (Ken) 1915–1991
- Percival Robert (Bob) 1917–2000
- Iris Emily 1919–1924
- Ivy Jean 1920–1921
- Myrtle Charlotte 1923–1986
The first two children were born in Launceston. About 1913 the Whiteman family moved to Barrington, a small farming settlement fifty miles west. In 1922 Bob Whiteman and Esther Irene were recorded as living there, with his occupation on the electoral roll as ‘labourer’.
Bob had lived in Moriarty, a small village 15 miles northwest of Barrington before his marriage to Esther, and she had family there, including a sister, Bertha Emily Walker nee Milton (1892 – 1922), who was very sick with pleurisy.
On Sunday 23 July 1922, while the Whitemans, with five children aged between 2 and 11, were away visiting Esther’s ill sister Bertha their cottage in Barrington (rented) burnt down and the contents were destroyed.
From the Burnie Advocate of Tuesday 25 July 1922:
A fire occurred at Barrington on Sunday night, which completely destroyed a "cottage and contents. The building was owned by Mr. D. Mason, of Barrington, and occupied by Mr. B. Whiteman. The latter was away at Moriarty, together with his family, and the house was unoccupied when the fire occurred. The furniture, which was owned by the tenant, was partly covered by insurance. Much sympathy will be extended to Mr. Whiteman over his severe loss. He is a married man with five small children.
After the fire, the family moved to Northcote in Melbourne. On the 1924 electoral roll Robert Henry Whiteman, labourer, is recorded as living there, at 8 Robbs Parade.