Isabella Hawkins was born on 31 December 1849 at ‘Cashmere Station’ near Portland, Victoria, to Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins (1819 – 1867) and Jeanie Hawkins nee Hutcheson (1824 – 1864), the first of their eight children. Her mother Jeanie died in 1864 when Isabella was 14. Samuel married again, to the children’s governess Mary Adamson (1843 – 1908). They had two children. Samuel died in 1867, when Isabella was 17.
On 3 June 1868 at the family property ‘Melville Forest’ near Coleraine, Isabella married Jacob Robert Yannasch Goldstein. Jacob, born in Ireland, had arrived in Victoria in 1858. At the time of their marriage he was working for the Crown Lands Office at Portland. In the same year Jacob was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Victorian Garrison Artillery, a local militia unit.
Isabella and Jacob had five children:
- Vida Jane Mary (1869–1949)
- Elsie Belle (1870–1953)
- Lina (1872–1943)
- Selwyn (1873–1917)
- Aileen (1877–1960)
Vida was born in Portland, though her younger brothers and sisters were all born in Warrnambool, where Jacob conducted a wholesale and general store. In 1877, shortly after the birth of Aileen, the family moved to Melbourne, where Jacob was employed as a contract draughtsman.
Jacob Goldstein had been brought up a Unitarian in Ireland, but in Melbourne the family attended the Presbyterian Scots’ Church, and then followed its excommunicated pastor Charles Strong (1844-1942) to his Australian Church, which he established in 1885. Strong was keenly committed to social welfare work, and it was through Strong and his Australian Church that Isabella became involved social reform issues, notably the National Anti-Sweating League which campaigned against the poor conditions endured by many workers in so-called sweatshops and called for a minimum wage. Isabella became a confirmed suffragist, an ardent teetotaller and a zealous worker in many progressive causes.
The public career of Vida’s daughter Isabella began about 1890, when she helped Isabella collect signatures for the Women’s Suffrage Petition.
After Jacob’s death in 1910, Isabella built a house, which still stands, at 1 Como Avenue, South Yarra.
She died on 12 January 1916 in South Yarra, at the age of 66, and was buried in Kew.
Isabella Goldstein had joined the Christian Scientists in 1903 with her daughter Aileen, her daughter Vida had joined in 1902. Isabella’s grand daughter Leslie Henderson wondered if Isabella’s death in 1916 was caused by some illness which her Christian Science beliefs made her unwilling to acknowledge.
Death notice in The Argus 14 January 1916:
GOLDSTEIN.—On the 12th January, at “Wyebo,” Como avenue, South Yarra, Isabella, widow of the late Col. J. R. Y. Goldstein. (Private interment.)
Obituary in the Argus, Friday 14 January 1916, page 8:
Mrs. Isabella Goldstein, who died at her residence, Como avenue, South Yarra, on Wednesday, was the wife of the late Colonel Goldstein. Mrs. Goldstein was one of the most prominent workers in the interests of women and children in Victoria. She was one of the founders of the Queen Victoria Hospital, and, with Mrs. Bear-Crawford as co-worker, took the initiative in securing the raising of the age of protection of young girls to 16 years, and the appointment of women as factory inspectors, members of the school board committees, and the Benevolent Asylum Committee. She was closely identified with the social reform work of the Australian Church, and took part in the establishment of the first creche that opened at Collingwood, and the antisweating movement in its relation to out-door workers. Mrs. Goldstein leaves a family of five-Mrs. H. H. Champion, Mrs. C. J. Henderson, Misses Vida and Aileen Goldstein, and one son, Second-Lieutenant Selwyn Goldstein, R.E., who is at the front.
Obituary in the Melbourne Herald 18 January 1916 and reprinted in the Weekly Times 22 January 1916:
SOCIAL SERVICE SOLDIER
Although the name of the late Mrs Isabella Goldstein had not been identified of recent years with social welfare movements, she retained a keen interest in all matters of social reform and progress until her death, which occurred at her home in South Yarra last week.
She was among the little band of pioneers that made the way easier for other women social welfare workers. She fought in the days when progressive women’s views were not received with the kindly consideration awaiting them today. In the early days of the feminist movement in Australia, reformative ideas considered common-place nowadays were viewed with much concern, and frequently pioneer leaders brought ridicule and abuse upon themselves for dabbling in public affairs.
These early battles against public opinion in which Mrs Goldstein figured have given encouragement to others, and stimulated the desire to go forward.
Mrs. Goldstein was associated with the notable women leaders who contended for parliamentary suffrage. In all social and industrial questions she took a keen interest, and was in the van of the social service workers who fought the sweating evil many years ago.
Later she became interested in the unemployed problem, and in one particular period of distress spent all her time in the poorer quarters of the city investigating urgent cases and securing assistance.
With Dr. Charles Strong and Mrs. Strong she was associated in various points of social service, and was one of the founders of Queen Victoria Hospital for women and children, which is staffed entirely by women doctors.
Mrs. Goldstein’s views on social and political questions coincided with those of her daughter, Miss Vida Goldstein, to whom she was devoted. She had the mental outlook of young, vigorous womanhood, being up-to-date in all her ideas and suggestions. She might have been described truthfully as an aged young woman
- Y is for Yannasch
- V is for vivacious Vida on the vamp
- P is for Poperinghe New Military Cemetery
- Trove Tuesday: Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins
Wikitree: Isabella (Hawkins) Goldstein (1849 – 1916); Isabella was one of my second great grand-aunts.