Poor Rose – not a happy life!
Not a lot is known of Rose’s early life. She was born at Parramatta in 1813, and various registers have her as Rosilia, Rosilla or Rosella Bedford, baptised at St John’s Church, Parramatta 8 April 1813. She would have been 6 or 7 when the family moved to Van Diemen’s Land. It’s doubtful that she ever went to school – it seems none of her younger siblings did. From the time she was 10 or 11 she saw her mother descend into alcoholism, her siblings in and out of orphanages because of the poverty the family were living in, and, it seems, her father bringing another woman into the house – perhaps while her mother was at the Factory after one of her drunken episodes.
Rose married William Graves at St John’s, Launceston, on 24 September 1837. Neither she or William could sign their name, both marking crosses. Sister Elizabeth was one of the witnesses to the marriage.
The marriage did not appear to be very successful. On 17 July 1839, a child, John Wilcox, was born to Rosetta Graves and John Wilcox. This birth was registered in 1847 in Longford, along with those of two subsequent children: Sarah (b 17 July 1841) and Hannah (b 20 Nov 1845).
What happened to William Graves(s)? He died aged 78 at Brickfield Pauper Estate in Hobart on 29 March 1876.
So – who was this John Wilcox? A splitter according to his children’s birth records, he was a “character” nicknamed Yorkshire Jack. Born in Yorkshire in about 1815, convicted of “uttering counterfeit coins” in 1831, Jack was transported to Van Diemen’s Land, arriving, along with 166 other convicts, on the William Glen Anderson 1 November 1831.
It seems, unfortunately, that Rosetta had followed in her mother’s footsteps, and had drinking problems. Rosetta was found dead on the morning of December 6, 1846, at the age of 33. Her death was reported in the Cornwall Chronicle, published in Launceston, Van Dieman’s Land, on December 12 of that year.
What a fascinating piece of social history – Rosetta was a drunk, and lived with a “character” called Yorkshire Jack. BECAUSE she was in the habit of getting drunk, Jack beat her with a rope (apparently this was ok, because she was a drunk?). It’s of course, HER fault that the house was dirty, he provided everything she might need. Of course, the coroner heard only one side of the story – no doubt Rose could have added to it. The fourth child mentioned in the report is a mystery. And what a sad, short life Rose had.
DNA proven descendants: