Elizabeth House - Nee Brock - Formerly Smith

Elizabeth House

Name: Elizabeth House

Date of Birth: 17 November 1835

Birth Location: Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

Maiden Name: Brock

Also Known As:

Age at Burial: 80 Years

Date of Death: 7 January 1915

Death Location: Happy Valley, Western Australia

Date of Burial: 8 January 1915

Denomination: Anglican

Row/Grave: Unknown Grave

Grave Transcription:

Father:  John Brock – born 1792, died 1843

Mother: Mary Ann Aitkin – born 1803, died 1866

Grandparents (father):

Grandparents (mother):


Thomas (James) Brock, born 1825, died 1855

John Brock, born 1826, died 1843

Janet Brock, born 1827, died 1857

Robert Brock, born 1831, died 1833

Mary Brock, born 1833, died 1841

Jean (Jane) Brock, born 1838,


First Husband: William Smith – married 1852

Second Husband: Richard House – married 1882


John Smith – born 1853, Geelong, Victoria – died 21 July 1922, Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia – married Mary Ann Roberts (nee Holland)

Mary Smith – born 1855, Victoria – died 1856, Victoria

Thomas Henry Smith – born 1856, Ballart, Victoria – died 16 June 1931, Perth, Western Australia – married Anorah (Nora) Warner

William Smith – born 1858, Ballart, Victoria – died 2 December 1897, Yokanup, Western Australia – married Honor (Harriet) Warner

James Smith – born 1861, Sulky Gully near Ballart, Victoria – died 6 September 1946, Perth Western Australia – married Ann Marie Warner

Robert Smith – born 1863, Bungee, Victoria – died 20 May 1942, Perth, Western Australia – first marriage to Carolyn Ruth Warner, Busselton in 1885.  Second marriage to Adela Adams, Quindalup in 1896

Henry Herbert Smith – born 1866, Ballart, Victoria – died 30 July 1949, Sussex, Western Australia – married Frances Grace Adams (Frances Grace Smith is buried at Capel Cemetery – unknown grave)

Mary Jane Smith – born 1868, Daylesford, Victoria – died 18 December 1887, Yokanup, Western Australia

Elizabeth Smith – born 1871, Barkley, Victoria – died 10 May 1895, Western Australia – married Richard Arthur Richardson

Sydney Smith – born 1876, Barkstead, Victoria – died 17 February 1927, Busselton, Western Australia.

Occupation: Housewife

Their Story

Elizabeth was born on the 17 November 1935 in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.  Her parents were John Brock and Mary Ann Aitkin.  John and Mary married on the 30 December 1823 in Falkirk and had seven children together. John’s occupation was a “flesher” which would be something akin to a butcher, or someone who scraped flesh of animal hide.

John Snr and his son John Jnr both died in September 1843, leaving behind his wife Mary and remaining children.

The next time the family can be found is on the 24 December 1849, Mary a widow arrives on the ship “Andromache” with four children, Thomas, Janet, Elizabeth and Jane to Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia.

On the passenger manifest, Mary’s listed occupation is – housekeeper, her religion is Presbyterian, and she could read and write. Thomas occupation was shepherd and Janet as house-servant, Elizabeth and Jane were 13 and 10 years of age and too young for an occupation as listed as daughters.

It wasn’t long before Mary marries once again this time to Thomas Solomon Crabtree in 1850 in Victoria.

At about the same time as Mary married Thomas Crabtree her son Thomas entered the butchering trade.

At the age of 17 years in the year 1852 Elizabeth Brock marries William Smith at the Church of Scotland in Geelong, her mother and stepfather were witnesses to the marriage.  It is not long before this couple welcome their first child John Smith born in Geelong in 1853.

Thomas Brock seems to be doing very well for himself and on 3rd August, 1854 the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer reported the purchase of allotment 2, section 9 of the Parish of Gheringhap. The block consisted of 108 acres, 1 rood, 28 perches of land located on the Ballarat Rd (Fyansford-Gheringhap Rd). The purchaser as recorded in both the newspaper and the Victorian Government Gazette, was Thomas Brock, It was here, on the north western corner of the Friend in Hand and Fyansford-Gheringhap Roads that Brock decided to build a hotel.

Within months of the purchase date, construction was underway, and it can be surmised that Thomas Crabtree, builder by occupation was the person who undertook the building work with the help of contractors. The Hotel was described as a two-storey, solid-brick construction with a slate roof, having a sitting room, bar parlor, five bedrooms and a bachelors’ hall and a second storey, by all means a sizeable establishment

Though trouble was not far away for Elizabeth’s mother Mary, and in 1855 things take a turn for the worse when, Thomas Crabtree ends up in insolvency court, there are several newspaper articles in relation to Crabtree’s insolvency and many meetings with creditors, and by 8th October, 1855 Crabtree places a notice in the local paper of his intention to apply to the Commissioner of the Insolvent Court for his “certificate, free from all debts and liabilities after this date”.

During late October 1855, it appears that Thomas Brock his mother and stepfather have moved into the hotel, and it is nearing completion, surrounding it are several tents for sub-contractors to live nearby.

Trove Newspaper Article – Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer – 15 May 1855 – Insolvency Court

In Re Thomas Solomon Crabtree

The insolvent was a builder, residing at Gheringhap, and debts were 609 pounds, 16s, 3d., and the assets 534 pounds, 12s, 2d. This was the first meeting in the estate, and the second meeting will take place on Monday 21st inst., at a quarter to one o’clock.


The families troubles at this point should have been something to be put behind them and to look forward to brighter days, with a new hotel to live in an run, but sadly Crabtree’s seems to be a regular drinker, who became aggressive and violent when drunk, this leads to the next headline in the local paper on the 29th October 1855 that told of Thomas Brock’s death and his step-father being arrested on suspicion of murder. The following day the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer gives a full description of the trial by jury.

Trove Newspaper Article – Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer – Tuesday 30 October 1855 – Verdict of Wilful Murder

A full description of the trail, and further information about the hotel history and Thomas Brock’s ghost can be found at the below link:

The Barwon Blog – Anything and Everything to do with the Barwon River

What really happened at Friend in Hand

The inquest concluded and the jury returned a verdict of wilful murder.  In February 1856 Thomas Crabtree pleaded not guilty to the charge, thought the jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to seven years hard labour on the roads

Trove Newspaper Article – Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer – Mon 4 Feb 1856 – Geelong Circuit Court

Mary Crabtree appears to have changed her name back to Brock after the murder of her son and she died in 1866 in Bungee, Victoria.  At this stage no more is known of Mary’s two daughter’s Janet and Jane that arrived with her to Port Phillip Bay.


Elizabeth Smith (nee Brock) by the time her mother died in 1866 had seven children to William. Her second child Mary had died within her first year. William appears to have worked either in mining or the timber industry, throughout the regions of Ballarat and Bungee as indicated by the birth registers of their children.

Elizabeth and William went on to have another three children before leaving Victoria and arriving by ship to Geographe Bay, Western Australia in April 1878. They brought their nine surviving children with them, seven boys and two girls. William being experienced in the timber industry most likely was engaged in the thriving industry in the southwest of Western Australia, along with his now young adult sons.

In the year 1880 Thomas Henry Smith married Annorah (Nora) Warner – BDM-WA Reg No 4950,  and his brother William Smith married  Harriet Warner – BDM-WA Reg No 4963. Nora and Harriet Warner were both born in the southwest to parents William George Warner and Honorah (Norah) Mary Ryan.  William and Norah Warner had 14 children, nine daughters and five sons.

Even though the previous year, would have been full of hope with son’s marrying and starting their own families, sadly this new start in the West came to a sad end for William in 1881, when he was fatally injured in an accident at Happy Valley.

Trove Newspapers – The Herald – Saturday 7 May 1881 – Vasse a fatal accident

Vasse – April 18th – A fatal accident unfortunately occurred at the W. A. Timber Company’s Station, Happy Valley, on the 2nd inst.  A man was engaged with two of his sons falling a tree, and when it gave way, and it came in contact with the limbs of another tree, a piece of which sprung back with great force and struck poor Smith on the back of his head just as he turned round to get clear.  So violent was the blow that instant death occurred.  Of course, an inquest was held, and the usual verdict of “accidental death” was returned.  His funeral which took place two days after, was numerously attended by the neighbouring settlers and the men at the two stations.  The deceased unfortunately leaves a wife and family to mourn their untimely loss.

After 28 years of marriage and having 9 surviving children, Elizabeth was now alone and still with young children to support.  Her adult children would have still been close by and in the year 1882 Elizabeth along with two of her children celebrate weddings.

At the age of 46 years Elizabeth Smith nee Brock married Richard House on the 21st August 1882 at the Church of England in Busselton – BDM WA – Reg No 5349.  Richard the son of William House and Martha Higgins was 22 years old at the time of marriage.  It is supposed that the couple met at Happy Valley where Richard was working as a teamster.

John Smith, Elizabeth’s eldest child married Mary Ann Roberts (nee Holland) on the 5th July 1882 in Busselton – BDM-WA Reg No 5345.  Mary Ann was the daughter of John William Holland and Elizabeth Dack.  Mary Ann first marriage was to George William Roberts in 1878, George died unfortunely on 15th May 1882, killed at Happy Valley. It was reported in the newspaper ” A sad and fatal accident happened on the 15th inst, a man named Roberts, better known as Archer, was driving a horse team belonging to the W. A Timber Company at Happy Valley, when he was killed instantly after falling under the wagon.

James Smith, Elizabeth’s fifth child married Anna Maria Warner on the 24 July 1882 in Busselton BDM-WA Reg no 5347.  Ann Marie was also a daughter of William and Norah Warner.

Robert Smith married Carolyn Ruth Warner on the 23rd December 1885 in Busselton BDM – WA Reg No 6201.  Carolyn was yet another daughter of William and Norah Warner. Sadly Carolyn died in 1888 soon after the birth of their third child.

On the 18 December 1887, young Mary Jane Smith died at Yokanup, Western Australia. This sad loss of her eldest daughter left Elizabeth with only one remaining daughter Elizabeth born 1871.

The below Trove article shows that Richard House does have a close relationship with his adult step-sons as they are driving teams over road of the district.

Trove Article – Southern Times – 20 August 1889 – Busselton Local Court – Richard House and Henry Smith v Road Board


On the same date summonses were heard against Richard House and Henry Smith, of Augusta, for driving unlicensed teams over the roads of the district.  The Chairman of the Sussex Roads Board appeared for he Board, and Mr Herbert Davies on behalf of the drivers of the teams.  Mr Davies made a proposal to pay licenses for carts and carriages using the public roads and that in lieu of paying for timber whims and carriages Mr. M. C. Davies would keep the roads in repair from Boranup Bridge to the Hamelin.  Under these circumstances Mr. Yhurkle, on behalf of the Board, asked that the case might be adjourned for one month to enable him to bring Mr Davies’ proposal before the Roads Board.  At a subsequent meeting of the Board Mr. Davies’ proposal was accepted to end of current year.


Elizabeth Smith born 1871 married William Arthur Richardson in 1890 in Busselton – BDM WA Reg No 16.  Richard was the son of James Richardson and Mary Ann Glave.  It would have been a shock for Elizabeth Snr to hear that her only remaining daughter Elizabeth died in 1895 shortly after the birth of her fourth child.

Henry Herbert Smith married Frances Grace Adams at Quindalup Mill in 1895 – BDM WA Reg No 376.  She was the daughter of Henry Melville Adams and Mary Ann Smith.

Robert Smith married for the second time to Adela Adams in December 1896 at Quindalup – BDM WA Reg No 957.  Adela was also the daughter of Henry Melville Adams and Mary Ann Smith.

Trove Newspaper Article – Southern Times – Tuesday 12 May 1896 – In Memoriam

In loving remembrance of my dear daughter ELIZABETH RICHARDSON, who departed this life, just one year ago. Inserted by her loving mother Mrs E House

Sadly, financial hardship seems to loom for Richard and Elizabeth in 1902 as Richard’s butchery business had not paid, and had closed in late 1901, several assets were sold to meet debts.

Trove Article – The West Australian – Wed 29 January 1902 – Bankruptcy

Re: Richard House

First public examination of Richard House, teamster, of Dardanup.  Debtor said that his liabilities amounted to 596 pounds, and he had no assets.  He had been a teamster at Ballarat, near Vasse, and at the same time he employed a man to manage a butchering business, which he had started eighteen months ago.  The butchering business had not paid, and he had closed it up two months ago.  The butcher whom debtor had employed had dept what books there were relating to the business.  Witness could not read or write, and a person who had looked over the books informed him (debtor) that the books were worthless to show how the accounts stood and what had been done with the money.  Debtor “thought it funny” that the money did not come in better.  The butcher had told him that meat had been lost through pickling.  Some of witness’s purchases of stock had also turned out unprofitably, and he had lost a lot of sheep in the bush.  Debtor had also been sick for three months, during which he had had to pay hire for bullocks for his team.  He had sold his own teams for 78 pounds and was now working for 3 pounds per week wages.  He had a wife and 9 others dependent upon him.  Before starting the butcher’s shop he owed over 100 pounds.  Within the last year he had received 50 pounds nett for certain land.  The examination was adjourned for a fortnight.

Australian Electoral Role 1903 – Richard and Elizabeth – living at Jarrahwood Mills – Occupation Teamster and Domestic

In 1905, while Elizabeth and Richard were living in Newlands, several articles appear in newspapers, of an attempted suicide by Richard.

 Trove Article – Southern Times – Saturday 7 January 1905 – Alleged Attempted Suicide

Alleged Attempted Suicide

Inspector Holmes received a telegram yesterday morning, reporting that a man named Richard House, residing at Newlands, had attempted to commit suicide by poisoning himself.

Constable Savage of Donnybrook, who was in town yesterday morning, reported that House’s wife took him some toast to bed. Directly she left the room he sprinkled the toast with strychnine. He is not dead, but in a very bad way.

Note: Newlands at the time was a small Timber Village south of Donnybrook. Drawings of the time show a small town with a dirt road, and several timber cottages with picket fences. Richard would have been approximately 45 years of age, when he allegedly attempted suicide and Elizabeth was 70 years old.

Trove Article – Southern Times – Saturday 14 January 1905 – Tired of Life

Tired of Life.

Attempted Suicide at Newlands

Richard House, a middle-aged man, was this morning brought up in custody at the Bunbury Police Court, before Messss T. Hayward, N. J Moore and W. Reading, J’s P., charged with having on the 5 th inst. Attempted to commit suicide by taking a dose of strychnine.

Dr. Elliot deposed that on the 5 th January he was called upon to attend the accused about 9.15 a.m. Accused was under the influence of strychnine poisoning, judging by the symptoms which he had developed.  He had been treated before his (the doctor’s arrival, and it was owing to that treatment that his life was saved.  A bottle was handed to him (witness) containing strychnine.  He afterwards handed the bottle to Constable Savage.  Accused made no statement.

To Mr. Eastman – He knew accused by repute.  At the time he saw him, accused was suffering considerable from shock.  It was difficult to say whether accused had suffered from previous illness, but there was apparently some weight on his mind.

Florence Romara deposed that she was a married woman residing at Newlands.  She knew the accused who married her grandmother.  She remembered the 5th inst.  On that date she received a message and went to the house of the accused about 8.30 in the morning.  When she got there, she saw the accused who told her he was going to die as he had taken a dose of strychnine.  She did not see any strychnine about the place.  He said he had taken the poison on a piece of toast.  He was suffering severely from spasms.  He said he had taken it in consequence of worry.  He said he had been ill from cold, and the boys having gone away he had no one to attend to his team.  She sent for assistance and the doctor was sent for.

To Mr. Eastman – He had not been well prior to this, but he did not think he had been confined to his bed.  He was worrying because his stepsons had gone to Perth and had exceeded their holiday.  He was not able to attend to his bullock team.

Constable Savage, stationed at Donnybrook, stated that on the 5 th inst,. In consequence of a message which he received; he went to the house of the accused at Newlands.  He found him lying on the bed.  Dr Elliot was attending to him and two other men were also present.  Accused appeared to be suffering pain. Dr. Elliot handed witness a bottle containing strychnine.  He arrested accused on the 11th inst. On the present charge.

This completed the evidence.

Accused, who pleaded guilty, was committed for sentence at the Quarter Sessions.

Note: Forence Romara (Elizabeth’s granddaughter) as mentioned in the above newspaper article was the daughter of William Smith and Honor Warner she married Thomas George Romaro in 1901 in Bunbury, there first child was born in Newlands in 1901.

Trove Article – Bunbury Herald – Wednesday 18 January 1905 – Quarter Session

Before W L Owen, R.M and Jas Moore, and H.E Reading J’ s P.

Attempted Suicide

Richard House pleaded guilty of attempting suicide at Donnybrook on the 5th inst. by taking strychnine on a piece of toast and was bound over on his own surety of 20 pounds to keep the peace for six months and to come up for sentence is called upon.

Australian Electoral Role 1906 – Richard House and Elizabeth House living in Donnybrook – Occupation Teamster/Domestic

Australian Electoral Role 1910 – Elizabeth House – living in Capel – no mention of Richard

Trove Article – South Western News – Friday 19 July 1912 – A Maintenance Case

A Maintenance Case

Elizabeth House, an elderly woman residing at Capel, proceeded against her husband, Richard House, a teamster at Jarahwood, for maintenance,

Mr. J. Wallace Holmes appeared for the complainant, and defendant, who forwarded a sum of three pounds three shillings, to the Court, did not appear.

Complainant stated that House left her some five years ago to go away and work.  He had not since supplied her with the barest necessaries of life, and although she had seen him and asked to be taken home again, he refused, stating that he did not intend to get another home for her.  In five years, she had received 6 pounds from defendant, who was in regular work, earning from 12 shillings to 14 shillings per day.  She asked for one pound per week and a separation order.

Henry II. Smith stated that he was defendant’s stepson.  Defendant had not provided his mother with sufficient to eat.  He (witness) had gone to where she was living on numerous occasions and found neither bread, tea nor sugar in the house.  Witness supplied about 30 pounds worth of goods and endeavoured to get defendant to pay for them but could not then ascertain his whereabouts.  He heard his mother ask defendant to keep her, and his reply was that he would not do so.  For about five years witness had given his mother a home and provided for her wants.  Defendant was a good workman, in regular word and earned 12 shillings a day while on wages: when working piecework he had earned as much at 28 pounds per month.

The Bench granted an order for separation and ordered defendant to contribute one pound per week toward the maintenance of his wife; the costs amounting to 4 pound 16 shillings, would also have to be paid by defendant.

Australian Electoral Role 1913 – Richard living at Jarrahwood – occupation Teamster

Elizabeth’s death was reported in the local newspaper the Bunbury Herald along with The Daily News, it appears in her last few weeks she returned to the area of Happy Valley with her grandson, a location she had spent much of her life.

Trove Article – The Daily News – Monday 18 Jan 1915 – Death Notice Mrs. House

An old resident of Capel in the person of Mrs R. House has passed away (says the “Bunbury Herald”) in her 80th year.  Mrs House was born in Scotland, and came to Ballarat (Vic), when she was a girl 14 years of age, and landed in W.A in 1878, where she lived ever since.  For several years she has made her home with her son, Mr H. H. Smith, but she had been staying for the last few weeks with her grandson Mr. W. H Smith, near Happy Valley.

Finally, Elizabeth’s youngest Son Sydney Smith enlisted in WW1 on the 26th July 1915 at Blackboy Hill, Western Australia – Private No 2224, 28 Battalion. He Embarked on the “Hororata” in October and served in Cairo and France.  He received a Gun Shot Wound on the 29 th July 1916 and was discharged from Hospital in Fremantle on the 15 April 1917 Permanently Unfit from war wounds and lung disease, there is no indication that he married.

Elizabeth’s and Williams legacy is a large family of descendants, many enlisted and served in world wars, married into local families and forged lives in our communities.  If you are a descendant of the Smith family and you can assist the Capel District Cemeteries Project with additional information, records or photos please contact us, we would appreciate any assistance with adding information to the Elizabeth Brock/Smith/House story.


Story researched and compiled by Petrina Prowse (CDCP team member)

The photo of Elizabeth House, nee Brock, formerly Smith was provided by her 2x Great Granddaughter Roberta Murphy nee Chadd, who has given permission for its use on the CDCP website.  The picture is believed to have been taken on or about the 21st August 1882, on her Wedding Day to Richard House.  

Links to other websites with additional information included in story.

If you are visiting this page and have further information that pertains to Elizabeth House that you would like to add, can you please contact the Capel District Cemeteries Project via the CONTACT US section at the bottom of the main page.

© Capel District Cemeteries Project 11/12/2022 – Photo added on 30.3.2023

Unknown Grave