Name: ROBERTS Mary Jane
Date of Birth: 14 April 1872
Birth Location: Springfield, Capel.
Maiden Name: HIGGINS
Also Known As: Janie
Age at Burial: 79 years
Date of Death: 25 May 1951
Death Location: Bunbury Hospital
Date of Burial: 26 May 1951
Denomination: Anglican B
Row/Grave: Row 2 / Grave 15
In Loving Memory
MARY JANE ROBERTS.
BELOVED WIFE OF THE LATE
FRANK ALBERT ROBERTS.
FOND MOTHER OF
WILFRED, FELIX, MARGERY (DEC) & MARY.
BORN 14 TH APRIL 1872.
DIED 25 TH MAY 1951.
REST AFTER TOIL.
Father: Henry William Higgins born: 24 July 1823 Somerset, England. Died: 4 December 1880 Buried Picton Church Cemetery.
Mother: Lavinia Gardiner born: 1838 Bisley, Gloucestershire, England. Died: 1 June 1891 Buried Picton Church Cemetery.
Grandfather (Father): William Higgins born: 15 April 1800 Somerset, England. Died: 10 November 1844 Buried Picton Church Cemetery.
Grandmother (Father): Sarah Dredge born: 5 October 1799 Somerset, England. Died: 31 December 1867. Buried Picton Church Cemetery.
Grandfather (Mother): Reuben Gardiner born: 18 November 1804 Battlescombe, England. Died: 21 January 1876, Bunbury, Western Australia.
Grandmother (Mother): Anne Onsloe Brown born: 14 October 1810 Bisley, England. Died: 1879 Roelands, Western Australia.
William Higgins born: 1855 Springfield, Capel. Died: 3 September 1930 Buried Bunbury Cemetery. Unmarried.
Lavinia Susanna Higgins born: 1856 Springfield, Capel. Died: 7 February 1916 Buried Capel Cemetery. Married 1881 William “Proctor” Scott.
Annie Eliza Higgins born: 26 April 1858 Springfield, Capel. Died: 9 November 1942 Buried Boyanup Cemetery. Married 1883 Daniel Montague “Monty” Scott.
Susanna Maria Higgins born: 1860 Springfield, Capel. Died: 29 January 1935 Buried Capel Cemetery. Married 6 August 1885 Samuel Clifton Rose.
Sarah Mary Higgins born: 1863 Springfield, Capel. Died: 28 October 1866.
Reuben Gardiner Higgins born: 1864 Springfield, Capel. Died: 26 May 1928 Buried Bunbury Cemetery. Unmarried.
David Henry Higgins born: 1866 Springfield, Capel. Died: 17 July 1926 Buried Bunbury Cemetery. Unmarried.
Henry “Charles” Higgins born: 1868 Springfield, Capel. Died: 15 July 1951 Buried Bunbury Cemetery. Unmarried.
Martha Selina “Matty” Higgins born: 1870 Springfield, Capel. Died: 9 October 1948 Buried Bunbury Cemetery. Married 1902 John Montague “Jack” Gibbs.
Madeline Lisette Higgins born: 1874 Springfield, Capel. Died: 7 June 1934 Buried Bunbury Cemetery. Unmarried.
Christina Grace Higgins born: 1876 Springfield, Capel. Died: 8 July 1927 Buried Bunbury Cemetery. Married 1906 Alfred Crampton.
Alfred George “Arpey” Higgins born: 1878 Springfield, Capel. Died: 7 May 1931 Buried Bunbury Cemetery. Unmarried.
Spouse: Frank Albert Roberts born: 17 March 1871 North Capel Farm. Died: 22 January 1939 Buried Capel Cemetery.
Wilfred Frank Roberts born: 2 March 1896 North Capel Farm. Died: 27 February 1960 Buried Capel Cemetery. Married 1927 Mary Victoria “Queenie” Walker.
Margery Stirling Roberts born: 28 November 1904 North Capel Farm. Died: 30 November 1939 Buried Capel Cemetery. Married 1927 Cecil Edward Hazelton.
Florence “Mary” Roberts born: 28 November 1907 North Capel Farm. Died: 12 May 1989 Buried Capel Cemetery. Unmarried.
Occupation: Home Duties
William and Sarah Higgins and four children arrived on the ship “Brittania” on May 6, 1830, to the very new Swan River Colony. Henry William Higgins (Mary Jane’s father) was 6 years old and had 2 sisters, Martha and Sarah and a brother Frederick. William Higgins, Mary Jane’s grandfather, worked around the area. He owned a tavern, “The Leyson Arms” until it was destroyed by fire in 1835 and then leased farmland in the Guildford area. Three more children, Edward, Charles and Susanna were born in Western Australia. The family moved to the Southwest of Western Australia in the early 1840’s. William Higgins was employed in the timber industry around the Picton area. In November 1844, William was drowned in the Preston River. He was the first burial in the newly constructed Picton Church graveyard. The family leased farmland at Paradise, in the Dardanup district. The Higgins boys became known as fine horse and cattle breeders.
Lavinia Gardiner was 5 years old when her family, Reuben and Ann Gardiner and six children, Alfred, Selina, Maria, Emma, Lavinia, and John, arrived at the Australind Settlement, on December 6, 1842, aboard the ship “Trusty” from England. The youngest child, John, died the following May. Four more children, Climena, Mary, Lucy and Jane were born in Western Australia. The Gardiner family took up land around the Ferguson district.
The Higgins and Gardiner family would become linked when a Gardiner son married a Higgins daughter and then two Higgins sons married two Gardiner daughters.
In 1853, Henry William Higgins purchased land on the coast at Capel from absentee landowner, Francis Ommaney, and named it “Springfield”.
Henry William Higgins (30 years) married Lavinia Gardiner (17 years) on April 11, 1854, in Picton. He bought his bride to Springfield. The following year, 1855 the first of their 13 children (5 boys and 8 girls) was born. Their fifth child, Sarah Mary, died in 1866, at just 3 years old.
Sarah, Henry’s widowed mother appears to have also lived at Springfield, maybe moving there from Dardanup when the last of her daughters married in 1856. Daughter Martha and her husband, William House, and growing family had moved to Capel from Wonnerup in the mid 1850’s. Charles, Sarah’s youngest son was working with his brother Henry on Springfield. He purchased land close by and named it “Maldon”, and married Lavinia’s younger sister, Mary Matilda Gardiner in 1863. Sarah’s 2 other sons, Frederick and Edward and their families also moved to the Capel district in the 1860’s. They both took up land along the Capel River in the Goodwood area. Grandmother, Sarah died in December 1867 and was buried alongside her husband, William in the Picton Church Cemetery.
Sadly, Charles died just two years later from an illness, leaving a young widow and family. Henry and Lavinia helped Mary continue farming at Maldon.
Henry and Lavinia Higgins and their growing family were well established in the farming industry. They grew crops and produced livestock that were all highly regarded. Ships anchored off the coast at Springfield to load cargo. In the 1860’s and 70’s they were one of many farms producing hay and barley under contract to the government. Henry took every opportunity to increase the size of his farm and bought land around the district as it became available.
The Higgins’s were also great supporters of the Anglican Diocese. Often donating a small amount to a fundraising effort. When times were hard their strong religious beliefs must have given them comfort and the ability to believe in a better future.
The family had grown considerably and on April 14th, 1872, Mary Jane Higgins was born at Springfield. She was the 10th child, and 6th daughter for Henry and Lavinia. Their eldest, William was 17 and undoubtedly helping his father on the farm. Mary Jane was known as “Janie”. There were to be 3 more babies after Janie, the last another boy, Alfred, arriving in 1878. The younger children reportedly received their schooling from the older daughters. Janie would have had chores to do for her mother, learning how to run the household and becoming a capable young girl. The Higgins’ life was changed forever when Janie’s father, Henry William Higgins died suddenly in December 1880. In the newspaper he was reported as “a very old and respected settler”. He was 57 years old! His oldest child was 25 and his youngest 2. Lavinia took over the running of the farm with the help of her sons and continued successfully.
Around this time, Janie went to school in Lovegrove Avenue, Bunbury. Maybe some of her siblings went too. She rode her horse from Springfield along the coast road to Bunbury at the beginning of the week. The horse was put in a paddock next to the school and she boarded close by, attending school each day. At the end of the week, her horse was saddled, and she rode home to Springfield for the weekend. It is unclear how long Janie went to school. When Janie was 11 years old, in 1883, her brother Charlie gave her a riding crop made of cane with a silver hoof at the top, a very treasured possession. It still remains in the family.
The first of Janie’s siblings married in 1881 when sister, Lavinia Susanna married William “Proctor” Scott of Roselands, Stratham. Annie then married Daniel Montague Scott (Proctor’s brother) in 1883 and Susanna married Samuel Clifton Rose from Doungup, Stirling Estate, in 1885. This must have been very exciting for young Janie. She became an aunt in October 1882, when Lavinia and Proctor had a son, Eugene Henry William Scott. Nieces and nephews then started arriving at regular intervals as each of the married sisters’ families grew.
Janie’s brother Charlie, who she was very close to, went to the Northwest to work on Yule River Station for a number of years. Her other brothers, William, David and Reuben remained on Springfield helping their mother work the farm. The younger children also helped around the farm and house. Then suddenly on June 1st, 1891, at 54 years old Janie’s mother Lavinia died in her sleep. Eight of Henry and Lavinia’s offspring were still living at Springfield. William the eldest was 36, Alfred, the youngest, was 13 and Janie was 19.
Mrs. Higgins a very old and respected resident of the district. Her demise was so sudden that a coronal enquiry was held, which resulted in a verdict being returned of death taking place through failure of the heart’s action.
Janie and Martha (Matty) being the oldest girls at home would most likely have taken over the running of the house. They had their older brothers to care for as well as the 3 younger siblings. Around this time Charlie returned home to help his 3 brothers. This is when William, Reuben, David and Charles formed Higgins Brothers to run the business. Later when William decided to leave the business, he was given a cheque for his share and three brothers continued. Alfred being a lot younger was never included in the Higgins Bros. He had a farm to the south of Springfield but still lived at the family home. The brothers were very involved in horse racing in the Southwest. Not only breeding and racing their own horses but being on the committee for some of the clubs. Also involved in horse racing was the Roberts family from North Capel Farm. The families were well known to each other. Janie Higgins and Frank Roberts married in September 1894.
Frank was running North Capel Farm for his parents. His brother William and wife Mary and increasing young family also lived there. Golden Valley in Balingup, also owned by their parents soon became home to William and Mary. Frank bought his new bride Janie to live at North Capel Farm. Janie was a very capable young wife and when the house was extended, Janie built the new brick chimney.
Frank and Janie’s first baby arrived in March 1896, when Wilfred Frank Roberts was born and then 18 months later, a second son, Felix Guy Roberts was born in October 1897. Janie was a very good homemaker and enthusiastic gardener. She grew many of her plants from cuttings taken when out and about. Most of the trees and shrubs around the house in later years had grown from Janie’s cuttings. The Morton Bay fig tree that is now a huge tree was planted as a cutting by Janie in the late 1930’s, in a kerosene tin under a dripping tap at the back door of the house. When Janie thought it had grown enough to be planted out, she discovered that the roots had gone down through the bottom of the tin, and that is where it stayed.
On Janie’s birthday, April 14th, 1899, Frank gave her a “Cyclopaedia of Receipts”. The book is described as “A treasure – house of useful knowledge, for the everyday wants of life”. Sections include Health and Chemistry, Domestic Life, Farm Interests, Mechanical Arts, Recreations and Miscellany. It was probably a very useful reference for a young wife and mother. There is an inscription in the front of the book which reads – M. Janie Roberts
A birthday gift.
From her loving husband
At the turn of the century Janie was 27 years old and had 2 small boys. Family was very important to Janie and Frank. They attended weddings and family get togethers and went visiting and to church. Janie and her sisters were very good letter writers. Many a newsy and beautifully written letter was sent and received between North Capel Farm and Springfield where sister, Madeline was busy keeping house for her unmarried brothers. Others came from Matty, who lived in various locations and later Chrissy in Burekup. Susanna lived close by at Doungup and Lavinia and Annie were at Stratham and Boyanup. Janie’s in-laws, Charles and Hannah had homes at Stratham and Busselton. Frank’s sisters had all moved away from the Capel area but often came home to stay with their parents and catch up with their brothers and families. They also wrote but not as often. Frank’s brother Herbert and his wife Rosie lived on the neighbouring farm, Greenfields and Bon lived at Stratham Park. Along with the letters there were many photos of nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In November 1904, Janie and Frank happily welcomed a baby girl, Margery Stirling Roberts. Wilfred was 8 and Felix 7. Janie would have been teaching the boys at home as the nearest school was in the townsite of Capel. In 1906, when Wilfred was 10 and Felix was turning 9, Stirling School opened. Gerry Murnane was the first teacher. Both boys attended the school. The last of Janie’s siblings to marry did so in 1906. Janie’s 5 brothers remained unmarried, and her sister Madeline, also unmarried, stayed at home to look after them.
Janie and Frank welcomed another daughter, who arrived on her sisters’ 3rd birthday, 28th November 1907. Florence Mary Roberts became known as Mary. Apparently, Janie then sent Frank to sleep in the spare bedroom!
Janie’s brother Charlie bought a car. Reuben, who did not keep good health, was said not to have been outside the home fence for 17 years, until he accepted Charlie’s offer of a ride in the new car. When the brothers went out, they all sat in their respective seats, when there were only two in the car they still sat in their own seat, even if no one was in the front passenger seat, if their seat was in the back, that is where they sat! The brothers were all very similar in appearance, broad brimmed hat, and big white whiskers. Even after some of the brothers passed away the seat tradition continued.
When Wilfred was ready for high school the Higgins Brothers (his uncles) paid for him to go to Hale School. He was very home sick and came back to Capel to work for his uncles at Springfield when he had finished his schooling. Felix remained at Stirling School until he was about 14 and then he worked with his father on the farm. Margery and then Mary went to Stirling School also. Both girls attended the school into their teens. Janie and Frank helped at school functions and community events.
The onset of World War 1 changed life for the family. Janie’s sisters had sons who went to war and Frank had nephews and a niece overseas. Some didn’t return. Frank and Janie were a part of many fundraising efforts, through the Stirling School or the Capel community. Wilfred filled in his application to enlist in March 1916 when he was 20. Janie would have been pleased when he didn’t pass his medical examination. Then in August 1918, Felix, 20 years, and 10 months, filled out his application to enlist. He passed his preliminary medical examination. Thinking he was going to go to war he bought his mother a China teapot, maybe thinking this would help placate her. He was declared unfit at his second examination. Both boys continued their farming pursuits. The war ended in November that year.
Janie’s eldest sister, Lavinia who had married Proctor Scott died in February 1916. She was 59 years old and had 9 grown children. Her 2 sons Douglas and Percy who had enlisted were both killed on active service the same year.
The following year, 1917, Janie’s mother-in-law Hannah, died in hospital in Perth, she was bought back to Capel for burial.
When Janie turned 50 in April 1922, her eldest, Wilfred was 26 and her youngest Mary was turning 15. Wilfred had bought the store in Properjohn Road, Capel from A.G. Layman. Felix was working on the family farm, and the girls Margery and Mary were both at home, helping their mother and father. That year a young schoolteacher had come to Capel. Mary Victoria Walker known as Queenie, was boarding with George and Martha Williams. She became friends with Margery and Mary. The 3 girls were often out at social gatherings and Queenie was a frequent visitor to the Roberts home. In time Queenie caught Wilfred’s eye.
In 1923, Janie’s father-in-law Charles died at his home, Lutterworth, on the Stirling Estate, not far from his original home at North Capel Farm. He was buried beside his wife, Hannah. When the headstone was placed on his grave, two of his daughters had died leaving nine living adult children. Apparently six contributed to the cost of the headstone on which they have their names listed but those that did not contribute did not have their names put on the headstone.
Janie’s house would have been very busy with the comings and goings of her 4 children. Mary had a boyfriend. Wilfred and Queenie were courting, Margery and Cecil Hazelton became a couple and Felix had spotted the young schoolteacher, Maisie Jennings, who had come to Stirling School in 1925. Stirling School closed due to lack of student numbers early in 1926 and Maisie was transferred to Greenbushes. Wilfred and Queenie announced their engagement in May 1926 and at the beginning of July 1926, Felix married Maisie. Sadly, that year Janie’s brother David died aged 59.
Janie and Frank became grandparents the following year, 1927, when Felix and Maisie had a son, John Jennings Roberts. They built a home about 1/2 kilometre south of Frank and Janie. Wilfred married Queenie on July 5 in Claremont. Margery was bridesmaid. They then made their home in the house at the back of the shop in Capel. Margery married Cecil Hazelton in St. Johns Church, Capel in September that year and made their home in Ferguson. Mary was bridesmaid for her sister. Janie only had Mary at home. Janie’s youngest sister, Chrissy died aged 51. Mary and her boyfriend parted when they could not agree on a suitable house site on their land.
Janie had passed on her love of gardening to Mary. She also loved the animals and farming. She went visiting and stayed with Margery who now had a daughter, Rosemary, who was born at the end of 1928. Maybe Mary met her new boyfriend whilst with Margery, at Ferguson, as he lived there too. This friendship did not last as both Janie and Frank were not happy that he was Catholic.
At the end of the 1920’s, Janie’s brother Charles, the last of the Higgins Bros. enterprise, decided to sell Springfield. The only Higgins’s at Springfield were Madeline, Alfred, and Charles. Once sold, Charles bought Lutterworth from Bon Roberts and the 3 siblings moved there. When Charlie took the Springfield sign off the front gate of the old farm and put it up at the front gate of the new, he was questioned about the location of Springfield. He answered that he had sold the farm not the name! He was a very good blacksmith and soon set up his workshop. Alfred died in 1931 and then Madeline in 1934. Janie had been very close to Madeline.
Wilfred and Queenie had a son, Gordon in 1929, giving Janie her 3rd grandchild. In 1932 when Janie’s 4th grandchild was born, Janie had the privilege of choosing his first name. Geoffrey Jennings Roberts was Felix and Maisie’s second son. Wilfred and Queenie had daughter Ainslie and Margery and Cecil had a daughter Heather. Janie had 3 grandsons and 3 granddaughters. John and Geoff spent a lot of time with both Janie and Frank. When Geoff was asked about his Grandma Janie, he recalled that she was slightly serious, but a nice grandma whereas Grandfather Frank was very jovial.
Janie’s niece Olive Crampton, her sister Chrissy’s daughter, had come to keep house for Charlie Higgins. Olive and Mary were the same age, and neither would ever marry.
On January 22, 1939, Janie’s husband Frank died unexpectedly in his sleep. They had been married 44 years and had seen many changes in their lives and the world. He was buried the following day at the Capel Cemetery after a service held in St. Johns Anglican Church, Capel. This notice appeared in the South Western Times on March 3rd.
THE Widow and Family of the late Mr. F. A. ROBERTS desire to THANK all kind friends and relatives for letters, cards, telegrams, floral tributes and personal expressions of
sympathy in their recent sad and sudden bereavement, especially thanking Dr. Joel, Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Roberts and Mr. and Mrs. E. R. C. Roberts. Will all accept this as a personal expression of deep gratitude.
Janie remained living in the house on the farm with Mary. Frank’s estate was left in trust for Janie to occupy the farm and receive any rents and profits until she died. Margery and Mary were both left land not attached to the home farm. Felix continued running the farm. Margery and Cecil had moved from Ferguson to a farm on Goodwood Road, and Wilfred and Queenie had the shop in Capel. Janie’s children were all close by.
At the end of November 1939, Margery became unwell. She had a carbuncle under her nose that became infected and very quickly turned to blood poisoning. She died 2 days after her 35th birthday, leaving husband Cecil and daughters Rosemary, 10 and Heather, 5.
Janie and Mary helped Cecil look after his daughters, Rosemary, and Heather. It wasn’t long before the girls had moved to Janie’s permanently. The farm on Goodwood Road where the Hazelton’s had been living was sold as part of Margery’s estate and the land that Frank had left her then went into trust until Rosemary and Heather had reached the age of 21. Janie sent the girls to school in Capel and when it came time for Rosemary to go to high school, she caught the bus to the convent in Bunbury. John went to Bunbury High School. Geoff then went to the convent for high school and Heather too, when she was old enough. Cecil Hazelton remarried in 1941 and went into the army.
Janie visited her sister Matty in Bunbury. She had also been widowed in 1939. Frank’s sister Edie was in Rathmines and would also catch up. Sometimes Mary would go to stay with her Aunt Edie and Matty would come out to stay with Janie and probably catch up with Charlie too.
Janie maintained a number of cattle on the farm. When grandson Geoff was not very old, Janie would pay him to ride his horse around the cattle and move them to where she wanted them to go.
In 1946, Wilfred had the opportunity to buy Springfield. Janie must have been delighted that her family and childhood home was returning to the family. Wilfred ran the farm and his shop in Capel.
When Rosemary was around 16, she wanted to go and live with her father and stepmother in Northam. Janie had to let Rosemary go but was not very happy. Heather remained living with Janie and Mary. Rosemary met Ernest Cooper who was working in the Govt. Railways in Northam. They were married in April 1947 in Northam. Mary and Heather attended the wedding, but Janie didn’t go.
Matty, the last of Janie’s sisters died in October 1948 whilst staying with her daughter in Balingup. She was buried in the Bunbury Cemetery. This left Charlie and Janie, the last of the Higgins siblings.
Janie’s garden and orchard were still of great interest to her and occupied her time. Mary was helping on the farm and fed the calves for Felix. Heather was still living with Janie and Mary. John and Geoff were helping Felix on the farm and Gordon worked in the shop in Capel with his parents and when Ainslie came home from boarding school in Perth, she too worked in the shop.
Janie became a great grandmother in August 1950, when Rosemary and Ernie had a son, in Northam.
Janie died the following May 25th, 1951, in Bunbury Hospital after a short illness. She was 79 years old. Janie was buried in the Capel Cemetery between her husband Frank and her daughter Margery. Her last remaining sibling, Charlie died 2 months later. Mary and Heather continued living in the house at North Capel Farm.
If you are visiting this page and have further information that pertains to Mary Jane Roberts 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.
Researched and compiled by DC – CDCP team member and Greatgranddaughter.
© Capel District Cemeteries Project 02/02/2024