Elizabeth Harley 1765-1842

Elizabeth Harley's great-grand father was Baron, Robert Harley of Wigmore, the first Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, Lord Treasurer and Knight of the Garter in the Reign of Queen Anne.

His son, Elizabeth's grand-father was an Alderman of the city of London. Her father, George, owned a 100 room mansion, "Hazelwood House" at Shooter's Hill, London. After her father's death in 1814, Elizabeth was sole beneficiary of the estate , but, owing to ill health she was never able to return to England to claim her inheritance which later went to the Chancery.

Elizabeth was baptised in 1771 at the Baptist Church, Woolich, Kent, England. Elizabeth lost her mother early in life. Elizabeth was a small, fair-frail lady, extremely well-educated & insisted on a good education for all her children.

Elizabeth Harley was previously engaged to George Davies, son of General Davies. The young man, who was noted for his extreme irascibility, contracted smallpox. Upon seeing him and the unsightly blotches upon his perfect face, his fiancé couldn't suppress a smile. Her untimely mirth so angered the short tempered invalid, he grabbed hold of a nearby musket and shot her through the side of the face. This put an end to the engagement. It is unknown how seriously she was injured.

Miss Harley was a member of the well-known Harley Family who bequeathed the famous Harlein Collection of Literature to the English Nation. She possessed a sound knowledge of medicine & endeared herself to the people in the area by caring for the sick. She made remedies from wild herbs, which when added to her own medicines, brought relief to many suffering people. Her work with the sick became so well known in England that the Colonial secretary had a chest sent to Elizabeth from England for her to use amongst the people in the Bathurst area

Later, against her father's wishes, she married James Blackman by Banns at Lee Church.

As George Harley disapproved of the marriage, he forbid his family to attend the wedding. It was at the last minute that he relented & attended the wedding with Elizabeth's brother, Samuel. No other members were allowed to attend.

It was only after the birth of their first child, Samuel that George forgave Elizabeth. He sent a set of silver & despatched five cows to a farm in the vicinity of Woolwich, the milk intended for the child. He also requested that they live at the farm so as to be near him, and to this they agreed. They resided there for some years during which three more sons were born.

The family traumas began once again when Elizabeth and James announced they would be emigrating to Australia on the advice of his doctor who recommended a long sea voyage. Her father, George, begged them not to go, and a dreadful argument was staged on the wharf, which ended in George threatening to disinherit Elizabeth. That was the last time she ever saw her father, as the family emigrated to Australia in 1801 aboard the 'Canada'. At the time Elizabeth and James had 5 children, another 5 were born in Australia. That left only brother, Robert, who health was not very robust. Before she left her father read them his Will where he left the siblings as joint heirs to the large estate at Shooters Hill. The fine old mansion in which Elizabeth got lost in the maze of rooms on one occasion, and she often spoke of this to her granddaughter Henrietta Carlyle and others.

It should be noted that, for a young lady brought up in a spacious, English home, with every luxury, she made a remarkable adjustment to the harsh pioneering times of the new colony.

A Mr Stoddard, Superintendent of Police of the Queen's Highway (the Constabulary was known to all Englishmen in those days) visited the family in Bathurst one stormy afternoon and questioned Mrs Blackman as to her name & place of birth, uttering a great shout of triumph learning that her name was Harley, exclaiming, “I have found you at last, Mrs Blackman. Go home and ride in your carriage, for your father is dead & your brother, Samuel, too. The estate is now yours”. The superintendent was a guest of the family that night & it was arranged that James Blackman should return to England & take possession of the estate in his wife's name. He went to Sydney & booked passage to England, but as he was boarding ship; his solicitor asked him if he had his wife's Power of Attorney. Becoming annoyed at this contingency, James became angry and was reported as saying "If I have to get that, the estate and money can rot there", and apparently it has.

He then returned to Bathurst.

As it happened Elizabeth was in ill health & unable to make the trip herself, the voyage occupying about six months in those days, aside from the fact she did not like the idea of leaving her children, some of whom were married & had families, she didn't go. From then on until the present day the estate has remained unclaimed, & the money accruing from it, still in the Bank of England. Many documents in relationship to the estate have been lost through the years that have lapsed since penned, some, it is alleged have been stolen. However, a number have been recovered, & the present claimants believe it may be possible in the near future to prove their rights to the fortune. They assert that they are the true lineal descendants of the first Earl of Oxford, the father of Thomas Harley, the father of George Harley, the father of Elizabeth Blackman (nee Harley). Up until the time of her death, Elizabeth urged her children to lay claim to her estate.

Her story continues with her husband James Blackman