The master version of this biography, which includes images, is maintained at http://dorneyfamilyhistory.net/famtree_web/History_dorney.pdf
Elizabeth was born somewhere in County Cork in about 1848, the daughter of Isaac Love, a labourer and Mary O’Brien. Her parents are only known of from her marriage certificate.
It's not known when Elizabeth arrived in Australia. Ship passenger lists are often quite illegible, names can be poorly spelled and ages can be very inaccurate.
Elizabeth married James Dorney, a bootmaker also from County Cork in Warrnambool on 14 November 1869. The marriage certificate records her as a dressmaker, and later in life she worked as a nurse and a boarding house keeper. Various documents indicate that she was either illiterate or had poor literacy and was unable to write.
James and Elizabeth had eight children in Warrnambool, Edward Paul (1870), James Henry (1872), Elizabeth Frances (1873), Mary Jane (1874), Elizabeth Frances (1875), John Robert (1877), William Bernard (1879) and Edith Mary (1881).
Little oral history is known about both Elizabeth and James, in the main because their children spoke very little of them. The only memory we have is that of their granddaughter Dorothy (b 1906) who recalls that Elizabeth wore her hair tied tightly back.
Not all was happy in their relationship. ‘Threatening to Kill: James Dorney was bound over to keep the peace for six months and to find two securities of £25, and one for £50, at the Warrnambool Court on Friday, for having threatened to murder his wife. He denied the charge, but a boarder, staying at Dorney’s, stated that he heard a row on the previous day, and then heard the accused remark he would kill his wife that night’ – Terang Express, 20 Nov 1888.
James was also jailed in 1889 for three months for “leaving his wife without means of support”.
Elizabeth was one of 30,000 Victorian women who signed (not sure it was her personal signature) the Women's suffrage petition, table in parliament in 1891. The petition sought that “Women should Vote on Equal terms with Men”.
In 1885 they tried running a “Temperance Hotel” in addition to the bootmaking shop, and it was this business that probably became a boarding house by 1894 when “Mrs James Dorney” was the listed proprietor. Temperance hotels were a common feature of the time, providing a place for people to socialise without the temptation of alcohol.
Elizabeth operated the boarding house until 1914, but at some stage the business moved to Otway House on Fairy Street. James and Elizabeth lived on the premises. Otway House still exists and is a well-known building in Warrnambool.
My favourite newspaper article relating to Elizabeth is the following; ‘A resident of Warrnambool lost a cow some few days ago, and with the aid of the town herdsman, with his assistants and numerous small boys, was solicited to search for the missing animal. They devoted several days to the work riding many miles into the country, searching in out-of-the-way lanes and making inquiries throughout the town and district. It was of no avail, and the owner was disconsolate. After the lapse of 4 or 5 days the dead carcase of the missing cow was observed in the neighbouring yard. As the carcase could not be removed, it was necessary to fill up the well. The owner of the animal was Mrs. Dorney, who has been singularly unfortunate in this respect as some time ago she lost a cow in a similar way. On that occasion the animal strayed into a well which had to be filled up. In future residents in that locality will place a substantial covering over their wells.’ – Warrnambool Standard, 29 December 1894.
In 1895 some young arsonists set fire to an unoccupied building adjoining Elizabeth's boarding house, which at the time was on Timor Street. The young men were eventually caught later in the year, after having set fire to fifteen properties.
Elizabeth's brother-in-law Thomas died in March 1907. When finalising the estate, she stated she owned “One Walnut piano, one dining room suite, one parlour suite and eight suites of bedroom furniture” which are in the premises of Otway House in Fairy Street, Warrnambool and that these assets were acquired by her “own separate monies earned by nursing and by keeping a boarding house…”
Elizabeth's husband James passed away in April 1912. Fairly soon after that she moved to Chelsea to live with her son William.
Elizabeth died on 26 June 1917 in Chelsea. She was 68 years old. Elizabeth is buried with her husband in the Warrnambool cemetery.
Browse newspaper items mentioning Elizabeth https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/result?l-publictag=Elizabeth+Dorney+nee+Love&q=&sortby=dateAsc
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