Margaretha PLOUGH 1854-1920

Although Margaretha Plough emigrated from Nieder-Weisel, she was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne in the year 1854. Her father was a Danish seaman, Severin Plough of Copenhagen, who fell in love with her mother, Katharina Wetzel of Nieder-Weisel, when his ship was being turned around in the busy seaport.

Katharina had been brought to England from her home village by her mother after the family had been left destitute when Katharina’s father, Konrad Wetzel, died in 1848. Margaretha Wetzel hoped to find work for herself and for her two sons, Johannes and Johann Georg, in some industrial town as other Nieder-Weiselerns had done. However, the family’s bad luck continued when the older brother died in 1853 at the age of nineteen. It was shortly after this that Katharina married.

In 1854, Katharina gave birth to a daughter, whom she named after her mother. A son was born in 1856 but he died in infancy. Severin then decided to go to Victoria to try his luck on the goldfields at Ballarat. Katharina found herself pregnant again just as they were about to leave, so she went back to Nieder-Weisel with Margaretha while Severin sailed for Melbourne in April 1858. Margaretha’s brother Konrad was born later that year.

Severin probably experienced the same disappointments as so many of the hopeful diggers did; it was not until 1862 that he was able to send Katharina the money for the fares. Even so, she had to act as a paid chaperone for four youngsters, left behind when their parents migrated years before, to be able to pay for the tickets for herself and their children.

At 9 years of age, Margaretha was greatly excited by the prospect of the long sea voyage ahead of them as their ship “Shalimar” left the port of Liverpool on 22nd August 1862 – this was an emotion that her mother, with all her young charges, probably did not share. However, all went well; their ship reached Melbourne on 15th November and Margaretha met up with the father she had not seen for nearly six years.

Margaretha’s parents delivered the other children safely to their families in Ballarat and themselves lived in the busy mining town for several years before moving on to the Mount Prospect field, where Margaretha’s uncle, Johann Georg Wetzel, had settled with his family. Margaretha found plenty to do, helping with the four babies (two brothers and two sisters) who were added to the family in the next seven years. They went back to Ballarat in 1869 as Margaretha’s mother needed treatment for poor circulation. A fourth sister was born in 1870, but both mother and baby died. Margaretha assumed all the housekeeping duties until her father died in 1872; the family then had to be broken up and the youngsters fostered out.

Margaretha went back to Mount Prospect, where her uncle and aunt were still living. Four years later she was married to Walter Leigh Breadmore, whose family had arrived in Australia in 1852 on the “Calphurnia”. Walter was born at Leigh Creek, and, like some of his brothers and sisters, had his birthplace incorporated into his name. The couple lived for some time in Mount Prospect before settling in Rocky Lead in 1879. Their first child, Alicia Catherine, was born in 1877. Two more girls, Dorothy Emily in 1880 and Margaret May in 1882, followed. A son, George William, was born in 1884 and the fourth girl, Clara, completed their family in 1886.

Walter moved his family to the northern Melbourne suburb of Northcote, where he established himself as a wood merchant. Margaretha spent the rest of her life there; she died at 43 Henry Street on Tuesday, 18th May 1920, and was buried in the Coburg cemetery. Walter lived until 2nd November 1928.

Margaretha’s brother Konrad disappeared altogether from the Victorian records; it is possible that he went to Tasmania.

View Margaretha's Family Chart

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