Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > To Be Heirs Forever

To Be Heirs Forever by Mary Durack
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bookshelves: australian-womens-writers-challenge

‘Their grants will be conveyed to them in fee simple and will descend to their assignees or heirs for ever …’

In 1829, Elizabeth (Eliza) Shaw (b1794), her husband Will and six children migrated to Western Australia. The Shaw family migrated in response to an advertisement for the Swan River Settlement which appeared in London in December 1828. To Captain Will Shaw, who had just received advice that his military pension was to be cut by half, this advertisement was irresistible.

‘…Settlers will have no purchase money to pay for their lands, nor will they be chargeable for any rent whatever. Their lands will be conveyed to them in fee simple and will descend to their assignees or heirs for ever … thereby affording them the satisfaction of knowing that their labour will be wholly expended on their own property, and that the results of their patient endeavours will be enjoyed by their children, and their names transmitted with such estates to distant posterity.’

The Shaws arrived in Fremantle on board the Egyptian on 13 February 1830. The family settled at Belvoir on the Upper Swan River in 1830 where, tragically, the two eldest Shaw sons Frederick and William aged twelve and seven drowned. The Shaws later had three more children. Their neighbours at Belvoir included a number of members of the colony’s Anglican establishment: the Brockmans, Burgesses, Irwins and Tanners. Will Shaw died in 1862, Eliza in 1879.

Mary Durack first wrote the story of Eliza Shaw as a monologue for the 1972 Perth Festival. This book, first published in 1976, draws on Eliza Shaw’s legacy of letters and journals to present the life of a pioneering woman whose story encompasses much of the first fifty years of the settlement of Perth and its surrounds.

I found this account of the pioneer settlement of Western Australia engrossing. Eliza Shaw’s experiences included the difficulty of obtaining (and retaining) good servants, family tragedy, isolation, a lack of educational opportunities for her children, as well as to the problems posed because a lack of currency required the use of barter for goods and services. Eliza Shaw had exchanged the comparative civilization of England for backbreaking labour.

The Shaws are one of many pioneer families of this period. Those who survived did so because they were able to adapt to a very different environment from the one they left behind. Sadly, none of the nine children of Will and Eliza Shaw inherited the acres which were to have descended ‘to their heirs forever’.

I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of Western Australia’s European
settlement.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Reading Progress

May 14, 2016 – Started Reading
May 14, 2016 – Shelved
May 14, 2016 – Shelved as: australian-womens-writers-challenge
May 21, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Roger (new)

Roger Brunyate Another potentially interesting book that my library will probably never get! R.


Jennifer (JC-S) Hi Roger, does your library take suggestions for purchases? The book is available electronically these days as well. Not that I'm trying to tempt you, or anything . J


message 3: by Roger (new)

Roger Brunyate What would be helpful, Jennifer (since I don't lack for possible books to read) is for you to pick out among the many books by Australian women you read (and mostly praise, since you are a true supporter) the few that are not merely good in an Aussie context, but which a Pom like me should try to obtain at any cost! R.


Jennifer (JC-S) Roger wrote: "What would be helpful, Jennifer (since I don't lack for possible books to read) is for you to pick out among the many books by Australian women you read (and mostly praise, since you are a true sup..."

I'll do my best from now on. it will give me another dimension to think about when framing my reviews. J


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