From Seaham to Australia: Lawyer's new book tells remarkable story of woman's new life Down Under

A lawyer has told the remarkable true story of a 19th century woman's journey from a mining village to Australia after releasing her first book.

Friday, 22nd December 2017, 5:00 am
Jane Gulliford Lowes.

Jane Gulliford Lowes became fascinated by the story of fellow Seaham native Sarah Marshall after inheriting letters and photographs from her family.

The items which sparked Jane’s interest and form the basis of the book were sent by Bill Campbell, part of Sarah’s family in Queensland, to his cousin Edith in Seaham.

Book front cover.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sarah left Seaham behind in 1886, travelling alone to start a new life in Australia via the Single Female Migrant Scheme.

Jane’s passion for history and writing led her to put pen to paper, and The Horsekeeper’s Daughter was released last month.

It has proved to be a stunning success, with the initial print run of 500 copies having almost sold out, and another print run set to be released in January.

Jane - who qualified as a lawyer in 1994 - said: “Through my links with her family, and the letters and photographs I inherited from Sarah’s niece, I explored the social, economic and political factors which may have caused her to make this journey.

The old box of letters and photographs from Queensland which sparked Jane's interest in the story. Aunt Edie's box of treasures. This photograph of Queensland schoolchildren in May 1912.

“I also told the story of the tragedies which befell Sarah and her descendants in Queensland.

“There are lots of stories about the struggles of working class women in the North East of England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but there are none which deal with the hundreds of single women who left the area and sailed to Australia to forge new lives for themselves.

“I wanted to bring to light one of these stories, as these brave women have been largely forgotten.”

As part of her research for the book, Jane - who lives with her family in Seaton Village - travelled to Australia to visit the places Sarah came to call home.

Bill Campbell in Queensland, in 1917 - his letters to his cousin Edith in Seaham form the basis of the book. Bill Campbell, victorious in the Tarzali Logging Competition 1917

The book covers the years between 1880 and 1942, and chronicles poverty, destitution, adventure, love, tragedy and an incredible coincidence, with the narrative weaving between County Durham and Queensland.

The experiences of Sarah proved to be paralleled with those of the loved ones she left behind in Seaham, as they faced their own hardships through times of industrial upheaval and financial deprivation.

The book has been extremely well received so far.

Jane - who is also a make-up artist - added: “The book has been massively successful so far, and I can’t believe it.

Book front cover.

“I’m over the moon that people like the book.

“I’ve always been very creative and loved history and travel, so I tried to bring all of that together.

“Once I started uncovering the story and the connections with my own life, I got more and more immersed in it and thought it would make a fantastic book.

“I expected it might take a couple of years to sell out the first print run, so for it to be close to be doing so already is incredible for me.”

Jane is also the author of history and travel blog justcuriousjane.com, and the book can be bought there and on Amazon.

It is hoped that it will also be on sale in high street book stores soon.

The old box of letters and photographs from Queensland which sparked Jane's interest in the story. Aunt Edie's box of treasures. This photograph of Queensland schoolchildren in May 1912.
Bill Campbell in Queensland, in 1917 - his letters to his cousin Edith in Seaham form the basis of the book. Bill Campbell, victorious in the Tarzali Logging Competition 1917