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Beavan, Emily Elizabeth Shaw

Main entryBeavan, Emily Elizabeth Shaw
Birth placeBelfast, Antrim, Northern Ireland
Birth datec1818
Death placeSurry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Death date6 August 1897
Birth nameEmily Elizabeth Shaw
Alternate namesMrs. B—-n; Emily B—-n; Emily E. B--n; E.E.B.
Married nameBeavan
Marital statusmarried
Paid workteacher (school)
Other workdoctor's wife
BiographyEmily Elizabeth Shaw (c1818-1897) was the daughter of one of Belfast's greatest sea captains of the nineteenth century. Captain Samuel Shaw (c1789-1869) made numerous journeys around the British Isles, and also a few trips to and from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia where his ship was owned. Doubtless, this is how Samuel's children and wife, Isabella McMorran (c1797-1878), would have first heard tales of the new world. In Belfast, where her family home sat close to Lime Kiln Docks, Emily would have been ever-reminded of the sea's presence. Around 1836, she came to New Brunswick and studied for a short while, before beginning to teach in the fall of 1837 in King's County. Less than a year later, she married widower Frederick Cadwallader Beavan (1808-1867), a fellow teacher and a surgeon. The couple first settled and farmed on a one acre lot in Long Creek, New Brunswick, then later moved (along with their house) to Mount Auburn, English Settlement, thus upgrading to two hundred acres of potato-farming land. Emily took up writing during this time, contributing at least nine tales and six poems (1841-43) to New Brunswick's only literary journal, THE AMARANTH. To alleviate the costs of a pioneer's life and to support a growing family that would eventually include seven children, Emily petitioned in 1842 to renew her license for teaching in Queen's County. Following the deaths of his father and infant daughter in the spring of 1844, Frederick led his wife and two children back to Blanchland, Northumberland in England where he assumed his father's position as surgeon at the Derwent Mines. In 1845, Emily published her first book with George Routledge of London. SKETCHES AND TALES ILLUSTRATIVE OF LIFE IN THE BACKWOODS OF NEW BRUNSWICK, NORTH AMERICA mingles vignettes of daily life, scenery, and the author's experience of nineteenth-century Canadian customs with tales of adventure and romance. As a result, the book is particularly useful as an historical document, describing a community bound together by isolation and hardship that takes its pleasures from literature and sociability. In 1852, Emily, her husband, and their two eldest children set sail for Australia. While residing in Kilmore, Emily continued to write for newspapers, in addition to pieces for ELIZA COOK'S JOURNAL and the Kilmore STANDARD. Upon being widowed in 1867, Emily remained with her children for some time before moving to New South Wales in 1881, where she could be closer to her eldest son Alfred. She died at his home, at Surry Hills, Sydney, in 1897 and was buried at an unmarked grave in Rookwood's Church of England Cemetery. A memorial in her honour has been placed at her husband's grave at Kilmore General Cemetery.
Other notesEmily's brother, Pringle Shaw (c1824-1915), was also a writer who, upon his return to Canada, published RAMBLINGS IN CALIFORNIA (1857) detailing his five years spent gold-digging there. Emily has previously been acknowledged as the author of LIL GREY: OR ARTHUR CHESTER'S COURTSHIP (1878), and thus of other titles listed in the book's frontmatter ("Alicia", "Olga Norvonne," and "Readings in Rhyme"); however, it would seem that the text's author was in fact another "Mrs. E. Beavan"--a woman who published alternately as Mrs. Ebenezer Beavan and as Harriet Ann Glazebrook.
ResidencesBelfast, Northern Ireland (c1818-1836); Long Creek, New Brunswick (c1838-c1841); Mount Auburn, English Settlement (c1841-1844); Blanchland, Northumberland (1844-1852); Kilmore, Australia (1852-1881); Sydney, Australia (1881-1897)
Geographic regionsNew Brunswick
Primary genresnon-fiction; fiction
PeriodicalsAMARANTH; Hobart (Australia) COURIER; ELIZA COOK'S JOURNAL; Kilmore (Australia) EXAMINER; Kilmore (Australia) STANDARD
Father's nameSamuel Shaw
Life dates of fatherc1789, Killyleagh, Ireland - 3 November 1869, Belfast, Northern Ireland; m 1817
Father's notesea captain; Master Mariner for Langtry's; clerk of ballast for Belfast Harbour Commissioners
Mother's nameIsabella Adelaide McMorran
Life dates of motherc1797 - 11 September 1878, Belfast, Northern Ireland; m. 1817
Spouse 1Dr. Frederick Williams Cadwallader Beavan
Life dates of spouse 128 August 1808, Llansamlet, Glamorgan, Wales - 2 August 1867, Kilmore, Victoria, Australia
Spouse 1 noteson of surgeon, also named Frederick Beavan; began medical career early, around 18; immigrated to North America c1830; served with U.S. Army (1831-32); awarded Diploma of Medicine from University of Hartford (1834); teacher in Sussex County (1833-34); first marriage to Susannah Brannen Cougle, 1836; widowed same year; became member of Royal College of Surgeons (1850); instrumental in establishing Kilmore Hospital; owned dispensing chemist business in Kilmore; involved with Mechanics Institute; founded Kilmore Benevolent Asylum; served as Kilmore Magistrate and Justice of the Peace; was Councillor and Chairman of Municipal Council for three years; patron of Kilmore National School; died of liver disease; buried in Kilmore General Cemetery
Marriage 1 date19 June 1838
Marriage 1 placeSussex Vale, Kings County, St John Province, New Brunswick
Children's names and datesAlfred Spurzheim (31 October 1839 - 1902), m. to Esther Vince; Isabella Barbara (31 October 1841 - 8 November 1899), m. William Zachary Cooke Perrot; Agnes Charlotte (27 January 1844 - 4 March 1844); Emily Elizabeth (17 September 1845 - 4 March 1847); Edith Florinda / Edith Gage (5 November 1849 - 1918); Amy Frederica (17 January 1856 - 26 May 1938), m. George Ludgate Bastable; Frederick Shaw Pembroke (17 February 1858 - 3 July 1884)
Biographical referencesCogswell, "Shaw, Emily Elizabeth (Beavan)," on DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN BIOGRAPHY VII, University of Toronto/Universite Laval (Web, 2000); Dagg, THE FEMININE GAZE (2001), pp. 34-35; "Shaw, Emily Elizabeth," on CELEBRATION OF WOMEN WRITERS, University of Pennsylvania (Web); Mackenzie, "Emily Elizabeth Beavan," NEW BRUNSWICK LITERARY ENCYCLOPEDIA, St. Thomas University (Web, 2011); 1851 England Census; Australia Death Index, 1787-1985; special thanks to Lynette Nunn (Lyn) for family contributions
Bibliographic referencesWatters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), p. 652
Research referencescomplete
Image creditsLine drawing by Una Vernelli (Vancouver, British Columbia).
CopyrightThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) at Please cite Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.