Faces of Tamworth: birth of first European girl, Elizabeth “Betsy” Johnston

Elizabeth “Betsy” Johnston

Elizabeth “Betsy” Johnston

THE Kamilaroi people have occupied Tamworth for thousands of years.

But when the first European explorer John Oxley entered into the ancient lands of the Kamilaroi, accompanied by his competent deputy George William Evans with a party of 14, largely convicts, together with 19 pack-horses, on September 2, 1818, it heralded the start of a European infiltration.

Just over 20 years on from Mr Oxley’s arrival, the first European child, George Byrnes, was born in Tamworth on November 26, 1839.

Seven months later, the first European girl was born in Tamworth. 

On June 2, 1840, Mrs Mary Ann Johnston, wife of James Johnston, gave birth to Tamworth’s first baby girl of European descent, Elizabeth “Betsy” Johnston, according to A Chronological History of Tamworth.

Later, at the age of twenty-one, Betsy was married in St Paul’s Church in West Tamworth to a twenty-five-year-old “cook” called Antonio Rolando Boskaty.

In later years, his first name was anglicised to “Anthony” and the surname was changed to “Boschetti”.

It is possible that the latter was the original, correct spelling with “Boskaty” being an earlier Anglicisation.

Antonio Boschetti came from Italy at about the age of 12. 

Family tradition credits him with going to the goldfields, where he soon realised that it was more profitable and reliable to cook for the miners than to look for gold.

Later, he was employed as an engineer at one of the Tamworth flour mills.

During the 1880s, the Boschetti family lived in a standard four-roomed brick cottage with detached kitchen that stood at the eastern corner of Fitzroy Street and Rawson Avenue and which had earlier been the home of Thomas Mills.

- Information sourced from A Chronological History of Tamworth

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