George Roy Doherty

George Roy Doherty (1893 – 1966), also known as Roy, enlisted in the army as a driver in 1914 at the age of 21. [1] In 1917 he received a Military Medal for ‘coolness and particular devotion to duty when in charge of [a] Lorry’ during an enemy attack. [2] After the First World War, he returned to Perth and went into farming. According to one source, George Roy was ‘indecisive’ and ‘a nice chap but a bit of a no hoper’, not reaching his full potential in Western Australia.[3] As there are no records left by George Roy, it is difficult to know what his ambitions were. It certainly seemed that he wanted to stay in Australia and go into the cattle or farming industry, but he may have had other intentions.

On 23 June 1924, George married Dorothea Haynes, who was six years his senior, born on 12 February 1887[4]; George would have been 30 and Dorothea 37 when they married. Dorothea was a government school teacher in Western Australia between 1907 and 1942; however, she did not teach between 1924 and 1934.[5] Accounts from the time reveal attitudes towards this age gap (and women more broadly), with one source commenting that ‘Roy married his mother’; a woman ‘too old for children’.[6] Today this age difference would not be surprising and women can and do have children at this age and older. Nevertheless, at that time, life expectancy was much lower (around 64 for women) and marriage between an older woman and younger man was not common.[7]

George Roy’s Death Certificate names a son, Gordon Doherty; Gordon was 39 when George died. It is not clear if Gordon Doherty was George and Dorothea’s biological son or if he was adopted; possibly even Dorothea’s son from a previous relationship. The Western Australia Birth Records detail a Gordon Doherty registered in 1929 but this date does not concur with Gordon’s age on George’s Death Certificate; Gordon would have been born in 1927 according to his age on the Death Certificate. It is possible that the sources are inaccurate but another source claims that George Roy adopted a son, possibly Dorothea’s from a previous relationship.[8]

It is difficult to determine if Dorothea was ‘too old for children’ when they married. Menopause was not properly understood and was considered a ‘deficiency’ in the 1930s; many believed it began at the age of 40.[9] It certainly was uncommon women to have children at the age Dorothea was when she married but perhaps not biologically impossible. In any case, George’s sister, Auvergne Doherty, named her nephew, Gordon Doherty, as a beneficiary in her Will. Whether a biological or adopted son, Gordon was clearly considered part of the family.

In 1961 George announced the death of his ‘beloved sister, Vergne’.[10] Six years later he died on 1 October 1966 at the age of 73 of a heart attack.[11] On the Death Certificate, his occupation is listed as ‘retired grazer’ and he is buried at Karrakatta Cemetery.

 

[1] ‘Honours and Awards: George Roy Doherty’, Australian War Memorial: https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1507477/. Accessed: 16/04/2017.

[2] ‘Recommendation for Honors, George Roy Doherty’, Australian War Memorial: https://www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1068024–42-.pdf. Accessed: 16/04/2017.

[3] Millett, 2017.

[4] Western Australia Government Records.

[5] Western Australia Government Records of Dorothea Haynes, later Doherty.

[6] Durack, (1985, p.426); The Western Australian Genealogical Society (2016), Ada Bodart: http://blog.wags.org.au/index.php/guest-bloggers/marcia-watson/49-ada-bodart-the-western-australian-connection, Accessed: 14/04/17; Births, Deaths and Marriages in Western Australia, Marriage search: http://www.bdm.dotag.wa.gov.au/_apps/pioneersindex/, Accessed: 14/04/17; Millett, 2017.

[7] Life Expectancy at Birth. Available: https://www.infoplease.com/life-expectancy-birth-race-and-sex-1930-2010. Accessed: 21/5/17.

[8] Millet, 2017.

[9] ‘A Look at Menopause Through the Ages’, Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-sarver-dolgen/history-of-menopause_b_6159614.html. Accessed: 23/05/17.

[10] Death Notices, Doherty, The West Australian, Saturday 7 January 1961.

[11] Births, Deaths and Marriages in Western Australia, Marriage search: http://www.bdm.dotag.wa.gov.au/_apps/pioneersindex/default.aspx, Accessed: 14/04/17.

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