Florence Mary Espenhahn nee Tilbury (1849-1944)

Florence & Friedrich

Florence Mary Tilbury (1849-1944)

Friedrich Eduard Espenhahn (1854-1941)

  • Father: Friedrich Eduard Espenhahn, musician
  • Mother: Christiane nee Naether
  • Born: 16 Jun 1854, Sandersleben, Anhalt, Germany
  • Married: 17 Dec 1883, Florence Mary Tilbury, Winton, QLD
  • Died: 25 Feb 1941, Germany
  • Occupation: Bookkeeper, Accountant, Director
  • Known as: Edward
Friedrich Eduard Espenhahn (1854-1941), husband of Florence Mary Tilbury1


  • Birth 1849 Florence Mary Tilbury
  • Marriage 1883 Friedrich Espenhahn, Florence Mary Tilbury
  • Marriage 1915 Edward Victor Espenhahn, Alice May Usher
  • Marriage 1915 Richard John Donovan, Christiana Sophia Espenhahn
Drawing of Espenhahn house1

1849. Florence was born 14 Jan 1849 at the family residence at 18 Ernest St, Regents Park, St. Pancras, Middlesex.

1881. Florence (31) was living at 26 Gordon Rd, St. Pancras with her mother, who was running a boarding house, and sister Sophia Emma (44), who was unmarried. It was here that she met Friedrich Espenhahn, who was a boarder in the house.

1883. Florence (age stated as 27) [and Friedrich?] migrated to Australia aboard the Ivanhoe in the company of her brother Augustus William (31) and his family, her sister Sophie (31) and their mother Sophia (71). She and Augustus and family sailed from Melbourne to Sydney 14 Oct 1883 aboard the Leura. Two months later Florence (34, age stated as 29) and Friedrich Espenhahn (29) were married, on 17 Dec 1883 at the residence of her brother James Thompson Tilbury at Winton. Bride and groom stated their place of residence as Winton. James Thompson and Esther, Florence's brother and sister-in-law, were witnesses to the marriage. Public Notice of the wedding records "Edward Espenhahn, late of Sandersleben, Germany, to Florence Mary, daughter of the late T. Tilbury, of Gordon-street, Gordon-square, London".

Following the wedding Florence and Edward moved to Sydney, where Edward was an accountant. They lived in Sydney for 60 years, making numerous trips abroad.

1887. Edward Victor Espenhahn was born in Woollahra, Sydney.

1889. Walter Espenhahn was born in Ryde, Sydney. Edward became a Naturalized British Subject on 18 Sep 1889 in NSW.

1891. Christiana Espenhahn was born in Woolwich, Sydney.

1892. Clearances on 24 Feb 1892 on the Hohenstaufen, German mail steamer for Bremen, via ports. Passengers for Bremen included Mr. and Mrs. Espenhahn, Mrs. Tilbury and child.

1900. Espenhahn, F.S. was aboard the Japanese Mail Steamer Yatawa at Brisbane bound for Sydney.

1903. Hunter's Hill Council Meeting, 9 Oct 1903. The Mayor moved "That the deed dedicating, by Mrs. Espenhahn to the Council, a strip of land forming part of one foot reserve on East side of Sunnyside Estate, and running parallel with Prince George Estate, be now approved of, and be sealed, by the Council". The move was carried.

1905. On Fri 27 Jan 1905 E. Espenhahn attended a reception at the German Consulate in Bridge St Sydney, held by the Acting Consul-General for Germany (Herr Munzenthaler) to honour the 45th anniversary of the birthday of the Kaiser of Germany. Among attendants were the Consul Generals for France, Chili, the Argentine, Austria-Hungary, the Acting Consul-General for Greece, the Consuls for Italy, Belglum, Paraguay. Portugal, The Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil, Denmark, Mexico, Spain, Russia, Switzerland, Honduras, Sweden and Norway, the Consul-Suppleant de France, the Vice-Consuls for Austria-Hungary and The Netherlands.

1905. The Espenhahns attended the wedding of Miss Gwendoline Senior, third daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. Senior, of 'Ellesmere', Middle Harbour, and Mr. Oscar G. Hilbert, son of Mr. Hllbert, of Leipsic, at St. Luke's, Mosman on 28 Mar 1905.

1913. The office and heads of departments of Messrs. J.C. Ludowici and Son, Ltd. held their first annual dinner on Fri evening 19 Dec 1913 at Sargent's, Market St. Mr. F.J. Ludowici occupied the chair. Mr. D. Paine, who had been in the company's employ for over 30 years, proposed the toast of "The Company", and Mr. Espenhahn replied on behalf of the directors.

1921. Frederick E (66y 10m) and Florence M (67y 3m) Espenhahn, last place of residence Sydney, ethnicity Great Britain, German, arrived at Ellis Island, New York from Southampton on 1 Jul 1921 aboard the Berengaria. Son Edward Victor and family had migrated to America the previous year and it is assumed they visited them and that they had also visited relatives in England prior to their arrival in New York. The ship's Manifest states they they were in transit to Australia and although both were recorded as having good mental and physical health, notes on the Manifest add "specx" above Frederick's record and "med cert. Senility which may aff[ect]" above Florence's record. It is not clear whether the notes refer to either or both but, given that they lived another 20 years and made numerous trips abroad, the note regarding senility seems out of place. Other details recorded: Frederick: 5'7", fair complexion, fair hair, blue eyes, born Sandersleben, Germany; Florence: 5'5", fair complexion, brown hair, brown eyes, born London, England.

1927. At Suva on 7 Mar 1927, "Espenhahn" recorded as travelling on the Sierra from San Francisco to Sydney.

1938. Mrs. Williams of NSW (abt 79), a relative of Mr. H.R. Spinkston (managing director of Saverys Pianos, Ltd. in Adelaide) became friendly with the Espenhahns on the mailboat. They were about to revisit Sydney. It was a rough voyage and Mrs. Williams was thrown from her bunk. The Espenhahns went ashore [at Adelaide], and at Mrs. Williams's suggestion decided to spend some time there. The Spinkstons had a place at Stirling for the school holidays for six weeks, and, after visiting them, the Espenhahns liked the hills so much that they stayed for a few months at Hahndorf. Florence played Beethoven and loved a game of bridge. They then went on to Sydney, where 60 years previously Mr. Espenhahn was an accountant. He was for many years associated with Ludovici & Co., leather merchants.

1939. Edward (84) and Florence decided to go back to England and see their son Edward Victor and grandson Edward William. Edward Victor, an industrial chemist, was in poor health and had bought a farm. Grandson Edward William Espenhahn, born in Australia, followed in his father's footsteps as a chemist, and had spent a couple of years in Germany. At the outbreak of war he was employed at Williamson's linoleum works in London.

Florence and Friedrich (Edward) intended to return to Australia. They went to Germany to visit Edward's relatives and carry out business - Edward had bought flats there after the last war. They arrived in Berlin 12 days before war was declared. Realising that war was imminent, they made a desperate effort to see their relatives, complete business and return to England, but as they were ready to leave troops began to march and borders wore blocked. Edward (91) died in Germany about 12 months later in early 1942 and was buried there. Following his death Florence stayed at Klotzsche, about seven miles from Dresden. In a letter received by her son-in law, Richard Donovan, of Toorak, on 7 Jul 1943, she stated she was in good health.

1943. In Sep 1943 Florence (91/95) made headlines in Australian newspapers across the country (Sydney, Darwin, Adelaide, Broken Hill), recounting her experiences of the situation in Germany during the war. She arrived in Lisbon 1 Sep 1943 with seven other British subjects, from various parts of Germany for repatriation. There had been a heavy R.A.F. raid on Berlin on 23 Aug 1943 which didn't faze her and she was hoping to pay her 13th visit to Australia to see her daughter, Christiana.

She was permitted to return to England from Dresden, where, she said, the Germans were secretly praying for peace. The Germans, because of her age and infirmity, permitted her to live in comparative freedom, that is, she said, "if anyone living in Germany can call it freedom." German civilians secretly prayed for peace, because they were afraid to express an opinion publicly. Defeatism showed in their faces, which were thin and haggard, due to worry and overwork. Nobody smiled; they were too scared. They claimed that Germans were kept in ignorance of RAF bomb damage and Russian victories. Only when evacuees from the bombed areas poured into reception areas did the extent of the raids become known. "The Germans believe that Britain is living on the borderline of starvation," Florence said. "The conviction is so rooted that an official warned me when I was leaving that I was going to a country suffering far worse than Germany. The Germans are saying that U-boats are sinking ships as fast as the Allies are building them, and that Britain is in the stranglehold of the greatest blockade in history." Florence's first impressions after her arrival were the healthy, happy spirit of Britons and the number of Allied ships in the ports.

The Espenhahns

Friedrich's father, also named Friedrich Eduard, was a musician, married to Christiane nee Naether.

1854. Friedrich Eduard (known as Eduard/Edward) was born 16 Jun in Sandersleben, Anhalt, Germany. As a young man he worked in a German bank and from there was sent to London.

1881. Friedrich (26) was a clerk with Cape Firm and was boarding with Florence’s mother Sophia in St. Pancras.

?1882. Travelled to Australia with Florence?

1915. Accountant. Director.

Children of Florence & Friedrich

Edward Victor Espenhahn (1887-1978)

1887. Edward was born in Woollahra, Sydney NSW.

Engineering Chemist.

1915. Edward (27) married Alice M. Usher (25) on 18 Feb 1915 at the Congregational Church, Hunter’s Hill NSW. The wedding was witnessed by Richard J. Duncan, Harry Ingham, K. Espenhahn and M. Cutler. Edward's father was recorded as Edward Frederick Espenhahn, accountant.

Alice Usher (ca1890-1977) was born in Rockhampton, the daughter of William, a Gentleman, and Elizabeth Ann Usher nee Brain. William Usher and Elizabeth Brain were married 9 Apr 1871 at St. John's Church, Bedminster, Bristol, England by the Rev H.B. Capel. They had 6 children:

  • William Usher,
  • Harry Usher,
  • John Usher,
  • Edward Usher,
  • Elizabeth McCaffery Usher (Maryborough, Qld) and
  • Alice Usher.

In 1921 William and Elizabeth Usher nee Brain were living at 11 Hampton St, Ashfield, Sydney NSW.

ca1916. Edward Victor and Alice's only child Edward William Espenhahn was born. Edward William married Barbara Mary (Mary) Winmill in Lancashire in ?1941 and followed in his father's footsteps as a Chemist. Spent a couple of years in Germany. At the outbreak of war was employed at Williamson's linoleum works in London. Died in Surrey, England in 2009. [Thanks to granddaughter Jo Reynolds for filling in some gaps]

Article in The Mercury, Hobart Fri 2 Jun 1916:


Some information as to the economic value of kerosene shale and the condition of the industry in Australia were supplied by Mr. E. V. Espenhahn, research chemist of the Metropolitan Gas Company, in a paper on kerosene shale, as a gas and power producer, read to members of the Society of Chemical Industry of Victoria, at the Working Men's College, last week.

Mr. Espenhahn said that of the three countries in the world in which kerosene shale was found - Scotland, France, and the Commonwealth - the Commonwealth was by far the richest in the mineral. The largest deposits of kerosene shale were found in New South Wales and Tasmania. Little was   known of the mineral until recent years, and there has been much controversy as to the class of mineral to which kerosene shale belonged. Professor David, of Sydney, was the first one to lead scientists to the right track. The richest shale was found at Joadja Creek, N.S.W., where there are huge deposits of the mineral. The industry in Australia had been established many years ago, but it had not been able to survive competition with the American products, kerosene and lubricating oils. The question was whether the industry could be protected with an effective tariff. If an effective tariff were introduced, it would probably mean that the industry would once more be put on a highly prosperous footing in this country. In New South Wales many mines were still in existence and the shafts were still workable. It was only a matter of beginning operations again, and putting the shale into retorts and distilling it. If the industry was given a good start, Australia would be able to produce all that was required for local consumption. It was a decided advantage that in New South Wales the mines were near the sea, for as fuel on destroyers and other vessels oil was fast taking the place of coal. It was refreshing to see that the Minister of the Navy was endeavouring to have the industry established on a firm footing at Lithgow, so that we would be able to produce our own oil from the shale, and be independent of imported oils. Our main sources of supply at present were Java and Sumatra.

As regards the manufacture of gas, the lecturer said kerosene shale did not lend itself to the profitable manufacture of gas. Experiments carried out by himself and Professor Bunter, of Carlsruhe, showed that as an ordinary illuminant gas produced from shale was a failure. It would not burn in the usual mantle. Special mantles and a special mixing device would have to be utilised in order to make the gas an effective illuminant. Only under certain conditions was it possible to produce effective gas.

Replying to a question, Mr. Espenhahn said he understood the most extensive shale beds to be situated in Tasmania.

1920. Alice Espenhahn nee Usher (29y 10m), wife of Edward Victor, and Edward William Espenhahn (4y 2m), last place of residence Sydney, ethnicity British, English, arrived at New York, NY from Sydney on 15 Apr 1920 aboard the Megantic. The ship's Manifest states that Alice was joining her husband and gave the contact address as c/o Mr Robertson, Director US Smelting Co. NY and that her "Husband [would be] joining [her]". Alice was described in the manifest as 5'4", and Alice and Victor both as having fair complexion, brown hair, grey eyes and a birthplace of Rockhampton. No record of Edward Victor's arrival has been found at this point. The US Census of 1920 shows an "Edward V Espenhahn of Essex, New Jersey, est. birth yr 1888, age 32, born Austria" - Australia may have been incorrectly recorded as Austria.

1934. Alice was living in Manchester, England. Alice's mother, Elizabeth Ann Usher (ca1851-1934), aged 83, relict of the late William Usher of Rockhampton, Qld, died at Drummoyne, Sydney. She left children William Usher, Harry Usher, John Usher and Edward Usher, Elizabeth McCaffery Usher (Maryborough, Qld) and Alice Espenhahn nee  Usher (Manchester, England). In July 1936 probate was granted for the will of Elizabeth, of New Parkside, in the amount of £1785.

1939. Edward Victor's parents, Friedrich (Edward) and Florence nee Tilbury, visited them in England. Edward Victor was in poor health and had bought a farm.

1977. Alice died in Hampshire, England.

1978. Edward died in Hampshire, England.

Walter Friedrich Espenhahn (1889-1970)

1889. Walter Friedrich/Frederick (Wally) was born in Ryde NSW.

1914. The Blue Mountains Shire Council meeting 6 May 1914 handled correspondence from Dawson, Waldren and Glover concerning deeds of agreement between B Espenhahn and council, re. Moore Court subdivision. The clerk was directed to inform the firm that the council's seal had been duly affixed to deeds. At the Blue Mountains Shire Court of Appeal at Penrith on Tue 16 Jun 1914, E. Espenhahn of Moore Court Estate applied and was granted a reduction of the assessment by Council of £5401 to £4800, a difference of £600.

?c.1915. Married Emma A.E. (Emmie) ? (c1890-)

1935. Walter Espenhahn and Emmie were living at Yanco NSW when Walter’s aunt Sophia Emma died in Ryde. Walter attended to the affairs of Sophia.

Article from Daily Telegraph, Sydney 6 Mar 1953:

PUBLIC company share holders who attend meetings should be paid, a shareholder said at yesterday's annual meeting of the Australian Gas Light Company. He is Mr. W. Espenhahn, who has been a shareholder in the company for more than 30 years. Mr. Espenhahn said: "From what I can see, everybody associated with this organisation is paid except the shareholders. Directors, executives, officers, clerks, labourers, and others receive money from the company's coffers, so why not share holders? Each of us should be paid for our attendances at meetings of this company. I am out of pocket every time I come to town to attend an annual meeting.
"My motion may be unorthodox but I would like it seconded."
Nobody seconded the motion. The chairman of directors (Mr.C.G. Crane) said shareholders would receive the standard dividend of six per cent.

1970. Walter died 2 Oct 1970 at Woolwich, Sydney NSW. [Ref SMH 5 Oct]

1990. Emmie died at the age of 89 at Hunters Hill, Sydney.

Clive Edwin Tilbury (1918-1996) and family used to visit the Espenhahn family at Hunter’s Hill.

[source Ban] Lived at 21 Prince George Parade, Woolwich, Sydney. Walter was a first cousin of Aunt Ettie’s and Ban’s. Ban hadn’t seen him since he left school. Clive and Heather stayed with him and his wife on trips to Sydney.

[source Ettie] Walter had Tilbury records from Aunt Emma Tilbury. Walter told Esther that one of her ancestors designed and built Tilbury Docks, which was named after him.

Christiana (Kitty) Sophia Espenhahn (1891-1984)

1891. Christiana was born in Woolwich (Ryde), Sydney NSW.

1915. Christiana (23) married Richard John Donovan (1884-) (31) of Melbourne, on 2 Sep 1915 at the Church of England All Saints Church in Hunter’s Hill NSW. At the time Christiana's father Edward was a Director. The wedding was witnessed by Piers Thomas and Myrtha[?] Cutler.

Richard Donovan, a secretary and accountant, was the son of Richard, of independent means, and Mary Susan/Elizabeth Donovan nee Capon. Public Notice of the wedding states that he was the only son of Mrs. T.M. Donovan of Melbourne.

1984. Christiana (93) died 29 Sep 1984 at Baxter.

2004. ?Son Richard John Donovan (1924-2004) died 20 Feb 2004 at the age of 80 at St Vincent's Private Hospital, Sydney. [Ref SMH 23 Feb]

[1] Photo and drawing from espenhahn-stiftung.de


  • Marlies Schilling 7 years ago

    I read about Eduard Espenhahn with interest. I live in Celle near Hannover in Lower Saxony. I was born as Marlies Tischmeyer. The sister of Eduard Espenhahn married my grandgrandfather as his second wife. His first wife died by giving birth to the 5th son. My grandfather was one of these sons. He himself had 6 children. And my eldest aunt always told us stories about the visit of uncle Eduard and his wife in Alsleben an der Saale, when she herself was a child. She told stories about Kitty and uncle Eduard comming down the hill from Sandersleben to Alsleben on bare feet... And told that aunt Florence went to England after the war. ...When my aunt died in 2012 at the age of 93 I got the shells. Reading the text about Eduard and Florence I met a part of the history of my family "Tischmeyer".
    Thanks. With regards Marlies Schilling

    • Linden 7 years ago

      Hi Marlies,
      Many thanks for your addition. All the records I've seen have his name recorded as Edward so it was interesting to see you spell it as Eduard, which must've been the proper spelling before it was anglicized. Can I ask what "the shells" are?
      Cheers, Linden

  • Jo Reynolds 7 years ago

    Hello, I've just stumbled across this page. I'm one of the granddaughters of Edward William Espenhahn, grandson of Friedrich Edward Espenhahn. It's fascinating to read this family history, thank you. I only knew a few details before. There are a couple of details with regards to Edward William that I can clarify: he married Barbara Mary (Mary) Winmill in Lancashire, England, in (I think, not 100% sure) 1941 and he died in Surrey, England (not Lancashire) in 2009. Happy to provide more information!
    Best wishes.

    • Linden 7 years ago

      Hi Jo, many thanks for the information. I've updated the page accordingly. I have to say the Espenhahns were a great unknown to me for a long time too - one small piece of information can lead to a veritable treasure chest. I'd love to be able to document the path to you (and any other information you're able to provide). Do you have any photos? Never too much information! Cheers, Linden

  • Katharina Richter-Wahl 5 years ago

    Hello. Thank you for your very informative website. It was very interesting for me to read about the australien relatives.
    My ggmother Minna was born Espenhahn, as youngest sister of Eduard (Edward) Espenhahn. Even my father remembered when Edward and Kitty came to Edwards birthplace Sandersleben in the late 30ties.
    In Sandersleben Edward founded a retirement home, first for his family, later as a foundation. It still exists and is called: “Espenhahn Stiftung”. In 1930 he became honorary citizen of Sandersleben and my uncle says his grave still exists.
    On the website http://www.espenhahn-stiftung.de/ you will find some information about Eduard: He was born 16.6.1854 and died 25.2.1941.
    There will also be a photography of him.
    With best wishes
    Katharina Richter-Wahl

    • linden 5 years ago

      Many thanks Katharina. Lots to follow-up on. I'll be doing some updates and will pass on any additional information I find. Cheers, Linden

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