Untold lives blog

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19 April 2023

Eliza Cordelia, the daughter of Chaund Bebee and Charles Rothman

We end our series of posts about Chaund Bebee and her children by looking at the life of her daughter Eliza Cordelia.  Eliza was baptised at Calcutta on 23 January 1803, the ‘Natural Daughter of C Rothman Esq’, and the register gives her date of birth as 20 April 1802.

Baptism of Eliza Cordelia Rothman at Calcutta 23 January 1803 Baptism of Eliza Cordelia Rothman at Calcutta 23 January 1803 IOR/N/1/6 f.180

Charles Rothman was a businessman in Calcutta who moved into government service.  He appears to have been close to John Shore, father of Chaund Bebee’s other children – there is a letter written by Rothman in February 1788 passing on a message from Shore who was ill.

Letter from Charles Rothman to George Nesbitt Thompson stating that John Shore is still much indisposed, February 1788Letter from Charles Rothman to George Nesbitt Thompson stating that John Shore is still much indisposed, February 1788 - India Office Private Papers Mss Eur D1083/35


Rothman accompanied Governor General Wellesley to Madras in 1798, and was rewarded for his ‘incessant assiduity regularity and integrity’ by being appointed keeper of the Company’s stationery at Calcutta in 1801.  He died on 23 September 1805 aged 48.  His will left everything to his second wife Sarah Anne, and after her death for the benefit of their children.  Eliza is not mentioned.

Eliza Cordelia Rothman married James Urquhart Sherriff at Calcutta on 6 November 1815.  James was an assistant in the Mint and then a house builder.  He died in 1832 at the age of 35, leaving Eliza with eight children: Eliza, Henrietta Rothman, James Charles, Margaret Euphemia, Robert William, Hannah Sophia, David, and George Hill.  Eliza was the main beneficiary of her mother’s will in 1836 and she did not re-marry.

On 12 November 1856 Eliza died at Entally on the outskirts of Calcutta and was buried the following day at Chowringhee.  Her age in the burial register is given as 57 years, 5 months and 20 days, which does not tally with the date given in her baptism record.

Shortly before her death, on 28 October 1856, Eliza made a will which made bequests to her surviving children and their heirs, and to friends, servants, and charities.  Of her four sons, Robert William was still alive, but James Charles, David and George Hill had all died without issue.  Only two of her daughters were living.  Eliza was married to Josiah Rowe, surveyor to the conservancy commissioners of Calcutta, and had children.  Henrietta Rothman was the widow of Charles Ware Brietzcke, second judge of the Calcutta Court of Small Causes, and she had children by her first husband William Ridsdale.  Hannah Sophia had died unmarried without issue.  Margaret Euphemia had been married to John Willie, master mariner, but both were dead.

Newspaper report of loss of ship Hope 14 October 1848Newspaper report of the loss of the Hope - The Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser 27 December 1848

In 1848, Eliza’s family had been struck by tragedy.  On 14 October John Willie’s ship Hope was lost in a terrible storm when on a voyage from Calcutta to Penang.  John and his wife Margaret died with their three small children William Robinson, Eliza Rix, and John Burnie.  Also on board were Margaret’s brother-in-law William Risdale and her sister Hannah Sophia Sherriff.  They also drowned.  The ship Framjee Cowasjee had tried to help the people they could see on the stricken ship but only succeeded in rescuing five of the crew.  The Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser wrote: ‘By this sad wreck 7 members of one family have perished, and a widowed lady has been bereaved of 2 daughters, 2 sons-in-law, and 3 grandchildren’.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, India Office Records

Further reading:
IOR/N/1/4 f.171 Baptism of George, natural son of Charles Rothman, at Calcutta 3 January 1794 (born 31 October 1792). George appears to have died aged 21 in Calcutta in September 1813 [IOR/N/1/9 p.330].
IOR/N/1/4 f.202 Burial of Henrietta Rothman, wife of Charles, at Calcutta 6 December 1796.
IOR/N/2/2 f.352 Marriage of Charles Rothman to Sarah Anne Woodhouse at Fort St George, Madras, 31 August 1799.
IOR/F/4/128/2373 Salary paid to Charles Rothman in consideration of his previous services.
IOR/N/1/6 f.180 Baptism of Eliza Cordelia Rothman at Calcutta 23 January 1803
IOR/L/AG/34/29/17 no.77 Will of Charles Rothman.
IOR/N/1/9 f.269 Marriage of Eliza Cordelia Rothman to James Urquhart at Calcutta 6 November 1815.
IOR/N/1/34 p.363 Burial of James Urquhart Sherriff at Calcutta 8 November 1832.
IOR/N/1/90 f.517 Burial of Eliza Cordelia Sherriff 12 November 1856
IOR/L/AG/34/29/94 Will of Eliza Cordelia Sherriff 1856
The will of Chaund Bebee or Bebee Shore 
The children of Chaund Bebee and John Shore – (1) John Shore 
The children of Chaund Bebee and John Shore – (2) Francis and Martha Shore 
The children of Chaund Bebee and John Shore – (3) George Shore 

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