Abigail Searls was born in Rochester, New York on 18th Mary 1838. Her father died when she was only two months old and her mother passed away when she was about seven. After being handed around relatives for much of her childhood Abigail finally emigrated to Melbourne in June 1857 with her uncle Jacob Carnaby and his wife Sarah.
In 1859 she married Joseph Yates Foulkes, a former miner and potter from Shrewsbury, England. Their first child Abigail, died in 1860 only a few weeks old, but they had a son Joseph in 1864. By this time Joseph had become the publican of the Alphington Hotel on Heidelberg Road, Alphington.
Charles Foulkes was born in 1866 but died a year later and Alfred was born in 1867 at Northcote but died in 1871. However Elizabeth (1869), Thomas (1870), Amelia (1871) and George (1874) all survived.
Unfortunately for Abigail, her husband died in 1874, leaving her with five children under the age of ten and a hotel to run. It was a measure of her character that she not only survived but continued to run the Alphington Hotel until 1902.
She later moved to Windsor and died on the 20th February 1908.
Cole, Robert K. Index of Hotels 1841 – 1949. Unpublished manuscript.
Edge, Gary (2004). Surviving the six o’clock swill: a history of Darebin’s hotels. Melbourne: Darebin Libraries.
Sands and McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory 1864- 1974. [Microfiche]. (1974). Melbourne, Australia: Sands & McDougall.