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Caroline Ada Whiteman

Caroline Ada Whiteman

Caroline Ada aged approx 6 months Caroline Ada Whiteman
aged 6 mths approx
with her mother Mary Whiteman
Caroline Ada Whteman was just 13 years old when she was employed as a servant in the household of Albert Edward and Emily Anne Leggo in 1879.  As a servant she would have cooked, cleaned and done laundry for the family, and may have also assisted with the care of Albert and Emily’s two young children – Charles, and Ernest.  Ada, as she was known to all her family and friends, would have worked long hours with little time to herself, and for a small wage.
Emily bore another son – Frederick b. 1882
At 17 years of age Ada fell in love, and with the wisdom that only a teenager has, knew that her love would see her through a lifetime.  The man she had fallen so deeply in love with would provide for her, love her and father her children, and together they would be happier than any other couple she knew.  Ada also knew, with an absolute certainty that only teenagers share, that the love of her life Albert Edward Leggo, did not love his wife.  And so began the lies.
In the months, or even years that followed, there would have been stolen glances between Albert and Ada, filled with longing.  There were possibly times when their arms brushed together as they passed one another in the hall, and quick, quiet conversations held in an empty room behind closed doors. 
The first kiss that Ada and Albert shared was quite likely brief, leaving the taste for more lingering on their lips and igniting a passion in the very core of them. The forbidden always generates a need for more.
In December of 1884 Ada resigned her position with Albert Edward and Emily Ann, saying that she wished to join her Aunt Harriet in Noumea.  Ada had been with the Leggo family for approximately 5 years and Emily Ann was again pregnant and due to deliver in the following February.  Did Ada try to leave Albert Edward at this point?  She certainly never made it to Noumea, and it would appear her resignation was part of Ada’s plan to live with Albert Edward as his wife.  Ada arrived in Melbourne aboard a steamer under the name of Miss M. A. Smith – her Aunt Mary Ann’s married name.
And what does a man do when the young love of his life walks out the front door and he is left in a supposedly loveless marriage, why – he goes fishing of course!  Albert Edward left the house to go fishing at Bondi on New Year’s Day of 1884, and vanished.  He was feared drowned by Emily Ann and her three young sons.  For some months Emily had suspected that Albert and Ada were involved in an adultorous relationship.
Clarence & Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser Friday January 4th, 1884

A gentleman, named Albert Edward Leggo, has been missing from his home, in Point Piper-road, for some days past. He left home on a fishing excursion to Bondi Beach, on the afternoon of New Year’s Day, and nothing has since been heard of him. Mr. Leggo was 5′ 9″ high, and had a fair moustache and slight whiskers. He was dressed in a dark coat and waist coat, trousers of light check pattern, and a hard black felt hat.

Albert Edward’s fourth child, Florence, was born in February 1884, just weeks after her father’s disappearance.

Some months afterward Emily received an anonymous letter from Melbourne, notifying that her husband was living at a house in A’Beckett Street. Emily took out a warrant, and Albert  was arrested and brought up in the Water Police Court, and charged with wife desertion. Miss Flegg said the respondent and the girl Whiteman came to live in her house, and continued to occupy the one room under the name of Mr. and Mrs. Eathwell, Senior-constable Lewis deposed that he arrested the respondent on a charge of wife desertion. He was in bed at the time with the girl Whiteman. The rule was granted, to be returnable in six months, with costs against the respondent, the petitioner to have the custody of the issue.

The following appeared in The Evening News:

Leggo v. Leggo.

Emily Ann Leggo petitioned for a decree nisi for a dissolution of marriage with Albert Edward Leggo, on the ground of his alleged adultery with one Caroline Ada Whiteman. The petitioner said that she was married to the respondent in Februrry, 1878. He was a carpenter by trade, and shortly after their marriage they went to live in Tamworth. There was a servant in their employment named Caroline Ada Whiteman, who was then 13 years of age. They left Tamworth in September, 1879, and came to Sydney to live. The servant accompanied them and remained with them for some time. In December, 1883, Whiteman left the witness’s house, alleging she was going to Noumea, and on January 1, 1884, the respondent left his home saying he was going fishing. He never returned, and she thought he had been drowned.

Emily and Albert  were divorced with the decree absolute dated 14th December, 1886.  Ada had a child to Albert out of wedlock.  Their daughter Gertrude Grace Whiteman was born in June of 1886, before Albert’s divorce was final.  Ada and Albert married in 1887 and went on to have 4 more children. They were:

Ada and Albert emigrated to South Africa, although Ada did make a journey back to Australia for a visit with family in 1909.  She also corresponded with her mother Mary, and her siblings via postcards and letters.

I found numerous articles relating to Albert Edward’s disappearance at


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