Teresa Edenborough nee Persiani

November 9, 2015
Teresa Edenborough nee Persiani

Teresa Edenborough nee Persiani

On 4 June 1881 Edwin EDENBOROUGH of Stanley Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney and Teresa Ann PERSIANI of Palmer Street, Darlinghurst were married. The marriage took place according to the Rites of the Church of England at St Peter’s Church, Darlinghurst. Both parties were under age and the consent of Jane Edenborough, mother of the bridegroom, and John Pye, guardian of Teresa Persiani, was given to the marriage.

I have been very fortunate that descendants of the couple have retained a huge amount of ephemera including family bibles which confirms the marriage. However, while the ancestry of Edwin has been easy to research, that of Teresa has resulted in a couple of major stumbling blocks.

The death certificate for Teresa Edenborough (nee Persiani) states that her parents were Peter Persanna (sic) and Eliza Rollins. But the only birth certificate that has been found for this couple is for that of a Pleasance Elizabeth Persiani born 11 March 1862 at Palmer Street, Darlinghurst. The birth date has been confirmed by the grandchildren of Teresa as being correct. But nobody has been able to supply the reason why Pleasance changed her name to Teresa Ann.

Her father, Peter Persiani, was involved with seafaring: family lore being that he was a sea captain who went down with his ship. He certainly disappeared after his daughter Teresa was born in Sydney in 1862 but whether he perished at sea or deserted his family remains a mystery.

I have tried to research this Peter Persiani but he remains a huge brick wall of mine. At the time of Teresa’s birth on 11 March 1862 he was 30 years of age, a sailor, and stated he was born in Leghorn, Italy. The previous year, on 17 June 1861, he stated on his certificate of marriage to Eliza Rollins, that he was a mariner, of full age, and was born in Stockholm. I believe him to be the Peter Persiana, an able bodied seaman, who had deserted from the ship Hollinside while docked at Sydney in 1859.

Oil painting of Peter Persiani, undated, held by family descendants.

Oil painting of Peter Persiani, undated, held by family descendants.

Notice of his desertion appeared in the New South Wales Government Gazette of 1 Aug 1859 which recorded him as being 5ft 2in high, of dark complexion, black hair and dark eyes. It would appear this wasn’t the first time that Peter Persiana had deserted. An earlier notice appeared in the NSWGG of 5 Sep 1855 listing his then desertion from the ship Euphrates. That time a £4 reward was offered to be paid if he was apprehended while the ship was in harbour.

Using the Mariners and Ships in Australian Waters website, I located Peter Persiani on the 1862 crew lists of March and May for the steamer Eagle although he gives his birthplace variously as British or New Orleans! The Eagle appears to have plied its trade between Sydney and Rockhampton. And there the trail goes cold. I have searched Trove and other websites for any shipwrecks or related happenings but haven’t been successful in finding anything more on Peter Persiani. So, was he lost at sea? Or did he once again desert ship (and family) this time in another state or country?

Peter Persiani’s disappearance supposedly happened when his daughter Teresa was a baby with family lore stating that Eliza Persiani nee Rollins married again but that Teresa’s step-father was very cruel to her so she ran away to her Auntie Pye who looked after her and brought her up. It is also believed that she was brought up in the Roman Catholic faith but switched to Church of England upon her marriage to Edwin Edenborough.

Sadly, Teresa’s death, at the age of 57, was on 1 July 1919 – one of the many thousands of people who succumbed to the worldwide Spanish flu epidemic.


Jennie Fairs
Member 1006

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