Minnie Berrington - Update from a relative

19 April 2014 by Johno

Categories: Opal Fields Characters | Opal Fields History | Australian Opal

On this website I have written a few blogs on the life of Minnie Berrington, the first woman opal miner at Andamooka. I was fortunate a month or so ago to hear from relatives of Minnie who had read the posts.

Both Peter Berrington and his daughter Stephanie contacted me by email. They couldn't give me very much information but did give me little which I will now share. Some of it will be a direct copy from Peter's email.

"My daughter Stephanie ....... has given me your email address and told me of your interest in Coober Pedy and Andamooka. Alas I have very little to give you - and not one photograph of Aunt Minnie. There are some newsprint photos with which you are probably familiar. Aunt Minnie and her younger brother Victor, left England for Australia after the 14- 18 war. As a child I remember seeing them both when they came to visit us in a rented house on Haling Island off Portsmouth. My father was on home leave from his Port Conservatorship of Madras (now known as Chennai) harbour in southern India. Victor died after he arrived in Australia and I don't know the cause.

Nor do I have any letters in Aunt Minnie's handwriting. She corresponded by the grace of Mary Wiley. In one of her letters Mary said " I feel I have got to know you , writing for your Aunt. It was lovely to have her friendship".

When Betty and I married in 1948, Aunt Minnie sent us a present of three beautiful opals , which must have been a sacrifice for her as she was not a wealthy lady. We have kept them in the family. Stephanie has a very attractive pendant with one beautiful opal and Jennifer, my younger daughter is having the other two made into earrings. Aunt Minnie sent them to us in the white plaster of a miniature model of a water well which I still have. I telephoned a few times but Aunt Minnie preferred letters.

We were disappointed that neither Victor nor Minnie married. I suppose that the prevailing conditions at Coober Pedy simply didn't encourage family life.'

" Some of Mary's comments are intriguing. For instance "Now about your Aunt's passing away, she was not miserable but peaceful. Her biggest care was that she was wearing out those who were caring for her. She asked me several times to pray for her, to ask God to take her. She longed to go but she was so weak and weary.

Mary wrote of faith and God's mercy. " I am sure your aunt believed this as I do, and it takes the sting out of dying, for sin is the sting, But when sin is forgiven and cleansed away, where is the fear?"

"Now this blessing is not for all, only those who acknowledge to God their sin and believe Christ died for them. I hope I have made it clear Peter, and may God bless you and yours - it is very important, your sincere friend Mary"

Mary Wiley loved Port Elliot on the south coast ' where the breeze comes from the south pole"

" A really dear old lady. I loved her and her carers became fond of her also. I am thankful she is not here. She did feel the extremes in the weather, hot or cold and we are having a cold winter. It was wonderful how peaceful and unafraid she was to meet eternity. She came to have a very trust in God and the Lord Jesus, God the Son who died for her sins and made a way that she might live with God in Heaven for all eternity. Your Aunt had no fear, she longed to go, her faith was real."

Mary Wiley passed away on August 1st 2002.

The above information was in the email from hr nephew Peter Berrington. It probably doesn't add a lot to what we know of Minnie but it does indicate she died at peace and had a very good friend in Mary Wiley who looked after her.

If I find out any more information I will add it to this blog.

It is June 2016 and I have had contact with Robert Messenger who has carried out research into Minnie Berrington and has given me some more information about her. I quote from his email.

"Johno, I thought you would like to know Minnie Berrington was of royal blood- she was a direct descendant of the Plantagenets, the family which held the English throne from Henry 11 in 1154 to Richard 11 in 1485. Minnie's full name was Alice Minnie Florence Davies-Berrington and she was born at Birkenhead England on October 9, 1897, so she was at least 103 when she died. Her family had just returned from Port Elizabeth in South Africa when she was born, and some claims have it she was born in Africa, which is incorrect. Her dad was Evelyn Delahaye Davies-Berrington (1862-1908) and her mother was Eleanor Anne Berrington (nee Witterton) 1866-1924). Minnie was educated at St Monica's Church of England boarding school at Clacton-On-Sea, Essex. I have a ship boarding record for Victor (1909-1965) on the Bendigo, leaving England December 17 1925, but none for Minnie."

Robert also included his blog site about Minnie Berrington and it is well worth a read.

Thank-you Peter and Stephanie and Robert.

It is now June 20 2017. Stuart Wattison has been researching Minnie's life and has confirmed that Minnie died 13 April 2001 at the age of 103 years. She is buried alongside her brother Victor at Quorn in South Australia.

Stuart also advises that Victor arrived in Fremantle on the SS Bendigo on 25th January 1926 and in Adelaide on 3rd February 1926.

Thank you Stuart.

It is now Feb 2020. I have received advice that the ABC is to do a documentary on Minnie Berrington.

The link to information is attached. Minnie Berrington Documentary


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