Valentine given to Elizabeth Day

Bowhey, John and Bowhey, Elizabeth1870

State Library of South Australia

State Library of South Australia
Adelaide, Australia

Valentine in a small velvet frame, containing a pretty collage overlaid on a handwritten verse by John Bowhey, farmer of Torrens Road, Kilkenny, for Elizabeth Day of Tam O'Shanter Belt, for Valentine's Day 1870. The verse "...I would marry in the Spring time, when the buds are on the trees...I would marry in the springtime, like the birds upon the wing, I would marry, I would marry. Yes! I'd marry in the spring.'

In 2010 the descendants of John and Elizabeth Bowhey opened the sealed 1870 Valentine marriage proposal John had sent to the young woman who later became his wife. The handwritten poem had been sealed within a frame for 140 years, and was finally revealed in full, conserved by Judith Andrewartha of Tasmania, and resealed. The family decided the unique item should be donated to the State Library.

The Bowheys were farmers at Tam O'Shanter Belt (modern Regency Park). A few months after Elizabeth Day received John Bowhey's poetic proposal mentioning marriage in the spring, the two were indeed married in the spring, in September 1870.

The valentine poem was simply in an envelope; it was Elizabeth 'despite being a rather practical and hard-working and tough woman ... [who] framed the proposal in silk flowers, tulle and paper lace and sealed it in a velvet frame - and treasured it always'.


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