Eliza Jane Atkins was born on 3 February 1852, and baptised on 21 March 1852, in the Horton district of Tasmania, the eighth child of Samuel Atkins and Jane Ayres, and their fourth daughter. Eliza's parents had emigrated from Norfolk, England just over a decade earlier on the Van Diemen's Land Company expedition of the Emu.
When Eliza was 16 she married John Thomas Perkins on 11 May 1868, again in the Horton district. Both could sign their names in the register. John was recorded as a farmer and Eliza as a spinster. The witnesses were George Eastman and Elizabeth Atkins. A John Thomas Perkins was born on 12 January 1850, also in the Horton district, the son of Samuel Perkins and Ellen Hanson, but he has been found not to be the same individual that married Eliza Atkins. In the first instance, John stated his age as 20 when he married Eliza, making his birth year 1848. Secondly, for most of the births of his children John's father registered the event, and he was almost always referred to as James Perkins, not Samuel. A Perkins family descendant, Georgina Cotter, has revealed John's actual origins.