It’s an interesting mix of pioneers for July with several family links. It begins with Margaret Laidlaw who’s father and brother-in-law also have their obituaries listed. Then there’s William Thomson and his son Robert Thomson, and James Brake, a brother-in-law of William’s brother John Thomson. Also there are several connections to previous Passing Pioneers and I’ve linked them up where possible. You can also see the growing number of family connections among the pioneers on the alphabetical lists at the Pioneer Obituary Index. A reminder that all underlined text will take you to further information about the subject.
LAIDLAW, James – Died 1 July 1892 at Amphitheatre. James Laidlaw was born around 1823 in Scotland, a son of Adam Laidlaw and Margaret Stoddart. He arrived in Victoria in 1852 and married Mary Ann Coates in 1855. After their marriage, James and Mary Ann resided at Lake Learmonth near Ballarat. James was a Justice of the Peace and during the 1860s, Chairman of the Ballarat Shire. Around 1872, James purchased Lake Wallace South Estate near Edenhope. His brother Walter was at nearby Newlands and he and James became well-known in the district. James was the local Justice of the Peace and a Kowree Shire councillor.
In 1883, James purchased Amphiteatre Station, near Avoca with three of his sons while another two sons remained at Lake Wallace to manage affairs. James was soon involved with public affairs in the district and was elected to the Lexton Shire Council. James and Mary Ann had two daughters, Helen who married Hamilton stock and station agent John Fenton and another Margaret who married grazier, Thomas Philip. Both daughters lived in the Hamilton district. Margaret’s obituary is further down the page. James Laidlaw was buried at the Lexton Cemetery. Mary Ann died in 1896.
THOMSON, William – Died 17 July 1892 at Hamilton. Born in Fifeshire, Scotland in 1836, William was a son of merchant Robert Thomson and arrived at Hobsons Bay aboard the Yarra at the age of sixteen. With him was his father, brothers and uncle William Dick Thomson. While his father went to the Bendigo diggings, William and his brother Alex worked with merchants in Melbourne until their father’s return twelve months later. Robert Thomson opened his own business in Collins Street, Melbourne then later at Collingwood. Not long after, an accident claimed his life. William and Alec then went to Geelong working as merchants there. In 1864, the opportunity arose to buy the Levy & Sander Iron Store in Gray Street, Hamilton.
The store was known as W & W Thomson with William and his Uncle William senior partners. In 1872, William married Ella Guthridge and in the same year, his uncle retired and William’s younger brother John Thomson became a partner in the firm. In 1875, the Thomsons had grand plans for a new two storey stone building. Tender applications opened (below) and work began. Within in two years, the Thomson built another store next door, resulting in a “handsome and commodious edifice”. In time, the store expanded to other towns including Horsham.
During his time in Hamilton, William lived at Malvern House in Gray Street. Along with being a senior partner in W & W Thomson, William was a Hamilton Borough Councillor first serving in 1868 and going on to serve as Mayor on six occasions. He was Sunday School Superintendent at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for over twenty years and on the Hamilton Hospital committee, serving as President. At the time of his death, William was President of the Hamilton Mechanics Institute. William was a force behind the Hamilton railway and was a member of the Railway Extension League. He was a member of the Hamilton Bowling Club and served as President. William was a keen lodge attendee, as a Freemason and Oddfellows, climbing to the highest ranks
William Thomson died on a Sunday afternoon and that evening, his brother John approved a partial post-mortem for “humanitarian purposes” and suspicions confirmed. William Thomson’s death was due to liver cancer at the age of fifty-six. He left a widow, two sons and three daughters. The funeral was one of the largest seen in the town with the funeral procession almost one kilometre in length.
After William’s death, his younger brother John took over the running of the Thomson store, operating as John Thomson & Co. John died suddenly in 1894 and James Brake (see obituary below), brother of John Thomson’s wife Martha, took over the store’s management. Thomsons as it was locally known, operated in Gray Street until the early 1980s. The building remains today as a shopping centre and the façade was recently restored. The photo below was taken prior to the restoration.
MacLEOD, Alexander Magnus – Died 19 July 1910 at West Melbourne. Alexander MacLeod was born near Elaine, Victoria in 1846, a son of John Norman MacLeod and Agnes Paterson. He went to school in Portland and Scotch College and then worked in a Portland bank. Later, Alexander became the Deputy Chief Inspector of Stock in South Australia.
In 1890, at the age of forty-four, Alexander MacLeod married Caroline Henty. There was gossip about the marriage because of the age difference which was by no means vast and because Caroline had only the year before inherited property after the death of her father Francis Henty. That included part of the Merino Downs property Caroline and Alexander would go on to name Talisker after the MacLeod ancestral home on the Isle of Skye. Alexander and Caroline built a grand homestead in 1901 (below). Prior to settling at Talisker, the MacLeods had two daughters, Caroline Agnes and Alexandra Frances.
During his time in the district, Alexander was associated with the construction of the Merino Butter Factory, a cooperative close to Talisker. In 1910, Alexander and Caroline were visiting Melbourne and in residence at the Menzies Hotel. It was there on 19 July 1910, Alexander died suddenly from a heart attack. He was buried in Melbourne and Caroline returned to Talisker where she died four years later.
BRAKE, James Hugh – Died 29 July 1915 at Mont Albert. James Brake was born at Cavendish around 1854. Educated in Hamilton, James first worked for David Laidlaw, a storekeeper in Gray Street, Hamilton. James moved across the road to the W & W Thomson Store and was later promoted to manager of the Horsham branch of the store around 1880. His move to Thomsons was most likely due to the family connection coming in 1877 when James’ sister Martha married John Thomson, a senior partner of W & W Thomson and younger brother of William Thomson (see obituary above).
In 1881, James married Barbara McDougall and they went on to have five children. While in Horsham, James was one of the first members of the local progress association and was a contributor to the Horsham Hospital. He served on the Horsham Borough Council and held the Horsham seat in State Parliament. James was a supporter of temperance and attended the Horsham Presbyterian Church.
After the death of William Thomson in 1892, James’ brother-in-law John Thomson became the sole partner. However, John died suddenly in 1894 and James returned to Hamilton to manage the store in that town. In time, his sons also worked in the store. In 1914, the Brakes moved to Elouera in Stanhope Street, Mont Albert. James managed the Hamilton store from afar but died soon after at his home aged sixty-one. His body was returned to Hamilton and buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery. In November of that year, James and Barbara’s younger son William Brake enlisted with the 4th Field Artillery Brigade and middle son James enlisted with the Australian Flying Corps in 1916. Both sons returned, however, William died at the family home in Mont Albert in 1922 aged just twenty-nine. He was buried with his father at Hamilton (below).
PHILIP, John – Died July 1916 at Hamilton. John Philip was born at Victoria Lagoon Station north of Cavendish in 1855, the third son of Captain John Philip and Margaret Robertson. John attended the Hamilton Academy and Geelong College. When he left school, John went to his father’s property Miga Lake Station, north of Harrow, before managing Ascot Heath Station near Dartmoor in 1879. The following year, John married Katherin Swan of Koonongwootong station near Coleraine. He later purchased Englefield near Balmoral (below) and the Lower Crawford Estate near Condah in 1902. In 1904, he purchased the Mooralla Estate.
John served on the Portland Shire Council and later the Wannon Shire. He was also president of the Balmoral Mechanics Institute and the Toolondo-Cavendish Railway League. He was buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery (below).
WALTER, Emma – Died July 1916 at Hamilton. Emma Walter was born in Devonshire, England in 1828 where she married Thomas Bromell. In 1852, Emma and Thomas arrived in Victoria and after a short stay in Geelong went to the Ballarat and Avoca diggings before returning to Geelong by the end of the year, purchasing a farm in the Barabool Hills. In 1860, the Bromells took up Hensleigh Park north of Hamilton. Thomas died in 1887 and around 1904, Emma moved into town, living at Edgecumb in Milton Street Hamilton. In her earlier years at Hensleigh Park, Emma often attended the Hamilton Hunt Club meets. She also enjoyed attending the local football. Emma and Thomas had nine daughters and one son. At the time of her death, Emma had twenty-two grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. She was buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery (below).
JONES, Edwin John – Died 21 July 1928 at Dartmoor. Edwin Jones was born at Portland around 1856. His parents settled at Drik Drik where Edwin remained until around 1908 when he purchased land at Mumbannar. Edwin married Sarah Emerson around 1898 and they had three sons and one daughter. He was member of the Drik Drik P & A Society and Methodist Church (below)
LEARMONTH, Edgar Thomson – Died 8 July 1933 at Mount Gambier. Edgar Learmonth was the son of James Allan Learmonth and Annie Thomson and was born in Mexico around 1889 while his parents were living there. The Learmonths returned to Australia in 1892 when Edgar was four and resided at Correa, near Dunkeld for the next ten years before moving to the home of Edgar’s grandfather Peter Learmonth, Prestonholme near Hamilton. Edgar went to Hamilton College and later Wesley College. He spent some years in Western Australia after his schooling then returned to manage his uncle James Thomson’s property Inverary near Branxholme. While two of his brothers were serving during WW1, Edgar returned to Prestonholme and helped his father run that property. It was during those years, Edgar an all round sportsman, won three Hamilton Golf Club championships. After the war, Edgar and his two returned serviceman brothers purchased land together.
In 1923, Edgar married Nellie Coy of Woorndoo and the following year he and his brother Russell purchased Barnoolut near Mount Gambier where Edgar and Nellie took up residence and went on to have a daughter Janet. On the afternoon of 9 July 1933, Edgar attended a football match at Mount Gambier and later attended Jenz’s Hotel. He was found unconscious in the outhouse at the hotel with a bullet wound to his head. He died five hours later in a private Mount Gambier hospital. On 10 July 1933, the Mount Gambier coroner found Edgar Learmonth, at the age of forty-five, died from suicide due to an unsound mind. During the inquiry, letters by Edgar revealed he was a worried man, however, his brother Russell said that while there were some financial worries, “they were not such to trouble a healthy man”. Edgar was buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery (below).
LAIDLAW, Margaret – Died July 1935 at Hamilton. Margaret was born at Lake Learmonth near Ballarat in 1858, a daughter of James Laidlaw (see obituary above) and Marian Coates. On 21 August 1883, Margaret married Thomas Philip at Wanliss House, Ballarat. Thomas was a brother of John Philip (see obituary above). The groomsmen were Margaret’s brother Henry Laidlaw and John Fenton, Margaret’s brother-in-law. The Hamilton Spectator of 25 August 1883, headlined the report with, “A Fashionable Wedding”. Margaret and Thomas eventually went to live at Koornong near Branxholme and in 1910, Thomas was involved in accident with a horse and suffered back injuries. Since he was fifteen years older than Margaret, it was time to retire to town and the Philips took up residence at Kenmure in Ballarat Road.
In August 1933, Margaret and Thomas celebrated their Golden wedding anniversary with sixty family and friends. Margaret died two years later at the age of seventy-six.
THOMSON, Robert Erskine – Died 18 July 1948 at Benalla. Robert Thompson was born in Hamilton around 1875, a son of store owner William Thomson (see obituary above) and Ella Guthridge. Around 1904, Robert married Sophie Dowie of Carisbrook. After his marriage, Robert moved to Benalla and following his father’s footsteps, took over the Beehive Store in Bridge Street. Robert was a member of the Benalla Lawn Tennis Club and Benalla Golf Club. He was also a member of the Holy Trinity Church choir.
MANN, Samuel Furneaux – Died 17 July 1954 at Sandringham. Samuel Mann was born at Ballarat in 1866. His father Samuel Furneaux Sr was a Ballarat solicitor and they lived in Lydiard Street. Samuel Jr attended Geelong Grammar School. He was a good sportsman and was part of Geelong Grammar’s rowing eight crew for the local Head of the River twice. Samuel also played football and cricket and golf. He also played polo with the Caramut Polo Club later known as the Hexham Polo Club. In 1897, Samuel purchased Minjah Station from the Ware family in partnership with Rutherford Albert Affleck. He married Isabella Cecilia Affleck on 8 December 1897 at Scots’ Church in Collins Street, Melbourne. Samuel and Cecilia went to have two sons and two daughters. In 1903, Samuel purchased Lawrenny at Caramut (below). A further obituary for Samuel Mann is available on the link to Obituaries Australia http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/mann-samuel-furneaux-barney-670