Strong in Faith…A Story of Monivae Estate

For over 175 years, the name of “Monivae” has been familiar to the people of Hamilton and district. What it represents has changed with the generations from a parish and schools to an old bluestone homestead Hamiltonians pass on their annual migration south to Port Fairy. For the returned WW1 soldier and poet Thomas SkeyhillMonivae was the place the fairies played as he walked the paddocks, “with a copy of Keats…and dog at my heels.” 

Local history wasn’t something taught at school but I  did learn the origins of the name “Monivae”. Not during a history class, rather religious education. I attended Hamilton’s Monivae College, a Catholic secondary school. The college opened in the 1950s, on the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road, just south of Hamilton on a property with a two-storey bluestone homestead.  After the school relocated to Ballarat Road, Hamilton, the original property became known as “Old Monivae”.  Those of similar age to myself, who didn’t sit through a Form 1 RE class at Monivae, could be excused for thinking the name started with the school.  Instead, it goes back to an Irish Protestant by the name of Acheson Ffrench.

Appointed as Police Magistrate in 1841 at Hamilton, then known as The Grange, Acheson Ffrench aged twenty-nine was from Monivea Castle, County Galway, Ireland, the Ffrench ancestral home dating back to the 16oos when the Ffrenchs took over from the O’Kellys.  Born at the castle in 1812, the son of Robert Ffrench and Nicola O’Brien was educated in Dublin, destined to join the clergy, but Acheson had questions. He left Ireland and went on a pilgrimage of sorts through Europe and the Holy Land before landing in Australia.  Don Garden in Hamilton, A Western District History, cites C. J. Griffith who met Ffrench in Melbourne soon after his arrival.  Griffith recalled Ffrench’s tattoos, Jerusalem Arms inked by a monk in the ancient city along with various Arabic characters.

“Government Gazette.” Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 – 1843) 8 July 1841: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31732227&gt;.

It was also 1841 when Ffrench took up land, a large run of 17,000 acres to the south of The Grange. He named it Monivae after his Galway home. It seems he never took on the original spelling of Monivea but Ffrench seemed fairly flexible in that respect.  He dropped a letter from his surname, signing letters to the newspapers, of which he wrote many, as A.French. The Ffrench surname had already evolved back in Ireland from ffrench.

“Advertising” The Melbourne Daily News (Vic. : 1848 – 1851) 1 February 1849: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226472923&gt;.

On 8 February 1842, Ffrench married his fiancé Anna Watton, a daughter of Dr John Watton who in that year became Medical Officer at the Mt Rouse Aboriginal Protectorate.  Acheson and Anna lived at the Police Magistrate’s residence on a site selected by Acheson on the corner of Thompson and Martin streets. The Hamilton Police Station and Courthouse still stand there today.

“Family Notices” Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1840 – 1845) 14 February 1842: 3. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92679898&gt;.

By the end of 1843, the role of Police Magistrate was abolished and Ffrench was without a job.  However, by February 1844, the government announced a new commission intended to keep the peace and Ffrench was named as a commissioner.  He was able to stay on in at his residence but with reduced employment, Ffrench turned to improving Monivae and running sheep. The Ffrench offspring were arriving at a steady rate and in 1847, a homestead was built at Monivae on what is now the eastern side of the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road.  Anna would bear twelve children in all, six boys and six girls, with one dying as a baby.

Acheson Ffrench wasn’t the best of farmers and money problems arose.  In 1864, he put Monivae up for lease for a term of three years and moved the family to Melbourne.

“Advertising” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 29 January 1864: 8. Web. 18 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5743286&gt;.

The family spent two years in Melbourne, returning to Monivae in 1866. Ffrench’s trips to Melbourne continued and he was there on 29 January 1870.  He fancied a dip at Kenny’s Gentleman’s Bathing Ship (below) at St Kilda. With his arms reportedly by his side, Ffrench described as, “somewhat heavy with a stout build”, dived into the water from one of the diving boards. Normally at a depth of six feet, the tide was out leaving the water depth at just over four feet. Ffrench hit his head on the bottom and unconscious when dragged out.  He could not be revived, dying within minutes.  An inquest found Acheson had broken his neck. Arising from the inquest was a conversation, of which Ffrench was a part in the days before his death.  At lunch with friends, the topic of discussion turned to death from diving accidents.

KENNY’S BATHING SHIP, ST. KILDA. Artist – Thomas Clark. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/84320

When news of Acheson Ffrench’s death reached Hamilton, shops closed as a mark of respect.  He was remembered in the Hamilton Spectator, “…as generally very highly respected throughout the district for his strict integrity and manliness of character, whilst there was a certain rugged independence about him which led him to adhere strictly to his own convictions, without, however, attempting to force his views upon others”.  Monivae was placed on the market and Anna Ffrench and the children moved to Melbourne.

“Advertising” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 9 August 1870: 3. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5828208&gt;.

Ownership of Monivae transferred from an Irishman the Spectator described as having “peculiar” religious views, to a staunch Presbyterian from the Scottish Highlands.  James Thomson and his wife Christian Armstrong arrived in Victoria in 1852 aboard the Europa.  They spent around five years at the Clyde Company’s Golf Hill, near Shelford. Their first child John was born in 1853 at neighbouring Warrambeen, home of Christian’s brother Alexander Armstrong.  James Thomson then purchased an interest the Ullswater and Maryvale Stations near Edenhope and settled at the later property.

By the time the Thomsons arrived at Monivae in 1870, they had seven children aged two to seventeen and they moved into Ffrench’s homestead. Over the next six years, the Thomson family continued to grow.  In 1871, twins James and George were born followed by Wilhelmina Jessie in 1873. Sadly, Wilhelmina died on 5 April 1875.  The last child born to the family was William Armstrong Thomson in September 1876.  It was around the time of William’s birth, James Thomson decided they needed a bigger home or more correctly, a “mansion”. He wasn’t the only one and the “bloated aristocrats” were duly roasted by the Ballarat Star calling for a mansion tax.

“NEW SOURCE OF TAXATION.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 18 December 1876: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article199833143&gt;.

Some may believe, especially if they did Form 1 RE with me in the 1980s, the existing Monivae homestead was built by Acheson Ffrench.  James Thomson was never mentioned in our classes.  Likewise, Thomson was not mentioned in historian Margaret Kiddle’s book Men of Yesterday and she credited Ffrench for building Monivae “probably in the late sixties” (p.316). However, James Thomson was responsible for the Monivae Homestead we know today.

The site for the new homestead was about 800 metres from the former homestead and on the other side of the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road.  William Smith, the Borough Surveyor drew up plans, tenders opened and using bluestone sourced from the quarry on the property, construction began.  Thomson’s total expenditure was £5400 something he likely regretted because the government did introduce a “class” tax and if the timing was slightly different, the homestead may never have been built. The land tax, introduced in the colony in 1877, intended to break up large holdings such as Monivae and it was thought Thomson would never have gone ahead had it come earlier.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD 1966. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230077

Hamilton Spectator correspondent toured the new sixteen roomed homestead in May 1878. Critical of the external appearance he suggested “one of those elegant lookout towers” to improve the looks. He remarked it might be an addition “when times – politically speaking – improve”.  A tower was never added and reforms to the land tax didn’t come until 1884. The lacework and coloured tiles of the verandah did meet approval. As the correspondent entered the front door, a hallway measuring twenty-four feet by ten feet wide was before him with, “white walls, shining like so much marble would perhaps give it too cold a look; but for the coloured light thrown into it, from the staircase and front door windows, and its mosaic pavement formed of Minton’s tiles.” The drawing room was around twenty-six feet by sixteen feet but for special occasions, folding doors into the breakfast room could open.  The floor space then increased to forty-six feet, allowing for dancing.

The homestead boasted an eighteen-foot tiled staircase with a cedar railing leading to the upper storey with a balcony verandah around ten feet wide and 130 feet long.  Paved in coloured tiles, it was perfect for the Thomson children to roller skate. That was until 1887 when sixteen-year-old James Thomas Thomson skated straight over the railing onto the gravel about nine metres below. He fractured his skull and although it was touch and go for a few days, he made a full recovery.  His twin George, known as “Joe” was not so lucky.  Having suffered congenital heart problems, he died suddenly two years late on 4 June 1889, at Monivae aged eighteen.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD 1966. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230077

The Thomson children were not the marrying kind. Of the five Thomson girls, three married, as did three of the surviving four boys. None married before the age of twenty-seven and John was fifty-six. The first Thomson wedding was that of thirty-year-old Annie Thomson to James Allan Learmonth, son of Hamilton businessman and grazier Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson of Prestonholme. Learmonth was also a devout Methodist, a pillar of the Hamilton Wesleyan Church in McIntyre Street.

It was the grandest of the three weddings James Thompson would pay for.  Celebrated on 1 September 1886, at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Hamilton, the marriage was not followed by the usual wedding breakfast. Instead, two weeks later James threw a private ball for two hundred guests in the Hamilton Town Hall for the newlyweds in lieu of a wedding breakfast.  Such a grand affair may have been due to Annie’s imminent departure for Mexico with her new husband who’d been managing the family property there.  It could also have been the thinking of a canny Scot.  Why pay for both a wedding breakfast and a send-off when one event will suffice.

HAMILTON TOWN HALL 1910. Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/765800

On 3 October 1888, it was Margaret “Maggie” Thomson’s turn to marry. She too had reached the age of thirty and opted for a small quiet gathering at Monivae. The groom was Thomas Haliburton Laidlaw, son of Thomas Laidlaw and Grace McLeod and those in attendance were mostly family. Elizabeth “Lizzie” Thomson married on 27 July 1893 in the drawing room at Monivae, again a quiet celebration.  Her groom was bank manager Forrester Goldsmith Armstrong, a son of Oliver Armstrong of Kyneton. By this time Lizzie’s older sister Annie and her family were home from Mexico to witness the occasion.

Fire has threatened the Monviae homestead many times since its construction including 1891, 1944 and more recently Ash Wednesday of 1983. The fires of February 1901 were particularly fierce and practically wiped out Byaduk North a little further south. At Monivae, fire swept through the property from one end to the other killing around 2000 sheep.

“ALONG MACARTHUR ROAD.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 February 1901

In 1906, the Victorian Government received an offer to buy 17,000 acres of the Monivae Estate from James Thomson for Closer Settlement.  He would keep 3,000 acres and the homestead. Negotiations with the government broke down, so James subdivided the land himself. An initial sale on 24 November 1906 saw 322 acres auctioned.  Of the lots sold they averaged around £16 per acre. A second sale was held on 20 December 1906 and 1022 acres were sold at an average of £9 13/ per acre. James also sold off Crawford Estate and subdivided 500 acres of Lake Condah Estate. With a downsized Monivae, youngest son William left the property and moved to Portland. Oldest son John stayed on at Monivae as did unmarried daughters Mary and Christina.

The land sales came in the wake of a great loss for the Thomson family.  On 8.20am on 24 October 1906 at Monivae, the matriarch of the family, Christian Thomson drew her last breath at the age of seventy-five.  A deeply religious and charitable woman, she was one of the fundraising champions of the town and attended St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church like clockwork “morning and night”. Everyone knew her pew. A full member of the church for thirty-six years, her name was added to the church roll on 4 October 1870.  Christian was also a member of the Ladies Benevolent Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society.  She managed to attend church until just a couple of weeks before her death.  Christian was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

GRAVE OF CHRISTIAN THOMSON, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

It was fourteen years between the weddings of Thomson children and it was James Thomas Thomson, the roller skater, who was next to take the plunge.  He was living at Inverary, Branxholme by the time he married Henrietta Moynan on 26 November 1907 at the Anglican Christ Church Hamilton, the church sharing Church Hill with St. Andrew’s. The couple made their home at Inverary.  By that time, some may have thought James’ older brother John who had hit his mid-fifties, would remain a bachelor but on 31 March 1909 at Lilydale, he married Christiana Robertson.  Younger brother Alexander was close behind, marrying Ethel Manning on 6 May 1909.  He was forty-six.

Possibly the last public duty undertaken by James Thomson of Monivae was the laying of a foundation stone for a new St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.  A devout parishioner, James donated bluestone from the Monivae quarry for the new church.  The ceremony took place on 18 December 1907 with James just four months from his eighty-seventh birthday.

FOUNDATION STONE, ST ANDREW’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

 

ST ANDREW’S PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

After completion of the new Presbyterian church, James donated a memorial window to remember his wife, Christian.  Also, portraits of James and Christian and their children John and Margaret Thomson were unveiled at the church in 1918 along with those of seven other prominent Hamilton Presbyterians.

“BEAUTIFUL MEMORIAL WINDOW.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 26 May 1909: 4. Web. 14 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225037595&gt;.

James Thomson died at Monivae on 25 April 1910 after an illness of two weeks.  His obituary described him as, “…a man of sterling qualities and simple tastes. Never courting publicity, he was never so happy as when surrounded by children or occupying himself in his garden”.  James left Monivae for the last time at 2.30pm on Wednesday 27 April 1910 for the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.

GRAVE OF JAMES THOMSON, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

James Thomson’s probate file reveals his liabilities were £814. His debts included rates, wages to a number of Monivae staff and accounts with businesses in Hamilton.  The total of the estate was £36,209. Of that, over £2600 was stock including several thousand sheep. Another £300 was the furniture filling the rooms of the homestead.  The Monivae property including the homestead was valued at £25000. By that time, the homestead Ffrench built was accommodation for Monivae workers.  James bequeathed two-thirds of his estate to his four living sons, divided equally.  To his five daughters, James bequeathed one-third of his estate in equal shares. Eldest son John Thomson was given the first option to buy the property at a value of £8 per acre.  He could also buy the farm implements and furniture in the homestead for £400. The last of the Lake Condah Estate was sold as too a large amount of stock.  Extra funds were no doubt wanted to pay the duty on the estate totalling more than £2500, seven percent of the total.

John Thomson did take up the option to buy Monivae.  He was around fifty-seven and newly married to Christina “Keenie” Robertson, a daughter of Scot James Robertson and Jane Ritchie of Keilor.  Christina herself was forty-three and children were not in the equation. Like his parents, John was a stalwart of the Presbyterian Church and on the board of management of St Andrew’s for thirty years.  As well as running Monivae, John was a politician and by 1910, had held the seat of Dundas in Victoria’s Legislative Assembly for eighteen years across two terms and was a Honourary Minster in the Cabinet.

“THE OPENING OF THE THIRD FEDERAL PARLIAMENT.” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 2 March 1907: 9. Web. 13 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article221256443&gt;.

In May 1914, John Thomson announced after twenty-two years in the seat of Dundas, he would not stand for re-election at the forthcoming State Election. The reasons given were the need to spend more time at home with his wife and to tend to other family matters. He said the last five years were extremely busy ones and he was looking forward to leading a quieter life.

John’s unmarried sisters Christina and Mary had stayed on at Monivae after their father’s death.  In 1914 and feeling under the weather, Christina then aged forty-six attended the doctor on Friday 6 November but managed to take up her usual place at St Andrew’s the following Sunday.  She died suddenly about midday at Monivae on Monday 9 November with Mary at her side. Well-liked in the community, Christina like her mother was devout and charitable.

It was around the time of Christina’s death, the Monivae State School opened on the Portland Road.  With Closer Settlement in the district and James’ subdivision of Monivae, the area was becoming increasingly populated. The school eventually closed and in 1946, the school building was moved to the North Hamilton State School.

John Thomson spent the years after his political retirement maintaining Monivae and was involved with various committees and activities in the Hamilton district.  He made a trip to Melbourne on 3 August 1917 and attended a school football match with Archibald Simpson of Clifton, Hamilton.  The funeral for John Thomson was large with condolences and floral tributes sent from dignitaries across Victoria.  His coffin bearers were Monivae employees and members of the Hamilton Angling Club. John was buried in the Thomson family plot at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery as the Hamilton Brass Band played “Nearer My God to Thee”.   

GRAVE OF JOHN THOMSON AND HIS WIFE CHRISTINA ROBERTSON

John left his estate valued at over £46,000 to his wife Christina and brother-in-law Thomas Laidlaw. Upon Christina’s death, the estate would be divided between John’s brothers and sisters.  One of John’s more interesting investments was 500 shares in the Melbourne Ice Skating Company. The estate was held in trust and Christina moved to Sandringham in 1921. She died at Toorak in December 1949 at the age of seventy-nine.

Alexander, the second eldest son of James and Christian Thomson took over the running of Monivae.  Alexander and his wife Ethel Manning and their two children Kathleen Mary and  James Yelverton Monivae Thomson moved into the homestead.  Kathleen (below) married Hugh Lloyd Cameron of Geelong at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Hamilton on 18 February 1937.

KATHLEEN MARY THOMSON 1937 ‘Family Notices’, Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939), 11 March, p. 50. , http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article149614310

The 1930s saw the death of five of the Thomson siblings.  Annie died on 14 June 1930 at Prestonholme aged sixty-four leaving six children, Edgar, Russell, Keith, Christina (Mrs James Young), Maggie (Mrs Alex Armstrong), and Mona Learmonth. Having married the son of Hamilton’s leading Methodist, Annie changed her allegiances and was active in within her new church.  A memorial window (below) was installed in the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church remembering Annie and her husband James Learmonth.

LEARMONTH MEMORIAL WINDOW, HAMILTON UNITING CHURCH

Annie was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery

Margaret died on 30 December 1932 at her home Kilora (below) in Kennedy Street, Hamilton. She left six children, Hal, John, Alexander, Thomas, Gretta (Mrs Lance Lewis) and Bea (Mrs John McKellar) Laidlaw.  On 23 March 1933, Elizabeth died at Corra, Willaura, the home of her son-in-law Donald Moffatt leaving two children Vera and Pat.  James Thompson Jr. died in 1934.  He and Henrietta did not have children.  Youngest son William, who never married, died on 2 May 1943 aged sixty-six at Portland.  His body was taken to Monivae before leaving for the Hamilton Cemetery.  After the death of her sister Christina, unmarried Mary Thomson spent time in Malvern living with her sister Elizabeth. After Elizabeth died, Mary moved into Kilora (below), sharing the home with her widower brother-in-law Thomas Laidlaw, husband of Margaret Thomson, until her death on 13 May 1939. Thomas Laidlaw died in 1941.

KILORA, HAMILTON

Alexander Thomson’s death in June 1946 aged eighty-three, brought to a close the lives of the children of James and Christian Thomson. Sixteen of their grandchildren and their children remained. Like his siblings, Alexander was buried in the Thomson plot at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery (below).  

THOMSON FAMILY PLOT, PRESBYTERIAN SECTION, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

After seventy-seven years, with the estate of John Thomson requiring closure, Monivae in the Parish of Monivae in the County of Normanby went up for sale.  

“Advertising” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 28 December 1946: 18. Web. 16 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22384820&gt;.

The Catholic order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) was looking for a new site for a boys’ boarding college after establishing a school in Toowoomba, Queensland sixteen years earlier.  The Monivae homestead was purchased in 1947 with grand plans of developing the property into a school.

“M.S C. BOYS’ COLLEGE FOR HAMILTON” Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954) 13 August 1947: 7. Web. 16 Oct 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article172490068&gt;.

It soon became clear, the site was not suitable and the MSC went in search of a new site. Bob Strachan owned land on Ballarat Road, Hamilton and the MSC were able to negotiate a trade with him.  The MSC obtained the land in Ballarat Road for the new school and retained 100 acres at Monivae including the homestead.  Bob Strachan’s side of the bargain was the balance of the Monivae property.  A day school in temporary buildings on the Monivae property started in February 1954 while the new school was under construction.  On 17 October 1954, the foundation stone for the Ballarat Road school was blessed. The contract for the building which started in mid-1953 was the largest seen in Hamilton, estimated at £250,000. Classes started at the new school in 1956 despite it being far from complete.  Monivae College not only adopted the name of the Ffrench named property, the school’s badge includes a reminder of Ffrench’s heritage, two Dolphins  also part of the Ffrench family crest.

MONIVAE COLLEGE, BALLARAT ROAD, HAMILTON c1956.
Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/64414

From 1841, religion was at the forefront at Monivae.  From Acheson Ffrench questioning and challenging his faith to the Thomson’s unwavering devotion, to the arrival of the priests of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The Monivae College motto Fortes in Fide meaning Strong in Faith could easily have been the Thomson’s motto too.  

The Monivae homestead became rundown and was later taken over by Glenelg Region Water, now known as Wannon Water.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD 1981. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230082

The homestead and what remains of the surrounding Monivae property has since returned to private ownership and has undergone extensive restoration.  Monivae will be open on Sunday 22 October from 10am to 4pm.  All proceeds go to another of Hamilton’s historic jewels the Hamilton Botanic Gardens and its ongoing redevelopment. Appropriate as a feature of the gardens is the beautiful John Thomson Memorial Fountain. Such was the high regard for John Thomson of Monivae around the Hamilton district, the fountain was built in his memory and unveiled in April 1919 by the then Premier of Victoria.  In its position, the fountain is visible from the front gates of Kilora in Kennedy Street, acting as a constant reminder of their dear brother John for sisters Margaret and Mary Thomson during their time at the home.     

©2017 Merron Riddiford

Passing of the Pioneers

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.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser (South Melbourne, Vic. : 1860 – 1870) 8 January 1864: 1. Web. 9 Jul 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article194724116&gt;.

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.

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 25 December 1875: 2. Web. 9 Jul 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226071140&gt;.

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

JOHN THOMSON & CO., GRAY STREET, HAMILTON, 1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769322
Accessed 27 June 2017

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.

“FUNERAL OF THE LATE MR. WILLIAM THOMSON.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 21 July 1892: 3. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226161727&gt;.

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.

FORMER JOHN THOMSON & CO BUILDING, GRAY STREET, HAMILTON, 2015

McLEOD, Alexander Magnus – Died 19 July 1910 at West Melbourne.  Alexander McLeod was born near Elaine, Victoria in 1846, a son of John Norman McLeod 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 McLeod ancestral home on the Isle of Skye. Alexander and Caroline built a grand homestead in 1901 (below).  Prior to settling at Talisker, the McLeods had two daughters, Caroline Agnes and Alexandra Frances.

“TALISKER”, MERINO, 1977. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/232509

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).

BRAKE FAMILY PLOT, OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY.

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.

ENGLEFIELD. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/214202

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).

GRAVE OF JOHN AND KATHERIN PHILIP, OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY

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).

GRAVE OF EMMA BROMELL (NEE WALTER), OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY

 

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)

DRIK DRIK METHODIST CHURCH. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230495

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 LearmonthPrestonholme 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).

GRAVE OF EDGAR LAIDLAW AND FAMILY, OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY

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.

KENMURE, HAMILTON 2015

 

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

‘LAWRENNY”, CARAMUT 1986. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/216637

 

Sacred Memorials

You may have sat in a church and admired the stained glass windows, but have you had a close look? You’ll see church windows can tell a story about a town’s history and people.  To give you an example, let’s take a look at windows at two churches I’ve visited over the past year, the Hamilton Uniting Church and the Hamilton Anglican Christ Church.  A disclaimer…I like to think it’s a spiritual force responsible for the large percentage of blurry photos I’ve taken in churches.  In reality, it says something about my photography skill.  Also, there are loads of links in this post so if you see underlined text, click on it and you will find more information about the subject.

Opened on Sunday 5 October 1913 as the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Hamilton Uniting Church in Lonsdale Street has some beautiful windows.

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

I have some family history here as my ggg grandfather James Harman was a Wesleyan local preacher and often preached at the former Wesleyan Church in McIntyre Street.  The current church opened prior to his death and even though he was eighty-three he still found the energy to attend events important to him so I expect he was there.

Hamilton Uniting Church

HAMILTON UNITING CHURCH

There isn’t a memorial window for James, but there is a window for a man he knew well, Peter Learmonth of Prestonholme Hamilton, a local businessman, flour mill operator and stalwart of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Unveiled on 14 January 1900 at the then Methodist Church in McIntyre street, this beautiful window was later installed at the new church in Lonsdale Street.

Peter Learmonth Window

PETER LEARMONTH MEMORIAL WINDOW

The Reverend W.C. Thomas spoke of the Learmonth’s dedication to the Methodist Church during a memorial service for Mary Jarvey Pearson, herself deserving of a memorial window.

"LATE MRS. PETER LEARMONTH." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 8 December 1913: .

“LATE MRS. PETER LEARMONTH.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 8 December 1913: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225162684&gt;.

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James Allan Learmonth was a son of Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson.  He was born at Merino Downs on 8 April 1856 and went to school at the Hamilton and Western District College and Wesley College. Locally, James was well-known for his sporting prowess.  After some work experience in Melbourne, James returned to the Western District to manage his father’s Penshurst Flour Mill.

After his father co-purchased Maraposa Estate in Mexico, James and his brother left for that country to manage the estate for ten years, returning home briefly in 1886 to marry Annie Thomson of Monivae Estate.  In 1892, James and Annie returned from Mexico to live at Prestonholme.  James died on 29 October 1928 and Annie on 14 June 1930.  They were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.

learmonth6

Annie’s family were Presbyterian and the St Andrew’s Church in Hamilton features a large memorial window for her father James Thomson.  James and Annie Learmonth’s window at the Hamilton Uniting Church is below.

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JAMES AND ANNIE LEARMONTH MEMORIAL WINDOW, UNITING CHURCH, HAMILTON

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Hamilton’s Christ Church in Gray Street was built in 1878.

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CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

Walking up to the door, I always imagine handsome Lieutenant Edward Ellis Henty and his beautiful bride Florence Grace Pearson emerging through the doors after their marriage on 18 November 1914.  They’re bittersweet thoughts because nine months later, Florence and Edward’s family and friends entered the same doors for a memorial service for Edward. He was killed at the Charge at the Nek at Gallipoli on 7 August 1915 while serving with the 8th Australian Lighthorse Regiment.  Florence was around seven months pregnant.

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I’ve visited the Christ Church three times in the past year. Each time I visit, I can’t help but touch the 137-year-old walls made from local bluestone just as I enter the doors below.

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Just inside the main door of the church in the vestibule is the first stained glass window, a memorial for the Tatlock family,  Alfred James Rolland Tatlock, his wife Marie McGowan and sons Norval and Alfred Jr. Depicted is St. Francis of Assisi possibly indicating the Tatlock’s love for animals.  Alfred Sr.’s father Thomas Henry Tatlock was a leading breeder and judge of poultry and horses.

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TATLOCK MEMORIAL WINDOW

Alfred Tatlock Sr. was a grand master of the Grange Masonic Lodge and a Hamilton councillor.  Marie died in 1937 and Alfred Jr. met a tragic end, killed in a plane crash in Queensland on 27 March 1943 while serving with the RAAF.  Twenty-two other crew and passengers were also killed. Norval died in 1951 and Alfred Tatlock Sr. in 1956.   

Another window in a different part of the church remembers another son of Alfred Tatlock and Marie McGowan, Rolland Tatlock who died in 1981.  This window depicts St. Vincent de Paul and is one of two windows in the church created by Jean Orval.  I went to school with three of Jean’s grandsons, all cousins. Each day on my way to primary school, I passed Jean’s house with his workshop at the end of the driveway.  You can read more about Jean Orval and see photos of his beautiful windows in churches across Victoria and South Australia on the link http://www.orvalstainedglass.com/index.html

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ROLLAND TATLOCK MEMORIAL WINDOW BY JEAN ORVAL

Once inside the Christ Church, stained glass windows line either side of the nave. To the left is the window for Abraham Greed and his wife Hannah Oaff.

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ABRAHAM AND HANNAH GREED MEMORIAL WINDOW, CHRIST CHURCH ANGLICAN CHURCH, HAMILTON

Abraham was a leading coachbuilder in the town and a Mayor of Hamilton.  He was born in Taunton, Somerset, England and arrived in Victoria around 1857. Abraham married Hannah Oaff in 1866.  He died on 27 July 1926 aged eighty while on holiday in Geelong with Hannah and their daughter.  Only the year before, Abraham had donated an oak altar and reredos to the church. 

"HAMILTON." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 22 May 1925: 6. .

“HAMILTON.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 22 May 1925: 6. .

In his will, Abraham left the Christ Church money for a peal of bells.  Hannah died at Hamilton in 1937 aged eighty-eight.

"ABOUT PEOPLE." The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) 1 November 1926 .

“ABOUT PEOPLE.” The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954) 1 November 1926 .

Also to the left of the nave is the window for Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton Bree and his wife Anna Maria Henty.

stapylton

MEMORIAL WINDOW OF ROBERT BREE AND ANNIE HENTY

Robert Bree was born in Cornwall on 11 November 1839, his father an Anglican minister.  He worked for Dalgety & Co. in London before arriving in Victoria and working for Stephen Henty as a manager of Henty’s properties. It was during that time Robert met Stephen Henty’s daughter Annie four years younger than himself.  They married in Hamilton’s first Anglican Church on 30 July 1874.  Robert operated a stock and station business at Hamilton from 1872.  At one time he was in business with Alfred Tennyson Dickens, son of Charles Dickens.

Robert sat on the Hamilton Borough Council for thirty-five years, twice serving as Mayor. He was President of the Hamilton Hospital board and operating theatre was named in his honour along with a park opposite the hospital. On 26 May 1900, Robert and Anna’s son Reginald Robert Stephen Stapylton Bree serving as a Lieutenant was killed in Bloemfontein, South Africa during the Boer War.

Robert Bree died on 16 September 1907.  After Robert’s death, Anna continued living at the Bree family home Bewsall in Hamilton and in 1914 hosted the wedding breakfast of her nephew and his new wife, the aforementioned Edward Henty and Florence Pearson.  Anna died on 2 July 1921 at Bewsall in Hamilton leaving two daughters and a son.

HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

BEWSALL, HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

stapylton-2

Next is the window for the Rountrees, James Hughes Rountree and his wife Margaret Strang Kitchen.

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MEMORIAL WINDOW OF JAMES ROUNTREE AND MARGARET KITCHEN

James Hughes Rountree died on 1 August 1902 after an operation for an ulcer.  He arrived in Victoria aboard the Great Britain in 1864 and worked as a dispenser at the Geelong hospital.  In 1874, he became superintendent at the Hamilton Hospital.  Fourteen years later, James opened a chemist shop in Hamilton. He was a member of the Masonic and Orange Lodges.  At the time of his death, James left his widow, Margaret and eight children.

Most of James and Margaret’s children followed James’ profession.  Daughters Mary, Margaret, Jean and Ella were chemists as was son James.  Mary Rountree married the well-known jockey Bobby Lewis in 1920.  Lewis rode four Melbourne Cup winners during his career and controversially rode Phar Lap to third in the cup in 1929. The wedding took place at the Hamilton Christ Church. 

"PERSONAL." The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924) 19 June 1920: .

“PERSONAL.” The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) 19 June 1920: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article211909666&gt;.

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James and Margaret Rountree were buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.

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GRAVE OF JAMES ROUNTREE AND MARGARET KITCHEN

The following photo is a perfect example of most of my church photos and I wasn’t going to post it.  Instead, I asked Mum to try her luck photographing the window.  When I compared the two photos, I had to share both because of the different colours in each photo.

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This is Mum’s photo.  Each was taken in the early afternoon, the first in April and the second in November. The angle was the main difference.  The window is dedicated to the memory of Percy Beaumont Osborne.

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MEMORIAL WINDOW OF PERCY BEAUMONT OSBORNE

Percy Beaumont Osborne was the stepson of Hamilton’s Anglican Vicar from 1907 until 1917, Charles Harris. He enlisted for WW1 on 11 February 1916 and left Australia for England on 28 July 1916.  Percy died of Meningitis at Tidworth Military Hospital, England on 2 February 1917 aged twenty-two.  His memorial window was unveiled on Sunday 17 June 1917.

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Memorial windows for WW1 soldiers are not unusual.  The former Baptist Church in Hamilton (now a private home), had five memorial windows installed for WW1 soldiers Alexander and Edgar  Stevenson, James Sack, Joseph Brokenshire, Walter Filmer and Albert Herbert Lewis.  The Victorian War Heritage Inventory site allows for searches by a soldier’s name or site of a memorial.

I intend to add to my stained glass window photo collection and hopefully, with more practice, they’ll improve. I’m keen to get back to St. Stephen’s Church in Portland where there are beautiful windows and a memorial tablet for Edward Ellis Henty was unveiled there on 1 July 1917.

Passing of the Pioneers

Ten pioneers join the Pioneer Obituary Index this month and an interesting group they are.  Previously I have mentioned how bringing the monthly pioneers together revels things they have in common. This month it’s the name Alan/Allan.  There are three pioneers bearing the moniker this month, two of whom were given it as a second name but preferred it over their first.  A reminder that all underlined words are links to further information about the subject.

James WIGGINS – Died 21 October 1896 at Hamilton.  James Wiggins was born in Launceston, Tasmania on 23 February 1833 and arrived at Portland with his parents in 1840.  In the early 1850s, James headed to the goldfields around Eaglehawk before giving up and going to Drysdale near Geelong where he and his brother John purchased the Buck’s Head Hotel for £6000. It was there James met recently widowed Jane Blastock (nee Fountain) from Hamilton, ten years older than himself.  At the time, James was a cross-country rider but Jane did not approve, so on the day before they married in 1859, James rode in and won his last steeplechase.

The couple soon moved to Hamilton, taking up residence at Sandal on Digby Road overlooking the Grange Burn.  James turned to farming with root crops his main priority.  He was also elected to the Dundas Shire and was president for a time.   James was on the first Hamilton Borough Council formed in 1863. As Mayor on 24 May 1872, James laid the foundation stone (below) for the first Hamilton Town Hall in Gray Street.

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FOUNDATION STONE OF HAMILTON’S FIRST TOWN HALL. IT IS NOW LOCATED ON THE SIDE WALL OF THE HAMILTON PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE.

At the time, James expressed disappointment funds wouldn’t allow for a bigger structure.  Fourteen years after James’ death, in 1910 a new, grander Town Hall was opened in Brown Street to replace the original building (below)

Museum Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/765800

HAMILTONS FIRST TOWN HALL IN GRAY STREET. Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au

As a young man, James excelled at competitive sport. He was a “one of the best and boldest footballers” and could “wield the willow as well as most up-country players”.  He also participated in competitive walking and the aforementioned cross-country riding.  After his vow not to ride, James instead owned and bred horses and sat on the Hamilton Racing Club committee.  He also had an interest in greyhound racing.  James was for a time president of the Hamilton Cricket Club and the Hamilton Bowling Club and was a bowls champion. He was a member of the Hamilton Pastoral and Agriculture Society and won many prizes for his roses at flower shows. James received the Commission of the Peace and when he died was, along with David Laidlaw, the most senior Justice of the Peace in the town and was a respected for his attention to detail as a Magistrate. James’ wife Jane lived on for a further five years after his death.  They had no children.

Caroline Agnes HENTY – Died 1 October 1914 at Merino.  Caroline Henty was born in 1849 at Portland, a daughter of Francis Henty and Mary Ann Lawrence.  She grew up at Merino Downs, the large pastoral run of her father.  In 1889, Francis Henty died and left Caroline his property in Portland including Claremont (below).

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CLAREMONT, PORTLAND

Also, Merino Downs  was split three ways and shared between Francis’ daughters Louise, Alice and Caroline. The following year when Caroline was around forty, she married Alexander Magnus MacLeod at Holy Trinity Church, Kew.

"Family Notices" The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 22 August 1890: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8429127

“Family Notices” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 22 August 1890: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8429127

The marriage set tongues wagging and the difference in age questioned along with Alexanders’s worthiness to marry a woman of high status.  Alexander was in fact only two years older than Caroline and was himself from good standing. His father John McLeod was a member of Victoria’s Legislative Assembly and owned several large properties including Castlemaddie at  Tyrendarra.

"Personal." The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 - 1950) 30 August 1890: 3. .

“Personal.” The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW : 1888 – 1950) 30 August 1890: 3. <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86271136&gt;.

Caroline and Alexander’s first daughter Caroline Agnes MacLeod was born at Hawthorn in 1892 and in 1894, Alexandra Frances MacLeod at Albert Park.  In 1901, Caroline and Alexander built Talisker on Caroline’s share of Merino Downs and they took up residence there.

TALISKER, MERINO 1901. Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/766380

TALISKER, MERINO 1901. Image courtesy of the Museum Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/766380

In 1910, Alexander and Caroline were staying at Melbourne’s Menzies Hotel when Alexander died on 19 July aged sixty-four. Caroline returned to Talisker and died there four years later and buried at the Merino Cemetery. Applications for Probate for Caroline and Alexander’s estates were lodged in December 1914, and the joint worth of the couple was a tidy sum for the times.

"Wills and Estates" Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 - 1954) 12 December 1914: .

“Wills and Estates” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 12 December 1914: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article132723107&gt;.

In 1959 for the purpose of a Red Cross fundraiser, Caroline’s gowns and even her “unmentionables” were displayed by her descendants.  You can see the photos from the Australian Women’s Weekly on the link –  Caroline’s Gowns

Alan McCALLUM – Died October 1914 at Dandenong. Alan McCallum arrived at Cavendish in the early 1860s and worked on stations around the area as overseer and station manager.  He then purchased the Cavendish Hotel and general store and spent time on the Dundas Shire Council.  Alan then sold up and went to Heywood, operating the Commercial Hotel for several years.  He then went to Hamilton taking up the lease on the Prince of Wales Hotel in Thompson Street.  He was soon on the move again, operating a store in Cobden for two years before returning to Hamilton where he remained until 1913. He then moved to Dandenong to live with his sister and remained there until his death the following year.

Emala ILIFFE  – Died 29 October 1915 at Koroit.  Emala Iliffe was born in Warwickshire around 1826.  She came to Australia with her husband Ephraim Brittain in 1855 arriving at Port Fairy aboard the Samarang with a three-year old son Charles and baby Jane.  They spent two years at Port Fairy before moving to Koroit where they remained for the rest of their lives.  They went on to have a total of seven sons and six daughters. Emala attended the Koroit Methodist Church (below).

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63789

KOROIT METHODIST CHURCH. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63789

Ephraim died in 1904.  At the time of Emala’s death, she had sixty-eight grandchildren, and fourteen great-grandchildren. Six of her grandsons enlisted for WW1.  

Michael MUGAVIN – Died October 1916 at Crossley.  Michael Mugavin was born in Ireland around 1832 and arrived in Australia sometime between the mid 1850s to 1860s.  Michael and his wife Mary Lineen settled in the Crossley area.  Michael had early success as a farmer, becoming quite prosperous.  He was described as having a “…quiet and inoffensive disposition, honest and thrifty”.  He had a son and four daughters, one of whom was a Catholic nun with the Convent of Mercy at Warrnambool.  Requiem mass was held for Michael at the St Brigid’s Catholic Church at Crossley and he was buried in the Tower Hill Cemetery.

Sarah Ann HICKS – Died 16 October 1918 at Mortlake.  Sarah Hicks was born near Bristol, England in 1844 and arrived at Melbourne in 1863 aboard the Princess Royal with her cousin Mr Fielding.  They then travelled to Logan Station at Mount Elephant near Derrinallum.  In 1864, Sarah married William Whitson and they selected land at Mortlake.  They had a large family of twelve. Despite failing health, Sarah contributed greatly to the Red Cross during WW1.

Catherine MEAGHER – Died 24 October 1918 at Hamilton. Catherine Meagher was born in County Tipperary in 1841 and travelled to Australia when she was fifteen with her parents aboard the Clara, arriving at Portland. After a short time, she went to South Australia to live remaining there around five years.  She then moved to Hamilton where she married Henry Anslow in 1866. They settled on Mill Road and lived there until their deaths. Henry died in 1908. Catherine’s funeral left Hamilton’s St Mary’s Catholic church for the Hamilton Cemetery.

James Allan LEARMONTH – Died 29 October 1928 at Hamilton. James Learmonth better known as Allan, was born at Merino Downs in 1856, a son of Peter Learmonth and Mary Pearson.  By 1859, the Learmonths had taken up residence at Prestonholme, beside the Grange Burn on the eastern side of Hamilton.  Allan attended Wesley College and gained his matriculation.  He then went to work for Andrew Rowan, a Melbourne merchant.

By 1879, Allan was back in the Hamilton district, running his father’s flour mill at Penshurst but his life almost ended soon after. In April of that year, Allan was in the mill’s engine room, leaning on the bed of the boiler and about to start the engine when the boiler exploded, sending it twenty yards away from its base.  Allan was found lying under bluestone, lucky to be alive. The full account of the explosion is on the following link to The ArgusPenshurst Mill Explosion.

In 1881, it was decided Allan and Stanley would travel to Mexico to run their father’s 82,000 acre share of Nacimiento Ranch purchased by David McKellar of Strathkellar. The Learmonths share was called La Mariposa.

"Items of News." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 - 1918) 6 December 1881: .

“Items of News.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 6 December 1881: <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226060700&gt;.

Allan left for Mexico with a heavy heart as he was leaving behind his sweetheart Annie Thomson, a daughter of James Thomson of Monivae, south of Hamilton.  On 2 August 1882, Allan wrote a letter home of his first impressions of the “mystic land”, published in the Hamilton Spectator of 28 September 1882 under the headline – News From Mexico.  Allan’s letters were regularly published in the Spectator during his time there.

Although several years had passed, Allan and Annie’s love remained strong and in 1886, Allan returned from Mexico to marry her.  The wedding was a large social occasion and sparked much interest within the Hamilton community.

"The Portland Guardian," Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953) 3 September 1886: 2 (EVENING.). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63406515

“The Portland Guardian,” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 3 September 1886: 2 (EVENING.). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63406515

Allan returned to Mexico with Annie and they remained there until 1892, arriving back in Australia with four children, all born in Mexico.  Allan then took up the running of  Corea near Dunkeld. The following year, his father Peter Learmonth died and Allan took over Prestonholme.  There he built up one of the best flocks of Lincoln sheep in the state.  An all round sportsmen, Allan participated in cricket, golf and bowls.  At the time of his death, Allan left three sons and three daughters.  Annie died two years later and was buried with Allan at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.

 

learmonth6

HEADSTONE OF JAMES ALLAN LEARMONTH AND ANNIE THOMSON, HAMILTON OLD CEMETERY

Highly recommended further reading on the Learmonths is the book Mariposa:  A Story of the Learmonths of Western Victoria and Mexico, 1834-1930 by Anita Macdonald available from the Hamilton History Centre.

Samuel KING – Died 29 October 1940 at Cobden.  Samuel King was born around 1870 and went to the Cobden district around the age of twenty.  Taking up a life on the land, he soon became a renown breeder of Southdown sheep and Hereford cattle.  That led to show judging with Samuel well known in all states of Australia for his good eye for livestock. He was among the oldest members of the Hereford Cattle Breeder’s Association and the Society of Breeders of British Sheep.  Samuel was also a Councillor on the Heytesbury Shire for three years in the 1920s.  Samuel left a family of five sons and two daughters.  He is pictured below with two of his sons and a grandson.

"DEATH OF WELL KNOWN SHEEP JUDGE" Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954) 21 November 1940: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92400968

“DEATH OF WELL KNOWN SHEEP JUDGE” Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 – 1954) 21 November 1940: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92400968

Henry Alan CURRIE – Died 10 October 1942 at Burrumbeet. Henry Currie was born around 1868 at Geelong, a son of John Lang Currie of Larra, Camperdown.  Better known as Alan, he attended Melbourne Grammar School and then Melbourne University studying engineering.  He then joined the Victorian Board of Works as a surveyor with the Western Australian Public Works Department working on providing water to Kalgoorlie. After returning from Western Australia, Alan managed Mt Elephant Station near Derrinallum for his father until John Currie’s death in 1896 when Alan inherited the property.

During WW1, Alan served with the Royal Field Artillery, suffered wounds several times and was awarded a Military Medal. After his return from war in 1920, Alan sold Mt Elephant and purchased Ercildoune Estate at Burrumbeet.  He also developed a group settlement scheme for returned serviceman.

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/283228

ERCILDOUNE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/283228

At Ercildoune, Alan became a renowned breeder of Merino sheep owning the only flock with descendants of John Macarthur’s Merinos. Alan’s interest in horse racing began while still at Mt Elephant.  He owned Mala a champion two and three-year old and a winner of the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in 1910.  His horses also won the Grand National Steeple and Grand National Hurdle. Such was his passion, he even purchased a thoroughbred while on leave in England during WW1.  Alan was elected to the committee of the Victorian Amateur Turf Club in 1909 and was chairman in 1910.  He resigned from the committee because of the war but returned in the 1920s, and was later was chairman.  In 1937, Alan Currie was knighted.  Five years later Alan died at Ercildoune and was buried at Learmonth cemetery.  There is more information on Alan in his Australian Dictionary of Biography entry on the link – Sir Henry Alan Currie

 

Western District Enlistments-8th LHR B Squadron

The AIF’s 8th Light Horse Regiment (LHR) formed in September 1914, had among its ranks many Western District men.   It was for that reason I was recently contacted by Dean Noske who is currently researching the 8th LHR, in particular, B Squadron.  As I’m familiar with the 8th LHR,  mostly due to the involvement of Edward Ellis Henty of The Caves Hamilton, grandson of Stephen G. Henty, I was keen to help Dean reach out to family members of the Western District men.

The following photo has been a favourite of mine, found among the Australian War Memorial‘s collection.  Pictured are four Western District officers of the 8th LHR, Lieutenants Edward Ellis Henty, Eliot Gratton Wilson, Robert Ernest Baker and Major Thomas Redford.  Also joining them in the photo was Lieutenant Borthwick of Melbourne.  The relaxed nature of their poses and uniforms, the mateship and the baby face of Eliot Wilson have intrigued me since I first saw it.

Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image No. P00265.001 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00265.001/

STANDING FROM LEFT: MAJOR THOMAS REDFORD (WARRNAMBOOL); LIEUTENANT (LT)EDWARD ELLIS HENTY (HAMILTON); AND LT ELIOT GRATTON WILSON (WARRNAMBOOL). SEATED FROM LEFT: LT ROBERT ERNEST BAKER (LARPENT) AND KEITH ALLAN BORTHWICK (ARMADALE) Image Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial Image No. P00265.001 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00265.001/

The photograph is also one of the most poignant I have found, once one considers that within months of the sitting, four of the five soldiers were dead.  They did not see service beyond Gallipoli, as they were all killed at the “Charge at The Nek” on 7 August 1915.  Only Robert Baker survived.   Further reading  about The Nek and the 8th LHR’s involvement is available on the following link – http://www.anzacsite.gov.au/2visiting/walk_12nek.html

A photograph in full uniform was also taken, depicting three of the Western District officers again with Lt.Borthwick and an unidentified man.

Identified from left to right: Lieutenant (Lt) Eliot Gratton Wilson from Warrnambool, Victoria; Lt Edward Ellis Henty ; unidentified; Major (Maj) Thomas Harold Redford and Lt Keith Allan Borthwick http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAX0139/

Identified from left to right: Lieutenant (Lt) Eliot Gratton Wilson from Warrnambool, Victoria; Lt Edward Ellis Henty ; unidentified; Major (Maj) Thomas Harold Redford and Lt Keith Allan Borthwick http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAX0139/

Those four Western District officers and the soldiers listed below are those Dean is seeking help with.  If you are able to offer Dean any assistance by way of photographs, letters or stories, please contact him at dean.noske@gmail.com  Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

All names were sourced from the 8th Light Horse Regiment B Squadron Embarkation Roll and Hamilton’s WW1.

(Click on underlined names to read more)

BAKER, John Henry – Nareen

BAKER, Robert Ernest – Larpent

BARKER, Robert – born Yambuk

BORBRIDGE, Robert Henry – Ararat

BOSWELL, John – Woorndoo

BOWKER, Alwynne Stanley – Princetown

BROUGHTON, John Moffatt – Hamilton

CLAYTON, Henry Norman – Casterton

"THOSE WHO HAVE DIED FOR FREEDOM'S CAUSE." Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918) 2 Sep 1915: 2. Web. 29 Jan 2015 .

“THOSE WHO HAVE DIED FOR FREEDOM’S CAUSE.” Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918) 2 Sep 1915: 2. Web. 29 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91091398&gt;.

"ROLL OF HONOUR." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 17 Sep 1915: 6. Web. 29 Jan 2015 .

“ROLL OF HONOUR.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 17 Sep 1915: 6. Web. 29 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1561135&gt;.

CORR, Reginald Clarke – Warrnambool

CUMMING, John Currie – Halls Gap

DODDS, Franklyn James – Warrnambool

FINN, Laurence Gerald – Port Fairy

FLOYD, Harry – Colac West

HAYBALL, Herbert – Camperdown

HENTY, Edward Ellis – “The Caves” Hamilton

8th2

"ROLL OF HONOUR." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 27 Oct 1915: 7. Web. 29 Jan 2015 .

“ROLL OF HONOUR.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 27 Oct 1915: 7. Web. 29 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1575352&gt;.

HIND, William Arthur – Hamilton

HINDHAUGH, Russell George – Port Fairy

HYDE, Norman John – Cavendish

JOHNSON, Donald Matthieson McGregor – Warrnambool

"WARRNAMBOOL HEROES." Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) 7 Sep 1915: 3 Edition: DAILY.. Web. 29 Jan 2015 .

“WARRNAMBOOL HEROES.” Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 7 Sep 1915: 3 Edition: DAILY.. Web. 29 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article73458334&gt;.

JOHNSTONE, Percy – Camperdown

KERR, James Mark – Dartmoor/Portland

LEARMONTH, Keith Allan – Hamilton

McGINNESS, Paul Joseph – Framlingham

MITCHELL, William Albert – Cobden

"CAPTAIN A. W. MITCHELL." Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 - 1954) 8 Jul 1915: 3. Web. 29 Jan 2015 .

“CAPTAIN A. W. MITCHELL.” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 8 Jul 1915: 3. Web. 29 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22979740&gt;.

MOORE – Samuel Vincent – Ararat

PARTINGTON, Thomas James – Heywood

PATTERSON, Hector Alexander – Casterton

PETTINGALL, John Thomas – Port Fairy

REDFORD, Thomas Harold – Warrnambool  – Squadron Major

"MAJOR T. REDFORD." Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 - 1918) 23 Aug 1915: 4. Web. 29 Jan 2015 .

“MAJOR T. REDFORD.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 23 Aug 1915: 4. Web. 29 Jan 2015 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article120398693&gt;.

REGAN, Thomas – Camperdown

SUTHERLAND, Charles Tyler – Tatyoon

TILLEY, George Edward – Hamilton

WALLACE, William Issac – Warrnambool

WEATHERHEAD, John Fortescue Law – Camperdown

WHITEHEAD, Eric – Minhamite

WILSON, Eliot Gratton – Warrnambool

 

http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAX2703/

8th LHR B SQUADRON c1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial. Image no. DAX0139 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DAX2703/

Passing of the Pioneers

When I started posting pioneer obituaries under the heading “Passing of the Pioneers” in July 2011, I never imagined that “Passing of the Pioneers” would still be going three years on. (I didn’t think Western District Families would still be going). Nor did I expect that I could announce this month marks the posting of the 500th pioneer obituary. Over the three years, thanks to the stories of those 500 pioneers, the amount I have learnt about Western District history and the families who built that history has been invaluable. However, the best aspect has been the number of people who have contacted me after finding their pioneering ancestor in the posts. I hope what I have provided has gone a little way toward them learning more about their ancestors’ lives.

The precis I give for each pioneer summarises the obituary that appeared in the paper when the pioneer passed away.  I don’t check the facts written there, such as ships sailed on or years of arrival.  I do search for the maiden name of married women, simply because I prefer to list them with their maiden names and not Mrs A. Smith, for example.  Sometimes I will search for further information about a pioneer and in the entry I include links to the sources I have found. So basically, what I give you is an index to pioneer obituaries with a link to the original and from there you can make what you like of the information provided at the time of the pioneer’s death. Obituaries are, after all, an inaccurate source as the information contained is second or third hand and rarely do you read of negative characteristics of a person or their failures in life.

Importantly, I must thank Trove Australia because without the digitised newspapers I would never have been able to find the 500 obituaries of some of the Western District’s great pioneers.

You can either search or browse the Passing of the Pioneers obituaries. Search a family name in the search box on the side bar of this page or select “Pioneer Obituaries” in the category box, also on the sidebar.  You can then browse through the 36 posts beginning with the most recent.  Simply click on the name of the pioneer to go to the newspaper obituary. If you find a family member, feel free to comment and give more information if you have any.  Leaving a comment increases your chance of finding someone else researching the same person.

____________________________________________________

This month’s pioneers include two men who knew family members of mine with both men being important figures in their respective towns. There is also a bricklayer, a publican and one of the men who discovered the Londonderry mine at Coolgardie, Western Australia.

Hugh MURRAY: Died 28 July 1869 at Colac. Hugh Murray was born in Scotland about 1814 and arrived in Tasmania with his parents and siblings in 1823.  At the age of twenty-three, Hugh left Tasmania for Victoria and settled on the banks of Lake Colac before there was a town and today is considered Colac’s first white settler. Hugh had pastoral interests but also sat as a Magistrate at the local Colac Magistrates Court. Last month’s Passing of the Pioneers included the obituary of Elizabeth Young of Hobart who married Hugh Murray in 1841.

EARLY SETTLEMENT AT LAKE COLAC c1875, BY NICHOLAS CHEVALIER. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. H3572 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/81081

EARLY SETTLEMENT AT LAKE COLAC c1875, BY NICHOLAS CHEVALIER. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. H3572 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/81081

Hugh knew my ggg grandparents Thomas Gamble and Ellen Barry but not in the way one would like their ancestors to be acquainted with an outstanding citizen of Colac. It started with Thomas Gamble, said to have been employed by Hugh Murray to make bricks for his new home at Lake Colac, thus prompting the Gambles to move from Geelong to Colac. Their relationship soon soured. As early as 1851, Thomas’ wife Ellen faced Magistrate Murray in the Colac Court of Petty Sessions charged with drunkenness, one of dozens of charges she would face during her life and it certainly wasn’t her first. In January 1853, Thomas Gamble faced court as the defendant in a case against Hugh Murray. Although the handwriting in the original register of the Colac Court of Petty Sessions (p.83) is difficult to read, I can make out the words  –  “Thomas Gamble – Charged alleged arson in setting fire to Hugh Murray Esq.”.  Fortunately, the case was  dismissed.

Peter LEARMONTH: Died 19 July 1893 at Hamilton. Peter Learmonth was one of Hamilton’s most prominent citizens from the 1860s to the time of his death, contributing greatly to the growth of that town and the  villages surrounding it. Born in Scotland in 1821, Peter travelled to Tasmania to meet up with his brother William who had already bought land in that colony. Gold attracted Peter and he left for the Californian goldfields in the late 1840s. With no success, he made his way to Victoria in the early 1850s and had good fortune on the Castlemaine goldfields. Getting out while ahead during the mid-1850s, he took up a manager’s job at Merino Downs station owned by Francis Henty, but not before marrying Mary Jarvey Pearson at Portland in 1854.  By 1859, Peter purchased Prestonholme on the banks of the Grange Burn near Hamilton from George Younger and proceeded to build the Grange Burn Flour Mill. He later purchased mills at  Byaduk, Sandford and Penshurst.  The homestead at Prestonholme and the mill still stand today on the Mill Road, Hamilton.

PETER LEARMONTH'S PRESTONHOLME MILL. Photo courtesy of Denis Steer.

PETER LEARMONTH’S GRANGE BURN MILL. Photo courtesy of Denis Steer.

Not satisfied with his milling empire, Peter established P.Learmonth & Co Stock & Station agents in Gray Street, Hamilton. Peter’s sons continued the business after his death.

P. LEARMONTH & CO. STOCK & STATION AGENTS. GARY STREET, HAMILTON, WILLIAM TIBBITS (c1896). Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H83.253/1 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/67235

Peter Learmonth was a member of the Dundas Shire Council for nine years, serving as President for four successive terms, a record he still holds. He was also one of the first councilors of the Borough of Hamilton. Peter was one of the driving  forces behind the Hamilton & Western District Boys College and Alexandra Girls School, two schools that built Hamilton’s foundations as an education town.

HAMILTON COLLEGE. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, J.T.Collins Collection. Image no. H97.250/74 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/229855

HAMILTON COLLEGE. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, J.T.Collins Collection. Image no. H97.250/74 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/229855

The Hamilton Hospital was another of Hamilton’s institutions that Peter Learmonth helped set up and was President of the Hospital for eighteen years.

HAMILTON HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H32492/2732 , http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63599

HAMILTON HOSPITAL. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H32492/2732 , http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/63599

Two of  Peter Learmonth’s children married into families that were also influential in Hamilton ‘at the time. Eldest son James Allan Learmonth married Annie Thomson, daughter of John Thomson of Monivae in 1886.  A daughter Mary married the son of another prominent Hamilton man, David Laidlaw jnr, son of saddler and self-made man, David Laidlaw. Mary’s obituary appeared in April 2013 Passing of the Pioneers.  Messrs. Learmonth, Laidlaw and Thomson were a force to be reckoned with and include Peter’s brother, Alex Learmonth, also a man of much influence, and it is not surprising that they were able to grow Hamilton into one of Victoria’s most eminent towns.

Later in life, Peter purchased land in Mexico and gave his share to two of his sons. He also purchased Correa Estate” near Dunkeld and pursued pastoral interests with much success.

A supporter of the temperance movement, Peter was president of the Total Abstinence Society and the work of he and John Thomson, saw a Temperance Hall opened in Kennedy Street, Hamilton. They obtained an existing building and converted it to suit the needs of the Society.

As I write my Harman family history and delve into the local histories of Byaduk and Hamilton, Peter Learmonth comes up time and again. A Methodist, he knew my ggg grandfather James Harman and at one stage James was acting as an agent for farm machinery on Peter’s behalf.  James’ daughter Julia married George Holmes Jnr, the son of George Holmes who was a manager of the Grange Burn mill before managing the Byaduk mill. George Jnr worked at the Penshurst mill and took over the Sandford mill with his brothers.

Peter Learmonth passed away at his home at “Prestonholme” .  He was seventy-four.  Peter was buried at the Old Hamilton Cemetery.

GRAVE OF PETER LEARMONTH, OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY.

GRAVE OF PETER LEARMONTH, OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY.

PLAQUE ON THE GRAVE OF PETER LEARMONTH, OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY

PLAQUE ON THE GRAVE OF PETER LEARMONTH, OLD HAMILTON CEMETERY

With his prominence with the Methodist Church, a memorial window was unveiled at the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church in McIntyre Street on Sunday 7 January 1900. A new Methodist church was opened in Lonsdale Street,  Hamilton in October 1913, and the window was installed there.

020

THE PETER LEARMONTH MJEMORIAL WINDOW, HAMILTON UNITING CHURCH, FORMALLY HAMILTON METHODIST CHURCH

Sources:

Dundas Shire Centenary, 1863-1963. Hamilton Spectator for the Dundas Shire Council, [Hamilton, Vic.], 1963.

Garden, Donald S. (Donald Stuart) and Hamilton (Vic.). Council Hamilton, a Western District history. City of Hamilton in conjunction with Hargreen, North Melbourne, 1984.

Glenelg & Wannon Settlers (website)

Macdonald, Anita Mariposa : a story of the Learmonths of western Victoria and Mexico, 1834-1930. Heatherleigh Publishing, [Melbourne], 1982.

John SYMONS: Died 10 July 1914 at Hamilton. Born in Cornwall around 1828, John Symons’ trade was ship’s carpenter and after his arrival at Portland in 1854, his skills were in demand with much building work required. From Portland, John moved to Balmoral before settling at the Wannon, near Hamilton. John farmed but was also a contractor for the Roads Board and later the local Shires. One of his most important works in the district was constructing the bridge over the Wannon River at Redruth, a necessity to enable travel from Hamilton to Coleraine and beyond. Timber for the bridge was cut using pit saws and John did much of that work himself. During his marriage, John and his wife raised eleven children with seven still living at the time of his death.

William DUNN: Died 1 July 1914 at Box Hill. William Dunn arrived in Victoria in 1855 from Somersetshire aboard the Raven’s Craig.  After two years in Geelong, he rode by horseback to Hamilton, his home for the next forty-four years.  As a bricklayer and builder, he constructed the Victoria and Colonial banks in Hamilton with William Holden and  Budock Vean, a home in French Street, Hamilton still standing today.  A devout Methodist, he held various positions within the church.

FORMER BANK OF VICTORIA, GRAY STREET, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins collection, State Library of Victoria. Image no. H97.250/89 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230031

FORMER BANK OF VICTORIA, GRAY STREET, HAMILTON. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins collection, State Library of Victoria. Image no. H97.250/89
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/230031

Jane DONNELLY: Died 1 July 1914 at Hawkesdale. Born in Ireland around 1834, Jane Donnelly arrived in Australia in the 1860s, settling at Myamyn. She married William Walshe and they raised six children. In the meantime, Jane established the Foresters Hotel at Myamyn and ran a store to cater for the many carriers who used the town as a stopover on their travels.  After the death of her husband, Jane remarried to William Jenkins in 1883 and for a time ran the former Victoria Hotel at Portland.

John MUNRO: Died July 1914 at Hotspur. John Munro was born in Scotland around 1833 and sailed to Hobsons Bay aboard the Champion of the Seas in 1854. Gold must have been his primary reason for coming to Victoria as he spent time around the various diggings before travelling to New Zealand and the goldfields of Otago. After two years, he returned and took up residence at Portland and married in 1867. For many years, he was a storekeeper and post office operator.  He also engaged in farming pursuits and in the early 1890s took up land at Hotspur. At the time of his death, he left a widow and nine children. He was buried at the Hotspur Cemetery.

Alexander John McLEAN: Died 23 July 1915 at Hamilton.  Alexander McLean was born in Scotland around 1836 and arrived in Sydney as a three-year-old with his parents. They later moved to Victoria, taking up residence at Tower Hill. From there, Alexander went on to Myamyn and then Macarthur where he was a founding member of the Methodist Church.  Alexander enjoyed telling stories of the pioneer days, before bridges spanned creeks or railways traversed the countryside.  Alexander and his wife had nine children.

Sarah Ann FARNHAM: Died 21 July 1916 at Hamilton. Born in Somersetshire, England around 1839, Sarah Ann Farnham arrived at Portland in 1858. She married Andrew Lockie at Portland in 1860 and by 1866 they had moved to Hamilton were Andrew ran a saddlery business.  Leaving a family of six children and her husband, Sarah Ann was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.

Mary SAVIN: Died July 1918 at Muddy Creek. Mary Savin was born in Oxfordshire and sailed to Victoria with her parents in 1853.  Around 1855, the family travelled north to Muddy Creek where they settled. Two years later, Mary married John Addinsall and they had a family of twelve children. Like many of the early settlers at Muddy Creek, Mary was a Methodist and it was in a crowded Muddy Creek Methodist Church where Mary was given her last farewell.

John HUXLEY: Died 21 July 1918 at Portland. John Huxley was born in Portland around 1863. During the 1890s, John travelled to Western Australia, lured by the discovery of gold, but unlike the other July pioneers who chose to seek their fortunes, John struck gold in a big way. John and several other men discovered the rich Londonderry mine at Coolgardie, Western Australia. Having made his fortune, John returned to Victoria and purchased the Straun Estate at Merino. A keen racehorse owner, one of John’s big successes came less than a year before his death, when his horse the Ruralist, trained by James Agnew of Hamilton, won the Great Western Steeplechase at Hamilton in September 1917. The horse was also a two-time Brierly Steeplechase winner at Warrnambool.  John passed away at his seaside home Kenly at Portland and was buried at the South Portland cemetery.

Christina Emily FORD: Died 26 July 1931 at Hamilton. Christina Ford was born in Macarthur in 1880 into a well-known pioneering family. In 1905, she married William Baker and they moved to Portland and  raised nine children. Christina was a keen volunteer for the Portland Football Club and was a member of the Australian Women’s National League.

Charles HOLDER: Died 21 July 1922 at Warrnambool. The story of Charles Holder’s life appeared in the Portland Guardian on 28 September 1931, nine years after his death and it gives a great account of Melbourne and Victoria in the 1840s. Charles Holder was born in Bristol, England around 1838 and from the moment he set sail on the Wardshipton as a three-year-old with his parent and siblings, his great pioneering life had begun. The voyage in 1841, with almost 300 other immigrants was harsh with twenty-four deaths including twenty-two children.  hree of those children were Charles’ young sisters. Arriving at Hobson’s Bay, Charles, his parents and two remaining siblings, took a steamer along the Yarra River to Melbourne.

MELBOURNE 1841. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H6262/2 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/87604

MELBOURNE 1841. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no. H6262/2 http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/87604

After spending time on stations around Melbourne, including Dandenong as a boy and young teenager, Charles made his way to the Western District, working at The Gums between Caramut and  Penshurst. By that time, it was the early 1850s, and Charles headed to the Bendigo diggings but like so many his luck was out and he returned to the west of the state, working at Grassmere near Warrnambool. In the early 1860s, he selected his own land at Cooramook and remained there for the rest of his life.

An obituary in the The Register (Adelaide) on September 2, 1922 , published at the time of Charles’ death has further detail of his pioneering life.

Ellen OSBOURNE: Died 15 July 1934 at Hamilton. Born at Portland, Ellen Osbourne married local builder Thomas Cruse and they continued to resided at Portland. She raised a family and was a devoted member of the Church of England.  Prior to her death, Ellen had been ill for many weeks and as a consequence was admitted to Kia Ora Private Hospital at Hamilton.  Ellen needed a blood transfusion but unlike today when we take for granted stocks of blood at hospitals, in 1934 there wasn’t a Red Cross Blood Bank. Therefore, Ellen’s son donated the blood required for the transfusion.  Unfortunately, it was not enough to save his mother.

After Many Days

To really get a feel for a time in history, there is nothing better than a diary, letter, memoir or personal account.  Some of my favourite Western District history books are those from pioneer times, such as “The Diaries of Sarah Midgley and Richard Skilbeck” and James Bonwick’s educational tour of Western Victoria in 1857.  There is another on my list that I haven’t shared with you before, “After Many Day’s: being the reminisces of Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh.  Even better, the book is available online. (See link at end of post)

Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh, born in Ireland in 1837, published his memoir in 1918, when he was 81, written, he claims, after much prodding from his wife, Flora and friends particularly a friend from the later part of his life, writer Walter G. Henderson of Albury.   Much thanks must go to them, because their persuading resulted in a  414 page rollicking yarn, packed with places, names and stories from the first half of Cuthbert’s life.  And there are illustrations.

EARLY MEMORIES. (1925, June 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved October 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16211009

EARLY MEMORIES. (1925, June 12). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 10. Retrieved October 12, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16211009

This is not just a story of the Western District, but of life in Ireland and Germany during Cuthbert’s childhood.  There is also a wonderful description of his passage on a second-class ticket to Melbourne aboard the “Sussex” in 1853.  Cuthbert spent some time in Melbourne before he went to  the Henty’s Muntham Station (p.90) in the Western District, and his account brings 1850s Melbourne  to life.

He outlines his friendship with Thomas Browne/Rolf Boldrewood author of “Robbery Under Arms “(p 40).  He includes the obituary of his father, Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh, who spent time as a Police Magistrate at Hamilton (p.52).  During his time there, Cuthbert senior, resided at  Correagh at Strathkeller, just north of Hamilton.  (Today, Correagh is in excellent condition and was featured in an issue of Home Life magazine, available online)

There are stories of horse breaking, bushrangers, colonial racing and more.

Some of the Western District identities he met included members of the Henty family, Samuel Pratt Cooke, Acheson Ffrench and the Learmonths.  But there were also stockmen, horse breakers and crack riders.

He associated with Adam Lindsay Gordon (p.165), a person he admired for his riding skill and poetry, and there are several extracts of ALG’s verse.

Cuthbert devoted several pages to George Waines (p177) and the trial, that saw Waines convicted and sentenced to hang for the murders of Casterton couple Robert and Mary Hunt.

After Muntham, Cuthbert travelled to Queensland via Sydney.  On the way he dropped in at the Chirnside’s Mt William Station at the foot of the Grampians.  It is was there he saw the “western mare” Alice Hawthorne, in the days when she was beginning her Cinderella story, transforming from station hack to champion racehorse.

After lengthy reminisces of his time in Queensland, past Rockhampton, Cuthbert then focused on his life in N.S.W where he spent two years as an Anglican minister.  He died in Wellington, N.S.W. in 1925, aged 88, remembered as a pastoral leader.

What the critics said:

At the time of the book’s release, the Sydney Stock and Station Journal described the book as “pure Australian”

GOSSIP. (1918, April 12). The Sydney Stock and Station Journal (NSW : 1896 - 1924), p. 3. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article124218838

GOSSIP. (1918, April 12). The Sydney Stock and Station Journal (NSW : 1896 – 1924), p. 3. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article124218838

When Cuthbert died in 1925,  Walter Henderson wrote of his friend and the book he persuaded Cuthbert to write.

CUTHBERT FETHERSTONHAUGH. (1925, July 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16210414

CUTHBERT FETHERSTONHAUGH. (1925, July 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 12. Retrieved October 13, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16210414

Read “After Many Days: being the reminiscences of Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh” online