brisbane_properties_and_other_land_dealings

Eskgrove


TLM-P first known home in Brisbane was Eskgrove, Laidlaw Parade, East Brisbane, which he rented in c.1858 after retreating from Hawkwood. His and Matilda's son Redmond was born there.1)As Matilda was ill by then, better access to medical and domestic help was presumably a welcome relief -certainly it appears that Matilda had no desire to return to rural life.

1 Hodgson's Terrace


TLM-P and Matilda's next home in Brisbane was designed by and rented from prominent architect James Cowlishaw and was at Hodgson's Terrace,George Street. Cowlishaw had designed it as a terrace of 5 two-story houses; Matilda and TLM-P lived at no. 1. Their son Lodge was born there in 1863. Given that he died when three weeks old, he probably died there too. The building had various uses including as Kingsley Private Hotel until it was demolished in 1979.2)

TLM-P and Matilda must have been impressed by Hodgson's Terrace as, in 1864, TLM-P commissioned Cowlishaw to draw up plans for a villa residence at Breakfast Creek, Brisbane, what he refers to as 'The Quarries'. He and Matilda spent much time and energy on the scheme but in the end, he changed his mind as the house was never built, perhaps because he was no longer Postmaster-General, and he bought Maroon that year instead.3) Plans for the home are at the Oxley Library, Brisbane.4)

Shafston


By January 1862, the family lived at Shafston5) in the highly desirable downtown Brisbane suburb of Kangaroo Point.6) The house was previously called Ravenscot but renamed by its then owner Henry Russell in 1852. The house was later re-built so little or nothing of the original remains.7)

It was understood that TLM-P lived in Shafston after he was appointed Postmaster-General in 1862, until the end of his first period in that office in 1866.8) In contrast, the heritage listing for the property states it was owned by grazier and sugar-grower Louis Hope from October 1859, and then rented out to Gilbert Eliot, Speaker of the Queensland Parliament and, from 1874-78, Matilda's brother-in-law William Barker of Telemon Station. There is no mention of a period of tenancy by TLM-P.9) Two advertisements for September 1861 suggest that Matilda was staying there with her sister. 'Mrs Barker' advertised for two servants, requesting they apply to her at Shafston, Kangaroo Point. The very next ad was for an experienced nurse, presumably to look after baby Hugh. Applicants were also asked to apply to Shafston, but to Mrs Murray Prior.10) F. Lord in his series on Brisbane's historic houses, notes that in around the early 1900s, Shafston became the property of J McConnell of Cessbrook.11)

Montpelier


A part of the gentry ideal was to have a home in town and a country estate. TLM-P achieved this when he took up his position as Postmaster-General in 1862, necessitating a more permanent base for him and his family in Brisbane. By August 1867 until 1880, the family's Brisbane residence was Montpelier on corner of Main and Ferry Street, Kangaroo Point.12). It was a stone house with its main rooms fronting directly on a wide verandah. Montpelier saw significant family events: Matilda died there in 1868; Rosa married there in 1872; and Nora's first child Meta was born there.13) The house was more convenient as it was closer to the ferry; as there was no bridge at the time, TLM-P used the ferry to get to work in Brisbane. The family lived there when parliament was sitting;14) at Maroon at other times.

An undated photo of Montpelier.15)

Montpelier was demolished in 1938. The next photo is of Montpelier's parlour c.1875, lavishly furnished in the mid-Victorian style (which assumed housemaids to do the constant dusting of so many objects): 16)

Delamore


This large house on 10 acres of land in Kedron was occupied by TLM-P when it was advertised for let on 2 January 1891.17)

Whytecliffe


TLM-P died on New Year's Eve in 1892 at Whytecliffe (note that later sources spell it Whitecliffe), his home in Albion, a suburb of Brisbane. It was an imposing house with 22 rooms including a kitchen wing, marble fireplaces, a cedar staircase and skylight illuminating the entrance hall.18) TLM-P's will stipulated that his wife had the right to remain there if she wished - presumably taking over the lease as it appears to have been rented by them. Given its size and that, as a new widow she was hardly likely to do large-scale entertaining, it is not surprising that she choose not to remain there. Whytecliffe was built c.1875 and is now a retirement village on Sandgate Road.19)
Whytecliffe in 1930, from QJO.20) For a map of the locality, see Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.17.

As both historian Helen Gregory and Andrew Darbyshire document, TLM-P was a property developer, benefiting from his faith in the future of the colony and, especially, Queensland. Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia, pp.118-23 has a meticulously detailed list of TLM-P's land dealing (and that of his father) from July 1852 to May 1861, with associated financial deals from March 1864 to May 1877. As well as these land dealings, he also lent money for others to buy land. For example, when Patrick Mayne died in 1865, he was reported 'heavily in debt to the Bank of NSW and Mr. Murray-Prior'.21)

TLM-P's most successful property dealing were his purchases of land in Brisbane. Despite his problems with his rural property Bromelton, during 1852-54 TLM-P spent just over £1,364 (around $92,619 in 2017 values) on land in and around Brisbane.22) He also ensured his father Thomas Prior purchased land in July 1853 and February 1854 during a visit to Queensland. Residency for a period of time visit was presumably necessary to qualify him to do so using a remission order allowed him as an army officer.23)

Half the land (in terms of value) TLM-P bought in 1854. That year TLM-P bought 11 lots of land in Brisbane worth £752.11.6 (n 2017 values, roughly $59,000).24) As the next map indicates, by 1887 he owned a considerable part of Kangaroo Point. The last known selection he made was at Toocoohah (Moggill) which became known as Prior's Pocket: it was the area that, Ernest Davies recalled, TLM-P used to fatten cattle. In 1860 he advertised two Mogill farms, 400 and 800 acres respectively, for lease.25) Among the numerous maps reproduced by Andrew Darbyshire is one of TLM-P's 'extensive landholdings in St Lucia, Taringa/Indooroopilly and Yeronga'. Darbyshire points out that, by the end of the 1850s, TLM-P owned 'some 300 acres, perhaps 35-40% of the total land area of St. Lucia'.26)

27)

The context to these purchases is important. As Gregory points out, they were a gamble on the future prosperity of the Brisbane region 'at a stage in its development when the future was by no means assured.'28) It appears that both TLM-P and his first wife Matilda were optimistic about the future of their new country. Rosa Praed claimed that Matilda wrote to her mother-in-law Eliza M-P, that 'Some day this will be a flourishing country; its capabilities are greater than any of us know, and our descendants may be building towns on this wild land which we have reclaimed from the wilderness.'29)

TLM-P's land and associated financial dealings were extensive. According to Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia, p.119, he bought his first lot of urban blocks in 1852 for a total of £39/12/0, as noted in TLM-P's diary of 1862-64.30)

The next table is from Angella Collyer who used sources from the Queensland State Archives and is a summary of TLM-P's land dealings in the 1860s.31)

Leases 201-203 16 November 1868 Portions No.1-3 Melcombe parish 2,530 acres
Leases 371,372 2 June 1869 Portions No.5-6 Telemon parish 9,863 acres
Lease 1129 8 September 1870 Portion No.4 Melcombe parish 674 acres
Lease 1506 19 April 1872 Portion No.13 Palenn parish 325 acres
Lease 1522 29 April 1872 Portion No.15 Palenn parish 1,000 acres

A total of 14,392 acres (5,824 hectares).

TLM-P sold subdivided land and as Andrew Darbyshire outlines, lent money to others to buy property. In 1863 TLM-P advertised for sale a dairy farm called Sheehan's Flat at Mogill, almost 200 acres enclosed by a three rail fence with a stock yard and two shingled cottages and an 'abundance of water'.32) On 14 March 1864 there was an auction of his land at Tingalpa.33)
TLM-P's son Thomas de Montmorenci also made numerous selections, see thomas_de_montmorenci, Florence & Mary M-P.

Though TLM-P had a large family to support, he had the assets to do so, with Darbyshire noting he had £67,000 assets in September 1887.34)


1)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.106.
2)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.109-10.
3)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.113.
4)
Box 15376 O/S. They were donated by E.S. M-P
5)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p42; TLM-P diary entry January 1862; Kerry Heckenberg,'A taste for art in colonial Queensland: The Queensland Art Gallery Foundational Bequest of Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior', Queensland Review, 25:1, June 2018, pp.119-136 states it was on in George Street
6)
For photos of Shafston, see The Queenslander, 25 September 1930, p.41.
7)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.108.
8)
Allan Morrison, 'Some Queensland Postmasters-General“, Brisbane, Post Office Historical Society, 1953, p.5, copy J. Godden
10)
The Courier, 11 September 1861, p.3.
11)
The Queenslander, 25 September 1930, p.7, the same family that Thomas de M M-P's daughter Phyllis M-P married into, and the property where she lived.
12)
The Brisbane Courier, 8 August 1867, p.1 Matilda advertised for a house and parlour maid for Maroon; Allan Morrison, 'Some Queensland Postmasters-General”, Brisbane, Post Office Historical Society, 1953, p.5, copy J. Godden
13)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, pp.111-13.
14)
Patricia Clarke, Rosa! Rosa! p.23.
15)
Photo provenance Tom A. & M. Therese M-P. For more photos of Montpelier, see The Queenslander, 18 September 1930, p.41.
16)
Photo: JOQ
17)
The Brisbane Courier, p.2
18)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.116.
19)
Whytecliffe House brochure, courtesy T.A. & M.T. M-P. Note that Highlands, the home of the Lightollers (Thomas B. M-P's parents-in-law), also became part of the retirement village, pers. comm. M.T. M-P.
20)
For more photos of Whytecliffe in 1930, see The Queenslander 11 September 1930, p.41.
21)
author, name. Queensland History Journal, 22:9, May 2015, p.685
22)
Helen Gregory, 'Squatters, selectors and - dare I say it - speculators', Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, XI:4, 1983, p.81.
23)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.119.
24)
New South Wales Government Gazette, 4 August 1854, p.1679; Thom Blake currency conversion.
25)
The Moreton Bay Courier, 8 December 1860, p.3.
26)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, pp.3,4
28)
Helen Gregory, 'Squatters, selectors and - dare I say it - speculators', Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, XI:4, 1983, p.85.
29)
Patricia Clarke, 'The Murray-Priors at Bromelton 1844-1853' in Patricia Savage (compiled), They came to Bromelton: a brief outline of the life and times of the early pioneers who came to Bromleton - from the pages of history, personal diaries, old letters and family recollections, Patricia Savage, 2004, pp.19-20.
30)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.118.
31)
Angella Collyer, Rathdowney: federation history of an Australian rural border community Rathdowney, Qld.: Rathdowney Area Development and Historical Association, 2001 p.128.
32)
The Courier Mail, 12 November 1863, p.1
33)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.26.
34)
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.68.
  • brisbane_properties_and_other_land_dealings.txt
  • Last modified: 2021/07/21 17:06
  • by judith