Florette, Mabel, Ethel and Phyllis M-P

The children of Thomas de Montmorenci and Florence M-P were:

1. Florence (known as Florette) Elizabeth, was born at Bowen, Queensland on 1 January 18791) and baptised there by the Rev. M. Ross2); she died in Sydney on 12 July 1956.3)
Young Florette.4)

Like her sisters, she was educated at the elite school in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney,Ascham.5)

On 28 October 1896, the poet/novelist James Brunton Stephens wrote to her encouraging her to persevere with her poetry, but advising she defer publication.6) Prominent feminist Rose Scott also wrote to Florette encouraging her artistic talents.7) In the end, Florence decided on music, with a New Zealand paper reporting in 1906 that she planned to go to Paris for further study.8) Her farewell concert was held in April 1906.9) In 1909 it was announced that she would be part of the Alys Bateman Concert Company to tour New Zealand the following year.10) When she returned to Australia in 1909, she was described as a contralto who had been overseas for 4 years, having studied for 2 of those years in Paris under the famous baritone Jacques Bouhy11) Her talent as a singer was something she shared with her mother.12).

It is not known if she did tour New Zealand, but in August 1910, Florette married Sydney (Syd) Charles Edgar Herring.13) His sister Estella was married to Florette's step-uncle, Robert Sterling M-P. Sid Herring was an estate agent at Gladesville. He distinguished himself during World War I, rising to the rank of Brigadier General.14) Florette followed him when he went overseas,15) undertaking volunteer war work. Max Barton wrote in 1917 that he thought she was assisting (in what capacity it is not known) at a hospital in Harrow (England).16) She took her little daughter with her overseas, first to Cairo then England.

This photo of Florette was published in The Ladies' Field, 16 November 1918, p.304. She was described as a supporter of the British Women's Patriotic League, and as having recently organised an Australian stall at a fund-raising sale. Her husband Sydney Herring. In November 1917, Colonel Herring was appointed to a training school on Salisbury Plains, so Florette and her daughter joined him in England. This is a photo of Syd during the war.

Florette's strong-mindedness tended to be viewed with alarm, if not hostility, by the younger male members of the family. Nora M-P's nephew R.A. (Max) Barton was very sociable when on leave in London during World War I, but complained each time he felt duty-bound to visit Florette. That she campaigned (in the UK) for women's suffrage did not help him view her any more favourably, writing after one visit in 1917 that he'd 'listened to the success of her suffragette campaign in Ireland till I was sick … I was quite relieved to hear that Mrs Herring had, on receipt of report of above mentioned campaigns told her not to be a fool and to waste her time on such rubbish.' 17) Presumably 'Mrs Herring' was her mother-in-law. After the war, Florette continued to be viewed with trepidation partly because she was an energetic organiser of social events18) - the steely resolve evident in her childhood photo did not leave her! Her husband Syd appears more sympathetic, with their wartime letters indicating that they enjoyed a happy marriage.
The theme of this ball was The Living Army and it was held in 1932. Florette is 3rd from left in the front; E. Sterling Murray-Prior is third from left at the back; Syd Herring is 4th from left. 19)
Syd and Florette had one child - information about her is available on request to family members.

For other photos, click on Florette

2. Mabel Penelope, M.A., Ch.M.(Sydney University) 10 September20)1881 - 9 January 1932. She was born at Ipswich, perhaps on the property that, in 1880 at least, was owned by her grandfather TLM-P: Pullen, Moreton, Ipswich.21) She was baptised at Ipswich by the Rev. Mr Heath.22) Her Sydney University records states that she went to school, presumably as a boarder, at Ascham.

A young, somewhat idealised Mabel 23)

An obituary published by the Women's College at the University of Sydney outlines her chequered academic career.24) She was the 41st student to enter the Women's College in 1899 while she studied for an Arts degree. She left after a year with second class honours in French. She returned to the University in 1903 to study medicine; it was a time when higher education was still controversial for women, and medicine particularly so. Medicine had a high failure rate and Mabel left, having only completed the third year of the course, in early 1907. She returned in 1911 in an attempt to finish, but left after a term. It is not known what she did then, though she was probably the 'Miss Murray-Prior' who unsuccessfully applied for the position of Superintendent at the Sydney Medical Mission in December 1911. She was not appointed because she was not medically qualified.25)

When World War I began in July 1914, Mabel was in Hong Kong. It is possible that she was on her way back from Europe to home, as a letter from Rosa Praed to Nora M-P in January 1914 states that Mabel was returning to Australia with Mary Bundock (Thomas de M. M-P's second wife).26) If so, war prompted her to return as she qualified in England in 1915 as a V.A.D. (Voluntary_Aid_Detachment) - as did her cousins Ruth M-P and probably Dorothy M-P. In December 1914, Ruth wrote that Mabel was accompanying her sister Florette to Europe: perhaps when Florette was trying to see her husband Sydney Herring who was on active duty.27) Mabel subsequently worked as a VAD in an unnamed English hospital. Dublin University was one of the few universities that admitted women, and she went there to complete her medical degree. After qualifying as a doctor, she was a medical resident for 6 months at the Royal Herbert Military Hospital in Woolwich, London then moved to Edinburgh Hospital, Scotland where she worked until mid-1919. In 1917, she was awarded a Doctor of Medicine at University of Edinburgh.28)

There is a letter dated 19 January 191529) from Ruth M-P to Rosa, saying that Mabel was engaged: if so, it was unofficial as another family member thought she was 'only fooling', and had booked to go to Japan, 'sans the man'.30) All her family appeared to have viewed Mabel as eccentric: her aunt Rosa Praed, for example, wrote to Ruth M-P after Mabel qualified as a physician: 'I suppose from Mabel's point of view it is a good thing, but I can't help feeling sorry for her patients. No doubt, however, the soldiers will adore her and she may put her best self into their ills.'31) Others were more forthright. Max Barton wrote to his mother in 1916 referring to Doris Kennedy, an Irish cousin: 'I did hear that Doris’s housekeeper expressed the opinion that Mabel M.P. was mad.'32) Nevertheless, the extended family remained close and when Mabel wrote to Nora M-P, her father's step-mother, it was to 'My dear Grandmother Nora'.33) It is notable too that, after her death, C.B. Darvall, one of Nora's relatives, acted on behalf of Mabel's two executors (her elder siblings Thomas and Florette).34)

In 1928, Mable was living in two caravans in Middlesex, with her address 'Nomad's Camp, Splash Road, Shepperton'. The Staines District Council took her to court claiming she did not have a proper facilities for water or the disposal of waste. She told the court she lived in one caravan with the other used as kennels, and that she did have adequate arrangements: charges were dismissed.35) Mabel's step-cousin Dorothy (Dorothea M-P) wrote that Mabel visited Australia around 1921 for a visit: 'After that she travelled for some years before settling down to country life in England and in Ireland. She was a keen sportswoman and took great pleasure in hunting and in breeding dogs. In 1931 she was taking a course in gynaecology in Dublin. We saw her in Ireland before we left for Australia. She was then in poor health after a bad fall. Subsequently pneumonia set in and although news was cabled that she was recovering, there was a sudden relapse. She died in hospital. She was a brave, vivacious and warm-hearted woman, and we have found very many friends who mourn her passing.'36) The Daily Telegraph, when reporting her death, described her as 'a lady of brilliant intellect and vivid personality and had a good [medical] practice and a large circle of friends'.37) Mabel's support for the British Empire is evident by her 1924 Certificate of Fellowship of the British Empire Exhibition.38)

3. Thomas Bertram, b. 4 February 1883. See sidebar for separate entry.

4. Ethel Nora, 1 December 1884 - 1959. She was born at Moonbago Station, South Kennedy, Bully Creek, a station owned, at least in 1880, by her grandfather TLM-P.39) She was baptised at All Saints Church of England, Brisbane.40)

Ethel married William Royston (Roy) Butler in 190941) and lived at 'Staghurst', Toogoolawah in Queensland. This photo is of her as a bride.42)

Ethel and Roy had five children - information about them is available to family members on request. Ethel wrote 3 letters in 1933 about her family history. These are in the Fryer Library, University of Queensland. If anyone is in Brisbane and could see them, all information gratefully received! Reference is Letters, 1933 : Toogoolawah, Ethel Butler to A. J. McConnel, Item F808.

Ethel was musical like her sister Florette. She went to the trouble of binding her music together in a volume embossed with her name 'E. Butler'. On this sample page, she wrote her name and 'New York 1907', suggesting she obtained it there. 43)

5. Phyllis Claudia (23 July 1886 - 1957) She was born at Maroon and baptised at All Saints Church of England, Brisbane by the Rev. M Robinson.44). She and Edgar Cannon McConnel married in 190945) and lived for most of their marriage on the McConnel family property Cressbrook, near Toogoolawah in south-west Queensland - close to where her sister Ethel lived after her marriage. Phyllis and her husband were both buried at Cessbrook.46)

Edgar McConnel was an outstanding horseman and helped train the Australian Light Horsemen during World War I.47) Noted anthropologist, Ursula McConnel, was Edgar McConnel's sister, and thus became Mary M-P's (Thomas de M. M-P's 2nd wife) step-niece: different generations of anthropologists of Aboriginal life connected to the one family.

The two younger sisters.48) Phyllis when older.49)

The close ties of family is illustrated by this photo, On the back of this photo is written that it shows a surprise party to wish Ethel M-P a happy Xmas and glad new year, Xmas 1901. The old woman in the centre is understood to be Mary Bundock.50) Mary Bundock left a legacy of ₤200 to Helen McConnel, her step-grand-daughter and god-daughter.51)

Phyllis and Edgar had four children - information about them is available to family members on request.

QBDM ref C105
‘Questions to be answered by T.L.M-P’, 6pp Memoranda by the Herald Office, Somerset House, London re Burke’s Colonial Gentry.
NSWBDM registration 21403/1957
Provenance: J. Godden to Jill Fleming.
Miss Wallis, Headmistress to Mrs M-P, n.d. provenance: Jill Fleming; Ascham Remembered 1886-1986, Sydney Fine Arts Press, 1986.
Provenance: Jill Fleming.
reference? just brief note found so far.
Star, 16 October 1906, p.1.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 March 1906, p.12; Sunday Times, 29 April 1906, p.2
New Zealand Herald, supplement, 27 November 1909, p.4.
The Brisbane Courier, 31 August 1909, p. 2
Nora to Rosa, 3 December 1883, JOQ
The Brisbane Courier, 31 August 1910, p.7
Letters, Provenance: J. Fleming
E.S.M-P., pers. com.
providence Jill Fleming/Judith Godden
Tom A. M-P's family tree has September as does Robert M-P, The Blood Royal of the Murray-Priors, p.14 and ‘Questions to be answered by T.L.M-P’, 6pp Memoranda by the Herald Office, Somerset House, London re Burke’s Colonial Gentry; Queensland births, 1881, entry C3011 has November
‘Questions to be answered by T.L.M-P’, 6pp Memoranda by the Herald Office, Somerset House, London re Burke’s Colonial Gentry. When reporting her death (with a number of inaccuracies), the Daily Telegraph 21 January 1932, p.15 stated that she was born at her parents' Bulli Bulli station in western Queensland.
Provenance both photos: Jill Fleming. Get better copy of former
see also Women's College, Calendar, 1910 p.20 and 1919, p.?.
Sydney Medical Mission, minutes, 18 December 1911, Dixson Library (SLNSW), MS218.
Praed papers cited in Julie Marcus, First In Their Field, Melbourne University Press, 1993.
27) , 30)
M-P family papers, NLA MS 7801, Box 4, folder 26
Magazine of the Women's College, 1917, p.20; University of Sydney, Beyond 1914 - Book of Remembrance, includes details of Mabel's war record completed by her sister Florette Herring. See http://beyond1914.sydney.edu.au/profile/3705/mabel-murray-prior#
or check if 1914?
M-P family papers, NLA MS 7801, Box 1, folder 2. Also anecdotes by E.S. & B.I. M-P, pers.comm; Praed papers, Box 10, QJO.
M-P papers, NLA, MS 7801, Box 1, folder 2.
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.93.
The Daily Mail, 23 October 1828, p.9
Magazine of the Women's College,1932, p.6.
Daily Telegraph, 21 January 1932, p.15
Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Colonial Gentry, Melbourne: E.A. Petherick, 1891-95, p.50.
'Questions to be answered by T.L.M-P’, 6pp Memoranda by the Herald Office, Somerset House, London re Burke’s Colonial Gentry; H. Mortimer Franklyn, A glance at Australia in 1880
'Questions to be answered by T.L.M-P’, 6pp Memoranda by the Herald Office, Somerset House, London re Burke’s Colonial Gentry.
Qld Marriage registration B7898
Provenance: Jill Fleming. For an account of the wedding, see The Beaudesert Times, 13 August 1909, p. 9
43) , 48)
Provenance: T.A. & M.T. M-P
'Questions to be answered by T.L.M-P’, 6pp Memoranda by the Herald Office, Somerset House, London re Burke’s Colonial Gentry
Qld marriage registration C892
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.78 photo of grave
Provenance: Jill Fleming
Provenance: T.A.& M.T. M-P. Needs re-scanning
Mary Bundock, will, in F.F. Bundock papers, MLA5396
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