thomas_bertram_and_lizzie_m-p

Thomas Bertram and Lizzie M-P

Thomas Bertram, the 5th consecutive Thomas Murray-Prior, was born on 4 February 1883 at Moonbago Station, South Kennedy, Bully Creek, a station owned by his grandfather TLM-P.1) He was Thomas de Montmorenci and Florence M-P's third child and only son.

Thomas B. M-P taken by professional photographer in Brisbane.2)

Fox's History of Queensland3) gave a description of Thomas B. M-P. It says he was educated at Armidale, NSW, until he was 18 years old. He then returned to Maroon Station, and a year later his father died. Thomas B. M-P was 'one of the trustees of the estate', and 'became manager until (most of) the property, which originally comprised 10,000 acres, was sold for purposes of closer settlement.' Thomas B. M-P kept the old homestead, with 600 acres of land, 'with its picturesquely wooded hills and well-grassed pasture lands.' He mainly used the remaining land to breed shorthorn cattle from stock originally introduced by his late father …, the progeny from which have been frequent prizewinners at Brisbane shows.' Fox further stated that the stud consisted of 'about 50 cows of the finest shorthorn type'. In addition, he was planning to introduce mixed farming to Maroon. He was a Justice of the Peace; during 1914-17 was elected a member of the Goolman Shire Council 4); and on the committee of the Boonah Agricultural Society. While his father donated the land for the first Maroon School which opened in 1891, mainly for the children of settlers taking advantage of the closer settlement acts, it was Thomas B. M-P who chaired the first committee to establish the school.5)

One account suggests that Thomas B. M-P was sympathetic towards the indigenous owners of the land. What became known as the last great corroboree of the local tribes was held at Maroon in 1905. As Thomas B. M-P owned Maroon then, the Aboriginal participants would have had his permission to congregate. The recollection is second hand (a man recounting his then 11-year old mother's memory 68 years later), but states that the local settlers were part of the audience and contributed food. The corroboree featured a huge bonfire and traditional dances 'The Hunt' and the 'Dying Kangaroo“.6)

For photographs of the family at Maroon that, from the women's clothes, appear to be in the 1910s, click on Maroon.
Card featuring St Andrew's Church, Maroon - the M-Ps, presumabably Thomas B. M-P, were responsible for its erection in 1907.7)

On 18 February 1911, Thomas B. M-P married his second cousin, Lizzie Kate (Dickie) Lightoller (29 October 1887—21 January 1949).8) daughter of well-known Brisbane physician, Dr. Henry Lightoller. Dr Lightoller's grandmother was Rosa Haly (nee Harpur), Matilda M-P's sister.9) There was either a printing error in the marriage notice , or she was also known as Elsie.10)

Thomas B. and Lizzie M-P gave their first born his grandfather's name, so we get a second Thomas Lodge M-P.11) See the two sidebar entries for more about that Thomas Lodge, and his siblings Minnie (Vi), Standish and Hugh Burnett M-P.

'Dickie' M-P, her mother Maria Theresa (Minnie) Lightoller (nee Haly), and baby Thomas L. M-P
For more photos of the Lightollers, click on **Lightoller**


It was probably Lizzie M-P who was one of the three trustees for the Maroon School of Arts after it was built in 1903-04: the Maroon booklet says “Mrs T.A. Murray-Prior', presumably a misprint for Mrs T.B M-P as Thomas B. M-P was one of the Presidents of the School of Arts. In the early twentieth century, the local settlers also played tennis on the court at Maroon homestead.12)

The following photo from TLM-P's album was labelled 'Bertie Murray-Prior'. If this was Thomas B. M-P., presumably he was called Bertie to avoid confusion with other Tom M-P's. 13)
Is this next photo in a locket one of his sisters or is it Bertie?14)

This photo is dated c.1914-15, and is of Thomas B. (still clutching his copy of the Pastoral Review) at Maroon with his son Thomas L. M-P and the latter's cousin, Minnie Palmer.15)

By Thomas B. M-P's time, the district around Maroon was no longer isolated. In 1914, the property was subdivided with Thomas B. M-P retaining the portion with the homestead on it. The auction on 20 April 1914 brought in around £27,000 with an average price of just over £3 per acre. Thomas B M-P privately purchased the homestead lot of 608 acres at £7/2/4/ an acre; while two adjoining lots were respectively purchased by his sister Ethel (Mrs W.B. Butler - 205 acres at £3/5/0) and 'Miss Murray-Prior' (another of his sisters? 172 acres at £4/7/6).16)

An undated photo of Maroon.17)

In 1919 or 1920, Thomas B. M-P sold his remaining section of Maroon.18) There are numerous family stories about why, though nothing certain. A probable factor was his sight: he was badly injured when mustering cattle on the station in 1914, with the result that one of his eyes had to be removed.19) Another possible factor is that, by the end of World War I in 1918, the area was grief-stricken and deprived of many of its young men who provided the local labour. Maroon had the sad distinction of having the highest casualty rate of any community in Australia during that War: from a small number of families, 42 men enlisted, including 8 sets of brothers. Of these 42 men, 17 (40%) died. Unless Maroon men were exceptional, the rest returned nursing psychological and physical wounds.20)

Three views of Birrilli, home of Thomas B. and Lizzie M-P. The first indistinct photo is of Thomas B. M-P in the garden.21)

After selling Maroon, Thomas B., Lizzie and their children moved to Southport.22) By 1937, they had moved to 'Birrilli', Kensett Avenue, Leura in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, perhaps as the climate was seen healthier for their eldest son (another Thomas of course) who had contracted polio. In 1937 Thomas B. was elected to the Leura Urban Committee.23) When Thomas and Lizzie's son Standish enlisted during World War II, he gave his father's address as 'Birrilli'. Thomas B. M-P died in circa 1948; his last address was Irish Harp Road (now Regency Road), Prospect, Adelaide, South Australia. Probate was granted to Stella Gilmore Prior, understood to be a nurse.24) It is believed that Stella later migrated to New Zealand, possibly with her and Thomas's child, who perhaps took the surname Murray-Prior or Prior.

A search of the New Zealand papers reveals a mystery. There are reports of visits to that country by Thomas B. and his wife on several occasions before and during World War I.25) Even odder are the reports that Thomas B. M-P stayed there, apparently for over a year, in 1935-36,26) then left for Vancouver.27) Was this another Thomas B. M-P, a misprint, or unexplained activity in New Zealand?


1)
'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 at https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=QgRLAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PR2. In contrast, Fox's History of Queensland: Its People and Industries, p.173, says he was 'born on “Bulliwallah” Station, Northern Queensland' [same?]
2) , 7) , 14) , 15)
Provenance: T.A. & M.T. M-P
3)
pp.173-74
4)
Queensland Times, 10 January 1917, p.1; Collin Pfeffer, The Fassifern Story: a history of Boonah Shire and surroundings to 1989, Boonah Shire Council, c.1991, p.148; [H. Krause], The Story of Maroon. A Souvenir Review of its History and Development 1827-1961, Maroon Centenary Celebrations Committee, 1961, p.40.
5)
[H. Krause], The Story of Maroon. A Souvenir Review of its History and Development 1827-1961, Maroon Centenary Celebrations Committee, 1961, p.31.
6)
Collin Pfeffer, The Fassifern Story: a history of Boonah Shire and surroundings to 1989, Boonah Shire Council, c.1991, p.13.
8)
Qld marriage registration C887; Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Colonial Gentry, Melbourne: E.A. Petherick, 1891-95, p.50
9) , 11)
[Thomas A. M-P], Murray-Prior Family, booklet, October 2014.
10)
The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 April 1911, p.14.
12)
[H. Krause], The Story of Maroon. A Souvenir Review of its History and Development 1827-1961, Maroon Centenary Celebrations Committee, 1961, pp.38,39.
13)
Provenance: J. Godden
16)
Collin Pfeffer, The Fassifern Story: a history of Boonah Shire and surroundings to 1989, Boonah Shire Council, c.1991, p.25 reproduces the auction result published in the Fassifern Guardian.
17)
Provenance: Jill Fleming
18)
[H. Krause], The Story of Maroon. A Souvenir Review of its History and Development 1827-1961, Maroon Centenary Celebrations Committee, 1961, p.11; Collin Pfeffer, The Fassifern Story: a history of Boonah Shire and surroundings to 1989, Boonah Shire Council, c.1991, p.27.
19)
Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 21 January 1914, p.5; The Brisbane Courier, 17 January 1914, p.4.
21)
Provenance: Tom A. & T. M-P
22)
Standish M-P to Roy M-P, 27 November 1991
23)
Nepean Times, 9 December 1937, p.1.
24)
Sydney Morning Herald, 21 June 1948, p.5; Tom A. M-P, pers. com.
25)
Wanganui Chronicle, 24 June 1909, p.2; Nelson Evening Mail, 28 March 1911, p.4; Sun, 15 March 1915, p.4.
26)
New Zealand Herald, 28 March 1935, p.6; Otago Daily Times, 1 April 1935, p.8; Auckland Star, 12 May 1936, p.4.
27)
Otago Daily Times, 18 May 1936, p.8.
  • thomas_bertram_and_lizzie_m-p.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/05/31 17:35
  • by judith