TLM-P's Diaries

Diaries were written for a variety of purposes in the 19th century, with only some meant to be private. TLM-P's diaries appear to be primarily written as aide memoires. The ones written when he is at Maroon or other properties are the documents of a working farmer. One modern reader complains of the boredom of reading, day after day, 'Morning Fine', concluding that, overall, 'his diaries are a study in dullness'.1) The reality is that the weather is of vital interest to all who make a living from the land, and that the diaries were not written to entertain future generations. Yet most will find some aspects of the diaries a fascinating glimpse of past life. Their historical interest is enhanced because most were private documents, so less susceptible to self-censorship. Most of the diaries are in the Mitchell Library (MLMSS 3117).See Catalogue entry2)

Diary 1848

Accordingly to Patricia Clarke, TLM-P wrote in this diary about how fearful he was of Aboriginal resistance, and the measures he was prepared to take. He wrote that the Aborigines from the coast (perhaps driven inland from the more settled coast) were 'troublesome on the Logan', had killed some of his cattle and that he was 'at feud' with them. As he rode, he was also watching for trouble though he thought conditions were less troublesome on Bromelton than on nearby properties. He described one instance were he saw an Aboriginal man standing still, so rode towards him with his pistol raised. It turned out that the terrified Aboriginal man was a station employee ironically known by the whites as 'Master'.3)

Private Journal for 1858

This diary is at the back of ledger for 1854-58. To see a transcription of entries for 15 September to 15 October 1858, click on Sept-Oct 1858. Like TLM-P's other diaries, this one reveals a highly energetic man, though he did admit (on 26 September) that, after riding about 80 miles (nearly 129km) in two days, he was 'tired'. As befitted a friend of Ludwig Leichhardt, he had strong scientific interests. The one event that was underlined is for 13th October: 'I saw a small Comet'. During this period he was heavily investing in land, recording on 24 September that he had bought land worth nearly £226, and on 28 September that he had bought a little more than 522 acres costing just over £522. He was also involved in moving into a house at Kangaroo Point (Shafston?), buying a sideboard, piano and other furniture.

Just as interesting is what is not in this diary - on 10 October 1858, he noted the heavy rain, that he bought some furniture and spent the night with the Mowbrays: nothing that day or the following ones to say that Matilda had given birth to their son Redmond. The only reference to the event at all is the note on 17th September that Jemima Fraser was hired as a nurse at £25 p.a. with a month's notice (i.e. each side would give a month's notice re her leaving); and on 14 October that 'Matilda was able to walk as far as the Mowbrays where we called [upon them]'. The nurse Jemima would have added some confusion to the household: in the entries for the month, TLM-P refers to three different Jemimas: the nurse; his step-sister (whom he paid £60); and his mare. And what do we make of the silence around Matilda giving birth compared with an entry that Jemima the mare had foaled and 'looked very bad'?! While he mentions 'Tommy', none of his other children are mentioned. To some extent, the omissions and details included can be accounted by the diary being an aide memoire to keep track of business dealings, employees and purchases. Perhaps it was simply that he had no need for an aid to remember Redmond's birth.

According to Andrew Darbyshire, this diary has been digitalised and is 'available' on the NA [National Archives of Australia branch in Queensland] website.4) I have been unable to locate it there. The original was held by Australia Post at GPO Brisbane.

Australia Post's Queensland Stat Office did send a sample entry to ESM-P (from Jim Lightfoot, Historical Officer, 9 May 1979) as follows:

Wednesday 19 March 1862 Samson Steamer not in. Clarence sailed for the Northern Ports 9.30 a.m. About an hour after she left Samson was signaled coming up the river with English mail. Went to Australasian Steam Navigation Co. and to the Customs to see if I could get a boat to take down mail. Telegraphed to Mr McDonald at Lytton to detain the Clarence for the English mail, til I sent it down. Samson's Mail in at 12.30 p.m. delivering letters at 2p.m. - all hands very hard at work. Got off the Northern Mails, all the letter and nearly all the papers by 4.45p.m. Sent them down by the Cab for 10/- to Breakfast Creek, where the Customs boat from Lytton took them to the Bar. Sent letters by Express mail about 3p.m. and kept Woods til 5p.m.for the papers which he took up. Had some dinner at 6 and returned. Got the English mail ready and on board the Kembla about 9p.m. just before she started. I went down to see that they were all safe and right. Night looked dirty. Hope she will get down in time. Forwarded letter to Mr. Patterson accepting offer of A.S.N. Co. vide letter book date. Home by 9.15 p.m. very tired.

  • 1 January-14 February 1863, when Postmaster-General, MLMSS 3117/Box 2. Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia lists the entries. They all indicate a new service, with TLM-P making decisions on how to improve and expand. The first entry for new year's day was considering expanding to Fortitude Valley to provide a postal service for around 1,800 inhabitants. Two days later salaries of new postal employees at Toowoomba and Warwick were noted. When the Governor complained of late delivery of mail via his Aide de Camp, a speedy solution was soon found. There were problems with the Ipswich steamer, and details about the issue of stamps. As Darbyshire notes, Queensland's first postage stamps were issued three years before, in 1860. There were post boxes to be erected and painted/lettered and staffing problems. The last entry was notes on 'Telegraphic Money Orders', one of the ways the colony needed to transfer money.5)
  • Private journal Postmaster-General 1863 No. 3, being a daily account of the Postmaster-General's activities, 16 January-4 October 1863, MLMSS 3117/Box 3. The entry of 18 January 1863 notes that Matilda did not go to church, an unusual occurrence probably indicating she was too ill to do so.6)
  • Diary MLMSS 3117/Box 1. October 1863-?December 1864

It is in this diary that TLM-P records his postal tour of inspection, taking a steamer up to Rockhampton, visiting post offices along the way; when he arrived back in Brisbane on 24 October 1863, he noted it had been a hard trip lasting 54 days and included riding 1,017 miles. Other entries indicate the rapidly increasing demand for postal services - need for a coach as the mail was now too heavy for a horse (27 October 1863); problems with findign suitable men especially to replace soldiers who are ill suited to the job but always get preference; and dealing with opportunistic lobbyists such as Captain Robert Towns who wanted the mail service to accommodate their needs (30 October 1863).

On 6 October 1863, TLM-P had the misfortune to stay the night at Exmoor and was rather dismissive of his host's sisters: 'Mr Henning has a comfortable humpy and two unmarried sisters living with him, somewhat passed their first youth'. One of those sisters, Rachel Henning, formed her own unfavourable view of TLM-P which she published in the very popular The Letters of Rachel Henning. Other entries detail his travel by horse to outback properties, one day recording a journey of 27 miles, another two of 35 miles. He was researching postal routes but also, when needed, making new appointments. He also took the opportunity to record his conversation with James Morrell who was well known for having been ship-wrecked and living for 17 years with the local Aboriginal Australians. He also assesses land in each area, along with its value.7)

This diary recorded events at Maroon Station during 1 June-30 September 1881, MLMSS 3117/Box 6/Item 1.

This small diary (MLMSS 3117/Box 6, item 2) is a record of TLM-P's first visit to England since he left 43 years ago. It notes that he left Brisbane on 28 April (28 June 1882) and begins with his arrival at Plymouth less than two months later, on 21 May. His three months in England were spent in a whirl of activity. He first went to his step-sister Louisa's home in Fernlea Road in the south London suburb of Balham. There he was also reunited with his daughter 'Rosie', Rosa Praed. On the 25th, Jemima, his other step-sister, arrived to see him. After some time at Louisa's, he visited Rosa then Jemima in their homes, the latter at Portsmouth.8). Much of his time was taken up visiting 'Nora's relatives' and others. His list (30 June) detailed:

  • Mrs Nat. Barton (Brighton);
  • Edmund Maurice (Hampstead);
  • Mary Sinclair (no address listed);
  • Col. and Flo Dawson (Chatham) (later on 11 June, he was described as having been in the 18th [regiment] in Australia and New Zealand while he had a chat to his 'very nice' wife about Nora;
  • Thomas Barton of Diplock & Barton, tea merchants (London office & Kent home);
  • Mrs Maurice (Regents Park);
  • Mrs Phillip Francis (Notting Hill);
  • Judge Henry Francis (Cadogan Sq London);
  • General Darvall (Suffolk) (TLM-P visited the General, his wife and daughters at Acton Place, Sudbury, on 20 August. He was Nora's uncle, her mother's eldest brother);
  • H.H. Robertson Aikman (no address listed);
  • Mrs H. G. Johnson (East Moulsey);
  • Mrs Samuda (Amersham, Bucks.);
  • I. Balfour (Hyde Park);
  • Col. Buttenshaw (Bayswater); and
  • Miss Price (Bridgewater).

He also visited others with family names that he would pass on to his own sons, including John Skynner Egerton Bishop (he refers to 'my Aunt Bishop' on 13 July and to an old lady Constantia Bishop on 14 July). He also called upon and very much liked Sir John Darvall, his wife's uncle, who had retired to London (18 July), and also saw Mr F.O. Darvall.(10 June) as well as (he thought 84-year-old) Col. Barton who had been in India and 'spoke very affectionately about Nora'. Col. Barton's wife 'said I was not so old looking as she expected … and I think meant 'sotto voce“ better for Nora than going to India”.'(17 July, also 24 July. India perhaps referred not to a definite plan of Nora's but the belief that older single women went on 'fishing trips' to India to find someone to marry.) Another of Nora's relatives he visited was Major Maurice of the Intelligence section of the Horse Guards, While seeing him, he notice a name from his first wife's family - Captain O.G. Haly who said all sons of his family are in Australia.(18 July). In August he visited Cleevemount, now a suburb in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Captain Willis 'was in the 37th and after held a civil appointment with the police' but was now retired, and his wife Harriet nee Robins, both over 70 years old. she reminisced 'about Bruges days. We cannot have met since then, about 1827!!. While there, he visited Frederick O. Darvall at 5 Sydenam Villas - looking older and deaf, but glad to see TLM-P. Whilst at the Willis', TLM-P heard more evidence of the infinite trickery that was john_murray_prior_bertram_murray(22 August) Just before he left England, he visited 'Nora's Aunt Mary Barton [who] gave me a hearty reception, found her a very estimable old lady. Talked much of Nora and made enquiries about the children. She complains much of the state of Ireland though her county Fermanagh is the quietest of any, yet they do not pay their rents. … Mr T. Barton … is for Gladstone and looks upon the Irish tenantry as a sort of junior partner with the landlord. He may be right but I cannot see it in his light.'(29 August) Aunt Mary 'sent many kind messages to Nora and kisses to children. She would very much like to see her great nieces and nephews.'(30 August)

Dawson and Samuda were the names of the men who owned Belford station, one of the early station TLM-P worked on to gain colonial experience. Just before he left England, TLM-P travelled by train and coach to Amersham to visit 'my friend' Samuda and 'Miss Dawson'. He enjoyed a very affectionate reunion.(19 August) Hugh Henry Robertson Aikman was his partner in Bromelton Station, but TLM-P just received a warm letter from his son saying his father had died in January.(27 July) he also makes a note of seeing Henry and Edith Brown 'whose son Henry had gone to Australia & Fiji'.(14 July) Samuda was, he wrote, neatly 80 and was having multiple operations for 'stones' (25 July). TLM-P also called on the former Queensland officials (e.g. Mr Herbert on 18 July) as well as the Governor's wife, Lady Bowen, who asked after Tom and Rosa 'and had tears in her eyes naming Matilda' but shook her head at his having more children.(18 July. He also had lunch with her on 21 July and visited with Rosa on 23 July) Another of his visits was to Lizzie (nee Jardine) who was his daughter Lizzie's sister in law who had married Colonel Arthur Bootle-Wilbraham. It is apparent from his diary entries that, at some stage he had asked her to marry him. After commenting on her 'same sweet smile', he wrote that 'Whilst she was talking I was thinking of the old days and what a difference it would gave made in both our lives if she had. Wisely, given his wife would probably read his diary, he added, 'Hope she is as satisfied with her lot as I am.' Perhaps she was thinking the same or he became more cautious in his diary entries, as the next day Lizzie again visited Rosie but, while again displaying her 'nice smile', TLM-P found her 'thin and subdued looking'.(18 July) Nora's sister Georgie visited London from 22 July and he went with her visiting her relatives and his.

As he spent quite a bit of time staying with Rosa Praed, he meet many of her in-laws. He appeared to be on good terms with them all, but it is telling that he found Winthrop Mackworth-Praed and his wife boring. They lived at Mickleham Downs (Surrey) in a new house 'beautifully got up, about 8 spare bedrooms'. This was the gentry Rosa had found herself amongst and, like her, he found the reality less attractive: 'There is a heaviness about the place altho Miss Praed and all were as kind as could be, but it was out of my world and Mr P. is very heavy, can only talk of horses, shooting, etc.(26 August) The colonial squatter was stronger than the aspiring Englishman in the following comment when he was taken around the extensive grounds: 'I believe there are 16 gardeners employed so that with the men among the horses, house servants etc., there would be enough to manage 100,000 sheep.'(27 August)

The trip was expensive, even with so many relatives to stay with. The cost of his passage (return?) he noted as £63 (roughly $7,868 in 2017 values)(2 July).

When he left England, he was an adventurous 19 year old Englishman; by 1882, he was 63 years old and seeing things very much through a colonial grazier's eyes. As he travelled through the countryside in early spring, memories returned ('I began to get a glimmer of former life') but the countryside still looked strange: 'more like gardens and home paddocks in a very fine season abutting upon one another'(22 May). He assessed the soils and cattle through squatter eyes. He made sure he went to a number of agricultural shows to see the latest machinery and minutely assess the different cattle breeds(e.g. 12 July). He had an especially absorbing interest in horses. Even his enjoyment of the Derby races was marred by his conviction that horses should be bred for stamina not short bursts of speed: 'What can be the good of a horse even if it could fly a few hundred yards? now a horse that can go and has staying power is worth having; racing people do not agree with me.'(24 May) it was a belief he passed on to his eldest son.

He bought gifts from Australia, one of which had to be inspected by customs: 'a mounted emu egg'(21 May) - perhaps this one or one like it? 9) He also wrote about a stock whip for his grandson Bulkley (29 May)

His main activities on this visit is to see his family, go to cultural events - art gallery, concerts etc - and also races and anything else involving horses, as well as sight-seeing including the Cowes yacht race and the Isle of Wight. He gave a detailed account of inspecting naval ships and their guns before the fleet sailed to war in Egypt. In this age before cheap photographs, the diary was used as an aide memoire on his return, especially when telling his wife about her relatives. So it is not just superficiality when he goes into details about the appearance of the people he meets, though he does particularly note if the women were attractive. He also regularly weighs himself, worrying that he was putting on weight and may have to buy new clothes.10)When he weighed himself he was 12 stone 7 or 8 lbs - around 79.6 kilos.11) He doesn't comment on public affairs much because, as he notes, 'the papers have all this'(11 July) though he did visit Parliament when it was in session - and did not find it so different to Queensland's.(20 July)

This diary reveals a number of fundamentals about TLM-P. One is his insatiable curiosity apparently uninhibited by snobbery or any concept of British reserve. He chats to anyone he thought interesting, regardless of considerations of their social standing or, in the case of two women on the train, concerns about their morality - well, one did shock by smoking, though TLM-P was not sure whether it was a 'lark' or indicating they were 'not what they should be'(24 June). He habitually notes information about fellow travellers that he could only know from talking to them and provides details that strangers have provided when questioned by him. He frequently recounts good yarns told by all sorts of people, such as a 'pointsman', railway worker he met on the train.(19 August) A typical entry was when taking a coach to the Derby races, and he was pleased to be seated next to the driver, 'a very decent man [who] … told me all about the road'.(24 May) TLM-P usually wrote fairly prosaically, but in describing the dancing chaos of Derby traffic he became more poetic: 'huge public conveyances crammed full of of all kinds of people, aristocratic private carriages containing well dressed people, hackney coaches, hansoms, phaetons, dog carts, spring carts, pony carriages, donkey trucks in fact every kind of conveyance, all these mixed up shouting, laughing, trying to pass one another, mixing up and getting clear most surprisingly.'(24 May) He missed few opportunities to ask about matters relating to Australian meat (e.g. 19 August). On 26th May, for example: 'passing a butchers shop I was having a look at their beef when … [butcher] asked me if I would like to see the shop so we got into conversation and he shewed me all over asking “my missus” [actually his step-sister Jemima] to come too … I told the man I was in the trade and had an invitation to his farm which I shall avail myself of some day … I was glad to be able to compare [his beef] .. with ours as my eye was fresh for a comparison.' Similarly when visiting his step-sister Jemima at Portsmouth, he called into the local butcher's shop to get the men's opinion on Australian meat. The day before he had accidentally bought a 3rd class rather than 1st class ticket on the train from Rosa's to London, but soon 'got into chat with some decent men of the trade or manufacturing class and reaped as much information from them as I could. Found the Australian wheat liked …'.(2-3 June 1882; for similar chat with farmers on a train see 7 June).

Another notable result of TLM-P chatting to anyone he could, was the number of strangers he met who had relatives in, or had been in, Australia or new Zealand. On a train to Reading he had the coincidence that so many travellers experience: a man in the carriage asked if he knew his cousin called Hodgson. It turned out the cousin's daughter had married 'Mick Daisey' who lived 'within 20 miles' of TLM-P (12 July). At other times it was clear that if one family member was in Australia, others were likely to follow. When TLM-P visited General Darvall, it was no surprise to find that Mrs Johnston [perhaps a daughter?] had married the younger brother of an assistant clerk of the Brisbane Council.(20 August). The general's neighbours 'all asked many questions of [about] Mrs Barton and all her belongings. Mrs Johnston was at Sydney with her father in [18]68 from India and knew them all. Sent many messages especially the Genl. to his sister Emily of whom he appeared to be very fond. Nora was in England when they were in Australia. The Genl. had taken a great fancy to Arthur. Many of those he visited had connections with Australia, e.g friend Mr Talmage at Bristol whose wife had Australian relatives.(24 August)\
His joy in the company of his grandchildren is clear. He thought Rosa's sons: 'fine, healthy little fellows … boys splendid' (27 May) and relates how he could not write up his 'log' (diary) as the boys came in to see him in the mornings 'and insist upon a story' in bed.(30 May, 13, 14 & 18 August). He was equally affectionate about 'poor dear little Maudie' when visiting her at her 'college'… No one would think that she could neither hear nor speak…. [he thought the teachers should be] 'bright, quick and amiable' … 'Maudie is a darling little creature'.(13 June)

His diary also makes clear his pride in and support for Rosie's writings- e.g. 'Rosie … hearing her read what she has done of her new book, much interested in it and think it wonderfully written far surpassing anything she has done yet, but must think over it“. (31 May) They talked regularly about her writings (e.g.31 May) and he suggested a sequel to her latest story which he thought was 'interesting;' and would 'remove any criticism from goodie goodie people' … I hope she will adopt it or something similar.' (1 June). While he was eager to contribute, it is clear he did so as a supportive reader rather than as a stereotypical authoritarian Victorian father. It is notable that Rosie read from her work, while he listened (1 July) and was approving of her writing (8 July). Later he was reading the first volume of her next book 'Molock' - 'well written and forceable do not see any thing objectional in this vol. gave opinion to writing a preface & small alternations'(12 August) He was even more impressed with volume 2: 'So far it is well written, I think the best of Rosies, the interest is intense' - so much so, when he went to bed he dreamed of the heroine's plight and how to change things so that 'the moralists' would not attack her -'It got a great hold upon me and I could not sleep but spent a restless awestruck night. Will Rosie see it as I do?'(13 August). In the end it was Rosie's publisher George Bentley who forced the plot changes.

While in London, TLM-P gave Rosa money, but was surprised to discover that she could not open an account without her husband's permission.(14 July) Fortunately, Campbell gave his permission and TLM-P deposited money into her new account with her in-law's family bank, Praed Bank. He began her account with an Australian cheque for £517 (£500sterling). TLM-P then signed a declaration that “This money to be taken as part of the money left by me to Rosie in my will and to be deducted from that amount.'(21 June) Before he left London, he showed his support in another practical way: he and Rosie 'went to the publishers, Chapman & Hall, arranged matters. Mr Chapman thought about 750 copies and to send a lot in one vol. to Australia for which another & further arrangement was to be made.'(18 August)

TLM-P's love of art and a wide variety of entertainment including opera and theatre is also clear. This diary reveals that he took every opportunity to view art, and regularly complained that his visits to galleries were too rushed. One example was the statues at the Crystal Palace: they 'want more than a passing look'.12) He found the National Gallery too crowded with both paintings and people - 'so much better to go alone and be able to have a good look at those one likes'. When he did go back by himself, he regretted that he had not taken his opera glasses which would have allowed a closer look.13) He felt the same when he visited the Grosvenor Gallery with his daughter Rosa Praed: it was too crowded and he too rushed. He later enjoyed the Doré Gallery where he had time to linger over the paintings and analyse their qualities in his diary, but even then he planned to go again by himself 'and have a long look at these paintings'. His careful appreciation of art is particularly seen in a long diary entry about a painting he saw in London on 21 June 1882. Despite regularly complaining he had insufficient time to write up his 'log' (diary) and send letters home, he gives a long and detailed description of it and its merits.14) The painting was almost certainly Christ in front of Pilate by Mihály Munkácsy. It created a sensation in London when first exhibited in 1882.

He comments that almost everyone he met in England 'has an history' before proceeding to recount a story that could serve as one of Rosa's plots (with the husband as the victim rather than the wife). The significance of his comment is that so many people he meets confide in him, and that he listens attentively. Perhaps too attentively in this case, as he records the story of the man's multiple liaisons in his diary, along with comment that he had four sons living in Australia, including one in Brisbane working for the Registrar General's office (10 July). It is also clear that TLM-P could laugh at himself - when visiting cousins one young woman joined the family group, but was quite distant with him and said nothing. He thought that was 'rich for a cousin, so said, come we must have a warmer introduction, got up, shook hands and kissed her. She … looked astonished'. As well she might, as he found out he was greeting the non-English-speaking French governess: 'Most ridiculous, I got into a fit of laughter, as did the rest, the thing was too absurd'; he then apologised to her in French.(13 July)

While he had retained a love of his original homeland and, like his contemporaries, saw no conflict between being British and colonial, his diary entries make it clear he also saw himself as irrevocably Australian. When attending a society wedding, he looked around at thought the Australians 'looked as well as any there' and were more friendly so made the wedding more enjoyable for all.(3 August) At times, his preference strongly swung to Australia over Britain. One such occasion was when he had opened a front window at his sister Louisa's home in London and forgot to shut it overnight. A policeman (these were the days of regular foot patrols, at least in the wealthier areas) called in the next morning to point this out, warning that the house might have been robbed. TLM-P was mortified that he'd risked his sister's possessions, but also ended with the sardonic comment, 'a nice country to live in'.(16 July) A final aspect of TLM-P's character as revealed in this diary, is his empathy for the servants he encountered. He thought that the Misses Sterlings' servants were good because the mistresses were so nice, making it a happy home for all.(17 June 1882) and he gave his step-sister's servant 5 shillings as a present on her 18th birthday, commenting that it 'delighted the poor girl who told Jemima no one had done it before.'(23 June 1882)

TLM-P was also clear that his diary would be read by others, or at least by Nora as he complained of spending too much time with Dr Beamish, a Salvation Army officer who had been in Australia, 'instead of a nice letter to dear old wife to let her see how I think of her and love her'(14 June). He was also careful to detail his visit in June to Falmouth to stay with her cousins, the Misses Julia and Hester Sterling, at The Crag House above the beautiful cove that is Maenporth beach. He described their home and garden and visit to 'Miss [Caroline] Fox' who local history sources see as the Sterling girls' unofficial guardian.15) noting the 'beautiful' bedroom he was in, and the paintings by Hester Sterling 'flowers etc very much like Emmy's, [Nora's sister, Emily Paterson] there is a large portrait of a sister who died which might pass for Nora it is so like'. Miss Julia Sterling is the active member of the firm and evidently manages. her likeness to Nora is very great, and even many little ways and the manner of talking, very cheery and in all ways nice and sympathetic; anxious to know all the ins and outs of the Australian relations”. Hester, he wrote, was 'not strong and takes to Art'. They had a niece staying with them 'one of the two in Nora's book [photo album'?](17 June) He was also thinking of Nora when he visited the Royal Pavilion at Brighton:'her grandfather who was so often here with the Regent' (probably Edward Darvall who married a young heiress - few people, including the Regent himself, could afford his indulgent lifestyle for long).

He made a number of visits to Nora's sister Georgie Martin, her husband and four children. The children, he wrote 'all made friends with Uncle Tom.'. Though enjoying Georgie's hospitality, his visit was on business and conducted at Martin's office: to confirm that Martin had relinquished his trusteeship of funds Nora would receive under terms of their marriage settlement. The second was the delicate matter that Martin was believed to have embezzled £740 when he left Queensland. TLM-P enquired minutely into Martin's story of innocence but was clearly uncertain what to believe though he wrote 'I came to the conclusion that either H.S.M[artin] is an innocent man, or a much more clever villain than I could have imagined him… I think with the Commissioner Mr A. O. Herbert that some great blunder has been made which will some day come to light but that H.S.M. has not been guilty.'.(4-5 June) Nevertheless, it was difficult to believe that Martin could write a cheque for such a large sum and not remember what it was for.(10 June) Later when taking Georgie around London, he assumed from her comments that she did not understand the charges, so delicately checked to find out that she did indeed know.(date?) The matter came up again when TLM-P visited the Darvalls - 'No doubt Mr D. thinks him guilty, appearances are very much against him. Still I will believe in my instinct till the matter is proven.'(23 August) His final verdict on Georgie show little appreciation of her financial struggles:'Poor georgie, takes her stand heavily but looks to the dollar [?check] as the fount of all happiness … we parted not likely to meet again for a long time' unless he could go to Ireland and stay with them on his return.(30 August).

Nora had written each Sunday to him while he was away and gave good news until a letter dated 25 June and received 16 August: 'Nora was troubled and I fear not in good health, too much anxiety for her. Lizzie not strong and had gone to Brisbane to meet Thesie Mort. Miss Foy [governess] delicate, seasons bad, Redmond obstinate [about what I wonder?], Hugh breaking our again [ie. drinking] and Hervey, Maggie and Mr Helicar at Maroon. Poor darling it is too much for her and I must get back as soon as I can. Wrote, and wrote to Hugh, I hope it will have some effect upon him. It is all very hard, and cut me up. To change programme instead of going to Scotland & Ireland must take Paris and be guided by next letters and if things are not getting on better go back at once.'(16 August). The mention of 'Mr Helicar' is a clue as to why TLM-P thought he was needed at home. In 1885, a notice appeared in the Brisbane Courier regarding 'Day & Hellicar, Solicitors for the Insolvent, Brisbane'.(8 January 1885) Was Hervey facing bankruptcy or was his wife at maroon coincidentally? Or was the financial problem with Hugh? In either case, it was something more appropriate for his father, rather than Nora, to deal with. In a later entry for the same day, TLM-P's state of mind is indicated by his repeating himself, 'Letters from Maroon make me alter my plans so as to be ready to go back of necessary, instead of going to Edinburgh and Dublin as I proposed will take the Continent first. Wrote to Nora and Hugh, Jemima and Louisa.'(16 August)

TLM-P returned to Brisbane, via Sydney, arriving on 19 January 1883.16)

This diary is located at MLMSS3117/box 6, item 3.

At the beginning of this diary, is a draft of a story [or a real life encounter?] in an unknown hand - perhaps Nora's though it is written from a male viewpoint. “I led my stout partner in to supper, feeling by no means preposed [predisposed?] by her outward appearance. She was large & florid, with a loud voice & big nose[?]. I had a hazy recollection of having heard her name somewhere before & was wondering where & how & what on earth to talk to her about when she enlightened me by remarking loudly “I've often heard of you from Mrs Grives[?], she is our secretary you know & I see a great deal of her.” “Secretary of […?] a lady's club” I […] wondering what this unintellectual female required of a secretary, & who 'we' might be. “Oh dear no! Our Metaphysical Association - do you mean to say you didn't know she was a Christian Scientist - she is a queen amongst us., we are very proud of her.” I felt quite relieved at […?] of the new […?] & was about to have [crossed out words] even [….?] I asked her what I should get her to eat & she said she's have some Colonial beef which I provided, thinking the while that I might have […..?]her looks that she'd eat corned beef when I had bought it to her by way of “drawing” her from the metaphysical question I enquired if she had heard from Mrs Grives[?] ….”

This diary also includes loose pages with answers to genealogical questions that TLM-P provided to the College of Heralds to confirm the family's coat of arms.

TLM-P kept this diary from 3 May to 7 November. The second day of the diary sees him leaving England where he had been visiting with his wife Nora and younger children. For some unexplained reason, but perhaps related to the land dealings he alludes to in his diary, they remained behind while he - relatively briefly - returned to Queensland. TLM-P left on the P & O steamer Victoria on 4 May, going via the Suez Canal. He arrived in Melbourne on 12 June, then takes an overnight train to Sydney, arriving at noon the next day. While in Sydney he stayed with his mother-in-law in her home Rockend at Gladesville; he refers to her formally as 'Mrs Barton'. He was to go to Ryedale, presumably to see Jane Darvall, but instead she visited him at Rockend. When he hears that two girls, Annie and Mary (Jilby? Kilby? a connection of Jane Darvall's family) are travelling on the boat to Brisbane, he changes his travel plans to accompany them. They arrived in Brisbane on 21 June. 'Tully and Mrs A.[Anthony] Darvall' met the boat to collect the girls; TLM-P was greeted by Tom and Florence M-P and Jack and Lizzie Jardine.

TLM-P caught up with family, went to church each Sunday, On 23 July, he visited the St Helena Island prison St_Helena_Island_National_Park which he found 'all remarkably clean and orderly; too good for a prison'. On Monday 25th TLM-P faces one of his gambler son Morres' numerous creditors, demanding that a £40 cheque written by Morres be honoured: 'A man named Brown who had formerly been with [employed by?] me' saw him about it, which he said 'had been given at the Cloncurry for rations money etc supplied. A very nasty man with him who made all kinds of threats and wanted £30. The last time I saw Mr Brown I was sorry after that I had not bought the cheque for £10 and offered to do so, after he had apologised for the way in which the other had acted…. I purchased the cheque.' In a side note, TLM-P wrote 'Cannon & Co No 2 £10 - purchase of a cheque of Morres dated May 31st 1880 for £40 to holder J. Brown; he says they also had legal exes [expenses] for judgment nearly £20.' Queensland was a small community, the Murray-Prior surname was distinctive, so Morres' dishonesty was not just about dishonouring a cheque, but dishonouring the family name and the family's ability to assume they were trusted in business matters. It is little wonder that TLM-P was so distressed about Morres' conduct.

TLM-P then 'arranged to place Aberfoyle on the market in Mooreheads hands for the lump sum of £32,000. Grant says that he will not be able to dispose without muster; if not sold before I leave, will withdraw.'(25 June).Was this part of the reason for his short, expensive return to Australia? On 27th he was at the Land Office where 'the application in T. de M. lease has been cancelled'. Apart from this business, while in Brisbane TLM-P catches up with family and friends, goes to the Opera, attends a reception at Government House and again goes to Government House after an invitation from the Governor's wife Lady Lucinda_Musgrave to dinner to meet 'Mrs Fairfax' (30 June).

Nine days after he arrived in Brisbane, in the company of his eldest son Tom de M. M-P who is living at Maroon with his wife Florence and children, TLM-P takes the train to Ipswich, stays overnight then goes on another train (which ran three times a week)to Dugandan and on Maroon. He notes that he had no time to make the usual courtesy call to Coochin, the neighbouring property. When he arrives at Maroon, he comments on what he finds. Is it a random list or does it indicate his priorities? 'My mare Lucy … looking well. Found Florence and children looking well. [Tom and Florence's daughter] Mabel all right after her escape from drowning in the river. [Youngest son by Matilda] Egerton also stouter.

At Maroon, an issue of concern to father and son is the take-up of land by small selectors, as shown by the following diary entries: Tuesday 3rd July: 'Tom wished me to ride about and see the stock and selectors, the scrub around Mt Maroon is almost if not all taken up.…' Wed 4th July:'After lunch went with T[om] de M. up the creek past Harveys. The selection near Pococks had been on fire, flat burnt, but Pocock was putting it out, he did not know how it originated. We followed up the line of my pre-emptive No. 1 between Lightbody's and that to see if there was any country fit to be taken up. Tom did not think so, then by the outside of Lightbody's line till we went down a very steep gully….' Thursday 5th July: 'on way back called at the Selectors at the back of T de M selection, it looks like a good piece of land, there is a hut and a good extent of clearing (Jamieson). He seems a very decent man. Several have taken up selections at the back they say all the scrub is taken up. Geo Harvey has a selection a small piece fenced with a paling fence (very good) - cultivated - potatoes. It seems to me that he was invading, we tried to run the lime of my purchase next to Childs but did not manage well, will have to get a tracing and more time than we had … There seems to be a great land hunger. Now the more selections taken up the better but I can hardly see how they will make it pay - the labour and expenses of clearing is great; they deserve to succeed.'

Three days later, on Friday 6 July, TLM-P is on the move again, This time accompanied by his daughter-in-law Florence and her eldest daughter Florette, heading back to Brisbane. He notes that 'there was not time to call at Coochin' but this time, 'Bell was waiting for us on roadside plain near the Station. Florence [M-P] went into Bells buggy leaving Florette and an [unnamed] maid with us. We made a good trip reaching McDonalds accommodation house at 11am, after having left Maroon 'a little after 8am…. Mrs Dutton (late Minister for Lands' mother) arrived by the train which was late with Dutton's 2nd daughter en route to Coochin.' They got to Ipswich about 5.30 and Florence and Florette visited 'Minnie' (TLM-P also routinely calls on Minnie at Ipswich). TLM-P did not go as he did not want to risk missing the Brisbane train, noting that mother and daughter 'returned just in time'. The train got into Brisbane at 10.30 - TLM-P took Florence and Florette to 'the Bellevue'Bellevue_Hotel,_Brisbane while he stayed at the Queensland Club.

The next day (7 July) TLM-P saw the Commissioner of Lands who 'had all the papers etc referring to Malvern Hill, found that G.V. next to T de M's block, re improvements. The dam valued at £1400, the fencing mostly at £40 per mile, this was gazetted before the amended act was passed, and price of improvements inserted. If taken up must be stuck to. The only way would be to write to Minister requesting that improvements be re-valued, which if acceded to would cause the withdrawal and re-proclassing of the block which then would have to be taken up and revalued after. Having the Freehold at Maroon would not prevent taking up selection also its being in the Mitchell District where I am a Lessee would not interfere. District being taken as Commissioners District, being hundreds of miles from Aberfoyle think the risk too great as also delay. Wrote Tom and will consider what to do on return from Melbourne.' He was a fond father and grandfather, so on 10th July when 'Florence had servants etc to look about … [9 year old] Florette came with me to Parliament House'. Later in the day he bought 'some dolls etc., for Toms children, book for Florette and [her sister] Phyllis'.

TLM-P packs a lot into his days. On 11 July, he travels to Toowoomba where he sees Lizzie who was pregnant with her second child. He inspected a beautiful house called Westbrook Hall, then set in 40 acres. TLM-P was thinking of renting it but told the owner that he needed 'to consult with my wife and it would be quite 18 months from this before we would return to Colony.' The rent was cheap but he did 'not think Nora would care for it, prefer Brisbane or near it'.

On his return to Brisbane the issue of development around Maroon again occupies him: (13 July) 'called at land Office and obtained plans of Selections etc., on other side river below Maroon House - took me some time taking tracings which will enable Tom de M. to follow the lines'. The next day he was again at the Lands Office, this time 'to see Captn Claudius Whish, Queensland's inspector of road surveys about roads at Maroon. M. McAnallen applies for a road right thro' main camp paddock and T de M M-Ps selection. Refuse to accede it would run thro' best river flats and spoil paddock, the expense of fencing and land would be too much, floods would carry away fence on flat, immoderate to suit one man's convenience.' It was not his only concern that day as he later 'Called Cameron about Cleveland rates, they have sent O'Donovan 10 acre piece to me and also No. 17 ..2 Wellington Point. They think the extreme point a Reserve, Cameron to look out for investments in Gibbons lot.'

On 18 July, it is time to catch the train to Melbourne to take part in the official opening of its Centennial International Exhibition. The railway he travels on, connecting Brisbane to the southern states, was opened in 1888. TLM-P comments extensively on the properties and towns they see from the train, and appears as chatty as ever with fellow passengers. He stopped overnight at Tamworth and, on a chance meeting, had dinner with Frank Wyndham and his wife: he had last seen Frank, then a boy, about 40 years ago when TLM-P was acquiring colonial experience at Dalwood. His next stop was Sydney where he first went to 'Mrs Darvalls' then was driven (?by Anthony Darvall?} to his mother-in-law's home Rockend at Gladesville.17).

On his return, TLM-P again focused on the contentious issue of a road at Maroon. This time Captain Whish accompanied him to Maroon. The next day, 25 August, he, Tom and Captain Whish rode 'to top of range near Coochin gates where we met Mr Nowman chairman of Goodman Divisional Board. We took the track through No. 12 formerly T. de M. M-P selection, from the gate along the fence for some distance and then along the spur and so on tracing the way to where the road joins. Still continuing thro his and Grangers selection to near the rocks where there is a good crossing place, occuring across the corner of my No. 1 Pointrow selection ( which I do not like) then into No. 20 (Lightbodys) crossing the river twice and to original surveyed road near the No. 20 boundary. Marked the road to the crossing place No. 27, this I trust will finish the dispute and satisfy the people though I think the Pointrow road would have been the best for them. We also let the roads from selections down below station be according to the plan as a fair exchange for all other roads given up to us.' The next day (Sunday 26 August) Whish prepared the papers to send to the Goodman Board: ' M. M-P signed as Lessee consenting, self as proprietor'.

By Monday is is back in Brisbane, and the following day undertaking Legislative Council business. His following days were filled - he was checking taking over some mortgages on the advice of 'Cameron', had his photo taken, visiting family and friends, going to the theatre and dinners, and attended the funeral of Mrs Helen Thornton. On Friday 31st he attends to some transfers of mortgages held by Rosa and his late wife Matilda. With the latter, as Tom 'is his Mothers heir', Tom had to do it. Another entry that day notes that Lizzie had given birth to a boy, and that he had received a letter from his daughter Meta that Nora 'had reached Brighton safely'. Both wives were remembered: on 3 September he recorded that he had been married 42 years ago. He has a loving relationship with his daughters and on 17 September goes to Brisbane? 'hospital to see Nellie Hinderley, Lizzie's nurse at Aberfoyle who is now at hospital training and is going to Toowoomba to be with Lizzie for the next week.'

Early October was taken up by a political crisis when the Governor refused to pardon a prisoner (Kitts) on the Government's advice: 'The Government had had mis-understanding with H. Excellency and had sent in their resignation'(4 September). When a new government could not form, nothing could be done but 'to wire to London' for advice'(5 October) - Queensland is still very much a colony. The crisis deepened when the Governor refused to accept the Government's resignation (6 Oct). The deadlock was broken when the Governor received instructions from London to pardon Kitts.(8 Oct) TLM-P's good relations with both his wives' families is underlined by his frequent visits to both families, including the Barkers and Tullys. He went out of his way to say good-bye to Mrs [Jane?] Darvall 'before she left for Sydney'.(13 Sept). He subscribed the large sum of .£5 for a 'monument which friends are putting up for the late Henry Walsh'.(20 Sept). Walsh had been a highly divisive fellow member of the Legislative Council, described in the Australian Dictionary of Biography as 'gauche, nasty, devious, highly egocentric and prone to strident appeals to English tradition' as well as being 'Accused of monomania about maltreatment of Aboriginals, with little help he continued an eloquent fight for the rights of Aboriginals, Kanakas and Chinese for the rest of his life: he was governed by genuine Christian charity and by a distaste for working-class prejudice.'

In September and October TLM-P is busy meeting with family and friends, stiffing a frilled-neck lizard for Meta, parliamentary business and on 10 October attended the funeral of Queensland's Governor Sir Anthony Musgrave after his unexpected death. After the funeral he, with his son's Hervey's young child Hervey along with Lizzie, her baby, went to Maroon. The season had been dry but the grass was green and the garden had plenty of roses and flowers. The mandarin tree was nearly dead and the orange trees looked 'very seedy'(13 Oct). The children - Hervey, Rosie and Ethel 'are the greatest friends'(13 Oct). The following day he 'had a walk with all the children to try and pick up a fringe violet'. Back in Brisbane, he was concerned with his health: I had been very anxious for some days about what I thought a slight running and sysmptoms to a return of the fistula for which I had been operated some seven or eight years ago so next morning Tuesday [16th] I … went to Dr Thompsons'. The Doctor reassured him: 'the old cut quite clean and pronounced no sign of fistula, … Heart still not quite the thing but much better than when I was with him last before leaving for Europe. Felt much happier, he said a good deal of tenderness about intestine and asked if I had not had piles, but it would soon be well.' Was this an early sign of the stomach cancer which killed him three years later?

His appointment as Presiding Chairman of the Legislative Council (see politics & the_post_office) then took up much of his time. This was a temporary position due to the death of the Governor. He was disappointed that Parliament sat for longer than expected, meaning that he missed his desired boat to England: (7 November)'much disappointed, so will Nora and the children when I am not back at Xmas.'

TLM-P's diary ends shortly before he returns to England to be reunited with Nora and the children. It appears to have been an aide memoir when writing to them and for business matters, as well as a means of relieving his loneliness while away from his family. It is valuable for its glimpses of travel and life in 1888 as well its insights into his character - particularly his insatiable curiosity along with the self-confidence to talk to all manner of people on their expertise. For more on this diary, click 1888 to read Judith Godden, 'Glimpses of 1888 - the diary of T.L. Murray Prior', Australia 1888 Bulletin, vol. 4, 1980, pp.60-65.

Several account books for various stations are also with the ML. The ones for 1854-71 includes some inventories.

Rutherford, Jennifer, 'The After Silence of the Son/g', The Australian Feminist Law Journal, Vol. 33, December 201, pp.3-18.
Provenance: donated by J. Godden on behalf of her father E.S.M-P.
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 Bromelton - from the pages of history, personal diaries, old letters and family recollections, Patricia Savage, 2004, pp.20-21.
Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St. Lucia, pp.38,41
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.14-15.
TLM-P, Diary, 2 June 1882
Provenance: J. Godden. The egg itself was a more recent gift from a friend.
e.g. 29 May, 26 June 1882
TLM-P, Diary, 9 June 1882
TLM-P, Diary, 29 June 1882
TLM-P, Diary,310 August 1882
TLM-P, Diary, 9, 13, 15, 21 June 1882
The Sterling Family: In 1840, John Sterling retreated to Falmouth while awaiting a ship heading to Maderia, however his departure was short laid. John was a charismatic man who had a background of poetry and writing, and he seemed to have made a substantial impact on Falmouth and the surrounding community. Sterling’s witty and controversial writings were published in the Times and the Morning Chronical, this drew the attention of Barclay and Caroline Fox. John seemed to enjoy his stay in Falmouth and in 1841 he bought a property there. Here he lectured to acclaim at the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society (founded by the Fox family). Through several Misfortunes John found him self a widower with 7 children and in particularly bad health. After the death of his wife Susannah, Stirling and Caroline fell in love and in 1844 John proposed to Caroline, Caroline who was torn by love and faith declines the offer much to her parents concerns of marrying such a man of ill health and who was not quaker. This decision results in many years of unhappiness for Caroline. Unfortunately, it was in that same year that Sterling passed away. Caroline threw herself into being a guardian for Sterling’s two daughters Julia and Hester Sterling, providing a home for the two girls. It is not known if the two sisters bought the Crag or they just lived there, but in 1872 the two sisters commissioned Alfred Waterhouse to design ‘The Crag’ – a house perched on the cliff above Maenporth Beach. Alfred Waterhouse also designed the Natural History Museum. The two Sisters became aunts by courtesy and remained in the Crag until 1911, when the two sisters had passed away. accessed 7 November 2023
The Brisbane Courier, 19 January 1883, cited in Darbyshire.
Andrew Darbyshire, A Fair Slice of St Lucia. Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior, St Lucia History Group research paper no. 8, p.68n
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