The following article “Archibald and Elizabeth Thom” was first published in August 2003. in the Australian Branch newsletter of the Clan MacThomas Society, and then published in Kilmore Connections, the quarterly newsletter of the Kilmore Historical Society in September 2003, page 4 to 10.
Archibald Thom was baptised on 6 April 1787 at Eddlestone, Peebleshire, Scotland, the son of Alexander Thom, farmer, and Margaret Noteman1. Eddlestone is a small town about 7 kilometres north of Peebles on the road to Edinburgh2. His parents, Alexander and Margaret were married on 1 February 1873 in Edinburgh3. In looking at the baptisms and marriages at that time for the parish of Eddlestone it would seem that Alexander and Margaret were not from that area as there are no earlier Thom entries prior to the baptisms of their children :-
Alexander on 2 December 1783
Peggy on 3 July 1785
Archibald on 6 April 1787
Charles on 14 July 1789
Helen on 25 July 17914
There may have been other children. Archibald probably grew up and remained in the area gaining experience in farming until he left for Tasmania in about 1823.
Elizabeth Thom’s father, George Stewart was baptised on 5 June 1787 at Eddlestone, Peebleshire, Scotland, the son of James Stewart, later described as a gentleman5. Interestingly this was the same year Archibald Thom was born. It is reasonable to assume that the two families knew each other. George married Margaret Cook on 12 February 1810 in Edinburgh6. Their first four children were born in Scotland :-
Eliza (Elizabeth) baptised at Eddlestone on 3 May 1811
Anne baptised at Eddlestone on 18 May 1813
Margaret baptised at Eddlestone on 13 May 18157
Gideon said to have been born in Edinburgh in 18198
Their next child was named Mary Andromeda and is said to have been born during the voyage to Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania)9. Her second name is interesting as it is highly likely this is also the name of the ship they came on. A search revealed that the ship Andromeda arrived in Hobart on 7 May 1823 having departed from Leith, Scotland with 67 passengers including the Rev John Dunmore Lang for Sydney10. The Hobart Town Gazette of 10 May 1823 (page 2) lists the cabin passengers for Hobart (about 40) but they do not include the Stewarts. However it is likely that the Stewart family did not sail from Hobart for Sydney but left the Andromeda before it sailed on 24 July11. On arrival in Sydney the number of passengers landed clearly indicates that more passengers than the number listed in the Hobart Town Gazette must have left the ship in Hobart “where nearly all passengers remained”12.
Archibald Thom arrived in Van Diemen’s Land prior to 1825 and it is possible that he travelled with the Stewarts. It is also possible that for a period after arrival Archibald and the Stewarts lived together at Stewarton (540 acres) in the Macquarie River area near Campbell Town13. Four Stewart children were born in Van Diemen’s Land, Catherine in 1826, James in 1828, Helen in 1831 and George in 183314, who died in 1838 at Stewarton15.
In 1825 Archibald received a grant of 100 acres in the Lake River area which is a tributary of the Macquarie River16. Archibald may have lived here but in 1829 he was living in Launceston for on 23 July 1829 at St Johns Church, Launceston, Archibald married George and Elizabeth’s first born child, Elizabeth. The church register states that Archibald was of the Parish of St Johns, Launceston and Elizabeth was from the Macquarie River17. They had three children in Van Diemen’s Land :-
Margaret born on 8 June 1830 and baptised on 1 December 1830 at Campbell Town
Alexander born on 6 June 1832 and baptised on 20 November 1832 at Campbell Town
Jane Kyle born on 3 June 1835 and baptised on 28 November 1835 at Campbell Town
All three children were baptised by the Presbyterian minister John Mackersey. Interestingly Alexander’s aunt Helen Stewart who was born on 6 March 1831 was baptised during the same service as Alexander on 6 June 183219.
G W Noble, author of The Red Gate, A history of Alexandra, says on page 19 that Archibald Thom first settled at Eglintown on the Tamar River near Launceston. I have not been able to confirm this.
In the mid 1830’s settlers in northern Van Diemen’s Land were talking about prospects in settling across Bass Straight in the southern part of the then colony of New South Wales (now Victoria). Launceston identities John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, with others, sailed in 1834 and 1835 respectfully, to establish the town of Port Phillip on the Yarra River, later to be called Melbourne. With fifteen other men, Batman formed the Port Phillip Association and claimed 680,000 acres divided into seventeen large allotments, including one portion to the north allocated to George Mercer, the Association’s representative in London. Also reports by Major Thomas Mitchell following his expedition from Sydney in March 1836 describing the excellent open pastoral lands of “Australia Felix” caused a rush by squatters from the north and from Van Diemen’s Land20.
It is likely that Archibald had talked to Batman and Fawkner before their departure and on hearing the above reports most of the Stewart children and Archibald decided to leave for Port Phillip and beyond, leaving James as the only Stewart child to raise a family in Tasmania :-
Gideon Stewart left Launceston on the Chili on 24 June 1836 for Port Phillip21.
Anne and her husband Thomas Turnbull and two children Thomas and George in about 183722 having married on 11 March 1833 at Stewarton23.
Elizabeth, Archibald and their two girls left Launceston on the ship Siren on 28 July 1837 for Port Phillip24.
Margaret and her husband Robert Taylor in about 183925 having married on 22 January 1838 at Hobart26.
Mary, Catherine and Helen may have come as children with the Taylors or soon after as their father George drowned 13 January 1839 and was buried at Campbell Town27. Nothing is known of their mother Margaret after 1833, and its possible she died soon after giving birth to George.
After arriving at Port Phillip in August 1837, Archibald probably discussed opportunities with John Batman and his supporters as he, Elizabeth and their two girls headed north and settled as squatters at Beveridge, then known as Mercer’s Vale28. It is likely that they had brought sheep and cattle with them from Tasmania. They built a hut near the spring which is adjacent to present day Spring Street, Beveridge. On 22 September 1837, Commandant William Lonsdale reported that Archibald Thom had in his employ Henry Burnham, a convict holding a conditional pardon. As Henry had no authority to leave Tasmania, Lonsdale had him taken into custody for return to Tasmania29.
In 1836 George Russell wrote :- On the third day we rode over an open tract of country to eastward of Mr Brodie’s place, it was at that time called Mercer Vale. A portion of this country was afterwards occupied by a Mr Archibald Thom from Tasmania and other settlers. The Sydney road passed through that part of the country and Mr Thom’s station was a favourite stopping place in the early days of the colony for travellers passing along the road30.
On 1 April 1839 Lady Jane Franklin, wife of the then Governor of Tasmania, Sir John Franklin, together with her party, left Launceston on the government brig Tamar for Port Phillip to undertake an overland trip to Sydney. Lady Franklin was a keen recorder and the following is an extract from her diary for 8 April 1839.
Messrs Thornloe & Cobb accompanied us to Thom’s in way to our day’s Station-over Mr Thornloe’s open ground where Mr Cobb’s heifers feeding, a dotted green hill in front, Malcolm’s station & on. Fall into Sydney road at right angles & turn to right. Fell asleep, found myself on flat black soil, naked plains with small rocks in it extending to foot of pretty, lightly wooded hills, at foot of which is Mr Thom’s station – The hut was leaning forward, the mud falling away. It is very tidy inside – found Mrs Thom a broad Scotch woman, dark Mr Thom is rather an ill-looking person, he is from VDL & retains property there. Mr Thom has 3000 sheep & a few cattle for home use – & raises corn for his own consumption. They have been here 18 months or nearly 2 years. When they landed at Melbourne in August 1837 there was not a single house built. They have 3 children, a boy at school at Hobart Town, & 2 little girls here, running wild. Being on Sydney road causes them much interruption & probably expense & they are going to move 2 miles back. A man has just received a licence to set up a public house here which adds to their determination as their men would be ruined by it.
Had damper & butter & small biscuits mixed with button fat, light snack – I was offered cold meat & heard there was dinner cooking for me, but nothing said to me about it. He gave feed of oats and chaff to all the horses.
Mr Thornloe left us here – Mr Cobb went on with us. It was 14 miles hence to Green’s outstation & 18 to the upper house31 where we were to sleep – country thin forest & a burned part not far from Thom’s was very green and bare. I was on pony. About half way to Green’s outstation, or at about 7 miles, we crossed a low part of the gentle ridge which divides the waters32. Being tied by the pony, I walked a little and then sat on front bench of cart driven by Snachall. Found I liked this seat much better than inside. Met Captain Smyth on horse-back gaily dressed in police costume, with a man dressed in green collar & front of native dog skin & straw broad brimmed hat – Captain Smyth came up in a very courtly manner to me who was ahead to pay his compliments. He had just heard of us – had been to Murrimbidgee about an unpleasant affair with cattle – and was going on to the settlement – he should join us on the Goulburn.
The sun set behind a ridge of wooded hills as we approached Green’s, where we disturbed the quails. He is building a new house of stones picked up nearby, the roof not yet shingled in – verandah along front – on entering see good room of 35 feet long – this is to be divided in 3. The house stands on the side of the bare hill whence can see over bare sloping foreground several ridges of hills, without being able to see into hollows. The situation is thought very pretty – it is decidedly best thought of as a run as any & the situation is admired – I should think it more fresh & airy than any other – the water is good but only in the waterholes. The sheep are taken to Plenty to be washed, 9 miles off.
Mr Green had slept the night before at Mt Thom’s where he is a frequent visitor & generally eats his Sunday dinner, going over on Saturday evening. Mr Thom sang his praises – also spoke of Mr Powlett as a gentleman – they were examples to the country – exemplary33.
Mr Noble further records in The Red Gate, A history of Alexandra (page 19) that :-
The Thoms were very strict and devout and whilst at Kilmore (probably this was meant to be Mercer’s Vale – GT) successfully opposed an attempt to establish an inn nearby, by offering hospitality to travellers in their primitive home. Such an action, although based on principle, must have given endless toil for travellers were frequent while the farm work mounted. Nevertheless Mrs Thom coped with her guests from travelling stockmen to Lady Franklin, the wife of the Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and her staff.
It is likely that when Archibald heard in 1839 that the lands at Mercer’s Vale were to be sold by auction by the government, he decided to move elsewhere. Probably in late 1839 he purchased 105 acres for 525 pounds, part of a large grant subdivided by Thomas Walker along the northern side of the Yarra River east of Darebin Creek34.
In March 1840 Archibald unsuccessfully tried to sell his Yarra River property and the advertisement contains what appears to have been the first use of the name Ivanhoe35. Its highly likely that Archibald and Elizabeth named this property Ivanhoe when it is realised that the author of the book Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott lived at Abbotsford in the lowlands of Scotland for many years before he died in 183236. It is easy to conclude that the Thom and Stewart families probably read his books as they were being published during the time they lived nearby at Eddlestone. This Yarra River property is now part of the present day Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe.
In April 1840 Arthur Hogue leased his 264 acre property Banyule to Archibald Thom for 200 pounds per annum37. This property is further upstream from Ivanhoe and is located east of Rosanna Road, Heidelberg, Melbourne. The municipality covering a number of suburbs in this area is now known as the City of Banyule.
Perhaps Archibald was in two minds about where to settle for at a Government Land Sale held in Melbourne on 10 and 11 June 1840 he paid 2944 pounds for 640 acres at Merriang north of Melbourne38. More research at the Land Titles Office would probably clarify some of these land transactions.
The author of the book Heidelberg, Donald S Garden on pages 26-27 considers that Archibald did little to improve his property Ivanhoe so it is likely that the Thom family lived there briefly, if at all, before Archibald put his energies into developing Banyule, as the owner Hogue had returned to England in 1841. In March 1841 a census was taken in the colony and on 5 March Archibald Thom and 15 other people (not named) were recorded as living in a wood and brick house at Heidelberg; 13 of whom were free39. In analysing the information recorded it would appear that the 16 people were Archibald and Elizabeth Thom, their children Margaret, Alexander and Jane, four male workers, three female servants, and a family comprising husband, wife and two children. From known information about the Stewart children it does not appear that the family last mentioned are Stewarts40. In 1842 Archibald and Elizabeth’s fourth and last child Elizabeth was born at Heidelberg41.
In May 1843 Banyule was described as having an excellent ring fence with about 50 acres under cultivation. A considerable sum had been spent in establishing a substantial two storied cottage with seven rooms, out buildings, a garden and orchard42. At this time the colonies experienced an economic downturn and it appears likely that Archibald had financial problems for he mortgaged Invanhoe to Adam Pullar and John Porter in March 1843 and four months later Ivanhoe passed to them43. Then in the same year Hogue sold Banyule44.
While at Heidelberg it is likely that Archibald also had an interest in partnership with his brother-in-law Gideon Stewart at the Mt Piper Run45 and the Thom family probably went there in 1843 from Heidelberg. The present town of Broadford is within this Run. After Mt Piper was sold in August 184446, Archibald appears to have owned or leased a property at Nine Mile Creek47.
In May 1845 he obtained a 7000 acre property east of the present town of Yea which they named Eglintoun48. In 1848 the Port Phillip Herald reported this run had 3000 sheep49. It was sold in February 1848 to William H Pettet and William Leyden Ker50.
In 1838 Dr James Dickson purchased 9600 acres from the government east of Alexandra51 and in 1844 he sold this property known as Dickson’s Run to John Christie Aitken52 who sold it to Archibald Thom in march 184853. The Run was described as “Bounded on the South and East by the River Goulburn to its junction with the Devil’s River, on the North by the top of the Goulburn Range to the boundary with Marshall, a portion of this line separates Dickson’s from the Run occupied by Mr Matson, on the West by the spur of the Goulburn Range immediately on the upper or East side of Dry Creek, this constitutes the boundary between Dickson’s Station and Mt Pleasant”54.
This was the final move for Archibald and his family and they renamed the property Eildon as the surrounding countryside reminded them of the Eildon Hills in Scotland about 25 kilometres east of their birthplace Eddlestone55. Soon after purchasing Eildon, Archibald had a boundary dispute with his neighbour James Moon Matson of Maintongoon. It took the parties nearly three years to resolve the dispute by agreeing that the boundary was the top of the mountain range between their properties and legal action ceased in June 185156.
Again in partnership with brother-in-law Gideon Stewart, Archibald held Mt Pleasant Run for a short time from November 1849 till it was sold in 1850 to Pettet and Ker57.
On 31 July 1854 Archibald applied to the government for the purchase of an additional 320 acres at Eildon at 20 shillings per acre. The application was approved on 17 January 185558. It was on this parcel of land that Archibald built the family home.
In April 1858 Archibald visited Melbourne for on 1 May he signed his will there59. Archibald appointed John Christie Aitken of Thornton and Donald McKenzie of Pleasant Banks as Trustees and Executors, and his wife Elizabeth as an Executor. He left 100 pounds to his daughter Jane Kyle Turnbull and 100 pounds to daughter Elizabeth Emma (sic) on her marriage. Alexander Thom married Christina Campbell Menzies in 1858, Jane married her cousin George Turnbull in 1858 and Elizabeth married Henry Wood Anderson in 187360. Their other daughter Margaret, who married Robert Stewart in 186761 is not mentioned in Archibald’s will. Archibald left the 320 acre homestead block and his Eildon Station to his trustees on trust for the sole use of his wife and on her death or marriage to his son Alexander.
On 18 January 1862 Archibald was thrown from his gig and suffered serious injuries to his head and was taken to Yea for treatment. But three days later he died at Yea on 21 January 1862 aged 74 years and was buried the next day in Yea Cemetery62. His estate was valued between 200 and 2000 pounds and probate was granted to John Christie Aitken and Donald McKenzie on 27 March 1862 with Elizabeth Stuart (sic) Thom reserving her right to be an executrix if she so desired63.
During their life at Eildon Archibald and Elizabeth developed a good relationship with the local aborigines and when Archibald died Elizabeth was the only person who could persuade the aborigines who had come to the house wailing over his death, to return to their camps64.
As Elizabeth was younger than Archibald by 24 years it is likely she continued to live at Eildon for some years, perhaps with her son Alexander running the property. Some years later Elizabeth left Eildon to live first with her daughter Margaret at Clunes. Probably at the same time Alexander moved to live in Wilcannia NSW, where he died on 15 December 188865. Elizabeth then moved to Smythesdale, south west of Ballarat to be with her daughter Elizabeth Anderson66. Below is a letter Elizabeth wrote to her niece Maud Pinniger, aged 14 years, the daughter of her sister Helen and husband Thomas Wilkinson Pinniger, surveyor of Bendigo67.
Smythesdale July 20th – ‘87
My dearest Maud
Thank you very much for the lovely apron. It looks to be too good for me. It is so beautifully worked. What labour you have bestowed on it.
I need not say how much I would like to have been with you this winter. it is the only place where I feel perfectly at home and happy. But, dear Maud, I have got much frailer since I saw you and am lame.
I have not been able to get to Church the last two Sundays and you know what a help that is to me. I try to go to the school when it is fine. They are so short of teachers.
Cousin Bessie goes on one side and Aggie on the other but I fear I will have to give it up. It is fine today, but the weather has been very chilly.
I trust Mama’s deafness is better. She has suffered so much. She has always been like a daughter to me and you know how much I love you all and I trust we will be together through eternity where there will be neither pain or sorrow. How thankful I was to hear you were restored to health, but you must take great care and not get cold. Your throat will get hardened again in time and dear Baby Mama said she was not very well. I hope she is better. Give her my fond love and tell her she is not to grow up delicate. Please God I may see you all sometime even on earth. The children here have grown up so much. Tell her the swelling has gone from my hands and I am able to work. I get very dull when I cannot sew and this is not right of me.
Tell Mama she is not to do anything that will cause her to stoop and make the blood go to her head.
My best love to Papa and dear Sophie. Kind remembrances to all. You know I love you all and trust and pray God may bless you all, my dearest Maud. It is the prayer of your loving aunt.
Elizabeth died of cancer of the breast on 24 November 1889, aged 78 years at Glen Oliphant near Smythesdale, the property of her daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Henry Wood Anderson. She was buried in Smythesdale Cemetery68.
In December 1907 Archibald and Elizabeth’s son-in-law Henry Wood Anderson of Glen Oliphant wrote to Melbourne’s Argus newspaper saying that “My wife is still living, and was born in Melbourne in 1842. Her father, the late Archibald Thom, of Eildon, Upper Goulburn, resided at Heidelberg in the very early days, and her mother often rode out hunting kangaroos with the late Sir William Stawell and others. For a time she resided at Mercer’s Vale, near Kilmore, which was a stopping place for the vert earliest squatting pioneers.”69
So passed two pioneers of early Australia who have left their mark in the names Ivanhoe and Eildon as well as Thom Street, Alexandra, and Thoms Road, Thornton.
1 The International Genealogical Index, familysearch.org, accessed August 2003
2 Multimap, multimap.com, Great Britain, accessed August 2003
3 International Genealogical Index, familysearch.org, accessed August 2003
8 Stewart Family, www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html, accessed August 2003
10 Nicholson, Ian Hawkins, Shipping Arrivals and Departures, Tasmania 1803-1833, p88
11 Hobart Town Gazette, 24 July 1823, p2
12 Sydney Gazette, 7 August 1823, p2
13 McKay, Thelma, Register of Land Grants VDL 1824-1832, 1994
14 Stewart Family, www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html, accessed May 2003
15 Buchannan, A M, Index to Tasmanian Deaths/Burials 1797-1840, 1994, p134
16 McKay, Thelma, Register of Land Grants VDL 1824-1832, 1994
17 State Library of Victoria, Tasmanian Marriages, Reel 1829/1333
18 Presbyterian Baptismal Register, Launceston City Library, entries 18, 53 and 84
19 ibid, entry 52
20 Roberts, Stephen H, The Squatting Age in Australia 1835-1847, 1970, pps 147-165; Tucker, Maya V, Kilmore on the Sydney Road, 1988, pps 24-25
21 Syme, M and Hart J, Passengers and Crew Departing Launceston 1833-1837, p106
22 Stewart Family, www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html, accessed August 2003
23 McKay, Thelma, Van Diemen’s Land Early Marriages, 1831-1840, Volume 2, 1993
24 Syme, M and Hart J, Passengers and Crew Departing Launceston 1833-1837, p118
25 Stewart Family, www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html, accessed August 2003
26 McKay, Thelma, Van Diemen’s Land Early Marriages, 1831-1840, Volume 2, 1993
27 Buchannan, A M, Index to Tasmanian Deaths/Burials 1797-1840, 1994, p134; Inquest held 16 January 1839, 335314, Burial 1939/8, RGD 35
28 Tucker, Maya V, Kilmore on the Sydney Road, 1988, p24,; Noble G W, The Red Gate, A history of Alexandra, 1969, p79; Payne J W, The History of Beveridge, 1974, pps 2-3 and maps
29 Historical Records of Victoria, Early Development of Melbourne 1836-39, 1984, Vol 3, p364
30 Russell, G, Narrative, 1936, p114
31 This is the station of Powlitt and Green just north of Kilmore; Tucker, Maya V, Kilmore on the Sydney Road, 1988, pps 29-30
32 I have concluded that this ridge is now the eastern end of Hidden Valley Boulevard, Hidden Valley, VIC
33 Russell, Penny, This Errant Lady, 2002, pps 38-39
34 Garden, Donald S, Heidelberg, p26
35 Port Phillip Patriot, 2 March 1840, frame 786
36 Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th Edition, 1886, Vol 21, pps 544-551
37 Garden, Donald S, Heidelberg, pps 26-27
38 Port Phillip Herald, 12 June 1840, p2
39 State Records Authority of New South Wales, 1841 Census, Reel 2222 and 2509
40 Stewart Family, www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html, accessed August 2003
41 NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, www.bdm.nsw.gov.au, Births 1842, accessed August 2003
42 Port Phillip Gazette, 6 May 1843, p1
43 Garden, Donald S, Heidelberg, p43
44 ibid, p27 – Note that the name Banyule was soon after used to identify another property at Heidelberg
45 Noble G W, The Red Gate, A history of Alexandra, 1969, pps 14, 79; Bride, T F, Letters from Victorian Pioneers, 1983, pps215-216
46 Billis, R V, and Kenyon, A S, Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip, 1974, p283; Martindale, H G, New Crossing Places, 1982, pps21, 23 and 24; Fletcher B J, Broadford – A Regional History, 1975, pps2-3
47 Noble G W, The Red Gate, A history of Alexandra, 1969, pps19 and 79
49 Port Phillip Herald, 5 August 1848, p15
50 Spreadborough, Robert, and Anderson, Hugh, Victorian Squatters, 1983, p52
51 Noble G W, The Red Gate, A history of Alexandra, 1969, pps19 and 79
53 Spreadborough, Robert, and Anderson, Hugh, Victorian Squatters, 1983, p52
54 Port Phillip Herald, 12 June 1840, p8
55 Multimap, www.multimap.com, Great Britain, accessed August 2003
57 Billis, R V, and Kenyon, A S, Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip, 1974, p148
58 Morgan, Marjorie, Crown Lands Pre-emptive right applications: Victoria 1850-1854, 1987, p29
59 Public Records Office, Victoria, Wills, Series VPRS 7591, Unit 16, Item 4/168
60 Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Pioneer Index, Marriages 1858 and 1873
61 ibid, Marriages 1867
62 Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Death Certificate, 1862/3322; Argus, 28 January 1862, p4
63 Public Records Office, Victoria, Wills, Series VPRS 28, Unit 41, Item 4/168
64 Noble G W, The Red Gate, A history of Alexandra, 1969, p19
65 Stewart Family, www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html, accessed August 2003; and from the Argus, 20 December 1888, p1, Death – Thom – On 15th, at Wilcannia, NSW, after an illness of six months, Alexander Thom, formerly of Eildon, Alexandra, Victoria, of paralysis, aged 57 years.
66 Unknown boo, page 99, copy from the Woady Yaloak Historical Society to the author on 20 March 2003.
67 ibid, p98; Stewart Family, www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html, accessed May 2003
68 Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Death Certificate, 1889/18916; headstone Smythesdale Cemetery, Presbyterian Section 5, grave number 612/3
69 Argus, 25 December 1907, p5