On August 16, 1853, Elizabeth Hester “Lizzie”, was born to Sydney Grandison
“Grandie” Watson and Isabella, nee Robinson, almost certainly named after Isabella’s late sister, Hester Elizabeth Robinson.
Isabella’s youngest sister, Hester Elizabeth “Hessie” Robinson had drowned on May 15, 1847, whilst out riding with Grandie, when attempting to cross the Hume River at Jingellic Station. Nothing is known of the exact circumstances of the accident, nor how Grandie broke the news to the girl’s family. To Isabella Watson, four months pregnant, the news of her sister’s death must have been severely traumatic. Despite this, Isabella gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Alexa “Exie”, named after Grandie’s second sister, at Walwa five months later, on October 8, 1847.
Alexa “Exie” was to later marry Andrew Kinleside and their only child was Edith Alexa, who was to later marry John Colleridge “Jack” Blackmore, grandfather or Greg and Robert “Bret”.
In a letter written by Grandie on 22nd October 1853 to his father at the United Service Club, London, announcing to him the arrival of Lizzie:-
“Isa has given another baby to the Colony – not having been satisfied with her former efforts to fill up this Empty Land – I have now the happiness of having 5 daughters and our Boy. I would have chosen 4 boys and 2 daughters but I know how short sighted we are – and there are ways of which we see not the end. It is pleasant to look forward to having a few props in the shape of boys to sustain [word or words indecipherable] but I remember how utterly useless to you [in] that way Harry and I have been to you. I never saw Isa looking better than she is now doing – and the children are also quite well..”
Lizzie’s 5 older siblings were:-
Sarah Jessie “Jessie” 1844-1943
Jane Gershoma “Jeanie” 1845-1917
Alexa “Exie” 1847-1914 married Andrew Kinleside of Tooma and later Koorawatha
Archibald “Archie” 1849-1940 later Professor of Medicine Adelaide University
Isabella Emily “Emily” 1851-1931 married George Black of Tarwin Meadows
After “Lizzie’s birth in 1853, Grandie’s first wife Isabella was to have a further 4 children:-
Sydney Grandison infant 1855-1856
Philip Sidney “Sidney” 1857-1936 married Annie Lister (suffragist)
Harry Frederick “Harry” 1857-1942 married Katherine “Katie” Robertson
Robert McGregor “Greg or Greggy” 1859-1943 married Ruby Maud Taylor.
Twins Sidney and Harry, together with Greg went on to settle Gregory Downs in 1877.
Sidney and his wife Annie also spend time in Alaska and Canada during the Yukon Gold Rush in 1898-99.
On August 3, 1861, the day after Jessie’s 17th birthday, 35-year-old Isabella died at Walwa from what is believed to have been an ectopic pregnancy. Isabella was buried near the Walwa homestead. Jeanie was 16 years old, Exie 13, Archie 12, Emily 10, Lizzie 7, Sidney and Harry 3, and Greg barely two years old. How the death of their mother affected the children can only be imagined, but with further reading we might learn how their later lives were influenced by the sad event. At the time of their mother’ death, the older children had the popular Miss Le Soeuf as governess who taught them flower painting. Baby Greg was cared for by Miss Barnier.
In April 1870, sisters Jessie, Jeanie, Exie, Emily and Lizzie went to live at ‘Tcherunya’ Cottage at St Kilda under the care of Miss Armstrong, probably their step-mother’s sister Elizabeth.
Grandie died on December 11, 1891 at his home at Walwa and was buried near the homestead next to the grave of his first wife, Isabella. Legend has it that Grandie had purchased an oak coffin built by Christian Vogel some years before and used it to store books in his office and that he occasionally tried it for size but there is no evidence that his wish to be buried in a vertical position was obeyed.
Grandie’s daughter Lizzie Watson married Captain James “Jim” Robert Ferrier on April 19, 1893 at ‘Honda’, Mrs Waller’s residence at Neutral Bay, Sydney. Ferrier, born in 1859, was 6 years younger than Lizzie, who was 40 year old, and after serving for some years as captain of ASN Company Vessels (Australian Steam Navigation Co 1851-1887), they moved in November 1894 to a block of land (possibly 46 acres as noted in Jessie Watson’s diary as a property they had inspected) they had purchased, the previous year, at Koorawatha near Cowra NSW, close to the Kinleside’s. (Andrew Kinleside had married Lizzie’s older sister Alexa “Exie”).
In the Sydney Morning Herald of 21st October 1899 James Robert Ferrier of Koorawatha is listed in a new list of magistrates.
Later Jim rejoined the workforce, this time at the Sydney Harbour Trust (established 1901) where after a few years he was appointed assistant harbour master and inspector. The couple had no offspring but Lizzie is known to have loved children.
On occasions when she visited Tintaldra, she became known by the local boys for her prowess at handling two pistols to shoot bottles provided by the boys and thrown in the air. The boys then collected the broken glass and dropped it down a disused well. For their trouble they earned a penny for each bottle.
Marriage Settlement Court Case
In November 1896, Lizzie commenced an unusual legal action to set aside her marriage settlement because of her inability to have children. The settlement had been made that her property was to be hers for life, and for her husband James Ferrier for his life, if he should survive her, and then for the children of the marriage, or, if there were none, for her sister, Jessie Watson. In 1897, despite there being no objections from James Ferrier or Jessie Watson, Mr Justice A’Beckett initially refused the application on the basis that it may be improbable but not impossible for her to have children.
Five years later, on Friday May 23, 1902, Mr Justice A’Beckett gave his reserved judgment in the case where, Elizabeth Hester Ferrier, sued her husband, James Robert Ferrier, her sister Jessie, and her trustees, in a friendly action, for a declaration that a settlement made upon her marriage in 1893 was no longer binding and should be set aside. At the time of her marriage she had executed the usual form of settlement of her property, which amounted to about 5,000 pounds, in favour, as to the income, of herself for life, and for her husband for his life, if he should survive her, and then, as to the capital, for the children of the marriage, or, if there should be none, for her sister Jessie Watson. This time, more than five years after the first appeal, and on the production of further medical evidence, as to her inability to have children, the order was granted. Both her husband and her sister had consented, and the case was won against the Trustees and Lizzie regained control of her property.
Selection and Dummying
Selection referred to “free selection before survey” of crown land in some Australian colonies under land legislation introduced in the 1860s. These acts were intended to encourage closer settlement, based on intensive agriculture, such as wheat-growing, rather than extensive agriculture, such as wool production. Selectors often came into conflict with squatters, who already occupied the land and often managed to circumvent the law.
Both selectors and squatters used the broad framework of the Land Acts to maximise their advantages in the ensuing scramble for land. There was a general manipulation of the system by squatters, selectors and profiteers alike. The legislation secured access to the squatter’s land for the selector, but thereafter effectively left him to fend for himself.
The greatest number of selections were made by squatters or their agents, or by selectors unable to establish themselves or who sought to gain by re-sale. The gaining of lands through agents, often old people who willed the land to the squatter, was known as “dummying.”
The free selection legislation resulted in disputes between selectors and squatters. Practices such as “dummying” were used where selectors and squatters used relatives, including children, as dummies to increase their landholding. Dummying was practiced by squatters and selectors alike, the squatters trying to protect their runs, and selectors trying to get sufficient land to make farming, usually with some grazing, profitable. Many selectors were not genuine and it has been estimated that only a third of selections were genuine, the rest being dummies, speculators, or
squatters buying their own runs. Squatters seem to have sometimes practiced dummying on a huge scale. Once selection took place it seems that dummying was difficult to prove, and in any event virtually impossible to prevent reoccurrence. Squatters also used dummies to hem in selectors to prevent acquisition of grazing pre-leases.
The practice of “dummying” was still occurring as late as 1908 when complaints to the Minister of Lands were referred to a sitting of the Land Board at Inverloch that sisters, Sarah Jessie Watson, Jean Gershoma Watson and Elizabeth Hester Ferrier, together with niece or nephew, E (Ernest or Edith) Kinleside, had falsely obtained plots of land amounting to nearly 1800 acres at Waratah, Gippsland, on behalf of Murray and Archibald Black, sons of George and Emily Black. The court ordered the
forfeiture of the leases.
Cliff Street, Manly
In the growing prosperity that followed Federation and the breaking of the drought, development in Cliff Street and Manly surged ahead. In Cliff Street, the number of houses rose from 12 in 1901 to 18 in 1904.
A series of six Federation-style semis were built c1903. Five were given Japanese names – a very unusual feature for the period. Later known as numbers 2-12 Cliff Street, these semis were built on land purchased from the Bassett-Darley Estate by Elizabeth Hester Ferrier, wife of James Robert Ferrier, an Inspector for the Sydney Harbour Trust. In July 1903, Ferrier applied to bring their land under the Real Title Act. A plan of subdivision, dated March 1904, shows the footprints of the six semis built across lots 1 to 3 of the new subdivision.
The ‘Japanese’ semis (including no 4, named Brecknock) were heritage- listed by Manly Council in 1988. Further research may discover the builder of this important group. The odd-name-out, Brecknock, may indicate a Welsh connection, to Powys, near the famed Brecon Beacons mountain range.
After their retirement, Jack and Edith Blackmore moved to a unit overlooking Manly Beach in Bower Street, which is just off Cliff Street.
On the 31st March, 1919, a silver plated dish was “Presented to Mrs J. R. Ferrier as a token of the esteem in which her husband Captain James R Ferrier is held by his fellow officers of The Sydney Harbour Trust”
Lizzie’s husband, James Robert Ferrier, died at his residence “Walwa” Neutral Bay (Sydney) on March 6, 1920, “late respected assistant harbour master, at the age of 61”. His funeral at South Head Cemetery was well attended by sea captains and officers of the Sydney Harbour Trust. Amongst the mourners were his brothers-in-law, Greg and Sidney Watson. Of interest too, was the attendance of his nephews, W. C. and O. Gregory.
Elizabeth Hester “Lizzie” Ferrier, Grandie Watson’s fifth daughter, died on August 6, 1927 at her home, ‘Walwa’, Neutral Bay, New South Wales. She had been widowed since 1920 and had no children.. Her funeral was held on Monday the 8th August at the Rookwood Crematorium.
Norman C Hutchinson “Grandie” – Sydney Grandison Watson and his sons – from the Upper Murray to the Gulf and Cape York”, 2010, ISBN978-0-9585179-7-3 (pbk)
Norman C Hutchinson “The Suffragist and the Squatter” – Annie Lister and P S Watson”, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9585179-5-9 (pbk)