baptised on 5 April 1824 in Glenmuick, Scotland
died on 10 March 1904 in Sydney, Australia
 
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©   Kurt Müller 2016
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Thomas Robertson
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Thomas Robertson (II) was the youngest of the five children of Thomas Robertson (1785-1872) and his wife Anne (née Lachlan).  The other children were Jane (Jean) (1816-1895); James (1818- 1893); Margaret (1820-1909); and John (1822-1905). Each of them married and had 7, 10, 9, and 7 children respectively. Eight of these thirty-eight died before they reached the age of 20.
 
In 1839 the Robertsons emigrated to Australia and arrived at Port Phillip, the large bay on which Melbourne and Geelong are situated, on board the

John Bull

 on January 21st 1840. The elder Thomas took with him his children (his son Thomas was then fifteen) and the six children of his sister Mary Gordon and her husband, both dead by that time; the youngest of their children was 11 years old. The Robertson family had been Presbyterians in Scotland, and when they got to Australia they seem to have married other Scots, probably also Presbyterians.
 
The younger members of the family were found jobs - Thomas junior was apprenticed to a printer, believed to be the publisher of the

Port Philip Gazette

(one of three newspapers produced in Melbourne at the time). His father wrote in a letter*: "... Thomas is Bound to a printer for 5 years, he gets Board and Lodging & 5/- per Week for the first, 10/- per Week the second 15/- per Week the third & 20/- per Week the fourth & 30/- per Week the fifth year so the average he has upwards of 40 [pounds] a year ...."

baptised on 5th April 1824 in Glenmuick, Aberdeenshire, Scotland,
died on 10th March 1904 at Merioola, Sydney, Australia

Above: Thomas Robertson jr.

(from reports by John Humphreys)

We express our gratitude to the National Library of Australia and their fabulous online project "Australian Newspapers" to whom we owe these two precious insights into our family's past.

Thomas Robertson (II) was the son of

Thomas Robertson

(I) and Anne Lachlan.
 
He married

Grace Duncan

 on 5th August 1871; they had 5 children, among them

Grace Robertson

,  Robin and Katya Müllers great-grandmother.

Thomas Robertson

(II)

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Family history Müller - Humphreys

SaleSKslk
On 14th June 1890 this auction advert was published in the Sidney Morning Herald. It suggests that also the territory "Singorambah West" (west of Toganmain) belonged to Thoams Robertson, for some time, at least, before possibly being sold in 1890.
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From a report about Toganmain and the surrounding area in the Melbourne paper "The Argus", published on 19th November 1887, here mainly the parts about Toganmain itself and about Thomas Robertson are shown:
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Merioola_Kopie

Thomas and Grace acquired 'Merioola', a large house in Sydney, and divided their time between it and Toganmain. Thomas was there when he died (10th March 1904).
 
MERIOOLA - Demolished house, Edgecliff Rd, Woollahra. It stood on the south side of present day Rosemont Ave, built in 1859 by Mr John Edye Manning, purchased by Mr Adhur Allen, popularly known as the 'prince of entertainers' (see below).
 
WALLAROY - Demolished house, Edgecliff Rd, Woollahra. The house stood on the northern side of Edgecliff Rd (opposite Merioola), built in 1859 by the Hon. Sir William Manning, MLC, which had a fine garden extending down to Manning Rd.
     - http://www.woollahra.nsw.gov.au/library/local_history/local _history_fast_facts/m
 
        [Woollahra Municipal Council - local history fast facts]

Thomas junior received the right to

Yarram Yarram

and

Wannon

runs and all lands owned by the brothers in the parishes of Walgania, Parrie Yalloak and Bunnugal; also the right to

Victoria Valley

,

Moora Moora

and

Mount Burchett

runs.
 
Thomas senior died at Mount Mitchell on 5th June 1872, aged 86, after living 32 years in Australia. His home was a large house built of local stone in 1861.
 
Thomas Robertson junior married in 1871 at the age of 47. His bride was

Grace Duncan

, daughter of a Scottish father

Alexander Duncan

and an English mother

Caroline Franklyn

.
 
Diana Halmarick tells the story that Grace was working as a Governess for Thomas' brother John Robertson when John and his family were living at Victoria Valley. Thomas and Grace were married at Menzies Hotel, Melbourne on 15th August 1871, in a Presbyterian service conducted by Rev. John Clark.

I am not sure the mansion was "vast"; it was a big house, equipped with a full-sized formal ballroom and set in spacious grounds. Nor does young Mr. Burgoyne appear to have been a very accomplished artist - his sketches are crude, and his comments suggest that he found the colonials bizarre and amusing - how they found him was not recorded (alas).
 
From 1899 onwards Thomas's daughters travelled to Europe - Grace, the youngest, studied music in Dresden. In 1908 Margaret, the eldest, met an army officer, Robert Ingelow Bradshaw Johnson; they were married in Colombo, Ceylon on 16th October 1908. Her mother did not entirely approve, saying that he "swashbuckled for a living".
It was a genteel form of swashbuckling, in the British army stationed mainly in India, and seems to have involved playing a lot of polo. He was himself Australian, but had taken up the offer of a post in the British army in 1896.
The sisters Anne ("Arn") and Grace continued their European trips, and we have a photo of them on skis about 1910; their mother died on a holiday in Switzerland in 1911.

In 1912 the three sisters all met again at the military town of Quetta, high up in what is now Pakistan - then the North-West frontier of British India. The Johnsons were stationed there with his battalion (2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers). A fellow officer had recently been promoted Major, George Dickson, and he proposed to Grace; they were married in London in 1913. Their first child was born the following year on the very day that Germany invaded Belgium; George, who had resigned from the army, was recalled to the colours along with great numbers of fellow servicemen, and found himself

en route

to Calais a few days later.
 

Grace Dickson

(1879-1945), was the youngest daughter of Thomas Robertson (1824- 1904) and his wife

Grace (née Duncan)

. Their other children were a son, Duncan, who died aged 11 months (birthday unknown); Margaret Maud Isobel (b.1875, m. Robin Johnson); Anne Caroline (b. 1877, died unmarried between the wars); and John Seymour (b.1882, m. 1907 Constance Bettington). (I have another source that refers to Miss Bettington as Beatrix, the youngest daughter of Mr. J.B.Bettington, of Brindley park, new South Wales. The discrepancy is explained by her sons memorial, where she is named as Constance Beatrix Robertson.)
 
However Thomas died (10/3/1904) at another property: Merioola, Edgecliff Road, Woollahra, Sydney. This was a vast mansion in substantial grounds. It has an interesting history but no longer exists. I am not sure which part of Sydney this was - Greater Sydney is very large now. There is a fairly long road of this name in Double Bay, an expensive area on the southern side of the harbour and east of the city centre. One of Thomas's Johnson descendants ran an antique shop in Double Bay.
 
The sisters' brother, John Seymour Robertson (1882-1958) stayed in Australia to manage Toganmain. He married in 1908 Constance Bettington (1890-1953).
 
Much of the information above, including letters, comes from '

Thos. Robertson & Sons "Mainstays of our earliest days"

', compiled by Diana M. Halmarick (copyright 2000).
 

See also:

Toganmain, Telleraga and Brewarrina stations - pastoral records, 1835-1986, gift of the Robertson family:     141 boxes on 25 metres of shelf space, State Library of New South Wales. http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=411826
 
Charles Sturt University archives: https://www.flickr.com/photos/csuarchives/
 
Historical significance:   http://toganmain.org/v

Left:

 

A sketch by Gerald Achilles Burgoyne

(1874-1936)

was made in 1893:


"Mr. Robertson - Wool King" Thomas Robertson (1824-1904), owner of a 167,000 acre sheep station in Toganmain (aka Singorambah East), NSW, with 100,000 beasts from which to produce wool, and a vast mansion he called Merioola, situated on Edgecliff Road, Woollahra, Sydney

.

However he did not stay with this new profession. After Thomas' father, together with his son-in-law William Skene (the partnership was to be dissolved, though, in 1851), had bought stock and started two farming stations,

Mount Mitchell

and Maiden Hills (finally gazetted in October 1848), he also acquired the Moora Moora run in 1848, and sent his sons John and Thomas to superintend it.
 
There followed a period of massive development. Gold was discovered in New South Wales and Victoria; fortune-seekers flooded in. The Robertson stuck with their sheep, and prospered enormously. They were part of the "squattocracy", squatter aristocracy who had parcelled up great tracts of Australia.
 
In 1872 Thomas senior did not have long to live, and a Deed of Dissolution was signed on 9th February. The firm's holdings were then valued at £291,150. A Deed of Arrangement made the same day divided the property between the three brothers James, John and Thomas. (The holdings would now {2016} be worth between £23 million and £429 million, depending how the value is calculated.).

After the family firm had split up Thomas purchased a large sheep station, Brewarrina, in New South Wales, sold it a few years later and purchased a sheep station called

Toganmain

, with an area of 167,000 acres, which was very roughly in the shape of a rectangle on the Southern side of the

Murrumbidgee River

; it had about 13 miles of river on its northern side. In 1905 they had 100,000 sheep there. The station remained in Robertson hands until 1988, when John Robertson sold it. (He is the son of Graham, shot down in 1942 at the age of twenty-eight, and the grandson of Thomas' son John Seymour Robertson).
 
Thomas junior acquired Brewarrina station, in New South Wales, but in June 1873 was offered and acquired

Toganmain

station, also NSW, near Hay, on the south bank of the Murrumbidgee River, and this was to be home for Thomas and his family. In September 1876 it was recorded that 202,292 sheep were shorn at Toganmain "by 92 blade shearers" which set a record for the greatest number of shearers at one shearing: a record that still stands.

Here

some pictures of Toganmain, of life and work there and in other stations are shown.

ToganmainAustralia1

Left: Thomas Robertson's house at Toganmain,

Boyd County

,

Murrumbidgee Shire

, in the

Riverina

area of New South Wales, Australia ("Toganmain" is thought to be Aboriginal for "I am cold".)
 
The whole territory called "Toganmain" was owned by Thomas Robertson (another name of it seems to have been "Singorambah East" as the 1890 auction advert at the bottom of this page shows; the advert also gives an impression of the dimensions of these territories).


 
 
 
 
Flash Jack
from Gundagai

 
I've shore at Burrabogie and I've shore at
Toganmain

I've shore at Big Willandra and out on the Coleraine
But before the shearing was over I longed to get back again
Shearing for old Tom Patterson on the One Tree Plain
 
Chorus
All among the wool boys all among the wool
Keep your blades full boys keep your blades full
I can do a respectable tally myself whenever I like to try
And they know me round the backblocks
                                         as Flash Jack from Gundagai
FlashJackNotenKl
Below / right: Toganmain is located south of the river Murrumbidgee,  in the middle of a river loop, and between the former railway stations of Groongal and
Bringagee
(on the other side of the river).
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Toganmain1

Also this garden scene might show house and garden of Toganmain.

Above: Merioola

This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired. According to the Australian Copyright Council (ACC), ACC Information Sheet G023v17 (Duration of copyright) (August 2014)

"....The demolition of grand houses and their grounds often took place in stages. The Gardens of Merioola, a vast mansion built in 1859 in Edgecliff Road, were taken up with residential subdivision in the early 1920s. The house itself was demolished for a block of flats in 1952. ...."
  - Sydney's Century: A History, by Peter Spearritt, UNSW Press, 1999.
 
Edgecliff Road runs North-South for most of its length. Rosemont Ave makes a T junction on its western side (left on the map), so Merioola stood on the corner to the south of the Avenue.

DSC04325 Kopie 3

Robertson, Thomas (1825 - 1904)

 
Mr. Thomas Robertson, of Toganmain, New South Wales, who died in Sydney on Thursday, was one of the early pioneers of Victoria, arriving in Melbourne on January 23, 1840, after a voyage of 120 days. He was the youngest of a family of three brothers and two sisters, the late Mr. James Robertson, of Mount Mitchell; Mr. John Robertson, of Skene, near Hamilton; the late Mrs. Wm. Skene, of Skene, near Hamilton; and Mrs. Philip, of Miga Lake. The remains were interred in the Melbourne Cemetery on Friday.

Obituary from

Horsham Times

, 18 March 1904, page 3

(from reports by John Humphreys)

* This letter excerpt is a citation from the book by the Robertson descendant

Diana M. Halmarick:  "Thos.Robertson & Sons, Mainstays of Our Earliest Days", Wantirna, Vic., Australia 2000

, which also was an enormously valuable source of much of the information used for this page in general. We have to pay tribute to her great achievement and deserving work of merit.

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