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Thomas Learmonth and Sons: Family capitalism, Scottish identity and the architecture of Victorian pastoralism

Thomas Learmonth et Fils : capitalisme familial, identité écossaise et architecture de l’élevage dans l’État de Victoria
Harriet Edquist

Résumés

Cet article traite de la famille comme un des acteurs clés de l’entrepreneuriat et du capitalisme qui ont fait la colonisation de l’Australie. L’entreprise privée a longtemps été vue comme un des facteurs essentiels dans cette histoire et les familles écossaises ont été particulièrement actives dans ce rôle. L’étude porte sur les Learmonth, originaires de la région de Falkirk dans le Stirlingshire, à quelque 44kms à l’ouest d’Édimbourg. Leur histoire illustre l’imbrication de l’identité familiale dans son caractère dynastique avec les opportunités offertes par l’expansion coloniale de l’Empire britannique et la façon dont cela s’est traduit dans les constructions. La compréhension de ce qui était en jeu en Écosse pour les Learmonth et leur descendance, et de comment Thomas Learmonth, le plus jeune des quatre fils, puis ses propres fils, ont utilisé leurs biens coloniaux pour renforcer le statut social et l’identité de la famille en Écosse est tout à fait significative. Ercildoun, le célèbre élevage ovin qu’ils ont établi près de Ballarat dans l’État de Victoria, fut leur ultime réalisation en Australie, réalisation qui les a propulsés de la périphérie de la société écossaise vers son centre. L’article montre comment, en tant qu’éleveurs du pur mérinos australien, ils ont agi au sein du mécanisme colonial déterminé par l’entreprise et la globalisation de la migration économique qui a conduit à l’expansion du district de Port Phillip en Nouvelle-Galles du Sud au cours des années 1830 et 1840.

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1Within the broad history of technological, cultural, and human transfer between Britain and its colonial possessions in the nineteenth century, family enterprises assumed a major role. In her study of Sydney’s early merchant class, Janette Holcomb notes that the economics of the family unit provided some surety against risk:

  • 1 Janette Holcombe, Early Merchant Families of Sydney: Speculation and Risk Management on the Fringe (...)

One way of reducing the risks of appointing agents to manage distant business operations was the custom of many of the major mercantile houses of appointing close family members. The survival of ancient forms of ‘family capitalism’ is due in part to its hierarchical structure and ability to maintain secrecy and evoke trust within the family or kinship group… Both genders contributed toward the establishment of family wealth, stability and survival.1

  • 2 For a brief outline of Henty & Co as a family business see Harriet Edquist, “Henty & Co,” in Harri (...)
  • 3 Geoffrey Jones and Mary B Rose, “Family Capitalism,” Business History, vol. 35 no. 4, 1993, p. 1.
  • 4 C. Hartley Grattan, “Reflections on Australian History,” Quadrant, vol. 1, no. 2, 1957, p. 55.

2Holcomb recounts the dealings of several early family-owned merchant houses in Sydney, including those of Scots Robert Campbell and William Walker. Similarly, it was as a family company, working una voce, that the prosperous Henty family of Sussex sallied forth in 1829 to take up pastoral land and develop their prospects in Australia. In so doing they established one of Western Australia’s earliest trading houses on the Swan River and King George Sound, that together with a large mercantile company and agency in Launceston, Van Diemen’s Land, underwrote the family’s whaling operations at Portland Bay and vast pastoral concerns at Muntham station, Merino Downs, and elsewhere in the interior of the Portland Bay District of Port Phillip, later known as the Western District of Victoria.2 It was indeed families, as well as colonial administrations, that established and grew the industrial infrastructure of Van Diemen’s Land and Port Phillip from the 1820s to the 1850s, based on entrepreneurial exchanges, trading routes, investment and industry. Family capitalism was in fact an economic system that is well recognised for contributing “a vital dynamism during the early phases of modern industrialization in many countries.”3 Harley Grattan argued in 1955 that, “Australia’s frontiers have predominantly been frontiers of Big Men, that is, men in possession of more capital than was commonly available to men disposed to pioneer on the land,” and in numerous cases these “Big Men” operated within a family unit.4 It was these people who transformed Van Diemen’s Land in the 1820s and 1830s and carried forward the pastoral settlement of Port Phillip from 1834.

  • 5 T. M. Devine, To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora, 1750-2010, London: Allen Lane, (...)
  • 6 Margaret Kiddle, Men of Yesterday: a social history of the Western District of Victoria, 1834-1890 (...)
  • 7 Angela McCarthy, A Global Clan, op. cit. (note 1).
  • 8 Harriet Edquist, “The architectural legacy of the Scots in the Western District of Victoria, Austr (...)

3That Scots formed a high proportion of colonial entrepreneurs should perhaps come as no surprise; they are famous emigrants and a large body of research exists on the Scottish diaspora.5 They may have amounted to half or even two thirds of squatters of the Western District of Victoria, the focus of this paper.6 Their propensity to forge strong bonds within their extended cousinage—their “clannishness”—is also well understood.7 In a recent survey of Scottish squatters’ building activity in the Western District I found that family connections were frequently the basis of business partnerships, that some pastoral properties passed exclusively through Scottish hands as they were appropriated, subdivided and settled. The famous Titanga station near Lismore, for example, has never passed out of Scottish (or Scottish descendants) control. Sometimes bonds forged in Scotland remained strong in Port Phillip—Selkirk men worked together in the 1840s for mutual advantage to acquire a number of properties, including the important sheep stations Larra and Wooriwyrite.8

4In this essay I have taken as a case study the Learmonth family who hailed from the Falkirk area in Stirlingshire, 44 km west of Edinburgh. Their story exemplifies the imbrication of family identity in its dynastic character with the opportunities afforded by the colonial expansion of the British empire and how this was figured in built works. Unlike the majority of western district squatters, the Learmonth family (Thomas and Christian, their sons John, Thomas, Somerville and Andrew and daughters Elizabeth, Margaret and Christian) did not stay in Australia. They arrived in 1835 and by 1873 all (except Thomas's wife Christian, who died in Van Diemen's Land) had returned to Scotland, England, or India. One of the family's greatest legacies in Australia is Ercildoun, an extensive run near Ballarat on land they expropriated in 1837 and used as a base to breed some of the country's finest merino wool. Ercildoun was in the long term, however, of more benefit to the Learmonths in Britain than in Australia. As the final achievement of their Australian sojourn it propelled them from the margins of Scottish life to somewhere nearer its centre. Along the way they took up land and built homes on a scale not possible in Scotland and they gave their houses names that vaunted their ambition.

  • 9 As Thomas Learmonth spelt his property Ercildoun without an “e” when he published his sheepwash in (...)

5Ercildoun homestead is a romantic and somewhat eccentric dwelling the brothers Thomas and Andrew Learmonth, sons of Thomas Learmonth snr, designed themselves in 1858, although its final form rested on an earlier dwelling.9 I would argue that, whatever interest it might have as an architectural object, it is as a node in intersecting familial and imperial networks that extend back into time and laterally through the British world of the nineteenth century that its significance lies. Other nodes in this web are the Falkirk properties Parkhall, Craigend, and Laurence Park, the occupation of which involved a complicated dynastic to-ing and fro-ing between the Livingston(e), Learmonth, and Mitchell families. In this narrative, naming is important, for, as the signifier of family identity, it allows us to see the dynamic relationships between colonial and ancestral estates. Estate names were carried around the world and they generated, through younger branches of the family, new colonial offspring. Of interest therefore is the generative capacity of the Scottish homeland and family estate to replicate and reinvigorate itself by colonisation.

6Hence, the first part of this essay goes into Learmonth ancestry at some length to clarify how property was passed down through the family and how the family and estate names were crucial factors in its possession. The second part deals with the Learmonths in India and how, as with so many Scots, it was through leveraging his Indian connections and imperial mercantile networks that Thomas Learmonth embarked on the most successful enterprise of his life. The third section follows Thomas and his family to Van Diemen's Land with a focus on his role in the Port Phillip Association and Derwent Company, the financial enterprises by which the Tasmanians colonised Melbourne, Geelong, and their hinterland. The fourth and fifth sections looks at Laurence Park and Ercildoun as the prizes for all this manoeuvring while the final section brings in cousin Thomas Mitchell, surveyor general of New South Wales, who presented an alternative genealogical narrative of the Falkirk estates.

The Learmonth and Livingstone families: Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland

  • 10 Edwin Brockholst Livingston, The Livingstons of Callendar and their principal cadets. The history (...)

7In his 1920 The Livingstons of Callendar and their principal cadets. The history of an old Stirlingshire family, Edwin Brockholst Livingston, the family genealogist, had to admit that at the time of writing, “the only ancestral Livingston acres owned by a lineal descendant of this family at the present day is the estate of Parkhall in the […] county of Stirling.”10 Further, his contemporary researches had found that the family occupying this estate, the Livingstone Learmonths, descended in an irregular way from ancient Livingston roots, bypassing various aristocratic branches, but had previously obscured this descent in their family tree. He continues with a description of how Parkhall, a possession of the Livingston family since the early seventeenth century, came in 1774 to Margaret Mitchell Livingstone by way of her grandfather, Alexander Mitchell. Margaret married her second cousin John Learmonth, a merchant of Leith, who, as custom required, was obliged to change his name to John Livingstone Learmonth on entering into the Parkhall estate. This branch of the family retained an ‘e’ at the end of their name.

  • 11 Ibid., p. 324.
  • 12 URL: http://www.thepeerage.com/p68197.htm#i681964. Accessed 10 July 2019.
  • 13 Edwin Brockholst Livingston , The Livingstons, op. cit. (note 10), p. 326.

8The Learmonth name is common in Scotland and very ancient, one of the oldest Scottish names according to Alexander Nisbet’s System of Heraldry.11 John Learmonth of Leith had Learmonth forebears who were merchants in Edinburgh from at least the seventeenth century. With Margaret Livingstone he had nine surviving children, four sons and five daughters. The eldest son Alexander succeeded to Parkhall in 1811, changed his name to Alexander Livingstone Learmonth and died in 1815. His young son John inherited the encumbered estate when he was six, selling it in 1820 to pay his creditors. Finding no buyer, this valuable property was divided into a number of lots and John, Alexander Learmonth’s second brother, bought Lots 1 and 2 that included Parkhall. On 29 January 1821 he was granted sasine of the estate and duly changed his name to John Livingstone Learmonth.12 John’s portion was no doubt purchased from the profits of his mercantile activities in Calcutta. The remaining four lots were bought by third brother William Colville Learmonth and they included a property called Craigend; presumably the purchase of this property was made possible by the fortune of his wife, heiress Gloriana Mackenzie, whose name William had added to his own when they married in 1818.13 Fourth and youngest son Thomas, toiling away in India, had not yet amassed the wherewithal to buy into the family demesne.

  • 14 URL: https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/200348873-the-haining-formerly-parkhall-upper-braes-ward (...)

9Parkhall is a Category B Listed Building in Upper Braes, Falkirk. Built in the early nineteenth century, it is a “large grey ashlar 2 storey house with courtyard at rear” and a portico to the front with four Doric columns. Ground floor windows have drip moulds and the lancet windows to the rear have the date 1825 inscribed above, a modest and possibly romantic Gothic touch added by John Livingstone Learmonth.14 Parkhall’s construction date suggests that it might have been built by the extravagant Alexander Learmonth, or his equally extravagant uncle Thomas Livingstone, both of whom died in debt; presumably it replaced an earlier building. John Learmonth died unmarried in 1841 and was succeeded by his sister Colville who managed Parkhall for twenty years until her death. As Colville did not have children either, John’s younger brother, Thomas, would in due course inherit Parkhall, but not before he had made his fortune as a colonial entrepreneur.

  • 15 Livingston states that Thomas Learmonth married two women called Christian Donald from Greenock, t (...)
  • 16 Loose pages from Learmonth’s ledger were found at Lawrence Park, Batesford, Victoria after John Le (...)
  • 17 These dates and places have been taken from Edwin Brockholst Livingston, The Livingstons, op. cit. (...)
  • 18 The family’s arrival in Hobart on 20 October 1835 was published in the local Trade and shipping ne (...)

10While the creditors were sorting out the Parkhall estate Thomas Learmonth was in Calcutta where his brother John had also lived and traded. Thomas was born in 1783 and he married Christian Donald of Greenock in 1807.15 Like his forebears he was a merchant in Edinburgh and Comptroller of Customs at the busy port of Grangemouth three miles east of Falkirk. By 1810 a customs house had been built so Learmonth’s tenure as Comptroller must have been between 1810 and about 1814-1815 when he was in India; an account from his 1813-14 ledger indicates that he was still resident in Scotland at that time, while an official report of 1822 indicates that by May 1815 he had vacated the Comptroller’s office.16 Eldest son John was born in 1812 at Kersiebank, Polmont, within the Falkirk shire. The next three children, however, Elizabeth, Thomas, and Somerville were born in Calcutta (1814, 1818, 1819), while the following three children, Margaret, Andrew, and Christian were all born in the environs of Falkirk (1823/4, 1825, 1830).17 Perhaps Thomas, like his brother John, had accumulated wealth enough in India to retire, or at least take things easy back in Scotland. During the early 1830s Thomas’s eldest child John Learmonth was studying medicine in Edinburgh and in 1835, when he had finished his studies, the family migrated to Van Diemen’s Land, departing in June from the port of Leith on the barque Perthshire.18 Learmonth’s decision to emigrate at the relatively advanced age of 52 when land grants in Van Diemen’s Land had stopped was undoubtedly on the recommendation of Captain Charles Swanston, whom he had probably met in India.

The Imperial network: Learmonth, Charles Swanston and George Mercer in India

  • 19 For Swanston, see “History of the 7th Horse,” published by Poona Horse Regimental Officers Associa (...)
  • 20 URL:https://books.google.com.au/books?id=mPosAAAAIAAJ&pg=PR3&lpg=PR3&dq=Captain+Charles+Swanston+M (...)

11Charles Swanston was an Englishman from Northumberland, who had entered the service of the East India Company’s (eic) Madras army as a sixteen-year old in 1805 during the Napoleonic wars. In 1810 he took part in Britain’s victory over the French in Mauritius at the conclusion of which he was commanded to make a military survey of the island. Following some time in England he returned to the army in India in 1814, later taking part in the Third Maratha War (1816-1819) where he raised and equipped a division of the Poona Irregular Horse in the space of two months through the novel means of raising loans.19 He was promoted captain in 1819 but lost his command owing to the reorganisation and reduction of the army, and in 1821 was offered the position of assistant quartermaster general. Declining the offer, he chose instead the office of military paymaster in the provinces of Travancore and Tinnevelley in southern India where he remained for six years and where he presumably undertook the research for a long article titled “A Memoir of the Primitive Church of Malayala, or of the Syrian Christians of the Apostle Thomas, from its first rise to the present time,” which was published in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1835.20

  • 21 For an outline of Swanston’s life see Charles Swanston’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Bio (...)
  • 22 Charles Swanston, “Swanston, Charles (1789-1850),”op. cit. (note 21).
  • 23 W. H. Hudspeth, “Rise and fall of Charles Swanston,” op. cit. (note 21), p. 1.
  • 24 In the Madras register of 1831 it was announced that Captain Faris would act as paymaster at Trava (...)

12Having obtained leave, Swanston travelled to Hobart which he had possibly visited before, and by 1829 he and his family were resident there.21 He brought with him the large sum of £10,000 which suggests that he had made some wise investments while paymaster in the army. Swanston immediately took up land buying “Fenton Forest, an estate on the River Styx, and Newtown Park in New Town. He also acquired land at Kingsborough and some 4200 acres (1700ha) in the County of Westmoreland.”22 He inserted himself within Lt-Governor Arthur’s “little military clique then in control of affairs at the capital” which included Arthur’s two nephews-in-law, one of whom, Captain John Montagu, who had been born in India, would become a close associate.23 In addition Swanston established an import and export business, was an investment agent and wool broker for business houses in Madras, Calcutta, Canton, Manila, and Mauritius, and an agent for Jardine Matheson. He visited India in 1831, and possibly in 1835, finally retiring from military service on 1 January 1838.24

  • 25 For George Mercer in Calcutta, see URL: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=gpBNAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA325 (...)
  • 26 Shashi Tharoor, Inglorious Empire. What the British Did in India, Brunswick Vic: Scribe Publicatio (...)

13In November 1831 Swanston was appointed director of the Derwent Bank which had opened in Hobart in January 1828. Swanston actively sought investors for his bank, including the Scot George Mercer who, like himself and Learmonth, was in India at the close of the Napoleonic wars. Mercer had sold his commission in the East India Company marines to become a merchant in Calcutta which must have offered a much quicker route to wealth. He is reported in 1816 to have attended a meeting to establish a marine registry office in Calcutta and we know Learmonth was also in the city at that time.25 By 1833, but probably earlier, Mercer had retired to Edinburgh a wealthy man. Many of those from British India and other colonies whom Swanston encouraged to invest in the Derwent Bank were, like Learmonth and Mercer, Scots. One of the benefits to the Scots of the 1707 Union was their entry into India where they could, for the first time, share in the profits of British imperialism; indeed, “a disproportionate number of [them] were employed in the colonial enterprise… Their earnings in India pulled Scotland out of poverty and helped make it prosperous.”26 This was to be true of the Learmonth family right through the nineteenth century as a succession of Thomas’s children and grandchildren entered into Indian military service or married into it.

14In 1834, Swanston, optimistic about the future of his bank, wrote to Mercer:

  • 27 W. H. Hudspeth, “Rise and fall of Charles Swanston,” op. cit. (note 21), p. 4.

I have purchased for you four shares in the Derwent Bank at £100 per share (£110 nominal value), and shall continue to buy more; bank shares being the best investment in the Colony—and a few weeks later, after the increase of capital: I have increased your bank shares to seven, and am about to make you a partner to the extent of £5000 in twenty-six old shares, paid up, and eighty-five new shares, of which 25 per cent only is now called up. Mr. McKillop and Mr. Learmonth have each invested £2500 in shares, with the intention of doubling their interests when funds arrive.27

  • 28 Ibid., notes on p. 5. Swanston was at this time engaged in purchasing land in Tasmania for George (...)
  • 29 P. L. Brown, “Mercer, George (1772-1853),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of (...)

15Clearly, Swanston and Mercer knew Learmonth and we can presume their acquaintance was made in India. On Swanston’s advice Mercer began to invest in Van Diemen’s Land buying the property Lovely Banks near Oatlands, in central Tasmania, in 1833. Mercer sent out fellow Scot David Fisher to manage his investments.28 Fisher was later joined by Mercer’s son “Lieutenant George Duncan and nephew Major William Drummond Mercer who reached Hobart Town from Calcutta in March 1838, having retired from the Bengal Native Infantry and 16th Lancers respectively.”29 Another of Mercer’s sons, John Henry, joined them later. India therefore not only provided access to Australia for Swanston, Learmonth, and Mercer, but underwrote it.

Thomas Learmonth, the Port Phillip Association, the Derwent Company and the colonisation of Port Phillip.

  • 30 Quoted in Noel F. Learmonth, The Portland Bay Settlement, Portland: The Historical Committee of Po (...)

16The Learmonth family arrived in Hobart in October 1835 where Thomas established himself as a merchant under the style of Learmonth and Company. Why he emigrated at this time is open to question, although his original investment in the Derwent Bank might have suggested the idea. The family had been living at Laurence Park, a large, imposing recently built house in Falkirk, while older brothers John and William enjoyed ownership of the family estates Parkhall and Craigend. Thomas’s children ranged in age from five to twenty-three, and perhaps he was concerned for their futures. But there were no longer any land grants being handed out to lucky immigrants as in Lt Governor Arthur’s day, and the pastoral land was all occupied, so there was no prospect of securing a great estate in Van Diemen’s Land as Swanston and many of his friends had done. Could it be that Swanston hinted to Learmonth about the possibilities of the land to the north over Bass Strait? On 14 October 1834 the Henty family of Launceston began their migration to Portland Bay as broadcast in the Launceston Advertiser on the 16th.30 Their plan was not a secret and Swanston would have been fully aware of the various other plans afoot for the Tasmanian colonisation of Port Phillip. Could this prospect have been the magnet that pulled Thomas and Christian to Australia?

  • 31 James Boyce, 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia, Melbourne: Black Inc, (...)
  • 32 Ibid., p. 56.
  • 33 Documents relating to the June 1835 formation of the Port Phillip Association and the “purchase” o (...)
  • 34 For the Port Phillip Association, see A. G. L. Shaw, A History of the Port Phillip District. Victo (...)

17In February 1835 planning had begun in Van Diemen’s Land to establish a consortium of interested parties to cross Bass Strait and appropriate land at Port Phillip, on the southern coast of New South Wales for pastoral purposes and, as James Boyce notes, to profit from anticipated property speculation.31 John Batman and surveyor John Helder Wedge were central to the plan, and around them gathered others including solicitor-general Joseph Gellibrand and Swanston. In May 1835 Batman and his party headed out across Bass Strait and when they returned in June Batman announced that he was “the greatest landowner in the world,”32 having laid claim to 600,000 acres (242,812 ha) under a so-called treaty with the Wurundjeri people. The Geelong Association and the Port Phillip Association were launched and the flood of emigrants from Van Diemen’s Land to Port Phillip began.33 Two of the three merchants involved, the Robertson brothers from Alvie, were Scots, as was the sole absentee investor, Mercer. The land claimed by Batman was divided into seventeen equal portions for members of the Association and rules for the conduct of the Associations’ affairs were drawn up. In a proclamation dated 26 August 1835, however, Governor Bourke declared from Sydney that all settlers in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales over which he had jurisdiction were trespassers on Crown land. In November 1836 Bourke, having consulted Glenelg in the Colonial Office in London to which Mercer was making regular appeals on behalf of the Association, announced that the land taken up by the Association would go up for auction, but the government agreed to pay compensation fixed at £7000. In the uncertainty, many of the Association partners had sold out to Swanston and Gellibrand and by 1838, if not earlier, Swanston, Mercer, and Thomas Learmonth had control of all the shares, including those of Gellibrand who had disappeared while on an exploratory journey with George Hesse towards the end of February 1837. These three, along with David Fisher, formed the Derwent Company and bought at auction in 1839 10,500 acres (4200 hectares) of freehold land near Geelong, from the price of which the £7000 was deducted.34 The Derwent Company dissolved in 1842 having handsomely rewarded its investors.

18While this was in train, in April 1837, Learmonth sent his two younger sons, nineteen-year old Thomas jnr and eighteen-year old Somerville, across Bass Strait with three cargoes of breeding sheep. It was an expensive and well-planned operation.

  • 35 Thomas Learmonth letter to His Excellency Charles J. La Trobe, Esq., from Buninyong, 11th August 1 (...)

In the month of April of that year (1837) my brother and I landed three cargoes from Van Diemen’s Land, or about 2,000 ewes and we purchased 1,000 more at two guineas a head. These we drove up the Barwon River to a place about twenty miles from Geelong, and occupied a run on each side of the river, and another on the Native creek to the eastward of the Leigh.35

  • 36 Ibid., p. 43.

19Later that year, and early in 1838, Thomas and Somerville, in company with other squatters, undertook three more reconnaissance journeys into the hinterland north west of Geelong. The brothers moved their flocks from the Barwon River and took up a run at Buninyong extending to Burrumbeet and Maiden Hills in 1838. At Burrumbeet they built Ercildoun. Learmonth’s account of these massive land thefts from the Wathaurong people, written out many years later, is full of detail, including names of runs, dates, places; the people whom they dispossessed were not, Learmonth assured Lieutenant Governor La Trobe, very numerous, nor had they exhibited the ferocity one might expect “considering the wrong that has been done to the aborigines [sic] in depriving them of their country.”36 The Learmonths had no qualms about their actions, no moral quivers about how they had obtained their land.

  • 37 Brad Williams, “Oatlands Gaol Historical study & archaeological survey,” for Southern Midlands Cou (...)

20At this time, Thomas snr, who had remained in Tasmania, bought an estate near Green Ponds, about 35km from Oatlands (presumably near Mercer’s property) where he established a prosperous farm. Green Ponds, subsequently renamed Kempton, had been established as a military station in 1828 and later served as a probation station, while Oatlands was at the time booming, becoming one of the primary wool-growing areas of Tasmania.37 A visitor to Oatlands noted in 1843:

  • 38 “Domestic Intelligence,” Colonial Times, 3October 1843, p. 3; Stuart King kindly alerted me to thi (...)

those who like to see farming carried on in the best style will find themselves repaid for their journey by getting permission to look round the highly-cultivated fields of Mr Learmonth, whose farm is in Green Ponds, and whose system is practically the most perfect specimen of Scotch farming that the colony affords.38

21These strategic investments of Thomas Learmonth were based on land acquisition and ownership, something he noticeably lacked in Falkirk. They also bespeak a remarkable transformation from merchant of Edinburgh, Calcutta, and Hobart into exemplary colonial farmer and, through his sons, pastoralist. In 1844, however, in the general economic crisis, Thomas Learmonth was declared insolvent in Hobart. By 1853 he had returned to Scotland where eventually he succeeded to Parkhall on the death of his sister Colville in 1861, adding Livingstone to his name. Until his death in 1869 he assumed the role of local propertied gentleman with colonial experience.39

Laurence Park

  • 40 Fragmentary evidence of their lives at Green Ponds can be gathered from family letters held in the (...)

22Among its land transactions, the Derwent Company had bought Laurence Park at Batesford near Geelong. In 1845, about the time of Thomas’s insolvency and possibly connected with it, the property was conveyed to John Learmonth, and he and his family moved there in about 1846. Having arrived in Hobart with his parents and siblings in 1835, John had married there and begun a large family with his Scottish wife Anna. They may have moved to the Green Ponds farm as their daughter Christian was born there in 1843, the same year that Thomas’s wife Christian, the girl’s grandmother, died.40

23Work began on the Batesford homestead, named Laurence Park, in about 1846, replacing an earlier building on the site that had been destroyed by fire. It was a modest building with gable roofs typical of the time and based on an “H” plan, a form used on other early homesteads in the Western District (fig. 1). Considerably altered over the years, the earliest section, the north wing and middle section of the H, were built in brick, while the south wing was completed in random rubble.41 By 1854 John Learmonth and his family had returned to Britain, although not to Falkirk; they settled in London where John died in 1871. Laurence Park was managed by his brother Andrew Learmonth and eventually sold by 1867.

Figure 1:John T. Collins, Lawrence Park at Batesford, 1971.

Figure 1:John T. Collins, Lawrence Park at Batesford, 1971.

Source: Melbourne (Australia), State Library of Victoria.

  • 42 He wrote a letter from the house to William Forbes of Callendar proposing an excambion or exchange (...)
  • 43 P. L. Brown (ed), Clyde Company Papers, op. cit. (note 16), p. 379.
  • 44 URL : https://scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/digital-volumes/ordnance-survey-name-books/stirlingshire-os-n (...)
  • 45 The house did come close to the Learmonths again towards the end of the century when in 1896 Walte (...)
  • 46 “Originally known as ‘Laurence (or Lawrence) Park’, but with both names appearing on a map dated 1 (...)
  • 47 “2-storey and attic, 5-bay Tudor country house Baronial stair tower; 2-storey and basement wing. A (...)

24If the history of Laurence Park as a building and station lacks glamour, its name is telling. In 1830 Thomas and Christian Learmonth’s last child, also Christian, had been born at Laurence Park, Polmont, Stirlingshire. The following year, 1831, Learmonth was still at Laurence Park.42 The family left Scotland in mid-1835 and Laurence Park was probably their last family home. By 1837 Major John Kerr Ross was in residence, and in her 1840 journal Scottish woman Mrs Williams (formerly Jane Reid whose parents occupied Ratho in Van Diemen’s Land) describes Laurence Park, near Falkirk, as “Mr Learmonth’s place formerly, now the property of Col. Ross from India.”43 In about 1856 the property was described as “an elegant and substantial mansion three storeys high, built in the Elizabethan style of architecture” being the residence and property of Colonel James Kerr Ross (fig. 2).44 Ross lived there until his death in 1872.45 Later known as Lathallan, and now derelict, Laurence Park was built in 1826 reputedly to the designs of Scottish architect Thomas Hamilton, best known for neo-Greek buildings such as the Burns Monument in Edinburgh.46 Laurence Park was by contrast a romantic Tudor country house with Scottish baronial flourishes, possibly inspired by Abbotsford not too far away, which had been completed by Walter Scott in 1824.47 While the difference in architectural means and ambition between the two Laurence Parks at opposite sides of the world could not be more distinct, the naming suggests that the colonial version was a defiant claim on the land that had not been possible in Scotland.

Figure 2:“Old house at Laurence Park,” Lathallan, formerly Laurence Park, Polmont, Scotland.

Figure 2:“Old house at Laurence Park,” Lathallan, formerly Laurence Park, Polmont, Scotland.

Source: Finlarg.

Ercildoun48

  • 48 For the spelling of Ercildoun see note 9.

25Meanwhile, at the Buninyong property, the Learmonth brothers showed themselves to be their father’s sons on their well set-up station. Protector of the Aborigines, George Augustus Robinson, visited the run in 1842, four years after it was established, reporting:

John, Thomas and Somerville Learmonth had erected a cottage, fenced a large paddock and grown a fine crop of wheat. They had numerous slab outbuildings thatched with grass, a stud of horses and 50,000 sheep grazing on about 8000(0) acres.49

  • 50 Michael Pearson and Jane Lennon, Pastoral Australia: Fortunes, Failures and Hard Yakka: a Historic (...)
  • 51 Australian Bureau of Statistics. An account of the Henty family’s migration to the colonies and ro (...)

26And it was at Ercildoun that the Learmonth name was established in the records of the “pure Australian merino.” While sealskins provided Australia’s first exports and whaling made early fortunes, the pastoral industry was to become Australia’s main staple for a century. Central to this industry was the merino, originally a protected and valuable Spanish sheep that over the course of the late eighteenth century found its way to royal flocks across Europe from where it was selectively bred and traded as a global commodity. The merino’s rise to economic fame in Australia was slow, but by about 1820 it was on its way. By 1835 “wool exports replaced whale and seal products as the staple for the colonies,” and “while the massive returns from gold mining in the 1850s and 1860s swamped wool export earnings during the gold rushes, wool had regained its premier position by 1871 and stayed there.”50 This achievement rested not on chance or on a pre-existing resource (such as whales) but on a combination of a practised system of colonial speculation and exploitation, an overarching government policy of making the colonies pay for themselves by way of trade that was useful to England (the colonies were to provide the raw material and import the finished product), and the expertise of Australian pastoralists in animal husbandry. By 1852 the Colony of Victoria, after a brief eighteen years of European settlement, “was exporting 9,112 tonnes of wool with an estimated value of £1,062,787.”51 The pastoral industry forced the spread of European settlement across Australia and laid down the infrastructure of the country’s built environment, as Pearson and Lennon note:

  • 52 Michael Pearson and Jane Lennon, Pastoral Australia, op. cit. (note 50).

droving routes to metropolitan sale yards, wool stores, abattoirs, wharf facilities, railways, roads, and river and ocean transport systems […] were developed to link the pastoral interior with the urban and market infrastructure needed to distribute the pastoral product.52

27In effect, therefore, the industry’s formative role in Australia’s built environment cannot be overstated. The Learmonth family was instrumental in this development, and by the time they left the country in the 1870s the settlements of Buninyong and Learmonth established around their runs, were thriving.

  • 53 For an entertaining account of Thomas Shaw, see Mary Turner Shaw, On Mt Emu Creek, Melbourne: Robe (...)
  • 54 Lyndsay Gardiner, “Shaw, Thomas (1800-1865),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre (...)

28The Learmonth brothers were not native sheep farmers, but they might have gained some, albeit brief, experience of local pastoralism at Green Ponds on their father’s farm. They owed their success to their acumen not only in understanding the fundamentals of breeding as it had developed in unique Australian conditions in Van Diemen’s Land, but also in engaging possibly the best wool classer in the country, Thomas Shaw.53 Shaw, a Yorkshire wool expert who had migrated in 1843 with the purpose of sorting out problems in the Australian wool industry which were worrying British buyers, published The Australian Merino in 1849 followed by Practical Treatise on Sheep Breeding and Wool Growing in 1860.54 He worked with Scottish squatters John Lang Currie at Larra, Philip Russell of Carngham, and the Learmonths to improve their flocks, and these were among the most successful merino flocks in the District, and indeed in Australia.

  • 55 “The Sale of Ercildoun,” The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 21 August 1873, (...)

The Learmonths found the merino of Victoria—or rather say the Tasmanian merino, as it was from thence they brought their original sheep—an inferior animal: they leave it with us without a rival. We may fairly term the Ercildoun sheep a new type of merino.55

29The Learmonths were not at first extravagant builders in the manner of some of their fellow squatters. The Buninyong property seems to have been modest, and Ercildoun at Burrumbeet was equally modest for many years although its name signified some ambition (fig. 3). For it was named after Erceldoune (now Earlstoun), in Berwickshire, in the Scottish Borders that was associated with the thirteenth-century Scottish laird variously known as Thomas the Rhymer, Thomas of Ercildoune, Thomas of Learmont, or True Thomas. Reputedly a prophet and ancestral figure of the Learmonth family, his story was transmitted through medieval manuscripts but given contemporary currency in Walter Scott’s three-part ballad Thomas the Rhymer published in 1802. In the third part we read:

The feast was spread in Ercildoune, 
In Learmont’s high and ancient hall: 
And there were knights of great renown, 
And ladies, laced in pall. 


Nor lacked they, while they sat at dine, 
The music nor the tale, 
Nor goblets of the blood-red wine, 
Nor mantling quaighs of ale. 


True Thomas rose, with harp in hand, 
When as the feast was done: 
(In minstrel strife, in Fairy Land, 
The elfin harp he won).56

Figure 3:William Bardwell, Ercildoune. Residence of the late Sir Samuel Wilson now occupied by J. L. Currie Esq., 1868-1870.

Figure 3:William Bardwell, Ercildoune. Residence of the late Sir Samuel Wilson now occupied by J. L. Currie Esq., 1868-1870.

Source: Melbourne (Victoria), State Library of Victoria.

30The construction of Ercildoun took some time, beginning with a modest house in 1838 when the Burrumbeet run was established and growing from that time in typical colonial piecemeal fashion. Drawings of existing conditions in 1859 show it to have been a reasonably substantial house, and it was incorporated in the extensive additions and alterations designed in 1859. They are documented in fragile drawings in the State Library of Victoria and associated letters between Thomas at Ercildoun and younger brother Andrew in London. Outlining their ideas for the additions and completion of the house the brothers were clearly the architects. The building was constructed from granite quarried on the property and brick made on site, and with its picturesque massing, crow-stepped gables, and small tower (Thomas’s tower), it proclaims its romantic lineage in the nineteenth-century Scottish baronial taste. The most striking aspect of the building, however, is its similarity to Laurence Park in Falkirk, which, if the family could not emulate except in name at Batesford in the 1840s, could do so in stone a decade later at Burrumbeet. It can be argued that in their building program the Learmonths displayed a strong sense of dynastic purpose. While Parkhall was the family seat through the Livingston(e) line, Ercildoun, like Laurence Park, was a Learmonth possession. And it was at Ercildoun that they could claim to have produced one of their most enduring legacies, the Australian merino. In 1934, almost a century after the Learmonths arrived at Port Phillip, the Melbourne Argus noted:

In 1848 they first formed the Ercildoune stud that later became famous. It was of pure Saxony merinoes of the Furlonge blood. By later purchases Camden and Mona Vale strains were added to the original Furlonge. The stud came to be recognised as one of the best in Australia. Rams were sent from Ercildoune to every Australian colony, and to New Zealand and South Africa. In 1809 [incorrect date] Ercildoune won the highest recognition up till that time awarded to any stud in Australia. The Learmonths gained the open prize for the best ram against all comers. This was the blue-ribbon of sheep-breeding. In London, Paris, and New York their selected show wools were rarely beaten.57

31Organised and scientific, Thomas and Somerville presided over an extensive and successful industrial complex. They designed an improved sheep wash an explanation of which Thomas published together with a sketch in 1867.58 The brothers lived at Ercildoun and their children were born there. Thomas and his first wife Maria’s seven children were born between about 1858 and 1867. Thomas then succeeded his father at Parkhall in 1869, before returning to Scotland. Somerville’s two sons and three daughters born at Ercildoun between 1861 and 1872 were interrupted by a son who was born at Devon in 1868. The family returned to Scotland in 1873 after an acrimonious and unsuccessful court case over the Egerton gold mine, which the Learmonths had bought in 1863 and sold a decade later to buyers Somerville believed had defrauded him.59 They sold the property to Sir Samuel Wilson. Andrew resided primarily in England although with his wife Frances visited Ercildoun where his son Noel was born in 1871.

Thomas Mitchell and his mirror of Falkirk.

  • 60 D. W. A. Baker, “Mitchell, Sir Thomas Livingstone (1792-1855),” Australian Dictionary of Biography(...)
  • 61 T. L. Mitchell, Three Expeditions in the Interior of Eastern Australia, London: T. & W. Boone, 183 (...)

32That the Learmonth brothers chose to honour their Learmonth rather than Livingstone ancestry is brought into relief by the actions of their distant cousin Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, Surveyor General of New South Wales. Mitchell was a younger contemporary of Thomas Learmonth snr, having been born in 1792 at Grangemouth where Thomas was Comptroller of Customs from 1810. Possibly they knew each other. The son of John Mitchell and his wife Janet, he was, according to his biographer, “though poor […] sufficiently educated to read widely in several languages and be proficient in several sciences.”60 Joining the 95th Regiment in 1811 he saw active service in the Peninsular war. He arrived in Sydney in 1827 as assistant surveyor-general, assuming the role of surveyor-general in 1828. During the 1830s Mitchell headed three important exploratory journeys inland, including the celebrated 1836 “Australia Felix” journey during which he travelled through the Portland Bay District and discovered to his surprise the Henty family happily ensconced in Portland. He published these journeys in 1838 as Three Expeditions Into the Interior of Eastern Australia.61

33By the early 1840s Mitchell had built himself an estate near Appin, New South Wales, which he called Park Hall. It was “a two storey Gothic Revival sandstone house built […] to a design from Francis Goodwin’s ‘Rural Architecture’ and supervised by James Hume.”62 In 1854 the Illustrated Sydney News wrote under the banner Park Hall:

Park Hall, near Appin, the country residence of Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, has been erected by himself, being named and modelled after Park Hall in Stirlingshire, Scotland, the seat of the ancient and honourable family of Livingstone. At this latter place Sir Thomas was brought up, under the care of his uncle, Thomas Livingstone, Esq., and, on finally settling in a far distant country, he gratified a natural sentiment in endeavouring to re-produce in New South Wales his old home in the "land of mountain and of flood." A princely demesne surrounds the modern Park Hall, presenting, in its diversified beauty of tree and lawn and underwood, all the appearance of an English park, while in extent it is rivalled but in few instances, the visitor having from the entrance-gate to the mansion a good ride of five miles. We trust that Sir Thomas Mitchell may long live to enjoy his property in a country which he has so eminently served.63

  • 64 D. W. A. Baker, “Mitchell, Sir Thomas Livingstone (1792-1855),” op. cit. (note 60).

34There is an artful inflection in this description of Park Hall that indicates Mitchell’s anxiety about his social station. It is true that Parkhall was the seat of the Livingstone family but it had been for some time now in the possession of the Learmonth family, even if they were forced to adopt the Livingstone name in order to come into their inheritance. The Thomas Livingstone mentioned by Mitchell occupied Parkhall from 1788 to 1809 and was the last Livingstone to do so. He had come into the estate through his Mitchell connection. Thomas’s heir was Alexander Learmonth whose family were now in possession, but Mitchell chose to ignore this recent history in favour of the earlier Mitchell-Livingstone lineage. His account of his childhood at Parkhall might have some truth in it although it appears to contradict what has been recorded of his rather impoverished upbringing.64 Were he taken up by Thomas Livingstone who was childless, he may have received from him some of his education which has not otherwise been accounted for. No doubt Mitchell wished to secure his name in a dynastic narrative that hitherto he had only enjoyed from the margins while his cousins down south in Port Phillip could claim it entire. Indeed, when Mitchell built his first house near Sydney in 1829-1831 he called it Craig End, the name of William Learmonth’s property that had been part of the Parkhall estate when Mitchell was a boy but had been sold off in the 1820 sale. Craigend had come into the Parkhall estates several generations earlier through Alexander Mitchell of Craigend when he married Alison Livingstone. Once again Mitchell has alluded to Mitchell ancestral claims on the Falkirk property. The severe classical form of Mitchell’s Craig End, however, recalls Parkhall as Mitchell would have remembered it, with its Doric portico, a feature he replicated in Sydney.

  • 65 Stanley Moore, “The Learmonths of Ercildoune,” op. cit. (note 57).

35The Learmonths in Ballarat responded to these genealogical flourishes by building a similarly grand if less architecturally correct house than Mitchell’s which memorialised not Parkhall but their very ancient, very Scottish, and very illustrious ancestor Thomas the Rhymer of Ercildoune. In 1934, the centenary of permanent European settlement in Victoria, Stanley Moore wrote in The Argus: “Among the leading pastoral pioneering families of Victoria, there is none with a more romantic history than that of the Livingstone Learmonths. Their early seat was the Rhymer’s Tower, near the Scottish border, and Thomas the Rhymer was the first figure in their family to become famous.”65 In fact, Somerville Learmonth, a son of pastoralist Somerville, had that year, probably in commemoration of Victoria’s centenary and the occasion of the Duke of Gloucester’s three-day visit to the property in October, removed a stone ‘from the Rhymer’s Tower, near Melrose in Scotland’ and sent it to Alan Currie, son of Selkirkshire pastoralist John Lang Currie, who was then the owner of Ercildoun. Currie had it inscribed and set into the wall of the house. The inscription read:

ERCILDOUNE
ARCIOL-DUN (THE LOOK-OUT HILL). STONE
FROM THE RHYMER’S TOWER AT EARL-
STON (ERCILDOUNE), SCOTLAND, OC-
CUPIED IN THE 13th CENTURY BY THOMAS
THE RHYMER.66

36There was nothing Mitchell could do to counter the potency of such a family legend.

Conclusion

37If Thomas Learmonth’s older siblings preferred to remain sequestered in their ancestral possessions around Falkirk, his opportunistic participation in the colonial enterprises of Van Diemen’s Land and Port Phillip propelled his family into an expanded imperial network of opportunity and advancement, including some excellent marriages which created the wealth and standing that enabled them to refurbish the Learmonth name. When Thomas took up Parkhall in 1861 his sons were among the illustrious elite of colonial settlers in Victoria; their wool commanded high prices on the world markets; their property Ercildoun, redolent of ancient Learmonth myth, was a showpiece of pastoral wealth and good management, and around their runs the townships of Buninyong and Learmonth had sprung up and flourished. Successful scions of the Scottish diaspora, they were perfect envoys of empire, aware of but refusing to accept responsibility for the loss of peoples, languages, and country that their own desires for family, land, and privilege had occasioned. Their architecturally wayward homestead Ercildoun gave material expression to their opportunism, entrepreneurialism, and dynastic ambition, and to the generative and destructive processes of colonisation.

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Notes

1 Janette Holcombe, Early Merchant Families of Sydney: Speculation and Risk Management on the Fringes of Empire, Sydney: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013, p. 13; Eric Richards, “Scottish Network and Voices in Colonial Australia,” in Angela McCarthy (ed.), A Global Clan: Scottish Migrant Networks and Identities since the Eighteenth Century, London: I. B. Tauris, 2012 (International library of historical studies, 36), p. 150-182.

2 For a brief outline of Henty & Co as a family business see Harriet Edquist, “Henty & Co,” in Harriet Edquist and Stuart King (eds.), Globalisation, entrepreneurship and the South Pacific. Reframing Australian colonial architecture 1800-1850, Launceston & Melbourne: GESP network, 2016, p. 9-11.

3 Geoffrey Jones and Mary B Rose, “Family Capitalism,” Business History, vol. 35 no. 4, 1993, p. 1.

4 C. Hartley Grattan, “Reflections on Australian History,” Quadrant, vol. 1, no. 2, 1957, p. 55.

5 T. M. Devine, To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora, 1750-2010, London: Allen Lane, 2011; The Scots in Australia: Historical Background, List of Documents, Extracts and Facsimiles. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Office, 1994; Angela McCarthy, A Global Clan, op. cit. (note 1).

6 Margaret Kiddle, Men of Yesterday: a social history of the Western District of Victoria, 1834-1890, Parkville Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1961.

7 Angela McCarthy, A Global Clan, op. cit. (note 1).

8 Harriet Edquist, “The architectural legacy of the Scots in the Western District of Victoria, Australia,” Architectural Heritage, vol. 24, 2013, p. 67-85.

9 As Thomas Learmonth spelt his property Ercildoun without an “e” when he published his sheepwash in 1867, I have retained his spelling here.

10 Edwin Brockholst Livingston, The Livingstons of Callendar and their principal cadets. The history of an old Stirlingshire family, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1920, p. 317.

11 Ibid., p. 324.

12 URL: http://www.thepeerage.com/p68197.htm#i681964. Accessed 10 July 2019.

13 Edwin Brockholst Livingston , The Livingstons, op. cit. (note 10), p. 326.

14 URL: https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/200348873-the-haining-formerly-parkhall-upper-braes-ward#.W902ky2B3Q8. Accessed 10 July 2019.

15 Livingston states that Thomas Learmonth married two women called Christian Donald from Greenock, the first in 1803 when he was twenty and the second in 1807. While this appears an extraordinary coincidence, and one is tempted to think the two Christians might be the same woman, this possibility has not been researched. Edwin Brockholst Livingston, The Livingstons, op. cit. (note 10), p. 329.

16 Loose pages from Learmonth’s ledger were found at Lawrence Park, Batesford, Victoria after John Learmonth and his family had returned to Scotland in the 1850s. They, and other items are described in “Relics of Laurence Park,” in P. L. Brown (ed.), Clyde Company Papers, London: Oxford University Press, 1951, vol. 2, p. 466. Brown noted that at the time the ledger was kept “Learmonth seems to have dealt in produce.” Mention is made of Learmonth’s departure from the role of Comptroller in Cases Decided in the House of Lords: On Appeal from the Courts of Scotland, URL: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=Wn0DAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA233&lpg=PA233&dq=comptroller+of+customs+grangemouth&source=bl&ots=J2ty2kblpi&sig=zz9ku_PqFXquU3ucRtUCoILRFOo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiVzKyOn7PeAhXJYo8KHWDYDgkQ6AEwAnoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=comptroller%20of%20customs%20grangemouth&f=false. Accessed 2 November 2018.

17 These dates and places have been taken from Edwin Brockholst Livingston, The Livingstons, op. cit. (note 10), p. 329-330.

18 The family’s arrival in Hobart on 20 October 1835 was published in the local Trade and shipping news, Hobart (Australia), Tasmanian Government Archives, Record ID: NAME_INDEXES:1468849 Resource MB2/39/1/2, p. 375.

19 For Swanston, see “History of the 7th Horse,” published by Poona Horse Regimental Officers Association URL: http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/ARMY/images/Poona%20Horse.pdf. Accessed 10 July 2019. “Lt C. Swanston (Cortgaum Swanston), adopted a unique method for the recruitment of his Divisions. He early recognized that, if the raising instructions regarding the provisions of horse and horse trappings by the men themselves were too closely followed, a number of good men would be lost to the Poona Auxiliary Horse, owing to their inability to mount themselves. Therefore the borrowed the necessary money to purchase a certain number of horses and their equipment, and was thus in a position to recruit picked men. It may justly be claimed that thus was laid the foundation of the Silladar System which came into vogue later on.” There is a painting of Swanston in army uniform in London (United Kingdom), National Army Museum, URL: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/lieutenant-later-captain-charles-swanston-17891850-in-the-uniform-of-the-poona-irregular-horse-182955. Accessed 2 November 2018.

20 URL:https://books.google.com.au/books?id=mPosAAAAIAAJ&pg=PR3&lpg=PR3&dq=Captain+Charles+Swanston+Madras+Army&source=bl&ots=ZlRnCrBF8-&sig=IHF08DhqilAx_ytx43S_k5y-l0Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiVhI7ny7neAhVMv48KHWDoB6EQ6AEwDHoECAQQAQ#v=onepage&q=Captain%20Charles%20Swanston%20Madras%20Army&f=false . Accessed 2 November 2018.

21 For an outline of Swanston’s life see Charles Swanston’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1967. URL: Biography http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/swanston-charles-2713 (accessed 10 July 2019). For a more critical and useful appraisal of Swanston’s activities in Tasmania, see W. H. Hudspeth, “Rise and fall of Charles Swanston,” Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, 1948. URL: http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/148489. Accessed 10 July 2019.

22 Charles Swanston, “Swanston, Charles (1789-1850),”op. cit. (note 21).

23 W. H. Hudspeth, “Rise and fall of Charles Swanston,” op. cit. (note 21), p. 1.

24 In the Madras register of 1831 it was announced that Captain Faris would act as paymaster at Travancore and Tinnevelley “during the absence of Captain Swanston” and that Swanston was spending six months in Bengal. From record held in London (United Kingdom), British Library: Asian and African Studies, related material L/AG/23/10/2 No. 832.

25 For George Mercer in Calcutta, see URL: https://books.google.com.au/books?id=gpBNAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA325&lpg=PA325&dq=george+mercer+east+india+company+marines&source=bl&ots=RPqNKzeCKx&sig=IYvRekH1H63810hoY08NIv5y_H4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjDgdSCwrXeAhUQbo8KHb8JCWIQ6AEwCnoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=george%20mercer%20east%20india%20company%20marines&f=false. Accessed 2 November 2018.

26 Shashi Tharoor, Inglorious Empire. What the British Did in India, Brunswick Vic: Scribe Publications, 2017, p. 35.

27 W. H. Hudspeth, “Rise and fall of Charles Swanston,” op. cit. (note 21), p. 4.

28 Ibid., notes on p. 5. Swanston was at this time engaged in purchasing land in Tasmania for George Mercer. He had recently acquired for him the estate of “Lovely Banks,” at Spring Hill, and his correspondence on the subject contains much useful information as to the values of land and stock at that time in the Colony.

29 P. L. Brown, “Mercer, George (1772-1853),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1967. URL: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mercer-george-2448. Accessed 2 November 2018.

30 Quoted in Noel F. Learmonth, The Portland Bay Settlement, Portland: The Historical Committee of Portland, 1934, p. 79.

31 James Boyce, 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia, Melbourne: Black Inc, 2013, p. 53.

32 Ibid., p. 56.

33 Documents relating to the June 1835 formation of the Port Phillip Association and the “purchase” of land in Geelong and Melbourne are held in the George Mercer collection at the State Library of Victoria. See Jock Murphy, “George Mercer. Two recent acquisitions,” The La Trobe Journal, no. 58, 1996, p. 2-6.

34 For the Port Phillip Association, see A. G. L. Shaw, A History of the Port Phillip District. Victoria before Separation, Carlton: The Miegunyah Press, 1996, p. 45-62; James Boyce, 1835, op. cit. (note 31), p. 47-56.

35 Thomas Learmonth letter to His Excellency Charles J. La Trobe, Esq., from Buninyong, 11th August 1853, in T. F. Bride (ed.), Letters from Victorian Pioneers: being a series of papers on the early occupation of the colony, the Aborigines, etc., Addressed by Victorian Pioneers to His Excellency Charles Joseph La Trobe, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Victoria, Melbourne: Public Library 1898, p. 38.

36 Ibid., p. 43.

37 Brad Williams, “Oatlands Gaol Historical study & archaeological survey,” for Southern Midlands Council, 2004, URL: https://www.southernmidlands.tas.gov.au/assets/southernmidlands_williams_arch_survey_2004.pdf. William Mercer one of George Mercer’s nephews, was on guard duty at the Oatlands Gaol in 1841.

38 “Domestic Intelligence,” Colonial Times, 3 October 1843, p. 3; Stuart King kindly alerted me to this reference.

39 URL: http://www.thepeerage.com/p68193.htm. Accessed 5 June 2019.

40 Fragmentary evidence of their lives at Green Ponds can be gathered from family letters held in the State Library of Victoria and other the correspondence that can be found at: http://www.prestigephilately.com/auction104/cats/cats_vicwic.htm. Accessed 5 June 2019; Tony Harrison’s website: http://www.users.on.net/~ahvem/page3/page93/page122/page122.html. Accessed 5 June 2019; William & John Clark of Cluny, Bothwell Family Papers, URL: https://eprints.utas.edu.au/11125/1/rs_8_Clark_Papers_William_and_John_Weston_family.pdf. Accessed 5 June 2019.

41 Victorian Heritage Database, URL: http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/91/download-report. Accessed 5 June 2019. The account of Laurence Park found on this database differs considerably from that found in the Learmonth family entry in Australian Dictionary of Biography. I have relied on the latter as the more authoritative.

42 He wrote a letter from the house to William Forbes of Callendar proposing an excambion or exchange of land Falkirk Archives, URL: http://www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org/heritage/archives/finding-aids/docs/forbes/03_-_2nd_William_Forbes.pdf A727.1304. Accessed 5 June 2019.

43 P. L. Brown (ed), Clyde Company Papers, op. cit. (note 16), p. 379.

44 URL : https://scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/digital-volumes/ordnance-survey-name-books/stirlingshire-os-name-books-1858-61/stirlingshire-volume-21?display=transcription. Accessed 5 June 2019.

45 The house did come close to the Learmonths again towards the end of the century when in 1896 Walter Learmonth, son of Thomas Learmonth jnr, married Edith, daughter of A. L. Spens “of Lathallan, Polmont.” In 1916 Hugh, another son by Thomas’s second marriage, married Meta, daughter of H. A. Salvesen “of Lathallan, Polmont.” These details to be found in Edwin Brockholst Livingston, The Livingstons, op. cit. (note 10).

46 “Originally known as ‘Laurence (or Lawrence) Park’, but with both names appearing on a map dated 1922. The Thomas Hamilton attribution comes from a group of drawings exhibited at the Academy in 1828, the group included Cumstoun House with ribbed vaulting to canted window ceilings similar to Lathallan House. Sadly, Hamilton's architect's drawings are lost.” URL: https://www.buildingsatrisk.org.uk/details/894664. Accessed 6 November 2018.

47 “2-storey and attic, 5-bay Tudor country house Baronial stair tower; 2-storey and basement wing. Ashlar with droved and stugged margins. Deep base course, moulded string course and bracketed eaves cornice. Corbels, hoodmoulds with label stops, stone transoms and mullions, chamfered reveals and moulded arises”.

URL: https://www.buildingsatrisk.org.uk/details/894664. Accessed 6 November 2018.

48 For the spelling of Ercildoun see note 9.

49 URL: http://petergardner.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Egerton-Ring.pdf. Accessed 6 November 2018.

50 Michael Pearson and Jane Lennon, Pastoral Australia: Fortunes, Failures and Hard Yakka: a Historical Overview 1788-1967, CSIRO Publishing, 2010.

51 Australian Bureau of Statistics. An account of the Henty family’s migration to the colonies and role in the wool industry was the subject of my paper “Sir Joseph Banks, Thomas Henty and the colonisation of Port Phillip,” at the conference Joseph Banks: Science, Culture and Exploration,1743-1820, The Royal Society and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK, 14-16 September 2017.

52 Michael Pearson and Jane Lennon, Pastoral Australia, op. cit. (note 50).

53 For an entertaining account of Thomas Shaw, see Mary Turner Shaw, On Mt Emu Creek, Melbourne: Robertson and Mullens, 1969, p. 111 (for Shaw at Ercildoun).

54 Lyndsay Gardiner, “Shaw, Thomas (1800-1865),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1967. URL: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/shaw-thomas-2652. Accessed 2 November 2018.

55 “The Sale of Ercildoun,” The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 21 August 1873, p. 4 URL: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/18776661. Accessed 5 June 2019.

56 For the text of Walter Scott, Thomas the Rhymer, see URL: http://walterscott.eu/education/ballads/supernatural-ballads/thomas-the-rhymer/the-ballad-thomas-the-rhymer/. Accessed 5 June 2019.

57 Stanley Moore, “The Learmonths of Ercildoune,” The Argus, 5 May 1934, URL: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/10933904. Accessed 4 November 2018.

58 Thomas Learmonth, Description of Sheepwash, as used at Ercildoun, Victoria [1967], State Library of Victoria,URL: http://search.slv.vic.gov.au/MAIN:Everything:SLV_VOYAGER1639667. Accessed 5 June 2019.

59 For the Egerton mine, see: URL: http://petergardner.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Egerton-Ring.pdf. Accessed 5 June 2019.

60 D. W. A. Baker, “Mitchell, Sir Thomas Livingstone (1792-1855),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1967. URL: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mitchell-sir-thomas-livingstone-2463. Accessed 2 November 2018.

61 T. L. Mitchell, Three Expeditions in the Interior of Eastern Australia, London: T. & W. Boone, 1838.

62 For the history of Park Hall, see: http://www.towersretreat.org.au/author/admin/page/2/. Accessed 9 November 2018.

63 “Park Hall,” The illustrated Sydney news, 13 May 1854. URL: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/63614304. Accessed 3 November 2018.

64 D. W. A. Baker, “Mitchell, Sir Thomas Livingstone (1792-1855),” op. cit. (note 60).

65 Stanley Moore, “The Learmonths of Ercildoune,” op. cit. (note 57).

66 The Ercildoun stone tablet was published in The Argus, 1 September 1934 URL: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/10961751. Accessed 6 June 2019.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1:John T. Collins, Lawrence Park at Batesford, 1971.
Crédits Source: Melbourne (Australia), State Library of Victoria.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/5822/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 97k
Titre Figure 2:“Old house at Laurence Park,” Lathallan, formerly Laurence Park, Polmont, Scotland.
Crédits Source: Finlarg.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/5822/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 91k
Titre Figure 3:William Bardwell, Ercildoune. Residence of the late Sir Samuel Wilson now occupied by J. L. Currie Esq., 1868-1870.
Crédits Source: Melbourne (Victoria), State Library of Victoria.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/5822/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 78k
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Référence électronique

Harriet Edquist, « Thomas Learmonth and Sons: Family capitalism, Scottish identity and the architecture of Victorian pastoralism », ABE Journal [En ligne], 14-15 | 2019, mis en ligne le 28 juillet 2019, consulté le 21 septembre 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/abe/5822 ; DOI : 10.4000/abe.5822

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Auteur

Harriet Edquist

Professor of Architectural History, School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

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La revue ABE Journal est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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