The Curr Family in Far North Queensland 1862-1925

by Frederick Carlton Curr

Frederick Carlton Curr (1865-1953)

Edited by ELEANOR E. FREEMAN

Introduction to digital editionAcknowledgment of country never ceded by Ian Curr

CONTENTS

FOREWORD by Eleanor Freeman

PART ONE

Edward Micklethwaite Curr’s Memoranda

1.  Origins  

2.  Edward Curr

3.  Edward Micklethwaite Curr  

PART TWO

19th Century

4.  Marmaduke

5.  Merri Merriwah and Gilgunyah 

The Curr family with aboriginal traditional owners on Abingdon Downs in far north Queensland circa 1870. Curr family in North Queensland, Abingdon Downs, circa 1880. Note that “Abingdon Downs” station on the Einasleigh River in far north Queensland is aboriginal land. According to the Native Title Register the traditional owners of this land are the Ewamian People. ” Abingdon Downs” was named after the famous Benedictine Abbey founded in 675.

6.  Abingdon

7.  Reminiscences

8.  Family Stories

9.  Harsh Times

PART THREE

20th Century

10.  Family and Property   

11.  Fred’s Travels

12.  A Visit to Highfield  

Afterword   

__oOo__

Acknowledgement of country never ceded
by Ian Curr

In Chloe Hooper’s book The Tall Man the Doomadgee family describes the period of the 1860s and 70s in North Queensland as the Wild Time. I describe here Curr family involvement in Frontier Wars in the Gulf Country. Members of the Curr family moved to North Queensland in 1862. My Grandfather, Fred Curr b. 1865, grew up on Abingdon Downs station on the Einasleigh River near the gulf of Carpentaria. This property is aboriginal land. According to the Native Title Register, the traditional owners of this land are the Ewamian People. The Curr’s named their run “Abingdon Downs” after the famous Benedictine Abbey founded in 675.

‘Dispersal’ of aboriginal people. 
I have come across a number of accounts of ‘skirmishes’ with aboriginal people by various members of the Curr family in far north Queensland. Readers may bear in mind when reading these violent encounters that the Curr brothers, their uncles and father were practiced horsemen, keen bushmen and were heavily armed. The aboriginal people that they fought were (at best) armed with spears, nullas nullas, woomera and boomerangs.

Merri Merriwah Station
The first property that the Curr brothers. Marmaduke and Montague, bought was Merri Merriwah on the Burdekin River near Ravenswood in 1862.

According to my Aunt Alice, her father, Marmaduke, paid £6,000 for the property. This money came from the dowry of his bride, Mary Anne Kirwan, whom he married at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on the 21st of January, 1862.

Later in 1862, Marmaduke went up to Bowen in North Queensland and then on to the Burdekin River where he ‘took up country‘ and stocked it with 400 head of mixed cattle. His brother, Montague Curr, was in partnership with him at the time, and their brand was CB2. 

Robert Grey gave this account of an aboriginal attack on the Curr’s property Merri Merriwah circa 1864.

The Curr’s, who had a station thirty miles farther up the river, experienced a very formidable attack, which might have easily been disastrous. Montague Curr lived with his brother, Marmaduke, and his wife. The latter, who used to milk the cows, told me his brother was out one morning after some horses, but for some unaccountable reason on this particular occasion he himself was late in turning out, a most exceptional occurrence. The blacks were almost at the door when the servant girl rushed in from the detached kitchen exclaiming, ‘Blacks, Blacks.’

He had barely time to seize a firearm before the leading darkies were at the door, and spears came rattling in. He and Mrs. Curr opened upon them with effect. Mrs. Curr, however, was grazed on the wrist by a passing spear. The brother returning about this time and coming to their assistance with his firearms, the blacks retreated to the river. They were followed up and did not renew the experiment of attacking Curr’s station, one of the neatest and tidiest little places to be seen anywhere, not a thing out of place, and no bones or unsightly debris lying about, as there often are on a cattle station, and on a sheep station also sometimes.” – from Reminiscences of India and North Queensland by Robert Grey London 1913.

This incident was also described in Fred Curr’s book The Curr Family in Far North Queensland. According to Aunt Alice, Fred’s account was ‘highly romanticised and full of inaccuracies’. Fred could not have had any direct knowledge of these events because he was not yet born when they took place.

Our first adventure was early one morning in 1865.  My father had taken his black boy Paddy and his big Tranter loading revolver and started out to look for the horses.  Having no paddock at this time, the horses had strayed away some three miles up the Burdekin River. 

My father had been gone some little time, and my uncle Montague was just going to the yard to milk the cow.  When he went outside the house he spotted about thirty wild blacks, all painted and armed with spears, nulla nullas, and boomerangs.  My uncle ran into the house and snatched up a long heavy 40 bore Rigby muzzle-loading rifle, and helped my mother barricade the bedroom. 

My uncle opened the door a few times to show them the muzzle of the rifle, but the blacks took no notice.  They then ransacked the other rooms and also robbed the kitchen and store which were separate from the main house.  Finding they could not get in through the barricade into where my mother and uncle were, they decided to burn us out.  The house was covered with a thatch roof, so they put fire sticks into it.  As there was a heavy dew that morning the thatch did not burn too well.

While they were trying to get it to burn, the horses that my father had gone after came galloping home as horses will do on a cold morning.   The blacks, thinking it was Inspector Fitzgerald and his black troopers, lost no time in disappearing into the scrub and the river. A little while afterwards my father and Paddy arrived.  The blacks had taken all the powder with them, in fact everything they could lay their hands on.

It appears that some days before this event my father had given Paddy a half-pound red canister of powder. The boy had stuck this tin of powder into the thatch of the house, and the blacks had not seen it, so it was all we had.  However there was enough to load two old Brown Bess Carbines, the long Rigby rifle, and the double-barrel shot gun. 

My father’s Tranter revolver was already loaded, so he took Paddy, and leaving uncle Montague to look after my mother, he tracked the blacks to where they were camped, galloping into the camp and firing a few shots.  The charge was so sudden, and with the noise of the firearms, the blacks left in a great hurry leaving heaps of spears, boomerangs, nulla nullas and fishing nets. 

My father took a lot of these weapons home, and I remember seeing them hung about the house for many years afterwards.  My father told me that it took fourteen horse loads to bring all the stolen goods back to the station.  He also told me that he followed the blacks by leaves from two books, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Dombey and Son”. 

After this episode, the Curr family were extremely careful about keeping their firearms in good order and handy to reach, with plenty of ammunition ready in pouches.  My uncle Montague was wounded just above the eye by one of the spears.” – Curr Family in Far North Queensland 1862 – 1925 by Frederick Carlton Curr.

Montague Curr
The most serious encounter was where my grandfather’s uncle, Montague Curr (b. 1837), participated in the murder of five aboriginal people. I am indebted to my brother, John Curr, who researched the murders described below. I also have consulted Queensland transcontinental railway: field notes and reports by railway engineer and surveyor, Robert Watson, written in 1881; and, based on his testimony, I have come to similar conclusions as by brother.

These shocking events occurred on Montague Curr’s property “Kamilleroi” in the Gulf. The Gamilaraay people, also rendered Kamilaroi, originally came from NSW. They form one of the four largest indigenous nations in Australia. As a result of a split in the tribe, some migrated to North Queensland and this may be the reason Montague Curr’s property was called “Kamilleroi”.  

Robert Watson’s field notes
Tuesday, April 19, 1881
We came through some splendid country all the way to Kerr’s Station, Camilroy (sic), about twenty miles to-clay, fine undulating plains, lightly-timbered, and most luxuriously grassed.

Very few creeks or water courses; those that there are well defined; only one creek of considerable size, about five miles from camp. This we crossed at its Junction with the Liechhardt (sic); in fact, we crossed it in the river, or rather rounded its mouth. We saw a lot of cattle, all well to do, sleek and happy. We passed a lot of pretty lagoons, but they will soon be dry. The river, wherever we saw it, was very beautiful, and the country very fine. When we stopped for dinner as I was under the impression that we were close to the station (Camilroy).

Map of Curr Family properties 1865-1925. The family had interests in the following stations: Miranda Downs, Vena Park, Iffley, Rutland Plains, Delta, Maggieville, Kamilleroi, Midlothian and Abingdon Downs.

I afterwards found we had fully five miles to travel. We found Mr. Curr at home, and I stopped with him during the remainder of the afternoon.

Murder at ‘KamilleroiStation
Robert Watson then describes the conversation he had with Montague Curr about his participation in the murders of five aboriginal people.

Montague Curr (centre) is pictured here with his brothers Julius (left) and Edward M Curr in the 1860s

Referring to the unfortunate stockman recently murdered by the blacks, Mr. Curr told me that the stockman and a black boy were hunting for stray cattle. They came upon a black’s trail which they followed to their camp.

Then, they drove away the black men and took possession of the gins with whom they remained in camp. Presently the stockman fell asleep. One of the gins stole his revolver and gave the signal to the blacks who came around, put a spear through both his thighs pinning him to the earth and then beating out his brains with nullas.

Then they cleared out.

This is the boy’s version but he did not report the murder for four days. It seems the stockman had been thrashing him for some days and it is thought he may have had his “revenge”.

Mr Curr told me that he and others had pursued the blacks and shot five and that the police were coming to give them a further dressing as that was the only thing they understand.

It seems hard to steal a man’s gin and child and shoot him when he objects but I believe there is no help for it but a speedy ostensible annihilation. 

The conduct of many of the whites towards the blacks is simply disgraceful.

The name of Brodie’s Station is Lorraine. It is about sixty miles above Floraville, and on the Leichardt River. They were exceedingly hospitable, and we had all our meals with them. This is Camp 49.

‘Kamilleroi’ Station on the Leichardt River

Finally, Fred Curr had this to say about his uncle Montague:

The blacks appeared to be afraid of my uncle.  He was six feet one inch tall, and very strongly built.  He had a long beard down to his belt, of which he was very proud, and the day before the blacks attacked the station he had shaved his head clean, so he must have appeared very uncanny.  Undoubtedly this all helped to scare the blacks away until the horses came galloping home and saved our lives.” – Curr Family in Far North Queensland 1862 – 1925 by Frederick Carlton Curr.

Guilty as charged
These direct testimonies, while shocking, are typical of how settlers dealt with aboriginal people both in the Gulf and elsewhere in Australia. Despite the History Wars the facts are no longer in dispute. Previous generations of the Curr family were coy about their direct involvement in ‘aboriginal dispersal’ which is code for murder. An important aspect of truth & reconciliation is truth telling within our own families.

Discovery of Gold

The Curr family owned ‘Abingdon’ from the 1860s till 1913. If I recall correctly ‘Abingdon’ was sold for what they paid for it. My grandfather claimed that the period just before WWI was the nadir of the pioneering family pastoralists. Fred may have put the extensive Vestey family interests during this period on another level. The early pastoralists benefited from cheap aboriginal labour and later, stolen wages.

My grandfather Fred thought of himself as a pioneer. He claimed this was no longer possible in Australia after 1913. He later took himself and my father and uncles off to British East Africa. I still regard him as being a wealthy man. A little of that wealth came to my mother after my father, Joe Curr, died at the age of 50. We were still quite young. Mum struggled for some years to pay off Dad’s debts and the mortgage on our house. At least we had a roof over our heads and Mum had a job (several actually).

All that glitters
I first read about Montague and Marmaduke’s role in the cover-up of gold discovery in the Charters Towers Museum in 1980.

However there are conflicting accounts. D.C. Roderick states in his memoir:

“… Montague Curr is accredited with the first find of gold in the Ravenswood area; while mustering in the Elphinstone Creek area he found a ‘show’ of gold in his pannikin when drinking at the Creek…”

The Curr brothers (were) interested in land and cattle and subsequently made their way to Townsville to purchase large areas of land adjacent to the new town subsequently to become Aitkenvale.

Mr Roderick does describe how Marmaduke Curr took prospectors to one of the sites. This conflicts with family oral history passed down which claims that he and his brothers covered up this discovery because they wished to pursue their pastoral interests unhindered by a gold rush similar to that in Victoria.

My great Aunt Alice gives her own (less romantic) version of some aspects of Fred’s account. Historians may note these Curr men were bushmen (see photo) – they were largely self-taught – so their stories are anecdotal and sometimes difficult to reconcile. Aunt Alice took care in a letter to point this out about Fred’s memoir. My cousin Eleanor included Aunt Alice’s remarks in Fred’s book.

Curr family at Abingdon on the Einasleigh River circa 1870. Aunt Alice is in the centre holding the bridle of the horse with three kids on its back.

As the reader may note from the photo the ‘Curr women’ were used to greater refinement. They were keen to leave the bush and seek refuge in the coastal towns. Fred’s mother was killed, thrown from a buggy in the bush when he was young. By the way I knew Aunt Alice when she was a great age. She was an amazing woman (loupe in photo) who gave us a living human connection to another time and place, so long ago.

Neither of my great uncles benefited directly from the discovery of gold at Ravenswood, to my knowledge … they went into cattle, horses and land. My great Aunt Alice says that Marmaduke had nothing when he married Mary Anne Kirwin in 1862, and it was her patrimony that enabled Marmaduke and Montague to establish “Merri Merriwah.”

Fred Curr wrote that the Curr boys (were) without property as another impractical son had convinced their mother Elizabeth to sell their stations. This caused their financial ruin.  Fred wrote: “At this time, gold was discovered in Victoria, and we know that Marmaduke, after completing his time with the Cunninghams, went to the diggings at Ballarat.  Perhaps this financed his trip to South Africa where he planned to buy a farm.

Bushman’s ‘code of honour
My brother’s investigation into the murders of the five aboriginal people relies on an account by a surveyor by the name of Robert Watson. There was reference to Robert Watson’s story in Don Watson’s book “The Bush”.

My brother, John Curr wrote: “The latter is largely a history of the influence of people, mainly Europeans on the Australian environment. In parts it drifts towards impression and poetic description. In other words, it does not present as a formal history with a strict historical method.”

My brother wanted to verify from original sources the allegation about our family member and he also wanted to ascertain whether it was Fred’s father Marmaduke or Fred’s uncle Montague against whom the allegation was made. My brother ordered up from archives the original 1881 diary of Robert Watson (no relation of Don Watson so far as we can tell).

Robert was a “Surveyor” sent to explore what the local resources and geography were for the purposes of an inland railway line or transcontinental railway line. What my brother found was that it was certain that it was Montague who was the person implicated in the murders of five aboriginal persons who happened to be in the vicinity of an incident of Kamileroi or Kamilorre station which seems to have been North of present day Mt Isa .

There is a reference to the survey party riding 5 miles from Mr Curr’s home to the junction of the Leichardt River and Gunpowder Creek which is at 19°14’00.0″S 139°58’44.3″E or -19.233334, 139.978975 on Google maps.

My brother relied upon Fred’s publication in the Townsville Daily Bulletin in 1931 which places the brothers in different parts of North Queensland. Fred’s father Marmaduke was at ‘Abingdon Downs’* in the vicinity of Georgetown whereas Montague was much further West.

The only remaining small reservation he had about the identity of the murderer was that Robert Watson’s diary gives the account of the murders of aboriginal people slightly out of chronological order.

In the diary entry made on the day after he left Mr Curr and in the entry when he was at a station owned by a Mr Brodie. My brother had hoped that the entry may have been a mistake and that references to Mr Curr were intended to be references to Mr Brodie. However this is unlikely because there are two separate references to Mr Curr.

The lack of contemporaneity is explained by the fact that Robert Watson may not have wanted to make the entry implicating Mr Curr in murder whilst he was in his company and on his property. It was common at that time to conceal or to be less than specific about the murder of aborigines as people knew that it was murder, hence the common reference to ”dispersal“ of aborigines which we all know meant murder. For nearly a century these despicable acts fell under the Bushman’s code of honour.

No doubt my grandfather, Fred Curr, adhered to this code so it is ironic that it was his memoir that helped bring the murders to light. Fred Curr was a member of the learned Royal Geographical Society, devoted to colonial exploration lands claimed by the British monarch.

I can only wonder what the Royal Society would say to the discovery of murders covered up under a ‘code of honour’ over land never ceded. For my part I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this country and the war of genocide waged against them.

Ian Curr
13 Nov 2020

Always was, always will be.

Thanks must go to my brother, John Curr, who did such good detective work to find out that one of our relatives, Montague Curr, in the company of others, was responsible for the murders at Kamilleroi Station. These murders should be included in the Colonial Frontiers Massacre map 1788-1930

References

Queensland transcontinental railway: field notes and reports, with map showing positions of various camps – Watson, Robert, active 1882-1883 nla.obj-116096067

Reminiscences of India and North Queensland, 1857-1912 by Robert Grey https://www.textqueensland.com.au/item/book/a424ad40d00f39499e21ce92fa7dd5c7


FOREWORD by Eleanor Freeman

“Uncle Fred”, my great uncle, began his account of the Curr family in 1916 and made several additions until 1925.

As far as I know he made two copies, one of which he gave to his niece, Mary Douglas, my aunt, who allowed me to make a copy before returning it to Fred’s grandson John Curr.

This account is basically as Uncle Fred wrote it. I have changed it only to correct certain dates and occasions where he contradicted himself, and I have divided it into chapters and sections. The dates of birth, death and marriage have been verified at the state libraries of Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Aunt Alice, our beloved great aunt, and Fred’s sister, who I knew well, spoke constantly about her parents and “Abingdon”, and often said that Fred’s account was romanticised and full of inaccuracies. He had every right to reminisce and romanticise his experiences. He was, however, incorrect about the attack on “Merri Merriwah” when he said that he was a baby at the time. Both Aunt Alice and his Aunt Florence, Sister Elizabeth, have verified that the attack occurred before he was born. (Appendix G).

I first met Uncle Fred in 1945 when my mother and I travelled to Brisbane from “Buckie”, Moree, where we had spent the war years.

I had been born after my father had left for the war, and we were en route to Sydney where I was about to meet him for the first time following his return from Changi. Uncle Fred offered me his large hand and took me into the air raid shelter in his garden at “Abingdon”, Corinda, then proudly showed me his collection of firearms – his pride and joy.

He valued that collection highly.

That day in 1945 was one of sad recollections. Uncle Fred’s third son, Frank, a Pilot Officer, had disappeared without trace during a flight from Townsville to Thursday Island on the 24th September 1944. Frank had had an outstanding career in the Air Force. He had been awarded the DFM and Bar for his bravery during flights over Germany and Italy, and had recently been awarded the Pathfinder’s Badge in 1944. In addition to the Air Force, Uncle Fred had organised special private searches for him, all to no avail, and he was heartbroken. My Uncle Julius, Charlie’s only son, had been killed by a land mine while walking back to camp after the Battle of El Alamein in 1942, and the following year my grandmother, Mary Theresa Curr, died at Moree.  It was a time of great re-adjustment for everyone.

I saw Uncle Fred on subsequent trips to Brisbane, and have fond memories of the tenderness of this shy old bushman towards his late brother’s grandchild.  He died in 1953, on my birthday, 4th February, just thirty-seven days short of his 88th birthday.

There has been some confusion among family members thinking that Marmaduke was the son of Edward Micklethwaite Curr. Uncle Fred inferred this and Aunt Alice later corrected him.  (Appendix H).  Marmaduke was, of course, the younger brother of Edward Micklethwaite. Edward Micklethwaite, the first child of Edward and Elizabeth {Micklethwaite} Curr, was born in 1820 then left Tasmania in 1829 with his brothers William and Richard to be educated in England.  In 1833 they were joined by their brothers Charles and Walter and their sisters Agnes and Augusta, so when Marmaduke was born in 1835 his seven oldest siblings were overseas.  Edward, William and Richard first met their four-year-old brother when they returned to “Highfield” in 1839.  Edward Micklethwaite then spent ten years, 1840 to 1850, managing his father’s stations during which time Marmaduke and his younger brothers Montague and Julius were presumably educated in Melbourne

(Port Phillip).  Marmaduke’s sister Florence, in her letter to Uncle Fred, illustrates how little she knew her brother.  (Appendix G). There appears to be no record of the younger boys being sent to England.  Following the death of their father Edward in 1850, Edward Micklethwaite, along with his brothers Charles and Walter, returned to Europe (William had already died), and the fifteen-year-old Marmaduke went to live with his sister and brother-in-law, Agnes and Hastings Cunningham at “Mt. Emu”, to learn station management.  It was about this time, between 1851 and 1854, while his brothers were away, that Richard, the unpractical third son, encouraged his mother Elizabeth to sell all the stations that Edward had bequeathed to his sons.  This left the Curr boys without property and caused their financial ruin.  Also at this time, gold was discovered in Victoria, and we know that Marmaduke, after completing his time with the Cunninghams, went to the diggings at Ballarat.  Perhaps this financed his trip to South Africa where he planned to buy a farm.  Aunt Alice tells us that Marmaduke had nothing when he married Mary Anne in 1862, and it was her patrimony that enabled Marmaduke and Montague to establish “Merri Merriwah.” (Appendix H). The early lives of the older children of Edward Curr seem to have been more glamourous than those of the younger ones.

Certainly after their father’s death, the Curr brothers followed diverse paths. Charles died in Ireland in 1858 leaving one son who soon died and a daughter. Richard travelled to France where he married, then returned to live in Melbourne.  He had no children. We know that Walter also travelled to Europe in 1851 then to the East, and served as a volunteer in the Indian Mutiny. Later he joined his brothers Julius and Montague growing cotton in Fiji. It was while visiting “Abingdon” in 1880 that he died of Gulf Fever. We know nothing of Arthur who also died young and unmarried. Julius and Montague left Fiji to join Marmaduke and his family, then retired to Melbourne where they died.

In spite of age differences and vast geographical barriers, the children of Edward and Elizabeth remained in contact and took a great interest in each other. The letters and anecdotes bear witness to this. Marmaduke’s wife Mary Anne spent the first year of her marriage with her mother-in-law in Melbourne while Marmaduke and Montague were establishing the station at “Merri Merriwah”. During that time she established close bonds with the family, hence the concern expressed by various members when they heard about the attack on “Merri Merriwah”. Edward Micklethwaite Curr’s account of the family, written in 1877, was dictated to his daughter Mabel and copies were made by hand and dispersed to all the family.  Aunt Alice told me she made her beautifully handwritten copy when, aged fifteen, her mother took her to Melbourne to meet her cousins.  This copy became the first part of Uncle Fred’s book.  It is perhaps extraordinary, that, of Edward Curr’s nine sons, (excluding Charles), only Edward Micklethwaite and Marmaduke had families.

Aunt Alice was disappointed that Uncle Fred made so little mention of their mother.  It was Mary Anne’s £6,000 inheritance that established Marmaduke on the land after their marriage in 1862, and interestingly the probate evaluation of “Abingdon” after his death in 1898 was for the same amount.

Marmaduke and Mary Anne’s children did not enjoy the comfortable childhood and educational opportunities of their parents.  Walter and the girls were sent to school in Brisbane, but Fred and Charles completed their education at “Abingdon” with tutors while helping their father run the station.  They worked hard.  They were all indomitable pioneers, and seemed to see their lives as an adventure in the wilderness.  The long months of isolation, particularly during the wet season, encouraged them to read avidly and direct their minds towards the outside world.  As soon as they could, they travelled overseas to visit the places they had so often read about.  The loneliness of their situation created strong ties which have continued down the generations.  We, the grandchildren of Fred, Charles and Walter were lucky to have known Aunt Alice for a large part of our early lives, and so we heard her stories first hand.  We loved her dearly.

Fred Curr at Abingdon lagoon

Uncle Fred’s travels lived up to all his expectations, and “the dreams of a lifetime were realised.”  This 46-year-old man who had spent all his life in the Australian bush now marvelled equally at the Egyptian antiquities and the Renaissance art and sculpture of Italy, the latter he described as “some wonderful work done with a chisel.”  By 1925 he had disposed of all his landholdings, but continued to make many trips back to the Gulf. He took a great interest in the development of the beef industry, and before his death was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society for his work in exploring and opening up the Gulf Country.

I am grateful to my aunt, Mary Douglas, for allowing me to copy Uncle Fred’s story, and to both Bettina and Robert Curr for their anecdotes and assistance.  Also to Jill Ryan, Charlie’s great grand-daughter, for her assistance in preparing my manuscript for printing.

Eleanor E. Freeman. Sydney, October 1989

Part I

EDWARD MICKLETHWAITE CURR’S MEMORANDA

1 . Origins

Of my great grandfather on my father’s side I know little. He lived in Northumberland, in which county he was viewer of coal mines. He brought up his son, John Curr, as a civil engineer. My grandfather, who was a well-educated man, became steward to the Duke of Norfolk when he was about twenty-one years of age. He took up his residence at Sheffield and at Belle-View House in the neighbourhood of that town.  He lived for many years, and died in 1823. He was a man of considerable ability, self-reliant, original, and hard-headed. At least such is my impression from what I have heard my relatives say concerning him. As I have said, he managed the estate and coal mines of the Duke of Norfolk from his twenty-first year until his death.  At that time, coal was brought from the mouth of the pit for a certain distance in vehicles which ran on wooden rails, and it occurred to my grandfather that a great saving would result from the substitution of iron rails which up to that time had been unknown.

Pondering on this subject, he wrote to his father telling him that it was his determination to substitute the wooden tramway with iron rails. 

To this the old Northumbrian replied that what his son contemplated was an innovation which in no wise met with his approval, ending his short letter with the words “if you put down iron rails, Jack, I curse you, and here is my hand on it”.  On the opposite side of the page my great grandfather laid his stalwart hand, around the edges of which he drew his pen.  His father’s anger was due to the fact that he owned forests and supplied timber to the mines.

In view of this denunciation my grandfather abstained from taking further steps in respect of his iron rails until sometime afterwards, when, mentioning this matter to a priest who was dining with him, he learnt that, notwithstanding what his father might think, it was his duty to act as seemed to him best for the interests of the Duke of Norfolk. He then laid down the rails which created such a feeling amongst the colliery population that they threatened to take his life, so he hid himself in a wood for three days until the ferment had subsided.  I have seen my grandfather referred to in the life of one of the Stevensons and elsewhere.

I am very glad to say that my grandfather was a very exemplary and sterling Catholic. As an instance of his frame of mind in connection with religion, I may relate that, when he was a young man and somewhat a beau, it was the fashion to wear a queue.  This appendage required a hairdresser to arrange it before the wearer could appear in public. 

My grandfather was of course a punctual attendant at Mass on Sundays.

It is related that on one occasion the hairdresser arrived so late as to render his compliance with the Sunday obligation impossible.

He reached the church long after the service had begun, and, on his return home said to his attendant “I will never be late for Mass again on account of my queue, so take the scissors and cut it off”.  His attendant did as he was required.  Few now-a-days would estimate correctly the sacrifice of self which this act implied.  It almost amounted to what a Hindu would call “loss of caste”.

Shortly before he died he entrusted a certain Pere Duchesne with thirty thousand pounds to invest for him in the French Funds. The poor priest, with little knowledge of business, took upon himself the responsibility of investing the whole sum in some mercantile bubble which he thought would be more profitable to my grandfather than the funds.  The bubble, however, presently burst, and absolutely nothing was saved from the wreck.  The poor priest returned to England to lay the sad news before my grandfather who, however, had just died.  He went to the executors, and after stating what had occurred said “gentlemen, except the clothes in which I am dressed I have nothing to offer by way of restitution for the loss which I have occasioned except this silk pocket handkerchief.”

Years afterwards when I was a young man, this handkerchief was in the possession of my mother who said to me “Eddie, my boy, this handkerchief is all that your grandfather’s family got for thirty thousand pounds – God willed it should be so.”

My grandfather married a Miss Wilson, I believe of the family of the “Fountain Wilsons.” I knew her very well in the summer of 1831 and the winter of 1833.  She was an old lady, benevolent, strict, and starch.  She kept a good house in Sheffield.  When I knew her she was blind in one eye, and so deaf that she could only hear with a trumpet.  When there with the Miss Ellisons, (Mr. Ellison, I believe, succeeded my grandfather as steward to the Duke of Norfolk in 1831), we used to amuse ourselves with ringing all the bells in the house.  The old lady, fancying she heard  a noise, was unable to make out what it was.  She was a very religious woman, and towards the end of her life removed from Sheffield to York to be near her daughter Harriet who was a nun at York Bar Convent.  The poor old lady was always very kind to me, took care not to flatter my vanity, and died in about her 98th year.

My grandfather was buried in Sheffield, and when a boy I often

saw on the wall of the Sheffield church a marble tablet bearing a commemorative inscription of him.  This church was pulled down sometime about the year 1845.

My grandparents had three sons and, I think, four daughters. 

His eldest son was called John.  He lived at Norwich where he was

an importer of tobacco, enjoyed a considerable income, and kept his carriage and hunters.  Unlike the rest of the family he was a little man, but a good horseman.  He painted well, and had studied engineering in which he was well read.  In 1833, my father being then in England, my uncle John came to Sheffield where my father had taken a house for a few months, and passed some time with us.  My father having just come from Van Diemen’s Land, conversation naturally turned a good deal on colonial ways and doings, the result of which was that my uncle determined to give up his business, and, in the sunny climes of the south, become a grower of the weed of which he had hitherto been an importer.  From this step my father endeavoured to dissuade him. 

Uncle John, however, who had married beneath him, leaving the younger members of his family in England to be educated, sailed with his wife and elder children for Van Diemen’s Land.  Eventually he left for New South Wales and tried unsuccessfully to grow tobacco on a farm near Wollongong .  He eventually went to Sydney and again became a tobacco merchant.  I think it was in 1849, after having elaborated a scheme by which steamers could do their voyages with only half the coal then used, that he went to England for the purpose of getting his views brought into use by shipowners.  In this he failed.  I saw him in Melbourne the day after my father’s death in 1850.  He told me that when in England he accidentally saw an advertisement signed by a person by the name of Curr.  This individual, it appears, was a rich man resident in Aberdeen.  He was entirely without family or indeed relatives of any sort to whom to bequeath his wealth, and it was in hopes of finding an heir that he had penned his advertisement.  After an exchange of letters, my uncle accepted his invitation to visit him, but on talking matters over, my uncle, who was well up on family history, and the old gentleman were unable to establish any relationship. I may here notice that about 1864 a young gentleman named Curr called on me in Melbourne.  He was from Scotland, and I think the name of his native town was Abroath.  Uncle John died at his farm near Wollongong I believe about 1857.  Of his children, I know little.  His two eldest sons, John and Charles were with me at Stonyhurst College Lancashire.  John edited a newspaper at Wollongong, published a book or pamphlet called ‘The Learned Donkies” which I have not seen, went home to England to see about some property in about the year 1870, and while there died suddenly of heart disease.

Charles was a writer on the Press.  In 1852 or thereabouts he was sent home from Melbourne by the proprietors of the Argus newspaper with a salary of £800 a year as a special reporter.  In 1850 he had been engaged to be married, but the lady jilted him and he took to the bottle. It was about 1858 that, being engaged on a newspaper, he went to bed one night, drunk as was often the case, and was found in the morning dead in his bed.  He appeared to have passed away in a state of unconsciousness and without a struggle.  I paid the editor of the newspaper a portion of his burial expenses.  His brother Laurence Curr was originally educated for a priest.  He left college, however, and came to Tasmania.  I met him in Sydney in 1858.  He was at the office of the Protestant Bishop, and I have heard he is since dead.  He had, I believe, a brother called Henry, who I have heard is a priest.  As far as I know, my uncle John had only three daughters. Mary Anne, whom I knew in London, a charming girl, took the veil in Belguim.  Therese, who gave up her religion, married a Mr. Gaunt in Tasmania.  The third sister’s name I do not know.  I have heard that she is a protestant and married to a squatter in Queensland. 

My brother Montague has met her.

My grandfather’s second son Joseph was ten years older than my father and embraced the priesthood.  He was well off, an excellent man, published a book connected with the sacraments and the duties of catholics entitled “Familiar Instructions in the Faith and Morality of the Catholic Church adapted to the use of both children and adults”. 

This work reached at least three editions.  He was a tall man, handsome, stern looking and intellectual.  He owned a considerable collection of paintings, was chaplain to Bishop Penswick, and used often to see us at Stonyhurst.  He was a very exemplary man, always gave us good advice and money to spend.  If I remember right, he died somewhere about 1848 of a disease caught while attending the sick.   

Of my father’s sisters I know little, having never seen more than two of them.  The eldest, Elizabeth, married a Mr. Furniss, who, after the death of my grandfather, resided at Belle-View. She was thrown out of her carriage and killed, leaving behind her five children. Her eldest child, Albert Furniss, who died in 1874, emigrated to Canada where he married a French Canadian called Priscilla Arnoldi.  He did well and lived in great state. Her second son, the Reverend John Furniss, published largely on subjects connected with religion.  Another son, Bernard, was brought up as a doctor and died when about twenty three years of age.  Helen married Henry Smith, has no children, and resides near Durham.  Julia became Mrs King and died leaving one son who was an officer in the Lancers and died in London.  My second aunt, Harriet, meeting I believe with a disappointment in love, took the veil and lived  in the convent at York where she became superioress for about fourty five years.  She took a cold bath every morning.  She bore the reputation of being a very holy and clever woman. The third daughter Mary Anne married a Monsieur Beauvoisin, lived in Manchester, and had two children Henry and Mary Anne.   I believe another of my father’s sisters, called Theresa, also took the veil and died early.  I know nothing more which need be mentioned concerning my father’s family.

2 . Edward Curr

My grandfather’s third son, my father, was named Edward Curr.  He was born on the 1st July 1798 at Belle-View House near Sheffield.  When about five years of age, he was sent to school at Sedgely Park where the master used to ill treat him rather more than he did the other boys.  When annoyed, he was accustomed to say as he flourished his cane “Curr, you hound, I’ll cut your liver out”.  Having taken the first steps on the flowery path of learning at Sedgely, my father was transferred to Ampleforth College and subsequently to Ushaw College near Durham.  He was well up in the classics and a good mathematician.  I think he finished his education when between sixteen and seventeen years of age.   

Archbishop Polding and Cardinal Wiseman were at Ushaw College with him. After leaving college he was placed in a merchant’s office at Liverpool where he remained for two years.  My grandfather then gave him his choice of any business or profession which he might elect to follow.  He, however, had got an idea that the colonies presented more favourable openings for young men than the overcrowded societies of the old country, and in accordance with this view, he sailed for Pernambuco in South America, taking with him a few books in Portuguese.  He passed several months in Brazil, acquired the habit of speaking Portuguese, made some long trips inland, and saw a good deal of the country.  As, however, the state and customs of the country were not to his liking, he returned home determined to look further before he made his choice.  Whilst in Brazil he met Charles Waterton, the celebrated naturalist.  He returned to England in 1818 or 1819 and married my mother, Miss Elizabeth Micklethwaite, from whom he received a considerable sum of money.  The marriage ceremony was performed at Belle-View House on the 30th June 1819 by the Reverend Richard Rimmer, a catholic priest, and was repeated the day after in the Protestant  church in Sheffield by the Reverend Matthew Preston.  This was necessary as, at that time, a marriage by a catholic priest in England had no force in law.

Elizabeth Mickelthwaite wife of Edward Curr

My mother’s family have resided at Ardsley Hall near Barnsley, Yorkshire, I am told, for many generations.  My maternal grandfather, Benjamin Micklethwaite, was born at the paternal residence, but in what year I am not aware.  He was educated in Germany, and on his return from that country made his appearance at Ardsley in the disguise of a recruiting sergeant, in which, however, he was found out by his mother.

I have heard many stories connected with him from which it appears that he was a dashing horseman, a good shot, a practical joker, and a rather hard drinking squire.  On the 16th May 1795 he married Miss Sarah Lister, a native of Laughton, by whom he had one child, my mother Elizabeth, who was born on the 21st May 1798.  She was a posthumous child, for my grandfather died at Grenoside near Sheffield on the 19th January 1798.  This daughter, Elizabeth, was of course my mother.  She was noted in youth for a dignified and kindly manner and great personal beauty.  My maternal grandmother, after having remained a widow until 1806, married Francis Mayor by whom she had two daughters, Hannah (Mrs Bramhill), and Mary (Mrs Colley).  Mrs Colley had a son called Frank who I believe is still alive at Sheffield, about fourty three years of age, and wealthy.  Concerning the Bramhills, I noticed in a Melbourne newspaper of November  1876 that one of them failed at Sheffield for sixty thousand pounds.

*

After my father’s marriage he purchased merchandise in connection with a partner whose name was John Raine.  A notice of their dissolution of partnership on 4th September 1820 appeared in more than one number of the Hobart Town Gazette.  In October 1819, the two left England and reached Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land, on the ship “Claudine”, in February 1820.  There my father, with great trouble, disposed of his merchandise and his partner who in some manner had misconducted himself.   

I, the writer, was my father’s eldest child, and was born at Hobart Town on the 25th December 1820.  My brother, William Talbot Curr, was also born at Hobart Town on the 7th March 1822.  My father was made a member of the Legislative Council by Colonel Sorell, the Governor of Van Diemen’s Land.  According to the regulation then in force, my father was entitled to a government grant of an acre of land for every one pound sterling, or its value in merchandise brought by him into the country, so he might have selected and obtained grants for two or three thousand acres of land.  However he had not found Van Diemen’s Land to his liking, and had decided on returning to England, and contented himself with exercising his right to the amount of one thousand acres.  Having sold his merchandise he also sold his land which was, I believe, on what is called the Cross Marsh, at twelve shillings an acre.  Then with his wife and family he embarked on board the brig “Deveron” and sailed for England on the 6th of June 1823. 

On the 22nd of that month my brother Richard was born off the coast of New Zealand.  I have heard he was a delicate little fellow, and was wrapped in cotton.  He was called “Shungy” after a well known New Zealand Chief at that time.

On the voyage home which lasted over six months, my father wrote a little work entitled “An Account of the Colony of Van Diemen’s Land” which was printed in London in 1824.  About this time a company had been formed in London with a view to colonisation in Van Diemen’s Land.  Amongst its members were many rich and influential people and members of both houses of parliament.  Its capital was one million sterling, and the Imperial Legislature had made it a grant of about 350,000 acres.  This company took offices at number 55 Old Bond Street London, and invited Colonel Sorell, recent Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, to attend a meeting of its Board of Directors for the purpose of obtaining from him information concerning the objects which the company had been established to effect.  The Colonel, who appears not to have had the faintest idea of anything connected with country pursuits, answered their questions as well as he could and informed them that there was a gentleman in London well qualified to give them the information they needed.  This was my father, who was introduced to them by ex-governor Sorell.  The Board of Directors offered my father the office of Secretary at eight hundred pounds a year which he accepted temporarily.  Shortly afterwards he was induced to take the management of their affairs in Van Diemen’s Land under the title of “Agent of the Van Diemen’s Land Company”.  This undertaking was considered at that time to be the most important of anything of the sort south of the Equator.

Late in 1826 my father proceeded with his family to Van Diemen’s Land in the ship “Cape Packet”, touching at Madeira and Rio de Janeiro en route. It was a pleasant circumstance connected with the terrible voyages of those days that we always touched at some ports on our way.  None of my recollections of life are half so enchanting as those which refer to foreign countries in which I landed in my early childhood.  Shortly after his arrival in Van Diemen’s Land, full explorations having been made, my father took up Circular Head, Woolnorth, Emu Bay, Surrey and Hampshire Hills as well as other holdings for the Company.

In the middle of 1829 I and my brothers William and Richard were sent home to Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, for our education.

In 1833 my father again visited England on leave of absence. 

The Directors of the Company being so well pleased with his management that they presented him with eight hundred pounds to pay for the trip.  Before leaving England on this occasion he left at Stonyhurst  with his three sons already there my brothers Charles and Walter.  He also placed at school at Preston, Lancashire, my sisters Agnes and Augusta.  He now had five sons and two daughters at school in England.  He reached Van Diemen’s Land again in 1835 after an absence of eighteen or twenty months.

Walter Curr

From the beginning my father was a large shareholder in the Company.  Though much attached to Circular Head, which had its singular bluff, beautiful bays, pleasant beaches, unsurpassed climate, and those green fields which had been as it were his own creation and had grown into as lovely a place perhaps as any in the world, he gave up his position there in 1841.  He betook himself to Port Phillip which district offered to his young and numerous family advantages incomparably greater than any presented by Van Diemen’s Land.  He parted with the Company, whose land he had selected, and whose affairs he had managed for so many years, on the best terms.

That a man frequently fails to give effect to his plans was remarkably instanced in the case of my father, who, from the day of his arrival in Port Phillip, seemed almost to forget that he had any family, as he busied himself heart and soul in politics, almost to the exclusion of every other consideration.  At that time, what is now the Colony of Victoria (then known as Port Phillip), was governed by New South Wales of which it formed a portion, and the revenue raised in Port Phillip was expended in New South Wales.  To bring this evil to an end and obtain a separate government from the mother country was of course the question of questions for Port Phillip. To obtain this object my father constantly laboured for seven years; in fact until it was known that separation had been finally determined on by the Imperial Government.

The money which he expended keeping house in town, with the object of procuring separation, which he considered his particular mission, had it been expended in the purchase of property of any kind, would have been worth to his family ten years after his death a quarter of a million in money.  This business completed, he let his town house and went to live on his station.  After residing there for about twelve months, he let his station with a view to returning to politics.  Shortly after, he died in Melbourne on the 16th November 1850 in his fifty second year, on the very day the news of separation reached Port Phillip.  My father was followed to the grave by the head of the government in Victoria and the principal inhabitants of Melbourne.  The newspapers, in recording the fact, spoke of him by the title which he had long borne, “The Father of Separation”.

As regards personal appearance, my father was a big man, measuring six feet and an inch in height, and weighing seventeen stone at forty years of age.  He had a fine head, large and square, a massive jaw and abstracted looking grey eye.  In his ideas he was original, firm in his resolves, and with an understanding I should think of as first class. 

I never saw him in company or conversation, even on the most trifling occasions, when anything but the first place was given up to him.  Habitually, and unknown to himself, he imposed his will on others, and I have always thought that people treasured up a resentment against what I may call a state of momentary vasselage to which they found themselves reduced in his presence.  It would, I think, be difficult to find anyone more respected by those who knew him, or more respectable than my father.  He was a man of marked ability, extended sympathies, unimpeachable character, distinguished presence, the head of a patriotic movement then afoot in the colony, and of what were then large pecuniary resources.  One of the minor matters in which he shone was as host when seated at the head of his own dinner table.  In this he was ably seconded by my mother.

Both my parents were singularly free from affectation of any sort.

 In summing up, I may add that my father was decidedly unpopular with the gentry, a fact which I can only account for on the supposition that an imperial manner, which was as natural to him as his skin, was not relished, and though five and twenty years have passed since his death, it has never been forgiven.  He left his family well off.  To his sons he bequeathed his stations.  They were let at the time of his death to my brother Richard and a Mr Hodson.  At that time occurred the discovery of gold.  My brothers Charles, Walter and myself being in the old countries, my brother Richard and my mother sold the stations, which were yielding two thousand a year, for eleven thousand.  This ruined my father’s sons.  For my father’s freehold properties which were left to his daughters, thirty thousand pounds were refused at one time for St.Heliers, and twenty two for a house in Collins Street nearly opposite the Bank of Australasia.

My father’s nine sons were myself, William Talbot, Richard Taylor, Charles, Walter, Arthur, Marmaduke, Julius, and Montague.  His six daughters were Agnes (Mrs Hastings Cunningham), Augusta (Mrs Henry Field Gurner), Juliana, Elizabeth (Mrs Daniel Pennefather), Florence (a Sister of Mercy), and Geraldine (Mrs Charles Warburton Carr).  Of these, William, Charles, Arthur and Juliana are dead.  Charles, most lately deceased, died in Ireland in December 1858.  He was the only one married of those who are dead.  He left behind him a son since dead and a daughter Florence.  His widow later married a Dr. Wood with whom she and Florence reside at present near Pontefract in Yorkshire.

3. Edward Micklethwaite Curr

As I have already said, I was born in my father’s house at Hobart Town on Christmas Day 1820.  In 1823 I went home with my parents, returning with them to Van Diemen’s Land in 1826.  In 1829 I was sent to England with my brothers William and Richard to be educated at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire. We made the voyage in charge of my father’s butler, poor old Jimmy Scully.  Scully had been a marine in His Majesty’s Navy, was present and wounded in several of Nelson’s battles, and had also been a convict, yet long knowledge of his character enabled my father to confide in him as an excellent servant and a man of integrity.  We went round Cape Horn in the ship “Lady Rowena” which had the bulwarks carried away in a storm.  Our cargo, which was

wool, caught fire which the crew, however, succeded in extinguishing.  On the voyage we were also chased by a pirate.  She was a small vessel with many hands, and the wind being very light, she succeeded between daylight and four o’clock in getting within a mile of us.  Our four cannons were loaded and arms distributed to the crew, for it was well known that death awaited us on capture.  At four o’clock a strong wind fortunately sprung up so that we escaped, and a few days afterwards entered the harbour of Rio de Janeiro where we remained a fortnight to refit.  During this interval I remember a British Cruiser captured and brought into Rio the vessel which we had so narrowly escaped.

We arrived in England after a voyage of six months and twelve days, and were sent to Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, I think in the month of October 1829.  Whilst at College I was always backward, employing my time, as soon as I had learnt to write, in writing reviews of works and also novels, poems, sermons and so forth.  In August 1837 William, Richard and I were removed from Stonyhurst to St. Edmonds College at Douai in the north of France.  We stayed there about nine months, being then boarded out at a village in the neighbourhood called Quincy, the object being the acquisition of the French language.  Whilst in France we became excellent swordsmen.  In November 1838 we returned to England, and in January 1839 sailed in the “William Bryan” for Circular Head where we arrived in the month of May.  In August  1839 I paid my first visit to Port Phillip. Shortly after, I passed some months with Dr. Milligan, the Company’s Superintendent, at the Surrey Hills.  I left the Hills to manage a small establishment belonging to the Company at Emu Bay, at which place I passed five months.  In December  1840 my father bought a small station in Port Phillip called “Wolfscrag” which he sent me to manage.  On this occasion I reached Melbourne on the 9th of February 1841.

Shortly afterwards I deserted “Wolfscrag” and took the sheep to country in the neighbourhood of the junction of the rivers Goulburn and Murray where I took up a station, “Tongala”, for my father. 

I managed this station for ten years.  In 1846 my father gave me a thousand ewes and my brother five hundred with which we went into partnership.  To graze these, I took up a small run adjoining my father’s which was known as “Corop”, or more correctly “Gargarro”.  Shortly after my father had given us these sheep, poor William died, leaving me his heir.  In 1850, having sold some of my sheep, I let the 4,000 which remained for three years at three hundred and twenty pounds per annum, and on the 15th February 1851 sailed for England on the ship “Stevonheath”, my brothers Charles and Walter being in the same ship.  On arriving in London I shook hands with my brothers and went to Cadiz where I passed eight months.  I then went to Seville where I also passed eight months.  By this time I had learned to speak Spanish with tolerable facility.  Leaving Seville, I went by land to Grenada and thence to Almeria where I took a ship to Marseilles, went up the Rhone to Lyons, and thence to Geneva.  On leaving Geneva I passed over the Simplon into Italy, reaching Venice by way of Milan.  From Venice I went to Florence, Rome and Naples, and finally to Brindisi from where I sailed to Corfu in an eight ton boat laden with garlic.  From Corfu I proceeded by steamer to Patras, and rode along the Gulf of Lepanto in company with my guide to Corinth and thence to Athens.  I spent some time at Athens then sailed to Constantinople, where, after seeing the sights I went to Beyroot.  There I engaged a dragoman and proceeded into the Lebanon visiting Zahali, Damascus, the Cedars, and Tripoli among others.  Having had a misunderstanding with my dragoman, I discharged him on my return to Beirut where I passed some weeks.  Having picked up a little Arabic, I continued my travels alone by Sidon, Tyre, Acre, and Jaffa to Jerusalem, at which city I arrived about the 16th October 1852.  I remained three weeks, in Jerusalem at the Casa Nova, visiting the Dead Sea, San Saba, and Bethlehem.  Then I proceeded to Gaza, and after a few days delay to Cairo which I left for Alexandria on the 20th November.  From Alexandria I proceeded via Malta to Gibraltar which I reached on the 24th December 1852.  I returned to Seville where I remained until 17th January 1853 when I proceeded by way of Madrid and Bayonne to Paris and then to London.  Subsequently I passed some time in Dublin, Paris, Brussels and London.  

Whilst I was away on my travels, gold was discovered in Victoria, and my brother Richard sold my run “Gargarro” for four thousand pounds.  On the 31st January 1854 I married Miss Margaret Vaughan with whom I have since lived in the greatest happiness.  She has been invariably the best of wives, and on looking around I cannot help noticing how few of my friends have been favoured as myself in this particular.  Finding in my experience that interference on the part of the husband in little domestic concerns frequently leads to discontent on the part of the wife, I made it my rule from the beginning that my wife should be supreme mistress in my house.  To this course, and to her innate good sense and sweetness of temper I attribute the peace and contentment which have been visible in our home.

If at any time I have taken any part in our domestic concerns, it has merely been occasionally to tender my advice.  Miss Vaughan, who I met in Dublin, was of a family long resident in Kildare.  Her father, having run through his paternal inheritance, obtained a situation in a mercantile house in Liverpool, in which city he and his wife died. 

In accordance with the ideas of those times, he made a point of not engaging in business, as he might have done in Dublin, as such a course would have been considered derogatory to the family dignity.  After my marriage I returned to Port Phillip, which I reached on 21st August 1854, and in September I left for Auckland with my wife, it being my intention to buy sheep and land there.  This however I was unable to do. I remained in New Zealand until the 24th January 1856.  Whilst there I brought from New South Wales to New Zealand two cargoes of 100 horses, each out of which I cleared about eleven hundred pounds.  I also published some letters on the land question which were afterwards printed by the editor in pamphlet form.  On leaving New Zealand we went to a station which I bought in the Burnett district in Queensland.

The station consisted of two blocks of country called “Gobongo” and “Tincola” which we reached on the 6th of March 1856.  There were depasturing on it 3,000 head of cattle for which, if I remember right, I paid two pounds five shillings a head.  In the course of twelve months I sent cattle over to Melbourne in two drafts, having sold the run without any cattle for two thousand pounds.  I think it was in January 1858 that I bought a station on the Lachlan River called “Euaba” in company with my brothers Richard and Julius.  We put a thousand head of cattle on it and were ruined whilst there in consequence chiefly of the dry weather.  We left “Euaba” somewhere in June 1861.  Having about three hundred and fifty pounds in hand and no more, I invested three hundred in horses which I took to New Zealand, clearing three hundred by the transaction.  In November 1862 I was appointed Inspector of Sheep with a salary of three hundred and fifty pounds a year which a few months after was raised to five hundred a year.  In 1863 I published a book entitled “Pure Saddle Horses”.  On the 17th May 1864 I was appointed Chief Inspector of Sheep.  The object of the Act under which I was appointed was the eradication of scab from amongst the flocks of the Colony.  This object was accomplished on the 9th of June 1876 as appears in the Government Gazette of that date.  On the 16th of January 1873 I was appointed Chief Inspector of Stock, my salary being raised to seven hundred a year.  These appointments I still hold.  One of my children, Wilfred, died at “Euaba” on the 24th of August 1860. The others, Edward, Constance, Mabel, Ella, Justin, Hubert, and Ernest are still alive.  Edward, the eldest, was educated in part at the Jesuit College at Namur and in part at the College of Mondragone near Rome.  I have been as fortunate in respect of my children as of my wife.  They have always been good and dutiful, and I trust they will be happy and pray for me when I am gone.  Suffering from sore eyes, I dictated the foregoing pages to my daughter Mabel in whose handwriting they are.

Signed Edward Micklethwaite Curr, 7th January 1877.

Part II

19TH CENTURY

4 . Marmaduke

Edward Curr’s son Marmaduke was born at Highfield House, Circular Head, Tasmania, in February 1835.  He was the eleventh of the fifteen children of Edward Curr and his wife Elizabeth, and the seventh of their nine sons.  When quite young he went to live with his brother-in-law, Hastings Cunningham, of “Mt. Emu” Station near Chepston, Victoria, to learn station management.  In 1852, after the discovery of gold, he left Mt. Emu, and went

Highfield House at Stanley in Tasmania

digging at Ballarat where he knew many of the characters of Rolf Bolderwood’s book “Robbery Under Arms”.  After leaving Ballarat, he went to Cape Town, South Africa, with a view to settling there and going into cattle raising.  However he did not like the country and returned to Australia in 1861.  He married Mary Anne Kirwan at St. Mary’s Cathedral , Sydney, on the 21st  of January 1862.

Later in 1862 he went up to Bowen in North Queensland and then on to the Burdekin River where he took up country and stocked it with four hundred head of mixed cattle. His brother, Montague Curr, was in partnership with him at the time, and their brand was CB2.  In 1872 Marmaduke dissolved the partnership with Montague who took up and stocked “Cardigan” Station, and later in 1875 took up and stocked “Kamileroi” Station on the Leichhardt River.  He remained there a few years, then sold out and retired from bush life, later travelling to Japan. He bred a splendid herd of cattle on “Kamileroi”.  He was a wonderful bushman, day or night he could not go wrong.  He remained a bachelor and died in Melbourne.

In 1878 Marmaduke sent seven hundred head of mixed cattle out to “Donor’s Hill” in the Gulf Country in charge of his brother Julius Curr.  A few months afterwards Marmaduke went out to “Donor’s Hill” and was very disgusted with the country, so he went looking for more suitable land which he discovered on the Einasleigh River in 1878.  In 1879 he took up and stocked “Abingdon Downs”.  His brother Julius helped him with droving the cattle from “Donor’s Hill” to “Abingdon”, arriving there in August 1879.  The same year Marmaduke sent 400 mixed cattle and 100 horses from his “Gilgunyah” station on the Burdekin River to “Abingdon”, then sold “Gilgunyah” to Symes and Buckland from Charters Towers.  He then removed his wife and family of three sons and three daughters to “Abingdon”, arriving there on November 22nd 1879.  Marmaduke’s brother Julius stayed with the family until 1883, and after his departure Marmaduke continued to develop the station with his three sons Frederick, Charles, and Walter, and many were the hardships they all endured.  He died in January 1898 at the age of 63.

5. Merri Merriwah and Gilgunyah

I, Frederick Carlton Curr, was born in the little township of Bowen, Queensland, on the night of the 13th March 1865 in Yates’ cottage situated on a hill opposite Mrs P.P. Gordon’s residence.  The late Dr. W. A. Brown was in attendance.  I was christened in Bowen by the late Father McGinty.  When six weeks old, my parents took me with them to a cattle station that my father, Marmaduke Curr, had formed on the banks of the Burdekin River about 12 miles from where now stands the mining town of Ravenswood.  My uncle Montague Curr found the first gold in Ravenswood in 1867.  He was out one day hunting cattle, and about twelve miles up Elphinstone Creek from “Merri-Merriwah” Station he camped for lunch, and while his quart pot was boiling he washed out some dirt in the creek bed with his pannikin and found a few colours of good gold.  A little while after this some prospectors came to “Merri-Merriwah” and my father sent a black boy, Paddy, to show them where my uncle had found the gold.  Some days later, when my father had visited the camp, they had all found gold. In a short time there were hundreds of men on the fields.  The diggings were called Ravenswood.  My father then had a good market for his bullocks.  The first mob he sold was at the Cape Diggings before Ravenswood was discovered.   

My father took up “Merri-Merriwah” in 1862.  He had about 400 head of cattle to stock it with, and his brother Montague was in partnership with him at that time.  He purchased the cattle from Arthur Macartney of “Waverley” station near Rockhampton.  Our first adventure was early one morning in 1865.  My father had taken his black boy Paddy and his big Tranter loading revolver and started out to look for the horses.  Having no paddock at this time, the horses had strayed away some three miles up the Burdekin River.  My father had been gone some little time, and my uncle Montague was just going to the yard to milk the cow.  When he went outside the house he spotted about thirty wild blacks, all painted and armed with spears, nulla nullas, and boomerangs.  My uncle ran into the house and snatched up a long heavy 40 bore Rigby muzzle-loading rifle, and helped my mother barricade the bedroom.  My uncle opened the door a few times to show them the muzzle of the rifle, but the blacks took no notice.  They then ransacked the other rooms and also robbed the kitchen and store which were separate from the main house.  Finding they could not get in through the barricade into where my mother and uncle were, they decided to burn us out.  The house was covered with a thatch roof, so they put fire sticks into it.  As there was a heavy dew that morning the thatch did not burn too well.

While they were trying to get it to burn, the horses that my father had gone after came galloping home as horses will do on a cold morning.   The blacks, thinking it was Inspector Fitzgerald and his black troopers, lost no time in disappearing into the scrub and the river. A little while afterwards my father and Paddy arrived.  The blacks had taken all the powder with them, in fact everything they could lay their hands on.

It appears that some days before this event my father had given Paddy a half-pound red canister of powder. The boy had stuck this tin of powder into the thatch of the house, and the blacks had not seen it, so it was all we had.  However there was enough to load two old Brown Bess Carbines, the long Rigby rifle, and the double-barrel shot gun.  My father’s Tranter revolver was already loaded, so he took Paddy, and leaving uncle Montague to look after my mother, he tracked the blacks to where they were camped, galloping into the camp and firing a few shots.  The charge was so sudden, and with the noise of the firearms, the blacks left in a great hurry leaving heaps of spears, boomerangs, nulla nullas and fishing nets.  My father took a lot of these weapons home, and I remember seeing them hung about the house for many years afterwards.  My father told me that it took fourteen horse loads to bring all the stolen goods back to the station.  He also told me that he followed the blacks by leaves from two books, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Dombey and Son”.  After this episode the Curr family were extremely careful about keeping their firearms in good order and handy to reach, with plenty of ammunition ready in pouches.  My uncle Montague was wounded just above the eye by one of the spears.  The blacks appeared to be afraid of my uncle.  He was six feet one inch tall, and very strongly built.  He had a long beard down to his belt, of which he was very proud, and the day before the blacks attacked the station he had shaved his head clean, so he must have appeared very uncanny.  Undoubtedly this all helped to scare the blacks away until the horses came galloping home and saved our lives.

One morning my father took me up in his arms out of bed. The sun was just rising, and he stood at the door of the house and pointed to a bay horse standing out in front and said to me: “you see that horse, he is four years old and so are you, so I will give him to you.  His name is Suter”.

I think the first thing that happened to me was getting my leg broken.  I was about five years old at the time, and I remember my father saying that he was going down to the creek to get some water for the pigs. 

I asked to go with him.  He had a dray with one horse called “Captain”.  He had a cask in the dray for the water.  I got into the dray, and going over a rough piece of ground my leg slipped through the spokes of the wheel and broke just below the knee. I remember singing out in a loud voice “daddy”.  My father stopped the dray at once, took me out and lay me on the ground and poured a bucket of water over me.  I then fainted.  After I came to, he carried me to the house and set the leg. 

In a few weeks I was quite right again and have never felt any bad effect from it.  I remember my father telling me that if I had not called out to him in a loud voice I should have had my leg torn off altogether.  Sometime after this I remember I was riding very slowly one day when my horse shied and I fell off and broke my arm.  My father set it, and a few months afterwards I fell off my horse again and broke the other arm.  My father set that one too.  A year or two afterwards when I was riding after a beast that had broken away from the yard, my horse turned sharply and off I came again, nearly severing my ear from my head.  Since then I have had hundreds of falls and I have never been hurt beyond a bit of a shaking.

Sometime before this fall I remember there was a detachment of native police camped close to our station in charge of Inspector Fitzgerald, and one evening they were throwing boomerangs for sport.  They told me that their boomerangs would return to the thrower, at the same time telling me to get out of the way.  It appears I was a bit slow in doing so, and one of the boomerangs struck me on the head and made a nasty gash.  I ran home howling and bleeding to my mother.  She fixed me up, and I have the mark on my head to this day.  The first music I ever heard was Inspector Fitzgerald playing the cornet in his tent on the bank of the Burdekin River.  I used often go to his camp and look at his troopers and their old Crown Bess carbines, the cartridge pouches, the big brass buckles on their belts, and their long top boots.  I took a great interest in all these things and was very fond of all sorts of firearms.  I had a great desire to become the owner of a gun or pistol.  Another thing I was fond of was a pipe.  I used to get my father to give me a clay pipe. I would then put the paper in it and get a match box and fill it with some small sticks about the length of a match.  When I saw my father lighting his pipe, I would take this imitation match and pretend to light my pipe. I remember my father, thinking to make me sick, filling my pipe with strong negro head tobacco, and I had a most glorious smoke sitting outside our slab hut.  I was awfully disappointed when I had finished and my father would not give me any more.  I felt no sign of sickness.  However this craving for tobacco got me several good beatings.

One day at “Merri Merriwah” my father was branding some calves, and a windlass was used for pulling up a large calf.  A black boy was at one end of the handle of the windlass and I was at the other.  The beast gave a sudden jerk and the boy let the handle go.  It spun around and hit me at the back of the head and spread me out.  I came to after a while and remember my father carrying me up to the house.  When I stood up, all the trees and the ground seemed to be turning around.  I felt very sore about the head.

*

In 1870 there was a great flood in the Burdekin River which threatened the “Merri Merriwah” homestead, so in 1872 my father moved the station four miles up the river to a high ridge out of flood reach.  He called this station “Gilgunyah”.

One night a notorious character named Fred Hamilton came down from Charters Towers and took one of my father’s black boys out of his hut in the dark of night.  The other boy awoke and ran over to the house and told my father.  He jumped out of bed, revolver in hand, and ran after Hamilton firing five shots at him.  Hamilton, however, was soon out of sight in the dark.  At that time Inspector Fitzgerald was camped nearby, so at daylight next morning my father and Fitzgerald and his troopers went after Hamilton and tracked him down in his den near Charters Towers.  They recovered the boy and brought him home again.  I remember I kept very close to my mother all day as I expected the same fate.  My father used to tell all sorts of stories of the doings of the bushrangers, and I remember feeling terrified.  My father knew a lot of the characters in Rolph Bolderwood’s novel “Robbery Under Arms”, and they were a very rough lot of fellows.  I also remember late one evening riding out of Ravenswood with my father on our way home.  It was just getting dark when a man stepped out from behind a bush and caught my father’s horse by the bridle.  My father always carried a large Tranter revolver which he pulled out and put it up to the highwayman’s head.  The latter lost no time in getting away and so we rode home.  Another day a man rode up to the station dressed in white moleskin trousers and a red flannel shirt.  He was well armed and rode a good looking grey horse.  He asked for a tin of gun powder which my father gave him and he paid for it.  A day or so later some police came along and informed my father that the man he had sold the gunpowder to was a bushranger – a wild Scotsman, and the police were on his tracks.

A few days after this incident a man was speared by the blacks about six miles from “Gilgunyah”. My father was away in the Gulf looking for country at the time.  My mother was very frightened of the blacks.  She never recovered from the shock of the attack at “Merri Merriwah” in 1865.  Soon afterwards four blacks approached the house and came up to the kitchen.  Luckily we were able to frighten them away.  A day or so afterwards the police came along and took two of them away.  They had been the murderers of the man who had been speared.  Another evening at “Gilgunyah”, a large mob of blacks were camped on the river and one young man climbed a very large gum tree then fell from a height of about twenty-five feet and hurt his back.  I do not remember if he died that evening, but the blacks made a terrible row about sundown and my mother became very frightened.  My father and uncle were both out.  I loaded up an old single barrel muzzle loading gun, went down to the river and fired a shot over their heads and they all cleared out.  After this I thought I would try and frighten the Chinese cook.  I went down to the river and got some sticks for spears, took all my clothes off and covered myself in black mud, then sneaked around the back of the galley and rushed on top of the cook.  At the same time a big kangaroo dog spotted me and downed me, and no doubt would have ended my life if the cook had not knocked the dog off. The old cook had a great laugh at my expense.

In 1873 we all left “Gilgunyah” and travelled by coach from Ravenswood to Townsville, then aboard the coastal steamer “S.S. Boomerang” to Sydney.  This was my first sight of the sea, and also the first ship I had ever seen.  I was very sea sick.  In 1875 we again went south to Sydney and remained  four months in a rented house at Manly Beach where my sister Edith was born. We used to have a great time playing on the beach and bathing in the sea.  I went to Tiddy’s school while there.  There was a boy named Woods who used to tease me a good deal in the school room, so I told him one day that I would deal with him when we got outside.  When we went outside I tackled him and he ran away.  I had a cricket ball in my hand which I threw at him and hit him on the back of the head.  He fell down but soon recovered and ran home.  He later became a great cricketer, and I wonder if my cricket ball had anything to do with it.

After leaving Manly we went by steamer to Brisbane and remained there a day or two, then went up the Brisbane River in a paddle steamer to Ipswich and then on to Warwick by train.  There was no train from Warwick to Brisbane in those days.  My father bought “Rose Hill Farm” from G.E. Devenport for £1,680, and we stayed there for two years.  My father made a dam above the house and in a heavy storm it broke away.  He fixed it up again and it is still there in good order.  We had a governess called Miss Haynes, and used to play with the McDougalls and the Yalden boys.  In 1877 my father sold “Rose Hill” to a man called Green, and we all returned to “Gilgunyah”.

Back at “Gilgunyah”, Fred Hamilton, who was now a butcher at Charters Towers, used to steal our bullocks and kill them for his shop.  My father came to hear of this and began to watch him, and one day he saw two black boys out on the run.  He asked them what they wanted and they said “look out for bullock for Fred”.  My father told them there were plenty of bullocks just down the river a little way, and then watched the boys who did not know who my father was. The boys took the bullocks and drove them to Hamilton’s yard.  At daylight my father heard a shot and went up to the yard.  Hamilton saw him coming so he cut the brand CB2 out of the hide and ran into the hut.  There was a big court case over this which cost Fred a lot of money, and after this he left the “Gilgunyah” cattle alone.

*

I remember my cousin Edward coming to “Gilgunyah” in 1877 with my uncle Montague and staying with us before going out to “Kamileroi”, Uncle Montague’s station on the Leichhardt River.  Edward held an interest in “Austral Downs” for some time and then sold out and went to New South Wales and purchased “Murrumbogie” sheep station near Trundle where he remained until his death in 1922.  His wife and family still own and live at “Murrumbogie”.  He has seven children.  Edward was a strong hard working and very good all-round sheep man, a good shot and a splendid swimmer. He bred good sheep and wool, and his judgement and experience helped him to pull through the bad times and fearful droughts that swept over New South Wales for many years.  Edward was a good Catholic, also all his brothers, sisters, and children.  His three brothers Hubert, Justin, and Ernest are still living in Melbourne. Hubert served as a volunteer in the Boer War in 1902.  He was in forty engagements and never sustained an injury.  Two of his sisters, Constance and Mabel, are at present living in Melbourne, and another sister, Ella Mary Curr, became a nun on the 5th of May 1889.  She is now the Reverend Mother in a convent in Tasmania.

Cousin Edward Micklethwaite Vaughan Curr was born at Wellington, New Zealand, on the 10th of April  1855 and died in Melbourne on the 25th of April 1922.  His eldest son, Edward Alexander Curr was born at ‘Murrumbogie” on the 10th of September 1892. He served in the Great War in France.  In 1922 he married Miss Eunice Palmer and now lives at “Murrumbogie”.  (1924)

After gold was discovered and the mining town of Ravenswood was established, part of “Gilgunyah” was resumed so in 1878 my father went out to the Gulf looking for more land.  When he returned he brought back a Snider Carbine which he gave me and I was very proud.  I was about twelve at the time.  I was always very fond of firearms, and just before leaving “Gilgunyah” my father bought two Snider Rifles, 577 bore.  One was very good and my father could shoot well with it. He never cared much for a rifle.  His favourite weapon was a first class double barrel muzzle loading Wesley Richards.  He bought it in Sydney in 1872.  He told me he gave fourteen pounds for it second hand.  I suppose it would cost fourty pounds now.  It was an excellent gun, and my father shot lots of game with it.  He kept it in good order, and gave it to me in 1882. 

I have it still, and it is as good as the day it was made over 50 years ago.  I hope my boys will keep it all their lives and hand it down to their children.  In 1844 my uncle Edward Curr had a long single barrel muzzle loading rifle made to order by Rigby. He was then forming “Tongala” sheep station in Victoria for his father.  Uncle Edward was a very good rifle shot.  This rifle is a 40 bore octagonal barrel and weighs 8 pounds.  My uncle Montague had it in his hands when the blacks attacked Merri Merriwah in 1865.  Uncle Edward lent it to my father when he went to form the station on the Burdekin in 1863.  My father taught me to shoot with it.  I have this rifle hung up in my den at “Abingdon”, Corinda, so I hope my sons will take care of it.  I had my four boys out in the bush a few days ago, (1924), and each boy fired a shot out of it, so my boys are learning to shoot out of the same rifle their father did fifty years ago.  

When my uncle Julius came to “Abingdon” from “Donor’s Hill” in 1879 he had a good battery of firearms including one double barrel breach loading shot gun, one single carbine 577 bore, and a long Colts breach loader revolver 450 which he often lent me.   On his death in 1889 it was given to me and I now have it in my collection.  I am sorry that my father’s old Tranter muzzle loading revolver was sold to a traveller at “Abingdon” some years ago.  In 1900 I had a long single barrel pistol breach loading 380 bore made to my own design which I now have in my collection, an in 1903 when I was in Sydney I bought a first class double barrel breach loading shot gun.  It is a pigeon gun by Scott & Sons for 23/4 cartridges 12 bore.  It is a splendid gun.  My brother Charlie Curr won lots of pigeon matches with it.  I also have it in my collection of family firearms.  As well, I have a double barrel Paradox 12 bore breach loading gun by Holland & Holland, London.  My brothers Charles and Walter shot lions with it in British East Africa.  I bought it from my brother Charles when I was in British East Africa in 1914. It is a good weapon for dangerous game at close quarters, and fairly good with small game at 40 yards.  I hope my four boys will never sell these three guns.

In 1878 my uncle Julius Curr drove 700 head of mixed cattle from  “Gilgunyah” into the Gulf of Carpentaria.  After a journey of some 800 miles which took several weeks, he reached his destination and made his camp on the Flinders River at a place called “Donor’s Hill”.  He remained there for some months until the wet season was over.  My father went out to “Donor’s Hill” a little while afterwards and, not liking the country there, went to the Einasleigh River where he found more suitable country.  He sent word to Julius who drove the cattle to the country my father had seen and arrived there on the 1st of July 1879.  My father called this new station “Abingdon Downs” after a place he knew about in England, and it turned out to be a first-rate run.   

In 1879 we all left “Gilgunyah” and began our trip to the Gulf.  The party consisted of my parents Marmaduke and Mary Anne and their six children Frederick Carlton, Charles Montague, Alice Mary, Walter Bernard, Edith Ellen, and Emily Adelaide.  We had a buggy and six pack horses and it took sixteen days to travel from “Gilgunyah” to “Abingdon”.  We were well armed with guns, rifles and revolvers as the blacks had a bad name in the Gulf at that time.  I remember someone in Georgetown telling my father that we would all be wiped out by the Einasleigh River Aborigines.  As it turned out, we arrived unhurt, although many of our horses and cattle were speared as well as my kangaroo dog who luckily recovered. I remember when camped on the Clark Ranges I went out shooting and got lost for a few hours but eventually found the camp.  The next morning the horses bolted with the buggy and smashed the pole.  My father made a new pole but this gave us a late start.  There was a horse called “Brownie”, and my mother always felt nervous when my father put him in the buggy.  By a strange coincidence the same brown horse was in the buggy when my poor mother was killed some years later.

6. Abingdon

Abingdon Lagoon

We arrived at “Abingdon Downs” on the 22nd of November 1879.  We camped in tents for the first few months whilst the men were erecting huts, yards and paddocks on a good dry sand ridge on the banks of a large deep lagoon.  The first hut was made of mesmate bark sides and roof with a verandah in front.  It consisted of four rooms and had an earthen floor.  One of the rooms was used as a sitting room and dining room.  Four posts were driven into the ground and cross pieces and some old boards from an old packing case were nailed, making our dining table.  Against the wall were two uprights about seven feet high, with pegs driven into them and boards across.  This formed our bookcase, no doubt a very primitive one, but it contained a first

class lot of books, I think the best that ever came into the Gulf for a long time. There were about 500 volumes including a great number on travel and world history.  The books that particularly interested us were about the African travellers such as Bruce, Burton, Speake, Grant, Sir Samuel Baker, and De Chalie. There was Stanley’s account “How I found Livingstone”, “The Dark Continent”, “Darkest Africa”, and Drummond’s “Hunting in Africa”.  Dixon”s “New America”, “The Life of Napoleon”, “The Great Pyramids”, Kinglake’s “History of the Crimean War”, “The Life of Nelson”, Beaton’s “Dictionary of Natural History”, “Cook’s Voyages” and Humbolt’s “Travels in the East” were among many others too numerous to mention here.  This library was a very great treasure to us.  We read them and re-read them, and discussed them I cannot say how many times.  In fact, several of them became studies in our little circle, and my thoughts often go wandering back to the days when life was young and hours were spent pouring over the books by the flickering light of the old fat lamp in our lonely bark hut on the bank of the “Abingdon” lagoon.  We read and learnt all we could about all parts of the world, and in after years travelled through many of the places we had read about during those days.  Father, mother and our uncles were all great readers of travel, exploration and history.

There was also a very primitive gun rack containing four double barrel guns, (one of which was a breach loading 12 bore), two Snider carbines 577 bore, two Snider rifles 577 bore, one Tranter breach loading 450 revolver, one Terries carbine, two muzzle loading revolvers, and one breach loading Colts revolver.

In 1880, not long after we had established ourselves at “Abingdon”, my uncle Walter Curr arrived on a visit from the Fiji Islands where he had been growing cotton with his brothers.  I remember he and I were reading about four o’clock in the afternoon when he complained to me of a headache, and putting his book away he went into his room and lay down.  About midnight he was in a burning fever and delerious, jumped out of his bed and fell to the floor unconscious.  My father and uncle Julius lifted him into the bed again.  He became conscious again a couple of days afterwards, and for a short time he and my mother were talking together.  She washed his face with cold water and bathed his head.  Uncle thanked her and again went into a coma, and two days later he died.  I remember I put the horse into a dray to take his body out to the sand ridge to bury.  My father rolled him up in a sheet of stringybark.  I led the horse and the dray out to the sand ridge, dug his grave with spade and pick, and laid poor uncle to rest.  May God have mercy on his soul.  Sometime after this I fenced his grave in and erected a large iron-wood cross, then put a cairn of black stones on the grave.  My uncle, along with his older brothers, had been educated at “Stonyhurst” in England and was a very well-read man.  He had travelled a great deal in the east and had served as a volunteer during the Indian Mutiny.

We all had fever very badly for some years at “Abingdon”. I remember one morning, soon after our arrival, my sister Alice and my brother Charles had been at the yard with uncle Julius and came back feeling very sick.  Mother and father put them to bed and in a very short time they were both insensible and remained so for days.  They just lay as if dead.  However they recovered in time.  My mother, and then uncle Julius  went down with the fever.  Mother and uncle were both very weak on the day we moved from our camp to the “Abingdon” house which the men had just finished building. It was in January 1880, and I drove the dray over to the house with the sick, about seven miles from the camp.  It was some time after this that my uncle Walter died.  Most of our family at that time became insensible with the fever. I think my father and I were the only ones who did not lose consciousness although we were so weak we could not stand up without support. If the wild blacks had only known the state in which we were at that time they could have easily wiped us all out.  I remember one morning going out to shoot pigeons about a hundred yards from the camp. When the fever was on me I had a great craving for pigeon soup.  I tried to raise my gun but was too weak to hold it to my shoulder, so crawled back to the camp, turned into my bunk and dreamed of pigeon soup.

At the beginning of 1881 my father had a very bad fall from his horse.  We were on our way from Georgetown to “Abingdon” when, just coming on to the downs about fourteen miles from the homestead, my father got off his horse to get a drink of water.  I had gone on a little way with the packhorses.  My father cantered up to me and was just a few yards away when his horse put its foot in a hole and turned completely over. 

I jumped off my horse and went to him.  He was quite insensible.  I had a boy with me and, with his assistance, we dragged my father along the ground to a small shady tree.  That was about eleven o’clock in the morning.  He lay there as though dead until about daylight the next morning when he began to moan and move a little.  About eight o’clock

I managed to get him lifted on to the horse and I held him while the boy led the horse.  After some hours, we reached home that evening.  Then my mother took charge and nursed him for many weeks.

Some months afterwards we all left “Abingdon” leaving my uncle Julius in charge, and went to Townsville, some 400 miles away, for medical help. We purchased a farm, “Glen Isla”, on Alligator Creek about twenty miles from Townsville, and gradually my father recovered.  My mother, father, brothers and sisters lived there for nearly two years.  In November 1881, I was sent back to “Abingdon” to assist my uncle.  I remember it was a very dry summer.  It took me ten days to travel from Townsville to “Abingdon”, and my cousin William Cunningham came with me with a view to buying the station which my father had put on offer to him.  William, however, thought it was too isolated so he declined the offer and returned to New South Wales.

On the 18th of January 1882, it began to rain.  Up till then we had had no storms, but it then rained every day for three or four months.  It was a very heavy wet season, and continued to rain every month throughout the year.  On the 4th of September, the Einasleigh River was in flood again, having had many floods between January and April.  I remember during this wet season my uncle and I went up the river some twenty miles to see what the blacks were doing with the cattle.  The river was a banker, so we went up on the station side and camped, intending to return the next day.  However, it rained all that day and all night and our rations all got wet before we reached the camp, so we went to bed supperless.  My uncle and the boy Willie had a drink of water and a smoke.  I was not allowed to smoke at that time being about 15 years of age.  Our camp was on a good dry sand hill and I slept all night.  The next morning it again rained heavily, and thinking we could get home, we packed up and started.  We swam all the creeks in spite of the horses getting bogged several times.  Everything was soaking wet and we had nothing to eat.  About four o’clock in the afternoon our horses were knocked up so my uncle decided to camp on a dry sand ridge about eight miles from the homestead.  We put up our tent, but found our matches wet.  We had two kangaroo dogs with us and they managed to kill a kangaroo.  I cut the tail off and put it on the packhorse.  My uncle tried to make a fire by rubbing sticks together, and Willie tried also.  We were just giving up in despair when I thought I should have a try.  I had a Snider carbine 577 bore with me so I took the bullet out of the cartridge and put a piece of cotton rag in place of the bullet and fired it out close to the ground.  The rag came out smoking and alight.  We put it in a heap of dry stringybark twigs and in a few minutes we had a roaring fire.  We then dried all our clothes and blankets.  We had no food of any kind, only the kangaroo tail which we put on the fire and roasted.  We were all very hungry and soon finished it off, then had a drink of water and went to bed.  Again, I slept all night.  Next morning, after nothing to eat, we ploughed through the mud and arrived home about mid-day, very tired and hungry.  Luckily the Chinese cook had salt meat and damper ready for us.

A little while after this outing my uncle sent me out to look for two old horses a few miles down the river.  I had ridden along the riverbank some five miles when I came on the tracks of the two horses, and was following the tracks through some long grass when suddenly a wild blackfellow sprang out of the long grass and threw several spears at me.  I managed to avoid the spears.  I was following him on horseback when he managed to send a spear right through one of my three kangaroo dogs.  It went in at the chest and came out behind the shoulder.  The black then disappeared into the scrub in the river.  I continued to follow the horse tracks and then I noticed for the first time the blackman’s tracks following the horses.  I went on for a mile or so and came to the black’s camp where all the fires were burning.  I opened one of the camp ovens and found the remains of the two horses.  I cantered home and told my uncle that I had found the two horses cooking in the black’s camp and that one of my dogs had been speared.  My uncle cut the point of the spear off and dragged it out.  It was a barbed spear.  The dog recovered and in a week, was quite alright.  The next day we went to see the camp.  They had taken all the horseflesh away to eat at their leisure in their stronghold in the scrub and the mountains.

One day in 1882 my uncle sent me out to shoot some ducks.  Taking my father’s Wesley Richards double barrel muzzle loading shot gun and a good quiet horse, I rode some ten miles to a place called “Duck Hole” where there were hundreds of ducks on the water and round about.  I got fairly close and gave them a right and left barrel.  A mob of ducks flew around for a little while and came down again giving me time to load one barrel of my gun.  I fired again and then went to pick up my bag of game.  I had shot fifty-six ducks with the three shots, so off home I went and we all lived on duck for two or three days.  We even fed the dogs on it.  This was my record bag of ducks for three shots.

Later in 1882 my father was feeling a little better, and returned to “Abingdon” with my brother Charles and a tutor for us. Before leaving he sold “Glen Isla” and took my mother, sisters, and brother Walter to Bowen where they took a house for another two years.  My uncle Julius stayed with us until 1883 when he left “Abingdon” and went to New Caledonia trading with horses from Australia.  After some time, he retired to Melbourne where he died.  He never married.  In 1884 my mother returned to “Abingdon” with my brother Walter and my sisters Edith and Emily.  My sister Alice was sent to school at “All Hallows” convent in Brisbane.

7. Reminiscences

Marmaduke Curr continued to work “Abingdon Downs” with his three sons Frederick, Charles and Walter.  Many were the hardships the family had to contend with.  Rough food, no vegetables or fruit, fever, mosquitos and flies.  There were wild blacks who for some years were very daring and troublesome, killing many horses and cattle.  The horses had to be watched very closely, day and night, as they were so easily killed.  They had to be tailed out in the day and put into a small paddock at night around the bark hut.  The horses were then fairly safe under cover of the Snyder rifles, but even with this precaution we did not always stop the blacks from spearing and killing some of the best horses.   

On one occasion in 1880 Marmaduke sent his son Charles and a boy to look after the horses, and they let them stray into the Einasleigh River to feed on the rich grass and vines that grew in the river at that time.  While Charles was feasting on wild tomatoes, he was suddenly disturbed from his banquet by the horses stampeding out of the islands in the river on to the high bank.  In a few moments Charles was on his horse and gave chase after the horses, about one hundred head.  When he reached them, and steadied them he found six fine horses with spears in them although he had not seen a black fellow.  They were silent in the grass and the water, and would act like submarines, breathing through straws underwater.  The river was flooded at the time. Charles took the horses up to the house about a mile away where three died in great pain that night and the others later on.  The spears were poisoned.  There were some hard things said about the blacks that night as the Curr family were very fond of their horses, and they had a good class of horse at that time.

On another occasion, a mob of blacks came on to the run.  It was the wet season and the river was in high flood.  They drove away about two hundred head of cattle, killing many and scattering the others through the mountains. It took us many months to get the remainder of these cattle back to the station as they had become very wild after being hunted.  One day when we were after these cattle, we came suddenly onto a mob of blacks camped in a scrubby creek.  Our party consisted of my father, myself and a boy.  We were armed with Snider rifles and some other noisy old weapons.  How different are the firearms of today?  As soon as my father saw the blacks he galloped at them with me following.  There was one big fighting man covered in war paint who snatched up a large bundle of spears and woomera and threw several at my father at close quarters. My father had great difficulty avoiding some of these spears.  Luckily the roar of the old Sniders irritated and frightened the blacks who soon disappeared into the thick scrub and left a great lot of weapons in their camp.  We spent some hours burning up all their weapons which was the best collection and largest quantity I had ever seen. It must have been a very great loss to them, and no doubt made them think it would be a good idea to leave the “Abingdon” cattle alone.

Another time my father sent me up the river to see how the cattle were getting on.  I had gone about twenty-five miles when, getting a bad attack of fever, I set up camp. I noticed some fresh blacks’ tracks on the bank of the river.  My boy put up the fly of the tent and I lay down, and feeling very tired and feverish went to sleep.  About midnight I awoke, and, looking out from under the side of the fly, I saw a pair of black legs slowly approaching.  When the owner of the legs was about four feet from my bed he stopped, and I thought he was about to put a spear into me.  My Snider carbine was beside me on the blanket.  Without getting up I pointed the rifle at the legs and was just about to fire when a thought struck me that it might be the boy Willie.  I called out “is that you, Willie” and he replied “yes”.  He had a narrow escape. It gave me a start, so I blew him up well and told him never to go out of the camp without awaking me first, a warning that never wanted repeating.  This boy had been out in the Gulf with Frank Hann years before we came to “Abingdon”, so he should have known better.

One night a hideous looking owl gave me a terrible fright.  I was about fifteen and was camped out with my father mustering the cattle the blacks had hunted away.  We were camped about forty miles up the Einasleigh River above “Abingdon”.  I had had a fever very badly during the day, and as soon as it was dark had gone to bed under a hanging bush to protect me from the night dew.  I was fast asleep with my double barrel muzzle loading shot gun by my side.  It appears that the horrible looking night bird crawled down on to the bush I was under to within two feet of my face.  Then it let out a most unearthly scream, so human like that I thought some of our party had been speared.  There were fresh blacks’ tracks about the river.  I awoke in a terrible fright, seized my gun and sat up to fire when I saw the bird fly away. I fell back exhausted, and for some time could not move hand or foot.  The fever had weakened me and made me nervy.  I think this was the biggest fright I ever had in my life.   

On another occasion when my brother Charles was camping out he was awakened by feeling something crawling over his neck. It was a snake, and he said it seemed to be a life time getting over him.  Charles never moved a muscle.  He lay still until the snake had gone and then killed it with a mosquito peg.   

Another time my father sent me out on the run to see if there were any blacks at the cattle. He told me to go up the river on the opposite bank from the station for about twenty miles, then camp for the night and return home in the morning.  That night it poured rain and the next morning the Einasleigh River was a banker.  The river was about half a mile wide all through the “Abingdon” run, with small islands in the middle covered with scrub, rich grasses, vines and wild tomatoes. I shifted my camp down the river towards home and camped again about five miles away.  A had a black boy with me and we had eaten the last of our food for breakfast that morning.  After a while I came on a fresh black’s track, and following them for a mile or two I then saw where they had killed some cattle.  I tracked them on a little way further and then they went up into the scrubby hills.  Leaving my horse with the boy I followed the tracks into the scrub and then lost all trace of them, so they had beaten me.  I called the hill “Majuber Hill”. After seeing where the blacks had killed the cattle I was afraid to leave my horses and swim home. 

I remained camped there for five days with no food other than what I could shoot.  The boy secured two opossums and a couple of sugar bags (wild honey), some figs and lily roots.  I shot a calf which we roasted in a black’s oven.  At the end of five days I was feeling very hungry for a bit of salt beef and damper, and as I could see no blacks about, shifted my camp down to opposite the station, and leaving my horses I swam home across the river.  During my absence, my mother had been very anxious about me, thinking I had been killed.  However my father consoled her by telling her there was not much to fear as I had my shot gun and big revolver and could get all the food I wanted.  He would say to her “Fred’s alright, he has his gun and tommyhawk and that is all he wants to make a living with in the bush”.  I am afraid my poor mother lived in great dread at that time, as every time we went out camping she would be very nervous that we would be killed or drowned in the flooded river.

We three brothers, Fred, Charles and Walter were all good in the water, and used to go swimming for sport collecting the cattle and horses so the blacks could not kill them.  I remember during one flood spending the whole day swimming from one island to another in the river.  I had a splendid horse which was a great swimmer.  For a saddle, I had a sheet of tea-tree bark with a surcingle around it.  I had a big Colts breach loading revolver and water proof Eyleys cartridges which I have never known to misfire.  I have had them in the water for hours and they would always go off.  We did a good deal of duck shooting and spearing fish in the dry season.  The Einasleigh River was a great river for fish, also plenty of crocodiles, many of which we shot.  They were glorious days when life was young and shooting and fishing were good.  Later we found great shooting grounds along the Gulf Coast near “Delta” and “Inkerman” stations.

8. Family Stories

One cold starry night in 1843 at “Steele’s Creek” sheep station which my uncles Edward and Charles had taken up for their father Edward Curr, the brothers were sitting beside the fire talking and smoking as usual.  My uncle Charles was about sixteen years old and had not long returned from Stonyhurst College in England.  He was of great physical strength and in very good health and courage, and an unlikely subject to conjure up stories.  They had been talking about the business of the station and everyday matters, the fire had burned low, and it was time to go to bed.  Uncle Charles stood up and said goodnight.  He did not go directly to bed but to the front door which led out of the room in which they were sitting, opened it and went

outside.  The door shut behind him and not long afterwards my uncle Edward heard him speak, as he thought, to a pair of kangaroo dogs which were always about the house.  A few minutes later my uncle Edward became conscious that his brother Charles had returned to his seat beside the fire.  Uncle Edward said to him “I thought you were going to bed” and receiving no answer looked around to see that Charles looked so startled and horror stricken that for a moment Edward could not believe it was his brother.  Uncle Edward went outside and looked around and could see nothing unusual so returned to his seat beside the fire. By this time Charles had recovered his self-possession somewhat and told the following story: “You will remember a few minutes ago I wished you goodnight and then went outside.  I noticed suddenly about fifty paces away a person wrapped in a white sheet advancing towards me. I could not make out who it was.  The size of the man did not agree with either the old shepherd or his wife, so I concluded that it might be the smaller of the two men who are working with the sheep.  Whatever it was, however, the whole affair seemed to me so stupid and commonplace that notwithstanding the liberty that the man was taking, I felt inclined to be amused at the absurdity of the thing.  I turned from his path, thinking that the joke would end and the ghost would pass by without subjecting himself to a rebuke. Contrary to my expectations he did not pass by, but continued to advance and took his stand within a yard of me.  He appeared to be looking at me through the sheet which, with the exception of his naked feet, covered the whole of his person.  I began to feel annoyed at his presuming to amuse himself with me in such a way so I said: “you are mistaken, my man, if you think pranks of this sort will be tolerated here.  Go to the hut at once and don’t repeat these tricks again”.  However, he began to rock himself from right to left on his feet.  This was too much for my patience and I determined to muzzle the offender. I sprang quickly forward. I was under no apprehension and was certain that I should lay hold of my man who made no attempt to speak.  I was in the act of grasping his throat when, judge my horror if you can, my hand passed through the thing in white, whatever it was, which in the instant disappeared and was gone”.  Uncle Charles, to the day of his death, believed firmly that what he saw that night was a ghost.  

*

My father’s brother Edward Micklethwaite Curr had a narrow escape from being killed by the blacks in 1844 when he was forming a sheep station for his father in Victoria.  He had been quite alone at the station for some time as he had sent his men into town with the bullock dray for rations.  As he was getting dressed about sunrise, some wild ducks alighted in the water hole near the house.  A drizzling rain was falling at the time, and, not waiting to finish dressing, he hastily put on a cloak, and taking one of his guns, sallied out to try and get a shot at them.  However the ducks flew off without him being able to get near them.  After returning to the house, he had scarcely dressed when the same flight of ducks again settled in the waterhole.  Being in doubt as to whether the gun he had out in the rain would go off, he took up the other gun and went out again.  A second time he was unsuccessful.  Replacing the gun, he went on cooking his breakfast when a kangaroo dog which he had tied up at the back of the hut sprang out to the end of his chain and began barking furiously.  He lay down his frying pan, took up one of his guns, and stole cautiously around the house keeping close to the slabs to find out what the matter was.  Arriving at a position from which he could see behind the house, he saw a small dog which in his ignorance he supposed to be a wild one.  This seemed a lucky chance for a shot, so levelling his gun, he was about to fire at the dog when something moved among a clump of bushes nearby and drew his attention.  Quick as thought he turned the muzzle of his gun from the dog to the bushes where he could not distinguish anything. He still kept his gun pointed at the bushes and kept himself partly covered by the house. This, no doubt, saved his life, for the next moment he caught sight of a spear quivering amongst the bushes from where, after a moment’s delay, there stepped two blacks, stark naked and covered in war paint.  Laughing in a confused way, and in a hollow and unnatural tone, the two sauntered towards him.  Both sides began to talk in a friendly way, my uncle keeping his fingers on the trigger of the gun which he had dropped into the hollow of his arm.  He walked side by side with the blacks to the door of the house, and without turning his back he entered the house.  The dog chained to the door prevented the  blacks from following him.  Stepping back as if to reach the damper on the table, he took hold of his tomahawk and placed it beside him ready for a hand-to-hand fight which he anticipated would follow. He was in great doubt about whether either of his guns which had been out in the rain would go off.  After a while he told the men to clear out as he would give them nothing.  He knew they had come to kill him.  They threatened to spear him, and they stood confronting each other for some time.  Both sides hesitated to begin, my uncle because he was not sure the guns would go off, and the others because they were sure the guns would go off.  Had it not been for these doubts my uncle would have shot one in self-defence.  Ever afterwards he was very glad he had not done so.  Finally, the prudence of the two worthies got the better of their valour, they returned to the bushes behind which they had left their opossum rugs and other effects, and after a few minutes they disappeared into the scrub.  When they had gone, my uncle tried his two guns out and they both misfired.  However, he lost no time in drawing the charges, rubbing out and reloading.  He had a narrow escape and took it as a warning which never required repeating.  From that time, he was very attentive to the state of his firearms, and when he went to Melbourne he purchased an excellent pair of pistols which he learnt to use well and had constantly at hand for many years.  In 1850, he bought a long barrel muzzle 380 Colts revolver.  I have it now in my collection of family firearms at “Abingdon” Corinda. (1924) My uncle Edward was a splendid shot and was very fond of shooting.  He spent much time in his younger days at “Tongala” station, Victoria, shooting kangaroos and duck.  He loved camping out in the bush with his brother Richard who was also a good shot, living on what they could collect with their guns and rifles.

*

Sometime after my uncle Edward’s experience with the two blacks, he went out, gun in hand, to get some ducks for his dinner and again met with a little adventure which might have cost him his life.  He was walking along the banks of one of the lagoons around which grew a bright green plant which resembled floating moss. He had not gone far when he caught sight of a flock of ducks at which he fired, knocking over one which fell into the middle of the lagoon. He undressed, and laying his gun against a tree, plunged into the water with a force which carried him through the weeds.  A few strokes brought him to the duck which he threw out on to the bank, then he swam back until he reached the edge of the weeds.  Trying to swim through, he found his arms entangled in a mass of floating weeds.  After a violent struggle, he found himself floating again in the clear water and the weeds still between him and the shore.  However, being a powerful swimmer, he made up his mind to charge the weeds, using the hand over hand stroke of the blacks, and successfully reached the shore.

*

My father Marmaduke had the same experience when duck shooting on the Burdekin River at “Gilgunyah” Station. He told me he had shot some ducks, and undressing and leaving his Wesley Richards double barrel muzzle loading gun against a tree, he plunged into the water through the weeds. He picked up the duck and threw it ashore, then swam into the weeks and became entangled.  He too was a powerful man and a strong swimmer and managed to struggle out.  Thereafter he warned his three sons about being caught in the weeds when duck shooting.  Some days after this incident he showed me the place where he nearly drowned.

*

My uncle Julius had a little adventure when he was growing cotton in the Fiji Islands.  He was out walking one day and had no firearms with him.  This was about 1860.  He was some distance from his hut when some blacks came on towards him with a view to killing him.  My uncle started to play leapfrog over some stumps that happened to be near.  Thinking he was mad, the blacks cleared out.  They are very frightened of mad people.  My uncle lost no time in getting back to his hut and getting his firearms in order.  I remember years afterwards at “Abingdon” when my brother Charles and I went away from the camp without our firearms my uncle used to be very cross with us for being so careless. 

He would say “what would you boys do if a mob of blacks attacked you when you were away from the camp”. I remember saying “O, uncle, we would play leapfrog the same as you did in Fiji”.  This used to make my uncle very wild.  He always carried his long barrel breach 450 Colts revolver and he never went without it. In fact he had it alongside his pillow at night.  He was always very careful to be ready for sudden attacks as many people had been killed in Australia through not having their firearms ready and in good order. My uncle Montague was also very careful about his guns ever since the “Merri Merriwah” incident.

9. Harsh Times

On the 31st of January 1892 my sister Edith Curr died at “Abingdon” aged seventeen years.  She had not long returned from “All Hallows” convent school in Brisbane.  One day she became ill and became worse during the day.  At 4 o’clock in the afternoon I set off and rode all night to Georgetown, sixty miles away, for medical advice which was of no use.  I had breakfast in Georgetown and arrived back at “Abingdon” at midnight. My mother informed me that there was no hope for poor Edith.  She told me that during the evening Edith had told her that she was going to die.  Mother knelt down beside her bed and helped her say her last prayers and prepare for death which, she told her mother, was close at hand.  Edith died early next morning with

her father standing at her head and her mother, brothers and sisters kneeling beside the bed repeating the prayers for the dying.  That was the last time the Curr family were all together on earth.  Father rolled her up in a sheet of stringybark and I dug her grave on the sand ridge and we laid our dear sister low.  I erected a large ironwood cross over her grave and carved her name on a stone.  “There is a spot not far away where my young sister sleeps, who seems alive but yesterday, so fresh her memory keeps”.  It was a sad beginning to the new year.  My mother was so distressed that my father bought her a house in Georgetown where she spent the following months with her daughters Alice and Emily.

The following year tragedy struck again.  My parents and sisters Alice and Emily were returning to “Abingdon” after a four month visit to Georgetown.  The first night out they were camped at a place called “The Islands”, about twenty miles from Georgetown.  The next morning, the 5th of May 1893, my father put the horse “ Brownie” in the buggy, and, going up a steep hill one of the traces broke and the horses swerved over a steep siding, falling about fifteen feet.  The buggy wheel struck my poor mother on the head, killing her instantly.  My father broke a collar bone.  The girls pulled my mother out from under the buggy and helped my father out, hobbled the horses, took off the packs, and leaving Emily with the dead and wounded, Alice rode post haste back to Georgetown for help.  The people secured a buggy and brought my parents back to Georgetown where my mother was buried.  May God grant her eternal rest.  When I walked on to the verandah at “Abingdon” and saw my mother’s broken chair which had come from Georgetown by dray, a strange feeling came over me.  I said to my brothers “something has happened to our dear mother”.  I caught a fresh horse and rode all night to Georgetown.  That evening I met a man coming down towards “Abingdon” to tell us our mother was dead.  I went on into town and out to my mother’s grave.  I stayed a few days with my father and sisters then we all went back to “Abingdon” to mourn in solitude.  It was a very sad home without our dear mother.   

It was in the year 1898, on the 9th of January, that my father, Marmaduke Curr, died aged sixty-three years.  He was forming a little ranch on the lower end of the “Abingdon” country, about twelve miles down the Einasleigh River on the opposite side of the river from the homestead. We had been mustering around his camp for two or three days, and when I called in to his camp he told me he was not feeling too well.  I told him I would bring him what he wanted out of our store as soon as I arrived home.  When we arrived at the crossing of the river near the house the Einasleigh River was in flood, so we let the cattle go, put up a tent where we put all our swags and saddles, then swam the river and walked home.  I was up early in the morning lighting the fire in the kitchen when I heard a voice say, “the master’s dead”, and looking round I saw my father’s boy who informed me that my father had died during the night.  He said he seemed to choke to death and seemed to have three or four spasms some minutes apart.  After the first attack he told the boy he was going to die and gave the boy full instructions as to what he was to do as soon as he was dead.  My father had no fear of death.  He always told me that as soon as he was dead he would never know that he had ever been born.  His instructions to the boy were “lay me out straight, hands by my side, feet together, close my eyelids, cover me over with a blanket, go to “Abingdon” and tell my three sons to bury me under that shady tree with my feet towards the rising sun so I may see the sun rise.  Never a stone nor a rail around my grave.”  He had pointed the tree out to the boy.  These instructions he had given to me a year or so before when, feeling ill, he thought he was going to die.  At that time he showed no fear of death and gave all his instructions quietly and calmly.  We three boys swam the river, secured the horses that we had left at the camp the night before, and cantered down to the scene of our father’s death.  I went into his tent and saw that he was dead.  We dug his grave beneath the shady tree that he had pointed out to the boy, and rolling him up in his blanket and stringybark, we slowly and sadly lowered him into his grave.  Obeying his last instructions we raised not a stone, carved not a line, and placed no rail to mark the spot where our poor father lies taking his rest and awaiting the dawn of the day of the Grand Review, and until then the storms of the earth may beat on his silent rest and disturb him not. 

May God have mercy on his soul.

My father had been a very well-read man, a splendid bushman, and a great rider. He was a very strong all-round man.  He was an excellent shot with a rifle or a shot gun, although he never cared much for a rifle.

His favourite weapon was his double barrel muzzle loading Wesley Richards shot gun.  He did a great deal of shooting on the Burdekin River when at “Merri Merriwah” and at “Gilgunyah”. He was a great one for telling yarns about bushrangers, ship wrecks, hunting wild game in Africa, and slave trade yarns in the wilds of Africa.  In the early 1860’s there were two coastal steamers running between Sydney, Brisbane, and Bowen.  There was the “Boomerang” commanded by Captain Lake, and “The City of Brisbane” commanded by Captain Knight, both good skippers and great ones for telling all kinds of tales.  Among the passengers on one of these voyages from Sydney to Brisbane were my father and my uncle Julius.  There was also on board a parson, a good fellow who had travelled a good deal in Africa, and along with my father told stories of trips up the Zambesi, interviews with Livingstone, elephant hunts and tales of the slave trade at Zanzibar which made the other passengers shudder.  I myself remember these yarns, and every little detail was so carefully worked out that no one could doubt that they had been through it all.  In the same way he narrated particulars of lots of shipwrecks that had occurred on the Australian coast.  The way he recounted the wreck of the “Dunbar” would make you think he had been there looking on from the shore.  He expressed himself so well and detailed everything so perfectly that some of the passengers asked him afterwards if he had really been in some of these wrecks, but he said, “never a one”.  On one of these voyages my uncle Julius, a very handsome and tall man, fell fiercely in love with one of the stewardesses, a pretty young and ladylike girl, and the evening they arrived in Brisbane he proposed to her. Much to his surprise the lady absolutely declined the honour.

Part III

20TH CENTURY

10. Family and Property

After their father’s death, Fred and Charles bought out their brother Walter’s and their sisters’ shares in “Abingdon Downs”. Walter took up country on the Nassau River adjoining “Rutland Plains” which he called “Waterloo”.  He stocked it with 1,000 heifers bought from Eddington and established the brand   J6 which is still in use.

Before her father’s death, Alice Curr, Marmaduke’s eldest daughter, married Robert Russell Edols on the 21st of August 1895. They made their home at his station near Herberton which he called “Glen Alice” after her.  They had one daughter, Mollie, who was born on 18th of March 1898.  In 1902 Robert Edols died at “Mugura” Station near Normanton.  He was on his way to inspect some sheep that were for sale in that locality.  Later Alice married Robert Perrott of “Evelyn” Station near Herberton.  Eventually she took her only child, Mollie, to be educated in England, and at the present time, 1916, they are still living in that country.

In 1900 Charles married Mary Theresa Ambrose from Inverell in New South Wales, and they made their home at “Abingdon”. In 1902 Fred and Charles Curr took up “Inkerman” Station on the Staaten River near Normanton, and stocked it with 400 head of cattle from “Abingdon Downs”.  Fred arrived there on the 26th of August 1902 and spent some years there sinking wells, erecting wind mills, making a dam across the creek and fencing in the run. In 1908 Fred and Charles sold “Inkerman” to their brother Walter, and in 1909 they purchased “Miranda Downs” near Normanton from the Queensland Meat Export Company for £30,000.  Fred managed there for three years, then sold his share to Charles and bought his half share in “Abingdon Downs”.  Some time after this Charles bought back his half share in “Abingdon”.  “Miranda Downs” was later sold to Hays and Thormaman for £44,000.  In 1912 Fred and Charles purchased “Rutland Plains” Station on the Mitchell River from the Bowman Brothers for £22,000.  One of the Bowman brothers, Frank, had been killed by the blacks, speared through the head, on “Rutland Plains” a few months previously.  In 1913 Fred and Charles Curr sold their “Abingdon Downs” Station, which had been their home for thirty three years, for £36,000.

In 1912 Charles Curr, in conjunction with F.A. Brodie and Knight, purchased “Delta” and “Maggieville” Stations near Normanton, and in 1916 he bought a property at Rose Hill near Warwick as a home for himself and his five daughters.  He called the property “Rowenzori” after the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda.  On the 14th of March 1923 Fred purchased “Rowenzori”, and after living there briefly, sold it back to Charles in February 1924.  In the same year Charles bought “Buckie” station, a sheep grazing property at Croppa Creek near Moree in New South Wales.

In 1916 Fred and Charles, in conjunction with  Sidney Kidman and William Angliss, purchased “Iffley” and “Vena Park” Stations situated in the Gulf.  All the partners held equal shares, the purchase price being £110,000.  In 1920 Fred sold his interest in “Iffley” to Sir Sidney Kidman and Charles sold his share to Sir William Angliss.

In 1900 Walter went to South Africa for a year, then returned, and in 1902 he married Mary Elizabeth Fitzwalter from Charleville.  She had been a school friend of his sister Alice.  They  made their home at “Kenilworth Farm” near Cairns until Walter purchased “Inkerman” from his brothers in 1908.  His station “Waterloo” then became part of “Inkerman”.

In 1902 Emily Curr, Marmaduke’s youngest daughter, married Cecil Robinson of Sydney, and went to live in San Francisco.  They had one daughter, Dulcie, born in 1904. They were in San Francisco on the night of the great earthquake in 1905 and escaped injury, but lost all their possessions. They still live in America.

In 1910 Walter returned to British East Africa and went hunting around Nairobi and Lake Victoria.  He then went to England and France, and returned to Australia in 1915 to his station “Inkerman”.  He is a good big game hunter, a splendid shot, a good bushman and a great swimmer.  He was well read and a good cattleman.  He had a splendid herd of cattle at “Inkerman”.

In 1910 Charles Curr and his family also went to British East Africa. After a hunting trip there he went to England and France, and was in England for the coronation of King Edward V11 on the 9th of August 1910.  After selling “Abingdon” in 1913 he again returned to British East Africa with his family and made his headquarters in Nairobi.  He hunted in Uganda and around Lake Victoria.  He was hunting in German East Africa when the Great War broke out in 1914 and was taken prisoner.  After being kept prisoner for a few days, the Germans gave him permission to leave their country at once, first taking  from him his splendid battery of rifles and guns, field glasses, all food and effects.  He felt parting with his favourite rifles very much, as these had been his best friends in many a wild game hunt.  It was a very expensive battery, and had been made by Holland & Holland in New Bond Street, London.  He and his party walked through unknown bush keeping supplied with food with the one rifle the Germans allowed him to keep for protection.  It took the party fourteen days to do the trip to Nairobi.  He was welcomed back as one risen from the dead, as it had been reported that the Germans had shot him for refusing to give up his firearms.

Whilst hunting in German East Africa, Charles inspected the Killermarfacy Gold Mine and became a shareholder.  He sent some of the ore to Australia and it assayed 40 ounces of gold to the ton. It is supposed to be a very big and rich reef, easy and cheap to work. So when this Great War is finished, the mine may prove itself to be a mountain of gold. On the whole the Germans treated Charles very well, and he speaks kindly of them.  Charles is a first-class cattleman, and takes a special interest in the breeding of good beef cattle.  He bred up an excellent herd at “Abingdon”, and later developed a Shorthorn stud.  He imported from the southern herds some good bulls to all the stations that he held in the Gulf country.  He is a first-class bushman, a good shot, an excellent horseman, and a good swimmer. He is also very well read and a very keen game hunter.  He is very fond of shooting as a sport, and has won many clay-pigeon competitions in Sydney and elsewhere.

In 1911 Fred Curr went to the Middle East and Italy, returning to Australia in 1912. In 1913 he went to New Guinea and then again to Java, Timor and Port Darwin.  In the meantime he rented “Wyandra Estate” at Tolga.  In December 1913 he again left Australia for British East Africa, calling in at Mozambique, Zanzibar, and Mombasa before going inland to Nairobi and meeting up with his brother Charles and family.  After leaving British East Africa he went to Egypt and Jerusalem, and returning to British East Africa was delayed in Aden owing to the declaration of the Great War on 4th of August 1914.  He left East Africa in February 1915 and returned to Australia after visiting India and Ceylon.  He reached Melbourne on the 12th of April 1915 and immediately went to visit the stations in the Gulf country.  Returning to Brisbane in May he rented “Nestle Brae” house, and on the 30th of June 1915 married Maude Alice Rogers at St. Brigid’s Church, Red Hill, Brisbane.  Maude was the youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs James Rogers, manager of the Golden Gate Mine at Croydon.  In April 1916 he purchased a house on Tower Hill, Albion which was called “Martello.”  Frederick Joseph Curr was born there on the 18th of March 1917, and James John Curr was also born there on the 14th of August 1918.  Francis Laurence Curr was born at Bourne Street Clayfield on the 21st of June 1920, and on the 11th of February 1923 Thomas Charles Curr was born at “Rowenzori”, Warwick.  In February 1919 he purchased “Saltwood House” at Sandgate as a holiday house, and after selling “Rowenzori” back to his brother Charles he purchased a house at Corinda, Brisbane, which he named “Abingdon”.  This is where he now resides with his wife Maude and his four sons, Joe, Jim, Frank and Tom. (1924)

Maud Alice Rogers

11 . Fred’s Travels

In 1911 I left “Abingdon” for a trip to Italy, and then the dreams and expectations of a lifetime were about to be realised.  I boarded the Dutch ship “Warecjk” at Cairns one hot and sultry morning on the 1st  of October.  It was a magnificent ship, and seemed fitted to face formidable seas.  “Rocked in the cradle of the Deep” in such a craft one can lie down and sleep as peacefully as a child on its mother’s breast.  I went from Port Moresby to Batavia then on to Singapore and Colombo, the “Gem of the East.”  Long before you arrive one can see the outline of the hills rising in the grey mist of the morning.  So at last I was at Colombo, the fairy land of dreams and the hunters paradise.  The smell of the East was about it.  I had read a good deal  about Ceylon in Baker’s books and what grand sport he had there in the early 1860’s with his rifle and hounds.  Colombo is supposed to be the hottest city in the British Dominions.  I took a motor drive around the native quarters, then we set sail to Peirim for coal.  This is a miserable place, a mere sandhill thrust out of the ocean a mile and a half long.  A lighthouse stands on the barren headland.  Peirim is the key to the Indian Ocean and is strongly fortified and garrisoned.  We then launched into the Red Sea, and I wonder if it gets its name from the red coral or the red seaweed that drifts about in it.  For fourteen hundred miles between the burning shores of Arabia on one side and Africa on the other side we have to face the terrors of the sultry sea. What memories gather round as we cleave our way through this historic sea.  What fleets have sailed upon its bosom since Menes founded his Egyptian dynasty, and Moses went to Egypt with the remnant of his oppressed people led possibly by an ancestor of one of these wandering bedouins that I see in the desert now. The lands by whose shores I am passing have been the cradle of the human family, and in one of these lands Noah pitched his tent and later on his Ark must have drifted about here somewhere.  The captain pointed out the spot where Moses is supposed to have crossed the Red Sea, and through the gap in the far hills the famed Mount Sinai.  We entered the Suez Canal at the Gates of Desolation under the shadow of the Great Rock upon which the beautiful Cleopatra smiled.  She had a rotten trip that time.  During the battle of Ac’Tuim the ship in which Clepoatra sailed was seen to withdraw from action and sail towards Egypt.  She was followed and caught, and when she saw she was to be led away a captive, she ordered a basket of figs to be brought to her in which a snake was concealed, and whose bite caused her death.  She was a hard case.  As we passed through the canal I saw some Bedouins and coal black Nubians, big powerful fellows who looked as though they had been cut out of a block of ebony.  I also saw a lot of veiled Mahommedan women.  To the left were the plains over which the Persians, Greeks, and Roman conquerors had gone to spoil the Egyptians in days gone by.

I arrived at Genoa on the 9th of December 1911.  I went sight-seeing for a few days and through the Art Galleries and the Campo Santo where I saw some wonderful work done with a chisel.  Then I went to Rome. 

I visited that wonderful building, St. Peter’s, whose foundation stone was laid by Julius the Second in the presence of thirty five cardinals on the 11th of April 1506.  It cost ten million pounds to build. It contains paintings of all the great masters, and crowning all is Michelangelo’s wondrous dome, 400 feet high.  I went through the catecombs and the Castel  St. Angelo, then on to Naples and through the ruins of Pompeii.  I stayed about four weeks in Italy before returning to Australia and “Abingdon.”

*

Early in 1913 I had a short trip to New Guinea, Java, Timor and Port Darwin, then on the 12th of December 1913 I left Australia and went to Durban in South Africa, then up the east coast of South Africa calling in at Mozambique, Lorenzo Marques, Zanzibar and Mombasa before going inland to Nairobi in British East Africa.  I bought an allotment about three miles out of Nairobi and made my home there for a time while doing a little shooting and touring around.  Anyone anxious for a pleasant holiday, or interested in the study of nature untamed by the hand of man, should go to British East Africa, the land of the sportsman.  Ever since leaving Mombasa I have been astonished by this wonderful country.  The journey from the coast, though slow, was the most marvellous I ever hope to make.  A plunge into the depths of the tropical jungle alight with the most dazzling vegetation, then across a vast treeless desert and on again through dense forests and swamps, always up an incline until the following morning we reached the highlands.  I awoke in a vast waving prairie surrounded on almost all sides by immense mountain ranges which included Kilimanjaro, literally alive with every species of wild game to within twenty yards of the carriage windows.  The zebra, giraffes, buffalo, gnu, ostrich, bustards, hyenas and every variety of buck and gazelle grazed within easy stones throw, quite indifferent to the noise of the train.  The English and Australian sportsmen are beginning to realise the proximity and attractions of this glorious country where one can live side by side with the primitive man armed with spears for protection against the wild animals.  British East Africa has proved to be a healthy climate flowing in milk and honey.  It possesses in parts a soil so rich that cotton, rubber, coffee, fibre, wattle, and maize yield samples equal to any grown under Australian conditions.  The natives have large flocks and herds of native cattle, sheep, and goats on the large plain where they sojourn like Abraham and Jacob of old.  Thousands of wild game and all the stock I have seen in this country are in splendid condition.  I have not seen a poor beast, although there is a drought on at present.  This clearly proves it to be the most wonderful country for stock that I have ever seen.  Everything in the two protectorates is in its infancy.  Experiments are being tried from day to day with its magnificent climate.  Coffee has so far proved itself to be a great hope, with hemp and wattles a good second.  In East Africa, at an altitude of from six to ten thousand feet, one finds a first-rate climate.  So far there are about 5,000 whites.  South African and Australian farmers are coming out here in numbers.  Nairobi, the principal place, is a struggling town, built in a hurry, and has a population of about 1,200 whites.  What astonishes the stranger who visits Nairobi is the number of modern business establishments scattered through the town where, but a few years ago, the lion made the plains ring with his roar and the hippo lumbered his way down to the Nairobi River to slake his thirst.  Now stand some numbers of handsomely appointed shops, banks and stores, and the new Theatre Royal is a most up-to-date two story building as good as anything in the city of Brisbane.  

I went to see Lake Victoria, leaving Nairobi one morning by train, and after a pleasant journey through lovely scenery, stayed at Lake Naivasha for the night.  Lake Naivasha is a very pretty place with lots of ducks and geese and all kinds of wild fowl.  I had a good look around the town which is 6,000 feet above sea level, then on again through the hunter’s paradise to Port Victoria.  I went aboard the steamer “Sybil” and crossed the second largest fresh water lake in the world towards Uganda.  It is a glorious lake with many islands, and steaming across it in that little floating palace, with good mosquito-proof cabins, fans and every convenience, recalls to my mind the wonderful changes that have taken place since the days of Captain Speke.  Little did I think, years ago, in the old bark hut at “Abingdon”, with the flickering flame of the old fat lamp, pouring over all the books of travels of Speke, Baker, Stanley and Livingstone, that I should one day steam across that grand old lake and travel through some of the country that they had explored.  On the 11th of June 1914  I stood at the sources of the Nile in Central Africa, and thought of all the explorers who had tried to find it. It fell to Captain Speke to be the first white man to discover it.   Then I stood on the rock that Speke had stood on years ago, and dipping some water in the hollow of my hand I drank his health.  In a few days I returned to Port Victoria and boarded the train amidst the yelling crowd.  We steamed through the cold black night in darkest Africa towards Nairobi, two hundred and fifty miles away.  Next morning dawn peeps in amidst the lovely scenery of the Riff Valley and hundreds of wild game.  We ascended some eight thousand feet and then a most glorious view reached my eyes, the beautiful Kiddom Valley.  I cannot describe it, but think what an appropriate place for heaven.  At one end of the valley is the old volcano Cesexous, (Hell), and at the other end the beautiful Lake Naivasha,  (Paradise).

*

After returning to Nairobi I joined my brother Charles for a week’s hunting and saw thousands of wild game. I went aboard the German ship “Tabora” at Mombasa and through the Red Sea again to Port Said.  I went out to see the Great Pyramids at Cairo and went down into the King’s Chambers. Time, it is said, mocks at all things, but the pyramid laughs at time amidst its loneliness and immensity.  It is the most wonderful pile of stone erected by the hand of man on the face of the earth.  Time, astronomy, weight and measures are there.  The inch, the yard, the cubit arm of twenty five inches is there, our year, our Sabbath, our past and present, and perhaps our future.  The world’s history is there.

From Port Said I went aboard a Russian Ship bound for Jaffa where Hiram, King of Tyre, landed the cedars from Lebanon for the building of Solomon’s temple.  I strolled through this old city seeing many historical places and visited one of the oldest tanneries in the world.  I was shown the beach where Napoleon, copying Richard the Lionheart of England, shot two thousand of his captives.  I passed many historical places travelling from Jaffa to Jerusalem including Modein where the Machabes were buried, and Ramleh, the village of Nicodemus, Timmath or “Jawbone” where Samson killed a thousand of the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass, and Beth-Shemash to where the Philistines carried the Ark of the Covenant and where it remained for twenty years.  This was a lidless box exactly the same size as the coffer in the King’s Chamber of the great pyramids.  I entered the city of Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate close by the Tower of David on the 21st of July 1914.  Next morning I climbed up the tower of the Grand Hotel from which I had a splendid view of the historical places of the city – the great dome of the Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock, the site of the Temple of Solomon, the Mount of Olives, Gethsamene, the Valley of Death covered with countless tombstones, and away in the background the rugged barren ranges of Moab like the billows of a frozen sea.  There could be no more fitting background for the drama at Calvary and it all recalled to mind those words  “seeing the city he wept.”  I noticed the rocks all about Jerusalem are all split.  The earthquake at the time of the Crucifixion had something to do with this. My guide pointed out to me a walled up gateway in the wall called the “Golden Gate.”  Christ entered there on Palm Sunday, and pointing to a gate on the opposite wall of the city said “that is the Jaffa Gate and we believe that some day a Christian soldier, leading a Christian army, will enter by that gate and take Jerusalem peacefullly, leaving all his firearms outside the gate.”  On the 10th  of December  1917, General Allenby entered Jerusalem through that gate in a peaceful manner, without firing a shot through the city.  The word Allenby is a combination of three Hebrew words with extraordinary significance.  “Al” means “god”, “len” means “lodges or dwells”, and “by” means “me.”  Thus the word Allenby signifies “God lodges with me.”  Truly this is significant of the release of Jerusalem by the god of Israel.

I then visited Bethlehem and passed by the tomb of Rachel.  Jacob erected the tomb three thousand five hundred years ago.  The Church of the Nativity is a noble building dating back to the fourth century.  Down a stone staircase into a large cave, a silver star marks the spot where stood the manger where Christ was born.  A mysterious silence hangs around this cave.  I returned to Jaffa and boarded a Russian ship to Port Said and then went aboard a French troopship bound for Madagascar.  Just as we went out of the Red Sea the captain picked up a  wireless signal from the German cruiser “Colensberg” and put out all lights.  It was a very dark and stormy night and luckily the Germans did not find us.  At daylight we were safe under the guns at Aden.  I was delayed at Aden for about ten days owing to the Great War being declared on the 4th of August 1914. 

I eventually reached Nairobi and remained there until the 20th of February 1915 when I sailed for India, landing at Bombay after ten days voyage from Mombasa.  Then on by train to Madras and then to Ceylon.  While waiting for a ship to Australia I visited Kandy and the Temple of Budda’s Tooth, the gardens, Newara Eliya, and Sir Samuel Baker’s old home

I returned to Australia and arrived at Melbourne on the 12th of April 1915, then on to Sydney, Brisbane and Normanton and out to “Delta”, “Inkerman”, and “Rutland Plains” stations.  I then returned to Brisbane where I now live and on the 30th of June 1915 married Maude Alice Rogers.

12. A Visit To Highfield

Well, my boys, I will give you an account of my trip to Circular Head, Tasmania, my grandfather’s old home.  Your mother and I stayed a day in Melbourne and met Justin Curr who had lunch with us at the Hotel Windsor.  On the afternoon of 6th February we went aboard the steamer “Nairani”, and after a rough passage of eighteen hours arrived at Launceston.  We remained there all Sunday and had a motor drive about the town and suburbs.  Launceston is situated at the junction of the Tamar and the North and South Esk Rivers, fourty miles from the sea.  It is pretty going up the river in the early morning.  The country has an English appearance, and the eye ranges over miles of hawthorn hedges and briar.  The old homesteads nestling in

shrubberies of English trees and roses.  The land is well-watered by permanent creeks and rivers, and there is a good number of cattle and sheep.   

Leaving Launceston by the early morning train we arrived at Stanley, a small township of 600 inhabitants at Circular Head.  This portion of Tasmania was first opened up by the Van Diemen’s Land Company nearly a century ago by my grandfather, Edward Curr.  He built a two-storey stone house and named it “Highfield House”.  It is about a mile out of Stanley on high ground.  I spent some hours going over the four acres of old grounds on which stands this grand old home surrounded by hedges, oaks, elms, pine trees and a lovely avenue of large trees meeting at the top leading up to the house.  It was in this house that my father Marmaduke Curr was born in 1835.  There is a small stone chapel in the grounds where Father Connolly used to celebrate Mass.  Upstairs in the chapel was the school-room .  The wall of this chapel is two feet thick, and still in good order.

The present owner of the house, Harry Ford, has been in the house for 68 years.  He very kindly showed me all through the house.  Some of the old furniture is still in use.  Near the staircase is a niche in the wall where my grandfather used to keep a large crucifix to remind his children of their God.

It was a strange sensation to me going through this lovely old home of the Currs where my father and uncles and aunts had played in childhood before the fireplace with its splendid marble mountings and fittings.

There are splendid out-buildings, all of stone, stables, men’s quarters, and the old convict barracks.  The stone walls are still to be seen , and most of them are in good condition.  There is no doubt it was a lovely old home.  On one of the tables in the sitting room of the house was a wireless set.  What a change has taken place in this old room since my grandfather and his family lived there.  Gramaphone, telephone, radiophone, and aeroplane.  One of the Ford boys flew from “Highfield” to Launceston a few weeks ago.  Things are ever changing, and you boys will see many changes in the next fifty years.

I took many photographs of the house and out-buildings, and then took a look at the Van Diemen’s Land Company cattle.  They are a fine lot of shorthorn cattle.  I saw some good draught horses.  All the cattle and horses look well although there is a drought on here at present.

The view from the front gate of “Highfield” looking seawards is beautiful.  The little bay with nice sandy beaches, the little mountain called “The Nut” at the most northern point of Circular Head, 450 feet high is flat on top and about eighty acres of good land with cattle feeding on it and around the sides. Under the shadow of The Nut, and rising abruptly from the sea, is the old cemetery where rest many convicts who my grandfather had working for him.  There is one headstone “Cordley” who died in 1922 aged 94 years.  My grandfather brought this man out in the early days and he worked and lived in the VDL Company’s employ until he died.  He was a farm hand.  If I had visited Circular Head in the beginning of 1922 I would have seen and talked to a man who had worked for my grandfather.   

The township of Stanley is called after Captain Stanley who landed goods there from England for the company in the early sailing ship days.  I went into the house through a large cedar door, and down a long hall that led into a large sitting room.  What memories hang around this old room.  What sorrows and joys.  What happy babes played around that old fireplace and grew up to be men and women, married and reared families in different parts of Australia.  Some followed the pastoral pursuits – cattle and sheep stations.  In one end of the grounds is a headstone in memory of Juliana Teresa Curr who died on the 24th of June 1835 aged two years.  My grandfather had a large deer park close to the house and I saw the remains of the old stone gateway.  The paddock was enclosed by a high African box hedge, and it was a nice sloping piece of ground down to the beach.

Leaving Stanley we went to a pretty little town called Burnie overlooking Emu Bay. In the early days, 1826, the Van Diemen’s Land Company had a settlement there.  I met the present manager of the company, and he told me it is now under offer for £450,000 and he expected it to be sold this year.  Mr. McGore showed me a large book where my grandfather wrote all the copies of his letters to the company.  All these letters were signed “Edward Curr”, 1826.  They are nearly 100 years old.

 When my grandfather came to Hobart in 1819 for the first time to have a look around, he built a lovely two-storey stone house on the high ground which he named “Belle-View” after the house where he was born in England.  It stands on two acres of ground with a six foot stone wall around it, and nicely laid out grounds and walks, hawthorn hedges and roses, oaks, elms, and pine trees.  The house is very nice inside and in very good order.

My grandfather sold out to Mr. Butler who sold it to Mr. Jellybrand who later sold it to the Cialia family who still own it.  The house has never been let, and the day I visited there were descendants of three out of the four families who had lived there, namely Currs, Jellybrands, and Cialias.

Your loving father, Fred C. Curr.  28th February, 1925.

Death of Juliana Teresa Curr

In the grounds of “Highfield House” is a monument eight feet high and surmounted by an urn.  The approaching visitor will notice on the face of the top block of the marble slab an inscription:

Juliana Teresa Curr

Died 24th June 1835

Aged 2 years 11 months & 14 days

SHE RESTS IN PEACE

The number of months are absent, but there are marks on the headstone which appear to have been caused by some small bullets.  It is therefore presumed that the missing months were cut out by a shot from a small pea rifle.

The story connected with this little girl’s death was that she was in the habit of going about the settlement in a small cart in which a big dog was harnessed.  It is said that on the day of her death, as she was taking her usual drive, a dog fight occurred on the other side of the fence, and her hound, in the excitement of the moment and forgetting the duty he owed to his little mistress, hastened to join in.  To reach the contest, the animal rushed beneath the rail of the fence against which the child’s head was hit, killing her instantly.

In those days it was customary for quite a number of dogs to be kept on the settlements as a guard against bush rangers and the dogs of the blacks who were by this time becoming quite troublesome.

Elizabeth Micklethwaite Curr, the child’s mother, was heartbroken, and took flowers to the grave every day until she left “Highfield”.

AFTERWORD

After his marriage, Uncle Fred retired to Brisbane where he and Aunt Maud raised their four boys at their home “Abingdon” at Corinda in Brisbane.  They also adopted a daughter, Agnes, who typed the book for Uncle Fred in 1925.  He had many disputes with the State Government authorities about his collection of family firearms which, although safely stored under lock and key, were considered hazardous.  He was forced to fill the barrels of the pistols with lead, and never forgave the authorities for this.  He died in Brisbane in 1953, just short of his 88th birthday, and Aunt Maud died four years later in 1957.  Their eldest son, Joe, married Bettina Curr, a great granddaughter of Edward Micklethwaite Curr, and they had four children; Pamela, who lives in Melbourne, John, Ian and Georgina who live in Brisbane.  Uncle Fred’s second son, Jim, who died last year, married Thelma Butterfield, and they had three children; Frank, Sue and Peter. World War II claimed Uncle Fred’s third son, Frank, in 1944, and his youngest son, Tom, died unmarried in his early thirties.  Agnes, now Mrs Delaney, lives in Sydney, and her only son, Dr. Michael Delaney, is a prominent ophthalmologist.

Aunt Alice married Robert Edols in 1895 and her only child, Mollie (Mary Kirwan Edols), was born in 1898, shortly after her grandfather’s death.  Marmaduke had threatened Aunt Alice to “cut her off with a shilling” if she married Robert Edols, and he was true to his word.  Her brothers and sister, however, ignored this clause in their father’s will and considered her an equal partner when Fred and Charlie bought Walter and the girls out of “Abingdon”.  After living in England for many years Aunt Alice returned to Australia when war was imminent in 1939, and died in Brisbane in 1964 aged 94.  So it was that we, the great nieces and nephews, were able to know her so well during the fifties and sixties.  Mollie married a psychiatrist, Dr. Charles de Vere Short, and stayed on in England until the late fifties when she came to Brisbane to be near her mother.  She had many interesting experiences working in British Intelligence in Cairo during World War II, and later went to New York as personal assistant to the renowned Sister Kenny.  After Aunt Alice’s death she returned to London, and my sister Mary Cole-Adams was with her when she died in 1978 aged 80.  She had no children.

Charles Montague Curr, my grandfather, married Mary Theresa Ambrose in 1900 and lived at “Abingdon” until 1913 when they felt the Gulf was no place for their five daughters Florence, Kathleen, Pauline, Madeleine and Mary.  My mother told me my grandmother begged grandfather to take the family away from the harshness and isolation.  They bought a farm at Rose Hill near Warwick which grandfather called “Rowenzori” after the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda, and he established a shorthorn stud.  This is where their son Julius Montague was born in 1920, named after the two uncles who had shared my grandfather’s childhood.  Charlie died at Warwick in 1930 aged 62, and after his death the family moved to “Buckie”, the station which Charlie had bought in 1924 near Moree in NSW.  Mary Theresa Curr was a dynamic force in the management of “Buckie”, and was one of the first to grow wheat in the district.  Julius was killed at war in 1942, and his mother died a year later.  Charlie and Mary’s five daughters all married, but only two had children.  Kathleen married an Irishman, William George Ryan, and they lived in Calcutta for many years before retiring to South Africa.  Their son Dermot managed “Buckie” until he and his wife Rosemary retired to Eumundi where they now live.  His two sisters, Pauline and Geraldine, live in Cape Town and Zimbabwe respectively.  They both have large families.  Madeleine Curr, who died last year, married Archibald Freeman and had three daughters; Eleanor, Mary who lives in London, and Flora who lives at Berrima NSW and breeds Warm Blood horses.  Charlie’s youngest daughter, Mary, now Lady Douglas, is his last surviving child, and the last living grandchild of Marmaduke and Mary Anne. She is also the last of the Curr’s who lived at “Abingdon.”

Walter Bernard Curr married Mary Elizabeth Fitzwalter in 1902 and lived mainly at “Inkerman” in the Gulf.  He later bought “Taldora” near Julia Creek where his grandson David Curr now lives. Walter and Mary had two sons, Colin Marmaduke (initially known as Marmy by the family and later as Duke) born in 1904, and Walter Carlton (known as Carlton) born in 1905. Duke Curr married Joan Lethbridge in 1936 and sadly Carlton, aged 31, died from a heart attack three days before their wedding. They had three sons, Walter Robert (Robert), David and Michael.  Robert and David remained on the land in far north Queensland near Winton and Julia Creek, and their children are now following them.  Michael has moved to The Kimberley in Western Australia.  Walter died in 1948, and Mary Elizabeth lived on at Charters Towers until her death in 1960.

Uncle Fred’s youngest sister, Emily Adelaide, (Aunt Tikkie) went to Sydney after her father’s death, and in 1902 married an actor, Cecil Augustus Robinson.  They had one daughter, Dulcie May, born at Woollahra in 1904, then went to live in San Francisco.  They survived the earthquake of 1905, but lost their house and all their possessions in the great fire that engulfed the city afterwards. Aunt Alice wrote to Aunt Tikkie every week and always lamented that she was lucky to receive a reply once every three months.  Aunt Tikkie and Dulcie travelled to England in 1928 to visit Aunt Alice and Mollie, and my Aunt Mary, who was at school in London at the time, met her there.  To my knowledge this was the only time Aunt Tikkie left America.  She died in New York in 1943.  Dulcie became a successful actress, and when aged twenty-one was the youngest leading lady in America at the time.  She married Ashley Cooper and used the name Dulcie Cooper as her stage name. Dulcie and Mollie saw each other often when Mollie was in New York with Sister Kenny.  Certainly Dulcie never travelled to Australia, and Mollie was the only cousin she really knew. She had no children, and died in America about 1965.   

It is a hundred and thirty-six years since the Curr brothers, Marmaduke and Montague, established “Merri Merriwah” station, and a hundred years since the death of Marmaduke Curr at “Abingdon” in 1898.  His grandchildren are now grandparents, and his descendants are spread around the world from Australia to England, the African continent, and the USA.  Curr landholdings in Queensland and Western Australia are all in the hands of Walter Bernard’s grandchildren and their families, so a century later, the tradition which was established by our great grandparents and their children is being maintained.

“Abingdon Downs” is now owned by the Stanbroke Pastoral Company, a subsidary of the AMP. The Curr Brothers brand CB2, established in 1862 by Marmaduke and Montague, is still in use today at “Abingdon”.

Appendices

A

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN TASMANIA IN 1820

The most influential member of the Catholic Community in Hobart Town when Fr. Connolly landed there was Mr Edward Curr who had arrived in February 1820.  In 1823 he returned to England to arrange certain family affairs and to make a report on the agricultural prospects of the Colony.  While in the home country he published a book on the state of Van Diemem’s Land remarkable for its clear narrative and sober delineation.  After an absence of more than two years he arrived again in Hobart Town as Secretary and Manager for the Van Diemen’s Land Company which was to select land for agricultural purposes.  In December 1825 the island became politically independent of New South Wales.  The Governor now assumed the title of His Excellency.  At once a Legislative Council was formed, and Mr. Edward Curr was appointed a member.  A difficulty arose owing to the new Councillor’s religion.  As a Catholic, Mr. Curr refused to take the oath repudiating the doctrine of transubstantiation and acknowledging the Royal supremacy in spiritual matters.  Sir George Arthur was anxious that Mr. Curr should take office, and he accordingly agreed to the omission of the anti-Catholic expressions in the oath pending advice from the Imperial Government.  After receipt of instruction from England Mr. Curr wrote: 

“Belview”, Davey Street,

April 6th, 1826.

Sir,

I was yesterday favoured with Captain Montague’s letter informing me that as a member of the Legislative Council such oaths only will be tendered to me as Your Excellency anticipates I shall have no hesitation in taking.  I have to express my sincere thanks to Your Excellency for the consideration you have shown me in the matter, and to assure you of my readiness at any time. Your Excellency may be pleased to appoint to make and subscribe the oaths alluded to as well as to discharge the duties of that office with the greatest assiduity and attention.    I have the honour   etc. 

 Edward Curr.

As the Van Diemen’s Land Company acquired its extensive properties in the north west of the island, Mr. Curr was obliged to remove from Hobart Town.  In 1828 he made his home at Circular Head with his wife and three children who had been baptised by Father Connolly.  A few years later there were on the estate about 400 employees of whom more than half were prisoners of the Crown.  The reports of the proprietors eulogised the management of Mr. Curr and affirmed that his moral influence rendered his government easy and his people contented.

In Blair’s History of Australasia, in the First Parliament of Van Diemen’s Land, Edward Curr was one of the names in the lower house.  The members were gazetted, not elected.  

B

The following is a list of works published by members of

our family, omitting pamphlets.  Some I have heard of from

my nephew, Henry E. Gurner, who found them in the catalogue of the Library of the British Museum.

l“The Coal-Viewer and Engineer’s Companion”

by John Curr.  Sheffield 1797.

l“Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and The Blessed Virgin” 

by Saint Alphonso de Legouri.

Translated from the Italian by the Reverend Joseph Curr.

l“Catholicism, or the Old Rule of Faith, vindicated from the attack of W. Roby,” by the Reverend Joseph Curr.  Manchester 1821.

l“An Account of the Colony of Van Diemen’s Land”,

by Edward Curr. London 1824.

l“Familiar Instructions in the Faith and Morality of the Catholic Church” by the Reverend Joseph Curr.  Dublin. 1834.

l“The Fox and the Goose” or “A Comico-Serious Address to the Good People of Wittingham and all who read the address of the Reverend J. Law of 27th March”

by the Reverend Joseph Curr.  Newcastle. 1835.

l“Railway Locomotion and Steam Navigation – Their Principles and Practice”, by John Curr. London 1847.

l“A Letter to Sir Oswald Moseley, Bart”,

by the Reverend Joseph Curr.

C

From a newspaper called “The Tasmanian”  of 23 November 1827, printed in Hobart Town, I see that my father sailed from Hobart Town in the schooner “Flamingo” and took his family to reside at Circular Head.  In a previous number of the same newspaper there is a long letter of  my father’s to the Editor.  E.M. Curr.

D

I have a letter from my brother Julius, dated 8th August 1880, from “Abingdon Downs” Station, Georgetown, Queensland, in which he says that my brother Walter arrived on the station (which belongs to my brother Marmaduke) from Fiji on the 4th July 1880.  He was taken ill of fever and ague, and died quite unexpectedly on the 2nd August 1880.  How terrible to die without the sacraments.  Of six of us brothers who used to live at “Tongala” when time was young, only Richard and I, the two eldest, remain. E.M.Curr, 7 Nov. 1880.

E

OBITUARIES CONCERNING EDWARD MICKLETHWAITE CURR

The Argus, Melbourne. 3rd August 1889.

Curr. On the 3rd Instant, at his residence at Chapel Street St. Kilda,

Edward Micklethwaite Curr, in his 69th year. R.I.P.

In our obituary column of today appears an announcement of the death of Mr. Edward Micklethwaite Curr, the Chief Inspector of Stock, which took place at his residence at Chapel Street and Windsor Streets on Saturday.  The deceased was a son of Mr. Edward Curr who took a prominent part in securing the separation of Victoria from New South Wales, and was born at Hobart in 1920.  He was educated in England and France, and came to reside permanently in Port Phillip in February 1841.  Starting at that time with three small flocks of sheep, which his father had purchased in the neighbourhood of where Heathcote now stands, Mr. Curr proceeded to the Goulburn River, near its confluence with the Murray, taking up, from time to time as squatting runs, “Tongala”, “Moira”, “Manerong”, “Gargarro”, “Goragorag”, and “Colbinabbin”. 

In 1851 he left the colony for about three years and visited Spain, France, Italy, Syria, Egypt and other countries, paying considerable attention to their breeds of horses and other domestic animals.  On his return he passed some time in New Zealand and subsequently purchased cattle stations in the Burnett district of Queensland and the Lachlan district of New South Wales.  In 1862, Mr Curr was appointed Inspector of Sheep, in 1864 became Chief Inspector of Sheep, and in 1873 Chief Inspector of Stock.  In 1863 Mr Curr published in Melbourne a work entitled “Pure Saddle Horses” which was well received by the public and the press.  In 1865 he received the prize of  £150 offered by Parliament for a competitive essay on the subject of “Scab in Sheep” which was published by the Government.  Mr. Curr has since been an occasional writer on subjects connected with the livestock of the colony.  In 1874 he represented Victoria in a conference of Chief Inspectors held in Sydney, on which occasion he maintained the advisability of prohibiting for all time the introduction of stock from outside the Australian Colonies, as he held that a contrary course meant, in the long run, the introduction of the diseases of stock.  For several years Mr. Curr interested himself in the aboriginal languages of the Australian continent, and published an extensive work on the aborigines, their habits, and their dialects, the great value of which has been fully recognised.  In his official capacity, Mr. Curr was most consistent and persistent in his endeavours to avoid even the slightest risk of the introduction of serious diseases from abroad to the flocks and herds of Australia.

The Australasian. 10th August, 1889.

In our obituary column of this week appears an announcement of the death of Mr. Edward Micklethwaite Curr, the Chief Inspector of Stock, which took place at his residence at Chapel and Windsor Streets, St. Kilda, on Saturday.  The deceased was a son of Mr. Edward Curr who took a prominent part in securing the separation of Victoria from New South Wales, and was born in Hobart in 1820.  He was educated in England and France, and came to reside permanently in Port Phillip in February 1841.  Starting at that time with three small flocks of sheep which his father had purchased in the neighbourhood of where Heathcote now stands, Mr. Curr proceeded to the Goulburn River, taking up, from time to time, as squatting runs Tongala, Moira, Namerong, Gargarro, Goragorag, and Colbinabbin.  In 1851 he left the Colony for about three years and visited Spain, France, Italy, Syria, Egypt and other countries, paying considerable attention to their breeds of horses and other domestic animals.  On his return he passed some time in New Zealand, and subsequently purchased cattle stations in the Burnett district of Queensland and in the Lachlan district of New South Wales.  In 1862 Mr. Curr was appointed Inspector of Sheep, in 1864 Chief Inspector of Sheep, and in 1873 Chief Inspector of Stock.  In 1863 Mr. Curr published in Melbourne a work entitled “Pure Saddle Horses” which was well received by the public and the press.  In 1865 he received the prize of £150 offered by Parliament for a competitive essay on the subject of “Scab in Sheep” which was published by the Government.  Mr. Curr had estimated that for many years previous to 1862 the Colony had lost not less than £500,000 annually by the presence of scab.  There were not a few flocks in which the average value of the wool annually taken from them amounted to a little more than a shilling per sheep.  When armed with legal power, Mr. Curr devoted himself wholly to the herculean task of eradicating this formidable disease, but after several years trial, the Act of 1864 was pronounced a failure.  It contained no provision for preventing the travelling of scabby sheep, and hence relapses were constantly recurring.  The act of 1864 was at the instance of the late Chief Inspector of Stock superseded by the Act of 1870 under which the powers were taken to frame regulations regarding the travelling of sheep, the proclamation of clean and quarantine districts, and all other essential matters.  The act was, indeed, almost a skeleton, to be filled up and worked at the instance of the department concerned by means of regulations.  Objectionable as is this principle of law-making in the abstract, it proved in that instance most valuable.  The power had fallen into hands which wielded it for the benefit of the classes most deeply concerned.  In spite of much opposition, Mr. Curr had the satisfaction of recording the complete success of the operations conducted under his directions, and by which eight millions of sheep had been cleaned.  The proclamation that the colony of Victoria was no longer infected by scab appeared in the Gazette of June 1876.  Mr. Curr has since been an occasional writer on subjects connected with the livestock of the colony.  In 1874 he represented Victoria in a conference of Chief Inspectors held in Sydney on which occasion he maintained the advisability of prohibiting for all time the introduction of stock from outside of the Australian Colonies, as he held that a contrary course meant, in the long run, the introduction of the diseases of stock.  For several years Mr. Curr interested himself in the aboriginal languages of the Australian continent, and published, in 1886, an extensive work on the aborigines, their habits and their dialects, the great value of which has been fully recognised. The “Aborigines of Australia” which is the title of the work, (later called “The Australian Race”), was printed by the Victorian Government on the recommendation of the Royal Society of London.  It was reviewed in our columns and it has everywhere been highly spoken of – both in these colonies and by the scientific press of the mother country.  The “Aborigines of Australia” will doubtless be accepted as the standard authority on the subject of which it treats.  It is published in four volumes.  In his official capacity, Mr. Curr was most consistent and persistent in his endeavours to avoid even the slightest risk of the introduction of serious diseases from abroad to the flocks and herds of Australia.

From Table Talk:

Mr. Edward Micklethwaite Curr, the Victorian Chief Inspector of Stock, who died on Saturday last aged 69 years, was a native of Tasmania. He was the greatest authority on the language of the Australian Aborigines, and his book on the subject has been printed at the expense of the Victorian Government.

Resolution passed by the Aboriginal Board:

A resolution was passed expressing the deep regret of the board at the death of Mr. Edward Curr who had been a member of the board for many years and who took a deep interest in everything connected with the aborigines.

Queensland. August 10, 1889.

 …..But his greatest work, and one which will keep his name for ever green among philologists, is that on the language, manners and customs of the Australian Aborigines.  This work occupied his spare time for fourteen years, and attained such proportions that the Government of Victoria, recognising its great value, undertook its publication at the expense of the State.  The work was only completed two years before his death, and is the most complete of its kind.

F

WRITINGS BY EDWARD MICKLETHWAITE CURR

“A Bush Fire” – London Illustrated News. 1853.

“The Waste Land of New Zealand”. 1856

“Letters concerning the Burke and Wills Expedition”. 

The Argus Newspaper 1861.

“Pure Saddle Horses”. 1863

“Prize Essay on Scab”. 1865.

“Des Betives”. 1868. Printed privately – only a few copies. Not published.

“Letters on the subject of Separation”.

Also Letters of J.D. Lang Colonial Pamphlets 1870

“Report of Conference of Chief Inspector of Stock”. Blue Book 1874.

“Letters on Smallpox”.  The Argus Newspaper. January 1877.

“Recollections of Squatting in Victoria”. 1883

“Report to the Minister of Agriculture”.  Blue Book 1885. 

(A good deal about stock-breeding).

“Report of the Second Stock Conference”, 1886. 

Blue Book 1887.

“The Australian Race”. Melbourne & London 1886.

G

LETTER FROM AUNT FLORENCE

St. Vincent’s Orphanage, Brisbane.  30th August, 1916.

My Dear Fred,

Of Marmaduke Curr I know little.  He went to live with his brother-in-law Hastings Cunningham of Mt. Emu Station near Chepston when quite young in order to learn Station Management.  He was also at Warnombool where Hastings had stations after leaving Mt. Emu.  He was a digger at Ballarat as well as I remember, and knew many of the characters in Rolfe Boldrewood’s “Robbery Under Arms”.

In 1858, being 16 years old, I went to England to school, and in 1860 I left home for the convent and returned to Australia and Queensland in 1872.  I thought your father had stations near Ravenswood, and Monty also.  I remember getting a letter from my mother telling me of the wonderful escape your mother and Monty had when the blacks attacked the house early one morning shortly after your father and one of his men had ridden away.  This was a short time before you were born.  Monty should have gone out with Marmaduke, but somehow did not.  Only for that, what would have happened to your dear mother.  A year ago, or perhaps more, I read the whole account of this episode, but where I cannot remember.  I think your father was born in 1835 or 1836.  I think his birthday was in February, and he was born at Circular Head.  I think he was married in 1863.  Your mother brought him a good fortune of £6,000.  I believe she lived with my mother in Melbourne for a year or so, and there was great sorrow when your father came down to take her to the station.  All of us were really fond of her.  I think there must have been a house built by that time.

In Cardinal Wiseman’s History of the Catholic Church in Australia, he says Mass was offered for the first time in Tasmania in the store of Edward Curr in 1822.

Your loving old Aunt, Sr. M. Elizabeth.

Addendum.

It is just fifty-six years today that my father’s sister (Florence Curr) became a nun – Sister Elizabeth, and it was always her wish that she should die on that day.  At 8 o’clock this night, March the 8th, 1919, she passed peacefully away at Nudgee Orphanage.  The nuns who were with her told me she died a most glorious and happy death.  The look on her face when dying was the most beautiful and lovely.  Thus ends the glorious and good life and begins the happy eternity.

Frederick Carlton Curr. 1919.

H

LETTERS FROM ALICE PERROTT

21st January, 1917.

My dear Old Fred,

Thank you so much for the record of the Curr family which is very interesting to members of the family.  You have made a mistake in saying your grandfather was Edward Micklethwaite.  Edward Curr was our grandfather, and Edward Micklethwaite was his son, our father’s brother.  I wish you had put a little more about our dear mother.  She was one of the lady pioneers, and went through what very few women of culture and refinement go through.  Also, it was her money, £6,000, which started the Curr brothers in 1863 at Merri Merriwah.  Our father had nothing when he married her, and strange to say, at his death his property “Abingdon” was valued at £6,000, the exact sum they started with.

We are in the middle of a very cold winter, and since we came up to London to live we have both had “flu”.  Mollie has tonsillitis.  Her luck is out and so is mine.  Things are dear enough without doctor’s bills.  They tell us the flu is just as bad in Australia, and that there is great unrest there.  I wish I had a few acres of Glen Alice just planted down in England or Ireland where I could live rent free.  It is miserable to be without a home and not know how or where one’s old age will be spent.  Give my love to dear Aunt Florey (Sister Elizabeth).  There is not a word from Tick lately.  She is such a bad correspondent and never writes if things are bad with her, so that always makes me sad to think of.

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gray[i] of Hughenden are living in London. They have a suite of rooms at the Langhane.  She and our mother and Mrs Cunningham were the three first lady pioneers of Queensland.  I think I will go some time and see her just for old times sake.

With love and good luck to you all. 

Your loving sister, Alice M. Perrott.

Undated

My Dearest Fred,

I was so glad to get your letter yesterday dated 1st March.  It was a long time since I heard last.  I have not had a line from Mary (Mrs Walter Curr) for ages but I suppose they are cut off by the wet season from the mails.  That is the very dreary time.  I pity them, most especially Mary, for I know our dear mother used to feel that isolation.  Now Marmy is away Mary will feel it badly.   

London 29th June, 1924.

My Dear Old Fred,

Your letter written on our dear mother’s anniversary came a little while ago.  I hope you will be able to take little Joe to see her grave and to have it tidied up if it needs it.

How nice of aunt Constance Curr to send you the old gun which is quite an heirloom and an interesting souvenir of the early settlers.  I suppose it was Uncle Montague Curr who had it at “Merri Merriwah.”

 I am looking forward with great pleasure to having Charlie’s girls with me, and I hope they will have a very happy time and like their old aunt a good deal.  I expect we shall go to Lourdes on one of our trips.  They will love it I know.  I also think they may like to go up to York and see where our family used to be.  

 At the convent at Hull they showed Mollie some valuable pictures which were given to them by our grandfather’s brother, Father Joseph Curr, a clever man who wrote a book on the Sacraments, and died of a disease caught while attending the sick.  The good nuns said they hoped Mollie would not claim the pictures.  They have records of Curr girls who were educated there since 1789 down to 1849 or thereabouts.  When they heard that Aunt Florey and Georgie were sent there from Melbourne Dr. Charles de Short and Mollie were very interested, also in the history of the convent which suffered terrible persecutions in Protestant times.

Give my love to Maude and the boys,

Your loving sister,

Alice Perrott.

I

“The Bowen Independent,  

November 13th, 1920.”

Mr. F.C.Curr of “Abingdon”, Clayfield, Brisbane, was in town during the week after an absence of fifty-five years.  He came to see the place where he was born in the year 1865, known in the old days as Yate’s Cottage, situated on the hill opposite Mrs. P. Gordon’s residence.  The late Dr.W.A. Brown gave him six weeks to live in spite of which he is still hale and hearty and good for a long time yet.  A conversation with Mr. Curr was extremely interesting.  His grandfather in the year 1820 went to Van Diemen’s Land and formed the Van Diemen’s Land Company which engaged principally in breeding cattle and horses, and this year the Curr’s, who are still principally in breeding horses and cattle, will have been following that pursuit in this country for 100 years.  His great-grandfather was in charge of the Duke of Norfolk’s coal mines.  In those days wooden trolley rails were in use, and his great-grandfather put down iron rails which were the first of the kind to be put down.  Mr. Curr was six weeks old when his father took him up country near the Burdekin River where the family lived for several years before eventually going to “Abingdon Downs.”  His grandfather afterwards removed to Victoria and settled there.  He was a great advocate of the Separation between Victoria and New South Wales, and eventually succeeded in obtaining that goal.  He died on the day of that great event.  His daughter, a Mrs. Gurner, the wife of a Melbourne solicitor, was a great horsewoman and was called “The Lady in Grey”.  She rode out of town with Burke and Wills when they left on their last expedition across Australia.  Her sister was a nun in Brisbane for 50 years and had looked after the orphans at Nudgee for 45 years.  Mr. Curr did a lot of hunting in British East Africa.  The Curr brothers were all great readers, and Mr. Curr determined to go and see for himself if what he had read of the world was true.  He journeyed through Africa, Ceylon, the Dutch East Indies, Genoa, Rome and Naples.  He had a look at the old pyramids and went down to the King’s Chamber, saw the Catacombs in Rome, went through the Vatican and had an interview with the Pope.  Mr. Curr was christened in Bowen by the late Father McGinty.  Although he left here at six weeks of age Mr. Curr said he just came along to look at the old Bowen.  He is one of the Curr’s of “Abingdon Downs” which they sold seven years ago.  They still retain interests in large station properties as follows: Miranda Downs, Vena Park, Iffley, Rutland Plains, Delta, Maggieville and Midlothian.  Mr. Curr is thinking of coming to live in Bowen during the winter months.  He will visit the Lower Burdekin and Townsville before returning south.

J

ABINGDON

“Abingdon Downs” Station on the Einasleigh River in the Gulf of Carpentaria was named after a famous Benedictine Abbey founded in 675 A.D. by Cissa, one of the subreguile of Centwin. There are abundant privileges from the early Saxon monarchs confirming various laws and privileges to the Abingdon Abbey.  The earliest of these are from King Caedwalla, and were granted before 688 A.D.

During the eighth century the abbey was visited by King Offa of Mercia and his son who disturbed the peace by setting up their kennels and falconry with its consequent blasting of horns and barking of hounds.

William the Conqueror celebrated Easter at Abingdon Town in 1084, and left his son, afterwards Henry the First, to be educated at the Abbey.

The bridge at Abingdon comprises three parts:  Abingdon bridge proper, over a backwater of the Thames, and Burford Bridge, over the main stream of the Thames, were built in 1416, Chaucer’s nephew being one of the builders.  The third part, Hales Bridge, over a marshy area of the Thames, was completed in 1453.

The Abbey, once important and powerful, was demolished in 1538, and few remains are now visible. The restored gateway is attached to the Church of St. Nicholas. Remaining buildings include a long gallery of stone and timber (c. 1500) and the 13th century Checker, probably the Exchequer.

During the Civil War the important position of Abingdon was easily taken by Essex from Wilmot, who was holding it for the King, and was never recovered.

The town of Abingdon has some fine possessions including a Tempera map of Abingdon including Nunham and the Thames River, the oldest map of its kind extant, and of untold value.

K

CHILDREN OF EDWARD &

ELIZABETH MICKLETHWAITE CURR

1. Edward Micklethwaite  1820-1889

2. William Talbot   1822-1846

3. Richard Taylor   1823-

4. Agnes    1825-

5. Charles Henry   1826-1858

6. Walter    1827-1880

7. Augusta Mary   1829-1917

8. Arthur    1831-

9. Juliana Theresa   1832-1835

10. Elizabeth Sarah   1834-

11. Marmaduke   1835-1898

12. Julius    1836-1889

13. Montague 1837-

14. Florence Mary   1841-1919

15. Geraldine   1843-

APPENDIX L

Family Tree of the Curr’s in Australia
[NB – the unique spelling of the surname ‘CURR’ suggests that people with that name are somehow related].

1 -Edward  CURR b. 1798 d. 16 Nov 1850

sp Elizabeth Micklethwaite d. 13 Oct 1866

2 -Edward Micklethwaite CURR, b. 25 Dec 1820 d. 03 Aug. 1889
Sp.- Margaret Vaughan  of County Kildare Ireland b.1830 (m. 31 January 1854) d. 11 April 1886

3 – Edward Micklethwaite Vaughan CURR b. 10 April 1855 d.25 Nov 1922
Sp.- Mary (May) Cunninghame Macleod b 1855 d. 13 Mar 1933 m.16 April 1890

4 – Lillias Margaret (Margery) Curr b 29/06/1891 d.1982

4 – Edward Alexander Curr b. 11 Sep 1892, Trundle, NSW, m. 1922, Sydney, NSW, d. 28 May 1982, Trundle, NSW
sp-Eunice Cecelia Langlands Benbow Palmer b. 23 Jun 1896, Ararat, VIC, d. 15 Nov 1989, Parkes, NSW

5 -Jane Mary Bettina Curr b. 26 Jun 1923, Ararat, VIC, d. 16 Dec 2011, Byron Bay, NSW
sp. Frederick Joseph Curr (see below) b. 17 Mar 1917, Brisbane, QLD, m. 8 May 1948,  Brisbane, QLD, d. 1968, Brisbane, QLD

6 -Pamela Curr b. 6 April 1949
Sp Martin Reinelda b. March 1958 (Netherlands)

7 -Allegra Fairlie Curr Reinalda b. 19.02.1986
Sp. Sergio Mariscal b. circa 1978 (Columbia)

7 -Nicholas Hans Curr Reinalda b.31 August 1989
Sp Jess Reinalda nee Lewis

6.  Ian David Curr 21 December 1950
sp. – Katherine Hunt

6.  John Carlton Alexander Curr b. 26 Jul 1952, Brisbane, QLD
Sp.- Yvonne Rigert b.19 September 1950 (Zug, Switzerland)

7.   Alexander Curr 14 May 1982
Sp.- Gemma Alaia b. 5 May 1980

8.  Eliza May Curr 11 December 2014

8.  Reuben Alexander Curr 4 May 2016

7.   Verena Curr 14 May 1982
Sp.-  Marco Trova

8.  Mattia Curr-Trova (male)11 July 2018

6.  Georgina Margaret Curr  b. 6 Nov 1957
Sp.- Jules Foulkes b. (New Zealand)

5–Edward Macleod (Mac) CURR – 1924 sp-Margaret (Meg) PALMER

6–Penelope Theresa CURR -b 19 Mar 1950 sp-Graeme  PETTIGREW

7–Alexander James PETTIGREW – 1979

7–Sophie Nicole PETTIGREW – 1982

6–Edward Palmer CURR – b. July 1951
sp-Susan SANDERS

7—Andrea Mary CURR – 1971
7–Edward Matthew CURR – 1973

7—Janine Louise CURR – 1975

6–Robyn Margaret CURR – b. 30 Dec 1952
sp-Ross BULL

7–Vanessa Jane BULL – 1972

7–Daniel Peter BULL – 1973

7–Michael Ross BULL – 1974

6–Judith Mary CURR – b. June 1955 sp ?

6–Stephen Francis CURR – 14 Oct 1956
sp-Julie PHILLIPS

7–Robert Stephen CURR – 1979

7–Georgina Gay CURR – 1990-

6-Barbara Jane CURR – 14 Oct 1956
sp-Peter KOZMAN

7–Amanda Jaye KOZMAN – 1978

7–Pauline Jane KOZMAN – 1979

6–Catherine Anne CURR – b 13 Dec 1957
sp-Robert SMITH

7–Madelaine Theresa SMITH – 1988

7–Victoria Rose SMITH – 1990

5–Margaret Eunice CURR – b. 20 Dec 1926 d. 23 Mar 2013
sp-Ernest KOEB b.1920 (Switzerland)

5-Ian George Curr B. 1930
sp. – Elinor Frances Camps

6-Sonia Frances Curr 1962
sp. – Bruno Bogard

7-Alexandra Megan Bogard

7-Adrienne Shannon Bogard

6-Andrew Maxwell Curr 1963
sp. – Belinda Ruth Martel Stuart

7-Rhys Mathew Curr

7-Joel Nicholas Curr

7-Sabrina Louise Curr

6-Natalie Marie Curr 1970
sp. – Neville Jones

7-Connor Jones

7-Harrison Jones

6-Paul Alexander Curr 1972
 sp. – Kelly Horsburgh

7-Lachlan Curr

7-Paris Curr

7-Ava Curr

5 – Justin Alexander Curr b. 24 Apr 1932, Trundle, NSW, d. 31 May 1932

4 – Kate Marie Curr b. 26/06/1895

4 – Frances Elaine Curr b. 4/08/1900

4 -Fairlie Mary Curr b. 17 Dec 1903

3 – Constance Mary Curr b. 8 Oct 1856 d. c 1929

3 – Wilfred Curr b.4 Sept 1858 d. 24 Aug 1860

3 – Mabel Mary Curr born 20th December,1861 d. 4 Oct 1934

3 – Harold Curr b.1864 d. 1864

3 -Ela Mary Curr “Miss Ela” born 11th Feb.1864

3 – Justin Curr was born 15th May,1866 d. c 3 May 1929

3 – Hubert Curr, born 3rd March, 1868 m. Eily Carroll  c.1908

3 – Ernest Joseph Curr (Bub) born 9th Jan.1870

2 – William Talbot Curr, 1822 – 1846

2 -Richard Taylor Curr, 1823 -1907 m. Marie d. 8 Aug 1914

2 – Agnes Curr (b1825), m. 1849
sp Hastings Cunningham

3. Rebecca Harriet Cunningham 1852

3. Hastings Cunningham 1856 – 1867 d. aged 11 years

3. Unnamed Male Cunningham 1857

3 Twin Alexander Cunningham 1864

3. Twin Percy Cunningham 1864

3. Allan Vernibauld Cunningham b.1867 -d. 1868 lived 1 year

2 – Charles Henry Curr b 1826
m. Fanny

2 – Walter CURR 1827 1872

2 – Augusta Mary Curr,b.1829 – 1917 [The lady in Grey]
Sp  Henry Field Gurner [first Crown Solicitor of Victoria] m. 23 Aug 1851

3 Adeline Florence Gurner (1863-)
Sp James De Vere Allen

3 – Henry Edward Gurner (1854-1915)[ County Court Judge Victoria]

3 – -John Augustus Gurner (c1855-1937)

3 -Evelyn Percy Gurner (1856-1857)

3 -Sydney Hubert Gurner (1857-)

3 -Augusta Mary Leila Gurner (1859-1941)

3 -Laura Shirley De Courcy Gurner (1864-1864)

3 -Kathleen Gilmore Gurner (1866-1948)

3 -Victor Gallifant Gurner (1869-)

3 -Shirley Annie Gurner (1871-1877)

2 – Arthur Curr,1831 -1854

2 –Marmaduke Curr 1835 – 9 Jan 1898,
Sp Mary Ann Kirwin m.1861 d 5 May 1893

3 -Frederick Carlton CURR b.1865 d.04/02/1953
Sp Maude Alice Rogers m. 30/06/1915 d.17/19/1954

4 – Agnes Curr
Sp Roger  Michael Delaney

5 – Dr. Michael Delaney

4 – Fredrick Joseph  (Joe) Curr b.18/03/1917 D. 13/10/1968
Sp Jane Mary Betty CURR

5 see Jane Mary Betty CURR above

4 James (Jim) John Curr b 14/08/1918  m. 13/04/1944
Sp Thelma Catherine Butterfield b.1920 d.17/06/1989

5 –  Susan

5 – Francis Lawrence Curr b 18 April 1945

5 – Peter

4 – Francis  Lawrence CURR (DFM and Bar) b.21/06/1920 died 24/09/1944

4 – Thomas Charles  CURR dec’d  23/07/1955no issue   

3 – Alice Mary Curr b. 7/03/1870
Sp  Robert Russell Edols m 21.08.1895 D. 12/07/1902
Sp no,2 Robert Perrott m.23/09/1903

4. – Mary Kirwan Edols (  Molly?) b. 16/03/1898

3 – Edith Mary Curr b. 1875 d 31 .01.1892

3 – Emily Adelaide Curr b. 17/07/1877

3 – Charles Curr b. 10/03/1868 sp Mary Teresa Ambrose m.26.05.1900 d. 20 Dec 1943

4 -Mary Constance Curr
Sp –(Sir) Edward Sholto Douglas m.24.10.1939
No issue

4 – Florence Curr
Sp  Mr. Trevor

4 – Madeline Eleanor Curr
sp Archibald Desmond Freeman

5 – Eleanor Freeman

Other ? = Pauline

3 – Unnamed (M.) Curr 13/03/1865

3 – Walter Bernard Curr  b.29/10/1872 d. 12/08/48 Sp – Mary Elizabeth Curr (born Fitzwalter) b 1878 m.27.08.1902

4 –Colin Marmaduke CURR b 1904 – d 1963
Sp Joan Lethbridge (m. 13 February 1937)

5 – Robert Curr
Sp Carol Makim

5- Michael Curr
sp ?

5 – David Colin CURR
Sp Jon Francesca Makim

6 –Philip R Curr

6 -Jennifer M Curr

6 –  Marcus J Curr

2 – Juliana Theresa [1832 – 1835],

2 – Elizabeth Sarah Curr 1834 – 1920

Sp Daniel Pennefather, m.30 Jan 1854

3 – Evelyn Mary Elizabeth Pennefather (1855-1856)

3 – Edward Cecil Pennefather b. 12/02/1857 d. 25/09/1936

3 – Gerald Augustus Daniel Pennefather (1858-1929)

3.- Reginald Walter Pennefather (1860-1922)

3 –  Hugh Claud Pennefather (1863-1951)

3 -Wilfred Ernest Pennefather (1868-1939)

2– Julius Curr 1836- d. 2 July 1892

2—Montague Curr 1837 – d 28 Aug 1895

Sp.? None

2 –Florence Mary b. 1841 d. 8/03/1919 [who became a nun called sister Elizabeth at Nudgee Convent] see picture 1865 at trove http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-140562469/view

2 – Geraldine Mary Katherine Curr 1843 – 1899 m. 1864
 sp. Chas Warburton Carr

3 Florence Dora Carr 1865 lived 1 year
3 Ethel May Geraldine Carr 1870
3 Cecil Garnet Warbuton Carr 1873
3 Chas Warburton Leonard Carr 1877 – 1896 aged 19


[i] Reminiscences of India and North Queensland by Robert Grey, London, Constable, 1913

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