Extracts from the story of Thomas Langford II (1807-1890)
By Don Sutherland
Thomas Langford II had married Grace Handford of Hayfield, Derbyshire in 1838. By 1841 Thomas was working as a Weaver at one of Cheshire’s many cotton mills when they decided that it was time to succumb to his brother William Sidebottom’s pleas for his family to join him in Melbourne. They were my great great grandparents and probably arrived in Melbourne around September 1842. I say probably because up until 1852 official shipping records only noted the arrival of assisted emigrants and as William had paid for Thomas’ family’s passage, no official record was made of their arrival.
Their journey was not without incident as their youngest daughter Mary died at sea on the voyage out. All deaths occurring at sea were normally registered soon after arrival at the next port of call, so as was the custom, her death was registered at Pentridge in October 1842, probably just after their arrival. Thomas, being careful to accede to his brother’s request to use Sidebottom as their surname, gave her name as Mary Sidebottom.
Thomas and Grace stayed with their family at the Merri Creek farm for just a brief period before they moved to Bourke Lane Melbourne where they opened up a business as a greengrocer. Thomas’ role was to provide a retail outlet for the farming activities of his brothers at the Merri Creek farm. At that time the shop was at the very extremities of Melbourne’s central business district with Elizabeth Street just a track meandering of northwards in the general direction of Pentridge down which the family would have brought their produce in from the Merri Creek farms.
Thomas’ father and his brothers, Robert and Joseph had already joined William at Melbourne when Thomas and Grace arrived. James, Samuel and Margaret and probably Elizabeth, arrived a few years later. After some apparent confusion over what he should call himself in the first year or so Thomas eventually settled on Langford and within his family at least, there was never any further confusion over the name. His decision to stick with Langford does appear to have caused any problem within the wider family as Thomas was known be have been on very friendly terms with them all, living close to them and probably having some sort of business relationship with them during his early years here.
Thomas' shop would never have offered the clean and picturesque setting to his customers that we are used to seeing at most retail outlets today. Most shops were single storied temporary or makeshift structures. Only some of the better class Collins Street premises may have boasted a canvas veranda to help keep the weather out. The Bourke Lane greengrocery would have been not much more than a hut with the entrance bristling with foot-scrapers, metal grilles and wire mats in a token attempt at keeping the inside floor reasonably clean. In the 1840s not even any of Melbourne’s main streets were made let alone the back lanes and little streets. Indeed all of its main thoroughfares were an absolute disgrace.
Thomas continued at his at Bourke Lane shop throughout the 1840s. His business was listed in the 1845 Merchant and Settlers Almanac and again in 1847 the Melbourne Directory showed that Thomas Langford was still operating his shop in Bourke Lane. However within a year or so he decides that a life on the land may be a better option than persevering with the shocking conditions that Melbourne’s inhabitants had to endure. He decides to move closer to the rest of the family and start farming in the Pentridge/Merri Creek area. By this stage the land values in the area are strengthening and the farmers there are starting to prosper.
At first, Thomas and Grace take up a leasehold on land on the Darebin Creek, some two or three miles to the east of where Robert and William had their Merri Creek properties. This was just a little further away from the village of Pentridge where the land was cheaper than where his brothers were along the Merri Creek. Later they purchased their own block on the Merri Creek and moved again to a location closer to where William and Robert were farming. So by 1849 three of the brothers, William, Robert and Thomas, had their own farms along the Merri Creek. James, who had only arrived in the last year or so, was also probably living in the same area with one of the brothers, as he did not buy his land until a few years later.
Joseph was farming a little closer to the city at nearby Moonee Ponds, whilst Samuel and Margaret had not yet arrived. It would by now have been very pleasant times for the Langford/Sidebottom families. William especially and Robert had done very well for themselves but the other brothers also appear to have been well on the way to establishing themselves in the area and they were all living so close to each other in this new country. Land and farming opportunities beckoned and soon the hard times they had endured as the cotton industry was failing back in Cheshire would have been long forgotten. But it was not to last.
In April 1849, William becomes ill and appears to be ailing. He appoints Thomas an executor of his will, along with William Hale, his wife's younger brother. Suddenly the happy times for the Langford/Sidebottom families is shattered for within 2 months of preparing his will, William, their benefactor, and the reason for them all being in Melbourne, dies at just 48 years of age.
Thomas and Robert continue on their Merri Creek farms for the next three years or so after William's death and during this time the value of their properties increase markedly. The recession of the early 1840s is long gone and gold has now been discovered in many areas around Victoria. The population is increasing dramatically and those that are not heading to the goldfields are pushing further out towards villages like Pentridge that had once been described as the country areas. Land values are increasing and Thomas and Robert, both of whom want to continue farming, see an opportunity to improve their situations.
Melbourne’s population had now reached 23,000, although there were many more moving away from the town to the goldfields or to open up new farming districts in country areas. The Langford brothers decide that they could make a handsome profit by selling their Merri Creek properties and moving further out to where they could establish themselves on larger and more productive farms. The area they chose was Mickleham, which was all of 20 miles out of Melbourne and where there was land that was just being made available for selection.
On 1 April 1852 Thomas selected 158 acres at Mickleham. (Lot 151 Allotment 11C) It was situated on the north of today’s Mt Ridley Rd, some half a mile to the east of the Mickleham village and directly opposite the 265 acres that Robert had selected a couple of days earlier. The Langford tradition of staying close to one another and of working together to help each other succeed in the new colony was to continue.
The land the brothers selected at Mickleham was available for just £1 an acre, a drop in the ocean compared with what they would have been able to get for their Merri Creek properties. The tidy profit to be made would have been what prompted them to start all over again. Thomas and his brothers had spent many years and invested much energy in clearing the thickly wooded area along the Merri Creek and turning it into rich farmland. Now they had to start all over again for the area they had chosen at Mickleham was just as thickly wooded and all their efforts of the past years had to be repeated to turn their new selections into farmland. The good news was that they would have been left with more than enough to set up their new homes and farms at Mickleham.
The land that the Langford/Sidebottom families left behind them along the Merri Creek is now taken up by suburbs like Coburg, Northcote and Brunswick and is today, a far cry from what it would have been in Thomas' day.
Since their arrival in Melbourne, Thomas and Grace had welcomed the arrival of another four children, Elizabeth in 1843, Emma 1845, James 1851 and Charles in 1852. Their family now included five surviving children under the age of 14. By 1853 they had established themselves at their new farm at Mickleham. Like his brother Robert, Thomas also named his property after a favourite village from back home in England. He called his Hazel Grove, after a Cheshire village of the same name that was just to the south of Stockport. Hazel Grove is some five miles from where Thomas’ family had lived after their marriage in Cheshire. Perhaps it was an area for which they both had fond memories from their courting days back in England. Those of us with just a touch of romanticism in our blood might even suggest that it was the village where they first met.
In 1854, the year after their move to Hazel Grove, Thomas and Grace welcomed their seventh and last child, a son to whom they gave the name William. What should have been a happy year was perhaps spoilt a little when Thomas’ sister Margaret and Samuel Barker also had their last child at Mickleham, another William, who died as a baby. Thomas’ eldest brother James had also died at the beginning of the year at just 56 years of age and just four months after he had married the widowed Archibald Montgomery Orrock. James died without leaving a will and Thomas, on behalf of his siblings, initiated court action in an effort to avoid the whole of his estate going to James’ new wife. Thomas got nowhere with his court case and eventually dropped the action.
Like Robert, Thomas also became heavily involved in local community affairs at Mickleham. He became an elder of the local Wesleyan Church and offered an acre of his own land to enable the construction of a church and the development of an associated burial ground. This acre was purchased from Thomas by the Church for the sum of one pound and ten shillings and held in trust by 12 community members, one being his brother Robert Langford-Sidebottom. His children attended the local primary school, whose classes were initially conducted at the church that had been built on the land he had sold to the church. He was also a member of the School Committee that was responsible for bringing pressure to bear on the Education Department to have a new bluestone school building erected – School No 1051, which is still in use today.
In 1857 Thomas and Grace’s eldest, Thomas Langford III turned 18 and would have been Dad’s mainstay around the farm. He elected to stay on and help his parents for many years as the younger children grew to adulthood. The rest of the family then comprised his two sisters Elizabeth and Emma who were 14 and 12 and the three youngest boys, just 6, 5 and 3.
By 1865 Melbourne’s population had grown to more than 200,000. Mickleham was still a quiet rural settlement with just 50 homes housing some 280 persons, although it also had two hotels. Post Office Directories of 1868/69/70 show that Thomas and Grace were still at Mickleham and by then would have been well settled into farming their Hazel Grove property. The eldest son Thomas is now approaching 30 and is itching to break out on his own and secure his own future, secure in the knowledge that his three younger brothers are now all into their teens, have left school and are more than capable of taking their turn at helping Dad out on the farm. His two sisters were by now both into their early twenties and had already married and started families of their own.
A new railway line had reached Rochester some 150 miles to the north of Melbourne and land that had originally been taken up in large tracts by squatters was now being carved up into smaller blocks and released for general farming. The blocks were sold for £5 to anyone who was over 18 and prepared to work the land themselves. It was a long way from home but Thomas Langford III was getting on and anxious to make his own way in the world. He headed north and secured a block for himself at Rochester West. His younger brother James and later William both eventually followed and took up their own blocks at nearby Pyramid Hill.
Thomas and Grace remained in the Mickleham district until Thomas died on 29 September, 1890 when he was 82 years of age, by which time all six of his surviving children had married and started families of their own. He died of Bronchitis Asthma from which he had been suffering for 14 days. His doctor last saw him the day before his death. At the time he was staying at the home of his daughter Elizabeth Robertson at nearby Somerton. All of his children were listed accurately on his death certificate, even Mary who had died as an infant at sea on the journey out. Not surprising really given that Grace was still alive, was apparently a very healthy and alert 77-year-old who could therefore be expected to provide accurate information.
At the time Thomas died he had 44 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. As one of Melbourne and Mickleham's pioneer settlers he had certainly done his bit to leave a footprint in the sand and make a significant contribution towards the prosperity that lay ahead for his new country.
Thomas was still operating his farm to the end but by a somewhat strange quirk of fate could not be buried at his local Mickleham Cemetery. The cemetery that still stood on the land he had sold to his beloved church so many years ago, and next door to where he had farmed for all those years, was now closed. Instead, his body was interred at the neighbouring Campbellfield Cemetery on 31 January 1890. His brother Joseph and sister Margaret all died in the same year. They were the last of the siblings that had followed William to this new country. It was the end of the generation brought into the world at Cheshire by Thomas Langford and Mary Sidebottom at the start of the 19th century.
Grace was left as the only surviving Langford spouse, apart from Samuel’s second wife Hannah who was also still alive and Jane, the widow of the brother John, the only sibling to have stayed in Cheshire. She was now 77 and living at Hyde with her daughter Margaret. Grace lasted another three years to reach 80 before she too died on 14 November 1893 at the home of her youngest son William, who had by then set up a farm at Pyramid Hill. A Magisterial Inquiry was conducted into Grace’s death on the following day at which three witnesses gave statements on oath to the Inquiry. Her son William, who was then 40 years of age with two toddlers aged 3 and 2 and a new baby with another three still to come, stated that:
I am a farmer living at Lodden Vale. The deceased Grace Langford is my mother. She was in her 80th year. She has been living with me for the last 6 months. I have not heard her complaining of ill health but I believe that within the last 3 or 4 days she has been complaining to the servant, Mrs Newbold, of slight pains in her chest and shoulder. I have never known her to have any illness or to require a doctor. I was here in my house last evening and we took tea together. After tea about sundown she went to lie down on her bed. At about 9 o’clock I heard a moan or a gasp in her room, my wife went in and then called me. I went in and lifted her up on the bed and spoke to her but got no answer, she then gave 2 gasps and was gone. There has never been any infectious disease in my house and my mother has always been a very strong woman. I never knew her to have heart disease or that it is in her family.
William’s wife Elizabeth stated:
The deceased was my mother-in-law. We took tea together last night. She was walking about for a bit after tea and playing with the baby and about sundown she said to us ‘Well I think I'll go and have a lie down and rest.’ She did so, soon after she called out to the servant and said ‘Nellie don't throw out the mallow tea.’ Nellie said ‘will you have it now’ and deceased said she would. Nellie took some in and she drank it and told the girl to put out the light and go out of the room. She did so, I could see her where I was, she appeared to go to sleep. About 5 or 10 minutes after this I heard a sort of sob, I took the light and went into her room and spoke to her, but could get no answer. I got frightened and called in my husband, he came at once and leaned over her and called out pretty loudly ‘mother’, she made no response. I told him to lift her up, he did so, then she gasped twice and appeared to go off and never moved again. She had complained a little in the morning of indigestion and wind. She had often complained of slight rheumatism. I never knew her to be ill. She has been in the habit of taking this tea. There is nothing in the house that could have dropped in her tea and done her harm. She died perfectly calmly.
The servant was Mrs Ellen Newbold and in her statement she said:
I am in the service of Mr Langford. I took tea with the deceased last night, she seemed quite well. She took some bread and butter but not much, she went in and lay down on the bed soon after and told me to bring in some marsh-mallow tea to her. I did so and took her in a cup, there was nothing in it but the fresh marsh-mallows. I made it myself. She drank the cupful, she then told me to put out the light and go out. I did so. I went in after a few minutes with Mrs Langford, I heard both Mr and Mrs Langford try to speak to her but without effect.’
The Magistrate found that Grace died of ‘old age.’ It was a sad end to a lovely old lady but if Grace and Thomas could have reflected on their time together they would surely have been proud of what they had achieved. They had come to a new settlement in a new country when Melbourne was in its very first years of development and raised six children to maturity in times when disease had affected so many families. They had both reached their eighties, outlived all of their other Langford brothers and sisters and seen all six of their adult children marry and have families of their own. Today there are many hundreds of us who would not have been here had not this brave couple taken the decision to cast their lot in a new and distant colony of which so very little was known when they were young newly-weds back in Cheshire.
And what of their children? Only Mary died young, the others all married well, had large families of their own and generally followed in the tradition of their father in earning a living from the land. As indeed had many of their cousins, the other descendants of their grandparents, Thomas Langford and Mary Sidebottom. It was a far cry from the smoke stained hills of Cheshire that they might otherwise have had to endure back in England, had not William managed to get himself caught trying his hand at highway robbery back in 1825.
Emma married David Thomas Manson in 1868. They had 11 children, 8 girls and 3 boys although five of them died as infants. Emma herself died in 1913 at Essendon, when she was 68 years of age.
Elizabeth married Arthur Richard Blennerhassett, a schoolmaster at the Mickleham School, on 28 December 1858. She was just 15 years old at the time and had started working as a schoolmistress at the same school earlier that year. Her father’s brother Robert Langford-Sidebottom took part in the ceremony as a witness – no surprise really given the brothers were neighbours and had stayed in close contact throughout their time in Melbourne, as indeed had all of the siblings that came out here. Arthur Blennerhassett came from Co Kerry in Ireland and was directly related to my father’s landed Blennerhassett ancestors. Some years later, in 1876, others of this family, including my father's grandmother, emigrated to Australia via New Zealand and settled at Bengworden, in Gippsland. Arthur had arrived in Melbourne some time before 1857. He was another of our early settlers that wrote back to his family with glowing reports of the new colony and within a short time, three of his younger brothers had joined him. The brothers lived initially at Geelong and later moved to Somerton where Arthur met Elizabeth whilst they were both teaching at the Mickleham School.
Despite Elizabeth’s very young age, the marriage would have been somewhat of a social coup for the Langford families at Mickleham although there is no evidence to suggest that Arthur came with any of the wealth his family had accumulated back in Ireland. After the marriage, Arthur and Elizabeth continued to care for Arthur’s three younger brothers but unfortunately, Arthur died just 21 months after the wedding. In a strange twist of fate, Arthur left his estate to his wife’s Uncle, Robert Langford-Sidebottom. He also left his wife with a baby girl called Grace who was just a few months old. One has to wonder why on earth Robert got the estate and not the needy mother, or perhaps even his equally needy brothers.
Within three months of her husband’s death, Elizabeth married again, this time to James Robertson, the widow of her cousin Sarah, Samuel's daughter. Sarah had died around the same time as Elizabeth's husband after they had been married for seven years. Elizabeth was still only 17 when she married James Robertson but had to start this marriage looking after not only her baby Grace, still less than a year old, but also Robertson’s two girls who were still only babies themselves. Mary Jane was just 2 and Janet was the same age as her own Grace. It was a mammoth task for a 17 year-old to take on, especially if she still had her first husband's three brothers to look after. One could be excused for thinking that it might have been a marriage of convenience but that didn't stop Elizabeth and James from having another 11 children of their own over the next 22 years. They had 6 boys, 4 girls and another unnamed infant that died in childbirth. In fact she lost 4 of her last 5 children as infants, all of whom were born when she was into her late 30s to mid-40s. Elizabeth died in 1919 at Campbellfield, Victoria, at 74 years of age, probably as a very tired old lady.
Elizabeth’s only child to her first husband, Grace Blennerhassett, didn’t suffer too much as a result of her mother missing out on dad’s estate. She followed her mother’s occupation and became a schoolteacher. At quite an early stage in her career she was appointed head teacher to the Lower Thornton School, which had around 20 students and was situated at the southern end of where the Eildon Weir now stands. Very close to the school was the substantial home and grazing property of John Alymer Barnewall, his eight daughters and only son, John Robert Barnewall. The Barnewalls came from a distinguished Irish family. They had emigrated to Australia in 1840 and settled in the Yea district in 1841. Their family held the Baronetcy of Crickstown Castle, County Meath and a cousin, who was born in 1838 just before they emigrated, was next in line to the title. At the time there was virtually no chance of their ever inheriting the title however their infant cousin, who eventually became Sir Reginald Alymer John De Barneval Barnewall, 10th Baronet of Crickstown Castle, never married and so never produced any heir to the title. This left John Alymer Barnewall as the next in line to the title.
King James I of England had bestowed the title on the family in 1622. It is one of the most senior Baronetcies in the world and the family can be traced back to 1122 when it is mentioned in the records of the Tower of London. Perhaps the Blennerhassett name made Grace an acceptable match for the only son such a distinguished family for within a short time of her appointment as head teacher at the Lower Thornton School she married John Robert Barnewall.
Her husband’s father died on 3 January 1890 without ever inheriting the title, but this left John Robert the heir to the title, which he eventually inherited when the 10th baronet died on 18 April 1909. Thereafter the couple were known as Sir John, the 11th Baronet Barnewall of Crickston Castle and Lady Barnewall. Grace, despite coming from a large country family, was apparently a most gracious and elegant lady and well suited to carry out the role of a baronet’s wife. Sir John and Lady Barnewall had three children and the title passed to their eldest son Reginald John after Sir John died in 1961. Their grandson, Sir Reginald (Reggie) Barnewall is currently the 14th Baronet and is an avocado farmer in Queensland.
Thomas and Grace’s second eldest son James, at 31 years of age, married the 21-year-old Maria (Maud) Worland in 1882. They had six children, three boys and three girls, all of whom grew to a ripe old age. The last to arrive was Florence when James was 46. James and Maria lived in the Mickleham area until 1876 when they moved to take up a farm at Lodden Vale near Pyramid Hill. They farmed here for many years and James too became quite prominent in local community affairs. He was a Commissioner of the Tragowel Irrigation Trust for many years, became one of the original members of the Pyramid Hill District Agricultural Society and was appointed as a Justice of the Peace. He suffered a heart attack and died on his farm at just 64 years of age on 15 January 1915 and is buried at the Pyramid Hill cemetery. James left a substantial estate to his six children of almost £5,500. His widow Maria survived him almost by 17 years, finally passing away at Pyramid Hill on New Years day, 1932, aged 77.
Charles Langford was the fifth child and third son of Thomas Langford and Grace Handford. He married Rebecca Vance at Somerton in 1874 when he was just 22 years old. She was two years older than Charles. They too had a large family - 11 children only 3 of whom were boys. Unlike their cousins from some of the other large families we have seen, all survived and lived at least to well into their 60s, with eight of them into their 80s before passing on. One of their children, Harold Chambers Langford, who was born in Kalkallo in 1885, married Alice Winifred Vincent in 1916 and they became the parents of Elva Langford who has helped me so much with this research. She is a keen family historian and as an ex-resident, has a wealth of knowledge on the history of Mickleham. Her father Charles purchased a property of his own at Mickleham, which he farmed for many years. It was close to where his father’s old Hazel Grove property had been. He never had an opportunity to take up any of Hazel Grove as that had all been sold up soon after the father, Thomas Langford II, had died. Charles died in Broadmeadows on 10 July 1919, at 67 years of age and Rebecca almost fourteen years later on 18 July 1933 at Dandenong.
William was the youngest of Thomas and Grace’s family and continued the family tradition of farming close to the district where he had been raised. He originally farmed at Moonee Ponds in the years just prior to when it became a densely populated inner suburb but later moved to Ballarat where he met his wife Elizabeth Ann Amelia Roberts who was a schoolteacher, married her in 1889 and had six girls. In the early 1890s he followed his brother James to Lodden Vale, farming there for some five years or so before returning back closer to the Mickleham area where he set up a home somewhere between Kalkallo and Broadford. He died at Essendon on 24 May 1923 at 68 years of age and is buried at Fawkner. It was at William’s Lodden Vale farm where his mother Grace passed away in 1893.
Thomas and Grace Langford’s eldest child was my great grandfather Thomas Langford III. Apart from Mary, who died on the trip out, he was the only one of their family to have been born back in England. He was only 2 years old when he arrived in Melbourne and around 9 or 10 when his parents moved out of the Bourke Lane shop. His earliest memories would have been of the back lanes of Melbourne’s first few years. Perhaps also of regular trips to the homes and farms of his uncles way out in the backblocks of Pentridge where he might have travelled with his parents to help them load up with produce to sell at the shop. He would have remembered also the family’s move out to that distant place and the exciting days soon after when his father selected land at Mickleham and established the family farm there. He would have been barely 15 years of age at the time his father settled onto the Mickleham farm and had probably already left his school days behind to work with Dad on the farm. What interesting tales of Melbourne's early years would he have been able to tell his children in his later years. One of those children was my own grandmother who I knew so well but long before I had any interest in the family history and today of course I kick myself for never having spent more time exploring her memories of the tales she would have heard from her father.
Thomas worked for many years with his father at Hazel Grove before eventually establishing his own dairy farm at Rochester West. Here he met feisty young lass by the name of Mary Jane Burley who had been born of Irish parents at Golden Point, Chewton on 11 November 1856 at a time when her parents, James Burley and Rachel Johnson, were trying their luck at the goldfields. They had emigrated from County Fermanagh in Ireland just a few years earlier. Thomas was 38 years old and Mary just 20 when they married on 4 September, 1877 at St Peter’s Church in Elmore. Mary Jane’s brother, James Burley performed the duties of a witness to their wedding.
It was apparently a rather hasty marriage for their first son, Henry Thomas William Langford, was born somewhat ‘prematurely’ just three months after the wedding. Twenty months later, on 15 May 1877, their first daughter was born at Rochester. She was Emma Jane Langford and was to become my grandmother. Typical of the times, her birth was not attended by a doctor and was instead delivered by a local nurse, Mrs Watt. Another three years passed before their third son John James arrived in 1882, followed by another daughter Louisa Matilda on 7 June, 1884. Both were born at Rochester.
During the early 1880s the Rochester area was hit badly by drought. Water had to be carted long distances and many settlers started leaving the area as it became obvious that the district was more suited for sheep farming or for wheat and crops rather than dairying. Along with many others, Thomas gave up his farm at Rochester and with his young family moved to the Warragul district where they bought themselves a new 142 acre farm on Lardner’s Track at Lardner, which is just out of Warragul between Drouin and Warragul. In contrast to what they had left behind at Rochester, it was great dairying country and Thomas was happy to settle here for the remainder of his life. Their last child, Amelia Elizabeth, was born in Warragul on 11 November 1887.
The eldest of their five children was still under ten years of age when the family moved to Lardner and it was here on the farm that they all really grew up. Their home was little more than a rough cottage with none of the trappings that we take for granted today and several miles from the nearest commercial centre. There was no electricity and Thomas had only the one horse to help him with the chores around the farm and for occasional forays into Warragul for supplies. Thomas III was now well removed from the remainder of his family who had tended to scatter more towards the north of the State and also from much of the wealth that had been enjoyed by some of the family during their early days in Melbourne. From this time on, he tends to lose track of his many Langford and Sidebottom cousins.
Thomas enjoyed a little over a decade on his Lardner farm and by the end of the century his health begins to deteriorate. He survived only until he was 62 years of age and on 27 September 1901, died peacefully at the family farm. His estate, which was left to his wife was valued at £579 and consisted of real estate valued at £567 – the Lardner farm - a plough valued at £1, a 16 year old dray and harness valued at £5 and £1 respectively and what was then described as very rough bush furniture valued at £5. It was another sad account of the sort of conditions that pioneer farming families had to contend with at around the start of the 20th century. There was no sign of luxury, their only asset was in the land that they farmed, and they subsisted on a hand to mouth basis, mostly on produce grown on the farm, supplemented a little by the proceeds of the sale of surplus produce. Insofar as this branch of the family was concerned, there was not really much to show for the 100 years of progress they had ‘enjoyed’ since Thomas’ grandparents had married back at Mottram in Cheshire. Or of the riches that some of the family had accumulated in Melbourne’s very first years of settlement. Yes they now owned land in the new colony, but it had done little to change the family’s lifestyle over the ensuing years.
And so another generation of Langfords had past on and once again it was for the children to create their own lives and make their contribution to the spread of the family throughout the new colony. At the time of the death of Thomas Langford III in September 1901, that colony was now 66 years old and part of the new Commonwealth of Australia, so proclaimed on what was to become Thomas’ last New Year’s Day. Melbourne’s population had grown to a staggering half a million people and there were over 1.2 million people in the whole of Victoria. It had come a long way since the day William Sidebottom had stepped ashore back in June 1837 when Melbourne’s population had been just a few hundred.