Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Laura Hughan

Above: This close-up of Laura Hughan's face, taken from the full-length photograph below, shows clearly that she inherited the distinctive Hughan facial features, including very pale blue eyes.

Laura Hughan was born on July 27, 1823, at Ipswich, Suffolk, the second child of Robert and Hannah Hughan.
Laura was twenty years old when her father died at their London home, and was the informant on his death certificate.
She was the first of the Hughan family to make the huge step of deciding to immigrate to Australia after the announcement of the transportation of her brother Robert in 1849. The passenger list for the ship ‘Tasman’ shows the following:


This was accepted as ‘fact’ until this year (2003), when I obtained a copy of the marriage licence of Laura Hughan and her first husband, Arthur Paton. We had assumed that she had met and married Arthur after her arrival in Victoria, but this document proved that on June 11, 1849, in London, Arthur Paton had applied for a licence to marry Laura Hughan.

‘11th June, 1849.
Appeared personally Arthur Paton of the parish of St. Peter, Pimlico in the County of Middlesex, a bachelor, aged twenty one years and upwards, and prayed a Licence for the Solemnization of Matrimony in the Parish Church of St. Peter, Pimlico, aforesaid,
Between him and Laura Hughan of the said parish of St. Peters, Pimlico, a spinster aged twenty one years and upwards
And made Oath that he believeth there is no impediment of Kindred or Alliance, or of any other lawful cause, nor any Suit commenced in any Ecclesiastical Court, to bar or hinder the Proceeding of the said matrimony, according to the tenor of such Licence. And he further made oath that he hath had his usual place of abode within the said Parish of St. Peter, Pimlico, for the space of fifteen days last past.
The following day, Laura and Arthur were married in an official church ceremony at St. Peters Church, Pimlico. On Tuesday, June 12, 1849, engineer Arthur Paton of 53 Coleshill Street, the son of secretary Abram Paton, married Laura Hughan of Cottage Road, the daughter of tea dealer Robert Alexander Hughan. The officiating minister was Thomas Fuller, and the witnesses Helen Payne and Thomas Payne.

So it seems as though they were married just a week prior to the time when Laura Hughan was set to board the ship ‘Tasman’ ( which sailed from Gravesend on June 18,1849) in the capacity of someone’s governess. Arthur Paton didn’t travel with his new wife-he arrived in Victoria on board the ship ‘Culloden’ as a paying cabin passenger, alongside his mother-in-law Hannah Hughan and three sisters-in-law. When the couple were reunited, some thirteen months after their wedding, the Patons settled near Geelong. The following information was taken from an 1851 directory:

PATON, Arthur civil engineer, O'Connell street, Ashby ,1851 ,Geelong District
Port Phillip Directory

Three children were born to the couple. Their first two children, a son named Arthur and a daughter Malvina Margaret, died in infancy.

There is no record of baby Malvina’s birth, baptism or death, but she is recorded on the birth certificate of her sister Leila and the death certificate of her father Arthur.
Early church records show that baby Arthur Paton was baptised at St. Andrews Church of Scotland on February 13, 1853. His father Arthur was noted as being a teacher from Geelong, and his mother was named as being Laura Hughan.

The Geelong Advertiser of April 7, 1853, noted the following death:

‘PATON, A. Died April 5th, 1853. Arthur, seven weeks. Only child. Scotch College, Geelong.’

The following year daughter Leila Gertrude Paton was born at Newtown (Geelong). Her birth certificate revealed the following:
“ April 21, 1854, Newtown. Leila Gertrude Paton, daughter of Arthur Paton, 25 years old, of Manchester, England. Married 1849, London, to Laura Hughan, 26 years, of Ipswich, England. Siblings Margaret dec, Arthur dec."

Fifteen months later Laura Hughan was a widow with a little daughter to care for. Arthur Paton died on July 13, 1855, Newtown, having been ill for several months prior to his death. His death certificate tells us that 26 year old Arthur Paton died of “Atrophy, ill for some months-bilious with a tendency for dropsy”. His occupation was given as ‘engineer’, and his parents Abraham Paton, engineer, of Manchester, and his mother Margaret Paton, deceased. Arthur was born in Manchester, and had spent 6 years in Victoria. He had married at the age of 19 to Laura Hughan, at Eaton Square, London. Issue: Malvina Margaret dec; Arthur dec and Leila Gertrude 1 ½. The informant was Arthur’s brother-in-law Fergus McIvor Hughan, office clerk of Newtown.
Again, the local newspaper recorded the event:

“ Mr. Arthur Paton died 13th July, 1855, at Somerville Cottage,
New Town, aged 26 years.”

Although the information was not given on the death certificate, Arthur was buried in the Geelong Eastern Cemetery.

Laura Hughan Paton was left a widow with a baby daughter, so it isn’t surprising to read in the Geelong Advertiser of June 23, 1857, the following:

“ Married. On the 6th of June, at Somerville College, Herne Hill, by the Reverend Appelly, Mrs. Paton to Mr. W. Murrell, of Inverleigh.”

New Town, which was also known as New Town Hill, became the settlement of Newtown. Herne Hill was about a mile away, but in early 1855 the name New Town probably encompassed the whole district.

The marriage certificate of Laura Hughan Paton and William Murrell gives the following information:

“ On June 6, 1857, at the private dwelling of Mrs. Paton, Geelong, William Murrell /widower December 19, 1856 / 3 living children, 2 dead/ born Alcester, Warwickshire / storekeeper, aged 40/ present and usual residence Inverleigh/ parents James Murrell, auctioneer, & Susan Rimmer,
Laura Paton / widow July 13, 1855/ 1 child living, 2 dead/ born Ipswich, Suffolk/ aged 33/ present and usual residence Geelong/ parents Robert Alexander Hughan, tea dealer, and Hannah Oakley.
Witnesses: F.M. Hughan
According to the rites and ceremonies of the Independents, by me, James Apperly, officiating minister.”

William Murrell was a widower who had emigrated from England, and upon the death of his wife Charlotte in 1856 had been left with two London-born daughters and a son to raise. He was a storekeeper in Geelong and Devenish in North-east Victoria. Laura became step-mother to the two Murrell girls, Josephine and Charlotte, and son Ernest, as well as having three more children to William.
The 1851 English census shows William and his wife Charlotte living at 4 Kings Rd, St. Lukes, Chelsea, with their three children Ernest, Charlotte and Josephine, aged 7, 5 and 4 respectively. William was 38 and a master draper employing 3 men, and his birthplace was given as Alcester, Warwickshire. His three draper’s assistants lived at the same address, as did a general servant.(Note: On the site, the Murrell family is indexed under ‘Murralt’).

Josephine Murrell, daughter of William and step-daughter of Laura, married storekeeper Samuel Tonkin in 1867. Both born in London, the couple had a large family of twelve children, born between 1868 and 1887:
1868: William James b Inverleigh
1869: Oliver Samuel b Rokewood
1871: Charlotte b Inverleigh
1872: Ernest Hector b Inverleigh
1875: Arthur Stephen b Avenal
1876: Gertrude Hooper b Avenal
1878: Annie Jane b Avenal
1879: Frederick Avenal b Avenal
1881: Winifred Bertha b Avenal
1883: Constance b Avenal
1885: Frank Bertran b Avenal
1887: Albert Victor b Avenal.

Laura Hughan’s elder step-daughter, Charlotte Murrell, married John Burness of Melbourne in 1868, and had a somewhat smaller family than her sister-
1870: Charlotte Murrell b Ballarat. Never married. Died Coburg 1951 aged 82.
1871: Ernest b Ballarat
1873: Rosetta Ethel b Ballarat
1875: Ida Margaret
1876: Unnamed child died at birth.
1881: Percy John

Laura Hughan and William Murrell added to their mixed family of four children – Leila Paton and Josephine, Charlotte and Ernest Murrell- by having two more daughters and a son of their own.
Bertha Susan Murrell was born at Inverleigh in 1858.
Laura Edith Murrell was born in 1860 at Inverleigh.
Percy James Murrell was born in 1862 at Inverleigh.
Laura was destined never to raise a her first son Arthur, little Percy was not to survive his infancy. He died in the year following his birth, 1863, at his Inverleigh home. His death certificate revealed that he died at the age of 15 weeks, of hydrocephalia arising from diarrhoea, duration of 2 days. Dr. Childers attended the baby 4 hours before his death, and Percy was buried the following day in the Inverleigh Cemetery.

William died in 1891, aged 74, at Devenish, the son of James Murrell and Susannah Rimmer. Laura died a widow in 1908.
Her death certificate contains the following information:

‘ On September 26, 1908, at Claremont Avenue, Borough of Newtown, Victoria, 84 year old Laura Murrell, of senile decay, 9 months duration.
Her physician, Dr. Marwood, last visited her on the day of her death.
Her parents were Robert Hughan, tea merchant, and Hannah Hughan, formerly Oakley. Information was given by N.S. King, an assistant undertaker, who was also a witness at Laura’s funeral.
Laura was buried on September 28, 1908, in the New General Cemetery, Geelong, by undertaker W.B. King. The minister was named as M.E. Rashleigh.

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