1. MARGARET McCALLUM: Margaret McCallum’s start to life was a tumultuous one. Her nineteen year old mother Jessie Hughan McCallum had arrived in the colony of Victoria only two years previously, and in that short time had married a Scots squatter some 28 years her senior, moved to a very sparsely settled region of the Lower Murray and learnt how to help manage a 90 square mile sheep station.
Towards the very later stages of Jessie’s pregnancy the Spring rains came, and with them came a rise in the waters of the Murray River. They continued to rise, until the very safety of the homestead, ‘Wirlong’, was in jeopardy. At the point of evacuation becoming necessary, Jessie went into labour, and it became a race against time to find her a safe place to give birth. And so, in a tent hastily pitched to provide crude shelter, on a sand hill near a stockman’s grave, Margaret McCallum made her entrance into the world, on Sunday, September 19, 1852.
Although Margaret’s early life was spent on an isolated sheep station, she travelled quite extensively for one so young. In February of 1855 she travelled with her parents and baby brother Gilbert to London on the ship ‘John Bell’, returning the following January. Two years later, aged almost six, Margaret and her family returned to England for a more prolonged visit of 2 ½ years which also included Scotland and France.
Alexander McCallum, Margaret’s father, did not return with his family to Australia, and was not reunited with his wife and children again. Jessie McCallum both raised her children and managed her ‘Youngera’ station up until her tragic death at the age of 31. She had become soaked during a visit to a neighbour, and the resulting chill developed into pneumonia. After an illness of 12 days, the local Swan Hill doctor Benjamin Gummow could do no more for her, and on Tuesday, October 31, 1865, Jessie McCallum died of disease of the lungs in her ‘Wirlong’ home.
Margaret was not yet 13, and had lost her mother and access to her father. She was taken into the home of her newly married aunt, Bertha Hughan, who had been a frequent visitor at ‘Youngera’ throughout Margaret’s life. Bertha and her husband Henry Bishop were living at Ballarat, and remained there until about 1870 when they moved to Melbourne. Margaret’s siblings Ivy and Gilbert also stayed with the Bishops, although Ivy also spent time with the Beveridge family at Swan Hill and Gilbert joined his uncle Allan Hughan on a pearling expedition to Western Australia in the late 1860s.
Margaret was living with the Bishops in Fitzroy in 1873 when she married a much-older doctor with the grand name of Horatio St.John Clarke. She surpassed even the 28 year age difference between her parents, as her husband had been born in Tickhill, Yorkshire, in 1819...thirty three years before Margaret’s birth!
Horatio was the son of William Stowe Clarke, also a surgeon, and his wife Jane Maria Blackborn, who had married in 1809. Other children born to the couple were Sophia in 1813, John in 1814, Robert Stow in 1816 and Caroline in 1817. Various directories for the town of Tickhill in the 1820s and 30s show that William Stow Clarke was a surgeon there until his death in early 1838. Just two years before, William had arranged for his son Horatio to become indentured to William Overend of Sheffield, surgeon and apothecary. The document was signed on May 21, 1836, and in it Horatio promised to “learn the profession, Art and Mystery of a Surgeon, Apothecary and accoucher in all its ways and means whatsoever” for a period of five years.
In the 1851 census Horatio was living at 39 Cursitor Street, ‘Liberty of the Rolls Extraparochial, St. Thomas, Finsbury’, with his 36 year old brother, John Clarke. Both were the only lodgers at their address, and John’s occupation was given as ‘landed proprietor’. Horatio’s occupation was given as “Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and Licenced accoucher , Lying In Hospital, Dublin. Practicing as a surgeon to Accoucherer.”
An accoucher was a doctor who specifically assisted women in childbirth.
At some time during the period 1851-1855, Horatio St. John Clarke immigrated to the colony of Victoria. He was definitely in Melbourne by 1856, as the electoral roll for St. Stephen’s division, Richmond, for that year shows an entry for “Horatio St. John Clarke, surgeon, 132 Simpson’s Road, Richmond, legally qualified, surgeon.”
Margaret McCallum married Horatio St. John Clarke on September 22, 1873, at St. Peters, Church, Melbourne. Margaret’s age was given as 21 and her husband’s as 54, and the minister who officiated at the ceremony was Rev. Bean.
A newspaper cutting held by Judith Laging, Margaret’s great-niece, revealed the following information:
“ CLARKE-MacCallum- On the 22nd ult., at St. Peter’s, east Melbourne, by the Rev.Bean, H. St. John Clarke F.R.C.S., J.P, to Margaret, eldest daughter of the late Alexander MacCallum, Esq, Youngera, Lower Murray.”
Their first child was a daughter named Katherine Muriel Irene Clarke. She was born in September of 1874, and sadly died 21 months later of bronchitis. She died at Victoria Street, Richmond, on July 29, 1876, having been ill for 48 hours. Her father acted as her physician, but to no avail, and his baby daughter was buried on July 3, five days after her death.
The notice in a Melbourne paper read:
“ CLARKE- On the 29th ult., at Yarraville, Richmond, Katherine Muriel Irene, daughter of H. St. John Clarke, F.R.C.S. Eng., aged one year and nine months.”
The Clarke’s second child was a son named Cyril Wilberforce St. John Clarke (pictured on the following page). He was born on February 24, 1876, at Richmond, and so would have been just five months old when his sister Katherine passed away.
The following year the Clarke’s second daughter was born. Named May De La Prime, she arrived on May 26, 1877.
Another two years were to pass before the next child was born- a second son who was named Horatio St. John Clarke after his father. Horatio was born on November 23, 1879, at his family’s Richmond home.
Finally, the last of the five children born to Margaret McCallum and Horatio St. John Clarke made her appearance into the world on October 23, 1881. She was named Ethel Stowe Clarke, and like her siblings was also born in Richmond.
Dr. Horatio St. John Clarke died on June 30, 1895, at the age of 76 years. His wife Margaret was almost 43, and their children were aged 19(Cyril), 18 (May), 15 ½ (Horatio) and 12 (Ethel). Horatio had been suffering ill health for two years, and the eventual cause of his death was given as “Cardiac dilation & failure; bronchitis & general dropsy”. His death certificate states that he had been in Victoria for about 44 years, which puts his year of arrival as c. 1851-2.
The following declaration was published in the London Gazette on January 19, 1897, almost 18 months after Horatio’s death:
“HORATIO ST. JOHN CLARKE Deceased.
Pursuant to the Statute 22nd and 23rd Victoria, chapter 35, entitled " An Act to further amend the Law of Property, and to relieve Trustees."
NOTICE is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any debts, claims or demands against the estate of Horatio St. John Clarke late of Victoria-street Richmond in the Colony of Victoria Surgeon who died on the 30th day of June 1895 and of whose personal estate in England letters of administration (with his will annexed) were granted to Henry Edward Burgess of No. 1 New-square, Lincoln's-inn London England Esquire(the lawful Attorney of Margaret Clarke Widow the sole executrix of the said will residing in the said
colony) by the Principal Registry of the Probate Division of Her Majesty's High Court of Justice in England on the 8th day. of January 1897 are hereby required to send particulars in writing of their debts, claims or demands to the said Henry Edward Burgess at No. 1 New-square, Lincoln's-inn, London aforesaid on or before the 15th day of July 1897; and notice is hereby given that at the expiration of that time the said administrator will proceed to distribute the assets of the said testator among the parties entitled thereto, having regard only to the debts, claims and demands of which he shall then have notice; and that he will not be liable for the assets or any part thereof so distributed to any person or persons of whose
debt, claim or demand he shall not then have had notice.
—Dated this 15th day of January 1897.
WOODROOFFE and BURGESS 1 New-square,
Lincoln's-inn London Solicitors for the said
- From the London Gazette, 19 Jan 1897.
Electoral rolls have helped to trace Margaret McCallum Clarke’s movements after her husband’s death. In the earliest online roll of 1903, Margaret Clarke is living in Tough Street, Hawthorn, with her two daughters, May and Ethel, and son Cyril. The women’s occupations were given as ‘home duties’, while Cyril’s was ‘independent means’.
In 1909, Margaret and her girls were still at Tough Street, Hawthorn, and were recorded there for the last time in 1919.When sons Horatio and Cyril joined the A.I.F in 1915, their mother’s address was given as “Youngera”, Yarra Street, Hawthorn. This was Horatio’s address in the 1919 electoral roll.
Margaret Clarke spent the latter years of her life at Black Rock, at 3 Karakatta Street, in another house named ‘Youngera’ after her childhood home. She appears at this address on the electoral rolls from 1924 until 1931, living with her daughter May.
Margaret McCallum Clarke died in her Black Rock home on Wednesday, January 1st, 1936, at the age of 83 years. She was buried the following day at Boroondara Cemetery, Kew, in the same grave as her husband Horatio.