My Thomson Family

William Thomson birth date unknown. William died probably before 1841. This is suspected because of his absence from the 1841 census. However, Dean Thomson has suggested that perhaps he came with William to Australia, and may have been in Tasmania at the time.

William Thomson married Grace Cow in Peterhead, Aberdeen, Scotland on 7 December 1816. Grace Cow was born circa 1791, her parnets were William Cow and Elizabeth Mason. The census taken in 1841 shows Grace as the head of the household in Nether Kinmundy, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Son Robert was shown as a farmer, and sons George, Allan and Alexander as ag labourers. Son William was missing from the census, but we know that he was in Australia at that time. No father is listed, and it is either that he was deceased or in Australia with William, as Robert's occupation of farmer (as compared to his brother's occupations of agricultural labourers) suggests that he was acting as head of the household.

William Thomson and Grace Cow had the following children:

Second Generation

Robert Thomson was born in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland circa 1819. But was probably born at Nether Kinmundy, a small village about five miles west of Peterhead. Alexander was definitely born there and the family was found there at the time of the 1841 census. Robert died circa 1867. Family legend says that Robert Thomson went missing when returning from Scotland to Australia after a profitable business deal. He either fell overboard or was robbed and thrown overboard.

Robert Thomson married Caroline Christina Sophia Dorothea Gerdtz at Lyne Station in Western District, Victoria, Australia on November 23, 1852. The service was performed by Cusack Russell, a travelling minister. Lyne station (pronounced "line") was the home of Sophia, and was located between Branxholme and Byaduk. Robert's place of residence was Park Hill.

Caroline Christina Sophia Dorothea Gerdtz was born in 1831 in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Sophia was the daughter of Johann Joachim Christian Gerdtz and Friedericke Anne Marie Bruss. Sophia died at the residence of her son Robert in Pierrepoint, Hochkirch (Tarrington), Victoria, Australia on June 5, 1914. Sophia was buried on June 7, 1914 at the Old Hamilton Cemetery. Sophia immigrated on board the Sophie to Port Phillip arriving on August 23, 1850. An obituary for Sophia appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on Saturday June 6, 1914.

DEATH OF A DISTRICT PIONEER
A very old and respected resident of the Hamilton district in Mrs Sophia Neville, relict of the late C. Neville, passed away yesterday at the residence of her son, Mr Robert Thomson, of Pierrepoint. The deceased lady, who was 83 years of age, and who until a month ago had never known sickness, was a Miss Gerdtz, the daughter of one of the pioneers of the district. A native of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, she arrived in Melbourne over 60 years ago, when there were but a few habitations in the capital, and when the family came to Hamilton there were only two houses where the town now stands. She and her first husband, Mr Robert Thomson, arrived under engagement to Captain Carr of Lyne station, and subsequently they were at Bochara and Park Hill, the last named property at one time being owned by Mr Thomson and his brothers. She was widowed about fifty years ago, and some time later she married Mr C. Neville, who also predeceased her many years ago. For the past nine years she has resided at Pierrepoint with her second son, and it was there that she ended a long life of usefulness. By her first marriage she leaves a daughter and three sons - Mrs Garton, of Woohlpooer; James, of Western Australia; Robert of Pierrepoint; and Alexander, of Woohlpooer. The only survivor of the second family is the Rev. C. Neville, Presbyterian minister, of North Fitzroy. Messrs. Fred Gerdtz, of Murtoa and John Gerdtz of Minyip, are brothers. The funeral will take place on Sunday, moving from Mr Thomson's residence, Pierrepoint, at 2.30 o'clock for the Hamilton cemetery.

At the time of the 1841 census, Robert was living with his mother and brothers at Nether Kinmundy. Robert's occupation was shown as farmer, whilst his brothers were agricultural labourers (Robert was the eldest son at home).

According to his wife's obituary (in 1914), Robert arrived in the Western District under engagement to Captain John Stanley Carr of Lyne Station. Captain Carr was born of Scottish parents and was an officer in the German princely army. He held land in Silesia. He retired to Ireland where he died in 1855. It is interesting that Robert, who was also born of Scottish parents, married Sophia, who came from Silesia, and they both worked for Captain Carr at Lyne Station.

Robert subsequently worked at Bochara Station before joining his brothers on Park Hill Station. Occupation: Farmer. Robert is known to have worked at Lyne, Bochara and Park Hill Stations, as well as Knebsworth Station, west of Macarthur.

From March 1852 until June 1858 Robert Thomson (as executor with his brother), leased the Park Hill pastoral run in the Wannon District, Victoria, Australia. The run had been held by his late brother William. Alexander and Robert then held the lease as executors until June 1858 when Alexander took over the run in his own name. In December 1863 the lease was transferred to Thomas Must. Park Hill was 9680 acres and held 7000 sheep. It was located on the Wannon River, ten miles east of Merino.

In the Victorian Assessment of Stock in 1857, Park Hill had seven horses, forty cattle and 8500 sheep.

Robert Thomson and Caroline Christina Sophia Dorothea Gerdtz had the following children:


Alexander Thomson was born in Nether Kinmundy, Aberdeenshire, Scotland circa 1821/1823.

Alexander Thomson married Agnes Gregory in Longside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland on November 24, 1842. Agnes Gregory was born circa 1821 in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Agnes died of pneumonia and heart disease at the Hamilton Hospital in Hamilton, Victoria, Australia on February 14, 1897.

Alexander Thomson and Agnes immigrated to Australia sometime before 1844. Their daughter Jane was born in Tasmania in 1844 and Grace was born at Park Hill Station, Wannon, Victoria in 1845.

Alexander operated the Fleece Inn in Green Hills, near the Grange, Victoria, Australia between September 1850 and September 1852. Green Hills was the earlier name for Condah. The inn was located in a prime position at the main junction of roads from Heywood, Portland and Port Fairy. It offered hospitality to travellers and their bullock teams and provided food and water for their animals.

A description of the hotel in 1855, three years after Alexander had completed his lease, described the site as containing a house (hotel) of fourteen rooms, valued at 2600; a storehouse, kitchen and stable with stalls. There was a kitchen garden on about half an acre under vegetables and fruit trees, and a well. A total valuation of 3000.

From March 1852 until June 1858 Alexander Thomson (as executor with his brother), leased the Park Hill pastoral run in the Wannon District, Victoria, Australia. The run had been held by his late brother William. Alexander and Robert then held the lease as executors until June 1858 when Alexander took over the run in his own name. In December 1863 the lease was transferred to Thomas Must. Park Hill was 9680 acres and held 7000 sheep. It was located on the Wannon River, ten miles east of Merino.

In the Victorian Assessment of Stock in 1857, Park Hill had seven horses, forty cattle and 8500 sheep.

From January 1858 until December 1863, Alexander Thomson leased a pastoral run at Bung Brungle, one mile north west of Bochara, Victoria, Australia. The land consisted of 7000 acres and could hold 5000 sheep.

From January 1858 until 1866, Alexander Thomson leased a pastoral run at Mepunga in the Wannon District, Victoria, Australia. Mepuna was 8000 acres and held 5000 sheep. It was located on the Wannon River, ten miles south east of Coleraine. The run was cancelled in 1866.

Until 1866 Alexander Thomson also leased a pastoral run at Murndal in the Wannon District, Victoria, Australia. The government then made the land available for selection, although Alexander was granted a pre-emptive section which was described by Samuel Winter in 1867 as 'a desirable purchase being so near the river' though 'mostly inferior land and worth only what sheep it will carry'.

It appears that Alexander remained at Murndal after the lease had finished, and may have been employed as a station hand.

Ian Thomson says that the story passed down through his family was that the family was tricked out of their land holdings.

Alexander Thomson was admitted to the Ararat Lunatic Asylum on November 5, 1875 suffering from chorea. When he was admitted to the Asylum, his occupation was listed as formerly sheep farmer. He had sold (or had cancelled) his sheep runs in 1866.

Alexander was admitted to the Asylum by the police. He had been suffering from chorea (Huntington's disease) at intervals for several years. Huntington's Disease is an inherited degenerative neuropsychiatric disorder which affects both body and mind. Symptoms most commonly begin between the ages of 35 and 50 and even now there is no cure.

Each child of an affected parent has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. Symptoms include chorea (dance-like involuntary movements), clumsiness, slurred speech, depression, irritability and apathy. No one actually dies from Huntington's Disease, rather they die with the disease (more commonly, the body's resistance to disease is weakened through the exhausting chorea movements).

At the time of admittance, Alexander could hardly feed himself. A week later, medication was taking effect and his muscular jerkings were much less severe and he was able to feed himself. He was then transferred to F ward.

But poor Alexander. The Asylum ran out of the medication, as such large doses had been given to him. He became much worse and was sent back to the hospital. It was almost two weeks before supplies were replenished. By June he was becoming feeble, and in July his health was failing. He was suffering from bronchitis and his appetite was waning.

Alexander died from complications from chorea at the Ararat Lunatic Asylum on July 13, 1876 at 2 a.m. Alexander was buried on July 15, 1876 in Ararat, Victoria, Australia. A customary inquest was held into the death of Alexander Thomson on July 13, 1876. Inquests were always held as a matter of procedure when there was a death in an asylum. The cause of death was found to be exhaustion from disease of the liver and brain accelerated by an attack of bronchitis. John Fishbourne, the resident medical officer gave evidence to the inquest:

Admitted in a feeble and emancipated condition suffering from Chorea or St Vitus's Dance.

Improved considerably under treatment. Since the cold weather he has shown signs of failing rapidly. He suffered for the last few weeks from an attack of Bronchitis. There was always great difficulty in getting him to take nourishment, which was greatly increased by the contortions due to his disease. He was only confined to his bed for a few days, he sank rapidly. I saw him last alive on the night of the 12th July when I endeavoured to give him some nourishment and failed.

Alexander Thomson and Agnes Gregory had the following children:

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1997-2003 Lauren Thomson, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
Last revised: April 20, 2003
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