Home - Chermside & District History

Chapter 4

Other related Hamilton families

Charlotte Jane Hamilton’s (1855 - 1937) early years in Liverpool were saddened by the deaths of two brothers and two sisters. She was the eldest of the Hamilton children to arrive in Brisbane. She lived with her parents at Burnie Brae until her marriage to James Hamilton, a cousin, in 1887. James Hamilton, (1861 - 1924) arrived in Brisbane with MJ and Willie in 1885. He was an offsider to the gamekeeper on the Colebrooke estate at Brookeborough, but his Uncle Andrew trained him as a blacksmith. James later worked as a carpenter and helped to build a house for his mother, Jane, when she came to Queensland.

James was interested in photography and captured many family functions on film. He recorded the various workplaces and his many photographs in this book also show family occasions.

Charlotte Jane and James had one daughter, Margaret Jane, known as Janie, and the family lived at Chermside and later Sandgate. He built houses and did extensions for the Pill and Maggs tanneries and from 1903, he served for many years as a trustee of the Lutwyche Cemetery where he and his son-in-law, John Henry Wayper, did occasional repairs on fences and sheds.1 Charlotte was a good businesswoman but she was happy to let her brother Thomas handle the complicated arrangements of their parents’ wills and disposal of property. She loved to collect flowers and ferns and press them into scrapbooks.

Margaret Hamilton, (1857 - 1947) was 9 years old when she arrived in Brisbane on the Ocean Empress and lived most of her life in the Chermside and Sandgate districts. Known as Aunty Maggie to her family, she supplied local dressmakers from her haberdashery shop on the corner of Sparkes Street and Gympie Road, Chermside. She sang in the church choir and loaned her harmonium to the church where she also taught Sunday School. After the death of their mother, her brother Thomas built a house at Sandgate for her and she lived there for many years. Towards the end of her life, she lived with her niece, Fanny, at Bald Hills but occasionally stayed with Hector and Alex’s families.

Jane Hamilton and family in Queensland

Jane Forster, (1829? - 1911) married Thomas Hamilton in 1859. Jane was living at Cornafannoge in the parish of Aghavea and Thomas lived at Tattymacall, in the parish of Derryvullan, both in County Fermanagh. He had returned from Liverpool where he worked as a bootmaker and back in Ireland, he became a carpenter.2 He later worked at Colebrooke Park, near Brookeborough. The estate, 13 miles east of Enniskillen on the road to Fivemiletown grew corn, flax and potatoes.3 According to the Impartial Reporter in 1874, it was “one of the most prosperous and cultivated estates in the kingdom” and it didn’t give praise lightly. Its owner, Sir Arthur Douglas Brooke (1865 - 1907) had a genuine interest in farming and he was a member of various community organisations, such as the Church of Ireland, the temperance movement and the Orange Order.4 Other Hamilton relations lived fairly close at Fivemiletown, across the county border in County Tyrone.

Jane and Thomas farewelled their eldest children on 18 September 1885 for their journey to Queensland with prayers for their safety and as much money as they could spare.5 Soon after her eldest granddaughter, Frances, was born, Jane wrote from Ireland to her daughter, MJ, at Cobb’s Camp. She offered advice about the dangers of boiling water but grieved that “I need never hope to see one of yous in this world”.6

After Thomas died in 1892, Jane and her other children, Matilda, Mary Ann and Hugh, decided to join MJ in Brisbane. They left from London and arrived in Sydney on 7th August on the ship Orotavia.7 Her fears of never seeing her family again evaporated as she moved into her new house in Chermside in 1898.8 Her children and grandchildren visited her regularly.

Matilda Hamilton (1862 - 1935) was born at Snowhill, a townland in the parish of Lisbellaw (Cleenish East), County Fermanagh.9 She was known as Tilly to the family and cared for other people’s children for most of her life. She worked for Sir Douglas and Lady Brooke of Colebrooke Park and travelled in Europe with them and their five children.10 Matilda arrived in Queensland in 1897 and soon found work with a family at Indooroopilly.11 She moved back to Chermside where she cared for many State wards. When she went to live with her niece, Rebecca and Joseph Packer and their three children in Kedron in 1924, she hadn’t lost her knack in dealing with children. It was not unusual for her to conspire with the children to get rid of their unwanted food.12

William Hamilton (1865-1939), also born at Snowhill and known as Willie, joined his older brother, James, and worked for the head gamekeeper on the Brooke estate until he migrated to Queensland. He also learnt the trade of blacksmithing from Uncle Andrew and later set up his own blacksmith business at Sandgate Road, Nundah. His nephews, Hugh, Eddie, and Alex occasionally worked for him and Thomas often took his horses to Willie’s shop for shoeing. He married Rhoda Brown (died 1944) and they had one child, Eva.

Mary Ann Hamilton (1867 - 1933), also arrived in Queensland in 1897. She apparently found work soon after her arrival, as Hugh’s application to join the Police Force noted that she was living at Hamilton, not with her mother and sisters at Downfall Creek. She married Frank Alton Morrison, a widower, in 1907. He was a farmer at Hunchy, near Nambour and they had two sons, Eric and Merven. The family left the district to farm at Rocklea, now a suburb of Brisbane.

Hugh Hamilton (1869 - 1947) arrived in Queensland with his mother and two sisters in August 1897. And he brought with him two excellent references which he used in his application to join the Queensland Police Force. The local minister of the Aghalurcher parish, Rev. J. Triphook, thought Hugh was honest and industrious and came from a good home. Douglas Brooke of Colebrooke stated that Hugh had worked for him for ten years and was a hard and willing worker. His other abilities, “fair carpenter, thoroughly understands a sawmill and is a good shot and rabbit trapper”, might not have been as much use in the Police Force.13

He joined the Police Force in December 1897 and remained at the Roma Street station for his entire career. His only indiscretion was to sit down while he was on duty at Government House, then opposite the Botanic Gardens. The Superintendent of Traffic thought Hugh could be “relied upon for honesty and truthfulness and for exercising courtesy and tact in the performance of his duty and is moreover a most level-headed and even tempered constable." He was awarded the Police Medal in 1912 for stopping a pair of runaway horses attached to a lorry in the city.14

At that time, police had to apply for permission to marry and Hugh applied to marry Sarah Ann Maxwell (1879 - 1969) in 1903. He had permission to marry but not to take any leave of absence - the Commonwealth Electoral rolls had to be completed. Sarah, Hugh and their children, Victor, Arthur, Alfred and Charles, lived at West End.15

Three generations of Andrew and Margaret Hamilton’s family left a legacy not only to their own families but also to the wider community.

Most grew up in Chermside on the north side of Brisbane and later moved into nearby suburbs ranging from Kedron to Bald Hills. They married into families with similar English, Scottish and Irish ancestry and maintained traditions associated with their forebears.

They were skilled manual workers, the men and the women. The men were accomplished with working with materials such as wood, iron, steel and paint and were first-class tradesmen. The women were experts with needle and thread in many forms – dressmaking, sewing, crochet, tatting, and millinery. They all spent many hours in perfecting their craft and passed these skills passed to later generations.

The Chermside district still benefits from the community spirit of these families. Andrew helped establish the first Methodist church and regarded the work in the post office as an essential service for the district. Thomas Andrew and MJ saw the need for a school and worked to fulfill that need. They also saw the necessity for further education for people who had left school early and helped to establish and maintain the School of Arts. Their children assisted the community during two World Wars.

Probably their greatest contribution has been to the Methodist, now Uniting, Church, at Chermside. Andrew and Margaret brought a Methodist background from Ireland and England and started church services in the small community of Downfall Creek. Later generations and their partners served the congregation in many capacities – trustees, stewards, Sunday School superintendents and teachers, fund raisers, treasurers and secretaries. As well as these contributions, they brought music to the community - there were singers in the choirs, conductors, pianists, organists and violinists. And they encouraged so many others to join them.