The Murray Family – Chapter Eleven – Charles (1832 – 1921)

Chapter 11


Charles Michael MURRAY (1832-1921)

Elizabeth Clare CONYNGHAM (1837-1921)

‘Avondale’, Yatte Yattah and Annandale NSW


          Charles Murray may have met his future wife Elizabeth Clare Conyngham while working in the hotel industry in Sydney in the mid-1800s. Elizabeth was the second daughter of Edward Conyngham, a Sydney Innkeeper, who arrived free from Dublin on the Brig Ann in 1829, and Mary Ann Marshall.    The Conynghams inherited The Beehive Inn, originally established by Elizabeth’s grandfather, George Marshall (1783-1828) and situated in Campbell Street in the Haymarket area, when George’s widow, Mary Marshall, died in 1844. 


        Whether Charles and Elizabeth (known as Lizzie) had met earlier, it seems they were both present at the Mayor of Sydney’s Fancy Dress Ball in July 1853.[1]  The Ball was described in the Sydney Morning Herald as having, ‘far outlived any previous assembly of the same character in Sydney’!’  Those attending numbered eight or nine hundred and included the Colonial Secretary, foreign consuls in Sydney, officers of the garrison, members of the Legislative Council, of the Bench and the Bar as well as the leading merchants and traders of the city and port.


        Also appearing further down on this illustrious list were, ‘Miss Conyngham as Bessy Belle, Mrs. F. McMahon as Emily Bury, Mr. Francis McMahon, as an Irish Peasant’, as well as a ‘Mr.’ and a ‘Miss Murray’.  If Mrs. F. McMahon was, indeed, Catherine (Conyngham) McMahon, then Miss Conyngham was obviously Catherine’s only sister, Elizabeth Clare Conyngham, aged 16.  [Mr] Charles Murray Jr. (21) and his sister [Miss] Margaret Murray (17) were both single and fancy-free in 1853.  This glamorous event was written up in several local newspapers in glowing terms. At any rate, a Murray Conyngham courtship commenced in due course.


        On 28th February 1856, the marriage was celebrated at St. Mary’s Cathedral Sydney of Charles Murray to Elizabeth Clare Conyngham; married by pioneer priest, Father John Joseph Therry.  Charles was ‘of Ulladulla’ and Elizabeth ‘of Sydney’, and their witnesses were George Laurence Fuller[2] and Catherine McMahon (Elizabeth’s sister) both of Sydney. 


            After their marriage in 1856, Charles and Elizabeth were to produce, in the years ahead, a large family – twelve children in all.  The first child, Edward Phillip, was born in 1857 at ‘Shoalhaven Ulladulla NSW’ and the following eleven, including the youngest Helen Mary, in 1881 at ‘Avondale, Ulladulla NSW’.  


        However, back in 1856 in Ulladulla, three months after the wedding, on 27 May 1856, as was done with his two older sons, Charles Murray Senior conveyed some of the land, earlier purchased by him, to his youngest son.  Charles Jr. was given the property comprising Portions 20, 21 and 22 in Parish Conjola, Co St. Vincent by a Deed of Gift.  Portions 20 and 21 were known as The Duckhole and Portion 22 as Armstrong’s Forest.


           Edward, the first child of the marriage, was born on 17 March 1857,  ‘at the residence of Mrs. Charles Murray at Ulladulla’.  However, Charles was not down on the farm when he was awarded the transfer of the licence of the “Family Hotel” in Sussex Street, Sydney, on 24 September 1857.  By 23 January 1858, the establishment was called ‘Murray’s Hotel’ and the following notice appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald:

‘To Musicians, Professionals, and others

  • TO LET one of the Largest Rooms in the City, sixty-six feet long by twenty-five feet, well lighted and ventilated, with gas meter and gas fittings all complete together with an excellent residence, refreshment rooms etc. water laid on.  It is one of the best situations for a dancing academy in the whole city.  Good front entrance by large hall, and spacious staircase. For terms apply to Mr. CHARLES MURRAY, Murray’s Hotel, corner of King and Sussex streets.’ 


Three months later, on 19 May 1958, the Sydney Morning Herald  listed those licences approved for one year from 1 July 1858.  This list included the names of both Charles Murray and his father-in-law Edward Conyngham:

        172 Charles Murray, Murray’s Family Hotel, Sussex and King Streets

        41 Edward Conyngham, Dublin Tavern, George and Liverpool Streets

         However, a mere 4 months later, the short-lived Murray’s Family Hotel licence was transferred from Charles to John Robertson at the September 1858 Quarterly Licensing Meeting.[3]  The hotel was known for a short time as Murray’s Hotel  and later as Elliott’s Hotel, The Saracen’s Head, then Kerr’s Hotel and, even later, The Tarragon.


Elizabeth’s Murray’s sister, Catherine Mary (Kate) Conyngham, was the wife of Francis McMahon who was a Sydney businessman with a grocery warehouse and stables on Brickfield Hill.  Francis McMahon sold out and moved his family to Milton around 1857[4]. Charles Murray and his brother-in-law Francis McMahon and their wives – sisters Lizzie and Kate – were to enjoy, over the years, a very close friendship, both at Ulladulla and later in their retirement years, living as neighbours in the Sydney suburb of Annandale.


         In the years ahead, Francis McMahon and Charles Murray Jr. would confuse their descendants somewhat by entering into some rather complicated financial arrangements.  What is clear is that Charles seemed to be in some sort of financial trouble by 1858, possibly due to his involvement in the Sydney hotel industry.  Charles Jr. was declared bankrupt on 4 October 1858 and subsequently, on 2 December 1858, he provided a statement which included the following:      


‘… about two or three months before my sequestration I had 120 acres of land at Ulladulla.  I sold it for 300 pounds.  I was paid by a cheque on Joint Stock Bank.  I sold the land to Francis McMahon, my Brother in Law.  I [considered] that the fair value of the land.  I paid this money owing to various parties.  I paid some to Mr. Billyard and some to the Taylors and I paid 50 pounds to McMahon which…  I swear that this was a bona fide sale.  I was not in  [poor]circumstances when I sold the land but I was pressed for money after I sold the land.  I was ….off by Mr. Waddell.  I think it was 50 pounds I paid Billyard but I am not certain.  There is no understanding between McMahon and myself as to his returning the land to me.  I know of no losses I sustained to the extent of 50 pounds between the sale of the land to McMahon and my sequestration.  I lost some money by Lodgers[5].’                                            


       However, even though it appeared he had sold his land to Francis McMahon, Charles and his family were still living at Avondale, Ulladulla. It may be that the management of the hotel business was not assisted by regular conjugal visits to Avondale.  The births of the remainder of their 12 children also occurred at Avondale between 1861 and 1881. One of the grand-daughters of Charles and Lizzie related that her grandmother often had aboriginal midwives to assist in her deliveries; also, interestingly, that her grandfather Charles Jr. could actually speak the aboriginal dialect and converse with the local aboriginals. [6]                                      


The 1858-1859 Sands Sydney Directory includes the entry – Charles Murray, Murray’s Family Hotel, No. 106 Sussex Street (cnr of King Street)’. However, a couple of years later, in the 1861 Sands Sydney Directory, No. 106 Sussex Street was listed, then, as Elliott’s Family Hotel (prop. Edward Elliott). There was an earlier Elliott’s Family Hotel built in 1839 in Wollongong – described as a two-storey building with verandahs and lace railing. It was owned and operated by Alexander Elliott[7]. It appears the Murrays, McMahons and Elliotts were closely connected.  Charles Murray (21) and Margaret Murray (17) were godparents to Alexander’s 6th child, Christiana Elliott, in 1853 in Wollongong and Francis and Catherine McMahon were godparents to Christiana’s sister, Eliza Alice Elliott, in Wollongong in 1856[8].


            The father of Elizabeth Murray and Catherine McMahon, Edward Conyngham, died in October 1858, ‘at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Francis McMahon, at Howson’s Farm, Milton, Ulladulla’.[9]  Edward had been licensee of the Bee Hive Inn in Campbell Street, Sydney, between 1835 and 1844 and the Dublin Tavern at the corner of George and Liverpool Streets in the late 1850s.  This connection may have inspired Charles to branch out from the farm in Armstrong’s Forest and become a hotelkeeper in Sydney, with his ‘Murray’s Family Hotel’, not to mention the involvement of his sister Mary McCarthy and brother Phillip Murray with  McCarthy’s ‘Steam Packet Inn’  at Terara.


            However, back in Ulladulla, despite Avondale sale to McMahon, and despite Charles’ statement in a later statutory declaration that he occupied the property from February 26, 1856 until the sale to McMahon “… who went into possession soon after’, the Murrays’ occupation of the property apparently continued uninterrupted by anything other than the adoption of the name ‘Avondale’ instead of the somewhat less elegant ‘Duckhole’.


          On 10 May 1861, Charles Murray was, happily, discharged from bankruptcy.[10]  This was surely a great relief all round.  Charles Jr. then went on to purchase Portion 71, which adjoined Portions 20 and 21, from the Crown in June 1862, thereby increasing the holding to almost 160 acres (actually 157 ac 3 rd.). It appears that, from then on, he and his growing family were still living at their dairy farm, Avondale at Yatte Yattah, until 1889-90.  This was when they moved to the suburb of Annandale in Sydney, although family lore indicates that, for some time, family members were living part of the time at Yatte Yattah and part of the time at Annandale, before all moving permanently to Annandale


       Charles was branching out in other directions, too.  An 1866 issue of the Catholic newspaper the Freeman’s Journal of Sydney cites ‘Charles Murray Jr.’ as its Milton agent.

‘Established in 1850, The Freeman’s Journal was printed on an old hand-turned “mangle” in the gallery of St Mary’s Seminary, in a building adjacent to the first St Mary’s Cathedral. The Freeman’s Journal was not an “official organ” of the Church, but a general newspaper with a focus on Catholic and Irish affairs with an unashamedly Australian outlook. It was able to draw on the best minds of the day to become an eminently intelligent source, one that was never out of touch with what was happening in the local community.[11]


        By this time, in the year 1866, Charles and Susan already had a family of five children. The two eldest children – Edward Phillip (Eddie) at nine and Catherine Anne (Katie) at seven years of age, and possibly also Francis Conyngham (Frank) at five – would be of school age. There was a Church of England school, which had been operating in nearby Milton since 1856.  However, it appears there was already a school of sorts operating nearer to hand at Armstrong’s Forest, and that matters were proceeding to have this school officially accredited as a Roman Catholic denominational school.   More about this in ‘Saga of the Churches’ – Chapter 13.


             If Milton and Armstrong’s Forest were suffering hardship at this time, Ulladulla (the harbour township) seems to have been in the doldrums for many years, as most development was still occurring in Milton (called the Settlement).  Settlement inhabitants tended to regard the township as little more than a place for the shipment of produce. To make matters worse, the great bushfires of Christmas Eve 1868 were a further heavy blow.  Trade in Milton came to a standstill as the people closed their doors and went out to help to check the progress of the flames.  Charles Murray Senior, nephew Thomas McGee and many other landholders experienced great losses.


Greville’s Post Office Directory for 1872 lists the following names:

                                 Murray, Charles        farmer – Ulladulla

                                Murray, Charles jun.    farmer – Ulladulla

                                Murray, James             farmer – Ulladulla

                                Murray, Philip              labourer – Ulladulla

   In Greville’s NSW Directory 1873 the following names again appeared for Milton:

  Murray, C.                     Farmer, Armstrongs Forest

  Murray, Charles Jnr.    Farmer, Avondale

  Murray, James,            Farmer, ArmstrongsForest

  Murray, Philip,            Farmer, Armstrongs Forest


            When the 1873 petition was drawn up for the Post Office at Yatte Yattah, it included Charles Murray’s signature. There were many other petitioners, including his brother, Phillip, who was subsequently appointed Postmaster.


        The growing numbers of children in the area by this time may have become somewhat overwhelming for the little RC denominational school.  Charles and Lizzie’s family had now grown to 10 children.  By October 1876 moves were afoot to build another school in the area – a public school.  To this end, Charles Murray signed his name, again, together with fourteen others (including his brother-in-law Andrew McLean), to yet another well worded petition, this time[12] for a Yatte Yattah Public School.

To the Council of Education, Sydney

The Humble Petition of the Parents and guardians of the children whose names appear on the Form herewith attached Respectfully Shewith

       1st That we most respectfully beg to apply that you will be pleased to grant a Public School at Yatteyatah, this place is distant from the nearest Public School upwards of five (5) miles by the road and four and a half (4 1/2) miles from the proposed Public School at Milton.

       2nd That the district of Yatteyatah, (generally known as the forest) has a considerable Population and fast increasing as the land is being taken up many of the children are deprived from the benefits of School instruction in consequence of the distance being too far to send the children.

       3rd That the site we propose for the school has been granted by Mr. Phillip Murray and Mr. Henry Millard one acre as per plan herewith enclosed, and is in our opinion most centrally situated and has a very fine commanding view of a large portion of the district.

       4th We therefore earnestly Pray that you will be pleased to grant our request, and your petitioner as in duty bound will ever Pray.


Yatte Yattah Public School

        It seems the outcome of this petition was positive.  Early the following year, on 26 March 1877, Phillip Murray donated his acre of land (together with that of Henry Millard) for the purpose of erecting the proposed ’Yatteyattah [sic] Public School’. No doubt they could see that, if the CEO accepted the offer, the school would be very conveniently close for their school-age children to walk from their properties including Avondale and Eagle View. Ultimately, when they finished their schooling, some of their older children would find it attractive to be employed there as pupil-teachers.

            An undated map was found in the NSW State Records school files for Yatte Yattah Public School which may have been attached to the application for the new school about 1876/77.  Written in the margin beside the map [13] were the following words:

‘Yatteyattah.  The measurements denote the distance of farms from the School.  The figures in red ink denote the  no. of children be-tween 6 and 14 years of age residing at each farm.  The red crosses denote those farms where there are no children of school age.’

      ‘C. Murray’s’ farm shows 1 child between  6-14 years of age?   In 1876 – there would have been Charles 13, Lena 11, George 9, Rose 7, Louis 6.  Maybe, the older children were at boarding school somewhere, or the map was a later date.

       In October 1880 Charles’ daughter, Mary Magdalene (Lena), now 15 years of age, followed the example of her older sister Kate, and passed the examination to become a pupil teacher.  A month later, on 3rd December 1880, Charles and the family would have been saddened by the death of his older brother Phillip, who died of cancer.   A happier event the following year, Charles and Lizzie’s last child, a daughter, Helen Mary Murray was born at Avondale Ulladulla on 13 June 1881.  The baby of the family, she was thereafter known as ‘Nellie’.  


            By the year 1883 there were two Charles Murrays – cousins, listed in the Milton Ulladulla Directory –

   Charles MURRAY                      – Yatte Yattah – Farmer

   Charles Morduant MURRAY     – Yatte Yattah – Farmer[14]

           Charles Morduant was the son of Charles’ brother, James Murray of Conjola.


            By June 1883, Milton township was fast becoming a settlement of note.  It then boasted ‘more pulpits than pubs’[15]. There was the Roman Catholic Chapel at Yatte Yattah, the Episcopalian, Wesleyan and Congregational Churches at Milton and a Church/Sunday School building at Croobyar. There was a six-times weekly mail coach service between Nowra, Tomerong, Wandandian, Conjola, Yatteyattah, Milton and Ulladulla.



       With the first Australian generations of the settlers now growing into adulthood, as well as obvious social events such as weddings and christenings, it appears they managed to find other ways of getting together for recreational and fund-raising activities; organising musical evenings, picnics, concerts and balls, etc.  In Milton, a novel fund-raising effort was started with the formation of the ‘Milton Crochety Quavers’. The objectives being to help raise funds for any charitable ‘and other laudable causes’ by improving the rendering of vocal and instrumental music.[16] The following newspaper account of a local ball was found pasted in a journal kept by Charles Jr.’s daughter Rose Gertrude Murray.  The article was undated but other cuttings pasted into the journal were dated between 1879–1884.


Ulladulla Bachelors

Mr. Frank McMahon of Woodburn was the recipient of a compliment from the gentlemen of the district, which took the form of a ball on October 26, and whereas great enjoyment was experienced for several hours.  Mrs. Hynes (Nee M McMahon) was belle and wore ruby velvet and pink satin.  Mrs. F. McMahon donned crushed strawberry satin, and looked charming.  Her sister mixed sea-green satin with the same colour.  Miss Lena Murray, in pale blue satin; Miss M. Murray in cream and blue satin; and Miss A. Murray in cardinal and pink velvet were everything nice.  Mrs. Bennett, Misses Davis, Bice, Mitchell, Garrad, and C. Secombe, dressed tastefully, and received as reward no small share of attention.  An excellent M.C. was Mr. Bennett, and to him in a great measure may be attributed the success of the affair.


           Cricket was also a popular pastime played by the young men of the district.  Mentions of local leagues, senior and junior teams, winning the premiership and the days when the district was full of ‘fine cricketers’ crop up in the obituaries of the Yatte Yattah and Conjola Murray pioneers.  Being members of the local Agricultural Society and competing in the Milton Show also seems to have been a common activity with the early settler families, not to mention horse-racing and game hunting.


Meat and the family butcher

            Feeding his growing family must have been a challenge for Charles Murray Jr. at Avondale.  Meat constituted a large part of the diet in those days and it appears that the large family living at Avondale on what was called ‘Murray’s Hill’ consumed a considerable amount of meat.  From customer accounts in the Daybook of Milton Butcher, T.G. Garrad, in 1883, the following Murray meat orders may seem enormous by today’s standards.  In times of no refrigeration, visits to the butcher were fairly frequent and salted corned beef was obviously a big seller.

CHARLES MURRAY[17]                                    [£ s d]         

October    1                    14 lbs corned beef (3d) suet                       3- 8 ¼

                5                        8 1/2 lbs steak (3 1/2)                               7-10

              13                       15 1/2 lbs steak 1 leg 2 suet                       9- 3 ¾

              22                      20 corned beef                                              5- 0

              27                      6 steak 24 corned beef                                8- 0

                                          TOTAL                                                     £2-1-8


November 3 1883                   8 steak 20 corned beef                         4-10

                10                                8 steak 57 corned beef                         16-11

                17                               16 steak 1 suet                                          5- 0 ½

                19                             11 corned beef                                            2- 9

                24                            35 1/2  roast suet                                      12- 4 ¾

                27                            6 1/2    steak                                                1-10 ¾

                                          TOTAL                                                       £2-3-10

[Note farthings still in existence]


      The poet Vincent Buckley, writing of families who escaped the mid-century famine in Ireland by emigrating to Australia, learned that fresh meat was one of their ‘welcomes’.  Here, he wrote, it was their fate, ‘to forget the saints’ wells and music, and to learn the full taste of meat’[18].  To know the ‘full taste of meat’ was to be an Australian!  The average Australian was eating a third of a kilo of meat a day.


         In the world they left behind, most meals of farm labourers and their large families consisted mainly of bread and potatoes.  When their families grew up, and there were fewer mouths to feed, ‘they had a little money for an occasional meal of meat’.[19]  In this context, it is easy to understand the triumph of the Murray meat order for the family at Avondale.  Maybe they recalled an old Scots saying, ‘Some hae meat an cannae eat.  Some wuld eat that want it;  But we hae meat and we can eat.  Sae let the Lord be thankit.’    

          It appears the Murray daughters did not all go to the same boarding schools for their later education.  Francis McMahon, in a letter recommending Kate Murray’s appointment as a sewing mistress, referred to the fact that Kate had gone to Maitland Convent.  It is not known if her sister Lena went away to school from Armstrong’s Forest, but family stories indicate that some of Charles Murray Jr.’s younger daughters went to the Sacred Heart Convent, Rose Bay in Sydney.  

MacRory cousins from Ireland?

           According to family lore, Charles was believed to be a cousin of Mother Margaret MacRory of Rose Bay Convent and her brother, who was the Primate of Ireland [20]. Research at Rose Bay Convent Archives revealed that not all the early enrolment information still exists.  It was not possible to verify any family relationship, but some of Charles’ brother-in-law Francis McMahon’s grand-daughters did, in fact, appear on some of the Convent’s surviving attendance rolls.  It is quite likely, then, that some of their older female Murray cousins also attended there in the early days of the convent.


            A book written on the history of the Sacred Heart Convent at Rose Bay, Sydney states: –

Mother Margaret MacRory came to Australia with Mother Salomon on the Liguria in 1885. … Margaret MacRory was a young religious of 23, tall and slim, with high colouring, intensely blue Irish eyes, a touch of the brogue, and an animated manner and smile that were to endear her to countless parents, children and nuns in the years to come.[21]

         She became Mistress General of the Convent in 1910 and had a distinguished career in the following years both there until 1922 and as the first Superior and Principal in 1923 of Sancta Sophia the Catholic Women’s College within Sydney University.  She died in 1931 at Sancta Sophia [death registered at Annandale; parents Francis and Rose. [22]  Her brother Joseph MacRory (1861-1945), who was ordained a priest in Ireland in 1885, eventually went on to became Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. 


         In the 1885 Milton-Ulladulla Directory entry, Charles’ 20 year-old daughter, Mary Magdalene (Lena), is listed as a ‘pupil teacher’ at Yatte Yattah.  Other related names in the 1885 directory include –

Charles McGEE – Conjola – Farmer (120 acres)

Kate McGEER[sic] – Avondale – Landowner

Mary MURRAY – Yatte Yattah – pupil teacher

Charles Morduant MURRAY – Milton ‘Avondale’ – Farmer – 160 acres

James MURRAY – ‘Rissmore’ – farmer – 444 acres

Andrew McLEAN, – Milton – Magistrate ‘Eagle View’ farmer – 240 acres


     There was no entry for Charles Murray (Jr.) in 1885.  Two years later, the land holdings for the Milton-Ulladulla area in 1887 included two entries for Avondale

No. 4 Avondale Milton Kate McGee        2 ac     1 horse      1 cattle

No. 4 Avondale Milton C. Murray         160ac     8 horses  80 cattle

                  It follows, then, that the ‘C. Murray’ refers to Charles Mordaunt Murray, son of James Murray of Conjola.


Charles Jnr as model for statue of T.S. Mort

            Charles, with or without Lizzie and their ever expanding family, spent a large portion of his time in Sydney, as more family lore tells us that Charles Jr. was the model for a statue of Thomas Sutcliffe Mort, who died in 1878.  The statue was erected in 1883. Charles, who was said to resemble Mort, was an extremely tall and striking looking man and always wore a black frock coat as he strode about the streets of Sydney; and was thus approached to model for the statue. Sculpted by P.F. Connelly, it stands in front of the old Lands Department building in Macquarie Place and was the first such monument to be erected to a private citizen in Australia.  It is certainly a statue of a big man; family stories relate that Charles Jr. and his brothers were all extremely tall and ‘could not fit through ordinary doors’![23]


 The move to Annandale

         However, in the next few years, whether to do with business concerns there or for the purpose of further education and employment prospects for his children, Charles and Lizzie Murray and their large family seemed to complete the process of moving their home permanently to Annandale in Sydney. When their daughter Catherine (Katie) Murray died there in November 1892, and was buried at Rookwood Cemetery, Charles Murray’s address is given as ‘51 View Street, North Annandale, Leichhardt’, and his occupation as ‘Independent Means’.

         There in the years that followed, in the suburb of Annandale, they would have, as neighbours, many of Lizzie’s Conyngham relatives as well as her sister Kate and brother-in-law Francis McMahon.  Many of Francis’ McMahon relatives were also residing in nearby streets in Annandale.

          Annandale, part of an original grant to Captain George Johnston, was subdivided in the 1870s-1880s.  With a land boom in the eighties, subdivision began in earnest. The land was then sold in allotments.  In April 1884, Francis McMahon had purchased a number of these allotments on which houses were built and on August 14, 1885, he transferred five of them, in View Street, to Charles Marshall Murray and H.M. Makinson stating that he had purchased the properties with moneys belonging to them.  These monies were apparently held in a trust account maintained on behalf of Eliabeth Murray.

           It seems likely that Charles and Lizzie Murray later lived at different times at No. 51 and No. 55 View Street.  In 1889, their teacher daughter, Mary Magdalene (Lena) Murray, married Charles Brennan at Annandale. Back in Ulladulla, the Yatte Yattah electoral rolls from 1894 to 1898 have no Charles Murray listed.

           During 1891 and for the next few years the whole of the Ulladulla district was in severe drought, ‘the people having a hard time’.[24]   In light of this, it is easy to understand why Charles and Lizzie may have decided to make the permanent move to Annandale at this time. 

            Francis and Catherine McMahon and family also made the move from Milton to Annandale in July 1891.   A farewell banquet was held in the Milton Town Hall where a rousing speech was made by ‘Mr. C.M. Murray’ (Charles Mordaunt?) proposing a toast to both Francis McMahon Sr. and his son Francis Jr. who was also leaving for Sydney  – the event reported in detail in the Freeman’s Journal of Saturday 11 July 1891.


Death of Brother-in-law Francis McMahon

                  Charles Murray’s brother-in-law, great friend and neighbour, Francis McMahon, died at his home Glencairn, Johnstone Street, Annandale, on 22nd May 1897.  Sands 1898 Sydney Directory lists the following related persons as residents of Annandale at this time.      Mrs. W. Smail, 82 Albion St. Annandale

W. Murray, 26 View St., Annandale

Chas MURRAY, 51 View St. Annandale

Mrs. A. McMahon, 104 Windsor St,Petersham

Mrs. C. McMahon, Johnston St., Annandale

M F. McMahon, 84 Albion St., Annandale

Gerald McMahon, 238 Young St., Annandale

J. McMahon, 147 Annandale St., Annandale

           Mrs. W. Smail was a Conyngham stepsister of Elizabeth Murray and Catherine McMahon.  Elizabeth and Catherine were daughters of Edward Conyngham’s first marriage to Mary Ann Marshall.  When Edward’s first wife died, he married a second wife, Mary Ann Greenwood, and had more children, including Mary (Conyngham) Smail.


Catherine (Conyngham) McMahon dies

            It would have been a great loss for Lizzie Murray when her beloved sister Kate, widow of Francis McMahon, died less than 12 months after her husband, Francis McMahon, on 10th April 1898, at the McMahon home, Glencairn, Johnston Street, Annandale.


Ownership of ‘The Duckhole’ / ‘Avondale’

            In May 1897, less than 3 weeks before he died, Francis McMahon mortgaged the property he had purchased from Charles Murray in 1858 (Portions 20, 21 and 22) to Mutual Life Association of Australia (MLA) for £750.  This transaction was accompanied by a Surveyor’s Certificate dated May 3 1897 certifying that the land, which comprised parcels of 50ac 1rd and 38ac 1rd “is The Duckhole, Mr. Murray’s” and that the homestead etc. was within the boundaries of the 50ac parcel (Portion 20).  This suggests that while the family may have called the property ‘Avondale’, it was still known locally as ‘The Duckhole’ and remained occupied by the Murrays.


            On January 31, 1898, Catherine McMahon conveyed this same land to Charles Murray, subject to the mortgage to MLA, and for a consideration of 5 shillings, reciting that she and Francis McMahon held the land on trust for Charles Murray.

            In March, 1898, Charles and Elizabeth executed a Deed of Settlement whereby they and their solicitor, H M Makinson, were appointed trustees in relation to the four portions (20, 21, 22 and 71) for the benefit of Charles and Elizabeth for their respective lives and thence for their children :- Edward, Francis, Magdalen (Brennan), Charles Marshall, Rose Gertrude, Louis Aloysius, George D’Arcy, Elizabeth Clare, Ernest Herbert, William Austin and Ellen Mary – in equal shares.

            In October 1913, MLA exercised power of sale upon default under the mortgage and conveyed portions 20, 21 and 22 to John Evans.  Charles Murray had previously disposed of portion 71, later acquired by MLA and conveyed to John Evans at the same time.


            This formally severed the link between the family of Charles Murray Jr. and the Ulladulla district.


Federation Celebrations in Sydney 1901


            The proclamation of Federation would be a time of celebration in the Murray household in Annandale, as in many others. Australia became an independent nation on 1 January 1901. The British Parliament passed legislation allowing the six Australian colonies to govern in their own right as part of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Daily Telegraph, January 2, 1901    “Sydney has reason to be proud of its Commonwealth Inauguration. The scenes in the city yesterday with the procession passed through the streets, at the Centennial Park when the Governor-General was sworn in and the Commonwealth proclaimed, and in the evening when a blaze of illuminations transformed night into day, will not lightly pass from the memories of those who witnessed them”.

                No doubt, members of the Murray family would be present amongst the excited crowds joining in the celebrations and inauguration of the new Centennial Park in Sydney and other festivities outlined in the Official Programme[25].  The Sands 1901 Sydney Directory shows the following Murray householders then living in Annandale:

                                     Charles MURRAY – 51 View St., Annandale

                                     Mrs. M. MURRAY – 26 View St., Annandale

                                     View Street – East side – MURRAY, Charles – ‘Cungerong’     

                                     View Street – West Side – Mrs. M. MURRAY

It is noted that Charles Murray named his house at 51 View Street, Annandale – Cungerong.[26]

              Following the deaths of Charles’ son, Charles Marshall Murray, in 1912 and Solicitor H.M. Makinson in 1913, the View Street Annandale properties were transferred to Elizabeth Clare O’Neill and Helen Mary Slattery (daughters of Charles and Elizabeth) ‘ … at the request of and by the direction of Elizabeth Murray’ and, consistently with a deed of settlement. Charles and Elizabeth Murray lived in one of the View Street houses, No. 55, until their respective deaths within a fortnight of each other, in 1921.


Death of the Matriarch Lizzie

              Elizabeth Clare (Lizzie) Murray died at 55 View Street, Annandale, on 11 July 1921, predeceasing her husband Charles by only two weeks.  She had been in failing health and contracted an attack of bronchial pneumonia, from which she never rallied. She was buried on 15th July at the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Rookwood.


Death of Charles Murray

            It is ironic to note that Charles had been told, as a young man, after surviving a couple of nasty accidents [ie. a bad fall from his horse and being speared by an aboriginal causing removal of a lung!] that he was not likely to ‘make old bones’.[27]   But, he confounded them all and lived to the grand old age of almost 90 years.     

            Charles’ son Louis with his wife, Vena, had moved into the house in 55 View Street to look after the ailing old couple, and remained after Lizzie’s death to care for Charles. When Charles’ beloved Lizzie, at the age of 85, and 5 years younger than Charles, died from pneumonia, they heard him say to her, ‘I’ll be with you soon Lizzie’ .  No doubt, he never expected that she would die before him.  They felt that Charles then willed himself to die and, in fact, it was not very long at all before he did join her.  On his death certificate, his occupation was described as ‘Gentleman’.

            Elizabeth Clare Murray’s death certificate gave the ages of her ‘living’ children in 1921 as – Edward 64, George 54, Rose 52, Louis 49, Elizabeth 47, Ernest 45, William 42, Helen 39, with 2 males and 2 females deceased. There would be grief for Charles and Lizzie over the years when four of their adult children died of TB long before they, themselves, passed away.  Growing up on a dairy farm in those early days with unpasteurised milk may have contributed to these deaths.  Milk, hailed as the liquid of life and health, was also the carrier of disease.  Many cows suffered from tuberculosis and other ailments, and the bacteria were carried in their milk.[28]


Obituary for both Charles and Lizzie Murray July 1921

          It would seem that Charles and Elizabeth Murray were held in high esteem as pioneer Catholic identities in St. Brendan’s RC parish, Annandale.   After St. Brendan’s Church was completed in 1898, Charles Murray and Frank McMahon [Jr.] were noted, in a newspaper article, amongst the illustrious personages on the official platform at its inauguration in July 1898.[29]   An obituary published in the Freeman’s Journal, reports that ‘Quite a gloom was cast over the district of Annandale when the sad news of the death of Mrs. Murray of View-street became known … for over 30 years the deceased couple had resided in Annandale and had been parishioners of St. Brendan’s since its formation’. With their deaths occurring so close to each other, the Catholic Press  of 4th August 1921 also published the following combined obituary for them:


Mr. and Mrs. Charles Murray.

            The death occurred on July 11 of Mrs. Murray, View-street, Annandale, at the age of 84 years.  For some time the deceased lady had been in failing health, and contracting an attack of bronchial pneumonia, from which she never rallied, she passed peacefully away to her heavenly reward, surrounded by the sorrowing members of her family, fortified and consoled by all the consolations of Holy Church.  The Rev. Father Rohan was constantly in attendance, and administered the Last Sacraments.

            Little more than a fortnight later she was followed to the grave by her husband, Charles Murray.  He had attained the grand old age of 91 years, and, so great was the shock he received at the death of his wife, that he gradually failed, and, also surrounded by his sorrowing family and fortified by the Last Sacraments, he quietly breathed his last on July 30. 

            Their holy deaths were typical of their exemplary lives.  For over 30 years the deceased couple had resided in Annandale, and had been parishioners of St. Brendan’s since its formation.  By their kindly and genial personalities, they made for themselves many friends, and their loss will be keenly felt.  The Rev. Father Rohan at the Masses on Sunday, in beautiful and touching words, made references to their holy lives and deaths.  Besides a large family of sons and daughters, there are many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  -R.I.P


            Charles Michael[30] Murray, who arrived in Australia as a 6-year old child with his family from Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, had lived a long and eventful life, establishing a large Australian born family in this new land. He may not have left a fortune in land and assets but he and his beloved wife, Lizzie, left a legacy of competent and talented children and grandchildren, to follow on their journey.  These would spread with their own families into many parts of Sydney and rural New South Wales and, by their various endeavours, contribute to the growth of this still new nation. 


           However, their family roots in Ireland were not forgotten.  In the years that followed, many of their Irish Australian descendants would make the long voyage by sea, and later by air, to visit the ‘ould country’.  There, they would travel to County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland and see for themselves the beautiful countryside where their Murray forefathers had lived in days long gone, by the winding banks of Loch Erne.


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Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Sydney Morning Herald , 9 July 1853.
  2.  George Lawrence Fuller (1832-1917), who became a successful businessman,  lived in Wollongong as a child from 1839 when Charles Murray was also living  there.  Kiama Library Newsletter 2003.  Fuller’s eldest son George Warburton Fuller, born 1861 was to become the Hon Sir George Warburton Fuller, Premier of New South Wales.
  3.  Sydney Morning Herald  15 September 1858, p.3
  4.  Francis McMahon’s bankruptcy 1855-56 may have had something to do with this move. [See Attachment]
  5.  Constable Bernard Brown mentioned that,on his travels along the coast, he and others ‘slept at Murray’s, dined at Murray’s etc’ as if Charles ran a lodging house.
  6.  Hughes, Jean, daughter of Ernest Herbert Murray (1875-1942).  Oral history interview by author.
  7.  Some further research into the Murray Elliott relationship is necessary. 
  8.  NUNAN, Wendy.  Wollongong old Roman Catholic Burial Ground.  Wollongong, April 2005.
  9.  Death Certificate of Edward Conyngham  No. 6770/1868
  10.  Sydney Morning Herald 11 May 1861, p.6 
  12. SR.NSW: School files, Yatteyattah Public School, 5/18262.4
  13.  SR.NSW: School files, Yatteyattah Public School, 5/18263.1
  14.  SKARRATT, A.C. (Ed.) Milton-Ulladulla Directory, Milton NSW, 1993
  15.  Antill, R.G. Settlement in the south, Kiama:Weston & Co Publishers Pty Ltd, 1982, p.129.
  16.  Antill 1982, p.126
  17.  McAndrew  Alex.  Memoirs of Mollymook, Milton & Ulladulla,, Epping, 1990, p.84.
  19.  Blainey, Geoffrey.  Black kettle and full moon: daily life in a vanished Australia.  Camberwell Vic:Penguin Group, 2003,  p.200
  20.  Interview with Jean Hughes and Laurie Murray, daughters of Ernest Herbert Murray.
  21.  Barlow, Leila. Living stones: Convent of the Sacred Heart, Rose Bay 1882-1982, Sydney : Kincoppal-Rose Bay School, 1982, p.65-7
  22.  Margaret’s death certificate No. 1931/5555.  Both names prominent in Charles Murray Jr.’s family.
  23. Interview with Jean Hughes & Laurie Murray, daughters of Ernest Herbert Murray.
  24.  Catholic Church , 1989, p.82
  25. National Library of Australia, an13143248-5
  26.  Maybe, it should be spelt Cunjurong which is an area near Conjola.
  27.  Hughes, Jean. and  Laurie Murray, daughters of Ernest Herbert Murray.
  28.  Blainey, Geoffrey. Black kettle and full moon: daily life in a vanished Australia.  Camberwell Vic:Penguin Group, 2003,  p.253.
  29.  The second christian name, Michael, appears in some of his children’s birth certificates.
  30.  Freeman’s Journal 22 October 1925 p.16