Friday, March 19, 2010

The House of Trumble

In assembling his The Golden Age of Cricket (1968) and The Trumble Family in Australia (1972) our first cousin twice removed, the musicologist Robert Trumble (son of the renowned Australian test-cricketing legend Hugh Trumble) was not yet able to benefit from the extraordinary resources that are now available on the internet: official records of every description, above all scanned or transcribed records of births, deaths, and marriages in many jurisdictions; shipping lists, and entire runs of nineteenth-century newspapers that are now keyword-searchable. Happily it is now possible therefore to augment his picture of our common ancestor, William Trumble (1828–1908).

With his brother Thomas Cornelius, William Trumble migrated from Ballymote, Co. Sligo, in 1841, aged fourteen. The Trumble boys’ father, John Trumble, was a freeholder, and their mother’s name was Ann (née Knott). John Trumble survives in the land records for two parishes in the neighborhood of Ballymote in Sligo. It seems he paid a church tithe or tax for arable and bottom land, and what is unsentimentally described as “reclaimed bog” at Feenaghroe in the parish of Toomour, to the tune of £1/10/10½. John Trumble leased from a Mr. Parke a property at Shancarriglen or Oldrock in Cloonoghil parish, which was presumably where he and his wife lived, and raised their family. This was in 1834 valued for taxation purposes at £30. In turn John Trumble let numerous small holdings, viz. 37 acres to Mary Feely, 22 to Michael Coughlan, 14 to Michael McDonough, 31 to Messrs. Gaffney, Gray, and McGettrick, 7 to Michael Dodd, and smaller, actually tiny parcels and plots of arable land to various others. The family also had connections to the little town of Castlerock, near Lough Foyle in Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Mrs. Trumble’s Knott relations lived near Ballymote in much the same way, though they were better off: James Knott, Esq., of Battlefield in the parish of Toomour, probably Mrs. Trumble’s father or brother, held more than 200 acres, which were in 1858 valued at £133.

Robert Trumble has shown that the Irish Trumbles were transplanted from Scotland in the seventeenth century, and their name was much prone to corruption. Variants include Trimble, Tremble, Trumbull, Turnbull, Turnebull, Turnebu, etc., but satisfactorily there is in Joseph Bain’s Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland Preserved in Her Majesty’s Public Record Office, London (Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1881, Vol. 2: A.D. 1272–1307) a dated reference to one Ralph de Trumble (1295/96), so ours is obviously the correct, or canonical spelling.

In any event, in 1841 William and Thomas Trumble disembarked in Port Adelaide, South Australia, and found their way overland to Victoria. The brothers must have arrived in the vicinity of Sandhurst (Bendigo) well ahead of the first gold rushes in 1851, because one of them made it into this 1853 composite silver albumen group portrait photograph by “Bent” of 100 members of the Society of Old Bendigonians, which is today in the collection of the State Library of Victoria in Swanston Street, Melbourne. At this date the Trumble in this photograph practiced around Sandhurst as an apothecary.

William Trumble’s subsequent career is pretty well documented. Evidently the brothers did rather less well at prospecting for gold than supplying medicines to the neighborhood of Sandhurst before the Gold Rush, but William must have done at least well enough to justify describing himself on his marriage certificate in 1862 as “quartz miner.”

The following year William Trumble entered the Victorian government service, ultimately rising to the position of superintendent of the Willsmere Hospital, better and perhaps more accurately known as the Kew Lunatic Asylum. The Asylum was built between 1864 and 1872 to the design of architects in the Victorian Public Works Department—a gloomy, cut-price riff on Second Empire architectural opulence, initially standing in stark contrast to its function, but with each passing decade converging eerily with it. There is some comfort in the fact that our ancestor was put in charge of the asylum, and not admitted. The doors were thrown open to in-patients in 1871.

Thomas Cornelius Trumble, meanwhile, decided to continue on to New Zealand, and was never heard of again. I am told his descendants have prospered, to the extent that this is possible.

By 1862, William Trumble had moved from Bendigo to Melbourne. On December 3 of that year, at St. Stephen’s Church, Richmond, (“in [his] 30th year”) William married Elizabeth, spinster, of Richmond, formerly Edinburgh (“in [her] 27th year”; her rank or profession simply gives “with friends”). When their eldest son, our great-grandfather John William Trumble was born in 1863, William and Elizabeth Trumble were living in Sackville Street, East Collingwood, in inner Melbourne. The next three children were all born in the same house, but in 1872 the family was living in Ararat, in Central Victoria, where Thomas, the youngest, was born, i.e. the future permanent secretary of the federal war (defence) department throughout World War I. According to the electoral roll of 1903, William and Elizabeth Trumble were in that year retired, living quietly in Waterloo Street, Camberwell.

Hitherto William Trumble’s wife, Elizabeth, has been a shadowy figure. Her death notice appeared in the Argus on September 3, 1908, p. 1: “
TRUMBLE—on the 31st. August, Elizabeth, beloved wife of William Trumble, of Auburn-road, Auburn, and mother of J[ohn]. W[illiam]., H[ugh]., and T[homas]. Trumble, aged 79 years. (Interred privately [at Kew].) William died suddenly in Mentone before the end of that year, and was given a colossal funeral. According to Great Uncle John Compson Trumble, “People came from everywhere.” William and Elizabeth were buried in the same plot, together with their only daughter, who died young.

Elizabeth Trumble was the daughter of Hugh Clark of Edinburgh (born in about 1796–98) and his wife Catherine (1799–1877). Hugh Clark is variously described at different times and in different places as “merchant,” “accountant,” “billiard keeper,” and “civil servant,” and it may be that at one time or another he filled all of these functions, but probably not all at once.

On February 26, 1821, in Edinburgh, Hugh Clark married Catherine “Stuart,” the daughter of John “Stewart” and his wife Margaret (
née Buchanan). By 1841, when the first Scottish census was taken, Hugh and Catherine Clark and their family of three surviving sons and four daughters (including the future Elizabeth Trumble) were residing in a modest house at 5 Duke Street, Edinburgh, together with “D. Skinner,” a writer (accountant); James Grant, a clerk, and Hannah Turnbull (“F[emale]. S[ervant].”), all three of whom were aged twenty. Apparently Mr. Clark worked from home, under rather cramped conditions.

By 1851, when the next census was taken in Scotland the family had vanished, and it has occasionally therefore been presumed that they migrated to Australia in the intervening decade. However, according to the Victorian death certificates of three of Mr. Clark’s children, including that of Elizabeth Trumble, which agree exactly on this point, those Clarks who came to Melbourne must have disembarked at Hobson’s Bay some time in 1853. The only record of the death in Melbourne of any remotely likely person called Hugh Clark seems to be the “crier of the Supreme Court,” who resided “at the back of the Royal-Terrace, Nicholson-street.” Exciting though this hint toward future Trumble involvement in the legal profession may be, this Hugh Clark died in January 1858, and was probably not Elizabeth’s father. It seems more likely that Mr. Clark died somewhat prematurely, and was buried in Edinburgh no earlier than 1841 and no later than 1853. This was presumably the prompt for his widow and her family to emigrate. In later official documents he is invariably referred to as “Hugh Clark of Edinburgh,” and never as a colonist.

Certainly, his widow Catherine Clark sailed to Melbourne, though she is hard to locate in any ship’s manifest. Old Mrs. Clark lived quietly in Church Street, Richmond, in the household of her youngest son (Elizabeth Trumble’s brother) David Stuart Clark (1838–1925), and their unmarried sister Catherine (1834–1903). Another sibling, Annie Christina, married at St. Kilda in 1870 a person who rejoiced in the name of John Herman Krom. Of the five children of this marriage, two daughters and a son predeceased Mrs. Krom, who died a widow in 1902, having been confined to the Austin Hospital with what, with leaden tact, a consulting physician described as a “rodent ulcer.” Mrs. Krom was survived by two Misses Krom, of whom the younger (also Annie) was still alive in 1936, and residing at 53 Mary Street, Kooyong.

William Trumble’s mother-in-law Catherine Clark died peacefully at her youngest son’s home in Richmond from natural causes: general “debility” and paralysis. She expired on January 4, 1877, aged seventy-eight.

Now, Catherine Clark was the youngest of the nine children of John “Stewart” (born 1756) of Balquhidder in Perthshire, Scotland, the place where Rob Roy died in 1734. Overshadowed by the dramatic mountain braes of Balquhidder, and more often than not enshrouded in ponderous mist, the eponymous village stands at the head of Loch Voil in the neighborhood of Stirling. John Stewart, also known locally as Ian mhor na Coille, or “Big John of Cuill,” was a redoubtable Gaelic-speaking Highland gentleman, for many years the schoolmaster at Strathyre and Callander. He was also clerk of sessions, and keeper of the local register of births, and marriages, including his own (on April 15, 1780) to Catherine’s mother, Margaret, the daughter of one Robert Buchanan and Janet, née Menteith.

John Stewart’s father, meanwhile (Catherine Clark’s paternal grandfather), was James McTavish McAlester Stewart (1725–1796), also known locally as Seumas na Coille, or “James of the Wood.” This elder Stewart of Balquhidder joined the infamous Duke of Cumberland in the battle fought by the Anglo-Dutch armies against the wicked French at Fontenoy (modern Belgium) during the so-called War of the Austrian Succession. Though defeated on that day (May 11), the 42nd Highland (Black Watch) Regiment, in which James Stewart fought, distinguished themselves by “their own way of fighting,” i.e. with scarcely imaginable ferocity, and, as if to underline the point, our ancestor’s own well-worn Andrea Ferrara broadsword is today in the collection of the Scottish United Services Museum in Edinburgh Castle. Five times great grandfather Stewart was probably not aware that one of our other sixty-three thankfully unrelated five times great grandfathers, Sir James Campbell of Aberuchill and Kilbride, third baronet (1723–1812) (an equally doughty Pearson ancestor), also fought at the Battle of Fontenoy, but in a rather sniffier cavalry regiment: the Scots Greys.

The defeat of the Anglo-Dutch armies at Fontenoy and in late September at Prestonpans (where James Stewart also distinguished himself) gave considerable momentum to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s expedient and dastardly Highland insurrection, the so-called second Jacobite rising, which took place in the autumn of 1745. James Stewart’s Black Watch regiment fought on the loyalist or Hanoverian side during that bitter and bloody campaign, the “Forty-Five,” which was far bitterer for that generation of the family of Stewart of Balquhidder because James’s two younger brothers John Stewart and Duncan Stewart fought on the opposite side, that of the Young Pretender, and lost.

One final aspect of this saga of life in the Highlands of Scotland is the tantalizing glimpse of vast wealth accumulated in America by a collateral branch, but inevitably (as has so often been the case) channeled elsewhere: William Trumble’s mother-in-law, Catherine Clark, had an older brother, Robert Stuart, who was born on February 19, 1785, and in 1807 migrated to the United States. By 1810 he was in New York City, where he became
a partner in John Jacob Astor’s famous Pacific Fur Company. Thus furnished with an apparently inexhaustible supply of capital, Uncle Robert Stuart sailed via the Falkland Islands (where, in an altercation, he threatened to blow the captain’s brains out) then Cape Horn to Fort Astoria, the company’s principal trapping establishment and trading post on the mighty Columbia River in the territory of Oregon, hard by the encampment that in the winter of 1805–06 Lewis and Clark named Fort Clatsop. I have been there. Afterwards Robert Stuart undertook one of the most remarkable overland journeys in American history: carrying despatches to Mr. Astor in New York; he walked all the way back across the continent from west to east, a feat that is remembered as the discovery of the Oregon trail.

Afterwards Robert Stuart settled at Michilimacinac, Mich., where he was J. J. Astor’s agent for the American Fur Company until 1834, when he moved to Detroit. During this period the Company vigorously maintained a monopoly on western trade in pretty much everything by any and all available means, as ruthless and deadly as was considered expedient. Mr. Stuart continued in Detroit as Astor’s principal agent, and incidentally as an elder of the Presbyterian kirk, before retiring to Chicago, where until his death in 1848 he was Secretary to the Trustees of the Illinois and Michigan Canal Company. His fortune was considerable, though not nearly as enormous as John Jacob Astor’s. (Astor sank the profits earned from the sale of beaver pelts, etc., into what later turned into the limitless jackpot of Manhattan real estate.) Alas in Robert’s lengthy will there is no mention of his sister, the widowed Australian colonist Mrs. Clark, nor any reference to her sons, daughters, nor indeed above all her deserving Australian son-in-law, our pioneering great-great grandfather William Trumble, sometime superintendent of the Kew Lunatic Asylum.

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