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               RALSTON Agnes (00/00/1805 - 20/01/1886)  05RAA0
Father   :    RALSTON         * Robert                                       
Mother  :    BRYCE                Elizabeth
Siblings:    *Janet    Margaret    Mathew    John    Jane    Mary    Sarah    William

Married :
    THOMPSON     Archibald (05/07/1828, , Launceston)
Issue     :
    Marion  Elizabeth  John

                                                Agnes Ralston

While the following article is primarily about Archibald Thompson, it also provides a detailed insight into the life of Agnes. This article was collected by Agnes Elcox Guest (nee Ralston) and I am not sure of the author, nor have I checked details at this stage.

Archibald Thompson          71/75 RLH

Mr. Thompson, a native of Edinburgh, arrived in Van Diemens Land on March 1st, 1822 per "Castle Forbe" from Leith. (H.T.G 2.3.22 CS0 1/91/2080). Archibald Thompson was born in 1795 and died in 1865, at Cormiston. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace on October 19th 1837 and was also a merchant in Launceston in partnership with R Ralston. His original grant was at Broadmarsh, he acquired Cormiston by purchase. (H.T.G 20th October 1837 p.1037). In the Hobart Town Courier of the 7th January 1829, two notices appeared referring to Thompson and Ralston's business and requesting that all debts be paid; the other notice was by the two new owners, Read and Duncan, to announce that they ha taken over the premises of Thompson and Ralston.

"Married at Launceston, on Sunday last, by the Reverend James Norman, Mr. Archibald Thompson to Agnes, second daughter or R. Ralston, Esq." Agnes' death was at Cormiston 20th January 1868 (Wayne Index). Xerox copies of material relating to Thompson's applications for Land Grants in Van Diemens Land (C.S.O. 1/912080 L.S.O 1/111/43)

The following is a report about his properties which he gave in support of his claim for another grant (L.S.O 1/111/44).

"On my arrival in this country, I received from His Honour Col. Sorell, a grant of 700 acres, which I located at Broadmarsh, and resided there for twelve months during which time I cleared and fenced 40 acres of ground, and built a house. Afterwards finding the distance from HobartTown too great for a cultivating farm (25 miles of bad road) and the land being quite unfit for sheep, I exchanged with Mr. Stodart for his grant of 700 acres on the Macquarie River and commenced sheep farming. I resided on the Macquarie two years until my stock increased to 800 head (much too great a number for a small grant). The land all around me was located and I was compelled to put my stock out on thirds. I sold my land on the Macquarie and applied the proceeds in part payment for the land whereon I now reside and I can show an additional capital of (5,000 remittance from assets held in Edinburgh) all of which I am desirous of expending in improving other lands as a provision for my children. I also state the severe loss I have lately sustained by Bevan and his party and trust the improvements I have made will convince His Excellency that I have not been an indolent settler."

In July 1824 Archibald Thompson's brother John arrived in the Colony per "Prince Regent". Archibald applied for a grant of 500 acres on his brother's behalf, but John died in December 1824. Archibald then applied to have this grant transferred to himself, but Governor Arthur refused as no improvements had been made on the land. However, in 1828 he was given this land because of the extensive improvements on his property. (C.S.O./1/912080, C.S.O. 1/91/2070).

In the Launceston "Advertiser" of 26th May 1831, a notice appeared of Thompson's intentions to leave the Colony, requesting all bills in his name to be settled either with him or his agent, Mr. Gleadow.

The following reference refers to "Cormiston".

H.C.T. 21st April 1832 p. 12.

"All that desirable (sic) farm called Cormiston, situated on the bank of the West Tamar within 4 miles of Launceston, consisting of 2,000 acres of excellent land, about 300 acres of which are at present in a high state of cultivation, there are four paddocks of 100 acres each, and almost the whole is fenced in and a sufficient quantity of stuff split for completing the outside line, also a garden and orchard of about 5 acres, well stocked with fruit trees, 25 working bullocks and farming implements of every description, 150 head of cattle and 40 cows broke in to milk, a dwelling house consisting of eight rooms with detached kitchen, servants rooms, wash house, dairy and stables all in thorough repair, also an excellent barn, granary and a house for farm servants. The tenant can have the whole of the furniture at present in the house (which is in the very best description) at valuation."

Thompson departed with his wife and daughter for Edinburgh in May 1832, the property was leased to William Henty. He intended to settle his affairs in Edinburgh and return. He returned to Van Diemens Land per the "Lochiel" arriving back on the 1st April 1835 with his wife and two daughters Marian and Eliza (C.S.O 67 1/1F014). His only son John was born at Cormiston in 1836.

The marriage notice for Elizabeth Thompson appeared in the Hobart Town Courier 10th April 1852, "On the 6th instant, in St. John's Church, Launceston by the Reverend W.H. Browne L.L.O., The Rev. Thomas Campbell Ewing, incumbent of Pitt Town in the diocese of Sydney Australia, to Elizabeth youngest daughter of Archibald Thompson Esq, J.P. Cormiston, West Tamar."

(Wayne Index) On the 9th September 1856 at "Cormiston House" by the Rev. W.H. Browne L.L.O. John Manifold eldest son of William Manifold, "Purrembeet" Victoria, to Marion eldest daughter of Archibald Thompson  J.P. Cormiston, West Tamar.

His only son John, married Catherine, eldest daughter of James Amos Denham on 3rd June 1858.

One other brother James (M.A. Edinburgh) arrived in 1835, but it is not clear if he came with Archibald. He did not stay long in Tasmania and returned to Scotland in 1839.


         The front view of the original house in 1910. From Left Bertram Lothian Thomson, (Berlo), ? May and another member of the Thomson family.

The Historian  September 2001                                                                                            Page 10

                                   CORMISTON HOUSE   By Pat Walsh

Archibald Thomson sailed on the ship "Castle Forbes" from Edinburgh Scotland and arrived in Van Diemans Land in March 1822. He applied to Governor Arthur for a grant of land and was located to Broadmarsh on the Jordan River. This area is situated about 11 kilometers out of Brighton. Thomson farmed at Broadmarsh for a year but decided to move north because he was too far away from the markets in Hobart. He then purchased land on the Macquarie River west of Campbelltown and began clearing land. However in 1824 he moved to the banks of the Tamar River and settled at "Cormiston" four miles north from Launceston.

The original grant of 200 acres was given to a settler by the name of Lucas. This land was situated south of Cormiston Creek. Thomson purchased the land from Lucas who later re located to Sydney Town. Thomson erected the original homestead 200 metres above the West Tamar Highway.

The house was constructed of weather boards with a shingle roof. The interior walls were brick with  thumb marks but no visible arrows. These bricks were made on the property. It is not known whether the bricks were convict made however the property did have assigned convicts to develop the land.

The original farm book with the names of some thirty convicts listed detailed their names, the ships they sailed in, their sentence given by the courts in England, their weekly supply of clothes, rations and comments on their behavior.

The homestead had bars on all the windows and was very similar to the old home at "Woolmers" in Longford. Rectangular in shape with an enclosed courtyard, it was designed to repel bushrangers and other undesirables. However a visit from the bushranger Bevin occurred when Thomson was in Launceston on business. Bevin and his men took clothes, food and guns. He also abducted one of the convicts as well as a farm horse.

A week later the horse returned to the property but the convict was never seen again.

Archibald Thomson's brother John also arrived in 1824 and was granted the property "Cleghorn" closer to Launceston, but John died six months after his arrival. Archibald then applied to Governor Arthur for his deceased brother's land, this was refused. The land was eventually acquired along with the Brownfield property situated below the Riverside High School.

Archibald married Agnes Ralston of "Logan Falls" Evandale on July the 5th 1828. They had two daughters Eliza and Marian.

In April 1832 the family returned to Edinburgh and while there, a son John was born before returning to Van Diemans Land on the 1st of April 1835.

While Thomson was in Scotland "Cormiston" was leased to the Henty family. A notice in the Hobart Town Courier on the 21st April advertising the lease read as follows:

All that desirable farm "Cormiston" situated on the west bank of the River Tamar within four miles of Launceston, consisting of 2,000 acres of excellent land, about 300 acres of which are of at present in a high state of cultivation, there are four paddocks of 100 acres each and almost the whole is fenced in a sufficient quantity of stuff (wood) split for completing the outside line. Also a garden and orchard of about five acres, well stocked with fruit trees. Twenty-five working bullocks and farming implements of every description and about one hundred and fifty cattle, forty cows broke in to milk. A dwelling house consisting of eight rooms with detached kitchen, servant's rooms, wash house, dairy and stables all in thorough repair, also an excellent barn granary and house for farm servants. The tenant can have the whole of the furniture at present in the house (which is of the very best description) at a valuation.

Thomas Henty rented "Cormiston for three years and eventually took up land for farming in Portland Victoria. The winding up of family affairs in Scotland was thought to be the reason for the Thomson's absence from "Cormiston".

The "new" Cormiston House was commenced in 1860 and was built adjacent to the original homestead on the south side. The two-story house has 18 inch brick walls and the large rooms have 16-foot ceilings. This newer section has never been completed. Four large rooms that were planned to replace some of the old house never eventuated. A northern section ofthe weather board structure was removed in about 1900 and a further section was burnt down accidentally in 1953. As the remaining section did not have proper foundations and was becoming dangerous, the last part was dismantled in about 1986.

The brick residence still standing was vacated in 1962 and has remained empty since. Unfortunately rainwater has penetrated some of the rooms but the foundations and walls remain as solid as the day they were built.

The farm was 7000 acres in area, with river flats extending from Tailrace Park through to one mile north of Cormiston Creek, Ecclestone Road was its southern boundary.

In the late 1870's Fort Cormiston was established at "Brownfield", little remains of the Fort except for a mound of soil near the river bank It was placed directly in line with the main shipping channel and was constructed to deter the threat of Russian invasion by war ships. One of the large guns can be seen at the Army Barracks in St John St. Launceston.

Archibald Thomson became blind in later life and died on the 23rd of July 1865. The management of "Cormiston" was entrusted to his son John.


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