When I begin to write biographies I like to have as much information as I possibly can before I start. I want all my questions answered and if they’re not, well I research. And research and research. Not much writing occurs and, as in this case, I develop a headache and begin to feel immensely frustrated.
The point of this blog is to put the information I have ‘out there’ in the hopes I can help someone else or that they can help me. It also serves as a catalyst to begin to develop the stories that exist within my DNA and the copious notes across my hard drive and my family history folders.
So let’s begin with what I know of Robert Lemon and his wife Margaret.
Robert Lemon died on 27th April 1909 in Marsden St, North Goulburn. His death certificate states that he died of a stroke (apoplexy). He was 71 years old, formerly a gaol warden, was born in Lisburn, County Down, Ireland and had been in NSW for 44 years. His parents were Robert Lemon, a builder, and Sarah McNeilly. He was married when he was 22 to Margaret Oliver in Lisburn, County Down, Ireland. He had nine children, one of whom predeceased him.
A notice of his death appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 29th April 1909 which read, “LEMON – April 27, 1909, at his late residence, Marsden St, North Goulburn, Robert Lemon, sen, aged 71 years.” A notice also appeared in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post on 27 April which read, “OBITUARY. Mr. Robert Lemon, senior, died at his residence, Marsden street, North Goulburn, at 11 o’clock this (Tuesday) morning. He was taken suddenly ill at noon on Saturday with an apoplectic seizure, and never regained consciousness. Mr. Lemon, who was 71 years of age, was born in Lisburn, county Down, Ireland, and came to this State 45 years ago. For many years he was in the Prisons Department, retiring about 17 years ago through failing health. He leaves a widow, six sons, and two daughters. The sons are Mesors. J. T., W. J., R., S. H.,G. C., and L. T, Lemon, all of whom, with the exception of Mr. S. H. Lemon, who is in Brisbane, reside in Goulburn. The daughters are Miss Lemon and Mm. H. Stevenson, both of this city.”
My other resource is the notes of my grandfather (and Robert’s great grandson), Peter Lemon (Pa). According to Pa’s notes, Robert was born abt 1838 in Lisburn and arrived in Australia about 1865 with his wife Margaret. It is possible (likely) that their daughter Jane was born in Ireland and travelled out to Australia with them when she was two years old. The family lived initially in Parramatta where Robert was a weaver (listed in the 1868 Sands Directory as a weaver working (residing?) at 22 Swan Street). They moved to Goulburn when Robert took a job as a gaol warden at the new Goulburn Gaol (abt 1881).
He believes that Robert’s father, Robert Snr, was a ship builder in Belfast. Apparently Robert had a brother, Charles Lemon, who was a master weaver and Robert was apprenticed to him. “Brother Charles was the handsomest man in Belfast.” They also had a sister Margaret Ann.
Pa further notes, “Margaret and Robert came to Australia about 1865 to open the Geelong Woollen Mills but the machinery was lost at sea so came to Sydney instead. They lived at Bricksfield when they first arrived. Auntie Jane came with them at 2 years of age. Robert worked at the mills around Parramatta.”
The burning question is when did they arrive and on what ship?
Both Robert’s and Margaret’s death certificates state how many years they lived in NSW not Australia. If Pa’s notes are correct and Robert had intended to set up a mill in Geelong, it is possible that they disembarked in Melbourne. It is also possible that there ship sailed to Sydney and they would have progressed from there to Geelong. However, since their machinery fell off the ship, they stayed in NSW. The latter solves the riddle of how they/when they travelled from Melbourne to Sydney and why. I like it better.
In any case, I have not yet found details of which ship they arrived on nor and exact date. I live in hope.
Robert’s wife, Margaret, was the daughter of William Oliver, a weaver according to the marriage record I found on the website of the Irish Family History Foundation. They were married on 1 Sept 1860 in Lisburn, County Antrim at the Lisburn Cathedral. They were both previously unmarried, were over 21 years of age and were of the Church of Ireland faith and were residing in Lisburn.
Pa’s notes state that Margaret’s mother was Mary Macdonald and that she had two sisters, Helen and Mary, and a brother William John. Her father apparently owned a flax linen mill in Lisburn.
Margaret died on 27th November 1915 at her home in Marsden Street, North Goulburn, at the age of 78 from senile decay. Her father is listed as William Oliver and her mother, Mary Carson (Pa’s notes state that her surname was Macdonald). She was born in Lisburn Belfast, County Antrim and had been in NSW over 50 years. Two of her sons had predeceased her.
Her obituary was printed in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post on 27th Nov 1915 which reads, “OBITUARY. Mrs. Margaret Lemon, widow of the late Mr. Robert Lemon, died at quarter-past six this (Saturday) morning after a long and painful illness, aged 78 years. Born at Lisburn, Belfast,County Antrim, Mrs. Lemon arrived in Australia over 50 years ago; and had resided in Goulburn for the last 34 years. Mrs. Lemon was a well-read woman, and possessed a wonderful memory, having a vivid recollection of many historical events, principally the Indian Mutiny and General Nicholson’s achievements, the Crimea, and the agitation over the Corn Laws. Her husband predeceased her by six years. She is survived by five sons, James, William, Robert, and George (of Goulburn) and Leslie (of Maitland), two daughters, Miss Lemon and Mrs. R. B. Stephenson (of Goulburn), and numerous grandchildren. Mrs. Lemon was much esteemed by all those who knew her.”
In the Goulburn Herald on 28 July 1893, there is a report regarding Robert Lemon which reads, “GOULBURN POLICE COURT. THURSDAY. Before the Police Magistrate Protection. – Robert Lemon, sixty-six years of ago, was brought up for protection. “Constable Gandy, lockup keeper, deposed that Lemon came to him on the previous day and asked him what he was to do, that he was suffering from a skin disease caused by the dirtiness of the Parramatta asylum of which he had recently been an inmate; he said he had been to Dr. McKillop to try to obtain admission into the Goulburn hospital, but the doctor would not listen to him; he desired to be sent to an asylum, but not back to Parramatta. Dr. Mckillop, who happened to be in court, said when he found Lemon had been in an asylum he advised him to give himself up to the police. The Police Magistrate asked Lemon why he did not stay in the asylum, and he replied that he had been in the asylum a fortnight, but it was so dirty he was glad to leave it. The Police Magistrate said he believed it was more probable that Lemon had refused to comply with the rules. He remanded Lemon to the jail hospital for seven days to enable inquiries to be made as to the reason of his leaving the asylum.”
I’m not sure if this is our Robert but the age and location fits.