EDMUND DAVIS FERGUSON

OUR FIRST HORSE DOCTOR


Edmund Ferguson arrived in Hobart on 26 June 1833 as a cabin passenger on the "Strathfieldsaye" from Dublin, Ireland. Also on board was his future wife, Miss Maria Graves, and her widowed sister Mrs. Elizabeth Backas. A few months after arriving he placed the following advertisement in the "Launceston Advertiser":

Launceston, Sept. 11, 1833.

MR. EDMUND FERGUSON begs leave respectfully to announce to his friends and the Gentlemen of this colony that he has commenced to practice as a VETERINARIAN SURGEON: and from having made the Diseases of Horses and Cattle his study for many years, also from having practised under the celebrated Dr. WATTS, of Dublin, he is confident of giving satisfaction to such gentlemen as may honor him with their employment. Young Horses Cut, and Broke either to saddle or harness, with the greatest care and attention.

Brisbane Street, Opposite the Treasurer's Office.

On 8 November 1833 Edmund Ferguson married Maria Graves in the Scots Church, Launceston, Van Diemen's Land. On 17 November 1833 Eliza Backas (or Backhouse), widowed youngest daughter of Sha(r)pland Graves of County Waterford (and/or County Wicklow), Ireland, married Joseph Solomon at Launceston, Van Diemen's Land.

In September 1834 Edmund advertised in the "Launceston Advertiser":

GENERAL STORE
LOWER END OF CHARLES STREET,
Formerly the King's Arms Inn.
EDMUND FERGUSON
Begs leave respectfully to inform his friends and the public, that he
HAS OPENED THE ABOVE PREMISES with a
GENERAL ASSORTMENT OF GOODS,
which he is enabled, from the arrangements he has entered into, to dispose of on
VERY REASONABLE TERMS.
He particularly solicits the attention of the public to an inspection of his assortment of
GLASS & EARTHENWARE.
(He) continues, as formerly, to practice as Veterinarian Surgeon.
Young horses broke either to saddle, single, or double harness.

Launceston, Sept. 4, 1834.

In December 1834 he further advertised in the "Launceston Advertiser":

EDMUND FERGUSON
VETERINARY SURGEON
In returning his most grateful acknowledgments to his Friends and the Public for the liberal support he has received since he commenced business here, begs to announce that he has now OPENED those extensive and commodious premises, Lower End of Charles Street (formerly the King's Arms) as LIVERY STABLES; where every care and attention will be taken of Horses put under his charge. Mr. F. has engaged a first-rate Groom to take charge of his Stables, and nothing shall be left undone to give satisfaction to those who may honor him with their patronage. Mr. F. continues to practice as Veterinarian Surgeon; also, to buy and sell Horses on Commission.
N.B. - Good Saddle Horses let out to hire; also, Gigs, by the day or week, on moderate Terms.

Edmund arrived at Port Phillip in late 1835 and commenced farming on the Salt Water River. A daughter, Eliza Josephine Ferguson, was born at Port Phillip on 31 October 1837. During a return visit to Van Diemen's Land she was baptised on 29 January 1839 by Rev. Edward Freeman in Evandale Parish, County Cornwall. Her father Edmund was described as Settler, of Port Phillip.

For most of his time at the Salt Water River Edmund was in partnership with Michael Solomon. Kenyon says this partnership finished on 8 February 1839. Edmund later decided to retire from farming and instructed Anthony Cottrell to auction his right of station known as "Merriburnong", 10 miles from Melbourne, on which was a weather- board cottage of 4 rooms and kitchen. There was also a roomy stable, spacious woolsheds, shepherd's huts and moveable boxes for watchmen together with the right to 2 other stations on the Salt Water River contiguous to the home station. Stock included 700 prime ewes, 35 superior Saxon Rams, a splendid Bull of the Devon breed, and Milch Cows in Calf and with Calves at heels. Horses included the thorough-bred "Clydesdale Ben" and two of his progeny. The auction, set for 29 June 1839, was advertised in the "Port Phillip Gazette". According to Kenyon's card index Edmund later had a stable in Flinder's Lane, Melbourne.

Edmund Ferguson died on 28 September1839 at Port Phillip aged about 35 years. The "Port Phillip Gazette" stated "On Saturday, the 28th September, Edmund Davis Ferguson, Esq., of the Salt Water River, deeply regretted by a large circle of respectable friends." However Fawkner's "Port Phillip Patriot" was not so kind when they simply inserted a news item: "ANOTHER VICTIM OF THE DOSE. - On Saturday last fell one more sacrifice to the detestable habit of intoxication. He died in the prime of life, about 33 or 34 years of age."

On 11 October 1855 Edmund's widow, Mrs. Maria Ferguson married Henry Howe, widower, at the residence of Mrs. Solomon, Evandale, Morven District, Van Diemen's Land according to the rites of the Congregational Church by Henry Dowling, a Baptist Minister. She died on 15 October 1885 at 287 Macquarie Street, Hobart, in her 80th year.

Edmund and Maria's daughter, Eliza Josephine Ferguson, was married on 4 October 1853 at Hobart, Van Diemen's Land, to Frederick Lampler Hodgson. Their three daughters, all born in the Launceston area, were Frances Maria Hodgson, born 7 December 1854; Constance Emily Hodgson, born 18 April 1860, and Edith Maria Hodgson, born 20 March 1862.

Two of their daughters are known to have married. Constance married William Thomas Birch in Victoria in 1880 and went to Hobart where 3 children were born: Charles Ernest Ferguson Birch (9 February 1881); Una Edith Constance Birch (28 May 1882) and Marjorie Josephine Birch (10 October 1886). Edith married Charles Ernest Deeley in 1880 in Victoria.

Eliza Josephine Hodgson (nee Ferguson) died on 29 April 1896 at Macquarie Street, Hobart, Tasmania. Her death certificate states her place of birth to be Melbourne.

Contributed by Alexander Romanov-Hughes (PPPG Member No. 52)


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