Edward Frank Tregurtha was born in 1868 in the newly proclaimed town of Rockhampton, in the northern colony of Queensland, Australia.
With abundant grazing lands, and waters from the Fitzroy River and its many tributaries and lagoons, Rockhampton expanded rapidly after it was officially proclaimed a town in 1858. The following year in 1859, gold was discovered at nearby Canoona which saw a rush of hopeful miners who used Rockhampton as the nearest navigable port. The Canoona field proved to be a duffer and thousands of would-be gold seekers were left stranded. Although many returned south, others stayed, adding to the infant town’s population. Among those who stayed were Edward’s parents – Edward Primrose Tregurtha (jnr) and his wife Mary (nee Weetman).
Edward Primrose Tregurtha was born in Tasmania and was the namesake of Captain Edward Primrose Tregurtha. Mary Weetman was born in Rio de Janeiro during the time of the illegal slave trade and was the daughter of an Esquire named Carter Thomas Weetman. The couple had married in Brisbane where Edward Primrose jnr was working as an accountant in one of the large banks. When word of the gold rush reached the city, Edward and Mary moved north to Rockhampton to become part of the growing wealth of the new town.
Many years later, Edward Frank Tregurtha would follow in his father’s footsteps, taking a job in the civil service as a clerk commissioner for Queensland Railway. His first position began in 1889 at the age of 21. In the early 1890’s he left Rockhampton for Brisbane, after being transferred to a clerk position at the Head Office in Roma Street. In Brisbane he met Gertrude Hodgson, a spinster from Yorkshire, England, and the daughter of an engine driver named William Hodgson.
On the 15th September 1897 Edward Frank Tregurtha married Gertrude Hodgson at St Mary’s Church in Kangaroo Point, Brisbane. Eighteen months later their first child was born, a son they named William Edward Primrose Tregurtha. Little William was born in April 1899, and sadly he would never grow up knowing his mother. Just over a year later Gertrude Tregurtha (nee Hodgson), at the young age of 25, died from an abdominal haemorrhage, believed to have been caused by an ectopic pregnancy. Edward had been at Gertrude’s side when she died, after she suddenly became unwell and started bleeding at home. Seven long hours later she took her last breath. It was a tragedy beyond words.
Edward knew he had to move on and provide a stable home for his son Edward jnr, and so three years after losing Gertrude, he married again. His second wife was Edith Hoffman, the daughter of Canadian born William Brooks Hoffman who emigrated to Australia in 1852, and wife Sophia Howe from Kent, England.
Edward and Ruth were married in Victoria, at the Catholic Apostolic Church in Carlton. After the ceremony they celebrated with family and friends at Ruth’s mother’s home in Brighton, which was decorated in red to celebrate the colours of Queensland in honour of Edward. After a short honeymoon in Melbourne, Edward brought Ruth back to Brisbane where they made their home.
Just over a year later in July 1904 Ruth gave birth to their first child, a daughter they named Lorna Beatrice. Over the ensuing decade three more children added to their growing familyl; Edith Ruth in 1906, Frank Clinton in 1911, and Mary Abbot in 1913.
Now with five children to care for, Edward continued working for the Queensland Railway, moving to the Commissioner’s Office in 1899. His service in the Queensland Railway office would last for 30 years, during which Edward would attain the position of Principal Ledger Keeper at the Chief Accountant’s Branch in Brisbane.
The decade of the 1910’s was an extremely difficult time for Edward, and also for Ruth. In 1914 Edward’s mother Mary (nee Weetman) died, aged 76, at her home called “Mooroothella” in Kent Road, Wooloowin, Queensland. Edward and his seven siblings, as well as his father Edward snr, were all together when they buried their mother at the South Brisbane Cemetery on the 13 February 1914.
Two years after the death of his mother, Edward and Ruth suffered a tragic loss when their 3 year old daughter Mary died from the measles on the 10th August 1916. Mary’s death record doesn’t state how long she had suffered from the disease, however it does tell us that Mary died at home, which means her parents and young siblings were almost certainly by her side until the end.
Three years later, in 1919 and just a few weeks before Christmas, Edward lost his father. Edward Primrose Tregurtha (jnr) died at the cottage home of “Myola” at Baroona Rd in Milton at the age of 82 years 10 months. Having been born in Launceston, Edward’s father had lived most of his life in Queensland, and had enjoyed a marriage of 50 years with wife Mary (nee Weetman) before her passing a few years earlier. Edward Frank Tregurtha and his siblings once again came together to bury their father, Edward Primrose Tregurtha jnr, at the Toowong Cemetery on the 9th December 1919.
As these tragedies came and went in the lives of Edward Frank and second wife Ruth, they continued to live and raise a family in Brisbane. Their early years in the growing city were spent in the bayside suburb of Manly, where they lived first in Arnold Street, then moved to nearby Stratton Terrace. By 1920 they had moved again, this time to the inner city suburb of Yeronga, where they purchased or leased a cottage called “Rosewitham” on Dunn St, a short distance from the Brisbane River and directly adjacent to “Yeronglea”, the home of the late Premier of Queensland; T.J. Byrnes.
During their time living at Yeronga, Edward and Ruth would bid farewell to their two daughters, Edith and Lorna, who both moved south to the state of Victoria, sharing a house in Jolimont Street in busy Melbourne. Edith became a teacher and Lorna a manageress. Neither daughters would marry or have children.
Edward’s son William Edward Primrose, born to his first wife Gertrude in 1899, also left Brisbane, moving first to Sydney and then south to Victoria where he settled in Cheltenham not far from his half sisters Edith and Lorna. He married and had a son.
Edward’s and Ruth’s only son, Frank Clinton Primrose Tregurtha, also moved away from his parents. He moved south to Sydney where he joined the Navy, and later married and had two daughters.
In 1933 Edward retired from his position with the Railway Department, and was farewelled by fellow officers in a ceremony during which they presented him with a wallet of notes. Two years later in 1935, after living in Yeronga for 21 years, Edward and Ruth left Brisbane and moved to Mount Tamborine, a new mountain settlement only 45 minutes south of Brisbane.
Unfortunately retirement was short lived for Edward. On the 27th September 1938 he suffered cardiac failure, and soon after died at the Mater Hospital in South Brisbane. Edward was only 70 years old upon his death, leaving his wife Ruth and four children to mourn him at his funeral the following day. He was buried alongside his mother at the South Brisbane Cemetery.
Ruth did not stay in Queensland after Edward’s death. She moved to Melbourne to be close to her step-son William and daughters Edith and Lorna. Sadly her daughter Lorna died in 1953 from uraemia and chronic nephritis, with her death record showing that she had also suffered from a mental illness for most of her life.
Ruth lived a long life. On the 15th November 1963 at the age of 90 she died from bronchopneumonia in Kew, Victoria.