Alfred Henry Lambton was born in Parramatta, New South Wales in 1844. He is reputed to have brought cattle from the south to North Queensland in 1860, “and was some time in the employ of R. Towns and Co.” After his marriage to Eleanor Mary Sykes in 1875, Alfred and Eleanor settled on farming land in the Lower Burdekin and began raising a large family. Alfred was apparently a “very noted rider, and a fine man amongst stock”. But somewhat unusually for a grazier living in the Burdekin in that era, Alfred was also a novelist. Published in London in 1893 (only a year before his death in Ayr at the age of 50), From Prison to Power: a Tale of Queensland (in two volumes), is said to be the first crime novel set in Queensland. The novel centres on the fictitious cattle property "Banalba", located 200 miles inland from "Rockington" (modelled on Rockhampton).
I came across Alfred while researching one of his daughters, Edith Mary Lambton, a nurse and private midwife who ran St. Monica's Private Hospital in Townsville in the 1910s. Edith was the second eldest of ten children born to Alfred and Eleanor. (I'm writing about Edith in my latest book, so stay tuned for more down the track!) While researching Edith I discovered that she was from a very interesting family. As well as her father, the grazier novelist, a number of her siblings had interesting lives/careers as well.
Edith's youngest sister, Elsie Idrea Lambton, was a professional photographer. Trained by the photographer Ada Driver at the Ada Driver Studios in Brisbane, in 1921 Elsie opened her own studio in Townsville after working for W. J. Laurie, taking over a studio in the Municipal Buildings in Flinders Street. In 1923 she opened the Elsie Lambton Studio and advertised her specialisation in "the very latest in portraiture". By 1927 she opened another studio, The Townsville City Studio, in the new City Buildings, with the photographer Jack Biehl.
|A photograph of 1920s Flinders Street. |
Note the sign on the right, for Elsie Lambton, Photographer.
Photo: CityLibraries Townsville Local History Collection.
|Nurse Nellie Lambton, Townsville, c. 1919.|
Photo: State Library of Queensland.
Edith too, is a very interesting woman. She almost died in Charters Towers during an outbreak of typhoid fever there in 1903. She was nursing at the District Hospital when she fell ill. But I'll save Edith's story for my new book, which I'm hoping to release in 2018.
The Australian Women's Register, available online at http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/AWE6003b.htm
Australian Chaplains in WWI, an online resource available at http://ww1chaplains.gravesecrets.net/l.html
A digitised version of A.H. Lambton's book is available online at http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/28673241?selectedversion=NBD14480000