Royal Reels: Gambling


The Tasmanian red One Penny postcard was postmarked with the duplex HOBART/ H/ SE 3/ 94 with TASMANIA in the oval obliterator and simply addressed to Messrs. W. Murdoch & Co. Liverpool St. (Figure 1).

The reverse was dated 3/9/94 and the message was ‘The “LILLIE MAY” sails for East Coast ports tomorrow Tuesday evening’. The ship name had been applied as a hand-struck purple mark, and there was an additional purple circular mark with W.A. PHILP, Commissariat Agent/ ( )/ Hobart (Figure 2).

The Lillie May was a ketch, built by Robert Inches who was an active ship builder between 1869 and 1903 at Battery Point, Hobart. The ketch collided with an auxiliary ketch Foam in Hobart in 1901. There was a William Alexander Philp, who was born in Port Cygnet, Tasmania in 1864 who married Jessie McPhee in Hobart in 1892

Although the W. Murdoch & Co. was quickly identified as a company of substance, the principals of the company were surprisingly difficult to find. An advertisement for W.M. Murdoch & Co, Wellington House showed that the company was Tea Dealers & Provision Merchants, with the finest imported (tea) to the Australian colonies. It showed a lady sitting down drinking her pleasure of tea, above her were tea boxes labeled Indian, Ceylon & China Teas (Figure 3).

The following obituary was provided from the Cyclopedia of Tasmania, Vol. 1, 1900, p. 329-300 by Margaret Harman, of Hobart:

“Messrs. W.M. Murdoch and Co., Importers and Wholesale and Retail Grocers, ‘Wellington House’, 123 Liverpool Street, Hobart; telephone 223; bankers, the Commercial Bank of Tasmania, Limited. This well_known business was established in 1836 by Mr. William Murray, who came to Tasmania in the twenties, and entered the employ of Mr. Carter, a general storekeeper, of Hobart. Having remained in the service of the latter for some years, Mr. Murray started in business as a grocer, etc., for himself in the premises that are still occupied by the firm bearing the above title.”

“In 1850 he admitted the late Mr. William Murdoch into partnership with him, and the name of the firm was altered to Murray and Murdoch. In 1871 Mr. Murray retired from the firm, and the business was henceforth, until 1893, carried on by the late Mr. Murdoch, who in the latter year also retired from active life, and transferred the business to his son, Mr. William Murray Murdoch, who has since conducted it under the style of W.M. Murdoch and Co.”

“The business is an extensive one, the firm being wholesale and retail tea dealers, grocers, and provision merchants, and they make a speciality of prize hams. Mr. Murray was one of the oldest members of the Chalmers’ Free Church, and took a prominent part in the management of its affairs, and was treasurer of it for some thirty years. On Mr. Murray’s retirement, the late Mr. Murdoch was elected treasurer of the church in his stead, and the latter was prominently identified with the congregation up to the time of his death, which took place in the month of February, 1898. Mr. Murdoch’s widow and a family of four sons and one daughter survive him.

There were sufficient clues in this paper that allowed one to expand on information available at the Colonial Tasmanian Family, even though there were 9 William Murdoch’s listed as Pioneers! The last one listed is William Murray Murdoch (#406446, born 1860) who is identified in William Murdoch’s obituary as his son, and William Murray Murdoch’s mother is listed Mary Ann Salmon. On returning to the list of 9 William Murdochs, only one is shown as married to Mary Ann Salmon. A further clincher is that William Murdoch (#406440) was born in 1831 and died in 1898 in Hobart, the year stated in the obituary. The obituary states that William Murdoch left 4 sons and one daughter, but William Murray Murdoch had 5 siblings, 4 brothers and one sister. This extra brother should not dismay, for one brother could have pre-deceased the father William Murdoch. Information concerning William Murray at the above site was not helpful, for there were 52 William Murrays listed as Pioneers!

Acknowledgments: Margaret Harman, Heritage Collections, State Library of Tasmania, Hobart was the one individual who made this paper possible.

Categories: Business, Postcards