In 1857 James Ferguson’s younger brother David has decided to return to Scotland.
In late October 1856, he and his brother James had received ‘word from home.’ What that information was has never been ascertained. An advertisement was placed in the Victorian Government Gazette on Friday 30th of January 1857 indicating his partnership is “dissolved by mutual consent” and the partnership would continue under the same name of “Ferguson & Urie” between James Ferguson and James Urie. Witness to the document was James Urie’s brother in law Alexander Young.
David returned to Scotland and re-joined his father (James Ferguson Snr, 1777-1866) in the Plumbing, Slating and Glazing Business in River Street Wallacetown. In 1859 James Ferguson Snr was declared bankrupt, but this was not the demise of his business. When James Snr died in 1866 it would appear that David carried on the business as sole proprietor.
In 1871 or earlier David contracted “phthisis abdominalis” (An archaic medical term for a form of Tuberculosis) and so began his slow and painful demise. Probably fully aware of his imminent death, he sold the company to long time employee, John Meikle, on the 20th January 1872.
Nine weeks later David died a bachelor on the 26th March 1872, aged 48.
Some of the most important clues in the family history can be found in David’s last will & testament and his probate documents from 1872. He had left his two unmarried sisters Antonia & Margaret the contents of his house. He had two historic fob watches, the watch he had inherited from his father, James Ferguson Snr (1877-1866), was willed to his brother Robert who was living in Manchester. To his nephew, James Ferguson Jnr (1861-1945), the son of his elder brother James Ferguson (1818-1894) who he had come out to Australia with in 1853 to start the “Ferguson & Urie” business, he left his own fob watch with gold chain and gold nugget attached to the chain.
It should be noted, from a family history perspective, that Davids father, James Ferguson Snr’s age 89 at the time of death, was an extraordinary feat at that time in history. In the end he actually did not succumb to ‘old age’, he died of Typhoid fever. How much longer he may have lived if it were not for Typhoid will be a mystery forever. There are other recorded instances of different generations of his descendants in Australia living to an extraordinary age.
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