From a family history perspective there is a lot known about James Ferguson and his colonial family exploits. Many artifacts, which include photographs, pieces of furniture, documents, and many other physical proofs are a magnificent collection of items that make this story a great part of our colonial history.
James Ferguson was born in Ayr, Scotland circa 1818. His parents were Janet Kay (1791-1860) and Master Slater & Glazier, James Ferguson Snr (1777-1886).
On the 13th of June 1841 he married Jane Williamson Lawson (1820-1886), the daughter of Gavin Lawson and Margaret Williamson and between 1842 and 1852 five girls and a boy were born in Wallacetown;
Margaret (1842-1913) who was mentally disabled from birth, Janet Kay (1844-1925), Jane Williamson (1846-1875), Marion (1848-1927) and Antonia Wallace (1852-1926). A son named James was born in 1851 but died as an infant in the same year.
On the night of the 1851 Scottish Census (30/31 March) his future business partner, James Urie, was recorded as a visitor at his cottage in John Street Wallacetown. Whether this was one of many meetings the two men would have to discuss their bold plans for the future can only be speculation but only nine months later their plans would come to fruition.
In early December 1852 James Ferguson was given a farewell party at the Robert Burns Arms Inn at Wallacetown prior to his departure for Australia.
“…After the usual preliminaries, Mr John Templeton, watchmaker, in neat and appropriate terms, proposed the health of Mr Ferguson and, in name of many friends, present and absent, presented him with a splendid purse containing 25 sovereigns…”
James and his younger brother David departed Greenock on the 12th of December 1852 aboard the ‘Tamerlane’ and after more than four an a half months at sea they arrived in Port Philip on the 29th of April 1853. James’s wife Jane would remain in Wallacetown for two years with the children whilst James established the business in North Melbourne. She arrived aboard the ‘Emma’ with the five girls in November 1855.
In August 1853 the first business advertisements for the company, “Ferguson & Urie”, began in the Melbourne Argus Newspaper. The rest of the Ferguson & Urie history forms the basis of this entire web site.
The Argus, Melbourne, Wednesday 18th April 1894, page 5.
“The death is announced of Mr. James Ferguson, the surviving partner of the well known firm of Messrs. Ferguson and Urie. Mr. Ferguson was a colonist of about 40 years’ standing, and for many years carried on business with his partner in Collins-street near the National Bank. Mr. Ferguson died at his residence, Parkville, early yesterday morning, at the advanced age of 84 [sic].”
(James Ferguson was 74 years of age at death).
The North Melbourne Advertiser, Friday 20th April 1894, page 2.
“DEATH OF MR. J. FERGUSON”
“We regret to have to record the death of Mr. James Ferguson, the surviving partner of the well known glass staining firm of Ferguson and Urie. Mr. Ferguson was a colonist of about forty years’ standing, and for many years carried on business with his partner, Mr. Urie (deceased about six years ago) [sic: 1890], in Collins Street, near the National Bank. Mr. Ferguson passed away at his residence, Parkville, early on Tuesday morning, his death being simply a decay of nature, as he was in his seventy-first year [sic: 74]. For the past four years the business of the firm has been carried on in Franklin Street and Curzon Street, North Melbourne. Mr. Ferguson was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and was much respected as a private citizen, but never aspired to enter public life. He died a widower, and leaves a grown up family. The funeral took place yesterday afternoon, deceased being interred in the Melbourne general cemetery and the cortege was followed by a large number of mourners. The body was conveyed to the grave in a panelled hearse, and enclosed in a plain coffin. There were three mourning coaches. Mr. Ferguson was buried in the Presbyterian compartment, the arrangements being carried out by Alfred Allison, of 221 Victoria Street, West Melbourne.”
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