Can you help identify the employees at Ferguson & Urie?

The list below is the known employees of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company between 1853 and 1899. The entries are a work in progress and may be updated and changed frequently as research and information presents itself . Each profile will be a brief summary with a link to a more substantial article about the employee where known. The basis of this list comes primarily from the companies photos of all the employees taken for the 1887 company dinner, and others from other obscure newspaper articles.

If you believe you have additional information or clues that will assist with this history, you can contact me <here>.

The Principals:

♦ James Ferguson Esq (1818-1894).

James Ferguson was the son of James Ferguson Snr, Master Slater & Glazier from Wallacetown in Ayr, Scotland. He left Scotland 12th of December 1852 with his younger brother David aboard the ‘Tamerlane” and they arrived in Port Philip on the 29th of April 1853. With his business partner James Urie (arrived on another ship not known) they established the “Ferguson & Urie” Slating, Glazing, and Plumbing business in Curzon St North Melbourne. James Ferguson led a private life and did not seek public positions. He had arrived in Australia without his family but they joined him two years later in late 1855 with their four girls. A further three children were born in Australia between 1856 and 1861. James died at ‘Ayr Cottage’ in 1894.

He was also my Great, Great, Great Grandfather!

See posts:

1852: The James Ferguson farewell at the Robert Burns Arms, Wallacetown.

1853: The Ferguson brothers arrive in Australia aboard the Tamerlane

18-04-1894: James Ferguson (1818-1894)

19-04-1886: Jane Ferguson (nee Lawson) 1820-1886

David Ferguson (1825 – 1872)

David Ferguson was James Ferguson’s younger brother. He played a minor role in the Ferguson & Urie company history. He is considered to be a founder, having been a partner in the company from it’s inception as a Plumbing, Slating, and Glazing company in 1853. He returned to Scotland in early 1857. In 1871 or earlier he contracted “phthisis abdominalis” (An archaic medical term for a form of Tuberculosis) and so began his slow and painful demise. At this stage David was the sole proprietor of his late father’s Plumbing and Slating business. Probably fully aware of his imminent death, he sold the company to long time employee, John Miekle, on the 20th January 1872 as indicated the Edinburgh Gazette, 22nd March 1872, page 185. 

Nine weeks later David died, a bachelor on the 26th March 1872, aged 48.

See post: 30-01-1857: David Ferguson returns to Scotland.

James Urie Esq (1828-1890).

Possibly an apprentice of James Ferguson Snr or Jnr prior to 1853 before leaving Scotland for Australia. He was quoted as saying that he’d left the old country a day before his business partner James Ferguson (who departed Greenock 12th Dec 1852). James Urie married Grace Hardie Young in North Melbourne on the 31st August 1855 and they had fourteen children between 1856 to 1882.  He was the entrepreneur of the business and traveled Tasmania in 1866 with a portfolio of the company’s stained glass design’s. Outside of the business he was a Justice of the Peace as well as a Councillor of Flemington and Kensington from August 1886 to August 1888, and Mayor from August 1887 to August 1888.

See post: James Urie (1828-1890)

John Lamb Lyon (1836–1916).

John Lamb Lyon joined the firm in late 1861 or early 1862 and was a partner in the firm from 1866-1873. The period he was with the firm from 1861-1873 was undoubtedly the most prolific and successful era of the firm. In 1873 he left for Sydney and Joined Daniel Cottier to form the firm “Lyon & Cottier & Co”.

See post: John Lamb Lyon (1836–1916).


♦ David Relph Drape (1821-1882)

David Relph Drape was one of the first stained glass artists to be enticed from England to to join Ferguson & Urie in Australia in 1858, but due to the gold rush labour shortage, the workshop had not been built in Curzon Street, North Melbourne. He instead headed for the goldfields area of Maldon where he eked out a meagre living and re-joined Ferguson & Urie on November 1863.

My full biography here of >  David Relph Drape.

James Ferguson Jnr, (1861-1945).

James Ferguson Jnr was the only son of James Ferguson Snr. He was born on the 1st October 1861 at the Curzon street family cottage in North Melbourne. He never married and had no known children. He was the youngest in the Ferguson family and had seven elder sisters. Family lore has it that he was very spoilt and never had the hard working pioneer spirit like his father. He slipped into obscurity after the firm closed in 1899 and died at his Capel Street residence in North Melbourne on the 25th July 1945, aged 83.

See post: 27-07-1945: James Ferguson Jnr (1861-1945)

James Auld (1873-1945).

James Auld was James Ferguson’s grandson and was apprenticed to the firm circa 1888. After the closure of the Ferguson & Urie company he left for New Zealand and was first employed by Robert Martin Ltd in Wellington between circa 1903 to 1913. He then formed a partnership with Patrick Gleeson as “Auld & Gleeson” in the glazing and lead-light trade in Gisborne New Zealand. The firm later had premises in Wellington and Napier.

See: 1945: James Auld (1873-1945)

George James Coates (1869–1930).

Coates was born at Emerald Hill (South Melbourne) in 1869 and was apprenticed to Ferguson & Urie at the age of 15, (c.1884). His photo appears in the 1887 company dinner portraits.  He studied at the North Melbourne School of Design and Hotham School of Art and attended classes under Frederick McCubbin. He won a scholarship in 1896 that enabled him to travel to London then Paris. He married artist Dora Meeson in 1903 (they had no issue) and was the Australian Govt’s unofficial war artist during WW1. His wife Dora wrote his biography and I have two copies.

See post: 27-07-1930: George James Coates (1869-1930)

Biography at the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Obit – Coates, George James (1869–1930)

♦ James Ferguson Williams (1877-1959)

James Ferguson Williams was the grandson of Ferguson & Urie’s principal, James Ferguson.
See post: https://wp.me/p28nLD-3aH

Alexander Lumsden Young (1833-1889).

Alexander was the brother-in-law of James Urie Esq (a principal partner in Ferguson & Urie). Alexander traveled to Brisbane with his nephew William Urie in 1885 to supervise the installation of the company’s largest stained glass window in St Stephens Catholic Cathedral in Brisbane.

See post: 1889: Alexander Lumsden Young (1833-1889)

William Urie, Junr (1864-1907).

William Urie was born in North Melbourne in 1864, the second eldest of James Urie Esq and Grace Hardy (nee Young).  He joined the firm as a boy and in late 1885, aged 21, he accompanied his uncle Alexander Young to Brisbane to assist with the installation of the firms largest stained glass window in St Stephen’s Cathedral. In 1888 he accompanied another uncle, John Yeaman, on a nine month trip to Scotland. In 1891 he married Rose Emma Smith and they had four children. William died in 1907 aged 42.

See post: 07-01-1907: William Urie (1864-1907)

James ‘Jim’ Urie, Jnr (1870-1896).

James was born in North Melbourne in 1870 and joined his fathers firm ‘Ferguson & Urie’ as a boy. His photo appears in the employee dinner poster of 1887 when he was about the age of 17. He never married and died at the Urie family home ‘Glencairn’, Flemington, in 1896 of Tuberculosis aged 26, coincidentally on the same day as his uncle John Yeaman.

See post: 22-08-1896: James ‘Jim’ Urie (1870-1896)

John Scott (1850-1915).

John was a native of Paisley, Scotland. He was a loyal employee who started as an apprentice with the company circa 1866, aged 16, and worked his way up to be right hand man in his department in the firm (which department is not known). At the Ferguson & Urie company dinner held on the 9th April 1886, he was presented with a handsome diamond locket in appreciation of his 20 years of faithful service to the company and as farewell before his impending holiday to Europe. At the dinner James Urie implored him to become a “Benedict” so he would have someone to hand it down to which to me indicates that at that time he was not married. My next assumption is that he married ‘Agnes’ in Scotland in 1886 and brought her to Australia but nothing marches in the Scotland records so far, nor any Australian BDM’s.

John Scott died on the 1st June 1915 at his Doveton street home at Ballarat. No children are indicated and no further detail is known.

See post: 03-06-1915: John Scott (1850-1915)

Charles William Hardess (c.1859-1949).

After Ferguson & Urie closed in 1899, C. W. Hardess teamed up with another employee of the firm, Frank Clifford Lording, to become ‘Hardess & Lording’. They are known to have done the lead-lighting for the homestead ‘Warra’ in Wangaratta (sometime after 1908). C. W. Hardess was buried in the Burwood cemetery 1st March 1949.

See post: 05-03-1949: Charles William Hardess (1859-1949)

Frank Clifford Lording (1860-1944).

Frank was a glass stainer and embosser with Ferguson & Urie. In 1879, as an apprentice of the firm, he was awarded a prize as a senior student at the Hotham School of Art in the category of “Ornamental Shaded” under the tutelage of David Relph Drape. His name is mentioned a number of times in the company dinner transcriptions of 1886, 1887 and 1888.  At the 1886 dinnerhe sang ‘The Old Brigade’ and at the 1887 dinner sang, ‘Romany Lass’. After the firm closed in 1899 he went into partnership with Charles William Hardess (another employee of the firm) to become ‘Hardess & Lording’. Lording was also a capable footballer and was selected for the Victorian team in the first Inter-colonial football match against South Australia on the Tuesday 1st July 1879 which the Victorian team won. The Hotham Football club later became the North Melbourne Football Club and he was selected as state representative in 1879 and 1881.

See post: 14-10-1944: Frank Clifford Lording (1860-1944)

♦ Herbert Moesbury Smyrk (1861-1947)

H. M. Smyrk was in partnership with Charles Rogers as “Smyrk & Rogers” in Melbourne between c.1884 and Sept 1888. In 1895 & 96 he was employed by Ferguson & Urie as their stained glass artist. Extant windows by Smyrk during his time with Ferguson & Urie include the memorial window for C. H. Armytage  for St Mary’s at Balmoral, Vic, circa January 1895 and the Cr. William Ievers memorial window for St George’s at Carlton circa Feb 1896.

See: The Encyclopedia of Australian Glass in Architecture, Smyrk & Rogers.

♦ Crawford Kier (1858-1890)

Crawford was a native of Glasgow and arrived in Australia in August 1879 as a twenty one year old. In May 1881 he married Barbara Ferguson, the 7th daughter of James Ferguson of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company. Crawford was employed by the company in a managerial position for a short period. By 1885 he was declared insolvent and no longer working for Ferguson & Urie. In 1888 he and Barbara and the children returned to Scotland via Sydney where Barbara died of kidney disease in 1889 followed by Crawford who also died of kidney disease a few months later, leaving their children as orphans. The children were then raised by James Ferguson’s sister Marion Bishop in Glasgow and James Ferguson included provisions in his will for them in 1894.

See: 14-02-1891: Probate notice for Crawford Kier, son in law of James Ferguson.

♦ Richard Blamey Kelland (1838-1892).

Richard was born circa 1838 at Dittisham, Devon, England, the son of George Kelland and Susanna Blamey. It’s likely that he arrived at Melbourne circa 1852 as his death certificate in 1892 states that he lived in Victoria for 40 years. I haven’t found any shipping records or passenger lists to confirm this. His trade was glazier and it’s likely that he joined Ferguson & Urie as early as 1853. He married Mary Ann Carfield in Melbourne in 1866 and they had nine children between 1867 and 1881. His cameo portrait appears in the employee poster for the 1887 Ferguson & Urie company dinner. No other detail is known.

Mr. Jackson?

The employee named Jackson has not been positively identified yet. In 1891 when the firm moved to 100 Franklin street, the name of the head artist by the name of “Mr. Jackson” is mentioned in a newspaper article with no other significant detail;

The North Melbourne Advertiser, Friday 10th July 1891, page 2.

“…The most interesting part of the building is undoubtedly the artist’s room, where Mr Jackson plans and paints amid representations of angels, cherubim, Madonnas, scenes from Christ’s Passion, and various other representations that give his chamber the appearance of the scriptorium of some wealthy monastery in which Art is wedded to Religion. Here all designs are drawn, and the firm’s clients exercise their choice and are informed as to estimates…”

No other detail is known about Jackson.

See post: 10-07-1891: The Ferguson & Urie warehouse, Franklin Street, Melbourne.

Thomas Rocke.

Very little is known of Thomas Rocke and his position or skill in the company. The only clue to his involvement as an employee with Ferguson & Urie was from an obscure court report from late April 1893 where, as a young lad, he fronted the Magistrate on the charge of giving a good belting to the ‘frolicsome’ Thomas Harty.

North Melbourne Advertiser, Vic, Friday 21st April 1893, page 2.


Thomas Harty, a boy attending the West Melbourne school, proceeded against Thomas Rocke, a lad employed at Messrs. Ferguson and Urie’s, for unlawfully and maliciously wounding him. The evidence proved that Rocke was walking along Victoria Street carrying a sheet of tin, when Harty, in a frolicsome mood, banged it, causing defendant to lose his temper, and laying down the tin, chased plaintiff, and dealt him a severe blow on the eye, which as several junior witnesses endeavoured to prove had been done with a knife, the blade of which they asserted having seen; hence the action. Mr. Gillott who appeared for the defence, denied the charge of grievously inflicting with a knife, but admitted having struck a blow which caused the laceration.The Bench, after hearing conflicting testimony from both sides, held that although interfered with, Rocke had been too severe on his assailant, but dismissed the case, ordering the defendant to pay costs incurred, viz. £2.2s.”

Research notes: Possibly Thomas Goodall Rocke, 329 Flemington Rd, North Melbourne, occupation carrier. Victorian Electoral roll entry’s for Subdivision of Flemington and Hotham in 1903 and 1909. In the 1914 electoral roll he’s listed as a clerk. In 1919 and 1924 roll listed as at 128 St George’s Rd Northcote, occupation Merchant?

Thomas Goodall Rocke born 1873 in Melbourne Vic BDM: 18177/1873. Parents Martin Joseph Rocke and Anne Goodall.

John McNichol

John McNichol was an employee with the firm and died 18th May 1869, aged 29. Informant to death was “John Lyon” (John Lamb Lyon) and he was buried at the Melbourne General Cemetery on Thursday 20th. McNichol’s position/skill with the firm is not yet known but in his private life he was a member of the Grand United order of Free Gardeners.

The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Thursday 24th June 1869, page 2.
“A Concert was given last evening in the Orderly-room, William-street, for the benefit of Mr John McNichol an employee of the firm of  Messrs Ferguson, Urie and Lyon, glass painters and decorators, Hotham, who died suddenly a short time since. There was a pretty large number present.”

Vic BDM: 4676/1869, age 29. Informant to death was John Lyon. Who would be none other than stained glass artist John Lamb Lyon who was partner with Ferguson & Urie from 1861 to 1873.

William Henry Lacey (1868-1920)

William Henry Lacey (1868-1920) was born in Dunedin new Zealand to William Henry Lacey Snr & Martha “Minnie” Barclay. He was apprenticed to the Ferguson & Urie company in Australia circa 1882. His cameo photo appears in the 1887 Ferguson & Urie company dinner portraits. In 1891 he married Alice Sarah Lake and they had eight children. William only maintained laboring jobs aligned to decoration, painting and glazing after the closure of Ferguson & Urie in 1899. William died in 1920 aged 52 and was buried at the Kew, Boroondarra cemetery. There were an extraordinary number of people of this exact name in this era, but  the required proofs eventually came from his Will & Probate documents in 1920 which reveal two other Ferguson & Urie Employee’s named Charles William Hardess and Frank Clifford Lording were witnesses to his Will.

Other names appearing in the 1887 company dinner poster that are yet to be traced. It’s highly likely that many of the employees gained employment with other emerging stained glass or lead-light firms in Melbourne or moved interstate to other firms.

R. Carberry: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

P. Brennan: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

J. C. Loughrey: Little known  [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]
At the 1888 company dinner he handed William Urie the shaving kit which caused much laughter. It appears that he may also have an interest in Grey Hound Coursing? The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Thursday 8th July 1875, page 5.

J. Laroni / Lironi:
John Lironi listed is listed in the Sands Directory 1863 at address 85 Coventry Street, Yarra Bank South, occupation glass cutter.  Presumably he worked at the Ferguson & Urie Yarra Bank South glass warehouse in Normanby Road until it burnt down on the evening of 31 Jan 1888.
[He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster] (as J. Laroni)

W. Hill: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

Henry Hill: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

J. Hill: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

G. Drury: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

J. M. Gilligan: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

R. E. Brown:
On 5th May 2021 I have found this employee to be “Robert Brown”,  a Storeman with Ferguson & Urie.
An article was published in the The Herald, Monday 10th July 1893 with the title “A BAD BREAKAGE, GLASS WITH CARE”. The article is about a court case where Ferguson & Urie are seeking damages for a broken 14ft piece of glass. Their store-man named Robert Brown collected the consignment from Shed 9 at Queens Wharf. “He noticed that the case was broken, but on the delivery clerk saying it would be alright, he signed for the package, which was placed on a “float” and taken to Fergusson [sic] and Uries store. On being unpacked the glass was found to be broken…”
[He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

D. Morris: Little known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]
See: 1890: Curzon Street, Ferguson & Urie Employees circa 1890

James D. Lillis: Little known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]
He was a member of the Royal Society in 1887. and offered himself for election to the society in the same year. He was also present at the Ferguson & Urie company dinners in 1886 and 1887.

J. Marshall: Little known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]
James Marshall was present at St St Stephens, Portland, in May 1873 to supervise the erection of the Stephen George Henty memorial window. His occupation is listed as glazier but at this time he is mentioned as the company’s “Outdoor” manager. [Photo]. He died 5th March 1895. His WILL dated 22 March 1869 had James Urie as a witnesses as signatory to to the will. He was married to Agnes (nee Lawson)and they resided in Abbotsford Street North Melbourne.

W. Marshall: Little known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]
This name may be a typo and meant to be James Marshall as listed above but this W. Marshall seems to have the talents of an artist. In the The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 12th July 1867, page 5, a Mr. W. Marshall is mentioned as the artist from Ferguson & Urie who created the transparency of the Cherubs and the Burning Bush for the Curzon Street Union Church annual soiree. Nothing further is known.

L. A. Gentles: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]
Lauchlane Alexander Gentles is related to the Ferguson’s via his brother, Alexander Gentles, who married Sarah Campbell Ferguson, a daughter of the Ferguson & Urie principal, James Ferguson. Very little has been found about Lauchlane but a tabloid entry about the Melbourne 1887 exhibition prizes lists an “L. Gentles” as a second prize recipient in the field of “staining on glass”.

J. King: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

G. Smith: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

J. Murdoch: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

E. R. King: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

J. W. Elliott: Nothing known [He appears in the 1887 Company Dinners Employees poster]

♦ John Cuthbertson Hopkins (????-1882)

A fellow by the name of John Cutherbertson Hopkins died at the Lothian Hotel in Lothian Street North Melbourne on the 14th June 1882. His WILL dated 7th June 1882 says his profession was “Glass Stainer”. This is quite a remarkable coincidence. The Lothian was only a short walk from the Ferguson & Urie Stained Glass workshops in Curzon Street North Melbourne. It appears that he was a lodger at the hotel and had no immediate family in the colony. He bequeathed all his property and belongings to Oriel Lee, licenced victualler of the Lothian Hotel “…in consideration of the kindness of himself and Mrs Lee to me in sickness…”. On coincidental probabilities, I’m going to claim Hopkins as an employee of the Ferguson & Urie stained glass company of Curzon Street North Melbourne.


4 comments on “Employees

  1. Hi Ray,
    Great to read the History of these great Men. I’m the Great Great Great Grandson of Samuel Ramsden who’s name was mention in Ferguson & Urie work on the St Nicholas Church. I was recently in Melbourne in the new year & reading up on Samuel who came to Melbourne in 1844 he was a Builder amongst other things & he achieved so much in his 55 years. I’m also a Builder in Sydney & find it funny that their is No descendant on the Ramsden family tree that are or were Builders.. I’m looking forward to my next visit to Melbourne & on my list will be the St Nicholas Church along with other sites & building in & around East Melbourne area.
    Cheers Peter (Christian) Ramsden

  2. Splendid work. We just wish they were the James and David (and John) Ferguson we are searching for.
    Best wishes.
    Tom and Kay Cook

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