Home Page


2. Edward Latham in Liverpool & Gateacre

Edward Latham was born in Liverpool on 20 July 1839 and Christened at St Peter's Church Street the same year. He was the youngest of five children with two older brothers, Henry and Thomas. Only a flimsy account of his life in England - a few sentences - has been left by Latham although he did claim descent from the gentleman 'Latham of Knowsley' of the fifteenth century. According to Latham he and his brothers were orphaned in 1844 and spent the next ten years at an orphanage or boarding school almost certainly conducted by the Church of England. He then claimed to spend the next ten years of his life working in a large fat rendering mill for soap making before departing for Australia. When I informed Mike Chitty of the Gateacre Society of this piece of information he immediately suggested that this would probably be at the soap making factory in nearby Widnes.

Latham's account of his early life is both inadequate and mysterious. It certainly does not add up as he was orphaned in 1844 and was in an orphanage boarding school until 1854 and left for Australia on the Solway on 16.10.1862 just after his 23rd birthday. Further in the 1861 census, Edward was residing at the Belle Vale farm of 32 acres and his occupation was listed as 'commercial clerk'. The other occupants of the farm were his brothers Henry and Thomas and two others. Surprisingly it is the middle brother Thomas who was listed as the 'farmer' and the oldest brother Henry was also listed as a 'commercial clerk'.

What follows is based loosely on assumptions as very few details have been uncovered so far. It is assumed that Belle Vale farm was inherited by the oldest brother Henry and held in trust for him until he came of age. In 1856 he probably came into his inheritance and took his brothers to live on the Gateacre property. During this period or possibly just before all the brothers worked in a soap rendering plant at Widnes. Thomas became the farmer and the other brothers remained working either as 'commercial clerks' at the Widnes factory or some other location. It seems most likely that at some stage between 1856 and 1862 Edward Latham worked as a 'commercial clerk' in a brewery in Gateacre or nearby.

Continued . . .

* The author, P.D. Gardner, is a regional historian residing in Gippsland Australia and studying the coal capital of that district and the associated land boom in Melbourne in 1880s. He is especially interested in Latham's early career in Liverpool and Gateacre and hopes to establish with some certainty how Latham funded his voyage to Australia and his early years of residence there.
He can be contacted by email

Next page          Previous page          Home page          Contact us

Page created 18 June 2007 by MRC, last updated 9 Jul 2013