Louisa Duesbury Coote

Louisa Duesbury Ford
, the daughter of Alexander (a table cover manufacturer) and Elizabeth (née Jones) Ford, was born on 1 October 1826 and baptised on 29 October 1826 in the Church of St Matthew, Bethnal Green, London. She married a fellow Londoner, William Coote (1823-1898), the son of William and Sarah Frances (née Hanran) Coote, in St John of Jerusalem Anglican Church, South Hackney, in 1849. At the time of the 1851 census they were living in 5 Providence Row, South Hackney, with their nine-month-old daughter Louisa Frances (b. Great Waltham, Essex) and two women servants—Jane Rush from Gazeley in Suffolk and Ann Maria Dennant from Shoreditch in Middlesex.

This researcher has yet to establish when William and Louisa came to Australia with their daughter Louisa Frances and son William Jonas. However, there is evidence that they lived for some years both in Tasmania and in Victoria before they moved to Queensland about 1861. The following children were born to them after their arrival in Australia: Amy Maria (b. Hobart, 8 December 1856; d. Victoria, 1858, aged 1), Arthur Robert (b. St Kilda, Melbourne, 1859; d. St Kilda 1859, aged 3 days); and Eva Marion (b. 21 August 1862; d. 21 April 1902).

The youngest of these children, Eva Marion, never married. She died in the Bundaberg Hospital at the age of 39 years and 8 months and was laid to rest in the Bundaberg Cemetery on the day of her death.

Ministered to in her last illness by the famous Dr Kevin Izod O’Dougherty, Louisa Coote succumbed to fever at the Rocky Water Holes, Ipswich Road, on 10 October 1870, having spent nine years in Queensland. She was buried on the following day on the family farm where William was engaged in sericulture. According to her death certificate the undertaker was Francis Murray, the presiding clergyman was the Reverend John Sutton of the Church of England, and the witnesses to the burial were William Hoy and William Coote (presumably her husband). Alive at the time of her death were three of the above mentioned children: Louisa Frances (20), William Jonas (19), and Eva Marion (8).

The following death notice appeared in the Brisbane Courier:

COOTE.¾On the 10th October, at Salisbury, Rocky Water-holes, near Brisbane, Louise Duesbury, the beloved and affectionate wife of William Coote, aged 43.

Though Louisa’s remains do not lie in God’s Acre, she is included here for reasons which will become obvious to readers of the article from the (Brisbane) Truth which appears below. After this article appeared, the tombstone in question somehow found its way to God’s Acre and is there to this day.

The following verse appears on the stone:


Hers was the love that felt no sacrifice
The gentleness that finds no foe but vice
Who in the chill and agony of death
Clung to her Lord in humbleness of faith
And from life’s joys and cares she lies at rest
Her sorrowing children rise and call her blest.


One of the strangest culvert covers in Brisbane is a tombstone bearing the inscription of one of the city’s earliest pioneers. Positioned from the footpath to the shoulder of the road in Gooburra-street [Goburra Street today], Rocklea, the tombstone bears the following inscription: “Louisa Duesbury Coote, wife of William Coote, born October 1827, died October 10, 1870.” The rest of the inscription is almost unreadable, because it has been worn away by the weather, or by people’s feet.

During the pioneering days, settlers were to be found in isolated places and lived, died and were buried on their properties, and near their homesteads.

Early in the 19th century, a man named William Coote, arrived in Brisbane from England, and took up property at Rocklea, then known as “Rocky Waterholes.” His main occupation was rearing silkworms, and he was the first man in the colony to produce silk from the worms.

On Ipswich-road, he cultivated a large area of mulberry trees, on which the silkworms fed. His enterprise was so useful to the community that he was (it is said) granted a bonus by the Government of the day, to encourage his work.

To-day, the property¾or some of it¾that was owned by William Coote, is in the possession of Mr. Herbert Pegg, who successfully grows tomatoes and other small vegetable crops.

“The tombstone which you see on the footpath leading to the roadway in Gooburra-street, in front of Mrs. Richardson’s house, was placed there five years ago by my brother, at the request of the Council, who promised to remove it to a cemetery site,” Mr. Pegg told “Truth.”

“The grave of the late Mrs. Coote was about fifty yards from where the tombstone is at present lying, and was in portion of this property where these tomatoes are now growing.

“As far as we know, the remains of Mrs. Coote have never been removed from the grave.”

Pointing to an old-looking house, “Truth” asked, “Is that the old home of Mr. Coote?” but Mr. Pegg said, “No. The old home, and all its surrounding buildings, have long since been demolished or removed.

In the records of the Registrar General, the death certificate of Mrs. Coote shows that she died at “Rocky Waterholes” and was buried there.

The records also show that there were three children: Louisa Frances, William Jonas and Eva Marion.

Other details reveal that Mrs. Coote came to Australia from Middlesex, England, only nine years before she died. [This does not take account of the time she and her husband spent in Tasmania and Victoria].

The actual site of the Coote property was about 200 yards from the New England-Pacific Highway turn-off, and is on the Oxley side of the main Ipswich-Brisbane road.

Many new homes have been erected in that portion of Rocklea during the last 12 months, and many residents were of the opinion that the tombstone had originally been shifted from the old Lang Park Cemetery, when the old Water Board put the sewerage main through the park in 1929.

Louisa’s distinguished husband made his mark as an ‘engineer, architect, journalist, pamphleteer, political organizer and sericulturist’. He died in the Townsville Hospital on 1 October 1898 after a minor operation and, with the Reverend AE Coote presiding (a relation?), was laid to rest in the Townsville Cemetery two days later.

The following brief death notice dated 3 October 1898, reporting news from Townsville, appeared in The Week, the weekly edition of the Brisbane Telegraph:

Mr. William Coote, who was well known in North Queensland as a great writer in favour of separation, died in Townsville on Saturday [1 October] and will be buried today [3 October].