Francis Ladner


Francis Ladner
was the son of Francis (a gardener) and Elizabeth (née Stevens ) Ladner who were married at Sancreed, Cornwall, on 18 April 1829—Elizabeth ‘with the consent of friends’—in a ceremony witnessed by John and William Stevens. As far as this researcher has been able to establish their identity from a variety of sources, the children of Francis Ladner (bap. Sancreed 3 June 1804) and Elizabeth Stevens were as follows: Elizabeth Jane (bap. Sancreed, Cornwall, 9 November 1829); Thomas (bap. Madron, Cornwall, 14 September 1834); Francis (b. Cornwall about 1837); Mary Stevens (b. 12 November 1839); John (b. about 1845?); Grace (b. Penzance, Cornwall, 13 January 1848).

Francis Ladner (son) married Jane Lawry (bap. Madron 21 January 1838), the daughter of John and Jane (née Warren) Lawry, in Madron, Cornwall, on 31 March 1861. Official marriage records give their ages as 24 and 23 respectively at that time. A few years later, probably encouraged by favourable reports from Jane Peak, one of Francis’s Cornish cousins, they decided to try their luck in Australia. Jane, the eldest child of John and Mary (née Tregurtha) Ladner, and her husband William James Peak, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Peak, had sailed from Plymouth on the 517-ton Ascendant (Captain Robert Spencer) on 2 March 1858, less than two weeks after their wedding on 21 February. Following their arrival in Moreton Bay on 19 June 1858, they settled in Drayton near Toowoomba where they raised a large family.

As ‘passengers under the Queensland land order regulations’, Francis and Jane Ladner, their daughter Frances and their infant son, another Francis, emigrated to Australia on the 717-ton Black Ball ship Wansfell (Captain Henry Holland) which set sail from Gravesend, London, on or about 13 November 1864. After a terrifying voyage marked by frequent bad weather, they arrived in Brisbane Roads on 21 March 1865. Sadly, young Frances died en route on 31 January 1865 at latitude 2 45 north and longitude 31 20 west. She is probably the child referred to in the Queensland Daily Guardian report of the journey: ‘The deaths were three in number. One of consumption, another female aged 75, of debility, and a child 18 months old of diarrhoea’. 

Any hope that Francis and Jane Ladner might have entertained about a prosperous and happy future in their adopted country was dashed when, on 7 April 1866, Francis was murdered by Joseph Doel. An account of this tragedy follows in which the researcher has presumed to correct the spelling of Francis’s family name throughout.

A HORRIBLE murder was committed on Saturday afternoon, and the man who did it afterwards poisoned himself. The following are the particulars so far as we have been able to collect them:—A farmer named Joseph Doel, living at the Eight-mile Plains, near Oxley Creek, rode up to the house of a neighbour (Thomas Freney) and spoke about someone having robbed him. He said that sometime ago he was in difficulties, and he made over a portion of his property to a neighbour. Afterwards he asked the man to give it back to him, and he refused. At that moment a man named Francis Ladner [the original has Martin Lander] was seen along the road, and Doel immediately started towards him. Freney then heard a shot fired, and saw Ladner fall off his horse, and noticed Doel making towards Brisbane at a gallop. Freney went up to Ladner and found he had been shot in the side. The man, who was dying, was taken to his [i.e. Freney’s] house, and he only lived a short time afterwards. Freney followed the direction taken by Doel, and when he arrived at South Brisbane told Sergeant White what had happened. Doel was then found in a hotel there, and arrested. He was allowed to drink a bottle of lemonade, and was then taken to the watchhouse. On being told the charge, he said—“They have robbed me, and deserve what they got.” He also said, “I have committed a mortal sin; God have mercy on my soul. I have only five minutes to live.” After being placed in a cell, a cry was heard, and Doel was found lying on the floor as if in a fit. A doctor was sent for, but two minutes before one arrived, the man died in great agony. On his person was found a piece of paper containing about a grain of strychnine; it appeared to have been torn open. It was subsequently ascertained that Doel, a short time before his arrest, bought 12 grains of strychnine at Mr. Steele’s, chemist, Edward-street, where he had been in the habit of buying it to poison native dogs. Doel was about fifty years of age, and, we are informed, was unmarried. Ladner was a married man, and lived near to Doel’s farm. An inquest is to be held this forenoon. A more horrible case than this has not happened for a long time.

Francis Ladner’s remains were committed to the earth in the Cooper’s Plains Cemetery, on 9 April 1866. Those attending the funeral in an official capacity were his brother, Thomas Ladner (see later) of South Brisbane and Joshua Ebenston (undertaker). Francis died intestate; but after the usual legal proceedings his wife inherited his estate. The proctor was William Edward Murphy of Queen Street, Brisbane, and the gentleman who provided surety for Jane was Charles Gundry, a farmer of the Brisbane suburb of Milton. Charles was a brother-in-law of Francis, having married the deceased man’s sister Jane Ladner in Madron, Cornwall, on 22 April 1860.

Inquests. An inquest into the death of Francis Ladner was held on the afternoon of his funeral at the residence of Thomas Freney (a local farmer) before Hugh Hamon Massie, Coroner, and a jury composed of twelve local men. The names of those whom this writer has been able to decipher are: Elijah Stubbins, George Dicki(n)son, Thomas Penman?, Job Minchenton, James Orr, Francis and Thomas Budd, John Lather? and Christoph Eitel. Evidence was taken from: Thomas Freney who witnessed the murder; Sarah Stubbins (wife of Elijah) who saw the shooting and was present when Francis expired about an hour and a half later; Frederick Pimm (labourer) who identified the pistol found near the scene of the crime as one belonging to Doel, his former employer; and Dr Robert Hancock who conducted a post-mortem examination. ‘The jury returned, as their verdict, that the deceased died from the effects of a shot inflicted by Joseph Dole [sic.].’

A jury having been empannelled on the morning of the above inquiry, Coroner Massie conducted an inquest into the suicide of Joseph Doel, farmer. Evidence was given by: (i) Acting-Sergeant White who arrested Doel at the Bridge Inn, South Brisbane; (ii) Inspector Lewis and Sub-Inspector Lloyd whose input focussed on the events in the watch-house leading to Doel’s death; (iii) William Moffatt who, as an employee of Mr Steele an Edward Street chemist, supplied Dole with strychnine for poisoning native dogs; (iv) Michael Horan, the licensee of the Bridge Hotel who had a conversation with Doel (his brother-in-law) when the latter arrived on the premises; (v) Jane Horan, Doel’s sister, who testified that her brother was about 50 years old, that he had come to Australia from Wiltshire on the Beejapore about two years previously, that he lived on a farm belonging to her at Eight Mile Plains, and that he worked for Ladner’s brother [Thomas] who boarded at her house; and (vi) Dr Hugh Bell who confirmed the cause of death. The jury returned the following verdict: ‘That the deceased died from the taking of strychnine; that he administered it himself; that he was in the full possession of his senses at the time; that he took the strychnine, well knowing it to be a deadly poison; and that he took it with the intention of killing himself.’

Joseph Dole’s remains were committed to the earth in the Church of England Cemetery, Paddington, on 9 April 1866 with little ceremony. There was no minister of religion present at the interment which, as in the case of his victim, was effected by Joshua Ebenston (undertaker).

Joseph Doel (bap. 3 July 1814) and his sister, the above-mentioned Jane Horan (bap. 7 June 1824), were children of James Doel (1788-1844) and Ann(e) Everett who were married in Horningsham, Wiltshire, on 20 April 1808. Jane died on 1 November 1899.

Joseph Newman Doel acquired three properties (portions 129, 130 and 137) in the Eight Mile Plains Agricultural Reserve on 27 February 1865 and another property (portion 138) on 6 March 1865. These properties, totalling approximately 127 acres, were purchased on 4 May 1871 by the Colonial Botanist Walter Hill who was the first Director of the Botanic Gardens, Brisbane, from 1855 to 1881.

Jane Ladner, who was pregnant at the time of her husband’s death, gave birth to a daughter Margaret Jane on 20 August 1866. Margaret Jane married Robert Henry (BDM just has Robert) Kyle, the son of Alexander and Letitia (née Mehan or Meehan) Kyle, on 20 February 1895. He passed away on 21 October 1938 aged 72 and was buried in the Lutwyche Cemetery on the following day (mon. GP4 44 36). She died on 12 January 1957 aged 90 and was laid to rest beside her husband (mon. GP4 44 35). Their son, Robert George Alexander Kyle, was buried with his mother on 16 October 1981 aged 84.

On Christmas Day 1870, a few years after Francis’s tragic and untimely death, Jane Ladner (née Lawry) married Ayrshire-born Robert Hodge (a stonemason), the son of Robert and Agnes (née Tennant) Hodge, in the Bible Christian Church, the Oval, Brisbane. The celebrant was the Reverend William Woolcock, the father of the distinguished Queensland jurist John Laskey Woolcock (1862-1929). In addition to an unnamed male child (b. and d. 22 June 1875), their children were as follows: George (b. 8 December 1872), Robert (b. 4 November 1876), and Agnes (b. 4 March 1879). BDM records list another child, Mary Ann, born to a Jane Ladner on 6 November 1869, before her marriage to Robert.

Jane Hodge died on 2 June 1897 and was buried on the following day in the Lutwyche Cemetery on the north side of Brisbane (COE mon. 1 4 56). At the time of her death, she and her husband were living in Ballow Street, Fortitude Valley. Robert passed away on 15 May 1906 at the age of 75 and was laid to rest in the same grave as his wife.

Francis (Frank) Ladner Jr died in the Brisbane Hospital from acute tuberculosis on 24 September 1891 aged 23, the same day on which his 11-month-old niece Lily passed away. Lily was born to Margaret Jane Ladner on 28 October 1890, a few years before her marriage to Robert Henry Kyle. Both Frank and Lily were laid to rest in the Lutwyche Cemetery (COE mon. 1 4 55) in a grave that would later receive the remains of Myrtle Laurie Thwaite (d. 11 April 1904), the daughter of Herbert and Agnes (née Hodge) Thwaite.

Thomas Ladner, Francis’s brother, also emigrated to Australia. He married Mary Chirgwin (bap. 18 September 1833), the daughter of Samuel and Frances (née Richards) Chirgwin, in Paul, Churchtown, Cornwall, on 4 November 1855. Prior to their departure for Australia, they became the parents of two children: Mary (bap. 1 June 1856, Paul; d. January 1858, Newlyn) and Thomas Chirgwin (b. 1859, Penzance; bap. 15 March 1860; d. 16 January 1908).

As part of a contingent of 373 government immigrants Thomas and Mary and their son travelled to Australia on the 891-ton Emigration Commissioners’ ship Vernon (Captain Goldsmid and, in the latter part of the journey, First Officer Henry Aldridge) which left Southampton at 9 a.m. on 8 December 1863 and arrived in Brisbane on 12 May 1864. Mutinous conduct on the part of some of the crew forced the captain to call in at Rio de Janeiro (9-25 February).

Thomas Ladner, a general labourer, had been working for Mr Evans at St Ruth near Dalby when blindness led to his admission to the Benevolent Asylum, Dunwich, on 24 March 1887. He was discharged on 11 May 1887 but readmitted on 29 September of that year. Thomas died at Dunwich on 28 March 1892 and was buried there on the same day.

For some time, until she moved to Brisbane, Thomas’s wife Mary continued to live at St Ruth where she worked as a cook for Mr Evans. She passed away on 8 August 1909 and was buried in the Toowong Cemetery in the same grave (18 77 20) and her grandson Iven (d. 30 March 1905). Her daughter-in-law Mary (d. 21 July 1935) was later buried there.

John Ladner (aged 28) and his wife Elizabeth Hobbs (21) and their infant daughter Louisa, travelling as assisted passengers, set out for Australia on the 1634-ton Darling Downs (Captain DR Bolt). Sadly, the little girl died en route. The ship left London on 25 July 1874 and reached Brisbane on 5 November 1874. Elizabeth, the daughter of William Hobbs, passed away in the following year on 26 May. Ten years later John married Louisa Christina Ebner, the daughter of Johann George and Maria Christina (née Greisheimer) Ebner, on 2 January 1885. Their children are endnoted. John died on 17 April 1912 and was buried in the South Brisbane Cemetery (4 202) in a grave that would later receive the remains of his wife Louisa (d. 15 March 1924). The family residence was in Victoria Terrace, off Ipswich Road, Annerley.

Grace Ladner, another of Francis’s siblings, was born in Cornwall on 13 January 1848. At the age of 18 she travelled to Australia on the 717-ton Wansfell (Captain Reynolds) which, having departed from Southampton on 18 March 1866, arrived in Brisbane Roads on 26 June 1866 with 287 government immigrants on board. The passengers were brought up the River to Queen’s Wharf by the Kate on the morning of 27 June and transferred to the Immigration Depot. It must have been an unhappy arrival Grace; for she was actually at sea when her brother Francis was murdered. Grace married John Williams, a master mariner, in Queensland on 31 December 1871. Their children are endnoted.  Grace was living at Twine Street, Spring Hill, an inner-Brisbane suburb, when she died on 6 November 1917. Her grave at the Toowong Cemetery (11 74 5) would later receive the remains of her daughter Florence Eliza Williams (b. 25 February 1877; d. 4 March 1961) and Norman Clarke (d. 22 January 1923).

Another Ladner family settled in Queensland. Charles Francis Ladner, the son of John Ladner (a joiner) and his wife Mary Tregurtha, married Mary Ann Pender, the daughter of Daniel (a farmer) and Mary Pender on 24 October 1863. The brother of Jane Peak (mentioned earlier) and the first cousin of the above siblings, he was a 35-year-old labourer when he emigrated to Australia on the 1207-ton London Line Zoroaster (Captain Wakeham). Accompanying him were his wife Mary Ann (33) and their children—Mary (9; b. 2 February 1864), Charles Jr (7; b. 21 August 1866; m. Frances Jessie Roach 7 April 1898; d. 2 October 1939), Jane (5; b. 17 January 1869; m. John Phillip Loye Stone 9 October 1890; d. 31 August 1950), John (3; b. 27 January 1871; d. 8 November 1944) and Elizabeth Jessie (infant; b. 10 May 1873; d. 26 April 1952)—all of whom had been born in the Scilly Isles, Cornwall. The ship left Gravesend on 3 June 1874 and reached Moreton Bay on 23 September 1874. Two days later the Kate brought the passengers up the River to Brisbane.

Charles Francis Ladner (bap. Sancreed 16 March 1839) was a resident in Creek St, Drayton and ‘one of the oldest residents of the district’, when he died in the Toowoomba General Hospital on 26 January 1915, after he and his wife celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. He was laid to rest in the Toowoomba Cemetery (CE 3 14). Mary Ann passed away aged 80 at the residence of her son-in-law, Mr Harry Searle, on 9 August 1920 and was buried beside her husband (CE 3 13). In a nearby grave lie the remains of their son John (CE 3 21).