My great-grandfather died just before his fiftieth birthday in 1895; his children were very young, so their memories of him were not that clear, especially as he may not have lived with them all the time… Although he, Louis, never married anyone else, he didn’t marry my great grand-mother, Lois, either. The reason? He was Jewish and she was not. My mum and her sisters knew her grandmother Lois, and there are plenty of stories about her as an old woman, and what sort of character she was in her old age. But Louis? We knew nothing apart from his name and that his family were very well-connected and very rich.
I have always been interested in family history, and the mysterious relationship between Louis and Lois, and I have done a lot of research, and even more speculation! He was born in Tasmania in 1845 to a very rich merchant family. When they returned to London, he remained in Hobart, and then moved to the Australian mainland – or maybe he just travelled between the two. I have a lot of records of him in his role in import/export , and of him as I guess a sort of land agent, arranging the sale of land and property.
I have quite a lot of facts, dates mostly, but no sense of him as a person… until I came across this gem. In 1872, he was living in Denman, New South Wales, and it seemed he was actively interested in the arts – well, how marvellous! My husband and I are passionate about the arts in all their form – literature, poetry and writing, painting, drawing, etching and sketching, music – listening and playing… every aspect…
In this newspaper report, Louis F. Walford is elected as honourable secretary of a proposed School of Art (not a just painting school as it suggests now, but a forum for talks and discussions as well) and Mutual Improvement Society.
Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser
Tuesday 19 March 1872, page 4
A preliminary meeting was held on the 20th Feb., at the Royal Hotel Denman, to take into consideration the desirability of establishing a School of Arts or Mutual Improvement Society, and the formation of a library.
It was resolved to call a public meeting for the furtherance of the above object, and Mr Nicholson was requested to act as secretary pro tem. A public meeting was held on the 5th instant, when Mr. Brecht being called to the chair, Mr L. F. Walford proposed, and Mr. Murphy seconded “that a society be formed in Denman, to be called the Denman Mutual Improvement Society.”
This motion being unanimously carried, twenty gentlemen immediately gave m their names to be enrolled as members, 2s. 6d. entrance fee, and 10s annual subscription being settled upon. It was proposed by Mr. Ross, and seconded by Mr. Graham, “That the Secretary write to the Rev. William White, for permission to hold the meetings in the school room. ” – This Mr White kindly granted.
A meeting was held there last evening when Mr Edward White was elected president, Mr G. A. P. Kibble vice-president, Mr G Nicholson treasurer, Mr. L F Walford hon. secretary, Mr Jno. Wood librarian, and a committee of ten gentlemen for the management of the society.
Its commencement will have a very good opening on March the 20th, when a very popular debate and a selection of choice readings will take place.
We cannot do better than recommend this laudable endeavor to the notice of the philanthropic, and diffidently suggest the advantage it would be to these beginners to receive a few donations of books and periodicals, and we trust their number of member before long may be largely increased. They are loud in the praise of the hon. sec.. of the Muswellbrook School of Arts, who has tendered them assistance and much kind information.
Now I know an aspect to his character I can relate to, he was interested in things, he was social and no doubt sociable, he had the ability to speak in public and be in a position in a society, he had an appreciation of education and the arts…
it is only one aspect of the man, but suddenly I feel such a bond with him!