Friday, 15 May 2020

Robert Preston and Robert Lyall

I recently acquired this postcard which I was interested in because it was addressed to Mr R. Preston, Koo Wee Rup from Lyall and Sons Produce Merchants, Victoria Market. It is dated June 10, 1909. I love the fact that they sent a postcard to tell Mr Preston that his order had been dispatched, these days we would get an email or text, so that's the 'olden days' version of tracking, which Australia Post offers. The delivery would have been sent to the Koo Wee Rup Railway Station.  

The postcard reads -  June 10 '09 -Sent your order today - 7 oats - seed - can't read the rest, is it 2 bags - 1 flour? 

The Prestons had arrived in Koo Wee Rup in 1905 and had a farm on the South Gippsland Highway, in the vicinity of Preston Road which is named for the family.  The family consisted of Robert and Martha (nee Dick) and their children - Jim, Jack, Henry, Jessie, Maggie and Bob. Robert died December 19, 1930, aged 81 and  Martha died August 31, 1937 at the age of 88 (1).  They are buried at the Pakenham Cemetery.

The Koo Wee Rup Sun of December 24, 1930 published this obituary of Robert Preston.
It is with deep regret that we announce the death of Mr Robert Preston, which took place on Friday last at his residence at Kooweerup. The deceased, who was 81 years of age, was very highly esteemed, being the possessor of a fine character and a disposition which made friends of all with whom he associated. Almost two months ago the deceased was driving home in a jinker, and when he arrived at the gate entrance to his property the animal plunged and he was thrown to the ground and sustained a broken leg. He was taken to the local Memorial Hospital, but his advanced age, coupled with the fact that he had not enjoyed the best of health for some time were factors which operated against his recovery. He expressed a desire to be taken home, and on Friday last his request was acceded to, but several hours later he passed "beyond these voices to where there is peace." The deceased was born in Scotland, and as a young man with a wife and family of four children he came out to Australia and took up work on the sugar plantations in Queensland. Later he came to Victoria and took up farming pursuits on land on which the township of Carrum is built. About 22 years ago he came to Kooweerup and bought land on the Main Coast Road. Deceased leaves a widow and six children - James, John, Harry, Robert, Mrs C. Child and Mrs F. Mummery - to whom general sympathy is extended in their irreparable loss. The remains were interred in the Pakenham Cemetery on Saturday afternoon, and there was a large attendance at the graveside to pay their last sad respect.

The Koo Wee Rup Sun also published an obituary for Mrs Preston on September 2, 1937

Koo Wee Rup Sun September 2, 1937

This is the front of the postcard with a colourised photograph of Lyall & Son Produce Store.

Robert Lyall was listed as a Produce Merchant at 308 Sydney Road, Brunswick in the 1900 Sands & McDougall Directory and by 1905 the business had become  Lyall & Son, Produce Merchants and was located at the Victoria Market (2).   Robert Lyall died at the age of 80 on July 12, 1943. His short obituary in The Argus said that he was associated with the grain trade in Melbourne for the past half century. He had also been Secretary of the Church of Christ, Swanston Street for fifty years. In Mr Lyall's death notice his wife was listed as Lillias, he was the father of three daughters Eadie, Elsie and Winifred and one son Harry, the '& Son' of Lyall & Son (3). Harry was elected to the Melbourne City Council in November 1937 and was still on the Council in 1955 (4)

I thought that Lyall & Son may have been connected to William Lyall of Harewood, at Koo Wee Rup and who was part of the influential partnership of early land owners, Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall, but although they may have been related, he was not a direct descendant. Robert's death notice lists his parents as Henry and Eleanor Lyall. 

How would Robert Preston of Koo Wee Rup have heard of Robert Lyall & Son, Produce Merchant of the Victoria Market? It was more than likely through an advertisement in the Lang Lang Guardian, perhaps even this very advertisement reproduced below, which came from the June 2, 1909 edition. The business advertised in the Lang Lang Guardian and its successor the Koo Wee Rup Sun up to 1924.

Is this the advertisement that prompted Mr Robert Preston to patronise the business Lyall & Son?
Lang Lang Guardian, June 2, 1909.

(1) Death notices for Robert and Martha Preston were in The Argus December 20, 1930 and The Age September 1, 1937. Both notices list their six children.
(2) Sands & McDougall Directories have been digitised by the State Library of Victoria, access them here
(3) Robert Lyall's death notices were published in The Argus July 13, 1943. His obituary was in The Argus on the same day, see here.
(4) The Herald November 9 1937 and The Argus, August 26, 1955.

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