Emily Frances ORTON
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Thomas (Farmer/Carpenter) ORTON
Mary Ann HALL
(1830-After 1881)
Thomas (Butcher) ORTON

Emily Frances ORTON


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Murdoch McLEAN

Emily Frances ORTON

  • Born: 31 Mar 1877, 3 Upper Church Street, Ashby de la Zouch 35
  • Marriage: Murdoch McLEAN on 16 Jun 1897 in Saint James Cathedral, Townsville, Queensland 18
  • Died: 1939-1940, Melbourne, Victoria at age 62 36

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• Emily was born in 3 Upper Church Street. This photograph depicts the house she was born in - it is third from the left - the white building.

• Emily Frances Orton is reported to be related to the infamous Arthur Orton, who was the gentleman involved in The Tichborne Affair.

In this famous legal case that rocked and shocked Britain, a butcher from Wagga known as Tom Castro claimed to be Sir Rober Tichborne, who had been presumed lost at sea when his ship foundered between Rio and Jamaica in 1854.

After a trial in England lasted from May 1871 to March 1872, Castro - whom Lady Tichborne had accepted as her long-lost son - was legally identified as Arthur Orton, a semi-educated butcher born in Wapping, England. Castro was jailed for 14 years for perjury.

Released 10 years later, he continued to deny that he was Orton, and to claim that he was the rightful heir to the Tichborne estates.

Castro died in poverty in 1898, and was buried in a coffin inscribed "Sir Roger Charles Doughty-Tichborne" under a grave-stone bearing the name "Arthur Orton".

No immediate relative of mine is able to clarify the exact relationship of Emily Frances Orton to the above-mentioned villain. However, family history dictates that there is, indeed, a relationship. Perhaps time will reveal all.

The Tichborne Affair was such a momentous court case of its day, it was even mentioned in Henry Morton Stanley's account "How I Found Livingstone" :

"I saw I was terribly emaciated and changed when I presented myself before a full-length mirror. All confirmed my opinion that I was much older in my appearance, and that my hair had become grey. Capt. Fraser had said, when I hailed him, “You have the advantage of me, sir!” and until I mentioned my name he did not know me. Even then he jocosely remarked that he believed that it was another Tichborne affair. I was so different that identity was almost lost, even during the short period of thirteen months; that is, from March 23rd, 1871, to May 7th, 1872."

• Emily was born in the county of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, which was created on the 1st July 1837.

It was mainly in Leicestershire, but included parts of Derbyshire.

Sub-districts of Ashby-de-la-Zouch are Hartshorn; Measham; Whitwick, Appleby Magna North (from 1897), Appleby Magna South, Ashby de la Zouch, Ashby Woulds, Bardon (from 1862), Blackfordby, Chilcote (from 1895), Coalville, Coleorton, Donisthorpe (from 1897), Heather, Hugglescote and Donington, Measham (from 1897), Nether Seal (1837-97), Normanton le Heath, Oakthorpe (from 1897), Osgathorpe, Over Seal (1837-97), Packington, Ravenstone, Snarestone, Snibston (from 1884), Staunton Harold, Stretton en le Field (from 1897), Swannington, Swepstone, Thringstone, Whitwick, Willesley (from 1897), Worthington.

All sturdy, British names, wouldn't you agree?

• The following item appeared in The London Times, Wednesday 21 September, 1881, just one month before Emily's mother's death. Emily was only four and a half years old.

SMALLPOX - Smallpox has broken out in the Leicester Industrial School at Desford. The disease was brought by a boy from London, and he states that he contracted the disorder by sleeping in a bed next to a smallpox patient in a London workhouse. Prompt isolation was secured, and the School Board intend to take proceedings against the Union for the expenses involved through this alleged gross carelessness.

• Emily and Edith travelled to Australia with their father, Thomas, and their aunt, Julia.

The "Kincardineshire" departed Glasgow on Friday 10 August 1883, and arrived in Brisbane on Saturday 10 November 1883, a journey of exactly three months.

The passenger list of the Kincardineshire shows the family as Thomas, 30; Julia, 25; Edith M. 7; and Emily F. 6.

• Emily and Edith grew up together in Townsville, and remained close.

Edith and her husband Rees Thomas, were to be witnesses to Emily's marriage, which took place on 16th June, 1897.

• On 16 June 1897, Emily married Murdoch McLean. They were to have three daughters, and one son.

• Murdoch married Emily Frances Orton on 16th June 1897.

• Emily was under twenty-one years of age. Therefore, the following Consent was added to their marriage documents:

The consent of John Graham Macdonald R.G. (the parents of the bride being both deceased) was given to the marriage of Murdoch McLean with Emily Frances Orton the said Emily Frances Orton being under the age of twenty-one years.

Joseph Pike
Minister or Registrar.

• Claire Weddell remembers a story her mother, Gertrude Smallwood, told her of the strict discipline in the early 1900's. As children, young Gertrude and Gladys were in the back of a horse and sulky, and Mother (Emily) was in the front. They were, of course, fighting with each other, as some sisters do.

Their Mother warned them “If I hear one more sound, you'll both get out and walk.” A short while later, Gladys fell out of the sulky. Not a peep from Gertrude - she was not game to say anything!

Gertrude is standing, and Gladys seated at the front, in this studio portrait of the two sisters.

• Emily is seen here with her daughter Getrude, and her (boyfriend at the time but soon to be husband) Charles. They were later to marry, and Gertrude would provide Charles with seven fine children.

• Emily had seven grandchildren, all to her daughter Gertrude.

The first was little Arthur Murdoch Rees Smallwood, born in 1924 - Emily was forty-six years old .

We often wonder which little tot added some artistry to Grandma's photo.

• Emily and her husband Murdoch are helping their grandson Arthur to ride a sheep. This photograph was taken around 1927.

• Emily lived with her husband, Murdoch, at 57 Aherne Street, Hermit Park, Townsville. We know that in this house, her granddaughter, Claire Smallwood, was born on Friday 10 May 1929.

• This is the back yard of 57 Aherne Street, where Emily would have played with her children, done the washing, and completed many household chores in the hot North Queensland sun.

• Emily had several dogs in her lifetime - one of whom was Peter, the Alsation, shown here frolicking with Emily at their home in Melbourne. Major, another beloved Alsation, was born later.

• Emily is seen here in the back yard of her daughter's house, Gladys, at 50 Combemere Street, Essendon.

• Emily is seen here at her daughter's home in Combemere Street, Essendon.

• Emily and Gladys are seen here, strolling along. We believe this photograph was taken in Melbourne. Somewhere.


Emily married Murdoch McLEAN, son of Thomas Rofs McLEAN and Mary (Margaret) GORDON, on 16 Jun 1897 in Saint James Cathedral, Townsville, Queensland.18 (Murdoch McLEAN was born on 5 Apr 1876 in Townsville, Queensland and died in Jun 1961 in Melbourne, Victoria 41.)

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