Trish, David, Graeme & Jim



David Hume's Foreword

December 2009

Picture: Trish, David, Graeme & Jim Hume 1961

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Arthur Lawrence (Pop) and Amy Moxon Beck (Jo) had four children, Patricia Grace (Paddy), Suzette, William Sutherland (Bill) and Arthur Geoffrey Moxon (Steve). James Hume joined the family in 1942 and they became his next of kin. He eventually married Suzette. Between them, the four Lawrence children had 20 children, born over nearly a 25 year span from the early 1940s to mid 1960s. For the older members of this generation, the home of Pop and Jo at 139 Cotham Road, Kew was a significant part of their lives, the centre of family gatherings that brought them all together at least at Christmas and often at other times.


I was born in 1953, and unlike the rest of the Lawrence clan, we did not live in Melbourne. My father’s continued service in the Navy after the end of WWII required us to move frequently. I was christened on HMAS Australia. In 1954 we went to Sydney, in 1956 to Fremantle, WA, in 1958 to Canberra via a 6 month stint in Box Hill in Melbourne, in 1961 back to Sydney (a Naval base west of Sydney at Quakers Hill), in 1963 back to Canberra, in 1966 to Singapore, and in 1968 to Canberra again. In 1971 my father was posted to Korea and I stayed at home in Australia.


In that nomadic life, the only real constant was the family in Melbourne. By contrast to the other families, there was no ‘other side of the family’ for us to associate with. For this reason, I have a rather peculiar association with Melbourne, and in particular Cotham Road, as my ‘spiritual’ home despite having lived in Melbourne for only 6 months.


Pop died when I was 12. I remember very clearly being told that he had died when we were living in Canberra and trying to find tears. My youngest sister, Janet, was only 2 and we children were not taken down to Melbourne for Pop’s funeral. I do not remember what arrangements were made to look after us. Pop was a rather remote figure to me. When we stayed at Cotham Road, which we did regularly as a family and which I also did several times on my own, Pop commonly went to bed early, arose by about 4.30a.m. and left the house. He had a separate room in the so-called alcove, under the stairs at Cotham Road, and we children were especially forbidden from trespassing upon this preserve. It never really occurred to me at the time that Pop and Jo hardly talked to each other in the later years.


One abiding memory which I still associate with Pop is the smell of cigar smoke; and each visit to Cotham Road I acquired one or more of the large wooden boxes in which Rittmeester cigars were purchased. This is rather indelible in my mind, because I was extremely prone to car-sickness and a very short trip in Pop’s Bentley, which had acquired a strong smell from the smoke permeating the leather, led to me being ill almost before we reached Kew Junction. I have a mental image of Pop in the sitting room by the fire, either reading or playing cards. My father refers to Pop as a very private man, and I don’t think he was especially comfortable with children, especially en masse. Yet, when we were alone together he was very warm, and I recall a gently teasing sense of humour. He spent time to teach me some of the rudiments of playing cards and chess (at which he was expert) and allowed me to sit and listen while he played the piano (he had a talent for playing almost any piece by ear and gave me a lifelong love of the instrument). As many of the photos we have testify, Pop was also rather fond of the horses.


I spent a great deal more time with Jo. I recall her as being very tall, much taller than she probably was, because she carried herself very erect. We would walk up to the street together to go shopping, past the Model Dairy, a milk distribution centre that used to be just up the street from Cotham Road. In the early days she made me wear a cap when we walked out and taught me to doff my cap as she introduced me to her friends in the street. I think Jo enjoyed the company of her grandchildren; we would talk a great deal, and played cards and wordgames. I remember her singing to herself, often one line of a song: "Oh it will not be long love, till our wedding day".

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Feeding the dog(s), Corgi’s named Sally and Psyche was a major part of the day. The other great activity at Cotham Road was playing table tennis (one of the upstairs rooms was converted to this use) and playing on the tennis court area in the back yard, where cricket frequently led to balls straying into the neighbour’s yard. The room at the front of the house upstairs was where we always slept when we stayed there, kept awake by the trams on Cotham Road. The third room upstairs was the ‘unfinished room’; which lay over the top of the front lounge room. I never really understood why this room was not completed, but it just had the bare joists of the ceiling below.


Another outcome of our nomadic existence was that we also stayed for extended periods with each of the sets of cousins at different times, and after Pop and Jo died, and my parents were overseas, I stayed many times for weeks at a time with each of the families and felt a very close tie with each of my cousins. At the time that I write this, we are planning a ‘gathering of the clan’ in Melbourne. This document contains the family history as much as I can put it together. It is a gift of thanks to my cousins, and hopefully their children will find it an interesting account of the background of the Lawrence side of their family.


A major part of this document is a transcription of Jo’s handwritten diary. Jo started writing this diary in the late 1930s. In the first part, she wrote down a good deal of the history of her life and her family. The following sections take us to the birth of her third child, and the move to 139 Cotham Road, Kew, where the children grew up and Jo and Pop lived until their death in 1966.


The memories provided by Aunty Paddy, and by her daughters Susan and Kate, were immensely evocative to me, bringing back images and details that were submerged somewhere in my brain, and I think will bring back numerous memories to all of the Lawrence/ Hume/Anderson cousins.


With help from Susan and Robert, and many others, we assembled a great deal of additional pictorial and family history information for a family reunion in January 2003. Genealogy becomes something of a preoccupation once started, and in the modern era of electronic communication, once can encounter distant relatives via the internet. And so it is that I have encountered descendents of the Fabians, the Slades and the Lawrences who have traced their ancestry back to a common antecedent.


My father's Hume family come from Scotland, and as I assembled this document, I am living in Edinburgh and looking forward to coming back for my Uncle Steve's 80th birthday in December. I hope that the updated story of the Lawrence's will be of interest to my children and my cousins, and their children, who share Arthur and Amy Lawrence as grandparents or great grandparents.


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