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Mini Biographies of Scots and Scots Descendants (Mc)
Elizabeth McLachlan

Fourth born child & third daughter Elizabeth McLachlan was born on the 18th September 1856 at   "Sorn Bank" to Daniel McLachlan & Jane McPherson. Elizabeth was their fourth child. The children thus far patterned ... girl, boy, girl ... so the couple were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the second son to continue the alternating gender pattern.

Elizabeth McLachlan & Charles George Gant wed 1877
Elizabeth McLachlan & Charles George Gant wed 1877

This did not occur & the birth certificate adds credence to the disappointment at the arrival of a third daughter in the age when male descendants were of such very great importance. The birth certificate stated that the new baby girl was - at registration ... "unnamed".

The addition was made later to the birth registration details that the third baby girl was baptized  "Elizabeth" at the baptism ceremony at St Stephen's Presbyterian Church (the old one) at Bathurst NSW,  on the thirteenth day of  January 1857, by Reverend James B. Laughton.  (It was to be two more baby girls & six more years before Daniel McLachlan & Jane McPherson were to be blessed with their next son).

Agnes Gant & James Davis- first five children  Eliizabeth  -grandchildren abt 1913
Agnes Gant & James Davis- first five children Eliizabeth -grandchildren abt 1913

Elizabeth was having the same upbringing as her elder siblings, aiming at the attention to detail with regard to the excellence of gaining a good education with reading at the nucleus of it all. She was imprinted with the predominance of the Christian religion upbringing of the very old "Scots'  Covenanting"  spirit.  As Daniel McLachlan was a most fervently devout & exceedingly severe Presbyterian kirkman, that was the brand of Christianity that Elizabeth was conversant with in her early years.

Alice Gant - Eliz 4th dau m. Robert Jackaman Fremantle W.A. 1918

As the baby girl grew to become a physically able toddler, & as there was an incapacitating shortage of sons in that household, it seems that Elizabeth joined with the only son thus far, Daniel, to become another of her father's offsiders.   This would have been happening firstly as the children's mother, Jane McPherson already had two diligent, willing & capable helpers; & secondly due to the strong & energetic abilities of the little girl, Elizabeth.

And so life went on  ...  with the family moving to Mitchell's Creek & Daniel, the father, changing work status to miner, to quartz crusher & finally at that location to innkeeper.  During this periood at Mitchell's Creek, Elizabeth is reputed to have  "danced with a bushranger".  This was the era of th bushranger chasing after the gold that the hardworking miners had garnered.  An innkeeper,  & others similarly involved in the community affairs of a settlement,  would have had to tread diplomatically & softly when bushrangers were about.

Corrine Gant fifth daughter of Elizabeth McLachlan photo abt 1910
Corrine Gant fifth daughter of Elizabeth McLachlan photo abt 1910

Tragedy occurred with the death of the mother, Jane McPherson-McLachlan in 1871 at Mitchell's Creek. Some three & a bit years later, at some time during the first half of the year 1875,  Daniel McLachlan, the father, moved a small part of his family  (as it had then become)  to the Yullundry-Cumnock area near Molong NSW.

The eldest of the offspring that went with him was Elizabeth McLachlan. Thus as Daniel McLachlan's household & children manager, (the eldest daughter, Jane, had married & was off away on her new life), it was Elizabeth who became her father's mainstay for what is sometimes presently termed ...  "domestic engineer".

eld dau  Agnes Gant Davis  of Elizabeth McLachlan Gant  - with daus Amelia & Kath also Kath's dau Helen
eld dau Agnes Gant Davis of Elizabeth McLachlan Gant - with daus Amelia & Kath also Kath's dau Helen

At Yullundry-Cumnock, Daniel, the father, was establishing his property, "Avondale" from the selection of lands that he had made while still at Mitchell's Creek.  It was there that he took the small part of his family that travelled with him. Elizabeth was the one who was responsible for the home & domestic orchard & vegetable garden & food-raising animals such as   "dairy"  cows &  "laying"  hens. Elizabeth was also the "surrogate mother" of the two youngest sibling-daughters,  Mary, the father's favourite, born 1858, & Agnes, the youngest child born 1866.

Among the others that had come with Daniel McLachlan, the father, was a member of the mining fraternity, by name ... Charles George Gant.  Charles George Gant seemed to have been a great favourite of Daniel McLachlan. In fact, the marriage of Elizabeth & Charles might have been principally Daniel's "brain child". On the first day of May 1877, with her father signing that he was  ...  "giving permission as she was not yet twenty one years of age"   Elizabeth became the wife of Charles George Gant. 

At the beginning of the year, 1882, when Daniel McLachlan senior, was working dangerously - (physically & emotionally) - hard,  as was his wont,  & in this instance  "sinking wells" & "digging dams"  for the better conservation of the extremely precious (i.e. as far as this country is concerned) commodity of water, he  "caught a cold".  This cold developed immediately into pneumonia, & he died the following day.

As Daniel McLachlan died without making a will, i.e.  "intestate", it became essential that the district magistrate appoint an administrator of the estate. As Elizabeth,  her husband & her  (at that time)  first daughter, were residing on the property of  "Avondale", it was inevitable that the magistrate would choose Elizabeth nee McLachlan Gant to undertake that role & tasks. (The magistrate did advise Charles George Gant not to interfere in the fairness of arrangements that should be made).

Elizabeth nee McLachlan Gant sold up most of the land amassed by Daniel McLachlan, then shared the finance gained with her siblings. She kept the property of  "Avondale",  for her family, her husband & herself. Other unsold land in the district was given to the two youngest sons.  Elizabeth, her husband & her family stayed on at  "Avondale" for about twenty years from the time of the couple's marriage in 1877. 

The children born to them at  "Avondale",  were .... Agnes Mary born 18 November 1881, Phoebe born 24 January 1884,  Jane born 24 July 1887, Norman born 11 October 1889, Alice born 17 September 1891 & Corrina (known as  "Corrie" born 3 October 1893. 

Elizabeth McLachlan Gant abt 1910 @ Northcott Street North Sydney
Elizabeth McLachlan Gant abt 1910 @ Northcott Street North Sydney

As they grew weary of the difficulties of farm life & having an abundance of daughters,   they sold  "Avondale" to one of the pioneering families of the district, by name The Bruton family, & in about 1896, journeyed to Sunny Corner, a village not far from where Mitchell's Creek had been flourishing earlier. 

Because Norman Robert Gant was the only son, a great deal of   "pressure to succeed"   in everything that he undertook,   was placed upon him until this  "burden"  overwhelmed him.  At about twelve years of age, Norman left home & family,  - never to return. 

Norman Robert Gant seems to have been a free & independent spirit.  He led an adventuring-type of life somewhat a mixture of  "swagman" .. "rouseabout" ... "gold-miner",  filled with the  "wonder of the everlasting stars"  that the Bush poets like  ... Andrew Barton  "Banjo"  Paterson & Henry Lawson,  immortalized. 

Elizabeth nee McLachlan Gant with three granddaughters, Gwen at rear, Kath on her left - Doris on her right
Elizabeth nee McLachlan Gant with three granddaughters, Gwen at rear, Kath on her left - Doris on her right

While at Sunny Corner, the second son & last child was born on the twenty fourth day of November 1898.  He was called William John Gant & known as ....  "Bill" ...  all his life.   (Just as  "Norman Robert"  had been in honour of  the  "Gant"  heritage of the family;  so  "William John"  conveyed respect for the  "McLachlan ancestry.)

By this time, the eldest daughter, Agnes born 1881,  was preparing to marry Jim Davis, in Sydney;  while Jane, the third daughter, born in 1887, was considering her "career options".  The religion of The Salvation Army was busy at Sunny Corner & its manner of spreading God's Word, was impressing itself on the McLachlan-Gant family particularly Jane. 

In that family, Phoebe, the second daughter, born 1883, was the stalwart household helper & nursery governess by that time, to the two younger sisters, Alice Maude & Corrie.  She would have been caring for the baby boy, William John Gant.

Sometime during the first decade of the twentieth century, Jane Gant left for Melbourne where she trained as a Salvation Army officer & undertook the Salvation Army's nursing training, at the world-renowned maternity hospital in Melbourne, called  "Bethesda". At the outbreak of World War One, Jane left the Salvation Army work & enlisted in the Australian Nursing Service for overseas service. On her Military Service record, it stated that the family home was at Sunny Corner,  although Jane Gant was enlisting from Melbourne, Victoria.

Jane Gant third daughter of Elizabeth McLachlan & Charles Gant -  Jane, nurse  WWOne,   photo abt 1915
Jane Gant third daughter of Elizabeth McLachlan & Charles Gant - Jane, nurse WWOne, photo abt 1915

Jane Gant,  the daughter of Elizabeth & Charles Gant,  &  Daniel McLachlan born 1889,  the son of Dan McLachlan born 1852 at  "Sorn Bank",  had become "sweethearts";   but the two families refused consent to such as "close" intermarriage.   Subsequently,  Jane Gant never married.   All her life, Jane Gant along with her brother, Bill Gant,  were  the greatest of friends with Daniel McLachlan born 1889 at Hillgrove NSW. 

Jane was a skilful & loyal Staff Nurse then Sister,  of the First Australian General Hospital  Special Reinforcements Unit during WWOne.  She returned to Australia on the second day of May,  in the year 1919.  On her return she continued her involvement with nursing,  firstly in Western Australia & then in the state of New South Wales.  At her retirement  in about 1947,  Jane Gant held the position of  Matron at the Prince of Wales hospital,  Little Bay near Sydney.

During the second decade of the twentieth century, the parents & the last child, the son, William John Gant, were residing at  "Ballaratt" in Northcott Street, in North Sydney. It was from this address that Bill Gant,  as soon as he was old enough,  enlisted on the first day of February 1917.

Bill Gant enlisted in the 12th Light Horse Regiment, the same regiment as his first cousin, Daniel McLachlan born 1889, the son of Daniel McLachlan born in 1852 at  "Sorn Bank".  Bill & Dan were already friends but this friendship intensified & continued throughout their lives.

In 1923, Charles George Gant died, & Elizabeth went to reside at  9 Patrick Street  Willoughby, a suburb of Sydney. This was the home of her eldest daughter,  Agnes Gant-Davis & her husband, Jim Davis & their last three children, Gwen born 1913, Kath born 1915 & Jane born 1917. The last two girls in particular, kept Elizabeth company while their mother was busy especially with the needs of the house & her husband. They got to know her very well in the last decade of Elizabeth's life.              

When Elizabeth's eldest sister, Jane, was residing intermittently at Manly, Elizabeth & Jane would have regular visits one with the other. On these occasions after 1923, Kath & Jane would provide her escort.  During this period the young girls noticed just how keen her interest was in the art of reading. They also became aware of Elizabeth's preference for ... "reading by candlelight",  although electricity was connected to & in popular use in houses of that era.

The girls were witnesses to the demonstrated involvement & enthusiasm of Elizabeth for the Bible, God's Holy Word, & for the predominance of the Protestant form of religion. No longer,  however,   was she bound by the strict code of Scots Presbyterianism (a relic of the Covenanting Movement of sixteenth century Scotland)  that had tightly bound her father.                

Not only was Elizabeth tall & statuesque in build, but she had a similar personality that overwhelmed most people. She was very intelligent & well-read, taking an ardent interest in the politics of the Day, being a great supporter of the big  "L" - Liberal Movement. Above all, she was an empowered & empowering exponent of the evangelical type of Protestant Christianity.

When Elizabeth died on the seventeenth day of August 1931, she was quite sure of her transference  "from this world to the next"  at the residence of her eldest daughter,  Agnes. In preparation for her being placed in her coffin, she was garbed in white apparel including   "white stockings" to symbolize the "pure in heart"  as she went forward to  "meet her Maker".

Phoebe  nee Gant Strickland second daughter of Elizabeth McLachlan & Charles George Gant  photo abt 1915
Phoebe nee Gant Strickland second daughter of Elizabeth McLachlan & Charles George Gant photo abt 1915

Indeed throughout her life Elizabeth nee McLachlan Gant had striven to do her best.  At her end Elizabeth was suffering from myocarditis for several months & gastritis for four days.   Elizabeth was last seen by a registered medical practitioner by name,  M. O. Stormon,  on the seventeenth day of August 1931.  Elizabeth died on the same day at the home of her eldest daughter,  Agnes Mary nee Gant Davis.

Elizabeth McLachlan was buried on the eighteenth day of August 1931, in the Church of England portion of the Northern Suburbs cemetery that is situated on the north side of Sydney Harbour.  The officiating minister was William Mullen,  who conducted the service according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church. 

The undertaker was Ernest Hawkings,  acting for the Funeral Company of Walter Bruce.  The informant of her death,  was Elizabeth's son-in-law,  Agnes' husband,  James Davis. The event was registered at North Sydney on the eighteenth day of August in the year 1931.

Very many of her descendants & extended family,  were in attendance at her funeral & burial services,  but sadly the  "wandering"  son,  Norman Robert Gant was not there.  Although a search had been performed in an effort to locate him before Elizabeth's passing,  Robert was unable to be found.  It was very much later in time that Robert was located after his own death,  in Stanthorpe,   near the border of New South Wales & Queensland.    

researched compiled & written -
by Alison Elizabeth McLachlan-Crowe
for "McLachlan of Avondale"  Descendants'  Reunion
held on Saturday 17 May 2003 at Bathurst NSW Australia

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