Thursday, 31 October 2013

"A Real Trick" – Larry O'Toole

I don't know much about Laurence and Anne's third child, Laurence, but I'll put down what I have. Apologies in advance for this being largely raw details.

Laurence was known to the family as Larry, and to save confusion with his father and grandfather I'll refer to him as this.

Larry was born on 29 June 1860 in Kent Street. The address is not given, so I don't know if he was born in 2 Kent Street or in the house off 7 Kent Street.

I don't find another reference to him until 1882, when his name appeared in The Christadelphian, along with his parents and younger brother, Archer1. Then, in 1883, his name appeared in the Sands Directory, living in Evans Street, Balmain, the home of his late father. No occupation was given. But the next year he had moved to Bartsup Terrace in Mansfield Street (which was then Balmain but is now Rozelle) and was working as a printer2. This was also the year, 1884, that his brother Archer started running his print works in Darling Street, Balmain. I have a strong suspicion that Larry was working for Archer as he doesn't appear in the Trades section of the Sands. He stayed at Bartsup Terrace (now 110 Mansfield Street) until 1889 when the Sands showed him now living at 26 Lawson Street, Balmain. Again he stayed put for a few years, before moving to Percival Street, Leichhardt3. Sands doesn't give a house number, but he was always on the east side between Piper and Brennan and the 7th house from the Brennan Street corner. That would make him around about 39 or 41 Percival Street (it is now in Lilyfield). And there he stayed for many years. His occupation is variously listed as a printer and as a compositor.

In 1882 Larry married Margaret Deuchars, daughter of James and Mary Deuchars of Balmain. She was the second of eleven children (three boys and eight girls) and was born in Glebe in 1861. her family moved to Balmain some time around 1870, when her brother Robert was born4. I should know more about Margaret's family, but at the moment I don't.

Larry and Margaret had five children:

Laurence (yes, another one) born and died in 1881
Archibald, born and died 1883
Walter Laurence, born 1885 and died in 1953 (married Alice Wellsted)
Ada Caroline, born 1892, died 1963 (married John Henry Chidgey)
Frederick Wallace, born 1898, died 1953 in Cairns (married Alma Marguerite Cleary)

From 1894 to 1901 Larry served as a councillor on Leichhardt Council. He was, according to the newspapers of the day, a very vocal councillor, often speaking strongly for or against a particular matter. Amongst other things, in 1901 he pushed for "Life Saving classes" in all the schools in Leichhardt, with a desire to see them in all schools in Sydney. These days our children have the opportunity to join Swimming Schemes in primary school. Was Larry the start of this movement? Put "Laurence O'Toole" into Trove, or the phrase “Leichhardt Council” and see what pops up. It makes for entertaining reading. He certainly worked for his constituents.

Leichhardt Town Hall. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
After Archer left for Queensland (see his post when I get to it), there was still a printery running with the O'Toole name – O'Toole and Wise Federal Printing Works at 52 Beattie Street, Balmain. I assume Larry took over from Archer, as he continued to work as a printer and compositor and when he died, his home address was given as 52 Beattie Street. But I only found out this yesterday (good old Sands) so I have to look into it a bit more to confirm this.

Margaret died on 22 Feb 1935, at her daughter Ada's home in Kingston Street, Haberfield5. She was buried in Rookwood Necropolis on 23 February in the Anglican area, section 12, grave 14696. Larry followed her a little over two years later, on 9 April, 1937 and was buried in the same plot on 10 April, 19377.

I was lucky enough to meet and interview Robert O'Toole, grandson of Archer, at the beginning of this year. He remembered his father, Keith, talking about Uncle Larry:
He was a real trick, Dad used to say... he loved practical jokes and... Dad would sort of, well, not roll his eyes, but Dad would say, oh he was a real mischief sort. He'd get up to tricks and he loved playing practical jokes on people... people he knew, even. He wasn't backwards in playing a joke on them8
It is this type of information that really makes family history come alive for me – finding out what my ancestors and relations were actually like. I cannot express how grateful I am to Bob for this little nugget of genealogy gold.

From time to time pieces would turn up in the Balmain Leader that had a mischievous humour to them – the piece on William's trousers, the following about ice skating, and others. Now I wonder if Larry was behind them, having a laugh and relishing the faces of the readers.

"Skating" The Balmain Leader, reprinted in The Bowral Free Press, 26 June, 1889, page 4, column 6. From Trove (
1(“The Christadelphian Doctrine of Fellowship” Stephen Genusa, Spring 2009 accessed 29 Oct 2011), citing The Christadelphian 1882
2 John Sands, The Sands Directory (Sydney, New South Wales: John Sands, 1859-1932), 1884: 690; microfiche.
3 John Sands, The Sands Directory (Sydney, New South Wales: John Sands, 1859-1932), 1893: 793; microfiche.
4 New South Wales Government, "BDM Index," database( : accessed 26 Oct 2012), entry for birth of Robert Deuchars in 1870.
5 "Deaths," The Sydney Morning Herald (New South Wales), 23 Feb 1935, p. 14, col. 2; digital images, Trove ( : accessed 26 Oct 2012), Digitised newspapers and more.
6 Rookwood Cemetery - Anglican & General Cemetery Trusts, "Deceased Search," database, Rookwood Anglican & General Cemeteries ( : accessed 13 Nov 2012), database entry for Margaret O'Toole (1861-1935).
7 Rookwood Cemetery - Anglican & General Cemetery Trusts, "Deceased Search," database, Rookwood Anglican & General Cemeteries ( : accessed 13 Nov 2012), database entry for Laurence O'Toole (1860-1837)
8Interview with Robert O'Toole, 1 February, 2013

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