We are grateful to Geoff Nicolai, descendant of Henry & Ann Webster, for information on Laura's short life in Australia
Laura Webster was the fifth child of Henry Webster & Ann Franklin christened November 28th, 1834 at Brackley, Northants.
Laura (6) & her brother Henry B (4) were visiting Sarah & John Alexander at Mill St, Leamington Priors, Warwick at the time of the 1841 census. Her parents & brothers John & Charles were also living at Leamington Priors at this time.
In 1851 Laura was at home with her parents & family at 131 Warwick St, Leamington Priors. She was a governess at this time, as was her mother.
Laura & her parents & 3 brothers emigrated to Sydney Australia in 1852.
Laura married by special license John Abraham, also an immigrant from Taunton, Somerset on April 12th, 1856 in Sydney. Laura gave birth to a son in April 1857 named John Webster Abraham. Tragically she died a month later on May 24th, 1857 at her home at Alpha Cottage, Chelsea St, Surry Hills, aged just 22 years.
Sadly infant son John died on Christmas Eve 1857, just 7 months old.
John Abraham moved to Brisbane in March 1859 & became associate to Justice Lutwyche, a Supreme Court judge by 1860. In this capacity he accompanied the judge to many official engagements at Government House, and as clerk of the Court he was a frequent traveler on coastal steamers to attend circuit courts. In 1862 he was appointed Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Queensland.
In the early 1860s John bought land in a select area in Brisbane described as ‘commanding a most magnificent view of the River, Galloway’s Hill and the delightful scenery of the racecourse paddock’. Here in New Farm he built a brick residence, which was described as ‘that highly desirable Gentleman’s Suburban Villa residence finished in a very comfortable & substantial manner’.
Sadly John was diagnosed as suffering from consumption & travelled back to England late in 1863 or early 1864 to consult specialists there. His case was pronounced as hopeless. However he survived the return voyage to Queensland & died at Snow’s Hotel, Toowoomba on March 6th, 1865, aged 32. John had been a well respected businessman & a popular member of the community. An obituary from the Darling Downs gazette of March 1865 states that ‘On Saturday Mr Snow took him out for a drive, and, as is not unusual with those afflicted with this deceptive disease, he expressed himself as feeling much better than he had been for some time past, and was sanguine of his restoration to health. On Sunday he slept nearly all day, and on the following morning breathed his last in a lethargic slumber.’
Knowing of his impending fate John had sold the house that he had built in New Farm to Henry Bates Fitz in 1863 who named it ‘Ashton’. The house passed to George Willcocks in 1890, who enlarged the house & added many features to make it one of the finest late Victorian residences in Brisbane. It acquired the new name of Wynberg. The house passed to Archbishop James Duhig who added his own improvements & since 1927 Wynberg has remained the home of the Catholic Archbishops of Brisbane.
Our thanks go to Fr Denis Martin & Carolyn Nolan of Brisbane Archdiocesan Archives for information on the life of John Abraham in Australia.
The children of Laura Webster & John Abraham were:
we.3.5.1 John Webster Abraham born May April 1857 at Surry Hills, Australia; died December 24th, 1857 at 6 University Row, Yurong, St, Woolloomooloo, Sydney