Trove Tuesday

Trove Tuesday – William Lamerton

On the 5 October 2016, I wrote the post about Margaret Nicol Gordon.  In that post, I mentioned her daughter Matilda, who had married Angus Robertson.  I found that her marriage to Angus was a second marriage.  Matilda Stewart Duncan first married William Lamerton.  The marriage was registered in 1881.  For this Trove Tuesday’s post, I am sharing articles I found about William Lamerton’s death.

Fatal mining accident
FATAL MINING ACCIDENT. (1881, September 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved November 1, 2016, from
Fatal mining accident
FATAL MINING ACCIDENT. (1881, September 20). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved November 1, 2016, from

I had a problem trying to download the next article, so this is a transcription:


On Monday another was added to the long list
of fatal mining accidents, the unfortunate victim
being quite a young man, named William Lamer-
ton. The dreadful instance to which we (Inde-
pendent) refer is, we regret to state, an example
of the utterly careless and unthoughtful acts
which some miners will persist in, notwithstand-
ing that they are risking their own lives. The
scene of the lamentable occurrence was the No.
1 shaft of the Johnson’s Reef Company, situated
at California Gully. It appears that Lamerton,
in company with two other miners, named Joseph
Tabiteau and David Ramsay, took a tribute in
the mine at the 375ft. level, and on Monday
morning went to work for the first time. Al-
though that was Lamerton’s first day in the mine
with his partners, yet, he had, prior to taking
the new tribute, worked in the mine off and on
for some time past. After finishing their shift
about 2 o’clock, they started to ascend to the sur-
face by means of the ladderway, which is in a
separate compartment of the shaft. On reaching
the 305ft. level, a short stop was made, when
Lamerton said to his mate, Ramsay, that he was
going to put his billycan in the truck as the cage
passed the level on its way to the surface, and
asked Ramsay to give him his can to put in also.
Ramsay at first demurred, saying that he could
carry his billycan to the surface. Lamerton said
he could send them up both together, and took
his mate’s can. Ramway, who was behind Lamer-
ton up to the 305ft. level, then went on to the
ladders again, Tabiteau going before him, leav-
ing Lamerton to put the cans in the truck. When
Ramsay had ascended about 20ft. further, he
heard Lamerton groan, and knowing something
was wrong, he at once descended, and found
Lamerton was not at the level where he had left
him. Tabiteau went to the surface, and Ramsay
went below. To place the cans in the ascending
cage it is necessary to lean over the protecting
bar facing the shaft, and while thus leaning over,
the cage must have caught Lamerton and carried
him up some six feet, where it jambed him
against the centre piece (the shaft at the part not
being closely timbered) and Lamerton went
crashing to the bottom, a distance of 420ft. Of
course, no person was present on the spot at the
time of the occurrence, but the above narrative
is borne out by the fact that marks of blood were
subsequently discovered on the centre-piece above
the level where Lamerton had evidently been
jambed. On Ramsay reaching the bottom of the
shaft (about 730ft. deep), he found the body of
Lamerton in the water horribly mutilated and
unrecognisable. Lamerton undoubtedly fell
head-foremost, for at the 425ft. level, the sole-
piece fixed across the shaft was carried away, and
portions of the brain and skull scattered around.
The poor fellow was literally smashed to pieces,
and presented a shocking sight. The accident is
attributable solely to the action of the poor fel-
low himself. He had probably done the same
thing previously, but unfortunately he did it
once too often. It is a very dangerous act for any
person to attempt to place an article in the cage
ascending at the ordinary speed that cages gene-
rally travel. There was no necessity for him to
go out of the ladderway at all except for the sake
of ridding himself of the inconvenience caused by
his having to carry his billycan while climbing
the ladders. Had he waited at the 375ft. level,
where he had been working for about five
minutes, he could have sent up his can while
the cage was motionless. Another incident which
goes to show that the deceased was caught by
the cage is that the two billycans were found in
the truck when it came to the surface. Lamer-
ton was only 23 years of age, and resided at
Long Gully. Besides other relatives, he leaves
a young widow, daughter of Mr Matthew Dun-
can, of Long Gully, and to whom he was married
last Christmas. The mining manager, Mr. R.
Williams, immediately after the accident, sent
for Mr W. H. Grainger, Inspector of Mines, who,
on arrival, went below and inspected the mine,
and found everything in accordance with re-

ANOTHER FATAL ACCIDENT AT SANDHURST. (1881, September 21). Mount Alexander Mail (Vic. : 1854 – 1917), p. 2. Retrieved November 1, 2016, from

Articles about the accident also appeared in several other newspapers.

There was some conflict in when he was married – one article said February, the other the previous Christmas. A Public Member Tree at Ancestry shows they were married 16 January 1881, however, the same Public Member Tree shows William died 30 July 1883 in Adelaide.  Since I had 3 conflicting dates, I decided to get their marriage certificate. The certificate shows they were married 18 January 1881 at Long Gully – which meant that neither of the newspaper clippings, nor the Public Member Tree, had the right date.

Lamerton Duncan marriage date
Cropped image of marriage certificate – Victoria, Australia Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, marriage certificate 802 (1881), Lamerton-Duncan; Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Melbourne; Downloaded from the Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria website:



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