Annie Tom (1840-1872) .. Gold, marriage and poetry

By , April 25, 2011 7:36 pm

At the little cemetery at Byng, stands a headstone with the words

    Sacred to the Memory of Annie….
    The beloved wife of Gustavus Richard Glasson.
    Who after patiently enduring great suffering for several years
    Fell asleep in Jesus
    10th Dec 1872

The suffering was due to a stomach tumor and the treatment entailed a painful weekly horse and buggy ride to a Doctor in Blayney and back, a round trip of about 50km on rough roads. The inscription can only suggest the anxiety she must have felt for the future of her three young children and her husband of just a few short years.

But there were happier years.

The photo of her as a child suggests she was pretty and pert with long black hair. She was the youngest of eight in the family of “ Parson” Tom and his wife . They lived in an imposing Georgian sandstone home they called “Springfield”, at The Cornish Settlement in 1840. It still stands, looking impassively eastward across the gently trickling Lewis Ponds creek; the creek that guided Annie’s two brothers and John Lister to Yorkey’s corner and their discovery of payable gold in April 1851. As a 10 year old Annie had been party to her brother William’s clandestine construction of the gold cradle in the basement at “Springfield”. Its design had been specified by Edward Hargraves the instigator of the gold discovery expedition. And it was because Annie let slip the secret of its night-time construction to the farm’s carpenter, we know today that it was William Tom who made it. Presumably the carpenter could not be trusted to keep the secret and William had to make it himself. The cradle (pictured below) is stored for now in the Power House Museum in Sydney.

Annie was born in the same year, 1840, as her future sister-in-law, Maria Theresa Glasson, Richard and Emma’s second child. Their eldest child, Gustavus had been born one year earlier. Living at the Cornish Settlement (later called Byng after Admiral Byng, executed for losing Minorca to the French in 1756) in “Willow Cottage” as the Glassons then were, the children of the two families would have known each other well. A common religious bent would have strengthened the relationships. Annie’s father, Parson Tom was a lay preacher and Gustavus was apprenticed to a Clergyman. His father, Richard, wrote in a post script in a letter dated Jun 11 1852 to his parents in Cornwall

“P.S. We are all pretty well. Gustavus has not been home for four months. He has been with a Church of England clergyman. I believe a gentleman of sincere piety. He has just commenced to learn Latin. He will cost me upwards of 50 pounds this year. From the beginning of lambing [c. July] to the end of shearing [c Nov] he has never slept under my roof. I scarcely know what I shall do without hime when these busy times come again.”

It was hardly surprising that Gustavus and Annie would ultimately marry, as they did, although probably not until 1864. Gustavus returned from a property Richard held at Cadia and they moved into a new house “Cadira”, reputedly built for them by Richard. This was only 5 years after Richard and Emma and their family had moved into their new home at Godolphin. Three children followed in 1865, 1867 and 1869. Presumably Annie’s illness developed after the birth of Annie’s last baby, William. She died in November 1872.

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