Obituary from the Pastoral Review 1924
Just as the August issue was going to press news was received of the death at the age of 84 years of one of Queensland’s most prominent retired pastoralists, Mr. Gilbert Gostwyck Cory, of Vacy, Toowoomba, Queensland.
The late Mr. Cory was born on the Paterson River, N.S.W., in 1839, being the second son of the late Mr. Gilbert Cory, of Vacy. After completing his education at The King’s School, Parramatta, N.S.W., he, when 19 years of age, overlanded to Brisbane, and thence to Toowoomba on horseback.
With a natural liking for pastoral pursuits, and having been born and reared amongst cattle, he entered the employ of the late Hon. James Taylor. It was not long before he won his way up to the managership of Cecil Plains, a fine property on the Condamine, and on the western side of the Darling Downs, owned by Mr. Taylor. He supervised the management of this place until it was sold in 1913.
In the early seventies Mr. Henry Cory, a younger brother, had sheep on country adjoining a large tract of first-class land on the Thompson River. Seeing its possibilities, he offered a half-share to his brother, the subject of these notes. The offer was accepted, so the Cory Bros, took up this land and named it Tocal, after the place of the same name on the Paterson River, N.S.W. Some time later, Mr. Taylor came into this partnership, and continued in it until the station was eventually sold.
Some few years later Mr. Gostwyck Cory selected a piece of Cecil Plains for himself, and worked it into one of the best properties in the district. This place was named Vacy Plains, and was sold just after the commencement of the war.
For many years Mr. Cory had resided at Vacy, Toowoomba, and had devoted his attention to the betterment of the district. He was on the committee of the Queensland Royal Agricultural Society for thirty-seven years, being president for over ten years. He was trustee of the R.A.S., also of the Toowoomba Racecourse (Clifford Park), and at one time of the Toowoomba Grammar School. He was one of the original members of the Toowoomba Turf Club, and for many years president of the Downs Amateur Picnic Race Club. He was also a director of the Toowoomba Foundry. For thirty-six years he was a member of the Jondaryan Shire Council, and one of the founders of the Rabbit Board, of which he was for many years chairman. In 1891 he was mayor of Toowoomba.
The late Mr. Cory will be sadly missed by all, especially in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. He had a charming disposition and was loved by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. He was the brother of the late Mr. Edward Cory, of Terry-Hie-Hie, N.S.W.; the late Mr. Alfred Cory, of Listowel Downs, Q., and Stradbroke, N.S.W.; the late Mr. Charlie Cory, of Hughenden, Q.; the late Mr. Frank Cory, of Longreach; Mr. Henry Cory, of Vermont, Q.; the late Mrs. J. R. Black, of Wallangra, N.S.W.; Mrs. Frank Reynolds, of Tocal, N.S.W.; Mrs. Riley, of Yass; and Mrs. Rogers, of Sydney.
He was predeceased by his wife, only son and one daughter, while three daughters survive him—Mrs. Hunt, of Toowoomba, Q.; Mrs. Duncan Sinclair, of Fraser’s Creek, N.S.W.; and Miss Cory, of Toowoomba.
- Pastoral Review, 16 September 1924, pp 751-52
He died on August 8, 1924 at the ripe old age of 84 after living at Vacy Hall for over 50 years. Shortly after his death the new owners subdivided much of the grounds and gardens around Vacy Hall in 1926 when over 18 blocks were carved off to create the Vacy Estate.
Vacy Hall, Toowoomba’s grand and stately colonial mansion has an interesting connection to the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Gilbert Gostwyck Cory lived at Vacy Hall for 50 years from 1873 to 1924, along with his wife Ann Sophie Cory (nee Taylor) and they were the beneficiaries of the home which was gifted to them by her father, Hon James Taylor.
Gilbert Cory’s maternal grandmother, Maire Brigette Joseph (who was known as “Jospehine”) COYMANS (B1789) married Edouard Desire Constant RENS (B1787) in Tourna, Belgium in May 1811 where he was the Administrator of Monies and Public Records.
Prior to her marriage to RENS in 1811, Josephine Coymans was supposedly a lady in waiting to Her Imperial Highness Empress Joséphine. However this was a difficult time for the Empress Joséphine as she agreed to divorce Napoleon early in 1810 to give the Emperor the chance of an heir, but as part of the settlement received title to the Chateau de Malmaison (pictured above) and a pension of 5 million francs a year.
After leaving Her Imperial Highness to marry Edouard in Belgium, Jospehpine RENS had a son Edward and a daughter Jeannette Georgianna who was born in 1815 in Tourna Belgium but her father had died before she was born.
Some time later, Madame Rens, now widowed left Belgium and migrated to Australia by way of Batavia (Indonesia) and arrived in Sydney in January 1827 on the ship “Phillip Dundas” with her 11 year old daughter.
In the 1828 NSW Census Madame Rens described herself as “Coymanos Vidonia Rens” and said her occupation was a milliner (or hatmaker). In her application for naturalisation in 1831, she stated that she had brought with her property amounting to 6000 Pounds Sterling an enormous sum in those days.
By 10 June 1827 Madame Rens had bought an allotment on the corner of George and what is now Bridge Street, Sydney. The site of her home and business was at 249 George Street SYDNEY now a prime CBD address where National Australia Bank (NAB) has its Sydney Headquarters.
On 16 April 1833, Madame Rens and her 18 year old daughter set sail for London on the ship “Edward Lombe”.
They returned in 1835 accompanied by her son, Edward, travelling from England on the barque “Enchantress” from London for Hobart Town and Sydney. The ship hit rocks and sank of the south-west coast of Bruny Island in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel , Tasmania on Friday, 17 July 1835.
Sixteen of the crew and one steerage passenger were lost. Madame, Mr and Miss Rens were listed among the passengers saved. They arrived back in Sydney on the ship “Medway” (pictured right) in September 1835.
On 24 January 1838 (two days before the 50th anniversary of the setlement on Australia) her daughter Jeannette Georgianna RENS married Gilbert CORY (senior) of Vacy in the Hunter Valley at St James in Sydney. Over the next 16 years she produced 10 children before dying at the age of 39 in 1854 from complications associated with child birth.
Her mother, Madame RENS lived until she was 84 in 1873 eventually residing in Charles St Newtown and she is buried in the Petersham Cemetery in Sydney.
At about the time of her death James Taylor was building the first Vacy Hall for his daughter as a wedding present for her marriage to Madame Rens’ grandson, Gilbert Gostwyck Cory.
JAMES MARKS – ARCHTIECTURAL CAREER
James Marks (1834-1915) was born in Yeovil, Somerset, England, the son of Paul Marks. He began working life in 1850 for building contractors, Joseph and Charles Rigby of Westminster as an office boy and storekeeper for the firm’s works at Bristol.
After 1852 he began work as a carpenter for the same firm. Until 1859, Marks worked for this and other building firms on similar jobs but having taught himself construction, joinery and drawing in the meantime, he was eager to upgrade his constructional skills.
James Marks’ first appointment upon his arrival in Queensland in 1866 was as a builder and architect in Dalby engaged on “sundry works” until 1868 when he was contracted to carry out extensive building operations on the Darling Downs properties of Davenport and Fisher.
Among these buildings are the impressive farm buildings at Headington Hill. Marks was for a time in 1874 contractor for the Dalby Police Barracks and then moved to Toowoomba where he and his elder son Harry set about becoming a dominant force in architecture for more than half a century.
He became a member of the Toowoomba sawmilling firm of Filshie Broadfoot and Co. thereby maintaining his practical interest in the building trade. Marks showed political interest also, by standing as a candidate for the East Ward in the 1896 municipal elections and was a foundation member of the Pioneer Club.
Among his many achievements, Marks designed several churches, the most notable being St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral for which he won a design competition in 1884. He also won another competition for the design of the Toowoomba Public Baths in 1894.
James Marks’ impact on the city of Toowoomba has been considerable and can still be seen today in buildings such as:
- St Matthew’ s Church of England Drayton;
- “Weetwood” for William Scholfield, Tor street;
- Additions to Toowoomba Grammar School;
- “Redlands” for Edmund Wilcox (later Concordia College); the grandstand at Clifford Park racecourse,
- Beirne’ s Chambers, Margaret street;
- Warby’ s (later Tattersall’ s) horse bazaar, Margaret street;
- St Patrick’s Cathedral and St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church.
And, as James Marks & Son from 1892:
- nurses quarters at the Toowoomba Hospital;
- “Smithfield” for James Taylor, Panda street;
- additions to St Denis’ Private Hospital (now 4AK building);
- “Spreydon” for Robert Filshie, cnr Rome and Warra streets; and…
- “Vacy Hall” for Gilbert Gostwyck Cory, Russell Street in 1899.
Vacy Hall was the last building James Marks worked on prior to his retirement.
James Marks passed away on 29 October, 1915 in Toowoomba; he was predeceased in 1913 by his wife Elizabeth Marsh.
Watson, Donald “Queensland Architects of the 19th Century” Brisbane: Qld Museum, c1994.
JAMES TAYLOR A WEALTHY SQUATTER GAVE VACY HALL AS A WEDDING GIFT
James Taylor (1820-1895) was born in Clifford, Yorkshire, England in 1820 (exact date unknown). He migrated to Australia in 1840, probably on the “James Pattison”.
Taylor worked in pastoral industries before arriving on the Darling Downs in 1848, he became involved as a partner with Henry Stuart Russell in a substantial property known as Cecil Plains Station which spread 30 miles either side of the Condamine River and became the sole owner of the property in 1859. (Taylor Street in Toowoomba today is the route he took to visit Cecil Plains Station). He married Sarah Boulton in 1850 in the first marriage ceremony performed on the Darling Downs (the wedding was held at Drayton).
They had five sons and four daughters. In 1860, Taylor became the member for the Western Downs in the first Queensland Legislative Assembly.
He set up office in Toowoomba and held the seat until 1870 when he resigned after a dubious land deal in which large areas of the Cecil Plains district were withheld from selection, only to be sold to James Taylor in 1870 (he was Minister for Land at the time). Taylor lost the subsequent election against W.H Groom in the seat of Toowoomba. In 1871, he was offered a seat on the Queensland Legislative Council which he held until 1893, resigning due to ill health. Taylor was the first president of the Toowoomba School of Arts and the Royal Agricultural Society.
He was also involved in the Queensland Turf Club, Queensland Club and the Toowoomba Grammar School. Taylor was a generous donor to the local Anglican parishes. He is also remembered for importing the first steam-driven sawmills to Toowoomba and was a significant land holder (reportedly over 10,000 acres) in the town, including the Royal Hotel in Toowoomba and the iconic early Brisbane home at the mouth of Breakfast Creek, Newstead House (which is now the headquarters of the National Trust in Queensland).
He was a member of the Union Club which commissioned the building of Clifford House (named after Taylor’s birthplace) in Russell Street in 1860. Taylor and his family took up residence in the magnificent sandstone building in 1870 after the club failed financially. In 1873, when his daughter Ann Sophy married Gilbert Gostwyck Cory who was working for Taylor at Cecil Plains, James Taylor had the first Vacy Hall built as a wedding present. Ann and Gilbert Cory moved into Toowoomba and lived at Vacy Hall for the rest of their lives.
In 1890, Taylor was elected mayor of Toowoomba. Taylor died on October 19th 1895 at Clifford House and title of Vacy Hall passed to his daughter Ann in 1897 (and he had maintained control over the property till his death).
Fletcher, Enid – “Three pioneers of the black soil plains of the Darling Downs”
Anderson, Faye – “Hon. James Taylor” 1974
National Trust of Queensland
LH files – LH/Taylor, James & Sarah