McLeods of Condah

Marion McLeod (1893)

Marion Elizabeth McLeod was born at Condah, Victoria, Australia to Ruairidh and Bessie McLeod (nee Murchison) in 1893. Marion is a variation of Mary – as is Maryanne, the name of Ruairidh and Bessie’s first-born. Marion’s second name (Elizabeth) is of course after her mother, who was better known as “Bessie”. Maryanne died in 1900, when she was 16 and Marion was 7 years old.

Marion had one other older sister, Susan, who was born 5 years before Marion. She also had two older brothers. One was my father Norman, 7 years older than Marion. The other was her brother Donald, just 3 years older.

She also had three younger brothers. They were Malcolm (2 years younger), Roderick (5 years younger) and Charlie (8 years younger). There is little doubt that as they grew older, both Susan and Marion would have been partly responsible for the care of of those 3 younger brothers.

Susan married David Annett in 1914, when she was 26 years old. It was thirteen years later that Marion was wed to Roy Price. That wedding took place in 1927, when Marion was 34. The majority of girls married appreciably younger than that – for instance, the Victorian Year Book for 1927 shows that only 20% of those who married in that year were over 30. It’s likely that Marion had given up hope of ever marrying and even more likely that, in moments of exasperation, her younger brothers would have called her “Old Maid”. I think that because I know, to my shame, that my sister Norma’s more juvenile brothers at times called her “Old Maid” – and she was only 32 when she married.

I can clearly remember meeting my Aunt Marion only once, when I was about 11 years old. My brother Rex and I were spending the Xmas holidays with our Uncle Donnie McLeod at Knebsworth and one day he took us to visit his sister Marion. I recall that she had at some earlier time had a minor stroke as a result of which she had a slightly twisted mouth. I also remember the warm welcome, the Anzac biscuits, the milk tea and the hugs that she gave us.

Marion McLeod c 1960. (The little girl is her grandniece, Deidre Ann McLeod).

My Aunt Marion reminds me of my eldest sister Norma May. They shared a certain awkwardness of manner and both had hearts of gold. They also both married “late”. But Norma had two children, Yvonne and David, both still living, whereas Marion had only one, named Cecil after his father. He died in 1928, the same year as he was born.

I don’t really remember ever meeting Aunt Marion’s husband, Uncle Roy. But I seem to recall that he had a rather swarthy complexion, so I must have met him on some occasion or occasions, probably before my parents moved to the Bunyip Hotel at Cavendish in 1935. I also have a strong feeling that he was a strict Methodist and a teetotaller. Certainly he and Aunt Marion never visited the McLeod family at the Bunyip. Roy died in 1972, three years after the death of his wife Marion.

To find out whether or not their son Cecil died at birth, I ordered his Death Certificate from Vic Birth Deaths and Marriages. It hasn’t yet arrived.

So as to establish the full extent of the tragedy that befell Marion, I was tempted to also obtain a copy of her and Cecil Roy’s Marriage Certificate in order to get a clue as to whether or not the birth was “planned”. If it were not, it could open up an interesting exchange of views on the prevalence of the conception of first-born before wedlock. My son Neil had made the following scholarly observation: The modern generation may well have no idea how commonly the absence of available, socially acceptable and effective contraception meant that a maturation in affections marked by sexual activity led rapidly to matrimony.

I finally decided that the particular matter was nobody’s business but that of the people involved and that it would be a betrayal of my good Aunt Marion for me to highlight anything that she had wished to keep secret. And in any case it didn’t matter. So I didn’t get a copy of her Marriage Certificate.

Ian McLeod, 2019

Add Comment