Eric Finlason died in 1895 and he received a good obituary in the Aberdeen Weekly Journal of Thursday, December 12, 1895: DEATH OF AN ABERDONIAN IN AUSTRALIA The   “Mount   Alexander   Mail”   records   the   death,   on   29th   October,     of     Mr     Eric     Finlason,     one     of     the     oldest inhabitants     of     Castlemaine,     Victoria,     who     died     at Ericsville,   his   residence   there   at   the   advanced   age   of   95 years.   Mr   Finlason,   who   was   a   native   of   Aberdeen,   was born   in   1801,   and   commenced   his   business   career   in the   city,   occupying   a   shop   in   Marischal   Street.   It   is   an interesting   link   with   the   past   to   note   that,   as   Master   of Hospital   of   the   Incorporated   Trades   at   the   time   of   the Queen’s   marriage,   he   presided   at   the   banquet   given   on that   occasion.   His   connection   with   the   “Trades”   so   early begun,   lasted   for   over   70   years.   In   1850   Mr   Finlason sailed     for     Australia,     and     landed     first     in     Adelaide. Subsequently     he     went     to     Melbourne,     and     took     a situation   in   a   merchant’s   office.   In   1851   deceased   left for   the   Ballarat   goldfield,   but   not   being   successful   there, went     to     Castlemaine,     and     took     the     first     census. Afterwards    Mr    Finlason    went    to    Bendigo    and    other diggings,    and    finally    settled    in    Castlemaine    in    1855. Three    years    later    he    accepted    the    appointment    of Secretary   of   the   Mechanics’   Institute,   and   retained   that   position   until   1883,   when   he   resigned. Deceased,   however,   retained   his   agency   business   until   a   few   weeks   before   his   death,   having   for   a very   lengthy   period,   been   the   local   agent   of   the   Australian   Mutual   Provident   Society.   Mr   Finlason never   aspired   to   any   public   position,   but   always   took   a   keen   interest   in   mining,   which   industry   he supported   for   some   time.   He   was   held   in   great   esteem   and   by   his   demise   the   borough   of Castlemaine   has   lost   one   of   its   oldest   and   most   genial   pioneers   -   one   whose   ambition   was always to further its best interests. The first reports of gold being discovered while mining for copper in South Australia appeared in the British Press in 1846. The initial enthusiasm is tempered by 1849 with the Aberdeen Press and Journal reporting on the 7 February "It is still an open question whether digging for copper in South Australia, or for gold in California, will prove the more profitable speculation. [...] Were these [Australian] gold diggings, in which every man present might venture for himself as soon as he could command a day's food, a spade and a basket, it is not difficult to perceive that the adventurers would be more numerous, the chances of very large gains for any, though apparently greater, really much less, and the prospect of a loss in the aggregate much more certain."  By May 1849 the papers could report that "one thing is certain that gold ore, in large masses, has found its way into Melbourne [...] the town has gone mad; tradesmen, publicans and sinners, have shut up their places of business and gone to seek for gold". The Scottish press appears to have taken a more cautious approach, and concentrates its news items on gold in California and Central America, until 1851 when the Aberdeen Press and Journal on the 24th September reports: "The intelligence of the newly-discovered riches of Australia has not only been authenticated, but instead of being exaggerated, has been found to come short of reality. The latest accounts describe the gold regions as far more productive of the precious ore than could have been inferred from the first rumours." By this time however the bankrupt Eric Finlason had already been in Australia for a year. He had sailed from London on the 1st June 1850 on the Stebonheath and arrived in Port Adelaide on the 15th September. It is not clear why Eric was declared bankrupt in April 1849; he was examined in the Aberdeen Sheriff's Office on the 19th May, the creditors’ meeting was on the 7th June and the Edinburgh Gazette announced that the first and final dividend was to be paid to creditors on 5th December 1851, though there was another creditors’ meeting on the 12th January 1852. His property in Chapel Street was sold by auction in July 1851 and it  is described as follows: That piece of ground, with the HOUSES erected thereon, measuring 25 feet in front along the east side of Chapel Street, formerly belonging, and in part possessed, by Eric Finlason, sometime Tailor in Aberdeen, and now belonging to the Trustee on his Sequestered Estate. The Rental of the property is £20; the Yearly Feu-duty is £2 2s 8d; and the Upset price will be £120. [Aberdeen Press and Journal 18 June 1851] The appointed trustee of his sequestered estate was Edward Fiddes, who was secretary to the North of Scotland Banking Company, and Eric is listed as one of the many “persons of whom the company or partnership consists” in the returns made in February 1846, 1847, and 1848. In the bankruptcy process Eric is described as “tailor and banker”, but how long his involvement with the bank had been is difficult to judge, as the list was only produced as a result of an act of Parliament passed in 1845; the Bank itself had been in existence since 1836. Born in 1801 in Aberdeen, Eric, like his father and his brothers Robert and John, was a merchant tailor. He held important posts in the Incorporated Trades: he was Boxmaster for the Tailors in the 1830s and Master of Hospital in the early 1840s. In 1846, when the foundation stone for the new Trades Hall was laid, his name appears among the Tailors’ representatives on the attached brass plate. It is possible to chart the progress of the Finlasons through the Aberdeen directories available on the National Library of Scotland website and on FindMyPast, and also in the Aberdeen newspapers. The earliest directory available, from 1824, gives these details: Finlason, John & Son, tailors, 12, Guestrow, H. Chapel-st. Finlason, Eric, tailor, 3, St. Catherine's-wynd, H. Chapel-st Finlason, John, jun. tailor, H. 97, Shiprow Finlason, Robert, tailor, H. Chapel-st. From the same year this appears:  Nicol & Finlason, tailors. Concert Court, Broad-st.  Nicol, William, tailor. Concert Court, Broad-st. A notice from the Aberdeen Press and Journal on the 5th of November 1823 confirms that the partnership is between  William Nicol and “ROBERT FINLAYSON, a young man, regularly bred to the newest and most approved methods of Cutting and Making up, in one of the first shops in LONDON”.  Robert married Elspet Mary Randall in Aberdeen on the 15th August 1825; Elspet, however had been born in London: her father William Randall was a tailor, born in Aberdeen but working in Pimlico, which must be where Robert learnt his London methods. I can’t find a baptism for William Randall - or any Randalls - in Aberdeen, the nearest I have found for his approximate year of birth, 1783, is a William Randall born on Shapinsay in Orkney … but I am always looking for Orkney connections! Robert and Elspet Finlason had three children born in Aberdeen: William Randall (1826), Margaret (1827) and Mary (1834). Robert died in 1835, and although his appearances in the directories are not always consistent, his wife appears in her own right in 1831 running an Academy for Young Ladies in Donald’s-court, 20 Schoolhill. After his death she appears again, but now providing lodgings at 50 Chapel-street. Elspet died in 1854, and all three of their children ended up on the other side of the world: William Randall in New Zealand, and Margaret and Mary in Castlemaine, Victoria with their uncle Eric, where they were also later joined at Ericsville by two of William Randall Finlason’s sons. At some stage the Nicol & Finlason partnership became one between Eric Finlason and William Nicol, for after William Nicol’s death in October 1827, Eric refers to himself in advertisements as “Tailor (late Nicol & Finlason)”. According to the directories he was expanding his business to “tailor, clothier & glover” (1835), and “tailor, clothier & hatter” (1848) and still describing himself as “late of Nicol & Finlason”. His father John died in 1844, but his brother John continued to work as a tailor in Aberdeen until his death in 1871 at the age of 75. He died intestate, but an inventory can be found on the ScotlandsPeople website and his personal estate amounted to £63 1s 2d.; cash in the house came to 7d.; the sale of his household goods raised just over £20, and his silver plate was valued at £4 10s. He received £12 10s from the Tailors Incorporation, and had about £25 in savings; it doesn’t seem a lot for a lifetime’s work. Perhaps this is a clue to the reason for Eric’s bankruptcy: there wasn’t much money to be made in tailoring, one minor error of judgement could easily tip you over the edge. Apart from his work as a tailor, and for the Incorporated Trades, Eric’s interests in the 1840s seem to have turned to horticulture. He was appointed president of the Hortus Club in December 1846, and he was on the Club Committee in 1847 when he won prizes for a bouquet, and for the second best “three polyanthus”; in 1848 he won a prize for his fashionable auriculas. In October 1847 he had also been elected a member of the Aberdeenshire Horticultural Society. At the meetings of these societies he would have also come across his fellow tailor Alexander Robb “the poet-laureate of the club”, and the cousin of his future wife, who would be prevailed upon to sing one of his songs. As his newspaper obituary makes clear, whether or not gold had been his original motivation in emigrating, it soon took his interest. Why, though did he choose Australia over New Zealand where his nephew, William Randell Finlason, was involved in copper mining? It is possible that he felt he had more useful contacts in South Australia; and the Australian newspapers were very enthusiastic about the "native" gold discoveries from 1846 onwards. This is from the Adelaide Observer of Saturday 11 Apr 1846: NATIVE GOLD OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA. The existence of the most precious of all the metals in this province, has often been asserted in this journal [...] but it was only seven days ago that surmise and hypothesis gave place to certainty, and the demonstrative fact that we may rank gold amongst our mineral riches - existing, too - as repeated assays and analyses have subsequently shown, in a state of native purity unsurpassable, if not unequalled. Although his obituary says that he “never aspired to any public position”, his “keen interest in mining” led him in 1858 to stand for election to the Castlemaine division of the Mining Board. Mr. Finlason is another candidate. He has resided on the Creek a considerable length of time, is well acquainted with mining, possesses a more than usual share of shrewdness and common sense, but has not hitherto taken any share in public affairs, which may probably tell against his election, seeing that within the past four year there have been numerous opportunities for rendering assistance, whether by advice or example though without emolument, or even honor. It is to be hoped, however, that the miners will endeavour to choose the men best adapted to follow up a liberal and enlightened policy, without respect to their former shortcomings. (Mount Alexander Mail, Friday 19 Feb 1858) Eric responded to this rather negative newspaper description by placing an advert with his election address stressing his personal strengths. He wasn’t successful however, with just 28 votes he came ninth out of the ten candidates, with just the top three taking their places on the board. Less than three months later he was appointed “Secretary, Collector, and Librarian” at the Castlemaine Mechanics Institute. with “a salary of £25 per annum and commission, sufficient to enable him to devote the whole of his time to the affairs of the Institute. This was another wise departure, for in three months after his appointment Mr Finlason had added 80 additional names to the subscribers' list.” (Mount Alexander Mail Friday 19 May 1905); though this same article suggests that at the time the idea of a Free Public Library was not generally popular with the Committee! Eric stayed in this post for 25 years until he resigned in 1883 with a glowing testimonial from the Committee that would hang on the wall of his house. Regret was expressed that they could not give him something of a more costly nature, but the Committee - as usual - was in debt. (Mount Alexander Mail Thu 22 Mar 1883) Eric’s nieces, his brother Robert’s daughters, Margaret and Mary, who had arrived in Australia on board the Champion of the Seas on 25th October 1862, both performed in concerts at the Institute; the sisters’ usual vocal and piano performances on one occasion being augmented by “some Highland pibroch music. This produced a laughable incident, for some of our Gaelic friends were apparently affected by a musico-biological influence, and commenced dancing, or rather beating time with their feet, in a manner which led to apprehensions of an unrehearsed effect in an involuntary reel or strathspey.” (Mount Alexander Mail Wed 20 Apr 1864).  Margaret married William Swan Urquhart in 1866, and Mary turned her interests to spiritualism, lecturing at the Institute and holding seances at Ericsville, events which received somewhat sceptical reporting in the local press. Eric, himself, was named as Treasurer of the Castlemaine Spiritualists in a case concerning a will that came to court in 1910. James Shaw, of Castlemaine, who had died in 1882, had left “a quarter of his estate in trust in the name of Eric Finlason, treasurer for the Spiritualists of Castlemaine, for a children’s lyceum or lecture hall for the Spiritualists’ congregation of Castlemaine.” As by this time both Eric and his niece Mary Finlason - who was executor of the will - were dead, and nothing had been, or was intended to be, built, the judge decided that Spiritualists as a class had ceased to exist in the town, and that the funds held in trust should be distributed among the other beneficiaries. (Bendigo Advertiser Tue 13 Dec 1910) He was held in great esteem, and by his demise the borough loses one of its oldest and most genial pioneers — one whose ambition was always to further its best interests. Eric Finlason: 1801 - 29 October 1895
Murray families: Eric Finlason
Click on the clippings to enlarge
Aberdeen Press and Journal 8 Jun 1831
Mount Alexander Mail Mon 22 Feb 1858
Mount Alexander Mail Wed 19 May 1858