Archibald Currie (1827 - 1916) was born in Dunoon, Scotland. At the age of sixteen he became apprenticed on a sailing vessel trading to the East Indies. On 26th July 1853 the "Earl of Elgin", a steamer carrying 372 Government immigrants, arrived in Sydney. Three weeks later on 22nd August, the Government Gazette posted an advertisement for Archibald Currie, 5'4" with fair complexion, brown hair, grey eyes as having deserted ship with a 5 pound reward. In September 1853 Archibald settled on the Richmond River on the north coast of NSW, working as a cedar-getter.
The following is summarised from chapter 3 of Men and a River by Louise Tiffany Daley:
Archibald worked at Bald Hill camp (Bexhill), near the boat harbour on Wilson's Creek. Twelve single men and five families lived there in the early 1850's. Escaped convicts or sailors who jumped ship often ended up cedar getting in the 'big scrub' and life was hard. The trees were so immense and the scrub so thick access was difficult and the sawyers and their families saw little sun, ending up with a pale, ghost like complexion. Their only contact with civilisation was when the schooners of the timber fleet brought supplies and loaded timber bound for Sydney. Hard work and poor diet reduced their bodies to bone and muscle on which their clothes hung. They toiled among the giant trees, eighty feet or more in height - teetering on shaky springboards or snigging the logs to the river bank where they squared them with the pit-saw. The only relief from the monotony was found in a rum bottle. With no police, ministers or interfeerence the cedar getters ran the little settlement at the river's mouth according to their own ideas.
Bullocks were used to move the timber to the bank of the creek which would flood three or four times a year, sending great torrents of water down from the mountains which would carry the cedar down the river. When the flood came down with a roar they would shove the logs into the swift-flowing current, pluninging in afterwards to guide them downstream. This was a dangerous exercise as the logs would halt at a 'stop' or chain which was placed at the mouth of the creek and many men drowned. It was easy to be sucked under the timber while trying to loosen a 'block' where the timber had wedged into a large mass and needed to be freed. - (Men and a River Louise Tiffany Daley)
photograph courtesy Richmond River Historical Society
Here is a link to a webpage that discusses migration from the Southern Highlands to the Big Scrub and has information on the motivation for migration, the families who made the trip and the conditions they found when they arrived. Although Archibald did not migrate from the Southern Highlands it paints a picture of the Big Scrub back in those days. http://www.northtothebigscrub.org/
In December 1854 Archibald returned to Sydney and joined a schooner trading between Sydney and the Richmond River as chief officer. He married Susan Hutcheson (1835 - 1897) in 1855 and settled in Lismore in that year. (see Susan Currie nee Hutchesons page for more details)
Archibald and his brother Duncan established a small store, firstly near what is now called Currie Park in North Lismore. 21 years later Archibald had a more 'pretentious' store in Bridge Street, North Lismore. He conducted business on a system of exchange. Archibald dealt in timber trade, shipping up to 200,000 feet a month. His store also carried a large and comprehensive stock of general merchandise. Archibald was one of the first to select land in the surrounding region (old parish maps still show his name) and owned several town lots in Lismore. Archibald was one of the first aldermen elected for the borough and a member of the first Lismore council of which he was one of only 6 members. He served as alderman from 1879-1882 and from 1885-1888.
photograph courtesy Richmond River Historical Society
Archibald had 9 children, 8 of who survived infancy. A daughter Elizabeth died of typhoid at the age of 25. Only three of Archibalds children had children of their own, Susan, Margaret and Mary Isabella. As neither of his two sons had children the Currie name ended with this generation. Archibald gave each of his daughters a cedar chest for their trusseau. There are two of these still in existence that I know of.
Advertisement from Lismore Northern Star, October 1878
Photograph courtesy Richmond River Historical Society
Archibald Currie in front of his store
(about 1882 if the two little girls are Susan and Elizabeth Wotherspoon)
Archibald in front of his store - possibly a few years later than the photo above looking at the tree in the house on the left
This wonderful original list of all of Archibalds furniture is in the family bible and has his signature on it. It is dated 11th October, 1894 and is a formal receipt stating that he has sold all his household goods to his daughter Jessie for the sum of 20 pounds, under the condition that he and his wife have use of them for their lifetime.
52 Bridge Street, North Lismore. This was Archibald Curries home and where his unmarried children all lived - the family home.
Archibald (front row, second from right) on the Lismore Hospital Committee, circa 1913.
Archibalds children were:
Susan Robertson Currie (1858 - 1929). Married William Wotherspoon and had 9 children
Catherine Currie (1860 - 1928) Married Hugh McClean, no children
Duncan Currie (1863 - 1863)
Jessie Currie (1864 - 1919) never married
Elizabeth Currie (1867 - 1892) died aged 25 of typhoid
Peter Hutcheson Currie (1869 - 1926) never married
Margaret Currie (1871 - 1943) Married Joseph Cohen and had 4 surviving children
John Robertson Currie (1874 - 1944) Married, no children
Mary Isabella Currie (1876 - 1963) Married Jack Fredericks and had three surviving children
Archibalds bookcase,still contains many of his books.
Archibald Curries chair.
Archibald Currie shares a gravestone with his wife Susan and daughter Elizabeth in North Lismore Pioneers cemetery.
For more information on the life of Archibald Currie please click on the "Archibald Currie Obituary" page.