Family Names

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Where was Walter Todman before 1890?

There is a mystery that surrounds the arrival to Australia and the subsequent whereabouts of my Great-grandfather, Walter Todman. 

The earliest we can locate him in Australia is 1890 when he applies for a patent for shearing equipment which was duly reported in The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser on the 27 December 1890[i]
“Patent Office Transactions Applications for certificates of provisional protection and letters patent lodged from December 8th to 20th (inclusive):—     .... Letters of Patent .... No. 2663. December 9, Walter Todman, of Baley street, Newtown, near Sydney, New South Wales, on improvement in the construction and working of a machine for shearing sheep.”
Section of Walter Todman's patent application source:- New South Wales Letters Patent - Improvements in the construction and working of a machine for shearing sheep - Specification by Walter Todman New South Wales Letters (National Archives of Australia, Patent Office)  Item 2663
His application for shearing equipment indicates that he has some, if not considerable knowledge of, sheep shearing which could suggest that his early days in Australia were spent outback or at least on a farm in some capacity. 

Three years after retiring from his shop[iii] we find Walter advertising to obtain a new job in the situations wanted column of the newspaper
“ENGINEER, Turner. Fitter. Machinist, would go on station, anywhere. Todman, 3 Cato-st.. Prahran.”[iv]
This advertisement seems also to support the case for Walter Todman working on a station/farm once he arrived in Australia, it is most unlikely that anyone who had spent the majority of their of their working life in the city would consider going outback unless they had some prior experience.

So the question is where to next to find more information!!

[i] "Patent Office Transactions," The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 27 December 1890, p. 1446, col. 3; digital images, TROVE ( : accessed 18 Oct 2015), The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912). 
[ii] "PATENTS APPLIED FOR," Record, 14 Apr 1894, p. 2, col. 7; digital images, TROVE ( : accessed 4 Oct 2015), Digitised Papers and more. 
[iii] Classified Advertising. (1925, May 2). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 2. Retrieved October 18, 2015, from “Under Instructions from Mr. WALTER TODMAN. Who is Retiring from Business.”
[iv] Advertising. (1928, August 9). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved October 18, 2015, from

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