Clara and Archibald Black

Clara was about to conceive her first child when in August l891 Mary Black formally conveyed 50 acres, portion of 162 acres at Dural, to Archibald. Frank Esmond was born in Glenorie on 15 June 1892 and a sister Marjorie, was adopted five years later. One family story is that Clara added Esmond to Frank's name after the central character in a favourite book by Thackaray -'The History of Henry Esmond'. However it seems more probable that it comes from aristocratic family that built the estate on which Archibald's grandfather worked.

Both Archibald and Walter Black were successful orchardists but in May 1893 Archibald mortgaged his Dural land to R.H.Ducker and in September of the same year he took a further charge on above the mortgage. On 8 November 1894 Archibald exchanged the above land, subject to the mortgages and a further payment of £180 for another piece of land belonging to Thomas Henley. (On 5/7/1902 Thomas Henley sold this land to Frederick Robert Black for £1075 who, on 13.1.1927, sold it to Harry Porter for £l825.) On 22 December 1894 Archibald mortgaged to Margaret Houison further land at Dural for £75 and on 2 May 1899 Archibald (now described as Orchardist of Castle Hill) sold his remaining Dural land to his brother Walter for £400. Whether it was the declining productivity of the Dural orchards or Clara’s yearning for city society Archibald appeared to end his association with Dural around 1900.

Lurline believes that Clara probably did not separate from her husband until after her strict mother had died. If this is correct then the marriage must have broken up between 1906 and 1915. Clara moved to Drummoyne and she successfully petitioned for a divorce in June 1915 in order to marry an old friend. On 20 July 1915 she married Thomas E Jesson in the Presbyterian Church at Drummoyne. Jesson was a 51-year-old widower who now lived at 16 Wright’s Rd Drummoyne but had spent his boyhood in Balmain. As previously mentioned his father was a grocer and Tom had prospered when he took over the business in Darling St Balmain around 1890. He and his first wife Clara Plummer lived over the shop in Balmain until 1911 when they moved to Wright’s Rd.. They had two sons and three daughters from that marriage before Clara died in 1913. The children did not welcome the second marriage of their wealthy father to the glamorous, but poor, forty-four year old divorcee. At the end of World War I he bought a house called Latonaville, built in 1910 in the new development of St. Georges Crescent Drummoyne. (The house had been built by Vincent Latona.). It is possible that Clara lived there with Tom before they were married.

At some time just prior to World War I Clara owned a half share in a pearl diving lugger operating out of Broome. But the industry was facing marketing problems. Apparently the venture lost money when pearl shell had to be stored during the War. Her partner sold his interest to the Japanese but the fate of Clara’s investment is uncertain.

In 1914 Tom Jesson also owned a house at 54 St. Georges Crescent and his son and brother also lived in the same street. Later the street boasted the home of Arthur Mailey the famous test cricketer who lived at number 76. Around 1920 Jesson bought a large house in Rose Bay. He called it Ashleigh and its location at 691 New South Head Rd. gave a front stalls view of the Harbour. He also owned a substantial portion of land on the other side of the road in the commercial area of Rose Bay. In the time they lived together Clara and Tom made several overseas trips travelling by ship in the grand style.

Tom Jesson died at Ashleigh on 8 August 1923 and Clara inherited the house and a share of his estate. Tom was buried in his family plot in the Field of Mars Cemetery with his first with and daughter. It is uncertain how long she continued to live at Rose Bay but from 1925 a Mrs Fergus George occupied at least part of the house. Clara seemed unable to conserve her finances and in life her problems were exaggerated by illness. She returned to Drummoyne and lived at 105 St. Georges Crescent from 1928 with Frank and Winifred looking after her. She spent several periods in nursing homes and continually sought a cure for her illness. On 17 August 1931 she died of cirrhosis of the liver aged 61. She was buried the next day in the Church of England Section of the Field of Mars Cemetery at Ryde. The official witnesses at the burial were her brother John W Breakwell and her sister Emma’s husband William W Hughan.

Archibald Black continued his life as a farmer and in 1922 his property was at Tahmoor on the outskirts of Sydney. He established a new relationship with the widowed Emily Jane Anderson who lived in Eleanor Street Granville. He was then 60 and she 54, but he said he was only 58 on the wedding certificate. Emily was born in Camden the daughter of Thomas Jeremiah Squelch and Ann Battam. Archibald died of tuberculosis, aged 77, at his home, 11 Lamonarie St. Toongabbie West on 29 November 1939. He was buried on 1 December in the Methodist Cemetery Derriwong Lane, Dural. Emily lived until 1953 and after her death she was buried with Archibald.