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Langford House

Milton Hall
Home of Robert & Elizabeth LANGFORD
519 Dryburgh Street
North Melbourne

Photo 31 Mar 2006

Robert LANGFORD m 1872 (Elizabeth) Mary Eliza MILLER
Father of Elizabeth Langford was William Charles Miller who immigrated to Victoria in December 1852 with his young family and first wife Elizabeth who almost certainly died on the voyage. Mary Eliza (known as Elizabeth) was the first of nine children born to William Charles Miller and his second wife Mary Ann Watson from 1855 to 1873 at Prahran, Dunolly, Amherst, Majorca and Carisbrook where Mary Ann died in 1893 and William in the following year.

Two years younger than Elizabeth, her sister Louisa (1857-1942), gave birth to 18 children, 6 of whom died in infancy, including 2 sets of twins. The majority survived to marry and produce many grandchildren for Louisa and her husband Alexander Charles McDonald. This family lived at Timor and Carisbrook in the Marybrough District, and at Hotham and Richmond in Melbourne. Elizabeth remained childless although two stillborn babies named John and Cissie were recorded on her death certificate in 1931.

The book written by Guy Murphy and published in 2004 is based on eight years of extensive research into the Langford family and their magnificent home Milton Hall. The many resources consulted by Guy include some family information from a testimonial by Louisa McDonald in the form of a manuscript held by the Maryborough Library.

Louisa recalled that her father William Charles Miller came to Victoria from London as a vaudeville entertainer and play plotter to work in association with Gustavus Brookes and the entrepreneur Sir George Coppin who arranged for many overseas artists to perform in Melbourne and on the goldfields.

At Dunolly her father William ran a butcher's shop and marquee store for three years and turned to gold prospecting on the goldfields of Central Victoria but his bone grinding business which supplied fertiliser to local farmers proved to be much more successful than prospecting. He also secured the contract to deliver mail between Carisbrook and Maryborough. Eventually he owned five houses and land around Carisbrook and became an orchardist. William served on the Carisbrook Council and was elected Mayor in 1885.

At Home on Hotham Hill (2004) by Guy Murphy records the history of Milton Hall built for Robert and Elizabeth Langford and contains biographical information about this couple and their families.

Home is where the history is - review by Carolyn Webb, The Age 30 Aug 2004.

The following information about Robert and Elizabeth Langford is a small example of what may be gleaned about the heady boom times of suburban Melbourne from Guy Murphy's book which is available from the North Melbourne Library.

Robert Langford began work at the Eastern Markets with his father who was a fruiter and agent for producers. In 1866, at the age of 17, Robert started in the business of fish mongering at the markets in Flinders Street near Princes Bridge adjacent to the Yarra River. This proved to be a very lucrative business which financed the building of Milton Hall in 1884.

As a successful businessman Robert Langford served at least two 3-year terms as a councillor for the Town of Hotham during a period of rapid development. He had a most illustrious year as Mayor in 1884-85 which began when he was only 36 and his wife Elizabeth was just 30. Their house-warming party was held at the Hotham Town Hall instead of Milton Hall to accommodate the 180 invited guests.

Newspaper accounts describe in detail many well-organised functions with fine entertainments, lavish refreshments and well-dressed guests. After ceremonial proceedings the music and dancing sometimes continued well into the early hours of the morning. As Mayoress, Elizabeth hosted a very popular and innovative series of receptions in the Mayor's rooms on the last Monday of each month for up to 250 ladies from Hotham and other municipalities. She also gave fancy dress children's parties at Milton Hall which was also the venue for mouth-watering fish and oyster dinners. Following the annual mayoral ball held in 1885 it was reported that, 'Mr and Mrs Langford can lay claim to having given the best appointed and most enjoyable ball ever held in the history of the Town of Hotham'.

Among his patronage of many community and charitable organisations such as the Art Union, the Thespian Amateur Dramatic Club, the Hotham Board of Advice for the administration of schools, Robert Langford chaired a meeting to form a local volunteer defence corps and served on the bench of the Magistrate's Court as a Justice of the Peace. His leadership extended to presiding over a meeting of 500 supporters of the Hotham Football Club which became the North Melbourne Football Club.

Such was his success that Melbourne Bulletin featured a profile of Robert Langford and his engraved portrait on the front page of 2 October 1885.


The two-storey Langford mansion built in 1884
at 519 Dryburgh Street, cnr Curran Street, North Melbourne

Photo taken 31 March 2006

William Charles MILLER m2. 1854 Mary Ann WATSON

© Created : 1 April 2006
© Last Modified : 30 June 2011
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