Last month, when we visited the St Erth Methodist Church in Cornwall, I noticed that one of the plaques on the wall was a memorial to Francis Tuckfield erected by James Oddie and Benjamin Bonney, passengers on the Larpent in 1849.
The plaque was to honour Reverend Francis Tuckfield (1808 – 1865) and his wife, Sarah Tuckfield nee Gilbart (1808 – 1854), who threw their house open to passengers from the Larpent who had been afflicted by fever.
The Larpent had arrived in Geelong on 28 June 1849. Among the passengers was James Oddie (1824 – 1911) with his wife and child. The Larpent’s emigrants had been selected by the Presbyterian minister John Dunmore Lang, a promoter of emigration. During the voyage many passengers became ill with what was thought to be typhoid. Sadly both Oddie’s wife and child died.
James Oddie was among the earliest gold miners arriving at the newly opened Ballarat diggings in August 1851. He became very rich and was later a great philanthropist. He founded the Art Gallery of Ballarat. His portrait hangs there.
James Oddie’s obituary in the Geelong Advertiser of 4 March 1911 stated that Oddie had instituted an annual reunion of passengers of the Larpent and their descendants to meet at Mack’s Hotel, Geelong.