Shuggie Bain — I have lived other lives…

On Facebook I said this is one of the best novels I have ever read, and that was when I was only half-way through. Now I have finished it I have not changed my mind. “You have probably noticed that I like this book, troubling as it is. In reading it you find yourself living the lives… Or I do…”

There is any number of reviews out there — I will let you find them for yourselves. Most of them are positive. Similarly the ordinary readers on goodreads trot out the maximum stars, with some exceptions — one of whom is someone I know through other connections, whose opinion I respect.

I am of course not the son of an alcoholic mother, nor have I ever been to Glasgow, lived in a desolate coal-mining village after the mine has closed, lived in Thatcher’s Britain, or ever aspired to be a hairdresser… But on the other hand there were so many resonances. I will leave those who know me to guess what some of them might be! I will say however that as a 10-year-old in Sutherland I did find myself pretty much in the position of looking after my mother who was bedridden for some time with a thrombosis in the leg, as I cooked the family dinners… And there were some interactions at Sutherland Primary School: the accounts of playing soccer seemed very familiar.

There are also many excellent videos featuring Douglas Stuart and the novel. Here are two — the first just 15 minutes, the second 52 minutes — but with a writer I greatly admire, Colm Toibin.

For the novel of course, but also for both of those interviews — for the wisdom and humanity of all three. Such rare qualities, it seems sometimes, these days!

Extra:

Good review, but she fails to pick where Shuggie Bain ended up in the Booker!

Christisons

My mother before her marriage was Jean Christison, her father Roy Hampton Christison Senior. There are many stories about these and other Christisons on my blogs, especially a systematic gathering of them here. My cousin Ray Hampton Christison has written an excellent biography of our colourful great-grandfather, John Hampton Christison, who was born in Scotland.

Just appearing in the Project Gutenberg list is this volume:

And were you to visit Old College in the University of Edinburgh you would find this impressive bust:

Sir Robert Christison, 1st Baronet (18 July 1797 – 27 January 1882)

Aside from his major work in toxicology — apparently he tested his ideas on poisons by administering doses to himself — he was President of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh and also President of the British Medical Association. He was Physician to Queen Victoria in Scotland. He was a medical expert witness in the trial of the notorious purveyors of stolen corpses, Burke and Hare.

The Baronetcy passed on to three successors, the 4th Baronet dying at the age of 100 in 1993. The title is now extinct. That 4th Baronet was an important figure in World War 2.

From the Wikipedia biography:

During the Second Arakan Offensive in February 1944, XV Corps advanced southwards. A Japanese attempt to outflank and isolate elements of the Corps failed when the 7th Indian Infantry Division held off the attacks and the Corps’ administrative area–the “Admin Box”–successfully fought off attacks by the Japanese 55th Division (Battle of the Admin Box). This was the first time in the Second World War that a British army had defeated the Japanese in a land battle. XV Corps was withdrawn on 22 March to assist the allied defence of Imphal. In December 1944 Christison and his fellow corps commanders, Lieutenant-Generals Montagu Stopford and Geoffry Scoones, were knighted and invested as Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire by the viceroy Lord Wavell at a ceremony at Imphal in front of the Scottish, Gurkha and Punjab regiments. Slim was knighted and invested as Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath at the same occasion.

In 1945, Christison assumed temporary command of the Fourteenth Army and also deputised for Slim as Commander of Allied Land Forces, South East Asia when Slim was on leave, reverting to XV Corps on Slim’s return. Christison led XV Corps into Rangoon in May of that year.

In September 1945 Christison deputised for Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten as commander of South East Asia Command, and took the surrender of the Japanese Seventh Area Army and Japanese South Sea Fleet at Singapore on 3 September. From 1946, Christison was Allied Commander of forces in Indonesia. In November, Christison’s troops were involved in a full-scale battle to suppress pro-Independence Indonesian soldiers and militia in Surabaya.

Well, that last bit… It has to be remembered in that context that pro-Independence Indonesian fighters (including Sukarno) had sided with the Japanese against the Dutch — not hard to see why of course. Christison in the 1950s and 1960s was Secretary of the Scottish Education Department.

Am I related to all these distinguished Christisons?

I do recall Grandpa Roy sometime in the late 50s or early 60s receiving an enquiry from Scotland relating to the Baronetcy, which was due to lapse on the 4th Baronet’s death — though as we have noted he put that event off for quite some time, outliving Grandpa Roy by 30 years! But no, as Ray so ably shows in his biography of John Hampton Christison, you need to go back to the 17th century before you find a connection. So yes, we are family, but no, our Christisons were much more humble.

A nephew of Sir Robert was a noted pastoralist pioneer in Queensland, somewhat in advance of many of his peers when it came to relations with Aboriginal people. See the National Museum’s account of Lammermoor Station.

Before they were forcibly removed from their country, Christison took a keen interest in the Yirandali, collecting cultural artefacts which he later donated to the British Museum. His wife, Mary, took numerous photographs of the Yirandali.

Christison’s daughter Mary Montgomerie Bennett, who became a writer and activist for Aboriginal rights, captioned the photographs and later gave these photos and other objects to the British Museum.

These objects and images are a link to a time when the Yirandali practised their culture on their own country. Today, although still denied access to parts of their homeland, they continue to practice their culture through hunting, fishing, art and storytelling.

See also the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Christison’s treatment of the Dalleburra tribe in this region set an example for relations with Aboriginals that shines out of the past to his credit. From their ranks came his trusted companion, Barney. He acquired adjoining land and named it Cameron Downs. There he built a huge dam, Lake Cameron, on Landsborough Creek. The track he blazed over the ranges from Bowen to his holdings for wool teams to follow was known for a decade as ‘Christison’s Trail’. Floods and drought took their toll but in 1870 he overlanded 7000 sheep more than 1500 miles (2414 km) to Victoria where they sold for 6s. 9d. a head.

Recent eBooks — 2

Here is another just out from ANU Press. I stored it because I am curious about it, and as I said I did at age 7 want to be a scientist! So in fact I do read a bit in such areas.

$60 printed or eBook free again!

Cooperative Evolution offers a fresh account of evolution consistent with Charles Darwin’s own account of a cooperative, inter-connected, buzzing and ever-changing world. Told in accessible language, treating evolutionary change as a cooperative enterprise brings some surprising shifts from the traditional emphasis on the dominance of competition.

The book covers many evolutionary changes reconsidered as cooperation. These include the cooperative origins of life, evolution as a spiral rather than a ladder or tree, humans as a part of natural systems rather than the purpose, relationships between natural and social change, and the role of the individual in adaptive radiation onto new ground. The story concludes with a projection of human evolution from the past into the future.

‘Environmental studies courses have needed a book like Cooperative Evolution for a long time. It is a boon for those teaching the complexity of the evolutionary story.’
— Dr John A. Harris, BSc(Hons) MSc PhD, School of Environmental Science, University of Canberra

‘As a regenerative, holistic-thinking farmer I daily witness the results of cooperative evolution as the seasons unfold. A pleasure to read, Cooperative Evolution gives entry to recent thinking on evolutionary processes.’
— David Marsh, MSA, ‘Allendale’, Boorowa, New South Wales, 2018 National Individual Landcarer Award recipient

‘This book is an engaging new look at ideas about evolution as we know it today. In the hands of two eminent biologists, it presents an approachable yet challenging argument. I heartily recommend it.’
— Emeritus Professor Sue Stocklmayer AO, BSc MSc PhD, Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, The Australian National University

Looking forward to getting into that.

The next one is from Project Gutenberg, and is just a delight — lovely to look at. And very short!

By P. N. Boxer and Dorothy Woollard, originlly 1920. Here is one sketch. I think you will know the building.

Finally, also from Project Gutenberg, a book I will never read, but will browse in, partly because of my past membership of — indeed Eldership in at 21! — the Presbyterian Church. Historically this is important, but at the moment it is its language which appeals to me. It eschews London in favour of Edinburgh when it comes to dialect.

That, people, is

THE BOOKE

OF THE

UNIVERSALL KIRK OF SCOTLAND:

WHEREIN

THE HEADIS AND CONCLUSIONIS

DEVYSIT BE THE MINISTERS AND COMMISSIONARIS OF THE
PARTICULAR KIRKS THEREOF, ARE SPECIALLY
EXPRESSED AND CONTAINED.

EDITED BY

ALEXANDER PETERKIN, ESQ.

LATE SHERIFF-SUBSTITUTE OF ORKNEY.

…and published M.DCCC.XXXIX. which I believe is 1839. Now for a gobbet:

May 29, 1561.

The whilk day, touching the sclander taken be the horrible fault and impietie committed within this burgh under silence of night be Marquies Dalbuife and his Colleagues, in breaking up of Cuthbert Ramsay his ʒetts and doors, and searching and seeking of his daughter in Law to oppress her, as appeared: It is thought good be the whole Kirk that ane Supplicatione be made and given in to the Queen’s Majestie, in name of the Professors of the Evangell, and the persons before nominat present the samen, to seek the answer thereof: the forme of the Supplication followeth:—

To the Q. Majestie, her Secret and Great Councill, her G. faithful and obedient subjects, Professors of Christ Jesus his holy Evangell, wishes the Spirit of Righteousness and Judgement.

The fear of God conceaved of his holy word, the naturall and unfained Love we bear unto your G. the dewtie quhilk we owe unto our Countrey, and terrible threatenings quhilk our God pronunces against every realme and citie in the quhilks horrible crimes are openly committed, and then be the Committers obstinatly defended, compel us, an great part of your subjects, humbly to crave of your G. upright and trew Judgement against sick persones as hes done what in them lyes to kindle God’s wrath against this realme. The impietie be them committed is so hainous and so horrible, that as it was a fact most vyle and rare to be heard of within this realme, principallie within the bounds of citie, so should we think ourselves guiltie of the samen if negligently, or yet for worldly fear, we pass it over with silence, and therefore your Grace may not think that we require any thing. All that we crave, open malefactors condignly to be punished, But that whilk God hes commanded us to crave, and has also commanded your G. to give to every one of your subjects; ffor be this Link hes God knitt together the Prince and the people, That as he commands honor, fear, and obedience to be given to the Powers established be him, so does he in express words command and declare what thing the Prince aught unto the subjects, To witt, that as he is the Minister of God his word, bearing the Sword for vengeance to be taken on evil doers, and for the defence of peaceable and quiet men, swa ought he to draw the samen without all partialitie swa oft as in God his name he is required thereto. Seeing so it is, Madame, that this crime so recently committed, and that in the eyes of your haill realme now presently assembled, is so hainous, ffor who heretofore hath heard within the bounds of Edinburgh, ʒetts and houses under silence of night bruised up, houses ryped, and that with hostilitie seeking ane woman, as appeared, to oppress her:—Seeing, we say, this crime is so hainous, That all godlie men fear not only God’s sair displeasure to fall upon you and your whole realme, But also that sick libertie breed contempt, and in the end seditione, if remeed in tyme be not goodlie provyded, quhilk in our Judgement is possible, if severe punishment be not execute for the cryme committed. Therefore, we most humbly beseech your Grace that, all affection laid aside, ye declare yourselfe so upright in this case that ye may give evident demonstratione to all your subjects, that the fear of God, joyned with the love of common tranquillitie, have principall seat and dominion in your Grace’s heart. This further, Madam, of conscience we speak, that as your G. in God his name does crave of us obedience, quhilk to render in all things lawful we are most willing, swa in the samen name doe we, the whole Professors of Christ’s Evangell within this realme, crave of you and of your Councill sharp punishment of this cryme, and for performance thereof, that, without all delay, the principall actor of this most hainous cryme, and the persewars of this pretended villanie may be called before the Chief Justice of this realme to suffer ane assyse, and to be punished according to the Lawes of the samen, and your G. answer we most humbly beseek.

Did you get all that? I think Mary Queen of Scots is being roundly told what’s what….
Mary, Queen of Scots

In fact I think I have discovered what that was all about — perhaps! It is complicated by the fact that Mary was still in France in May 1561, her husband, Francis II, the King of France, having recently died. She arrived back in Scotland in August. (She was 18, by the way, in May 1561.)

Here is what may have been the “the horrible fault and impietie committed within this burgh under silence of night” referred to by the General Assembly of the Kirk held on 27-29 May 1561.

A custom, dating far back in Catholic times, prevailed in Edinburgh in unchecked luxuriance down almost to the time of the Reformation. It consisted in a set of unruly dramatic games, called Robin Hood, the Abbot of Unreason, and the Queen of May, which were enacted every year in the floral month just mentioned. The interest felt by the populace in these whimsical merry-makings was intense: At the approach of May, they assembled and chose some respectable individuals of their number, very grave and reverend citizens perhaps, to act the parts of Robin Hood and Little John, of the Lord of Inobedience, or the Abbot of Unreason, and ‘make sports and jocosities’ for them. If the chosen actors felt it inconsistent with their tastes, gravity, or engagements, to don a fantastic dress, caper and dance, and incite their neighbours to do the like, they could only be excused on paying a fine. On the appointed day, always a Sunday or holiday, the people assembled in their best attire and in military array, and marched in blithe procession to some neighbouring field, where the fitting preparations had been made for their amusement. Robin Hood and Little John robbed bishops, fought with pinners, and contended in archery among themselves, as they had done in reality two centuries before. The Abbot of Unreason kicked up his heels and played antics like a modern pantaloon. The popular relish for all this was such as can scarcely now be credited. ‘A learned prelate [Latimer] preaching before Edward VI., observes, that he once came to a town upon a holiday, and gave information on the evening before of his design to preach. But next day when he came to the church, he found the door locked. He tarried half an hour ere the key could be found, and instead of a willing audience, some one told him: “This is a busy day with us; we cannot hear you. It is Robin Hood’s day. The parish are gone abroad to gather for Robin Hood. I pray you let [hinder] them not.” I was fain (says the bishop) to give place to Robin Hood. I thought my rochet should have been regarded, though I were not; but it would not serve. It was fain to give place to Robin Hood’s men.’

Such were the Robin Hood plays of Catholic and unthinking times. By and by, when the Reformation approached, they were found to be disorderly and discreditable, and an act of parliament was passed against them. Still, while the upper and more serious classes frowned, the common sort of people loved the sport too much to resign it without a struggle. It came to be one of the first difficulties of the men who had carried through the Reformation, how to wrestle the people out of their love of the May-games.

In April 1561, one George Dune was chosen in Edinburgh as Robin Hood and Lord of Inobedience, and on Sunday the 12th of May, he and a great number of other persons came riotously into the city, with an ensign and arms in their hands, in disregard of both the act of parliament and an act of the town-council. Notwithstanding an effort of the magistrates to turn them back, they passed to the Castle Hill, and thence returned at their own pleasure. For this offence a cordiner’s servant, named James Gillon, was condemned to be hanged on the 21st of July. — Source: Domestic Annals of Scotland.

Such punishment was presumably what the Assembly was asking of the Queen. And who was Cuthbert Ramsay, whose “ʒetts and doors” were broken by a mob “searching and seeking of his daughter in Law to oppress [rape?*] her“? Well, according to this:

*Indeed oppress did have that meaning, according to my ancient but beloved 3rd edition of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary.

The Ramsays of Dalhousie figure large in Scots history. And there is of course a ballad, known variously as “Mary Hamilton” or “The Four Maries”, which is uncertain when it comes to historicity, but does date from the 16th century most likely.

Last night there were four Maries;
Tonight there’ll be but three:
There was Mary Beaton and Mary Seton
And Mary Carmichael and me.

The song may not have had anything at all to do with Mary, Queen of Scots — but it is lovely anyway! And Joan Baez!

The following does, though it too takes quite a few liberties, I am told. But it certainly captures the viewer! Even if Mary and Elizabeth in fact never met!

Such are the sometimes pointless, but unfailingly interesting, byways my Calibre eBook library can take me down. Back in the 60s at Sydney Uni I used to pass many an hour reading all sorts of irrelevant stuff in the Fisher Library book stacks. Fun, in a nerdish kind of way, but now I do it on my laptop.

Blogging the 2010s — 117a — December 2013 — mainly family history

Ending with a Scottish moment at the turn of  the year.

Family history–some news on the Whitfield front

Yesterday I had an email sent via Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days from a granddaughter of my grandfather’s older sister – if you can work that out. The list as in William Joseph John Whitfield (b. 14 Aug 1836, d. 22 Jun 1925) on the Bailey Family of Ireland & Australia family tree is:

Children of William Joseph John Whitfield and Elizabeth Ratcliffe are:

  1. Joseph Ratcliffe, b. 18 Jul 1860, d. date unknown.
  2. Susan Caroline Whitfield, b. 23 May 1862, Picton NSW Australia, d. 13 May 1954.
  3. John Whitfield, b. 24 May 1864, Picton NSW Australia, d. 21 Nov 1956, Burwood NSW Aust.
  4. +Thomas Daniel Sweeney Whitfield, b. 21 Dec 1866, Picton NSW Australia, d. 21 Jan 1948.
  5. +William Joseph Bent Whitfield, b. 7 Oct 1868, Picton NSW Australia, d. 21 Aug 1957.
  6. James Albert Whitfield, b. 18 Aug 1870, d. date unknown.
  7. Sara Brittania Whitfield, b. 24 May 1872, Picton NSW Australia, d. 16 May 1967.
  8. +George Richard Whitfield, b. 10 May 1874, Picton NSW Australia, d. 20 Apr 1953.
  9. Ann Elizabeth Whitfield, b. 25 Dec 1875, d. 24 Jun 1978.
  10. Eliza Mary Whitfield, b. 5 Apr 1878, Picton NSW Australia, d. 4 Feb 1930.
  11. Jane Amy Bent Whitfield, b. 27 Feb 1880, Picton NSW Australia, d. date unknown.
  12. Jessie Winifred Ethel Whitfield, b. 21 Mar 1882, Picton NSW Australia, d. 29 Aug 1912.

The only ones I really remember myself in that list are TDS (#4), my grandfather, William Joseph Bent (#5) and Ann Elizabeth (#9). BTW the Bailey tree, while an amazing ongoing effort. has errors and omissions in it. For example, the list of TDS’s children omits one of my father’s brothers, Colin, and his sister Ella.

The cousin who wrote to me wanted to point out that Bob Starling   — referred to in my page at the head of this entry — also has not got everything perfectly correct. Here is that cousin, the granddaughter of Susan Caroline Whitfield:

lilianlee

She is the one on the left and she is over 90 years old. As she gave her phone number I rang her last night and she sounded fantastic – as bright as a button. She could recall my father as a blonde god of a lifesaver at Shellharbour in the early 1930s!

She referred me to Australian biographical and genealogical record series 1, 1788-1841, with series 2 supplement, 1842-1899 / series 1 edited by John T. Spurway, assistant editor Allison Allen; series 2 edited by Kenneth J. Cable and Jane C. Marchant. It is in Wollongong Library and I will surely check it.

William Joseph John Whitfield was the son of William Whitfield and Caroline Philadelphia West. For the first time ever I have found her portrait!

UHP-IND75

Caroline Philadelphia West

She arrived on the Grecian as a free settler on 16 April 1832, marrying my ancestor William Whitfield in Sydney on 20 June 1836. (The Second Officer of the Grecian drowned in Sydney soon after the ship arrived.)

William Whitfield

Screen-shot-2012-10-20-at-3.53.24-PM

Henry Curzon Allport, George Street, Sydney, looking south, January 1842, Watercolour

I see they resided at Elizabeth St, Alexandria, Sydney, New South Wales from 1836-1846. That means in the parish of Alexandria, but in fact in Strawberry Hills or Surry Hills according to other sources. In 2008 I did a series called Looking for Jacob – William’s father — and the following picture is as close as can be to where William and Caroline Philadelphia lived, or perhaps Jacob.

… and why would I like a “Time Team” dig around it? It runs from Wentworth Avenue Surry Hills to Foy Lane, where I took this photo…

See :-Surry Hills: Looking for Jacob 12: Zeroing in

That was posted on my new photoblog earlier this week.

You will recall that we “found” Jacob, my convict ancestor, or we at least found the part of Sydney where he is known to have resided in the second half of the 1830s through early 1840s. By the 1860s the family had moved on – Braidwood, Picton… My grandfather was born in Picton in 1867. Him I remember. Just. He died in 1948. His brother William I remember more clearly, because he survived well into the 1950s. That William – son of William, the son of William, the son of Jacob – was still riding horses and ploughing his orchard almost to the year of his death. I remember his house, with its (to citified me) rather magic rural air, and tales of this one and that one, and timber getting, and horse breaking, and blacksmithing, and bullock teams… And Sao biscuits with tomato and cheese…

The tales never went back more than about one generation…

I think I can see why, for several reasons. Sometimes my father would mutter about the Old Testament curse on “the sins of the fathers”… Perhaps too, given what the area they had left behind in Surry Hills had become by 1900, you will see why it didn’t figure in the stories… Anyway, it was not part of my grandparents’ generation’s personal memories. They had become country people.

history1a

That whole Wentworth Avenue area was one of the centres of the Bubonic Plague scare of 1900, after which it was largely razed and then reorganised and rebuilt, giving us the streetscapes of the “Looking for Jacob” series. See Purging Pestilence – the Bubonic Plague from the State Library of NSW. Visit that site for bigger pictures.

 exeterplace

Exeter Place off Market Lane 1900
campbellst

Campbell Street 1900

And here is William Joseph John Whitfield, the great-grandfather of both myself and my correspondent Lilian Lee.

UHP-IND482

On this blog there have been this year several substantial additions to my understanding of or memories of the Whitfield family. Do check them, as they are also, I think, of general historical interest. You will find on some of those posts cross-references to my earlier posts.

An interesting insight into why William and his family would have moved to Picton in the 1840s is to be seen at Picton NSW – The Early Years.

Though much discussion has been held over the years as to who named Picton and for whom, it is believed the name was probably decided on by Governor Brisbane perhaps in honour of an old soldier friend Sir Thomas Picton. In 1840 George Harper decided to take advantage of the natural development of the private town on Major Antill’s land. He advertised in April 1840 that 45 building allotments in the township of Stonequarry would soon be for sale by auction. They would be from one half to one acre in size and situated on his land on the southern side of Stonequarry Creek on either side of the main road.

His private town never took off. Mr Harper unfortunately died in March 1841 and the property was leased in full. George Harper’s property “Abbotsford” extended from the Stonequarry Bridge out along the road that led to The Oaks. The remains of the house are still on the property just past the Abbotsford Bridge. Major Antill, in July 1841 advertised in the Sydney papers, the auction of his sub-division to be called the Village of Picton, late Stonequarry in August that year. He stressed that many blocks had frontages to the main road up which all the wealthy owners from the south travelled with their wool clips.

In 1845 the government made moves to lay out its own town just south of the private town. Surveyor Galloway was employed to survey the area and make half acre blocks for purchase. These blocks were first offered for sale in 1847. They were all sold by 1855. Land was held back for grants to churches and for the school and courthouse. The government town was also called Picton. This led to confusion and it was re-named Upper Picton in 1847.

A petition was made to the government to name its village Redbank but the government decided it was to be called Upper Picton. Even to this day, over 150 years later, local residents still often refer to the area as Redbank. On a number of occasions when money was allocated for a public building, arguments developed on where it was to be located. It seemed each time the government called tenders on a site in its town, the Antill family would offer land in its private town and that was where the building would ultimately be erected.The Upper Picton residents who had purchased land in Upper Picton naturally felt cheated. Unfortunately they had no friends in government and though they fought for the government’s support in its own town they were unsuccessful.

For many years, the resentment between Upper and Lower Picton festered. It lay like a boil beneath the surface of life. When an issue arose where Upper Picton residents felt they were being placed second to Lower Picton, it would erupt and once again cause disagreement and division. As the years passed, the private town flourished and the government town languished. Though it had some businesses, churches and a school, eventually it subsided into an existence as the poor relation. To-day, those resentments have totally disappeared and many people are not even aware of its happening.

2013 to 2014

Continuing colourisation discoveries

On Facebook I posted this one of the Christison family (my mother’s people) in Scotland in the late 19th century.

1590385288-colorized

As I said there: “Finally a really old one, and it is in 19th century Scotland, in Brechin, though the photo was taken in Arbroath, the largest town in Angus. It shows my great-great-grandparents David and Catherine Christison en famille. David and Catherine came out to Australia in 1885, sponsored by their son John Hampton Christison, to assist John in his Hunter Valley vineyard. My grandfather Roy Hampton Christison, John’s son, was born 18 December 1885. The family no longer has a Hunter Valley vineyard.😢”

Old English Teachers’ Association mate Ernie Tucker commented: “Your genes gave you that family visage.” Really? So I replied thus: “Moi….”

fotosketcher-picture0025a

Thanks to my cousin Ray Christison’s wonderful book Shapeshifter: the strange life of John Hampton Christison, Professor of Dancing 1858-1923 (2017) I can tell you what ultimately happened to David and Catherine Christison.

David ended up as the official lamplighter in the NSW town of Mittagong.  In the Robertson Advocate (14 November 1905) we read:

Death of Mr. David Christison.
Death has claimed another old resident of the district in the person of Mr. David Christison, senr., who died at Mittagong on Saturday last at the age of 78 years. Some eighteen days previously the deceased was seized with an illness which despite every attention by Dr. Middleton proved fatal, the cause being apoplexy.
The late Mr. Christison was born in Scotland; accompanied by his wife and family he came to this state 20 years ago, and the greater portion of that time had been spent in Mittagong, where for a number of years he followed the occupation of lamplighter to the local council, and held that position to the time of his death. His jovial disposition and his straightforwardness earned for him a host of friends in the town, by whom the news of his demise was received with much regret. He leaves a widow and a family of two sons and three daughters.
A large concourse of people followed the remains to the Fitzroy cemetery on Sunday, when the body was laid to rest in the Presbyterian portion, the ceremony being performed by the Rev. J. J. Gilmore. Messrs M’Callum Bros. carried out the funeral arrangements.

Catherine passed away in 1914. Ray offers rich detail in his book.

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