Edward Twomey of Langulac

Edward Twomey arrived in Victoria as a nine year old, aboard the Royal Consort on 18th February 1844. Also on board were his parents, John Joseph Twomey 48 and Margaret 47, plus siblings Ellen 17, John Jr. 16, Timothy 14, Daniel 13 and Dennis 10. Another three children stayed in Ireland. Honara came out to join the family in 1853, as did Cornelius (who would become a parish priest in Albury NSW), while Katherine remained in Ireland. Edward was educated by private tuition and then attended St Francis School Melbourne.

Edward started his Grazing pursuits on his father’s property ‘The Old Stockyard’ (later renamed Banemore, the birthplace of Margaret Twomey). Meanwhile in 1852 Edward’s brothers John and Daniel leased Kolor from the Crown. In the early 1860’s government land was surveyed and put up for selection. This enabled the Twomey brothers John, Timothy, Daniel and Edward to purchase the freehold of Banemore and Kolor plus the land to the south of Kolor in the parish of Langulac. The southern land was the beginning of Langulac station. During the early 1860’s the Twomey’s main place of residence was Donaldson’s old station (present day 2016 Morton’s), a few miles north of the present day Langulac homestead.

Edward was still at Banemore in September 1864 when he wrote a letter to the editor of the Hamilton Spectator and noted his address as Mt Napier.

The Langulac homestead was built in 1865 on the site of a 2 roomed shepherd’s hut. James Mylne Knight, Secretary and Engineer of the Shire of Mt Rouse, advertised in the Hamilton Spectator 18th January 1865 for carpenters and plasterers to finish Mr Twomey’s new house at Langulac. It is highly likely that Knight was the architect. By 1868 Edward Twomey was selling wool under his own brand, ET over Langulac. With his station up and running Edward turned his attention to breeding and racing thoroughbreds.


Edward’s first racehorse was a little mare named Quickstep by the sire Premier. Quickstep won the 1864 Penshurst Town Plate at the St Patricks day meeting, 2 heats, beating Daniel Twomey’s Bellona, also by the Premier. First prize 15 guineas. She then won at the Easter meeting, downing Mr Springs “Rory O More”, Prize 20 Sovereigns. Quickstep came 2nd in the 1867 Penshurst April meeting and soon after was put to stud. A few years later Villiers, a bay colt by Panic out at dam Quickstep, won the Western Racing Clubs (Hamilton) December 1871 St Leger prize 60 sovereigns. Villiers also won the first Warrnambool Cup. Villiers was a very handy colt rarely out of the placings. To confuse matters Edward Twomey also bred and raced a second horse named Villiers. The second Villiers won the 1891 Caulfield Maiden Plate. Villiers actually came dead heat with Sternchaser but with a lot of money riding on the result the owners agreed to a run off. Villiers won this second race by a head.

With his first-hand knowledge of the ability of Premiers bloodlines Edward Twomey then purchased Mermaid in c1868 for £30 from Nicholas Uren of Hamilton.

Letter to the Editor of the Hamilton Spectator 17 May 1871.

…Musidora, by the Premier, the property of Mrs James Wilson…had a full sister named Eleanor, who I think never tried to race. It so happened that through some mistake, this Eleanor became intimately acquainted with a young colt ( Wahparraman ) then receiving his first lessons in the art of racing, which colt was by Premier and the property of Mr John Moffet. The result of which was a tiny foal, whose destination was likely to be the waterhole, or to be sent to add fresh vigor to the roots of some favorite fruit tree, when Mr N J Uren asked to be allowed to rear it by hand, which he did successfully; and, from the circumstance of its nutrition, called it Milksop. When this doubly-distilled Premier came to maturity, she was sent to adorn the harem of King Alfred, and produced two fillies in two consecutive years, the younger being Mermaid, the elder Dinah, now the property of Mr. Trainor, of this town. Both fillies grew up and flourished in the possession of Mr. Uren till they came under the notice of Mermaid’s present owner, who having looked them over, made an offer of thirty pounds for the younger of the two, then two years old, which was accepted, and Mermaid was at once transferred to the Langulac stable.

It is worth noting that King Alfred was an imported blood stallion owned by George Carmichael of the Retreat Station. The service fee was £2-12 per mare.

Mermaid went onto win seven races, ran second twice and third once. Mermaid came sixth in the 1870 Melbourne Cup only three lengths behind the winner.

Article in the 13th May 1871 Hamilton Spectator.

The Mare, Mermaid –The King Alfred stock continue to distinguish themselves on the Australian turf, and western Victorians are not a little proud of the achievements of the progeny of this celebrated sire. The latest instance of success is furnished by Mr Twomey,s Mermaid, an animal which is just now perhaps attracting more attention than any horse in the colonies. Mermaid is a brown mare 4 years old, by King Alfred, dam Milksop.g.d full sister to Wilsons Musidora. She was bred by Mr Uren of Hamilton, and foaled in the bed of the Grange Creek, from which dangerous position she was rescued by Mr J Wiggins soon after she first saw daylight. Hence the name Mermaid bestowed upon her. As a two year old she was exhibited at the show of the Hamilton pastoral and agricultural association in 1868, and took the first prize as the best blood filly under three years. She was then sold for £30 to her present owner Mr Twomey of Penshurst, who put her in training, and sent her to the races at Warrnambool and Belfast. Where she won one event and was beaten once. Her four year old career was entrusted to Mr James Wilson of Geelong, and was entered for the four year handicap at the V R C spring meeting of 1870, winning that event easily. She next started for the Free handicap on the last day of the same meeting, but the race was won by Wisdom and Mermaid was not placed. Her next appearance was at the New Year’s Day races held at Melbourne under the auspices of the V R C, when she ran for the Midsummer handicap which was won by Tim Whiffler, the mare failing to secure a place. She afterwards ran second to Nimblefoot for the Australian Cup, the running for which was done in the fastest time ever made for that race. Next day she started for the Autumn handicap which she won in a canter beating a good field. Last Thursday the Randwick Gold Cup at Sydney fell to her lot, Mermaid running in company with Little Dick, Romula, Tim Whiffler and several other noted flyers. Yesterday the mare won the City handicap.

Mermaid’s trainer was James Wilson Snr who was training and racing horses alongside the Twomeys as far back as December 1859. Wilson started his training career at Caulfield in the early 1850s before Caulfield had either racecourse or training track. Horses were trained in the open field.

Extracts from the Melbourne Leader, December 1st 1917.

…from Caulfield Mr Wilson migrated to the western district, making Hamilton his headquarters. Twice in 1859 and 1860- he won the Great Western steeplechase on Dayspring and then turned his attention to flat racing. For over half a century a succession of equine stars passed through Mr Wilsons hands…Eleanor (by the premier ) was put into work, but before long it was discovered that she was in foal, and when only 23 months old she had a filly to Wahparraman, a son of the Premier. The foal was such an insignificant looking little rat that it would have been at once destroyed but for the intercession of Mrs Wilson. Having the run of the premises the little filly became a great pet, but after many similar mischievous pranks, it one day smashed some crockery, and Mr Wilson got ready his gun to shoot the culprit. Just then Mr Uren, secretary of the Hamilton T C happened along and begged to be allowed to take the little filly away. His request was granted, so for the second time the filly’s life was reprieved. She was named Milksop and some years later visited King Alfred, to whom she threw Mermaid, who when owned by Mr E Twomey and trained by Mr Wilson, won the Sydney Cup, the City Handicap (8st. 11lb.) and the Randwick Handicap, with 9st. 5lb., at the A.J.C Autumn meeting. Mr. Wilson had thus good reason to feel pleased that he had shown clemency to the scapegrace little filly….

Wilson also trained horses for the bookmaker Joe Thompson known as the King of the Ring. In fact the first Thompson horse trained by Wilson was Romula who ran third to Mermaid in the 1871 Sydney Gold Cup

…Of course, Mr. Joe Thompson was not always in “the know” about horses – other than his own – trained by Mr. Wilson and being rather sore in consequence of Thompson having fore stalled the owner of Flying Scud at Geelong. Wilson purposely kept him in the dark with the regard to the ability of Mermaid. A week or so prior to the Sydney Cup, Thompson, when on a visit to the stable which sheltered the St. Albans contingent heard Mermaid coughing and roundly abused Wilson for allowing the little mare to be quartered with the other horses.

“take that dying duck out of this” he said or you will have all the others coughing too.” The trainer was rather puzzled over that cough of Mermaid’s for she was working well, her appetite never was better and there was no discharge from the nostrils. However, a day or so after Thompsons visit Wilson discovered, on examining the mares mouth, that she had shed a molar, which was hanging by a particle of skin. This loose tooth tickled that mare’s throat and made her cough. With the removal of the molar, the cough of course, disappeared. Acting on behalf of owner and trainer Mr Kerr “the sporting butcher” backed Mermaid heavily for the Sydney Cup, and also secured a tidy amount for himself. Joe Thompson, knowing as he thought that Mermaid was half dead with a cold peppered her freely. “This fat butcher is going balmy,” he told Bill Branch, Johnny Wallis and other book making friends, who all laid considerably more than the legitimate extent of their volumes against Mermaid. Even when she was in front of the field half a mile from home, Thompson endeavoured to consol his cronies by telling them she was sure to choke up: but they had need of further consolation when the mare cantered in an easy winner. Thompson as usual, took his gruel very well. He had a rare sense of humor, and commissioned an artist to paint three pictures to commemorate what he termed “The Mermaid Drama”.

It seems that Edward Twomey had won a lot of money on Mermaid’s win in the 1871 Sydney Gold Cup race. He commissioned from Frederick Woodhouse Snr a painting of Mermaid to mark the Cup win. The picture was first shown at the Victoria Hotel, Melbourne in June 1871. The painting is now owned by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, as is the 1871Gold Cup. Some of his later winners were Langulac, who won the Penshurst Cup , but was better known as a dam, and Kelp who won the Ballarat Cup.

Melbourne Punch article Dec 12th 1895.

Kelp won the Ballarat Cup, 5 year old bay gelding by Bolton Green out of Peri….. Peri rising 23 years old now as she was a six year old mare when she foaled Stafford in 1879. She was bred by Mr E Twomey, and her breeding lines run back to the good old Premier.-Thuswise, Peri by the Marquis, her dam Mermaid, by King Alfred from Milksop by Wahparriman ( son of the Premier ) from Eleanor, by the Premier, an accidental inbreed.

Edward Twomey continued breeding and racing thoroughbreds until the day he died.


Like most large landholders in the Western District Edward Twomey was caught up in the Shearers Union troubles of 1888.

The Argus 27th November 1888 reported on the incident at Langulac.

At the Penshurst Police Court today John McCormick and Thomas Waters were charged with conspiracy and intimidation, and Waters was also charged with larceny and assault. The cases arose out of the recent disturbance by Union shearers at Langulac station. Some men had been engaged shearing at Mr Twomeys and at night a number of men burst open the door of the hut, made a forcible entry and compelled five of Mr Twomeys men who had been in bed to come away with them. It was a fortunate thing perhaps that Mr Twomey was away at the time, as he would have been justified in using violence to oppose this act of marauding, and bloodshed might have ensured.

Edward Twomey and Constable Hall, Penshurst rescued the five men at 12-30am on the road to Penshurst. The men were first taken two miles through the bush towards Caramut before heading back to the shearer’s camp at Penshurst. (Authors note: there are a few isolated paddock trees, mostly Sheoaks, representative of the once forested area). McCormick and Waters were later convicted and sentenced to prison.


A copy of the Langulac Journal is kept in the Victorian State Library and provides glimpses of station life. On October 28th 1889, eighteen years after winning the Sydney Cup, Mermaid foaled a bay colt, white on face, by Boatman. Boatman was a Jim Whitehead stallion from the Goodwood Station. Edward Twomey recorded the costs of training a racehorse as follows.

August 5th 1887. I sent Waihopai to Ferguson to be trained. The fees are £1 per week to be paid by me and half of any other expenses. Ferguson to have half the winnings.

To put these costs into perspective, a labourer named Old Tom commenced work at Langulac station in May 1887 for 15 shillings per week. Two months later Old Tom’s wage was reduced by a shilling when Young Cordell commenced work also for 15/- per week. The wages weren’t great but later in the journal Edward Twomey records that he gave 107 old ewes to Old Tom.

Edward’s farming enterprises expanded when he leased Stonefield station from John Meagher of Port Fairy in 1889. Edward’s nephew John Twomey, was employed as manager for Stonefield at £100 per annum. Later Edward started leasing parts of Kolor station (5500 acres in total) from the estate of Daniel Twomey who had died in 1892. In 1894 Langulac consisted of 6974 acres and Stonefield 5329 acres. In total Twomey was farming 17,803 acres.


The combined number of sheep shorn for Kolor and Langulac in 1899 was 20,500. The wool cut produced 452 bales with a gross weight (as weighted at Port Fairy) of 72 tons. Despite a railway to the coast being available, the wool was carted to Port Fairy by Mr Barker for 13/- per ton. It wasn’t until January 1894, four years after the Penshurst-Koroit railway line had opened that Twomey started to use the railway system for business purposes. He trucked his first load of 434 sheep to Ballarat, followed by one truck of 116 to Warrnambool and five trucks containing 560 sheep to Melbourne. In May 1891 he sold 1200 fat wethers to Power Rutherford @ 13/-. Next year A McLean commenced working for Twomey for 25/- per week. Thus two fat wethers paid the wages of a good man for a week. No wonder Edward could indulge his passion for racehorses.

During the 1890’s rabbits were a problem in the rocky barrier country that made up most of the combined Langulac, Kolor and Stonefield holdings. Rabbiters who worked for Edward Twomey were paid at the rate of £2 per thousand young rabbits (Note: the rabbiters would have sold the grown rabbits they caught to private buyers, thus making a good living). Some of the men working as rabbiters were recorded in the Langulac Journal and included: O’Hare, Batten, Page, Carmichael and Langly. During August-October 1896 Edward Twomey paid £3-10-4 for 1,896 young rabbits.

Also recorded in the journal were the names of paddocks and sheep numbers running on the paddocks.

Paddock names Sheep numbers
Mitchel’s Dam 1850
Minhamite 1976
Clarks Marsh 1000
Forest Ground 1555
Dairy Flat 886
Racecourse 800
Howells 146
Shed 142
Total              8353

The old station stocking rates for running sheep (in reasonable country around the Langulac Station) were said to be approximately two sheep to the acre. If this general rule is applied then some paddocks must have been very large. For example Minhamite with 1976 sheep may have been nearly one thousand acres.


In his Langulac Journal Edward records important family events including marriages, births and deaths.

· 1885 September 12 – I was married (to Mary Cantwell)
· 1887 January 18 – Constance Elfida was born – 3rd. Baby was christened by father Shanahan (infant only lived three months)
· 1890 July 3 – Irene Adelaide born at Gnarkeet (private hospital, Charnwood rd, St Kilda)
· 1892 September 11 – Edward Rouse Twomey born at Langulac
· 1892 December 30 – Dan died at Kolor (Daniel Twomey)
· 1894 July 10 – Thade died in England (Timothy Twomey)
· 1894 July 16 – Baby born, baptised August 12, Kathleen Alfrida
· 1894 July 20 – Ellen died aged 65 (sister)
· 1894 September 8 – Thade buried in Hamilton
· 1897 January 16 – Second boy was born, attended by Dr Sweetnam, nurse was Mrs McLaughlin, baptised Reginald Langulac Twomey
· 1900 October 16 – Our last little girl was born (Margaret Mary)

In addition to the journal local newspapers and publically available information, such as found through Trove, provide addition information about the life and times of Edward Twomey. The following are a collection of various references relating to Edward Twomey and his family.

· The Penshurst Free Press August 23rd 1907 reported the death of Mr Timothy O Hearn- he came from the same part of Ireland as the Twomeys. Arrived Victoria via Tasmania circa 1865, worked for Timothy and Edward at Banemore and then he went with Edward to Langulac.
· John Joseph Twomey was living with his youngest son Edward at Langulac when he died Dec 1st 1879. Daniel (Kolor) and Edward (Langulac) were his Executors. Of interest no mention was made in his will of his other living sons, Timothy (Banemore) or Cornelius, parish priest at Albury N.S.W.
· July 30th 1892- Edward Twomey recorded that Dalton agreed to build the crosswall between the Racecourse and Minhamite paddocks at 13/- a chain. The wall to be 3 feet 6 inches high and he is to find any stone that he required. The posts are to be 5ft 2in. This entry was crossed out in the journal so perhaps the drystone wall topped with barbed wire or rails was never built.

· Penshurst Free Press August 8th 1902.

Forged cheque; David J Walshe, a well known agent at Penshurst, was charged with forging and uttering a cheque. Accused paid in to his account at the National Bank a cheque for £337/10-, signed by Edward Twomey. Subsequently Mr Twomey pronounced the cheque a forgery. Walshe first alleged he got the cheque from John Twomey in Warrnambool for £30, when that defence didn’t work ,he said he obtained the cheque from Edward Twomey at Langulac house when the latter was under the influence of liquor. Walshe was found guilty and sentenced to nine months imprisonment with hard labour.

· Ballarat Star 7th November 1867; Saturday 9th Nov at Hepburn and Leonards horse bazaar, Bath Street. 50 Heavy and Medium draught colts and fillies. Carriage horses, Hacks etc. 30 Colts & fillies & 20 broken in horses of all descriptions---- from the run of Messrs Twomey Mount Rouse. This sale of 100 plus horses followed the earlier April sale of 68 horses which included brood mares and 12 geldings, broken in. These horses were sold to settle the estate of John Twomey of Kolor. It provides a good idea of how many horses were needed to work a station.

In December 1904 Edward had an operation in Melbourne for Brights disease from which he never fully recovered. He died in Melbourne in January 1907.

The Melbourne Age 16th January 1907 reported that:

The body of the late Mr. E. Twomey, of langulac Estate, Penshurst , was bought to Hamilton by train from Melbourne on Saturday, and conveyed to St. Mary’s R. C. church, pending interment. Appreciative references to the memory of deceased were made on Sunday by the Rev Father Cain, and a requiem mass was celebrated on Monday. Deceased had attended the first ever mass held in the western district, the congregation on that occasion consisting almost entirely of his own family. The remains were interred on Monday in the Hamilton cemetery in the presence of a large number of mourners.

Edward Twomey’s estate was valued at £104,116 on which 10% probate was payable. The Sydney Gold Cup that he won in 1871 was not listed in his personal effects.


The Mermaid affair where bookie Joe Thompson lost a great deal of money as a consequence of not backing the mare, was concluded with Thompson commissioning three paintings that were collectively called the “The Mermaid Drama”. It would be interesting to know what happened to the three paintings.

Author: Phillip Doherty, Mt Rouse & District Historical Society, 2016

Sources: Trove, newspapers on line

State Library of Victoria: Langulac Journal

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