Delving Into the McLaughlin Family Heritage at Tarella Cottage

Tarella Cottage play host to the rich tapestry of the McLaughlin family history. Like a captivating saga, weaving together the stories of generations past into a seamless narrative of heritage and legacy. From its humble beginnings as a holiday retreat to its current role as a living museum, Tarella has served as a beacon of history for the McLaughlin family. With each passing year, its walls have borne witness to the triumphs and tribulations, the joys and sorrows of those who have called it home. In this article we explore the McLaughlin family history.

John McLaughlin (1850 – 1918)

Sydney solicitor with premises ‘John McLaughlin & Son’ at Union Bank Chambers, Hunter Street, Sydney. Member of the Legislative Assembly NSW. Honorary Treasurer of the Incorporated Law Institute of NSW. Being in the NSW Volunteer Force, he was entitled, by an Act passed by the NSW Parliament in 1868, to ‘a grant of 50 acres of land’ which he chose at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains of NSW. He built Tarella on the eastern end in 1890.

Mr. John McLaughlin. Solicitor

Ada Amanda McLaughlin (1860 – 1927)

The eldest daughter of successful merchant George Moore of ‘Farnham’ at Randwick, her childhood home still stands today. Her father’s brother, Charles Moore, was Lord Mayor of Sydney. He retired to Springwood NSW. Ada married John and had four children. All were raised at a large estate called ‘Yanko’ at Waverley. The family also enjoyed their holiday cottage ‘Tarella’ at Wentworth Falls. ‘Farnham’ was acquired by John and Ada some years after her father’s death.

Ada Amanda McLaughlin nee Moore

John Harley McLaughlin (1883 – 1953)

John Harley became a solicitor and joined his father at the Hunter Street practice. He was an Alderman of Waverley from 1908 to 1910. In various ways he acted unwisely. Upon the death of his father in 1918, John Harley was in control of the McLaughlin estate and the family experienced significant changes due to his actions. He promptly sold Farnham at Randwick, then Yanko at Waverley, which required Ada, Ida and Beryl to move to Tarella in the Blue Mountains.

John Harley McLaughlin. Solicitor and eldest son of John McLaughlin
Image from: State library of NSW, Research and Collections, Significant Collections, Subdivision Plans

Ida Madeline McLaughlin (1884 – 1980)

Ida and her siblings were very close to their Aunt Madeline Major (nee Moore) and Aunt Florence Rossiter (nee Moore). Ida was educated at Claremont College, Randwick. She enjoyed painting and there is evidence that Aunt Madeline taught her. She also enjoyed gardening. As we have no evidence of her career, she may have primarily been her mother’s companion until marrying a wealthy grazier, Harold Lindrea Lane, in 1927. Harold and Ida lived in Leura in a house which Beryl McLaughlin designed for them. They enjoyed bridge, golf and international travel. In 1966, Ida and Beryl travelled overseas together, returning with many small mementos which we have in Tarella.

Studio portrait of young Ida McLaughlin

Major Geoffrey McLaughlin (1887 – 1917)

After doing very well in his early education, Geoffrey became a barrister in 1913. He also served with the Australian Field Artillery at Victoria Barracks and, when WW1 occurred, was one of the first to volunteer. Captain McLaughlin departed in the First Expeditionary Force for Egypt aboard HMAT Argyllshire on 18th October 1914. During 3 years at war, he served tirelessly. He was Mentioned in Dispatches, awarded the Military Cross and, on the eve of his 30th birthday, was promoted to the rank of Temporary Lieutenant Colonel in command of the First Artillery Brigade. Sadly, Major McLaughlin did not return home. He died from injuries received during a bomb attack and is buried in Belgium at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

From 1914 to 1917, while serving abroad in WW1, Major McLaughlin posted dozens of letters home to his family and many contained photographs. These provide a unique description of his experiences and have been published in the book called ‘Dear Em’ which you will find on our Shop Page. ‘Dear Em’ was compiled and edited by Susan Warmbath, 2014.

Beryl Mary McLaughlin (1888 – 1988)

After education at Claremont College, Beryl obtained a science degree at Sydney University and became a school teacher. Due to tragic repercussions of WW1, she never married. Soon after the death of her father she returned to Sydney University and, in 1922, was one of the first 3 women to achieve an architectural degree there.

Until 1933 (when the firm closed due to the Depression) Beryl was employed in Sydney by Henry White, a prominent New Zealand architect. From 1927, Beryl and her sister Ida lived in the Blue Mountains near Tarella, then later back at Tarella well into their old age. Together they were early members and generous patrons of the Blue Mountains Historical Society, providing Tarella as a meeting place and building a museum to house a growing collection of historic items. Beryl lived to be almost 100 years of age. She bequeathed her estate to the the Blue Mountains Historical Society.