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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Lawless, Clement Francis (1815–1877)

by C. G. Austin and Clem Lack

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

This is a shared entry with Paul Lawless

Clement Francis Lawless (1815-1877) and Paul Lawless (1817-1865), pastoralists, were born at Cloyne, County Cork, Ireland, the fifth and sixth children of John Lawless, Woodview, Cloyne, and his wife Mary, née Pyne. Both Clement, who was born on 22 February 1815, and Paul sailed for Australia from Liverpool in June 1840. After some experience of sheep farming on the Hunter River, the brothers bought cattle and drove them 600 miles (966 km) to the Albert River in the Moreton Bay District, where in 1842 they took up the Nindooinbah run under a squatting licence. William Humphreys, who travelled with them, settled at Mount Martin (Mundoolun).

Seeking land more suitable for sheep Clement and Paul Lawless, with several others including Humphreys, Henry Herbert, Edward Hawkins and James Reid, rode up the Brisbane valley in 1846, taking with them as guide Jacky, a Brisbane River Aboriginal. They found fertile, well-grassed land watered by lagoons and deep creeks in the Burnett district. Thereupon Clement and Paul sold Nindooinbah and in 1847, with twenty shepherds, many sheep, some cattle and horses, and drays laden with supplies and tools, travelled through the Brisbane valley to the Burnett country. Nearing the end of their journey the Lawless brothers were attacked by Aboriginals who drove off numbers of sheep.

Clement and Paul Lawless took up Booubyjan, Windera and Boonimba, building their home on Booubyjan. These runs covered 281 sq. miles (728 km²). In 1857 the brothers took up Bluff Plains and Bunya Creek in the Mary River valley, a run of thirty-four sq. miles (88 km²) which they named Imbil.

In 1855 Paul Lawless returned to Ireland, where in November 1858 he married Ellen, only daughter of William Nash, of Mallow, County Cork, and his wife Ellen, née Mahony, of Dunloe. In 1859 he returned with his wife to Australia. For the next six years they lived at Booubyjan, but Paul's failing health caused their return to Ireland where, soon after their arrival, he died at Youghal on 7 August 1865. His widow died on 27 July 1922; they had four children.

In 1859 Clement Lawless had returned to Ireland, where in September 1860 he married Henrietta Babington, daughter of Thomas Wise. He bought Kilcroan near Cloyne. His only child, Emmeline Anne, was born in 1866. With his wife and daughter he visited Queensland in 1867 and returned to Ireland next year. His last trip to Queensland was in 1873, when he sold his interest in Booubyjan and Imbil to Ellen, the widow of Paul Lawless. Clement died at Kilcroan, Ireland, on 22 May 1877 as the result of a hunting accident. Emmeline Anne married Warren Crooke (later knighted) who took the name of Lawless; she died in 1927, without issue.

The Lawless family is one of the few in Queensland who occupy in an unbroken line of descent the stations originally taken up by their pioneer forbears. Paul Lawless's elder son, John Paul (b.1861), who in 1889 had married Mabel Gwynne Ethel, daughter of Thomas Evans, built his home on the Windera block, where seventy years later his widow and two daughters, Misses Ellen and Noel Lawless, still ran the property. When John Paul's brother, William Burnett, of Booubyjan, died in 1945 without children, he left Booubyjan to his nephews, Ivan Lawless of Goomally, Duaringa, and Burnett R. Lawless. Burnett bought his brother Ivan's share in 1955.

Cattle were well established on Booubyjan by 1872. Prizes for stud Durham stock were won at Maryborough and Gayndah Shows in 1876, 1877 and 1878. Later a Hereford stud was established at Windera. In 1888, most of Windera was resumed as well as parts of Boonimba and parts of Booubyjan.

Select Bibliography

  • M. J. Fox (compiler), The History of Queensland, vol 2 (Brisb, 1921)
  • Queensland Women's Historical Assn, 1859 and Before That (Brisb, 1960)
  • private information.

Citation details

C. G. Austin and Clem Lack, 'Lawless, Clement Francis (1815–1877)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 20 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

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