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Emily Sophia Patton (1831–1912)

Mrs. Patton was the only daughter of Arthur Todd Holroyd, a barrister, who was distinguished in literature, law, and travel before he came to New South Wales in 1845, and joined the bar at Sydney in that year. From 1851 to 1856 he represented the Western Boroughs, Bathurst and Carcoar, in the old Legislative Council of New South Wales, and on the concession of Responsible Government in the latter year, was elected be the Legislative Assembly for the same constituency, for which he sat until 1858, when he was defeated; but two; years later he was elected for Parramatta, and was for some time Chairman of Committees. He was Minister for Works in the first Martin Ministry (October, 1863, to February, 1865). In 1866 he was appointed Master-in-Equity, and was an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court. He died June 16, 1887, aged 81 years.

Miss Emily Holroyd married Mr. Frederick Terry, who, in 1855, was manager of the old A.S.N. Company. He went to Melbourne as representative of the company, and died there in May, 1858, leaving his wife a widow at 27 years of age. Mr. Terry belonged to the old dramatic family of that name, and was intimately acquainted with Mr. G. V. Brooke. Mrs. Patton wrote me the story of her life, May, 1908. She said: — "It was through Mr. Terry calling on Mr. G. V. Brooke on his arrival in Sydney that my first introduction to theatrical life began, and when — six months after my husband's premature death in Melbourne — Mr. Brooke offered me a vacancy in his company, caused by the unexpected death of Miss Ellen Mortyn, a leading lady imported by Messrs. Brooke and Coppin to fill the vacancy caused by Miss Fanny Cathcart's marriage to Mr. Robert Heir, and as I was left perfectly free. I saw no reason for refusing Mr. Brooke's kind offer."

I was present at the lady's first appearance on any stage. She appeared in her maiden name, Emily Holroyd, as Emma Torrens in the comedy of "The Serious Family." Brooke was Captain Murphy Maguire; Mr. Lambert, Aminadab Sleek; Robert Heir was Charles Torrens; Bob Lawrence had one of the male parts; Mrs. Vickery was Lady Sowerby Creamley; Mrs. Robert Heir, Mrs. Ormsby Dalmaine. Mrs. Patton was, I think, the last survivor of the cast. That first appearance was made in 1859. Miss Holroyd played with Brooke's Company up to the time that gentleman returned to Europe, in 1861. Mrs. Terry married Mr. Patton, who was averse to her remaining on the stage, and, after her marriage, she concluded a short engagement upon the stage. Once—in May, 1866, on the occasion of Mr. Lambert's farewell benefit, previous to his departure to end his days in England—she played Maria in "The School for Scandal," and in July in the same year she assisted the press histrions in the performances which helped purchase the Brooke Bust in the Melbourne Public Library.

The loss of Mrs. Patton's only son, and shortly afterwards of Mr. Patton, after 26 years of married life, gave the lady such a distaste for Australia,where she had lived for 45 years (between Sydney and Melbourne, from the age of 15 until nearly 60), that she determined to migrate to Japan with her daughter, the only one of her family remaining. They were happily fixed in Japan, when the daughter was suddenly taken from her by cholera, after a few hours' illness. Since then, for over 20 years, she had been quite alone in the world. Shortly after the death of her daughter, the Oriental Bank failed, and swallowed up her savings. After that, she kept herself solely by her own exertions. She taught dancing and singing with much success in Yokohama, and only removed to Shanghai in 1901 because she was assured that she would have a much wider field for teaching.

Mrs. Patton did a good deal of journalistic work, and published at least two books, copies of which she sent me. Much of her journalistic work found its way into Sydney and Melbourne papers, and during the Russo-Japanese war, she contributed a series of articles to the "Town and Country Journal."

Subsequently, notwithstanding her great age, she paid a visit to the battlefields of Port Arthur, her observations on which were published in a Sydney newspaper. Less than a year ago Mrs. Patton wrote me that she had again returned to Japan, and would end her days there. Of Mrs. Patton's stage contemporaries, there are still living Mrs. L. L. Lewis (Rosa Dunn), Mrs. Marcus Clarke (Marion Dunn), and Mrs. G. B. W. Lewis (Rose Edouin), with whom she kept up correspondence to the last. Some months ago she paid a visit to Vancouver, and gave the public her opinions of Seattle and its lumber industry—not a favorable one by any means.

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Citation details

'Patton, Emily Sophia (1831–1912)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Holroyd, Emily Sophia
  • Terry, Emily Sophia

2 May, 1831
Marylebone, London, England


7 January, 1912 (aged 80)
Yokohama, Japan

Cause of Death

heart disease

Cultural Heritage

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