MALTON, Miss Emma Caroline

1861 - 1940

Malton Miss Emma Caroline - Creswick Historical SocietyOf all the people who have contributed to the life of Creswick, there would be no-one who has given such devotion over so many years, as Miss Emma Malton.  Sixty-three years as Church organist and chorister, almost forty years of teaching Sunday School, Choir Mistress for many of those years and contributor in general towards music in Creswick.

Born in August of 1861 in Creswick, she was a true daughter of the town.  Her father had emigrated in 1852, married and settled here, where he ran a business, was a prominent citizen, contributor to the betterment of the town and an accomplished organist.  As soon as little Emma’s feet could touch the pedals she was learning to play the organ.  The family were devout members of the Wesleyan Church.  Mr Malton played the harmonium for services for ten years and conducted the choir for forty-eight years, so Emma was steeped in the music of the Church.

In 1877 she succeeded her father as Church organist and, over the years, was to play a variety of instruments, up to the best organ that the Church purchased.  She sang in the Church choir started by her parents, eventually becoming its much-loved leader.  Local entertainment was a strong facet of Creswick’s life and she contributed much in the way of piano accompaniment at concerts.  Wherever there was music there was Emma Malton.  By 1878 she was qualified to advertise as a teacher of pianoforte, organ and singing.

As a seventeen year old, she left Creswick on 27 February, 1879, with her parents, on a four month voyage to England on board the modern sailing vessel “Sobroan”, to meet her grandparents and other relations, and see something of those places so familiar to her parents.  On board ship she contributed to the musical entertainment and Church service music, and thoroughly enjoyed the voyage.  They docked in London on June 15, 1879 and a piano was hired for her benefit whilst in London.  Perhaps she had some tuition in London for, in 1892, she claimed to be a pupil of the late Sir Julius Benedict of London.

The family remained in London until September and returned home on the “Sobroan” in time for Christmas, where she resumed her teaching of organ, pianoforte and singing.

One year, a complimentary concert was given to Miss Malton by the Creswick Choral Society as a (slight) recognition of her valuable musical contribution to the town.  Many locals performed operatic arias and popular ballads – quality music presented by people with good voices to an appreciative audience.

On 12 June, 1927 the Wesleyan Church, Victoria Street, acknowledged her fifty years of service, a service which was to continue for another thirteen years.  Later, to celebrate her diamond jubilee, she presented a baptismal font to the Church in memory of her parents.

The Church choir, under her leadership, contributed beautiful music throughout the district.  Easter was celebrated with Handel’s “Messiah” in many venues.  Never deterred by inclement weather, her tiny figure carrying a lighted lantern, was ever faithful to her responsibilities, between her home in Church Street and venues in town.

Her humanitarian work spread outside the Church.  She was a regular Sunday visitor to patients in Creswick Hospital, distributing flowers and small gifts to the sick or needy.  She was a much-loved and respected lady in all aspects of life.

Only weeks before her seventy-ninth birthday however, after a short stay in hospital, she died on 25 July, 1940.  The choir to which she devoted so much time grieved at her passing and sang at her final service.  Her worldly worth was left to the British and Foreign Bible Society and she was laid to rest with her parents in Creswick’s cemetery.  The only acknowledgement is the name “Malton” in stone at the foot of the grave.  Perhaps it is a reflection on the Church elders that they refused to grant any of her estate to pay for a headstone on her grave.  The brass plaque in her honour in the Church was claimed as a souvenir by someone.

Today, there are people in Creswick who sang in her choir and remember her generosity in sharing her musical skills, and the fruits of her garden, her devotion to her Church and its choir and her willingness to help other denominations with their music.  A truly gracious and much loved lady, well worthy of a place on Creswick’s Honour Roll.

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