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The Tardent Family  from Ormont-Dessous, Vaud, Switzerland.

Extract from 'Armorial Vaudois'

To Australia

Henry Tardent's account of the family's journey to Australia, and the first couple of  months in Queensland makes very interesting reading, particularly the details of what was a very challenging journey in its day.  A brief biography of Henry Tardent's can be read on the Australian History of Biography website. He was joined by his brother Marc Alexis Tardent and together they established the Tardent Brothers winery in Roma. 

Hortense Tardent who was born in the Swiss colony of Chabag, was a distant cousin, grand-daughter of the colony's founder Louis Vincent Tardent.  They met by chance when Henry stumbled on the colony when he was earning his living as a tutor in Poland.  They married, and as the political situation in the Ukraine became more difficult, emigrated to Australia in 1887.  

Hortense and Henry were responsible for putting together the first family tree from the records Louis Vincent Tardent took with him from Switzerland. They were records copied by David Tardent who became the Schoolmaster of Vevey from Le Sepey communal archives. This was fortunate, as all these records were destroyed by fire at the end of the 19th century. 

Boom and Bust! Financial crisis in Australia in 1893 spread to Roma in Queensland, and saw the Tardent winery go under in a way that was common to many Australian businesses.  This account of the Tardents in Roma, by Felix Tardent, makes interesting reading.  Paul Tardent, eldest son of Henri and Hortense, was sent out to become a jackaroo on neighbouring properties at an early age His letters home, written in August 1891,  make poignant reading, and give a clear picture of the day to day concerns of life in the bush.

World War 1 found  four Australian Tardents fighting in France. Henri's sons, Edward, Emile and Jules, and Oswald, son of Mark Alexis, brother of Henri.  Australian Defence service records may be searched on line. They all distinguished themselves in the terrible milieu of war service in Europe. Edward, with the 42nd batallion, enlisted at age 18, was killed in action in Belgium in 1917, age 20. Emile on the other hand, was 36 years old, refused officers commission to stay with his men in the trenches,  and was awarded a Military Medal for bravery, returning to Australia with a bullet in the leg and a gas cough.  Emile Tardent wrote for Australian papers such as "The Bulletin"  from the trenches of the Somme. Jules Tardent was awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

Between the wars was quite a different period of history. An interesting literary Australian Tardent was
Percy Stephensen. He was an associate of  luminaries such as Aldous Huxley and Alistair Crowley in UK, and  Norman and Jack Lindsay in Australia. Some of his views were exceedingly controversial. As in fact were Henry's. However I hesitate to judge given that they were the views of their respective times, and a period in Australian history which was characterised  by a relatively few settlers of European origin in a vast and different continent in a very different geo-political sphere of the world from western Europe.

Henry's son Jules was instrumental in recording, authored and published,  a fairly detailed social history of the Tardents in Australia.  The
publication is catalogued in Australia government library catalogues.

World War 1

These photos were sourced from Australian military archives online. 

The Virtual War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial

Emil  'Nugget' fought at the Somme and Jules Tardent who was at Gallipoli

Emile and Jules Tardent

Felix Edward  'Ted' Tardent killed in  action in Belgium aged 18 

Oswald Urbain 'Ossie' Tardent killed in action in France aged 24



Lettres De L'Australie

Henry's letters from Australia make fascinating reading. Particularly as he has a unique view of his adopted country, and in view of his friendship with Andrew Fisher, a Scot who emigrated, to live in Gympie Queensland. Elected to parliament for the Labor Party, he became Prime Minister in 1908, resigning from politics in 1915.

In addition, he contributed to the Lausanne Gazette in the form of  letters from the colony, in French, an honest an illuminating account of life in Australia in the early twentieth century through the eyes of a non-British immigrant. These letters were published as "Lettres de l'Australie"  editor, Maximilian Brandle. And here is an interesting review by Jean-Claude Lacherez  friend of Henri.

Henry wrote about a variety of subject, and his insights were remarkably both cool and detached, yet passionately proud of his adopted land.

As a journalist, he covered a diverse set of political topics. His account of Australia's engagement in World War I is quite illuminating.

Whether his Swiss readership in Lausanne could appreciate the challenges of a new world land where a fragile landscape, and a tyranny of distance coloured every day life so far from the concerns of the Europeans is an interesting question.

Henry certainly wrote with an intelligent, engaging perspective on politics, government and national affairs from 1915 to 1929.

Tardent Brothers Winery