I have spent a large part of today researching the Raff family, and have now updated the post about the descendants of Isabella Rachel Townsend. I still have to look out the burial details, and try to build up a picture of Robert Raff before 1900. It seems he operated in North Queensland, including Cooktown and Thursday Island.
A snippet found cached on the internet, from the reminiscences of a journalist, Reginald Spencer Browne, who specialised in the northern parts of Queensland: "Robert Raff, who died in Brisbane a few years ago, was also a merchant pearler on “The Island”, and, like the others, he got out when the bad times came."
Most of the mentions of Robert Raff in the Brisbane newspapers centre on shipping reports of his trips to and from Cooktown and the delivery of pearl and pearl shell from Torres Strait to Cooktown. It appears that he left Cooktown in 1879-1880, just before marrying Isabella.
A court report of August 1872 places Robert Raff on a property at Morayfields (sic), now Morayfield, near Caboolture. An itinerant artisan had assaulted Raff's housekeeper. It would seem that George Raff, probably father of Robert, had a sugar plantation at Caboolture with South Sea Islander 'indentured workers', three of whom took out a complaint against George as reported in the Brisbane Courier of 19 January 1869. In that report, Robert Raff states that he had been the storekeeper on the plantation for 16 months, and was responsible for supplying rations to the labourers.
There seems to have been regular problems with the Polynesian labourers, as a police court report in August 1871 notes that such a labourer was ordered to return to the service of Robert Raff.
In September 1872, the plans for the Caboolture School and teacher's residence were advertised as being on display at Robert Raff's residence at Morayville (sic).
(It is interesting to note that Captain William Townsend had land near here at the same time).
Advertisements around 1875 and 1876 indicate that Robert Raff was breeding and selling both cattle and blood and draught horses from his Morayfield property.
On 15th August 1887, a report in the Brisbane Courier from Normanton, in the Gulf Country, mentions that "No returning officer for the Burke District has been appointed in place of Mr. Robert Raff, who resigned some six months ago. The electoral lists have not been supervised for six months."
Thomas Dyson took up the position in September 1887.
In May 1890, Robert Raff and two other Raff males are claiming the estate of George Raff, deceased 28 August 1889. The estate comprised considerable land holdings around Caboolture and in Enoggera and North Brisbane.