Passing of the Pioneers

The September “Passing of the Pioneers” in the Portland Guardian saw several prominent Western Victorian residents pass away and two of my own relatives.

Richard LEWIS: Died September 1890 at Digby.  Richard owned some well-known stations in the Western District including Rifle Downs and Hilgay.  An excellent biography of Richard Lewis is on the Ballarat Genealogical Society website. Richard died as a result of Bright’s disease.

Samuel CROSSDied  4 September 1901 at Hamilton. Samuel was seventy-nine at the time of his death and had been in Australia since 1849 after travelling from Sussex, England. He worked in and owned, department stores including the Beehive Store in Hamilton.  In his later years, he was a librarian at the Hamilton Mechanics Institute.

Jacob THEISINGER: Died  13 September 1901 at Portland. Jacob, also a sufferer of Bright’s Disease, had been in the colony since around 1854.  He was a popular person around town and was a member of the Portland German Band.

Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys STAPYLTON-BREE: Died 17 September 1907 at Hamilton. Robert Edwin Windsor Sandys Stapylton-Bree was a Hamilton stock and station agent and well know identity not only in Hamilton, but also Portland.  He married the daughter of Stephen HENTY, Annie Maria.  His funeral was well attended with Dean Parkyn presiding over the service.  He and Archdeacon Hayman had motored the 119 mile trip from Ballarat in five hours.

Christina STEWART: Died September 1921 at Hamilton. Christina STEWART was born in Kingussie, Scotland in around 1825 and travelled with her husband, Duncan McPherson, to Australia in 1851 on board the Hooghlly.  While Duncan went off to the goldfields, Christina waited in Melbourne until they journeyed to Portland.  For a time, she and her husband ran the Dartmoor Hotel.  She was a mother of eight children.

Elizabeth GLADSTONE: Died 18 September 1925 at Millicent, South Australia.  Elizabeth Gladstone grew up near Portland and the Guardian noted she rode eighty miles each day to school.  I am assuming this was a round trip, or it was a short school day.  Elizabeth married George Plunkett in 1862 at Penola, South Australia.

May ROBERTSON: Died September 1925 at Gringalgona.  May Robertson arrived in Sydney with her family in 1847 from Scotland.  They travelled to the Coleraine district by bullock wagon.

Margaret Emily McDONALD:  Died  5 September 1928 at Nokomai, New Zealand.  Margaret McDonald’s parents were early pioneers and she spent time around Portland and Hamilton as a child with one of her early memories being that of Adam Lindsay Gordon and his riding feats.  In 1863, Margaret married Donald Cameron in Melbourne and they moved to New Zealand and raised twelve children.

Margaret BEST: Died 7 September 1933,  Hamilton. Margaret was born in County Caven, Ireland in 1853 to Mr and Mrs William Best.  They arrived at Portland on board the General Hewitt in 1856.  After time in Portland, the Bests moved to Heywood when Margaret was nine. She married James Henry BELL and remained in the Heywood area.

Ada Catherine HAYMAN: Died September 1934 at Portland.  Ada was born in Axminster, Devon, England in about 1858.  She arrived at Portland with her parents and siblings in the 1860s.  This is an interesting family.  Ada’s father was a doctor and practiced in Harrow, Edenhope and Ararat.  One of her brothers was a doctor, another Archdeacon Hayman presided over R. Stapylton-Bree’s funeral (above).  Another brother W.R. Hayman was one of those who organised the  Aboriginal cricketers’ tour of England in 1868.  The biography of one of the players, Johnny Mullagh, describes the part Hayman played.

Finlay McPherson PATON: Died September 1936 at Tarrayoukyan. Finlay Paton was born at Sterlingshire, Scotland and after landing at Portland, took on the job of ringing the church bell and did so for 15 years. This could have been just one of the reasons for his “magnificent physique”.  Maybe it was because he claimed that he was one of those that carted stones to build Mac’s Hotel in Portland.  Or was it lifting four bushel bags of wheat from the ground to a wagon, with little trouble.  He really must have been a fine specimen. As were his team of horses used for his carrying business. Bred by Finlay they were the “admiration of the district”

William DIWELL: – Died September 1939 at Jeparit. William was my ggg uncle.  His obituary mentioned his work as a builder and the several buildings in Portland remaining, at the time of his death, as memorials to his work.  It does mention he was a native of Portland, however, he was born at Merino.  It correctly states his wife Frances was a native of Portland.

Thomas Haliburton LAIDLAWDied September 1941 at Hamilton. Over 500 people were reportedly at the funeral of Thomas Laidlaw, a Hamilton stock and station agent.  Thomas was the son of pioneers, Thomas and Grace Laidlaw.   The obituary offers a great description of the early days of Thomas Laidlaw senior in the colony with his four brothers.  Thomas junior, along with building his successful stock and station business was at one time a Shire of Dundas Councillor, president of the Hamilton Racing Club and chairman of directors of the Hamilton and Western District College, today Hamilton and Alexandra College.  Laidlaw is one of the names that if I hear it, I think of Hamilton.

Henry MORTIMER: Died  6 September 1948 at Portland.  Another ggg uncle of mine, Henry was the son of James Mortimer and Rosanna Buckland.  He was born in Cavendish and was eighty at the time of his death at Portland.  He is best known at this blog as Mr Mortimer of Mr Mortimer’s Daughters.  This was an informative notice as it listed Henry’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

4 thoughts on “Passing of the Pioneers

  1. Hi from a Ballarat descendant of George*Simkin who came to Rifle Downs to work for his relative Richard Lewis.
    Also a descendant of George*Sedgwick a Portland pioneer builder whose grisly death was fulsomely described in the newspaper of 1898.
    The wwweb has been a boon to researchers of family history.

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