Passing of the Pioneers

March Passing of the Pioneers shares obituaries of well-known residents of Hamilton, Heywood and Portland. They include the surveyor of Camperdown and yet another man who was at Blue Lake, Mt. Gambier the day Adam Lindsay Gordon took his famed leap.

Thomas BROOKS Died 7 March 1888 at Hotspur. At the time of his death, Thomas Brooks was one of the oldest inhabitants of the Heywood district, having arrived in 1853. His death was a result of an accident after sixty-two-year-old Thomas delivered a coffin to Hotspur from Heywood for the funeral of Mr Fidler. After the funeral, he returned home, only to fall from his horse. He received head injuries, from which he died. A contract worker for the local shire, Thomas was known as an eccentric and was referred to as “Old Tom Brooks”  For more information about Thomas see the South-West Victoria Pioneers website.

John THOMSON Died 27 March 1894 at Melbourne.  Anyone who lived in Hamilton and district prior to the late 1980s, would know the name John Thomson as that was that name that adorned the front of one of Hamilton’s longest running department stores John Thomson & Co of Gray Street, locally known simply as Thomsons. John Thomson arrived in Victoria from Scotland at a young age and was educated at Scotch College, Geelong and the Hamilton Academy.  He joined his uncle and brothers, Alexander and William in the store, first established as an Iron store in 1866, and later became a partner. He had a strong association with the Hamilton Presbyterian Church and when he died, aged forty-six, he had attended  the Convention of the Presbyterian Fellowship Association.  He fell sick over the weekend and passed away.

Advertising. (1953, July 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 21. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from

Advertising. (1953, July 21). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 21. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from


Robert Dunbar SCOTT: Died 7 March 1898 at Surrey Hills. Robert Scott was born in Scotland and he and his wife arrived in Victoria around 1851. Robert was employed as a land surveyor, his first job to survey the western part of Port Phillip.  He set up camp near what would become the town of Camperdown and set about laying out a new township. He named the first streets, including Manifold Street after the Manifold brothers.  He selected land on the banks of Lake Gnotuk and established the property Gnotuk Park.  Robert was a member of the local P&A Society and the Freemasons. In the late 1890s, he sold Gnotuk Park and let a property at Craigieburn. He later moved to Melbourne establishing himself as a commission agent but lost money in the crash after the land boom. A further account of Robert Scott is on this link – A Link With The Past – Interview with David Scott.

Mercy ERRI: Died 26 March 1932 at Cobrico. Mercy Erri was born in England and arrived in Victoria with her parents in 1857. Her father started in business in Camperdown, one of the early pioneers of that town. Mercy trained as a nurse and was a Sunday School teacher. In her later years, she became an invalid, confined to her bed, but she continued to produce beautiful needlework, even with failing sight. Mercy was eighty-eight years old when she died. She never married.

James MOLLOY: Died 25 March 1937 at Portland. James Molloy arrived in Portland with his parents aboard the British Empire when he was eleven. He went to school at All Saints school in Portland and during those years spent time with William Dutton extracting oil from whale blubber. He was then employed by Edward Henty at Narrawong. His next job was for the Bell’s at Heywood, training racehorses, his greatest success winning the Great Western Steeplechase at Coleraine.  Apparently he was with Adam Lindsay Gordon on the day Gordon took his leap at Blue Lake, Mt Gambier. He later returned to Portland, working as a storeman and a waterside worker.James married Mary Beglen and they had three sons and two daughters.

David Edmund BATES: Died 5 March 1938 at Casterton. David Bates was born at Narracorte before moving to Casterton with his parents when six. He was educated at the Casterton school before becoming an apprentice draper with Mr Mills.  David was an athlete and once ran second in the Stawell Gift. He took a great interest in the public affairs of Casterton and served as secretary on the Casterton Hospital board.

Eliza MOORE: Died 24 March 1939 at Colac. Eliza Moore was born in Ireland in 1854 and travelled to Victoria as a child aboard the Chance. Her parents settled at Port Fairy and later at Woodford. Eliza married Alexander Russell at Warrnambool and they farmed at Dennington. They then moved to Colac where they remained until Eliza’s death. In her younger years, Eliza was an excellent horsewoman and was devoted to the Church throughout her life.

Daniel FENTON: Died 17 March 1943 at Camperdown. Daniel Fenton was born in Camperdown in 1860 and was the first child baptised at the St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in the same year. Educated at Camperdown State School, he spent his entire working life as a dairy farmer. He married Mary Ann Shenfield of Cobden and five children were living at the time of Daniel’s death.


Passing of the Pioneers

When an obituary has only a female pioneer’s married name, I do like to find their maiden name. This month, there was one such pioneer, Mrs Susan Sloan. After a quick search, I found on her death record her father’s name recorded as Francis Sloan. As I don’t want to make assumptions based on a death certificate, I will continue to call her Mrs Susan Sloan, however I will keep trying to find her maiden name in the future as I have an interest in Susan as you will see in her obituary below.

Marks DAFFY: Died 22 February 1902 at Cundare. Marks Daffy was born at County Clare, Ireland and arrived in Melbourne in 1857. He spent his first five years in the colony around the Barrabool Hills near Geelong, working on various farms.  With money saved, Marks selected land in the Colac district after the passing of the 1862 Duffy Lands Act. He set about building a fine dairy farm, using his good eye for stock to select the best dairy cows.  He gave up dairy-farming after twenty-five years and settled into an “easier” life as a grazier.  In 1887, after dissatisfaction with the Colac Shire, he ran for a seat which he won. Around eighteen months before his death, a fall from his buggy eventually left him bedridden and ultimately  claimed his life.  His funeral procession was a mile long and was the largest to arrived at the Cundare cemetery.

William MOODIE:  Died 25 February 1914 at Coleraine. William Moodie arrived in the Coleraine district with his Scottish parents at the age of six weeks around 1841. His father took up the property Wando Dale at Nareen and so began William’s life on the land, breeding some of the finest wool stock. After taking over the property from his parents, he built the current Wando Dale Homestead (below) in 1901.

“WANDO DALE”, NAREEN. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. Image No. H94.200/302

He also spent a good part of his seventy-three years in public life. He was a member of the Casterton Roads Board and the Wannon Shire Council. He was also involved with the P&A Society, the local Horticultural Society and St Andrews Church at Coleraine. William Moodie left a widow, seven sons and five daughters.

John KELLY: Died 7 February 1915 at Macarthur. John Kelly arrived from Tasmania, his birthplace, with his family when he was three years old. If John was eighty-five at the time of his death, it would mean that he arrived in Victoria in 1833, so I’m thinking it may have been a little later. Even still, he was an early arrival in the colony. John worked as a carrier with his brother, working the route between Geelong and stations as far west as Casterton.  He also ran a store at Yambuk for many years and took up property at Codrington.  He died at the home of his daughter Mrs Hindhaugh of Macarthur.

John MURRAY: Died 13 February 1915 at Hamilton. Born in Stirlingshire, Scotland, John Murray was a resident of Hamilton for over fifty years by the time of his death. His family arrived at Geelong aboard the Chariot of Fame and went directly to Hamilton. He spent much of his working life as a labourer and was a member of the Court Brotherhood  of the Ancient Order of Foresters for over forty-five years. He was a widow and left five sons and one daughter from a family of twelve children.

Jane O’MAY: Died 17 February 1916 at Buckley Swamp. Jane O’May was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1822 and married William Kirkwood in 1842. William and Jane arrived at Portland in 1852 aboard the John Davis. They travelled by bullock dray to Warrock, near Casterton.

First Issue, August 20 1842. (1916, February 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 22, 2013, from

First Issue, August 20 1842. (1916, February 23). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved February 22, 2013, from

The Kirkwoods were hard-working pioneers and Jane left a large family at the time of her death.  hree daughters were still alive along with twenty-four grandchildren and twenty-one great-grandchildren. Jane’s grandson, William Kirkwood of the Hamilton South area, married my first cousin 4 x removed, Sarah Ann Reed.

James COWELL: Died 24 February 1917 at Mortlake. James Cowell was born in Cambridgeshire around 1838 and by 1868, had already established a butcher’s shop at Mortlake. He later became a road contractor for the local Shire. One of James’ three sons, Pte Harry Cowell, lost his life at Gallipoli.

Joseph WOMBWELL: Died 9 February 1918 at Casterton.  Arriving in Portland in 1853 aged seventeen years from Essex, England, Joseph Wombwell’s first job was at the Henty’s Muntham Station.  He married Betsy Ann Coulson in 1869, the daughter of Christopher Coulson and Mary Frances Stubbs and stayed in Merino until 1875. They then moved to Casterton and lived in a bark hut while Joseph ran a carrying business between Casterton and Portland. One claim to fame is that he delivered the “first load of grog” to the Sandford Hotel. The Hamilton Spectator also published a lengthy obituary for Joseph Wombwell

Susan SLOAN: Died 9 February 1918 at Hamilton. Susan Sloan was born in Glasgow, Scotland and after arriving in Portland in 1855, she went to Ararat where she married Thomas Sloan. They returned to Portland and ran a shipping business, but the trade was tough and they moved inland to Hamilton where there were greater opportunities, and they established a cordial business. Thomas died in 1910 and Susan continued to run the business until her death, after which time family members continued its operations until 1930. The Sloan’s cottage Whinhill in Pope Street, Hamilton was featured in an I’ve Lived in Hamilton, Victoria group post as it is a highly visible and known to most who have lived in Hamilton. None of us knew the history of the cottage and there is still more we would like to find out.  The cordial business operated behind the cottage.

John MOFFATT: Died 9 February 1926 at Chatsworth. John Moffatt was born in Scotland in 1854 and arrived in Victoria with his parents in 1872 and resumed his education at Geelong Grammar.  At age 19 he took up the running of the Burnewang Estate near Bendigo before he inherited Chatsworth House from his uncle John Moffatt in 1879. He also leased his uncle’s property Hopkins Hill from the estate’s trustees. John Moffatt was a sat on the Shire of Mt Rouse and was a member of the Landowner’s Council.

DEATH OF MR. JOHN MOFFATT. (1926, February 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 21. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from

DEATH OF MR. JOHN MOFFATT. (1926, February 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 21. Retrieved February 28, 2014, from

John Moffatt’s uncle, John Moffatt, has been a Passing Pioneer and his obituary offers more history about the Moffatt family.



Passing of the Pioneers

A small band of pioneers for January, ranging from the rich and influential through to a bullock wagon driver who drove produce to the ports, to aid the rich and influential become more so. There is also the obituary of Catherine Grady, an Irish Famine orphan.

Francis HENTY: Died January 1889 at Kew.  Francis Henty featured here several times, was one of the Henty brothers, early European settlers at Portland. Francis had a house at Portland, one that I have written a post about, Claremont, but he spent much of his time at the Henty property, Merino Downs, and in later in life, his home Field Place in Melbourne where he passed away. Noted in his obituary, that while his presence was often not felt in the town, post the settling of Merino Downs, Francis Henty’s donations over the years were much appreciated.

The Portland Guardian,. (1889, January 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from

The Portland Guardian,. (1889, January 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from

FRANCIS HENTY (c1890) Artist unknown.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H24630

FRANCIS HENTY (c1890) Artist unknown. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H24630

Catherine GRADY: Died 3 January 1916 at Macarthur. Catherine Grady was born around 1836 in Wexford, Ireland and arrived in Port Fairy at seventeen. She married Archibald Hamilton there are they moved to Mt. Napier station where they remained for many years, then on to Macarthur where they both remained until their deaths.  Catherine was a nurse and it was said she attended over 300 maternity cases. Catherine and Archibald raised a family of twelve children.  I found Catherine on the Famine Orphan Girl Database on the Irish Famine Memorial (Sydney) website.

John Sinclair COX: Died 11 January 1918 at Hamilton. John Cox was born in Ireland in 1850 and travelled to Victoria with his family around 1857.  He resided in the Hamilton district almost from that time and ran a successful butcher shop. At one time, he ran for the Shire of Dundas but was unsuccessful. John passed away at Greenwood Park, Hamilton and left a widow, two sons and one daughter.

Matthew TOWNSEND: Died January 1916 at Portland. Matthew Townsend was born in Cambridgeshire in 1832 and arrived in Adelaide in 1857, but travelled on to Digby. In 1865, he opened a store in Digby that he ran for forty-three years, including forty as postmaster. Matthew married around 1867. He had many stories to tell of the old times in Digby included four-in-hand coaches, wool wagons and visits by Adam Lindsay Gordon. In his later years, Matthew moved to Portland where he passed away. He was buried at Digby cemetery.

Mary Ann MURPHY: Died 26 January 1918 at Willaura. Mary Ann Murphy was an early pioneer, born around 1843, and she and her husband Patrick Nicholson, settled at Warracknabeal in the “early days of agricultural development”. Around the turn of the century, Mary Ann and Patrick moved to the Ararat district, taking up a sub-division at Willaura,  Mary-Ann and Patrick raised a family of fourteen.

Elizabeth Jane PETERS: Died January 1923 at Warracknabeal.  Elizabeth Peters was born at Digby on “Black Thursday” 1851, her father having arrived with the Hentys some years before. After her marriage to Henry Lang in 1872, they settled at Merino. After Henry’s death, Elizabeth moved to the north-west of Victoria to live with her son, where she remained until her death.

Mark KERR: Died 31 January 1925 at Portland. Mark Kerr was born around 1850 at Portland, and it was noted he was born in the “Police Paddock”, not far from the place he died seventy-five years later. Having been born in a paddock, it was fortunate Mark’s father was a doctor, but it was thought he didn’t practice in Portland. Mark Kerr worked as a teamster, driving bullock wagons from the north with wool and other produce for the Port of Portland. At one time, he owned the Emu Flats Hotel at Kentbruck, built by another Passing Pioneer, John Johnstone. He later returned to Portland where he remained until his death.

Eliza HAZELDINE: Died 12 January 1941 at Portland. Born around 1857 at Portland, Eliza Hazeldine, a former student of John Hill of Portland, joined the Education Department at 15 and the first school she taught at was North Portland. She later taught at Koroit, Corindhap, Queenscliff, Coleraine and Casterton. Mary Ann was a resident of Casterton for about five years and it was there she met her future husband Job Lea. After marriage, she left teaching but Job passed away after two years of marriage, leaving Mary Ann with two babies. After nineteen years, she returned to Portland before opening a store at Condah Swamp, including the first post office there. Condah Swamp was later named Wallacedale, where she resided for twenty-two years. In 1919, she again returned to Portland and remained there until her death. One of Mary Ann’s son, Charles was killed at Gallipoli in 1915.

William BOYLE: Died 3 January 1942 at Camperdown. William Boyle was born in Ireland around 1868 and arrived in Victoria as a 15-year-old. Keen to see Australia, he travelled along the southern coast and then inland, droving stock from Central Australia to the Western District. William later established newsagents in Camperdown that he ran for 50 years. He was also a foundation member of the Camperdown Bowling Club and was playing up until weeks before his death.

Passing of the Pioneers

Welcome to the last Passing of the Pioneers for 2013. The obituaries include one belonging to a favourite Halls Gap pioneer of mine, Sophia D’Alton. There is also a former convict and a man who saw Melbourne shortly after settlement.

For some holiday reading why not check out the earlier Passing of the Pioneers posts.  There are now thirty in total with hundreds of family names and some great stories.

William RENWICK: Died 11 December 1874 at Portland. Born in Scotland around 1897, William Renwick left his native country around 1827 and sailed to Tasmania as an overseer of animals on a ship. He continued his employment with the company after the voyage. Around the early years of Melbourne’s settlement, when there were only three houses, William Renwick moved to the new colony. He then moved on to Portland where he remained until his death.

Samuel HUTCHINSON: Died 21 December 1874 at Portland. While his obituary doesn’t mention it, an article about the construction of the Steam Packet Inn, built by Samuel Hutchinson around 1841, reveals Samuel was a convict.



At the time of his departure for Portland from Tasmania, he had obtained his ticket of leave and was working as an overseer in a woodyard. Samuel was listed as one of the purchasers of land in Portland in 1840. His first wife, also a convict, passed away and he remarried. At the time of his death, he left a widow and six children.

Ellen J. CORBETT: Died December 1915 at Hamilton. Born in Waterford, Ireland around 1831, Ellen Corbett arrived at Portland in 1849 and went to Violet Creek Estate near Yulecart to take up work. She met her future husband William Lloyd there and they married in Hamilton in 1850. They settled at Muddy Creek and raised a large family, with eleven children living at the time of her death. Ellen moved to Strathkellar around 1906 to live with her daughter, Grace Munroe, and she resided there until her death.

Henry POTTER: Died 4 December 1916 at Hamilton. Henry Potter was born in Norfolk, England around 1841 and travelled to Adelaide with his parents around 1854. The family moved to Portland where Henry took up a plastering apprenticeship before entering into a building partnership with Mr T. Wyatt that lasted 40 years. They first operated from Mt. Gambier then Portland, Melbourne and finally in 1874, Hamilton. In his later years, Henry Potter worked as Clerk of Works on several buildings around Hamilton.  At the time of his death, he was the oldest affiliated member of the Grange Lodge.

Sophia D’ALTON: Died 13 December 1916 at Stawell.  I have a soft spot for Sophia and her twin sister, Henrietta. Actually they intrigue me. The D’Altons were Halls Gap pioneers and lived at Glenbower just out of Halls Gap, near Lake Bellfield.  I had read about the site of their former home, now overgrown with bush and wanted to find it. I asked an old local and was directed to the site. At the time the D’Altons lived there, there were several residences, but bush fires over the years destroyed them. It is amazing to stand in such an isolated spot and imagine the goings on at Glenbower when the sisters lived there.  Henrietta was an acclaimed wildflower artist, and many of her artistic friends from Australia and abroad visited their Grampians home.  So bohemian.

FIRES IN THE GRAMPIANS. (1914, February 21). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 26. Retrieved December 28, 2013, from

FIRES IN THE GRAMPIANS. (1914, February 21). Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 26. Retrieved December 28, 2013, from

Sophia and her sister were born in Kilkenny, Ireland around 1836. In 1856, their widowed mother, the girls and other members of the D’Alton family came to Australia, settling first at Stawell before moving to Glenbower. Sophia and her sister remained there until a few years before Sophia’s death when they moved back to Stawell. The pioneers of the Halls Gap district were tough and they were faced with many perils from fire to flood. Glenbower, while eventually burnt out, out a close call in 1914 when fires licked its walls.  This fire most likely the reason for the sister’s last move to Stawell.

OBITUARY. (1916, December 16). Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved December 28, 2013, from

OBITUARY. (1916, December 16). Stawell News and Pleasant Creek Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved December 28, 2013, from


Isabella GORRIE: Died 18 December 1918 at Ararat.  Isabella Gorrie was an old resident of the Ararat district, having moved there with her parents when she was a girl. She taught at the local school and in 1878, she married Andrew Murray.


Family Notices. (1878, January 12). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 1. Retrieved December 29, 2013, from

Isabella was a member of the Australian Women’s National League, a President of the local Red Cross branch and with the outbreak of WW1, she became the local representative of the Neglected Children’s Department.  Her brother Robert was the Town Clerk of Ararat for many years.

Richard Benson McGARVIE: Died 19 December 1938 at Camperdown. Richard McGarvie arrived in the Pomberneit district, with his father William in 1865. Richard was a farmer until the 1920s when he moved into Camperdown. Prior to that Richard he was an active community member of Pomberneit, as a member of the Victorian Mounted Rifles, the Pomberneit Rifle Club and the Camperdown Pastoral and Agricultural society. He was a Councillor on the Heytesbury Shire and served as a committee member of the St James Church of England, Pomberneit. He left a widow, Emma, and three sons and three daughters.

Mary SWAIN: Died 19 December 1941 at Camperdown. Mary Swain was born in Port Fairy around 1860 but moved to Camperdown as a girl. She married Joshua Beard and they had one son and a daughter. Joshua helped build the railway between Camperdown and Timboon in the late 19th century and one of Mary’s dearest possessions was a photo of Joshua and a wagon laden with posts from that time.

James WILSON: Died 25 December 1944 at Portland. James was born at The Lagoons, Lower Bridgewater in 1863 to John and Agnes Wilson, pioneers of the Bridgewater district. In 1886, he married Priscilla Hollard. James was a hairdresser and tobacconist in Portland and worked for Learmonth’s auctioning firm. He ran a business in Melbourne for some time before returning to Portland in the late 1940s. During his time in Portland, he attended the Methodist church and was a member of the Sons of Temperance benefit society. He and Priscilla did not have a family.

Ruth GALE: Died 5 December 1949 at Portland. Ruth Gale was born in Portland around 1863 and attend Hill’s School at West Portland.  Ruth was a dressmaker and learnt her trade from Mrs Trickey of Portland. Around 1889, she married Angus Martin and they moved around the state, residing at several different towns, before moving back to Portland around 1942.

Passing of the Pioneers

Welcome to November Passing of the Pioneers with a Stawell, Port Fairy and Irish flavour. The pioneers include a licensee, a chemist and an inventive engineer.

If you are new to the monthly Passing of the Pioneers, the obituaries listed here are a summary of the original obituaries, using dates and other information direct from the obituary. I make no attempt to check or correct information contained in the obituary. The original obituaries are found by clicking on the names of the pioneers.

A word of warning, while obituaries often have a wealth of information, that information must be treated with caution.  Naturally, obituaries are written using second-hand information and recall events that occurred many years before the subject’s death, therefore that information can often be incorrect and sometimes even fanciful.   Therefore, information found in an obituary can only used for a guide to find primary sources to qualify the claims of an obituary.

Alexander RUSSELL: Died 27 November 1867 at Port Fairy. When Alexander Russell first arrived in Port Fairy in 1847, he took up his chosen profession as a doctor. However, upon his return to the “old country” he gave away medicine and moved into the field of “mercantile speculation” and upon his return to Port Fairy established the Moyne Mill using machinery he brought back from Scotland. Alexander was also the first Mayor of Belfast (Port Fairy) and was elected to the State parliament as member for Villiers and Heytesbury. He relinquished his seat due to ill-health.

Mary D. KEATING: Died 8 November 1914 at Port Fairy. Mary Keating was born in Port Fairy and before her marriage to William Wall, she worked as a teacher at the local Catholic school. William was the Secretary of the Belfast Shire. During her life, Mary was a tireless worker for the Catholic church. William predeceased Mary by fifteen years and they had four children.

Michael QUINLAN: Died November 1914 at Hawkesdale. Michael Quinlan was born in Tipperary, Ireland around 1835, and travelled to Australia when he was around twenty-four. He settled first around Koroit, before taking up land at Hawkesdale. He was a Minhamite Shire Councillor and enjoyed visiting the winter race meeting at Warrnambool.  Michael left one daughter at the time of his passing.

George KAY:  Died 11 November 1915 at Stawell. George Kay lived his forty-nine years in Stawell, in that relatively short time left his mark. He began work at the Stawell foundry and worked in engineering. He took up a partnership in the Kay & Co. Stawell Foundry and remained there until his death. One of his engineering feats was inventing a judging machine for the Stawell Athletics Club, famous for the Stawell Gift. The machine earned him much praise, including from the Governor of Victoria on a trip to Stawell. He was a member of the Stawell Rifle Club and a member of the Pride of Wimmera Lodge.  He left a widow and two daughters.

William WAREHAM: Died 3 November 1916 at Woolongoon. William Wareham was born at Box Hill in 1844 and at nineteen went to work at Woolongoon Station, near Mortlake. He married and settled in the area.

OBITUARY. (1916, November 8). Mortlake Dispatch (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 3. Retrieved November 29, 2013, from

OBITUARY. (1916, November 8). Mortlake Dispatch (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved November 29, 2013, from

He left a large family including thirty-two grandchildren.

Mary KELLY: Died 19 November 1916 at Stawell. Mary Kelly was born in Tipperary, Ireland around 1836 and travelled to Australia with her parents when she was a girl. She married John Kay and they settled at Great Western.They later moved to Stawell and ran a wine saloon in Main Street before becoming licensees of the Star Hotel (later known as the Stawell Club) in the late 1890s. Family members continued to run the hotel until 1910 when John Alison took over the licence, but Mary continued to own the building.

Margaret ANDERSON: Died 20 November 1916 at Port Fairy. Margaret Anderson was born in Melbourne in 1844 and moved to the Western District with her family at the age of three, taking up residence at Rosebrook. She married John Wright and they settled at nearby Yambuk. Four years prior to her death, Margaret moved into Port Fairy. She was a devout member of St Patrick’s Catholic Church at Port Fairy. Three sons and one daughter were alive at the time of her death, with son George a parish priest in New Zealand.

ST. PATRICKS CATHOLIC CHURCH, PORT FAIRY.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria,  Image no H32492/7521

ST. PATRICKS CATHOLIC CHURCH, PORT FAIRY. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria, Image no H32492/7521

William DAWSON: Died 30 November 1916 at Stawell. William Dawson was born in Stawell around 1868 and followed his father into the chemist business. After his father’s death, William took over the family chemist shop. William’s passion was sport and he was involved in most of what was on offer in Stawell.  He rode high-wheeled bicycles when they were in vogue and was an official at the Stawell Cycling Club. William was also a cricketer and played with state side, the Victorian Rangers. He was also a founding member of the Stawell Rifle Club and Golf Club and was a keen fisherman. Sport aside, William was a prominent member of the Stawell Brass Band.

Bridget MAHONEY: Died 15 November 1918 at Port Fairy. Bridget Mahoney was born in Ireland in 1823. She arrived in Australia with her husband John Clancy in 1855, travelling from America. Bridget and John settled on a farm at Yambuk.  John passed away around 1895 and Bridget continued to live at Yambuk until seven years prior to her death when she moved to Port Fairy to live with her daughter Lizzie.

William REES: Died 29 November 1918 at Stawell. William Rees was born in South Wales around 1830. He began an apprenticeship as a joiner and for the next five years he travelled to Canada and the United States, arriving in California in 1853. In 1854, he was lured to the goldfields of Victoria, including Ballarat, Carisbrook and Ararat. He married another native of South Wales in Jane Symons in 1855. William and Jane arrived at Stawell in 1857. William  worked as a carpenter for the Oriental and North Cross Mining Company for many years.


Passing of the Pioneers

If you have read my last post, A Pleasant Distraction, you will understand why October Passing of the Pioneers just got in by the skin of its teeth. Thankfully I had the bones of the post done before “Hamilton Fever” took hold. This month there are the obituaries of a bricklayer, a Gaelic preacher, a disgraced crewman from the General Hewitt and a member of the Henty family.

David HUTTON: Died 9 October 1875 at Mount Rouse. David Hutton was born in Greenock, Scotland around 1809. He was an engineer by trade, and left Scotland in 1833 for Hobart to follow his brothers. One brother, William, saw opportunities in the new colony of Victoria, and David later followed, arriving at Portland in around 1844. He took out a lease on land at Mount Rouse and established Cheviot Hills.  David Hutton was a foundation member of the Mt. Rouse Board and served for seven years. A Presbyterian, he was one of those behind the building of a church at Penshurst. He was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery with other members of his family.  Hutton street in Penshurst is named after David Hutton. Another obituary, published  in The Mercury of Hobart, has more on David’s story

Ewan McDONALD: Died 13 October 1891 at Warrion. Ewan McDonald was born around 1808 and first went to the Colac district when he settled on land at Dreeite around 1866. Ewan was a Presbyterian and at one time gave services at the Larpent Presbyterian Church in Gaelic.

John H. DUNN: Died 29 October 1914 at Hamilton. John Dunn was born in Geelong around 1860 and arrived in Hamilton, with his parents, two years later. Like his father, John was a bricklayer and together they built some of Hamilton’s larger buildings.  A search for Dunn’s bricklayers found a reference on the Victorian Heritage Database. The home mentioned, in the Church Hill area of Hamilton is well-known to me and was built by William Dunn, when John was still a baby. In later life, John was a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites and the Methodist Church. He married Miss H. Luxton of Macarthur and they had nine children.

James DUNCAN: Died 8 October 1916 at Balmoral. James Duncan was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1837 and he arrived on the Flora McDonald to Portland in 1855. He went to Rocklands, near Balmoral, working as a shepherd. He left the district for Serpentine before returning to Glendinning station as overseer. He later took up the carpentry trade in Balmoral.  He married Emily Rogers in 1876 and they had six children.

Elizabeth LEAHY: Died 15 October 1916 at Cavendish. Elizabeth Leahy was born in Adelaide around 1849. Her family came to Victoria to the goldfields of Bendigo and Ballarat, before returning to South Australia, taking up residence at Mt. Gambier. Elizabeth later moved to Lake Bolac and met her future husband, J.H Wallis. They married at Ararat. The couple farmed in the Wimmera, moved back to Ararat before settling at Mooralla around 1910.

Samuel BROWNLAW: Died 13 October 1917 at Tyrendarra. Samuel Brownlaw and his wife, Mary Ann Speechly, arrived on the Severn to Portland in 1856. They first went to Yambuk, before settling at Tyrendarra were they remained. In 1875, Samuel donated land for the Tyrendarra School. Samuel left three sons and three daughters at the time of his death.

John Stevens ANDREW aka John FORSTER: Died 5 October 1918 at Merino Downs. I have touched upon the obituary of John Andrew/Forster before, in the post The General Hewitt. John’s obituary gave me some clues to the names of the crew members that caused unrest during the voyage and those that deserted. John was one of those crew members, explaining his alias. Unfortunately, his obituary speaks of nothing else but that voyage that hung over his head, even after death,

Christina McGREGOR: Died October 1925 at Hamilton. Christina McGregor was born in Inverness, Scotland around 1835. and arrived in Melbourne around 1847 on The Indian. Aboard the schooner The Wave, Christina travelled to Portland. Her next destination, on horseback, was to Satimer Estate near Casterton, owned by her uncle Alexander Davidson.  Station life must not have been proper for a young lady as Christina returned to Portland to attend the ladies school run by the Misses Allison. It was in Portland she met her future husband, Archibald McDonald, from Condah, where they remained for the rest of the lives.

Phillip Henry THEISINGER: Died October 1942 at Portland. Geelong native, Phillip Theisinger, moved to Portland as a small child and remained there for the rest of his life. He worked as a storeman and was a secretary of the Portland Waterside Worker’s Union. Phillip was also a member of the Portland Citizen’s Band for forty-five years and was a member of the Portland Masonic Lodge. He married Sarah Ann Surrey and they had twelve children, but only three still survived at the time of Phillip’s death.

Henry COWLAND:  Died 21 October 1942 at Heywood. Henry Cowland was born in Brixton around 1847. He arrived with his parent to Portland aboard the Severn in 1856. He attended the Butler’s School in Portland until he was twelve and then he obtained work as a contractor at Sandford. He also worked as a fencer and a carrier, carting sleepers for the railway line between Hamilton and Portland.

HENRY COWLAND.  OBITUARY. (1942, November 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved October 24, 2013, from

HENRY COWLAND. OBITUARY. (1942, November 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved October 24, 2013, from

Annie DAWKINS: Died 2 October 1942 at Hamilton. Annie Dawkins was born at Glencoe, South Australia around 1866 and travelled to Victoria as a girl with her parents and they settled near Condah. Annie married Henry Dyer Rundell at Condah in 1890. She was a supporter of the Red Cross and did her bit during the two World Wars. She left a family of five children,

Agnes Cecil HENTY: Died 30 October 1945 at Nelson, New Zealand. Agnes Cecil Henty was the 6th daughter of Stephen and Jane Henty and she was born at Portland in 1850. In 1877, she married Edward Stafford Coster in New Zealand and they resided at Canterbury on the South island. Twenty-five years later Agnes and family moved to Nelson and she remained there until her death aged ninety-five.

Robert Henry HOLLIS:  Died October 1946 at Portland. Robert Hollis was born in Tarragal around 1863. His parents moved to Gorae when Robert’s father began work as a stockman for the Henty’s. After some time working as a butcher, Robert turned to farming and at the time of his death he “had a fine dairy farm and orchard property”.

Passing of the Pioneers

This September’s Passing of the Pioneers includes some early colonists, many offering up some interesting extra tidbits.

The images I have used in this post show how Trove can help illustrate your family stories. Simply pick a landmark, ship or even a theme (thinking of the recent post Stretching my Genealogy Muscles), and then do a Trove search. I find many “out of copyright” images from both the State Library of Victoria and the State Library of South Australia. As long as you cite the image correctly, you are free to use that image. Other repositories require that “out of copyright” images be used for personal use only, except with permission from the institution. For the purposes of my blog, that’s not practical as I’m usually searching on a whim, but would not be problem if writing an article or book.

John MOFFATT: Died 5 September 1871. The story of John Moffatt is a something of a rags to riches story and easily could have ended in rags again. Moffatt was born in Scotland around 1817. He arrived in Victoria around 1839 and began work as a shepherd at Hopkins Hills Estate, then run by the Clyde Company. He then went to The Grange at Hamilton owned by Captain William Lonsdale.

In 1854, prophesies of financial doom were directed at the squatters. The Clyde Company got cold feet and sold Hopkins Hill.  John Moffatt was able to buy the property where he worked as a shepherd, fifteen years before, presumably at a reasonable price. In the late 1850s he built Chatsworth House for around £20,000 and given his small freehold, many thought such a lavish investment  would lead to his demise. By the time of his death, however, he was earning £35,000 per annum from rental on his properties.

HOPKINS HILL HOMESTEAD.  Engraving by Grosse, Frederick, d 1828-1894, Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image No. IAN04/02/68/SUPP/4

HOPKINS HILL HOMESTEAD. Engraving by Grosse, Frederick, d 1828-1894,
Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. IAN04/02/68/SUPP/4

John Moffat sat as a member of Villiers and Heytesbury from November 1864 to December 1865 in the Victorian Parliament.  He also imported horses with some of the finest bloodlines seen in the colony. His greatest triumph was hosting Prince Alfred in 1867 as depicted in the sketch below by Nicholas Chevalier.  An extensive report of the visit, including Chevalier’s sketch were published in the Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne: 1867-1875) on 4 February 1868. Unfortunately, the Prince was a keen hunter and was able to indulge in his “sport” at Hopkins Hill which sadly involved a yard of kangaroos. That incident too, was reported on at length.

THE ENTRANCE HALL, HOPKINS HILL. - Nicholas Chevalier. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. IAN04/02/68/SUPP/1

THE ENTRANCE HALL, HOPKINS HILL. – Nicholas Chevalier. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. IAN04/02/68/SUPP/1

John Moffatt travelled to England around 1869.  In 1871, he decided to return to Australia, taking an overland route,  but died during the course of the trip and was buried at Galle, Sri Lanka.  He never married.  A line at the end of the obituary gives some insight into John’s character.  His brother, Robert Moffatt, was described as “even more eccentric” than John.

Thomas MUST: Died 2 September 1905 at Portland. Thomas Must was born in London in 1815 and arrived in Sydney in 1832 aboard the Guardian. He worked for general merchants and shipping agents, Marsden and Flower and in 1842 he married Anne Wilcox. Marsden and Flower sent Thomas to Victoria in 1846 and he established an agency at Portland.   Horace Flower joined him and they formed the partnership, Flower, Must & Co., traders. A large warehouse was built in Bentick Street.

After seven years, Must bought out Flower’s share in the company. Thomas later set up a branch at Port McDonnell, South Australia. He operated his business for a further twenty-seven years, but in the meantime he served on local government and sat on the Victorian Legislative Assemble and saw some shaky financial times. Thomas had the family home Prospect built in 1855, and from there he and Ann raised eight daughters and four sons.

“Prospect” Portland circa 1962-1966. Photographer: John T. Collins. J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. Image No. H98.250/2022

Angus McDOUGALL:  Died 4 September 1914 at Hamilton. Angus McDougall, a Scot, arrived at Portland around 1854 aged seventeen, aboard the Edward Johnstone. He started working as a carrier between Portland and Hamilton, but eventually took up land at Buckley’s Swamp. He married, but he and his wife never had children. Eight of his siblings were still alive at the time of his death and the funeral was one of the largest seen in the district, with around sixty vehicles and many on horseback.

Sarah Ann BURNETT:  Died 7 September 1914 at Warrnambool.  Sarah Ann Burnett arrived at Port Fairy aboard the Persian in 1852 with her husband William Miller and three of their children. They lived first between Port Fairy and Tower Hill, then settled on the Merri River at Cassidy’s Bridge. Sarah and William raised seven children. Her obituary states there were two grandchildren and twenty-five great-grandchildren at the time of her death.  Reverse that I think…or, maybe, her two grandchildren were just prolific breeders.

Sarah and her fellow Methodist church goer, Henry Beardsley (below), died a day apart and were both remembered at a service at the Warrnambool Methodist Church led by Reverend Harris.

WARRNAMBOOL METHODIST CHURCH.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image No. H32492/2746

WARRNAMBOOL METHODIST CHURCH. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. H32492/2746

Fortunately, the Warrnambool Standard documented the service. Reverend Harris reminded the congregation of the great contribution pioneer women made to the colony, a fact often forgotten.

METHODIST CHURCH. (1914, September 14). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

METHODIST CHURCH. (1914, September 14). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

Henry BEARDSLEY: Died 9 September 1914 at Russell’s Creek. Henry Beardsley, born in Derbyshire on Christmas Day, 1842, arrived at Hobsons Bay in 1852 aboard the Marco Polo. He accompanied his parents, John and Elizabeth, and four siblings.  That information is from the PROV Index to Assisted British Immigration (1839-1871), something the writer of Henry Beardleys’ obituary did not have access to.  If he did, he would have known that the Marco Polo didn’t land at Geelong in 1850.

Henry first went to Ararat with his family, then on to Warrnambool where he took a job at “Spring Gardens” nursery. After nine years he took a managerial role at the nursery of Mr R. S. Harris. He remained there for another nine years.  After eighteen years in the industry, he started his own nursery at Russell’s Creek.

At the Warrnambool Methodist Church memorial service, Henry, a Sunday School teacher, was remembered as the children’s friend.


METHODIST CHURCH. (1914, September 14). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 4 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

METHODIST CHURCH. (1914, September 14). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 4 Edition: DAILY.. Retrieved September 25, 2013, from

Margaret BISSETT: Died 14 September 1914 at Richmond. Margaret Bissett was born in Scotland and came to Victoria around the 1850s. She went to Dunmore Station (below), between Port Fairy and Macarthur, owned by Charles MacKnight. It was there she met her future husband, Michael Horan, a worker at the property.

DUNMORE c1866. Photographer Joseph Henry Sodden. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. H1736

After Charles and Margaret’s marriage, they moved to Orford, near Warrnambool, and purchased the Horse and Jockey Hotel which they ran for several years Margaret also ran the Post Office. Margaret passed away at her daughter’s home in Richmond and she was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery.

James PAPLEY: Died 18 September 1914 at Port Fairy. In 1852, James Papley from Orkney Island, Scotland, his wife Jessie and two babies and a female relative, presumably his sister, left Birkenhead for Port Phillip aboard the Ticonderoga on what was to become a hellish voyage with 170 passengers dying during the passage. 

MELBOURNE SHIPPING. (1852, November 15). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875), p. 2. Retrieved September 28, 2013, from

MELBOURNE SHIPPING. (1852, November 15). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 2. Retrieved September 28, 2013, from

There is an excellent website Ticonderoga that documents the voyage, the passengers and related articles.  It is well worth a look.

James and Jessie began work as the master and matron of the Port Fairy Hospital and remained there many years before turning to farm life at Narrawong, their home for forty-three years.

FORMER PORT FAIRY HOSPITAL c1958.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

FORMER PORT FAIRY HOSPITAL c1958. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria

Letitia WALL:  Died 8 September 1915 at Toorak. Letitia Wall was born in the Wynard Barracks, Sydney in 1824, her father Colonel Charles William Wall led the 3rd Regiment (The Buffs). She married Robert Henry Woodward in 1846 at Moreton Bay and they went to the Port Fairy district soon after. In her later years, Letitia took up residence at Kilmaron Toorak Road, Toorak where she passed away.

Margaret SEFTON: Died September 1915 at Coleraine.  Margaret Sefton, born in County Down, Ireland in 1823, travelled to Port Phillip with her father and siblings. She married William Brown in 1847 at St. James Church, Melbourne. The couple spent some time in Melbourne and Hamilton before settling at Coleraine. They had thirteen children and by the time of Margaret and William’s Diamond Wedding anniversary, there were eighty-one grandchildren and eleven  great-grandchildren to join the celebrations.  William passed away in 1908.

The  Australia Marriage Index records Margaret and William’s marriage as 1847, as does the site “Came to Port Phillip by 1849″, however Margaret’s obituary refers to their marriage in 1846, their Golden anniversary as 1896 and Diamond anniversary as 1906. Maybe Margaret and William forgot the year they married?

Michael CASEY: Died 8 September 1918 at Macarthur. Born in Limerick, Ireland around 1835, Michael Casey arrived at Geelong aboard the Great Australia, possibly on her 1862 voyage.

GREAT AUSTRALIA, Image Courtesy of the  John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.  Image no. 77078

GREAT AUSTRALIA, Image Courtesy of the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image no. 77078

He obtained Municipal contracts for work and he also married, but the newlyweds left Geelong for Sydney when Michael obtained work as a stone mason on the new St Mary’s Cathedral.

ST MARY'S CATHEDRAL, SYDNEY.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no.  H92.200/429

ST MARY’S CATHEDRAL, SYDNEY. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H92.200/429

After Sydney, Michael and his family moved to Colac, then the Wimmera and finally Macarthur.

George Elias BUTLER: Died 15 September 1918 at Hamilton. A son of a doctor, George Butler was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1844.  At the age of twenty-five, he travelled to Australia aboard the Great Britain.

GREAT BRITAIN.  Image courtesy of the Brodie Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.  Image No.  H99.220/4119

GREAT BRITAIN. Image courtesy of the Brodie Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. Image No. H99.220/4119

He married at Ballarat in 1875 to Catherine Abbott. George spent time working at Blumesbury Muntham before leasing Glengleeson near Macarthur. In his later years, George moved to Hamilton and was known as a respected citizen with many friends throughout the district.

Edward SIMMONS: Died 20 September 1918 at Melbourne. Edward Simmons found his fortune  but it seems he didn’t set out to do it the way he did, unlike many other that tried.  Edward started out selling stock in the Moonambel district before moving to Stawell and running a butcher shop with his brother William.

Fortunately, they obtained shares in Stawell’s Orient Mine, one of the town’s most profitable, as history would show.  Healthy dividends saw them increase their interests in other mines in the town.  Edward was able to buyOban ,now the Stawell RSL. He also purchased pastoral properties including Yarram and Drung. In his later years, he moved to Melbourne and lived with his daughter at Shanghai on St, Kilda Road.