Passing of the Pioneers

Robert Laidlaw becomes the fifth member of the Laidlaw family included in the Pioneer Obituary Index.  Others this month include a man who left Portland at an early age but often returned for a visit and another who lived at beautiful Bridgewater all of his life.  And why not?

Lindsay CLARKE – Died 16 October 1891 at Portland.  Lindsay Clarke was born in Ireland in 1818 and at the age of sixteen began training as a surveyor.  He arrived in Sydney some time after 1845 and Portland in 1848.  Lindsay’s role in Portland was Assistant Government Surveyor.  By 1851, he had done much surveying around Portland and further north.

"PORTLAND BAY." The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 - 1880) 15 Jan 1851: 26. .

“PORTLAND BAY.” The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas. : 1835 – 1880) 15 Jan 1851: 26. <;.

Lindsay was promoted to District Surveyor for Portland, Hamilton and Ararat and spent some time residing in Ararat.  In 1873, Lindsay moved to Hamilton after the closure of the Lands Office there, and he remained there for six years until his retirement in 1879.

Lindsay Clarke was on the committee of the Portland Benevolent Asylum and Hospital and was in the role of President for ten consecutive years.  He was also a member of the Portland Borough Council and declined the Mayoral role when it was offered to him.  Another roll, was Justice of the Peace acting as Bailiff for the Western area.  He would attend Portland Court (below) every court day to fulfill his role as bailiff.


PORTLAND COURT HOUSE. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

PORTLAND COURT HOUSE. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

Lindsay was also Superintendent of the Sabbath School at the Church of England, a member of the Bowling Club; and Horticulture Society.

Mary MARSDEN – Died 9 October 1909 at Cobden.  Mary Marsden was born around 1833 and arrived in Victoria in 1854, living in Ballarat for around thirty years. Around 1887, she and her husband Roger Hirst settled in the Timboon district.  In her last years, Mary and Roger moved to Cobden where Mary died in 1909.

Robert LAIDLAW – Died 28 October 1914 at Beulah.  Born in Scotland in 1831, Robert Laidlaw arrived at Portland in 1851.  He spent time around the diggings before purchasing Lake Roy station near Naracoorte, South Australia.  He sold that property during the 1880s and retired to Geelong.  Two of Robert’s brothers, Thomas and Walter, have been Passing Pioneers in the past.

Richard BARNES – Died October 1915 at Hamilton.  Richard Barnes was born in South Australia around 1852.  He arrived in Penshurst as a child and remained there throughout his life.   Richard was well-known around Penshurst  through his community activities.  He was a founding member of the Penshurst P&A Society, a trustee of the racecourse and the recreation reserve. For six years he was  a Councillor with the Mt Rouse Shire (offices below)

PENSHURST SHIRE HALL. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

PENSHURST SHIRE HALL. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

Richard was also known as the “father” of the Penshurst Boxing Day Racing Club and was President of the club for fifteen years.

James Frederick HILL – Died October 1935 at Essendon.  James Hill was born in Portland in 1852 where his father was Principal of one of Portland’s National Schools.  As a young man James left Portland and obtained a job with the Chief Secretary’s Department.  Despite leaving Portland, he was a regular back to the town of his birth and was well-known by all.

Henry William OSBORNE – Died 20 October 1936 at Malvern.  Henry Osborne was born in 1865 near Amhurst in Central Victoria.  After a couple of newspaper jobs, Henry moved to Warrnambool working as a junior reporter for the Warrnambool Standard in 1886.  He was appointed Shire of Warrnambool secretary in 1898 and held that role for six years before resigning to take up the roll of General Manager of the Western District Co-operative and Insurance Ltd.  The company grew under the Henry’s management and his job also took him overseas.  In 1920, the Federal Government sent him overseas to negotiate the sale of Australia’s surplus butter.  He was selected to advise the Australian delegation at the Ottawa conference in 1932 and was a member of the Australian Dairy Producers’ Board.   There is an entry for Henry Osborne in the Australian Dictionary of Biography

John James KENNEDY – Died 20 October 1939 at Bridgewater.  The Kennedy family were early settlers at Bridgewater and John Kennedy spent his childhood days roaming the hills surrounding Bridgewater Bay and running on the sandy beach.

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John was born at Bridgewater around 1861 to James Kennedy and Margaret Lennan, and he lived there, following farming pursuits, for his entire seventy-eight years.  In 1939, three family members died at the Kennedy homestead on Blowholes Road overlooking the bay.  Along with John on 20 October, his brother Daniel died on 8 April and an aunt, Frances Ann Kennedy on 21 November.  More information about the Kennedy family and their homestead, now in ruins, is available on the link – Kennedy Family Bridgewater




Passing of the Pioneers

April Passing of the Pioneers includes one of the pioneers of the Presbyterian Church in the Coleraine district, a mother of fourteen children, several Shire Councillors and a successful storekeeper.

Thomas GOODWIN: Died 7 April 1914 at Rosebrook. Thomas Goodwin was born in Tasmania about 1833 and arrived at Port Fairy as a child. He farmed first in the Glenormiston district but when land became available at Farnham, he moved there. In his later years, he farmed at Rosebrook.  He left three sons and four daughters.

Letitia WILLIAMSON: Died 11 April 1914 at Koroit. Letitia Williamson was born in County Armagh, Ireland. She arrived in Victoria in 1857 and married James O’Neill in Melbourne the following year. They spent some time in Melbourne then moved to Koroit where James was a boot maker. James passed away around 1903 and when Letitia passed away she left six children.

William QUILL: Died 13 April 1914 at Portland. William Quill was born at Werrangourt Station, Byaduk around 1845, but his family moved to Yambuk when he was a boy. After his marriage to Miss Doherty, William and his new bride settled at Macarthur. William was on holiday in Portland when he passed away.

Samuel KEEN: Died 21 April 1914 at Hamilton. Samuel Keen was born in Stafford, England around 1846 and came to Australia aboard the ship Helen about six years later with his parents. The family travelled to Hamilton by bullock wagon, where Samuel remained for the rest of his life.

Reverend William John GILLESPIE: Died 24 April 1914 at Hawthorn. Reverend Gillespie was born in Antrim, Ireland in 1826 and trained for the ministry in Belfast. He travelled to Australia in 1867 with his wife of five years, Mary Oliphant Morrison. The following year he took up position in charge of Coleraine, Casterton, Merino and Digby Churches and remained in that role until 1902. During his time at Coleraine, he was president of the Coleraine debating club, and chairman of the Board of Advice, Mechanics Institute and Railway League. With his health failing, the Reverend and his wife moved to Melbourne where he remained until his death. He was buried in the Coleraine cemetery.

Arthur Grainger HILL: Died 7 April 1917 at Edenhope. Arthur Hill was born in Somersetshire, England and when he arrived in Australia he first settled in N.S.W. He came to Victoria to work with the Railway Department of Victoria. Around 1880, he was appointed Engineer of the Wannon Shire Council. Due to  a successful period of employment with the Shire, upon his retirement Arthur was awarded a bonus of a years wages.

Sarah MOFFATT: Died 22 April 1917 at Hamilton. Sarah Moffatt was born in Ireland around 1836 and arrived in Australia in the late 1850s. She married Peter Lewis and they had two sons, however, Peter passed away. She married Benjamin Chamberlain of Port Fairy and they had three daughters and one son. Sarah was buried at the Port Fairy cemetery. Another obituary appeared in the Hamilton Spectator on 27 April 1917.

George TRANGMAR: Died 25 April 1917 at Melbourne. George Trangmar was born in Brighton, England around 1828  and arrived in Victoria in 1849. He started in business with his brother James in Portland before opening a store in Coleraine in 1851. He remained in business there for twenty-five years and during that time was a member of the Wannon Shire, including some years as President. During the 1870s, he purchased the Toolang Estate near Coleraine for sheep farming.  He sold Toolang around the turn of the century and moved to Melbourne. He was buried at Coleraine Cemetery.

Thomas Lewis WYATTDied 15 April 1918 at Hamilton. Thomas Wyatt was born in London, England around 1831 and married at St., Brides Church, London in 1853. In 1855, Thomas and Mrs Wyatt. a young son and Thomas’ brother James, left Plymouth aboard the Anna Maria, arriving at Portland in February 1856.  He took up the trade of plasterer and his work took him to Mt. Gambier and Melbourne before he went into partnership in Hamilton. He was a founding member of the Portland Oddfellows lodge. Thomas left a widow, two sons and three daughters

Johanna STEVEN: Died April 1925 at Heywood. Johanna Steven was born near Glasgow, Scotland and arrived in Victoria with her parents around 1860. Her father owned what was known around Portland as the “Wee Station” in South Portland,  a small acreage as up to date as a large pastoral station which attracted visits by tourists to the town. Johanna married William Reid at Portland and they raised a family of fourteen children. Johanna and William were foundation members of the Heywood Presbyterian Church.

William PHILIP: Died April 1933 at Hamilton. William Philip was born around 1858 and was educated at the Hamilton Academy and Geelong College. After Geelong, he returned to the Western District and owned properties including Violet Creek, Kenilworth and Mt. William. He was a member of the Dundas Shire Council for twenty years and was a member of the racing, golf and swimming clubs as well as the Masonic Lodge. His support assisted the financing the Hamilton War Memorial and  local swimming pool.



Passing of the Pioneers

April Passing of the Pioneers includes members of some of Western Victoria’s well-known pioneering families including Bell, Learmonth, Trigger, Kittson and Coulson. There is also the great character of Thomas Tattersall of Ararat, a train driving pioneer.

Edwin CUMMINGS:  Died 2 April 1892 at Portland. Edwin Cummings, originally from Tasmania, had only been in Portland around sixteen years but in that time he worked hard to improve his lot. On his arrival in Portland, he ran a successful saw-milling/cabinet making business. Edwin then moved to farming pursuits. Using modern farming methods, he was able to improve his holding. Edwin also lost several adult children to consumption.

Thomas TATTERSALL: Died 24 April 1894 at Ararat. Lancashire born Thomas Tattersall died from fish poisoning on his birthday. He was a pioneering engine driver and his death was recognised by the  Governor of Victoria who sent a telegram of condolence to the Ararat railway station. Thomas drove the first train from Melbourne to Bendigo and was one of the first drivers to Portland. He had also driven the train for many dignitaries including the Governor and the Premier of Victoria.

Thomas BROWN: Died April 1903 at Hamilton. Thomas Brown went to Hamilton with his parents, after their arrival in Victoria from Scotland in 1852.  Thomas was an elder of the Hamilton Presbyterian Church and a long time member of the Sons of Temperance and was also involved with other temperance movements. Active in many charities, his obituary noted that the poor of Hamilton had lost a friend in Thomas Brown.

Alfred COWLAND:  Died 27 April 1908 at Casterton. Alfred Cowland was born in Kent, England and arrived in Victoria around 1858 aged twenty-two  He travelled with his parents, and Alfred and his father began farming at Greenwalde.  Alfred married the widow of Fred Spencer, but they did not have any children.

Sophia Styche COLBY: Died 8 April 1915 at Port Fairy. Sophia Colby’s husband Harry Osmond was a partner in Osmond Bros., hotel keepers and butchers. Sophia was the hostess at the Market Hotel, Port Fairy and considered a most popular landlady in the Western District and if the races were on, she was there.

Thomas Ferry PEARSON:  Died 24 April 1915 at Port Fairy. Thomas Pearson was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England and arrived in Portland in 1852. He married Jane Strachan there before moving to Port Fairy in 1855.  He went to work on the pilot boats under Captain Mills and then for 13 years was keeper of the Griffiths Island lighthouse.



Francis Stubbs COULSON: Died 10 April 1916 at Hamilton. Francis Coulson was the husband of my gg aunt Harriet Martha Diwell. He was the son of Christopher Coulson and Mary Frances Stubbs and was born in Yorkshire, England in 1842.  He married Harriet in 1873 and they had thirteen children. Francis ran a carrying business between Portland and the inland towns. He also farmed at Rosebank Dwyers Creek and hard work saw him turn it into a “nice property”.

Mary Ann ANDREWS: Died 23 April 1918 at Port Fairy. Mary Ann Andrews was born in Somersetshire, England and arrived in Victoria in 1852. Soon after she married Joseph Digby.  They had a large family of nine sons and daughters.  She was eighty-eight at the time of her death.

Kate CUE: Died 23 April 1917 at Port Fairy. Kate Cue was from the Casterton district. Her brother  Tom Cue, a miner, had the town Cue, Western Australia named after him. Kate married William Sutherland McPherson of Nangeela station, Casterton. They took up residence in Port Fairy and had seven children.

James MAHONEY: Died 27 April 1918 at Port Fairy. James Mahoney of Killarney was a member of one of the oldest families in the district. He was the son of Mrs Quirk and had three brothers and a sister living at the time of his death aged sixty-nine. James had travelled extensively throughout Australia and never married.

James BELL: Died April 1923 at Mt. Eckersley. James Bell was a member of the well known Bell family of Mt Eckersley near Heywood. James, his parents and siblings arrived in Victoria in 1841 and they settled at Mt Eckersley. He was the last surviving member of the original family known for their longevity. James was ninety-seven at the time of his death and his father John Bell lived to 101.

Jonathan HARMAN:  Died April 1930 at Heywood. Jonathan Harman, my ggg uncle was also from a family known for longevity. He died at the home of his daughter, Amelia, wife of the nephew of James Bell (above). Jonathan was ninety-two years old and a colonist of seventy-six years.

Kate Isabella HILL: Died April 1934 at Wodonga. Kate Hill was the daughter of John and Isabella Hill of West Portland.  She was better known as “Kitty Hill” and her and sister Lizzie were household names in their early days. John Hill was a local school teacher. Kitty married William Smith of Wodonga and was seventy-five years old when she died.

Alexander MOTT:  Died 12 April 1934 at Casterton. Alexander was born in Millicent, South Australia and went to the Casterton district in the early 1900s. He farmed at Carapook and Bahgallah before settling in the Casterton township. His wife predeceased him and he left seven sons and daughters.

Mary Simpson LEARMONTH: Died 2 April 1939 at Hamilton. Mary Learmonth was from one well-known Hamilton family and married into another when she wed David Fraser Laidlaw in 1899. Mary was the daughter of Peter Learmonth of Prestonholme Hamilton. David’s father was David Laidlaw, a saddler who arrived in Hamilton with no money and become one of the town’s most prominent citizens.

Mary was quite the sportswoman and was seventeen times female champion of the Hamilton Golf Club. This was according to her obituary in the Portland Guardian, however, her obituary in The Argus of April 4, 1939 states she was club champion thirty-nine times.  She was also a talented tennis and croquet player. Other than sport, Mary was president of the Australian Women’s National League prior to her death and was a member of the Hamilton Horticulture Society.

Mary died at her home Eildon on the corner of Thompson and French Street Hamilton. Everyone who has lived in Hamilton will know the Laidlaw’s former home, just on the edge of the CBD and overlooking the Hamilton Botanic Gardens.  The house, designed by Ussher and Kemp, was sold after Mary’s death to the Napier Club, a club formed by the female counterparts of the Hamilton Club.  The club, formed around 1931, still occupies Eildon today.

“Eildon”, Hamilton

Alice Maria WYATT:  Died 23 April 1940 at Hamilton. Alice Wyatt, the daughter of Mr and Mrs Thomas Lewis Wyatt, spent her childhood in Portland before moving to Hamilton around 1878 when she was twenty. She did spend some time in Melbourne working for Sir Edward Miller and his wife Lady Mary Miller. Sir Edward was a politician who made his money in finance and pastoral pursuits.  Alice spent the last twenty-five years of her life in Hamilton.

Irwin BELL: Died April 1940 at Hamilton. Irwin Bell of Dartmoor was a son of James Bell (above). Irwin was born in Portland around 1874 and lived at Mt Eckersley until the Bell family property was sold. He married Ann Letts of Heywood and together they led a life dedicated to the Church of England. They established the first Sunday School at Dartmoor and prepared parishioners for their first communion. Irwin also worked for the Department of Forestry and in later years was a Justice of the Peace. He died at KiaOra Hospital in Hamilton and was buried at Heywood cemetery.

James TRIGGER:  Died 25 April 1945 at Macarthur. James Trigger was the son of Samuel and Eliza Trigger of Warrabkook near Macarthur. Born in 1859, James selected land at Mt Eccles at a young age and he farmed there for the duration of his life.

OBITUARY. (1945, May 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from

OBITUARY. (1945, May 24). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved April 27, 2013, from

James was interested in horse racing and was an owner of a number of horses. He left a widow and a son and daughter.

Robert Steven KITTSON: Died 8 April 1948 at Lower Cape Bridgewater. Robert Stephen Kittson was the son of James Kittson and Catherine Trotter and the last surviving member of the first family of Kittsons to arrive at Cape Bridgewater. A deeply religious man, he was involved in many church activities. Having had two sons serve in WW1, Robert showed an interest in returned servicemen and with his passing “ex-servicemen have lost a loyal friend”

Mary Ann ALLSOP:  Died 10 April 1953 at Port Campbell. Mary Ann was the daughter of Mr and Mrs Samuel Allsop, pioneers of the Port Campbell district. She married Thomas Wiggens at Purrumbete. After the death of Thomas, Mary Ann moved to Camperdown.  She left one son and three daughters and was buried at the Camperdown cemetery.

Passing of the Pioneers

March Passing of the Pioneers once again gathers together a diverse group of Western District pioneers. They include a winemaker and a lighthouse keeper. There are links to some well-known Western District properties and families, and a Portland resident that grew up with an English author.

Eliza Mary KEARTON: Died March 1891 at Creswick. Eliza Kearton was a long-time resident of Portland. She had gone to Creswick for an operation but died of complications. She was born in London in 1820 and married William Tulloh in 1844 in Tasmania. William’s obituary appeared in Passing of the Pioneers in July 2011 and includes a lot of detail about their lives in Portland.

James ROBERTSON: Died March 1892 at Portland. James Robertson was born in Alvie, Scotland. Once in Portland, he set up the Iron Store business with his older brothers John and William Robertson.

Anne WILCOX: Died 12 March 1894 at Portland. Anne and her husband Thomas Must were well-known residents of Portland. Anne was from Sydney and married Thomas a Sydney merchant in 1842 before they travelled to Portland to set up a branch of Thomas’ business, Must and Flower. A few years after his arrival in Portland, he had an architect design a home resulting in Prospect, built in 1855.The couple lived there for the rest of their lives. In 1908 at St Stephens Church, unveiled a stained glass window in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Must.




Ann PAXFORD:  Died March 1900 at Portland. Ann Paxford was the daughter of Jonathan Paxford and Ann Bray and was born around 1818. She married Edward Francis Hughes and they arrived in Victoria in 1853 and Portland in 1854.

Ann had an interesting life while a child in England. She spent time with a young Marion Evans better known as George Elliott, writer. Looking further into the story, which appears correct, proved intriguing. Ann, through her mother, Ann Bray was related to Charles Bray a ribbon manufacturer and a leader of the “intellectual elite”.(Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)  He described his house, Rosehill, as “a mecca for radicals and intellectuals” (The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference).  Marion Evans lived at Rosehill and that is where Ann would have come to know her.

Janet McCRACKEN:  Died March 1911 at Stawell. Born in Scotland around 1840, Janet McCracken arrived in Melbourne with her parents in the early 1850s. After a few years, they moved to Stawell and Janet married James Mathers. The couple lived in Stawell for the rest of their lives and had four sons and three daughters.

Daniel TYERS: Died 15 March 1915 at Byaduk. After arriving in Victoria around 1856, Daniel Tyers lived at Port Fairy. He later moved to Byaduk where he remained until his death at the age of ninety-five. He was buried at the Byaduk Cemetery along with his brother Samuel and sister Jane.

John MOONEY: Died 29 March 1915 at Mooney’s Gap. In 1854, John Mooney from Ireland, travelled to Australia aboard the Great Britain. His brother Lawrence had arrived the year before, so John joined him on the Ararat diggings. In 1858,  the brothers planted grape vines at Mooney’s Gap near Ararat and started the Emerald Vineyard. In the same year, just down the road, Jean-Pierre Trouette, his wife Ann-Marie and brother-in-law Emile Blampied, were the first to plant vines at Great Western.  While Troutte’s winery St. Peters no longer exists, other wineries from the early days, Best’s and Seppelts are still in production there.

OBITUARY. (1915, March 30). The Ararat advertiser (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 2 Edition: triweekly. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from

OBITUARY. (1915, March 30). The Ararat advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 2 Edition: triweekly. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from

In 1925, Lawrence Mooney uprooted the vines at Emerald Vineyard and used the land for other purposes.

Elizabeth Robertson MURDOCH:  Died 7 March 1916 at Port Fairy. I did a little extra research at on Mrs Whiting because I wanted to find her name, in preference to listing her as Mrs Albert Edwin Whiting. Elizabeth grew up around the Geelong area and married Albert Whiting in 1878. Albert was a son of Edwin Whiting and Hannah Manifold.   Hannah’s brothers were Thomas, Peter and William Manifold, original owners of the Purrumbete run.

At the time of marriage, John was station manager for the Chirnside’s property Boortkoi. Their wedding was at  Woolongoon, Mortlake then owned by Anthony McKenzie. Elizabeth and Albert moved to Port Fairy and lived at Boodcarra before moving to Loongana for several years before Elizabeth’s passing.

Family Notices. (1878, May 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 1. Retrieved March 28, 2013, from

Family Notices. (1878, May 6). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 1. Retrieved March 28, 2013, from

William HILL:  Died 14 March 1916 at Warrnambool. Born in Ireland, William Hill spent the first twenty years of his time in Victoria working for Henry de Little, owner of Caramut station.  He then began farming himself, first at Woodford and later at Framlingham where he had dairy cows for seventeen years. In the early 1860s, William married Mary Hassett of Caramut.

Mary FITZGERALD: Died 17 March  1916 at Tower Hill. Mary Fitzgerald lived in the Tower Hill district since she was ten- years-old, around 1849.  She married John Fitzgibbon and she left two sons and eight daughters at the time of her death.  Her funeral was attended by a large crowd of mourners.

John Joseph Thomas COOPER:  Died March 1918 at Port Fairy. John Cooper was born in Somerset, England and arrived in Victoria with his parents as a baby. He became an assistant life boat pilot in 1883 and became the Superintendent of life boats at Queenscliff in 1892.  Around 1905, he moved on to lighthouse keeping, working at Queencliff, Port Fairy, Cape Nelson and Warrnambool.





Marion Letitia HINDES:  Died 13 March 1918 at Port Fairy. Marion Hindes, better known as Letitia, was born in London in 1848 and arrived in Port Fairy four years later. She lived with her aunt, Mrs Gillespie at the Union Inn at Port Fairy. Letitia married Richard Emery in 1889. Richard died eight years before her and she left no children. She had two cousins surviving and two nieces.

Margaret WHITE:  Died 4 March 1925 at South Portland. Margaret White spent most of her life living in the Narrawong and Portland districts, an estimated eighty-two years. She married James Grant in 1870. She left two sons and three daughters. Margaret’s obituary mentions the hardships faced by the early settlers.

Old Resident Passes. (1925, March 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from

Old Resident Passes. (1925, March 5). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING.. Retrieved March 26, 2013, from


Florence EDSALL:  Died 22 March 1944 at Geelong.  Florence Edsall was born at Warrenheip near Ballarat around 1858.  She married W.J. Silvester and they lived in Cobden during their working lives, before retiring to Geelong. Florence’s husband was a Councillor with the Heytesbury Shire and was the first child of European descent born at Cobden,

The Leader of the Pack

When I think of my ancestors, the first name that comes to mind is James Harman.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because if I was to a pick a leader of my ancestors, the boss or the chairperson,  I think It would be James.

In the 15 years or so I have got to know my ggg grandfather, I have imagined him as organised, official and proud.  He was a leader in the church and the farming community speaking up for what he believed.  I can just  imagine him standing before my other ancestors, organising and guiding them.  Who would be his deputy?  I would think either of James’ brothers Jonathon or Walt who, in their own activities in the community, were of  the same mould.

James was born in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire in 1830, the son of Joseph and Sarah Harman.  He married Susan Reed of Whaddon on August 15, 1852 just two months later on October 20, 1852 they set sail aboard the “Duke of Richmond” bound for Portland, Victoria, Australia.  They spent time in Port Fairy before settling at Byaduk in the early 1860s.

At Byaduk, James was involved with the church, served on the first committee of the Byaduk State School at the age of 81, and farming activities such as ploughing competitions and the Farmers Union.

James and Susan had 10 children from 1854 to 1875, five boys and five girls.  Even that was orderly.

Reuben James   Birth: 1854 in Port Fairy, Victoria  Marriage: 1877 in Byaduk, Victoria to Elizabeth BISHOP Death: 05 Jan 1937 in Ballarat, Victoria.

Alfred   Birth: 1856 in Portland, Victoria  Marriage: 1883 to Louisa NEWMAN Death: 06 Nov 1922 in Byaduk, Victoria.

Isabella   Birth: 1857 in Port Fairy, Victoria Marriage: 1885 to Stephen WARD Death: 02 Aug 1886 in Port Fairy, Victoria.

George Henry   Birth: 1860 in Port Fairy, Victoria Death: 1861 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Julia   Birth: 1861 in Muddy Creek, Victoria  Marriage: 1882 to George HOLMES Death: 20 Dec 1896 in Casterton, Victoria.

Martha    Birth: 1863 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 08 Nov 1888 in Hamilton, Victoria to Frederick Charles HUGHES Death: 28 Dec 1960 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Henrietta   Birth: 1866 in Byaduk, Victoria. Death: 1952 in Hamilton, Victoria.

Albert    Birth: 1868 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 1907 to Emma CARMICHAEL Death: 26 Nov 1927 in Byaduk, Victoria.

Alice   Birth: 1871 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: Dec 1896 in Macarthur, Victoria to William James McLEAN Death: 21 Jun 1927 in Hamilton, Victoria.

George    Birth: 1875 in Byaduk, Victoria Marriage: 1908 to Hilda May HILL Death: 25 Sep 1947 in Hamilton, Victoria.

It was reading James’ Will, written in 1914, that really defined him for me.  In great detail,  he had carefully considered his beneficiaries and ensured that Susan and his spinster daughter Henrietta would be looked after once he was gone.  It also offered information of James’ property and farm related assets.

The first of James’ last wishes was that his watch and chain be passed on to his grandson, Albert Lionel HARMAN, the eldest son of George HARMAN.  Daughter Henrietta was to receive the furniture in the  house and all household effects.   She was also the beneficiary of James’ poultry.  He  made provision for Henrietta to stay in the house with James’ grandson Charles, only son of  Isabella who died when Charles was a baby.

Farming implements, including a chaff cutter and a set of harrows, were left to son Alfred.  He would also receive two horses and their harness, a number of sheep and half of the grain and hay on the farm at the time of James’ death.  James had a contingency if there was  no grain or hay on the property at the time of his death.  If this was to happen, Alfred would receive £30 instead.  There were conditions for Alfred however. He had to undertake to give his mother Susan 15 shillings a week and give £100 to each of his sisters, Martha and Alice within a year of his father’s death.

Reuben and Albert shared in a large amount of James’ land at Byaduk and Lake Gorrie, near Macarthur.  The description of the property at Byaduk known as the “House Paddock” gives some idea of the out-buildings that existed but also James’ methodical approach to such matters.  It read:

“…commencing at the junction of the Hamilton to Byaduk main road with the Louth road running southerly along the said main road to the entrance gate thence Westerly along the wire fence to the corner of the stack yard and including the woolshed and barn thence Northerly along the wire fence to the Louth road thence along the Louth road easterly to the commencing point.”

The  partnership of James and Susan Harman was to come to a rapid close in 1916.  On April 10, Susan passed away aged 86.  Just over four months later on August 14,  James himself died also aged 86.  Together they had left England as newlyweds, settled themselves in Victoria before starting their large family.  They had seen births, deaths and marriages as their family extended and together they witnessed the growth in the country they had arrived in over 60 years before.  It seems right they went so close together after 64 years of marriage.  They were buried side by side at the Byaduk cemetery.