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

June Passing of the Pioneers features the obituaries of several former Councillors, Mayors and a Mayoress. There are members of well known pioneering families and a man who died with no other relatives in Australia. There is also a Hamilton cricket champion who had the potential to play for Australia.

William RUTLEDGE: Died 1 June 1876 at Farnham. William Rutledge, born in Ireland, arrived in Sydney in 1833 aged around twenty-seven.  After his marriage in 1839, he headed south to Queanbeyan, N.S.W. then Kilmore, Victoria in 1840.  A visit to Port Fairy in 1843 saw him buy the business of John Cox and he transformed it into William Rutledge & Co, importers.  He also selected a large amount of  land at Farnham near Koroit.  William also sat on the first Victorian Legislative Assembly in 1851. The Christ Church Anglican church at  Warrnambool has a  memorial window dedicated to the memory of William.

DEATH OF MR. WILLIAM RUTLEDGE, OF FARNHAM. (1876, June 2). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 5. Retrieved June 25, 2013, from

DEATH OF MR. WILLIAM RUTLEDGE, OF FARNHAM. (1876, June 2). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 5. Retrieved June 25, 2013, from

A biography of William Rutledge (below) by Martha Rutledge in the Australian Dictionary of Biography tells of Edward Henty having referred to William as “Terrible Billy”.

WILLIAM RUTLEGE.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H5056/68

WILLIAM RUTLEGE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria Image no. H5056/68

George OSBORNE: Died 14 June 1884 at Geelong. George Osborne was born in Sydney around 1809, his father a member of the 45th Regiment of Foot. George was a ship maker’s apprentice and worked on a whaling ship as ship’s carpenter.  George first arrived in Victoria in 1840 at Portland. He then went to Melbourne before returning to Portland where he remained with his family. While he had lived in Portland for twenty-five years, after his wife’s death, George moved amongst his family members until his death. He was buried at the Port Fairy Cemetery.

Eliza PITTS: Died 2 June 1914 at Edenhope. As an infant, Elizabeth Pitts travelled to Victoria with her parents aboard the “Severn” in 1846 and they settled at Wattle Hill, Portland. In 1860, Elizabeth married Richard Guthridge. They raised a family of six sons and six daughters. Son Frederick has also been a Passing Pioneer. In the early years of their marriage, Richard and Eliza moved several times between Portland, Mt Gambier and Carapook before settling in the Edenhope district. They were a well respected family, renown for their longevity.

Walter DISS: Died 3 June 1916 at Port Fairy. Walter Diss died with no relatives in Australia. He was born in London around 1851 and arrived in Victoria during the 1880s. He ran bakery businesses in Port Fairy and for a time ran the Exchange Hotel at Sale, East Gippsland. He returned to Port Fairy after the death of his wife, two years before his own passing.

Ellen MALONE: Died 20 June 1916 at Killarney. Born in Queen’s County, Ireland around 1831, Ellen arrived at Portland in 1855 aboard the Caringorm.  In 1856, she married Thomas Shanley and they settled at Killarney and raised seven children. At the time of her death, Ellen had forty-two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Robert WOOD: Died 27 June 1917 at Warrnambool. Robert Wood was born in Scotland in 1847 and arrived at Port Fairy, with his parents, aboard the Athletae in 1854. He farmed around  Hopkins Point and Woodford before taking up a job as a storeman for R.H. Patterson of Warrnambool. He had a strong association with the Warrnambool Fire Brigade, serving as a member for forty-two years, twenty years of which he was the station keeper.

Agnetta VIGAR: Died 24 June 1917 at Ararat. Agnetta Vigar was born on the island of Guernsey around 1831. She arrived in Adelaide in 1852 and married William Aggett. They moved to Ararat during the 1860s, settling on the Stawell Road.  She left one son, Thomas, serving in Europe at the time of her death.

John TWOMEY: Died 30 June 1918 at Lilydale. John Twomey was born at Banmore Penshurst, the son of John Twomey a pioneer squatter of the district. John Jr entered in the stock and station business and lived at Warrnambool. He was a member of several racing clubs and was a successful owner. In the years before his death, he moved to Melbourne then Lilydale where he passed. He was buried at Warrnambool Cemetery.

John DOYLE: Died 8 June 1922 at Heywood. John Doyle was born in Tipperary, Ireland around 1842. He arrived in Port Fairy about 1856 with his twin brother and they set up a carrying business. John then bought land in Casterton before purchasing the Hamilton Inn at Hamilton. Tired of life as a publican, John bought land at Cape Bridgewater and Heywood and  farmed dairy cows. He served as a Councillor with the Portland Shire. After the death of his first wife in 1877, he remarried. He left five sons and two daughters. A sixth son predeceased him. John’s twin brother died five weeks before at Hamilton.

James GOLDIE: Died 4 June 1924 at Port Fairy. James Goldie’s death was tragic, but it should not take away from the contribution he made to Port Fairy. James was born around 1860, the son of John Goldie of Port Fairy. He was the first butter factory manager in Victoria, running a factory at Rosebrook. He later managed a large butter factory in N.S.W.

James’ father, John Goldie tended his farm using the latest scientific practices. A photo of his farm is below. Taken in 1895, it shows trial crops of sugar beets. After John died, James took up part of the farm and became a respected breeder of Ayrshire cattle.

SUGAR BEET GROWING AT PORT FAIRY ON THE FARM OF JOHN GOLDIE c1895.  Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image No. IAN01/10/95/20

SUGAR BEET GROWING AT PORT FAIRY ON THE FARM OF JOHN GOLDIE c1895. Image Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image No. IAN01/10/95/20

James served on the Council of the Borough of Port Fairy with two terms as Mayor. He was also a member of the Agriculture Society committee and he was one of the men that established the Glaxo Milk Company at Port Fairy.

Mary FLETCHER: Died 19 June 1942 at Sandringham. Mary Fletcher was born in Scotland around 1847 and arrived in Victoria as a child. Her parents settled at Goroke and in 1865 she married William Affleck. William passed away in 1867 and in 1869 she married James Wooton Shevill.  James was a Warrnambool Councillor from 1875-1878, holding the Mayoral role in 1877-1878.  In later life, the Shevills moved to Melbourne.

Peter DUSTING: Died 30 June 1946 at Melbourne. As Peter Dusting was the last surviving member of the family of John and Sally Dusting of South Portland, this obituary is more a Dusting family obituary rather than Peter’s. In fact, I was able to find little about Peter from it.  He was born in Portland around 1866 and followed his father and brothers into the fishing business. Later he moved to Melbourne and remained there until his death.

Emma Watsford TERRILL:  Died June 1948 at Hamilton. Emma Terrill was born at Cape Bridgewater around 1880, the youngest daughter of Mr & Mrs George Terrill, pioneers of the district. Emma married William Jennings in 1905.  William was the grandson of Cook Abraham Jennings and Hannah Birchall, also Cape Bridgewater pioneers. Emma was an expert on poultry and was often sought after for advice. After living all her life at Cape Bridgewater, two years before her death she moved into Portland.  Emma passed away in the Hamilton Hospital.

George KENNEDY: Died June 1950 at Hamilton. When I think of Hamilton cricket, I think of Kennedy Oval. George Kennedy is the man who the oval was named for. An obituary for  George Kennedy  in the Portland Guardian of 29 June 1950, suggests a decision by Melbourne born George to leave the city for Hamilton as a young man in 1905, may have cost him the opportunity to compete at interstate or even at international level. He played for the Grange club in Hamilton and excelled at both batting and bowling, the later his specialty. His talent was on display in 1912 when a touring English team played at Hamilton and George’s bowling figures where 3/35. After the match, the ball and a bat signed by the English team was presented by one his scalps, Sir Jack Hobbs, the most prolific scorer in first class cricket history. George was seventy-one at the time of his death.