Wonderful Western District Women Part 3

On International Women’s Day 2017, I posted the first Wonderful Western District Women post followed by a second later in March, Women’s History Month.  Today is International Women’s Day 2018 so it’s time for another edition.  Each post looks further into the lives of Western District women I’ve come across while writing the Passing of the Pioneers posts.  This time there are three women featured, Eliza Malseed, Edith Davey and Mary Learmonth. Eliza lived in an isolated area of Victoria’s far south-west coast while Edith lived in another isolated area, further east on the coast near the Twelve Apostles. Both endured the hardships of living in such places and displayed independence enabling them to endure. Mary Learmonth’s life was more comfortable, but not only was she a great sportswoman she was a champion of causes, a dedicated worker for those less fortunate than herself.  Remember to click on any of the underlined text for further information.

MALSEED, Eliza Ann  (c1836-1920)

Eliza Ann Malseed was born in Donegal, Ireland around 1836 to James Malseed and Ann Thompson.  In 1855, Eliza and her brother James and her cousin, also James Malseed arrived at Portland aboard the Blanche Moore. An older brother John had arrived in Portland in 1849. Eliza lived in Gawler Street until she married her cousin James around 1859 and they settled at Glenorchy at the foot of Mount Richmond an extinct volcano in an isolated about twenty kilometres to the west of Portland. Their first child was born in 1860. Eliza had a further nine children.

It was a harsh life and Eliza and her young children were often left alone while James was away in Portland.  She had many travellers pass her door looking for food on their way to Mount Gambier giving her many tales to recount.  When remembering those days she would say,”The Lord was my shepherd”.  Bushfires were frequent and the family were lucky not to lose their home in 1864. There were other dangers too. At different times in December 1878, James and one his daughters received snake bites. On each occasion, James cut out the flesh around the wound and sucked the venom out. Both somehow survived.  James wrote a letter to the Portland Guardian to tell the story, published on 7 January 1879.

Eliza was a Wesleyan Methodist and attended the Mount Richmond Methodist Church which opened in 1876 and she was very active within the church community.  In 1902, James fell ill and on his doctor’s advice, he moved to Portland closer to medical care.  James died there on 26 July 1902.  Several years later, Eliza went to live at Rose Villa, Myamyn, the home of her daughter. Eliza died there on 11 August 1920 aged eighty-four and was remembered in her obituary below.

“Obituary.” Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953) 26 August 1920: 3 (EVENING.). Web. 6 Mar 2017.

DAVEY, Edith  (1861-1939)

Edith Davey was born at Port Fairy in 1861 a daughter of  Robert Davey and Ann Phillips.  Edith had a sister, Annie five years older than herself.  Another sister Emily was born in 1858 but she died a year after Edith’s birth.  The Davey family left Port Fairy and made their way to the Port Campbell/Princetown district.  They selected land on the Great Ocean Road, between the Loch Ard Gorge and the current Twelve Apostles Viewing area.  They also had the use of the land down to the cliff tops below.


The Daveys named their property Edgecombe.  Their neighbour to the west was Hugh Gibson of Glenample, co-owned by Peter MacArthur of Merringoort.  It was at Glenample in 1878 Tom Pearson arrived to raise the alarm of the wreck of the Loch Ard. Fellow survivor Eva Carmichael stayed at Glenample for several weeks while recovering.  Robert Davey was a trustee of the Loch Ard Gorge Cemetery, the burial place of the victims of the wreck. It was an isolated area but from around the end of the 1800s, the mail-coach passed via Edgecombe as it travelled between Princetown and Port Campbell and continued to do so for around twenty years. 

Each of the Davey’s acquired more land in the Port Campbell/Princetown district. In 1888, Edith applied for a grant to buy land in the Princetown township and was successful and in 1889, she applied to lease 720 acres.  It was tough times though with a drought and impending depression.  By 1892, the rent for Edith’s lease was in arrears.  Her worries continued through the decade and in 1897, the local Land Board ruled she must pay five rent instalments at once and the balance in three months.

The Davey’s attended  St Luke’s Church of England at Princetown where Edith was the organist. She played the piano and sang at many concerts in the district over the years. Sometimes she sang duets with her sister Annie.  In 1896, at a concert at the Presbyterian Church in Princetown, Edith played a piano duet with a local boy and she later sang “The Holy City” in “her usual pleasing manner”. During May 1904, Edith was presented with a gold and pearl brooch set and a book “Sanctuary Series of Voluntaries” for her many years of service as the organist of St Luke’s Church, Princetown.

Like her sister Edith, Annie Davey never married and like Edith acquired several properties.  When she reached her fifties, Annie began experiencing some ill-health and in 1910, the once active woman was described as “despondent”.  Annie planned a holiday but on the day she was due to leave in August 1910,  her body was found in a waterhole at the back of the property.  She was forty-seven at the time. Annie died intestate and that prompted her father Robert to write a will, leaving everything to Edith. Robert Davey died the following year at the age of ninety.

Edith and her mother Ann continued on at Edgecombe.  By the time of her father’s death, she was fifty-five.  In 1912, wild dogs were killing Edith’s lambs. In order to protect her flock, she was staying out overnight.  In 1915, her mother Ann died aged eighty.  Edith remained alone at Edgecombe for the next twenty-four years, her five-roomed cottage falling into disrepair. She died at the Cobden Hospital in 1939 aged seventy-six. Edith’s obituary in the Camperdown Chronicle described her as one of the “grand pioneer women of Australia”.

“MISS EDITH DAVEY” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 26 September 1939: 5. Web. 6 Mar 2018.

Soon after Edith’s death, Edgecombe was sold as was the stock, plant, and furniture.

“Advertising” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 28 November 1939: 6. Web. 7 Mar 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27400636&gt;.

LEARMONTH, Mary Simpson  (1863-1939) Also known as Mary Laidlaw

Mary Learmonth was born in 1863 at Hamilton the daughter of Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson of Prestonholme Hamilton.   Mary was a sporty young woman, with a talent for tennis and a champion croquet player.  She also enjoyed golf but doesn’t seem to have played competitively until she was in her thirties during the 1890s.  She married Hamilton doctor David Fraser Laidlaw on 30 November 1899 at Prestonholme at the age of thirty-six. Her brother Allan gave her away and she wore a gown of white satin with lace and chiffon trim. Fifty guests enjoyed the wedding breakfast in a marquee on the property.  As Mary and David left for nearby Mountajup to catch the afternoon train, they were showered with rose petals by the guests.

Mary and David Learmonth lived at Eildon on the corner of French and Thompson Streets Hamilton, overlooking the Hamilton Botanic Gardens.  The house was designed by Ussher and Kemp in 1904.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 27 October 1904: 3. Web. 23 Feb 2018 .’

David was the Chief Medical Officer at the Hamilton Hospital but he also had a surgery at Eildon.  Mary set about establishing a garden on the property and became one of the finest in the town.


Marriage didn’t put an end to Mary’s sporting activities, in fact, her involvement in golf increased and she even had time to act as the inaugural captain of the Hamilton Ladies Miniature Rifle Club formed in 1908.  As well as local golf tournaments, Mary played further afield including the 1904 National Championships in 1904 where she won the Bogey Handicap with a score of 88 and hit the second longest drive.   She played in the Victorian Championships in September 1909 and won the longest drive at a length of 186 yards (170 metres).  In 1930, at the age of sixty-seven, Mary won the Mount Gambier Ladies Championship at the club’s annual tournament.  At Hamilton Golf Club, Mary was the undisputed ladies champion for many years winning the ladies’ championship an amazing seventeen times.  Her first win was as Miss Learmonth and the rest as Mrs Laidlaw.

“Ladies’ Australian Golf Championship.” The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912) 31 August 1904: 541. Web. 7 Mar 2017 .

Other than sport, Mary was president of the Hamilton branch of the Australian Women’s National League (AWNL) and chair of the Wannon Electorate of the AWNL covering an area from Horsham to Portland.  She was also a member of the Hamilton Horticulture Society, the Hamilton branch of the Red Cross Society, and the Hamilton Ladies’ Benevolent Society. Mary eventually becoming an officer of the latter organisation.  In 1935, after sixty-nine years the decision was reached to finish up the Hamilton Ladies’ Benevolent Society due to decreasing demand for their services.  Mary and fellow officer Mary Ann Strachan presented a petition to the Practice Court, requesting the surplus funds of the society, totalling £600, be donated to the Hamilton Hospital maternity ward.  Their request was granted on 11 June 1935.

As if that wasn’t enough, Mary showed Airedale Terriers with success.  She collected books for the British and Foreign Bible Society and she was a devout member of the Hamilton Methodist Church (below) as were he parents before her.

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

A slight hiccup in Mary’s life came in 1916 when charged with driving a motor car in a dangerous manner.  The charges arose from a collision with a horse-drawn wagon. Fortunately, they were dismissed when it was found the accident was not caused by Mary’s speed, but the wagon driver who was turning at the time.  In the same year, Mary decorated her car and drove it in a procession through Hamilton.

David Laidlaw died in October 1925 aged fifty-six.  Mary’s widowed brother Stanley Learmonth moved in with her at Eildon.  Mary died at Eildon on 2 April 1939 at the age of seventy-one. Eildon was sold after her death to the Napier Club, the female equivalent of the Hamilton Club. The club, formed around 1931, still occupies Eildon today.




Four Long Years

It’s hard to believe it’s almost four years since commemorations marking the centenary of the beginning of WW1.  In November this year, it will be the centenary of the Armistice.  Time has flown but going back a century, four years of war seemed an eternity and with no end in sight.  One hundred years ago this month, the enlisted men and women in France and Belgium were just weeks away from the end of the European winter.  And while the battlefields were quieter in the winter months, the trade-off was snow, mud, water-filled trenches and the all too common trench feet.

LIFE IN THE TRENCHES DURING A EUROPEAN WINTER. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E00146/

Those who had endured the previous two European winters knew too well, as the snow thawed and spring arrived, the fighting would again escalate.  In February 1918, little did they know it was the beginning of the end.  There was much in store for the Australian troops, the German Spring Offensive, fighting alongside U.S. troops for the first time, the Battle of Amiens and finally, victory to the allies and Armistice on 11 November 1918.

It’s also four years since I started writing the biographies of Hamilton’s enlisted men. A work in progress, there are now 125 published biographies at Hamilton’s WW1.  For fifteen of those men, the year 1918 would be their last.  Most of those fifteen first landed in Europe in 1916, but James Smyth was in the Middle East from 1915 including time at Gallipoli. Enlisting at just eighteen years and one month, James spent more than three in years in the desert as a signaller with the 9th Light Horse Regiment. In a matter of three weeks in October 1918, his life turned from a day when his bravery saw him awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal, to his death from malaria in Damascus.

CAMP OF THE 9th LIGHT HORSE REGIMENT IN PALESTINE DURING MAY 1918. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/B00021/

Spare a thought for William Austin, also part of the Gallipoli campaign. There he received a gunshot wound to his shoulder region with damage to his lungs. He returned to the front in 1916 in France but struggled with bronchitis and other related illnesses until influenza claimed is life on 11 October 1918 in England, so close to the end.

With the 10th Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Frank Morrissey was part of the final push to break through the Hindenburg Line in the Battle of St Quentin Canal.  He was killed on 29 September 1918 aged twenty-two. Also Frank’s age was young boundary rider Stan Niddrie who enlisted in 1915 but was not overseas until 1916. Reaching the rank of Sergeant, he was killed at Villers-Bretonnuex on 6 August 1918.


Former V.F.L. (Victorian Football League) footballer and Hamilton teacher, Leslie Primrose (below) an airman with the Australian Flying Corps, crashed his plane during a training exercise near Amiens and killed as a result on 4 June 1918. He’d only been in France three months.

LESLIE JOHN PRIMROSE. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DACS0594/

Leslie Sangster (below), a Hamilton High School science teacher and sports master enlisted in January 1917.  On 18 August 1918, he was killed at Harbonnieres, France a month short of his twenty-second birthday and three months short of war’s end.

LESLIE FAIRBURN SANGSTER. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P05248.117/

During James Black’s two years overseas, he was disciplined many times and served six months incarceration in a military prison. He struggled with army life, the horrors of war and alcohol. James was killed on 24 April 1918 near Villers-Bretonneux. His body was never found. Also killed in April 1918 was George Herlihy (below). Mentioned in dispatches in 1916, he was killed by a shell on 11 April 1918 at Amiens, France.

GEORGE HERLIHY. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1237087

Just three months after his discharge from a military prison for desertion, John Whitehead was awarded a Military Medal (M.M.) for his “marked gallantry and devotion to duty” during the Battle of Amiens on 9 August 1918.  Three weeks later he was dead, hit by a shell at St Martins Wood, France.  Also a M.M. recipient, John Fenton (below) was at Ribemont, France on 31 May 1918 when a mustard gas shell burst at his feet.  He died in hospital three weeks later.

JOHN WILFRED FENTON (M.M). Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

Brave Charles Stewart (below) lost his life to sniper fire while bandaging the wounds of a fellow soldier during the Battle of Amiens on 9 August 1918.  Correspondence from the battalion to Charles’ mother revealed he “…never knew what fear was, and every man in the company says the same”.

CHARLES HERBERT STEWART. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P06958.001/

For some, the war was over but the fight wasn’t. From April to September 1918, Walter Boxer displayed extreme bravery many times as a stretcher bearer. As a result, he was awarded a M.M., a bar for his M.M. and a Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M) and four other nominations for a D.C.M. He was on his way home at the end of 1918 with severe injuries but recovered to secure a job, marry and see the birth of a son. In 1927, tuberculosis cut his life short at the age of thirty-four.

Fred Waring was overseas from the end of 1915, fighting in many major campaigns with the 4th Field Artillery Brigade. By war’s end, he was in London with the Postal Corps but never returned home. Suffering lung-related illnesses during 1919, septicemia claimed his life in a London hospital.

Albert Davies (below right) returned to Australia in 1919, suffering symptoms similar to anxiety. Illness in England saw that Albert did not reach the battlefields but his brother Stanley (below left) was killed at Ypres in 1917. On his return to Hamilton Albert found his mother bedridden, her death imminent. By 1935, Albert was unemployed with little to his name.  While riding his bike in Richmond that year, he was hit by a car and killed at the age of thirty-seven.

STANLEY and ALBERT DAVIES. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA15721/

William Brake (below) served in the Middle East and Europe and returned to Australia in 1919.  By 1922, he was dead from tuberculosis aged twenty-nine.

WILLIAM BRAKE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1286963

William was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.


For those at home, by 1918 it seemed like an age since the first news of Australia at war.  Those of you who have followed the regular “100 years ago in the Hamilton Spectator” posts at Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page have seen how the district adjusted to war.  New and distant place names such as the Dardanelles, Syria, and the Somme became part of regular conversation. The four years saw thousands of socks, scarves, and pyjamas made just in the Hamilton district alone, thousands of pounds raised for various war funds,  and many tears shed. By February 1918, men were returning at a steady rate but they had changed from the men the Hamilton people had bid farewell to at the railway station in the years earlier.

The war barely left a home in Hamilton untouched. It even knocked on the door of the Hamilton Mayor. In the role since August 1917, Robert McLuckie comforted numerous grieving families, presided over many send-offs and welcome home celebrations. On 17 July 1918, his son John McLuckie sailed for England.  John fell sick on the voyage and died from pneumonia on 17 October 1918 in England, leaving a widow and four sons. When Armistice came in November 1918, one could only imagine the McLuckie’s sadness knowing if only John’s departure was delayed by a few months, he’d still be safe at home. Robert McLuckie died suddenly in 1922 while still in office with grief and stress from organising Hamilton’s war effort taking a toll.

Hamilton cab proprietor William Sloan also succumbed to the weight of his grief.  William and his wife Sarah endured eight months not knowing if son Joseph Sloan was alive or dead.  After official confirmation in December 1917 of Joseph’s death, along with the death of William’s mother in January 1918, William sank into deep depression.  Sarah didn’t like leaving him alone but one day in August 1918, with errands to run and William seeming happier, she stole herself away. William was dead when she returned.

There were others at home who thought their sons still alive come 11 November 1918 only to find out in the following days, weeks or months their sons were never coming home. Like Richard Hicks‘ mum Janet.  Richard embarked in 1915 and was killed on 17 October 1918 less than four weeks from the end of the war.  Six weeks after the Armistice, Janet Hicks found out Richard (below) was missing and it was the middle of 1919 before it was officially confirmed he would not return.

RICHARD ERNEST HICKS. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/DA11301/

My WW1 research will continue up to and beyond 11 November 2018.  In time, more of the biographies will be of returned men and their adjustment to post-war life. Unfortunately, the Hamilton Spectators are only digitised until December 1918 at Trove. Therefore the “100 years ago in the Hamilton Spectator” posts on the Hamilton’s WW1 Facebook page will come to an end this year. Last year, the posts went from six times per week to three coinciding with a paper shortage 100 years ago and the Spectator halving the number of publication days.  Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see Hamilton Spectator‘s at Trove for 1919 and beyond to help better understand how the people of Hamilton and district re-adjusted to life after WW1.

You can find more about Hamilton’s WW1 on the link – Hamilton’s WW1.   To read the biographies published to date, click on the links to the following Hamilton WW1 Memorials – Hamilton War MemorialAnzac AvenueClarke Street Memorial Avenue – or from the pages of enlistments on the link – Hamilton’s WW1 Enlistments.  In each case, clicking on underlined names will take you to the enlisted man’s biography.  The same applies to the names in this post.


Cemeteries With a View

Over the past two weeks, I’ve visited three Western District cemeteries, each offering great views of the surrounding area.

Firstly, I took a trip to Hamilton and rarely do I visit without taking a drive out Coleraine Road to the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  Aside from dropping by the graves of my great grandparents and great great grandparents, the main task on my visits is photographing the multitude of headstones.  I’ve got a long way to go with just over five hundred photos which include a lot of multiples.  But while wandering around the rows of graves it’s hard not to stop for a photo of the view towards volcano Mount Napier to the south.


It’s even better in Autumn


Then there’s the beauty of the many and varied monuments rising up across the cemetery’s expanse.


If you look in the right direction you can even catch a glimpse of one of Hamilton’s beautiful steeples.


This visit I tried to find graves using directions from the Hamilton Cemetery Trust website.  I first went in search of Mary Ryan, one of the Western District’s Wonderful Women.  Mary appeared not to have any family so I’m interested to see if she has a headstone.  She is buried in the Church of England section, a large area running down the eastern side of the cemetery. Although the various denominations are clearly marked, the rows are not and I was soon lost.  I tried using the cemetery site’s mapping on my phone but that wasn’t easy and I tried referring to the large plan at the front of the cemetery.  In the end, I gave up and went back to my random photo taking.  I think I’ve a solution so I’ll try it next time and let you know.

At Hamilton, photos of broken headstones are also on my list like this one belonging to Frances Mary Sing who died a mysterious death in 1881 and her husband Hamilton draper Sam Hing. It includes a Cantonese inscription at the bottom.


Heading home from Hamilton, I had a brief stop at the Dunkeld (New) Cemetery mainly to get some photos of the views towards the Southern Grampians. If you look one way, you see Mount Sturgeon (below).


Look the other way and you see Mount Abrupt (below).


The Dunkeld District Historical Museum has a tour of the cemetery on 31 March and I hope to get along for more photos from this picturesque cemetery.  You can find out about the tour on the Museum’s event page on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/904350026381602/

On Friday, I travelled to Willaura, between Glenthompson and Ararat and, of course, called in at the cemetery.  In use since 1917, it’s a relatively new cemetery compared to some in nearby towns. Again it was hard not be distracted by the view of the Grampians.




Those cemeteries with a good view I’ve previously posted about include Portland North, Cavendish Old Cemetery and Old Dunkeld Cemetery.  Currently, I’m working on a post about the Yambuk Cemetery with its own unique view.


Then there’s Warrnambool…the list could go on.


Passing of the Pioneers

After the chore of moving house, I’ve finally had a chance to write a Passing of the Pioneers post.  I had good intentions for a December edition and started a post but it was soon January.  Not wanting to let another year go by until I had to chance to post about some of the “December” pioneers, I decided to write a combined December/January post.  As time went on it was obvious I wasn’t going to finish by the end of January, so now it has become a combined December/January/February post. 

There are only seven pioneer obituaries in this edition, two each from December and January and three from February, however, due to the amount of extra information about some of the subjects, their entries are longer than usual. Most are long overdue in finding their way to the Pioneer Obituary Index.  Among them is one of our great female pioneers along with two men who were pioneers of Victorian horse racing one of whom still has a leading race named after him.  And there is a woman who by marriage became linked to three well known Hamilton district families, the Learmonths, Laidlaws and Thomsons and learnt Spanish along the way.

COLDHAM, John – Died 2 December 1882 at Grassdale. John Coldham arrived in Tasmania from England around 1840. Having heard of good land in Victoria, John sailed for the colony, taking up the Grassdale Run, west of Branxholme where he remained for the next forty years.  In 1850, John was appointed a Magistrate in the district and in 1853 he married Josephine Lane and they went on to have five sons.

John was active in community affairs and early horse racing in Victoria.  From a horse called Bobby he raced at Portland around 1848, he went on to own two of the runners in the first Melbourne Cup in 1861, Grey Dawn and Twilight.  Grey Dawn was the progeny of Western District sire King Alfred.  Break O’Day out of Grey Dawn won the 1874 Ballarat Cup for John.

Along with horses, John was a breeder of fine sheep and in his later life took up breeding Alderney cattle. In 1882, John’s health was failing and he took a trip to the sulphur springs of New Zealand in search of relief.  Knowing death was impending, on his return, he sold his stock.  He didn’t see out the year and was buried at the Merino Cemetery.  Further reading about John Coldham’s racing and farming successes was published in The Australian in 1881 after a visit to Grassdale and you can find the article on the following link http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225486595

MINOGUE, Jerome Joseph – Died 31 December 1928 at Edenhope.  Jerome Minogue was born in Clare, Ireland around 1840 and arrived in Portland as a baby with his parents Simon and Johanna Minogue aboard the Agricola. The Minogues lived at the property Wattle Hill at West Portland.  Jerome remained in Portland for more than thirty years working as a stockman for the Henty brothers, including time as the head stockman at their property Cashmore. He was known as an expert horseman and his tracking abilities saw him find missing children in the bush on two occasions.  Jerome married Jean Edgar of Harrow in 1871 and then bought a farm near Edenhope. Jerome was survived by Jean, two sons and three daughters.

FFRENCH, Acheson – Died 29 January 1870 at St Kilda. Acheson Ffrench was born at Monivae Castle, Galway, Ireland in 1812. As a young man, he left Ireland and travelled through Europe and the Holy Land before landing in Australia.  In 1841 at the age of twenty-nine, Acheson was appointed Police Magistrate at Hamilton, the same year he took up a large run of 17,000 acres to the south of Hamilton. He named it Monivae after his Galway home. On 8 February 1842, Ffrench married his fiancé Anna Watton and children began arriving at a steady rate with six boys and six girls born in the following years. In 1847, a homestead was built at Monivae located on what is now the eastern side of the Hamilton/Port Fairy Road.

In 1864, Acheson put Monivae up for lease for a term of three years and moved his family to Melbourne where they remained for two years before returning to Monivae in 1866. Ffrench continued to visit Melbourne and he was in town on 29 January 1870. Feeling like a swim, he visited Kenny’s Gentleman’s Bathing Ship (below) at St Kilda.

Kenny’s Baths, St. Kilda by Thomas Clark,artist. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/84320

Acheson plunged into the water and hit his head on the bottom of the pool.  With his neck broken, Acheson died at the scene.  For more about Acheson Ffrench go to my post Strong in Faith, a story of Monivae Estate.

GRAY, Charles – Died 27 January 1905 at Kensington, London.  Charles Gray was born in 1818 at Anstruther, Fife, Scotland a son of Major George Gray of the Royal Marines.  In January 1839, Charles sailed from England to Hobson’s Bay on the ship Midlothian, meeting William P. Scott and John Marr on the voyage. They parted company on arrival, with Charles making his way to Glenormiston. Hearing of a flock of sheep for sale, Charles wrote to his shipmates Scott and Marr and proposed they squat together.  They agreed and the three men took out a squatters licence further on to the north-west at Green Hill Creek near what is now Glenthompson. The site Charles first camped on Green Hill Creek in 1840 was marked with a stone obelisk. The inscription on the obelisk read,”Charles Gray Camped Here September 1840″.

CHARLES GRAY c1855. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/294252

The trio stayed in partnership until 1845 when Scott retired. In 1850, John Marr and Charles dissolved their partnership, splitting the property and stock.  John Marr named his share Burrie Burrie, later becoming Brie Brie while Charles named his share Nareeb Nareeb.  He set about building a homestead by the Green Hill Creek and improving the property for sheep farming.  In 1855 Charles was appointed a Magistrate in the Portland Bay district.

THE HOMESTEAD BUILT BY CHARLES GRAY AT NAREEB NAREEB ON THE BANKS OF THE GREEN HILLS CREEK. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/294239

At the age of thirty-nine in 1857, Charles married Elizabeth Sharp. Elizabeth was a watercolour artist from Dublin, Ireland via Sydney.  She arrived at Portland from Sydney early in 1857 and married Charles on 19 March that year.  A daughter Annie was born the following year and another daughter Emily was born in 1860.

ELIZABETH GRAY AND HER DAUGHTERS ANNIE, (right) and EMILY (seated with Elizabeth) c 1862. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/294254

In 1862, a boy was born to Charles and Elizabeth but he sadly died before he could be named.  The following year on 13 February, a daughter Elizabeth was born at Neptune Cottage at Queenscliff.  The pride Charles had in his daughters comes through in the photo below.

CHARLES GRAY AND HIS DAUGHTERS ANNIE (right) and EMILY (left) c1862. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/294247

Charles spoke fondly of his girls, evident in his memoir Western Victoria in the forties: reminiscences of a pioneer, published posthumously in the Hamilton Spectator in 1932. Charles mentioned his oldest daughters particularly Annie who he taught to ride on a Shetland pony and by “ten years of age was a good and fearless rider”.  He recalled Annie helping him reduce kangaroo numbers on Nareeb Nareeb and an adventurous trip to Glenthompson with Annie and Emily who were fully exposed to pioneering life.

Amid the isolation of life at Nareeb Nareeb, Elizabeth continued with her art.  In 1864 she sent five paintings to the Annual Exhibition of Fine Arts in Melbourne and in 1866, she exhibited watercolours at the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition, including views of Queenscliff such as the work below.

QUEENSCLIFF BEACH by ELIZABETH GRAY (1963) Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/401523

In 1867 when Queen Victoria’s son Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh visited the colony, he spent time at neighbouring property Hopkins Hill, the guest of John Moffat. Charles and Elizabeth were invited to lunch with the prince and Elizabeth presented him with vases adorned with etched Black Swan eggs.  The Prince was most impressed with Elizabeth’s work and commissioned her to make similar ornaments for his mother. Elizabeth produced four vases including two smaller vases each with carved Black Swan eggs including one of the Wannon Falls near Hamilton, seen on the right in the illustration below. A larger vase featured Mount Sturgeon near Dunkeld carved on an emu egg.  The four vases given to Queen Victoria are now part of the Royal Collection and are located at Osborne House, the summer house of Queen Victoria on the Isle of Wight. A photograph of the vases in the illustration below is available on the link to the Royal Collection.

“VASES PRESENTED TO HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN.” Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875) 15 August 1868: 12. Web. 7 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60450420&gt;.

In 1873, Elizabeth exhibited in the Victorian Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne and the London International and by December that year, the Grays had decided to move to England. Charles sold the household furniture and harness and the family left Australia in February 1874.  Two years later Charles travelled from London to New York and then on to the Philadelphia Exhibition before embarking at San Francisco for Sydney. He then made his way south to Nareeb Nareeb. The women in his life extended their stay in England.  On his return, Charles was appointed a Justice of the Peace. In 1881, Charles’ eldest daughter Annie married Charles Rowe in Kensington, London.

Charles may not have been the easiest person to get along with according to a description of him by Billis & Kenyon in 1942.

“Nareeb Nareeb—One of the Famous Western District Fine-wool Stations” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 3 May 1941: 37. Web. 3 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article142429106&gt;.

However, a reporter from the Hamilton Spectator visited Nareeb Nareeb in 1876 upon Charles’ return from London to report on his “Model Wool-Growing Estate” describing him as most hospitable and not one to turn a passer-by away.  I turned to the journalist  The Vagabond to see if he, as a keen observer of human character, had an opinion of Charles. Unfortunately, he did not pass by Nareeb Nareeb while writing his series Picturesque Victoria in 1885 but in his account of his visit to Hamilton during that series, he mentioned he wanted to visit Charles in the future.  Little did The Vagabond know by 1886 Charles was feeling the loneliness of life at Nareeb Nareeb.  Missing his family and approaching his seventies and no son to pass the property on to, he returned to England.  In 1903, Elizabeth died in England with Charles living a further two years, dying in 1905 at the age of eighty-seven.

While I was searching for The Vagabond’s thoughts on Charles Gray, I found a reference to Charles from an article by The Vagabond written after a return visit to Hamilton in 1893.  On that occasion, he met with Hamilton’s Alexander Ingram.  The Vagabond wrote Ingram had said Hamilton’s main street Gray Street, “… was not named from Commissioner Gray…but from Mr Charles Gray, the squatter…”. However, Ingram went on to refute that with a Letter to the Editor of the Hamilton Spectator on 28 November 1893 as seen below.

“THE “VAGABOND” IN HAMILTON.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 28 November 1893: 3. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225780345&gt;.

PACE, Jane – Died 3 February 1906 at Hamilton. Jane Pace was born on 8 February 1816 at Stokesley, Yorkshire, England to Walter Pace, a captain with the East India Company and Elizabeth Fennie.  In 1832 Walter, on hearing of good land in Western Australia, left his family in Yorkshire and set off on an exploratory trip. Finding Western Australia to his liking, Walter built a stone house for his family and wrote to his wife Elizabeth he would return to collect her and the children. However, Elizabeth was an independent woman, a trait later seen in her daughter Jane, and without telling her husband she boarded The Quebec Trader with daughters Jane and Ann and travelled to Western Australia.  After a treacherous voyage, broken with a visit with friends in South Africa, Elizabeth and her daughters arrived in Fremantle much to Walter’s surprise.

Elizabeth also proved herself a resourceful woman having a contingency plan in case Walter had already left to collect them.  From England, she carried a letter of introduction addressed to Stephen George Henty, a young trader who had frequented the Swan River area since 1829.  With Walter still in Fremantle, the letter wasn’t required but an introduction to the twenty-two year old Henty did take place leading to his marriage to sixteen year old Jane Pace.  They were married on 14 April 1836 at Fremantle.  They soon set off for Portland Bay where the Henty brothers had a whaling station and were establishing themselves as sheep farmers.  The newlyweds arrived on a Sunday evening and under moonlight, Jane was carried ashore by a sailor, the first European woman to land on the shores of the Port Phillip District.

VIEW OF PORTLAND BAY 1835-1836 BY GEORGE JACKSON. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/288641

Jane found the Henty brothers had built a comfortable homestead and were awaiting her arrival with a fire burning, a hearty meal of bread, butter, eggs, and tea.  As Jane entered the homestead Francis Henty said, “Welcome, Mrs Henty” to which Jane replied, “My name is Jane Henty, your sister”.  Jane got along well with her brothers-in-law and in her memoirs published in 1902 and reproduced in part in 1934 by Table Talk newspaper, she looked back fondly on those times albeit tough. In August 1837, a son Richmond was born, the first of eleven children Jane would bear.

JANE HENTY ca. 1872-1880. Photographer Batchelder & Co. Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales. File no. FL3317680 http://archival.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110343890I

In time, the Hentys moved to Tarrington Station, just east of Hamilton.  It was there in December 1872 Stephen died at the age of sixty-one.  In 1874, Anna Henty, one of Jane’s daughters married Hamilton stock and station agent Robert Stapylton-Bree and Jane went to live with the couple. A sad time came in 1904 when Jane’s eldest son Richmond died in London. Jane spent her last years at Bewsall, Hamilton the home of the Brees (below). She died there on 3 February 1906 only a few days short of her ninetieth birthday.

BEWSALL, HAMILTON. (1903, May 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 27. Retrieved February 18, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138684187

Jane was buried with Stephen at the Hamilton Old Cemetery. A memorial to Richmond was included on the headstone.


Jane was a woman of strong religious faith and a great supporter of St Stephen’s Church in Portland and the Christ Church Hamilton.  It was there a memorial pulpit to Jane was dedicated on Sunday 4 November 1906.


A report on the pulpit’s dedication by the Hamilton Spectator read as follows,

“CHRIST CHURCH.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 6 November 1906: 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). Web. 7 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226123438&gt;.

And yes, today more than a century later one can visit Hamilton’s Christ Church, view the pulpit and remember Jane a great pioneering woman of not only the Western District but Australia.  March is Women’s History month and I will be posting more about Jane as part of the series, Wonderful Western District Women.

WIMBLE, Clara Augusta – Died 3 February 1912 at Cavendish. Clara Wimble was born at Northcote in 1860, a daughter of  Lands Department officer Nehemiah Wimble and Edith Hewett. On 30 August 1887, Clara married Stanley Learmonth at the Northcote Wesleyan Church. Stanley had returned from Mexico where he and his brother Allan had run the family property La Mariposa since 1881. Soon after their marriage, Clara left with Stanley for Mexico, her home for the next fourteen years.  Clara at least had some female company from home when she arrived because her brother-in-law Allan Learmonth had married Annie Thomson from the Hamilton district a year earlier and made their home at La Mariposa. Clara learnt Spanish enabling her to better adjust to her adopted country. Children were born to Clara and Stanley in Mexico including in 1890, 1891 and 1892. It was 1892 when Allan and Annie Learmonth returned to Australia but Stanley and Clara remained in Mexico for another ten years.

On their eventual return in 1902, they took up residence at Horsham where Clara was involved with the Horsham Golf Club and the Horsham Ladies Benevolent Society.  They left Horsham in 1906 moving to Eulameet, Cavendish. Clara did suffer from illness through that time but still managed to get out and about.  Around 26 January 1912,  Clara, Stanley, a son, and daughter travelled in Stanley’s car for an afternoon visiting the Carters at Glenisla.  When Clara stepped from the car she suffered a stroke and died days later on 3 February.  During her last days, Clara was attended by Dr David Laidlaw of Hamilton, married to Stanley’s sister Mary Simpson Laidlaw.  Clara was buried at the Hamilton Old Cemetery (below). A Hamilton Spectator article the day after her burial recalled stories unfolding from the funeral including that of Stanley Learmonth’s return visit to Mexico in 1908. At La Mariposa, he found Clara’s Spanish name of Dona Clarita was known by all and many people sent messages to her via Stanley.


MANIFOLD, Edward – Died 14 February 1931 at East Melbourne.

“The Late Mr. Edward Manifold.” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 17 February 1931: 5. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27389306&gt;.

And so begun the obituary of Edward Manifold, the fifth son of John Manifold and Marion Thomson of Purrumbete Station, the place of Edward’s birth in 1868.  John Manifold with his brothers first took up Purrumbete in 1838 and bred Shorthorn cattle.  When Edward was nine in 1877, his father John died.  Young Edward completed his early schooling at Geelong Grammar and later Melbourne Grammar. He then went on to study at Cambridge University, England.  In 1894, Edward’s mother Marion died followed by the sudden death of his brother Thomas in 1895. From Thomas’ estate, Edward received and took up the first option to buy Thomas’ property Wiridgel and each of Thomas’ brothers inherited a share in the homestead where Edward went on to live.  He already owned the Dandite Estate inherited from his father.

“NEWLY-ELECTED MEMBER OF THE V.R.C. COMMITTEE: MR. EDWARD MANIFOLD.” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 18 August 1906: 30. Web. 2 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article139174270&gt;.

Edward was a good all-around sportsman excelling at cricket, football, athletics and was a member of the Trinity College rowing team while at Cambridge. However, his first love was polo and he was a member of the Camperdown Polo Club and represented Victoria, captaining the team on a tour of New Zealand in 1901.  He is seen on the far right below, along with his brothers John Chester Manifold and William Thomas Manifold, and Hexham Polo Club member, Robert Hood all members of the 1899 Victorian team.

“INTERCOLONIAL POLO MATCH.” Melbourne Punch (Vic. : 1855 – 1900) 18 May 1899: 21. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article180224372&gt;.

Another equine interest for Edward was racing.  He was involved with the Camperdown, Terang and Warrnambool Turf Clubs and he sat on the committee of the Victorian Racing Club.  With his brother John Chester Manifold, Edward won the 1893 Grand National Steeplechase with the horse Dugan and again in 1896 with Mysore (below).

“SATURDAY’S RACING IN MELBOURNE.” The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912) 22 July 1899: 212. Web. 10 Feb 2018 .

As the years went on, Edward’s racing successes continued including the 1904 Australian Steeplechase with Airly. Such was his involvement in Victorian horse racing, since 1932, the Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes is run over 1600 metres for three year old fillies at Flemington Racecourse during the Spring Carnival.  His brother Chester also had a race named after him, the listed Chester Manifold Stakes over 1400 metres run in January at Flemington.

In May 1900, it was announced Edward was engaged to Beatrice Mary Synnat Anderson, a daughter of Andrew George Anderson and Elizabeth Mary Synatt Manifold, daughter of Edward’s uncle Thomas Manifold.  Edward and Beatrice were married two months later on16 July 1900 at Christ Church, South Yarra.

“STELLA’S LADIES LETTER” Table Talk (Melbourne, Vic. : 1885 – 1939) 19 July 1900: 15. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article145935546&gt;.

Edward and Beatrice went on to have three sons, Peter, Andrew and Robert.

Edward was a councillor with the Hampden Shire Council from 1909 and was president on three occasions.  He was also chairman of directors of the Camperdown Cheese and Butter Factory.  Edward Manifold and his brothers were great philanthropists.  Edward supported St Pauls Church of England at Camperdown and the Anglican Diocese of Ballarat.  He also funded various scholarships at Geelong Grammar.  As a collective, the brothers funded the Camperdown Hospital and the equipment within. Edward was also a large landholder having an interest in a number of properties in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.  One of his properties was Boortkoi at Hexham (below), which was taken over by his son Andrew.

BOORTKOI, HEXHAM. J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/231806

Edward died at a private hospital in East Melbourne in 1931 and cremated at the Melbourne Crematorium.  He was sixty-three and the last surviving son of John and Marion Manifold.

“DEATH OF MR. E. MANIFOLD” The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) 21 February 1931: 9. Web. 10 Feb 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article141418767&gt;.


Trove Tuesday – Five Generations

Recently while searching for newspaper photos of Portland, I stumbled across a photo of my 1st cousin 4 x removed,  Amelia Harman with four of her descendants published in the Weekly Times in 1952.  Standing back left is Amelia’s daughter, Elsie May Harman.  Elsie married Herbert Skipworth in 1909 at Heywood.  Back right is Elsie’s daughter Doris Eveline Skipworth.  Doris married Samuel Porter in 1929. Sitting directly in front of her is Doris’ daughter and her daughter Lynette Wilmot.

“No title” Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954) 9 April 1952: 42. Web. 19 Jul 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article224015421&gt;.

This is a great find because I’ve previously posted a photo I found of a Mrs Bell photographed with her grand-daughter, great-granddaughter and a great-great granddaughter.  I couldn’t be 100% sure the woman below was Amelia, although reasonably convinced, however, the new find confirms Amelia Bell (nee Harman) was the same Mrs Bell I wrote about in Matter of Relativity.

MATTER OF RELATIVITY. (1951, December 14). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved October 9, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49005300

Amelia was the eldest daughter of Jonathan Harman and Elizabeth Oliver of Byaduk.  She died in 1956 in Portland aged ninety-one.  Her husband Chris Bell predeceased her by twenty-seven years.

Season’s Greetings

CHRISTMAS CARD FEATURING THE PENSHURST STATE SCHOOL Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/399063

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  I hope you have had success finding your Western District family over the year and thank you for your continued support in 2017.  As a thank you, I’ve gathered the most popular photos I have posted on the Western District Families Facebook page this year and made a video.  The collection gives a wonderful glimpse into the Western District’s past. I hope you enjoy the Western District Families 2017 Album.


Now to December Passing of the Pioneers.  I selected the obituaries and started my post at the start of December and here we are at Christmas and I’ve advanced no further.  We are in the last weeks of moving house which has turned into a bit of saga and in three weeks I don’t know how much internet access I’ll have. That then jeopardises my chances of getting a January Passing of the Pioneers out.  Therefore, I’ve picked out fifteen obituaries from both December and January and hopefully I can get a combined post done before 12 January.   There are some really worthy pioneers among them and I’d love to add them to the Pioneer Obituary Index in the coming weeks and not have to wait until this time next year.  If you don’t see a post in January, hopefully, everything will be back to normal in February.  Fingers crossed.

Passing of the Pioneers

A further ten Western District pioneers move onto the Pioneer Obituary Index this month with some joining their family members. That is the case with the families of Lesser, Cole, Kirkwood and Learmonth.  As I add entries to the index, I try to match them up with related entries and link them up.  You’ll now find a number of family connections when you scroll through the index. As usual, if you click on any of the underlined text throughout this post, you will go to further information about that subject.

HULL, Thomas Wood – Died 20 November 1868 at Hamilton.  Thomas Hull was born in Rochester, Kent, England around 1839, a son of John Hull and Elizabeth Wood. He was also a nephew of the Honorable William Hull, a member of Victoria’s Legislative Assembly from 1860 to 1866.  By 1865, Thomas was in Victoria and a policeman stationed in Gippsland.  In that year he received a promotion from Senior Constable to Sergeant 2nd Class. By 1867, Thomas had transferred to Hamilton.  In October 1867, Hamilton’s Inspector of Police, Leopold Kabut left the town, so Thomas Hull, a promising young policeman, was put in charge of the Hamilton station. Things were also going well in his personal life and Thomas married Kate Wright of Hamilton at the Church of England on 15 July 1868.

On the morning of Friday 20 November 1868, Thomas found it necessary to dismiss one of the mounted policemen Michael Flanagan. Flanagan had one too many times been reported for drunkenness. Thomas asked Flanagan to hand in his kit but advised him he could stay in his house for a couple more days due to him having a wife and six children.  Thomas then went about his duties, including a patrol around the business area of Hamilton.  At 2.00pm, Thomas returned to his quarters and around thirty minutes later Flanagan approached him.  There was some discussion between the two about the Flanagan’s  living arrangements.  Flanagan then produced a pistol, asking Thomas to check if it was clean. He then approached Thomas and shot him twice in the left side. Constable Conway who had been present rushed Flanagan and grabbed hold of the pistol. Flanagan would not release his grip so Conway cried, “Murder” and the watch-house keeper ran to his aid, securing the pistol. They then put Flanagan in the lockup.

Meanwhile, Thomas Hull lay on the ground with internal bleeding, slowly fading over the course of thirty minutes.  Kate had heard the disturbance rushed to Thomas’ side and he recognised her presence.  Thomas spent his last minutes praying, uttering, “It is hard to die”. He forgave Flanagan and his enemies before the effects of his wounds took his life at just twenty-nine. He was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery.  Michael Flanagan was found guilty of murder and sent to the gallows, insisting on wearing his mounted policeman’s uniform to meet his fate.  Thomas’ wife Kate remarried in 1870 to another policeman, Alfred Clark.  She died at the Bendoc Police Station in Gippsland in 1886 aged just thirty-six.



LESSER, Abraham – Died 13 November 1886 at Coleraine.  Abraham Lesser was born in Swarzędz, Poland, then under Prussian rule, around 1826.  In the 1850s, his brother Louis left for Australia and Abraham followed.  Together they went to Coleraine, opening a store in Whyte Street.  In 1861, Abraham married Londoner Elizabeth “Bessie” May at the Mikveh Israel Melbourne Synagogue. In 1865, Abraham and Louis mutually dissolved the partnership in the store and Louis left for London where he married Bessie’s sister Evelyn May.

Abraham’s wife Bessie would have several pregnancies, however, she lost her first two babies and by 1870, the Lessers had lost five babies.  As well as the store, Abraham was active in the community.  He was a member of the Wannon Shire Council for almost ten years and a Justice of the Peace. A generous benefactor, he donated money to churches of all denominations.

On 12 November 1886, Abraham attended a concert in Coleraine.  While having a chat with John Kirby who would later buy Mt Koroite at Coleraine, Abraham suddenly collapsed.  He died early the following morning at the age of sixty.  He left his widow Bessie and four children.  The funeral cortege was one of the largest seen in Coleraine.  Reverend Goldrich, rabbi of the Jewish congregation in Ballarat conducted the service. The store of A.Lesser & Co (below) continued operating in Coleraine first by Louis and then members of Abraham’s family until it went into liquidation in 1939.

A.LESSER & CO., COLERAINE 1922. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769410

HORAN, Keeran   – Died 17 November 1892 at Croxton East.  Keeran Horan was born in King’s County, Ireland around 1824 and arrived in Victoria in the late 1850s with his wife Catherine Guinan.  After spending fifteen years farming at Mount Moriac near Geelong, Keeran took up land at Croxton East in 1872, calling the property Pine Hill Farm.  Keeran was an expert ploughmen and a noted breeder of draught horses. He once paid a record price for a draught stallion from Daniel Twomey of Kolor at Penshurst.

“Advertising” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 27 September 1884: 4 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225660511&gt;.

In 1887, Keeran entered a competition conducted by the government to find the colony’s prize farm. An article about the visit of the judges to Pine Hill Farm gives a great description of not only Keeran’s farm but farming practices from the time.  You can find it on the link here.  At the time of Keeran’s death, he left a large family.  Catherine predeceased him in  1902.

KIRKWOOD, William – Died 10 November 1898 at Buckley’s Swamp.  William Kirkwood was born in Quebec, Canada on 9 February 1822. When still a child, his parents returned to Paisley, Scotland and William grew up there.  In 1842, William married Jane O’May and they had one child before heading to Australia in 1852 arriving at Portland aboard the John Davis.  They took a bullock dray to Warrock, north of Casterton where William worked. They later went to Park Hill at the Wannon.  William then selected land south of Hamilton at Buckley’s Swamp in 1861.  William and Jane went on to have another son and three daughters. William was a devout member of the Hamilton Presbyterian Church and church precentor, leading the singing until an organ was purchased.  In 1883, William returned to Scotland for a visit.  William’s funeral cortege left his home at Buckley’s Swamp at 1.30pm and when it reached Hamilton two hours later, the mourners following behind the hearse stretched for 800 metres.


HOLLARD, George Gilbert “Giles” – Died 26 November 1912 at Wallacedale North.  George Hollard was born in Devonshire, England in 1817.  He married Mary Richards and they had three children.  In 1849, George and his family sailed to Portland aboard the Bristol Empire. George was employed by Edward Henty at Muntham where he remained for many years.  In time, he and Mary returned to Portland.  Mary died in 1894 and George stayed in Portland until around 1908 when he went to live with his son at Wallacedale.  One of the highlights of George’s life was seeing the Governor of Victoria, Sir George Bowen turn the first sod on the Portland-Hamilton rail line.  George left three sons and four daughters at the time of his death.

DUNBAR, John – Died 9 November 1913 at Hamilton. John Dunbar was born at Tyrone, Ireland around 1833 and arrived in Victoria in 1855 and made his way to Hamilton.  In 1863, John married Frances Hawke and they had seven sons and four daughters.  John and Frances would stay in their marital home until their deaths.   In his later years, John remained fit and worked in his garden each day, only going into town on Saturday for shopping.  John left his widow Frances, three sons and three daughters.  Frances died at Hamilton in 1921.

PEARSON, Mary Jarvey – Died 24 November 1913 at Hamilton.  Mary Pearson was born in 1832 at Bathgate, Scotland, the eldest daughter of John Pearson and Mary Simpson.  Mary’s grandfather Sir James Simpson who discovered the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic. When Mary was six,  she left Leigh Scotland in January 1840 with her parents and siblings, to travel to Hobart, Tasmania on board the North Briton. During the voyage, the ship ran aground on the Goodwin Sands off the English coast near Kent, delaying the journey a month. Back on course, as the ship rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 30 April 1840, Mary’s mother gave birth to a son, Joseph.  Once in Hobart, the family lived in Mary’s late uncle’s large house at Douglass Park, Campbell Town John had inherited. In 1846, John Pearson bought the run of Mr Robertson on the Glenelg River in Victoria.

On 30 May 1846, John and Mary Pearson and their five children sailed for Portland Bay from Launceston on the Minerva with Captain Fawthrop at the helm.  From there they travelled to the 10, 750 acre Retreat Run near Casterton.  During their time at the station, they saw the impact of the Black Thursday bushfires on 6 February 1851 when Mary was nineteen.  Such was fires intensity,  birds and wildlife sought refuge at the homestead. The time of the fires would remain fixed in Mary’s memory for another reason.  Her mother died two days later on 8 February 1851. Her body was transported to the Portland North Cemetery for burial.

Mary’s father sold Retreat soon after, taking up Yambuk Station in July 1851. The trip to Yambuk took two days and there was a stopover at Castlemaddie at Tyrendarra, owned by Mr Suter.  In March 1853, Mary was visiting Castlemaddie when three armed bushrangers entered the house during afternoon tea and demanded money from those present.  Mary had a long gold chain, a gift from her father, and she tried to hide it but Wilson the bushranger caught her.  “You ladies needn’t put your jewellery out of sight. I don’t want any of it. All we want is coin.”, he said.  In 1854, John Pearson sold Yambuk to Mr Suter formerly of Castlemaddie and he moved to Portland.

While in the Portland district, Mary met and married Peter Learmonth on 18 December 1854 at Portland.  Peter had come from the Castlemaine diggings where he had some success.  He took up a job at Merino Downs for the Hentys and Mary moved there with him. They then went to Hamilton where Peter set up a flour mill at Prestonholme, just east of the town. He ran other mills in the district including Byaduk.  He also established P.Learmonth & Co, Stock and Station agents in Gray Street Hamilton.  Mary and Peter went on to have ten children, seven sons and three daughters.  Peter died in 1893 and Mary remained at Prestonholme for a further ten years before moving to Oakdene, Hamiton.  Her son James and his family, fresh from a stint at the family property in Mexico, took up residence at Prestonholme.  

Peter and Mary attended the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church in McIntyre Street and together were a driving force behind the church’s construction in 1862.   Mary was involved with the Benevolent Ladies Society, auxiliaries, sewing groups, basically any church activity.  Not only did Mary witness the construction of the first Wesleyan Methodist church in Hamilton, she was able to see the new church in Lonsdale Street (below).  She was most enthusiastic about the new church and was given the honour of laying the foundation stone on 5 April 1913.  Sadly she was in poor health at the time of the opening of the church on 5 October 1913 and was unable to attend.

HAMILTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH, LONSDALE STREET c1930. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/769323

At the time of her death, Mary left six sons and one daughter and her younger brother Joseph Bell Pearson born near the Cape of Good Hope, was also alive.  A remembrance service was held at the Hamilton Wesleyan Methodist Church on Sunday 7 December.  The congregation were reminded the history of the Wesleyan Methodism in Hamilton was also the history of the religious life of Peter and Mary Learmonth. Mary’s obituary in the Hamilton Spectator on 25 November 1913 gave an extensive description of her life including her early years in the colony,

As a young girl, she lived in the unprepared period before extensive settlement, when the tracks had yet to be blazed and passage through the virgin bush had to be made by roadless routes and in vehicles for human transport of most primitive origin. Her life was contemporaneous with that of the pioneer Henty family. The areas of ownership of land were comparatively vast, and like her earlier friends she had the unique experience of viewing the gradual process of expansion of population in this large and fertile district.

Mary was buried at Hamilton (Old) Cemetery with Peter.


COLE, Nicholas – Died 22 November 1932 at Camperdown.  Nicholas Cole was born in 1852 at West Cloven Hills Station near Darlington to Nicholas Cole and Martha Hodgson. His family had been on the property  1839.  Nicholas went to school at Geelong Grammar. After the death of his father in 1879, Nicholas inherited the property and turned his attending to breeding Merinos, become one of the leading growers in the country.  In 1885, Nicholas married Victoria Anderson of Gerangamete station.  They went on to have a son and three daughters.   In 1920, Victoria died suddenly from heart disease at the age of fifty-four.

WEST CLOVEN HILLS HOMESTEAD. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria.

HEDDITCH, William Forward – Died 13 November 1939 at Bridgewater. William Hedditch was born at Lower Cape Bridgwater in 1857, the son of Richard Charlton Hedditch and Rachel Forward Read. He attended the Bridgewater School followed by Portland College. After school, William turned to dairy farming and was later director of the Portland and Bridgewater butter factories for forty years. In 1890, William married Marion Nunn Jones and they had two sons.  William had an interest in local history and was a wealth of knowledge on the subject, writing many articles for the Portland Guardian on local history.  He was buried at the Bridgewater Cemetery.

WATT, Annie – Died 10 November 1952 at Coleraine.  Annie Watt was born at Springvale in 1862.  She married Robert Brown at the Hamilton Catholic Church in 1886, the wedding performed by Father Shanahan.  Annie and Robert settled at Balmoral and in 1910 moved to Konongwootong  South.  In 1936, Robert retired from the farm and the Watts moved to Church Street, Coleraine  At the time of her death, Annie was ninety and Robert was still alive along with six children, thirty grandchildren and twenty great-grandchildren.  Robert died in 1957 aged ninety-six.