Passing of the Pioneers

This month seven pioneers join the Pioneers Obituary Index including a banker, a blacksmith, and a man who inadvertently shaped my family history.  As usual, I’ve included links to further information throughout the post so click on the underlined text to learn more.

CHIRNSIDE, Thomas – Died June 1887 at Werribee.  As much as I’d like to look at Thomas Chirnside’s life story in-depth, it would need more space than I can give in this post. There are so many interesting facets of his life such as the many properties he owned, his contribution to thoroughbred breeding and racing in colonial Victoria, and his association with the Victorian Acclimatization Society.  Instead, I’ll give you an overview of his life with links to further information and at the end.

THOMAS CHIRNSIDE (1874). Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/153091

Thomas Chirnside was born in 1815 at Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, Scotland.  He left Scotland in 1838 and his first stop in Australia was at Adelaide in January 1839 before going on to Sydney.  His younger brother Andrew arrived in Melbourne later in 1839 so Thomas travelled to meet him. The brothers then went on to Sydney to buy stock to take overland to Adelaide to sell.  Thomas and Andrew then took up a run on the Loddon River in 1840, passed and named by Major Thomas Mitchell only four years before. From the Lodden, Thomas and Andrew followed the path of Mitchell again towards the Western District and in 1842 they found before them the highest peak in the Grampians named Mount William by Major Mitchell.

VIEW TOWARDS MOUNT WILLIAM

The land appealed to the brothers and they established a station named after the nearby peak.  It was not without its dangers.

“THE GAOL BREAKING CONVICTS.” Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1840 – 1845) 27 March 1843

The brothers ran Merino sheep and cattle at Mount William and a large woolshed (below) with twenty stands was built in 1865.

MOUNT WILLLIAM WOOLSHED BUILT c1865. Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia Image no. B 71655/17 https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+71655/17

Thomas and Andrew went on to buy Mokanger station on the Wannon River near Cavendish in 1843 and in the years after, acquired properties such as Mount Emu Creek and Carranballac near Skipton (below) and Kenilworth South and Victoria Lagoon near Cavendish.  By 1870 between them, they had acquired around 250,000 acres of land in Victoria.

CARRANBALLAC WOOLSHED. Image courtesy of the J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/233898

The Chirnside name was soon connected with horse racing in the colony.  It’s amazing to think they were standing thoroughbred stallions at stud in 1845, but while it was the early days of racing in Victoria it was happening decades before in New South Wales and Tasmania.

“Advertising” The Melbourne Courier (Vic. : 1845 – 1846) 27 August 1845: 3. Web. 14 Jun 2018 .

The Chirnsides were soon racing their progeny and it was Mount William station bred Alice Hawthorn in the late 1850s who brought them their first notable success.  It appears Thomas was more interested in the breeding side of the business while Andrew was into racing, with many horses they bred raced in Andrew’s name including 1874  Melbourne Cup winner Haricot.

From 1849, Thomas began acquiring land at Wyndham, west of Melbourne and he soon built up an estate of 80,000 acres known as Werribee Park.  As a member of the Victorian Acclimatisation Society, Thomas began importing animals from the old country, red deer, foxes, hares, pheasants, and partridges. It wasn’t long before “fine old English gentleman” were hunting the new arrivals around the vast expanse of Werribee Park.

“MR. CHIRNSIDE AND THE CAMP AT WERRIBEE PARK. To the Editor of the Geelong Advertiser.” Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 – 1929) 16 March 1861: 3. Web. 17 Jun 2018 .

Although a homestead and outbuildings were built in the early days at Werribee Park, in 1873 work started on a beautiful mansion.

WERRIBEE MANSION c1880. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/155659

Thomas lived at the mansion but in the years before his death, he moved to another of his properties, Point Cook where much of the Chirnsides’ thoroughbred breeding took place.

POINT COOK HOMESTEAD IN 1971. Image courtesy of J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/169911

Thomas never married and as he reached old age in the 1880s, he signed all his property over to his brother and nephews except for Point Cook.  Thomas did return to live at Werribee Park and took his own life there in 1887.  He was buried at the Geelong Eastern Cemetery.

You can find more information about Thomas Chirnside on the following links

Obituary of Thomas Chirnside from The Australasian

Obituary of Thomas Chirnside from The Argus

Biography of Thomas Chirnside from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Alice Hawthorn – The Western Mare

If it was not for Thomas Chirnside and his brother Andrew, my family history may have been very different.  From the 1850s, my ggg grandfathers Charles Hadden and James Mortimer were employed by the Chirnsides.  The Haddens came from Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland just thirty kilometres from Thomas Chirnside’s birthplace. Charles, his wife Agnes and three sons went straight from Melbourne to Mokanger after they arrived on the Marco Polo in September 1852.  They weren’t there long before they went east again to the Chirnside’s Carranballac Station where Margaret was born in 1853. Charles then thought he’d try his luck at the diggings but it wasn’t long before he was back working for the Chirnsides again but at Mount William Station where a daughter Ellen was born in 1861.  In 1863 they arrived back at Mokanger and son John was born there the following year.  After ten years, of moving they finally decided to settle there.

James Mortimer, his wife Rosanna and four children also arrived in Melbourne in September 1852 on the Bombay, and a daughter Mary was born the following year at Mount William Station. Around 1860, the Mortimers moved on to Mokanger.  James Mortimer was a ploughman and later an overseer and Charles Hadden a boundary rider at the Cavendish property.  The Hadden and Mortimer children grew up together and on 17 March 1870, William Hadden by then himself working at Mokanger, married Mary Mortimer at the property.  William was twenty-three and Mary just seventeen.  William continued working at Mokanger into his eighties and saw the property change hands from the Chirnsides.

McEWEN, Peter – Died 9 June 1902 at Hamilton.  Peter McEwen was born in Argyllshire, Scotland and arrived in Victoria in 1863.  He went first to Tullich station near Casterton owned by Miles Fletcher before becoming the manager of Argyle Station. In 1867, Peter took over the running of Dunrobin Station also near Casterton, holding the position of manager until his death.  In 1872, Peter married Jessie Fletcher and they had three sons and three daughters.

In 1901, the Casterton Caledonian Society was formed and Peter was the inaugural chief of the society.  A kind and charitable man, the respect for him was demonstrated when people from across the district attended his funeral to pay their respects.  More than seventy buggies along with horsemen followed the cortège which travelled from Dunrobin station to Casterton reaching a length of almost a kilometre as seen in the photo below.  You can read an article about the funeral on the link – Funeral of Peter McEwen.

THE FUNERAL PROCESSION OF PETER McEWEN MOVING ALONG RACECOURSE ROAD, CASTERTON ON 11 JUNE 1902. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/774845

HELPMAN, Walter Stephen – Died 24 June 1914 at Warrnambool.  Walter Helpman was born in Fremantle, Western Australia, a son of Captain Benjamin Helpman and Ann Pace, a sister of Mrs Jane Henty. The Helpmans moved to Victoria and settled in Warrnambool.  Walter attended school in Portland before going to a grammar school in South Melbourne.  In 1869, he joined the National Bank at Warrnambool before moving to the Geelong branch as an accountant.  In 1875, he became manager of the Colonial Bank at Koroit and in 1876, started a branch at Port Fairy. In 1877, Walter became the manager of the Warrnambool branch of the Colonial Bank and he married Isabella Murray in the same year. The first of Isabella and Walter’s children was Francis born in Warrnambool in 1878. Then followed twins Isabella Jean and James in 1881 and Gordon born in 1884.

Walter left the Colonial Bank in 1902 and the Helpmans left Warrnambool. Walter had a job as a clerk with the Customs Department in Melbourne and he and Isabella moved to 547 Collins Street, Melbourne, the location of the Federal Hotel.

FEDERAL HOTEL, MELBOURNE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/247026

In 1907, Isabella and Walter’s son James married May Gardiner at Millicent, South Australia.  A son Robert known as “Bobbie”, was born to James and May at Mt Gambier in 1909.  Walter and Isabella returned to Warrnambool around 1912, but two years later Walter died.  Isabella died at Warrnambool in 1924.  Their grandson “Bobbie” grew up to become Sir Robert Helpman.

ILLINGWORTH, John – Died 11 June 1915 at Casterton.  John was born in Lancashire, England in 1835 and went to London to take up an apprenticeship as a blacksmith and wheelwright.  On completion, he travelled to Dublin, Ireland and while there, he and friend decided to travel to Australia.  They arrived in 1860 and John spent time in Melbourne and Castlemaine before moving on to Ballarat where he remained for twenty years. There he married Sarah Jane Culliford in 1867.  In 1882, John and his family arrived in Casterton and settled on Toorak Hill.  John purchased the blacksmith and wheelwright business of Alexander McBean.

JOHN ILLINGWORTH’S CARRIAGE FACTORY AND BLACKSMITHS, CASTERTON c1906. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/766354

“Advertising” Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 – 1954) 7 March 1903: 32. Web. 18 Jun 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169741611&gt;.

In the same year, John also purchased the Temperance Boarding House in Henty Street, Casterton. 

Away from work, John attended the Casterton Methodist Church and was a trustee and circuit steward as well as a Sunday School teacher and superintendent.  John was also a member of the Glenelg Lodge of Freemasons. At the time of his death, John left his widow Sarah and two sons and two daughters.

CASTERTON WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH c1880. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/766563

HICKLING, Wyatt Ware – Died 19 June 1916 at Macarthur.  Wyatt Hickling was born in  Warrnambool around 1876.  As a child, he was sent to Dresden, Germany for two years to attend an English school.  On his return, Wyatt attended Geelong Grammar before going to St Peter’s College in Adelaide.  After his schooling, Wyatt went to work for Mr Henry De Little at Caramut North Estate before managing a property in Western Australia. On his return to Victoria, Wyatt became a partner of Caramut North.  He was known throughout Victoria as a good judge of merino sheep and was often called upon to judge at sheep shows.  He was involved with racing, coursing and the arts, taking the lead role in a number of local productions. In 1900, Wyatt married Tessa Ada Ferguson of Adelaide and they had two sons.

On Wednesday 31 May 1916, Wyatt was travelling in a motor car near Macarthur with Mr N. Whitehead when they crashed into a large rock.  Wyatt was thrown from the car and severely injured his spine at the base of his skull.  When help arrived he was unconscious and taken to the nearby Ripponhurst homestead.  Doctors were called from Hamilton and Warrnambool before two doctors from  Melbourne travelled to Macarthur to asses Wyatt’s injuries.  He showed a slight improvement but never regained consciousness and died nineteen days after the accident on 19 June.

DAVIDSON, William – Died June 1917 at Woolsthorpe.  William Davidson was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1832.  He married Eliza Ogilvie in 1854 and they travelled to Australia, arriving at Port Fairy in 1855.  William went to work for Joseph Ware at Minjah before opening a store at Woolsthorpe. His store was located on what was known as the Great North Road from Warrnambool to the Ararat diggings.  It was a busy road and Woolsthorpe was a popular overnight stop for travellers. They often stocked up at William’s store and he was known to take up to £100 a day.  William left the store and took up dairy-farming continuing until he suffered a stroke around 1905.  William was well-known in the Woolsthorpe district by his nickname of “The Chaffer” because of his tendency to tease.  Eliza died around 1914 and William lived on for another three years. He left twelve surviving children, forty-three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

THOMSON, Annie – Died 14 June 1930 at Hamilton.  Annie Thomson was born in 1855 in the Shelford district were her parents James Thomson and Christian Armstrong were living at the time.  Around 1860, the Thomsons moved to the Edenhope district after James purchased an interest in the Ullswater and Maryvale Stations.  In 1870, James Thomson purchased the Monivae estate, just south of Hamilton.  In time, Annie’s father built a new homestead to accommodate his large family and she spent around seven years living there prior to her marriage.

MONIVAE HOMESTEAD OPEN DAY 2017.

When she did marry, Annie was thirty but it could have been earlier.  In 1881, her beau James Allan Learmonth, a son of Hamilton businessman and grazier Peter Learmonth and Mary Jarvey Pearson of Prestonholme left for Mexico to manage a property bought by his father.  Five years passed yet Allan and Annie’s love remained strong and in 1886, Allan returned from Mexico to marry her.  The wedding was a large social occasion and sparked much interest within the Hamilton community.  Celebrated on 1 September 1886, at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Hamilton, the marriage was not followed by the usual wedding breakfast.  Instead, two weeks later James Thomson hosted a private ball for two hundred guests in the Hamilton Town Hall for the newlyweds in lieu of a wedding breakfast.   

Soon after, Allan and Annie left for Mexico and they remained there until 1892, arriving back in Australia with four children, all born in Mexico.  Allan then took up the running of Corea near Dunkeld. The following year, Peter Learmonth died and Allan took over Prestonholme.  Allan died in 1928 and Annie in 1930, leaving three sons and three daughters.  She was buried with Allan at the Hamilton Old Cemetery.

GRAVE OF ANNIE THOMSON AND HER HUSBAND JAMES ALLAN LEARMONTH, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY.

Annie’s parents James and Christina Thomson were to the Hamilton Presbyterian Church as James’ parents Peter and Mary Learmonth were to the Methodist Church, each devout supporters of their chosen faith. Of course, when Annie married James she moved to Methodism and she and James showed the same devotion to their faith as their parents before them.  After Annie’s death, a stained glass window was installed in Hamilton’s Methodist Church (now Uniting Church) to memorialise the couple.

MEMORIAL WINDOW FOR ANNIE THOMSON AND HER HUSBAND JAMES ALLAN LEARMONTH, HAMILTON UNITING CHURCH (FORMERLY HAMILTON METHODIST CHURCH)

Alice Hawthorn – The Western Mare

On 3 October 1857, a small grey mare known as “Alice” lined up for a match race with her rival Veno, from the colony of New South Wales (NSW), a race that would in time be remembered for its significance in setting the foundations for what has become Australia’s greatest horse race and strengthening the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry in Australia.  It was a time when inter-colonial rivalry was high, but this period of racing’s history shows that the racing fraternities of each colony, while still highly competitive, were able to work together in a harmonious way to develop the industry we have today. This story is not so much about the match race,  rather the life of the grey mare and the mark she left on Australian racing history.

“Alice”, bred at Mt William Station in the Western District and owned by great racing supporters, the Chirnsides, was born sometime around 1849.  Her sire was Delpare, an imported horse and her dam, Polly McQuinn, a part-Arab mare, bloodlines common in the early days of racing in Australia.  “Alice” was branded with the Chirnside’s  “key” brand.  Horses bearing that brand could never be sold.

DEATH OF ALICE HAWTHORNE. (1860, August 18). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59873244

At age three “Alice” was broken in and she spent time as a stock horse but, unlike her mother, she was not a good riding horse.  The Chinese workers at the station used her to carry rations to workers situated at out stations on the property but she developed a fistula wither, a painful condition, and was turned out.  During that time she became loose on the station roaming the bush for fifteen months. She ran with a wild horse and the result was a foal which died.  Time in the bush had not served her well, but back on pasture, she blossomed.

Put to work again, “Alice” was used by Robert Christison, a horse-breaker at Mt William, to act as  “nursemaid” to the young thoroughbreds he was breaking in.  On one occasion, the young horses had missed a muster and Christison chose  “Alice” to bring them back to the main paddock.  What a surprise he received.  This article, “Racing and Romance, Two Western Mares” includes excerpts from the book “After Many Days” by Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh that recount that day:

RACING AND ROMANCE. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 2 Supplement: The Argus. Saturday Camera Supplement. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3956921

The little mare, who not long before had roamed the bush, impressed and ousted the talented Miss Campbell from her prime stall in the stables.  She was also given her name,  Alice Hawthorn.

Her first race was at Hamilton over a mile and a half.  “Alice” won, kicking off a remarkable career which would span the next four years.  As was racing in those times, “Alice” returned to Hamilton the following day and backed up the win.

HAMILTON. (1856, January 21). Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser (Vic. : 1842 – 1876), p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved August 8, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-It

It was not long before Alice Hawthorn was racing at Ballarat, Geelong and then Flemington.  This sketch shows her storming down the outside to win the Turf Club Autumn Cup of 1857.

Flemington: Past and Present. (1891, October 24). Illustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 – 1872), p. 13. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63613318

It was this race and others that saw Alice Hawthorn considered one of Victoria’s best horses and in turn, her name was given as a challenger to a horse from NSW in a match race of £1000 aside.  The Victorians wanted to nominate three horses and select the best on the day, however, this was rejected by their NSW. colleagues who nominated just one horse, the chestnut Veno.  Alice Hawthorn, it was.

LOCAL NEWS. (1857, July 1). The Hobart Town Mercury (Tas. : 1857), p. 2. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3244328

There was some doubt in the minds of the Victorians that “Alice” was up to the task and her odds went out.  Others considered the home track advantage would help her.  Veno’s arrival in Melbourne created much interest with crowds of people gathering to see the Sydney horse.

VICTORIA. (1857, August 1). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867006

Meanwhile, there were security fears for “Alice’ and her trainer Mr Green built a stable at his home to accommodate her safely.

VENO AND ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, August 29). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867185

This thorough description of “Alice”, including her physique, action and temperament is unlike anything seen today.  The Melbourne correspondent noted her “fine, even temper which nothing can ruffle is the theme of universal admiration”.  Jokes were often made about her arrival at the starting line for races, looking like she had just had a sleep. This probably helped her settle in her races and run out the three miles.

ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, September 5). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59867231

Those attending the Great Inter-Colonial Match race from Sydney could take up the offer from the Australian Steam Navigation Company of a return ticket at a reduced rate.

THE WRECK OF THE DUNBAR. (1857, September 5). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64986713

In the preceding days, something akin to the call of the card was held at the Tattersall’s Hotel in Russell Street, where the original challenge was offered.  A healthy amount of money was wagered, all with a sense of good sportsmanship.

Chair, Mr Goldsborough welcomed the sporting men of Sydney, including trainer Mr Rowe, and reassured them that they “would be met upon all occasions in the hearty spirit of true sportsmen”.

At the gathering, a decision was made to set up a subscription room at the Tattersalls Hotel for those of “good respectability and conduct’ for a season ticket of ten shillings.  The Produce Stakes was also devised, open to horses from all colonies.

VENO AND ALICE HAWTHORN. (1857, October 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 8. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28633161

On the morning of 3 October 1857, all roads led to Flemington.  For others, a steamer up the Saltwater River (Maribyrnong River) was the preferred transport.

SPORTING INTELLIGENCE. (1857, October 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7139724

As feared by many Victorians, it was not Alice Hawthorn’s day, with Veno winning the three-mile race.  “Alice” was not disgraced but could not match the stamina of Veno.

FIRST RACE. THE MATCH FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP.—VICTORIA V. NEW SOUTH WALES. (1857, October 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 1 Edition: Second Edition.. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13001270

Veno’s trainer accepted another challenge with the horse backing up two races later against Victorian Van Tromp.  Veno raced another three miles, finishing in a faster time than his race against “Alice”, beating Van Tromp by two lengths.

The Victorian racing fraternity was left questioning their horses’ bloodlines and those from the colony of NSW left no doubt where Veno hailed from as this headline from the Empire, a Sydney newspaper shows.

[SECOND EDITION.]. (1857, October 8). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3 Edition: 2nd edition. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60261613

This article from The Argus, written in the days, stressed how important breeding better Victorian horses was if they were to match it with the other colonies and the need for good horse races such as the match race, to make sure that the standard of horse improved.

The Argus. (1857, October 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7139706

It was not long before “Alice” was back racing and on 2 December she was at Ballarat, once again a winner.

THE RACES. SECOND DAY. (1857, December 3). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864), p. 2. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66045460

On Thursday 18 February 1858, Alice Hawthorn won the Great Metropolitan Handicap at Flemington, redeeming herself with those who dismissed her both before and after her match race with Veno.

VICTORIA JOCKEY CLUB RACE MEETING. (1858, February 26). Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), p. 3. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60426399

“Alice” continued to race and win.  Just over twelve months after her match race, she was still considered Victoria’s leading three miler, although some thought this was because she had nothing to beat.

No title. (1858, November 6). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59869552

The 1 October 1859 was the first running of the Australian Champion Sweepstakes at Flemington racecourse.  Horses from the colonies of South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania were among the entries, true inter-colonial racing.

One of the entries, The Barber from South Australia, had an unfortunate and unexpected link to the Western District. The Barber’s transportation to Melbourne was the steamer Admella.  The Admella struck trouble along the South Australian coast near the Victorian border and the Portland lifeboat Ladybird with Captain James Fawthrop at her helm went to the rescue.  All the horses aboard the steamer drowned, except for The Barber, who amazingly came to shore, two and a half miles away from the wreck.  He was then walked overland to Geelong and travelled by rail to Melbourne.  Not surprisingly he finished close to the tail of the field in the Sweepstakes.

“Alice”, by this time at least ten years old, acquitted herself well in the three-mile race running fourth behind the winner Victorian Flying Buck,  a three-year-old.

THE CHAMPION RACE DAY. (1859, October 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5689255

Alice Hawthorn ran her last race in November 1859 in the Turf Club Welter Handicap over three miles.  She won by ten lengths and retired with £5000 in stakes money, the highest of any horse in the colonies.

VICTORIA. (1859, November 26). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 4. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59871699

The Chirnsides sent their mare to stud for a meeting with their imported stallion Peeping Tom. It is not clear if the mating was successful.

On 12 August 1860, the mare they called “Alice” passed away at the Chirnside’s Point Cook at twelve years of age, only nine months out of racing.  Her lungs that gave her the stamina to run long distances had failed her.

MELBOURNE NEWS. (1860, August 16). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87945829

DEATH OF ALICE HAWTHORNE. (1860, August 18). Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (NSW : 1845 – 1860), p. 2. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59873244

“Alice” went from the foothills of the Grampians to matching it with some of the leading horses in Victoria and the other colonies.  She easily could have remained at Mount William Station as nurse maid to the future stars of the Chirnside’s stables.  It was only for her demonstration of brilliance rounding up the escaped horses that saw her rise to becoming a household name.   She saw hard racing considering many of her races were over three miles, a mile further than the Melbourne Cup.  Horses from her time could run two three mile races in a day, just as Veno did on 3 October 1857.

In 1861, the first Melbourne Cup was run.  Racing was building up to a race like the Cup from the time of the Great Inter-Colonial match race, the Great Metropolitan Handicap and the Sweepstakes, but unlike those races, it has endured and strengthened over 150 years.  Racing was evolving, as it was suggested it should after the 1857 match race, by creating great horse races to improve the stock.  Unfortunately for Victoria, Archer from N.S.W. won the first two cups.  Banker, bred by Woodend hotel keeper Joseph Harper, finally won for the colony in 1863.  The Great Inter-Colonial match race began the stream of horses across the borders to race in Victoria.  Today, Victorian racing is International, with overseas horses not only racing here in the spring but taking the main prize.

Alice Hawthorn and her rivals of the time have a place in Australian racing history.  While the leaders of the Australian colonies were struggling to work together on a united front, the connections of these horses were showing their political counterparts how to do it.  The Sporting Notes of The Argus of 24 March 1865 praised those involved in racing.  Between the Great Inter-Colonial match race in 1857 and 1865, the racing clubs of the colonies had agreed on a single birth date for all thoroughbreds, August 1 and Victoria had revised its Weight for Age system to come into line with the other colonies.  The correspondent said “It would be remarkable if meeting pleasantly on the neutral ground of sport, the Australian colonies were thereby hereafter to meet in an equally friendly spirit to deal with  more important questions”

SPORTING NOTES. (1865, March 24). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 5. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5734367

At the time of the death of Andrew Chirnside,  The Border Watch reported that Alice Hawthorn helped make his name in racing circles.

SPORTING NOTES. (1890, May 3). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77489433

I came to know about Alice Hawthorn while searching for articles about Mt. William Station at Trove.  My ggg grandfather James Mortimer and his family arrived at Mt William Station around 1853, about the time “Alice” was broken in.  He was there when she was working as a packhorse and when she rounded up the young horses.  When Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh was at Munthum Station and heard the stories of the Delpare mare, James Mortimer was at Mt William Station.  Was James Mortimer one of the stockmen who rode Alice her and dismissed her as a riding horse?  He must have at least heard talk of her.

The talk of her continued for years after.  Donald McDonald, in 1928, put Alice Hawthorn’s racing career into perspective.

RACING AND ROMANCE. (1928, September 15). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1956), p. 2 Supplement: The Argus. Saturday Camera Supplement.. Retrieved October 3, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article395692