Passing of the Pioneers

If you caught my last post, the March edition of Passing of the Pioneers, you will know the PP posts are running behind.  This is a very late April edition  There are just four pioneers but two led very full and interesting lives, one of those being among the earliest Australian Rules footballers in the state.  One of the other men was among the Wendish settlers who trekked from Adelaide to the Western Victoria in 1852.  I did try to find a woman to add to the mix but unfortunately, my April list of obituaries is currently men only.  Click on the links on the underlined text for further information about a subject.  They include a link to the very interesting Wendish  Heritage website,

CHIRNSIDE, Andrew Spencer – Died 30 April 1890 at Colac

ANDREW CHIRNSIDE. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/153089

Andrew Chirnside was born at Berwickshire, Scotland around 1817. He arrived in Melbourne in 1839 and met up with his older brother Thomas who had was already in the colony. The brothers went on to Sydney to buy stock to take overland to Adelaide to sell.  They 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. The land appealed to the brothers and they established a station named after the nearby peak.

LOOKING TOWARDS MOUNT WILLIAM

The brothers ran Merino sheep and cattle at Mount William and a large woolshed (below) with twenty stands was built in 1865. 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. 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   By 1870 between them, they had acquired around 250,000 acres of land in Victoria.

The Chirnside name was soon connected with horse racing in the colony.  The Chirnsides were racing horses they’d bred and it was Mount William station bred Alice Hawthorn in the late 1850s who brought them their first notable success.  Andrew was interested in the racing side while Thomas prefered the breeding side of the business. Many of the horses raced in Andrew’s name including 1874  Melbourne Cup winner Haricot (below).

MR. A. CHIRNSIDE’S HARICOT, THE WINNER OF THE MELBOURNE CUP. (1874, December 2). Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers (Melbourne, Vic. : 1867 – 1875), p. 193. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60447659

In 1850, Andrew returned to Scotland and married Mary Begbie. Children were born at Carranballac and the Chirnside’s Point Cook station. Andrew and Mary lived at Carranballac (below) for a number of years.

CARRANBALLAC HOMESTEAD. Image courtesy of the J.T.Collins Collection, State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/233699

They then moved to Werribee where Thomas had built a large mansion (below).  In 1887, Thomas Chirnside died at Werribee.

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

In 1889, Andrew funded the establishment of a half battery of horse artillery at Werribee,  He paid for the horses, their feed, uniforms and instruction. Forty men turned up for the first meeting at the Werribee Club Hotel.  The battery was commanded by Andrew’s son John.  Andrew was also the founder of the Wyndham Racing Club and a president of the Wyndham Shire Council. In his last years, Andrew went on trips to Queensland and Tasmania but he was in poor health.  He died at Irrewarra, Colac the home of his daughter Maggie Calvert.  Aged seventy-three, he left his widow Mary, four sons and two daughters.  Mary died in 1909.

You can find more information about Andrew Chirnside on the following links:

Biography of Andrew Chirnside from the Australian Dictionary of Biography

Alice Hawthorn – The Western Mare

RIPPON, George Reynolds – Died 26 April 1899 at Hamilton.  George Rippon was born in Berkshire, England on 17 September 1838. His father John James Rippon was a successful manufacturer with several large factories.  George completed his school in France, giving him competency in the French language.  He arrived in Australian in 1857 aboard James Baines and worked for a surveyor at Geelong, thought to be surveying the railway routes through the Western District.  He then worked as an accountant.

By the 1859/1860 cricket season, George was playing for the Corio Cricket Club and was among the team’s better players with bat and ball. In February 1860 he topped scored in a shortened match against Emerald Hill.

CORIO INNINGS. (1860, February 27). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 – 1929), p. 2. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article148789089

In 1862, George was selected in a squad of twenty-two from Geelong and the Western District to play an All England team but unfortunately, he went out for a duck in the first innings of the match on 20 January 1862 and for eleven in the second innings. By 1863 he was captain of the Corio side.  George went to Sydney in 1866, as a member of a Victorian team for an intercolonial match, however, poor form in lead up games saw he dropped from the side. 

In October 1867, the Corio Cricket Club played two matches against an Aboriginal XI months before their departure for an English tour. On the Corio team was Tom Wills, considered the father of Australian Rules football and original coach of the Aboriginal team before Charles Lawrence took over.  Wills captained the Corio team in the first match and the Aboriginal XI was led by Lawrence. George Rippon captained the Corio side in the second match. He was clean bowled by Johnny Mullagh for seven runs, one of five wickets for Mullagh.  In the second innings, Johnny Mullagh was caught out off George’s bowling for four runs. 

CRICKET At GEELONG. (1867, October 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved May 30, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5781100

In his last season playing cricket in Geelong, George took eight wickets for twenty runs in a match against the Kardinia Cricket Club during January 1876,  

Australian Rules Football was emerging as a sport during George’s first years in Geelong. The Geelong Football Club was formed in 1859 and not only was George one of the first players for the club, he served as club president in 1859 and 1860.  In 1861, George was the leading goalkicker for Geelong. Another highlight was when he kicked a goal to seal the game for Geelong against Melbourne in a challenge match on 12 September 1863 at the Richmond Paddock (below).

FOOTBALL AT RICHMOND PADDOCK IN 1866. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/111640

In June 1865, the Geelong Racing Club was established and George was unanimously elected as secretary of the club.  By that time he was one of the best sportsmen in Geelong playing cricket, football, rope quoits, billiards and rowing.  Just one of his achievements was topping the bowling averages for Geelong Cricket Club in 1870/71. He was also involved in coursing including serving as secretary of the Geelong Coursing Club.  In 1872 he was Vice president of the Geelong Football Club.  

On 24 November 1864, George married at Geelong to Maria Smith and a son John James Rippon was born the following year. George and Maria lived in Moorabool Street with further children born at their home, sons George in 1867 and Herbert in 1869, followed by daughters Martha in 1870, Emma in 1872 and Alice in 1874.

Aside from sport, George’s literary and writing skills caught the attention of the Geelong Advertiser and he was employed by the newspaper around 1864 and remained there until July 1876 when he moved to Hamilton.  He was thirty-eight at that time.  There were several testimonials for George in Geelong. his home of more than fifteen years including one conducted by the Geelong Football Club,

GEELONG FOOTBALL CLUB. (1876, July 8). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 – 1929), p. 3. Retrieved May 6, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article150633093

George and family were off to Hamilton because George had purchased a share of the local newspaper the Hamilton Spectator. In July 1876, George entered a partnership with George Mott and George Robinson. Robinson took up a retiring role in the paper and left the proprietorship in 1879.

Advertising (1876, July 12). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved May 26, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226037595

George wasted no time getting involved with town activities.  As soon as the 1876/1877 season came around, he was playing with the Hamilton Cricket Club.   And when the 1877 football season started he was involved with the Hamilton team but in a non-playing role as a judge. By the 1878 football season, George was vice-president of the Hamilton Football Club. His wide-ranging sporting prowess continued in Hamilton where he left off in Geelong.  He was part of a team to play in the Murray Challenge Cup in cricket. George was still playing cricket in 1890 at the age of fifty-one, playing a match at Portland with his sons Herbert and George.  His obituary mentioned his last cricket match when he played with his sons and the three of them had a combined score of 179.  George was president of the Hamilton Cricket Club for many years.  He was one of the best rope quoits and billiards player in the Western District.  He continued his interest in coursing in Hamilton and was a president of the Hamilton Bowls Club. He was a member of the Hamilton Racing Club and acted as a judge and did the same at Penshurst. 

Away from sport, on 7 May 1879, George’s father John James Rippon died at Altham Hall, Accrington, Lancashire, England aged seventy-nine. George’s home Altham Lodge in Hamilton on the corner of Collins and Dryden Street was similarly named to the home of his father.  George and Mott built up the Hamilton Spectator and by 1876 it was published three times a week and was a leading voice in Western Victoria. In 1885, George Mott sold his share of the Spectator to George Rippon who became sole proprietor of the newspaper.

VIEW OF HAMILTON VICTORIA. (1888, April 17). Hamilton Spectator p. 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225809074

George was a member of the Hamilton Hospital committee, president of the Hamilton Fire Brigade for eighteen years and vice president of the Hamilton Pastoral and Agriculture Society.  He was a member of the Freemasons Lodge and was a Past Grand Registrar. He was also a Justice of the Peace and a member of Melbourne’s Yorick Club founded by Marcus Clarke in 1868 for men with literary interests. Among other members was Adam Lindsay Gordon.

On 12 March 1888, George and Maria’s eldest son John died aged twenty-two. In August 1891, Johnny Mullagh who was part of the Aboriginal Cricket XI tour of England died.  George Rippon called for a monument for his grave at Harrow and opened subscriptions to fund it. It was twenty-three years since George and Johnny were on opposing teams in Geelong. 

THE LATE JOHN MULLAGH. (1891, August 18). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 3. Retrieved May 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226082134

There was plenty of support for George’s proposal and in late 1892, a memorial stone was erected at the Harrow cricket ground and a smaller monument on Johnny Mullagh’s grave.

HARROW. (1892, December 13). Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918), p. 1 (SUPPLEMENT TO THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR.). Retrieved May 29, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article225182122

George’s wife Maria died on 18 September 1897 aged fifty-four.  George died at  Altham Lodge on 26 April 1899 aged sixty-one.  He was buried with his son John and wife Maria at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery. 

RIPPON FAMILY GRAVE, HAMILTON (OLD) CEMETERY

George’s son Herbert took over the Hamilton Spectator, owning it for fifty-five years.  Another son George wrote sports reports for the paper.  After Herbert died, his son George Reynolds Rippon formed the Hamilton Spectator Partnership and was managing partner until the 1970s. Herbert’s daughter Clarice was the office manager of the paper for three decades. The paper is still in publication today.

HAMILTON SPECTATOR

Additional Sources:

Hay, Roy and EBSCOhost Aboriginal people and Australian football in the nineteenth century: they did not come from nowhere. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 2019.

Kirkpatrick, Rod and Victorian Country Press Association, (issuing body.) The bold type: a history of Victoria’s country newspapers, 1840-2010. The Victorian Country Press Association, Ascot Vale, Vic, 2010 p233.

RENTSCH, Johann – Died 14 April 1909 at Byaduk. Johann Rentsch was born in Germany around 1834.  When he was seventeen, he arrived in Adelaide aboard Helena in 1851 with several other Wendish families. The following year, the families set off for Victoria.  Their journey took four weeks and they arrived in Portland on 26 May 1852.  In May 1854, Johann purchased land in South Hamilton, on what is now the north-eastern side of Ballarat Road and Hillers Lane in an area with several other German settlers. The area was known as Hochkirch on the Grange.  In 1856 Johann married Magdalena Burger. The Burgers were another of the Wendish families who travelled from South Australia. The couple went on to have seven children.  Johann selected land at Byaduk around 1860 and he and Magdalena settled there for the rest of their lives. They were members of the Byaduk Lutheran Church. Johann was buried at the Byaduk Lutheran Cemetery.  

You can read more about the Wendish settlers in the Western District on the following link – Wendish Heritage 

MORRISSEY, Michael – Died 12 April 1913 at Branxholme. Michael Morrissey was born in Limerick, Ireland around 1853 and arrived at Portland with his parents the following year about New Zealander.  The family settled at Port Fairy.  When Michael was a young man, he took up land at Broadwater, naming his property Cloverdale.  In 1881, Michael married Anne Purcell. During his time at Broadwater, Michael was one of the selectors behind the Eumerella Drainage Scheme involving the drainage of the Eumerella Swamp with work beginning in 1906.  In 1912, Michael purchased a property at Mount Eccles and built a home.  The intention by Michael and Anne to live out their lives there was shortlived when in April 1913, Michael fell ill and went to Branxholme for medical treatment.  He died there at the age of sixty.  Michael was buried in the Macarthur cemetery.