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The murder at Sutton Veny

By Peter Burness

(Previously published in Kilmore Connections, June 2003)

During the First World War tens of thousands of Australian troops passed through the huge military training camps set up in Britain. Soldiers would move between these camps and the battle front in France and Belgium. The hutted camp at Sutton Veny near Salisbury was one of these, and there, on the night of 27 November 1917, a tragic event began to unfold. An Australian soldier was found dead in suspicious circumstances.

About 11 pm that night, Corporal Verney Asser, an instructor at the camp, went to the sergeant of the guard’s room to report that his colleague with whom he shared a hut had committed suicide. Asser said that he had been woken by a loud shot and looked over to find Corporal Durkin dead in his bed. The victim was lying on his right side with his head bloodied and a rifle by his hand.

The deceased was 24-year-old Joe Durkin from Carlton, Victoria. He had grown up in Kilmore where his Irish-born father was a local tailor; his mother died when he was about ten years old. Durkin, a former railwayman, had been in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) for almost two years. He left Melbourne with the 17th reinforcements for the 6th Battalion in April 1916, and was stationed in Egypt before going to England. More recently, he and Asser were light machine-gun instructors with the 2nd Australian Training Battalion and they shared accommodation in the Lewis gun hut.

Two days after the tragedy a coroner’s court was held at the military hospital at Sutton Veny. Corporal Asser was the main witness. He testified that Durkin had been depressed and moody all the fateful day. The jury retired and, after deliberation, returned to the court to announce that it believed that the corporal had committed suicide during a period of temporary insanity.

The matter may have rested there but for another camp instructor, Corporal Mime, coming forward a few days later with information that would quickly re-open the case. From the first Milne had insisted that Durkin was not a man likely to kill himself and clearly he had become concerned about the inquest’s conclusions. He now went on to say that on the night of the shooting Asser had come to his hut three times and had gone into an area where ammunition was stored. Later there had been a shot from Asser and Durkin’s hut next door and a round had actually passed through Mime’s wall and put a hole in his jacket which was at the end of his bed. Initially he had thought it was an accidental discharge and did not want to report it.

Matters that had been ignored in the original investigation now took on a sinister appearance. It was recalled that when Asser had gone to the guard hut he was fully dressed, even wearing his wound puttees and in the hut, where he said he had been asleep, his mattress was still rolled up. No empty cartridge was found in the rifle that killed Durkin; someone had extracted it after firing, and only Asser and Durkin were in the hut. It began to look like murder, and Asser was the obvious suspect.

Investigation of his background revealed further odd facts. Verney Asser claimed to have been born in Ballarat thirty years earlier and to have been employed as a porter before volunteering for the AIF. He may have had previous military training because he was a sergeant in October 1915 when he was accepted to transfer to the permanent forces as an acting staff sergeant-major in the Administrative and Instructional Staff. Two months later he was recorded as having deserted from the army.

Asser next appeared at sea on the troopship Maiwa. When the ship reached Colombo he presented himself as a stowaway, expressing a wish to get to the war and requesting that he be enlisted. He was taken on to Egypt and there was made to contribute to the cost of his voyage. He was held at Zeitoun camp until it was decided that his desertion from the permanent forces would be overlooked, and he rejoined the AIF on 1 March 1916. He became a Member of the Australian Army Service Corps and in due course saw service on the Western Front until February 1917.

There was certainly evidence that Asser and Durkin had been friends. However, Asser revealed his darker side when drunk The two men quarrelled sometimes and witnesses recalled that a few weeks earlier Asser threatened “to get even” with Durkin. Added to this, investigators also discovered that a year earlier Asser had been admitted to hospital in England suffering from “mental derangement”. This was attributed to his alcoholism. It seems that he may have also been jealous of Durkin’s association with a widow in the town. The two men had argued when Durkin found Asser reading his letters from her.

Soldiers are subject to both civil and military law. Because the crime was committed in England it was decided that civil authorities would handle this case. Asser was committed to stand trial at the assizes at Devizes in January 1918 and the Commonwealth agreed to pay the costs of his defence. Extensive evidence was presented and the prosecution clearly established that only Asser and Durkin had been in the hut that evening, and that from the positioning of the fatal wound, and the type of rifle used, Durkin would have been in no position to shoot himself.

Still, Asser seemed comfortable when called into the witness box, answering confidently, and insisting he was innocent. It did him no good: the prosecution’s case was sound, and he was found guilty and condemned to death.

Verney Asser appealed against his sentence on the grounds of insanity. He claimed that he had been in asylums and hospital mental wards, although only his military record, with its reference to “mental derangement”, was produced as evidence of this. The appeal was dismissed and the death penalty confirmed. He was hanged at the old Shepton Mallet Prison on Tuesday morning 5 March 1918. The execution was conducted in secrecy without the customary raising of a black flag or tolling of a bell. Asser died instantaneously and offered no confession of his crime.

Remarkably, the Shepton Mallet Prison would see many more military executions. It was taken over by the American forces during the Second World War, was nicknamed “the glasshouse”, and gained a notorious reputation. Twenty-one US servicemen were hanged and two were shot at Shepton Mallet for crimes of rape and murder.

It is possible that had Asser’s crime occurred in a camp in France, and been handled under Military Law, he may have escaped execution. While military courts’ sentences were often harsh, some death sentences for murder were commuted. Furthermore, in the application of Military Law the official historian, Charles Bean, noted that “it was doubtful whether an Australian soldier even when guilty of murder could receive a death penalty”. It may be that there was more certainty in getting a conviction, and the full penalty, from a civil court. As it was, he became the only Australian soldier executed overseas in the First World War, if one excepts the case of Private Albert Fraser, who was hanged at HM Prison Glasgow on 26 May 1920.

Fraser’s situation was quite different. This troublesome soldier had arrived in England too late to see active service, and had cast aside his uniform and deserted as soon as the war was over. He lived as a civilian from the proceeds of selling pots and pans, and from crime. He and an accomplice were arrested in Belfast for the brutal murder of a man they had assaulted and robbed in a Glasgow park on 3 February 1920. This was a straight out civil matter and the fact that Fraser was still an “illegal absentee” from the AIF was not raised during the trial.

The subject of military executions during the First World War has been the subject of increasing interest in recent years. Throughout the war the death penalty was imposed on British soldiers for various crimes, including murder. Overwhelmingly, the most common charge was desertion. Various moves have been made to gain posthumous pardons for these men largely in the belief that they did not receive a fair hearing in the prevailing circumstances. The British Commonwealth forces executed over 300 of their own troops during the war, but none was a member of the AIF. But the claim that “no Australian soldier was executed during the war” overlooks the little known story of Verney Asser. Of course, the claim remains essentially correct, since it refers to military executions, not those under Civil Law.

Verney Asser died in disgrace. His entitlement to medals was cancelled; he has no marked grave; nor is his name recorded on the Australian War Memorial’s roll of honour in Canberra. Joseph Harold Durkin’s name is there. This unfortunate soldier received a military funeral and is buried in the war cemetery at St John’s Churchyard, Sutton Veny, Wiltshire. His resting place is in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and he lies in the small cemetery with 142 other Australians who died while in the local camps or hospital during the war.

Author Peter Burness is Senior Curator, Gallery Development, Australian War Memorial.

References:

  • National Archives Files: NAA B2455; A.J. Fraser; J.H. Durkin; V Asser.
  • Australian War Memorial File; AWM Series 10: 4304/9/75.
  • Information from Kilmore Historical Society.

Reprinted with the permission of Peter Burness and Wartime magazine. Originally published in issue 21 of Wartime, the official magazine of the Australian War Memorial.

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The Durkin Family of Kilmore

By Heather Knight

(Originally published in Kilmore Connections, June 2003)

In 1890, Bartholomew Durkin, born in County Mayo, Ireland, married Clara Poulton. Clara was a native of Kilmore and was born in 1862 to John Driver Poulton and Jane Burge.

The children of Clara and Bartholomew were all born at Kilmore; Thomas in 1890, William Clarence b.1891, Joseph Harold b.1893, John born and died (age 1 day) in 1895, Michael John b. 1896, Margaret Mary b.1898, Anthoney b.1900, twins Emanuel Ignatius and Patrick born and died in 1902.

Clara Durkin died in 1902 age 39 after giving birth to twin boys. The Kilmore Free Press (6 March 1902) wrote this poignant obituary: “We regret this week having to record the death of Mrs. Durkin, wife of Mr Bartholomew Durkin, of Sydney Street, which sad event occurred on Friday morning last under melancholy circumstances at the age of 38 years. Deceased lady, who was a native of Kilmore and much respected gave birth to twin boys a few days previously, and death ensued from blood poisoning. She leaves a young family of eight children most of whom are of too tender an age to realise their great loss. The remains were interred in the Kilmore Catholic cemetery on Saturday afternoon.” Sadly, one of the babies died shortly after his mother and the other a few months later.

On 27 November 1917, Joseph Harold Durkin, the middle child of Bartholomew and Clara, was callously murdered while serving with the AIF in England. Incredibly, the Kilmore newspapers of the time did not make headlines from his brutal murder. This was probably due to the initial belief, following the findings of the original coronial inquiry, that Joseph Durkin had committed suicide. Joseph’s father, Bartholomew, probably kept what he believed to be the circumstances of his son’s death quiet, fearing the shame and indignity that a death by suicide would bring to his family.

On 13 December 1917 the Kilmore Free Press printed this small paragraph announcing the death of Joseph Durkin: — “Acting Corporal Joseph Durkin, a Kilmore boy and son of Mr. S. Durkin, Sydney Street, lost his life at the front.”

The myth seems to have continued; death at the front was far more noble than death by suicide or murder at the hands of a comrade. In January 1918, about the time of the murder trial of Verney Asser in England, the Kilmore Advertiser wrote: “Mr B. Durkin, Sydney Street, Kilmore, has received the following letter from the secretary of the Railway Commissioners relative to the death of his son Acting-Corporal J. Durkin, who was killed in action in France recently:— “I am directed by the Commissioners to convey to you their sincere sympathy in the great loss you have sustained by the regretted death of your son whilst on service with the Expeditionary Forces of the Commonwealth.” Prior to enlisting, Acting-Corporal Durkin was a trusted and faithful employee of the Railway Department.”

In December 1918 the Kilmore Advertiser makes brief mention that:— “Mr B. Durkin received a photo of the grave of his son Corporal Joseph Harold Durkin, who died 27 Nov 1917 at Sutton Veny, Wiltshire.”

Bartholomew Durkin died in 1926, twenty-four years after his wife. This brief obituary outlines his life:—”[death] Of Mr Bartholomew Durkin, which occurred in the Kilmore hospital, where he had been an inmate some time. He was 63 years of age, a widower, a native of Ireland and carried on a tailoring business for a period of about 40 years in Kilmore. His remains were interred in the Catholic cemetery on Thursday Rev. Father Gleeson, P.P. attending to the obsequies. Mr. Beegan carried out the mortuary arrangements” – (Kilmore Free Press 15 ApriL 1926).

Records indicate that Bartholomew is buried with his parents Bartholomew and Norah, and sister Bridget in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery; his name has not been added to the large monument. Joseph Durkin is commemorated on the Kilmore War Memorial, Kilmore Shire Honour Roll and Assumption College Honour Roll.

References:

  • Kilmore Free Press and Kilmore Advertiser]
  • Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour Database and Nominal Roll.
  • Joseph Durkin’s War Service Record, on-line at National Archives of Australia http://www.aa.gov.au

What’s In A Name? – Kilmore Road Names

The following is an edited version of the articles, “What’s In A Name?” by Elizabeth Pidgeon and Heather Knight, originally published in Kilmore Connections, September 2001 and subsequent update, “Kilmore Road Names” in March 2005.

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“The act of naming is the great and solemn consolation of mankind” – Elias Canetti

Following the recent proposal [2001] by the Historical Society to submit a list of recommended names to the Mitchell Shire for consideration when naming future streets, it was thought a review of existing street names might be in order. Since the inception of this article, there have been moves by the Mitchell Shire to change existing street and place names, so perhaps this is an appropriate time to reflect on why certain names in the past may have been chosen. Approximately one hundred streets exist in the Kilmore township today.

Albert Street – Prince Albert Francis Charles Augustus 1819-1861. Prince Consort and husband of Queen Victoria. Prince Albert took an active interest in the arts, science, trade and industry; the project for which he is best remembered is the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Alfred Street – Named for Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, son of Queen Victoria. He was the target of an assassination attempt when he visited Sydney in 1867.

Allan Street – Named for Robert Allan, miller. It would appear that there was another Mr. Allen (spelt with an ‘e’) in Kilmore and it was he that left Kilmore in 1865 to become a Primitive Methodist Minister. Perhaps he is the Mr. Allen after whom Allen Street is named. There was also another Allen family living in the district.

Robert Allan the miller, was involved with the Presbyterian Church.  J. A. Maher in “The Tale of a Century” , states that Alan’s mill (he spells Allen with an ‘e’ to add to the confUsion) was built about 1844 and was the first in the Port Phillip District. However, according to Lewis and Peggy Jones’ book ‘The Flour Mills of Victoria 184 9-1990,’ there were several flour mills earlier than Robert Allan’s, which they claim was probably built in 1847. Maher p.1 7; Jones p.103-I 05, Kilmore on the Sydney Road, Maya Tucker p.54; Kilmore Examiner 21 March 1S65; Kilmore Examiner 9 Sept 1858.

Andersons Road – Most likely after Charles Grattan Anderson, 1828-1901. Squatter, miner, businessman and pound keeper. Born in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, Charles arrived in the colony in 1837 age 9. He later left to go to India but returned for the gold rush in 1850 and was present at Eureka, where he narrowly missed being shot. He held the Pontisford run from 1854, was a land-owner in the Parishes of Glenburnie and Bylands, a member of the Masonic lodge and was the Kilmore pound keeper from the 1850’s until a year or so before his death. He died in 1901 in East Melbourne.

Andrew Street – Saint Andrew was one of the twelve apostles. Patron Saint of Scotland and Russia.

Ballantine Court – William Ballantine was an early landholder in Kilmore. He was a committee member of the Total Abstinance Society.

Banool Avenue – Aboriginal for “high hill”. The name of the property at 18 Fitzroy Street (which runs behind Banool Avenue), built by George Hudson in 1926. At the time he was a partner in the real estate firm Osborne and Hudson. Banool Avenue, was named when the Banool subdivision was named after his own property and promoted in the late 1960s by George Hudson.

Bindley Court – Frank Lane Bindley 1830 — 1870. Surgeon and landholder. Dr. Bindley was a prominent early Kilmore resident. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and president of the Library Committee. He built Bindley House in Powlett Street in the 1860s. Dr. Bindley was recognised as a very clever surgeon for his time. He died in September 1870 aged only 40 and is buried in the Kilmore General Cemetery.

Bourke Street – Sir Richard Bourke 1777-1855. Governor of NSW, 1831-38. Regarded as a successful administrator, he brought order to the squatting situation by creating a licensing system for all those farmers who wanted to take up land beyond the settlements. Governor Bourke actively supported self-government of the colony, provided state aid to religious schools, gave full legal rights to emancipists and created an organised system of immigration and introduced trial by jury.

Boyd Street— Off White street. Named for John Boyd of the Wallan Wallan Station. He is buried in the Kilmore General Cemetery.

Branigan Drive (nth of Green’s Pinch) – Named for the Rev. Michael Branigan. Born at Olbridge, near Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland. Thought to have been born in 1834, he was ordained on 11 June 1858 and was not (error in the Sept 2001 issue), the first priest ordained in Victoria; this honour, according to Maher goes to Father Maurice Stack who was assistant to Fr. Branigan at one stage. Fr. Stack was ordained on 13th April 1851 in Melbourne. (Jim Lowden, Maher p. 71)

Broadhurst Street and Tootle Street – Robert Benson Broadhurst c.1814—1898. Squatter, surveyor and community worker and Alfred Dowley Tootal 1822-1874. Squatter and businessman.

Alfred D. Tootal, in partnership with Robert Broadhurst and Colonel Henry John White, took over the Long Hills Station. and renamed it Belle Vue. Alfred Tootal’s mother was Sarah Broadhurst and Tootal appears as the second name of several of the Broadhurst children. The Broadhurst family had the license of the Belle Vue run (between Wallan and Bylands) from October 1842 to May 1853 and The Dean run (4 miles north east of Wallan) from April 1849 to Jan 1862. Alfred Tootal was also licensee of the Pontesford Run from Feb 1846-Jan 1851. Fittingly, in recognition of their partnership, Broadhurst Street runs close to Tootle Street. Robert married Eliza Kilgour, daughter of Andrew Beveridge. The family established a station with evidence of a “refined lifestyle”. There is also a Broadhurst Lane out of Wandong. The spelling of the name Tootal has been corrupted to Tootle.

The Broadhurst brothers and Tootal brothers were cousins. They were all members of the Manchester-based fabric firm Tootal, Broadhurst, Lee & Co. (Jim Lowden).

Burgess Road – William Burgess 1805-18? Farmer and labourer.

Butler’s Road – This road was named for John Matthew Butler, whose son Kevin John lived in “Lai Fale,” Butler’s Road until his death in 2000. (Jim Lowden).

John Butler 1820— 1865. Hotelier (Red Lion), farmer and councillor. John Butler was one of Kilmore’s earlier settlers, arriving in the town about the year 1847 when one of his children was born at Kilmore. He owned land in the town and in the parish of Bylands. John Butler was on the first council elected in 1856 and was a member of the Mechanics’ Institute. He built the Red Lion Hotel in 1856 and held the license until April 1865. His daughter (Sister Francis) was the first native-born nun in Victoria, joining the Mercy Order. He died at his residence at Bylands in June 1865 His wife Ellen (nee Bourke) died in 1864.

Henry Butler 1825-1901. Farmer. A substantial land owner at Kilmore East. His son, MI J. Butler was on the shire council for the Bylands and Glenburnie riding. Butler has been a name synonymous with Kilmore East for many years, with some members of the family prominent in local government.

Chapel Street –The Catholic Parish of St. Patrick’s was established in 1849 (the oldest inland Catholic parish in Victoria). While raising funds for a permanent building, a temporary wooden church or chapel was established some time between 1850 and 1854 on Brewery Hill, at the northern end of the present Chapel Street.

Church Street – The Anglican Christ Church is located in this street. The first stone was laid in 1857 and the Church was completed in 1864.

Clancy Road – This road runs near original and present Clancy family property. Another family name which is synonymous with Kilmore.

Clarke Street – Reay McKay Clarke 1815-1882. Early Settler, squatter, flour-miller, coach operator and hotelier. Reay Clarke arrived at Port Phillip in 1838. He operated the Currency Lad Hotel and later the Dunrobin Castle Hotel around 1848, as well as other hotels in the Sunday Creek (Broadford) area. He was licensee of the East Moranding Run, (north of Kilmore) from March 1853 to April 1855. Reay owned the property “Lauriston” which was situated on what is now known as Clarke Street. In 1856 he built the Albion Flour Mill and sold it a year later to Henry Wilson. He died in Kilmore in 1882.

Father Charles Clarke 1814-1854. First Catholic priest for the parish of Kilmore, arriving in Kilmore in 1849. He purchased land for the first Catholic Church at Brewery Hill where the first Catholic Church was built in Chapel Street. Clarke Street runs near this site. Charles Clarke died in 1854 and was buried in Melbourne.

Conway Street – Michael Conway 1829-19 15. Farmer, benefactor, Shire of Kilmore Councillor.

Donated land to the Sisters of Mercy for their school. Retired into a house he built in Conway Street, opposite the Kilmore railway station. He is buried in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery.

Curry Road – Michael Curry c.1829- 1907. Landowner, labourer. Born in County Clare, Ireland, Michael arrived in Port Phillip about 1848. He married Jane McDonald in Kilmore in 1860, citing his occupation as labourer. Together they reared thirteen children. For many years he was engaged in municipal contract works. He owned Lot 129 Parish of Bylands, next to the cemetery. He was a resident of Kilmore for over fifty years and is buried in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery.

East Street – East street, along with Kelly’s Lane, forms the eastern boundary of Rutledge’s Special Survey.

Fitzroy Street – Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy 1796-1858. Appointed Governor of NSW in 1846. Governor—General of all Australian colonies 1851-1855. During his time as Governor General, Victoria became a separate colony. He presided at a time of unprecedented immigration, precipitated by the gold rush.

Foote Street – Named for surveyor Henry Boorn Foot. He surveyed the route of the present Hume Freeway.  On the government survey map the name is spelt Foot and the use of ‘Foote’ is incorrect. We used the spelling used on the street signs for the street name article but used the spelling of Foot as preferred by the family researcher for the front cover and short article about Henry Foot in Kilmore Connections Sept 2001.

George Street – St. George, patron Saint of England.

Gipps Street – Sir George Gipps 1791— 1847. Governor of NSW 1837-1846. A leading figure when major squatting was taking place around Port Phillip.

Glanville Drive (Industrial estate) – Richard Glanville 1796-1879. Farmer, gardener, carpenter. His son Dick Glanville was a well-known boot-maker and operated his business in the building where the Kilmore Book Shop is today.

Graves Street – The origin of this street name is unclear: One theory is that there may have been an early cemetery in the vicinity. James Howden Graves was an original licensee of the Clonbinane Station near Kilmore in 1874.

This street has also been spelt as Greaves Street in both the rate books and newspapers. Perhaps this is indeed the original spelling but was pronounced “graves” and the spelling has since changed.

Green Street / Green’s Pinch – William Pomeroy Greene 1817 — 1845. Landowner, squatter and “gentleman colonist”. Captain Greene emigrated with his wife and family and large household from England for health reasons. In 1838 Green, in partnership with F. A. Powlett, took up (squatted upon) 28,000 acres of land, a station they named Moranding. About 1838 a police force was established and the police were located on Powlett and Green’s Station, about 2 and ½ miles north of Kilmore. The spot has since been known as Green’s Pinch. (A pinch being a steep climb). In 1844 they sold up to Tasmanian squatter Joseph Sutherland.

Griffin Street – John Griffin 1812-Oct 1876. Hotelier. John and Ellen Griffin arrived in Melbourne from Ireland in 1841. John’s “Farmers’ Arms Hotel” stood on the SE corner of Griffin street and the northern highway (formerly the Sydney road). John Griffin was a member of the first Shire Council and the Willowmavin Road Board. Meetings of this board were held in his hotel. Many dances were also held there. His eldest son John Griffin was Victoria’s first native born priest. John Griffin died in October 1876 and is buried in the Kilmore Catholic Cemetery.

Hamilton Street – William Hamilton. 1802—1872. Squatter. William Hamilton took up Glenaroua Station on the Sugarloaf Creek outside Kilmore from 1838 till October 1882, as well as at Pyalong Station from February 1866 to June 1870. He is buried in the Kilmore General Cemetery.

Harrington Street (Kilmore East) – Named for Gerald Harrington who died in 1995. He owned the property to the east of the Hume and Hovell Reserve and Hunts Road from the 1950’s. He married Bernadette Kelly, daughter of John and Bridget Kelly and lived in O’Grady’s Road near the former Kilmore East Hotel. On the sale of his property in the early 1970’s, it was subdivided and Harrington street was created at the time. (Jim Lowden).

Highgate Road – Named for its high ground, which was probably the main road into Kilmore from the Willomavin Survey during the wet season.

Hunts Road – Thomas Hunt 1842-1934. Newspaper proprietor, journalist, banker and politician. In partnership with George Good and T.J. Ryan he formed the Kilmore Butter Factory which opened in 1892. He was associated with the Imperial Bank and became Kilmore’s member in the Legislative Assembly in 1874 Hunt co-formed the Kilmore Electric Light Company in 1907 and was also involved with the Agricultural Society.

Patrick Hunt (brother to Thomas). Major landholder in Kilmore East. Both Irish nationalists. President of the Kilmore Shire 1886, 1887, 1892.

John Street – Probably named for John Lamb, as this runs into the former Lamb Street, now Foote Street.

Junction Road – The junction of John and Murray Street and Highgate Road west of Brewery Hill.

Kelly’s Lane – Possibly after Patrick Kelly who owned land along the lane.

Lamb Street – Captain John Lamb 1790-1862. Naval Officer, politician, merchant and land speculator. Foote Street was originally known as Lamb Street. William Rutledge sold part of his survey land to a Sydney syndicate of three lawyers. Captain John Lamb was one of these and it is possible he did not even set foot in Kilmore as he resided in Sydney.

Lumsden Street – Thomas Lumsden 1819- 1868 Doctor, squatter and magistrate. Appointed coroner for the area in 1852.

Maher Street – A Pyalong pioneering family. James Alphius (J.A.) Maher wrote an early history of Kilmore — mainly of personal reminiscences entitled: The Tale of a Century – Kilmore (1837-1937)

MeKercher’s Road – Alexander McKercher 1818-1903. Prominent pioneer landowner at Bylands.

Meade Court (nth of Green’s Pinch) – Thomas de Courcy Meade 1822-1882. Born Bandon, Co. Cork., the son of a CE clergyman. He arrived in 1852, attracted to Victoria by the gold rush. Almost immediately he commenced work as Clerk of Courts at Kilmore. After 12 months he resigned to begin practice as a solicitor in Kilmore. Thomas Meade was a member of the Kilmore Road Board and its chairman in 1859 and a member of the Bylands and Glenburnie Road Board. He became active in Kilmore’s social life, especially horse racing and hunting. Thomas died in January 1882 and is buried in the Kilmore General cemetery near Drs. Bindley and Beaven.

Melbourne Street – William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (1779-1848). First British Prime Minister under Queen Victoria, The city of Melbourne was named in his honour by Governor Bourke.

Melrose Drive – The well-known property ‘Melrose Hall’ farm was originally owned by Thomas De Courcy Meade. The property was originally named ‘Laurel Hill’. After his death in 1882 the property was purchased by Thomas Hunt.

Mill Street – In 1860 Mill Street divided the shops on the east side of Sydney Street. It led to and from Trainor’s flour mill (where the old Colonial Bank is now situated) on the west side of Sydney Street, from Patrick Sweet and Victoria Parade. In the early 1980s, the local council blocked through way access and created a mall.

Mitchell Street – Sir Thomas Livingstone Mitchell 1792-1855. Surveyor-General, explorer and overlander.

Murray Street – Murray Sweet probably named for General Sir George Murray (1772-1846), Secretary of State for the Colonies 1828-30.

Mollison Court – Alexander Fullerton Mollison, overlander, squatter and a licensee of Pyalong Station which he took up in 1838. He was appointed a J. P. in 1838. Alexander returned to England in 1860 and travelled extensively in Britain and Europe with his sisters. He came back to Australia in 1873 to live with his sister Elizabeth at Kew, where he died.

Alexander’s brother, William Thomas Mollison joined Alexander at Pyalong in January 1838 andwas a joint manager of Pyalong Station. A third brother (Crawford Mollison) joined them in 1839. In1850 Alexander sold his share of Pyalong Station to his brother William Mollison. William consequently sold the property in 1866 to William Hamilton, the owner of Glenaroua Station. William Mollison bought a suburban block at Kilmore and was appointed an honorary magistrate at Kilmore. He was a bachelor and died in England in 1886. (Kilmore on the Sydney Road;  Stilts & Kenyon. Pastoral licences of Port Philipp. 116; www. trinity. unimelb.edu.au/library/address. Shtml)

Monument Road – Named for the monument erected at the top of Monument Hill in 1924 to the memory of the explorers Hume and Hovell. The monument is constructed of bluestone from the gaol’s watch-house. It was built by returned soldiers after WWI to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the explorers’ overland journey, and the naming by the Country Roads Board of the Hume Highway. It was recently restored.

Moore Court and Cottage Crescent – Moore cottage which was once situated on the Lancefleld Road, was reputedly built in the 1860’s by Henry Van Heems, an early hardware store proprietor, amateur and later professional photographer and inventor. Samuel Robert Moore purchased the property in the early 1900’s and established a contract shearing shed and dipping centre there with John Henry Walter in 1912. The cottage has since been demolished. (Jim Lowden).

Morris Road – Henry 1819-1859 and Judith Morris 1820-1885. Early pioneers, hoteliers and prominent landholders. Henry was the second licensee of Kilmore’s first hotel ‘The Kilmore Inn’ in 1845. In 1856 he was elected to the first council and was also Kilmore’s first postmaster. He died in 1859 aged 40. In 1865, Henry Morris’ widow Judith, was the largest land holder and renter of premises in Kilmore. She donated land to the Government for the Post office and Court House and also for the Mechanic’s Institute for their hall across the road.

O’Grady Road (Kilmore East) – Patrick O’Grady 1814-1897 was a landowner near Wandong. For many years he lived where the Mobil service station is situated. He grew his own tobacco and operated a snuff and tobacco factory in Kilmore.

Old Mill Road/Mill Road – The former Albion flour mill still exists. Kilmore had a dependence on flour milling in its early development. Reay Clarke, a prominent early settler built the mill with his brother-in-law James McKenzie in 1856. It was sold the following year to Henry Wilson and remained in operation until 1894.

Patrick Street – St. Patrick c.385-c.46 1. Patron Saint of Ireland. Early Kilmore had a prominent Irish population. The Catholic Church was named for St. Patrick.

Payne’s Road (town outskirts) – The Hon. Thomas Henry Payne (1862-1932), M.L.C. bought the property “Woodburn” from the Beveridge family in 1907. The Payne family of “Woodburn” were noted for their Red Poll cattle in the 1920’s, (not Herefords), and exhibited them annually at the Melbourne Show from the 1920’s through to the 1960’s. Herefords were introduced to the Payne’s property “Woodburn” in the 1970’s. (Jim Lowden).

Piper Street – Mt. Piper was named by Hume and Hovell in 1824 after Captain John Piper, NSW collector of customs. Piper appears to have been a sponsor of the expedition. (Jim Lowden).

Pontisford Crt – Pontisford (or Pontesford) Station of 8000 acres, was situated two miles west of Kilmore. The station plan gives the name as Pontesford. The initial holders were brothers, Henry Holt and William Jones who transferred the run to A.D. & A.E. Tootal in 1846. In 1851 W.R. Looker and J.G. Mouatt took over, followed by Andrew Linton and then Charles Grattan Anderson who sold out ten years later.

Powlett Street – Frederick Armand Powlett 1809-1865. Public Servant Justice of the Peace, Chief Commissioner of Crown lands and Colonial Treasurer. Frederick Armand Powlett was born in England and came to Van Dieman’s land in 1837. After moving to the Port Phillip District in 1839, he accumulated large pastoral interests including a sheep station on the Moranding Run near Pyalong. In 1838 He was appointed one of the first of three Police Magistrates in the Port Philip District. He was also the first Gold Commissioner in Victoria and was a co-founder of the Melbourne Club and the Melbourne Cricket Club.

Railway Court – On some maps as Railway Parade. The present street signage indicates Railway Court. This short road off Sutherland Street leads to the former site of the Kilmore railway station which was established in 1888. The last passenger train on the line travelled to Heathcote on 9th November 1968.

Rutledge Street – William “Billy” Rutledge 1806 — 1876. Overlander, squatter, merchant land-owner and politician. William Rutledge was the founder of Kilmore. A Protestant Irishman, he arrived in NSW in 1829 age 23, where he established himself financially partly through successful land speculation. The opening of Port Phillip was timely. Rutledge purchased town lots of Melbourne land at the first sales held in Sydney. Among the surveys he took up in 1841 was his Willomavin Special Survey. He named Kilmore after his family home in County Cavan. He lived in Kilmore for a time but later settled in Port Fairy. William Rutledge became a  magistrate and a Member of Parliament.

Ryan’s Road – John Joseph Ryan ca 1884-1951. Businessman, butter factory proprietor and benefactor. His sister Ellen Mary Ryan owned four acres (lot 7 sect. 30) at the corner of Ryan’s Road and Foote Street from 1926. The residence was the former police superintendent’s house and was built in 1859.

Skehan Place (formerly Foote Street) – Barry Ambrose Skehan 1897-1961. Cabinet maker and upholster, funeral director, councillor and community worker. Barry conducted his business in the former Court House Hotel around 1932. He held the local agency for Graham Diggle, the Seymour undertaker but eventually went into the funeral business for himself. He was also a long time Shire councillor. A part of Foote Street was renamed Skehan Place in his honour in the late 1960s. The Skehans played a major role in Kilmore: Michael was an original tenant on the survey and Patrick, councillor and returning officer for the 1899 Federation Referendum. It is said that the first Catholic mass was held in a barn owned by Michael Skehan.

Society Street – The Total Abstinence Society Hall was located on the corner of this street. This was Kilmore’s first organisation, established in 1850.

Sutherland Street – (George) Joseph Sutherland 1800 —1875. Squatter, businessman and politician. Joseph Sutherland was born in Laing, Sutherlandshire, Scotland and arrived at Port Phillip in 1835. He leased the Moranding Run from October 1844 to December 1850 with his brother Robert and he may also have bought land at Bylands. The first Presbyterian meeting in the area was held in his woolshed in 1843. A Parish map of Bylands indicates a holding to J. Sutherland in the approximate area where Sutherland Street now is.

Sydney Street – Thomas Townshend, Viscount Sydney. British nobleman and Secretary of State for the Home Department. Captain Arthur Philip chose the site for Sydney for its harbour and fresh water supply and named it for his friend Viscount Sydney.

Tootle Street – See Broadhurst street

Trainers Drive – This road was named for horse trainers. Other street names in the estate are Hanover Court, after the famous US trotting stud and shoe manufacturer and Bremner Court, of unknown origin but could have been a Melbourne solicitor. (Jim Lowden)

Union Lane (Bylands) – The Union Hotel stood on the NW corner of Union Land and Sydney Road. The toll gate was on the opposite corner.

Victoria Parade – Alexandrina Victoria 1819 —1901. Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India. She became Queen in 1837 and married Prince Albert in 1840. Queen Victoria is associated with Britain’s great age of industrial expansion, economic progress and – especially – empire. At her death, it was said, Britain had a worldwide empire on which the sun never set. She became the longest serving British monarch, reigning almost 64 years!

Wallder’s Road – The Wallder family have been butchers in Kilmore for many years. George Wallder is registered as a butcher in Kilmore in 1868. The Kilmore Examiner reported in 1872: “A Kyle having disposed of his business as butcher to Wallder Bros. retires from same”. C. Wallder elected councillor of Kilmore Shire in 1875. Wallder’s butcher shop at 30 Sydney Street dates from 1905. The original butchery business was established on this site in 1871 and was acquired by Donald Bantock in 1885; after his death it reverted to the Wallder family. The present building was erected by Fred W Wallder senior. The Wallder slaughterhouse was situated near the present tip on the road that now bears the family name.

White Street – Lieutenant-Colonel Henry John White 1784-1844. Soldier, overlander and squatter. Colonel White took up land in 1838 around Sunday Creek, after arriving at Port Phillip in 1837. He also had the license of the Belle Vue Station with his son Lieutenant Henry John White (1810-1869). In 1840 he took the license of Mt Piper Station with his second son Edward Riggs White (ca 1817-1853). Edward was a surveyor of the South Australian/Victorian boundary in 1849-51. He died in Kilmore.

Henry was a founding member of the Melbourne Club.

William Street – King William IV 1765-1837. This Street originally stretched from Bourke Street through to Union Street.

A number of housing developments have taken place in the town in recent years; predominantly the Golf Links and Willowmavin Estates. It is understood that the Golf Links Estate was originally farm land owned by the Clancy family. The Willowmavin Estate, off the Lancefield road was originally the Moore family farm.

A handy map of Kilmore is available free at the Kilmore Historical Society for members and visitors to the research centre. In the course of preparation for this article it was noted that Butlers Road, Glanville Drive and Mitchell Street have been omitted from the map’s index in the 2000 edition. Wilkie Drive is misspelled on the map.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to include every road name in the Kilmore district due to time and space constraints. Origins of some street names are unknown to the authors. However, should any of our readers have additional information relating to roads and those they are named for, or on the housing developments such as the Golf Links Estate, we would be very pleased to accept such information for possible inclusion in this newsletter from time to time.

With special thanks to Jim Lowden, Marg Gerhing (Curry/Sorraghan family researcher); Joyce Knight and Marguerite Fagg for information provided.

References:

  1. Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 3. 1851-1890. Melbourne, Melbourne University Press
  2. Billis R.V. and Kenyon A. S. Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip. Melbourne, Stockland Press, 1974
  3. Browne, Geoff. Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament 1900-84. Melb. Vic. Govt Printing Office.
  4. Cabena, P. McRae, H. & Bladin, E. The Lands Manual; finding guide to Victorian land records. RHSV 1992
  5. Chambers, W. & R. Chambers Biographical Dictionary. London, 1961
  6. De Serville, Paul. Port Phillip gentlemen: and good society in Melbourne before the Gold rushes. Melbourne. Oxford University Press, 1980
  7. Maher, J. A., A Tale of a Century: Kilmore 1837-1937. Lowden reprint 1972
  8. Tucker, Maya. Kilmore on the Sydney Road. Kilmore, Shire of Kilmore, 1988
  9. The A-Z of Who’s Who in Australia’s History. Brookvale, NSW. Child & Associates, 1987
  10. Turton, Keith W. Farewell to the timberline: the history of the Heathcote Junction to Bendigo & associated Railways. Melbourne. Victorian Division, Australian Railway Historical Society, 1968.
  11. Australian Heritage Commission. Register of the National Estate Database. (Internet site).
  12. Newspapers: Kilmore Examiner, Kilmore Advertiser, Kilmore Free Press
  13. Parish maps of Bylands and Glenburnie and township map of Kilmore.
  14. 1856 electoral roil.
  15. Kilmore Heritage Study. Prepared for Shire of Kilmore by Planning Collaborative, Collingwood, 1982.
  16. Kilmore Biographical Register. Held by KHS
  17. Kilmore Historical Society Newsletter. Sept 1999
  18. Victorian BDM records.
  19. Death certificate of Alice Nancy Broadhurst 1898/12020

Lauriston – A Grand Old Dame

by Heather Knight

(Originally published in Kilmore Connections, December 2005)

The above photograph is of “Lauriston”. This grand home once stood on the hill near where June and Gordon Ryan later built their house in Clarke Street.

It is thought that “Lauriston” may have been built by Reay Clarke. Reay was a very early settler in Kilmore and Clarke Street is probably named after him. Early rate records for 1863 show Reay Clarke, a gentleman, rated for a house and  land in Clarke and Fltzroy Street.  Reay also built the Dunrobin Castle Hotel c. 1848. This hotel stood where the Auto Pro and Sports Stores are today at No. 75 Sydney St. Reay Clarke died in 1882 at Kilmore.

Rate records show that Ronald Donald McKay, auctioneer and mining agent, lived in a brick cottage of 8 rooms on Lots 6 and 7 Section 16, Fitzroy, Clarke and Albert Streets. McKay was there from at least 1892 (rate records for the 1880’s are missing) until 1904.

From 1905 we find Bartholomew Durkin, a Kilmore tailor, and members of his family owning the house until 1915.

From 1916 until 1920/21 the rate books show that Jane Ward lived in a cottage on Lots 1, 6 and 7 Section 16, Clarke Street. In January 1921 the Kilmore Advertiser announced that Mrs. Ward had disposed of her residence in Albert Street to Robert Bowers,  formerly of “Floradale”. In the following February the same paper contained an advertisement  for the sale of Mrs. J. Ward’s furniture at her property “Lauriston”.

The Bowers family (Agnes or Robert) owned the property until June 1927 when the Advertiser announced an auction of “Lauriston” in Fitzroy Street on account of Mrs. Robert Bowers.

From 1927/28 up until 1940 the house was rated in the names of Winifred, Bridget and Alice Clarke,Lots I and 2 Section 16 Clarke Street.

The Clarke family owned the house until 1974 when it was purchased by a Doctor Andrews who demolished the house, possibly sometime in the 1970’s. The land was later sold to June and Gordon Ryan who built their residence on the hill in the mid 1980’s.

References:

  • Kilmore Advertiser 22 Jan 1921
  • Kilmore Advertiser19 Feb 1921
  • Kilmore Advertiser 25 June 1927
  • Kilmore Rate Records 1892-1940
  • The Clarkes of Tantaraboo by Graham Marshall.
  • Photo courtesy of Pat Clarke.
  • Thanks to June and Gordon Ryan and Pat Clarke for information and the loan of photos.

Preserving Wallan’s History

As part of History Week (18-25 October) the Society is holding a meeting in Wallan on Sunday 18th October at 1.30 pm at the old Wallan hall on High Street.

The purpose of the meeting is to encourage interested local residents – old and new – to come along and where possible to bring old photographs and other documents and memorabilia of Wallan. The town has changed so much over recent years that it is important that such items are copied and documented as part of Wallan’s history – before it is too late.

It is anticipated that a representative of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV) will attend and explain and promote the possibility of forming a historical group in Wallan.

Archibald and Elizabeth Thom

The following article by Grahame Thom was originally published in the September 2003 edition of our Newsletter, Kilmore Connections

This is the story of Archibald and Elizabeth Thom who were the first white settlers at Beveridge.

Archibald Thom was baptised on 6 April 1787 at Eddlestone, Peebleshire, Scotland, the son of Alexander Thom, farmer, and Margaret Noteman (1). Eddlestone is a small town about 7 kilometres north of Peebles on the road to Edinburgh (2). His parents, Alexander and Margaret were married on 1 February 1783 in Edinburgh (3). In looking at the baptisms and marriages at that time for the parish of Eddlestone it would seem that Alexander and Margaret were not from that area as there are no earlier Thom entries prior to the baptisms of their children :-

  • Alexander on 2 December 1783
  • Peggy on 3 July 1785,
  • Archibald on 6 April 1787
  • Charles on 14 July 1789
  • Helen on 25 July 1791 (4)

There may have been other children. Archibald probably grew up and remained in the area gaining experience in farming until he left for Tasmania in about 1823.

Archibald’s future wife Elizabeth’s father George Stewart was baptised on 5 June 1787 at Eddlestone, Peebleshire, Scotland, the son of James Stewart, later described as a gentleman (5). Interestingly this was the same year Archibald Thom was born. It is reasonable to assume that the two families knew each other. George married Margaret Cook on 12 February 1810 in Edinburgh (6). Their first four children were born in Scotland :-

  • Eliza (Elizabeth) baptised at Eddlestone on 3 May 1811
  • Anne baptised at Eddlestone on 18 May 1813
  • Margaret baptised at Eddlestone on 13 May 1815 (7)
  • Gideon said to have been born in Edinburgh in 1819 (8)

Their next child was named Mary Andromeda and is said to have been born during the voyage to Hobart (9). Her second name is interesting as it is highly likely this is also the name of the ship they came on. A search revealed that the ship Andromeda arrived at Hobart on 7 May 1823 having departed from Leith, Scotland with 67 passengers including the Rev John Dunmore Lang for Sydney (10). The Hobart Town Gazette of 10 May 1823 (page 2) lists the cabin passengers for Hobart (about 40) but they do not include the Stewarts. However it is likely that the Stewart family did not sail for Sydney but left the Andromeda before it sailed on 24 July (11). On arrival in Sydney the number of passengers landed clearly indicates that more passengers than the number listed in the Hobart Town Gazette must have left the ship in Hobart “where nearly all the passengers remained” (12).

Archibald Thom arrived in Van Diemen’s Land prior to 1825 and it’s possible he travelled with the Stewarts. It is also possible that for a period after arrival Archibald and the Stewarts lived together at Stewarton (540 acres) in the Macquarie River area near Campbell Town (13). Four Stewart children were born in Van Diemen’s Land, Catherine in 1826, James in 1828, Helen in 1831 and George in 1833 (14), who died in 1838 at Stewarton (15).

In 1825 Archibald received a grant of 100 acres in the Lake River area which is a tributary of the Macquarie River (16). Archibald may have lived here but in 1829 he was living in Launceston for on 23 July 1829 at St Johns Church, Launceston, Archibald married George and Margaret Stewart’s first born child, Elizabeth. The church register states that Archibald was of the Parish of St Johns, Launceston and Elizabeth was from the Macquarie River (17). They had three children in Tasmania :-

  • Margaret born on 8 June 1830 and baptised on 1 December 1830 at Campbell Town, Van Diemen’s Land
  • Alexander born on 6 June 1832 and baptised on 20 November 1832 at Campbell Town, Van Diemen’s Land
  • Jane Kyle born on 3 june 1835 and baptised on 28 November 1835 at Campbell Town, Van Diemen’s Land (18)

All three were baptised by the Presbyterian minister John Mackersey. Interestingly Alexander’s aunt Helen Stewart who was born on 6 March 1831 was baptised during the same service as Alexander on 6 June 1832 (19) .

G W Noble, author of The Red Gate, A history of Alexandra, says on page 19 that Archibald Thom first settled at Eglintoun on the Tamar River near Launceston. I have not been able to confirm this.

In the mid 1830s settlers in northern Van Diemen’s Land were talking about prospects in settling across Bass Strait in the southern part of the then colony of New South Wales. Launceston identities John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner with others sailed in 1834 and 1835 respectfully to establish the town of Port Phillip on the Yarra River, later to be called Melbourne. With fifteen other men Batman formed the Port Phillip Association and claimed 680,000 acres divided into seventeen large allotments, including one portion to the north allocated to George Mercer, the Association’s representative in London. Also reports by Major Thomas Mitchell following his expedition from Sydney in March 1836 describing the excellent open pastoral lands of “Australia Felix” caused a rush by squatters from the north and from Van Diemen’s Land (20).

Its likely that Archibald had talked to Batman and Fawkner before their departure and on hearing the above reports most of the Stewart children and Archibald decided to leave for Port Phillip and beyond, leaving James as the only Stewart child to raise a family in Tasmania :-

  • Gideon Stewart left Launceston on the Chili on 24 June 1836 for Port Phillip (21)
  • Anne and her husband Thomas Turnbull and two children Thomas and George in about 1837 (22) having married on 11 March 1833 at Stewarton (23)
  • Elizabeth, Archibald and two girls left Launceston on the ship Siren on 28 July 1837 for Port Phillip (24)
  • Margaret and her husband Robert Taylor in about 1839 (25) having married on 22 January 1838 at Hobart (26)
  • Mary, Catherine and Helen may have come as children with the Taylors or soon after as their father George died in early 1839 and was buried at Campbell Town (27). Nothing is known about their mother Margaret after 1833.

After arriving in Port Phillip in August 1837 Archibald probably discussed opportunities with John Batman and his supporters as he, Elizabeth and their two girls headed north and settled as squatters at Beveridge, then known as Mercer’s Vale (28). It is likely they had brought sheep and cattle with them from Tasmania. They built a hut near the spring which is adjacent to present day Spring Street, Beveridge. On 22 September 1837, William Lonsdale reported that Archibald had in his employ Henry Burnham, a convict holding a conditional pardon. As Henry had no authority to leave Van Diemen’s Land, Lonsdale had taken him into custody for return to VDL (29).

In 1836 George Russell wrote :-

On the third day we rode over an open tract of country to eastward of Mr Brodie’s place, it was at that time called Mercer Vale. A portion of this country was afterwards occupied by a Mr Archibald Thom from Tasmania and other settlers. The Sydney road passed through that part of the country and Mr Thom’s station was a favourite stopping place in the early days of the colony for travellers passing along the road (30).

On 1 April 1839 Lady Jane Franklin, the wife of the Governor of Tasmania Sir John Franklin, together with her party, left Launceston on the government brig Tamar for Port Phillip to undertake an overland trip to Sydney. Lady Franklin was a keen recorder and the following is an extract from her diary for 8 April 1839.

Messrs Thornloe & Cobb accompanied us to Thom’s in way to our day’s station-over Mr Thornloe’s open ground where Mr Cobb’s heifers feeding, a dotted green hill in front, Malcolm ‘s station & on. Fall into Sydney road at right angles & turn to right. Fell asleep, found myself on flat black soil, naked plains with small rocks in it extending to foot of pretty, lightly wooded hills, at foot of which is Mr Thom’s station-The hut was leaning forward, the mud falling away. It is tidy inside-found Mrs Thom a broad Scotch woman, dark. Mr Thom is rather an ill-looking person, he is from VDL & retains property there. Mr Thom has 3000 sheep & a few cattle for home use-& raises corn for his own consumption. They have been here 18 months or nearly 2 years. When they landed at Melbourne in August 1837 there was not a single house built. They have 3 children, a boy at school at Hobart Town, & 2 little girls here, running wild. Being on Sydney road causes them much interruption & probably expense & they are going to move 2 miles back. A man has just received a licence to set up a public house here which adds to their determination as their men would be ruined by it. Had damper & butter & small biscuits mixed with mutton fat, light snack-I was offered cold meat & heard there was dinner cooking for me, but nothing said to me about it. He gave feed of oats and chaff to all the horses.

Mr Thornloe left us here-Mr Cobb went on with us. lt was 14 miles hence to Green’s outstation & 18 to the upper house (31) where we were to sleep-country thin forest & a burned part not far from Thom’s was very green and bare. I was on pony. About half way to Green’s outstation, or at about 7 miles, we crossed a low part of the gentle ridge which divides the waters (32). Being tired by the pony, I walked a little and then sat on front bench of cart driven by Snachall. Found I liked this seat much better than inside. Met Captain Smyth on horseback gaily dressed in police costume, with a man dressed in green collar & front of native dog skin & straw broad brimmed hat-Captain Smyth came up in a very courtly manner to me who was ahead to pay his compliments. He had just heard of us-had been to Murrumbidgee about an unpleasant affair with cattle-and was going on to the settlement-he should join us on the Goulburn.

The sun set behind a ridge of wooded hills as we approached Green’s, where we disturbed the quails. He is building a new house of stones picked up nearby, the roof not yet shingled in-verandah along front-on entering see good room of 35 feet long-this is to be divided in 3. The house stands on the side of the bare hill whence can see over bare sloping foreground several ridges of hills, without being able to see into hollows. The situation is thought very pretty-it is decidedly best thought of as a run as any & the situation is admired-l should think, it more fresh & airy than any other-the water is good but only in the waterholes. The sheep are taken to Plenty to be washed, 9 miles off.

Mr Green had slept the night before at Mr Thom’s, where he is a frequent visitor & generally eats his Sunday dinner, going over on Saturday evening. Mr Thom sang his praises-also spoke of Mr Powlett as a gentleman-they were examples to the country-exemplary. Mr Green had been only 3 hours returned-he expected us, yet had nothing prepared-sheep however had been killed, but chops had to be cut from it for the purpose. After a long delay we sat down in his tiny hut on a floor of loose earth, with table fixed into it, carried off a bottle of his lemon syrup for our water-the tent was pitched for us. Dr Hobson had no sooner supped than he began skinning. He said all birds that feed on insects are difficult to skin-those which feed on grain are easily skinned. He observed today a number of parasitic plants on trees which never exhibit them in VDL as Gum & Wattle-some trees exhibit several different sorts (33).

Mr Noble further records in The Red Gate, A history of Alexandra (page 19) that :-

The Thoms were very strict and devout and whilst at Kilmore (probably this was meant to be Mercer’s Vale) successfully opposed an attempt to establish an inn nearby, by offering hospitality to travellers in their primitive home. Such an action, although based on principle, must have given endless toil for travellers were frequent while the farm work mounted. Nevertheless Mrs Thom coped with her guests from travelling stockmen to L a d y Franklin, the wife of the Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and her staff.

It is likely that when Archibald heard in 1839 that the lands at Mercer’s Vale were to be sold by auction by the government he decided to move elsewhere. Probably in late 1839 he purchased 105
acres for 525 pounds, part of a large grant subdivided by Thomas Walker along the northern side of the Yarra River east of Darebin Creek (34).

In March 1840 Archibald unsuccessfully tried to sell his Yarra River property and the advertisement contains what appears to have been the first use of the name Ivanhoe (35). Its highly likely that Archibald and Elizabeth named this property Ivanhoe when it is realised that the author of the book Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott lived at Abbotsford in Scotland for many years before he died in 1832 (36). Its easy to conclude that the Thom and Stewart families probably read his books as they were being published during the time they lived nearby at Eddlestone. This property is now part of the present day suburb of Ivanhoe.

In April 1840 Arthur Hogue leased his 264 acre property Banyule to Archibald Thom for 200 pounds per annum (37). This property is further upstream from Ivanhoe and is located east of Rosanna Road,
Heidelberg. The municipality covering a number of suburbs in the area is now known as the City of Banyule.

Perhaps Archibald was in two minds about where to settle for at a Government Land Sales held in Melbourne on 10 and 11 June 1840 he paid 2944 pounds for 640 acres at Merriang (38). More research at the Land Titles Office would probably clarify some of these land transactions.

The author of Heidelberg, Donald S Garden on pages 26-27 considers that Archibald did little to improve Ivanhoe so it is likely that the Thom family lived there briefly, if at all, before Archibald put his energies into developing Banyule, for the owner Hogue had returned to England in 1841. In March 1841 a census was taken in the colony and on 5 March Archibald Thom and 15 others were recorded as living in a wood and brick house at Heidelberg; 13 of whom were free (39). In analysing the information recorded it would appear that the 16 people were Archibald and Elizabeth Thom, their children Margaret, Alexander and Jane, four male workers, three female servants and a family comprising husband and wife and two children. From known information about the Stewart children it does not appear that the family last mentioned are Stewarts (40). In 1842 Archibald and Elizabeth’s fourth and last child Elizabeth was born at Heidelberg (41).

In May 1843 Banyule was described as having an excellent ring fence with about 50 acres under cultivation. A considerable sum had been spent in establishing a substantial two storied cottage with seven rooms, out buildings, a garden and orchard (42). At this time the colonies experienced an economic downturn and it appears likely that Archibald had financial problems for he mortgaged Ivanhoe to Adam Pullar and John Porter in March 1843 and four months later Ivanhoe passed to them (43). Then in the same year Hogue sold Banyule (44).

While at Heidelberg its likely that Archibald also had an interest in partnership with his brother-in-law Gideon Stewart at the 17,600 acre Sunday Creek A Run (45) and the Thom family probably went there in 1843 from Heidelberg. The present town of Broadford is within this Run. Then after Sunday Creek was sold in August 1844 (46), Archibald appears to have owned or leased a property at Nine Mile Creek (47). In May 1845 he obtained a 7000 acre property east of the present town of Yea which they named Eglintoun (48). In 1848 the Port Phillip Herald reported this run had 3000 sheep (49). It was sold in February 1848 to William H Pettett and William Leyden Ker (50).

In 1838 Dr James Dickson purchased 9600 acres from the government east of Alexandra (51) and in 1844 he sold this property known as Dickson’s Run to John Christie Aitken (52) who sold it to Archibald Thom in March 1848 (53). The Run was described as “Bounded on the South and East by the River Goulburn to its junction with the Devil’s River, on the North by the top of the Goulburn Range to the boundary with Marshall, a portion of this line separates Dickson’s from the Run occupied by Mr Matson, on the West by the spur of the Goulburn Range immediately on the upper or East side of Dry Creek, this constitutes the boundary between Dickson’s Station and Mt Pleasant” (54).

This was the final move for Archibald and his family and they renamed the property Eildon as the surrounding countryside reminded them of the Eildon Hills in Scotland about 25 kilometres east of their birthplace (55). Soon after purchasing Eildon, Archibald had a boundary dispute with his neighbour James Moon Matson of Maintongoon. It took the parties nearly three years to resolve the dispute by agreeing that the boundary was the top of the mountain range between their properties and legal action ceased in June 1851 (56).

Again in partnership with brother-in-law Gideon Stewart, Archibald held Mt Pleasant Run for a short time from November 1849 till it was sold in 1850 to Pettet and Ker (57).

On 31 July 1854 Archibald applied to the government for the purchase of an additional 320 acres at Eildon at 20 shillings per acre. The application was approved on 17 January 1855 (58). It was on this parcel of land that Archibald built the family home.

In April 1858 Archibald visited Melbourne for on 1 May he signed his will there (59). Archibald appointed John Christie Aitken of Thornton and Donald McKenzie of Pleasant Banks as Trustees and Executors, and his wife Elizabeth as an Executor. He left 100 pounds to his daughter Jane Kyle Turnbull and 100 pounds to his daughter Elizabeth Emma (sic) on her marriage. Alexander Thom married Christina Campbell Menzies in 1858, Jane married her cousin George Turnbull in 1858 and Elizabeth married Henry Wood Anderson in 1873 (60). Their other daughter Margaret, who married Robert Stewart in 1867 (61) is not mentioned in Archibald’s will. Archibald left the 320 acre homestead block and his Eildon Station to his trustees on trust for the sole use by his wife and on her
death or marriage to his son Alexander Thom.

On 18 January 1862 Archibald was thrown from his gig and suffered serious injuries to his head and was taken to Yea for treatment. But three days later he died at Yea on 21 January 1862 aged 74 years and was buried the next day in Yea Cemetery (62). His estate was valued between 200 and 2000 pounds and probate was granted to John Christie Aitken and Donald McKenzie on 27 March 1862 with Elizabeth Stuart (sic) Thom reserving her right to be an executrix if she so desired (63).

During their life at Eildon Archibald and Elizabeth developed a good relationship with the local aborigines and when Archibald died Elizabeth was the only person who could persuade the aborigines who had come to the house wailing over his death, to return to their camps (64).

As Elizabeth was younger than Archibald by 24 years it is likely she continued to live at Eildon for some years perhaps with her son Alexander running the property. Alexander died (65) sometime before his mother and this probably caused Elizabeth to leave Eildon to live first with her daughter Margaret at Clunes and then to Smythesdale, south west of Ballarat to be with her daughter Elizabeth Anderson (66). Below is a letter Elizabeth wrote to her niece Maud Pinniger, aged 14 years, the daughter of her sister Helen and husband Thomas Wilkinson Pinniger, surveyor (67).

Smythesdale July 20th – ’87
My dearest Maud,

Thank you very much for the love]y apron. It looks to be too good for me. It is so beautifully worked. What labour you have bestowed on it.

I need not say how much I would like to have been with you this winter. It is the only place where I feel perfectly at home and happy. But, dear Maud, I have got much frailer since I saw you and am lame.

I have not been able to get to Church the last two Sundays and you know what a help that is to me. I try to go to the school when it is fine. They are so short of teachers.

Cousin Bessie goes on one side and Aggie on the other but I fear I will have to give it up. It is fine today, but the weather has been very chilly.

I trust Mama’s deafness is better. She has suffered so much. She has always been like a daughter to me and you know how much I love you all and I trust we will be together through eternity where there will be neither pain or sorrow. How thankful I was to hear you were restored to health, but you must take great care and not get cold. Your throat will get hardened again in time and dear Baby Mama said she was not very well. I hope she is better. Give her my fond love and tell her she is not to grow up delicate. Please God I may see you all sometime even on earth. The children here have grown so much. They are all good and kind to me. I will not write to Mama this week as I am writing to you. Tell her the swelling has gone from my hands and I am able to work. I get very dull when I cannot sew and this is not right of me.

Tell Mama she is not to do anything that will cause her to stoop and make the blood go to her head.

My best love to Papa and dear Sophie. Kind remembrances to all. You know I love you all and trust and pray God may bless you all, my dearest Maud. It is the prayer of your loving aunt.

E. Thom.

Elizabeth died of cancer of the breast on 24 November 1889, aged 78 years at Glen Oliphant near Smythesdale, the property of her daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Henry Wood Anderson. She was buried in Smythesdale cemetery (68).

In December 1907 Archibald and Elizabeth’s son-in-law Henry Wood Anderson of Glen Oliphant wrote to the Argus saying that “My wife is still living, and was born in Melbourne in 1842. Her father, the late Archibald Thom, of Eildon, Upper Goulburn, resided at Heidelberg in the very early days, and her mother often rode out hunting kangaroos with the late Sir William Stawell and others. For a time she resided at Mercer’s Vale, near Kilmore, which was a stopping place for the very earliest squatting pioneers.”(69)

So passed two pioneers of Australia who have left their mark in the names Ivanhoe and Eildon as well as Thom Street, Alexander and Thoms Road, Thornton. However there is nothing to commemorate Archibald and Elizabeth settling at Beveridge in 1837; maybe it’s time to correct this.

Notes

  1. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, International Genealogical Index, <http://familysearch.org&gt;, August 2003
  2. Multimap <http://www.multimap.com&gt;, Great Britain, August 2003
  3. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, International Genealogical Index, <http://familysearch.org&gt;, August 2003
  4. ibid
  5. ibid
  6. ibid
  7. ibid
  8. Stewart Family <http://www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html&gt;, August 2003
  9. ibid
  10. Nicholson, Ian Hawkins, Shipping Arrivals and Departures, Tasmania, 1803-1833, 1983, p88
  11. Hobart Town Gazette, 24 July 1823, page 2
  12. Sydney Gazette, 7 August 1823, page 2
  13. McKay, Thelma, Register of Land Grants VDL 1824-1832, 1994
  14. Stewart Family <http://www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html&gt;, May 2003
  15. Buchanan, A M, Index to Tasmanian Deaths/Burials 1797-1840, 1994, page 134
  16. McKay, Thelma, Register of Land Grants VDL 1824-1832, 1994
  17. State Library of Victoria, Tasmanian Marriages, Reel 1829/1333
  18. Presbyterian Baptismal Register, Launceston City Library, entries 18, 53 and 84
  19. ibid, entry 52
  20. Roberts, Stephen H, The Squatting Age in Australia 1835-1847, 1970, pages 147-165; Tucker, Maya V, Kilmore on the Sydney Road, 1988, pages 24-25
  21. Syme M and Hart J, Passengers and Crew Departing Launceston 1833-1837, page 106
  22. Stewart Family <http://www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html&gt;, August 2003
  23. McKay, Thelma, Van Diemen’s Land Early Marriages 1831-1840, Volume 2, 1993
  24. Syme M and Hart J, Passengers and Crew Departing Launceston 1833-1837, page 118
  25. Stewart Family <http://www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html&gt;, August 2003
  26. McKay, Thelma, Van Diemen’s Land Early Marriages 1831-1840, Volume 2, 1993
  27. Buchanan, A M, Index to Tasmanian Deaths/Burials 1797-1840, 1994, page 134
  28. Tucker, Maya V, Kilmore on the Sydney Road, 1988, page 24; Noble, G W, The Red Gate, A History of Alexandra, 1969, page 79: Payne, J W, The History of Beveridge, 1974, pages 2 and 3, and maps
  29. Historical Records of Victoria, Early Development of Melbourne 1836-39, 1984, Vol 3, page 364
  30. Russell, G, Narrative, 1936, page 114
  31. This is the station of Powlett and Green just north of Kilmore; Tucker, Maya V, Kilmore on the Sydney Road, 1988, pages 29-30
  32. I have concluded that this ridge is now the eastern end of Hidden Valley Boulevard, Hidden Valley
  33. Russell, Penny, This Errant Lady, 2002, pages 38-39
  34. Garden, Donald S, Heidelberg, 1973, pages 26
  35. Port Phillip Patriot, 2 March 1840, frame 786
  36. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th Edition, 1886, Vol 21, pages 544-551
  37. Garden, Donald S, Heidelberg, 1972, pages 26-27
  38. Port Phillip Herald, 12 June 1840, page 2
  39. State Records Authority of New South Wales, 1841 Census, Reels 2222 and 2509
  40. Stewart Family <http://www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html&gt;, August 2003
  41. NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, <http:/www.bdm.nsw.gov.au>, Births 1842, August 2003
  42. Port Phillip Gazette, 6 May 1843, page 1
  43. Garden, Donald S, Heidelberg, 1973, pages 43
  44. ibid, page 27 – Note that the name Banyule was soon after used to identify another property at Heidelberg
  45. Noble, G W, The Red Gate – A History of Alexander, 1969, pages 14 and 79; Bride, T F, Letters from Victorian
    Pioneers, 1983, pages 215 and 216
  46. Billis, R V, and Kenyon A S, Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip, 1974, page 283, Martindale H G, New Crossing Place, 1982, pages 21, 23 and 24, Fletcher B J, Broadford, A Regional History, 1975, pages 2 and 3
  47. Noble, G W, The Red Gate – A History of Alexander, 1969, page 19 and 79
  48. ibid;
  49. Port Phillip Herald, 5 August 1848, page 15
  50. Spreadborough, Robert and Anderson, Hugh, Victorian Squatters, 1983, page 52
  51. Noble, G W, The Red Gate – A History of Alexander, 1969, page 19 and 79
  52. ibid
  53. Spreadborough, Robert and Anderson, Hugh, Victorian Squatters, page 52
  54. Port Phillip Herald, 5 August 1848, page 8
  55. Multimap <http://www.multimap.com&gt;, Great Britain, August 2003
  56. Multimap <http://www.multimap.com&gt;, Great Britain, August 2003
  57. Billis, R V, and Kenyon A S, Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip, 1974, page 148
  58. Morgan, Marjorie, Crown Lands Pre-emptive right applications: Victoria 1850-1854, 1987, page 29
  59. Public Record Office, Victoria, Wills, Series VPRS 7591, Unit 16, Item 4/168
  60. Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Pioneer Index, Marriages 1858 and 1873
  61. ibid, Marriages 1867
  62. Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Death Certificate, 1862/3322; Argus, 28 January 1862, page 4
  63. Public Record Office, Victoria, Wills, Series VPRS 28, Unit 41, Item 4/168
  64. Noble, G W, The Red Gate – A History of Alexander, 1969, page 19
  65. Stewart Family <http://www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html&gt;, August 2003, and from the death certificate
    of Elizabeth Thom, Alexander died between 1875 and 1889
  66. Unknown book, page 99, copy from The Woady Yaloak Historical Society to the author on 20 March 2003
  67. ibid, page 98; Stewart Family <http://www.geocities.com/rvoull/stewart.html&gt;, May 2003
  68. Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Death Certificate, 1889/18916; headstone Smythesdale Cemetery, Presbyterian, Section 5, Grave number 612/3
  69. Argus, 25 December 1907, page 5

The Willowmavin Road Board

The following article by Grahame Thom was originally published in the March 2009 edition of our Newsletter, Kilmore Connections

In 1856 the colonial government of Victoria passed two acts to enable District Road Boards to be established in the Colony. The residents of Willowmavin must have decided this was a good idea at a meeting held on 26 July 1856. This was followed by a declaration by the administrator of the Government of Victoria that the Parish of Willowmavin be a District Road Board from 19 August 1856. Also the meeting submitted the following requisition to the Police Magistrate in Kilmore, which appeared in the Examiner on page one on 3 October 1856.

To Samuel De Vignoles, Esq, Police Magistrate, resident in Kilmore in the Colony of Victoria. We the undersigned, landholders and householders of the district proclaimed as “Willowmavin Road District”, request you will convene a meeting of landholders and householders in such Road District, to form a District Road Board for the purpose of superintending, providing for, and completing the construction, repair, and maintenance of roads in such Road District, and for the carrying out the provisions of the Acts of Council 16 Victoria, No 40, and 17 Victoria, No 29. Such meeting to be held at John Griffin’s House, “The Farmers’ Arms Hotel”, on the Sydney Road, within the said district, at the hour of 5 o’clock on Friday the 3rd day of October 1856.

Michael Kennedy, landowner
James Woods, landowner
William M’Kay, landowner
Peter Peace
James Thomas
Peter Peace, jun.
Marshal Burrows
James M’Kay
James Mooney, farmer
John Dwyer, farmer
Patrick Dwyer, farmer

Pursuant to the above requisition, I do hereby convene a meeting of landholders and householders in such Road District, at the time and place above mentioned.
S De Vignoles RM
Dated this 11th day of September 1856

The following is an extract from the minute book of the Willowmavin Road Board held by the Society regarding this meeting. John Kelly Trainor was elected to chair the meeting. Unfortunately the minutes do not reveal the names of all the people who attended the meeting. However the following motions were all carried unanimously.

  • Moved Michael English, seconded James Mooney, that there be nine members of the Board.
  • Moved James Mooney, seconded Michael English, that John Kelly Trainor be a member.
  • Moved Edward Leahy, seconded John Griffin, that James Mooney be a member.
  • Moved Patrick Molony, seconded Thomas Harrington, that James McCoy be a member.
  • Moved Patrick Madden, seconded James Mooney, that Michael English be a member.
  • Moved Michael English, seconded John Duggan, that Martin Ford be a member.
  • Moved John Duggan, seconded Michael Ryan, that Patrick Dwyer be a member.
  • Moved Michael Twohy, seconded Thomas Harrington, that Patrick Moloney be a member.
  • Moved Moved James Mooney, seconded Edward Leahy, that James Thomas be a member.
  • Moved James McCoy, seconded Patrick Madden, that John Griffin be a member.
  • Moved James Mooney, seconded Michael English, that the “assessment rate for the current year be one penny per acre pasture and one shilling per acre cultivated, and one shilling in the pound upon yearly valued rental of messages and tenements”.

At the first meeting of the Board held on 9 October 1856, the only business was to elect John Kelly Trainor as Chairman. At the second meeting held on 16 October 1856 the only business was to appoint Thomas J Ryan as Secretary for the first year. At the third meeting held on 23 October 1856 the Board considered two applications for the position of valuator from Edward Rafferty and James Wilson Osborn, but decided to re-advertise. At the fourth meeting held on 27 October 1856, the Board considered the same two applicants and decided to appoint Edward Rafferty. With these decisions made the Board commenced to collect rates and undertake road works in the Parish of Willowmavin.

The editor of the Examiner commented on the establishment of the Road Board on 17 October 1856 “that all success depends upon good management” and called upon “our friends of Bylands and Moranding to do likewise”. The Road Board operated until it became
part of the new Shire of Kilmore in 1875.