Category Archives: District

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
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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.

What happened to Pretty Sally?

The following article by Grahame Thom was originally published in the September 2007 edition of our Newsletter, Kilmore Connections

Many people know the name Pretty Sally Hill because the long climb up the hill from Wallan caused many a vehicleʼs radiator to boil. But little is known about Pretty Sally.

The key document linking Pretty Sally Hill and a person named Pretty Sally is the following report in the Argus on Friday 10 September 1847 :-

An accident occurred near Beveridgeʼs Swamp, on Wednesday last, which I am informed is likely to be attended with fatal results. Mrs Smith, better known as pretty Sally, was driving a Spring cart; one of the wheels of the vehicle coming in contact with a stump caused a capsize, when by some unaccountable means Mrs S. fell under the vehicle, which being alone, seriously crushed her before she was released.

The first official name for the hill was Big Hill, but in the early days the hill became known as Pretty Sally Hill. The official name today is Pretty Sally for the Trig Station at the top of the hill. As recorded in J A Maherʼs The Tale of a Century – Kilmore 1837-1937, John Taylor in the Seymour Telegraph of 3 November 1909 recounted what it was like to ride the mail cart from Melbourne in the early days and referred to Pretty Sally Hill. Then on page 105 Maher states :-

Whilst along the stock route, some distance westward from the present Highway, the lady herself, “Pretty Sally,” openly defiant of the law, supplied a “spot” of drink in exchange for coin of the realm.

The following is an extract from J W Payneʼs Pretty Sallyʼs Hill – A history of Wallan, Wandong & Bylands published in 1981 :-

In the Australian tradition of remembering best those who refuse to conform to the strictures of the law, Pretty Sally is remembered for operating an illegal shanty and eating house on the western side of Big Hill. The person in question was not the handsome slender young lady the name evokes, but a formidable woman of 114 kilograms, ʻas ugly as you would meet on a dayʼs marchʼ by one account.

The following is an extract from the Societyʼs 1967 booklet “A Taste of Old Kilmore” :-

A traveller of the early days William Ashton Coomer Robinson who in his book Truth Stranger than Fiction (published in 1861) told many strange tales, tramped over Pretty Sallyʼs Hill on his way to the
diggings. Robinson has left us a fine example of the journalistic style of those early days.

“We soon arrived at a mountain range (over part of which the road winds), called “Pretty Sallyʼs Hill, named after (with Australian transformation), a very stout and ugly old woman who kept an inn at its base.

Pretty Sally being fond of her cups, was brought home one unlucky day on a dray, in a highly spirituous state. Under such agency the mind is apt to travel into the imaginary regions of splendour; and in such a state of keen susceptibility, those mischievous elves flitting through the brain, with their magic wands, suddenly turned the homely conveyance into a carriage. The elegant lady was descending with pointed toe, in true aristocratic style, to place her foot upon the step, to conduct her to terra firma, when lo! she placed it in mid air; the elastic fluid soon yielding to the overwhelming pressure of two -and twenty stone. The heavy dame embracing her mother earth, like the meeting of long absent friends, so closely; her nervous system received such a shock, that in a brief space she was again doomed to measure her length, but this time not on, but below the terrestrial surface – she died.

This account I gathered from an eye-witness, who related the unfortunate circumstances in true colonial language; but as that elegant diction is fast losing popularity, I must only repeat a part of his version of the catastrophe –

“My word, sir, had you seen that overgrown huge mountain of flesh, as I saw it, fall from the dray, and roll over and over, you never would have forgotten it; the earth fairly shook from violent concussion.”

So it would seem that Mrs Smith, known as Pretty Sally, died soon after she was thrown from her dray on Wednesday 8 September 1847. In addition there seems to be a question as to the location of her shanty. Some say it was near the top of Pretty Sally Hill, while the last report above states it was at “its base”.

Assuming death took place, where would Pretty Sally have been buried? It was too early to be buried in the Wallan or Kilmore cemeteries. Was the body taken to Melbourne, or more likely, was she buried beside her shanty? The answer probably will never be known.

Another issue relates to her name. We know she was a Mrs Smith, but was her given name Sally, or was Sally a nickname? This lead me to see if I could find an entry in a church burial register. If she had died in 1847 then her death took place before the start of the civil registration of births, deaths and marriages.

I have checked and even obtained two burial certificates, using the official births, deaths and marriage indexes made available by both the Victorian and New South Wales Registrars, but found nothing I could relate to Pretty Sally. I also searched to the end of both death indexes looking for a Sally Smith, but again nothing relevant.

  • The 1847 burials I found in the Victorian index were:-
    Ann Smith, aged 25 years, Melbourne
  • Ann Smith aged 37, Stone Quarry, Geelong
  • Margaret Smith aged 30 years, Melbourne

I then thought that maybe Pretty Sally had married in the colony and found two entries :-

  • Ann Mills married David Smith, St James, Melbourne, 1841
  • Ann Weaver married William Smith, St James, Melbourne, 1846

The interesting issue here is that David and Ann had children in 1842, 1843, 1845 and 1846, and none recorded after 1846. But was our Pretty Sally of child bearing age? One description says she is old.

But it is likely that Pretty Sally operated the shanty by herself as no mention is made of a Mr Smith or children. Also as the name Pretty Sally Hill was in use at least prior to 1861 it would seem she was well
known and this seems to indicate the shanty had been in operation for some time, probably for a number of years. This could mean Pretty Sally arrived in the colony by herself under the name Mrs Smith.

Such is the interest in Pretty Sally that the great Australian writer and poet C J Dennis had this to say about her as published in the Herald on 2 December 1931 (page 8) :-

The diggers came from Bendigo,
From Albury the drovers,
From where the Goulburn waters flow
Came bearded teamsters travelling slow.
And all the brown bush rovers;
And where the road goes winding still
To drop to Melbourne valley,
They sought the shanty by the hill,
And called for beer and drank their fill,
And sparked with Pretty Sally.

The teamsters halted by the door
To give their horses water
And stood about the bar room floor
To ogle, while they had one more,
The shanty keeper’s daughter.
Diggers with gold from creek to claim
About her used to rally,
Shearers and booted stockmen came
And to the hill they gave her name,
For all loved Pretty Sally.

I see her now; a sparkling lass
Brim-full of fun and laughter.
And where the slow teams used to pass,
And swagmen paused to beg a glass,
Now motor cars speed after.
And when I seek the road anew
That dips down to the valley,
I see again that bearded crew,
And, of the lovers, wonder who
At last wed Pretty Sally.

None of this has solved the issues – who was Mrs “Pretty Sally” Smith and when did she die? If anyone can add to our knowledge of Pretty Sally could you please let us know.

Kilmore Public Cemetery – Crane and Hammond

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

On Sunday 25 October [2009], the Society conducted two successful events, first a tour of Kilmore Public Cemetery and second a lecture on the WW1 Australian soldiers remains recently found at Fromelles.

In preparing for the Cemetery tour I decided to feature two Kilmore residents whose passing are inscribed on two headstones in the cemetery; Samuel Ernest Crane and John Hammond. By doing this I wanted to demonstrate how reliable information can be gained quickly from the Societyʼs indexes and from searching the internet.

Crane family grave, Kilmore Public Cemetery
Crane family grave, Kilmore Public Cemetery

Samuel Ernest Crane

Private Samuel Ernest Crane AIF was killed in France on 20 April 1918, aged 36 years and his death was inscribed by his family on the Crane headstone in the Methodist Section. His parents were Sarah E Crane who died on 8 September 1909 and Thomas Crane who died in 1937.

Heather Knight checked her indexes and found a number of references. Samuel Ernest Craneʼs name appears on the Kilmore War Memorial, the Roll of Honour for the Kilmore State School, and the honour roll at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Also Heather found three references in the Kilmore Advertiser.

  • 25 May 1918 – a report of a memorial service for S E Crane, son of Mr T Crane
  • 14 June 1918 – a report that Thomas Crane had received a certificate as an expression of the loss of his son.
  • 20 July 1918 – a report that the Crane family had received a letter from the Chaplain of the 6th Battalion.

On the internet I checked the Commonwealth War Graves site and found a page “In memory of Private Samuel Ernest Crane, 2140, 6th Bn, Australian Infantry, AIF, who died aged 35 on 20 April 1918, son of Thomas and Sarah Elizabeth Crane, of Kilmore, Victoria, Australia, Remembered with Honour, Arneke British Cemetery, France”.

This cemetery contains 435 Commonwealth burials from WWI and five from WW2, and 126 French and five German war graves. The village of Arneke is about 50 kms south-east of Calais and eight kms north west of Cassel.

I then searched the National Archives of Australia web site and within the Defence records found Samuelʼs WWI file of 77 pages. The following is a limited extract from those pages. His enlistment paper shows that Samuel enlisted on 4 March 1915 at Broadmeadows. He then joined his Regiment, the 6th Batt Relief.

Samuel was an engineer, aged 32 years and 9 months, from Kilmore, Victoria, five foot six inches in height, weighed 11 stone eight pounds, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, and religion Methodist, His next of kin was his father Thomas Crane of Kilmore, and he had served in the 5th Victorian Mounted Regiment in
South Africa.

Samuel served on Gallipoli in August 1915 and as a result of being wounded was shipped to England where he recovered in hospital at Hamstead After recovering he served in Egypt and then in France.
During this time he was promoted to Acting Corporal and then twice as Acting Sergeant but on embarking from England to France Samuel reverted to Private in October 1917. On 16 April while in action in France Samuel received gun shot wounds to both legs and died on 20 April 1918.

His army file contains letters to and from his father concerning Samuelʼs burial arrangements. His father was living at Fair View, Kilmore. Samuel was awarded 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

John Hammond

Readers will recall that as a result of advice submitted to Council by Heather, a small access road near the Kilmore Post Office has been called John Hammond Place. The Hammond familyʼs headstone in the Anglican Section of the Kilmore Public Cemetery reveals that John Hammond passed away on 20 March 1884.

Heather provided the following obituaries.

Kilmore Advertiser 22 March 1884 page 3
“Death of Mr. John Hammond.
We regret exceedingly to have to record the death of Mr. John Hammond, the well known livery stable and hotelkeeper, which took place at his residence, the Red Lion Hotel, on Thursday morning. He had been ailing for some time, but only took to his bed about three weeks ago, and gradually sank until he died. Mr. Hammond, who was a very old resident of Kilmore, was born of humble but respectable parents in the county of Northampton, England, and was at the age of 14 years apprenticed as a wheelwright to Mr. William Butcher, of Fostersʼ Booth, in the parish of Pallishall, county of Northampton. Having served seven years, he wrought some time as journeyman, and shortly afterwards left England for the colonies, arriving in Kilmore from Queensland some 32 years ago. He was at once employed by the late Mr. Wm Beckett, whose shop old residents will remember being situated in the small paddock now enclosed and known as Rose Cottage property. After working for some time with Mr. Beckett, he commenced business in company with Mr. George Lansley, late of Kilmore, and now of Mooroopna. This was carried on in Sydney Street on the present site of the Bank of Victoria, until Mr. Lansley left, when Mr. Hammond continued the business, combining with it that of livery stable keeper. On Messrs Spurling and Palmer giving up business as livery stable keepers, Mr. Hammond removed to their new premises, where he soon established himself, and became a great favourite with the travelling public. Some years ago he rented the Red Lion Hotel, which was creditably conducted by him; he was also contractor for the mails between Kilmore and the railway station, and in every position gave uniform satisfaction. He was of a very kind and generous disposition, and universally respected. His loss will be keenly felt by those who had occasion to come in daily contact with him. He leaves a widow and several children, three of whom are of tender years. Much sympathy is expressed for all his sorrowing relations, and deep regret that the town should lose such an honored and respected resident. Mr. Hammond was 59 years of age at the time of his death, and as a mark of respect to his memory, almost all the shops in Sydney Street have been shuttered for the past two days. The funeral takes place this afternoon at three oʼclock.”

Kilmore Free Press 27 March 1884.
“Mr. John Hammond, whose serious illness we announced a fortnight ago, died on Thursday morning last. Deceased gentleman, who had been a resident of Kilmore for over 30 years, had been ailing for sometime past but never gave up is really active occupation, being certainly one of the most industrious in our midst, until within a few days of his succumbing to the inevitable. We have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Hammond for more than a quarter of a century, during which time he carried on a wheelwright and blacksmithʼs establishment on or close to the site now occupied by the Bank of Victoria, the livery stables formerly kept by Spurling and Palmer, and lastly the Red Lion Hotel, in all of which avocations he was attentive and obliging. Deceased reared a large family in our midst, for whom the strongest sympathy is felt in their loss. That he was generally respected was evinced by the large number who attended the funeral on Saturday. Mr. Hammond was 63 years of age at the time of his death.”

Kilmore Advertiser 29 March 1884 page 2
“The funeral of Mr. John Hammond, of the Red Lion Hotel, took place on Saturday last, and it was one of the largest yet seen in the district. At 3 oʼclock the corpse was removed to Christ Church, where the impressive service of the Church of England was read by the Rev. A. E. Harris, in the absence of the Rev. A. Toomath. At the conclusion of the service, the burial hymn “When our heads are bowed with woe,” was sung by the choir, and the Dead March in Saul played on the organ. The cortege then proceeded along Union and Sydney streets to the General Cemetery, where the last obsequies were held. Mr. Weisel had charge of the funeral arrangements.”

Using the internet I found on the familysearch.org web site that John Hammond was baptised on 21 September 1823 at Pattishall, Northampton, the son of Thomas and Ann Hammond.

The 1841 Census of England and Wales on the ancestry.com web site revealed that John Hammond, aged 15 years (ages rounded down to nearest five years), apprentice, was living in Pallishall at the home of the Butcher family, with William Butcher, aged 40 years, wheelwright as head of the household.

I then checked the probate records held by the Public Records Office of Victoria and was able to download from the PROV web site, at no cost a copy of Johnʼs will and other related papers. John Hammond, hotelkeeper, left his estate in trust to his executors Albert Lobb and Thomas Lade, both graziers of Darraweit Guim, for the benefit of his wife Maria who is to use the proceeds for the education of their daughters Elizabeth, Lucy, Mary, and Fanny. After the death of Maria and once the youngest had reached 21 years of age, the executors are to give each surviving daughter an equal share of his estate.

At the time of his death, Johnʼs estate was valued at £1019-17-0 and included two parcels of land; a blacksmithʼs forge in Sydney Street (£100) and 2 acres in Moranding (£10). His personal estate included 20 horses (£180.10.0), two omnibuses (£92.10.0), five buggies (£66.10.0), one waggonette (£20), and household furniture and effects (£359.6.6).

These are just examples of what can be found and further research will reveal more. For example, from the Victorian births, deaths and marriages indexes held by the Society, and there are a number of references to both the Crane and Hammond families in the three published histories of Kilmore :-

  • Kilmore – A tale of the century by J H Maher
  • Kilmore on the Sydney Road by Maya Tucker
  • Kilmore – Those that came before by Heather Knight

St. Patrick’s, Kilmore

 

This article on St. Patrick’s by Heather Knight was originally published in the first edition of our newsletter, Kilmore Connections, in Sept. 1999.

by Heather Knight

The Catholic parish of St. Patrick’s, Kilmore was established in 1849 and is the oldest inland Catholic parish in Victoria. The first priest, Fr. Charles Clarke took up his appointment on 21st April 1849. At the time, the parish was much larger than today and the Kilmore circuit included Gisborne, Woodend, Kyneton, Castlemaine, Eaglehawk, Echuca, Wodonga, Mansfield, Woods Point, Warburton, Donnybrook and of course Kilmore. Today the parish is a shadow of its former self and covers 600 square miles, from Kalkallo to halfway between Broadford and Tallarook and from Strath Creek in the east to Pyalong in the west.

Prior to the appointment of Fr. Clarke, it is believed that Fr. Ward from the parish of St. Francis (Melbourne) attended the needs of the Catholic members of the Kilmore community. The records of St. Francis show that masses were held in private dwellings in Kilmore prior to a church being built.

THE CHURCH BUILDINGS

Fr. Clarke soon set about collecting funds to build a church and parsonage. However, a dispute arose as to the future location of the church between the Lands Department, who wanted the parish established at the Survey, (Willowmavin) and Bishop Goold, who insisted on the originally proposed Kilmore location. In the meantime, a temporary wooden church of paling slabs and shingles was built on Brewery Hill sometime between 1850 and 1854.

In January 1854, Fr. Clarke resigned, possibly because of a dispute over the planned church-school. He died three months later in Melbourne on April 21st 1854 and was buried in the Melbourne General cemetery.

Fr. Timothy O’Rourke succeeded Fr. Clarke in 1854 and initiated the building of a bluestone church-school. This building, used as a boy’s school, had two large rooms with extra small rooms for a master and a school- mistress. Rev. W. M. Finn passed through Kilmore sometime in 1869 or 1870 and was impressed by the school,  he commented that, ‘The school house is a building of large size, and one that scarcely has an equal outside Melbourne’.

In later years the boys’ school was handed over to the Sisters of Mercy as a primary school. Condemned by health authorities, it was unfortunately demolished in 1956. At the time of its demolition, the bluestone building had two classrooms and was run by the Marist Brothers for primary school boys. The present parish centre was built on the foundations of the old church building. There are varying opinions as to whether this building may also have been used as a church.

About 1855, under Fr. O’Rourke’s supervision, a small, solid bluestone church, known as St. Bridget’s was built at the Survey on 2 acres of land donated by George Jessop. Maher states that the church was used for services for two years before being blessed by Bishop Goold on 1st  November 1857.

St. Bridget’s was short lived however. When the Gavan Duffy Land Acts were passed in 1862, many of the tenants on the Survey left the area to select land in the north- eastern district. St. Bridget’s fell into disrepair and was closed. Bluestone from this church was later used to build the first section of the Sisters of Mercy Convent in 1873 (now Assumption College) and the statue of St. Bridget now stands in St. Patrick’s church.

St Patrick’s Church

At the centre of the parish’s activities today is the magnificent edifice that is St. Patrick’s Church. The bluestone church sits at the head of Rutledge Street, which provides the impression of a grand entrance. On the north side stands the presbytery and on the south side, the parish centre, where once the original bluestone church -school stood.

St. Patrick’s Church was begun in 1857 under the watchful eye of Fr. Timothy O’Rourke. The church is built of bluestone in the Gothic-Early English style and was designed by English architect Charles Hansom and executed by local architects. Mr. Sutherland of Melbourne was the builder. The foundation stone was laid on the 23rd of August, 1857 by Bishop Alipius Goold, and the church was dedicated and opened for services on 8th July 1860.

Extensions to the church were made between 1869 and 1871 under Fr. Branigan, who unfortunately did not live to see the completion of the work begun under his care. Bishop Goold blessed the church on  March 6th 1871,  nine months after the death of Fr. Branigan. The extensions were completed by Fr. Farrelly, who added the sanctuary and installed the altars. The High Altar was erected as a memorial to Frs. Branigan and O’Rourke. The High Altar was designed by W. W. Wardell, the architect of both St. Patrick’s and St. Mary’s cathedrals and carved by Messrs. Farmer and Co. of London who also constructed the Lady Altar. Both Fr. O’Rourke and Fr. Branigan are interred in front of the Lady Altar. The total cost of building St. Patrick’s was estimated at between 10000 —12,000 pounds, the cost of the High Altar was 1200 pounds and the side- altar 800 pounds.

The stained glass window over the High Alter depicting the life of Jesus was completed at the Melbourne factory of Ferguson and Urie.

St. Patrick's Church and School, pre 1869
St. Patrick’s Church and School, pre 1869
St. Patrick's Church and Presbytery, ca. 1920
St. Patrick’s Church and Presbytery, ca. 1920
The Presbytery

Very little is known of the history of the presbytery, however it does seem that it may be almost as old as St. Patrick’s Church itself.  In October 1864, Archbishop Polding passed through Kilmore on his way to Sydney. The Archbishop was most impressed with the church buildings in Kilmore and in an extract from a letter it is significant that he mentions the presbytery, “We reached Kilmore where Fr. Brannigan and another priest were stationed. A beautiful large church, school and an excellent presbytery…..”

More evidence that the presbytery was built in the 1860’s comes once again from the pen of Rev. Finn. In his writings of 1870 he comments that “In order to enclose the Church, Presbytery and schools, a dwarf stone wall has been erected, on which rests an iron palisading of a good design, which gives the building a very excellent appearance.” Rev. Finn also makes mention that “The presbytery and well-laid-out extensive grounds are in thorough keeping with the ideas of Father O’Rourke.”

Catholic Presbytery, Kilmore
Catholic Presbytery, Kilmore

An extremely handsome building in its day, the presbytery featured turned wooden verandah posts and exquisitely delicate lace work on the verandah. Unfortunately, in the 1950’s rush to modernise and renovate, the lace work was removed and the wooden posts were used in the stable at the rear of the presbytery; the stable has since burnt down.

Other buildings in the St. Patrick’s parish, many of them instigated by Fr. Branigan included churches at Pyalong (1860), Heathcote (1862), Dabminga (1864), Tallarook (1865), Euroa and Romsey (1868), Emu Flat (1872) and Seymour (1873), Broadford (1887, Strath Creek (1888) and Wandong (1891). There were also schools built at Big Hill, Bylands, Pyalong, Moranding (1858), Tallarook (1864), Forbes (1865), Lancefield, and Reedy Creek (1866).

THE PRIESTS

There have been eleven parish priests in St. Patrick’s parish in its 150 years. There have also been 83 assistant priests. In order the priests are:

Fr. Charles Clarke                         1849-1854

Fr. Timothy O’Rourke                1854-1860

Fr. Michael Branigan                  1860-1870

Fr. Michael Farrelly                     1870-1906

Fr. Laurence Martin                    1906-1921

Fr. Patrick S. Gleeson                 1921-1926

Fr. Timothy O’Sullivan              1926-1928

Fr. James McHugh                      1928-1942

Fr. James Clifford                        1942-1952

Monsignor Ken Morrison      1952-1977

Fr. Peter Rankin                          1977-present [as of Sept. 1999]

Fr. Farrelly was the longest serving parish priest of Kilmore, serving for 36 years until his death in 1906. Monsignor Morrison served 25 years and the present Fr. Rankin has spent 22 years as parish priest in Kilmore.

[Ed. Note: Fr. Peter Rankin retired in August 2012 after serving 35 years as parish priest. Fr. Grant O’Neill is the current serving parish priest.]

References:
  1. Assumption College Annual (1926)
  2. Brochure to commemorate the 130th anniversary of St. Patrick’s Parish.
  3. Glimpses of North Eastern Victoria, By Rev. W.M. Finn, First Published by Catholic Bookselling 1870, Lowden 1971.
  4. Kilmore Heritage Study, 1982
  5. Kilmore Historical Society newsletters.
  6. Some of the Fruits of Fifty Years, Ecclesiastical Annals, Publisher A.H. Massina & Co. Melb. 1897.
  7. Victorian Churches, National Trust of Australia, Miles Lewis Ed.
Assumption College, Primary School, Church and Presbytery 1920. The white cottage in the front was the Gerraghty home and the cottage behind, the home of the Malonys.
Assumption College, Primary School, Church and Presbytery 1920.
The white cottage in the front was the Gerraghty home and the cottage behind, the home of the Malonys.

The Boer War and the Districtsʼ Forgotten Soldiers

Photo: Lt. Leslie Cecil Maygar, VC, DSO, of Dean Station, Kilmore, Vic, of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles ; c.1901, South Africa

The following article by Jim Lowden was originally published in the December 1999 edition of our Newsletter, Kilmore Connections

Background

Boer settlers established the Orange Free State and Transvaal in southern Africa and these states were officially recognised by the British government in 1852. The discovery of gold and diamonds in these territories in the 1860ʼs meant a rapid influx of immigrants, including some Australians. The Boers treated these ʻnewcomersʼ or Uitlanders with contempt and this caused unease.

In 1899 British interests gained British government support and a military force was prepared for South Africa. The Boers learned of these preparations and delivered an ultimatum to the British Government on 9 October 1899 demanding that their military build
up in South Africa cease.

After receiving no reply in the stated two days, they attacked with forces from the Orange Free State and Transvaal. They surrounded Ladysmith, a strategic railway junction on the Natal border, and also laid siege to British garrisons at the other key border posts of Kimberley and Mafeking. There was great jubilation in Kilmore when the word came through that the siege of Mafeking had been broken on 19 May 1900.

The maintenance of the siege at these border posts had tied up large numbers of Boer troops. However, by this stage a considerable number of Cape colonists had also joined the Boer side to boost their numbers.

The Boer War, which was regarded as ʻthe last of the gentlemanʼs warsʼ, was different from the traditional large fullscale military confrontations. It was a highly mobile guerrilla war requiring skilled horsemanship and marksmanship. The Boers would surreptitiously group and then charge at a gallop with their German-made Mauser guns blazing. They became masters in the element of surprise, and their passage was unfettered throughout the whole area. This mobility provided a major logistical problem for the British military strategists. The initial requirement for foot soldiers was soon changed to mounted cavalry.

It was only after several humiliating defeats, that the British replaced Lord Roberts with Lord Kitchener as commander in chief in November 1900.

Kitchener was determined to stop the constant unchallenged roving of the Boer forces across the country and he established a large network of fortified and armed blockhouses along strategic roads and railways to ensure delivery of stores and the safe passage of reinforcements being sent to the frontline.

The blockhouses, surrounded by barbed-wire entanglements, were normally 1000 metres apart, to enable the intervening ground to be safely raked by rifle fire. They formed a wavy line across the country and were generally connected by phone.

Small detachments of armed cavalry scouts were intermittently based at these blockhouses to detect the movement of Boer soldiers and provide a net against which the enemy could be cornered.

It was also Kitchener who ruthlessly adopted the ʻscorched earthʼ policy of burning the Boersʼ farmsteads and crops and taking their livestock, ensuring that their sustenance lines were cut. They then moved the Boer women and children and native servants into centralised concentration camps. This had two unforseen effects. It relieved the Boer soldiers of their family responsibilities and ʻconcentrationʼ camp conditions caused an international furore.

However it also provided the British soldiers with better rations which normally consisted of tea, bread and dripping for breakfast and biscuits and jam during the day. Meat, until Kitchener assumed command, had not been a regular item on their diet!

A number of district soldiers, including Kilmoreʼs Ernie Crane, had their ʻnewsyʼ letters published in the Kilmore Free Press or the Kilmore Advertiser.

Illness, from gastroenteritis or typhoid, was a regular item mentioned and it is not surprising that half of Australiaʼs Boer War casualties died from disease such as Percy Seymour who died at Graff-Riennet.

The Boer soldiers knew their country and its strategic landmarks and were regularly known to remove the uniforms or ʻkhakiʼ from the dead and wounded British soldiers for their own use.

One controversial action was known as the Wilmansrust Affair took place on 12 June 1901. Boer commandos, dressed in khaki, infiltrated the picquet line after dark and opened a volley of Mauser fire on the relaxing soldiers. Their horses were stampeded and the Boers took everything usable and left the Australian unit in disarray, with 18 killed, including two Kilmore district boys, Rube Thornton and Pat Mahoney, and 42 wounded to the care of the battalion veterinarian.

Several Australians escaped the massacre and reported to Major-General Stuart Beaston, but he declined to send relief until daylight next day. Beaston described the Victorians as a group of “fat arsed, pot bellied, lazy lot of wasters”. He later elaborated further, stating “In my opinion they are a lot of white-livered curs…You can add dogs too!”

The Victorians did not take kindly to these words and returned to Middelburg. (The inquiry found the actions of Beaston and the Picquet Commander, Major C. J. N. Morris wanting.)

On 7 July the Victorians were ordered out on another operation and Private James Steele was overheard by a British officer to say “It will be better for the men to be shot than to go out with a man who called them white-livered curs:” Private Steele and two others, Privates Herbert Parry and Arthur Richards, were arrested and convicted of ʻinciting mutinyʼ and were sentenced by court martial to death by firing squad, a sentence which was commuted to prison terms by Lord Kitchener. When word reached Australia the press took up the cause and the sentences were quashed and Beaston was returned to India.

The Boers continued to push ʻthe rules of warʼ and it was those rules that the Bushveldt Carbineers, Lieutenants Henry Harbord ʻThe Breakerʼ Morant and Peter Handcock tested to their ultimate fate, to their death by firing squad. The charges against Lieutenant Harry
Picton were dismissed and the death sentence on Lieutenant George Ramsdale Witton was commuted to life gaol term.

The Australian public were outraged at the British ʻmurderʼ of their volunteers. Witton was subsequently released from prison in England and returned to Australia to settle at ʻThe Elmsʼ at Lancefield and it was here that he wrote his account of the sorry business, The Scapegoats of the Empire.

Australian Involvement

On 28 September 1899, military leaders from all Australian states met in Melbourne and agreed that in the event of war breaking out in South Africa, a force of 2500 would be available.

Initially half of the pledge was to be made up of foot soldiers, but eventually most Australian soldiers were to be mounted cavalry.

District lads enlisted from their residence of that time. Mick Conway, Australiaʼs first casualty, enlisted from Perth. Donald Fraser enlisted from New South Wales and the Mackenzie brothers, who were practising medicine in New Zealand, both enlisted with the New Zealand Medical Corps. One Heathcote lad, Will Aitken, who was working in the Kimberley mines, enlisted from there, and was killed at Colenso on 15 Dec 1899 and is believed to have been the first Australian born casualty.

Many serving members of the existing Victorian Militia volunteered their services. Some of these were declared medically unfit and they joined one of several ʻprivateʼ units such as Bethuneʼs Mounted Infantry (Bethune had only one hand!), as did David Crawford and Frank Egan; Cameronʼs Scouts recruited Bob Sharkey and Jim Still; and the Marquis of Tullibardineʼs Scottish Horse, Fred Dau and Dave Davies who were both killed. They all took their own horses and lamented their wounding as did Charlie Bidstrup. They had also to leave them in South Africa on their return to Australia.

The Australian bushmen proved themselves to be excellent soldiers and matched the ability of the Boer soldiers who conducted the mobile guerrilla war.

Even Lord Roberts, the British commander, who was initially shocked by the unorthodox and casual nature of the Australian soldier, could not fault their ability as extremely brave and mobile soldiers. Indeed, it was these Australian horsemen who rode in to pick up many a British infantryman caught in a sticky situation.

Each Australian State sent its own contingent, which was divided into squadrons of 125 men and these were attached to British units.

The Fifth Victorian Mounted Rifles was the largest Victorian group of which Captain Leslie Maygar was a member. Captain George Johnston, who had married Kilmore girl Margaret Hobson, joined as a special service officer initially with the railwaysʼ unit and then with the 62nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery.

Eventually after Federation, on 1 January 1901, the State contingents all were brought within the membership of the Australian Commonwealth Horse. Some of the Kilmore district soldiers who had seen an earlier tour of duty with a Victorian unit re-enlisted for a second tour with one of the Commonwealth Horse units. High Campʼs Sergeant-Major Spooner, returned with the 2nd Australian Commonwealth Horse (ACH). Even George Johnston who had been seriously wounded and invalided home in 1900, returned as commander of the 4th ACH Regiment. A keen Tom Dwyer, from Mia Mia, who was wounded and invalided home in October 1900, rejoined his original unit the 4th Victorian Imperial Bushmen in January 1901, returned home with his unit in April, rejoined with Johnstonʼs 4th ACH.

A final departure of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles from South Africa, drew the following telegram from the British commander, Lord Kitchener to their Commanding Officer, at Cape Town on 11 March 1902.

“Please convey to Australians my warm appreciation of their gallant and arduous service in this country. In the name of the Army of South Africa, I wish them good luck and God speed.”

The Cost

War ceased with the signing of the Peace of Vereeniging on 31 May 1902, which brought the Boer states under British rule.

The Australians lost 251 killed in action or dying from wounds. A further 267 died from disease. Kilmore and surrounding districts lost six from its contingent of more than seventy and another died from wounds on return.

In total Victoria contributed 193 officers and 3372 of other ranks to the total Australian commitment of 16,175 personnel.

The Guild of Loyal Women provided metal crosses for the graves of British casualties and these were erected on all the known graves.

It is strange that only one memorial exists to commemorate the Boer War in our region and that is to Pat Mahoney in the Darraweit Primary School grounds. A memorial committee was established for Rube Thornton but did not gain Council support and apparently did not proceed further.

Longwood, near Euroa, has a memorial listing the names of 22 soldiers, who served from their district in the Boer War. Even the recent new Memorial Wall at the Kilmore cenotaph remembering the ʻotherʼ wars did not include the Boer War, when some 25 soldiers appear to have either been born in or enlisted from or had close connection with the Kilmore district. Another 50 came from Wandong, Wallan, Darraweit Guim, Lancefield, Mia Mia, Pyalong,
Tooborac, Broadford, Strath Creek or Reedy Creek.

KILMORE AND DISTRICT BOER WAR SOLDIERS
These men appear by record, books or hearsay, either to have been born at, came from, had strong connections with, or enlisted from:

BROADFORD
Private George Tarrant BAKER (1878-19??)
Lieutenant Charles Niels BIDSTRUP (1877-1944)
Private Alexander McLEAN (1880?-19??)
Private George MCLEAN (1880-19??)
Private James Roberts MILLS (1878-19??)
Captain William ROSS
Trooper Benjamin SUTHERLAND (1867-19??)
Saddler Ralph Hamilton TAIT (1870?-19??)
Private Kenneth YORSTON (1872-19??)

BYLANDS
Captain Edgar Leslie Cecil Willis Walker ʻElsieʼ MAYGAR, VC (1871-1917)
Major Frederick George PURCELL (1875-1927)

DARRAWEIT GIJIM
Private James Francis MAHONEY (1878-19??)
Private Patrick MAHONEY (1882-19??)
Shoeing-Smith Thomas Henry MAHONEY (1876-1901)*
Sergeant Michael Francis RYAN (1880-19??)
Private Charles Stewart WALTON (1875-19 ??)

HIGH CAMP
Private J BROWN (1880-19??)
Trooper Timothy John CANTWELL (1874-1938)
Sergeant David CRAWFORD (1874-1915)
Sergeant-Major William S SPOONER (1874-1919)

KILMORE
Private Thomas S CAHILL (1867-19??)
Private Alexander CLARKE (187 1-19??)
Private William A CONWAY (l874~19??)*
Shoeing-Smith Samuel Ernest Thomas CRANE (1882-1918)
Private Francis James DODSON (1877-19??
Trooper William Francis EGAN (1868-19 ??)
Trooper Henry Mathieson FISCHER (1880-19??)
Sergeant William Nicolson FISCHER (1883-1917)
Trooper Donald FRASER (1864-1900)*
Private Thomas GOONEY (1863-19??)
Private Charles Albert HODGES (1880-19??)
Major-General George Jameson JOHNSTON (1868-1949)
Private James John MARSHALL (1873-19??)
Sergeant Percy Callan SEYMOUR (1872-1901)*
Private James Oliver Alexander STILL (1879-1956)
Shoeing-Smith Sergeant Rupert Melbourne Arthur THORNTON (1877-1901)*

LANCEFIELD
Private James Desmond CASEY (1878-19??)
Private Alfred James CATTANACH (1881-1979)
Corporal Michael John CONWAY (1871-1900)*
Private William FAGAN (1874-19??)
Private George HAMPTON (1873-19??)
Trooper Alexander ʻIkeʼ JOHNSTON (1882-1965)
Private Charles Harris MUSTEY (1875?-19??)
Private F J ʻFerdʼ SIDES (1880-19??)
Private Gilbert Benjamin YOUNG (1873-19??)

MIA MIA
Private Thomas DWYER (1874-19??)

PYALONG
Corporal James BROWN (1880-19??)
Private John H BROWN (1880-19??)
Private John Vernon RICHARDS (1874-19??)

REEDY CREEK
Sergeant Robert Thomas SHARKEY (1862-19??)
Farrier Sergeant George Herbert SHEPPARD (1879-19??)
Private W J SHEPPARD (1880-19??)

STRATH CREEK
Sergeant Martin Herbert NOYE (1874-19??)
Private Donald Alexander PATTISON (1881-19??)
Farrier Sergeant William Raymond SMITH (1875-19??)

TOOBORAC
Trooper John Thomas ARNOLD (1880?-19R?)
Private A DONALDSON (1880?- 19??)
Private Mark Edward ʻTedʼ DONALDSON (1873-19??)
Private Harold HARNELL (1870-19??)
Private William Joseph HAYES (1876-1944)
Private Charles T HOWATT (1864-19??)
Private Reginald Percy NORTON (1873-19??)

WALLAN
Saddler Herbert James ABBOTT (1873-1958)
Private Neil McKENDRICK (1871-1944)
Trooper T MeKENDRICK (1880?-19??)
Lance-Corporal George Victor ROBERTSON (1874-19??)

WANDONG
Private Frederick George DAU (1882-1901)*
Saddler Lance-Corporal David Wellington DAVIES (1875-1901)*
Private Charles McK1NNON (1870?-1901)*

WILLOWMAVIN
Private James Joseph KIRBY (1875-19??)
Surgeon Captain Andrew Hardie MacKENZIE (1873-19??)
Surgeon Captain Murdoch MacKENZIE (1861-1912)
Trooper Norman McKENZIE (1874-1942)
Private William MacKENZIE (1874-19??)
Private William SEYMOUR (1864-19??)

(Research by Jim Lowden)

Lt Leslie Maygar, AWM P05481.003
Lieutenant (Lt) Leslie Cecil Maygar, DSO, of Dean Station, Kilmore, Vic, of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles who was the first Victorian to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), which he won at Geelhoutboom in South Africa on 23 November 1901, for rescuing a comrade under fire. (Source: Australian War Memorial P05481.003)