FROM THE MALLEE TO RYE, MORNINGTON PENINSULA, VIC., AUST: THE ROWLEY LINK.
It would be difficult to read any local history of Rye without encountering the surname ROWLEY. Although some local histories mention members of the pioneering families moving elsewhere,this is the exception rather than the rule. Using LIME LAND LEISURE and other peninsula histories, one of my early research projects, an entry in my PENINSULA DICTIONARY HISTORY called FAMILY CONNECTIONS aimed to explain how the bride and groom became acquainted. One connection had me baffled for over a year,that between Robert Rowley senior and Christina (or Christine) Edwards. The mystery was finally solved because of a man whose father moved from the Mallee to Rye.
At the time I was working on another entry in the dictionary history called HISTORIC ORIGINS OF STREET NAMES and I received a phone call from a descendant of James Trueman in response to my letter in DESPERATELY SEEKING. Now living in Rosebud, she had once been a customer of hairdresser, Raymond Guest, of Canterbury Rd in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. His son, Raymond, still lives in that locality and told me the origins of the street names on James Trueman's grants on the western side of Truemans Rd. He also sent me the subdivision plans of the Almaray Estate, named after his mother and father and mentioned his neighbours to the east and fronting Truemans Rd, the Doigs. A bit more phone book speculation and I was talking to Ron Doig, son of poultry farmer, Alfred Doig, who had married a Rowley "chick!", and eventually subdivided the western half of Trueman's grants as the Oceanaires Estate.
In about 1909, James Little Brown (repeatedly called John by rate collectors even though he was a councillor!) mysteriously arrived from the Mallee and transformed the ti-tree and rabbit infested land at the back of Rye into beautiful pasture.
How was it that Alf Doig and James Little Brown just happened to turn up at far-flung Rye? It all revolves around the Rowley family not being quite so tied to the Rye area as generally portrayed. It was not unusual for sons to move away from the family farm; while large families were fine for helping with harvesting, the farm could not support the sons when they were ready to start their own families. This problem was mentioned in requests for the extensions of the railway from Red Hill; lack of transport to Melbourne precluded more extensive agriculture, so sons were leaving the area. One of these was the father of George Townsend (whose letter to Cinderella was the basis of my journal about Dromana etc through the eyes of a twelve year old.) Another was Michael Cain who spent time at Sale and in Adelaide (where his daughter, Mary Agnes,who married Hill Harry Cairns, was born.)
Robert Rowley was quite the nomad. His father died in Tasmania while he was quite young and his mother married Richard Kenyon. His mother and stepfather were among the earliest lime burners at the Heads,perhaps supplying another from the Apple Isle who was a Sorrento resident in 1803, John Pascoe Fawkner. Robert did not come with them! A few years later he started his own lime burning operation in the Sorrento area with Frankston pioneer, Henry Cadby Wells who walked all the way from Melbourne with his pregnant wife, and whose daughter was the first white child born in Sorrento,on the site of the Koonya Hotel (formerly "Lugger Jack" Clark's "Mornington Hotel".)
After the 1840's depression ended the lime burning venture, Wells returned to Richmond but his bootmaking must have been profitable because by 1849 he and Robert were in partnership, crayfishing in Henry's boat, which was lucrative until the boat came down on its anchor in Westernport while they visited their families. It was at this time that Henry built Clark's Cottage (demolished for extension of the Koonya.)
Robert's first house at Rye was on the foreshore opposite the original post office. He was probably fishing at the time. But his first marital abode was probably on the east side of Carrigg St in Dromana. What had he been doing since the early 1850's?
Could he have returned to Tasmania. He married Christena Edwards at Longford, Tasmania when he was about 37 and Christina, 22. Ron Doig said the marriage took place in 1859 and Nell Arnold said that it was in 1860 but Ron had access to extensive genealogy compiled by Heather Spunner. Robert was born in 1822 and died on 29-12-1911 and Christena was born in 1838 and died on 3-9-1924, aged 86, according to Rye Cemetery records.
I have speculated that Robert had been a crewman on vessels sailing between Victoria and Tasmania during the 1850's,perhaps with Henry Cadby Wells, to account for Henry calling Robert his old shipmate,but I now realise that "Shipmate" could be in reference to their crayfishing together. However, in light of his former crayfishing and later employment by Peter Pidito, this employment cannot yet be discarded as a theory. He could also have returned to Tasmania, perhaps to live with relatives or to work as a policeman*.(Cornwall Chronicle.)
As Christina had only just been born when he first came to the heads to visit his mother and stepfather and still a toddler when he started lime burning with Wells,he obviously kept in contact with the Edwards family in some way. I have formed the impression from trove that an Edwards family was involved in export.
*An OLD COLONIST. -An old colonist at present in the Gippsland district, is Mr. R. Rowley of Rye the father of
Mr. Frank Rowley, Stratford, and Mr. R. Rowley of Rye. Mr. Rowley sen. landed in Tasmania in 1824 being then 4 years old. He there resided until 1844 when he came to Rye Victoria: where he has since lived. In Tasmania he held an appointment under the Government and received from the Crown a grant of land. Mr. Rowley is in his 88th. year. ((P.2, Mornington Standard, 18-1-1908.)
Perhaps the policeman was Robert. He would have been 2 when his father, James, was transferred to Hobart from Sydney. As illustrated previously, he had not lived at Rye all the time since his arrival and he would have been in the "Northern Isle" (a bit of Tasmanian humour) by 1841 as the following shows (unless Henry Cadby Wells walked all the way to Sorrento just on the off-chance that Robert would be waiting for them.)
It is believed that after a short stay in Frankston, Henry and Hannah made their way down to Sorrento, then known as Point Nepean. They were blessed with another daughter, Mary Louise Wells, also nick-named 'Polly', born 7-6-1841 at Sorrento and Baptised in the Church of England, Parish of St. James on the 10-10-1841. Polly was the eldest of 13 children, having 12 brothers ! ! Polly is believed to have been the first white baby born to permanent settlers of the Mornington Peninsula. (THE WELLS STORY-ONLINE.)
N.B. Henry and Hannah had to go to the original cathedral in Melbourne, St James Old Cathedral, now located at West Melbourne. St James the Less at Mt Eliza did not exist until much later.
Very soon after their marriage, Robert and Christina were at Dromana. Crown allotment 4, section 1, Kangerong of 36 acres, between the western side of the Dromana Hotel and the eastern end of Sea Quinn Close, extended south to Palmerston Ave. It was subdivided very early, the Dromana Hotel and an associated 17 acres,with John McClear's house on one acre, on the western half; the eastern half consisted of 17 acres owned by mariner, Peter Pidoto, and Holden's store on one acre. The following description of Carrigg Drive refers to the eastern half, east of the covered footpath that runs alongside the hairdresser, Kindilan Society and other shops.
P.39, A DREAMTIME OF DROMANA. Holden's General Store stood near the corner of Carrigg St. Next door to the store was a slab hut where at one time the Rowleys, later of Rye, lived. Mr Rowley worked at loading Peter Pidota's (sic) craft. (The author, Colin McLear, would have been told all this by relatives, fisherman John McLear and Mrs Holden being the pioneering neighbours near Carrigg St referred to in my journal of that name.)
P.132. The petition of 9-3-1861 leaves no doubt that Mr Rowley was Robert Rowley,his signature indicating that he was not a spelling champion,almost forgetting the w in his surname.
This was not the only connection between the Rowleys and Dromana; Robert bought land on the summit of Arthurs Seat (crown allotment 25B, section B, Wannaeue of 93 acres) in 1904, in his mid 80's, to exploit its timber. James Rowley was a member of the committee of the Dromana Sports Club when it ran its last recorded (horse) racing meeting on 11-3-1927. And now the Mallee!
Robert Rowley seems to have settled on his grants (46 and 46A, section A Wannaeue of 117 acres) south of the Trueman/Guest land, in about 1867. He had earlier lived in the house on the foreshore mentioned previously. He built a new house on his farm near the present Carboor St. In 1900 Robert was assessed on the Truemans Rd farm but by 1910 he must have moved to his third house, 17 Lyons St, Rye and James Rowley, fisherman of Rye was assessed, as he was in 1919.
At about that time, Wilfred Rowley moved to the mallee (P.145 LIME LAND LEISURE.) He spent 13 years there contracting and managing an experimental farm at Carwup, south of RedCliffs. While there he met and married Emma Shaw. He also became friendly with the Doigs. Harry Doig came to visit the Rowleys at Rye and met Dorothy Rowley whom he married in 1939.
James Little Brown.
Excerpt from the Cr J.L.Brown entry in my SHIRE OF FLINDERS journal.
Jim stayed for 18 days with Robert Rowley on the west side of Truemans Rd, south of Trueman's grant.Then he went to Melbourne and bought 1500 acres from banks and trust companies. In very short time, land was cleared, burned, fenced and sown with grass. The wire netting fences kept rabbits out and those trapped inside could not escape the inevitable.Overseen by James Cain and Robert Myers, well were dug and windmills installed to pump water into concrete troughs.
As stated earlier, Jim Brown just happened to turn up at Rye in 1909. I believe that Jim had previously lived in Rye* and Wilfred Rowley's move to the Mallee might have been suggested by Jim.
* INTESTATE ESTATES
The curator of the estates of deceased persons has obtained rules to administer the estates of the fol- lowing deceased persons under Act No. 1,060: John Barnard (de bonis non adminis), of Geelong West, who died on 2nd March 1895, £400; David Brown, of Rye, who died 8th July 1900, £3,325/0/4 etc.
(P.3, Argus, 19-7-1900.)
While I was trying to find more about this David Brown, and substituting Tootgarook for Rye, I found this mention of Raymond and Alma Guest's subdivision.
Clues and News
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Monday 7 December 1953 p 8 Article Illustrated.
I've always had a yen for a weekend house-to get away from the city and crowds. I haven't got the house yet, but I've invested in a block of land on the Almaray Estates at Tootgarook-for only £25 deposit and£2 monthly! It's a super spot, between Rosebud and Rye, with a perfect bathing beach and a background of lovely country-side. There are several excellent blocks still available, so if you like my idea, contact Almaray Estates, 33 Edgevale Rd,, Kew. UM4212.
By the way,it was Harry Doig from the Mallee who ensured that the area's name became Tootgarook and not Birkdale which Whitaker's Tourist bus advertisements called it because of Birkdale House on the east corner of Carmichael St.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Monday 12 December 1938 p 15 Advertising
... omce cent_5775 DROMANA Rosebud Birkdale Rye - Whltaker s leave Whlglit ? 110 Flinders st 9 30 a m 5 p m
Raymond Guest was clever, sneaking advertisements into gossip type columns such as clues and news and:
Easter Parade of theShopping Spy.
I love swimming and sunbathing and the man in my life likes fishing and shooting-so we're unanimous in our praise of theAlmaray Estates at Tootgarook, a gorgeous spot on the Mornington Peninsula, between Rosebud and Rye. A new subdivision of land has recently been made and excellent blocks are available at moderate prices (cash or £25 deposit and £2 monthly). During Easter, see Mr. Guest at end of Morris st., otherwise contact
Almaray Estates, 33 Edgevale rd., Kew. (P.8, Argus, 8-4-1954.)
on 2013-08-09 00:41:56
Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.