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REV. JOHN REID (ESSENDON AND NORTH MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA) RUFFLES SOME FEATHERS.

Journal by itellya

Those who have read JOHN THOMAS SMITH AND HIS ELECTORS would have seen a reference to the Rev. John Reid receiving a letter of encouragement and donations to further his mission after visiting the Goulburn Region. One of those who gave support was Peter Young who was a Free Presbyterian. The Presbyterian Church was quite fragmented and Young was involved in a battle with another faction over the establishment of a church at Broadmeadows Township.

However, the nastiness seems to have stepped up to another level in the case of Rev. John Reid. I will not quote from the many newspaper articles but merely give an outline of the story as I understand it. I came across this saga while seeking more information about Alexander Blair and investigating a theory that Peter Young's "Clyde Park, Westernport" might have actually been near Essendon, since the Historical Society near Clyde had never heard of Young or Clyde Park.

A meeting was held at Thomas Armstrong's "Coalville" to get a Presbyterian Church (which became St John's, Essendon) erected. The meeting resolved to ask Rev. John Reid to be the congregation's minister.(Argus 1-7-1852 page 5.) Alex Blair had been chairman at this meeting and was to occupy the chair at a later one concerning Rev. John Reid's call to the new North Melbourne church. He was also to be Rev. Reid's staunchest ally in his darkest hour.
Those prominent in the formation of the church were Armstrong, Blair,Thomas Rogerson, Dugald McPhail, James McNay (McNae), John and Quintin Dick, Joseph Pitcher (Pitches), George Barry, James Crighton and John T.Hinkins. Thomas Millar (the subject of another of my journals) was later appointed a trustee. Hinkins, the first postmaster and teacher at Moonee Ponds, if I remember "The Stopover That Stayed" correctly, was not a member of the church and was thanked for acting as Secretary and Treasurer. Dugald McPhail of Rose Hill was Alex Blair's neighbour, James McNae (possibly an early squatter?), whose house still stands, was in charge of Davies' vineyards on Ngarveno, south of Dean St, Moonee Ponds, John Dick was involved with land on the south side of Keilor Rd,and Joseph Pitches ran what was later Chadwick's Farmers' Arms Hotel across Buckley St from St John's and near Pitches St (Melway 28 G5).Of the other three I know little except that the Crighton name was prominent in the Essendon Football Club and a grandstand at Windy Hill bore the name.

Rev. Reid was soon busy performing marriages. In June, 1853, he conducted two of particular interest to me. He married Robert McDougall of Glenroy and Margaret, the daughter of John Rankin, at Roseneath Cottage near Flemington. This was almost certainly Rankin's house at the corner of Princes St and Raleigh's Punt Road (or in later terms, the corner of Rankins Rd and Macaulay Rd) a stone's throw from the Kensington Station of 1860. It is possible that John Rankin was one of those who enticed Rev. Reid to North Melbourne. Robert McDougall had been involved nearer to town in about 1850 when he built the original section of Dean's Hotel, at the corner of Mt Alexander Rd and Dean St, where the Moonee Ponds Tavern now stands. More details about Robert's time at Glenroy, Aitken's Estate and Arundel at Tullamarine are given in JOHN THOMAS SMITH AND HIS ELECTORS.
The other marriage hints at a relationship (through marriage) between Alex Blair and Thomas Rogerson, who took opposing sides in the issue of the manse at Essendon. Rev. Reid married Robert Rogerson and Christina, daughter of Alex. Blair, at St John's Presbyterian Church, Doutta Galla.

There seem to have been two issues behind Rev. John Reid's problems. The first is that he spent his own money improving the manse at Essendon and then placed it in the hands of people (who were not trustees) for the benefit of the parish. Two of the trustees, Thomas Millar and Thomas Rogerson, laid a complaint about this. The second problem stemmed from Rev. Reid bad-mouthing some of his prominent seat-holders in the new North Melbourne parish. A Flemington doctor must have copped a real spray and probably had enough influence with the trustees to have Rev. Reid and his congregation locked out of the Presbyterian school where services were held.
Rev. Reid was suspended as a minister. What happened next?

As will be the case in a future journal, SHOVEL TROUBLE AT HOBSON'S FLAT, (about an ongoing barney between two Rosebud pioneers), I will let you find the actual details on trove as I did, and make your own judgement about who were the goodies and baddies. All the articles are in The Argus, except for a good summary of the conflict on page 3 in the Sydney Morning Herald of 14-11-1856.

Postscript. Thomas Rogerson rang a bell but softly, like Guthrie and Glengyle. I have not been able to find my reference to the family but the attempt produced information about Dick and Crighton.
The 1849 applicants for admission to the electoral roll included: Thomas Rogerson, dwelling house, Saltwater River.
John Dick purchased crown allotments 17C and 17D, Doutta Galla bounded by Keilor Rd, Hoffmans Rd, the line of Farrell St (Melway 15 K11) and Spring St, from William Nicholson on 15-3-1854 but the title reverted to Nicholson on 22-7-1861.
Allotment 22 F, bounded by Parer Rd, the line of Nomad Rd in Essendon Aerodrome, Fraser St and Thomas St, was granted to A.Wright and J&T.Crighton in 1848.
Bob Chalmers of the Essendon Historical Society told me that David Rogerson was leasing Robert Hoddle's grant (the northern third of the present Moonee Valley Racecourse)at the time and "Coleville" might have been a house still standing in Thomas St. The Rogerson and Dick families were related by marriage and also an Armstrong family.(See ROOTSWEB WORLD CONNECT PROJECT: COTTERS, RUTHS, KEALEYS, CLANCYS by Mary Cotter.)
The Farmers' Society had a ploughing match on Messrs Rogerson and Dick's farm, which was probably in the parish of Yuroke, in 1849.(See The Argus 8-6-1849 page 2 DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE.)

by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2011-12-19 02:36:05

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.

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