THE EAST COAST OF PORT PHILLIP BAY, CHAPTER 6, WEST OF RYE 1840-1850, SORRENTO'S FIRST BABY,TYRONE AND BLAIRGOWRIE.
I have read much about the area west of Rye but as the Nepean Historical Society has published so many books, I never felt a need to write about the area and thus made no notes. Elizabeth McMeekin's THOSE COURAGEOUS HARDY WOMEN and Jennifer Nixon's FAMILY, CONNECTIONS, SORRENTO AND PORTSEA both give a comprehensive history of the Nepean Peninsula and its pioneers, with the Skelton family as a starting point.
Naturally, as I examined other areas and pioneers on trove, I found out things about this area that nobody had mentioned previously, so I will confine myself to this new information. Both of the above authors discussed Clark's Cottage, which was unfortunately demolished after the Clark family's Mornington Hotel had become the Koonya. Jennifer stated that the cottage was built in about 1850 by a Mr Wells, despite contrary claims.
This extract comes from THE WELLS STORY which is available online.
Henry Cadby Wells born in September 1820, in the Parish of Potterne, Devizes, Wiltshire, England, to Richard Wells, (who was well-known as Dick Wells in the coaching world as he drove the four-horse coach across Salisbury Plain when highwaymen were not uncommon); and his wife Martha, nee Cadby.
Henry Cadby Wells was a boot-maker, he married Hanna Hill on the 9-9-1839. In December 1839 the young couple boarded the ship 'ADROMACHE' in Plymouth and sailed to Australia. When the ship was just off the Isle of St. Paul, during a raging storm, a daughter was born. The little girl was named Mary, but at the suggestion of captain she was nick-named Polly. Sadly Polly did not live very long and was buried at sea. The ship arrived in Melbourne on the 28-6-1840 after being becalmed off Port Phillip Bay for several days, (source; Bert Polglase's book)
All ships at that time had to anchor in Hobson's Bay off shore from Williamstown; the emigrants were taken by boat along the lower Yarra towards Melbourne. Both banks of the river were then still densely covered with tea-tree and Wattle. At the township immigrants scrambled through mud, or as is recorded, 'grandfather had to carry his wife ashore through water waist-deep' to a landing bank on the north side, where warehouses, inns and stores were replacing earlier hovels along the west end of Flinders street. Slightly uphill from this flood prone area, Collins Street West had already developed into the main retail location, especially between Queen and King Streets. 'There were good shops with drugs, groceries, haberdashery, ironmongery; indeed each shop seemed to be quite an emporium', (wrote J.B.Were)
Henry and Hannah are believed to have made their way down to Frankston where they stayed for a short time This would require first crossing the river on a punt or a ferry as no bridge existed until the mid 1840s. They would then have travelled through virgin bush, either on horse back or perhaps with a horse and jinker or cart of some sort. They may have had some bullock tracks to follow, but we can be sure the track was slow and difficult. It probably took some days for the young couple, camping overnight along the way. One may wonder how many other travellers they might have met along the way, or did they only see Kangaroos, Wallabies, Dingoes and other wild life, as well as bird life and the Aborigines. No doubt there was also a large population of snakes.
They may have passed some of the 500,000 sheep and 15,000 cattle that were in Victoria by that time, the property of licensed squatters, (Old Melbourne Town; P. 8)
It is believed that after a short stay in Frankston, Henry and Hannah made their way down to Sorrento, they 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.
Most of the following history comes from Robert Cadby Wells, published in the Frankston Standard, in 1951/52. He states his grandfather, Henry Cadby Wells went into partnership with ship mate Robert Rowley in the business of lime burning, "Robert Rowley and Richard Kenyon began the industry in Sorrento. The depresion of 1842/43 put most of these pioneers out of business. Gideon Lang's map of 1842, when he applied for leasehold of much vacant land on the Peninsula, showed none of the original names. By 1845 business had recovered and 17 kilns, each employing several men, hard at work burning lime between Rye and Portsea.
Robert also states his grandfather maintained an interest in the lime burning industry and travelled between Sorrento and Melbourne, staying at Frank Stone's hotel after whom Frankston was named.
In 1846 the family moved to Melbourne where Henry worked at his trade of boot-making, he had learnt the art of tanning and dressing leather; riding boots were in great demand in those days; these were his speciality. He was there for some years, then sold the business and started a similar one in St. Kilda. After a few more years Henry was ready for another change, so he sold out again and had a go at Cray fishing. he bought an up-to-date boat and gear and with ship mate friend Rowley went down to Western Port Bay to catch crayfish. From a money point of view this venture exceeded all expectations. After being there for a few months they decided to go home for a few days, which they did but extended their stay to seven days. they had made the fatal mistake of leaving the boat anchored in the bay. the tide in this bay has a rise and fall of about 8 feet, and consequently when the tide ebbed the boat settled on the anchor, with the result that a hole was broken through the bottom. He sold the boat and gear for a few pounds and retired from the fishing business.
Robert Rowley's father was a soldier stationed in Sydney but some time after his transfer to Van Dieman's Land, he retired and was granted some land. Too fond of drink, he was fishing one day and drowned after falling out of his boat. Robert's mother later married Richard Kenyon and the couple moved to The Heads to burn lime, possibly for John Pascoe Fawkner. Robert did not go with them but visited them in about 1839. How Robert, who must have kept close links with Tasmania, marrying Christine Edwards from Longford, knew Henry Cadby Wells is a mystery but it would seem that he had received a letter from Robert outlining the lime-burning plans; why else would he risk travelling all the way to Sorrento with a pregnant wife? I believe the references to Robert being Henry's "old shipmate" relate to their crayfishing venture.
Owen Cain was from Tyrone in Ireland, where limestone was a feature of the landscape. His property Tyrone stretched from the Whitecliffs/Cain Rd midline, where it adjoined the township of Rye,to Canterbury Rd. Street names on this area recall Cain in-laws (Murray, Neville, Ford),Owen's son (Michael), the name of a Cain house (Roslyn)as well as the farm and its owners. Centre Rd follows the course of Owen Cain's loading road where lime was taken from the kiln to be loaded into boats on the west side of White Cliff.For many decades Catholic services were held at Tyrone and Rosslyn,priests coming across the bay.
Mr Owen Cain died near Rye, on Thursday last, aged 98. He settled in the district early in 1842.
(Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle (Vic. : 1882 - 1918) Thursday 2 July 1896 p 2 Article.)
Councillor Anderson referred to the death of one of the oldest and most respected residents of the district, Mr.Owen Cain, of Rye, father of the president, Councillor John Cain, J.P. He moved " That as a mark of respect this council adjourn until 2 o'clock to transact the business of importance." then he would move a further adjournment. Councillor Callanan also spoke of the deceased gentleman as a highly respected resident. He seconded the motion, which was carried. (COUNCIL NEWS. Flinders and Kangerong Shire Council.
Mornington Standard (Vic. : 1889 - 1908) Thursday 2 July 1896 Edition: MORNING p 3 Article.)
CAIN-FORD.-On the 9th inst., at St. Finbar's Church, Brighton, by the Rev. Michael Carey, John, son of Owen Cain, of Rye, to Julia, daughter of James Ford, of Portsea.
(The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Friday 10 August 1877 p 1 Family Notices.)
On Sunday, 28th June, about one of the largest funerals ever seen in the peninsula took place at Rye, when
about 500 people followed the remains of an old and respected resident named Mr. Owen Cain, sen. to its last
resting place in the quiet and picturesque little cemetery at Rye. Mr. Cain was 98 years of age, and was a native of Ireland. He has been a resident of Rye for the last 55 years. and had always taken a great interest in mattersconnected with the district in the early days. When Mr. Cain first settled at Rye he commenced business in the lime trade and in the early (40's?) supplied most of the lime that built the principal buildings in Melbourne. Doing such a large trade in lime, he employed a large number of hands in and around the place. Mr. Cain and his wife will long he remembered for their hospitality by many a weary traveller who had travelled many miles through the bush under a broiling sun, and always found a welcome rest under their roof. Mr. Cain had enjoyed good health almost up to the time of his death. Just a few hours before his death he had been out walking in the paddock, looking at the men ploughing, and had just returned to the house (the residence of his son, Mr. John Cain. J.P., with whom he had been living for some time) and was sitting in the arm chair when he passed quietly away. About eight months ago* he lost his wife, who had also reached a ripe old
age. The loss he deeply felt, and he never completely recovered from the blow.
(P.3, Mornington Standard,2-7-1896.)
I remember reading that Owen had said that he knew he was getting old when he had trouble mounting his horse (when aged over 90!)
*A very old colonist and resident of this district, Mrs. Sarah Cain, aged 96, died at the residence of her son, Councillor John Cain, J. P., president of the shire of Flinders and Kangerong, on Saturday last. She, with her husband, Owen Cain, who survives her, arrived in the colony in 1841, and settled in this district in February, 1842. Deceased and all her family were very popular, as was testified by the large number of persons in conveyances and on horseback, who attended the funeral in the Rye Cemetery on Monday last.
(P.2, Mornington Standard, 31-10-1895.)
Another careless click has wiped out my quote from page 32 of Colin McLear's A DREAMTIME OF DROMANA, which I had just discovered was the source of my story about Rye's little girl lost. It contradicted I SUCCEEDED ONCE, which gave the location of George Smith's Wooloowoolooboolook as fronting Capel Sound, whereas John McLure, the McRae tutor, seems to have given its location as being 7 miles from the McCrae homestead on the road to the Schanck,which would put it in the vicinity of Pattersons Rd, Fingal. Luckily the following article about Georgiana McCrae's journal gives most of the story.
THE EARLY DAYS OF MELBOURNE.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Saturday 3 January 1885 p 4 Article
...nbsp; the discovery and safety of Sarah Ann Cain, the child of the lime-burner. She was only four ...
" October 26. (1844)News from Arthur's Seat of the discovery and safety of Sarah Ann Cain, the child of the lime-burner. She was only four years old, and had been lost for four days and five nights in the bush. Some of
the nights were very severe, with heavy rain. She had heard the men cooeying, but did not answer, fearing they were blacks. When found, she was warding the attacks of the crows on her face with her hands, and was all but exhausted. A warm bath and the administration of food in small quantities (a teaspoon at a time,by Mrs Smith*)
brought her completely round ; and she afterwards grew up a fine young woman.
*Mrs Smith was Edward Hobson's widowed mother and no proof of a marriage to George Smith has been found, according to Marie Fels in I SUCCEEDED ONCE. I have added the year and detail from Colin's account in brackets.
Lived in Victoria for Almost 94 Years.
MORNINGTON, Friday-Mrs Sarah Ann Rogers, the last member of the Cain family, pioneers of the Rye district, has
died. She was aged 94 years She was the widow of Mr James Rogers of Balnarring, and she had lived in Victoria for almost all her life, having arrived from New York (USA) in 1840. Her parents were Irish emigrants to the United States. (P.20,Argus,30-6-1934.)
There is extensive Cain genealogy in LIME LAND LEISURE but emigration to the U.S.A. and Sarah Ann's marriage are not mentioned as far as I remember. Phil Cain, a great researcher for the Rye Historical Society, would get a chuckle out of Sarah being the last of the Cain family. The journalist probably meant to say "the last of Owen Cain's children". James Rogers was the grantee of crown allotments 20,19A and 19B in the parish of Balnarring, 296 acres on the south side of Bittern-Dromana Rd,indicated by Melway 162 F-H12,the southern boundary being a line heading east to the corner of Warrawee and Balnarring Rds.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Saturday 3 April 1869 p 2 Advertising
... and Hollins, TUESDAY, APRIL 6. At Two O'Clock. The Marine Village of Manners-Sutton. Sale of Allotments of Two Acres Each. G.WALSTAB has received Instructions from S. S. Crispo. Esq., to SELL by A ... favourite watering-place of the colony, known as MANNERS-SUTTON. It is situate between Point Nepean and ...
The Governor, Sir John Manners-Sutton, had been elevated to Viscount Canterbury while in office and Crispo, who had built a jetty, quickly changed the name of his village,which was across Canterbury Jetty Rd from Owen Cain's Tyrone.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Monday 11 May 1874 p 7 Advertising
... A R Y NOTICE* COUNTY of MORNINGTON STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY It has been suggested hy Mr Crispo that ... tho following places -Frankston, Mornington, Dromana, Rye, Canterbury, Sorrento, Portsea, and ...
The house that gave Blairgowrie its name was built as Villa Maria by a prominent Irish parliamentarian. When it was bought by Dr. John Blair,he renamed it as Blairgowrie. An excellent free pamphlet detailing the history of the house can be obtained at the Nepean Historical Society Museum at Sorrento. The house was described as being in East Sorrento and the first instance I have found of the area being called Blairgowrie was in an advertisement for the sale of the Cain Estate.
BETWEEN RYE AND SORRENTO
And Between Canterbury Jetty and Mac's Corner
The subdivision of this newly opened up section of the Mornington
Peninsula, held by the descendants of the original Crown Grantee, John Cain,
for over three-quarters of a century, presents you with a unique opportunity
lo secure a seaside home site. Here, you and your family can enjoy all the
pleasures and excitement of Sun Bathing, Swimming, Surfing, Ocean, Bay,
and Rock Fishing, Flounder Spearing, and Cray Fishing.
The new roads that have been formed have made possible entrancing walks
of hitherto unrevealed beauty . . . roads which lead lo the surf beach of Bass
Strait or to the placid beach of Port Phillip Bay.
Already, attractive and modern homes have, been built there, and others
arc in course of construction. Situated between Rye and Sorrento (actually
2.5 miles on the Melbourne side of Sorrento), Cain's Estate commands a
glorious view of ocean, bay, and bushland scenery.
The Mornington Peninsula Bus Service, which runs from Frankston Rail-
way Station to Sorrento passes the Estate, and maintains a regular time-table.
Mac's Corner, the well-known landmark, is but 500 yards from St. John's Wood
Road, and provides a Post-office and Store.
This Estate offers the ideal site for a Holiday Home and an investment for
letting purposes.(P.15, Argus,15-12-1951.)
N.B.The above estate was not "Tyrone" which was granted to Owen Cain in 1860. John Cain's estate was probably comprised of crown allotments 32, 33,34,Nepean, 92 acres 2 roods and 15 perches on the north west corner of Canterbury Jetty and Melbourne Rds granted to John Cain in 1875, extending 982 metres to the west and an average of about 400 metres to the north. As St JohnsWood Rd was probably not officially named,it was probably called Mac's Corner. Blairgowrie residents would be surprised to find that the shopping centre was built on the site of Wilson's old abbatoir.
Further investigation into the first use of Blairgowrie to describe the locality is prompted by a memory that the post office was opened (and called Blairgowrie) before 1951. The following is from wikipedia. The first sentence is nonsense. Dr. Blair gave the same name to his other estate in Berwick. It does not state that the post office was called Blairgowrie when it opened;it may have been called the Sorrento East P.O.at first.
Blairgowrie was named after the Burgh of Blairgowrie, the second largest town in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. A post office was not opened until 1 November 1947.
on 2013-09-09 05:31:22
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.