THE ROBERTSON FAMILIES OF" UPPER KEILOR", "GOWRIE PARK" AND "LA ROSE", MELBOURNE, VICTORIA.
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JAMES ROBERTSON, WHICH ONE?
(Extract from “Dictionary History of Tullamarine and Miles Around”.)
This surname has led to mistakes being made by Andrew Lemon (BROADMEADOWS: A FORGOTTEN History) and Angela Evans (KEILOR PIONEERS: DEAD MEN DO TELL TALES). Andrew said that a Keilor farmer established Gowrie Park (north of Hadfield) and Angela Evans stated that James Robertson Jnr. of Upper Keilor resigned from the McCracken brewery in 1861. The reason for the confusion is that there were four men in the area named James Robertson. Deidre Farfor of Malvern, a descendant of J.R.1 and 2, can find no link between the three families.
Upper Keilor homestead-3 C4; Mar Lodge 28 B3; Aberfeldie (demolished)28 D5; Trinifour 28 G6; Gowrie Park (demolished) approx. 7 B12. Alex. Gibb's house remains in Glenlitta Ave 7 D10.
J.R.1 AND 2 (UPPER KEILOR, MAR LODGE, ABERFELDIE.)
James Robertson ( J.R.1, born in 1789) established Upper Keilor soon after migrating to Melbourne aboard the Strathfieldsaye in 1841. Before dying in 1853, he’d acquired about 5000 acres in the parish of Maribyrnong, between Sydenham Rd. and the Calder Park Thunderdome, and land in Doutta Galla Parish which became the Mar Lodge Estate and Aberfeldie. There was an extensive landholding on the Campaspe River as well, which a third son, Thomas, looked after. In 1853, one son, James, inherited Upper Keilor and Spring Hill (Aberfeldie) and his brother, Francis, was given 640 acres of Upper Keilor and the land between (roughly) McCracken and Hedderwick Sts. The Essendon Conservation Study claims that Mar Lodge was so- named by the McCrackens in about 1888 but an obituary for Francis Robertson in 1886 describes his death having taken place at Mar Lodge; obviously it was Francis who gave it the name.. Following the death of his mother in 1869, James (J.R.2) moved to Aberfeldie and it was here that his connection with the McCrackens began. His daughter, Margaret, later married Coiler McCracken, the son of Peter McCracken.
For more details on J.R.1 and 2 and their relatives see “Keilor Pioneers: Dead Men Do Tell Tales” by Angela Evans.
J.R.3.(LA ROSE, TRINIFOUR.)
Coiler Robertson married Jeannie McDonald in Inverness in 1812. In 1837 they sailed for New South Wales where they spent two years before moving to Melbourne. The Bounty Index shows that Coiler was 52, Jane was 48 and their children, Grace, Isabella and James were 16, 22 and 19 respectively. It is interesting that the occupation of James was given as BREWER while his father was a shepherd and all the females were dairymaids. N.B. In previous works, I have referred to Coiler Robertson and his son James both dying in 1879. Coiler actually died in 1860.
Coiler Robertson was leasing La Rose (bounded by Bell St., Rose St., Reynard Rd. and the Moonee Ponds Creek) by 1845 and bought it seven years later. In 1846, his daughter, Grace, married Peter McCracken and they started a nine year lease on Stewarton (Gladstone Park north of Koonalda Rd.) before spending two years at the Kensington dairy while the mansion was built on Ardmillan at Moonee Ponds.
“ In 1851, one of Melbourne’s seven breweries was owned by Robert and Peter McCracken in partnership with their brother-in-law, James Robertson.” (THE GOLD THE BLUE. A.D.Pyke.) This was Grace’s brother, James, a brewer before migrating, who provided the technical expertise which led to the firm becoming so successful. (Not J.R.2 of Upper Keilor as claimed by Angela Evans.)
The McCracken Letters make frequent early references to the Robertsons and La Rose. It is interesting, in view of James Robertson (J.R.3) retiring from the firm a wealthy man in 1861, that Peter McCracken mentions in a letter to his brother Alex.in September 1862, “ Mr.J.Robertson has gone west to take out land but has not returned.” The first mention of J.R.2 was on 26-11-1866: “ Mr.J.Robertson is now building on Spring Hill above the garden.” This was Aberfeldie (into which J.R.2 moved in 1869) above the present Aberfeldie Park on the Maribyrnong’s floodplain. Incidentally, in February 1873, Peter McCracken mentioned the death of Mrs Robertson (J.R.4) of Campbellfield, the last of the old colonists.
There seems little doubt that the partner in the Robertson and McCracken Brewery during the gold rush was the son of Coiler Robertson of La Rose (J.R.3). Coiler Robertson bought the land bisected by Park St., on the north side of Ardmillan in 1855 and in 1860, obviously just before his death as an insolvent, sold it to his son J.R.3 for a little more than half the purchase price. In about 1877, James built Trinifour, which still stands on the south side of Park St. just west of the railway gates.
J.R.4.(GOWRIE PARK IN CAMPBELLFIELD.)
James Robertson established Gowrie Park on the southern half of section 5 of the parish of Will Will Rook. He and his wife, Ann, married in Errol in Perthshire in 1839 and arrived in 1841 after a traumatic voyage. They had set sail on the India but after it caught fire near Rio De Janiero, they completed their voyage aboard the Grindley. Sharing this trauma were Alexander Gibb and his wife.
JAMES Gibb,who may also have shared this voyage, was married to Betsy (nee Coupar), a sister of James Robertson’s wife, Ann. The Coupar family lived in a district in Scotland known as Carse o’ Gowrie. (BROADMEADOWS HISTORY KIT” S. O’CALLAGHAN) James Gibb and James Robertson selected 640 acres at Campbellfield and set up business in Sydney Road as coachbuilders and blacksmiths, living in a tent. James and Ann Robertson had eight children; their daughter Ann had been 3 months old when they’d sailed from Greenoch and John was born in a tent in 1845.
The 640 acres, bounded by Morley St, Camp Rd., Fairleigh St. and Hilton St., were leased in October 1841 and purchased in 1848 by ALEXANDER Gibb and James Robertson; James Gibb preferred his trade to farming. The northern half became Gibb’s Meadowbank and the southern half Gowrie Park. The Robertson family seems to have become more interested in land at Somerton by 1879-80 when James Robertson had 217 acres there. I believe that Gowrie Park was being leased by Thomas William Harrison despite the fact that the rate record did not indicate that the 318 acres at Box Forest was owned by the Robertsons. (Box Forest was the square mile south of Gowrie Park and the rate collector may have thought this name described the farm’s location better than Campbellfield. The reason why Robertson was not listed as owner may have been that he had been forced to mortgage the farm or that the rate collector simply made a mistake. In 1899-1900, Thomas B.C.Robinson was leasing Gowrie of 317 acres from J.Robertson (John?).
James Robertson (not J.R.4 who had died in 1888) owned 222 acres at Somerton. By 1920-1, trainer, Robert Lewis owned Gowrie.
Buried in grave 82 of the Will Will Rook Cemetery in Camp Rd, just near the Army Camp fence, are:
James Robertson (J.R.4) (d. 28-8-1888 at 80), his wife Ann Coupar (d.7-12-1872 at 58) and Mary Betsy Ann (d.14-3-1901at 45.) On the other side of the Peck monument is grave 88 where James Robertson (d, 20-1-1901 at 75), Elizabeth Robertson (d.26-4-1919 at 76) and John Thomas Robertson (d.20-2-1921 at 53) were buried. Other Robertsons buried in this cemetery were: Alexander W. (d. 27-6-1930) and Sterbinella (24-1-1867). The Robertsons struggled financially and John Robertson worked at Pentridge prison before becoming a coke* merchant in Albert St, Melbourne. (BROADMEADOWS A FORGOTTEN HISTORY A.LEMON)
(* For the benefit of youngsters: dried coal, not a soft drink or drugs!)
One mystery arising from the above is that James Robertson who died in 1901 would have been born in about 1826 so he could hardly have been the son of, or husband of, Ann Coupar Robertson who was married in 1839. Was he a nephew who came out with J.R.4 in 1841? Most likely, he was the James Robertson who was farming at Somerton shortly before his death.
on 2012-01-13 03:55:07
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.