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Journal by itellya

When the councillor, who helped me with an attempt to ensure recognition of David Mairs and Edward Louis Tassell, tells me that he is related to Portsea pioneers and arranges an interview with his relatives "now", there is no delaying, no matter how many journals are currently in progress.

The councillor's oldest connection with Portsea is through Alex Watson. LIME LAND LEISURE (the history of the Shire of Flinders) has considerable information about the Watson brothers on page 42. Henry and John Watson had visited the Diggings but fishing was in the blood of these sons of a Bannf fisherman and they commenced operations at Weeroona Bay between 1860 and 1862.

Henry built the first hut on the beach at Point Franklin, then known as Quarry Point. John built a house on the beach under Policeman's Point but soon moved to Point Franklin. Charles Hollinshed said that two houses were later built but my notes are unclear about which brother built them and when. A stranger arrived in 1862 and it took some time before the two Watsons recognised their younger brother, Alex. When the Watsons arrived, their only neighbour was Dennis McGrath whose house was on the cliff top near the Back Beach Rd corner.

The surname "Watson" is mentioned on pages 34, 41, 44 an 50 of RYE PRIMARY SCHOOL 1667.

June Opie is my main informant regarding locations and anecdotes in this journal, with older sister Gladys Helen Pittock introducing a new anecdote every time I thought we had finished for the day, licking my lips at the prospect of a 3p.m. lunch. The two have another sister, Betty Rose Broderick, who was not visiting Gladys on the day.

The three sisters were the only children of William Alfred Stirling who was born at Portsea in 1895. Known as Bill, he married Amelia Martin who had come to Portsea from Bendigo in 1916 at the age of 12 with her parents, Sydney Martin and Emma Jay (nee Stanley).

Bill Stirling's parents were John (Jock) Stirling and Helen Smith (nee Watson), the daughter of Alex and Alice Watson. Alice Watson's maiden name please, June. Jock was a sailor and was on his second voyage to Australia aboard the "-------" when he sought his discharge papers which are dated --------.

Although there were not many rate payers in 1864, the rate collector forgot all about the Watsons. It was all to do with the stupid idea of listing ratepayers alphabetically instead of geographically. The advantage of the latter method is explained in the ASSESSMENTS entry in my DICTIONARY HISTORY OF RED HILL journal.

In the 2-9-1865 assessments, Watson (no given name) was assessed on a hut on Crown land.For the next three years no member of the Watson family was assessed. The records presented to Council on 4-9-1869 showed that John Watson owned the house and town lot(nett annual value 5 pounds) that he was occupying in the Point Nepean Division. The 3-9-1870 rates show that the house consisted of two rooms and the land of one acre but the owner column was blank throughout. By 1875, John Watson was still the owner and occupier of the house and land at Portsea but it now had a NAV of 7 pounds Alex Watson was assessed on 1 acre ** roomed house, the * being dittos that had been disguised as mini blots to hide the rate collector's uncertainty; the property was owned by Alex and was given a nett annual value of 6 pounds.

In the 27-6-1878 record, occupations were noted. John Watson, fisherman, still owned the same property at Portsea but the NAV was now 8 pounds, a minor increase. However it seems as if a later huge jump in value was caused by a mistake or a bloke called George Morse! Alex Watson was described as a hotelkeeper and we are left to assume that the "building" on one acre at Portsea was actually a hotel. (At one stage Dromana had two hotels and three hotelkeepers; perhaps they played "Musical pubs"!) This was the original Portsea Hotel, of which June has a photo, and its nett annual value was 40 pounds, which indicates it was slightly less elaborate than George Assender's Arthurs Seat Hotel (NAV 60 pounds including 5 town lots) and far less so than the Dromana Hotel (12 rooms and 110 pounds in 1864, 17 rooms and 170 pounds in 1886).

The 31-7-1880 assessments show that the nett annual value of the acre block and building owned by fisherman, John Watson had jumped from 8 pounds to 50 pounds, ten pounds more than Alexander's Portsea Hotel! By 27-7-1882, this valuation had dropped to 40 pounds probably adjusted by the revision court following a protest. A year later the only Watson recorded was John J.Watson Jnr, labourer, 1 allotment and building, Sorrento, NAV 5 pounds.

In 1886, Alex Watson was assessed on the hotel whose nett annual value had risen to 52 pounds, perhaps this included a post office and store nearer the pier.John Watson, fisherman was assessed on 2 allotments and buildings at Sorrento (NAV 35 pounds.)Joshua Watson, grazier, was leasing 195 acres Nepean (parish) from W.A.Blair (possibly south of Rye township but more likely on the north side of Melbourne Rd between Tarakan St and St Pauls Rd); he was more likely related to the Watson, after whom a street in Mt Martha was named, that bought Hearn's Mt Martha Estate at about this time, than the Portsea/Sorrento fishing family. James Watson, a plasterer, was assessed on an allotment and building at Sorrento, with a nett annual value of 10 pounds, that he owned.

After being assessed on the hotel once more (16-7-1887), Alex had an allotment and building at Portsea (NAV 30 pounds) in 1888; as a fisherman again, an allotment and building, Sorrento (N.A.V. 10 pounds) in 1889 (while John, fisherman seems to have bought (lots) 5-10, of an unknown section in Sorrento Township I suppose, with the high NAV, for land, of 70 pounds. It was hard to be certain where Alex had his land because its location often alternated between Sorrento and Portsea, the latter in 1892. Perhaps he sold the Sorrento building blocks to build his Portsea house. June told me that John had sold the Portsea Hotel and gone back to fishing, and it seems to have been in the boom year of 1888; W.H.Sweetapple seems to have been assessed on the Portsea Hotel in 1891 and may have been the buyer.

John (Jock)Stirling, who married Alex Watson's daughter,Helen, seems to have arrived in late 1891 or early 1892, being first included in the 1892 rates, described as a labourer and assessed on 1 allotment and buildings at Sorrento (NAV 10 pounds). In 1893, Jock's details were unchanged and Matthew Watson was assessed on a house on an acre block, while James Watson, plasterer and John Watson, fisherman also had houses at Sorrento on acre blocks. Matthew Watson, hotelkeeper, now had 1 allotment at Portsea, with the building on it actually called a hotel!

The final microfiche inspected (before I came blind because of the diluted ink due to the depression) indicates that by 13-9-1899 James Watson had died because Mrs James Watson was assessed on the plasterer's one lot and house, Sorrento (NAV 10 pounds.)Jock Stirling had moved to a lot and house at Portsea (NAV 10 pounds).

There will be more rate research post 1900 and it will be interesting to see how long Alex and Watson take to acquire their dairy. Now for some anecdotes and a bit of detail about landholdings which has been considerably lacking so far.

Alex Watson built the original Portsea Hotel but later sold it and returned to fishing. Alex and Alice also had a store and post office just east of the path to the Portsea pier. They had a dairy extending from Ocean Beach Rd to Franklin Rd and straddling Martins Lane (whose name probably bears some connection to the maiden name of William Alfred Stirling's wife Amelia.) The south east corner of the dairy is indicated by Ibis Way and the north west corner was the south side of the bull ring.

The what? The bull ring was the oldtimers' name for the Portsea Recreation Reserve, incorporating the Percy Cerutty Oval.Bulls are most upset with any other bulls that enter their territory. There was one at the Quarantine Station and another at Sorrento and one day while strolling they came upon each other in a swamp in a fairly deep depression, resembling an amphitheatre. A battle royal ensued and everyone knew where the bull ring was from that day forth! Now you do too!

THE MAD COW.(Circa 1940.)
There was another swamp on the dairy farm too. The three Stirling girls were catching tadpoles in what is now the Portsea Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary when oldest sister Gladys proclaimed that her little serfs should go to get a jar to put them in. Alec and Alice Watson patted the calves on the head rather too vigorously and they tended to die leaving a lot of surplus milk to sell, which made Alec and Alice very happy. Unfortunately it seemed to make the calves' mothers very upset.

You know how it is when you're in a bad mood; anyone within range becomes a target, no matter how sweet and innocent. I'm sure June will be happy with the description of her nature but a cow whose baby had died that morning was in a paddock that June and Betty were crossing and she was a very very bad mood. June managed to dive through a wire netting fence just in the nick of time and Betty,,,,,,,,,,,(in the swamp?)

THE MAD HORSE.(Just after W.W.2.)
Jim Wishart managed a store at Portsea for Stringers and used to deliver with a horse and cart. It was a very nice cart but the same compliment did not apply to the horse. Single-hoofedly he smashed three carts to bits. He used to graze on the bull ring and the kids took a very wide detour.

The Portsea school site is now occupied by the Ramler Mews dwellings.

The larger swamp, west of Ibis Way, was partially filled in by Ray Skelton who earned a living removing green waste, bricks, soil and other material.

Jock Stirling's limestone house, built by George Morse on the south east corner of Blair and Back Beach Rd (Melway 156 E3) is still standing.

Here's a question to ponder. Why did Sorrento resident, Jeff Robinson, use the brand name Franklin for the caravans that he manufactured?

Extract from website THE PORTSEA CAMP.
The camp's first permanent structure - 1870
The site of the Portsea Camp was well known as the home of the Scotsman, John Watson. A somewhat garrulous man, who had migrated from Scotland , he built a small fishing hut just off the point. Local holiday makers were never impressed by the structure which, they felt, disturbed the view and the ambience of the nearby bathing boxes.

Over the next few years John Watson's brothers arrived from Scotland and by about 1873 the family had built a small limestone house on the beach. The 'Commondant's house' was built by Frederick Rose, who established the School for the Deaf in St Kilda Rd.

Eunice Watson supplied information about the old days in the following article.
Shifting sands
Author: Dugald Jellie
Date: 20/01/2012
Words: 3337
Source: AGE
Publication: The Age
Section: The Melbourne Magazine
Page: 36
Portsea, Australia's richest postcode, is where old traditions and new money come together every summer, not always happily, writes Dugald Jellie.

Auctioneer Warwick Anderson found a spot in the sand. A crowd had gathered on a hot January afternoon in 2011 for his day's last job: selling a sun-pinched timber boatshed in the dunes of Shelly Beach. Most came barefoot, strung in towels, limbs bare and salted from insouciant days of dipping in turquoise brine. Up for grabs was a prized heirloom - S27A, a bathing box, on stumps, shrouded by tea tree. A who's who of locals arrived, many with chequebooks in their swimming trunks. "It's a question of supply and demand," says Anderson, of the spectacle of finding market value for these bijou seaside boxes. One had sold nearby for $455,000. Rumours were rife a new record was on. "It's petty cash for these people."

Coastal wattle spread on the dune, pigface flowered pink. Anderson, in short sleeves, took an opening bid of $300,000. Before him stood an array of Melbourne's merchant princes, industrialists, the idle rich, on a lustrous shore where, in dusk light, the city gleams on the horizon like a faraway jewel. After more than an hour, the auction's penciller had recorded 127 bids. The gavel fell, applause rang out. The boathouse had sold for $585,000, about $18,000 per square metre and the price of a decent family home in a Melbourne suburb.

This is how it is in Portsea - the country's top-earning postcode by taxable income. A geographical and demographic full-stop put on the map in 1842 by James Sandle Ford, an emancipist and homesick English lime-burner who built the first pier and planted the area's first cypresses, it's an end-of-the-road cul-de-sac where not a penny's pinched, where neighbourly squabbles make the news, and where the beautiful and the damned mingle each summer in an epic narrative of privilege, social hierarchy and just a little tattle about what Lindsay Fox has gone and done next. Children's footfalls slap on grey-weathered jetty planks; whoops and squeals punctuated by baritone splashes. A blonde woman parks her black Porsche Cayenne with personalised number plates. The pock pock pock of a tennis game floats over beds of flowering agapanthus. Electronic surveillance is on continuous loop. Vast properties step down the slope like hanging gardens laden with fruits of abundance. Some homes are as big as office blocks. A clear footprint can be seen from Google Earth: most blocks have the powder-blue oblongs of a swimming pool, and judging by the number of lurid green rectangles, it could be true that Portsea still has more tennis courts per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world. Land values on the cliff, on the bay side of Point Nepean Road, the most sought-after stretch of real estate in Victoria, start at about "five something" - as in $5 million (and the rest), according to local Kay & Burton agent Liz Jensen.

Year-round locals have for decades quietly observed the comings and goings. "It was them and us," recalls Eunice Watson, 87, who long ago married into the Watson family who, from 1862, were the first fishermen of Portsea. "Those people with all the big homes were the people with money from Melbourne. They would keep to themselves."

This paragraph is included to put Eunice's next comment into context.

"Our children were terribly lucky to grow up in Portsea," says Judy Matear, whose father-in-law in 1927 bought the fashionably chic Hotel Australia on Collins Street, and 20 years later bought Ilukya from Vacuum Oil boss Harry Cornforth. They hosted lavish parties, all smoked salmon and ostrich plumes, with patriarch Fred Matear taking whisky and sodas in his white silk pyjamas and pith helmet. Judy's son Rick, an artist currently exhibiting at Manyung Gallery in Sorrento, remembers his neighbour "showing me an Arthur Boyd hanging over the fireplace. He told me stories of Boyd and John Perceval going down there to do paintings for their parents. He said John once borrowed the car and dented it, so to pay he gave them the painting." Penleigh Boyd, father of Robin, joined Arthur Streeton in painting Portsea, filling canvases with loose plein-air brushstrokes that distilled the area's luminous northern light and its thick blanket of tea trees and moonahs. White limestone cliffs and the knuckle of Police Point are recognisable in one work, but the two fisherman's shacks and staked fish pens by the beach have long since gone.

"They caught salmon and mullet and bay trout that would come in shoals, hundreds of boxes worth," says Eunice Watson. She moved to Portsea in 1947 to marry fisherman Frank and lived on the beach in the fishing cottages Boyd had painted, with no running water, kerosene lamps and a wood stove to cook on. In those days, the couta boats weren't rich-kid playthings - they were used by fishermen scooting through the Heads pursuing barracouta. Harold Holt, who wasn't yet PM, bought fish from them on the beach. "On the Sunday he drowned, I was going to tennis," Watson recalls, "and he waved to me as he was driving past."

The article went on to discuss the "new money" families and their houses.

The Watsons were well represented in this premiership team! S.Martin might have been related to the Stirlings. Fishermen played in the Rosebud team as well; the Burnhams had moved from Sorrento onto the Hindhope Estate a decade earlier and one of the Aldersons, being a Carlton supporter, suggested a change to the Rosebud Football Club's present jumper after their first season in 1929.


W.Jennings (Rosebud) won the toss and sent Portsea in to bat.


W.Watson caught Stevens bowled W.Jennings 20
J.Watson caught R.Gray bowled W.Jennings 2
F.Goss caught W.Jennings bowled H.Head 5
J.Knight bowled W.Whitehead 42
E.Howard bowled W.Jennings 1
J.Foran bowled Stevens 21
N.McKinnon bowled R.Gray 5
A.Knight bowled W.Downie 15
S.Martin caught W.Burnham bowled L.Cairns 5
J.Murray run out 4
M.Watson not out 1

Extras 4

Total 128

No bowling details.


H.Head bowled J.Knight 0
D.Cairns run out 0
W.Whitehead bowled J.Knight 7
W.Alderson bowled A.Knight 4
W.Downie bowled A.Knight 5
Stevens bowled A.Knight 2
W.Jennings(c) not out 6
W.Burnham bowled J.Knight 2
E.Inglefinger bowled J.Knight 0
R.Gray bowled J.Knight 0
L.Cairns bowled J.Knight 0

Extras 8
Total 34

J.Knight 6/7 A.Knight 3/11


W.Watson caught D.Cairns bowled H.Head 68
J.Watson caught L.Cairns bowled W.Jennings 4
F.Goss caught W.Burnham bowled H.Head 5
J.Knight bowled W.Jennings 17
E.Howard not out 16
J.Foran not out 49
N.McKinnon caught W.Burnham bowled H.Head 7

Extras 7
Total 5/173

W.Jennings 2/18 H.Head 3/53
PORTSEA WON BY 94 RUNS ON THE 1ST INNINGS.(Rosebud Cricket Club website.)

This hut under Point Franklin, probably built by H. Watson later passed to W. White.
This caption appears under a picture of the hut partly obscuring another picture (of limeburners at work) in a
book about the Officer Cadet School. The picture can be accessed by entering "watson, white, cadet school, portsea" and clicking on CHAPTER 4, THE ENVIRONMENT.

A letter to the editor from Henry Watson was on page 7 of the Argus on 29-1-1877. He explained that they made only tuppence (twopence) a basket from their fish and enclosed an account of sales made on Alexander's behalf.
Henry was living at Portsea. I don't know if Alex and Henry were fishing at The Sisters with John who supposedly moved his operations there in 1873, according to LIME LAND LEISURE.

The engagement of Valda Milne and Lance-Corporal Gordon Watson,elder son of Mr and Mrs W.J.Watson of Portsea, was announced on page 8 of the 4-7-1940 Argus.

The weather was probably warm on that November day in 1928, but young George Alexander Watson probably regretted having ever been on the beach on that day.(The Argus 10-5-1929, Page 15.)

Messrs Watson and McLeod took their friends on an outing by road to Dromana, everyone meeting at Mr Watson's hotel at 8am. (The Argus 14-9-1893 page 4, PORTSEA.)

I think the hotelkeeper would have been Matthew Watson, who was assessed on the hotel (nett annual value 60 pounds) in 1896-7. Alex (Alec) Watson, who built the (original) Portsea Hotel apparently drank a fair proportion of the profits and was forced to sell the hotel to his brother John, according to June Opie. Going by rate records, Alec built the pub after October 1875 and a fair time before June 1878. He must have sold a great number of baskets of fish (at 2d a basket) in 1876-7 to build the hotel. It is possible that John Watson was still the owner of the hotel in 1893 and installed Matthew as the licensee, but there is no mention of a hotel in connection with either in the 1-8-1893 rates.Perhaps the assessment was McLeod and Watson (under M rather than W.) Mr Watson was still running the Portsea Hotel in December, 1905 and applied for a reduction of the valuation from 65 pounds to 50*. (Mornington Standard 12-12-1895, page 2, LICENSING COURT.)

Why did they travel by road? Perhaps the "White Road" had just been made. For over a decade the local lime trade had been a shadow of its former status, with provision of firewood for Melbourne's households and bakers' ovens taking over as a source of income. Abandoned kilns were dotted everywhere, with spoil around them, which the shire used to make the beach road and some others. Although they were as smooth as a baby's bottom, they were slippery at times and fragments could damage hooves. Ray Cairns added that once they started to break up deterioration was rapid.

* Lugger Jack Clark wanted the value of the Mornington (now Koonya) Hotel at Sorrento halved from 100 pounds but would have been pleased with 60 pounds.The licence of H.Levy for the Nepean Hotel (on the site occupied by modern shops across the road from the present Portsea Hotel)was renewed; a photo of the Nepean is on one of the websites mentioned, probably the Cadet School one.

Miss Annie Watson was a scarlet lady (sorry a black and scarlet lady), those being the colours of the attire she wore to the concert/ball to raise funds for the Roman Catholic Church.Miss Watson (Portsea) wore black with green trimmings. (M.S.31-8-1899 P.3.) Annie was living in "Franklin" (House) in 1910.

The engagement of Monica Frances Watson,youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs F.H.Watson, to J.V.Horskins was announced.(Argus 1-3-1941 P.9.)

How did Rex Watson of Portsea come to marry a Slocombe girl from Tyabb? (Standard, Frankston, 5-3-1943, P.1.)

In 1934, Watson and Hill, footballers from Portsea, were showing impressive form at Essendon. (Argus 6-4-1934 P4.)

The following comes from page 4 of the Argus of 17-2-1934 when Victoria was preparing for its centenary and interest in history was at an all-time high.


The Centenary year is, perforce, turning one's thoughts to the pioneers of the State, and articles such as "Portsea Recollections," by Mr. J. C. Fitchett, last Saturday provoke discussion and reminiscence.

The name of the late Alexander Watson, the pioneer of the beach fishermen, as Mr. Fitchett calls him, conjures up the picture of a fine type of settler. Strong, keen, courageous, full of fun, interested in all members of the families of Portsea, he would sit in his little snow-white cottage or lean over the gate talking of his beloved Portsea and his experiences, and impressing the third generation with his remarks, especially when he referred to a little chap's grandfather, for whom he had a great regard. Mr. Watson had a remarkably clear memory and a ready wit. He told an interested little audience how In May, 1862, he left London for Sydney in the Aberdeen ship Jason, commanded by Captain Stewart, who later commanded the Catherine Adamson, which was wrecked Inside Sydney Heads about the time of the wreck of the Dunbar on South Head, when the sole survivor was taken up the cliff by a rope. The voyage out took three months, at the end of which Watson stayed with Captain Stewart for a few weeks before coming to Melbourne by steamboat and landing at Sandridge (Port Melbourne) Railway Pier. Watson brought a message from his home town, Banff, Scotland, where he spent his youth fishing with his father at Whitehills, to Mr. William Adamson, whom he sought and found in Melbourne, and during a long chat Watson spoke of going down to Point Nepean to join three brothers who were already fishing at Quarry Point, now called Point Franklin,


A heavy smoker, Watson was keen on growing some tobacco, although he did not know anything about its culture. Mr. Adamson supplied the seed, and Watson left Melbourne by the small steamer Vesse, running once a week. On September 10, 1862, he landed at Weeroona Bay and found his way up through the scrub. The only signs of settlement were a tiny fisherman's hut on the beach, a stone house on the cliff belonging to Mrs. McGrath, sen., and a small enclosure with a scrub fence. He cleared about 40ft. of this, the ground having been dug, possibly, once before, scratched it over with his hands and feet, mixed the seed with dry sand, and put it in broadcast, raking it over with a bush. It grew well. By the end of March, 1863, it was 6ft. high and looked splendid, and later it was cut. About the beginning of April Watson left with his brothers for Westernport for the winter fishing. They landed at Crib Point, about four miles from Hastings. Halfway between Crib Point and Hastings was a small island called Koola mada, leased by Mr. Rogers, a sheep and cattle owner. He had about eight acres of tobacco already cut, and he was well satisfied with his crops for several years. In 1864 the Watson brothers returned from Westernport to Portsea, and later they were joined by two others. At Weeroona Bay the fishing had been begun by Mr. Inglis, who left for Queenscliff about this time, and Alexander Watson bought the shingle cottage on the beach. Later he pulled it down and built the white limestone cottage, still standing, in its place. At that time Mr. Walker was superintendent of the quarantine station, with Mr. W. Anderson as handy man. One of his daughters married Watson in 1865, and the small cottage on the beach near the cutting was their first home. Not far from this was the limestone kiln, on the cliff, the remains of which may be seen to-day, from which lime was sent to Melbourne.

About 1869, four years after his marriage, Mr. Watson selected a site from the Government on which to build a home. To prepare for this he set about planting fruit trees, but he found about 3ft. below the surface limestone rock. For three winters he worked at getting out the limestone, and then, having obtained bags of lime from the kiln, ho got Mr. George Morse, of Sorrento, to build for �24 four rooms. Mr. Watson was induced to let his house for a month in the summer at �4 a week, and during that time took his family back to the beach cottage. The next year he built a bar and applied for a licence, calling tho house the Portsea Hotel. He remained as proprietor till the bursting of the boom, when the mortgagee sold him up, and he returned to the little white cottage on the beach and took up his fishing again. Here he died in 1924, but his sons, Mat, Alex, and Frank, with their families, still live in Portsea and carry on the family tradition.

N.B. I changed Mat to bold type. No wonder they call it TROVE!

The wife of Mr Watson, fisherman, of Portsea, committed suicide yesterday by drowning herself in an underground tank. (The South Australian Telegraph 14-12-1885 P.5, COLONIAL TELEGRAMS.)

Messrs. Watson Brothers, fishermen, of Portsea, had a most successful haul on January 22, just inside the Heads, when they landed fish enough to fill 300 baskets. The fish were of a kind called salmon trout, and the value of a basketful is about 8s.(The Australian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, 21-2-1874 P.206.)

After age is the spouse's name and extra information from the headstone. Many thanks to Julie N. for her tireless work on cemetery records, including photos of headstones.
STIRLING William Alfred b1895 d1964 Amelia par John D. & Helen Stirling
STIRLING Amelia b1904 d1981 William A. par Sydney & Emma J Martin
STIRLING John died 19/9/1976 79 Alma M. par John D & Helen S Stirling
STIRLING Alma Mary .. 16/7/1983 79 John par George & Mary Jennings
STIRLING E.A. .. 1/11/2004 79
STIRLING Gordon Douglas .. 23/7/1974 80 Esther A.M. par John D.Helen S Stirling
STIRLING Esther Annie May .. 2/8/1985 83 Gordon D. par John & Maby Sullivan
STIRLING Helen Smith no dates d1948(cd) 79(cd) John D. par Alex & Janet Watson
STIRLING John Douglas no dates Helen S
STIRLING Agnes .. ?/11/1913 21 par John Douglas & Helen S Stirling
STIRLING Alex .. ?/2/1914 10 par John Douglas & Helen S Stirling

Because of additional headstone information, I could not fit each entry into one line as above.
WATSON Daisy Clarke 25/6/1889 30/1/1988 Charles Eric Charles E b1893- d1941,mother to David and buried with daughter Shirley Balfour,
WATSON Garry b.26/1/1944 d.15/11/2004 Linda father to Rosemaree,Michelle,Debbie
WATSON Janet .. 24/?/1908 60 Alex .C.
WATSON Henry Edward .. 28/4/1977 Gladys
WATSON Gladys .. 22/7/1998 Henry E.
WATSON Robert (Patrick) b1946 d1981 35 mother Nellie
WATSON Peter Graeme .. 24/5/1985 par Harry (dec)Gladys,bro to Paul,Michael,Jann
WATSON Marion Elizabeth 2/9/1977 93 buried with par Edward & Sarah Williams *& sis Helena Myers
WATSON John d. ?/8/1906 74 Annie buried with children Henry,David,Jessie
WATSON Annie .. 27/8/1928 84 John par John and Annie Sullivan ,buried with children Henry,David,Jessie
WATSON Henry .. ?/10/1922 buried with par John & Annie Watson
See Henry's death notice and Janilye's comment.

WATSON David .. 12/10/1925 49 buried with par John & Annie Watson
WATSON Jessie .. 6/8/1948 75 buried with par John & Annie Watson
WATSON James George .. 16/12/1946 64 Lucy E. par James G & Margaret Watson
WATSON Lucy Elizabeth .. 26/12/1979 87 James G. par George & Elizabeth Hill
WATSON John George .. 4/8/1947 34 par Hy & Marion E Watson.buried with Ethel R.G. Street
WATSON Richard Alexander b.27/9/1918 d.4/1/2002 83 Ursula father to Garry,Donald,Brian
WATSON Catherine Ann d.11/8/1952 72 par James G & Margaret Webster ,buried with Albert E & Mary A Whitmore
WATSON Alfred Henry d.6/6/1968 75 par James G & Margaret Watson,buried with bro William R Watson
WATSON William Roy d.24/5/1974 76 par James G & Margaret Watson,buried with bro Alfred H Watson
WATSON Margaret d.?/4/1925 65 par William & Catherine Watson,buried with daughter Alice M Hosie
WATSON Alan W. d. 25/6/1970 51 Joan L
WATSON Joan L. .. 30/10/1980 Alan W
WATSON Maie Alice .. 15/4/1944 William J mother to Gordon & Alan
WATSON William J. .. 5/9/1949 Maie A. father to Gordon & Alan

Holiday maker, William Watson, was swept off rocks and drowned while fishing at Sorrento's back beach. He could have been a member of the pioneer family but is not listed above.


Believed to Have Been Drowned.

�.ORRI MO iuesdiv (SORRENTO,Tuesday.- Henry Witson, a fisherman, M cnt(went) out m (in) his bo it (boat) eirli tins (this) morning. Sonic (Some) time later the Hutchins Urotlicri (brothers) who weie anchored in the South Ch iniiel tish inn (channel fishing);, F.W(saw) a bo-it with the sail set dinting (drifting). They went after it and found there was no one in it. Ihcj took it ni tow ind brought it into Sorrento and advised the police who sent out word to the different stations on the coast.

A strong southcrlv breeze sprung (sic) up and it is surmised that Watson wis struck. by the boom and knocked overboard as his lines were over the side and a fish ivas on one Imp (line). Owing to the strong soutlierlj bieczo the body mai. be found on the eastern shore between Mornington and Frankston.
(Argus 20-12-1922, Page 21, FISHERMAN MISSING.)

(I hope you enjoyed solving the little mystery which proves that computers have no right to be labelled SMART! TROVE relies on people to correct errors produced in digitising of newspapers.I can't copy and paste the actual article so I copied the digitised version. So it could be read at all, I fixed it in places but you might get an idea why I get a headache from deciphering rate book entries.)

Several drowning accidents during the Christmas holidays are reported to have occurred in Victoria.
A man named Alan McDonald was drowned inthe river at "Wurruk; two brothers, Reginald and Norman Swaine lost
their lives in a boating accident at Geelong; Alfred Watson while holidaying at Sorrento was swept off
some rocks and caught in a whirlpool and drowned.(Sunday Times, Perth 3-1-1926 Page 3s.) The Brisbane Courier of 30-12-1925 stated on page 5 that the drowning took place on the morning of the 29th and the victim's name was Alfred William Richmond Watson. His wife had been holidaying with him.

MORN1NGTON LICENSING COURT, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13; 8ti::"(1887) - Before Messrs. Hare (Chairman), Shuter and Alley, P.M's. . . A. Watson of the Sorrento hotel, applied for transfer of license to W. H. Sweetapple . No appearance of the applicant, and Police Inspector Scanlon stated the application had not been received in time to be heard and the case was struck out.(South Bourke and Mornington Journal 21-9-1877 Page 2.)

WEDDING. WATSON--MAYNARD. On Wednesdays 26th June, Christ Church, Drouin, was the scene of a very pretty wedding, when Mr Charles William Watson, of Sorrento, was united in the holy bonds of matrimony with Miss Minnie Maynard, elder daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Maynard, of Drouin. (West Gippsland Gazette 9-7-1912 P.7)

From Jas. Watson, Sorrento, explaining his reasons for not proceeding with his contract for maintenance metal, Portsea road; and requesting return of his deposit. (Mornington Standard 7-12-1893 P.2.)

A satirical article, on page 3 in the Border Watch (Mt Gambier)of 20-1-1886,has a swipe at Land Sharks and mentioned that the Minister of Lands tried to deprive Watson, the fisherman, of his selection at Sorrento.

On page 13 of the 1-12-1936 issue of The Argus, the Sorrento correspondent reported that Mrs S.Hosie, a daughter of old Sorrento residents, the late Mr and Mrs James Watson, had died.

WATSON, John Thomas - On February l8 (suddenly), at his residence, Darebin, St Paul's rd , Sorrento, beloved husband of Jane, loved brother of Chrissie (Mrs W Newton, Portsea), aged 75 years

WATSON, John Thomas. - On February l8 (suddenly), at Sorrento, son of the late John and Anna Watson, formerly o� Franklin House, Sorrento, loving brother of Chrissie (Mrs W Newton).
(The Argus, 19-2-1953 Page 15.)

DARK. �On the 20th June, at her late residence, "Glenroy," Sorrento, Rose, dearly beloved wife of W. A. Dark, and daughter of Annie and the late John Watson, Sorrento, aged 35 years.
(The Argus 27-6-1908 Page 13.)

At the Shire Council meeting of 27 Sept., a letter was received from Hill and Watson, cancelling their sanitary contract at Sorrento. (Mornington and Dromana Standard 2-10-1909 Page

MELBOURNE, Wednesday.
A whale and its calf appeared at Sorrento, the well-known watering place at the Heads recently, and the calf was captured, Great efforts to catch the whale are to be made with a special harpoon to be fired from a rifle, and to be constructed by a local blacksmith.

A whale and calf entered the Heads about 10 days ago (the Register's Melbourne correspondent telegraphs). Today several fishermen again went out and endeavored to capture them. Mat Watson, accompanied by an
old whaler named Emanuel, got close up. . Emanuel poised a harpoon, hewn the whale calf rose under the stern,of the boat, the shock throwing the 'occupants "down. Watson, however, harpooned" the" calf, which was subsequently towed into shallow water near Rye. " The calf is 21ft. long and 8ft across the tail. The whale, having lost the track of the calf, has been going at a tremendous pace up and down the bay between Sorrento and Rye. The whale was nearly 80ft. long, and is what whalers call a "Californian grey," one of the most dangerous kind. (Barrier Miner, Broken Hill, 31-8-1892 Page 3.)

HUSH -On the 10th November at St Vincent's Hospital, Alice May, dearly beloved daughter of the late James George and Mararet Watson of Sorrento, loving sister of Kitty, Jim, Mary (Mrs Whitmore! Charlie, Louie (Mrs J.Hosie), Alf and Willie, and mother of Harold, aged 47 years -RIP. (Argus 21-11-1936 Page 7.)

The digitised version of the following death notices in the Argus of 23-12-1922, has been corrected so I assumed a Watson descendant was responsible but it was janilye. See comments.
WATSON-On the 19th December at Sorrento(accidentally drowned) Henry, dearly beloved husband of Ruby, loving father of Maudie Nellie, Harry, George, Nancy and Dick aged 51 years.

WATSON. On the 19th December at Sorrento (accidentally drowned) Henry dearly loved eldest son of Annie and the late John Watson of Sorrento loved brother of Margaret (Mrs Russell) Lily (Mrs Macfarlane-sic) Rose (Mrs Dark, deceased) Jessie, David, John, Annie (Mrs Riley) William and Christina (Mrs Newton) aged 51 years.

WATSON. -On the 12th October (suddenly, from heart failure) David second dearly beloved son of Annie and the late John Watson (Sorrento), loving brother of Margaret (Mrs. Russell), Lily (Mrs. Macfarlan), Henry (deceased) Rosa (Mrs. Dirk deceased) Jessie, John, Annie (Mrs Riley) William, and Christina (Mm. Newton), aged 49 years RIP. (Argus P.17, 17-10-1925.)

COOPER-HOSIE.-VX107939. Pte. Harold James, died of wounds, New Guinea, September 21, 1943. dearly loved foster-son of the late Mrs. Alice M. Hosie, much-loved foster-nephew of the Watson family, Hotham road, Sorrento, aged 21 years. -R.I.P. (Argus P.2, 21-9-1944.)

The engagement is announced of Miss Clare "May (Maisie)Gardiner, eldest daughter of.Mr and Mrs J. Gardiner, Melbourne road, 'Frankston, to Mr Robert Watson Riley, youngest son of Mr and. Mrs J: Riley, Portsea road, Sorrento. (Frankston and Somerville Standard P.4, 15-7-1938.)

In concluding my information about the Watsons of Portsea and Sorrento, I must make mention of their involvement in the sporting activities of both such as cricket, football and athletics (one member of the family being a good hurdler.)

P.4, Frankston and Somerville Standard, 22-6-1923. STIRLING-SULLIVAN. Gordon Stirling married Esther, daughter of Mr and Mrs Spencer Sullivan. (The Sullivans were pioneers at The Heads in 1843.)
P.8, The Argus, 2-8-1949. SANDERSON-STIRLING. Alexander, only son of Mr and Mrs J.Stirling, Dundee ,Portsea, married Catherine Jean, younger daughter of Mr and Mrs W.Sanderson of Sorrento.
P.3,The West Australian, 21-4-1944. Jock's adopted daughter became engaged to a West Aussie boy. This is just another example of sweethearts being found far from home during wartime, whereas they were usually neighbours or former schoolmates.
P.10, The Argus, 6-5-1944. MERRYWEATHER-LYONES. A short engagement! Their future was possibly in the air!
(Come on itellya, don't be so obscure! All right, they were both in the air force and were probably being posted to different stations.)
P.9, The Argus, 3-11-1954. SAD MEN OF THE SEA. Photo of Archie Knight, Jock Stirling and Frank Watson. No wonder mention was made by Frank Watson's wife (earlier in this journal) of animosity between the moneyed cliff top dwellers and the hard-working fishermen. Their nets had been ruined with acid and their look-out tower smashed with axes.
P.4, The Argus, 11-9-1941. The death notice for Matthew James (Barney) Stirling gave much information about family members. Barney, son of Helen and the late John Douglas Stirling died at 28 and was described as a patient sufferer.
P.24, The Argus, 19-3-1951. A.Stirling was one of a small group of lifesavers which rescued nine people dragged out to sea by a powerful undercurrent.
P.4, The Argus, 10-2-1934. PORTSEA RECOLLECTIONS. Much information about the Watsons and Stirlings. Jock had the contract to carry supplies to the South Channel Lighthouse.
P.13, The Argus, 9-11-1912. John and Helen's second daughter had died.
P.13, The Argus, 31-8-1918. POLWARTH. Two death notices were inserted for George Polwath, killed in action in France, by the Stirlings. He was an esteemed comrade of G.D.Stirling and possibly the sweetheart of May Stirling who inserted the second notice.
P.3, The Argus, 5-3-1956. Sam Stirling, captain of the club's surf boat crew was watching from the top of the clubhouse as his friend was taken by a shark.


by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2012-10-04 05:51:33

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.

Do you know someone who can help? Share this:


by janilye on 2012-10-04 20:52:15

by janilye on 2012-10-04 21:36:49

by itellya on 2012-10-05 06:03:16

Thanks janilye, you've saved me a month of Sundays (and Saturdays too!)

by janilye on 2012-10-05 08:57:43

by itellya on 2012-10-05 10:08:30


by janilye on 2012-10-07 08:31:14

Henry Watson, you have there, buried with his parents, John and Annie, the October date is incorrect.
He went missing at sea on the 19 December 1922.
To see the report, I tagged it - Henry Watson, drowned.

by janilye on 2012-10-07 08:42:25

You'll notice I transcribed the text too, so you can read it.
His couta boat was called 'The Professor'

by itellya on 2012-10-07 10:54:49

Thanks janilye. The inscription was obviously nearly impossible for the transcriber to read. A comment under the cemetery record entry refers readers to your comment and the death notice.

by ngairedith on 2012-10-08 05:17:41

I will add janilye's posting here so as to keep all this info together
Watson's of Sorrento and Portsea

by janilye on 2012-10-08 06:53:58

Helen Smith Stirling nee Watson's birth was registered at Tootgarook however she was born at the Quarentine Station, she died on the 25 January 1948.
John Douglas Stirling died on the 23 January 1920 at 'Lochee' Portsea.

by itellya on 2013-08-14 12:08:21

See janilye's journal:
Itellya's Watson's of Sorrento and Portsea.

My comment there deals mainly with Queenscliff fisherman, George Watson, who moved to Flinders, probably after his large fishing boat sank near the north west coast of Tasmania in 1894. He drowned off Flinders in 1896. There is no evidence that he was related to the Watson Bros. of Portsea/Sorrento,but it could be possible.

by itellya on 2015-01-27 03:26:07

See the journal by the wife of a Watson descendant. I would not have found it except that I was searching on Family Tree Circles to see if I had mentioned Watson Eaton's lack of medical training (with source) in one of my journals.

Keeping up with the Watsons of Portsea family tree
Journal by TalesoftheTurret Favorite
Thanks to Itellya's blog in the family tree circles, it gave me inspiration to add to Early settlers Watson brothers of Portsea. We live at Cowes Phillip Island, Vic. My husband Harley Owen Boyle is the son of Robert Edward Boyle whose Mother and Father were Ethel Jane Watson & Robert Edward Boyle. Ethel Jane was the daughter of Alexander Cosmo Watson & Janet Anderson.

by Daisii on 2015-07-09 06:14:12

Alice Mildred Watson's maiden name was Watson!!!!

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