janilye on Family Tree Circles
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Category: Victoria Research
Built 1891 as a first class passenger ship, by Harland & Wolff, in Belfast for the Bibby Line and named the CHESHIRE and later used during the Boer War as a troopship. In 1910, the Cheshire was sold to Lim Chin Tsong, of Rangoon and renamed SEANG CHOON.
In 1915 the Seang Choon became a British army troopship, afterwards a hospital ship and took part in the Dardanelles campaign.
On the 10th July 1917, in Bantry Bay on the South Coast of Ireland, whilst on a voyage from Sydney to London, she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-87.
Nineteen lives were lost.
On the 2 July 1915, two of the galley staff of the Seang Choon were at Fremantle on board the R.M.S. Malwa, passing through on their way to Sydney, where they expected to be called upon to prepare meals for more troops on the way to the front.
In conversation with a representative of the West Australian newspaper they told some of their experiences as non-combatants in the present struggle in Turkey.
This is their story:-
"To me the whole thing seemed magical. A huge transformation scene, or a tremendous drama, staged on the land and sea, with terrible guns roaring out realistic effects, and real wounded men, who went out in khaki, and returned in scarlet tunics, red with living blood! It was too realistic to be a dream, and yet too terrible to be true." Thus a cook off the transport Seang Choon, which had been engaged in performing emergency hospital work at the Dardanelles, described his reminiscences of a period of five weeks near Gallipoli.
"We went away from peaceful Australia early in the year with the 13th Battalion from Queensland, and after a calm, peaceful voyage. through the tropics by way of Torres Straits, Thursday Island, Colombo, and Aden, we found ourselves hurled into a whirlpool of struggling humanity; the opposing forces eager for each other's blood, and determined at all costs to wipe the other out, or be annihilated in the at tempt. And yet, amid all the pathos of strong men groaning in pain or falling dead in front of one, there was no lack of smiling faces, and those who seemed to be in most pain appeared to be filled with unlimited cheerfulness, and a desire for more fighting and more blood.
At times we laughed aloud and at other moments our eyes welled up with tears. Strong men cried to see the awfulness of man's inhumanity to man, and laughed when the practical joker told some story of the battlefield, that tasted of humour.
With shells falling in uncomfortable proximity to the ship, aeroplanes dropping bombs from above, and modern warships hurling tons of steel and lead into the lines and villages of the enemy, one was conscious of a paleness clouding one's face and of a desire for removal to a place of greater safety. We were anchored off the coast where the Australians landed, about two miles out. In front, on either side, were H.M.S. Triumph and H.M.S. Majestic. We had on board about 1,000 men of the 14th Battalion, and they were to be landed on the morning of April 26. On the previous evening, however, we commenced to take on board dozens of very seriously wounded men, who had been shot down during the first day's operations. The wounded were brought alongside in lighters and lifted on board on stretchers, hoisted by cranes. The next morning our reinforcements transhipped on to torpedo boats, and were taken close to the coast, where they were cast adhrift in smaller boats, and left to get on dry land as best they could.
The whole scene was bristling with incident. One fine young fellow, when saying good bye to me, said that it would be no South African picnic, but a glorious homecoming. He had been all through the South African campaign, and held the rank of quarter master-sergeant. That was at 4 a.m., and at 6.30 he was brought back by the torpedo boat, shot through the heart, without having landed.
On the night the wounded began to come aboard, all hands were kept busy preparing food and beef tea, which we handed down to the men in the lighters.
A strong north-easterly gale made the transference of the wounded a very difficult feat, and some time was required to successfully accomplish it. Most of the men suffered from shrapnel wounds, and those who fell dead were the victims of snipers. When day broke on the 26th we could see the operations on land quite distinctly, and it was a treat to see our fellows get into the fray. So heavy were the casualties and the loss of officers that our men simply took individual action, and each rushed ahead with a gleaming bayonet, regardless of his own safety or of united action. They simply saw red. Some of them got two miles inland before they looked round and found out that they were cut off from ammunition and reserves, and while a lot of them went down many ultimately regained the lines.
The Turks had been so well entrenched that they took some shifting but we have heard that the casualties were not so heavy as was anticipated in official circles.
On board our ship were a large number of army medical men, who did their best to relieve the pain and make the men comfortable until they arrived at Alexandria, which was 48 hours run from the scene of the fighting. We made three trips with wounded, and carried about 2000 men all told to the various hospitals. On each return trip we brought reinforcments, and there was a continual stream of ships doing similar business to ourselves.
There were numerous instances of bravery and courageous acts to be witnessed on all hands. One Australian chaplain declined to remain in safety, and rushed into the trenches, where they were captured, and there rendered first aid to our men. On one occasion he was trying to bring two wounded men, one on each of his arms, behind the lines when both were killed, although he himself was unharmed.
We heard of cases of Turkish treachery, but we saw none that we could vouch for. We can, however, testify to the consideration our Jack Tars showed toward the religion of the enemy.
The 'Majestic' and 'Triumph' were both engaged shelling two villages, and by the time they had thrown in about 300 rounds there was little left but the minarets, which were sacredly avoided and spaired destruction.
The Turkish papers made great capital out of an official declaration that the Turks had driven the Australians into the sea a statement, no doubt, which gained credence by reason of the Australians partaking of sea bathing along the shore.
Our fellows were really devils let loose, and they seemed to have no fear. Once into the firing line those chaps threw off their packs and went right into the enemy, and more than often got off scot free.
We had many experienoes on board. On one occasion an enemy aeroplane hovered over us and dropped three bombs, all fortunately finding a resting place on the sea floor. A gun from the Triumph, however, soon brought the aircraft down, and put it completely out of action. On another occasion a huge, shell, thought to have come from the Goeben, dropped into the sea about ten yards astern of our ship. and I can tell you we were all glad when we upanchored and made off for Alexandria. It was, as things turned out, a very fortunate thing that we left when we did, as some two hours after we sailed, the Triumph was torpedoed, and a little later the Majestic suffered a similar fate.
On one of our trips to Egypt we took 60 Turkish prisoners, including one officer, and a German and a Syrian officer. We did learn that there were to have been 260 Turks, but somehow or other only 60 survived to make the journey with us. Some of them could speak a little English and they told us that the Turkish soldier was not at all fond of the fighting business, and very often officers had to jump into the trenches and hit some of the men with sticks to prevent them from turning tail. On the same journey we had several Gurkha wounded, and on the first evening at sea one of the Indians crept out of his bunk, and, seizing a knife, stole up behind the bunk of a Turk who was wounded. The latter was only saved from a sudden death through the timely action of an attendant, who had missed his patient. Needless to say, after that the Turks were all removed to quarters further away from the Indians.
A remarkable feature of our work was the entire absence of complaints, for, although the wounded suffered considerable inconvenience through the makeshifts which were provided, all bore their misfortunes with remarkable fortitude. It was pitiable in the extreme to see strong fellows who had left the ship to enter the` firing line, full of hope and ambition, come back absolutely helpless.
One poor, chap was assisted on board our ship by another wounded comrade. The former had lost both eyes and he was endeavouring to undo his belt, when he exclaimed with perfect resignation. 'Good heavens, I've lost all my fingers too.
Another officer came aboard with a terrible gash on his face, and when someone sympathised with him he replied: 'I wish that were all lad, but there are, three more inside.'
It was interesting to hear the officers speak of their men. The affection between them was remarkable and the men came back from the firing line loving them. The young officers acquitted themselves splendidly and with remarkable heroism and bravery. "
Seang Choon SS was a 5,708 g.t., 445.5ft x 49.1ft, twin screw passenger ship, speed 14 knots, accommodation for 100-1st class passengers.
The chaplain mentioned, I believe is Father John Fahey 1883-1959
whose letters I will publish at a later date.
source: The West Australian
The Ships List
Australian War Memorial
Transcribed and written by janilye, 2013
The portrait below is of Wireless Operator Angus Bartlett Clarence McGregor, 1894-1917, the son of Aeneas McGregor 1865-1937 and Adelaide Louise, nee Bartlett 1868-1959, who was aboard the Seang Choon and drowned when it was torpedoed.
14 April 1907, Western Australia
Re: The Swan Boys Orphanage more popularly know as the Coffinage at Middle Swan
conducted by that animated stove-pipe, the Rev. Alfred 'Bully' Burton.
This case came under the notice of The Sunday Times of Western Australia in 1907
and shows up the methods of these sectarian-bossed orphanages at their worst,
and reveals a scandalous abuse not to be borne in a free country.
There was an idea at this time that the days of civil and religious despotism
were done-at least in Australia- But it would seem to have been a fallacy,
There are many people associated with the early days of the eastern gold
fields who will recollect Charlie Porter. He was the typical Australian prospector;
a well-known figure at every rush, one of the first men on Broken Hill, and one of
the multitude, who hit out in the wake of Bayley.
Like so many of his class he died poor, and his widow, after a brave struggle
to support her little family, was obliged to seek the aid of charity.
Through the agency of Warden Finnerty, she got her two eldest boys admitted to
the Swan Orhanage.
The mother was almost heart-broken at parting with her children, but
solaced herself with the reflection--that when the good times dawned on her
she would be able to get them out and lavish a maternal care on them until
the day came for them to quit the family roof-tree.
But she didn't know the sort of 'philanthropy' that rules at Swan Orphanage. It is
four years and four months since her boys became wards of the Anglican Church.
And they are so yet.
In course of time a change came over the fortunes of Mrs. Porter.
She married again, and two of her brothers secured good positions in Westralia.
She thus became in a position to support her boys, and after a
natural delay, due to her anxiety to make sure that
her prosperity was permanent and not transitory--that after getting the,
children from the Orphanage she should not be obliged to send them back
she finally applied for permission to resume control of her children.
It goes without saying that the latter have not been happy in their Dotheboys Hall.
Apart from their natural preference for the society of their own mother and little
sisters, they, in common with the other victims, complain of the poor fare,
the bitter grind, and the gloomy Puritanism supplied in Burton's Boeotian retreat:
The elder boy, who is now 14, expressed a desire to go out to work,
in order to be a help to his step-father, whomore power to him !
is perfectly willing to support the children, but doesn't get more than 10s, a day.
This fact was innocently mentioned by the anxious mother to the
Reverend (?) Burton, and the following letter will show how
he made use of it :-
Your application for your two sons, George and Charley Porter,
was considered by the committee at last meeting.
The committee feel quite confident that their interests and
welfare will be far more securely conserved while under the
control of the manager than if returned to you.
It has therefore been decided that they shall both remain here.
If you had applied for them at the time you married again,
as soon as you were in a position, to keep them, and not when
the elder one is, on your own proposition,
ready to go out and earn wages, the application
might have been differently received.
[When the mother brought that amazing document to the "Sunday Times," we were willing
to believe that the last word had not been said on the subject, and arranged that she
should interview Bishop Riley. But the Bishop merely told her, in effect, that
"the matter was in the hands of Mr.Burton." which means that the mother
will not get her children if Burton can prevent her. Which means that his Lordship
Bishop Riley actually considers the paternal (?) rule of Bowelless Burton better
for the boys than the loving care of their mother Which sets up the astounding
proposition that the Anglican Church has more right to children to whom it gave
temporary refuge "for charity's sake" than their own decent, capable and natural
guardianthe mother who bore them. Which asserts that the church owns its orphans,
body and soul until they attain their legal majority; postulates, in fact, that the
Anglican Church (which has no civil rights or powers beyond those of the Hokes or
the Seventh Day Adventists) runs a state within a state, and is above the law
of West Australia.
This enormously impudent assumption of private property in children may have been quite
legal in Italy 300 -years ago. It may also be conceded in the Russia of to day.
But in a free-State of the free Australian Commonwealth in the year of grace 1907 it is
nothing else than a shriekinging anachronism and a gross abuse of privilege.
It is opposed both to law and to human nature; it rests on an injustice;
it can't stand the test of critical examination, from any direction. As we take it,
the only "right" by which the church holds these chil dren is the right of possession;
And if the mother chooses to exercise her natural and legal rights as a parent and
forcibly removes her boys from the Swan Orphanage, what power in W. A.
can punish her for it ?. Certainly not the church, for it doesn't possess any
punitive powers in addition to the flesh and blood proprietorship which it arrogates.
Certainly not the State, since maternal love is a more precious consideration that
the 'pecuniary welfare of any religious organisation. And although the law is a
strange and inconsistent aflair, and a frail reed to lean a conjecture on we hardly
think any court of law would punish a decent and capable mother for forcibly assuming
her maternal right to feed, clothe, and cherish her fatherless little ones.
We haven't given the woman this advice. We are procuring an opinion as to the
legal aspects of the position in order to enable her to proceed with! certitude.
But the public may take this for granted.
The. "Sunday Times" is going to get those children out.
'This paper is going to burst the bubble of ecclesiastical arrogance which usurps
proprietary rights over human flesh and blood. The real guardian of these
children is the STATE.
The church is merely a deputy guardian liable to be removed at any time.
By a simple exercise of its supreme power, the State, through its executive, can
wipe away the whole com geries of sectarian orphanages and give the guardianship of
the children into secular hands.
And if all the sectarian orphanageswhich God forfend !are run like Bully Burtons barracks
for boy slaves, the soonest the State does this the better.
If the sectarian orphanages have it as a principle that their charter of guardianship
is superior to the God-given right of a mother to feed, clothe and cherish the babes that
she bore, and who were suckled at her breast, it is the bounden duty of the W.A.
Government to sweep them into nothingness, as the Clemenceau Government is doing in France.]
19 May 1907, Western Australia
'This is the narrative of " Uncle Jim"
Being the personal experience of a " Sunday Times" scribe who rescued George Porter from the clutches of Parson Bully Burton, and also forced him, later on, to disgorge George's little brother Charlie.
It was suggested in the office that as the pedagogue-parson seemed impervious to all sense of humanity, kidnapping of at least one of the boys would precipitate matters.
Writer therefore was introduced to, the mother of the boys ; and assumed the name and
family status of their "Uncle Jim" there being such a person in
the Stott menage.
To lend an air of realism to the family expedition in going out to reconnoitre,
writer's status was fully maintained : Christian names on both sides being, allowed.
In this way family feticity was well-established.
The first shock; came' on its way out.
The Rev. Burton was met half-way!
Knowing the mother would at all times endeavor to obtain possession of her babies;
and as she was knowns to the Rev. B. a judicious re-arrangement, and shuffle of Veils,
arms, and waists fully persuaded the passing parson. that it was nothing more deadly
than a two-and-carry-one - picnic.
The mother was dropped near the soon-to-be-historic river and bridge, and
Auntie Hettie and Uncle Jim drove boldly into the fearsome fortresses.
Half-a-hundred anxious-eyed boys attired in all sorts and conditions of clothing,
paused in their work as the buggy stopped and Auntie Hettie went to spy the land.
The matron came down like a Nor' West willy-willy when Charlie Porter
was asked for.
Suddenly both youngsters came running up from the marsh fields wherein
they were working, severe chest complaints being evidently thought a
trifle at this modern "Dotheboy's Hall".
Then the Superintendent sighted the party and also came down at a Postle-like swing.
"Auntie Hettie was Privately "wording" the boys as to "Uncle Jim from the Fields" when
the Super. swooped down, confiscated the silver coin just handed to the lads and,
making an entry re: it being "invested for them until they were 21," offered to show
the party around.
While "the Super, primed Uncle Jim up with the beauties and benefits of being a
juvenile helot under Burton Squeers; the said quick-witted Auntie Hettie ambled around
ostensibly admiring the ducks, pigs, cabbages, mud and other products of the orphan farm.. '
When a mental map of the locality had been made the boys were told to
be in the lane between 7 and 8 that evening, and they might have a chance
Uncle Jim then drove his dearly beloved sisters back to Midland, gave the
buggy up to the livery stable, sent the ladies home by train and walked back
in the dark to the Orphanage.
Four hours of weary crawling and crouching amongst logs, wire fences pig-styes, etc,
failed to find the boys, the only break to the monotony being the sounds of evening
service held in the adjacent church. Eventually, after having, ruined a suit of clothes
per medium of farm slush and wire fencess : and having been severely trodden on
by a vagrant cow ; Uncle Jim deployed furtively back to town, heart-sick
Another rescue expedition was formed on the following Saturday morning-
the parties being a well-known scribe, the step-father of the boys, and Uncle Jim.
This time a complete swaggy's disguise was assumed out in the bush by Uncle Jim, who,
leaving the others secreted under the river bridge, trudged over the ploughed paddock
past the spot where by the aid of a powerful pair of field glasses he located George Porter.
Stopping momentary, and pointing over toward Ferguson's vineyard
as if inquiring his way, the disguised Uncle Jim passed a hurried word to the boy to be
at a certain spot on the river bank while the other boys were busy at lunch.
"Bring Charlie," he whispered. "If that isn't possible, come alone."
'An hour later Uncle Jim, the other pressman, and the step-dad, crouching in the river
reeds, saw with quickly-beating hearts a pathetic little figure stealing warily
from tuft to tuft of sheltering grass and bush, from boulder to tree stump,
and from hill to gully.
Nearer and nearer he came, stumbling and slipping by the muddy ooze of the river sedges,
until he came to a big Willow tree, lying prone by the bank. Here the little hero,
opened his guernsey, slipped something grey and alive into the hollow log, and
continued his journey of escape.
The something grey and alive was a half-grown possum, caught by George. at that spot
a week before, and thinking his brother might be soon also rescued, and not having
confidence in leaving his pet with others, he gave it its liberty !
A minute later he reached a spot opposite his rescuers, and began to strip for the swim across.
A whispered shout was wafted to him to cross by the bridge. -To this he shook his head meaningly.
His rescuers soon saw the reason. The bridge stood up and out, in full view of not
only the Orphanage, but of the parsonage, the church, and the cottages of half-a-dozen
local farm laborers.
- He was half undressed, when Uncle Jim and the daily scribe, stripping! in
lightening time, plunged in, crossed the river, and escorted the gallant little kiddie across.
After a necessarily, hurried towelling with soft dry grass, the party set out for home and mummy,
the scribe and the step-dad going away ostentatiously towards Midland Junction.
Uncle Jim and the boy Georgie snaking along, slow, tortuous skirt along the entire river
bank to Guildford,
Before half a mile was covered, a score of stops were made to allow the boy to convulsively
cough and rack his poor iittle frame until he lay panting and exhausted on the river bank.
So slow was the progress that at the end of two hours a mile and a half only had been covered.
After crawling and creeping through rail and wire fences, through and under prickly bushes
and hurdles that barred the track, Uncle Jim called a halt in a gully, planted his weary
little, charge in a hollow covered with boughs, and passing himself off as the skipper of
a broken-down motor-launch, hypnotised a farm slavey for a bottle of milk.
That slavey is hereby asked to forgive the fiction, as is also the presiding genius
of the Lord's Recording Diary.
Further down the river, as the poor little truant was now thoroughly done up,
a punt was commandeered and, using a bough as a paddle it was gondoliered down stream.
Owner of said punt is likewise apologised to, and asked to forgive the sin and trespass.
Near the Guildford bridge, George was again planted, while Uncle Jim, giving him an amazing
list of fictions in case of an inquisitive bail-up, made his apparently casual way to
the Rose and Crown, where the daily scribe and step-dad were unearthed (by appointment)
-assimlating their fifth pint of shandy.
A, 'phone to Perth brought out a pair of speedy nags and a double seated waggonette for
the drive home, the police by this time, right through from Midland to Perth, being busy
examining each and every carriage and trap on railway and road.
Uncle Jim, going back to the poor little, waiting waif, with lemonade and biscuits,
found him still huddled under his covering of leaves and bark, and it was, glad arms,
and hearts beating with thankful emotion, that an hour later swung" him from under the
seat into his. mother's arms.
When Uncle Jim and Georgie separated from the others at the "Sunday Times" office,
and had invaded a restaurant, a barber's shop, and
Sir.James Brennan's emporium (that gentleman having generously clothed the boy from top to toe),
the ultimate destination, Applecross, was reached about midnight.
Monday brought the staggering news that the Rev. Squeers Burton had invoked the
combined forces of Law and Order to hound down the dastardly miscreant who had dared
to prefer his mother's arms and domestic joys to the cold comforts of thc barracks on the Swan Riven,
Then Richard Haynes, K.C., took the said law by the large, ignominious ear, and pointed
out the fact that the law was the same old ass of aforetime, and any impulsive John Hop,
burgling the bough-shed of Uncle Jim at Applecross would land the Government into a
financial muddle that would take some thousands of bright, golden quids to square.
Before the squelching of the warrant came, a dozen policemen and troopers
had scoured the landscape in search of that abandoned felon, to-wit, George Porter,
their instructions being to place him in the lowest and darkest dungeon of the Swan Coffinage.
The acumen of Haynes, K.C., the good sense of Gus Roe, P.M., the whole-hearted ardor and
generosity of Dr. Taaffe, and sundry 'assistance from friends and sympathisers,
eventually squelched the illegitimate criminal warrant and to-day young Georgie Porter
is revelling in God's great glad sunshine on the hills of Applecross,
in place of fretting his little soul out, behind the prison boundaries of Squeers Burton.
Yesterday he was a child grown into man's moodiness, through harshness
and restraint." To-day he is a real, live boy, albeit a sickly one, but a boy with
bright, sunny surroundings, and all that youth should' have, before the woes of manhood
dry the blood, and sour the heart to sordidness.
This was the menu for the boys
in the orphanage up until the Burton Regime finished;
-Breakfast Porridge (made very thin, with no milk,
and the sugar boiled with it for economy's sake),
dry bread to mop it up with.
Dinner/lunch -Soup and bread (no meat or vegetables except what are in the soup-
very little soup if you happen to be late).
Tea-One slice of bread and jam or bread and honey, dry bread to fill up with, and a mug of cocoa.
Butter is seen by the boys, at the very-most, never more than three times a year !
Many of the boys attended the State School at Middle Swan and relied on crusts
of bread and anything else they were given by the non-orphanage pupils.
The West Australian, Monday 12 June 1911
THE SWAN BOYS' ORPHANAGE.
RESIGNATION OF THE REV. A. BURTON.
The inquest concerning the death of the boy George Jones, who died recently
in the Children's Hospital, whither he was taken by his mother from the Swan Boys' Orphanage,
will be resumed at the Coroner's Court on Tuesday, June 20.
The case is exciting a great deal of interest, and Detective Dempsey, who is conducting t
he investigations, has subpoenaed a large number of witnesses.
It was ascertained last night that the Rev. Alfred Burton, the manager of the orphanage,
tendered his resignation to the committee of management, after
Mr. F. D. North, C.M,G., had concluded' his recent inquiry into several charges
relating to the conduct of the institution, and that it was accepted.
George Jones was only 9
He died from a cut on his leg which was left untreated.
He was told he was shamming and although he was in excruciating pain
he was made to walk to school for four days, aided by his brothers.
Georgie and Charlie's mother was
Maria Charlotte Leary b: Hotham, Victoria in 1872 and
died in Brunswick, Victoria in 1948.
In Melbourne in 1890 she married 1st. Husband Charles Porter,
b: abt. 1865 died in Kalgoorlie in 1900.
When Charles Porter died he left five children living.
3 girls and 2 boys.
Mini Gertrude Porter b: 1891 in Norwood, South Australia and twin
Roseina Porter b: 1891 in Norwood, South Australia
George Henry Porter b: 1893 in South Australia
Charles Leary Porter b: 1896 Brunswick, Victoria
Ada Victoria Porter b: 1898 in Coolgardie WA.
Her second husband was William Henry Stott,
b: in Victoria in 1878 and died in Richmond, Victoria in 1942
they married in Perth in 1904. Moved to Victoria abt 1917
Young Georgie was born George Henry Porter on the
4 April 1893 in South Australia.
I'm uncertain about the following, but perhaps George married
Joyce Mills in Western Australia in 1936 and remained in Western Australia.
Charlie was taken from the orphanage 4 days after Georgie.
Charlie's full name was Charles Leary Porter b: 1894 in Melbourne.
He joined the 16th Battallion A.I.F at Blackboy Hill, WA
on the 19 July 1916
Embarked from Fremantle on the 'Argyleshire for
France on 9 November 1916
Poor Charlie died of wounds on the 27 September 1917 at the
2nd. Canadian Casualty Clearing Station in Belgium.
Here are a few things I've collected today and for some obscure reason I was not able to private message you.
You may not already have what's here.
Rather than me putting useless comments on your page, add what you want.
I shall remove this after you have whatever you think is relevant. Let me know 'when'
This letter to the editor came without any dates or sources, perhaps you can work out a date;
Sir,-In the issue of yesterday and under News of the Day column, you publish the following:-
"The Lands Department recently prosecuted one J. Watson who jumped a public reserve in the vicinity of the baths at Sorrento. Mr. Watson, although warned that he was a trespasser, commenced to erect a wooden building on the land.Legal proceedings were thereupon taken against him and the local magistrates ordered him to quit the land within thirty days.
Great inconvenience was experienced by the occupation of this land, as it overlooks the baths, but Mr. Watson showed no inclination to move off without compensation. Further legal proceedings were thereupon initiated against him but he has now informed the lands department of his intention to retire from the fight and give up posession. Mr Watson some months ago obtained 1500 pounds compensation from the government for giving up a piece of land as a site for a fort in the Bay."
Now, as these statements are not in accordance with the facts of the case, I trust you will grant me a small space in order to show the whole matter in its true colours:-For five and twenty years I have resided at Portsea,where I got my living and maintained my family by fishing; my property consisted of a six-roomed stone house and three quarters of an acre of land at Point Franklin. This was my own property. I had also a hut on the beach, in which was stored my nets and gear for fishing. Some months ago the Government purchased my land for defence purposes for 1400 pounds not 1500. This included the house and improvements, and was not merely for the land as your paragraph would lead one to suppose. I was compelled to sell, and the price paid was the Government valuation. The land had a special value for me on account of its elevated oposition and its closeness to bold water, the fishing lookout being the best around the Bay.
Having now to make another home, I selected Sorrento, and purchased two acres of ground from Mr. Duffy, upon which I built a six-roomed weatherboard cottage.The land and house are away back, the Bay not being visible from there. After my house was finished and my family settled, I commenced building a hut in the foreshore in which to store my nets and gear,and also to enable us to be at hand in some sort of shelter, in case rough weather set in, to save our boats and nets. I may mention that my old hut at Portsea situated on the beach is still being used by some fishermen for a similar purpose.After my hut was finished I was quite astonished at being requested by the lands Department to remove same. I had no idea in what I was doing wrong in putting it up as all round the Bay the fishermen have similar huts on the foreshore and this is the first time a fisherman has been compelled to remove. I naturally refused to shift,and allowed myself to be summoned in order to test the question. I was summoned and ordered to remove my hut within thirty days.The hut has since been removed. Your paragraph states that " great inconvenience" was experienced by the occupation of this land as it "overlooks the baths" This is really distorting the facts with a vengeance.
The hut was three quarters of a mile from the baths and being built on the beach was on the same level, consequently could not overlook anything. The true reason why I was compelled to pull down my hut was because it was situated about 40yards from Dr. Blair's Bathing Box, which is built on the beach also, and the fact of my building a hut was looked upon as an intrusion by him.
Now I should like to know why Dr. Blair and others are allowed to have bathing boxes on the beach, while I am debarred from having a hut there. Unless I can have a place to secure my fishing gear, and that close to the water,I shall be compelled to give up fishing, as the damage to my nets,boats etc. in rough weather would be ruinous. As your paragraph states, I have given up the fight.
I am only a poor fisherman, and cannot afford to lose the few pounds I have left, and ruin my family in endeavouring to get justice. I intend, however, applying for permission to build a bathing box for my family, the same as the Doctor, as I have a house and ground at the back. I don't think the department can with justice refuse this. If, however, I fail, I shall then be convinced that it is imposssible for a poor man to get justice. Yours, &c. J. Watson.
don't know if this below is one of your WATSONs, but here it is;
The Argus, Friday 10 April 1896
A FISHERMAN LOST.FLINDERS, THURSDAY.
A fisherman named George Watson left Flinders in his boat, 'the Fugitive', yesterday morning to attend to his crayfish pots within a few miles of Cape Schanck and intended returning to his family for dinner, but nothing has since been heard of him or his boat. Very rough weather prevailed in the straits last night, and it is feared that a serious mishap has occurred. All the coast stations have been communicated with, and a boat manned by experienced local fishermen started this forenoon to cruise in search to the southward of Phillip Island. Constable Jones,from Dromana, also searched the beaches and rocks between Flinders and Cape Schank. Information from Phillip Island states that Constable Thornton, of Cowes, picked up a rudder and gear answering the description of the rudder belonging to the missing boat. No hope is now enter- tained that Watson is alive.
Mornington Standard, Thursday 16 April 1896
George Watson, the fisherman who has been missing from Flinders since yesterday week has not yet been heard of, although portions of his clothing and fragments of his boat were picked up on the back beach on Sunday, and on Monday his boat was discovered beached at East Creek, near Shoreham. A rudder and other gear have also been found at Cowes, and have been identified as belonging to his boat. Diligent but unsuccessful search for the body has been made along the cost, He leaves a widow and children.
Mornington Standard,Thursday 14 May 1896
A concert was held in the Flinders Mechanics' Institute on the 1st inst.,
in aid of the widow of the late George Watson.
The hall was fairly filled, and the chair was taken by the Rev. Mr. Edwards.
The following programme was gone through:-
Overture, Miss Robertson; song, Will He not Come Back Again,
Mr. J. L. Banks; recitation, The Life Boat, Mr. E. Jones ; song, Mrs. Noyess; recitation, The Holly and Ivy Girl, Miss Katie Tuck; song,-The Cows are in the Corn, Miss N. Bryne, sung with great taste and expression, and the young per former was loudly applauded; song, Mr. Flanigan; song, Golden Love, Miss Veida.Violin solo, Mr. and Master Hopcraft; song, Soon We'll be in London Town, Mr. Edwards; song,'I Couldn't, Could I,
Miss Smith, very nicely rendered; song, The Old Log Cabin in the Dell, Mr. Brunk.
This brought the first part of the programme to a close.
" The second part opened with a violin solo, Messrs Hopcraft; song, The Bellringers, Mr. J. L. Banks;
song. The Toilers, Mr. Edwards: recitation, Mr. Jones; song, The Old Folks at Home, Miss N. Byrne;
song, A Soldiers and a Man Mr. Parkinson ; song, The Postal, Mrs. Noyes ;
recitation, The Razor Seller, Mr. Flanigan , song. Where There's a Will There's a Way, Miss Smith ; re citation, I Want to Fly. Mr. Parkinson; song, Daddy, Miss Veido; song. It. Always Comes Round to Me, Mr. Brunt.
The singing, of the National Anthem brought the concert to a close.
Miss Robertson made a very efficient pianist.
After the concert a dance was held, which was also a great success
Mornington Standard,Thursday 4 June 1896
FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENTS
George Watson Relief Fund the sum of 2 1s, contributed by the teachers
and scholars of Holy Trinity Church, Sunday-school, Hastings (1),
and by David Mairs, Esq. (1 1s).
Alexander bought a 1 acre beach front block where he built and operated the
Portsea Hotel from 9th December 1876 until he sold in 1890.The present hotel was built in 1927 on the same site and has since been extended. A photograph in the public bar of this hotel is of Alexander Cosmo standing out front.
The Watson family built a lookout from which the fish shoals could be seen and a system of bell signals to tell the waiting boat crews on the beach the position and type of fish.
During a flood tide storm in 1961 the old camp was severely damaged and the Council cleared the beach of all evidence of this historical building.
the bluestone retaining wall at Portsea is made from the bricks which were the old houses and over the last 15 years, pieces of china have been found on the foreshore which were in the houses when destroyed.
One of the crew of the work gang for the council One of the work gang in 1961 was the son of Frank Watson, the adopted son of Alexander Cosmo WATSON.
The Argus, Saturday 2 January 1915
WATSON.-On the 30th December, at Portsea, William Cosmo, youngest son of Alexander and the
late Janet Watson, of Portsea, aged 31 years.
The children of James WATSON b. in Boyndie, Banff in 1804 the son of James WATSON 1779-1843 and Margaret LOVIE. and wife Helen SMITH b. Banffshire in 1804 the daughter of James SMITH 1766-xxxx and Margaret KELMAN 1769-xxxx were:
Jane WATSON 1829
Jean Watson 1829
John Watson 1830 1906
Margaret WATSON 1833
Henry WATSON 1835 1922
Ellen WATSON 1837
William WATSON 1838 1925
Alexander Cosmo Watson 1841 1920
Helen Watson 1843
The children of Alexander Cosmo WATSON 1841-1920 and wife Janet ANDERSON 1848-1908 were:-
Helen Smith Watson 1868 1948 m. John Douglas STIRLING in 1890
Mathew Watson 1869 1955
Mary Ann Watson 1871 1901. m. Alfred Edward KEYS in 1893
Alexander WATSON 1874 1875
Cosmo Watson 1876 ?
Agnes Watson 1878 ?
James George Watson 1881 1945
William Cosmo Watson 1883 1914
Ethel Jane Watson 1885 ? m. Robert Edward BOYLE in 1905
Catherine Victoria Watson 1887 1973
Then Frank - adopted (have no idea where he came from).
The children of John WATSON 1830-1906 and wife Annie Marion SULLIVAN 1844-1928 were:-
Margaret Watson 1833 1937 m. Alexander RUSSELL
Rose Watson ? 1908 m Walter Augustus DARK 1861-1916
Margaret WATSON 1833 1925
Henry Watson 1871 1922 m. Marion Elzabeth WILLIAMS 1884-1977 in 1906
Lily Theresa Watson 1871 1953 m. Duncan McFarlane
Jessie Watson 1873 1948
Infant Watson 1875 1875
William Watson 1876 1925
John Thomas WATSON 1878 1953
Anne Watson 1880 1948
William Jones WATSON 1881 1948 m. Jean LOMBARD
Christina Ethel Watson 1884 1966 m. William Edward NEWTON 1885-1966
I'll add here, if I find anything more tonight!
The photograph below is John Watson and Ann, nee Sullivan
Saturday 21 June 1862
The following is a list of the applicants for publicans' licenses and the results
John Frazer, Smythe's Creek Hotel, Linton road; no appearance; postponed
George Stoddart, Nugget HoteL Smythesdale; granted. The Bench expressed a
doubt as to whether Mr Stoddart's house was in the Buninyong district.
Mr Dunne to Mr Lynch Is that so? Mr Lynch It is. Mr Dunne believed that
the reason why the Government had proclaimed special licensing districts
was to excuse people living in bush districts like Cooper's Creek;
but he supposed that if people in those poor government districts
wanted a license they would grumble.
Robert Burrell Dent, Royal Hotel, Smythesdale; granted
Charles Milne, Banner of War; granted
Wm. Fittridge, Prospector's Arms, Staffordshire Reef; granted
Richard Whitpaine, Scarsdale Hotel, Scarsdale, (Linton district); granted
Charles Thomas Tait, Tait's Hotel, Staffordshire Reef; postponed till Friday
Edward Barrett, White Horse, Scarsdale (Linton) Road; granted
Robert Dunlop, Cherry-Tree, Ballarat Road; granted
Campbell Reid. Cherry-Tree. Monkey Gully; granted
George H. Hatfield, Rising Sun, Italian Gully; granted
William Bailey, Union Hotel, Scarsdale; granted
Jacob Jenkins, Garibaldi Hotel, Scarsdale; granted
Thomas Menzies Wilson, Crow Club, Brown's; granted
Eugene O'Connor, Washington Hotel, Brown's; granted
Robert Walton, Junction Hotel, Brown's; granted
Frederick Parkinson, Black Hill Hotel; granted
John Brennan, Reservoir Hotel, Smythe's: granted
Robert Irwin, Star Hotel, Italians;granted.
Charles Craddock, Black Swan Hotel, Browns; granted.
Andrew Scott Ward, Victoria Hotel, Brown's; granted.
Christina Weller, Royal Exchange, Scarsdale; granted.
Cornelius O'Hallaran, Miners' Home. Italian Gully; granted.
Isaac Chappell, Pound Hotel, Scarsdale;granted.
The Court then adjourned.
Born on the 19 February 1833 in Glanton Northumberland England. The son of Michael MOFFITT 1793-1853 and Margaret BLACKHALL 1803-1883.
John Moffitt sailed from Liverpool, England on 30 October 1857 in the "Anglo-Saxon" (1104 tons) under Capt. George Welsh bound for Melbourne. Journey of 140 days had been scheduled but the vessel arrived in February 1858. John Moffitt's occupation was described in the ship's papers as "Acct", presumably accountant, and his age shown as 24 years. (Unassisted voyage).
John resided in South Australia for about five years before moving permanently to Victoria.
On the 18 February 1863 in Ballarat Victoria John married Sarah Ann O'DONNELL. Sarah had been born in London in 1843 the daughter of David O'DONNELL 1819-1886 and Sarah BOSDEN 1815-1906. Sarah had arrived on the Plantagenet in Port Phillip Bay on the July 1853 after 3 months at sea, with her parents and syblings. (there were 18 ships in the harbour that day with the same number coming in every day because of the goldrush. (The crews jumping the ships and deserting for the goldfields.)
The children of John MOFFITT and his wife Sarah Ann were:-
Donald Henry Moffitt 1864 1867
John Arthur Moffitt 1866
Albert Edgar Moffitt 1868 ? m. Elizabeth? in Ballarat
Margaret 'Maggie' Moffitt 1870 1870
Robert Percy Moffitt 1872
Frederick Charles Moffitt 1873 1963 m. Jessie Ethel TULLOCH 1875-1919
Frank Blackhall Moffitt 1875 1964 m. Ethel May RAE 1879-1958
Edith Eliza Moffitt 1879 1879
Una Grace Moffitt 1879 1906
Arnold Hastie Moffitt 1884 1963 m. Alice Louisa SILVER 1882-1937
John worked as a draper between around 1875 until he died of pneumonia on 21 November 1895 at Malvern, Victoria.
Sarah Ann died on 22 October 1926 in a private hospital in Malvern Victoria
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