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Journal by itellya

N.B. The designations of three generations of J.V.A.Bruce as J.V.A.Bruce 1, 2 and 3 apply only to those in Australia. The father of John vans Agnew Bruce 1,(d. 1863), was also named John Vans Agnew Bruce!

"Bruces of Paterson, Lang and Bruce, the well-known merchants of Flinders Lane, Melbourne, had a house on the Survey just to the south of what is now known as Ellerina Road, the boundary between the Shires of Flinders and Mornington. The Bruce family was that to which Lord Stanley Melbourne Bruce, one time Prime Minister of Australia belonged." (P. 45.)

The above quote is from Colin McLear's A DREAMTIME OF DROMANA. The only other reference to Bruce in the index is for page 177 but I also recall it being mentioned that Big Clarke had given a portion of the Survey as a wedding present to his son in law, and this could only have been in Colin's book. A half hour's search has failed to find this claim. Interestingly C.N.Hollinshed, who based most of his information about Dromana in LIME LAND LEISURE on Colin's manuscript, often verbatim, must have also seen the claim and has presented detailed information on page 38 of his LIME LAND LEISURE, which I will paraphrase from my notes.

W.J.T.Clarke bought the Survey in three parts, the southern portion in 1851, the central part in 1852 and the northern part in August 1856. He sold the northern part to (Robert*) Vans Agnew in September, 1856 at a 600 pound profit.

* This is the only death record for Robert Vans Agnew Bruce on Victorian BDM.
EventDeath Event registration number6087 Registration year1881
Personal information
Family nameBRUCE Given namesRobert Vans Agnew SexUnknown Father's nameRobt Vans Agnew Mother's nameMargaret (Mcfarlane)** Place of birth Place of deathST KILDA Age25

The obvious conclusion would be that the above deceased could not have bought the northern part of the Survey in 1856, because that was roughly when he was born, and that the purchaser was his father. However, the birth record features just one of the many mistakes in Victorian BDM. His father's name was John, not Robert, as shown by the death notice.

BRUCE.—On the 23rd inst., at St Kilda, Robert, the younger son of the late John Vans Agnew Bruce,aged 25 years.
(P.1, Argus, 25-4-1881.)

Robert's father had died in 1863, also at a very early age.
BRUCE -On the 5th inst., at his residence, Essendon, of apoplexy, John Vans Agnew Bruce, Esq., of the firm of Messrs. Cornish and Bruce, railway contractors, aged forty-one.(P.4, Argus, 6-4-1863.)

THERE ARE SEVERAL OBITUARIES FOR J.V.A.BRUCE 1. Born in Edinburgh and having received the sound education expected in Scotland, he followed mechanical pursuits with several railway companies there and after arriving in Victoria circa 1851 constructed roads and in 1858 with Mr Cornish won the contract for building the Mt Alexander and Murray River Railway as far as Sandhurst (Bendigo.) The obituaries mention his benevolence. (Such empathy was obviously not extended to the mainly Irish workforce on the railway as illustrated by the revolt of these workers soon after the line had reached Sunbury.*)
* (Paste into search bar.)
It appears that from some reason or other, Messrs Cornish and Bruce thought it would be more to their interest to pay their men monthly instead of fortnightly, their ostensible excuse being that it was impossible in such a large contract to make out the necessary accounts more frequently. On various grounds the men protested against this. In the first place they alleged that as Cornish and Bruce received their payments fortnightly from the Government, they would suffer no inconvenience by paying their workmen at the same intervals. With respect to the impossibility of getting their accounts ready, it was urged that as English contractors, where the amount of wages, or at least the number of men employed, was fully treble that of the present contract, could pay not only fortnightly but weekly, without either trouble or inconvenience, it was not too much to expect Australian firms to at least pay as they were themselves paid. It was also reasonably stated that those engaged on the railway works were not in a position to obtain credit from storekeepers, butchers, bakers, or other tradesmen, and that really they could not support their families with the paltry assistance promised to bo advanced in the interval by the contractors, unless payments were made at less distant periods.

EventDeath Event registration number4125 Registration year1863
Personal information
Family nameBRUCE Given namesJohn Vans Agnew SexUnknown Father's nameJohn Vans Ag Mother's nameCatherine (Robertson) Place of birthEDIN Place of death Age41

Robert's mother died in 1868. Was the whole family doomed to die young?
BRUCE.--On the 4th inst., at her residence, Tintern,Toorak, Margaret Macfarlane, widow of the late John Vans Agnew Bruce, Esq., aged forty-seven years. (P.4, Argus, 5-10-1868.)

EventDeath Event registration number7648 Registration year1868
Personal information
Family nameBRUCE Given namesMargaret Menzies SexUnknown Father's nameMcfarland Pete Mother's nameSarah (Biffen) Place of birthIREL Place of death Age47
Margaret's death was recorded twice, the second record (number 9930) being identical.

The earliest recorded assessment (3-9-1864) of the Kangerong Road Board claims that Louis Edward Tassel was leasing a house and 1000 acres, net annual value 45 pounds, from William John Turner Clarke but as the tenant's name was actually Edwin Louis Tassell, it is probable that the landlord was wrong too, actually being "the estate of the late John Vans Agnew Bruce."

In 1879 John Bruce had been assessed on the 1000 acres, the northern fifth of the Survey. This was John Vans Agnew Bruce Jnr. Edward Louis Tassell had died young and the northern part of the Survey, known as the Brokil Estate was occupied for several years by a butcher.

EventDeath Event registration number1337 Registration year1871
Personal information
Family nameTASSELL Given namesEdwin Louis SexUnknown Father's nameJames Mother's nameJane Place of birthKENT Place of death Age37

MOUNT MARTHA- tenders invited and received up to 12th Nov, 1874 (answered on 15th), for a three years LEASE of BROKIL ESTATE(lately occupied by R. B. Riddler, Esq , butcher, previously late E. L. Tassell Esq) containing 1024 acres good pastoral land, well watered and subdivided, J. VANS AGNEW BRUCE, Fletcher street, Essendon.
(P.3, Argus, 29-4-1874.)

It stands to reason that John Vans Agnew Bruce 1 would have been a civil engineer and that his son J.V.A.Bruce 2 would have followed the same profession. In 1874, he was living at Essendon but two years earlier he was in financial trouble and living at Cranbourne*. Because of this temporary residence, I came across JAMES BRUCE of Sherwood Park in the parishes of Sherwood and Langwarrin. As this James Bruce probably died in Europe, it is not possible to determine from Victorian BDM if James Bruce of Sherwood Park was related in any way to the owners of the Brokil Estate.

*The following is a statement or schedule of the estate of Mr. John Vans Agnew Bruce, of Cranbourne,engineer, which had been filed in the Insolvent Court, in accordance with the provisions of the Insolvency Statute,1870 :
-Liabilities, £2,345 19s. 7d. ; assets, £135 ; deficiency, £2,210 19s. 7d. Mr. E. J. Powell,trustee.
(P.5, Argus, 25-10-1872.)
Both Cornish and J.V.A.Bruce 1 had died before their railway contract had been completed and in 1866 their executors sued the Crown for unpaid progress payments. The government's reluctance to do so may have been the reason behind the financial plight of J.V.A.Bruce 2 six years later.
THE GREAT 'TRIAL AT BAR' CORNISH AND BRUCE VERSUS THE QUEEN. Supreme Court--Thursday, Feb. 1. (Before the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Williams, and Sir Redmond Barry.)
Mount Alexander Mail (Vic. : 1854 - 1917) Friday 2 February 1866 p 3 Article

BRUCE.—On the 26th inst., at Spring Meadows, Cranbourne, the wife of J. Vans Agnew Bruce of a daughter.
(P.4, Argus, 28-5-1872.)
There are no names supplied for the mother or daughter but those details will be on the child's birth record, won't they? There is no birth record!

BRUCE—EADES.—On the 10th ult., at St. Paul's Church, by the Rev. S. Lloyd Chase, John Vans Agnew, oldest son of the late J. V. A. Bruce, Esq., to Jennie, eldest daughter of the late Richard Eades, A.M., M.B.
(P.4, Argus, 4-2-1868.)

EventDeath Event registration number2135 Registration year1893
Personal information
Family nameBRUCE Given namesJno Vans Agnew SexMale Father's nameJno Vans Agnew Mother's nameMargt (Mcfarlane) Place of birth Place of deathHawth Age44

BRUCE.—On the 19th inst., at Currajong, Riversdale-road, Hawthorn, John Vans Agnew Bruce, aged 44 years.
(P.1, Argus,20-3-1893.)

This would seem to be John Vans Agnew Bruce 3.
EventMarriage Event registration number289 Registration year1891
Personal information
Family nameBRUCE Given namesJno Vans Agnew SexMale Spouse's family nameWAYMAN Spouse's given namesSarah Grace

BRUCE—Wayman.—On the 24th ult., at St. Peter's Church, Eastern Hill, by the Rev.-Canon Handfield, J. Vans Agnew, only son of J. V. A. Bruce, of Rose Hill, Kew, to Sara Grace, second daughter of the late Thomas Wayman, of Rheola, Victoria.

EventDeath Event registration number9911 Registration year1901
Personal information
Family nameBRUCE Given namesJno Vans Agnew SexUnknown Father's nameBruce Jno Vans Agnew Mother's nameEssie Jane Susannah (Eades) Place of birth Place of deathHawth Age32

The matter of another route to Dromana from Mornington along the foreshore, which will save a couple of miles and be one of the most beautiful drives in Victoria, is slowly working its way forward. The way is now
practically clear, as Sir Rupert Clarke is agreeable to give up land for a road through his property, and the executors of the late Mr Bruce are also agreeable to do the same. Before,Mr, Bruce opposed the road along the
coast; and gave £400 for one acre to effect his purpose in blocking it.
....... of the late Mr Bruce, known as Sea and Spring Paddocks, is being subdivided into small blocks,
and will be offered for sale by John Buchan and Co., at the end of Jan.
(P.2, Mornington Standard, 19-12-1901.)

At 2 o'clock. on the Ground.
Unsurpassed as Sites for Marine residences
In Lots to suit the Smaller Farmer, Market Gardener and Others Practising Intense Culture.
Part of Jamieson's Special Survey, Renowned for the Excellence and Productiveness of the Soil, Especially that of the Well Watered Flats.
JOHN BUCHAN & CO. are instructed by the trustees of the late J.V.A.Bruce to sell by public auction, on the
ground early in the month of February, at 2 o'clock afternoon,
containing from 4 to 7 acres, fronting the Esplanade or Foreshore-road, running from MORNINGTON TO DROMANA on the southern slope of Mt. Martha, and commanding an uninterrupted view across the Bay, embracing the South Channel, the battery, Mud Island and the coast line, with its hamlets and towns, and ever varying objects to and through the Heads, as beautiful in detail as it is vast in extent, and presenting a never ending feast to the eye, while the grand ranges which divide Dromana from the ocean, and such a romantic character to the island scenery, temper the south-west gales. Some of the lots actually go to the water's edge, thus giving the fortunate owner the EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO THE SHORE which in older countries would be deemed invaluable. Being close to the town of Dromana, there is during the summer months daily access to the city by steamer and at all times by tram and coach, and as for rides and drives, no watering place compares in that respect with DROMANA,

Also ABOUT 1000 ACRES IN 16 LOTS agricultural, fruit growing and grazing land, subdivided as follows, viz.:
divided into 8 lots of about 50 acres each. This land is flat, well watered, is all cleared, has been fallow for many years, during which time stock has been depastured thereon, and it only requires to be ploughed and sown to produce for a certainty an ABUNDANT HARVEST, as when some years ago part of the land was cropped it gave a phenomenal return. Or for market garden purposes a supply of vegetables can be assured all the year round.

In Two Lots on the side of Mount Martha; light friable soil, kept moist by soakage from the mount, which also protects it from the hot winds, thus trendering (sic) it peculiarly adapted for fruit growing.

Lightly timbered, and of a fair agricultural character, divided into 5 blocks, varying from 40 a. to 130 a.,
suitable either for grazing or agriculture, or as park lands surrounding COUNTRY HOUSES.
This land occupies a more elevated position. is slightly undulating, and the prospect from every point of the compass is enchanting, while the district is proverbial for the purity of the air and the Salubrity of its Inhabitants.

Also, 42-ACRE HOMESTEAD BLOCK* bounded on 3 sides by Government roads and securely fenced. It is beautifully situated, with clumps of trees thereon; in fact an IDEAL RESIDENCE SITE.

The whole of the 1000 acres is fenced and fronts Government roads, so that each block (except the Bay frontages) will have a fence at two sides. It has all been surveyed by Mr H. E. Moors, engineer, and pegged out so that no difficulty can be experienced with regard to the blocks. It is part of the celebrated Jamieson's Special Survey, in the parish of Kangerong, and the land will be pointed out by the driver of the coach from Mornington to Dromana, or by Mr J. W. Hazeldine, electoral registrar and agent, Dromana.
Lithograph plans at auctioneers, 91 Queen street, Melbourne, where samples of the soil may also be seen.
The Crown certificate, at Messrs J.A.Wilmeth & Son. solicitors to the estate.No. 418 Little Collins street. Melbourne. (P.2, Mornington Standard, 26-12-1901.)

*SALE OF PROPERTY.-Messrs John Buchan and Co., of Melbourne, report having sold a block of land at Mount Martha, fronting the Dromana road,and known as the " three corner paddock," containing 42 acres 2 roods 5 perches, being part of Jamieson's special survey, and of the late (H.?)Bruce's estate. The price paid was £3 2s 6d per acre, the purchaser being Mr James Connell**, of Tuerong.(P.2, Mornington Standard, 29-8-1903.)

**You may recall that C.N.Hollinshed stated in LIME LAND LEISURE that Big Clarke had purchased the Survey in three parts in 1851, 1852 and 1856, the south, central and northern portions respectively. Colin McLear stated that W.J.T.Clarke wanted the survey to rest stock being driven to Melbourne from his Gippsland properties. As many graziers had such "Depots" so stock could regain condition on the way to market this was a reasonable assumption, but as there was no jetty at Dromana at the time and the Survey was so far from the shortest route, it may have been bought in the hope that the proposed Town of Dromana would result in a profitable land speculation. From 1846 to 1851 the whole 5120 acre Survey was leased by Henry Dunn but Jamieson became insolvent and the administrator of his insolvent estate was probably looking for increased revenue so that creditors could be compensated. In 1851, the whole survey had been leased out to three men, so Clarke was probably buying land with an assured rental income. It is no surprise that James Connell had bought the homestead block. He'd probably grown up there!

Evidently the first purchase of land on the Peninsula was in 1841. The special survey system, previously confined to South Australia, was then resorted to in Port Phillip. A person paying £5120 into the Treasury had
the right of directing the authorities to make him a survey of eight square miles of unreserved territory, subject to certain provisions relating to water frontages and other matters. Between March 17 and May 1 in that year eight special surveys had been applied for in Port Phillip. One of the applicants was Mr. H. Jamieson, who chose his 5120 acres between Mount Martha and Arthur's Seat. His area included Hobson's Flats, and was bounded on the west by Port Phillip Bay. A very well-finished house, costing £500, which was put up on this survey, was
at that time considered a very fine structure, and was probably as good a dwelling as any in the colony. The
survey was occupied for some time by Jamieson Bros, and later on passed into the hands of the Bank of Australasia.

In the middle of January, 1851, Mr Graves, now of Woodlands,Flinders, entered into a tenancy of 4120 acres of the area. The other portion, including the house, was rented by Connell Bros. When Mr Graves and his partner, Mr Brown Lee (who at the start, went in extensively for wheat growing), had occupied the place for about five years, it was purchased by Mr Clark (sic), the grandfather of Sir Rupert Clark(sic), the present owner. Five years after the sale Mr Clark (sic), Mr Griffiths(sic), and Mr Gibson, whose families are still in possession, became the tenants* of the property. The rental paid by Messrs Graves and Brown Lee in the early days was 10s per acre.

(P.6, Mornington Standard, 2-9-1905. Leonard Wilding's History of the Mornington Peninsula.)

N.B. Clark should be Clarke, Griffiths should be Griffith and the Clarkes couldn't be tenants as they owned the property.James Connell, who died in 1926 aged 73, played in the first football match FOUGHT OUT on the peninsula.

Being of magnificent physique, he was an athlete of no mean repute, and took part in the first historic football
match played on the Peninsula. This was when two teams, captained by the Barker brothers, of Barker's station, Flinders, just home from college - from the Flinders and Balnarring districts met at Balnarring. Football was played for ten minutes and then the two teams fought each other until dark, some players even being chased to their homes.(P.6, Frankston and Somerville Standard, 25-6-1926.)

The homestead block or triangle paddock was almost certainly the triangle north of McKenzie's Junction (Melway 151C11) bounded by the Nepean Highway, Old Moorooduc Rd and a line connecting Bruce Rd and Foxeys Rd. Brokil Creek (renamed after Edwin Louis Tassell near its mouth) runs under Nepean Highway at the north west corner of the triangle.

It seems certain that this was the "triangular block, the base of which was formed by Nepean Highway and the sides of Moorooduc Road and the higher reaches of Tassells Creek" which Samuel Stenniken "had" near Dromana according to page 45 of A DREAMTIME OF DROMANA. He was obviously leasing the paddock from J.V.A.Bruce 2. I recall that Sam had purchased land farther north and he may have used these as depots when taking stock to market. The advantage to John Bruce 2 would probably be that when he arrived for "the Season", the homestead would not be surrounded by long dry grass, presenting risk of a wildfire, as well as rental paid. Colin McLear continued, "When the Bruces holidayed there, (Sam's daughter) Maria (1855-1927)worked as a maid in their house." This would have been before her marriage to Godfrey Burdett Wilson in 1878.

Stanley Melbourne Bruce (1883-1967), businessman, prime minister and public servant, was born on 15 April 1883 at St Kilda, Victoria, youngest of five children of John Munro Bruce and his wife Mary Ann, née Henderson. His parents were comfortably circumstanced, his father having become a partner in the softgoods importing firm of Paterson, Laing & Bruce in 1878. (Australian Dictionary of Biography.)

Was John Munro Bruce a brother of J.V.A.Bruce 1?
This would seem not to be the case.
BRUCE.—(By cable)—On the 3rd inst, at London, Susannah Herbert, widow of the late William Duff Bruce, C.E., brother of the late John Munro Bruce and George W.Bruce, of Melbourne ,and sister of William Henry Lloyd, "Wimmera," Geelong. Deeply regretted.(P.1, Geelong Advertiser, 6-4-1907.)

Nothing in his obituary points to any similarity in his background and that of J.V.A.Bruce 1.
Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918) Saturday 11 May 1901 p 27 Article
Mr. John Munro Bruce was born on 10th October, 1840, at Brooklawn, County of Leitrim, Ireland, and was educated at Madras College, St.Andrew's. Scotland. In 1853 he went to Newry, where he was apprenticed to Henry Hawkins and Co. for five years. A few days after completing his apprenticeship he sailed for Melbourne, in fulfilment of a desire of long standing, in the Ellen Stuart, arriving here 8th December, 1858.

Parish of Sherwood.
- Near Cranbourne,
Close to Dr. Adams's woll-known Homestead,
That First-class Grazing Estate, Known as
The Property of James Bruce, Esq. (now in Europe),
3691A. 1 R. 25 P. (P.2, Argus, 18-7-1876.)

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by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2017-08-18 03:57:17

Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.

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