GEORGE FISHER, EARLY MELBOURNE PIONEER, INMATE OF THE MELBOURNE BENEVOLENT ASYLUM AND HIS MEMORIES, VIC., AUST.
The original benevolent asylum was causing a problem because of its effluent was flowing into the West Melbourne Swamp*. Where was the asylum? The first of George's letters was signed G.F., Melbourne Benevolent Asylum. I thought it was a shame that such an early pioneer of Melbourne, and Picnic Point, Brighton was unidentified.
It turned out that the Asylum was on a 10 acre site at North Melbourne bounded by Abbotsford, Elm, Curzon and Miller Streets as revealed by a splendid article written by the City of Kingston's historian who traces the asylum's eventual relocation to Cheltenham.
G.F. revealed that he had written several previous letters to the editor of The Age and the only clue to his identity was that the 18 roomed house he built at Picnic Point in 1854, the Picnic Hotel, became known as "Fisher's Folly." I stumbled across his letter while doing a "John Batman's children" search on trove.
I guessed that his name might have been George Fisher. There were other people named Fisher associated with Brighton on trove but not George. Then I found a letter to The Age written by Old George in 1876. Was he G.F.?
OLD GEORGE'S LETTER
If so, he'd been born in about 1796 and would have been about 80 years old when he wrote the letter.
Perhaps George was anticipating a railway to Picnic Point when he had Fisher's Folly built. He doesn't seem to have run the hotel, for which Thomas Elder was refused a licence in 1854, but granted to John O'Connor in 1855 when the Picnic Hotel was a small one and obviously did not have 18 rooms, as described by G.F.
Mr .John O'Connor, Picnic Hotel, Picnic Point. Mr. Newton supported the application. The Bench granted the application, observing that, as the house was a small one, they should expect the proprietor to enlarge it by next licensing day.(P.5, Argus, 7-3-1855.)
The Picnic Hotel was extended by Tucker in 1869 but was destroyed by fire the next year.
PICNIC HOTEL BURNT DOWN
George spent 22 years at Picnic Point, which presumably extended until 1876 when he was admitted to the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum, his full name and address being supplied at the end of this letter.
THE BLANCHE EXPLOSION
An earlier letter had detailed the escape of two aborigines, Tullamarine and Gin Gin, from the original lock-up in Melbourne and this letter gives details of the explosion at the gun shop of the family* of Tullamarine's early and longtime teacher, John Fletcher Blanche (d. 1899.) (Tullamarine Methodist Church Centenary Souvenir, 1970.)
*J.Blanche. Probably his uncle, as J.F.Blanche's parents, Thomas and Mary, apparently did not migrate.
It is because of this wealth of detail of the early days of Melbourne, that I sincerely hope that more information about this very early pioneer of Melbourne will come to light.
GEORGE'S YARNS did not continue into the 1880's but Garryowen remembered him well from Melbourne's early days.
THE CHRONICLES OF EARLY MELBOURNE. HISTORICAL, ANFCDOATL, AND PERSONAL--(1836-1853.) NEW SERIES. BY GARRYOWEN CHAPTER XLI. SOME RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS.
The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954) Friday 22 January 1886 p 3 Article
GEORGE FISHER, A JACK TAR
George may have died in about 1877. Gipsy Village was at Picnic Point. Based on George's arrival in London aged 26 in 1820, I calculated his year of birth at about 1896 so this could be his death record, the only one in 1877-1878.
EventDeath Event registration number11580 Registration year1878
Family nameFISHER Given namesGeorge SexUnknown Father's nameJoseph Mother's name Place of birthEDIN Place of death Age83
OLD GEORGE FISHER
Sandringham | Victorian Places
The area was first known as Gipsy Village, from a fishing community which occupied the coast line around Picnic Point, out of sight of Brighton. In 1852 a land
GIPSY VILLAGE PLAN, PICNIC POINT.
on 2018-08-18 04:16:49
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.