Intime on FamilyTreeCircles - journals

Intime on Family Tree Circles

sort: Date Alphabetical
view: full | list

Journals and Posts

Steele Creek and The Lady of The Lake

In regard to the review of my book Steele Creek and The Lady of The Lake by Itellya, I would also like to add that late last year I printed a revised copy of the book, after discovering in Charles La Trobe's correspondence, that James Watson of Keilor was not the James Watson who settled at the Springs, but rather another man named James Watson or James Butler Watson. The new information is detailed below and further information can be found on Lenore Frost's website "Time Travellers in Essendon, Flemington and the Keilor Plains"

Regarding the fords around Avondale Heights, the name Solomon's Ford also seems to have been used to describe the general area, as was the name Springs.

The book only covered the area within the old Parish of Doutta Galla, hence the land north of Sharp's Road, Tullamarine wasn't included in the publication.

I am pleased to hear you enjoyed the book Itellya and thankyou for your comments.

Steele Creek and The Lady of The Lake, pages 50-51

James Butler Watson
It was previously assumed that James Watson of Leslie Park at the Springs, was the same James Watson of Keilor and the Marquis of Ailsa pastoral syndicate. However letters written to Governor Charles La Trobe in 1843 and 1851, have since revealed another James Watson. This James Watson later known as James Butler Watson, was born in Montrose, Angus, Scotland about 1794. It is thought Watson and his wife Caroline arrived in Sydney as cabin passengers in the ship Columbine on 4 December 1841, before travelling on to Port Phillip by the steamer Seahorse two weeks after their arrival.

In May 1842 Watson advertised in the Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser, for tenders to fence half his 50 acre farm Leslie Park at the Springs, where three of his children were born between 1842 and 1845. On 14 February 1843 having failed to find employment commensurate with his 'personal qualifications', Watson wrote a desperate letter to Charles La Trobe:- 'I am a proud man Sir, and nothing could compensate to my feelings for this disgrace of a public failure', adding that a situation would place his 'loved ones beyond the reach of penury'. He disclosed that prior to leaving England, he had been one of 'about 40' Guardians of a Union in 'a small and distant township', where he had superintended the building of a new Workhouse. His reference to the Earl of Burlington (Chairman of the Ulverstone Union), and to W[illiam] Gale, points to this being the Ulverstone Poor Law Union in Lancashire. Records show a James Watson residing at Sawrey Cottage near Hawkshead and Claife (parishes of the Ulverstone Union) from 1831 until 1841. In 1833 Watson penned a petition regarding the 'unfair and unjust' rates 'made by the Overseer of the poor of the Township of Claife', and in 1838 was appointed to the Committee of the Caledonian, West Cumberland and Furness Railway Survey.

Following an interview with La Trobe on 20 February 1843, Watson wrote to him offering to file correspondence until a position became available, and outlining the terms under which he would accept a Government situation. Watson hoped to be offered employment paying at least 200 pounds p.a., which would leave time for attending to his 'domestic concerns and farm'. Now nearing his 50th year, he divulged that his 'constitution' would not allow him to 'lean continually over a desk', nor was he able to write 'dispatches readily'.

James Butler Watson and Godfrey Howitt took up the 25,000 acre Murrindindi squatting run near Yea in 1847, where Watson's daughter Eva was born that year. In 1848 having failed to put in a return of stock by the required time, the license of the run was transferred to Messrs Miller and McFarlane. In June 1851 Watson applied for 'the Clerkship to the Legislative Council about to be established in Victoria', meanwhile being a keen participant in public affairs. He was elected to the Committee of the Mechanics Institute in January 1852 , and held the position of Secretary of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce between May 1852 and April 1853. From August 1852 Watson was Treasurer and Secretary, and later Manager, of the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Company, until October 1854, when the Directors announced that 'Mr J.B. Watson has ceased to hold office in this Company', though he still retained an active interest in its affairs.

By 1855 the Watsons were residing at Rosalie, a 70 acre farm situated on the Darebin Creek at South Preston. During the 1850s and 1860s Watson worked as an estate agent and accountant, mainly 'confining his attention to the care and management of the estates of a few proprietors absent from the colony', and regularly exhibiting produce and livestock at the Colony's various Agricultural Shows.

A dispute over a boundary fence with neighbour William Pender in August 1863, led to Watson being found 'Not Guilty' in the Courts of having fired a pistol with 'intent to do him [Pender] grievous bodily harm'. Character witness Dr Godfrey Howitt described Watson, who had once held 'her Majesty's commission in the [British] army', as a 'perfectly inoffensive, straightforward' and 'kind-hearted' man.

Watson disposed of his farming equipment and stock in February 1872, and in 1875 Rosalie was put up for auction. Watson then advertised for a house to rent in the suburbs, and by 1877 had moved to Gellibrand Street, Kew. He died there on 8 October 1879 aged 85 years, survived by five of his seven children and his wife Caroline, who died in 1895 aged 76 years. James Butler Watson was buried in the St Helena Cemetery, Greensborough.

5 comment(s), latest 1 year ago