WHO GAVE FLEMINGTON (MELBOURNE, VIC., AUST.) ITS NAME? (Also Kensington.) :: FamilyTreeCircles.com Genealogy
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Journal by itellya

An excellent history of Flemington by Marcus Breen, borrowed from the Newmarket Library when I was researching my EARLY LANDOWNERS:PARISH OF DOUTTA GALLA in the 1990's, examines the rival claims of James Watson and William Fleming to have named the Flemington area, the decision going to the former.

Post Office opened 1st January 1854
The naming of the suburb of Flemington* has been a subject for debate for over 100 years. Back in 1908 there
were differences of opinion by men, including some who had been involved in its origins; but the general
consensus was, even then, that the racecourse preceded the village.

A couple of months after a grudge match was held on the course between two men on their mares, the first
?official? race was held on a warm 3rd March, 1840, between two two-year-old colts. There were several
other races over the first three-day meet, and the marshal of the course was William ?Tulip? Wright, the first
postmaster for Bulla. (P.17, State of Victoria Early Postal Cancels (and History) Illustrated, Section III: January to August 1854.)

(*The first result on trove for Flemington, describing the locality, is the following.
Domestic Intelligence. THE ELECTIONS.
The Melbourne Argus (Vic. : 1846 - 1848) Tuesday 3 November 1846 p 2 Article
... of sheep, horses, and cattle announced by Messrs. Mickle and Lilburn, to take place at Flemington on the Salt Water River on Wednesday at twelve ... 1164 words.)

There was a previous mention of Flemington (in Scotland) in a notice regarding a wedding that took place in Keillor,but would you believe it, the paper forgot to include the name of the groom! I am 99% confident that the groom was James Watson, who was responsible for the names of both Flemington and Keilor,both of which could
have been described in early days as being at the Saltwater River.

At Port Phillip, on 31st December, at the residence of John Hawdon, Esq , Keillor, to Elizabeth, second daughter of the late James Ross, Esq, of Flemington, Morayshire, Scotland.Family Notices
(The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW : 1838 - 1841) Friday 19 February 1841 Edition: MORNING p 3)
N.B.This follows the wedding notice of Peter Young, most likely the Bulla pioneer.

In the Will of Elizabeth Watson, late wife of James Watson, of the Saltwater River, near Melbourne, in the District of Port Phillip, and Colony of New South Wales, Gentleman, deceased.
NOTICE is hereby given, to all parties interested, that after the expiration of fourteen days from the date of the publication hereof, application will be made to the Supreme Court of New South Wales for the District of Port Phillip in Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, that Probate of the Will of the said Elizabeth Watson, deceased, may be granted to Henry Moor, of Melbourne, in the said District of Port Phillip Esquire, the sole Executor named in and appointed by the Will of the said Elizabeth Watson, deceased.
Dated this third day of June, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Seven
HENRY MOOR*.(P.3, The Melbourne Argus, 4-6-1847.)

*Henry Moor was a grantee between the road to Raleigh's punt (Epsom Rd) and the Saltwater River, north of Major Newsom of "Myross"(after whom Newsom St was named.) As Elizabeth had obviously not come out with her family, Henry may have been her guardian.

James Watson had come out as a representative of the Marquis of Ailsa, hence Ailsa St in Keilor. When did he purchase his land that he called FLEMINGTON?

There are many Doutta Galla parish maps online but I have not yet found one that gives the date on which grants were issued. In 1849 James Watson obtained the part of section 13 between Lincoln Rd and the house blocks on the east side of McCracken St, Essendon, and supposedly built a woolstore on the site of the Lincolnshire Arms hotel built by Tulip Wright, a native of Lincolnshire, not long afterwards. If James Watson did name Flemington, he would have had to be on crown allotments 14 and 15 Doutta Galla by 1846,probably under an occupation licence.

OCCUPATION LICENSES. Survey Office, Melbourne, 20th April, 1847.
The Melbourne Argus (Vic. : 1846 - 1848) Tuesday 18 May 1847 p 1
Lot 23, which had been lot 30 on 27-5-1846, and had been "selected", consisted of 696 acres in the parish of Doutta Galla and its present occupier was James Watson. Lot 53 which had been lot 34 on 27-5-1846 was occupied by the executors of Elizabeth Watson and consisted of 1152 acres in the parish of Maribyrnong.

The latter was Keilor, much of which would soon come into the ownership of of William Taylor of Overnewton.

In order to establish whether James Watson's 696 acres selected in May 1846 (if not earlier)consisted of crown allotments 14 and 15 of section 4, Doutta Galla,I again consulted the parish map and this time found one that specified the dates on which grants were issued. (Not only that but also the suburban allotments west of boundary Road granted to pioneers such as George Scarborough, JOHN RANKIN and J.T.Smith after whom Smith St was obviously named.)

The Kensington area and James Watson's Flemington are shown on map 3 on the following website:
Doutta Galla, County of Bourke - Slv - Vic.gov.au

Flemington consisted of only 310 acres,bounded by the line of Racecourse Rd, Ascot Vale Rd, the line of Kent St and the Moonee Ponds Creek. C. and D.T. Kilburn were granted 139 acres in c/a 12 and 13 on 8-12-1847,the same day that James bought Flemington and it is likely that James had been occupying their grants. If so,that would make the total 449 acres. Add 131 acres (and 28 perches) for 13D west of Lincoln Rd and the total is 580 acres. That leaves (696-580=116 acres) of the leasehold to account for. The missing piece of the jigsaw is not John Watson and Edward Byam Wight's grant east of today's Kensington Rd, which became Wight's "The Ridge" (recalled by the Ridgeway)because that was only 68 acres, so it was probably the part of today's Keilor Park bounded by the river, Spence St, Collinson and Mt Alexander Rd in section 19 Doutta Galla,the part of the Keilor Village reserve east of the river.

One thing is certain; James Watson was leasing "Flemington" before 3-11-1846 when the locality name first appeared in a newspaper.


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by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2014-01-04 17:41:10

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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by itellya on 2014-01-05 06:29:31

In 1849, John Rankin was granted 4 acres fronting the east side of "Princes St" (as Rankins Rd was known for some time), from Macaulay Rd to Robertson St, when the Melbourne suburb of Kensington had never been mentioned, but it was,repeatedly,in an 1850 advertisement. As the Early of Kensington was a Rankin,I believe that John Rankin was responsible for the suburb's name.

by itellya on 2014-01-05 17:15:04

A google search for "james watson, keilor, flemington, rosanna" produced several results including the following:

James Watson ? Flemington Heritage
James Watson (1811-1869) was the first landowner of Flemington, and ... Flemington and Keilor are not the only Melbourne suburbs named by Watson.

This is an excellent article,the prime source of course being the great Bob Chalmers. It also clears up the ambiguity in Henry Moor's notice about Elizabeth Watson's will (late wife of James Watson,deceased) which gave the impression that her husband was also dead)and points out that the Marquis of Ailsa was a member of a syndicate (which may have included Elizabeth's father.)

As I stated that James Watson's 996 acres leased from the Crown in May, 1846 probably included the Kilburn grants,and James Watson leased some of it after c/a 14 and 15 were sold, I will paste some information from my EARLY LANDOWNERS: PARISH OF DOUTTA GALLA (minus maps of course)that is relevant to Flemington.

Located between Racecourse Rd and Waratah St, with Ascot Vale Rd and the Moonee Ponds Creek the west and east boundaries, this section was originally called Flemington.
It is said that James Watson named his grant ?Flemington? after an estate in Scotland managed by his wife's father. Several grantees were involved elsewhere in and near Doutta Galla. James Watson, after whom Watsonia was named, gave Keilor its Gaelic name while squatting there and the Kilburns owned land in Keilor Rd, Tullamarine and Strathmore.
The section 4 (and 5) allotments were separated with latitudinal boundaries instead of the diagonal lines as illustrated by the courses of Kensington Rd and Langs Rd in sections 2 and 3.

Allotments 14 and 15.
Portion of allotments 14 and 15 in 1875. Note the early houses on Princes St, which was a short cut to Flemington Hill from the Macaulay Rd area.

Flemington?s Wesleyan church was built c 1865.
Allotments 14 and 15 were granted to James Watson.
As a representative of the Marquis of Ailsa, he and Hunter established a run at Keilor (a name certainly bestowed by Watson). His lease of allotment 13 land from 28-10-1849 seems to indicate that Watson was a genuine farmer rather than an absentee landlord, but is puzzling in relation to the fact that allotments 14 and 15 were sold in 1849 to Easey (according to Marcus Breen.)

Easey apparently sold the land on which the Flemington and Newmarket Hotels were built. Racecourse Rd had become a route to Geelong so the Newmarket (obviously not under that name because the saleyards would not start for a decade) would have had plenty of passing trade, and the Flemington soon had throngs of gold seekers lining its bar.
Hugh Glass bought these allotments in 1853, and two years later started construction of his wonderful mansion, not completing it until 1862. Glass also bought allotment 11,12 and 13 land. Because of the failed Essendon Railway, falling land prices (if the example under allotments 11 and 12 is any guide), problems with his sheep, and the cost of his extravagant mansion, Glass started a sell- off of this land in the 1860?s. James Gibson bought land in 1860.
In 1864 there were several residents on Flemington Hill and in Princes St.
Two prominent buyers in 1869 were John Sutton and Jonathon Gill.
An old map, which has Racecourse Rd labelled as Geelong Rd, shows that many large parts of Glass?s huge subdivision were bought by George Wilson.
The Madden family owned the mansion grounds in the early 1900?s. Although lawyers by profession, they were engaged in the supply of horses to the army in India. When they subdivided in 1918, it was no surprise that most streets were named after places in India. I wonder how Kashmir became Cashmere! The only streets on allotments 14 and 15 named after pioneers are Buckland (early newsagent) and Shields (Rankins Rd ironmonger by 1880).

This portion of a map from 1875 shows Gill?s forge, William Eastwood?s chaff mill, Robert McCracken?s Ailsa (minus the part Filson subdivided) and Flemington House.

Allotment 13.
Granted to Douglas Thomas Kilburn, this land was soon cut in half. The part west of Mt Macedon (Alexander) Road was sold to William Henry Buckley in 1848 and the other half was leased to James Watson for 5 ? years in 1849. The leased part was later bought by Hugh Glass and was subdivided by the Maddens. (See allotments 14 and 15.)
The 36 acres west of the road experienced a blur of owners (1858 Purcell, 1860 Glass, then Burnley, Nicholson, Cooper, Stawell&Hudson, who reconveyed the property to Buckley on 13-4-1864. Robert McCracken then bought ?Ailsa?. (A letter from ?Ardmillan? to Scotland shows that this occurred in late April/ early May 1865, not 1864 as A.D.Pyke claims.) About eight years later, the Essendon Football Club was formed and it played its early seasons on Ailsa?s paddock. A lack of fencing has been given as the reason for the club?s move to the East Melbourne ground. Was Filson?s subdivision of 1875 the old Ailsa oval? (i.e. Filson and Harding Sts.)
Robert remained there till his death in 1885 but part of the land was sold by John Filson in 1875 (Land Plan 196). Filson?s wife was a Harding, hence the street names.
I believe, despite finding no memorials to that effect, that Hugh Glass acquired the Ascot Vale Rd end of Ailsa. In 1901, E.N.Glass declared the subdivision of all the Ailsa land east of the railway (Clissold St to Kent St). Robert McCracken?, widow died in 1905 and three years later the remaining land was sold. Mercy College opened in a new building on the old homestead block in 1909.

Today including the houses on the south side of South St and north side of Middle St, this was granted to Charles Kilburn. The part west of Mt Alexander Rd was sold to William Fletcher on 18-9-1848. Ownership passed to Alex McArthur in 1853 and John McKenzie in 1856. The land, or a share in its ownership, was sold to Hugh Glass on 24-4-1858. McKenzie and Glass included the western part of allotment 11 in the above purchases. One of the early residents to stick around was Daniel Emerson who owned land calculated to be the site of Nos. 5-11 Middle St. When Daniel died on 4-10-1889, he was reported to have lived in the same house in Meade St for almost 40 years. (Spelling as in Bob Chalmers? Annals.) Other pioneers of the Allotment 11 & 12 subdivision are listed under the allotment 11 heading.

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