Passing of the Pioneers

A small band of pioneers for January, ranging from the rich and influential through to a bullock wagon driver who drove produce to the ports, to aid the rich and influential become more so.  There is also the obituary of Catherine Grady, an Irish Famine orphan.

Francis HENTY – Died January 1889 at Kew.  Francis Henty featured here several times,  was one of the Henty brothers, early European settlers at Portland.  Francis had a house at Portland, one that I have written a post about,  Claremont, but he spent much of his time at the Henty property,Merino Downs , and in later in life, his home “Field Place” in Melbourne where he passed away.  Noted in his obituary, that while his presence was often not felt in the town, post the settling of Merino Downs, Francis Henty’s donations over the years were much appreciated.

The Portland Guardian,. (1889, January 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from

The Portland Guardian,. (1889, January 16). Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 – 1953), p. 2 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from

FRANCIS HENTY (c1890) Artist unknown.  Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Image no. H24630

FRANCIS HENTY (c1890) Artist unknown. Image courtesy of the State Library of Victoria. Image no. H24630


Catherine GRADY – Died January 3, 1916 at Macarthur.  Catherine Grady was born around 1836 in Wexford, Ireland and arrived in Port Fairy at 17.  She married Archibald Hamilton there are they moved to Mt. Napier station where they remained for many years, then on to Macarthur were they both remained until their deaths.  Catherine was a nurse and it was said she attended over 300 maternity cases.  Catherine and Archibald raised a family of 12 children.  I found Catherine on the Famine Orphan Girl Database on the Irish Famine Memorial (Sydney) website.

John Sinclair COX – Died January 11, 1918 at Hamilton.  John Cox was born in Ireland in 1850 and travelled to Victoria with his family around 1857.  He resided in the Hamilton district almost from that time and ran a successful butchers.  At one time he ran for the Shire of Dundas but was unsuccessful.  John passed away at “Greenwood Park”, Hamilton and left a widow, two sons and one daughter.

Matthew TOWNSEND – Died January 1916 at Portland.  Matthew Townsend was born in Cambridgeshire in 1832 and arrived in Adelaide in 1857, but travelled on to Digby.  In 1865, he opened a store in Digby that he ran for 43 years, including 40 as postmaster and he married around 1867.  Matthew had many stories to tell of the old times in Digby included four-in-hand coaches, wool wagons and visits by Adam Lindsay Gordon.  In his later years, Matthew moved to Portland where he passed away.  He was buried at Digby cemetery.

Mary Ann MURPHY – Died January 26, 1918 at Willaura.  Mary Ann Murphy was an early pioneer, born around 1843, and she and her husband Patrick Nicholson, settled at Warracknabeal in the “early days of agricultural development”.  Around the turn of the century, Mary Ann and Patrick moved to the Ararat district, taking up a sub-division at Willaura,  Mary-Ann and Patrick raised a family of 14.

Elizabeth LANG – Died January 1927 at Warracknabeal.  Elizabeth Lang was born at Digby on “Black Thursday” 1851, her father having arrived with the Hentys some years before.  After her marriage she moved to the north west of Victoria where she remained until her death.

Mark KERR – Died January 31, 1925 at Portland.  Mark Kerr was born around 1850 at Portland, and it was noted he was born in the “Police Paddock”, not far from the place he died 75 years later.  Having been born in a paddock, it was fortunate Mark’s father was a doctor, but it was thought he didn’t practice in Portland.  Mark Kerr worked as a teamster, driving bullock wagons from the north with wool and other produce for the Port of Portland.  At one time he owned the Emu Flats Hotel at Kentbruck, built by another Passing Pioneer, John Johnstone.  He later returned to Portland where he remained until his death.

Mrs Eliza LEA – Died January 12, 1941 at Portland.  Born around 1857 at Portland, Eliza Lea, a former student of John Hill of Portland, joined the Education Department at 15 and the first school she taught at was North Portland.  She later taught at Koroit, Corindhap, Queenscliff , Coleraine and Casterton,  Mary Ann was a resident of Casterton for about five years and it was there she met her future husband Job Lea.  After marriage, she left teaching but Job passed away after two years of marriage, leaving Mary Ann with two babies.  After 19 years she returned to Portland before opening a store at Condah Swamp, including the first post office there.  Condah Swamp was later name Wallacedale, where she resided for 22 years.  In 1919 she again returned to Portland and remained there until her death.  One of Mary Ann’s son, Charles was killed at Gallipoli in 1915.

William BOYLE – Died January 3, 1942 at Camperdown.  William Boyle was born in Ireland around 1868 and arrived in Victoria as a 15-year-old.  Keen to see Australia, he travelled along the southern coast and then inland, droving stock from Central Australia to the Western District.  William later established newsagents in Camperdown that he ran for 50 years.  He was also a foundation member of the Camperdown Bowling Club and was playing up until weeks before his death.


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