Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Hallam - Part 1 - Early land owners

Over the next few blog posts we will be looking at the history of Hallam. Hallam is a relatively new name for the area, dating from 1905. Before that, the district was known as Hallam's Road after William and Mary Hallam (you can read about them here) and earlier on it was sometimes referred to as Dandenong or Eumemmering, which covered the area basically from the Dandenong Creek to what is now Hallam Road, on both sides of the Princes Highway.

 Hallam formed part of the 14 square mile Eumemmering Squatting Run, first taken up by Dr Farquhar McCrae (1807 - 1850)  in 1839 and transferred to John Vesey Fitzgerald Leslie Foster (1818 - 1900)  in the same year. He was apparently known as “alphabetical Foster’ and was amongst other things a first cousin of Sir William Stawell after whom Stawell Street in Cranbourne was named, as well as the town. He also, in 1843, challenged Dr McCrae to a piston duel over a land sale, when McCrae refused Foster whipped him and his horse with a horse whip. He was later fined £10 and had to pay £250 in damages. Foster went on to help draft Victoria’s constitution, acted as the administrator of the Colony between La Trobe and the arrival of Hotham and suggested that the licence be abolished and replaced by a gold export tax, this was not accepted by Governor Hotham and he actually more strictly enforced the fee, which as we know led to the Eureka uprising at Ballarat.

Back to the Eumemmerring Run -  Foster held the run until 1842 when it was taken up by Edward Wilson and James Stewart Johnson until 1846 when Thomas Herbert Power (1801-1873) took it on. The property then went from around the Dandenong Creek/Power Road all the way to Berwick.

 The large squatting runs were gradually broken up into smaller farms in the 1850s and early land owners included George Darley Boursiquot, the proprietor of an early Melbourne newspaper, The Port Phillip Patriot. This paper was started by John Pascoe Fawkner in 1839, taken over by Boursiquot in 1845 and renamed the Melbourne Daily News in 1848. Another early landowner was the Reverend Hussey Burgh Macartney, the first Dean of Melbourne.

Reverend Hussey Burgh Macartney (1799 - 1894)

The grandly named  Reverend Hussey Burgh Macartney was born in Ireland in 1799 and went to University and became an Anglican Priest.  He married Jane Hardman in 1833 and they had five daughters and three sons. His children were Jane, Frances, Henrietta, Charlotte, John, Hussey and Edward. The family arrived in Melbourne in 1848. He was at various churches then he became Dean of Melbourne in 1852.  The Macartney’s first bought land in the Hallam area in 1852 and in the end they had 417 hectares of land.  You can read his biography here on the Australian Dictionary of Biography website

Another ‘famous’ family connected to the area was the Gunn family after whom Gunns Road was named. Robert Gunn, was an auctioneer and stock agent in the area. His brother Aeneas, was married to Jeannie Taylor, the author of We of the Never Never. Aeneas and Jeannie met in the Hallam area in romantic circumstances.
Jeannie was staying with friends near Narre Warren and driving into the township to attend a
concert one night, the horses in the buggy became restless … Jeannie suggested that she climb down and hold their heads…..She was about to take the last step over the wheel and the horses suddenly backed and Jeannie was thrown into the arm of a man who had gallantly rushed forward to assist. That man was Aeneas Gunn who “having had a woman thrown at him in such a manner, felt it his duty to hold on to her”. They married in 1901 and moved to Elsey Station on the Roper River in the Northern Territory. Unfortunately, their married life was cut short by the death of Aeneas in March 1903. You can read more about Jeannie Gunn here, in the on-line version of the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

In our next post we will look at other early land owners in Hallam, who may not have been famous, but settled in the area and built the community. In the third post we will look at the history of the Hallam State School, No. 244.

The picture of the Reverend Macartney comes from the National Library of Australia collection (nla.pic-an9653347). It is an engraving by H.S.Sadd from a daguerrotype by Batchelder.
The account of the meeting between Jeannie Taylor and Aeneas Gunn comes from Call back yesterday : Eumemmering Parish by Jean Uhl. (Lowden Publishing, 1972)

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