Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Dr John Tremearne

John Tremearne was a doctor, an inventor, was at one time was charged with manslaughter,  claimed to be able to cure cancer and is responsible for the name of one of the City of Casey's wards. Dr Tremearne arrived in Melbourne on the Norfolk on July 9, 1872 and took up a position of Resident Surgeon at the Creswick Hospital. The activities of a country doctor were many and varied and there are reports that he treated typhoid patients, amputated limbs after accidents. performed post-mortems and at one time performed a lithotomy on a kidney stone the size of a hens egg. You can read the reports of Dr Tremearne's medical activities in the  list of newspaper articles I have created  about Dr Tremearne and his family on Trove, you can assess the list here.

In 1876 John married Ada Jane Martin, whose father was the editor of the Creswick Advertiser. The couple had six children and only the one grandchild.
  • Arthur John Newman (1877 - 1915). Arthur had a military career and in July 1895 received a commission in the 3rd Ballarat Battalion. He was a Lieutenant when he left to serve in the Boer War in 1899 with the First Victorian Infantry Company. He was invalided to England in June 1900. In 1908 and 1909 he served in Northern Nigeria and had his face grazed by a poisoned arrow whilst fighting the natives.  The Age on June 13, 1910  reported that the University of Cambridge awarded him  a certificate for his researches into the origin, language and folklore of the Houssa tribe in Nigeria. The certificate carries the degree of Bachelor of Arts. Captain Tremearne has also been awarded by the Cambridge University a Diploma of Anthropology for his thesis on Nigerian head hunters. He joined the British Army at the start of the First World War and was killed in Action in France in October 1915. He married Mary Louisa Tremearne in 1906, I presume she was a cousin, not an unusual happening in those times. According to the 1911 English Census she had been born in Bengal in India. I don't believe they had any children.

Arthur Tremearne
Weekly Times October 9, 1915

  • Ada Avenel (1879 - 1890)
  • Francis Clement (1880-1881)
  • John Eliot (1882-1951) John was journalist on The Herald newspaper - a music and dramatic critic for 20 years until he retired in 1946, according to an obituary. He was a foundation member of the Australian Journalists' Association and a friend of fellow Creswick native, Norman Lindsay. John married Veronica McNamee in 1911 and they had one daughter, Veronica, who married Graham Green in 1946. Young Veronica had nine month trip to England and Europe in 1937 - this was reported in The Herald.
  • Frank Bazeley (1884- 1955) Frank  married Frances Daintry Harrison in 1945. Frank enlisted in the First World War in November 1917 at the age of 33. He Returned to Australia in May 1919. Frank was also a  journalist, like his maternal grandfather and his brother. He was with The Argus.
  • Guy Howard (1893-1897).

Dr Tremearne's house at Creswick.

The Tremearne family built this grand house (above) in 1881 in Creswick. It is still standing and is now part of Melbourne University's Creswick Campus or the School of Forestry as it used to be known. They were very much involved with the civic and social life of the town.

In 1883/84 Dr Tremearne purchased land at what is now called Endeavour Hills. He was listed as owning Grasmere, Parish of Eumemmerring, part of Thomas Herbert Power's old Estate. I can't find him the the 1884 Rate books but in 1885/76 he is listed as owning 653 acres, Parish of Narre Warren. In 1886/87 - 282 acres Parish of Eumemmerring and in 1887/88  - 292 acres Parish of Eumemmerring and a house and 300 acres, also in the Parish of Eumemmerring. This was his last appearence in the Rate Books. There appears to me to be some inconsistency with these listings, but never the less, it puts Dr Tremearne into this region. Tremearne is said to have built Four Oaks homestead. The house is still standing at 13 Cardigan Street, Endeavour Hills. Four Oaks was so named as there were four oak trees on the property and is the name of one of the City of Casey Wards. There are only two oak trees remaining. I do not believe that Dr Tremearne actually lived at any of these properties as there is evidence that he was still working in Creswick at the time, so it may be that he held this land as a speculative investment and the house was built for a farm manager.

Four Oaks, Endeavour Hills in 1987.

Tremearne put his land up for sale on November 23, 1887 - as you can see by the advertisement below. Interestingly the property is not called Four Oaks but Rockley Park. Rockley Park, allotments 17 to 20, Parish of Eumemmering is  south of Heatherton Road, between Power Road and Hallam North Road and is just over 650 acres.

Sale of Dr Tremearne's Dandnenong properties.
The Australasian November 5, 1887.

The 1880s was a boom time in Victoria with property values going through the roof which is reflected in the following story and also adds strength to my idea that Tremearne had purchased this land as an investment. The property was sold by Tremearne to James Mirams on March 1, 1888 for 40,000 pounds. On March 14, Mirams sold the land for 48,000 pounds to the Real Estate Bank. On May 1, the Real Estate Bank sold the land to Frederick Illingworth for 60,000 pounds. On June 14, Illingworth sold the land to the Grasmere Estate Company for 105,000 pounds. However when Tremearne sold the land to Mirams, Mirams paid in cash and promissory notes to be paid at specific times over the next few years and if Mirams failed to make a payment the contract was rescinded and this happened in March 1889. The contract was rescinded, however Mirams paid so the contract was reinstated. However the Grassmere Company used this to try to get out of the contract with Illingworth. This involved Court case was written up in The Argus of September 10, 1889, you can read it here.

Back to Creswick. During the time Tremearne owned the land in what is now Endeavour Hills, there is plenty of evidence in newspaper reports to show that he was still living and practicing medicine in Creswick and it was during this time that he was charged with manslaughter.  Richard Goatley was accidentally given a dose of morphia by Dr Tremearne rather than a dose of silicate of soda and he died. An inquest was held in February 1886 and the manslaughter trial at Stawell in the March. You can read about the trial, here. In the end the Crown entered a  nolle prosequi or 'unwilling to pursue'.

In 1896, when he was still at Creswick, Dr Tremearne discovered a cure for cancer. As the Sydney Mail newspaper put it  A section of the community hail the report with natural joy. Another section asks, 'Can any good thing come out of Creswick?'  The reputed discoverer is a surgeon and  a scientist, liked and respected by his profession, and has been connected for some years with the pretty little mining township of Creswick, in the Ballarat district (read the article here)  Actually Dr Tremearne had heard of this treatment from a colleague in Germany and so had not discovered it, but he was sent some supplies of this treatment, called methylene blue, and had been experimenting with it for four weeks with six of his cancer patients and he was struck by the wonderful rapidity in which their pain was eased. You can read about the results here, in this report from The Argus of July 31, 1896. If you want to know more about methelyne blue, you can do so here in this Encyclopeadia Britannica article.

Dr Tremearne was clearly a  man who was open to new ideas and in 1897 he was granted  a patent for A new or improved desk or stand for supporting a hook, paper or other articles, and fittings for attaching same to chair, lounge, bed or table. This was gazetted in the Victorian Government Gazette of September 3, 1897.

In September 1902, Dr Tremearne's hospital was sold and they then left Creswick and moved to Melbourne, where two of their sons were living.  In 1908, Ada Tremearne's sister, Ella Martin took over Mandeville Hall in Toorak, a mansion situated on five acres, and turned it into residential suites or rooms. The original house on the site was one of 12 rooms built for Alfred Watson in 1869. It was purchased by Joseph Clarke in 1876 who had the house enlarged to 30 rooms and an ornate facade added. These works were designed by the architect, Charles Webb.  In May 1908 John and Ada moved to Mandeville Hall.  Dr Tremearne died whilst living at Mandeville Hall when he was 68 years old. Ella Martin sold Mandeville Hall in 1924 to the Loreto Order of Nuns, who turned it into a school, which is still running.  It is clear that the Tremearne family were well off, but that still didn't stop the heartache of losing three of their six children at a young age (Ada was eleven years old, Francis was 8 months and Guy was three) and when Ada Tremearne  died in 1942 at the age of 84, she had only two sons living, John and Frank, Arthur having been killed in World War one.

Mandeville Hall,  the last home of Dr Tremearne. 
State Library of Victoria Image IAN31/10/78/18. 
Published in the Australian Illustrated News October 31, 1878.

I have created a list of newspaper articles about Dr Tremearne and his family on Trove, click here to access the list

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