Friday, 14 June 2019

Fraser's Hotel at Pakenham

Michael Kelly established a hotel in Pakenham, on the west side of the Toomuc Creek in 1869. From 1881, the hotel was operated by Eliza and Alexander Fraser.

We can find out something about the Frasers from a Licence renewal hearing that took place in December 1882 at the Berwick Court and was reported in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal on December 13, 1882.  Mrs Fraser had applied for the renewal of her licence for her hotel and billiard table. This was opposed by Sergeant McWilliams on the grounds that her house was so badly kept that it disturbed the quiet of the neighborhood, and that she had got a husband living with her, therefore was not a responsible person to hold a publicans' license, as she might be called away by her husband at any moment. She had also been fined for Sunday trading. Her hearing was postponed until January 5, 1883 and this was also reported in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of January 10, 1883.  At this hearing, Sergeant McWilliams said that the problems at the hotel were getting worse and that two months ago there was a drunken man lying outside covered with blood, apparently having been in a fight. Mrs. Fraser interfered, when Mr Fraser kicked her and gave her a blow in the face. 

The Sergeant went on to give other evidence against Mrs Fraser - Some time ago, about 17th May, 1882, he was on duty in Berwick about nine or ten o'clock, when he was met by Mrs. Fraser in a great state of excitement, who rushed into his arms, exclaiming that she had run away from her husband, as she thought he was going to kill her. At his persuasions, on that occasion, she, after some trouble, returned home. Shortly after that she telegraphed down for the witness to come up to her hotel for the purpose of protecting her against the cruelties of her husband, which witness did. Afterwards she took out a summons before Mr. F. Call in Melbourne, binding her husband over to keep the peace towards her. He also said the outside buildings were in a very dilapidated condition, and what with its being surrounded by pigs and geese and other animals, it was in a most disgusting and beastly state.

Mrs Fraser's lawyer, Mr Gillott, appeared for her and answered some of the allegations and that she was dependent on the profits of the hotel for the support of herself and three children. Other information presented  about Mrs Fraser included  She had held a publican's licence for thirteen years; eleven years in Melbourne at the Inverness, Royal George, and Kirks Bazaar Hotels. There were twelve rooms in the Pakenham Hotel - Michael Kelly, the owner of the hotel, sworn, stated that if the license was granted he was prepared to put the hotel in proper order. The house had been continually licensed for the last fourteen years. The present applicant had been in it since 15th September 1881.  

Mr. Gillott made an able address, and after joining issue on all of the objections that had been raised, said the only tenable one was her unsatisfactory marital relations with her husband which was not
misconduct on her part but her misfortune for which she should not be deprived of her only source of livelihood and thrown upon the world with only a few sticks of furniture to sell to enable her to commence life afresh. The Court granted her licence to keep the hotel for another year on the condition that it was better conducted and the building put in order. For some reason  the licence for the billiard table was not granted. The next few years the licence was renewed without an issue and at a hearing in June 1886, the licence was formally transferred from Alexander's name to Eliza's name.

Fraser's Hotel was part of allotment 1 & 2, Section 2, to the left (or west) of the Toomuc Creek. You can see Bourke's La Trobe Inn (also called Bourke's Hotel) on the other side of the creek.
The Township of Pakenham, County of Mornington. H. Permein, Assist. Surveyor ; lithographed at the Public Lands Office, Melbourne, April 22nd, 1858 by T. Ham. Victoria. Public Lands Office
State Library of Victoria - see the full map here -

Eliza Fraser (nee Mulcahy) died July 31, 1890 at the age of 43. Her Will lists her property - that piece of land at Pakenham being part of allotment 1& 2, Section 2, Parish of Pakenham on which is erected a weather-board house containing seven rooms, and kitchen and bedrooms detached containing 3 rooms and the said land containing one acre. Also all that piece or parcel of land situate at Pakenham containing half acre or thereabouts. The value of the land was £890 and the total estate including personal property was valued at £915. The Estate was left to her three sons -  John James Ward, Arthur Ward and Alexander Fraser. Eliza had married Arthur Ward in 1869 and he died May 26, 1874. She married Alexander Fraser in 1878 - the year they moved to Pakenham - more of which below.  Her executors were her son, John James Ward, Patrick Kennedy and John Dwyer.

John Dwyer took over as licensee of the hotel after Eliza’s death, according to a Berwick Licensing Court hearing, held on December 5, 1890.  The 1889/1890 Rate books list Eliza as the owner of the hotel, for some reasons in the previous three years she is not listed and in 1885/1886 she listed as renting the building from Michael Kelly, which means it was sometime in that date range that she purchased the building from Mr Kelly.  I am unsure what happened after that - a property was listed in Eliza Fraser's name (either as Estate of or Executors of) up to the 1894/1895 Rate books, the address being Lot 1 Staughtons sub-division - I think that is possibly 'the parcel of land situate in Pakenham' that was listed in the Will, and not the Hotel. The 1895/1896 Rate Books has this property listed as being owned by Mrs F. Allen, occupation Housekeeper. In the 1897/1898 Rates her occupation has been gentrified to 'Lady' - she has the property up to 1905, but that's as far as I went looking.  I cannot find John Dwyer listed in the Rate Books, so I have no information about other owners of the hotel property or the fate of the building.

Before we finish up we will have a look at  Eliza's children - her first son, John James Ward,  was born 1872 in Ballarat. He married Ellen Gertrude Rice in 1891 and, sadly, died  April 12 1893 in his 21st year. Ellen applied for Probate on July 21, 1893 and  the following information was listed - he was a grocer from Pakenham and they had two children - Bernard - 18 months old and John James - 2 months old. Ellen was living in Cowwar at the time.

John's death notice
The Age April 13, 1893

Eliza's middle son, Arthur Ward, was born in 1874 in Ballarat. Arthur enlisted in the First World War, on November 19, 1915 at the age of 42 (Service number 20154).  His address was a miner and he lived at Donnybrook in Western Australia. Arthur Died of Wounds on April 17, 1918. His Next of Kin was his sister-in-law, Ellen Hawes of Cowwarr. Ellen had married Edgar Hawes in 1897. Arthur is listed on the Honor Board at St Patrick's Catholic School in Pakenham, see here.  There is more information on the St Patrick's Honor Board and other Great War Memorials in the Pakenham District on Patrick Ferry's website - A Century After the Guns Fell Silent Remembering the Pakenham District's WWI Diggers 1914-1918

Reference to Arthur Ward's death - 'native of Pakenham' - buried at Vignacourt in France
Commonwealth War Graves Commission; London, United Kingdom; The War Graves Of The British Empire, Hem Farm, Hem-Monacu Suzanne Communal, Suzanne Military, Herbecourt British, Frise Communal, France. 

Death notice of Ellen - John's wife and Arthur's sister -in-law
The Argus November 15, 1955

Eliza's last son, Alexander Fraser,  was born in  Pakenham in 1879. This means that the Frasers were in Pakenham at least two years before they took over the licence of the Hotel in 1881, so I did some more research and found an article about an Insolvency case brought against Alexander Fraser, farmer, of Pakenham. The article tell us that Alexander and Eliza had purchased 165 acres each in June 1878 and that my wife was possessed of and carried on business in the Royal George Hotel, Elizabeth street - so this confirms that this couple are the same ones that held the hotel licence. You can read the full report, here, in The Herald, June 9, 1880. I presume Alexander being declared bankrupt was the catalyst for Eliza Fraser going back into the hotel business. I don't know what happened to Alexander Fraser - either the father or the son -  in the end.

I have created a list of newspaper articles on Trove on Eliza Fraser and her hotel and family, you can access it here.

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