Early place names in Victoria can bamboozle you.
In the 1840s, my maternal great great grandfather Edward WINTER, or Eddie, as I like to call him, lived in a couple of places that required a bit of lateral thinking to find out where they were today.
The place names were Lucerne and The Springs.
Eddie’s the guy in blue below….
What I know about Eddie…in brief
Eddie emigrated to Australia from ‘Limerick, Ireland’, arriving in Sydney on 30 September 1839 on the ship, Amelia Thompson, as an assisted immigrant, brought out by the agent John Marshall.
He was classified as a Gardener.
27 years old, unmarried, Protestant. Reads only.
He was ‘sober, honest and industrious’ and was thought to be ‘useful’.
He married Honoria TANCRED (green box in pedigree chart), also an immigrant from Limerick, Ireland, on 28 January 1840 at St Lawrence’s Church of England, Sydney.
He didn’t waste any time.
Honoria’s death certificate (d.1856) (she died at 37 years of age from laryngitis) indicates she was ’17 years in Victoria’ which is all her married life. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find her migration details…
There is evidence of TANCREDs in the same area as the WINTERs in the parish of Dromcolliher, County Limerick so I suspect Eddie knew Honoria before emigrating.
I next catch up with Eddie and Honoria in 1841 at the baptism of their first child Margaret in St James, Church of England, Melbourne.
The index to the baptism gives her birthplace as Lucerne.
The 1841 Census of New South Wales (below), County of Bourke, Eddie is ‘in charge’ of a property with Thomas WILLS as the proprietor. Place name, Lucerne.
This was the clue I needed.
NB NSW didn’t separate from Victoria until 1851.
Who was Thomas Wills?
Thomas WILLS was the son of a convict father and a free settler mother. He became a successful businessman and later a Justice of the Peace and a magistrate. He moved to Melbourne from Sydney in 1840 and bought land on the Yarra in an area under the jurisdiction of Heidelberg, now known as Alphington.
With some research I found out that the Latrobe Golf course was once the farm of Thomas WILLS and he had named the farm, Lucerne.
From information on the Latrobe Golf Club‘s website:
Latrobe Golf Club is located on one of Melbourne’s most historic sites. Melbourne was first settled in 1835, and in June 1840 Thomas Wills purchased, for £3784, 176 acres (70 ha) of land which formed a rough semi-circle between Darebin Creek, its junction with the Yarra River and the Yarra River itself. The land takes in all of what is now Latrobe Golf Club, plus Farm Road, Lucerne Crescent, the Tower Hotel and bordered on the west by what is now Como Street.
Almost straight away, Wills began clearing the property and landscaping the hill that overlooked it in preparation for building a mansion. ‘Lucerne’, as he called it, was the grandest home of its day. Proudly sitting atop the rise where the golf club upper car park is now, it was made of bluestone and hand-made bricks from one of the colony’s first kilns. The interior walls were lath and plaster with much stained woodwork and an imposing staircase.
The origin of the name Lucerne may have had something to do with Governor La Trobe and his association with Switzerland:
The name of Wills’ property may well have been influenced by La Trobe’s Swiss background (La Trobe spent much time in Switzerland before coming to Australia, and later returned there) — and surrounding streets are also named after Swiss locations.
In April of this year, I read an article in The Age about an open garden, called Linden in Alphington. It said the land was originally owned by Thomas Wills and was part of the Lucerne farm.
It was a lovely property on Lucerne Crescent, Alphington. The back of the house (pictured) overlooked the Latrobe Golf Course; the Lucerne property.
It was a thrill to be able to see some of the land Eddie was associated with and to imagine what life may have been like for him and his new wife and child, Margaret.
That solved the mystery of Lucerne.
So, if Lucerne was a farm, could Springs be one too?
In 1851, the death records for Margaret WINTER, the first born child of of Eddie and Honoria WINTER born in 1841, gives her abode not as her birthplace Lucerne, but as Springs.
Their second born child, Lydia, was born at Springs in 1843.
The next seven children, from 1845 to 1856, were born in Keilor. But the fact that Margaret’s abode at the time of her death in 1851 is described as Springs infers that Springs is associated with Keilor. This narrowed down the search.
A chance entry in the memoirs of Isaac BATEY, the husband of Lydia WINTER, Eddie’s second daughter, and the son of a pioneer in the Sunbury, Keilor and Werribee district consolidated my suspicions.
As I was reading through BATEY’s memoirs in the beautiful manuscript room of the State Library of Victoria, I came across several references to his father-in-law, Edward WINTER. (The memoirs were also serialized in the Sunbury News in 1903 and 1904).
One of the references in a chapter about a trip Batey made with his father from Sunbury to Melbourne in 1847, mentions that his father-in-law, Edward WINTER, was renting a property from John Leslie Vesey Fitzgerald FOSTER (click on his name to see how he was named this mouthful) in the Keilor district in 1843.
I went looking for land owned by FOSTER in Keilor.
The FOSTER brothers, John and William, had land on the boundary of the present suburbs of Tullamarine and on Sharps Road, near Keilor as identified on the parish maps below:
The above map joins the map below…sort of…
Information regarding Springs was found in the book Steele Creek and The Lady of the Lake: the early history of Niddrie, Airport West, Keilor East, Avondale Heights, Keilor Park, West Essendon and Tullamarine. An excellent book written and published by Christine Laskowski.
The Springs Estate, comprising 712 acres on Section 20 and 640 acres on Section 21, Doutta Galla, was situated at the headwaters of Steele Creek.
As can be seen on the Parish map of Doutta Galla, JFLV Foster bought Section 20 and his brother, W Foster bought Section 21. Soon after these acquisitions JFLV acquired Section 21 from his brother. Page 41
In the 1840s Section 21 was broken up into farmlets and Section 20 remained relatively intact into the 1900s. Page 41
Section 3 in the Parish of Tullamarine corresponds to the present day suburb of Tullamarine and is just south of Melbourne Airport. (By matching up the Maribyrnong River to the west and the Moonee Ponds Creek to the east on all the maps gives you a better idea of the location of the land owned by the FOSTER brothers.)
Map of Keilor/Tullamarine today (below). Sharps Road is No. 39.
That solved the mystery of the Springs.
Eddie eventually bought his own land in what is now the township of Keilor and further up the Calder Hwy at Digger’s Rest.
What I learnt
I learnt not to think of suburbs as we know them now. The period of time I was researching corresponded with the beginning of European settlement in the Port Phillip District and large properties were considered as landmarks, so ‘abode’ on certificates related to a farm or the nearest significant landmark.
Interestingly, over the years, I’ve visited patients in my role as a palliative care nurse in Lucerne Crescent, Alphington and Sharps Road, Tullamarine. So, I didn’t need to go to Ireland to say I’d walked in the footsteps of my Irish forebears but I would have gone anyway!
TIP The website ‘Victorian Places’ put together by Monash University and the University of Queensland is a great resource for researching the history of places in Victoria that had a population of more than 200 people. Click here.
Laskowski, Christine, Steele Creek and The Lady of the Lake: the early history of Niddrie, Airport West, Keilor East, Avondale Heights, Keilor Park, West Essendon and Tullamarine, 2013, Essendon, Christine Laskowski.