Betty Blunden 1981
Source: From a photocopy of Betty’s original typescript, held by my brother Peter Blunden;
The diagrams, family trees and documents have been omitted.
This document may be reproduced or quoted so long as material is attributed to the author.
The Blundens in England
The Blundens in Australia
Appendix 1 Direct line of descent, Nance family to Elizabeth Nance
Appendix 2 A suggested origin of the Comte de Nantes legend
Appendix 3 Last Will and Testament of Ann Blunden
Appendix 4Last Will and Testament of Andrew Nance
Appendix 5 The Nances and the Coaching Days
I first became interested in the history of the BLUNDEN family about forty years ago when I met Essie Thompson, an aunt of my husband Ralph. During the remaining twenty years of her life we saw each other often and she encouraged my interest by talking of her father, Godfrey Blunden, her grandparents and the Blundens in general. Essie gave me photographs of her four grandparents — John and Elizabeth Blunden and Captain John McMill and his wife Susannah. I also became a close friend of Ralph’s maternal aunt, May Gibson Allan, who told me stories of the McMillans and the Gibsons. That started a long search in the course of which I have collected information about the family from their descendants, from the Latrobe Library in Melbourne and from other sources.
In 1961, when Ralph and I were in England, I engaged a professional genealogist who traced the Blundens and Nances (Elizabeth Blunden’s family) over several generations. Word got around the family in Australia that I had done a lot of research, relatives contacted me and we pooled our information. At the Latrobe Library I was given the address of Lucy Marshall, of Auckland, New Zealand, who had written asking about John Blunden. I wrote to Lucy, who is the wife of Lindsay Marshall, grandson of George, John Blunden’s eldest son by his first wife, Harriet Jelleff. That was in 1967 and Lucy and I have corresponded and exchanged information ever since.
Lucy is a graduate in English, an amateur historian and was first president of the Genealogical Society of New Zealand. Through her I got in touch with Evan Best, a graduate historian and a Councillor of the Australian Society of Genealogists. Sydney. Evan is a great-grandson of Susannah Dreweatt, Elizabeth Blunden’s sister. and has contacts with Nance descendants all around Australia, in England, the United States and Canada.
At about the same time I began corresponding with Phyllis Blair, a granddaughter of Ada Blunden and a great-granddaughter of John and Elizabeth. When I heard in 1972 that Phil and her husband Jim, a journalist with considerable experience in historical research, were about to go to England and planned to visit Portsmouth to see what, if anything, remained of the Blunden and Nance properties, I sent them a copy of all my research material.. On their return to Sydney they sent me a report on their Portsmouth investigations and since then Jim has continued to give me the results of further research done in Australia and England. especially in relation to the Cornwall Nances.
I have written my story in two parts: The Blundens in England and The Blundens in Australia. “The Blundens in England” is a short narrative drawn from the vast amount of material collected by the professional genealogist and the historian/genealogists of the family, Lucy, Evan and Jim. In putting together “The Blundens in Australia” I have been helped by historians, members of the family, archivists at the Latrobe Library and officers of the Victorian Lands Department. Much material was also obtained from birth, death and marriage certificates.
Starting point for the search was a Notary’s Certificate given me by Aunt Essie. It was dated 12 June, 1874 stating that John Blunden, of this parish, widower, and Elizabeth Nance of this parish, spinster, were married in the Parish Church of Portsmouth in the County of Southampton 16 August, 1844.
The family tradition was that John was a doctor from Ireland, a connection of the Blundens of Castle Blunden, Kilkenny and that Elizabeth’s father was Comte de Nantes and that he had escaped from France during the Revolution.
A copy of the 1844 marriage certificate was obtained from Somerset House and in it the respective fathers were named George Blunden, yeoman and Andrew Nance, Esquire, living at Broad Street, Portsmouth. The genealogist in London started the search, obtaining information from census returns. records of births, deaths and marriages. the contents of wills. The story could be told backwards, as it was unfolded. but it is simpler to tell it from ‘the beginning’ — the point to which the genealogist, first, and later Lucy Marshall, ware able to trace the family.
The Blundens can be traced with reasonable certainty to RICHARD BLUNDEN who married ALICE CLARKE on 9 October, 1614 In Boxgrove, Sussex. Alice, the daughter of John Clarke and Agnes Pettie was born in 1593. RICHARD and ALICE BLUNDEN had six daughters and one son, WILLIAM, who was baptised 15 May, 1634. He married SARA (surname unknown) and they had nine children, the youngest being JOHN who was baptised 26 March, 1677. William died 1702/3 and we may gain some impression of the life of a seventeenth century working man in Sussex from his will and the Inventory of his possessions, both held at the Record Office at Chichester.
William was a “cordwainer,” a shoemaker and worker in leather, but he also farmed a few acres of land. He lived in a four-roomed cottage furnished with plain necessities but no luxuries. The main room or “Hall” contained two tables, twelve chairs. a couple of stools, a cupboard, two andirons, two pewter dishes, a flagon. three candlesticks and a grate. In the kitchen was a table and six chairs, fourteen pewter dishes, a cupboard, a variety of kitchen implements such as cleavers, tongs, hooks, spits reminding us that meat was then cooked over an open fire. The hall chamber contained two beds and bedding and three chests while the kitchen chamber held one bed, two chests, a warming pan, two chairs, two dozen napkins, four table cloths, eight pairs of sheets, five ‘pillow coates’ and seven pounds of thread.
There was also a brew house, a milk house and a drink house, probably either lean-to rooms or out-buildings. Various utensils were stored in the brew house besides a vat and cheese press, tubs, drink vessels and bottles.
In the drink house there were twenty-four cheeses, one pot of butter, two flitches of bacon and one salting trough while the milk house contained ten milk trays.
William’s outdoor stock comprised two fat hogs and twelve lean ‘shilts’ and two horses. There was corn in the barn and thirty quarters of barley worth £24; five quarters of oats and five quarters of vetches and fourteen acres of wheat in the ground. His will mentions land held in Halnaker and Strettington in the parish of Boxgrove.
William’s wearing apparel, purse and money were worth. £5 and his total estate was valued at £84, including £1 for “all things unseen and forgotten.” William bequeathed all his “freehold lands, tenements, barns and buildings ... in Halnaker and Strattington in the parish of Boxgrove” to his son John Blunden and his heirs. John was made executor of his father’s will. William left fifty pounds to his daughter Ann Blunden, five shillings each to his widowed daughter, Sarah Charles and to his second wife, Katherine as well as a shilling apiece to his grandchildren.
There is a marriage licence dated 23 November, 1702 for JOHN BLUNDEN of Boxgrove, Yeoman and ANN ROYLE of St. Pancras near Chichester. Ann was the daughter of Henry Royle, brickburner and his wife Magdalen and had been baptised 7 January, 1679. The first two children born to the couple were baptised at Boxgrove: Ann, baptised 5 October, 1703 and Sarah, baptised 1 March, 1704. On both entries John is described as ‘husbandman’. John and Ann probably went to help in the brickburning business of her parents as John is described as a brickburner in his will made in 1729, proved in 1731.
The wills of Ann Royle Blunden’s parents were found; that of Henry “Roile,” brickmaker was proved in 1716 and he left everything to his wife, Magdalen. Her will, proved in 1741, is a long document and shows that she held the leasehold of a number of properties in Chichester which were let to tenants. She is described as a “widow being very much in years” and makes a number of personal bequests — her working tools and best riding hood as well as her brewing utensils to her daughter Magdalen Clinch...to her daughter Jane Lucas one bedstead, one pair of curtain rods, and my “silk damask not made up.”.."to my daughter Ann Blunden my best suit of clothes, one holland apron, one shift, one half handkerchief, my mother’s wedding ring, one hat and silk. hatband.”
Magdalen “Roile” left all her property to be divided between her three married daughters, Magdalen, wife of Timothy Clinch; Jane, wife of Richard Lucas and Ann Blunden, widow. Ann’s share included “freehold tenements divided into two tenements in St. Pancras now in occupation of Thomas Morley and William Oliver ... and a leasehold tenement without Eastgate in the Parish of St. Peter the Great last in occupation of Thomas Dunstall...” as well as the personal bequests mentioned above.
JOHN’s will, made in 1729 and proved in 1731, mentions his “four youngestchildren” Mary, JAMES, Elizabeth and Robert Blunden. Presumably these were the only children still under age as there is a separate bequest “to my dear children a shilling a piece,” a formula that is said to indicate that other provision has already been made for such beneficiaries. John bequeathed to his wife “all my dwelling house and buildings in St. Pancras in the City of Chichester ... my wife to have the house and household goods with what moneys these shall or may be left for the better maintaining of herself and her children...” Ann was made sole executor and his mother-in-law, Magdalan “Rill” was one of the witnesses.
JAMES BLUNDEN of Clapham, brickmaker was married to ELIZABETH PARSONS, maiden of Tarring at Heene 14 December, 1741. James and Elizabeth had five sons and one daughter, the baptism of the first four appearing in the Durrington Bishop’s Transcripts — John, 15 July, 1742; James, 14 June, 1744; George, 6 March, 1746; William, 25 April, 1748. STEPHEN’s baptism, 8 February, 1749 is recorded in the Goring Parish Register.
JAMES, a brickmaker of Clapham when he married, was a yeoman of Coate in the parish of West Tarring when he died in 1791. His son James predeceased him. His estate, under £1,000, was divided between his four other sons and various grandchildren. James, George, William and STEPHEN all received 1/ 16th part.
On 5 May, 1787, when he was thirty-six years old STEPHEN, now known as STEPHEN BLUNDEN of Poling, farmer, married FANNY GOBLE or Broadwater, aged 38. STEPHEN’s brother, George, of Tortington was bondsman. Four years later George died. His property was then “not more than £1,000.” George was a yeoman and his will gives us a few facts about his brothers. John was “of Combes” and a labourer. James, deceased, was of Goring. And “To my brother STEPHEN BLUNDEN of Poling, farmer, all my lands...all goods, securities (except goods to be given to my wife) charged with payment of annuity of £20 to my wife.”
STEPHEN and FANNY had one son, named GEORGE and he was baptised at Poling 9 August, 1788. ‘STEPHEN died 4 April, 1807 and his wife FANNY died 29 October, 1829. They were both buried at Poling.
On 21 February, 1314, when he was twenty-six, GEORGE BLUNDEN, now a farmer of Lyminster, County Sussex married ANN FRANCES BARTON CORTIS. Ann was twenty-five, the eldest daughter of George Cortis, yeoman of Angmering, grand-daughter of James Cortis, yeoman of Ferring Fure and great grand-daughter of John Cortis, yeoman of Ferring Fure. Ann’s aunt, also named Ann Cortis married William Halsted at Angmering in 1781. William Halsted was an executor to the will of his brother-in-law, James Cortis, in 1824. Probably this is the origin of the name Halsted being given as second name to Godfrey Halsted Blunden, GEORGE and ANN (Cortis’) grandson who was born in Australia in 1853.
GEORGE and ANN had eleven children, JOHN, the eldest being the founder of our branch of Australian Blundens.
The first four children were born at Cross Bush, Lyminster. JOHN was born December, 1814; Stephen, 4 February, 1816; Frances, 1818; Emily, 1820. Henry was born at Angmering, his mother’s birthplace, in 1822 and the remaining children were born at Poling-George, 1824; Martha, 1826; Helen, 1829; twins Richard and Robert, 1830; and Edward, 1831.
GEORGE BLUNDEN died 31 January, 1845. The witnesses of his will were his daughter, Martha and William Halsted, probably his wife’s cousin. His will reads:
“This is the last Will and Testament of me George Blunden of Poling in the County of Sussex Yoeman whereby I give devise and bequeath unto my dear wife Ann Blunden all and singular my real and personal Estate and Effects of every description for her own use absolutely and for ever and I appoint my said wife sole Executrix of my will and Guardian of my Children this Second day of January one thousand eight hundred and forty five.
Signed in our presence
and in the presence of each other
by us also in his and her presence
Edw. H. Johnson Commissioner.
Proved at London 6th April 1845 before the Judge by the Oath of Ann Blunden Widow the relict the sole Executrix to whom Admin. was granted having been first sworn by Commissioner to Administer.
Valued at £800”
Before GEORGE died most probably JOHN, and certainly Stephen and Emily had sailed for Australia in 1836. More of that later. John had returned to England and marri ed HARRIET, daughter of Joshua Jelleff on 21 November , 1837. Their first son, George, was born 3 September, 1839 in the Parish of Catherington. John is described on the birth certificate as “yeoman of Horndean.” Two more children, Frederic and Fanny, were born to Harriet before her death, aged twenty-five on 9 March, 1842 of Phthisis in her husband’s home at 84 High Street, Portsmouth. It was a chemist shop and John had changed his profession to chemist. Harriet’s second and third children both died in infancy.
Lucy Marshall has taken particular interest in the Jelleff family as Harriet was the mother of George Blunden, the founder of the Blunden family in New Zealand.
received Joshua Jelleff’s will from Somerset House but it does not help us very much as no probate value is given. Even probate value might not help much as the will was made in 1823 when Harriet was only six. Joshua’s property was to be managed by trustees and divided when the youngest child (Harriet) became twenty-one. The property may have increased or decreased in value during the next fifteen years. Presumably Harriet did not receive her share until a few months after she married John Blunden. Joshua’s will was proved in 1839 but he may have died a number of years earlier. (There was no mention of receiving the share of the estate at marriage). I have not traced the Jelleff family beyond Harriet’s grand-father. it seems possible that the name was originally Jolliffe, a common name on the Isle of Wight.
“Joshua’s property was to have been shared between his wife, his ‘reputed son John Jelleff of Chidham in Sussex’, his sons Joseph and James, and daughters Eliza, Mary Ann, Louisa, Jane and Harriet. These nine beneficiaries would have been reduced to five at the most by 1838 when Harriet was twenty-one. James was dead, also his sisters Mary Ann, Louisa and Jane.
“Joshua Jelleff seems to have been a fairly substantial-farmer. He left £834 to be invested for the benefit of his ‘honoured mother’, tor life. After his death his sister Mary had a life interest in the income from £417 which was eventually to be divided between her children or those of her deceased sister Elizabeth Bridges. The other £417 was to be divided among Elizabeth Bridges’ children as they became twenty-one Surely Joshua must have.’ had plenty of money if he could provide for his nieces and nephew as well as his children.
“We know that John Blunden did not benefit greatly from the estates of his parents. His father left not more than £800 and he received only the interest on his share of his mother’s estate. — It does seem likely that his first wife, Harriet came into some money a few months after her marriage. This would have passed completely into John’s control and it seems very likely that he invested it in Australia.”
When JOHN BLUNDEN married ELIZABETH NANCE in the Parish Church of Portsmouth in the County of Southampton 16 August, 1844 he gave — as his “Rank or Profession” — Gentleman. (Some years later in Australia he practised as a Doctor of Medicine and was known as Dr John Blunden. It seems the only formal training he received for the medical profession was as a chemist’s apprentice. The name Blunden does not appear in “Munks Roll of the Royal College of Physicians,” a published list of doctors from earliest times. His name is also absent from the “Medical Directory, 1845” in the Society of Genealogists’ library, London. The first medical school in Australia opened in Melbourne in 1863, and there is no Blunden on any list of doctors published in Australia.)
Two years after John married Elizabeth Nance, her brother Andrew Nance married John’s sister Martha Blunden. Through my genealogist I was able to trace back three generations to an Andrew and Martha Nance of Sandwich. Since then a great number of people including a group of fifteen Nance descendants from the US and five from Cornwall have traced the Nances to a Nicholas de Nans who lived in Cornwall circa 1241. Jim Blair has passed on to me the results of this research and I shall draw up a simple family tree in Appendix.’. Jim also has a theory on the possible origin of the Comte de Nantes legend and his notes are to be found in Appendix 2.
John’s mother, Ann Blunden died at Angmering in 1864, aged seventy-five years. Her estate was “under £4,000.”
Here is a summary of her will: (The complete will is given in Appendix 3.)
Four sporting pictures to Stephen Blunden. Portrait of late husband and China Bowl to Emily Walford. Plate and plated articles, furniture, books, linen, household goods, between Emily Walford and Martha Nance, to be equally divided. Executors Stephen Blunden and Andrew Nance.
Estate (under £4,000) to be converted to cash.
1/10th to be invested and the interest paid to son-in-law, John Newland
Tomkins for life then to grandson John Tomkins, until he was twenty-one, when the said sum, ore tenth of the estate, is to be paid to him for his own and absolute use and benefit.
In case grandson John Tomkins survives father but dies under twenty-one, the 1/10th portion to be shared between all her children in the same way as the rest of the estate.
The residue of the estate to be shared equally between all her children then living, as tenants in common, not joint tenants.
Nevertheless, the share to which John Blunden will be entitled is to be retained by the executors and invested by them and they are to pay him the interest during his lifetime.
After the death of John Blunden, his share to be invested in trust for George Blunden, John’s eldest son by his first wife.
If George Blunden dies before his father the money is to be in trust for John Blunden absolutely.
If George Blunden survives his father but dies before twenty-one, then the share Is to be divided between all other children of John Blunden in equal shares to be paid when they turn twenty-one. If any of her children OTHER THAN JOHN BLUN DEN die in her lifetime leaving lawful issue, the latter are entitled to the share their parent would have had.
Lucy Marshall made these comments on the will:
“Ann Blunden’s sister, Miriam, married John Cole Tomkins of Poling at Angmering in 1818. It seems likely that John Newland Tomkins, husband of Ann’s youngest daughter Helen, was also her first cousin and thus was nephew as well as son-in-law to Ann. She probably spent her last years with them at Angmering and becam especially fond of her grandson, John Tomkins, who had a special legacy in her will. We do not know if this John Tomkins survived to inherit his grandmother’s bequest. The other grandson to receive special mention, George Blunden, did survive and thus John’s five other children did not benefit from their grandmother Blunden’s estate as John, of all her children, received only a life interest in his mother’s estate. It is not clear why his mother should have discriminated against John in this way — whether she distrusted his handling of money or whether she felt George should have been better provided for. (There is the story that John invested money from his first wife in Australia on George’s behalf but ill was lost through drought). It cannot have been that she felt that John’s second family would be sufficiently provided for by their Nance grandfather, as her daughter Martha was married to Elizabeth’s brother, — Andrew Nance and no special provisions were made regarding Martha’s share of her mother’s estate:
“It is doubtful whether George did actually receive any special inheritance from his grandmother. According to his daughter Jessie, he went to Australia after his father’s death and collected a small legacy from his father’s estate which paid for his trip and some new clothes for the children. There was no mention of any subsequent money from his grandmother’s estate.
“Incidentally, John’s interest had to be paid for nearly thirty years — until his death in 1893. Of the two trustees, Stephen Blunden died soon after his mother on 3 February, 1865. Andrew Nance died 24 December, 1877 at Portsmouth (worth nearly £70,000). Their executors mu t, in turn, have continued to administer Ann Blunden’s estate.”
In 1961 while Ralph and I were in Europe, we spent some time in Ireland. Still believing that Castle Blunden was “in the family” we visited Kilkenny and saw the castle. It is a beautiful three storey Georgian house which has taken the place of the original castle. Later we met Sir William and Lady Blunden in Dublin. They are, a charming couple with six daughters. They* were reconciled to the probability of the castle being inherited by a nephew. When Ralph explained that we were Australian Blundens and believed we were connected in some way, Sir William was puzzled but not decisive. I looked up Debrett when I returned to Melbourne. The Baronetcy was granted in 1766 to Sir John Blunden and from a look at the family tree there was no way that there could be a connection. It is possible that the two families sprang from the same source.
The Nance family of Portsmouth was a prosperous one. The ANDREW NANCE (1) of my family tree, 1751-1800, was apprenticed as a felt maker in Padstow, Cornwall in 1764. There is no record of his whereabouts for the next ten years but during that time he married Martha, whose surname is unknown. They were married before 1772 and possibly she was a Frenchwoman and possibly they were married in Caen in France. Jim Blair has made unsuccessful attempts to obtain a record of the marriage but the relevant records were destroyed during the World War 2. This Martha, of whom nothing is known, is the most likely person to be the ‘French Connection” of the Nance family. (The family legend was that Elizabeth Nance had been the daughter of the Comte de Nantes who came as an emigre to England. The professional genealogist that I used made this the first area for her research. There never has been a Comte de Nantes.)
Their first son, William Andrew was born about 1773 possibly in France. He was a hatter in Southampton in 1797. Seven more children were born to Andrew and Martha and they were all baptised at Sandwich, Kent. The fourth child was ANDREW NANCE (2). He became a hatter of High Street, Portsmouth. When he was twenty years old he married Ann Norris, daughter of William Norris, brewer and wine merchant of High Street, Portsmouth. The hatter subsequently became a hotel proprietor as well as the owner of a great deal of property in Portsmouth. He owned the Fountain Hotel in High Street where his son, Andrew (3) was born. He also owned the old Blue Posts Inn of Broad Street and the Crown Hotel. He was postingmaster between 1833-1836 and Alderman of Portsmouth in 1851. His other children were Martha, born 1798, who married Thomas Calton; Suseanne, 1801-1805; Ann, 1803-1805; Susanna, 1808, who married Thomas Dreweatt; Andrew (3) 1810, who married Martha Blunden; Marianne, 1805, Charlotte; William, 1813; James, 1816; ELIZABETH, 1818, who married John Blunden; Eleanor, known as Ellen, 1820, who married James Conway Langdon; and Richard, 1822.
ANDREW (2) — died 15 January, 1853. His will is printed in full in Appendix 4. Briefly, it provided an annual income — the interest from a specified ‘legacy’ — for his daughters Martha, Susanna, Elizabeth and Ellen, and for the widow of his son James who pre-deceased him and for the two daughters of his daughter Marianne who also pre-deceased him. Elizabeth and Ellen’s ‘legacies’ were both of £3,000. Several properties in Rands Court, Gosport, County Southampton, also a dwelling house in Bathing Lane, otherwise West Street, Portsmouth were left to his son William. Two dwelling houses, shops, etc. on the south side of High Street in Portsmouth were left to Martha.
As well as the annual income, Elizabeth and Ellen were left, in equal shares, the rents and profits of “Freehold and leasehold messuages and dwelling house, stores. wharf buildings and premises situate at the point of Portsmouth aforesaid and adjoining the Harbour formerly known as Whiting$ and now in lease to and in occupation of George Baker...free from the control and debts of their present and future husbands...and Elizabeth and Ellen shall respectively have no power to anticipate the same...” — they could not sell the property, it was in trust and on their deaths it should go to their children and their heirs “for ever.”
His son Andrew (3). was one of the executors, but he is not otherwise mentioned in the will. When he died twenty-five years later he left an estate of £70,000, so it could be assumed that he was given his share of his father’s estate before the latter died. (Nance (2) Will App. 4)
Ellen was the first Nance to come to Australia. She was twenty-one when she married James Conway Langdon at Lymington, Hampshire 8 July, 1841. Susanna Nance, who married Thomas Dreweatt, did not herself go to Australia, but her daughter, L ouisa Dreweatt went there after her marriage to Captain Richard Sleeman. Louisa and Richard Sleeman are the great grandparents of Evan Best. Andrew Nance (3) married Martha Blunden, John’s sister. An obituary in the Portsmouth Times, 24 December, 1877 reads:
“The late Mr Alderman Nance, J.P. The announcement of the death at his residence, Oatlands, Kingston Cross, on Christmas Eve, of the above named gentleman, although not unexpected, occasioned a deep feeling of regret in the borough:..., Portsmouth has been deprived of one of her leading citizens...an unostentatious and retiring disposition....many years a member of the Town Council. As a man of business Mr Nance deservedly gained a high reputation, his Judgment being exceptionally, sound, his perception most acute., and his enterprise unbounded. He was moreover ever ready to lend a helping hand to others ... Nearly a year ago Mr Nance,, on visiting — his stable at Stamshaw, received a kick just above the knee from a vicious horse which he had just purchased. A wound was produced and malignant disease manifested itself, which soon reduced Mr Nance to the condition of a helpless invalid, as he remained until his demise ... The propriety of amputating the limb was several times discussed, but it was always decided that the deceased would not survive the shock to the system. Mr Nance was barn on the 6th of April, 1810, at the Fountain Hotel, Portsmouth, which was then kept by his father, the late Mr Andrew Nance, who was also at the same time landlord of the Crown Hotel, Pembroke Street, and a post-master who was known throughout the country. From his early boyhood the deceased was extremely fond of horses... As a young man Mr Nance drove for some rime the historic “Tantivy” coach between London and Portsmouth, and on one occasion accomplished the journey in the then extraordinarily short period of five hours and forty-two minutes. After giving up the whip Mr Nance devoted himself to business ... he obtained the post of local agent of the London and South-Western Railway, Mr Nance did not confine himself to any particular line.. His object was to make money, and whether as a farmer — he lived at Baffins for several years and cultivated upwards of one thousand acres in different parts of the Island of Portsea — or assisting his father in the management of his affairs, or in the various speculations in which he engaged he was eminently successful... His extreme shrewdness was evidenced in a remarkable manner in connection with the Floating Bridge Company. At a time when it was anything but flourishing he acquired a large number of shares at a low price, and by his never-failing attention and energy brought the concern into a prosperous condition. He was principal proprietor of the Old Water Company and a large shareholder, and at the time of his death chairman of the directors of the Portsea Island Gas Company... Mr Nance was also a director of the Southsea Clarence Esplanade Pier Company, and of the Landport and Southsea Tramway Company. He was likewise one of the promoters of the ill-starred Southsea and Isle of Wight Steam Ferry Company, the one solitary exception to the good fortune which attended his ventures. During the Crimean War Mr Nance entered into some large contracts with the Government for the supply of corn, coal, etc... Mr Nance was the beau ideal of a hearty, goodnatured Englishman... oldest Freemason in the borough, and a founder of the Portsmouth Lodge ... oldest member of the Town Council ... elevated to the aldermanic bench...at that time Mr Nance’s father was an alderman of the borough...the deceased was elected mayor 1854-3 ... he was present at the Lord Mayor’s reception of the late Emperor and Empress of France...” The list of Andrew Nance’s positions continues.
Another obituary, in the Hampshire Telegraph, December 26th, 1877 includes this interesting paragraph: “...was elected a Councillor for All Saints’ Ward, from which position he was deposed by enlightened burgesses for having advocated the introduction of the railway to Portsmouth. He was subsequently elected a representative for the Ward of St Paul...”
Jim Blair was intrigued that Andrew Nance should cover the seventy-two miles between London and Portsmouth in five hours and forty-two minutes. He did some research into the coaching days. See Appendix 5.
After Jim and Phil Blair visited Portsmouth in 1972 Phil sent me this report of their search for places that had been connected with the Blundens and Nances.
“During two days spent at Portsmouth in November, 1972, Jim and I located and photographed the sites of several buildings associated with the Blunden and Nance families. I say “sites” because unfortunately not one of the buildings is still standing. The last survivor, the one-time “Fountain Hotel,” where Elizabeth and Andrew Nance were born, was demolished shortly before our visit and only a few stones remain, forming a tiny section of wall adjoining the Sallyport Hotel. The Sallyport Hotel, next door to the Fountain Hotel is still standing, as are the other two buildings between it and the Grand Parade as shown in the plan of the High Street, 1839.
“On the same plan John Blunder’s Chemist Shop (No. 84) is shown opposite the Fountain in High St. This building and a whole row of shops adjoining in the 1839 plan are no longer there. In their place are green lawns flanking the Cathedral (St Thomas’s) which in earlier times was hidden from view by the High St. shops.
“Down towards the Point, in Broad Street, we found the site of the Blue Posts inn which now forms an unprepossessing portion of the Vosper Thornycroft Shipbuilding Yard. What a pity that a place with such historic and romantic associations should come to such a mundane pass! The same may be said for No. 31 on the opposite side of Broad Street. Here a vacant block is the temporary resting place of a tarpaulin-covered motor-launch. In 1844 it was the home from which Elizabeth Nance went to her wedding with John Blunden.
“We went out to Milton Churchyard, a couple of miles east of Old Portsmouth, to see if we could find the grave of Andrew Nance, Elizabeth’s brother. According to his obituary he was buried in the Nance family vault. The old church is gone and the present one dates only from about 1912. All but a handful of the headstones in the churchyard have been removed and there are no Nance or Blunden names among those that remain. We called at the Vicarage. The Vicar was not at home, but his wife told us that she understood there were still some vaults under the lawns, but burials were no longer conducted there. The best we could manage was a snap of the lawns which, by the way, the Vicar’s lady suggested were now considered slightly dangerous to walk on. Perhaps Andrew and his colleagues are beginning to feel restless!
“From Milton we went to Kingston Crescent in search of “Oatlands.” but this also no longer exists. By close examination of the street we decided that it must have stood on the northern side of the Crescent, most probably in the vicinity of the new County Police headquarters. We did locate Kingston House, mentioned in Andrew’s obituaries as the house in which the Mayor and Aldermen assembled to don their official robes prior to the funeral. Kingston House is unoccupied, dilapidated and about to be demolished.
“We called at the Guildhall and when we explained our interest an official took us into the Council Chamber and showed us the Mayoral Honor Roll on which the name of Andrew Nance appears for the years 1854-5. We were also shown the Mayoral Plate and 16th and 17th Century Letters Patent confirming the status of the City. While at the Guildhall we enquired about the exact location of the Blue Posts, viz: Vosper Thorneycroft Shipyard, southern end.
“We searched in vain for traces of the Crown Inn, described in the Andrew Nance obituaries as having been situated in Pembroke Street. We had a feeling that it might be incorporated in the present Royal Naval Club, which Alan Balfour, in his book “Portsmouth” (page 56), says was formed out of a major rebuilding of two 18th Century structures in 1867. However, after returning to London. we wrote to the School of Architecture at the Portsmouth Polytechnic, and found out from that source that the Crown Inn was not in Pembroke St. at all, but in High Street, If you compare the sketch on Page 28 of “Portsmouth In the Past” with the architectural plan of High St. in 1839 you will find that the Inn depicted in the sketch tallies with the buildings Nos. 34-35-36 in the plan. According to “Portsmouth in the Past” the last portion of the old building was demolished in 1900.
“It seems strange that the obituaries should mention Pembroke Street, but after all, when Andrew died in 1877 it was more than 40 years since the building had been an inn, and human memories are not always reliable. Possibly the Crown had a side entrance from Pembroke Street behind other High Street buildings.
“We also asked the School of Architecture about the location of Oatlands. The reply, received since our return to Sydney, was have talked with various people and it seems probable that your supposition is correct the site of “Oatlands” was that now occupied by Kingston Crescent Police Station.”
“One more word about the ‘Fountain Inn’. After its career as the Old Soldiers Home, it became a YMCA Building and finally a Youth Hostel.”
Phyllis Blair Gordon, N.S.W. June, 1973.
Sydney was founded in 1788, Hobart in 1804, Brisbane in 1823 and Perth in 1829. These colonies were established as convict settlements or convicts were eventually used there as labour for the pioneers. Victoria was illegally and haphazardly settled from as early as 1828 and convict labour was used again. South Australia was to be different.
As a result of the enthusiasm of a number of men, ambitious, adventurous or idealistic men, the South Australian Act was passed in the British Parliament in 1834. Authority in the new settlement was to be shared between the Colonial Office and a Board of Commissioners. The names of the ten Commissioners were gazetted in May, 1835. £20,000 had to be raised and land sold to the value of £35,000 before settlement could begin. The largest buyer was the South Australian Company formed in 1835-36. The governorship went to Captain John Hindmarsh, James Hurtle Fisher was appointed Resident Commissioner and William Light was placed in charge of surveys. The official pioneering party sailed on HMS Buffalo, reaching Holdfast Bay on 28 December, 1836, when the colony was proclaimed. Apart from the official party, more than one hundred and thirty-six un-named immigrants were also aboard the Buffalo.
Research done by Jim Blair has proved that Emily Blunden was among those on the Buffalo, and that Stephen preceded her.
I quote Jim Blair:
“Stephen Blunden in Adelaide. The first indication that Stephen Blunden (brother of John, baptised Lyminster 1816) had preceded John to Australia I found at the Mitchell Library, where his signature appears on a photostat copy of an original Address of Appreciation by a number of citizens of Adelaide on 28 October, 1838, to George Milner Stephen in recognition of his services as Administrator of the Colony of South Australia during the interregnum between the departure of Governor Hindmarsh and the arrival of Governor Gawler.
“I have so far been unable to trace the date of his arrival in Adelaide.
“The Colony was proclaimed on 28 December, 1836 on the arrival at Holdfast Bay (Glenelg) of HMS Buffalo, but several vessels had disembarked colonists at Kangaroo Island and Holdfast Bay in the five months between 27 July, 1836 and the arrival of the Buffalo. Stephen could have arrived in one of these. Alternatively, it is possible that he was among the 136 unnamed emigrants who travelled in the Buffalo. (See Emily Blunden notes.)
“As his sixteen year old sister was listed among the cabin passengers as “Mr. Gilles family” and was later referred to in the “Register” newspaper as “Mr. Gilles ward,” it seems obvious that Osmond Gilles knew the Blunden family before leaving England. In view of his official position as Colonial Treasurer it would not have been very difficult for him to see that Stephen was approved as an emigrant.
“It is at any rate definite that Stephen was established in Adelaide by 10 February, 1837 as he is recorded (“S.A. Register, 3.6.1837 — the first issue of the paper to be published in Adelaide) as having attended a public meeting on 10.2.1837 called for the purpose of disputing Colonel Light’s choice of Adelaide as the site for the capital.
“At this meeting, after letters had been read from Colonel Light and from masters of vessels then at Port Adelaide, an Amendment was moved approving of Light’s choice. This was carried 218 to 137. Stephen Blunden voted for the amendment.
“The “Register” 3.6.1837 also prints an account of the Sale of Public Lands, 27 March, 1837, being unsold and unreserved sections in the Town of Adelaide, beyond the 437 preliminary sections (i.e. the sections sold in London to raise the guaranteed sum needed to put the Colony afloat).
“At this sale Stephen Blunden bought “Lot 157, Section 465 for £6. This “town acre” was in Wright Street, on the north side, four blocks down from West Terrace.
“It seems certain that Stephen was also the owner of one of the 437 preliminary sections. At the meeting on 10.2.1837 “each landholder was entitled to one vote for each land order held by him.” In the report Stephen was credited with one vote. This implies that he was one of the 437 preliminary section holders, in which case he must also have been entitled to one town acre.
“I have not located this block, but the Third Report of the Colonization Commissioners, page 59, Appendix 19a, shows Stephen Blunden as the original proprietor of the 134-acre country section in District E.
“Under the terms of the South Australian Act the 437 holders of the original land orders were entitled to 80 acres and one town acre. The town acres were balloted for on 23 March, 1837, four days before the sale mentioned earlier. Allocation of the country sections was a much slower affair, owing to survey difficulties. Those who had placed their faith on District E (the Encounter Bay area) ‘had a particularly long wait. In May, 1839 it was reported that everything was ready, but the “Register” 4.5.1839 announced that owing to an error in surveying, selection would have to be postponed.
“By this time Stephen had left the Colony in the “Zebra,” which cleared for Batavia and presumably thence to England 12.2.1839. Shortly after his departure there was a passing reference to him in the “Register” 23.2. 1839.
“We are glad to learn that another Special Survey has just been taken up by the Hon. George Milner Stephen, Colonial Secretary. The spot selected for the survey is the mouth of the beautiful river recently discovered by Messrs Strangways and Blunden and named by them the Gawler. The Gawler, we understand, joins a fine creek, navigable for vessels drawing ten or twelve feet, a few miles to the northward of the outer passage into Adelaide.”
“I doubt whether the Gawler River today quite merits the praise the “Register” gave it in 1839, but it is interesting to know that Stephen Blunden was one of its discoverers.
“The next mention of Stephen appears in the “Register” 15.2.1340 in the form of a letter written to Osmond Gilles under the heading WHAT IS DOING AT HOME?
“This question is one which, in connexion with the Colony, is very generally put to newcomers, and is at all times of considerable interest to the older settlers. It would be more amusing than profitable to detail at length the many stories that reach us in regard to the notions that exist in England of the actual state of the Province, and the anticipations that are occasionally formed of its future wealth and grandeur. We may, however, indulge our readers with some extracts from a letter addressed to Osmond Gilles, Esq., with which we have been favoured by that gentleman. The writer is Mr Stephen Blunden, who went home in the Zebra and whose knowledge of the rural districts was very extensive:
“I went to London on the 7th October and was very well received by Colonel Torrens and the Commissioners. I underwent an examination before the Board respecting the Colony and its soil, climate, stock etc., also the capabilities of Port Adelaide, Encounter Bay, Kangaroo Island, Port Lincoln etc. The Commissioners were highly delighted with my description of the Colony generally, and did me the honour to say that I had given them a better description than anyone yet.
“I am now employed to select fifty married shepherds from the county of Sussex, and other labourers, which they leave to my discretion. They have also made me a land agent during my residence in England. Before I had been in London six days I was the cause of 8000 acres of land being sold. The Colonel proposes to send me to Belfast to select emigrants on a large scale. If that is the case I shall not return to the Colony this six months.
“I am now in treaty with Mr Watkins and a party of gentlemen to buy 8000 acres of land and I have no doubt they will do it. Colonel Wyndham will also buy up more land. I have not seen him yet, but have heard from him in Yorkshire. Adelaide town acres are selling at a high price in London — from 50 to 100 per cent higher than in the Colony; country sections are selling high, from £1500 to £2000 a section in good situations. The Commissioners are determined to do everything for the town of Adelaide and the Old Port. The Colonel says the Governor cannot remove the Old Port as it would be an injustice to those sections on the line of road.
“The Commissioners are building a steam tug for the Harbor to cost 8000. Mr Burton is sending out a steam boat direct to Adelaide, 250 tons, to sail shortly. The Colonel has bought twelve country sections, with town acres; he has four sections at Encounter Bay, which he values very much. He speaks highly of Encounter Bay and says it must and will be a place of great note. I could get £1000 for my section tomorrow.
“I dined with the Colonel and Mr Grote M.P. at the Union Club. Mr Grote bought 4000 acres and his brother is coming out. The Commissioners are sending out 1000 emigrants this month; their intention is to send out 1000 every month. A line of steam boats to the Australian Colonies is in contemplation, ore to sail every month.”
“The tone of the “Register’s” introductory remarks leave it to the reader to decide whether or not the editor intended them. to include Stephen’s comments among the “notions” that he considered “more amusing than profitable,” but it is a fact that the early land boom in South Australia burst in the following year. As to Colonel Torrens’ faith in the future of the Old Port, only eight months after the letter was printed Stephen’s sister Emily was among those present at the official opening of the New Port.
“The “Register” 14.11.1840 has the following entry among its Shipping Intelligence: Monday November 9th. Arrivals — The ship Waterloo, 500 tons, Captain George Robertson, from London and Falmouth, having left the former place on 18th June and the latter on the 5th July. Passengers: Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Tooks and family, Mr. Samuel Tooks: Mr. and Mrs. Burgess and child; Mr. and Mrs. Williams: Messrs. Robertson, Burgess, Crase and Blunden and 209 emigrants under the charge of Mr. O’sullivan, surgeon superintendent.
“It seems reasonable to assume that this Blunden is Stephen returning from his sojourn in England. ‘The presence of a Mr Crase as fellow passenger is interesting, as Stephen several years later married Catherine Crase (about 1848). It is just barely possible, however that the Waterloo Blunden was John, bearing out the story that he had already been to Australia once before his 1844-5 trip. I have written to the Public Records Office in London to find out if they have a passenger list for the Waterloo which might show Blunden’s initial. I don’t really expect result from this, but it is worth trying.
“I have not found any later references to Stephen in the “Register” but will write to the Lands Department in Adelaide to see if they have a record of the sale of his town acres and his section at Encounter Bay.
“PS. A third possibility has now cropped up. The Waterloo Blunden could be HENRY.. Une South Australia Almanack and Directory for 1844, in its statistics for agricultural production for 1843 shows “Balrannah, H. Blunden, Lake Osmond, 20 acres wheat, 7 cattle, one horse” (Balrannah is adjacent to Osmond Gilles property, Gilliston, where Ada Blunden was born.) I will check this also with S.A. Lands Department.”
“Emily Blunden in Adelaide.
In a booklet published by the Old Colonists Association of South Australia at the time of the celebration of the Jubilee of the Colony in 1886, a list (incomplete) of passengers who came to South Australia with Governor Hindmarsh in 1836 in HMS Buffalo contained the name Emily Blundell.
“It seemed quite possible to me that this might be a misspelling of the name of Emily Blunden, sister of John Blunden, who married Frederick Walford in Launceston in 1843.
“Following up this idea, I found several references to Miss Blunden in the early files of the “South Australian Register” at the Mitchell Library; also a copy of the “Buffalo’s” original passenger list, now in the Public Records Office, London.
“Miss Blunden is included among the 1-6 Cabin passengers, mostly Government officials and their families. (There were also 136 ‘emigrants, wives and children’ — names not listed.)
“Miss Blunden is described as “Mr Gilles family.” Osmond Gilles was Colonial Treasurer, appointed to that post “partly because of his wealth and his loan for the initial expenses.” He was a successful merchant who was prominent among the organizers of the South Australian Colonization project. His brother Lewis was already established in business in Launceston., and was later associated with Osmond Gilles in Adelaide. Osmond was 48 years old.
“Assuming Miss Blunden to be John’s sister Emily (born Lyminster), she would have been sixteen at the time of her arrival in Adelaide.
“The following are references to Miss Blunden which I have gleaned from the files of the “South Australian Register.”
“9.2.1839 The Township of Glenelg.
We are glad to learn that our excellent Colonial Treasurer, Osmond Gilles, Esq., is one of the six fortunate holders of this valuable township. The others are Miss E. Blunden (Yr. Gilles ward), Mr Finke, Chief Clerk of the Treasury, in whose name it is drawn, Mr.J. Oakden, Mr. Gilles nephew; Mr Wigley, Resident Magistrate and Mr. Smith, solicitor. It is already determined to bring the town lots into the market and in our next the sale will probably be advertised.
(I have found no further reference to Miss. Blunden in connection with Glenelg. I suspect that her name merely ‘went into the hat’ as a dummy for Osmond Gilles. J. Oakden was presumably a son of Philip Oakden, Gilles brother-in-law and his business partner in Hamburg 1816-1833. who emigrated to Tasmania in 1833. Osmond Gilles went back to London in the same year and became. involved in the South Australian project in 1835.)
3.4.1839 (In a list of guests at Governor Gawler’s levee ... ,)
Osmond Gilles Esq., and Miss Blunden;
19.10.1839 (In a report on Governor Gawler’s Levee and Drawing Room) — Apologies for non-attendance were received from ... Miss Blunden ...
8.2.1840 (In a list of donors to the S.A. Church Building Fund Miss Blunden 1s. Annual subscription.
24.10.1840 Miss Blunden is listed among guests at Official Opening of the New Port.
12.6.1841 A Miss Gilles is listed among passengers who sailed Tuesday June 8th, in the barque Lady Emma bound for Portland Bay, Port Phillip and Launceston.
Launceston Advertiser, 1.7.1841. Arrivals: June 28th Barque
Lady Emma. Passengers: ...Miss Gilles ...
do 9.9. 1841 Arrived from London September 3rd. Barque Andromeda 409 tons, Captain Coltish. Passengers: Messrs. Walford, Williamson, McKiechney and Allnut and 23 emigrants.
“Apart from this entry I have found no mention of a Miss Gilles being in Adelaide in the early days. I feel sure this entry refers to Emily Blunden. As she is elsewhere referred to as Gilles’ ward, the error would be quite understandable. I suggest she went to Launceston to stay with the Lewis Gilles family and stayed on there, ultimately marrying Walford. Her brother Stephen was friendly with Gilles in Adelaide (see Stephen Blunden notes) and when John and Elizabeth came out in 1845 they lived for some time on his property Gilleston, where Ada was born.”
“Stephen Blunden in Adelaide... Addendum 28.4.1975 Jim Blair.
“I now feel sure that Stephen came out to Adelaide on Governor Hindmarsh’s ship HMS Buffalo, on which it has already been established that his sister Emily was a cabin passenger.
“I have been in touch with the South Australian Department of Lands and the S.A. Registrar-General’s Department regarding land held by Stephen in South Australia. You will note from copies of their letters that Stephen held two town acres in Adelaide (Section 186 and Section 465) and two country sections in the Encounter Bay area (Sections 211 and 214). He also probably held country section 210 as well, but there seems to be some doubt about this.
“For the purpose of this note the important section is Town Acre 186, as it was a “preliminary section,” i.e. it was one of the 437 sections sold in London before the organizers of the Colony received official sanction to establish a new province. Till now we have known that Stephen bought Section 465 at the first land sale in Adelaide, but have merely assumed that he also held a preliminary section, basing this on the fact that he was permitted to vote at the public meeting of landholders on February 10th 1837.
“The Lands Department letter of 10.12.1974 shows that he was not the original purchaser of Section 186, but bought it from Richard Street. No date is mentioned, but obviously the transaction must have been completed before the public meeting in February, 1837.
“The Registrar-General’s letter shows that Section 186 was granted to Stephen on papers dated 23rd December, 1836 and signed by James Hurtle Fisher, Commissioner of Public Lands.
“The date and name are all-important because on that date Fisher was aboard H14S Buffalo in South Australian waters at the end of the voyage from London and Spithead (Portsmouth), approaching Port Lincoln, which was reached the following day.
“The inference is inescapable that Stephen Blunden was also on the Buffalo among the 136 un-named emigrants on the official passenger list.
“HMS Buffalo made only a brief visit to Port Lincoln, then sailed for Holdfast Bay where colonists from earlier ships were awaiting the arrival of the Governor. The ship anchored in the Bay early on the 28th December and a couple of hours later the official party went ashore and the new Colony was proclaimed. Emily Blunden was almost certainly present at the ceremony, as Miss Fisher, a daughter of the Commissioner, wrote in a letter home that “it was agreed that the proclamation should be read, for which purpose it was necessary that all the officers belonging to the Colony should go on shore, and it was determined that the ladies should accompany them.” It seems from the account that the rest of the passengers did not land until later, so Stephen probably missed the ceremony (unless Osmond Gilles was able to use his influence to get him preference over the rest of the emigrants).
“It is tempting to suggest that John Blunden was also among the 136 un-named emigrants on the Buffalo, thus giving justification to Florence Blunden’s and Vera Whelan’s belief that John had paid a visit to Australia earlier than his known arrival in the William Wise in 1845. However, this seems rather unlikely.
“The time pattern makes it barely possible. His stay in Australia would have to have been very short, as he was married to Harriet Jelleff in Portsmouth on 21 November, 1837.
“Alternatively, it would have been possible for John, after Harriet’s death 9 March, 1842, to have gone to Australia — Emily was there and Stephen had come back with a good report — decide he would like to settle there, and return promptly in order to woo and marry Elizabeth Nance 16 August, 1844. They arrived in Adelaide 5 January, 1845 by the brig William Wise.
“Stephen’s land transactions did not bring him the sort of money he had in mind when he wrote to Osmond Gilles in 1830. “I could get . £1000 for my Encounter Bay section tomorrow.” Sixteen years later he sold two sections for £220.
“I doubt whether Stephen ever returned to Australia. I have been unable to get any more information about the Blunden who arrived at Port Adelaide in the Waterloo in November, 1840, but I think it was most likely to be Henry, who is shown in the S.A. Almanack as farming at Balhannah in 1843 and 1844. It seems probable that Henry was merely leasing this land (probably from Osmond Gilles).
“The Balhannah farm has nothing to do with the half-acre block that Henry bought in 1859 at Mount Barker. This is interesting, though. We know from other sources that Henry was in Port Arlington district in 18-56-57, apparently helping John at Ellenvale. John relinquished the Ellenvale lease in August, 1857 and this would provide a reason for Henry deciding to try his luck again in South Australia in an area he knew. Mount Barker is only a short distance from Balhannah.
“The South Australian Directory, 1877 shows “Henry Blunden, Storekeeper, Mt. Barker.” His name does not appear in the 1378 Directory. That is the year in which his land was sold to Reuben Pope for £140.
“PS: A “William Blunden, carter, Hampden Road, Mt. Barker” was listed in the 1872 Directory; and “William Blunden, store, Halifax Street” in the 1878 Directory.
“Did Henry marry? Could this William be a son?
Extract from a letter to me from Jim Blair, 1 June, 1980.
“You will recall my apparently successful attempt to prove that Stephen Blunden was on the Buffalo among the 136 unnamed immigrants. I am afraid that this has now been shot to pieces. I based my argument on the fact that a land-transfer certificate signed by James Hurtle Fisher, Commissioner for Lands, was dated 23 December, 1836. As Fisher at that date was aboard the Buffalo, nearing the end of her voyage to South Australia, I reasoned that both Stephen Blunden and Richard Street (the original purchaser of the block of land) must also have been on the ship. However, in 1978, while in London, I found the original log book of the Buffalo at the Public Records Office at Kew. This includes a complete list of the immigrants and neither Stephen Blunden or Richard Street is among them. There is no likelihood of the list being incomplete, because Hindmarsh was subsequently in acrimonious correspondence with the Admiralty over the cost of victualling the passengers and if he could have strengthened his case by digging up a few more names he surely would have done so.
“It seems that the land transaction must have taken place in England before the departure of the Buffalo, (approximately 30 July, 1836 from Spithead, Portsmouth) and that Fisher took a note of it but did not write out the transfer until late December when he was tidying up :his books preparatory to landing in South Australia.
“It now seems likely that Stephen, not Emily was the first Blunden in Australia. We know he was in Adelaide as early as 10 February, 1837 as he is on record as voting at a public meeting at that date. Since no vessels arrived from England bet ween the arrival of the Buffalo (28 December, 1836) and the date of the meeting, it follows that Stephen must have come out in one of the eight or nine ships that preceded her. Unfortunately, full passenger lists for these ships have not survived.”
Forty years ago Aunt Essie said to me: “John. Blunden came out to Australia with Governor Hindmarsh. He was his doctor.” I looked up the Buffalo passenger list at the State Library and as John Blunden’s name did not appear, and Governor Hindmarsh had another doctor I discounted the whole story.,
Lucy Marshall wrote to me from New Zealand: “George Blunden’s daughter, Florrie stated quite certainly that John Blunden, his brother Stephen and sister Emily came out to Australia. Emily stayed and married, Stephen went back and remained in England, while John went back then returned to Australia.” Florrie was born in New Zealand, Essie and Viva in Victoria. Florrie never met her Australian cousins. I think we can reasonably assume that John did come to South Australia in one of the ships that preceded the Buffalo.
If John did indeed accompany Stephen on his journey to South Australia he would have been twenty-two at the time. Stephen was twenty. Emily, who sailed in the Buffalo was sixteen. When she married Frederic Walford, 9 November, 1843 in Launceston she was twenty-three and he twenty-eight. Walford had arrived from London 3 September, 1841, was admitted to the Van Dieman’s Land bar 12 November of that year and was partner of the law firm of Walford and Douglas, Launceston until some time in 1851. (From State Archives, Hobart.) The Walfords then moved to Adelaide. Apart from the fact that Emily received a personal bequest-plate and plated articles, furniture, books, linen and household goods, between Emily Walford and Martha Nance, to be equally shared” and one tenth of the estate when her mother, Ann Blunden died in 1864, nothing further is known of Emily.
Stephen we know returned to England where he married Catherine Crase about 1848. John, presumably, after a very short stay in South Australia returned to England where he married Harriet Jelleff. The marriage was on 21 November, 1837, just before John’s twenty-third birthday. John was twenty-seven when Harriet died 9 March, 1842. Their first child, George was then two and a half years old, the other two children of the marriage having died as infants.
Two of the Nance girls left their comfortable life in Portsmouth and sailed to Australia as young wives of pioneer husbands. Ellen (Eleanor) was the first. She was twenty-one when she married James Conway Langdon at the Parish Church, Lyminster 8 July, 1841. Historians are not agreed as to when Langdon first arrived in Australia. Billis and Kenyon in “Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip (1932)” state that he held the pastoral licence of “Ellendale” as early as 1838. Then later they state that he was at “Ellenvale” between 1843-48. In any case he was the pioneer settler of “Ellenvale,” at Indented Head which is situated at the eastern end of the Bellarine Peninsula. The Peninsula forms the south-western boundary of Port Phillip Bay. Indented Head, eight or nine miles in from the Heads was a safe anchorage. In 1835 Batman and his party landed there during the course of their famous land and sea exploration of Port Phillip Bay. The expedition was followed by their treaty with the Doutta Galla tribe of aboriginals when Batman “bought” 500,000 acres across the site of the future Melbourne and 100,000 acres around where Geelong now stands and including all of the Bellarine Peninsular. This treaty was soon pronounced illegal.
The Peninsula provided excellent grazing land, but many pioneer squatters, after landing in Victoria at Indented Head, passed over it because there was no permanent water there. Later it was discovered that adequate water could be had by digging wells and settlement proceeded. “Ellenvale” was a run of 6,200 acres, bordered on the north, east and south by Port Phillip Bay and on the west by a “line parallel and fifteen miles distant from the Eastern boundary of Geelong township.” The Langdons stayed at “Ellenvale” until 1848 when the run passed to William Harding, except for lots 18, 19, 5 and 6 for which Langdon secured freehold. It was here, probably the site of the original homestead, that the villa “Spray Farm” was built in 1851.
Dr. Philip Brown, historian of Geelong, has been most generous with his help to me. In a letter from him:
“Spray Farm has begun to interest the National Trust. I see its origin in the following notice in the Geelong Advertiser for Saturday, 7 June 1851: ‘Tenders will be received until Saturday the 14th instant for the whole or several works required in the erection of a Villa, at Indented Heads, for J.C. Langdon Esq. Plans and specifications at the office of the undersigned. John Young, Architect, Market Square, South’... The Langdons were living on their freehold, no doubt in the house designed for them, when it was reported in 1860 that Mrs Langdon ‘kindly presided at the pianoforte and harmonium’ when a meeting to raise funds for church purposes was held in East Bellarine school house ... at least three sons have been recorded and they all went to Geelong Grammar, being entered in 1868, 1871 and 1876 respectively...
“It seems that J.C. Langdon moved from Spray Farm to Highton, across the Barwon from Geelong, near (or at least not far from) the bluestone house which I think was Dr Blunden’s ...
“It is said that during the 1870s the Langdon bays and others used to ride in to school (then opposite Christ Church, Geelong) from Highton, to which the Langdons moved at a date which I do not yet know, and where J.C. Langdon died in 1886, aged 83.”
Ellen died in 1882, at Herne Hill, Geelong aged sixty-two years. From Evan Best’s genealogical research the Langdons had nine children. Eleanor, 1847; Nora, 1850; Gilbert, died young; Constance, 1852; George Fitzherbert (known as Fitz), 1854; James, 1856; Edith 1858; Cassandra, 1860 and William Henry, 1863.
The three boys all went to Queensland and became pastoralists.
“Spray Farm” came up for auction 13 December, 1974, 622 acres to be sold in four lots, lot 1 including the homestead and stables.
I drove down to see the house before the auction. Ellen, after thirteen years in the Colony, had moved into a beautiful house. It is U-shaped, the base of the U facing north across the Bay. There are deep verandahs around the outside walls and the entrance is in the centre of the side nearest the sea. A wide hall, with a room off each side, leads to an octagonal vestibule. This is lit by an elaborate skylight. There are three doors each side of the vestibule. Two each side lead to bedrooms, the other two to kitchens in the east wino, and servants quarters in the west wing. The area between the two wings is partly enclosed as a courtyard by the stables, which are built of brick and still have the original slates on the roof. The main house is built of stone and part of the roof has been replaced with corrugated iron. A most unusual feature of the house is a series of floor to ceiling louvred shutters, set in a little from the edge of the north verandah. Some shutters are fixed and some are free to open and shut. They would keep the house coal and free from glare from the sea in summer.
The whole of “Spray Farm” was sold for $434,195, Lot 1, with the house, bringing $139,650.
The second Nance girl to go to Australia was Elizabeth. She married
John Blunden 16 August, 1844 in the Parish Church, Portsmouth. Elizabeth was twenty-six years old and John twenty-nine. They, with five year old George must have set sail almost immediately for Australia. The brig William Wise, 240 tons, from London arrived in Adelaide 5 January, 1843. There were fourteen other cabin passengers. (Adelaide Observer, 11 January, 1845.) Also mentioned under Shipping Intelligence: “4 cases, 1 cask, J. Blunden.” The family friend, Osmond Gilles, was living in Adelaide. It was Gilles who had brought Emily with him as his ward on the Buffalo in 1836. John and Elizabeth were staying at Gilleston, about eighteen miles from Adelaide, when Elizabeth’s first child, Ada was born. She was baptised 6 November, 1843 at Trinity Church, Adelaide. In the baptismal record John’s profession is shown as Surgeon. This is the first written record of John being a doctor.
John came to Australia with capital, probably from the beginning intending to take up land. Almost certainly he had some money from Harriet’s inheritance from her father. It is also very likely that Andrew Nance would have given Elizabeth a generous dowry when she married.
An intending squatter had to have enough capital for his fares, to buy his flock, pay for the food and supplies (and their transport to the property, which was expensive) for his family and shepherds for three years. For that was the time it took before the ‘first clip was shorn, transported to a port, shipped to England and for the first payment to come back. (Geoffrey Blainey in ‘Tyranny of Distance’ .) I thought it would be interesting to get an ‘educated guess’ from Blainey as to how much capital John would have needed. I wrote giving the facts as far as we knew them. Blainey answered: “If Blunden financed his own venture in 1843 I’d say £1200 (which was equal then to he could have started with as little as perhaps a labourers wage for twenty years) or as much as £4,000 but these are only guesses ... 1842-44 were miserable years.”
Lorna Banfield in “Like an Ark” gives the date of John Blunden’s occupancy of Concongella as 1343. She writes of the Allans who were the first occupants of the run. They called it Allanvale. Mrs Allan died and was buried on the adjoining property. Her headstone reads “Sacred to the memory of Eliza Ann Allan who departed this life on 15th March, 1845, aged 26. “
C.E. Sayers in “Shepherds Gold, A History of Stawell” writes: “Allan, heartbroken from the death of his young wife and heavily in debt, had crone from the district and Dr. John Blundell, having redeemed it from the bank, occupied Concongella. It was Blundell’s run when McLachlan found gold in Pleasant Creek.
When John occupied Concongella [Aboriginal word — “to make love.” From ‘Place Names of Victoria’ by Les Blake, 1977] at the end of 1845 he would have travelled there by one of the three available routes. Many settlers overlanded from Adelaide to the Wimmera and this route included a crossing of the Murray River. A friend of mine who grew up west of the Grampians made enquiries for me about this route. It varied according to the season. In winter parties travelled north of the Grampians, in summer south of the Grampians where it was a little cooler. Later when gold was discovered at Concongella it was taken to Adelaide this way, the route was called the Cold Road and it was over 350 miles long.
Alternatively John and his party could have taken a ship to Portland and moved north from there along the Major Mitchell Line, named after the explorer who first discovered the Wimmera and left the route marked by his bullock wagon wheels. Portland to Concongella is roughly 250 miles.
A ship to Geelong or Melbourne would have brought John to within 220 miles of Concongella. If he’d gone via Geelong there would have been the opportunity to see his relatives, James and Ellen Langdon who were already established on the Bellarine Peninsular.
Elizabeth did not go to Concongella until early or mid 1847. Ada’s death certificate records that she spent the first year and a half of her life in South Australia. The story of an incident that took place during Elizabeth’s journey comes from Vera Hudspeth, daughter of Florence, John and Elizabeth’s youngest child. Elizabeth brought from England with her “a harp, a lute, a spinet and some very lovely dresses and quaint little bonnets of silks and brocades and fine lace. I can just remember gazing at these beautiful old garments in awe and delight even now wonder what became of them. She was then my adored grandmother and we often went with our mother to visit her in Melbourne.
“...Elizabeth and her husband and stepson had to set out upon a long journey in a bullock wagon over a rough track, and on the way the harp was jolted out, a wheel passed over it, so it was completely broken, which was a great grief to the young girl, in a strange land, among unknown people, and completely unused to these primitive conditions after the comfort and luxury of her English home.”
Unexpectedly I was able to confirm that Elizabeth had indeed played the harp. One of the Blunden descendants, Grace Barnard corresponded with me. She had Elizabeth’s book of Harp Music which she posted from Perth that I may see it. The book had gold blocked on the cover “1822” and written inside was “Elizabeth Blunden.” The engravings in the book were so outstanding that I had several pages photocopied.
I had the urge to go to Stawell and see what, if anything, was left of Concongella. Early in 1967 Ralph and I decided that we would spend the Easter holiday driving along the south west coast of Victoria then return to Melbourne via Stawell. In preparation I wrote my first letter to Dr Philip Brown, the acknowledged authority on the history of the Western District and the Wimmera. Dr Brown’s reply gave us a wonderful start.
“Dr. John Blunden is the only pioneer of that name about whom I know anything and that isn’t much. He is referred to as “Blundell” in both Miss Lorna Banfield’s “Like the Ark.”..and in Mr. C.E. Sayer’s “Shepherd’s Gold.”.. Both these books mention the Concongella occupation, but are not very enlightening, which is not surprising, considering the complications. There was a great dispute over the Allanvale or Concongella run, but I don’t think Blunden came into it. His role appears to have been that of “picker-up” after John Allan walked off ...
“Billis and Kenyon will show you that Dr. Blunden was licensee of Concongella (spelt various ways) from 1844 until March 1858. As Dalgety’s then took over, it is possible that he got into financial difficulties...
“Your investigations with respect to Concongella should bring much better results at the Lands Department (Central Plan Room) than at the Titles Office ...
“While he still held the licence for Concongella, Dr. Blunden was also associated with the Ellenvale run near Geelong...
“The site of the original Ellenvale homestead seems to have been on what is now Spray Farm, between Drysdale and Portarlington, where in 1851 J.C. Langdon, the pioneer pastoral tenant had a villa built by a Geelong architect. But Langdon relinquished the Ellenvale licence (or so it seems) to William Harding in 1847, and Harding sold to Dr. Blunden in or about 1855. By that time, however, the Ellenvale run was apparently shorn of Spray Farm (where Langdon continued to live), and was largely turned into freehold which stretched across the parish of Bellarine (in which Spray Farm is situated) to the parish of Paywit, of which a list dated 16 May, 1856 shows that Blunden was then a ratepayer...
“Blunden was succeeded at Ellenvale in 1857. I think he lived in Geelong, in a bluestone house above Buckley’s Falls, on the Barwon, which now belongs to Mr. J.F. Baum, a farmer.
“Langdon had boys at Geelong Grammar School. I fancy that Godfrey Blunden, who joined the School at the same time as F. (Fitz) Langdon on January 27, 1868, was Dr. John Blunden’s son.”
It was Dr Brown who first drew our attention to the fact that John had once owned Ellenvale as well as Concongella. Subsequent letters from him continued to provide invaluable information. It was six years after Mr Brown’s first letter that I made the connection: that Ellenvale was named after Ellen Langdon, one of Andrew Nance’s daughters and Elizabeth’s sister.
We did as Dr Brown suggested and contacted the Lands Department. Ralph came away with a number of xerox copies
(1) A printed leaflet from the Colonial Secretary’s Office, Sydney dated 7th October, 1847 setting out the rules whereby Licensed Occupants of Waste Lands of the Crown could apply to have that same land leased to them. Printed forms could be obtained from the Commissioners of Crown Lands. People objecting to the claims of others should lodge a Caveat at the office of the Colonial Secretary.
(2) John Sinclair’s Application and the description of his property formerly “Allanvale” now “Sinclairs” dated March 1348.
(3) A caveat entered by John Blunden on Aug. 30th 1348 against John Sinclair being granted a Lease for his run ‘Sinclairs Station’ Sir, I have the honor to request that your honor will record this my protest and objection to the (illegible) of a lease to the person named in the margin (John Sinclair) for the run in the district called Sinclairs Station or Allan Vale applied for by him in conformity with the terms of Her Majesty’s Orders in Council. I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Honor’s most obt. servant, John Blunden To His Honor C.J. Latrobe Esq.
(4) John Blunden’s application dated Dec. 1 1848.
Commissioners District — Wimmera District
Name of Run Cuncungella
Estimated number of acres 57,600
Estimated capacity for grazing 12,000 sheep
Description of the lands — Commencing at a marked tree about 2 1/2 miles S. 3 E from home station and bounded by Sinclairs by a line running N. 581 — 2 E 3 1/2 miles to the Doctor Creek, Thence N.E. 3 miles and 50 chains thence a line bounded by Fallon N to the top of the big hill and thence to the marked tree at Clarke’s boundary about 4 miles. Thence bounded by W.T. Clarke S 70 W about 20 chains, N 32 1/2 W 168 chains, N.69 W. 84 chains to Mrs Green’s road by the road 1/2 mile, thence S. 67 1/2 W about 11 1/4 miles and bounded by Mrs. Green. Thence a line bounded by Boyd S.W. by S. about 4 miles. Thence a line bounded by Miles S.S.E. about three miles to Burketts rock thence along the top of the Black Range about six miles including all its Eastern falls to the mount behind the spring including the spring and its Northern falls, thence along the horse shoe ridge to the top of the sugar loaf hill about 2 1/2 miles, thence S.E. 2 miles and 10 chains Wills range, by the range in an Easterly direction about 70 chains. Thence a line bounded by Sinclair N. 4 1/2 W about three miles and 70 chains (including hut and water holes about the center of this line) to marked tree at the starting point.
Signature of Applicant John Blunden
(5) A form — “Application for a lease of waste land...” Filled in by John Blunden applying for lease of Concongella, signed December 1, 1848. Counterdated officially December 20, 1848.
John refers to the creek on the property as Doctors Creek. When we visited Stawell in 1967 this creek was referred to as both Doctors Creek and Concongella Creek. In his application John Sinclair writes “bounded on the north side by Mr. Blundens station...”
(6) A letter in which Mr John Blunden withdraws Caveat against Mr. Sinclairs application for lease, Wimmera District.
May 10, 1849.
Sir, As a matter of precaution which I considered necessary at the time Mr. Sinclairs application was published for a lease for Allan Vale Run, I was not then in twelve months occupation of my licensed station and the indefinite description of the boundaries between us given by Mr. Sinclair left it doubtful what he claimed, I lodged a Caveat against the issue of his lease. I now hereby request to be allowed to withdraw the same. I have since made my application for a lease of my run called Cuncungella, Allan Vale in which I have described the boundary between the two runs according to the settlement by arbitration alluded to by Mr. Sinclair in his application but in terms showing the exact line I claim and therefore leave it to him to oppose my application if he thinks fit to do so.
I have the honour to be Sir, Your Honor’s most obt. servant, John Blunden
To his Honor, The Superintendant, Melbourne.
(It is 1849, four years since John occupied the property. Yet he writes “I was not then in twelve months occupation of my licensed station.” Apparently he had been squatting there without the legal license. Ralph raised this point when he was with the Officer in charge of historical enquiries at the Lands Department. He was told that it was not unusual for land to be occupied for some time before a license was taken out.)
(7) William Hardings application for a lease of the run on the Bellarine Peninsular that was taken over by John Blunden in 1855 and held by him until 1857.
Name of run Ellenvale or Willis and Swanston’s Cattle Station
Estimated number of Acres 6,200
Cattle 800 or 5,000 sheep
Description County of Grant, Parish of Paywit, at Indented Head. Bounded on the West by the 15 mile Boundary Line from Geelong, extending Swan Bay Northward to Port Phillip Bay, on the North & East by the Shores of Port Phillip Bay including Duck Island. Sandy Heathy soil.
(8) A document in which “John Blunden transfers interest in run “Concongella” (the first time this spelling appears) to Dalgety and Ibbottson.” Dated 17 March, 1858, Geelong.
The night before we left for our holiday, I rang Mr. Baum, explained our interest in his farmhouse and asked if we might call and see it when we were passing through Geelong next day. He agreed, but no one was home when we arrived. The farm and the house were in an extreme state of neglect but the position was superb. The house still showed how attractive it had been, solid bluestone construction, single storey, and with a verandah on two sides. The garden had almost disappeared into the weeds but there were still a few roses and some tremendous old trees. The house had been built on a beautiful spot, on a high rise in an angle of the Barwon River. On the other side of the river was a bluestone quarry, possibly the source of the stones in the house.
(The Baum farm, 34 acres, 2 1/2 miles from the Geelong Post Office was sold by auction in February, 1974. “...this historic property which has been held by the Baum family for 70 years is situated in Highett Road, Highton and overlooks the picturesque Buckley Falls. The 100 year old homestead is in good condition....” It brought $106,000.)
We arrived in Stawell on Easter Sunday evening to find the town en fete. We had forgotten that Easter was the time of the famous Stawell Gift Athletic Meeting. We walked around the town and found the name Dane appearing as the donor of the memorial cairn to mark the spot where the first reef gold was found. And Dane appeared on a shop front. To start our enquiries I rang a Dane in the phone book. I explained that we were in Stawell to see if there were any traces left of John Blunden. I was put on to “Uncle” who was 73 and hadn’t been in Stawell for twenty-five years but had come up to see the Gift run. He knew Blunden as Blundell, which might have disconcerted us if we had not been warned by Dr. Brown. He told me a story that his father had told him. When this Dane had been a small boy he’d gone out rabbitting with some young friends. When it came to lunchtime they found themselves many miles from home but near the Doctor’s place. They had asked Dr Blundell if he would g m something to eat and he gave them some meat. The e boys made a give the camp fire, cooked the meat and had the best meal they could remember. When young Dane’s father next met Dr Blundell he thanked him for his kindness to the boys. “That’s alright” Dr Blundell replied, “It was meat I’d put aside for the dogs.” ‘Uncle’ roared laughing over this story; apparently it was a family favourite. He then suggested I ring Mr Morris Robson of the Stawell and District Historical Society. Mr Robson asked us to meet him the following morning He did not believe that the Doctor’s name was Blunden until we produced the photostats picked up from the Lands Department. he told us that a booklet had been produced in 1961 to celebrate the Centenary of Concongella and though it was out of print he thought he could locate a copy and he would post it to US. (He did.) All the local knowledge of the Blundens was in the book. Mr Robson told’, us that nothing was left of the original homestead. but there was a little cemetery still there and he could arrange for some friends to show us the way. The Rathgebers. We took the road going east from the town, past the big gold cairn. The Rathgebers lived in a small house, set in a fork of the road a little way past the bridge over the Concongella Creek. They were very old and Mr Rathgeber’s father had lived there before them. He came with us in the car to show us the way to the site of the old Concongella homestead. We went back, recrossed the bridge, turned left and followed the creek upstream. From the notes made at the time, we drove about four miles, crossed the creek and then came to a big cyclone gate on the right. We drove through and up a hill where we could see the ‘Little cemetery. The fence had fallen into disrepair and of the few headstones there was only one still standing. ‘Sacred to the memory of ISABELLA, beloved wife of William Chapman who died June 1863 Aged 30 years’. Chapman had been head shepherd daring John’s time at Concongella and stayed on after the run changed hands. Fifty yards further on, on the top of the hill, a few very old fruit trees and great patches of dried off iris marked the site of the homestead. We were told that the iris were beautiful in the spring. There were half a dozen square hand-made bricks still set in the earth. The remains of’ the floor of the dairy? It seemed appropriate for us to take them so we prized them out of the earth and put them in the back of the car. Anyone want a brick?
The view was magnificent, over brown paddocks (there was a drought) to a distant row of hills. Mr Rathgeber said the house, though derelict, had been there not so many years ago and that the country as far as we could see was all part of the original Concongella run.
Later we visited the small cairn on the banks of the Pleasant Creek, put there to mark the place where a Concongella shepherd had found the first gold in the district. Then came Stawell, built on part of the original property.
To picture the lives of John and Elizabeth when they arrived in Australia one needs to know something of the conditions prevailing at the time. I have drawn mainly on Margaret Kiddle’s ‘Men of Yesterday’ for the following historical material.
The population of the Port Phillip District, as Victoria was then known, grew rapidly after the arrival of the Hentys at the end of 1834. In 1836 it was 224, had doubled by 1837, was nearly 6,000 by 1839, when La Trobe was appointed Superintendant of the District. By 1840 the population was over 10,000. In 1846, a year after John and Elizabeth arrived there were 10,954 people living in Melbourne, 1,370 living in Geelong and 3,746 in the inland.
The arrival in the District of ‘Young Hugh Murray’, (whose son married Florence. Blunden in 1374) is recorded by Margaret Kiddle. He “threw in his lot with the brothers G.T. and Arthur Lloyd, young William Carter and James Austin who ‘joined together for mutual protection’. This little group was made up of men of smaller capital. Murray’s initial capital seems to have been about £300 (or, that was what he spent in stock) while the Lloyds and Carter had sheep which had cost them £600 landed at Port Phillip. They occupied the Colac country in September, 1837.”
Major Mitchell and his party were the first white men to see the land that was later to be known as the Wimmera. They passed through it in the winter of 1836, and Mitchell named it Australia Felix. They came from Sydney, and marched through to Portland, carving The Major Mitchell Line with the wheels of their bullock drays. The first pioneer settler was Robert Briggs who reached the district in 1840. He came from Monaro, N.S.W. where he had rested his sheep, then pushed on with them along ‘Major Mitchell’s Line’ into country that was shadowed by the Grampians. There he squatted on the 200,000 acre run that was to be named Ledcourt. Soon after, William Blow was in the vicinity seeking land for John Sinclair’s sheep.
Overlanding cattle to Adelaide in 1839, young John Allan had noted the good grazing land along the Wimmera River. At Adelaide in February, 1840 Allan married Eliza Anne Lipson. A year or two later they set out from Geelong with a flock of sheep, crossed the divide and settled on Concongella Creek or. the southern boundary of Sinclair’s run which stretched northward for about 40 miles. Allan called his run Allanvale, and a son was born there.
As a result of a dispute over boundaries, Allanvale was allotted to John Sinclair in 1844 and Allan was given the northern area known as Concongella. Mrs John Allan was the first woman to die in the district. She was buried in the garden of the old Lexington homestead and the inscription on the flat stone slab reads ‘Sacred to the memory of Eliza Anne Allan who departed this life on the 15th March, 1345 aged 26.
Also Eliza Anne Lipson Allan born ‘March 15 1845.Died 13th April 1345.
John Allan was apparently in financial difficulties, and soon after the death of his young wife he gave up his run which passed into the hands of Dr Blundell. (The story of the Allans is from ‘Like the Ark’ by Lorna Banfield.)
Margaret Kiddle gives a detailed picture of the living conditions of the early pioneers. John and Elizabeth’s first house would probably have been a ‘wattle-and-daub’ hut or a slab hut. The roof would probably have been made of bark. The number of men a squatter engaged to accompany him up country depended on the size of the station. Usually he took about three to begin with. He did without an overseer until he was well established but from the beginning he needed a bullock driver. Bullockies were a class apart, celebrated for their highly coloured language, resource, intractability, and sometimes trustworthiness. It was their job to drive the drays with the station supplies.
At the home station of a sheep run the master’s duties varied with the size of his flocks and the number of men he employed. At least once or twice a week he had to ride round his out-stations, check the number of sheep, and look to their physical condition. Once a week he gave out supplies to his shepherds and hut keepers. On an established station the usual weekly supplies were ten to twelve pounds of flour, tan to twelve pounds of meat, two pounds of sugar and a quarter of a pound of tea. Sometimes about two ounces of soap and two ounces of tobacco would be given as well. All other rations would be drawn from the store and the cost deducted from the man’s wages.
A well stacked stare supplied all manner of food-stuffs, such things as axes, writing paper, bags as well as clothing. And there would be the bushman’s remedies for all ills; gleaming blue bottles of castor oil and brown bottles of pain-killer. The usual wants of station hands were heavy boots, canvas trousers, serge shirts and cabbage tree hats.
Shepherds worked from sunrise to sunset. At sunrise they would set off from the hut. For lunch a man carried “a flagon of tea, a piece of damper and a slice of beef.” He held a carbine in readiness for attacks by blacks, and pistols would be stuck in his belt. His dog, usually a rough-haired Scottish collie trotted beside him or brought up the stragglers from the rear.
Shearers travelled the country taking work as they needed it. In 1840 when wages were at their highest they were paid 20s. a hundred sheep and usually shore about sixty a day. As far as possible a squatter tried to depend on his own men, but as flocks increased this became impossible.
Family prayers became a part of home station life wherever women made their homes. These wives were in need of prayer, for they lived in a state of almost constant anxiety. Not only were there blacks, bushrangers, fires, snakes and all manner of real and fancied dangers to contend with, there were also their own life processes. That some succeeded in living there did not make the bush a place for white women who had been gently reared. All the discomforts of childbearing had to be endured in rough huts, sometimes far from any medical help.
The struggle which took place during the forties for secure tenure of their lands concerned all squatters. The majority held their land beyond the official bounds of settlement. They had no choice but to be Crown licensees and therefore to have uncertain tenure. In 1847 the Order-in-Council was passed. Land was divided into settled, intermediate, and unsettled districts. The settled districts comprised land around Melbourne, Geelong and Portland and that encircling some other towns. They also included land within three miles of any part of the sea, and areas along some rivers. By December 1848 the whole of the Western District was included. The “unsettled districts” included all other lands. The copies of documents obtained from the Lands Department show the processes John Blunden went through to obtain the lease of Concongella and the anxiety he felt at the time.
The security of their leases encouraged the squatters to commence building substantial home stations in stone. The only record of the home John built is in the little local history ‘Concongella — The Cradle of Stawell’. It says:
“The Concongella homestead was quite an imposing structure, judged by past standards; and according to historical documents, was four miles north of Great Western ... Dr Blundell’s name was associated with the selection for more than a decade, and, in addition to being on call in cases of sickness and watching the increase of his flocks and herds, he acted as the district coroner. He ran about 12.000 sheep, which were dispersed over the large selection, with shepherds and shepherd’s huts dotted here and there at convenient points... One of the shepherd’s huts was situated at the foot of One Tree Hill where Pleasant Creek meandered through the property... In this hut two shepherds named William McLachlan and Alexander Fraser resided. The spot became famous in the historical annals of the town for the reason that the first gold was won by McLachlan on the western side of the creek in 1853...on the Concongella selection. When quartz gold was discovered by Dane and party at the Quartz Reefs in 1856 it also was in portion of the Concongella selection.
“The Concongella homestead stood on the rising ground above the Concongella Creek, and the fact that the creek ran through Dr Blundell’s property led it to be called Doctor’s Creek. The name still persists; as a matter of fact the two names are synonomous. The old bush track from Pleasant Creek to the south was in close proximity to the homestead, and highwaymen loitered around and relieved miners of the gold they were taking to Mt Ararat and other centres for disposal
“...the town of Stawell as we know it today was fashioned out of part of the old Concongella selection.
“One Tree Hill was part of the Concongella selection but few people have any realisation of the great part it played in the history of the district. The huge gum tree which gave the hill its name developed a cavity as large as a blackfellows mia mia, and in later years for safety’s sake it was felled. On the windswept slope of the hill the two shepherds lived in a hut, and had ample time to commune with nature. They were loyal servants of Dr Blundell and quite different to shepherds in many selections in other parts of the Colony who cared neither for their employer or his property. McLachlan, in his daydreams visualised that gold existed in the cement along the banks of the Pleasant Creek, which ran through the selection, and he put his theory to the test, and found the first gold in this part of the Colony.” “Concongella — Cradle of Stawell.”
The summer of 1851 was extraordinarily hot and dry. On Thursday, 6 February the temperature was 110 in Melbourne and bushfires broke out throughout the State. The loss of sheep and cattle was appalling. After the fires the drought continued and about 5,000,000 lambs were slaughtered to save the lives of the parent animals. In June 1851, gold was discovered at Clunes and Warrandyte, in mid-August at Buninyong in the Western District. A month later the Ballarat field had been discovered and Geelong was the gateway for the rush. La Trobe reported to the Secretary of State — “Cottages are deserted, houses to let, business is at a standstill and even shops are closed. The ships in the harbour are in great measure deserted.” When the first gold seekers arrived from overseas several months later some of the hysterical excitement had spent itself. Some bush workers realized it was harder work than shearing and held out less chance of certain profit. By the middle of October many had begun to return home. To add to the trials of the time, the September rains were extraordinarily heavy and the long drought was broken by floods. “In the first place there was the greatest drought ever known, next the wettest season, and to crown all, the discovery of Sold. “
The efforts made by all squatters to accomplish the shearing of 1851 were herculean. There was admiration indeed, almost wonder in the press reports that “in spite of the shortage of labour, the wool is coming down as usual.” Nevertheless it came down at a price, shearing rates increased 40 to 50 per cent above those prevailing in the previous year. The cost of rations increased in the same proportion. Bullockies, well aware of their worth, refused to load wool bales unless treble the carriage of other years was paid.
Five more children were born to Elizabeth at Concongella. Ada was nearly two when Ralph was born October 5, 1847. Reginald was born 1851,
Godfrey 1853 and the twins Florence and Blanche 1856. Blanche died as an infant. Vera Hudspeth writes in her history: “A young nurse, playing with Blanche one day, tossing her up and catching her, the baby somehow broke her neck. This is the story handed down to us, and of course Blanche was the strong one and Florence very delicate.” The death was not registered so there are no further details to record.
One wonders how the family coped with drought, bush fires, floods, shortage of labour all adding to the usual hazards of life in the outback. In the end, financially, they did not cope, and John lost the money he had invested in Concongella. The property was transferred to Dalgety and Ibbotson 17 March, 1858.
Gold mining, both alluvial and quartz, was well established before the Blundens left Concongella. Stawell began as a cluster of tents near the Pleasant Creek and by 1859 had a population of 20,000. Subdivision of the immense sheep runs began in 1861. Concongella (it covered ninety square miles) and its neighbouring properties were subdivided.
Many orchards and about a hundred little vineyards were established in the area. Today, only two of the vineyards remain, “Great Western” and “Concongella.” In 1863-66 brothers Joseph and Henry Best bought land on both sides of the Concongella Creek, north-east of the township of Great Western. I visited the Lands Department hoping to verify which side of the boundary between the original Concongella and Allanvale runs these Best acres were. But I was unsuccessful. There is no detailed map showing the boundaries of the original pastoral leases in relation to the subsequent subdivisions. Joseph’s land was west of the creek and he called the vineyard he established there in 1866 “Great Western.” it now belongs to Seppelts and the famous Great Western champagne is still produced there. Henry’s land was east of the Concongella Creek. It is still in production and the wine is labelled “Concongella.” Perhaps the most decisive evidence that these two vineyards are not in the old Concongella lease is that they are not mentioned in the booklet “Concongella — The Cradle of Stawell.”
In 1854 John had taken over the property Ellenvale near Geelong. A document held at the Lands Department reads — “Returns of stock pastured by Mr John Blunden at Ellenvale station in the County of Grant, during the years 1854 and 1855. 1854 — sheep — 1,300. 1855 — sheep — 1,700.” Mr Philip Brown wrote that John had bought Ellenvale as it was freehold, and that he was a ratepayer in 1856. In August 1857 John relinquished Ellenvale.
A Robert and Henry Blunden were qualified to vote in the Portarlington area, which was part of Ellenvale, during 1856-7 (La Trobe Library). It seems almost certain that these Blundens were John’s younger brothers who had joined him in the Ellenvale venture.
I do not know where the family lived after leaving Concongella but in 1865 they were living in Ballarat. A Victorian Postal Directory of that year shows J. Blunden, Ligar Street, Ballarat. In 1867 Godfrey was at Ballarat Grammar School. This information was supplied by the Hon. Secretary of The Old Geelong Grammarians when he answered a letter of mine asking if Godfrey had attended Geelong Grammar in the eighteen sixties. “I have looked up the records of old boys and the only Blunden we have on record is Godfrey Blunden: came to school from Ballarat Grammar on 27 January, 1868 aged 15 years.” Mr Philip Brown believes the Blundens lived in the bluestone house on the Barwon River and Vera Hudspeth writes that they lived some years in Geelong, then moved to Colac where John practised medicine in partnership with Dr Rae.
In July, 1964 Ralph and I drove down to Colac to see if there were any traces left of the Blundens. We met Mr Kettle, President of the Colac Historical Society. He did not remember the name Blunden but promised to make enquiries for us. Mr Kettle followed up with a letter. “A friend of mine who lived all his life in Colac told me the Dr Blunden lived in Polwarth Street, only five minutes walk from Dr Rae. Both houses would be just across from the tip. There is a vacant block where Dr Blunden’s home stood... My friend was acquainted with Mr & Mrs Andrew Murray and he says that Mrs Murray told him that she was her father’s pill maker. She made them from a certain brand of soap and breadcrumbs. They — the pills, worked wanders for her father’s patients.”
On 4 November, 1874 Florence Blunden married Andrew Strachan Murray in Colac. They lived in the “Borongarook” homestead which had burnt down and was demolished before our trip to Colac. In 1875 John is recorded as Surgeon and J.P. in Colac and Magistrate of Midlands.
George, and then Reginald migrated to New Zealand.
These are extracts taken from letters written me by Lucy Marshall. Lucy is married to Lindsay Marshall, son of Jessie Blunden Marshall.
“When George married nineteen year old Sarah Buchanan in 1877 he gave his age as thirty-three. Actually he was thirty-eight.
“George had ten children and twenty-one grandchildren. There are all sorts of legends in our branch of the family. They were convinced that John had given up a title to come to Australia perhaps the title to some family land? On George’s death certificate his father is given as Sir John Blunden! I was interested to learn that George had a legacy from his grandmother, Ann Blunden. We had been told that he had a substantial inheritance from his mother, Harriet Jelleff, but that his father had invested it in land in Australia and most was lost through floods and drought. I had not heard that Florence never saw him. He called his eldest daughter Florence. We have the Blunden family bible for George and Sarah and their children. It contains a letter from Florence and one from Reg Blunden.
“There is a story that George’s mother, Harriet was French, the daughter of emigrees from the French Revolution... We have a story that John, Stephen and Emily came out to Victoria with Governor Latrobe, John as his medical advisor, Stephen as his secretary, Emily as companion to Lady Latrobe.
“George Blunden, by the way was said to have inherited £20,000 from his mother’s dowry, all lost by his father!
“George apparently went to a good private school in Melbourne and was put to University. His father wanted him to study medicine but he had no stomach for it, tried law, and seems to have drifted to New Zealand. We don’t know exactly when, probably about 1863/4. He could have been here twenty years before his marriage and goodness knows what he was doing in that time.”
(The first medical school in Melbourne opened in 1863. George was then twenty-four and if he did indeed try medicine he would not have left Australia until 1.863 or ‘66. B.B.)
More from Lucy:
“George had a farm at Rengotea, Fielding. This was bought by his father-in-law, Neil Buchanan.
“I understand that John and Elizabeth visited George and his family on one occasion. George’s wife always spoke very highly of them. ‘Fine Christian people.’ The Blunden children often recall a visit by their Uncle Godfrey. They heard him remarking that it was a great shame that George’s family should be brought up in such poor circumstances. George was no farmer and would sell a farm just when it was broken in and likely to become productive. Then he would move further into the back country and his family had few opportunities for schooling and were sent out to work when very young. I believe he was bankrupt at one stage. But then, there was always the story of the £20,000 in Chancery just waiting to be claimed!
“I wrote to the National Archives in Wellington in case he had enlisted in the militia at the time of the Maori wars. The only information they had about him was from a letter written in 1912 applying for a New Zealand War Medal. He stated that, as best as he could remember, he was in the Wanganui Militia at the Okehu RP — doubt and was orderly to Major Rooks. He seemed to have about eighteen months service.
“I always feel sorry for George, fathering a family in his fifties and sixties. They seemed to think that he was rather lazy leaving all the farm work to the children but he probably felt too old to cope with them all.”
We can share Lucy’s amusement at the legends that developed in the family. They were not so different from the legends that grew up with the Australian family.
Two letters written to George. The first dated 1910 from his brother Reginald Blunden who lived at Bennetts in the South Island of New Zealand, the second dated 1918 from his sister, Florence Blunden Murray.
My dear George,
I received your letter last Saturday the day on which I returned from a visit to Victoria having been away about two months. During my stay I visited Godfrey at Warburton just for a day as lie was with me in Melbourne and Colac in which latter place I stayed with Florence for about a month. I found them all looking very well and it was a great joy to me to see them all again. Godfrey is still doing financing and valuing business and otherwise advises and assists his son-in-law with whom he stays. During my stay at Colac one of Florence’s daughters was married to a Tasmanian, a man of good connections and will be well off. He is engaged as Paymaster to the Mt Lyell mines of which young Mervyn Murray (Florence’s eldest son) is Mines Manager. This young man has got on in a marvellous way and has a salary equal to about £1000 a year.
I am very sorry indeed that you are so unwell but trust it is not so serious as you imagine it is. A man who has lived the quiet and steady life you have lived should attain a greater age than you are at present. It is 15 years since I took a trip away from home and I found a great difficulty in Setting away from my business in town, having to get leave of absence and I expect it will be some time before I manage to get away again. As far as going up to see you, if you are as ill as you say you are and naturally changed I should prefer to remember you as I saw you last. I always have thought it a great mistake to go and see the last of one whom we see but seldom, thinking it better not to disturb our last impressions when health reigned supreme.
I trust you will regain your health and strength and live yet longer to do the good amongst your fellowmen you have been doing for so long.
August 26th 1918.
My Dear George,
I was much pleased to receive a letter from your daughter Florence just a few days ago. I have quite lost sight of you as I unfortunately lost your address and was wondering how I could hear of you and yours.
And now Florence tells me of the sad trouble that has come to you in the death of your dear son Harold. I am indeed grieved for you and your wife. It must have been a dreadful shock to you both. The world seems very full of trouble just now. So many homes have been made desolate thro this cruel war. You must be proud of your brave sons at the front and your returned bay will, I am sure, be a great comfort to you. The New Zealand soldiers are considered much of and worthy of all praise. Poor Reginald’s boy ‘Len’ was killed as I think you know. I am glad to think his poor mother did not live to know it’. Florence tells me you are not too well. I am sorry to hear this. It is sad when we get old we should have to suffer, just as we should be having a good time as a recompense for all the ups and downs of life. I am fairly well except for some rheumatism which worries me on cold days and we have had a cold wet winter.
There are only three of us in the old home now. All the children are married but my youngest daughter who finds it lonely I fear. She is much occupied with war work which gives her an interest in life. Please give my love to Florence and say I shall reply to her letter later. My right hand is very rheumatic which makes it difficult to write. Thank her for her letter. Hoping you are all feeling better.
I am with kind love
Your affectionate sister
In 1880 John and Elizabeth were living at 1 Dorchester Place, a two storey terrace house in Rathdown Street, Carlton. John was then sixtysix years old and may have retired from active medical practice, but he still travelled to Strathbogie to deliver Alice’s fourth baby, Clarice Essie on 7 August, 1881. Essie was the last of Godfrey’s children to be delivered by his father, though Alice was to have two more babies.
In 1886 John and Elizabeth were living at 6 Victoria Terrace, Beaconsfield Parade, on the waterfront in South Melbourne. The building has since been demolished.
On 29 December, 1893 John died at the home of his son (Godfrey?) 3 Chatsworth Road, Prahran. The death certificate records “Cerebral Clot and paralysis of Face, 14 days.” He was seventy-nine years old and was buried at the St Kilda cemetery. Eighteen months later, on 16 July, 1895 Elizabeth died at Osborn House, Nicholson Street, Fitzroy. Her death certificate records “Congestion of the lungs, five weeks.” She was seventy-six years old and was also buried in the St Kilda cemetery. Their granddaughter, Aunt Essie told me that John and Elizabeth spent their last years in a suite of rooms in Osborn House. It was an elegant apartment house built opposite the Exhibition Gardens and is still standing in 1980.
When I asked Aunt Essie if she had any of Elizabeth’s jewellery she told me that all the jewellery had been buried with Elizabeth “because she had loved it so much.” Naturally I was shocked. Alvie, Essie’s sister was there that day and she said “All I know is that I didn’t get any.”
The Melbourne Probate Office has no record of a will left by either John or Elizabeth. We know that George Blunden of New Zealand would have received a bequest from his grandmother, Ann Cortis Blunden, on the death of his father, John. Lucy says it was small. But it would appear that John had money other than that left him in trust by his mother. In 1955 Ralph’s son, Reg wrote to his cousin in New Zealand, Florence Blunden Collins. Reg writes:
“When Dr Blunden died he left my father (Ralph) and Godfrey £700 each (the same amount going to the other children) and they invested it in a sheep property. But after five years they had to walk off the place, failing to meet with success for reasons unknown to me... My father was in business as an Agent in Melbourne and lost everything when the banks failed.”
John died in December, 1893 and that was the year that the banks failed. I think it probable that the £700 gifts were made to his children quite a few years before he died.
As George did not figure in this handout it is very likely that Elizabeth contributed substantially to the gifts.
Elizabeth benefitted greatly on the death of her father, Andrew Nance 2, when he died in 1853. Both she and her sister Ellen Langdon were left an income for life, the interest on a “legacy” of £3,000 in both cases. And, in equal shares, they inherited the “rent and profit” from property attached to the wharf at the Point at Portsmouth. This property they held in trust for their children or their children’s heirs. See Andrew Nance’s will, Appendix 4. When Elizabeth died her estate would have been settled by the executors of her father’s will in England.
Aunt Essie told me that Elizabeth’s inheritance was £25,000, “£5,000 for each of her five children.” Godfrey invested his money in land at Warburton and went there to live with Essie, his daughter and her husband, George Thompson.
The people who knew John and Elizabeth have spoken of them with affection and admiration. After researching their lives I share that feeling. They lived arduously, but seem to have had remarkable health. During the time they spent at Concongella Elizabeth bore and raised her children under primitive conditions. They were all educated — by a tutor or Elizabeth, we do not know. Godfrey was at Ballarat Grammar School when he was fifteen, and almost certainly the other boys were there too. Godfrey then finished his schooling at Geelong Grammar.
John and Elizabeth were fortunate in that the violent deaths of their three sons and a daughter-in-law did not occur during their lifetimes. John’s dream of becoming a rich pastoralist was defeated by drought, fire, flood and the goldrush, but he was able to use his natural talent for medicine and become, as Vera Hudspeth put it, a country doctor.
When I met Viva Whelan we talked only of John and Elizabeth Blunden, her grandparents. Viva had died before I was ready to talk to her about her father, Ralph. Her daughter, Glen Wormald lived with her grandmother for most of her first fourteen years and she has talked to me about her grandparents.
“When they married at the Carlton Registry, 19 May, 1884 Grandfather was thirty-eight, but he gave his age as thirty. His name was Ralph James but he signed himself Ralph Clare Blunden. Grandmother’s name was Fanny Drew but she signed it as Frances Etty Drew. She was seventeen years old. (It is funny about the name Clare. They called their first child Clare, and then my mother called her first child Clare. I found the correct name and age on Ralph’s death certificate).
“Ralph and Frances had five children — Clare Basedon, who died later in childbirth, Reginald Halstead, Geoffrey Arlington, Ray Osmond who died in infancy, and Viva Adrienne, my mother. Geoffrey was drowned in the Bunyip River when he was eight. Grandmother jumped in to try and save him and she would have drowned too except for a big straw hat she was wearing. It kept bobbing up and a man pulled her out.
“Ralph and his brother Godfrey went into business together as Commission Agents. Then, during the nineties the banks closed and they went broke. Ralph sold up everything, trying to clear his debts then brought. the family to Longwarry. He was a railway clerk there.
“Every Saturday night he went into town to play the piano for the local dance. He was coming home one night after the dance, walking along the railway tracks when a train ran over him. He was killed instantly. That was 23 June, 1896.
“His mother, Elizabeth Blunden had died the year before and he was expecting to get some money. But he didn’t get any. Godfrey bought the land in Warburton with his money. I knew my grandmother very well. We called her Nana Blunden. I was fourteen when she died. She told me that they were as poor as church mice. She thought they should have a share of Elizabeth’s money and tried to get a copy of the will. But she was unsuccessful.
“After my grandfather died they were really desperate for money. I believe that Nana answered an advertisement in the paper for a job as housekeeper in New Zealand. On the ship going over she met a man and told him what she was doing. He said she was very brave and if she ever needed help to write to him in Sydney. Anyway, when she got to New Zealand her new employer met her and the children. They had to go up a river in a row boat and it was evidently a dreadful place. The man was a terrible person. He had two sons. The younger boy, Jackity, about eight years old was mad. He was dreadfully destructive. The other son was about twenty years old and he was nice. He used to help all he could but he was frightened of his father. Nana wrote to the man in Sydney and the older boy posted it for her. She asked if he would send their fare back to Sydney. It was about £10 in those days and this he did. But they had to stay on for quite a while as her employer would not take them down to the river. Finally the older boy took them to the port, wherever it was. Nana and the three children lived with the man in Sydney for quite some time.
“Nana had a friend, Maggie Ryan, who wasn’t married but had a little girl. She found it very hard to look after the child and work too, so Nana fostered the child. Her name was Marjorie and Nana had her until she married when she was seventeen. She was one of the family and we still keep in touch with her children. Marjorie is the little girl leaning against Nana’s knee in the family photo. I don’t think I ever heard the name of the man Nana lived with. He eventually went mad and died in an insane asylum in Sydney.
“Nana brought her family back to Melbourne and the first I remember of her was at Montrose where she had a job managing a guest house. My sister and I always stayed with her and my mother mostly did too. I think it must have been because my father was away a lot, working in timber mills in different places.
“After Montrose we moved to Elwood where Nana worked as housekeeper for Dr Moloney. We all lived with him and I can remember him quite well. He was known as the little doctor, was very dapper, waxed moustaches and always a flower in his buttonhole.
“After leaving there we went to Healesville where Nana ran a boarding house in Graceburn Valley Orchard. In those days about twenty men looked after the orchard, lived in another house and came in only for meals. We stayed there about six years. MY sister and I mostly lived with Nana in the boarding house. My father was working on the Maroondah Dam and he and Mother lived on the main road where the hospital is today. We would call in on our way home from school. My brother was born while they were living there.
“We moved back to Albert Park in 1930. Nana died in 1932 quite suddenly. She had been shopping the day before and had a heart attack or stroke. No one went to the funeral, not even my mother. Reg rode in the hearse, and I believe he was the only one there.”
Phil Blair, Ada’s granddaughter, died before I was ready to record some notes on Ada. Jim, Phil’s husband, has supplied me with the following information.
Ada married William Field Barnard at Geelong, 2 July, 1867. Phil understood that Field Barnard was an Oxford M.A. They had six children, Maurice, born 1868; Aubrey, 1870; Helen, 1873; Chandos, 1875; Gladys, 1877 and Muriel, Phil’s mother, 1881.
“In the 1877 Directory Field Barnard is given two addresses: College Street, South Yarra and Darling Street, South Yarra.
“In the 1877 Directory the Rev. Henry P. Kane was shown as Principal of the South Yarra College, Darling Street, South Yarra. His name does not appear in the 1878 Directory. This seems to indicate that Field Barnard succeeded Kane in 1878. This would fit in with Phil’s belief that at various times he owned and/or taught at private schools in several parts of the State. He could not have stayed at South Yarra very long, because by the time that Muriel was born in 1881 the family was living in Echuca. Presumably Field’s next move was to Albert Park High School. In the 1885 Directory Field’s name appears as Principal of Albert Park High School and his private address as 9 St Vincents Place, South Melbourne . “
Field Barnard died around 1890 and Ada, 28 January, 1900 of Bright’s Disease and cerebral haemorrhage. From Jim:
“I don’t think Ada’s family received anything from Elizabeth’s estate either, though one would think that, like Ralph’s children, they would have been entitled to a share. Reg, in his letter to Florence Blunden Collins referred to John Blunden’s gift of £700 to each of his children. Reg doesn’t say anything about a legacy from Elizabeth, so to this extent his testimony confirms Viva’s. Surely if he remembered (or had heard of) the relatively small legacy from John, he would also have recalled a presumably larger sum received on Elizabeth’s death, if there had been one? He couldn’t have been confusing the two because by the time Elizabeth’s affairs were sorted out Ralph was also dead.”
It would seem that Elizabeth’s estate was not settled until after Ada’s death in 1900 and her children somehow missed out on their inheritance. Vera Hudspeth writes of Field Barnard as a “fortune hunter.” The only fortune that Ada ever had was the £300 from her grandfather, Andrew Nance, when she turned twenty-one.
Reginald “bought an excellent sheep property near Christchurch” (Vera Hudspeth). On 30 January, 1875 he married a well-to-do widow with five daughters. She was Alice Murphy, a daughter of Dr Moore who had landed at Charteris Bay in 1851. Reginald was twenty-three when he married and his wife had a further five children, four sons and a daughter. Like his brothers, Ralph and Godfrey, and Godfrey’s wife, Alice, Reginald died in an accident involving a train. A car he was travelling in collided with a train on a level crossing at Bennetts, near Christchurch. [Reginald died in a car smash, Aug. 3, 1914 but no other car or train was involved.]
Florence, like Reginald, made a prosperous marriage. On 4 November, 1874 she married Andrew Murray, third son of Hugh Murray, the pioneer settler of the Colac district. The following details are from “Henderson’s Australian Families. Vol. 1”:
“Andrew Strachan Murray was born at Colac, 23 October, 1847, and educated at Scotch College, Melbourne and Geelong Grammar. It is claimed that he was the first white child born at Colac. He took up pastoral pursuits on the family property at Colac where he remained all his life. He was interested in all branches of sport, being one of the founders of the original Amateur Turf Club ... he was a very fine pigeon shot, an active member of the Gun Club in Colac, keenly interested in cricket ... He was a foundation shareholder of the Colac Bacon Co-operative and also one of the founders on the Colac Dairying Company and first chairman of directors. ...”
Andrew and Florence lived at Borongarook House and Hugh managed the property for his parents. They had five children: Russell Mervyn, barn 1877; Reginald, 1885; Ilma, Vera (who married Laurence Hudspeth and wrote the little family history that contained so much useful information) and Esme. Hugh Murray died at Colac 19 August, 1930 and Florence died in Melbourne 19 October, 1931 when she was eighty-one years old.
On 8 September, 1877, Godfrey married Alice McMillan, the eighteen year old Head Teacher of the Mologa East State School. The marriage took place at All Saints Church, Sandhurst, where her family was living. Sandhurst was the early name for Bendigo.
Godfrey was twenty-five years old and had been living at Durham Ox. He gave his profession as grazier but it is probable that he was managing a property. Mologa and Durham Ox are about twenty miles apart in the district between the central highlands and the Murray River. Godfrey and Alice’s first child, Randolph was born at Terrick Terrick, Mologa 11 April, 1878 seven months after the marriage. Dr John, then sixtyfour years old and probably living in Colac, travelled to Mologa, nearly 400 miles away to deliver the baby.
As Godfrey and Alice were the founders of our branch of the Blunden family, I have researched their lives more fully. ‘This material is set out in a later section.
To summarise their movements briefly:
For the first eleven years of their marriage Godfrey moved around the state managing properties. The family was in Strathbogie for three to four years — during 1880-84, the longest time in any one district. Perhaps it was there that he ran a property in partnership with his brother Ralph. Aunt Essie, who was born at Strathbogie never mentioned a partnership, but on her birth certificate Godfrey’s profession is given as “Grazier.” On most of the other birth certificates it is given as “Manager.”
The birth places of the children chart the course the family travelled. Ilma Gladys born October, 1879, Bacchus Marsh; Alice Alvie (birth not registered) 1880; Clarice Essie, August, 1881, Strathbogie; Cyril Verge, 1884, Cairn Curran; Harold Murray, May, 1885, Colac.The family was at Cape Otway from September, 1887 to June, 1888, and at Colac again for four and a half months during which time Randolph, the first child died. Doris Dulcie was born October, 1889 in South Yarra and on her birth certificate Godfrey’s profession is given as “Commission Agent.”
Alice took up teaching again when they were living in Strathbogie. She taught for two and a half years to January, 1883. Then again when they were in Cape Otway, Colac and Melbourne, resigning October, 1892, three years after Dulcie’s birth. She rejoined the Education Department in October, 1,000 and taught for the last six months of her life. Alice was killed by a train 6 May, 1901, at the Preston Railway Station. “Accidentally crushed between railway carriages and platform.”
In 1902 Godfrey bought 350 acres at Warburton in partnership with George Thompson, his daughter Essie’s husband. (Elizabeth Blunden’s estate was finally settled?). The property was named “Wonwondah” and Godfrey lived there until he died 27 May, 1911. It was the fourth violent death in the family involving a train. “Died from shock, the result of injuries caused by an engine at the La La railway crossing, Warburton.”
The following are reminiscences of descendants of John and Elizabeth Blunden. I did not meet Vera Hudspeth: her little history came to me through Aunt Essie. I met both Phil Blair and Viva Blunden Whelan.
The Nance and Blunden Families
by Vera Hudspeth.
“My grandmother, who was Elizabeth Nance before she married John Blunden, was the daughter of the Comte de Nantes, an emigree from the French Revolution.
“She, and her sisters were, when old enough, sent to Caen in France, to be educated in a convent there, though they were a Protestant family. There they were instructed in all branches of learning in the arts and graces of the day, music, dancing, painting, deportment. etc. and of course spoke and read French fluently. The sons went into the Navy, and one at least became a distinguished officer.
“Elizabeth the third daughter was evidently a very attractive jeune fille for she had many admirers at an early age, while at school, among them a handsome young drawing master to whom she became engaged when only sixteen years old, until her parents intervened and she went home to England.
“This young man wrote her many ardent and beautifully expressed letters which she kept and treasured all her life and when she died, she left them, with other French papers and books to my brother Mervyn, of whom she was very fond, and always hoped he would become a classical scholar. I do not know what became of those precious letters, all tied up with the customary blue ribbon and steeped in romance. As a child I often saw her reading her French novels, and she always kept her French bible by her bedside, for she was a religious woman. In Portsmouth on Aug. 16, 1844 she married Dr John Blunden, a widower with one young son, George and this charming and accomplished young girl with her husband, decided to go and live in Australia, which country seemed to offer more opportunities.
“They sailed in the year 1844, in the little brig “William Wise” 300 tons, which took six months to come out and as can be imagined was scarcely comfortable. She brought with her a harp, a lute, a spinet, and some very lovely dresses and quaint little bonnets, of silks and brocades and fine lace, and I can just remember gazing at those beautiful old garments in awe and delight, and even now often wonder what became of them. She was then my adored Grandmother and we often went with our Mother to stay with her in Melbourne.
“On their arrival in Victoria, Elizabeth and her husband and stepson had to set out upon a long journey in a bullock waggon over a rough track, and an the way, the harp was jolted out, a wheel passed over it, so it was completely broken, which was a great grief to this young girl, in a strange land, among unknown people, and completely unused to these primitive conditions, after the comfort and luxury of her English home.
“I think they always hoped to go back to England, but though they prospered they never did, and though they met with many trials and troubles they had much happiness too, sharing an adventurous life together. They took up land in the Wimmera District and called it “Concongella Station,” where the Doctor also practised his profession, and their six children were born — Ada, Ralph, Reginald, Godfrey, Blanche and Florence. The last two girls were twins, but a young nurse playing with Blanche one day, tossing her up and catching her, the baby somehow broke her neck. This is the story handed down to us, and of course Blanche was the strong one and Florence very delicate.
“The other son George had meanwhile grown up, and left for the Northern part of New Zealand, where he married, and drifted away from the family — I think that was before Florence was born, and she never saw him, though he did write occasionally.
“Years later when the family had to be educated they moved to Geelong, where Dr Blunden bought a practise at Highton, and the three boys went to the Grammar School, the girls had a governess. As she grew up Florence was in demand to play and sing at concerts, and in the church choir, for she was a talented musician and had a charming voice.
“Here I must go back some years and mention that in 1853 a few months or even weeks before the twins were born, my Grandmother’s father died in England leaving a substantial estate to be divided between his children, and a legacy to each of his grandchildren who were alive at the time of his death, to receive as they became twenty-one years old. (The legacies were £300. See Andrew Nance’s will, appendix 4.) As Florence, my mother, was not as yet born, she got nothing, but the money was not a fortunate inheritance for her sister and two of her brothers. Ada married an English school master with an Oxford degree, William Field Barnard, M.A. He was a fortune hunter and it was a sad marriage. He soon spent her money and broke her heart, and eventually died, leaving her with six children in poor circumstances. Ralph and Godfrey, both big handsome men, very musical and always popular, being very entertaining and much entertained. They invested in land and other schemes, but they did not become rich and were unfortunately killed in train accidents.
“Reginald went to New Zealand and bought an excellent sheep property near Christchurch, where he married a well-to-do widow with five daughters. They had four sons and a daughter, all of whom grew up and prospered. He too was killed in a motor accident years later.
“After living some years in Geelong, Dr Blunden and his family moved to Colac, where he practised in partnership with a Dr Rae. They lived on the bank of the lake in a house called “Nerinen.”
“And here Andrew Strachan Murray comes into my story. He was the third son of Hugh and Elizabeth Murray, pioneers of the district, and the owners of a sheep station of some 10,000 acres called “Borongarook” which he, Andrew, was managing for his widowed mother. According to his own story, riding in Colac one day, he saw and was introduced to pretty Florence Blunden, and then and there decided to marry her, for he had fallen desperately in love. He was a good looking man of twenty-five years, and after two years of persistent courtship, she agreed to his proposal, for she was an attractive little lass with many suitors, and no doubt found it hard to choose.
“The wedding duly took place on Nov. 4, 1874, and thus they became my parents, much loved and revered by us all, a family of five, Ilma, Mervyn, Vera, Esme and Rex, who grew up mostly in the old home “Borongarook.”
Of my grandfather, Dr Blunden, I do not know a great deal. He came from Winchester in Hampshire, was educated at the “Blue Coat School,” and was always very proud of his lovely thick head of hair, which he declared was due to the fact of the boys not being allowed to wear hats. He was big, bluff, kindly country Doctor, very popular and delightful Grandfather. We children all loved him, and he often came to stay with us after he retired. He and Elizabeth, my Grandmother, spent their last days in a suite of rooms in Osborne House, Nicholson Street, (opposite the Exhibition Building). They died about the year 1900 and were buried in the St Kilda Cemetery.
(Vera’s history contains much valuable information and, with Aunt Essie’s reminiscences was a starting point for my enquiries. Research proved some of her material to be fiction rather than fact. There never had been a Comte de Nantes; Elizabeth’s father had been a man of property in Portsmouth. John Blunden also came from Portsmouth and his name does not appear in the records of the “Blue Coat School.”)
B. From Phyllis Blair, grand-daughter of Ada, great-grand-daughter of John and Elizabeth.
“We had some sheet music belonging to my grandmother once. It had Ada Blunden, Ballarat, 186.. written on it so I am inclined to wonder if the worthy Dr. moved his family to Ballarat at this stage. — My mother went to P.L.C. and then her grandmother Elizabeth, widowed, lived in East Melbourne close to the school mother often used to have her lunch with her grand-mother. My sister has a tortoise-shell snuff-box with the initials E.N. thereon. Grandma gave it to my mother sometime at this stage.
The other query is that I’ve been told John was not a qualified doctor. I myself will vouch for the fact that one day my mother and I were on the dummy of a cable tram (about 1925, when I was 13). Mother helped on an old fellow with a wooden leg and we got talking. ‘Old Dr Blunden took my leg off when I was a boy’ he said. And naturally my mum got all excited and told him she was that doctor’s grand-daughter. This incident has always stuck in my mind. So if he was not qualified he was game!
“Re Ada Blunden marrying my grand-father, William Field Barnard. First of all I am about 99% sure that he was not Professor Barnard of Melbourne University but he was an Oxford M.A. and as far as I can gather he started or taught at little Grammar Schools in various country towns. Finally he was a master at Melbourne Grammar. They had six children who survived, Maurice, Aubrey, Helen, Chandas, Gladys and Muriel — the latter was my mother. These six all married and their descendants are many.”
C. From Viva Whelan (aged 80), daughter of Ralph, grand-daughter of John and Elizabeth.
“I was two when my grandmother, Elizabeth Blunden died. And three when my father died. So I don’t remember either of them.
“But my mother told me stories that she had been told by my grandmother. One day when Elizabeth was at home by herself at Concongella and the doctor was away, a black came to the door and asked to see the doctor. Elizabeth said ‘He’s away. Did you take the pills he gave you?’ The black answered ‘No, no Missy, too longy shit-shit.’
“Another day when my grandmother came into the kitchen she found a naked black warming himself in front of the stove. She was so angry that she picked up a hot frying pan and hit him on the backside! She forgot that she was a lady!”
When Phil Blair read Vera Hudspeth’s history she was surprised. She had never been told that her grandfather was a fortune hunter. I asked Viva if Vera had been right.
“Oh yes. He certainly did spend Ada’s money and break her heart. Ada became addicted to chlorodyne.” (It was a readily available patent medicine. B.B.).
As she walked out of my front door Viva said “I suppose you could say Dr John was a philanderer.”
Reminiscences of May (Gibson) Allen, granddaughter of John and Susannah McMillan; and facts obtained from shipping archives and marriage and death certificates.
The barque Aberfoyle, 417 tons completed her first voyage to Australia and back to England in eight months and twenty-seven days. Her master was Captain Peter Huddart, and she arrived back in London 4 May, 1851, with fourteen passengers and 1,201 bales of wool. The Aberfoyle left for Australia again on 26 June. Captain Huddart was ill and for this voyage her master was CAPTAIN JOHN McMILLAN. She carried a crew of They arrived in
fifteen, fifteen passengers and three in steerage. Melbourne 11 October, 1851 and were greeted with the news that gold had been discovered at Buninyong in August and at Ballarat in September. The entire crew of the Aberfoyle deserted and went to the diggings. The ship was in port for four months and at some stage during that time Captain McMillan also walked to the goldfields. He must have decided then that he was coming back , and wrote to his wife to prepare for a speedy departure after he returned to London. Notices appeared in the papers announcing the immediate departure of the Aberfoyle for a week, before she finally left Melbourne on 10 February, 1852. It would appear that there was difficulty in signing on an adequate crew. The Aberfoyle carried 1613 bales of wool and 40,272 ounces of gold.
Just over 3 months later, on 18th May, (it must have been only a matter of days after the _Aberfoyle berthed) Captain John McMillan, his wife SUSANNAH and their 4 children, John, aged 6, Susannah, 3, Margaret, 2 and May, 1, were all aboard the Emigrant, a sailing ship of 753 tons. Jane Lee, 20, appears to have travelled with the McMillan’s. Probably she was a nurse maid. On this voyage John McMillan was a passenger and the ma ster of the ship was Captain W.H. Kemp. The McMillan’s, with the 312 other passengers, had joined the great gold rush to Australia.
John was now 37 years old and Susannah was 35. She had been born in Liverpool in 1817. Her father was EDWARD PORTER and her mother’s maiden name was CUTHBERT. She was 19 years old when she married John McMillan, and he was 21. Family legend has it that Susannah was a nurse and that she nursed with Florence Nightingale. But as that lady gained her first experience of nursing at Kaiserwerth in Germany in 1851, and took her first nursing job in England in 1853, I do not see how their careers could have touched. Susannah’s first child was a girl. Mary, and she had died.
When her first soil John was born, Susannah was 29 years old and had been married ten years. Those ten years, as a young married woman, without children and a husband mostly at sea, could have given Susannah the opportunity to become a nurse.
On arrival in Victoria, the family went to Bendigo, living in a tent on the diggings. May remembers her mother, Margaret (who became Margaret Gibson) telling o f their lives at the diggings. Often their father, John, was away at other diggings, and at night their mother, alone with the children, would protect their gold with a pistol. Occasions did arise when Susannah led would-be robbers to the police station with the gun Dressed between their shoulders.
Susannah was nurse and midwife to the neighbouring miners’ families, working with Dr Kilburn, who had come with them from England. She had three more children herself, Thomas, born in 1854, James, 1856, and Alice, (who became Alice Blunden) born in Ararat in 1859.
John McMillan must have had some success with his mining operation, because, about 1860, he opened a General Store and Hotel at Sandhurst (now called Bendigo) near Maldon. Money was being spent freely at the diggings and the business flourished. John was still a storekeeper in 1877, when Alice was married, although, when his wife Susannah died in 1881, her death certificate said she was a dairyman’s wife.
Reminiscences of May (Gibson) Allen and facts from Shipping Archives, birth and death certificates.
GEORGE GIBSON was ‘born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1804. He was the son of JOHN GIBSON and his mother’s maiden nam was JANET MUIR. When he was 27 years old he married JANE HASTIE, then 35 years old. Jane was born at Whitehill, Lasswade, a small village 6 or 7 miles south-east of Edinburgh. her father was WILLIAM HASTIE, a printer and her mother’s maiden name was CHRISTIANA BRENKENRIGG. Jane was an educated woman and prior to her marriage was a governess in the house of a general. When she was an old lady, she loved to tell of the 50 guinea watch her employer had given her as a wedding present.
George and Jane were married at Whitehill. They had two sons, John Muir Gibson, born in 1832 and WILLIAM HASTIE GIBSON born in 1835.
They sailed in the Ivanhoe a ship of 1034 tons, from Greenock on 15th June, 1853. George was then 49 and Jane 56, but on the passenger list they both gave their age as 46. George’s occupation was given as Clerk. William was 18 when they sailed and his occupation was given as Publisher. Possibly he had been working in the printing house of his grandfather.
The Ivanhoe reached Melbourne on 15th September, 1853, just three months out from Greenock. Presumably the Gibsons were part of the gold rush when they came to Australia. George was a lay preacher, and May remembers being told that he preached in tents on the diggings. Books filled with his sermons were in existence many years after his death.
Eventually George and Jane bought a farm, “Rosebank,” a property of some hundreds of acres, at Sandy Creek near Maldon. (The old homestead has been demolished).
William married MARGARET McMILLAN on 28th October, 1868, when he was 32 wad she was 18. They lived at “Rosebank” with William’s parents, George and Jane. Three years later, George died of peritonitis, when he was 67. Jane died three years after her husband, when she was 78 years old.
WILLIAM HASTIE GIBSON and MARGARET (McMILLAN) GIBSON
William and Margaret lived on at the farm. They had ten children Margaret, Mary, Lily, Sidney, Hastie, May, Ann (who became Ann Blunden), Victor, Ivo, Ethel. When Hastie was a coddler, he followed his father around the paddocks when he was burning off. Hastie was not noticed until his clothes were alight and he was badly burnt. He died two days later. William died when the eldest girl was 17 and Ethel was 3 months old. Margaret Gibson first let the property, finally sold it and brought the family to Melbourne. She bought a house in Leverson Street, North Melbourne for £100.
The four eldest children went to work and Margaret machined shirts at 3/doz. at home. The eldest girl, Margaret, worked at Robertson & Moffatt’s, a big drapery, but it was the custom then that young employees received no pay for the first year. When they heard that Varley’s the printers paid 7/6 a week the three eldest girls, Margaret, Mary and Lily all started work there, in the despatch department. When old enough, Ann also worked at Varley’s, modernizing the illustrations for printed catalogues. Margaret Gibson, their mother. married again to William Sproat and had one more child, Sarah, her eleventh.
Between 1899 and 1906 the Gibsons lived at 268 Cardigan Street. The house is one of a two storey terrace and is still standing. The terrace is now owned by the Women’s Hospital and is used as living quarters for the staff. Both May and Ann were married from the Cardigan Street house. ANN, seventh child of William and Margaret Gibson was 23 years old when she married Verge Cyril Blunden on Ist March, 1905. Verge was 21 years old and had been living at 123 Rathdown Street, Carlton. No. 123 must have been demolished when the Children’s Hospital was built in Rathdown Street.
Ann and Verge’s parents were sisters, Alice and Margaret McMillan. The two families had always seen a great deal of each other. Alice Blunden would take her children for holidays at her sister’s farm “Rosebank,” at Sandy Creek. When the families were both living in Melbourne, and the Gibson girls working at Varley’s, their cousin, Verge Blunden was also there, doing his printing apprenticeship.
Reminiscences of Essie. daughter of Godfrey and Alice; and facts from certificates, etc.
GODFREY HALSTED BLUNDEN was born in Stawell, in 1853. He was the fourth child of John and Elizabeth Blunden, who’d come to Australia in 1844 and taken up land in the Wimmera, the property being called “Concongella.” Godfrey was educated first at Ballarat Grammar, then at Geelong Grammar School, where he was enrolled on Jan. 27th, 1868, at the age of fifteen. He then went to the University to study medicine, but left before he completed the course. He was tall, handsome, and when he was on a property near Swan Hill, he met and courted ALICE McMILLAN. She was seventeen and Head Teacher of the Mologa East State School.
From the information given in Alice’s record of service with the Victorian Education Department, and the birth certificates of five of her seven children, it is possible to follow Godfrey and Alice around Victoria during the 24 years of their married life.
Until 1888 Godfrey was managing properties in various parts of the country.
SEPTEMBER 8, 1377: Alice McMillan, 18 years old, married Godfrey Blunden, 25 years old, at All Saints Church, Sandhurst (Bendigo). Alice had grown up in Sandhurst, where her father had a general store.
DECEMBER 31, 1877: Alice resigned as Head Teacher from Mologa East State School.
APRIL 11, 1878: Randolph Godfrey, their first child was born at Terrick Terrick, Mologa. Dr John Blunden who was then 64 years old, travelled from Colac to deliver his grandchild.
OCTOBER 5, 1879: Eighteen months later, they were living at Bacchus Marsh and Ilma Gladys was born. Dr John delivered the baby and Mrs Murray (Godfrey’s sister Florence) was a witness.
1880-81: Within a year Alice Alvie was born but her birth appears not to have been registered. Within another year, their first daughter, Ilma Gladys had died.
JULY 20, 1880: Alice and Godfrey, with Randolph and Alvie had settled in the just-opened area of Strathbogie, and on July 20, Alice was appointed 1st Head Teacher of the new State School at Strathbogie North.
A roneoed copy of a “iiistory of Strathbogie” was lent me. It consisted of reminiscences of the first settlers, collected by a local schoolteacher in 1906. Godfrey and Alice Blunden were both remembered.
“...The wild pigs provided some good sport. One old boar became quite famous for his fighting powers and the way he came off victorious from the numerous attacks made on him by dogs. He caused a sensation at one time by compelling Mr Blunden (whose wife at that time taught in the Strathbogie North School) to seek refuge by climbing a tree. Even then the story goes, that Mr Blunden lost his coat tails and only got up the tree in the nick of time.”
“ .. Mrs Blunden was the first teacher of Strathbogie North; she was killed while crossing a railway line at Preston during the Commonwealth celebrations in 1901.”
AUGUST 7, 1881: Clarice Essie was barn at Strathbogie. Dr John, then 67 years old, travelled from Melbourne to deliver the baby. Alice was 22.years old and Godfrey 29. His profession is given as grazier on the baby’s birth certificate. Godfrey also signed it as Deputy Registrar of the Strathbogie District.
JANUARY 12, 1883: Alice resigned from her position as Head Teacher at Strathbogie North and for four years, nine months, she was not employed by the Education Department.
In January, 1966, Ralph and I visited Strathbogie, hoping to see the original Strathbogie North State School. We drove around for a couple of hours and spoke to a few of the farmers. The townshIp still consists of only two or three shops and the farms are widely scattered over many square miles of the plateau. We met an old ‘Lady living with her son and his family at the Creek Junction Post Office. She had lived all her life in Strathbogie, and was able to direct us to the site of the Strathbogie North State School. As a child she had attended that school and remembered being taught by Mrs Blunden. She cold us that the school building had been moved many years ago to a new site at Strathbogie East, where recently it had been replaced by a new school building.
1884: The family moved to Cairn Curran where Cyril Verge was born. His birth appears not to have been registered.
May 2, 1885: The family moved to Colac and Harold Murray Blunden was born at “Borongarook,” the Murray homestead. No doctor was present at the birth; Dr John Blunden was now 71 years old. The name of Mrs Lowe appears on the certificate as nurse and Miss Murray as witness.
Godfrey’s profession is filled in as Manager and it is probable that he was helping in the management of “Borongarook.” They were still living there three months later, when Alice registered Harold’s birth. The Murrays were related to Godfrey by marriage, his sister Florence being the wife of Andrew Murray, third son of Hugh Murray, the first pioneer to settle in the Colac district. “Borongarook” was a 10,000 acre sheep station.
SEPTEMBER 23, 1887: Alice, Godfrey and their five children moved to Cape Otway and Alice resumed her teaching. She was appointed Temporary Head Teacher at Cape Otway and for the next five years she taught with the Victorian Education Department. In all, she taught at 21 schools. She also always taught music and would ride her horse to visit her pupils at the neighbouring farms.
JUNE 22, 1888: The family returned to Colac and Alice was appointed teacher to the Colac school. The eldest child, Randolph, then 10 years old, had already been ill with a cardiac disease for a month. He died three months later, on September 27th, 1888.
NOVEMBER 2, 1883: They stayed in Colac only four and a half months, then moved to Melbourne. Alice was then 29 years old, and began her teaching in city and suburban schools. She was four months at Glenferrie, three weeks at Collingwood, two months at Moorabbin, thirteen months at South, Melbourne.
OCTOBER 28, 1889: Doris Dulcie was born on Oct. 28th, 1889, but there is no record of any special leave taken by Alice. They were living in Leopold Street, South Yarra and there was no doctor to deliver the baby. A Mrs Neil was the nurse and Godfrey the witness on the birth certificate. Alice was 29 and Dulcie was her last baby. Godfrey — now a Commission Agent, was 37.
For three years after Dulci e’s birth, Alice continued her school teaching: Toorak — 6 months; Carlton (Rathdown St) — two months; Yarraville — one month; Oakleigh — three months; Toorak — one month; Balwyn — two months (her great grandchildren, Peter and Andrew Blunden both attended this school for six years, over fifty years later); Carlton (Lygon Street) one month; West Melbourne — five months; North Fitzroy — one month; Kensington — seven months. She resigned from the Department on October 17th, 1892.
Godfrey’s father, Dr John Blunden died 29 December, 1893 and his mother, Elizabeth Nance Blunden 16 July, 1895. Elizabeth, who had benefitted greatly by her father’s will (Andrew Nance died 1853) is believed to have left an estate worth £ 25,000, the money to be divided between her five children. (From Aunt Essie.) The estate would have been settled by the executors of Andrew Nance’s will, in England and six or seven years passed before the money was available. In the meantime Godfrey’s family appears to have been 4 n financial difficulties because Alice rejoined the Education Department 23 October, 1900. She taught at Gowerville for four months and at North Melbourne for two months. She had been teaching at Armadale for three weeks when she was killed by a train at Preston railway station. The Coroner’s report on her death certificate reads: “Intestinal (read internal) injuries caused by being accidently crushed between carriages and platform.” It was 6 May, 1901, the day the Duke of York (George V) opened the first Federal Parliament in the Exhibition Building. Alice was forty-one years old when she died. Aunt Essie told me that many extra trains were running that day, and that her mother was killed on the level crossing by a train that unexpectedly backed.
Alice had been interested in the Seventh Day Adventist movement for many years and all her children were brought up in that religion. Her son, Harold became a pastor in the church and migrated to America. Alice was an active member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church at North Fitzroy at the time of her death and was remembered, sixty-five years later, as a “most excellent woman’,.
I do not have a photograph of Alice. Aunt Essie told me that her mother had a slight goitre and would never let herself be photographed.
In 1902, the year after Alice was killed, Essie married George Thompson. Godfrey, with his son-in-law, George bought 350 acres at Warburton “Wonwondah.” (Elizabeth’s estate was settled at last?). About two years after they had settled there five acres were given to the Seventh Day Adventists to build a printing factory and that was the beginning of the S.D.A. settlement in Warburton.
George and Godfrey were in partnership for a time, but Godfrey sold his interest in the property, bought the Coffee Palace in Warburton as an investment, though he lived at “Wonwondah.” The Coffee Palace was burnt out before he died, and as it was not insured, he lost everything.
The bridge at the east end of Warburton was the entrance gate of “Wonwondah,” and the property extended from the River Yarra to past where the channel is now. Timber was the first turnover, then sheep, then cows, then cattle, but finally it was sold to the Seventh Day Adventists piece by piece until only the house and thirty acres were left. These were sold in 1930.
Godfrey died at Warburton on May 27th, 1911. He was returning to “Wonwondah” from the Warburton township late one night, when he was run over by a train where the rails cross the main road. On his death certificate the Coroner’s report of the cause of death says: “Died from shock, the result of injuries caused by an engine at the La La railway crossing.”
Godfrey was the third member of the family to be killed by a train. His brother Ralph had been run over by the Longwarry train 23 June, 1896.
Reminiscences of May (Gibson) Allen, Ann’s sister and grand daughter of John and Susannah McMillan, a letter from Byron John (Bon) Blunden and facts from marriage and death certificates.
Verge and Annie were cousins and knew each other from early childhood. Their mothers were Alice and Margaret McMillan before their marriages. Margaret and William Gibson had lived on at his parents’ farm “Rosebank” after they had married. The farm was at Sandy Creek and Alice would visit them there for holidays when her children were small.
After Margaret was widowed she sold the farm and brought her children to live in Melbourne. Annie got a job at Varley’s, the printers, up-dating drawings for catalogues. Verge Blunden was also working at Varley’s, where he completed his printer’s apprenticeship.
Verge Blunden and Annie Gibson were married at St John’s, Melbourne 1 March., 1905. Verge was twenty-one and Annie twenty-three. They settled in Caulfield where the first two children were barn: Godfrey Verge (Geof), 19 March, 1906 and Beryl Alice. 22 February, 1909. Byron John (Bon) was born in St Kilda, 27 May, 1911.
“Verge Cyril Blunden had another son approximately the same age as myself, who was barn in Melbourne, the result of an extramarital love affair. Relatives helped me locate him in 1929, I think it was. He was a teacher. He was lightly built, quiet, thoughtful, intelligent, pleasant and suave. I liked him instantly. But I cannot recall his christian name or surname.”
Verge left for Western Australia where he worked as a salesman for a building contractor. I think the contractor was his brother-in-law. He then contracted rheumatic fever. Bon writes:
“I was six weeks old when my mother with her three children left Melbourne for Western Australia where she found her husband sick and near death. A legacy of his illness was a leaking valve in his heart which caused his premature death.”
Verge decided to try his hand at farming and they moved to a selection in the south west of Western Australia. The experiment proved a failure and the family returned to South Australia. Elbert Ralph was barn 20 May, 1915 at 28 Opey Avenue, Unley, Adelaide. The baby was delivered by Annie’s sister, Ethel.
From then on Annie suffered poor health and several times her sister, May Allen went over by train to Adelaide to nurse her. Finally May brought her back to Melbourne and put her in a private hospital, St Helen’s, Preston. Annie died there six months later, 18 August, 1921. There was an inquest and the Coroner’s finding: death from “Myocarditis and Pyelitis.” Annie was buried at Fawkner Cemetery. She was thirty-nine years old.
Verge stayed on in Adelaide with the children for two years. There were various housekeepers and at one time Olga, Essie’s eldest daughter came over to take charge of the family. About 1924 Verge took the children to Sydney. He died in the Adventist Hospital, Wharoonga 12 June, 1924 of angina. It was his fortieth birthday.
Geof joined the Melbourne Herald as a cadet reporter. Beryl began work as a stenographer. Bon and Ralph went to Warburton where they lived with their Aunt Essie and the four girl cousins. Ralph stayed with Aunt Essie, in Warburton until 1930, then in Melbourne until he was twenty, in 1935.
“At the age of 20 Godfrey successfully applied for the job as editor of Australia’s first wireless magazine, Wireless Weekly, published by Farmer & Company, original owners of the broadcasting station 2FC.
“Godfrey’s first novel, No More Reality, was published in England, in 1935.
“In 1941 as a war correspondent for the Sydney Daily Telegraph he covered the Battle for Britain.
“After Germany invaded Russia in 1942 he covered the Stalingrad and Kharkov fronts.
“In 1943 he was attached to the U.S. Ninth Air Force and later the U.S. Ninth Army and covered the battles in Holland and Germany.
“After the war he became an associate editor of the U.S. magazine, Time.
“He wrote his second novel, A Room on the Route, which depicts wartime Russia.
“A third novel, The Time of the Assassins, deals with the merciless savagery between the Fascist and Communist forces in the Ukraine.
“A fourth novel, published in 1956, The Looking-glass Conference, is a comic satire on international diplomacy.
“Probably Godfrey’s most important novel is Charco Harbor, a fictional, but very realistic account of Captain Cook’s first voyage to Australia.
“Godfrey did not return to Australia after the war. His wife, Mickey (Merle Carter) joined him in Paris, but after visiting Ireland and the U.S. returned alone to their pre-war home at Kurrajong Heights, where she still lives. Godfrey wrote to Mickey asking her to divorce him. Mickey flew to the U.S.A., but again returned by herself. After divorce proceedings in Mexico City (I think) Godfrey married Maria, a Polish girl, and settled in Paris and later Vence (France). They have two children: Katherine Noelle Blunden, a doctor of economics, and Ronald Jeffrey Blunden, a book publisher in Paris.
“Katherine Noelle Blunden is married to Dr George Andrieu, a Government medical research officer. They have two children, Alice Andrieu, born 1977, and Benjamin Godfrey Roger Andrieu, born 1980.
“Ronald Jeffrey Blunden is married to Marie Noelle Blin and they have two children, Jeffrey, born 1975, and Jeremy, born 1976.”
Bon writes briefly of his career:
“I spent six months at Wonwondah, Warburton, with Essie and family and was then sent to Avondale, N.S.W. After 18 turbulent months I went to Sydney and joined Geof and Beryl for a few years. I began work in an advertising agency, Griffin Shave and Co. Then the economic depression. I travelled interstate, working on newspapers in Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and at Bussleton, Western Australia. I returned to Sydney and for six months worked as secretary to the leader of the Federal Country Party, Dr Earle Page. From that job I transferred to the Daily Examiner, at Grafton. I then joined the new Daily Telegraph. I live now in retirement, aged 70, at Pennant Hills, N.S.W.”
A genealogical summary of Bon’s family:
“Byron John Blunden married Jean Aladene Beatson in 1936. Both were journalists. Jean added German genes to the already potent Blunden brew.
Byron Verge Blunden, born March, 1940
Kenneth Ralph Blunden, born April, 1943
Janet Narelle Blunden, born February, 1946
Geoffrey John Blunden, born April, 1950
Andre Paul Blunden, born April, 1955.
“Byron Verge Blunden, journalist, married Janne Scutt. Their children:
Mischelle Blunden, born 1969
Morgan Blunden, born 1972
Brant Blunden, barn 1973.
“Kenneth Ralph Blunden, artist and teacher, married Julia Debrett, teacher. Their child:
Anna Blunden, born 1973.
“Janet Narelle Blunden, nurse, married Sean Mercer, journalist. Their children:
Nicole Mercer, born 1970
Sean Mercer, born 1974
Ben Mercer, born 1977.
Beryl married an Englishman, George Rushby and they had one child, Michael born in Adelaide.
Ralph was fourteen when he came down from Warburton to Melbourne. His first job was washing cars at a garage. His uncle, George Thompson got him his second job — in the despatch department of the engravers, C.H. Taylor, where George was accountant. In 1934 Ralph joined the advertising department of Prestige Ltd. as production officer. After a few years at Prestige he did copywriting with three Melbourne ad agencies. In March, 1941 he was conscripted. After one day in camp he was “man-powered” into the Publications Department of Armoured Fighting Vehicles, then into the Publications Department of the Department of Labour. After World War 2 ended Ralph worked as a freelance editor for a year, then went back into advertising. He was copy chief at O’Briens, George Patterson’s and Carden Advertising. After a spell as General Manager with Carden’s he established his own agency, Ralph Blunden Pty. Ltd. That was at the beginning of 1959. In 1962 Ralph Blunden Pty. Ltd. merged with two other agencies becoming Thompson Ansell Blunden. This agency was sold to Grey International in 1968.
Ralph then worked as creative director with the advertising agency, Leo Burnett and after a break of several years in Europe, with Grey International in Sydney. He has now retired and is living in northern N.S.W.
A genealogical summary:
Elbert Ralph Blunden married Betty Genevieve Barnett, commercial artist 22 December, 1938. They had three sons: Peter Godfrey, born 28 March, 1941; Richard Brett, born 11 December, 1943, died 2 August, 1972; Andrew Kingston, born 11 October, 1945.
Peter Blunden, Bachelor of Architecture:
Married Marysia Margaret (Lietnowska) Murray 11 June, 1966.
Divorced 13 December, 1971.
Married Mary de Jesus Escolar de Castillo 28 March, 1972.
Divorced 28 March, 1977.
[P.S. Married Upaporn Lorsrimuang 1993, they have one daughter, Marissa Hyett Blunden, born 2 September 1994]
Andrew Blunden, Ph.D., Civil Engineering: not married.
Ralph Blunden and Betty Blunden, divorced 2 August, 1972.
[P.S. Betty died 24 June 2002]
Ralph Blunden married Brenda.
They have one son, Christian Ralph, born December, 1975.
[P.S. Ralph died 2 November 1993.]
Direct line of descent, Nance family to Elizabeth Nance. Taken from Evan Best’s Family Tree.
|Nicholas de Nans c. 1241||m.||Orengia|
|Lucas de Nans of Lelant, Cornwall. 1327|
|William de Nans of St. Clement, Cornwall. 1327|
|[Possible conjectured ancestors]|
|John de Nans in Meneage. 1385|
|Robert Nans of Nans in Meneage. 1451|
|Lawerence Nans of Meneage Alive 1506||m.||Agnes Trudell of Truthall|
|Sir Alexander Nans of Trengrove in Illogan Knighted 1485, Bosworth||m.||Constance Gylette of Clowance in St. Just in Penwith|
|Henry Nans Trengrove||m.||Chesten Nanspyan of Powlsack|
|John Nance of Nans in Illogen, 1557||m.||Margery Arundell of “Terice” (now National Trust House)|
|Richard Nance of Trewynnard Bapt. 1558 at Illogan Buried 1582 at St Erth||m.||Alice Harry of Illogan|
|John Nance. Yeoman in Illogen. Inherited the manor at Rosecarnon, 1603||m.||Jane|
|John Nance 1606-1658||m.||Johan Profit|
|John Nance of Padstow 1720||m.||Jane Norman|
|John Nance of Padstow 1672-1736||m.||Dorothy Hosgood|
|Richard Nance of Padstow 1712-1800||m.||Susanna Dorman|
|(1) Andrew Nance 1751-1800||m.||Martha (Raebold?) married in France? (Caen)|
|(2) Andrew Nance 1777-1853||m.||Ann Norris|
The legend of a French ancestry for Andrew Nance, of Portsmouth, seems to have been completely demolished by evidence from Sandwich and Cornwall which was apparently unknown to Andrew’s grandchildren. Australian and New Zealand researchers are now in agreement that the Andrew Nance who lived at Portsmouth in the late 1700s was identical with the Andrew Nance who was in business as a hatter at Sandwich, Kent, from the early 1770s until the mid-1780s and was an apprentice feltmaker at Padstow, Cornwall, in 1764. However, as Andrew’s grandchildren (born between 1798 and 1818) appear to have been genuinely convinced that the story was not a legend but fact, it seems necessary to offer some explanation for their belief.
First, to summarize the legend: In its most positive form, as written by Vera Hudspeth, it runs: “The Comte de Nantes was my great-grandfather, the father of Elizabeth, who married Dr John Blunden. ...She and her sisters were sent to Caen in France to be educated at a convent there, though they were a Protestant family.”
Much the same story is told by other Australian descendants o f Elizabeth and her sister Susanna; by descendants of another sister, Martha, in England; and by a descendant of Susanna in Canada. The usual reason given for the Comte’s settling in England is that he fled from France at the time of the French Revolution, though the Canadian version has him arriving in London about 1775 and later moving to Portsmouth.
A letter written to America in 1897 from Belfast by another Andrew Nance, a cousin of the Portsmouth girls, mentioned the de Nantes story, but placed the flight from France back in the time of the Huguenot persecutions. He spoke of a long line of Andrews in the West of England. He ascribed the discovery of the French connexion to his Uncle William, a lawyer of Portsmouth. This means that the story passed down by the girls came from the same source, since William was their brother. Unfortunately, William does not seem to have left any documentary evidence to support his claim.
Most family legends have some element of fact in them and in this case that element seems to be contained in the Belfast Andrew’s letter. It says “...the seventh Andrew crossed to Normandy from Cornwall — the eighth Andrew was born there... This eighth Andrew went to Kent when he was about twenty-one ... came to Portsmouth and set up as a hatter...”
There was no seventh Andrew. Cornish records show only one — the feltmaker’s apprentice who disappeared from Padstow and later turned up as a hatter in Sandwich. His Belfast descendant’s letter tells us where he probably spent the intervening period.
I suggest that the following scenario fits the known facts and could explain the origin of the legend.
In about 1769-1770 Andrew, having finished his apprenticeship — or perhaps without finishing it — crosses the Channel to Normandy and settles in Caen where he follows his trade as feltmaker or hatter for a few years. He marries a French girl, Martha (? Marthe), and their first child, William Andrew, is born. In about 1772-1773 Andrew returns to England with his little family and sets up house in Sandwich where, on the evidence of the parish registers, he is in business as a hatter for most of the 1770s and well into the 1780s — the couple have seven children baptised at St Peter’s Church, Sandwich, between 1774 and 1784.
As Andrew’s wife is French it is reasonable to suppose that contact is maintained with her family and that occasional visits are made to Caen. (Except for the years of the American War of Independence, 1776-1783, England and France were at peace for the whole of the period between Andrew’s departure from Cornwall and the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 and traffic between the two countries was not restricted.) On one such visit Andrew finds he has badly mistimed his trip. It is 1789 and he arid Martha, with some or all of their children are in Caen when news comes from Paris of the outbreak of the Revolution. They cut short their stay and hurry back to England to escape the trouble that is already sweeping across France. They are, in a sense, “refugees from the French Revolution” — not as French aristocrats fleeing the wrath of the French peasantry, but as English citizens hurrying back home before things get worse.
By the 1790s the family has moved to Portsmouth. Andrew is well established as a hatter and his two surviving sons, William Andrew and Andrew 2. are also in. the hat trade. He also has three daughters surviving and in 1796 one of them, Susannah, who has been living in London in the parish of St Mary-le-bonne, comes down to Portsmouth for her marriage to Anthony Francis Peirson. On 8th October, 1799, a second daughter, Eleanor, is married to Abraham Parfet at Fareham, a few miles from Portsmouth. The family links with Caen, interrupted by the Revolution, have been resumed as opportunities occur during intervals of calm, and the youngest daughter Martha, now a girl of twelve, has been with her French relations since the death of her mother some years earlier. In 1800 Andrew Nance dies at Fareham. His brief death notice makes no mention of any French ancestry. In the early years of the new century Martha marries a M. Goulin in Caen.
It may seem incredible that within forty years of Andrew’s death legend could transform the Padstow apprentice into the French Comte de Nantes, but it must be remembered that Andrew was only 49 when he died and that none of his grandchildren ever knew him; the eldest was only two years old when he died. They probably knew their grandmother was French and this perhaps encouraged them to believe that Andrew was also a Frenchman. We have no record of the marriage of Andrew’s daughter Martha, but we know from her brother Andrew’s will of 1853 that her husband’s name was Goulin. This is a French name and it is reasonable to assume that she met him in Caen; reasonable also is the assumption that the widowed Andrew should entrust the upbringing of his little daughter to his wife’s people. The Goulin marriage would provide a very sound explanation for the second Andrew’s action in sending his daughters to Caen to complete their education. They may have lived with their Aunt Martha and attended the convent as day pupils. It is even possible that the nuns at the convent in Caen assumed that the Protestant Nance girls from Portsmouth were of Huguenot descent and had Anglicised the French name Nantes.
Perhaps Uncle William was not entirely to blame for starting the legend. But if, as his nephew Andrew says, he spent a lot of time and money on the project, he has every reason for being proud of his efforts, as the story still has its believers in three continents more than a century after his death.
Sydney August 1980.
This is the last Will and Testament of me Ann Blunden of Angmering in the County of Sussex Widow I give and bequeathe the four sporting pictures now belonging unto me unto my son Stephen Blunden for his own use and benefit I also give and bequeathe the Portrait of my late husband and my China Bowl =to my daughter Emily Walford I also give and bequeathe all my plate and plated articles furniture books linen and household goods not hereinbefcre disposed of unto the said Emily Walford and my daughter Martha Nance equally to bee divided between them share and share alike I direct authorize and empower my said son Stephen Blunden and my Son-in-law Andrew Nance and the survivor of them or the heirs executors administrators or assigns of such survivor as soon as conveniently may be after my decease to sell and dispose of All and every my freehold copyhold and leasehold messuages lands tenements hereditaments and real estate whatsoever and wheresoever with their and every of their appurtenances either by Public Auction or Private Contract in such manner as they or he shall think proper and do and shall bargain assign surrender convey and assure the same hereditaments and premises respectively unto the purchaser or purchasers thereof his her or their heirs executors administrators or assigns or as he she or they shall direct And I do hereby direct that the monies to arise by such sale or sales shall be paid to and received by my executors and administrators for the time being and shall go in aid of my personal estate and be applied and disposed of in the same manner and for the same purposes as are hereinafter expressed and directed of and concerning my personal estate And for facilitating such sale or sales I do hereby declare that the receipt or receipts of my executors or administrators for the time being shall be a good and sufficient discharge in law and equity to the purchaser or respective purchasers of my said real and leasehold estates or of any part thereof for such purchase money as in such receipt or receipts shall be acknowledged or expressed to be received and that such purchaser or purchasers after such receipt or receipts given shall not be obliged to see the money paid by him her or them respectively applied in pursuance of this my Will nor be answerable or accountable for any loss misapplication or nonapplication of the same purchase money or any part thereof I give and bequeathe all my monies securities for money money in the funds goods chattels and personal ESTATE AND EFFECTS of what nature or kind soever or wheresoever the same may be (not hereinbefore disposed of) unto the said Stephen Blunden and Andrew Nance their executors administrators and assigns Upon trust that they my said trustees and the survivor of them his executors or administrators do and shall with all convenient speed after W decease collect get in and receive all such money as shall then be due and owing unto me from any person or persons whomsoever and do and shall sell and dispose of and convert into money All such parts of my personal estate as shall not consist of money or money in the funds and do and shall by and out of that part of my personal estate which shall consist of money and the money to be collected and received as aforesaid and the produce of any stocks or funds belonging to me at my death which my said trustees or trustee are and is hereby authorized and my said trustees or trustee are and is hereby authorized and empowered at any time to sell and dispose of pay and discharge all my just debts and funeral and testamentary charges and expenses and shall stand possessed of and interested in the residue thereof Upon trust as to one tenth part or share thereof that they the said Stephen Blunden and Andrew Nance and the survivor of them and the executors and administrators of such survivor do and shall lay out and invest the same in their or his names or name in the Parliamentary stocks or public funds of Great Britain or at interest on Government or real securities in England and do and shall from time to time alter and vary the same at their er his discretion for or unto other stocks funds or securities of a like nature if they or he shall think fit And do and shall pay the interest dividends and annual produce arising therefrom unto my son in law John Newland Tompkins for and during the term of his natural life and from and after his decease do and shall stand and be possessed of the said one tenth part or share of the said trust monies stocks funds and securities Upon trust to pay the interest dividends and in come unto my grandson John Tompkins Son of the said John Newland Tomkins until he shall attain the age of twenty one years and upon his attaining that age I direct my said trustees and trustee for the time being to pay the same one tenth part or share of the said trust monies stocks funds and securities unto my grandson the said John Tompkins for his own absolute use and benefit But in case my said grandson shall survive his said Father and depart this life under the age of twenty one years with out lawful issue Then I give and bequeathe the same part or share unto and equally between All my Children share and share alike in the same manner as is herein after declared and directed of and concerning the residue and remainder of W said Personal estate Upon trust for all and every my children who shall be then living in equal shares and proportions as tenants in common and not as joint tenants Nevertheless as to the part or share to which my son John Blunden will be entitled under this my Will I direct shall be retained by the said Stephen Blunden and Andrew Nance and the survivor of them & the executors and administrators of such survivor and that they do and shall lay out and invest the same in their or his names or name in the Parliamentary stocks or public funds of Great Britain or at interest on Government or real securities in England and do and shall from time to time alter and vary the same at their or his discretion for or into other stocks funds or securities of a like nature if they or he shall think fit so to do and do and shall pay the interest dividends and annual produce arising therefrom unto my said son John Blunden for and during the term of his natural life and from and after the decease of my said son John Blunden do and shall stand and be possessed of the said part or share and the stocks funds and securities an which the same shall be laid out and invested in trust for my grandson George Blunden the eldest son of the said John Blunden by his first Wife and in case my grandson George Blunden shall die before the said John Blunden then in trust for the said John Blunden absolutely but in case my said grandson shall survive his said Father but depart this life under the age of twenty one years without leaving lawful issue Then I give and bequeathe the same part or share unto and equally between and amongst all the other Children of the said John Blunden share and share alike to be payable and paid to them respectively on their respectively attaining the age of twenty one years And my Will is and I do hereby declare that in case any or either of my said Children now living other than the said John Blunden shall happen to die in my lifetime and shall leave lawful issue then the respective issue of such of them so dying and leaving lawful issue shall have and be entitled to such share of and in the said trust monies as the Parent thereof would have had and been entitled to in case he she or they had not died. And I hereby nominate constitute and appoint my said son Stephen Blunden and my said Son-in-law Andrew Nance Executors of this my Will and I give and devise all estates vested in me upon any trust or by way of mortgage to my said son Stephen Blunden and my said Son-in-law Andrew Nance their heirs executors administrators and assigns according to the nature or quality thereof respectively upon the trusts and subject to the equity of redemption subsisting or capable of taking effect in the same premises respectively at the time of my decease and to be conveyed assigned and disposed of accordingly but the money secured to me upon any such mortgage or mortgages to be considered as part of my personal estate And I hereby revoke all other Wills and Testamentary dispositions by me at any time heretofore made and declare this only to be my last Will and Testament In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this twenty first day of March One thousand eight hundred and sixty four — ANN BLUNDEN — Signed and declared by the same Ann Blunden the Testatrix as and for her last Will and Testament in the presence of us who in her presence at her request and in the presence of each other have subscribed our names to this Memorandum in testimony thereof — RICHD. EDMUNDS Solr. Worthing — James P. Ogle his Clerk.
PROVED at London 15th July 1864 by the Oaths of Stephen Blunden the son and Andrew Nance the Executors to whom Administration was granted.
This is the last Will & Testament of me ANDREW NANCE of Portsmouth in the County of Southhampton, a gentleman ‘L nominate and appoint my Son ANDREW NANCE the younger — and my Heirs WILLIAM JOHN MALLYON of Portsea in the said County of Southhampton, solicitor to be trustees and creditors of this my Will. I bequeath to my sister MARTHA GOULIN an annuity of twenty pounds sterling for her life and to my servant MARY MILLARD an annuity of fifteen pounds sterling for her life such annuities to be paid by equal quarterly payments from my death clear of any deduction.
I bequeath unto my said son ANDREW NANCE the younger and the said WILLIAM JOHN MALLYON of the several sums of one thousand pounds two thousand pounds and three several sum of three thousand pounds sterling upon trust that they the sons ANDREW NANCE the younger and WILLIAM JOHN MALLYON or the survivor of them or the executors or administrators of said survivor or other the trustees or trustee for the time being of my Will, shall or will lay out and invest the same several sums in the names or n of my said trustees or trustee for the time being on Government or good real security in England with power for my said trustees or trustee for the time being to vary said investments or securities as often as it shall be deemed expedient so to do and that my said trustees or trustee for the time being shall and will be possessed of the said several legacies or sum , hereinbefore mentioned and the funds stocks or securities upon which the same shall from time to time be invested upon the several trusts and for the intents and purposes hereinafter declared containing the same sum respectively (that is to say) as to and containing the said sum of one thousand pounds and the stocks funds or securities upon which the same may be invested upon trust from time to time to pay the annual produce and income arising therefrom into the proper hands of my daughter MARTHA the wife of THOMAS GALTON for and during her life so that the same may be for her sole and separate use free from the control debts and engagements of her said husband or of any future husband and so that my said daughter MARTHA upon trust to pay or transfer the said sum of one thousand pounds or the stocks funds or securities in or upon which the same shall for the time being be invested unto or am ng such child or children of my said daughter MARTHA as shall have attained or shall live to attain the age of 21 years or (being a daughter or daughters) shall live to attain that age or be married, if more than one to be divided between or among them in equal shares and proportions and as to and continuing the said sum of two thousand pounds and the stocks and funds or securities upon which the same may be invested upon and for the like or corresponding trusts and intents and purposes for the benefit of my daughter SUSANNA the wife of a THOMAS DREWATT and her child or children and subject to the like limitations and restrictions in every respect as are herein before expressed continuing the said sum of one thousand pounds in favour of my said daughter MARTHA GALTON and her child or children and as to and continuing one of the said three several sum of three thousand pounds and the stock funds or securities upon which the same may be invested upon and for the life or corresponding trusts and intents and purposes for the benefit of my daughter ELIZABETH the wife of JOHN BLUNDEN and her child or children and subject to the like limitations and restrictions as are hereinbefore expressed and declared continuing the said sum of one thousand pounds in favour of my daughter MARTHA GALTON and her child or children as aforesaid and as to and continuing one other of the said three several sums of three thousand pounds and the stocks funds or securities upon which the same may be invested upon and for the like trusts and intents and purposes for the benefit of my daughter ELLEN the wife of LANGDON and her child or children and subject to the like limitations and restrictions as are hereinbefore expressed declared continuing the said sum of one thousand pounds in favour of my said daughter MARTHA GALTON and her child or children as aforesaid and as to and continuing the remaining third sum of three thousand pounds and the stocks funds or securities upon which the same may be invested upon crust from time to time to pay the annual income thereof unto my daughter-in-law MARY the widow of my late son JAMES NANCE for and during the term of her natural life. If she shall so long remain the widow of my son JAMES and unmarried for the maintenance of herself and my three grandchildren, the children of my said deceased son and from and immediately after the decease or marrying again of the said MARY NANCE upon Trust to pay or transfer the said last mentioned sum of three thousand pounds or the stocks funds or securities upon which the same for the time being may be invested unto such of my said three grandchildren the issue of my said late son JAMES NANCE as shall attain the age of 21 years if more than one, to be equally divided between them as tenants in comm n. I bequeath unto each of my grand daughters MARIANNE FISKE and LOUISA FISKE the sum of £500 sterling absolutely I bequeath to each granddaughter of mine (excepting the said MARIANNE FISKE and LOUISA FISKE) who shall be living at my decease the sum of three hundred pounds sterling in addition to any other benefit or advantage to which they may be entitled under my Will as to such of them as shall be married to be paid into their respective proper hands to be enjoyed and disposed of as their separate property free from marital control and their respective receipts shall be sufficient discharges and as to the others for their own respective use and benefit absolutely I devise all these my several Messuages or tenements, with their respective rights and appurtenances situate in Rands Court at Gosport in the said County of Southhampton and also all that Messuages or dwelling house situate in Bathing Lane otherwise West Street in the town of Portsmouth aforesaid late the property of Philbio Rands unto and to the use of my son WILLIAM NANCE his heirs and assigns forever.
I devise all these my two Messuages or dwelling houses shops and premises being numbers 51 and 52 in the south side of the High Street in the town of Portsmouth aforesaid and now or late in the respective occupations of Messieurs Carlson & Norlett with their respective rights and appurtenances into and to the use of my said trustees or trustee their or his executors administrators and assigns during the life of my said daughter MARTHA GALTON in Trust for her separate and inalienable use during her life and after tier decease unto and to the use of the child or children of my said daughter MARTHA GALTON as have attained or shall attain the age of 21 years of age (being a daughter or daughters) shall live to attain that age or be married I devise and bequeath all that and those my freehold and leasehold messuage and dwelling house, stores, wharf buildings and premises situate at the point of Portsmouth aforesaid and adjoining the Harbour formerly known as Whitings and now in lease to and in the occupation of George Baker the younger with their respective rights, members and appurtances unto my said trustees their heirs executors administrators and assigns according to the different natures and tenures thereof respectively upon trust to pay the rents and profits thereof unto my said two daughters ELIZABETH BLUNDEN and ELLEN LANGDON in equal shares as tenants in common during their respective lives for their separate use free from the control and debts of their present and any future husbands and so that my said daughters ELIZABETH and ELLEN respectively shall have no power to anticipate the same and after the decease of my said daughters ELIZABETH BLUNDEN and ELLEN LANGDON respectively I entrust for such of the children of my said two daughters last named respectively as shall attain the age or respective ages of 21 years or shall die under that age leaving lawful issue on his her or their deceases or respective decease and his her or their heirs and assigns for ever. If more than one as tenants in common. But so nevertheless that the child or children of each daughter shall take his her or their own parents share only I give devise and bequeath the residue of my real and PERSONAL ESTATE AND EFFECTS WHATSOEVER AND WHERESOEVER (including estates vested in me as trustee or mortgages) unto my said son ANDREW NANCE the younger his heirs executors administrator and assigns as to the said trust or mortgage estates subject to the trusts affecting the same and as to my beneficial property for his or their own use but subject to the payment of my debts funeral testamentary expenses and charged with the payment of the several annuities and legacies given by this my Will or any Codicil thereto I authorise my trustees or trustee to apply all or any part of the income (not hereby otherwise disposed of) from the presumptive share of any legatee or devisee under my Will during his or her minority for his or her maintenance and during and to invest any unapplied income and such surplus income to follow the destination of the capital but to be applicable if required for the maintenance of any minor or minors or presumptively entitled thereto. And I authorise my said Trustees or Trustee to apply not more than one half of any minors presumptive share for his or her advancement in life. I empower my Trustees or Trustee to leave any messuages or hereditaments which they or he may hold upon the trusts of my Will for not more than twenty-one years at a rank-rent subject to re-entry if the rent be in arrear for more than 21 days. I also empower my sons Trustees or Trustee in their or his discretion if they or he shall think it advantageous to sell any messuages hereditaments or premises which for the time being may be subject to any uses or trust limited by my Will or any part or parts thereof respectively and for that purpose to appoint new uses of the same and to make any special or other conditions and stipulations and the monies arising from any such sale shall be received and invested by the said Trustee or Trustees in the purchase (subject to such stipulations or conditions of sale or under such title as my Trustees or Trustee in their or his absolute discretion shall think safe or be expedient to be accepted) of other freehold messuages or hereditaments in England and in the meantime in the funds or upon good real security such hereditaments and securities to be respectively settled and held upon uses and trusts corresponding as nearly as may be with the uses and trusts hereinbefore limited and expressed of and continuing the messuages hereditaments or premises which shall be so sold I hereby declare that every person who shall or may pay any trust money to the Trustees or Trustee for the time being of this my Will upon their or his receipt in writing shall be fully exonerated from all responsibility whatsoever in respect of the application thereof and I further declare that if my said Trustees or other of them or any Trustees or Trustee to be appointed under this clause shall die or be unwilling or incompetent to accept or execute the trusts of this my Will it shall be lawful for the competent accepting Trustees or Trustee for the time being if any, whether retiring from the office of Trustee or not or, if none, for the executors or administrators or any or either of the executors or administrators of the last deceased Trustee to substitute by any writing or (as the case may be) jointly with any surviving or continuing trustees or trustee my trust estate or any part thereof shall be vested and I exempt every trustee of my Will from liability for losses occurring without his own wilful default and authorise him to allow to his, to trustee or to trustees any expenses incidental to the trusteeship and I especially declare that the said WILLIAM JOHN MALLYON and every other trustee who may happen to be of the profession of an attorney or solicitor shall be entitled to make the usually professional charges for advice given and business transacted and done for and on behalf of my Trust estate any of equity to the contrary not-withstanding and I direct that the powers hereby vested in the trustees herein named shall be exercisable by the trustees or trustee for the time being of my Will and lastly revoking all former Wills I declare this only to be my Will contained in this and the five preceding sheets of paper in testimony whereof I the said ANDREW NANCE the Testator have to each sheet thereof act my hand this twenty fourth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty two.
signed by the said — ANDREW NANCE the Testator as and to be his last Will and Testament on the day of the date thereof in the joint presence of us who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each.
GRINDER Bread St., Portsmouth Victualler
G.H. LAMB Clerk to Mr A. Nance
Bread St. Portsmouth.
This is a Codicil to the last Will and Testament of me ANDREW NANCE of Portsmouth in the County of Southhampton.
Gentleman. Bearing date 24th day of December 1852 I hereby revoke and annul the following bequests contained in my said Will namely the annuity of £30 to my sister MARTHA GOULIN, the annuity of £15 to my servant MARY MILLARD and the legacy or one of the three several sums of three thousand pounds given to the Trustees of my Will upon Trusts for the ‘benefit of MARY NANCE the widow and my three grandchildren, the children of my late son JAMES NANCE the deceased and I do hereby expressly Will and declare that the said deceased son JAMES NANCE shall be wholly extruded from and take no benefit or interest whatever under of by virtue of my said Will I having since the date and execution thereof made other provision for the benefit of such parties respectively but in all other respects I hereby ratify and confirm my said Will in testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand this first day of January in the year of our Lord 1853. ANDREW NANCE.
Signed by the said ANDREW NANCE on the day of the date in the joint presence of us who at his request in his presence and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses thereto.
W.H. LEGGETT Emsworth. Hants. Gentleman.
EDWIN HARVEY Clerk to Mr Hellyer, Solicitor. Portsea.
Proved at London with a Codicil 9th February 1853 before the Worshipful THOMAS SPRICKS, Doctor of Laws and surrogate of the Oaths of ANDREW NANCE the son and WILLIAM JOHN MALLYON the Executors to whom was granted having been first sworn duly to administer.
Two generations of Portsmouth Nances were associated with the coaching business, their particular concern being with the London and Portsmouth route.
When Andrew III died in 1877 his obituary in the “Hampshire Telegraph” recalled that he was born in 1810 at the Fountain Hotel, “which wellknown hostelry, together with the Crown Inn and the Blue Posts, were kept simultaneously by his father (Andrew II), who was a posting-master in a very large way of business, and whose name was known all over England.”
The “Telegraph” also mentioned that in his youth Andrew III “drove for some time the famous Tantivy coach between Portsmouth and London and once made the journey between this place and the metropolis in the unprecedentedly short time of five hours and forty-two minutes, beating the noted Dick Faulkner by six minutes.”
The Blue Posts and the Fountain were already well-known coaching inns with a long history behind them when Andrew III took control of them in the early 1800s. The Blue Posts, in Broad Street at The Point, had beer, a favourite hostelry with seamen of the Royal Navy since 1613. The Fountain, in High Street just beyond the Grand Parade, was not much younger. Further up High Street was the Crown, wrongly described in the obituary as having been situated in Pembroke Street.
Andrew II’s career as a posting-master coincided with the period in which the English coaching industry reached its peak, with a network of coach services connecting every important town in the kingdom with London and, through tributary services, with each other. The first three decades of last century saw a progressive improvement in the building and maintenance of roads and great advances in the design and construction of coaches. Encouraged by these two developments, both the coach proprietors and their customers began to place more importance on arriving at a destination in something like a reasonable time, instead of regarding it as a matter for congratulation if the combined hazards of bad roads, unsprung vehicles, unreliable axles, inconsiderate wheels, surly drivers and broken-winded horses permitted coach and passengers to arrive at all.
Under the spur of these improvements, a better type of man was attracted to the coach-driving craft, which till then had little attraction to offer any man. At its peak coaching was a very efficient industry, in which posting-masters, drivers, guards (whose tasks included blowing the horn to give warning of the coach’s imminent arrival), stablemen, team-changers and everyone connected with the business took a pride in trying to keep the service running to schedule. It is rather ironical that even as the industry reached this stage and its reliability could be counted on, its end was already in sight. The Age of Steam was at hand and the railways were about to take over.
The coach route from London to Portsmouth covered about seventy-two miles. In the latter part of the 18th century the uncomfortable journey over poor roads seldom took less than fourteen hours — and that only in good weather conditions and without breakdowns. There was no upper limit set an the time; the coach got there when it got there! By the turn of the century things had greatly improved, and Andrew Nance II entered the business a few years later, just as the coaching industry was beginning to drive confidently and competently into its Golden Age. By 1820 coaching firms were advertising not merely the times of their coaches’ departure on the various routes, but also their expected times of arrival. The London to Portsmouth routes shared in the general progress.
W. Outram Tristram, in his Coaching Days and Ways, published in 1888, lists the following coaches as operating regularly between London and Portsmouth in 1821:
1. The Royal Mail Left the Angel, St Clement’s, Strand at 7.30 every evening. Arrived at the George, Portsmouth, 6.30 a.m,
2. Portsmouth Regulator Left London 8 a.m. Arrived at the George, Portsmouth, 5 p.m.
3. Rocket Left Belle Sauvage, Ludgate Hill, 8.30 a.m. White Bear, Piccadilly, 9 a.m. Arrived at The Fountain, Portsmouth, 5.30 p.m. to the minute.
4. Light Post Coach Left Gross Keys, Cheapside, 8 a.m. Arrived Portsmouth 7 p.m.
5. Portsmouth Telegraph Left Golden Cross, Charing Cross. (The author does not mention time of departure or arrival, but credits this coach with beating the Light Post’s time by half-an-hour).
6. Hero Left Spread Eagle, Gracechurch Street, 8 a.m. Arrived Blue Posts 6 p.m.
7. Night Post Coach Left Spread Eagle, Gracechurch Street, 7 p.m. Arrived Blue Posts in time for a good breakfast.
Another writer, Charles G. Harper, in The Portsmouth Road, published in 1895, says that by the 1820s “a fine crowd of coaches left town daily” and that the Rocket was “quite the speediest coach on the road.” He lists much the same vehicles as Tristram, but gives a little more information about the Portsmouth Telegraph which, he says, “flew between the Golden Gross, Charing Gross and the Blue Posts, Portsmouth, in nine hours and a half.”
Both these authors wrote their books long after the coaching days were over; presumably they gleaned their information from newspapers. Apparently no-one thought of writing books about the coaches until after they had become history. The lists do not give the names of posting-masters, but the names Blue Posts and Fountain can be taken as synonymous with Nance.
Harper does quote extensively from an interview with a retired coachdriver, Sam Carter, styled “The Last of the Whips.” Sam Carter had spent most of his working life on the coaches, as had his father James before him. Both had worked on coaches operated by Andrew 11, though the older man had been whipping his teams of four to and from the Blue Posts for twenty years or more before Andrew took over the old inn.
“I was only about sixteen or seventeen years of age when I took charge of the London mail for my father. Father used to ride to Moushill and back (that’s seventy-two miles) every night for fifty years. He drove the night Nelson for thirty years. That was a coach with a yellow body, and about 1822 its name was altered to that of the Star of Brunswick. It ran from the Fountain and the Blue Posts, Portsmouth, to the Spread Eagle in Gracechurch Street. Its pace was about eight miles per hour, including changes. We only changed once between Portsmouth and Godalming, and that was at Petersfield, but the stages were terribly long, and we afterwards used to get another team at Liphook. The night coaches to London used to do the distance in about twelve hours and the day coaches in nine; but the mails were ten hours on the road. ...I was guard for twelve months to the night Rocket which ran to the Belle Sauvage, then kept by Mr Nelson. It was established for the benefit of the people of Portsea, and only ran for six or seven years. The day Rocket was much older... Francis Falconer, who died at Petersfield about 1874, drove the day Rocket all the time it ran... The Independent ran to the Spread Eagle and to the Cross Keys, Wood Street. It was horsed by Mr Andrew Nance as far as Petersfield, after which the two coachmen, Durham and Parkinson, found horses for the remaining stages.”
By the mid-1830s the coaches on the Portsmouth Road were running on borrowed time. From London, railways were steadily reaching out in all directions and it was inevitable that Portsmouth would be linked with the capital. Me first train steamed into the Royal Navy’s home part in 1840, signalling the virtual end of the Coaching era. Although there were coaches on the road for several years after that, they had no hope of really competing with the three-hour schedule provided by the railway. A few years later Andrew Nance III was the local agent for the London and South Western Railway.
The times quoted for the Rocket and other fast coaches on the Portsmouth
to London route seem to cast doubts on the record claimed for Andrew 111. Even though the “Hampshire Telegraph” obituary says that “Mr Nance was generally regarded as the best four-in-hand driver in this country,” the difference between eight and a half hours and five hours forty-two minutes is too great to be accounted by the skill of the driver. Nevertheless it is apparently quite true that the Tantivy, under the command of Andrew Ill, did get to London in the time. Sam Carter tells how:
“I used to drive the Tantivy — a day and night coach — which afterwards ran only by day. We drove from Portsmouth to Farnborough station, then put the coach on the train, and drove into town from the terminus at Nine Elms.”
Nine Elms was the original London terminus of the Portsmouth railway, on the south bank of the Thames, near the site to which the Covent Garden Market was moved a few years ago. The practice described by Sam Carter has its counterpart in Australia today in the arrangements whereby Sydney and Melbourne motorists planning a tour of Western Australia but wishing to avoid the long drive across the Nullarbor, can drive to Port Pirie, put their cars Aboard the Indian Pacific and take them off again at Kalgoorlie, continuing on to Perth by road. The Tantivy service that Sam Carter spoke of was obviously in operation between the time when Farnborough was the southern terminus of the railway and the time when the line to Portsmouth was completed in 1840, which means that Andrew III’s record-breaking drive was made some time in the late 1830s.
None of the three hotels kept by Andrew II has survived to the present day. The Crown was the first to lose its status as a hostelry. It had its moment of glory in 1814 after the first abdication of Napoleon, when Marshal Blucher stayed there during the visit of the Prince Regent and the Allied Sovereigns to Portsmouth to attend a Grand Review of the Fleet at Spithead. By the 1830s it had ceased to be an inn and the building was occupied by several tenants, including the “Hampshire Standard.” From then onward its decline continued and for many years it was an =occupied, dilapidated ruin. What remained of it was demolished in 1900.
The Blue Posts, most famous of the three, and more or less immortalized through the sea stories of Captain Marryat, who had affectionate memories of it from his midshipman days, continued in its traditional role much longer, but was destroyed by fire in 1870. Its site is now a rather untidy part of the Vosper-Thorneycraft shipbuilding yard.
The Fountain, also mentioned in Marryat’s novels, was the last survivor. Thomas Dreweatt, a son-in-law of Andrew II, succeeded him as proprietor and ran the Fountain from 1831 to 1358. Subsequently it ceased to be a licensed hotel, but for a long period it continued to give useful service in other roles. In 1874 Miss Sarah Robinson converted it into a home for Old Soldiers under the name of the Soldiers’ Institute. Later it became the local headquarters of the Y.M.C.A. and in more recent times a Youth Hostel. It survived the bombings that flattened much of Old Portsmouth in World War II, only to come to an ignominious end at the hands of the demolitionists in 1972. It was the last link with the Nance family of the Coaching Days.
J.B. Blair Sydney October, 1980.