Willingdon to Park Farm

Book Review

History and Life of Samuel and Martha Mewett nee Balcombe

Author: Darryl Mewett

October 2019

For decades a book needed to be written about our South Australian family pioneers. Now Darryl Mewett has fulfilled that want with a publication that is revealing in its detail and presented with very good taste and an all-encompassing narrative.

Its 40 pages in A4 format with appropriate hard cover include a background of East Sussex geography, the hard times of farm labourers of that era in England, the conditions of a sea voyage for steerage passengers and their disembarkation in the mangrove mud of Port Misery (Port Adelaide), and the desire to be a landowner (firstly of five acres at Modbury and then 80 acres at Kersbrook).

I found the chapter covering the Birth and Origins of Martha Balcombe to be enlightening, especially the details of Bastardy Examination, Bonds and Documents under Parish and Poor Law.  Darryl has done his research thoroughly and presented the results in a sympathetic and readable way.

I have often wondered what prompted Samuel to name his 80 acres at Kersbrook as Park Farm. All is explained by Darryl on pages 4 and 5; there was a Park Farm in Willingdon owned by a Mr Denman whereon there were many head of livestock including  15 horses, more than 100 cows and calves, and in excess of 1,000 sheep. We might suppose that Samuel lived and worked there as labourer and shepherd. Details of an auction of the livestock in 1832 are given on page 5.

Photographs and maps accompany the text and provide faces for many of those named in the text. 

The last 12 pages are devoted to a listing of a Three Generation Descendant Report which includes my father’s generation.  The book will be a great help to those descendants of Samuel and Martha researching their family history. Darryl acknowledges his indebtness to his cousins both English and Australian whose research has provided a base for his literary work.

A sale price is not given in the book but Darryl’s email contact is <mewettss@bigpond.com> for availability and cost.

On my first reading of the book I emailed Darryl saying: I am impressed. Well done, Darryl. As they shout at the Opera: Bravo!

– Alan Mewett

Published in: on May 2, 2020 at 12:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Willingdon, birthplace of Samuel Mewett.

The Downs, Willingdon
Wish Hill, Willingdon
The Parish Church, Willingdon
Wheatsheaf Inn, Willingdon
Wish Hill, Willingdon
A Corner of Old Willingdon

Now that I am approaching 91 years of age, I have begun the process of discarding accumulated documents, papers and photos in anticipation of the task that will befall my family. I was delighted to find postcards of Willingdon bought when I visited there in 1973, yes, unbelievably almost fifty years ago!

My great-great-grandfather Samuel was born and baptised in Willingdon in 1803 and he was married to Martha Balcombe there in 1828. Previous generations of Mewetts had been born and baptised in this village.

Family historian Darryl Mewett has published an excellent book titled Willingdon to Park Farm, Samuel and Martha Mewett. I have written a review of this book and will post it on this blog after I have emailed a copy to Darryl for his approval.

Published in: on March 8, 2020 at 12:21 pm  Comments (4)  

L. Robert (Bob) Mewett, late of Noradjuha, Victoria (1925 – 2003)

Mary, Alan, Florris, Bob, in Sydney.       Bob and son Robert, Noradjuha, Vic.

In June 1973 I received the following letter, written on numbered pages from a carbon copy book, from a complete stranger who turned out to be a 3rd cousin of mine, Bob Mewett:

Dear Mr Mewett, 

    I have been given your address by George Mewett of Castlemaine and I believe that as well as a relationship we have a common interest in recording our family’s past history. I have been very busy on the job for just over 12 months now and have found out a lot about our ancestors which none of my family knew about.

     I hope that you can give me a “free ride” as far as Jesse’s descendants are concerned as I have practically nothing on them, but when I started out the only Mewett outside our family that I had heard of was Ted.

     About 16 months ago I met two very old sisters who were in their 90th years and who were nursed by Ted when they were children. Since then, one has passed on but they would have been very pleased to hear from a descendant of his. Now I am hoping you can help me out with this information. The ladies were Miss Jessie Leslie, 90 years, of Wail near Horsham and her sister Mrs Rigg, 92, now deceased. 

     I have descended from Jesse’s brother Robert who eventually settled at Nurcoung, about 25 miles from here, in 1882/3. Do you have any information as to who Jesse’s sisters Susan, Charlotte, Ruth, Elizabeth and Harriett married? I have proof that Charlotte married Thomas Barber of Gumeracha. Another (sister) married James Dorman and I have a photo of them but I am not sure of her name.

     I have contact with quite a few descendants of Thomas now. I presume that you know that Jesse’s parents were Samuel and Martha. I have only just received information from England saying that Martha’s maiden name was Balcombe, not Baukum as her death certificate says, and also to state that Samuel’s parents were John Mewett and Elizabeth (Woollar).

     Early this year my wife and I spent two weeks in S.A. looking up descendants of Samuel and Martha. I found it very hard to get much about the old people as the generation which knew (had) departed in the last 10 years and none of the present ones were sufficiently interested then to record anything.

     I have quite a bit of the family now and I hope with a bit of luck in the next year or so to fill in quite a few of the gaps. Could you tell me if Ted married a Miss Lloyd and did she come from Murtoa in Victoria? Possibly you know of a Max who played football with Carlton two or three years ago.

                                                          (paragraph omitted)

     I am on the land over here and actually own the land Robert first selected at Nurcoung in 1880. Do you have any family photos. I have one who is said to be Samuel, (and) Dave’s wedding photo with his brother Jim and father Jesse and Mrs Jesse (Rhoda). If possible I would like the information which you have about the Mewett family and I will be only too happy to fill in any gaps I can from what I know and return them to you.

     Many thanks for any assistance you can give me.

I am,

    Yours sincerely,

          L. Robert Mewett

P.S. I am also an active member of the Wimmera Group of the Victorian Genealogical Society at Horsham.

Needless to say many letters passed between us after this first missive. It was this first letter that revealed to me that my great-grandfather was Jesse, and that my great-great-grandparents were Samuel and Martha. Bob’s efforts inspired me to get on with my own research. Together we planned a successful Mewett Family Reunion at Williamstown and Kersbrook, South Australia, in April 1976.

The recent death of Bob’s wife, Florris, has prompted me to publish the above letter and write these few words as a tribute to Bob’s inspirational work, without it we would still have been in a continuing fog of ignorance about our past.  Darryl Mewett, another cousin, has continued Bob’s work with commendable and industrious attention to detail; his catalogue or register of descendants of Samuel and Martha numbers at least 1333 names to date and I think this figure does not include the current generation(s).

Bob himself was descended from Samuel and Martha Mewett through their eldest son, Robert, who was born in Willingdon, Sussex, in 1829. Together with three sisters and brother Jesse, Robert sailed with his parents on the Platina, arriving at Port Adelaide in 1839. Robert married Eliza Manser at Gawler S.A. in 1852 and they had eight children including son Andrew born at Mt Crawford in 1856. Andrew married Annie Coates at Noradjuha, Victoria, in 1898 and they had six children including their eldest son, Norman Robert, born at Gymbowen, Vic., in 1899. Norman married Ruth Dawkins in 1923 and they had two children including Lionel Robert (Bob) born at Natimuk in 1925. Bob married Florris Fuller in 1954 and they had three children. Keeping to my strict undertaking given at the beginning of this blog in 2011 for privacy reasons not to name any living persons herein, I have refrained from naming Bob and Florris’s family. 

– almewett         

Published in: on December 11, 2019 at 5:47 pm  Comments (1)  

William Giddings – Obituary

The following obituary was forwarded to me, on request, by Di Gillman, a descendant of William Giddings.  William was my great-great-grandfather through his daughter, Rhoda, who married Jesse Mewett. One of their sons, Edward John (Ted) was my grandfather. I have previously written about Ted on this blog. My thanks to Di Gillman.

The late Mr. W.Giddings – By the death of Mr. William Giddings of Gumeracha, which occurred on Monday, July 28, another old colonist has passed away, at the age of eighty-five years. Mr. Giddings was, on February 10, 1812, born at Sawtry, Peterborough, where he resided until 1855, when he, with his wife and nine children, came to South Australia, landing on Whit Sunday.

They immediately proceeded to Kersbrook, where for a time Mr. Giddings worked as a farm labourer at two guineas a week, flour being £7 10s. per bag and potatoes 42s. per bag. As soon as he was able he began farming at Kenton Valley on his own account, and subsequently removed to North Gumeracha, where he lived until eleven years ago, when he went to reside in Gumeracha, retiring from active work to enjoy a well-earned competency.

 The late Mr. Giddings was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church for sixty years, his connection with the Gumeracha Circuit extending over forty-two years. The funeral took place on Wednesday last. A short service was conducted in the Gumeracha Wesleyan Church, and afterwards the cortege proceeded to the Wesleyan Cemetery, where the body was interred by the side of the graves of his father and mother, three children, and two grandchildren in the presence of a large number of relatives and friends. A memorial service was conducted by the Rev. A.D. Bennett in the Gumeracha Church on the following Sunday evening on “Redeemed Humanity in Heaven”

 A widow, three sons, three daughters, forty-one grandchildren, and twenty great-grandchildren survive.

Published in: on July 30, 2019 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mewetts in the 19th Century News

Darryl Mewett has passed on to me newspaper items he found while researching Mewett entries in South Australia. Thank you, Darryl.

The South Australian Advertiser – Friday 25 March 1864
Tuesday, March 21
Best Collection of Apples, 20lbs. W.Lillicrapp
Second Best Collection, J.Phillis senior
Other exhibitors – W.Phillis, B.Kuril, J.Hobbs, J.Hooper,
G.Burton, S.Mewett, C.Greig and J.Phillis.
Judges – Messrs. C.Glover, B.Walker, J.Hooper.
Best 3 Bottles, Messrs.Smith and Son
Second Best, A.Greig
Other exhibitors, P.Hillam, J.Hobbs – good wine but required more age, S.Mewitt, Smith and Son – too dark in colour
W.Weise, N.M.Howard. Some of the wines were very inferior.
(Alan’s comment: Mispelling of Mewett. First indication to us that Samuel was in to wine-producing. My grandfather Ted was born to Jesse and Rhoda Mewett at Mount Pleasant in 1863, a year before the Mount Pleasant Annual Show 1864.)

Gawler Standard – Saturday 9 April 1881
THE VINTAGE OF 1881 – Satisfactory accounts reach us from almost all parts as to the probable results of the vintage now on. The crop seems to be good in all parts, though some have exceptionally fine yields. Mr Mewitt has so large a crop that he is unable to crush as fast as the gatherers send in the fruit. It will take another three weeks to complete the vintage. Rain, which is so much wanted by agriculturists, in order that they may commence ploughing, would be very detrimental to the vintage.
HONEY – The past season seems to have been one favourable to the production of honey, and beekeepers are rejoicing over their bountiful harvest. We hear of several good yields, and beekeepers everywhere seem satisfied. Mr Mewitt, of near Williamstown, has already extracted four and a half tons from his hives, and expects to have fully five tons by the time his work is completed.
(Alan’s comment: It appears the paragraph describing the vintage of 1881 could apply to Jesse Mewett because he was employed at Gilbert’s Wangolere property at that date when grapes were grown and picked for winemaking. I assume he was head gardener there and probably gave the Gawler Standard journalist the impression that the large crop was his own. Regarding the paragraph describing the season’s honey production, I have never known that Jesse could be described as a beekeeper. News to me! Hold on, Alan, read the next extract re large sunflower)

Bunyip (Gawler, SA) Friday 8 February 1889
A Large Sunflower – There is now on exhibition in the Bunyip office a sunflower grown by Mr Mewitt, of Trevale, Williamstown. It is of the Russian variety and measures fourteen inches (35cm) across. It is one of a number that have been planted in order to supply food for the bees. It has been found that the flower is most excellent for this purpose, and a number of the beekeepers of the neighborhood have tham in cultivation.

Bunyip (Gawler,SA) Friday 21 February 1896
Japan Plum, – Mr Mewett, of “Trevale” Williamstown has left at our office a Japan plum grown by him. The tree was planted twelve months ago last June, and bore about 20 plums. The fruit has a very small stone, and measures two inches (5cm) in diameter. A Golden Heart tree was planted the same time but has not thrived nearly as well. (Alan’s comment: Mr Mewett would have been Jesse, my great-grandfather. See my previous blog where Jesse’s purchase of the Trevale property in 1883 from the Trestrail family is described. One of my first acts of family research was to pore through an almanac and find entries of Mewetts in South Australia, they being described as gardeners. Later I realised that the term included orchardists, “market” gardeners, and vineyard workers as well as formal gardeners. The green thumb talent was passed on to Jesse’s son Ted whose expertise in the home vegetable garden, never flowers, was described to me by my Aunts Stella and Emily. It seems the green thumb was not passed further down, especially in my family.)

Published in: on June 16, 2019 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment  


For readers new to this blog I have prepared a list of posts which might have escaped their notice.

– almewett


June 22 Introduction – Family History

June 23 Aunty Ruby.

June 23 Ruby and Will Weaver – photo

June 24 The Pollocks of Bonnie Doon

June 27 Uncle Jack

June 27 The Inquest

June 27 Simmons Reef to Gobur to Bonnie Doon

June 28 William McGuigan of Kanumbra

June 28 My Grandfather Mewett

June 29 South Australian Origins

June 29 The Giddings of Gumeracha

June 30 Derivation of the Name Mewett

July   5  English Origins: Mewetts in the 17th Century

July   5  Mewetts in the 18th Century

July 16  Mewetts in the 16th Century

July 24  Willingdon and Emigration to South Australia

Aug 13  A Ladder for the Family Tree

Sept 26 Samuel and Martha in South Australia

Dec 14  Mystery of Identity Solved


May 28  Mrs Mewett in fiction!


Sept 28 Walking McGuigan Country – text

Sept 28 Walking McGuigan Country – photos

Sept 28 Walking McGuigan Country – maps

Oct   7   Woodfield – Brankeet – Doon

Nov 22  Meadowbank Farm


Mar 28 Longevity of My Mewett Ancestors

Mar 30 Maggie Pollock

Mar 30 Maggie Pollock – Photos

Mar 31 Uncle Will Weaver

Mar 31 Uncle Will Weaver – Photos

Apl   2  Pollock Family Photos

Apl 29  Mewetts and the 1st A.I.F. in World War I

May  2  Mewetts: A.I.F. Servicemen of the Second World War

Nov 29  Robert Brace – Martha Pollock Wedding 1917


Jan   4  Robert Brace – Martha Pollock Wedding 1917 – photo

Jan   4  Mewett Road, Kersbrook, listed in Adelaide Hills fires.

Jan 24  Charlotte

Jan 24  Contents – Mewett Family History blog – Who Were They

Apl   8  Photos: Meadowbank Farm, Bonnie Doon

Aug 28  Jesse and Rhoda’s Photo Album

Aug 28  Jesse and Rhoda Mewett’s Photo Album

Sep  4   The Jesse Mewett Photo Album – Wongalere

Sep  4   The Jesse Mewett Photo Album – Wongalere or Wangolere

Sep 25  The Trestrail Connection

Sep 25  Jesse and Rhoda Mewett’s Family Bible Entries


Apl 25  Uncle Dave

Dec 15  Dreadful Railway Mishap

Dec 27  The Manager, Col Mewett


Feb 14   John Kirkpatrick

May 20  The Walsh Family


Published in: on October 6, 2018 at 1:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Walsh Family

Mary Mewett’s mother was born Veronica Mary Kirkpatrick, daughter of John Kirkpatrick and his wife Mary (maiden name McNamara), on 15 October 1899.

On September 26, 1927, Veronica was married to William Walsh at St Mary’s West Melbourne Catholic Church, witnessed by James Murphy and Mary Kirkpatrick (Aunty Kitty).

William was born at North Melbourne on February 10, 1897, son of Edward Walsh, labourer (later hotel keeper) aged 31 (born County Cork), and Hannah Lane aged 23 (born County Kerry). William’s grandparents were William Walsh, farmer, and Mary Sullivan, and John Lane, farmer, and Mary O’Connor.

Wm Walsh &amp; sister 0900

William Walsh and sister Margaret (Aunty Peggy Phillips).

Wm Vera Walsh wedding 0895

Veronica Kirkpatrick and William Walsh, West Melbourne, 1927.

William had three sisters: Mary (Mrs R.Murphy), Margaret (see photo) (Mrs H G Phillips), and Ellen (Mrs F Alcock). He also had a half-brother Thomas, born to Hannah after the death of Edward Walsh and Hannah’s remarriage to Thomas Woods.

Billy Walsh0086

William Julian “Billy” Walsh, died 1933

William and Veronica “Vera” Walsh had three surviving children: William Julian “Billy” who died in September 1933, aged 3; Mary Therese (Mrs A Mewett), born January 1, 1934; John Edward, born November 16, 1935. A grave at Fawkner Cemetery holds the burials of Ann Walsh, July 18, 1928; Baby Walsh, stillborn September 28, 1929; John Walsh, stillborn October 17, 1932; also William Julian, September 20, 1933 (see photo).

Mary &amp; John Walsh

John and Mary Walsh, home of Uncle Jim Kirkpatrick, Brunswick, circa 1939.

Mary Walsh &amp; father0888

William Walsh and daughter Mary, Melbourne Showgrounds.

Wm Walsh Peggy 0956

William Walsh with his niece, Peggy Murphy.

Veronica died at a private hospital in Moreland Road, Coburg, on November 22, 1935, aged 35, from post-natal complications following the birth of her baby son John on November 16. William remarried Edith McGhee on July 14, 1938 at All Saints Church of England East St Kilda.

William died of tuberculosis on February 26, 1941 at The Repatriation General Hospital, Caulfield, hotel keeper, aged 43. He was buried with his first wife Veronica at Fawkner Cemetery, alongside the grave of their deceased children. Their surviving children, Mary and John, were orphans. Margaret Phillips (Aunty Peggy) assumed guardianship and arranged for the children to be accommodated from place to place but never in her home, her hotel.

Cousins Kirkpatrick0087

Mary and John with their older cousins Eileen and Jimmy Kirkpatrick, Brunswick, circa 1939.









Published in: on May 20, 2018 at 6:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

John Kirkpatrick(?)


John and Mary Kirkpatrick

John and Mary Kirkpatrick


Memorial Card – John Kirkpatrick

Mary Mewett’s mother was born Veronica Mary Kirkpatrick, daughter of John Kirkpatrick and his wife Mary (maiden name McNamara), on 15 October 1899

Now it turns out that there is some doubt as to the real identity of our Mary’s grandfather, John Kirkpatrick. When researching Mary’s family history back in 1973, I wrote away to the registry of births, deaths and marriages in Melbourne for John Kirkpatrick’s birth certificate. What they sent me was a photocopy of the birth registration of James Kirkpatrick born on 1 April 1871 at 23 Coote Street, Emerald Hill (now South Melbourne), son of James, laborer, aged 33, born in Scotland, and Euphemia (maiden name Gordon) aged 28, born in Scotland. There was listed an older son Thomas, aged 4, and a daughter Euphemia, aged 18 months.

At the time I assumed that the son James later adopted the given name of John because there was confusion between father and son, or some other reason.

The above information ties in with grandfather John’s marriage certificate when he was married to Mary McNamara on 6 November 1893 at St Mary’s Catholic Church, West Melbourne. He gave his birthplace as Buckhurst Street, South Melbourne, occupation wheat smelterman, aged 23, parents: James Kirkpatrick and Euphemia Gordon.

Going back further, a photocopy of John’s parents’ marriage certificate shows they were married at the Geelong registry office 22 December, 1865. He was James Ferguson KILPATRICK, laborer, aged 28, born in Scotland, son of Thomas Kilpatrick and his wife Jane (maiden name Ferguson). James’ wife Euphemia Gordon was a servant, aged 21, born in Scotland, daughter of William Gordon, cotton spinner, and Jane Gordon (maiden name Smith).

The names Kilpatrick and Kirkpatrick are interchangeable. There is no problem there.

Now the revelation: there is doubt that John was the son of James and Euphemia Kirkpatrick. The Victoria registry has a website on which I have searched the historical indexes and obtained for a fee, “images” of the original registration documents. But there is no registration record of the birth of John Kirkpatrick to James and Euphemia.

John died on 26 August 1900 when riding his bicycle down Spencer Street, Melbourne, and details of the death registration were: occupation: miller; aged: 29; son of James Kirkpatrick, mother “unknown”, married to Mary McNamara, children: Euphemia Mary 5 years (Kitty), James Joseph 4 years (Jim), Ann Eileen (Lanna – Sister Aurea SJ) 2 years, Veronica Mary (Mary’s mother) 10 months. A copy of the inquest into John’s sudden death gives no clue as to his real identity.

Now, Kitty (Euphemia Mary) was seemingly named after John’s mother, and Jim (James Joseph) was named after John’s father, strange when you think that they were not his natural or legal parents. How do I know this?

When John died in 1900 a remembrance card was printed (see photo) and it gave his birthdate as 15 December, 1870.  Remember that baby James was born 1 April 1871, which means that the mother was already pregnant with baby James when John was supposed to have been born in December 1870. A shock for this researcher came when it was found that the baby James Kirkpatrick died on the day he was born, after 5 hours. So my thought back in 1973 that John was actually James was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Remember that James’ birth registration for 1 April, 1871, included the names of previous children Thomas and Euphemia but there was no mention of John.

When another daughter, Jane, was born 23 February 1873 at Buckhurst Street, Emerald Hill, to James and Euphemia, listed on the registration were Thomas 7 years, Euphemia 3 years, James deceased, but no mention of John.

When a second James Kirkpatrick was born 2 November, 1876, at 172 Buckhurst Street, Emerald Hill, to James and Euphemia, other children listed in the registration were Thomas 8 years, Euphemia 5 years, James deceased, Jane 2 years, but no mention of John.

The mother Euphemia Kirkpatrick died under tragic circumstances (there is a copy of the inquest) at Scotia Street, Hotham (North Melbourne) on 9 February 1889. Her death registration listed her children: Euphemia 20 years, Jane 16, Thomas deceased, James 14. Here again, no mention of John.

The father James remarried 24 December, 1890, to Elizabeth Bennie, at Gipps Street, East Melbourne, and the marriage registration gave his children as three living, two dead (they would have been Euphemia, Jane and James, living, and Thomas and baby James dead).

When father James died 2 December 1919, the death registration listed Thomas dead, Euphemia 49, Jane 44 and James 32 . Again, no mention of John.

Any suggestion that the second James (born 1876) might have been John is erroneous. He would have turned 17 just four days before the date of John’s marriage and the age difference between Mary McNamara, aged 23, and the teenager James would have been obvious.  James survived beyond 15 December 1870, date of John’s death, and lived on until 1958.

It is interesting to note that on his marriage certificate John’s birthplace is listed as Buckhurst Street, South Melbourne, and that is where Jane and James were born (see above). How did John come by this misinformation that he was born in Buckhurst Street.  If John were innocent/ignorant of his true identity then the place of his birth might have been on the say-so of father James. If John was aware of his true identity but did not wish to reveal it, then I guess that he knew by word of mouth young James’ and Jane’s birthplace and assumed it for himself.

Why did he name his daughter Euphemia Mary after the mother and his son James after the father if he was aware that he himself was not their son?

And, why did the father James come to Mary the widow after John’s death and urge her not to bring the Kirkpatrick children up as Catholics? She showed him the door as any good Catholic would have done! Why would the father show concern for their religious upbringing when he knew the children were not really his grandchildren?

Does the marriage register at St Marys Catholic Church in West Melbourne carry any marginal note referring to the absence of a birth certificate for John Kirkpatrick or lack of a baptism certificate in his name?

Why was John Kirkpatrick buried at the Melbourne General Cemetery on 28 August 1900 in a Church of England section, compartment GG, “private” grave 715 where Thomas O’Brien, aged 25, had already been buried on 22 January 1890. Was John, in fact, related to Thomas O’Brien? Why was John not buried with his supposed mother Euphemia who was buried in the Presbyterian section, compartment O, grave 1395 on 10 February 1889, aged 42.

If I am persuaded that John Kirkpatrick believed that he was a son of father James and mother Euphemia, then I can only conclude that he was adopted or taken in by the Kirkpatricks when a young child and that they did not reveal his true identity to him. I assume that they were poor working class and not really financially able to feed another mouth at that time.  That they were prompted by the loss of their baby James in 1871 to take in somebody else’s baby when they already had Thomas and Euphemia seems unlikely unless John’s mother was an unmarried mother, possibly a relative or close friend of James and Euphemia. Or an unmarried girl friend of father James!

If John knew his true identity but did not wish to reveal it to Mary McNamara and her family, then he might have adopted the family name of his friends Jane and James Kirkpatrick, their parents’ names and the birthplace of Buckhurst Street. At the time of John’s marriage, Jane was 20 years of age, James just 17; it is possible that Jane was a close friend. But how did John convince the priest at St Mary’s Church that he was John Kirkpatrick without a birth certificate or baptism certificate to show.

So many questions, so few answered.

John Kirkpatrick remained so named, his bride, later his widow, carried the name, and so did the four children. His grandchild, Jim Kirkpatrick of Hurstbridge, still carries the name. We accept that the man known as John Kirkpatrick was the husband of Mary McNamara, father of children Euphemia Mary, James Joseph, Ann Eileen and Veronica Mary, and grandfather of Jimmy Kirkpatrick and John and Mary Walsh.

Until we know who his true parents were, we will have to be satisfied that the family tree stops there with John, Mary Mewett’s grandfather.

Alan Mewett.


Published in: on February 14, 2018 at 11:52 am  Leave a Comment  

The Manager, Col Mewett


Colin and Helen, newly-married.



Centre photo: The Mewett brothers 1983; Col (viewers left), Geoff, Alan, Max.

Photo below: Col with first-born, Graeme.

The Mansfield Courier of Friday, August 17, 1973, in the section, Business Of The Week, featured an article on Mansfield’s newest building, that of Bill Luck and Co., and it is partly quoted hereunder:

The Manager, Col Mewett, has had twenty-five years experience in the bulk petrol business. Col and his wife Helen came to Bonnie Doon more than twenty-five years ago. Both had family connections in the town. Col’s mother was a member of the Pollock family, and Helen’s mother was postmistress there.

Col was a North Riding patrolman with the Mansfield Shire Council and also ran a school bus between Bonnie Doon and Mansfield. He joined T. S. Powell and Co., as a driver and when this company was bought out by Mansfield Merchandising Agency Co. Ltd., he continued on with the new company.

In 1966 Bill Luck and Co., a Benalla company, bought the Mobil Agency from Mansfield Merchandising and appointed Col as their manager. His wife joined him in the office and worked there full time until some eighteen months ago, when she became a part-time employee.

Col was a foundation Flag Officer of the Mansfield Boat Club and has held many executive positions in that club. He is at present the Rear Commodore.  Col said that one of the highlights of his term as Commodore was to play host to the Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe and Lady Delacombe when they were guests of the Mansfield Boat Club. Col’s other interest, when not boating, is in Rotary where he is at present a Community Services Director.

The Mansfield Courier of Wednesday, September 2,1992, included the Obituary of Mr Colin D Mewett, and it is quoted hereunder:

Although a number of years have passed since Mr Colin David Mewett was forced by illness and failing eyesight to limit his public activities, it was evident that he was fondly remembered by innumerable friends at the service of thanksgiving following his death at the Mansfield District Hosptal on August 24. The service at St Andrews Uniting Church on Thursday was conducted by Rev. Jim Hazeldine.

Colin had a life-long association with the Bonnie Doon and Mansfield areas, although a little less than half his lifetime of 75 years was actually spent in this district. His earlier association was through his mother, Margaret, a member of the Pollock family of Woodfield.

Colin was born in Melbourne, the eldest of four sons of Perce and Margaret Mewett. Schooldays were spent at the Yarraville Primary and Footscray Technical Schools. For his first job he rode his bicycle to South Melbourne each day to work at Swallow & Ariell’s biscuit factory. From there he transferred to Warren & Browne Engineering at Footscray and settled in to learn his trade as an automobile mechanic (diesels). There he worked with his cousin, Bob Black, and together they never missed an opportunity to visit their Pollock relations at Ancona.

It was on one such visit that he met Miss Helen Snook, his future wife. They were married at the Congregational Church, Prahran, during World War II. Although Col had enlisted for service he failed to meet the eyesight standard required and so continued to work for Warren & Browne. Col and Helen came to Bonnie Doon in 1948, and moved to Mansfield three years later. Initially, Col  used his own truck, working for the shire council. For two years in those early days he also drove a school bus.

Employment with Mansfield Merchandising & Agency Co. brought him into contact with most residents of the district, who appreciated his unassuming and friendly approach. When Bill Luck & Co. took over the petrol depot the company recognised these qualities. The business developed considerably over the 25 years that it was managed by Col with the unfailing support of his wife.

The couple had three sons, Graham [Graeme] (dec.), Gary and Joe [Ian] and daughter Glenda [now deceased 2016]. Outside his daily activities Col loved the outdoor life, with nothing better than sailing, camping and fishing. One of the highlights occurred when, as commodore of the Mansfield Boat Club, he was called upon to host a visit from Sir Rohan Delacombe, then Governor of Victoria. Another memorable moment was attending a Rotary conference in South Australia, when he was seated next to and able to chat to his cricket hero, Sir Donald Bradman.

Jamieson naturally was a special place in which to engage in his favourite pastimes, and he retired there with his caravan to spend the last few years of his life.

– almewett

Published in: on December 27, 2016 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dreadful Railway Mishap

The young Perce Mewett                Buckrabanyule, Victoria

The Bendigo Advertiser (Victoria) carried the headline of – Dreadful Railway Mishap – in its issue dated Monday, 25 March 1912. The byline was from Charlton, 23 March:

A painful accident happened at the Buckrabanyule railway station this morning. A young man named Hewitt (sic), a cleaner, was employed at shunting operations, when he missed his footing. The wheels of the truck passed over both feet, badly crushing one and causing a compound of the ankle of the other foot. The sufferer, who was hurried to Charlton, was attended by Dr …….. and then ordered to the Wycheproof Hospital.

The Argus (Melbourne) of Wednesday, 3 April 1912, carried a paragraph headed WYCHEPROOF:

The young man, Percy Mewitt (sic), who was injured in a railway accident at Buckrabanyule, has had one foot amputated at the ankle, also several toes that were crushed to a pulp. He now lies in the Inglewood Hospital.

Buckrabanyule (population now app. 14) was a small town on the Bendigo-Charlton-Wycheproof railway line, approximately 40 km south-east of Wycheproof.

Alan’s comment: The unfortunate young man was 19-year-old Percy Edwin Mewett who became my father 17 years later. In our family circle his accident was never discussed but I do remember my mother saying that he was a fireman on a locomotive when he slipped on the wet steps as he climbed back after retrieving his cap from the track and fell under a wheel of the slowly moving steam engine. I now believe that her version to have been romanticised; it was possible that she was not aware of the full facts of the accident.

More light on the accident was given about 40 years ago when I visited Wycheproof, by Mrs Doye who had been a neighbour of the Mewett family in the town. She doubted that Perce had been a fireman on locomotives; she insisted that he had been a cleaner (of the locomotives stationed at Wycheproof). Her husband had been a guard there and they were recalled from their honeymoon for the newly-wed husband to take over from the injured Perce.

It appears to me that Perce was a cleaner at Wycheproof but was probably standing in for Mr Doye as guard on the train that had stopped at Buckrabanyule to leave or pick up a truck in a shunting manouevre. I can only guess that Perce was inexperienced in the procedure and as a result of a misunderstanding of the loco driver’s intention, found himself between trucks as the shunted truck bore down on him; my guess is that he missed his footing as he dashed to be clear.

Shunting of rolling stock (carriages or trucks) was always dangerous; the locomotive, with much chuffing and puffing, would push an uncoupled truck a short distance leaving it to roll unassisted and silently towards or away from the train. In the incident Perce would have been coupling or uncoupling trucks and anticipating the driver’s intentions. Little wonder that a railway company in England kept an ambulance wagon permanently stationed at a busy railway yard to give treatment to injured shunters.

Perce Mewett was rehabilitated to the Victorian Railways workshops at Newport, Victoria, as a telephone-switchboard operator. It was there that he met Margaret Pollock, employed at the  workshop canteen, when she came to order supplies by telephone. They were married in 1915 and their eldest son, Colin, was born at Footscray in 1917. Perce left the VR to become a private hire car driver with South Yarra Motors, and later in 1934 he drove for Harry Parker’s Chatsworth Motors in East Prahran. His amputated ankle and foot were replaced with a wooden prosthesis (with its straps and metal fittings) which had to be fitted daily, leaving him with a clumping gait, a far cry from the modern-day prostheses which allow wearers to engage in athletic sports.

My thanks to Darryl Mewett for drawing my attention to the two newspaper reports quoted above. Photo of the young Perce Mewett from Ruby Weaver scrapbook. Photo of Buckrabunyule railway from Google Earth.

Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 6:30 pm  Comments (1)