Remembering the Past Australia

Portland 1888

Biographical sketches of the Prominent Residents of the Town and It's Immediate Neighbourhood

As published in Victoria and Its Metropolis, Past and Present – Vol II. – The Colony and It’s People in 1888; Published by McCarron, Bird, & Co., Melbourne.

The following are short biographical notes of a number of the most prominent residents of the town of Portland in 1888 and its immediate neighbourhood: – 

Anderson, William Primrose, Portland, born in Victoria in 1845, went into business, at the early age of twelve years, with Messrs. Trangmar and Crouch, of Portland, for six months. He was afterwards with Mr. Charles Trangmar, and at that gentleman’s death succeeded to the business, which he still carries on successfully. Mr. Anderson’s premises have very extensive storage room for wool and grain. The frontage to the street is about a chain and a half, and the building, which is of stone, is two stories high. Mr. Anderson is agent for numerous shipping and insurance companies, and in 1883 he established a direct line of steamers from Portland to London for the shipment of wool, of which he himself sends about 10,000 bales during the season.

Bennett, Thomas, Portland, a native of Derbyshire, England, came to Australia in 1854, and landed at Portland, Victoria. He took over his brother’s business of merchant tailor, and purchased the property in 1860, now employing about four hands. The premises are very commodious, the frontage facing the sea. Mr. Bennett is a very keen sportsman, and takes a great interest in all racing matters. He is starter for the Portland Racing Club.

Bevan, George, Portland, is a native of Somersetshire, England, who emigrated to the colony in 1857, and landed in Portland by the British Empire. During his first six years in Portland he was gardener for Mr. Thomas Must, and then became landlord of the London Hotel. In 1878 he retired from the business for about five years, and, on returning to it in 1884, he again took possession, purchasing the property two years later, and now carries on the hotel. The building is of brick and stone, and is delightfully situated, facing the pier, having frontages to Julia and Bentwick streets. It is very commodious, and will accommodate about thirty-five guests. Mr. Bevan is an eager sportsman, and a prominent member of the Portland Racing Club. He has been a member of the Portland borough council for seventeen years.

Campbell and Sons, Portland. Mr. Campbell, senior, was born in Ross shire, Scotland, who emigrated to Victoria in 1853, and landed at Port Phillip. A short time after his arrival he took a situation with Messrs. Budge, of Melbourne, and, after being in their establishment two years, went to Warrnambool, where he was for some time with Messrs. Rutledge and Co., merchants. Thence he went to Belfast, and remained five years, proceeding afterwards to Portland, and being in the employ of Mr. Must, merchant, some years. In 1871 he began business on his own account, and opened the present establishment in Julia-street as a drapery and grocery store. The premises are extensive and commodious, having a frontage of 110 feet, and their handsome fittings and tasteful decoration form one of the attractions of the town.

Corney, William, J.P., Portland, a native of England, came out to Hobart Town, Tasmania, in 1821, with his father, and remained on his farm there for nineteen years. In 1840 he went to Portland, and started squatting on Wando Station (one of the first in Victoria), where he remained fourteen years. In 1854 he visited England, returning in 1856, and has resided in Portland ever since. Mr. Corney has been a member of the Portland borough council sixteen years, and mayor for two years. He holds Her Majesty’s commission of the peace for the western bailiwick.

Croon, John, Portland, was born at Aberdeen, Scotland, and landed in Melbourne in 1851. He went to the mines on his arrival, and for three years was fairly successful. He then embarked in the general storekeeping and butchering business in Bungaree, and in 1868 established a similar business at Warburton. He lately purchased the business of Mr. Lamb, butcher, Portland.

Eriscoe, William, J.P., Merino, born in Bath, England, came to this colony a boy in 1854. His first experience of business life commenced in 1856, when he started droving to Ballarat, and horse-breaking. From 1862 until 1870 he carried on business as butcher in Merino, and in the last-named year purchased a section of land, and built his present shop and dwelling-house, in a central position in the town. Mr. Enscoe now owns about 415 acres of rich grazing land close to the township, and 470 acres some five miles distant, which he keeps fully stocked. He is president of the Glenelg shire council, and member of the south riding, is chairman of the board of health, and a justice of the peace for the western bailiwick.

Fletcher, John, Branxholme, came to this colony in 1855 from Scotland, his native place, and, settling in the Western District, took first of all to shepherding, and afterwards occupied himself for nine years in various avocations connected with a bush life, such as bullock-driving, &c., and latterly as overseer on the Murrundara station, Edenhope. In 1876 Mr. Walter Laidlaw, the proprietor, transferred him as manager to his Ardachy station estate, near and north of Branxholme, which position he now holds. The Ardachy station comprises 9942 acres, on which are depastured about 10,000 sheep, 150 head of cattle, and twenty-five horses.

Fraser, William Jackson, Portland, was born in Sandhurst, Victoria, in 1854. In 1880 he joined the Beehive Drapery Company, and remained with them four years, and in 1886 went to Portland and purchased his present general drapery business, which was previously carried on by Mr. Finn. He employs six hands in commodious and spacious premises.

Gibbs, John, Portland, a native of Lincolnshire, England, came to Australia in 1852, landing at Melbourne. He was at the Bendigo diggings until 1853, and then proceeded to Portland, where he carried on a baking and confectionery business for three years. In 1856 he went again to the diggings, visiting most of the important rushes in various parts of the colony. He was fairly successful as a digger, and in 1863 returned to Portland, and again started the baking and confectionery business, which he now carries on. In the meantime Mr. Gibbs has made a short visit to England.

Gough, Edward, Branxholme, is a son of Mr. William Gough, who settled in Portland in 1845, and was latterly the proprietor of the Builders’ Arms Hotel there. In 1853 he rented the Travellers’ Rest Hotel at Branxholme (since burnt) from Mr. Best for three years. In 1861 he purchased the Branxholme Hotel from Mr. Best, who had built it about a year previously. Mr. E. Gough commenced his business career as a printer in connection with the Coleraine Albion in 1872, and in 1875 went to Hamilton, where he was engaged on the staff of the Hamilton Spectator for three and a-half years. He afterwards went to Branxholme, and took over the management of the Branxholme Hotel from his father, and continues to conduct the house. The hotel is situated at the corner of Creek and Cox-streets. It contains fifteen rooms, and is built of stone, with stables at the rear. In addition to the one and a-half acre block on which the hotel stands, Mr. Gough has also nearly 600 acres of land close to the township, which he utilises for agricultural purposes.

Gough, John, Branxholme, is a son of Mr. William Gough, formerly of Portland. He assisted his father for several years in working his farm at Branxholme, and in 1884 took the management of the Branxholme Hotel for his father, prior to his brother, Mr. Edward Gough, occupying the position of manager. He conducted that hotel until 1866, when he took over the Junction Hotel, Branxholme, from his brother, Mr. William Gough, and now carries it on. The hotel is in Brewer-street, in rear of the railway station, and is well-known as a comfortable house, and very convenient to travellers. Mr. Gough owns 300 acres of grazing land in the neighbourhood.

Henty, Edward (the late), of Portland, a son of Mr. Thomas Henty, and the pioneer settler of Victoria, was born at West Tarring, Sussex, England, in 1810. The foundation of the Swan River settlement, in Western Australia, in 1829, turned the attention of many besides Mr. Thomas Henty to these colonies. Hundreds of thousands of acres had been granted to one and another applicant. From the Lieutenant-Governor, with his 100,000 acres, to the ship’s cook of the King’s surveying ship, with his fifty, the Crown lands of the colony were lavished on all who would go to the new settlement, where, separated by the whole breadth of a continent from the convicts of the eastern seaboard, a new Arcadia was to be planted. Thomas Henty had several sons of the right stuff to make colonists, and determined to send them to the new land. Their names were James, John, Francis, Edward, and Stephen. Mr. Henty chartered a vessel, and put on board labourers and their families, twelve months’ supply of provisions, and some valuable stock in the shape of thoroughbred blood horses, pure merino sheep, cattle, and appliances for establishing an agricultural and pastoral settlement. The three sons — James, John, and Stephen —duly arrived at Perth, where the elder purchased land for the purpose of locating the families, stock, &c., in his charge, until he could obtain suitable grants from the Government. Mr. Henty was about to follow with the rest of his family, when, in 1831, he received advices from his son James that they saw no prospect of doing good in West Australia, and had determined to proceed to Launceston, in Tasmania. This information entirely altered the plans of the father, who accordingly, instead of going with his family to Swan River, followed them to Van Diemen’s Land in a vessel carrying immigrants, valuable stock, &c. They arrived in the latter part of 1831, and settled down. A twelve-month, however, sufficed to dishearten Mr. Edward Henty of his prospects in the island. He determined to cross Bass’s Straits, and seek suitable land on the southern shores of the continent. He left Launceston in the barque Caernarvon in 1832, and landed at Memory Cove, in Spencer’s Gulf, and afterwards at Port Lincoln, places discovered by Flinders. He remained there, looking for a location, until he was called for, as arranged, by the brigantine Thistle, on her way from Swan River to Tasmania. On the passage back he anchored in Portland Bay, which place so took his fancy that he returned in the Elizabeth from Launceston, and a more extended examination of the country determined him to form a settlement there. Before doing so he and his father again visited Portland in the Thistle, and on their way to Swan River, to settle about the land Mr. Thomas Henty held there, they called in at Kangaroo Island, Spencer’s Gulf, &c. In October, 1834, having completed his arrangements, Mr. Edward Henty sailed in the Thistle, Captain Liddle, and conveyed to Portland labourers, cattle, farming implements, fruit-trees, vines, seeds, &c., and landed at eight a.m. on the 19th November, 1834. He at once set about planting, and raised a good crop of vegetables. In the first two years of the settlement the Thistle was regularly employed bringing over sheep, cattle, horses, and provisions, which clearly proves that all residents in and about Launceston, including Batman and Fawkner, were perfectly aware of the settlement being formed in what is now known as Victoria. It was commonly regarded as a dangerous undertaking, and caused no little excitement. The very fruit-trees planted by Mr. Edward Henty at Portland were purchased from Fawkner, who at that time kept a nursery-garden on Windmill Hill, Launceston. A month after the first arrival Mr. Edward Henty landed the first pure merino sheep, and at the same time his brother Francis paid him a visit, and remained a month. Shortly afterwards the brothers joined their fortunes; the success which attended their gradual settlement of the beautiful Wannon country, and the high estimation in which the family has always been regarded in the colony, belong to history. Mr. Edward Henty was not twenty-five years of age when he put together the first plough that ever broke Victorian soil, and welded with his own hands the chains by which it was drawn. His roof-tree was more than 500 miles from the nearest house, and he was often put to straits in dealing with the wild cannibal blacks surrounding him; but on no occasion did he ever have need to fire on them. Two years afterwards Stephen Henty gave up Swan River and joined his brother at Portland Bay. Mr. Henty for many years represented the county of Normanby in the Legislative Assembly. In 1872 Mr. Edward Henty gave a monster picnic to all the school children in Portland, to celebrate the completion of his thirty-eighth year’s residence there. In addressing the assemblage he said:— “I have invited you here today as I wish to impress upon your minds the fact that I was the pioneer of the colony. When you are grown up and hear people talking about these matters, you can say you knew Mr. Henty, the pioneer, and that you were brought up in the town with him. That I am the oldest Victorian is proved by this book, the “Old Colonists’ Address to Prince Alfred,” signed by 700 old colonists; you can tell them it is true Mr. Henty made a home for him self, and it is equally true that he was instrumental in making homes for us.” Mr. Henty died at his residence, St. Kilda-road, in 1878.

View of Portland Colour

View of Portland

Herbertson, Robert, Portland, is a son of the late Mr. Herbertson, of Glasgow, who came to Portland in 1841, and started as a builder, and who afterwards took a hotel, and a few years later went into the drapery business; went home in 1855, came out again in 1860, and died in 1879. In 1881 his son, Mr. Robert Herbertson, took up the drapery business, and still conducts it in Julia-street, Portland, where he has very handsome and commodious premises; an establishment, in fact, second to few in the provinces.

Huxley, Edward Samuel, Bolwarra, is a native of Tasmania, born on 10th June, 1840, and the adopted son of the late Mr. Thomas Huxley, for many years a butcher in Portland. The family went to England in 1854, and after a short stay returned, and built the house at Bolwarra, near Portland, where Mr. E. Huxley now resides. In 1865 Mr. Huxley was a member of the local road board.

Kean, James John Richardson, Portland, was born in Portland, Victoria, in 1858, and educated in his native town. In 1878 he started life as a job printer, and in 1880 undertook journalistic work, producing a newspaper called the Mirror, a small demy folio sheet, with a guarantee of 500 subscribers. So well did the venture succeed that in three months it was enlarged to double its original size, and in 1881 it assumed the form of a newspaper. In August, 1886, Kean purchased the Guardian, a paper that has been in existence since 1842, and one which has a good local and general circulation, and is very popular. It is issued thrice a week. 

Kean, Thomas, Portland, a native of Leith, Scotland, came to Victoria in May, 1840, in the ship China, Captain Robertson, but proceeded on to Sydney in the same vessel. After making several voyages between Sydney and Newcastle, he returned to Melbourne, where he was for three years engaged on the Yarra as lighterman, and then one year in the Customs-boat, Williamstown. At the expiration of that time he was transferred to Portland as coxswain, in which capacity he acted seven years. In 1852 he spent a few months on the Fryers Creek diggings, and, returning to Portland, was employed as lighterman for twenty years, he being the first master lighterman in the Western District. In 1867 he established his present business of ship chandler, in Gawler-street. He was for some time a member of the borough council.

Lamb, George, Portland, a native of Surrey, England, came out to Portland, Victoria, in 1855. In 1870 he went into business as a butcher in Percy-street, Portland, and in 1876 established a similar business in Otway-street. In 1879 he took up 900 acres of land in Trewalla, and has now retired from business, with the intention of building a residence on his newly-acquired property, and taking to agricultural pursuits.

Lucas, John, Macarthur, is a native of Tasmania, who came to this colony at about eight years of age, landing at Port Fairy (Belfast). After being at Mount Rouse for some time he proceeded to Macarthur, where he established himself in his present business of boot and shoe maker.

Northcott, George, Merino, who is a native of Devonshire, England, came to Victoria in 1854, landed in Portland, and started business at his trade as builder there, following it for two years. In 1856 he removed to Merino, and purchased a half-acre section of land, On which he built the Commercial Hotel, which he now occupies. This somewhat imposing building is of brick, contains twenty-one rooms, and is two stories high. Mr. Northcote also owns other properties in the district. Attached to the hotel are spacious stables, partially occupied by Cobb and Co. as coaching stables and agency.

Pile, William Thomas, J.P., Portland, is a native of Devonshire, who came to Victoria in 1852, in the ship Cossipore, landing at Portland, and going thence to Melbourne and Geelong with sheep. From the latter place he went to the Forest Creek diggings, and then to England, via Rio Janeiro, where the ship lost thirty passengers by black fever. In 1854 he returned to Australia, arriving in Portland in October of that year, and taking up fishing as a means of livelihood from 1854 to 1860. He then again visited England, and, returning, took his present premises, and opened the wattle-bark trade. Mr. Pile was elected a member of the Portland borough council in 1876, and was elected mayor in 1880, and again in i886. He holds Her Majesty’s commission of the peace for the western bailiwick.

Robertson, R., Macarthur, is a native of Victoria, born and educated at Macarthur. He commenced his business-life by taking a situation with Mr. Bellslaid, with whom he remained four years, and was with his successor, Mr. Law, five years, and with Mr. Hunt, six months. He was also with Messrs. C. D. Hughes & Co., six years, and for a time with Mr. J. Brown. In 1883 he took the management of Mr. W. W. Thompson’s store, and still occupies this position.

Robinson, Charles V., Portland, a native of London, emigrated to Tasmania in 1840, and remained in Launceston six years. In 1846 he came to Victoria, and after a short stay here on a station, returned to Launceston, where he purchased his old employer’s business, and carried it on from 1851 until 1863. From 1868 to 1877 he was engaged in shipping, and owned several vessels, the Titania, Helen Macgregor, Rob Roy, and others, during which time he made several trips to England, bringing out vessels on his return. In 1877 he removed to Portland, and took over his present bark and saw-mill business in Percy-street, which he has since carried on with considerable success. The buildings and grounds are very extensive, covering an acre and a-half of land. The plant is valued at about £6000.

Southern, Albert Edward, Portland, a native of Leamington, England, was, for some years before leaving home in the army, and also on the staff of the Birmingham Post and Telegraph department. He came to Australia in 1881, and was for the first year in the employ of Messrs. Hordern Bros., of Sydney. Thence he came to Victoria, and was for a year at Queenscliff, and then chief steward of the s.s. Dawn for eighteen months. In 1885 he purchased the Richmond House Hotel from Mr. George Woods, of which he is still the proprietor. This well-furnished hotel occupies a fine position in the town, standing on the brow of a sloping hill, within five minutes’ walk of the Post Office and Railway station, within 100 yards of the sea, and having a large garden in front. It commands a fine view of the bay, and offers great attractions to visitors.

Stewart, Andrew, Portland, born at Inverness, Scotland, came to the colony in 1854, and landed in Sydney. Thence he went to the gold diggings at Ballarat and Avoca for five years, then successively to Melbourne and Portland in 1860, when he took the management of Mac’s Hotel for eight years, and afterwards dwelt in Heywood for eight years. He was next engaged in farming for two years, returning finally to Portland, and keeping Mac’s Hotel again for six years, when he left it, and took the Gordon Hotel (known then as the Commercial), facing the Pier-street railway station, Bentwich-street. The hotel is a fine roomy edifice of stone, and is capable of accommodating from thirty to forty persons. Mr. Stewart has been a member of the borough council for six years.

Taylor, Samuel, Macarthur, born at Chippingham, England, came out to Victoria in 1855, landing at Portland, and went for twelve months into the bush to work on Mr. Crawford’s station. He was five years at the blacksmith trade, came to Macarthur about 1867, and established himself in his present business as blacksmith, wheelwright, and carpenter.

Trangmar, James, J.P., Portland, arrived at Adelaide, S.A., from England in 1839, and in 1842 took up his abode in Portland, Victoria, where he entered into business with his brother-in-law, Mr. George Godwin Crouch, in 1846, as a general merchant. The partnership was dissolved in 1853, and he then conducted the business on his own account solely until 1862, when he retired, handing it over to his brother, Mr. Charles Marshall Trangmar, whose untimely death in 1872 caused a profound sensation. In July of that year Mr. C. M. Trangmar took his annual trip up-country, the weather being exceptionally wet, and there being floods all over the colony. While driving through one of the flooded districts the horses, carriage, servant, and himself were suddenly precipitated into a deep cavernous, or “runaway” hole, and it was not until four weeks afterwards, when time floods had subsided, that the bodies were found. Mr. James Trangmar, after giving up business, took command of the Portland Artillery Corps, from which he retired with the rank of Major. He has been a member of the Portland road board and the shire council, and was seven years president; also a member of the Portland borough council, twice chairman, and five times mayor of the borough. After leaving commercial pursuits he entered into squatting, having stations on the River Wannon and the Grange Burn. Mr. Trangmar holds Her Majesty’s commission of the peace for the western bailiwick. He has a family of four sons and a daughter, all living in the Western District. His present residence, Burswood, was built by Mr. Edward Henty, the pioneer of settlement in the western portion of Victoria, from whose widow Mr. Trangmar purchased the property.

Tulloh, William, Portland, was born in Portland in 1846. On leaving school he entered his father’s (merchant’s) office for two years, and after wards joined Mr. Crouch, in whose mercantile office he remained eleven years. In 1884 he commenced business as a general merchant on his own account in Julia-street. His premises are very extensive, having considerable storage room for wool, grain, &c. He ships during the wool season about 1500 bales. Mr. Tulloh has charge of the “lighterage” for the discharge of vessels in the port, in which department he employs about twenty men, and has also several agencies, such as that of the Victorian Fire and Life Insurance Company, &c.

Woods, George Gilmore, Portland, is the third son of Captain A. T. Woods of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company, Tasmania. He came to Victoria in 1863, and was educated at the Scotch College, Melbourne, on leaving which he went to sea, and was for ten years trading between London, the East Indies, and Australia. In 1877 he went to Portland, and joined the Lightering Company of Messrs. Grant and Co., and a short time afterwards took the Richmond Hotel, and carried it on for six years, and in 1885 purchased the business of his present hotel — “Mac’s.” This hotel is of stone, and two stories high. It is beautifully situated on high ground facing the sea, and is capable of accommodating seventy or eighty people, having from fifty to sixty rooms. In connection with the hotel, Mr. Woods keeps a yacht for the convenience of visitors. He is a keen sportsman, and has been secretary of the local racing club for four years. 

Woods, James Robinson, Portland, is a native of Tasmania, was educated at Horton College, Ross, in that colony, and came to Victoria in 1864. He was for eleven years in the Union Bank, Melbourne, and on leaving, joined the firm of Grant and Co., of Belfast, with whom he remained three years. In 1877 he went to Portland, where be established the business of Grant and Co., merchants. In 1880 he started on his own account as merchant and shipping agent, and afterwards as an auctioneer, which business he now carries on. He is agent for numerous shipping and insurance companies. His premises are extensive, and comprise a large saleyard and stores. Mr. Woods was elected a member of the Portland borough council in 1880, and again in 1887.

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