Early Melbourne Identities

See Prices & Bookings

Characters from our Tour of Early Melbourne Town that you may well have bumped into while walking the stump-filled streets of Bearbrass or Batmania (before it was renamed the respectable ‘Melbourne ‘ after the English Prime Minister.)

1. Jane Gibson
Jane came to court in early Melbourne after Jane called her neighbour Judith Croaker ‘a dirty Irish woman’ and hit her in the head by throwing an earthenware jug from her window. The court found the charge unproven.

2. Judith Croaker
Judith charged her neighbour Jane Gibson with assault after Jane had called Judith ‘ a dirty Irish woman’ and hit her in the head by throwing an earthenware jug from her window. The court found Jane innocent.

 3. Catherine Doyle
Catherine Doyle was charged with assault after visiting neighbour Jane Coglan to borrow a cup of groats and a scrape of dripping. Doyle pulled off Coglan’s wig and shoved her over a bucket after Coglan called her a drunk and a thief.  Doyle was acquitted.

 4. Jane Coglan
Jane Coglan called her neighbour, Catherine Doyle, a drunk and a thief after Catherine visited to borrow a cup of groats and a scrape of dripping. Catherine was charged by Jane with assault after she pulled off Jane’s wig and shoved her over a bucket. The charge was dismissed.

 5. Eliza Cobb 1800-1879
The successful partner of John Fawkner for 51 years. She was sentenced to 7 years in Tasmania in 1818 for kidnapping a baby. When men rushed to her ship to choose a ‘wife’. John Fawkner said he chose the ‘plainest woman on board’ – after someone stole his first choice. Together they came from Tasmania on the Enterprize to found the European city of Melbourne after arriving.  She became a wealthy woman. Her house was on the corner of Market Street and Williams Street.

 6. Martha Baxter
The first postmistress was a ‘handsome woman’, who ran the first Post Office at the corner King Street and Flinders Lane. People came night and day. She and her husband Benjamin later leased the foreshore from Port Melbourne to St Kilda to graze cattle.

 7. Eliza Callaghan 1802-1852
In 1820, the police caught her trying to use counterfeit notes in London and she was sentenced to Australia for 14 years. Her jail report said ‘Bad’. She escaped into the bush in 1823 and hid with John Batman. She later married John and had seven children. Together they helped found the City of Melbourne in 1835. John died only four years later. Eliza was later murdered in Geelong.

 8. Georgiana McCrae 1804 –1890
Georgiana Gordon McCrae was an early portrait painter and observant writer of early Melbourne who helped found the town of McCrae. She often accompanied Governor La Trobe to functions. Her fortunes varied but she maintained her

Georgina McCrae

wit and sense of humour. Her published diaries are famous.

 9. Catherine or ‘Kitty’ Carr
She and her husband Michael were the owners of the notorious Governor Bourke Hotel near the corner of Queens Street and Flinders Lane. They were both charged at various times with theft and ‘sucking the monkey’. In 1838 she was charged with stealing 22 pounds from Tim Hall and a suit of clothes from William Nicholson.

 10. Mary Payne
Mary Payne charged her husband with wife beating in Melbourne in 1842.

The Bench: Well my good woman speak out, what do you want?
Jane: To swear the peace on him. I keeps a lodgin’ house and works blessed hard. This feller goes a cutting about the town an’ when he’s tired o’ that, comes home and insults my gentleman lodgers, and winds up by pitchin’ into his wife. He ain’t no feeling your worships. I’ve given that man six childer but it only makes him wus – nothin’ will please the savage.
The Bench:
Will you swear you are in fear of your life?
: Your worship, she’d swear the hind legs off a bullock.

 11. Mrs Hilton
Her husband was the owner of a hotel in Flinders Street and was gaoled for fraudulent debt in the 1840s. Mrs Hilton then drowned herself and her baby in the Yarra River opposite her husband’s hotel.

 12. Trugernanner 1812–1876
Often referred to as Truganinni, she had an adventurous life. She survived the’ black wars’ with white settlers in Tasmania and came to Melbourne in 1839 with Chief Protector George Robinson and her husband Woodreddy. She joined a


Aboriginal rebel band in Mornington and was wounded. She was captured and exiled back to Tasmania. A cast of her skeleton was exhibited in the Melbourne Museum until 1960s.

 13. Fanny
‘Fanny’ was a Tasmanian Aboriginal who accompanied Truganinni to Melbourne in 1839 and with her joined an Aboriginal rebel band in Mornington Peninsula robbing and burning farmhouses. They were captured, the men were hung and she was exiled back to Tasmani with Truganinni.

 14. Sophie La Trobe
On 3 October 1839, Sophie of Swiss-French background came to Melbourne with her husband Charles, the Superintendent and later Lieutenant-governor’ of Melbourne. She had a baby daughter Agnes but she was often ill and died in 1854. Her house is outside the Botanical Gardens.

 15. Elizabeth Pearce
Housekeeper of John and Eliza Batman. Was charged with theft when their stuff was found in her cottage in February 1938 including a silver pencil case, two gold earrings, two silver clasps, a neck chain, a waist buckle, a tablecloth, seven silk handkerchiefs, three silver drinking horns, two decanters, boots, three pounds in a glove, a sword belt and 30 other items!

 16. Lizzie Nash
Well known sly grog dealer with four children. She dealt illegal grog from her hut on the government block on the south west corner of King and Collins Street from 1837 to1839. Her husband was a private of the 80th Regiment. When five months pregnant, she had a punch-up with a customer. A spying police constable was knocked out.

 17. Mary Dobson
Her boyfriend John Gunn was arrested by Chief Constable Henry Batman when Mary was found cooking three pounds of boiled mutton in a house in Collins Street. The mutton was claimed to be from a sheep stolen from a Flinders Lane yard. Mary Gilbert was a witness but the charge was dropped because the witnesses were ‘of bad character’.

 18. Mrs Swindell
Her husband, police constable Dick Swindell was sacked after Mrs Swindell was found doing her husbands round in 1845, dressed in his police uniform, because her husband was drunk. Apparently she did it every night after he collapsed usually near Lt Bourke and Queens Street.

 19. Mary Gilbert 1817-1878
When Mary arrived on the Enterprize on 30 August 1835 she was pregnant, 18 years old, and the only white woman in Melbourne. She was given Melbourne’s first cat for company. Her son was John Melbourne Gilbert was born four months later. The Lady Mayoress unveiled a statue of her by Ailsa O’Connor in Fitzroy Gardens in 1975.

 20. Margaret Whelan
In 1841 she was charged in Melbourne with assaulting her husband by throwing a brickbat at him. Three weeks later she testified in court that a woman had assaulted her and as evidence brought the thrown objects to court: a knife, two half bricks and a ginger beer bottle.

 21. Connie Waugh
Connie was the mistress of the rich squatter Sir Rupert Clarke. Her ghost haunts the famous Mitre Tavern in Bank Place, off Collins Street opposite Sir Rupert’s house, today the Savage Club.

 22. Elizabeth Parsons 1831- 1897
Victoria’s best known woman painter as well as a lithographer and teacher of art. She loved to paint the St Kilda foreshore as well as Brighton, St Kilda and Caulfield.

 23. Caroline Chisholm
Caroline Chisholm was born in England in 1808 and migrated to Australia in 1838 where she worked tirelessly to improve life on board ships bringing migrants to Australia, she helped poor families gain passage including free passage of transported convicts, she. In 1994 she was posthumously awarded the Order of Australia.

 24. Kate Kelly 1863 – 1898
Was the legendary sister of bushranger Ned Kelly with many newspaper articles, books, bush-songs and ballads written about her. She campaigned to save her brother Ned, was a skilled rider and played an important part in the Kelly saga.

Kate Kelly

 25. Nellie Stewart (1858–1931)
Nellie was a talented, considerate and versatile actress, a beautiful woman with expressive eyes, a finely tilted mouth and dimpled smile, a darling of the Australian public. She was one of the first world-class performers to be filmed when she acted in the popular six-reel Australian film Sweet Nell of Old Drury in 1911.

Robert Hoddle 1794 -1881
Robert was Melbourne’s official surveyor in the 1830s. In 1937 he created the ‘Hoddle Grid’ which laid out the streets of Melbourne known as the Golden Mile with the street 99 feet wide, they say to accommodate the bullocks. He also laid out Geelong and many Melbourne suburbs.

 Derrimut 1810c – 1864
Derrimut was the elder and leader of the Boon wurrung clan of Melbourne. He saved the settlers from attack on the settlement in 1838 by telling John Fawkner of the planned assault. He bitterly complained about the loss of his land to the settlers in later years. He is buried in Carlton Cemetery with a tombstone acknowledging his saving of the settlement.

Russell, Robert (1808–1900)
Russell was an architect, artist and the surveyor, who did the original survey layout of Melbourne with his assistants draughtsman Frederick D’Arcy and chainman William Darke in 1836. He painted many watercolours of the early settlement.

 Sir Redmond Barry (1813–1880)
As a young man from Ireland, he was the Aboriginal Advocate and defended Truganinni and Jack Napoleon in 1841. Eventual judge of the Supreme Court, he founded Melbourne University and the State Library.  He died twelve days after condemning Ned Kelly.

 William Buckley (1780-1856)
William Buckley, the ‘wild white man’, was an escaped convict from Sorrento in 1803. He lived with the Aboriginals in Victoria for 32 years. This huge man walked out of the bush at Indented Heads to meet the new settlers in 1835. He then became a translator for John Batman’s party.

 George Smith
George Smith was the owner of the Lambs Inn near the corner of Collins and Williams Streets in the 1840s. Itwas notorious for ‘fleecing’ stockmen, its billiard room was the courthouse and occasional morgue and squatters used it as an employment exchange to get stockmen that were broke.

 John Batman (1801 –1839)
Was a sheep farmer and explorer who is best known for his role in arranging the signing of a ‘treaty’ with Aboriginal elders to found  Melbourne and the colony of Victoria.   He captured bushranger Mathew Brady and married a runaway convict Eliza Callaghan with whom he had seven children.

 Warrora or John Pigeon
John Pigeon was one of the seven Aboriginals who accompanied John Batman on his treaty expedition to Indented Heads in May 1835. His conduct impressed the Kulin and assisted the treaty negotiations. He later lived in Batman’s home.

 Johninbia or Tommy Crook
Tommy Crook was one of the seven Aboriginals who accompanied John Batman on his treaty expedition to Indented Heads in May 1835. The others included Bullett, Bungett, Old Bull, and Joe the Marine.. He had assisted Batman in hunting the Aboriginals in Tasmania.

James Gumm
James Gumm was a convict who received a pardon as one of three seamen including William Todd and Alexander Thomson and seven Aboriginals, who accompanied John Batman on his treaty expedition to Port Phillip in May 1835.

 Joseph Gellibrand (1792–1837)
A lawyer, he drew up the Melbourne treaty used to ‘purchase’ land from the Aboriginals by John Batman. He vanished near Geelong on an expedition to explore Port Phillip in 1837. His mysterious disappearance has never been solved.

 William Thomas (1793–1867)
William Thomas (1793-1867), assistant protector and guardian of Aboriginals from 1837 was born in Westminster, England, of Welsh parents.  He tried his to protect the Melbourne Aboriginal people best but never received sufficient support from the government.

 John Wedge (1793-1872).rnanner 1812?%nd explorer, was a member of John Batmans party. He surveyed the area around Melbourne and named the River Yarra mistakenly. The Aborigines were actually talking about the Falls (‘yarra yarra = falling water’) at Queens Bridge.

 Ned (Edward) Kelly (1855–1880)
Ned Kelly a horse thief, bushranger and rebel was captured at the siege of Glenrowan after he and his gang donned their home-made armour. He was sentenced by Judge Redmond Barry for murder despite public calls for a reprieve. His supposed last words were ‘such is life’ or ‘ I suppose it has come to this’. There are many films and books about his life.

 George Coppin (1819-1906)
A comic actor credited with fathering the Australian theatre and introducing tours of famous celebrities. George built many famous early theatres in Melbourne including the Royal Hotel, Theatre Royal, the Olympic and Cremorne Gardens.

 Edward Cole (1832–1918)
Created Melbourne’s greatest attraction – the Cole’s Book Arcade in Howey Place with 2 million books, a  monkey house, Band and a Chinese teahouse His wrote the brilliant Cole‘s Funny Picture Book, released Christmas Eve 1879. He met his wife Eliza by advertising for a wife on the front page of the Herald.

John Christie, (1845–1927)
Detective Christie was Melbourne’s Sherlock Holmes a master of disguises and a successful pursuer of criminals, idolised by the public. He was also a champion rower and boxer.

 Robert O’Hara Burke (1821-1861)
Burke was generous and charming, but also impulsive, quick-tempered, and arbitrary. He was ill suited for the great expedition he led to the north of Australia in 1860 which ended in disaster. Seven men died.

See Prices & Bookings