Edward Gorey: 1849-1937
The story of Edward Gorey, born at Heidelberg in 1849.
Edward Gorey was born in 1849 at Heidelberg where his father James leased a 97 acre farm with frontage to the Yarra River. His parents took Edward into St Francis' Catholic Church, Lonsdale Street, for his baptism on November 12, 1849.
James bought land at Malmsbury in April 1855, and it seems the family moved there in 1857 or shortly after. Edward's youngest brother William was born at Heidelberg on October 7, 1855 and died there on March 22, 1857.
Edward stayed with his parents and family for most of his early life and was described in the Victorian Post Office directory of 1868 as a farmer of Malmsbury, with D, J and M Gorey (probably his brothers Daniel, James and Michael).
He must have left home soon after however, because when he married Sophia Evans on February 11, 1874 in St Paul's Church of England, Kyneton, he was referred to in the marriage registration as being a laborer of Redesdale.
Sophia's father, James Evans, was a road building contractor, farmer and publican. He operated a hotel at Emberton near Barfold. It's possible Edward worked for him.
James Evans left Emberton and selected a property at Rochester shortly after Edward and Sophia were married. The couple may have moved north with James. They lived at several locations throughout the district. Their first child, Margaret Elizabeth, was born on March 1, 1876.
Edward's occupation at the time was given as laborer.
Charles Edward was born at Pannoomilloo in September 1878.
Soon after, when Margaret died in January 1879, her parents were living at Torrumbarry. When Margaret's condition deteriorated after falling into a pot of scalding tea, Edward and Sophia began the 18 mile journey to Echuca by wagon. The death certificate records her death as taking place at "Wharparilla near Pannoomilloo". Wharparilla is about 12 kilometres from Echuca.
Edward's other children Elizabeth Mary (1880), William Evans (1882), Michael John (1884) and Edward Harold (1888) were all born at Corop. The youngest, James Daniel, was born at Whroo in 1894. Whroo cemetery records show that Edward and Sophia buried two unnamed infants in 1890 and 1892.
Edward's brother, Daniel Gorey, sponsored the baptism of Margaret at Heathcote's Sacred Heart parish on April 16, 1876. The baptism probably occurred at the church in Redesdale and would have been the cause of a family gathering.
On his children's birth certificates Edward's occupation is listed variously as laborer (Margaret 1876), farmer (Charles 1878), boundary rider (Mary 1880 and Michael 1884) and later farmer (Edward 1888, James 1894).
After the birth of his first two children (Margaret and Charles), Edward used the middle name of William when signing the papers. There is no evidence of him using this middle name officially at any other stage in his life.
In 1886, between the births of Michael and Edward, the family settled onto an 80-acre farm leased from JB Enders just a few kilometres from Corop. Based on survey plans, the property was situated on the western side of the Heathcote-Rochester Road, and on the southern side of Kerlin Road which today runs parallel with the Midland Highway.
The Corop area was densely settled at the time. There were four primary schools within a small district where today there are none.
JB Enders went to Corop from Kyneton. His name appeared frequently in the Kyneton press before 1885, sometimes in relation to legal disputes. He would have been known to Edward.
Rate books from the Shire of Waranga show Edward's rented property as being allotment number 169, which is identified on survey maps drawn up in 1883 as belonging to Mr Enders. The 1886 rate book shows Edward paid 16 shillings in rates on the property valued at £16.
The same details applied in 1887, 1888 and 1889 at which time the property was classified as "second class" in terms of improvements. It was small for the district, with most farms being more than 150 acres. Holdings generally ranged from 54 acres to 683 acres, with property values varying from £15 to £154.
It's unclear where Edward lived before 1886. It was almost certainly in the Corop district, but he does not appear to have owned land.
On March 15, 1883 the Rochester Express reported on the Corop Jockey Club's annual race meeting. Edward Gorey was recorded as being "clerk of the scales".
"The races took place on the pretty course about a mile to the east of Corop. Splendid genial weather prevailed throughout the day and there was a very numerous attendance a little short of 500 persons."
In 1890, the Shire of Waranga records allotment number 169 at Corop as being leased from JB Enders by Robert Hodgson.
In the same year, Edward Gorey is mentioned as being a farmer at Whroo.
The Whroo district was just being opened up to agriculture at the time. Although gold mining had been carried on for about 30 years, there was little farming in the area, with most of the land being heavily forested. A sawmill had been established near Edward's property. Edward and the few other neighboring farmers at Angustown were "selectors" leasing their properties from the Crown. Edward was a pioneer settler.
A Lands Department file at the Public Record Office shows that Edward applied for 212 acres of land at Whroo on October 10, 1885. A condition of the application was that he had to pay for the land to be surveyed. His neighbors were C Ford and M Healy.
A surveyor's report dated November 11, 1886 describes the property as "flat, undulating and hilly" with box and gum trees, although "fairly grassed" in the southern part. The soil was "fair" to the north and south, but "stony" in the middle portion. Edward and his family took up residence on June 7, 1889.
Waranga Council's rate book shows the Whroo property as being partly fenced, with a valuation of £8 on which Edward paid eight shillings in rates. The property was larger than the one at Corop, but worth only half as much. The few other farms in the area were generally valued between £9-17, but some were fully fenced and others counted cottages among their improvements. The property was Crown Allotment 19, Parish of Whroo.
By this time, the property to the west was leased by Alice Connelly. Next to her lived Cornelius Connelly and Alf Hammond. To the east, a larger farm was held by Michael Healy, while next to him lived Daniel Gorey and his family.
Across the road was a government forest reserve, the sawmill and Reedy Lake.
On September 26, 1887 Edward applied for permission "to ring, cut down and destroy timber" on his leasehold. Approval was granted on October 10.
A prominent neighbor in the Angustown district where Edward lived included the man who gave the area its name, sawmiller Angus Cameron. He seems to have taken a benevolent interest in his workers and lobbied the Education Department to establish a school in the area today known as Reedy Lake. The school opened in 1889, almost the same time Edward and Sophia arrived there, and operated until 1903, the year they left. Elizabeth, William, Michael, Ned and James studied there, and possibly Charles.
Daniel Gorey had a farm of 257 acres with a value of £10 incurring 10 shillings in rates. Daniel died in a sawmill accident at Picola North in 1892 leaving behind his pregnant wife Emma and eight children. The council records from 1893 to 1897 show Daniel's farm as being in Emma Gorey's name.
William Day leased the farm next to that of Daniel Gorey. The Day family still has descendants living there today. William's daughter, Hazel Day, suggested to Goulburn Shire Council that a road leading from Reedy Lake to Whroo Country Golf be named Goreys Road, which it was and remains today. Her father bought Daniel Gorey's property in 1920 through the Soldier Settler Scheme.
Emma Gorey left with her children and Robert Winthrop to start a new life in Western Australia about 1899 or 1900.
The Waranga Shire's 1899 rate book shows no first name beside the 257-acre Gorey farm that had belonged to Daniel.
In 1900 the property was recorded as being held by James Gorey, the 20-year-old son of Daniel and Emma. The lease had come up for renewal in 1899 and according to the Rushworth Chronicle there were five applicants. These were Hugh Cameron, WA Cameron, Robert A Cameron, Daisie Cameron and James Gorey. A comment was published in the newspaper as follows:
"No doubt the friends of the family of the late Daniel Gorey will be very much pleased to hear that they were successful at the Land Board on Friday last in defeating the four applicants for the block of land on which they (the Gorey family) reside. The opposing applicants were members of a neighboring family and their action in endeavoring to dispossess the Goreys is not generally considered a neighborly one."
Securing the title probably enabled Daniel Gorey's family to lease the property and raise funds for a shift to Western Australia.
The value of Edward's property increased over the years to £20, with rates increasing to 18 shillings. This may have been due to inflation or improvements, or a combination of both. Edward was nearly always slow in paying his rates and was generally recorded as being in arrears for the full amount at time of payment in September 30 each year.
The Lands Department file also shows that Edward experienced difficulty at various times in paying his rent.
On March 21, 1899 Edward wrote:
"I am very sorry to say that I cannot pay the whole amount of arrears off this year, but I will pay what I can for I don't want the bit of ground to be forfeited. Hoping you will be as lenient as you can."
The reply was that a "substantial reduction in arrears" should be paid within 21 days. A note on the file shows that "two rents were paid recently" (July 5, 1899).
On November 29, 1899 Edward applied successfully for his land to be classified as third class instead of second class, which presumably meant a reduction in rent. This was approved by the Governor in Council on February 8, 1900 and proclaimed in the Government Gazette on February 16.
Edward expressed some frustration in a letter he sent on October 16, 1900 to the Lands Board at Seymour. He owed £7-5 for survey fees which he had tendered to an official at Rushworth "who refused to accept it because I did not pay it within the 28 days required in the notice. Now I want to pay both survey fees and arrears of rent, if I could only get your people to accept them."
When the lease was renewed on February 27, 1901 Edward was advised the rent payable would be £2-13-3 half yearly. A renewal application dated December 24, 1901 gives a detailed description of the £250 improvements undertaken during Edward's leasehold.
The farm had 200 chains of fencing by posts and six wires; a portion wire netted (value £80). Edward signed to the fact he had arranged for payment of dividing fences with adjoining landowners (Alf Hammond and the late Alice Connelly).
Buildings were described as a four-room weatherboard house (24x24 valued at £70), a timber dairy (15x12 at £20) and a timber stable (18x14 at £15). Water storage comprised three dams and two tanks with a value of £40. The land had been fully cleared of timber and dead timber removed.
Edward retained the property until August 27, 1904 when it was transferred to Angus Cameron with rent arrears and interest owing to £11-1-6.
Newspaper reports from the period show a strong connection between Whroo, where the mines were petering out, and Western Australia, where Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie were on the rise. Among those mentioned as having headed west were Mr A Cameron, Mr J Welch and Mr Johns.
Shire rate books show that in 1900 Sophia Gorey was listed as responsible for paying the rates on Edward Gorey's property. It's the only time her name ever appears in a rate book. It's believed that Edward travelled to Western Australia and worked for a time on the Kalgoorlie goldfields. If so, this appears to have been the year (1899-1900) he must have been away. He may have accompanied Daniel Gorey's family on their journey west.
Shire records show that Edward was back in Whroo by 1901.
His property by this time was valued at £16 and he was paying 16 shillings in rates.
In 1903 Edward was also responsible to council for two other properties. Altogether he had 623 acres, with a total value of £58 incurring £3-17-8 in rates. It's probably safe to assume that a motive for expansion was to provide an income for his sons Charles and Bill, and some prospects for the younger boys interested in farming.
There is evidence to show that Edward Gorey was living in the township of Whroo by early 1903. He may have lived there with Sophia while his sons William and possibly Ned and Charles, lived at Angustown. Given the Angustown school closed at the end of 1903 it's likely James lived with his parents in Whroo.
After Edward surrendered his lease in 1904, selections in the district were converted to freehold. Presumably this knowledge motivated Edward to expand his holdings, which he appears to have been unable to sustain financially.
Edward's association with Whroo continued at least until 1909, according to the Commonwealth electoral roll, when he was aged 60. A book on gold mining in the area, Don John of Balaclava, by Miles Lewis (1977) contains the following references.
Page 80: "We learn that during 1906 Balaclava Hill was being worked by a party of four men, Northausen, Le Roy, Wickings and Gorey, who in 12 weeks took 36 loads of stone which they crushed in April for 136 ounces of gold. In November their return for the last quarter was reported as 207oz, 17dwt from 56 loads."
This passage is attributed to the Rushworth Chronicle and does not provide a first name for Gorey, so it could feasibly have been one of Edward's sons (Charles, William or Ned).
From the same book, page 85: "In 1910 Cane, of 15 Temple Court, Melbourne, applied on behalf of the Whroo Company NL for leases over three distinct areas. One was a rectangular block taking in the open cut itself, another to the north of this was an area surrounding the dam, and the third consisting of 23 acres to the west of the Rushworth Road, including another dam and surrounding E Gorey's residence . . . it does not appear that the Whroo Company had any great success."
The dam and Edward's residence are shown on a map that appears in the book. In 1903 the dam had been the subject of a dispute between Edward and Alfred Petrie who had pegged out a mining lease. Petrie had charged Edward with trespass and the case was heard before Harold Morrison in the Rushworth Wardens Court. The following is an extract from the Murchison Advertiser of November 27, 1903:
"The court heard that the plaintiff had marked off the land in dispute whereas defendant came in afterwards and marked off a dam one acre in extent. Mr Coy said the defence was that the land comprised within the lease pegs did not include the dam or piece of land marked out by the defendant; therefore no trespass had occurred.
"AE Petrie deposed that he marked out the lease. He did not include the dam in his first pegging out, but he removed his pegs about a week after and then included it. In the meantime he had lodged his application. This was about the 25th of February. Gorey had not marked out the dam when he shifted his pegs. He saw Gorey mark out the dam. Petrie said that when he removed the pegs to include the dam he never intended to include Gorey's house.
"Mr Coy contended that there was no occasion to go on any further. Petrie had made the first pegging void by shifting the pegs after lodging his application. He should have made a fresh application and served fresh notices.
"Mr Morrison waived the objection, maintaining that it made no difference provided Gorey did not put his pegs in in the meantime. The case would hinge on who put in his pegs first — Petrie (on the second marking out) or Gorey.
"E Gorey deposed that he pegged out on March 5 and registered the same day. Petrie's pegs had not been shifted when he pegged out the dam. He knew this because he saw the north-west peg on the east of the Rushworth to Whroo road. When the peg was shifted it stood about 10 or 12 chains on the west side of the road.
"Mr Morrison said the whole case was a question as to who had put in his pegs first. Plaintiff had unhesitatingly admitted things which might have injured his case very much, and his whole evidence bore the impress of truth. He was quite satisfied the complainant had shifted his pegs before Gorey had pegged out the dam.
"He would order the defendant to cease trespassing and remove his pegs, also to pay 1s damages; also that the registration of the dam be cancelled and the defendant pay £2-7s costs."
Another brief report from the Murchison Advertiser of October 16, 1903 shows that Edward Gorey had lent £10 to G Wilson who was slow repaying the debt. The Rushworth Court of Petty Sessions ordered payment plus 26 shillings in costs against Wilson. Charles Coy, who was a prominent local citizen, appeared as Edward's solicitor.
The Commonwealth Electoral Rolls for 1905, 1906 and 1908 all record the following Gorey names for the Whroo subdivision: Edward, Sophia, Charles Edward and William Evans. This suggests that Michael had left home before 1905 (Edward and James were too young to vote). Their sister Elizabeth Mary had married a police officer Charles Tennant in 1902.
Sophia's father, James Evans, died at Echuca on August 27, 1907 leaving his daughter £221 (estimated by the Reserve Bank to be worth about $25,000 in 1998).
The 1909 electoral roll does not include the name of Charles, meaning that William and James were the only children left living with their parents. Occupation given for each of the men was always farmer and for Sophia home duties. The 1912 roll shows Edward and Sophia living at "Settlement" Shepparton. William's name is not included.
The Shepparton News of May 6 and May 10, 1910 record that Edward successfully applied for a land allocation from the Shepparton Estate, Grahamvale. There were 125 applicants for 110 allotments. He was granted lot number 49 of 24 acres. The estate was earmarked for irrigated orchard development and dairy farms. Many of the settlers, including the Goreys, planted trees. Edward was joined in this venture by his sons William and James, possibly also Ned. The property at 65 Doyles Road remains an orchard today, owned by Mr GF Harris.
When the First World War erupted in Europe, William enlisted, leaving his father and brother James to work the property. In 1915, Edward was aged 66. It's probably due to his advancing years that he objected to James following his brothers into the AIF. When this occurred, Edward was an old man left to farm a property which required intensive manual labor.
Probably it became too much, and by October 21, 1918 the Shepparton News reported that Edward Gorey was a resident of High School Road, Shepparton. This appeared in a brief article relating to news of James Gorey's death in the First World War. It corresponds with oral tradition recalled by granddaughter Evelyn Smith.
Curiously though, a Shepparton Advertiser report published the same day gave Edward Gorey's address as Grahamvale. It's likely he employed someone to manage the farm when he retired to town, aged 69.
There is evidence that Edward was active in community affairs, at least before the death of his youngest son James, whose passing might have been a catalyst for Edward to finally give up farming.
Edward is referred to in a Shepparton Advertiser report on February 28, 1918 as giving the farewell speech in honor of Private Henry Nodrum, of Grahamvale, who was home on final leave from training camp at Broadmeadows. Private Nodrum, the son of Mr and Mrs HE Nodrum, was given a wrist watch.
The paper wrote:
"Mr E Gorey, in making the presentation, referred to the sterling qualities of the recipient, whom he had known from childhood, and felt sure that he would give a good account of his stewardship in this new sphere. He warned him to beware of the numerous pitfalls besetting young soldiers, and advised him to continue in the future as he had done in the past by 'going straight' and reward would be his. He (Mr Gorey) trusted that the watch would 'time' him back to Grahamvale, where he was leaving many friends, in the near future safe and sound, and at the end of a victorious career to himself and the Allies. He also made pleasing reference to Private Nodrum's parents whom he had known as sincere friends for many years."
In the Shepparton Advertiser on May 30, 1918 Edward is referred to in a report on the Grahamvale Jumble Fair. The fair was held as part of Empire Day celebrations to raise money for Red Cross. The paper wrote: "A mock police court, presided over by Messrs Gorry (sic) and Hick provided some merriment and also helped to swell the funds."
Edward attended a meeting in late June 1918 to form the Soldiers Parents Association, Shepparton branch. This meeting was held at the rooms of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors League in Wyndham Street and was reported in the Shepparton Advertiser.
The Doyles Road property remained in Edward's hands until 1919 when it was sold to Harry Morcom. This is surprising given that William had returned from the war and was living with his parents. William was granted a Soldier Settler block in 1920, but had to start from scratch planting trees and developing his orchard. Why didn't he take over the family farm?
The most likely explanation is that the family incurred debts which could only be settled by selling the property. William's wife Jemima once described the Doyles Road property to her children as being "Misery Farm" so it seems likely some unfortunate circumstance arose.
The current owner of the farm Gilbert Harris, aged in his 80s (1998), told this writer that no original trees remain. Mr Harris' family purchased the farm in the late 1920s and he recalls that "all the wrong trees" had been planted.
Instead of concentrating on one or two fruits, there was a mixture of trees, none of which proved profitable. It should be noted however that the original growers were industry pioneers who learnt by experience, trial and error.
Mr Harris was also able to advise that some of the original buildings remain standing, including he believes the house, which was relocated to the neighboring block in later years. The impressive federation-style house with high ceilings and polished timber floorboards would have been palatial compared with Whroo, if indeed Edward and Sophia lived in it.
After leaving the farm, Edward and Sophia moved into town. The Shepparton News published a brief obituary on February 8, 1923 after the death of Sophia Gorey in which it states Edward Gorey was a resident of Nixon Street. As Sophia had not left a will, Edward had to apply for a Probate Court ruling to become administrator of her estate. This was valued at 115 pounds including war bonds, a savings account and gold wedding ring.
Edward must have had debts at the time which had been incurred in joint names with his wife as two creditors came forward, each claiming the total amount of Sophia's estate.
They were merchant William Macdermott and orchardist Henry Nodrum, whose soldier son Edward had toasted five years before. Macdermott ran advertisements in the local press for binders, rakes, spray pumps, ploughs and mowers, so presumably Edward had purchased machinery on credit. The nature of debts with Nodrum is less obvious — possibly related to the provision of services.
Probate documents reveal that Edward was granted his request to administer Sophia's estate, but no mention is made of how he resolved the competing claims. The likely outcome is that he sold his own limited assets and repaid debts with the pooled income and possibly his sons' support. This exercise must have left him close to penniless and made him dependent on his children.
About this time, William Gorey was nearing the completion of a house on the Soldier Settler block he had acquired at Lemnos in 1920. Evelyn Smith recalls it was her father's hope to have Sophia live with him. The impression conveyed was that William thought Sophia had been "treated rough" and deserved some comfort in her old age. Unfortunately she died just before the house was finished.
After Sophia's death, Edward lived with son Ned on his Soldier Settler farm at Dalmore in West Gippsland. They apparently had a falling out, after which Edward went to live with son Michael and his family who owned a neighboring farm. This was about 1930. It's from this later period that we have the only first-hand personal recollections of Edward, and it must be noted that these are childhood memories and therefore less reliable.
Edward spent several years with each of his sons (apart from Charles). He also made occasional visits to see his daughter Mary and her children. Mary's daughter Mena Bailey recalls that he "wasn't much of a talker" although he appreciated the concerts which his grandchildren enjoyed performing for him.
"Grandfather came to Toorak when we lived there," Mena said.
"We climbed on the woodshed roof and sang songs for him. Afterwards he would give us a florin."
By all accounts Edward was an introspective, even cantankerous old man who kept very much to himself and was particular in his manner. Michael's daughter Mary Burns remembered him as a quiet person who treated her mother and the children well, but had some bad personal habits, for example he was often spitting.
"He used to buy us lollies, but if we annoyed him he'd give us a flick with his walking stick. He used to give mum money from his pension," Mary said.
Edward had his own room in the small farm house, which was later enlarged by joining another house alongside. He kept bees for honey. After the 1934 floods, the government compulsorily acquired the farms of Ned and Michael Gorey for channel works. They were compensated and moved to Tecoma and Fumina respectively. Fumina was relatively remote and Edward, aged about 85, wished to be nearer medical attention. At this time (1935-36) he moved to live with his son William at Lemnos.
William's daughter Evelyn Smith recalls that Edward always rose about 5am, made the fire and prepared himself breakfast. He spent much of his time in a favorite chair on the verandah. He always wore a suit around the house and had a hat which he wore outdoors. He occupied the back bedroom of the house.
Evelyn recalls that Edward had a favorite pipe which strangely used to often be missing. He would offer the children a reward to find it for him. It was always Nancy who came up with the goods and gratefully received some money in return. She has since confessed to hiding the pipe.
Another anecdote relates to one winter when, as usual, Edward rose early and made the fire. Evelyn also woke early this particular morning and tried to share the fire's warmth with her grandfather. As she moved to one side of his frame, which sat squarely in front of the fireplace, he would move sideways to block her path. As she moved to the other side, he did likewise and this continued back and forth. Perhaps Edward was playing a game, but this was not how William saw it. Unknown to both, he was standing behind them witnessing the whole charade. When his presence became known he let rip with a tirade of abuse against his father, calling him a "mean old bastard" or words to that effect. Apart from this incident, Evelyn can't remember any friction between her father and grandfather.
Evelyn's brother Bill Gorey was the first to discover his grandfather after he suffered a heart attack in September 1937. Bill went into the kitchen after waking early one morning and found Edward slumped over the stove. Bill roused his parents, in shock, and remembers little more.
Evelyn said her parents then drove Edward to hospital.
Strangely, no obituary or death notice appeared after Edward died on September 20, 1937 at Mooroopna Hospital from broncho-pneumonia and cardiac failure. The newspapers may have been unaware of the passing of a district pioneer.
Life in the Gorey household at Lemnos went on as usual. In fact Doreen wrote to "Playmates Corner" in the Shepparton News on September 24, 1937: "Dear Jill, I have a very bad cold now. How are you these days? This is only a short letter because I feel too sick to write. I hope Uncle Jack is well. I remain your loving Playmate." No doubt Edward's passing was explained in a way that caused the children no distress.
Edward is buried beside Sophia at Shepparton Cemetery, plots E96-97 in the Catholic section. According to his death certificate he had a Catholic burial.
|Owner of original||Michael Gorey|