‘I didn’t know that about Whitehorse’ -I came across this statement many times while researching the history of the significant houses on this website.
Many local residents did not know that the European history of Whitehorse began in 1837 (two years after Melbourne was founded) or the existence and location of heritage homes and precincts in Whitehorse or the existence, history and location of Schwerkolt Cottage and the Woodhouse Grove Chapel.
The lack of people’s awareness of our heritage inspired me to research people and other issues that were important in the early development of Whitehorse.
In this section I will periodically display different interesting items I have come across in regards to the heritage of Whitehorse. The items such as people, places and events on the page will change over time when new information is found.
‘Land prices rose sharply after the first two sales in 1850 and 1851, and those who bought then for £1 or £2 an acre could afford to smile’, according to Andrew Lemons book Box Hill. John Dane almost immediately sold part of his Koonung creek property (which he had bought in 1851) to Joseph Aspinall, for £7 an acre.
John Dane (Jnr.) was born in 1810 in Killyhewlin Ireland; he was the son of Captain John Dane Snr. and Margaret Dane (Humphrys). Captain John Dane Snr. was stationed in Quebec with the 98th Regiment of Foot when he married Margaret in 1808. Margaret’s father was Captain Richard Humphrys who served as the Aide De Camp to the Duke of Gloucester.
In 1825 John Dane Jnr. was commissioned and served in a number of Regiments including the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot, 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot, 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot, the 98th Regiment of Foot, the 57th Regiment of Foot and the 53rd Regiment of Foot as Captain.
In 1834 John Jnr. married Mary Hayes while he was stationed in Madras, India. Mary Hayes was born in England in 1818; she was the daughter of John and Anne Hayes.
John Jnr and Mary had three children - Juliana born in 1838 in Madras, India; Paul born in 1843 in Cornwall, England and Mary Jnr. born in 1852 in Melbourne. According to Burke's Irish Family Records they also had a son named John who died in 1860.
The Burke's Irish Family Records mentions that ‘He (John Jnr) emigrated to Australia arriving on 1847 where he took a grant of land in Victoria’ and the Parliament of Victoria Member Biographies also mentions that John Jnr. ‘arrived Melbourne Aug. 1851, possibly for the second time’. It appears that John Jnr. may have sailed to Melbourne in 1847, returned to India to sell his commission and then returned to Melbourne in 1851, since according to Allen’s Indian Mail Gazette - John Jnr. sold his commission to a ‘Lieut. William Payn, to be Capt. by purch. v. Dane, who retires. Date 14th March, 1851’.
In 1851 he bought 229 acres (Crown allotment 12) in the Nunawading District (Box Hill North) along the Koonung Creek, but he did not live there. By December, 1851 he was appointed Assistant Gold Commissioner of Bendigo.
After John Dane sold part of his Koonung creek property which he had bought in 1851 to Joseph Aspinall. Aspinall named it ‘Woodhouse Grove’ and he and his wife Jane were living there when their second child, Mary Jane, was born on 1 January 1852 (according to Andrew Lemons book Box Hill).
The Aspinall’s had come to Melbourne in 1849. Joseph was alleged to have done very well for himself in a short time at the Ballarat gold diggings in 1851, and it was from the proceeds of this that he purchased the Nunawading land’ - according to Andrew Lemons book Box Hill.
Did John Dane Jnr. and Joseph Aspinall know each other from their time on the gold fields?
In February, 1852 John Dane Jnr. resigned from his position as Assistant Gold Commissioner and returned to Melbourne where he bought a 90 acre allotment in Eltham; an 18 and 15 acre allotment in the Parish of Prahran; two five acre allotments in the Parish of Buninyong and a 100 acre allotment again in the Nunawading District. This Nunawading allotment was on the southern side of Riversdale Rd near the corner of Station St in Box Hill South with Gardiners Creek running through it.
In 1853 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council for South Bourke, Evelyn and Mornington - a seat he held until resigning in November 1854. Also in 1853 he purchased land in Boroondara and had properties in Collingwood and South Melbourne.
In 1853 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council representing the electorate of South Bourke, Evelyn and Mornington but resigned in 1854.
In 1864 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly representing the electorate of Warnambool and served until 1865. He contested other seats including South Bourke in 1864, Evelyn in 1868 and the East Bourke Boroughs in 1874.
According to the ‘Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament 1859-1900’ John Jnr. was a Protectionist and was associated with the British Reform League 1865 and the Melbourne based National Reform and Protection League.
The Reform League was formed in England in 1865 to lobby the government for ‘universal male suffrage’ - a form of voting rights in which all adult male citizens within a political system are allowed to vote regardless of income, property, religion, race, or any other qualification.
Australia’s first mass political party, the National Reform and Protection League was founded by three time Victorian Premier Graham Berry in 1877. The party developed a network of more than 150 branches across Victoria. Its candidates were pre-selected prior to election with its parliamentary members meeting as a caucus and were expected to vote as a bloc.
Around 1878 John Jnr. lived on a 320 acre farm on the outskirts of Altmore near Warragul in the County of Buln Buln until 1882. In 1882 he moved to moved to Sydney to live with his daughter Mary Jnr. and her husband Wellington Carrington.
John Dane Jnr. died in 1882 in Campbelltown and his wife Mary in 1903 in St. Kilda.
The Dane family had many connections with significant families in the Colonies of New South Wales and New Zealand.
Mary Carrington (nee Dane) – Daughter of John Dane Jnr
John and Mary’s daughter Mary Jnr. married Wellington Carrington in 1879 in Melbourne. Wellington was born in 1849 in Taranaki; New Zealand was the son of Augustus and Mary Carrington (nee Roberts). Augustus was a prominent Surveyor in the development of New Zealand being involved in surveying New Plymouth, Akaroa, Lyttelton, Waitara and Taranaki. His brother Frederick also a Surveyor is often referred to as the “the founder of Taranaki”.
Paul Dane – Son of John Dane Jnr.
Paul followed in his father’s footsteps into the military and travelled to England where he purchased a commission as Ensign in 1860 in the 45th Regiment of Foot - he later attained the rank of Lieutenant. The regiment was based in Nottinghamshire in England and was deployed to Gibraltar, Ethiopia, Nova Scotia, America and Austria.
In 1866 Paul was discharged from the army.
In 1867 Paul, his parents and sisters sailed from Plymouth to Melbourne onboard the sailing ship Somersetshire.
Paul later went into partnership with Edward Darvall. Edward Darvall was the son of Sir John Darvall who was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, Legislative Assembly and also held the positions of Solicitor General and Attorney General at various times. Together Paul and Edward formed the brokerage firm of Dane and Darvall, but in 1873 the firm was dissolved by mutual consent.
Paul did not marry and died in Burnett St, St Kilda in 1879 aged 36 and left his estate to Richard Dane. In his Will Paul refer’s to Richard as ‘his brother’. I have not found any record of John Dane Jnr. and Mary having a son named Richard. Yet Richard is also referred to in John Dane Jnr’s 1882 Will as ‘his son Richard Dane’.
Richard Dane was born in Bengal in India in 1841 and later enlisted in the 58th Regiment of Foot in Bengal. In the 1861 British census he was with his regiment in Yorkshire and is listed aged twenty with the rank of Lieutenant.
In 1877 Richard sailed from London onboard the Lusitania to Melbourne and on the passenger list his occupation is listed as Clerk. In Melbourne he also lived in Burnett St in St Kilda. In the 1878 Victorian Government Gazette his occupation is listed as Magistrate in the Eastern Bailiwick of Buln Buln. Richard died in 1895 at the Melbourne Eastern Hospital.
Ranulph Dacre was a contributor to the early development of Whitehorse, Sydney, New Zealand and the South Pacific but he seems to have been overshadowed by his business partner Henry Elgar.
The following extract is from the essay Ranulph Dacre and Patuone’s top knot which was written by New Zealand historian Frank Rogers - ‘Ranulph Dacre’s career as an entrepreneur covers the pre – colonial periods of Pacific trade. He was a pioneer of maritime-merchant enterprise based firstly in New South Wales and then in New Zealand when it was desirable to have a number of skills in addition to commercial expertise and organisational ability to embark on Maori – Pakeha trading – knowledge of the language, seamanship appropriate to maritime trade, command of resources, and the temperament to have mana among the Maori’.
Ranulph was born in London in 1797; he was the son of George and Julia Dacre of Marwell Hall, Hampshire. His father was a colonel of the Hampshire Militia and a sheriff of the county in 1790. Ranulph’s occupations included Naval Officer, Sea Captain, Merchant and Agent.
In 1810 Ranulph entered the navy as a midshipman and served during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1812 to 1813 he served in the American war on a frigate blockading the Atlantic ports. By 1816 he gained the rank of Lieutenant, resigned his commission and became captain of merchant ship trading with the West Indies for Robert Brooks of London.
In 1823 he visited New South Wales for the first time as commander of the sailing ship Elizabeth. He then became part owner of the schooner Endeavour and conducted trade with the Society Islands and New Zealand. Between 1825 and 1831 he traded along the east coast of Australia, to New Zealand, and made two more voyages between London and Sydney.
Around 1830 he sold his property in England and applied for a grant of land in New South Wales but his application was refused.
In 1831 he settled in Sydney and married Margaret Sea.
Margaret was born in 1809 in Kent, England; Margaret’s parents were Henry and Elizabeth Sea (nee Peppercorne). Her father, Henry Sea was a merchant in Sydney.
Also in 1831, Ranulph won a contract to supply masts to the British Admiralty. Two attempts at setting up logging camps in New Zealand failed due to attacks by the Maoris and then a competitor stealing his logs.
In 1835 Ranulph Dacre went into partnership with William Wilks and set up a mercantile and shipping agency in Sydney which traded in whale oil, sandalwood, kauri timber, greenstone and flax. In 1838 the agency was dissolved but Ranulph continued the business alone.
Between 1838 and 1839 Ranulph bought land (Lot 78) in between Johnson St and the Yarra River in Collingwood in Melbourne (then part of the Colony of New South Wales). He was appointed an Assessor (Cost Assessor) of the Supreme Court in Sydney and he also organised the first expedition with Richard Jones and Henry Elgar to the Isle of Pines to set up a trading post dealing in Sandalwood.
By 1840 he owned a wharf in Sydney, was a director of the Union Bank of Australia and the Sydney Alliance Assurance Co and he was appointed a Magistrate.
His businesses extended to Hawaii and to South Seas whaling. He was the owner of several ships, including the Julia, the Diana, and the Wave and, with Alexander Fotheringham, the whaler Porteous.
In 1841 Ranulph, John Jones, Harriet Sea and Henry Elgar formed a consortium and purchased 5,120 acres in a Special survey in the Boroondara and Nunawading district. The special survey was named the ‘Boroondara Estate’ but it was later referred to as ‘Elgar’s Special Survey’; Elgar Road was named after Henry Elgar. The area of land covered by Special survey was bordered by Elgar Rd in the east, Burke Rd in the west, Canterbury Rd in the south and the Koonung Creek in the north.
In 1843, Ranulph and Henry Elgar hired surveyor Frederick Peppercorne to mark Balwyn and Union Roads on the map. Frederick Peppercorne was Ranulph’s cousin in law.
An 1845 survey map of the Boroondara Estate has the land subdivided into 27 lots –
According to historian Bob Kerr ‘In July 1840 he (Henry Elgar) travelled with his wife and a servant to the Port Phillip District of New South Wales from Manila, arriving in September 1840, and after a brief stay they sailed to Sydney arriving on 5th October, 1840. In total he was in Australia for sixteen months and during that time his wife Ana gave birth to a daughter, who died aged 3 months. Also, Elgar purchased a Special Survey. At the age of 25 it is unlikely he had the means to finance such a venture on his own. He did borrow two thousand pounds from Alexander Dyce in 1841 in Sydney, and more from him in 1842 in Manila’.
‘Elgar made several trips to Port Phillip before they left Sydney on the 4th January 1842 and he never visited Australia again’.
‘Dyce owed the merchant company he worked for - Martin, Dyce & Co. - about ten thousand pounds. His estate included land titles for parts of Elgar's survey, which Elgar had given him as part repayment of the loan of two thousand pounds mentioned above. In 1850 the sale of nine sections of land brought in five thousand pounds which was not enough to pay back his creditors. In the 1860s, land titles moved from 'old' law to 'new' and questions arose about the validity of sale procedures for land in Elgar's Survey’.
‘In the 1844 marriage record of his (Henry Elgar’s) sister Margaret to Alexander Dyce in Manila, Henry Elgar signed his name 'H. Elgar.' His signature never appears on any other document’.
Harriet Sea (Ranulph’s sister in law)
Harriet is of interest to Whitehorse in that she owned one lot in Elgar’s Special Survey, but her brother Henry Sea is also an interesting person. He had strong connections with Hawaii which was an area in which Ranulph Dacre also had trading connections and interests.
Henry Sea sailed from London to Sydney in 1837 on board the Achilles. He later sailed to Tahiti where he served as Secretary to the British Consulate.
In 1842 he sailed to Hawaii where he served as Secretary to the British Commission and later to the Consul General.
In 1845 he was appointed Marshall of the Hawaiian Islands. In 1846 Henry married Maria Sumner the daughter of Captain William Sumner and High Chiefess Keakua'aihue Kanealai Hua. Captain Sumner was an early Hawaiian pioneer.
In an interesting aside - in the 1845 Boroondara Estate survey map shows two dwellings referred to as ‘shanty’ located near the intersection of the Bushy and Koonung Creek’s. Could these dwellings be the first European structures to be built in Whitehorse?
Back to Ranulph Dacre
During the Depression of 1842-1844 Ranulph Dacre lost all his businesses. He travelled to New Zealand, the Society Islands and then to Hawaii to collect debts and wind up his affairs.
In 1844 after settling his claim to the spar (ships mast) business in New Zealand he began to prosper again as a merchant and ship owner. In 1859 after many years of travelling between Sydney and Auckland he and his family moved to Auckland and became one of its well known and respected residents.
In 1878 Ranulph and Margaret Dacre returned to England where Ranulph died in Surrey in 1884 and Margaret in Wandsworth in 1885.
'He lived to survive a series of changes. As a seaman he participated in the transition from wooden ship to iron vessels, and from sail to steam; to see trading by barter with Maori evolve into a money and market economy. He observed the consequences of the Treaty of Waitangi, the establishment of British government, Land wars and their inconclusive settlement, and the development of a vigorous pastoral economy in which his merchant firm was able to flourish’
Above: from Ranulph Dacre and Patuone’s top knot, 1995
It seems that there is no information in or around Whitehorse about Ranulph Dacre and John Dane’s contributions to our early heritage, even though they were the first Europeans to buy land in what would become the City of Whitehorse.
Whitehorse Council and others interested in our heritage should implement strategies to inform local residents and visitors of the contributions Ranulph Dacre and John Dane made to our early heritage.
DR LOUIS L SMITH
Dr Louis Lawrence Smith was a doctor, entrepreneur, Member of the Legislative Assembly, wine grower, supporter of Victorian industry and a large land owner. After arriving in Melbourne from England in 1852, Dr Smith travelled to the Ballarat goldfields where he set up a medical practice.
In 1858 he purchased 119 acres of land (Lot 132) on Canterbury Rd in Vermont. He later purchased the adjoining 156 acres of land (Lot 123) from Nelson Polak; Dr Smith named his estate L.L. Vale. The estate was bordered by Canterbury Rd in the north, Heatherdale Rd and Dandenong Creek in the east and Boronia Rd in the west.
On the ‘Vermont – Story of a Community’ website there is a fascinating history of Dr Louis Smith and his contributions to our local heritage and the wine industry. To read this fascinating story please click here Smith (Dr. L. L. Smith) (weebly.com)
You are welcome to use the information on this website, but please acknowledge its source and the author.
In September 2023 a developer lodged an application (WH/2023/768) to demolish and build three dwellings at 25 Thames St, Box Hill North.
This house was lived in and may have been built by William H Elsum, a well-known Melbourne poet, historian, editor, newspaper founder and printer.
Please email the Councillors of the Whitehorse Heritage Steerage Committee requesting that an assessment be undertaken of this house by a heritage consultant to ascertain its local &/or state heritage significance.