10.5.10

WILLIAM ROBERTSON WOOLING NEW GISBORNE



Last Updated 01 1 August 2016



William Robertson 1795-1891
of Clan Robertson - one of Scotland's oldest clans
also known as Clan Donnachaidh,  
the fourth son-youngest of eight children of
William and Jean Robertson (Ormiston),
was born 3rd February 1795 at
Pathead, Midlothian, Scotland
going on in later years to reside in nearby Penicuik

 
Marion McGilchrist  1793-1866
second daughter of five children of the
 Rev James McGilchrist and Elizabeth (Ballantyne)
 was born at West Linton, Scotland, on 23 April 1793


PENICUIK, (pronounced Pennycook), which became a burgh
in 1867 is located  8 miles/12.87 kilometers from Edinburgh.
Penicuik, developed as a planned village in 1770 by
Sir James Clerk of Penicuik, lies along the northern bank
of the steep-sided River North Esk, with the main A702 from Edinburgh
to Biggar and the M74, lying a little closer to the base of the Pentlands.


According to Stevenson McGilchrist's 1967 publication, William Robertson, Victorian Pioneer 1837-1890, Penicuik's population in 1801 was 121,000. However as the population of Penicuik according to http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/landscapes/penicuik was 1700 in 1800, Stevenson McGilchrist's 121,000 may have simply been a typing error.
William's wife Marion McGilchrist, a daughter of the  Rev James McGilchrist, and Elizabeth (Ballantyne), was born on 23 April 1793 at West Linton, Scotland. West Linton, Scotland, an attractive and ancient village lies to the south of the main A702 trunk road from Edinburgh to the M74 and the south. The village was originally known simply as Linton, but the post office that opened there in 1765 was called West Linton to distinguish it from another Linton, now East Linton, in East Lothian. The villages swiftly adopted the names of their post offices, leaving generations of travellers since to wonder why East and West Linton are 37 miles apart. http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/westlinton/westlinton/index.html 

Marion's father, the Rev James McGilchrist who was born in Stirling, Scotland in 1744, was first licensed to preach in 1774.  Two years later James received a call  to preach in Linton (now called West Linton), and was ordained there on June 20 1776.

I am not 100% sure, but I think I would be the only descendant, to have had a wedding service in the church at West Linton, which was Marion's father's parish. The original building is a private home now - we had the service in the newer church, built about 1871-91. It was a wonderful experience to be where the Robertson's had been, including Dalkeith, which is a lovely place. We also went to the church at Crichton, where Marion's parents were married also - that church was built in about 1492, for the local aristocracy at the time and there are remains of their castle there. Margaret Jewell, third great granddaughter.
 

A ceramic church, (in the care of a ROBERTSON descendant) which Marion McGilchrist is believed to have brought to Australia as a reminder of her father's church in West Linton.  While it has no manufacturer's mark research has shown that items of this type were popular around the period the Robertson's settled in Victoria. 

In 1782 James McGilchrist married Elizabeth Ballantyne with whom he had six children, four sons and two daughters, one of them being Marion McGilchrist who subsequently married William Robertson. 

James McGilchrist was baptised by the Rev Ebenzer Erskine, a name famous in Scottish Church history.  Ebenzer Erskine together with his brother Ralph, and two or three other Ministers of the established Church of Scotland, led the revolt against Patronage which  broke away from the Establishment in 1733, and founded the Secession Church.  Non conformists who joined with them in the revolt came to be called Dissenters.

Dissenters were Protestants who dissented from the doctrine of the 17th century Church of England. They were also known as Non Conformists, a name taken by the Puritans protesting against the 1662 Act of Uniformity.  Many Dissenters who were subject to a number of legal disabilities, both civil and religious, were hanged for their beliefs with others dying in prison. In later years the Dissenters became the Independent Church, which later still  became known as the Congregational Church. 

Little is known of William Robertson's early life in Scotland, other than he had a drapery and tailoring business in Edinburgh, where he was also a Justice of the Peace. 

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In February 1833, Scottish tailor William Robertson and Marion (McGilchrist) Robertson of Penicuik, Scotland, departed from the Port of Leith, (Edinburgh), Scotland, aboard the SS Thomas of London, accompanied by their six young children, Elizabeth, Marion, James, William, Lillias, Jean, bound for Sydney in the Colony of New South Wales.





William Robertson's travel to the colonies was no doubt
assisted by the following letter from 24A Downing St, 
dated 14th Feb 1833, penned on behalf of, 
Frederich J Robinson, Ist Viscount Goderick, 1st Earl of Ripon,
UK Prime Minister, Aug 1827-Jan 1828, 
Colonial Secretary, 1830-1833, which read;


 



 £20 Advance No 359     24A Downing St, 14th Feb 1833
Addressed to Major Gen Bourke

Sir, I am directed by Viscount Goderich to request that you will cause to be paid to Captain E Henley, the sum of £20 on account of W'm Robertson, whom is proceeding to 
New South Wales on board the SS Thomas. W'm Robertson is a Tailor aged 37 years, he will be accompanied by the following family, Wife  Aged 39 years, Elizabeth 15, Marion 12,
James 10, William 8, Lillias 6, Jean 1.
I have the honour to be Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant. 



 


The SS Thomas of London, having departed from the Port of Leith, (Edinburgh), on 27 February 1833, arrived at Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land, (so called until 1856, when Van Diemen's Land was renamed Tasmania in honour of its original European discoverer, Abel Tasman), on Saturday August 10th 1833 after five months and eleven days at sea. 
A water colour illustration of a sailing ship of the time in Maggie Robertson's 1908 Autograph book.

Following their arrival on August 10th 1833, the Robertson family (for reasons unknown), chose to remain at Hobart Town rather than proceed to Sydney in the Colony of New South Wales, as was their original intention. 

Exactly why William left Scotland for Australia is unknown.
Stevenson McGilchrist in his book, William Robertson, Victorian Pioneer 1837-1890, writes,
"In my young days, I, and others of my generation were told that William Robertson was the rightful Earl of Airlie, but because of some ‘act of indiscretion’ on his part he refused to return to Scotland to claim the Earldom, and must have consented to the Title being transferred to some other person, because this was done by a special Act of Parliament". 

A 1967 letter to Stevenson McGilchrist, from Brooks and Simpson, 69 Wigmore St, London, W1, a London firm of Genealogists, has provided definite proof that the foregoing story is quite untrue. Then how did it come to be handed down from  generation to generation?   

Perhaps the real proof is contained in a short history told by James McGilchrist Robertson, elder son of the pioneer, to his son, William Robertson.  This little history tells the following: "The son James was told by his father, the pioneer, that his grand-father, or maybe great-grandfather, owned an estate in the Highlands of Scotland, but he was one who followed the fortunes of Prince Charles Stuart, and so lost his estate, and came to the Lowlands and settled there.It is possible that this is quite true, but the estate in the Highlands was certainly not the Earldom of Airlie. Definite proof of this has been obtained for me by a London firm of Genealogists, and I pass on to my readers the following paragraph from their latest letter to me.

"We have given some consideration to the family tradition that your great-grandfather William Robertson, became the rightful Earl of Airlie after settling in Australia.  You have informed us that he went to Australia in 1833. Therefore, his right, if there was one, would have arisen after that date. The Earldom of Airlie was subject to an attainder in the 18th century and the early part of the 19th century, but in 1826 David Ogilvy had his honours restored by Act of Parliament and became the fourth Earl of Airlie.
He was born in 1785 and died in 1849. Since then the Earldom has descended from father to son. The present Earl of Airlie is the great-grandson of the fourth Earl".
 


The article about the Airlie peerage in ‘Burke’ does not indicate that anyone had a better right to the title than David Ogilvy, to whom it was restored. It may be significant that the attainder under which the Ogilvy family suffered arose because of their support of the Young Pretender. 

There is a considered school of thought, (Stevenson McGilchrist: William Robertson, Victorian Pioneer 1837-1890), that William Robertson may well have been a Dissenter.  While  Stevenson McGilchrist's thoughts on William's reasons for coming to Australia are purely speculative, William did become an active member of the Independent Church upon his arrival in in Hobart Town.
 
 John Glover's "A view of Hobart Town" 1832 

William and Marion settled in Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land, (renamed Tasmania in 1852 when it was granted constitutional government), and established a Drapery and tailoring business in Elizabeth St, from where William carried out his business for the next five years.
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The following notices courtesy Frank and June (Wilson) Buckman, 
are extracts from the Hobart Courier, a weekly paper 
of the time published every Friday 
 
Hobart Courier, Friday 16th August, 1833
(from the shipping section)

 A list of other than first class passengers by trade or profession.
 An advertisement placed by  "First class passengers" recording
their appreciation of Capt Henley's attention to duty 
throughout the long journey.
  
Capt Edward Henley's reply
Business notice placed by William Robertson
Friday 20th September (from the shipping section) 
SS Thomas departs for Sydney
Friday the 27th September, an account of a fire
on board the SS Thomas on Saturday 21 September
 
A list of items lost including names of 
some of the owners of the items. 

While in Hobart Town, William Robertson became 
friendly with John Pascoe Fawkner
who in 1835 in company with John Batman, took up land on the
Yarra at the head of Port Phillip Bay, making them 
the original European settlers of Melbourne.

"John Batman's Famous Treaty With The Blacks" 
Merri Creek, Northcote, June 6 1835 

During his time in Hobart Town, William Robertson,(not to be confused with another William Robertson,1798-1874, http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A060051b.htm 
who was part of the Port Phillip Association with Batman, Fawkner and Wedge), 
was encouraged by his friend John Pascoe Fawkner to go to Melbourne to view
the new settlement, which Fawkner considered offered opportunities
far greater than what was then Van Diemen's Land.

In 1837, William ROBERTSON acting on that advice came to the new
settlement with the first land sales held on 1st June of that year
as shown on the following 1837 Plan of Melbourne




Each block, as laid out by Government Surveyor Robert Hoddle, was subdivided into
20 allotments each of approximately half an acre (0.202 hectares).

Government Surveyor Robert Hoddle

 Each purchaser was covenanted to erect a substantial building on the land
within two years.  All the land was sold and the more westerly the block,
the more valuable the land.  The lowest price was paid for the
allotments on the north side of Collins Street, between
Swanston Street and Elizabeth Street - an area later
to be known as 'The Golden Mile' and the highest
priced real estate in the land. The highest price was paid for the
north-east corner of William Street and Collins Street.

While William Robertson was known to have been  in the new settlement
at the time of the First Land Sale, his name is not recorded
as having purchased land at the sale. 

It was long thought that William ROBERTSON had purchased a block of land
in Collins St near the north west corner of Collins and Elizabeth Streets
from where he conducted a Tailoring and Drapery business.

This "thought" however is not supported by records of the first
land sales held in Melbourne on 1st June 1837, as shown on the
following 1837 Plan of Melbourne.

However an interesting observation from the 1837 Plan shows an allotment
in Little Collins St, between Swanston and Elizabeth St, registered in
the name of JP Fawkner which was purchased for 20 Pounds.

Could it be that this is "the block of land" that William Robertson
is thought to have purchased
"near the north west corner of Collins and Elizabeth Streets"
from where he conducted his Tailoring and Drapery business which he may
have either leased or subsequently purchased from his friend  
John Pascoe Fawkner prior to his departure from Melbourne in 1839

The answer to this can be clearly seen on the following
1858 brochure of 1838 Melbourne entitled Melbourne Then and Now
Courtesy Pamela (Hill) Eames a fourth great grand daughter of William Robertson

The following extract (taken from the top right portion of the 1858 brochure)
clearly shows that "Willie Robertson Tailor" conducted a Tailoring business
situated at number 70 on the map on the north west corner of
Collins St between Elizabeth and Queen Sts.
Lot 70 was purchased at the first land sale for by T Browne £45.0.0


However as there is no known record to confirm if William Robertson did at any time
own or lease Lot 70, the Collins St location from where he conducted his tailoring
business as per the following advertisement taken from the Port Phillip Gazette
of Nov 6 1838, before departing Melbourne in 1839 to take up land near
what is now Gisborne, it is reasonable to assume that owing to the
shortness of his stay in Melbourne that he would have most likely
leased the land for the duration of his two year stay.
 

 The second sale of land took place on 1 November 1837.
The boundary streets were: Swanston Street, Flinders Street, Elizabeth Street
and Collins Street, Queen Street, Flinders Street, Market Street and
Collins Street Swanston Street, Bourke Street, William Street and
Lonsdale Street with the exception of the reserved land where
the General Post Office (GPO) and Law Courts now stand.

The following notice contained in the Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas), Tuesday 14 August 1838, page 2 was a little disconcerting at first, however as William Robertson had left Hobart Town for the New Settlement in 1837, it is more than likely that the Insolvency notice of 1838 was referring to "the other William Robertson-Tailor" residing in Hobart Town at that time.
 
 
After some two years in Melbourne, William Robertson decided to take up the land and in 1839 found a favourable spot, (now known as Elderslie), near Mount Macedon, but discovered that this land had already been taken up by a Thomas Ferrier Hamilton and J Carr-Riddell.

William then looked across the creek to a place the local aborigines called "Woolong", following which he returned to Melbourne and made application for a grant of land from the New South Wales Government, which was subsequently granted. William's choice of land was a wise one.  The property, consisting of acreage and lease hold land extending along the foot of the Macedon Ranges, was situated in beautiful country at the foot of Mount Macedon.  It appears that in 1839, James aged 16 and William 14, went ahead of the rest of the family for the purpose of securing the land and establish some form of accommodation in readiness for the family’s arrival. 

In 1840 William Robertson established a permanent homestead which he named Wooling, (from the Aboriginal word "woolong", meaning "much water coming together/nestling of many waters"), making Wooling one of the very earliest settlements in the district, and the Robertson’s, one of the earliest pioneer families of the Port Phillip District of the Colony of New South Wales. 

With the arrival of the full family in 1840, William Robertson established his estate which he called Wooling following which a homestead and a substantial farm was established, making it one of the very earliest settlements in the district. The name Wooling is believed to originate from the Aboriginal word "woolong", meaning "much water coming together/nestling of many waters", which was indicative of the area at the time where aboriginal people are believed to have lived or around 26,000 years. 

The Wurundjeri people occupied the lands in and around the Yarra River and Maribyrnong watershed, and north to the Macedon Ranges which included  Mount William, north of Lancefield, which has been added to the National Heritage List in recognition of its national significance, is one of the most important cultural sites of the Wurundjeri people, who quarried the area's highly-prized greenstone for use as axe tools.  The Wurundjeri community remains active to this day, with the Wurundjeri Council and Wurundjeri Elders working throughout the community to manage and care for their land. 

The following extract from Balliere's Victorian Gazette of 1865, (Robert P. Whitworthy), states; Wooling Station (County Bourke); occupier Robertson W.; area 5700 acres ; grazing capability 342 head of cattle; is situated on the Kerri creek (the upper portion of Macedon River), four miles from Gisborne."

It is believed that most of this land at the time was held by squatting licence, because the Lands Title Office reveals that on June 2,1854, a Crown Grant of Portion One was made to William Robertson, with a further Crown Grant of Portions 2 and 2A, made to William Robertson on 18 March, 1859. Having selected the land he wished to settle, William set about building a home for his family. 

The Centenary Gift Book published in 1934 says of Marion Robertson:
In 1840 Mrs Robertson journeyed up the rough track from Melbourne by bullock dray and settled in the little house her husband had built on the edge of the dreaded Black Forest.  She got on splendidly with the Macedon blacks, who are said to have been fierce and warlike, and particularly befriended two old gins who were always about the place.  Of an intensely kind and generous nature, she thought nothing of riding miles to help a woman in time of trouble and many babies had their first bath at her gentle hands.  Her house was always open to the sick and tired.

The Pioneer Women's Garden in Melbourne's Alexandra Gardens,
was built as a tribute to the European pioneer women of the colony,
in recognition of their role in the foundation of Victoria.
Designed by Hugh Linaker, the Memorial Garden's crucifix-shaped
sunken garden area was opened in 1935 during the
centenary year of the founding of Melbourne.
The Pioneer Women's Garden which is well worth a visit 
remains a wonderful and everlasting tribute to the
pioneering women of Victoria, one of whom was Marion McGilchrist.
Robertson Family Photo
Back: James 1823 - Jean 1826 - William Robertson 1795 - Lillias 1832
Front: William1825 - Elizabeth 1818 - Marion 1821

A silver snuff box 
 
and a black box with the lettering W Robertson
 once the property of William Robertson's youngest son
(William 1825-1892) 
   have been passed down from William to
 George Miller Robertson to Angus Robertson to
a present generation Robertson descendant

Wooling Homestead 
(close inspection shows the photographers on the path)

 Sketch of William Robertson's Wooling Home and 
extensive garden, from Illustrated London News
(Special Australasian Supplement) 11th August 1888

 
Ave of trees (May 2011) leading to the original homestead
of which no trace remains.

Once the homestead at Wooling had been established, William built a saw pit and mill to take advantage of the abundancy of hardwood timber available nearby, turning his sawpit and saw mill into a commercial operation which would employ many local men, and eventually supply most of the timber for the Melbourne to Bendigo Railway Line, and the majority of buildings constructed within a 30 mile radius.

William Robertson's saw mill is known to have been the first 
commercial waterwheel saw mill 
in Victoria.
 Sketch of ruins of abandonded saw mill
from Illustrated London News
(Special Australasian Supplement) 11th August 1888
 
 

The saw pit and subsequent saw mill served the local area
well for around thirty years, following which William
discontinued it in favour of general and dairy
farming which he combined with grazing.

James McGilchrist Robertson by Wooling saw mill Circa 1900 

Workmen at Wooling were mustered by the ringing of a bell known as
"The Robertson Bell".  The bell which was later given to the CFA
to be used to warn of fires in the area, currently sits atop the
bell tower at the Gisborne CFA.

Seemingly another first for William Robertson was the
construction of fish breeding ponds on his property,
and the successful introduction and breeding of brown trout.

Proceedings of the Zoological Acclimatisation Society of Victoria, Volume III,
published in 1874, states: - William Robertson was a member of the
Council during the 1860’s and 1870’s.

An extract from the Australasian Sketcher of 1873, says, "The ponds are upon the private property of Mr. William Robertson at Wooling, about 40 miles from Melbourne. An area has been enclosed of about two acres of land, prettily situated upon a stream which takes its rise in the neighbouring spurs of Mount Macedon. A water race supplied from this stream for Mr. Robertson’s sawmill takes in its course a bend away from the stream, approaching it again at a lower point , and an oval space is thus formed, which, after falling a few feet from the level of the race, continues almost a flat to the bank of the stream, which here runs a cold, clear, fern hidden brook, some fifteen or twenty feet below. This space which is above all danger from floods, has been cleared and planted with English grasses, and in its centre are the ponds.
Sketch of the first trout acclimatisation pond in Victoria
from Illustrated London News
(Special Australasian Supplement) 11th August 1888

 There are two ponds, each being about seventy feet long, by forty feet in width,and shelving to a depth of about five feet in the deepest part; they are pitched with rough artificial cages or hides being made for the fish. Above each pond there is what is termed a rill, along which water flows before entering the respective ponds.

These rills four feet wide at the lower end, where they enter the pond, and about eight or nine inches deep, shoaling gradually to two or three inches at the upper end.  They are in form, to give greater length, being about sixty-six yards long. Into the upper one water is admitted from the mill race, and this flows through the length of rills, and through the ponds. The ponds are also supplied directly from the race.
 
The upper race and ponds are tenanted at present by some two or three hundred trout, which were hatched in October last from ova obtained from Tasmania while the lower pond is occupied by English salmon trout, hatched at the same time from ova similarly obtained. It is intended to keep 25 or 30 parent fish in each of the ponds,leaving them to deposit their ova naturally in the rills, which are made for the purpose,means being taken to prevent the access of large fish from ponds after the ova have been deposited, ova and young fish will afterward be distributed throughout the colony to stock streams".


A year later Curzon Allport writes,
“The fish in the ponds have thriven well and are now five to six inches long, and gradually turned out to prevent overcrowding. The ponds, which are designed upon the system adopted at Stormfield with such improvements as have been suggested by experience in Tasmania, were made from plans prepared by Curzon Allport, and carried out under the superintendence of Mr. Blackburn, the Shire Engineer of Gisborne. After nearly twelve months’ trial, no fault has been found, nor improvement suggested. The expense of construction was met by a special vote by the Victorian Parliament.


The success which has so far attended the experiment, is, however, mostly due to Mr. Robertson, who not only granted the site, but has, at his own cost, undertaken the care and management of the ponds, under the control and superintendence of the Society. The ponds being situated near one of the main lines of railway, fish and ova may be easily and rapidly distributed to all parts of the Colony. 

The second, or lower pond, at Wooling has been devoted to, and is at present occupied by some 200 salmon trout, hatched from ova presented by the Tasmanian Salmon Commissioners to the Society, and are the first salmon trout which have been introduced into the Colony. They differ from the salmon in that although they visit the sea when available, they will live and breed without doing so; thus a yearly supply of young fish may be obtained. For sport and the table the salmon trout are by many deemed equal to the true salmon". 

William Robertson had brown trout placed in Jackson’s Creek and in Wooling Creek, Riddell’s Creek and other streams in the district in the sixties, the fish being obtained from the first importation of ova from Tasmania in April 1862, which were hatched at the Victoria Ice Company’s works in Melbourne.  With Brown trout weighing up to nine pounds being caught in Jackson’s Creek well before 1870, and also at Wooling Bridge, local anglers resented a statement made at Ballarat reported in the Gisborne Gazette of Tuesday, (no date available - but later than 1890), to the effect that all English trout in Australian waters came from Ballarat trout, the ova of which were imported in 1870.  However over the years, the fish became extinct.

Prior to 1932, the ponds were known as the Lily Ponds’ as they were covered with water lilies. The flowers were not like ordinary water lilies, as they had an erect stem with small flowers, white with black markings, known by the botanical name of ‘Aponogeton Distachyus’, originating from South Africa. It is thought that the Lily Ponds were submerged by the reservoir constructed by the late Mr. Oswald Syme after 1914.

Along with his substantial farming interests, timber and fish breeding, William also had commercial interests in and around Gisborne, either directly or in partnership with family members.  Such enterprises included the Bush Inn and a brick kiln with his son-in-law, George Stokes, and a hay and corn store and later general store with his nephew James McGilchrist.

William Robertson also found time to lobby for, and help establish  Gisborne's St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church,  with the following recorded in the Church Minute Book (1858-1867).
  Mount Macedon Room 2nd May 1858 
At a meeting after divine service, it was unanimously agreed to
apply to the Presbytery for Mr Meek to be continued at Gisborne 
for a further period of three months, and that steps be immediately 
taken to erect a building for public worship.
W Robertson Chairman.
 
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church Gisborne, circa 1858, 
for which William Robertson is credited
with having donated the timber.

 Presbyterian Church Gisborne 29th August 1858
At the close of divine service, the adherent's expressed a wish
to be formed into a congregation, and a sum of
two hundred pounds was subscribed for the support of
ordinaries for the coming year.  W Robertson Chairman. 
 
Presbyterian Church Gisborne 3rd October 1858
The congregation held their first meeting when the following office bearers were unanimously appointed, viz, William Robertson Senior, Treasurer, John Whitelaw, Clerk, and Thomas Cunningham, John Dewar, Alexander Niven & Cuthbert Campbell Managers.  John Meek, Chairman. 

Presbyterian Church Gisborne 5th May 1859
After service by the Rev Mr McNicol, the congregation met. It was proposed 
by Mr Robertson, seconded by Mr Niven, that Mr John Meek be invited to 
become the Pastor which was unanimously agreed to.  
A call was accordingly adopted and signed by all present.

 
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church Circa 1871 in 2010
 
William Robertson is mentioned on pages 2-9 and 16

Gisborne Mechanics Institute, (pictured in 1920)
for which William Robertson is also credited 
with having donated the timber.
 Gisborne Mechanics Institute, (pictured in 2010) 
used for a gathering of Robertson descedndants on
Robertson Descendands day, Feb 12, 2012

William Robertson is reputed to have been “A man of a genial manner, although stern to any fraud or deceit, offering great hospitality with a very intelligent interest in all passing events, and a liking to pose as a leader of men.  Popular with the public and in his element when dispensing justice from the Bench, serving as a Justice of the Peace for 30 years, Treasurer at St Andrews for 8 years and a Trustee almost until the day he died.

William and Marion Robertson,
with second son William

 Whatever his public face, things would seem to have been somewhat different at home.  William's nephew James McGilchrist wrote in his memoirs that, “his uncle … made no effort to win the love of his children, who all feared him, and even his saintly wife lived in dread of him.    He reputedly spent his evenings alone in the living room, and at 9.00pm a bell was rung for all members of the household to come in for family prayers.

William Robertson's vanity case 

Both the vanity case and ceramic church (shown earlier), are in the safe possesion of a Robertson descendant. Their history came from Sarah (Sadie) Stokes, who was very definite about their provenance. 

In 1905, William and Marion's daughter Lillias, when interviewed by a newspaper reporter around that time, laid claim to being the oldest surviving settler when describing the family's arrival in Melbourne in 1837;
"We came up the Yarra, and the passengers were carried ashore by black fellows, who had to wade through a sea of mud.  When we arrived in Melbourne there was nothing but tents and wattle and daub huts.  Water was scarce and vegetables were a luxury only to be purchased by a few.
We were natives of Edinburgh and colonial life was a great change from what we had been accustomed to.  The heat and mosquitoes were almost unbearable.  I've never felt them so bad since.  There were no sanitary laws;  consequently fever was prevalent in the camps.  When we got settled, I and some other members of the family were sent to school - the Scotch College.  It was a mixed school in those days. After about two years in Melbourne we moved to Wooling".  Stevenson McGilchrist claims that while there were some inaccuracies in her recollections, the report in general is interesting.
 
In later years when the children of William and Marion Robertson had families of their own, Wooling came to resemble a small village. In 1863, when William Robertson was 68 years of age he transferred his interest in Wooling to his second son.  Sadly, with the the land being sold off and subdivided many times, the Wooling property created by William Robertson is long gone.

In 1894, William's son, William,  sold the estate to Henry Hedderwick, of  Hedderwick, Fookes  and Alston, Solicitors.  Owing to various mergers between Australian firms with foundations stretching back to the 1820s, Arthur Robinson & Co, Hedderwick Fookes & Alston, Allen Allen & Hemsley and Feez Ruthning, Hedderwick, Fookes and Alston is known today as Allens Arthur Robinson.

 
William Robertson's Last Will and Testament made and signed by him at Wooling, Parish of Gisborne, on the 12th day of May, 1888, bequeathed "the whole of the real and personal estate of which I may die possessed or entitled to" to his second son William.

As shown in the above Will and following Probate papers,
William  Robertson's second son, William,
was the sole benefactor of his estate which consisted of; 
£6991.11.6, a tidy sum in itself in 1891,
£55.11.6 in accrued interest,
a silver watch (old) valued at £2.0.0,
 a gold ring valued at £4.0.0,
of which the whereabouts of both are unknown.
 

(Back left) son, James (1823-1908).       (Right) son, William (1825-1892)
(Front left) Lillias Robertson (Bertram).   William and Marion Robertson 
(Front right) William's wife, Katherine Miller (1849-1891)

In William's early days before Gisborne existed, when death came to Wooling, burials took place at a private location on the property. The burial place at Wooling, is on an open hillside at the foot of Mount Robertson, within a forty foot square enclosure demarcated by a wooden post and rail fence, Cypress trees and shrubs. 

While it was long thought that the Pioneeer Cemetery and surrounding Cypress trees had Victorian Heritage listed status, no reference to this being so can be found in the Victorian Heritage Register, http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/heritage/victorian-heritage-register 

This did come as some surprise considering the fact that the cemetery does contain the graves of early Victorian pioneers, William and Marion Robertson and family members, who played such an important role in the history of the Gisborne area.

Victorian Heritage, (Ref # H7823-0043), does however consider the site to be one of archaelogical interest, which means that no interruption to the ground can take place without permission.  Wooling Hill Cemetery, is recorded on the Victorian Heritage Inventory.
The Inventory description however had incorrectly recorded the name
 of the original family of the property as ROBINSON.
This was brought to the attention of Victorian Heritage
who have updated their records to show the name of the 
original family of the property as ROBERTSON.

Heritage Victoria has accepted a nomination made for "consideration to be given for the Robertson Family Pioneer Cemetery to be included on the Victorian Heritage Register". The next step will be for Heritage Victoria to conduct an assessment of the nomination prior to one of the following
                recommendations being made to the Heritage Council that the place;  
                (i)  be included in the Heritage Register
                (ii) not be included in the Heritage Register 
                (iii) be referred to the local planning authority for consideration to include
in the Heritage Overlay of the local planning scheme.


  

According to Stevenson McGilchrist's Book, William Robertson died in 1890 aged 95 years.  However according to the Victorian Registrar of Birth's and Deaths, (#1506), William Robertson died at Essendon, Vic, in 1891, aged 96 years, which is in keeping with the plaque laid in his memory at Wooling Hill Estate, Memorial Park.


 

 
Roger Smith and Helen McRae, present day owners of Wooling Hill constructed a  Remembrance Wall at the Pioneer Cemetery in readiness for Robertson Descendants Day on 12 Feb 2012, when descendants of William Robertson and Marion McGilchrist placed bronze plaques to commemorate loved ones. www.remembranceplaques.blogspot.com


The Remembrance Wall which is constructed of stones gathered from the property area, contains a blue stone block from Wooling, the original homestead of William Robertson and Marion McGilchrist.

 
In earlier years plaque's commemorating the lives of;
Annie (Anne) Isobel Stokes (Tebble),1913-2000
Mary Halliday Stokes (Taylor), 1913-2004
Joan (Bunt) Stokes, 1916-2005,
descendants of William and Marion Robertson,
have been placed in the Robertson Family Cemetery.

One can only assume that William and Marion Robertson
would have been in full agreement of the end use
of their property in this day and age.

The Pioneer Robertson Family Cemetery can be seen to this
day at Wooling Hill Estate, a private property located at
372 Barringo Road, New Gisborne, Vic, 
now known as Wooling hill Memorial Park, where
loved one's ashes can be scattered or
interred with a memorial plaque.

Hopefully all descendants of
William Robertson and Marion McGilchrist
who have the opportunity to visit and
pay their respects to their pioneer ancestors,will do so.




This "Work in Progress" web page will be added to, amended 
and corrected, as further historical information comes to hand. 
Any assistance that you may be able to provide in this
regard would be greatly appreciated. 


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