George Drysdale was born in Scotland in August 1830 and emigrated to Australia late in 1854, 6 months after his father died.Shortly after his arrival, George set up shop as a wheelwright in Bacchus Marsh in 1855 employing apprentice Robert Grant. Before long, he joined blacksmith John Tyson, creating a business on the old Melbourne Road, Pentland Hills, close to the McCluskey’s “Rose Hill” homestead. George was paid 15 shillings a day.
A year later, George married a local Bacchus Marsh girl, Robina McIntyre, who had arrived in the region around the same time as George. They immediately started a family, working hard to establish themselves in their community.
However, things soon turned awry when a sweetheart of George’s from Dunbar, Scotland, arrived on the scene in January 1857 after having followed George from Scotland as was their promise to each other.
During the Supreme Court case in August 1857, Henrietta sought to recover £150 damages for this breach of promise, it was revealed that they had known each other for eight years prior to George leaving to set up life in Australia and for Henrietta to follow once he had enough money to support them both.
Affectionate letters penned by George were submitted in evidence, some of which were signed “Her true lover”. These letters, stamped from Bacchus Marsh, asked whether she would be his wife and, if she agreed, he assured her that she would never regret the decision to leave Scotland.When George had not received any correspondence from Henrietta, he considered that the deal must have been off because his proposal of marriage had not been confirmed and that she must have forgotten him.
However, Henrietta had decided that she would leave Scotland and travel to Australia to marry George. Sadly he never received this particular letter in question. He was under the impression that the proposal of marriage had been denied.
Around the same time that Henrietta boarded the ship at Liverpool for her journey to Australia, George married Robina. That was November 1856. Three months later, two of Henrietta’s letters arrived.
Henrietta claimed she had spent considerable amounts of money for her passage and outfit, as well as bringing with her a lot of furniture and sundry items for her home. This claim also included personal trauma and the stress she had endured.
When George’s defence lawyer, Mr Ireland, addressed the jury, he played the comical card! He compared the “beauties” of Henrietta to the “despicable personal appearance” of George, questioning whether her allegation that she had actually sustained any damages in having missed him had any substance. In relation to her receiving any compensation, the lawyer suggested that she ought to celebrate his “riddance” and she must be inwardly rejoicing and being so fortunate to escape from their matrimony!
After George left the cross-examination box, he sat down beside Henrietta, which caused considerable “merriment” by those present.
The verdict was awarded to Henrietta with damages of £70 to be paid by George.
By February 1858, George was declared insolvent due to debts of £140 and assets of £37. Causes of insolvency: an adverse verdict by a declaring creditor, who issued a cause against insolvent.
George recovered promptly and continued to live in Myrniong, with Robina, for the next 35 years. He worked as a builder, became a Committee member of Myrniong Primary School and was awarded the contract as Operator for the local telegraph office. George died in April 1893 and Robina died 10 years later.
And what happened to Henrietta?
Within 3 years of landing in Australia, Henrietta married Henry Anderson with their first child, a son, arrived the same year. A further 5 children were born over the next 10 years.
Henrietta & Henry settled in Ballarat before relocating to Bendigo around 1870. Sadly, Henrietta died in December 1872, aged 39, shortly after the birth of their sixth child.