Skip to main content

A promise is a promise

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! 

Mr Ireland had the audacity to suggest that Henrietta now enjoyed an extensive wardrobe and a good stock of furniture and if her purchases included baby linen, it would be useful on another occasion!

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Thomas Ryan, 1866

Here we are in September 1866 Mr Thomas Ryan, 35 years old and the current licensee of The Plough Inn Hotel since 1865. He married his bride, Mary Meehan, 4 years later. They purchased Mr Burke’s store, hotel (The Plough Inn Hotel) and adjoining land. Two years later, the Ryan’s first child was born – Michael. Sadly, Michael passed away in October of that same year, aged nine months. In early 1872, the Ryans welcomed another child to their family – Thomas Jnr (more on Junior next week...) Thomas Ryan (Senior) was considered an “old resident” of Myrniong, but not in the chronological sense! He was a fundamental contributor to the establishment of this new and thriving township. He became a Justice of the Peace in 1868 after much contention due to his Irish hereditary and all that this implied politically. He participated in Coroner Inquests for the region, was a member of the Bacchus Marsh and Maddingley Roads Board (a pre-cursor to the local Council), member of the Myrniong Mechanics I

The Dore sisters saga - Part 3

Last week, our focus shifted to Mary Dore, the second of the Dore sisters, who entered into matrimony with Peter McCluskey, an early Myrniong farmer loaded with idiosyncrasies. In this week’s narrative, we delve further into the accounts of history. Peter McCluskey resettled on his farm at Rosehill, Myrniong, dedicating his efforts to raising shorn ewes and lambs for market. Alongside him stood his brother-in-law, William Dunbar Snr. Peter sold his fenced and improved acreage in the celebrated Pentland Hills, advertised as a parcel of land renowned as the “finest agricultural expanse in the colony”. Yet, the tides of fate took a sudden turn in March 1881, as Peter McCluskey faced the grievous charge of Bigamy—a transgression both unforgivable and typically avoidable, entailing the simultaneous marriage to two individuals. He was arrested by the Bacchus Marsh AND Myrniong police, securing his bail release with a sum totaling £300 along with a further two sureties amounting to £100 each.

"Show Exhibits worthy of anywhere in the Colony" 1884

The earliest exhibition showcasing dairy produce, livestock, and farm products emerged in the 1870s. These events took place annually, with locations alternating between Ballan and Bacchus Marsh.  However, due to strong opposition, the committee decided to relocate the show midway to Myrniong, which significantly increased patronage and attendance over the years. Myrniong eventually became the permanent home for the society's annual exhibitions. These events attracted high-class showmen, including leading draught-horse exhibitors from Melbourne and Ballarat. One memorable incident involved some chaos among dairy cows due to inadequate pens, resulting in them rushing and butting each other, not an uncommon sight at any B&S Ball! The Plough Hotel always reaped benefits from the local Myrniong Show by providing on-site catering or hosting post-show gatherings. On one occasion, approximately 40 men enjoyed an excellent dinner at Thomas Ryan's Plough Hotel after the show, with