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John Tyson Part 1 – From farrier to publican

John Tyson arrived in the Pentland Hills area around 1856 however it was not until 1879 that he purchased The Plough Hotel after spending the previous 23 years as an integral contributor to the establishment of our township and his new life in Australia.

Editor's warning: there are numerous "Johns" mentioned in this story, so I suggest you concentrate!

John Tyson was born in Sandwith, Cumberland (now Cumbria) England in 1823 and worked in that region as a Blacksmith until 30 years of age when he boarded the ship "Fulwood" in Liverpool and sailed to Australia as an unassisted passenger, accompanied by his older sister Mary and her husband John Johnson.

He quickly found his way to Bacchus Marsh, working as a blacksmith for an old town identity and its first blacksmith since 1851 – Vere Quaille (a.k.a. Quail, Quayle). The forge was located near the corner of Main Street and Gisborne Road, Bacchus Marsh, and a set of horseshoes cost £1.

It was mid 1850s, when John started to become a significant contributor to his new community which included joining the Bacchus Marsh Mounted Rifle Troop as their Farrier (a blacksmith who shoes horses) in 1861 being considered a “most useful member of the force”. He continued to serve many public departments including:
• the gazetted Deputy Registrar of Births and Deaths for Myrniong
• trustee and treasurer for Myrniong Mechanics’ Institute. Responsibilities varied from receiving tenders of quarrying of stone through to applications for letting of the hall.
• representative for Pentland Hills on the Road Board and Shire Council for over twenty years
• Bacchus Marsh Shire President 1879-1880

John joined with a wheelwright from Bacchus Marsh, George Drysdale, to establish a business on the old Melbourne Road, Pentland Hills in 1856. (You can catch up on George’s interesting story in last week’s post.)

A couple of years later, John moved on, where he started his own blacksmithing business on the side of the road at Pentland Hills near Deveny’s Corner and the Pentland Hotel (located near the junction of Mt Blackwood Road and Old Western Highway).

Difficulties due to lack of water for his blacksmithing drove John into the township of Blow’s Flat (Myrniong), close to Myrniong Creek to build his new blacksmith’s shop in the early 1860s.

In the meantime, John Tyson’s future wife Elizabeth Jane Cooke boards the vessel “Shackmaxon”, along with her sister Phoebe Cooke, at Liverpool, England, arriving in Melbourne on 16 March 1862. How these two met cannot be ascertained however Elizabeth married John Tyson on 11 October 1862 in Bacchus Marsh.

Their first child, a daughter named Phoebe, was born the following year but sadly died that same day. Their second child was born in February 1865 – a boy named John Henry Tyson (who will be referred to as “John Tyson Jnr.” hereon, to avoid further confusion). A plethora of children followed, with another child, William, sadly passing away so very young at only 3 years of age. The remaining children lived relatively long lives.

b 1865-1910 Myrniong, John Tyson (Jnr)

b 1866-1910 Pentland Hills, Joshua

b. 1868-1871 Myrniong, William

b 1870-1934 Pentland Hills, Elizabeth

b 1871-1938 Myrniong, Mary Ann

b 1873-1938 Myrniong, Fanny

b 1874-1945 Myrniong, Arthur

b 1876-1948 Myrniong, Sarah

b 1878-1933 Myrniong, George Marr

John built the Myrniong Hotel in 1865 at the western end of the Myrniong township on the land owned by John Swannell, the local butcher and first licensee of this Hotel. Four years later in July 1869, John Swannell took over the licence of the Commercial Hotel in Ballan from William Gosling, providing the opportunity for John Tyson to purchase the Myrniong Hotel from John Swannell, thus selling his blacksmith business to Cr Philip Purcell that same year.

Myrniong was proud to be able to support two hotels during 1873 with the new publican, John Tyson being seen as “doing a good trade at the new Myrniong Hotel”. This appeared to be the benchmark when considering that a township “is going ahead”.

John, as licensee of the Myrniong Hotel, regularly advertised in the local newspapers (see below), detailing the quality beverages, residential accommodation and stables, suitable for family holidays or business travellers.

The above Hotel is now open with a Stock of first-class Wines, Spirits, and Malt Liquors, obtained from the best houses.
The rooms at this Hotel are unusually numerous and are well furnished. A complete residence, detached, adjoins the Hotel, and is very suitable for wedding parties, family residence during holidays, or for commercial travellers.
The Stabling is extensive, and cannot be surpassed. 
The highest class of Hotel accommodation is afforded by this establishment at most moderate charges.

In December 1879, properties from the estates of the late Thomas & Mary Ryan and her brother, John Meehan, came up for auction. John Tyson was the successful bidder for the Plough Inn Hotel, situated on about four acres of land, as well as the three adjoining showcards. The price was £660. There were many interested parties attending the auction including the “runner-up” being Mr John Drury of Mt Blackwood Hotel. The purchase was regarded as “a great bargain” due to the current rent of £115 per annum being charged for the hotel, as well as the recent sale of the adjoining land at £52 per acre. While the horses, cattle and buggy were sold “cheap”, there were no bids received for the 4-roomed cottage or the half-acre of land. The outcome of the auction, while not very reassuring, was considered a reflection of the current economic environment of the day.

NEXT WEEK we follow John’s escapades and adventures, and meet a residing gaol medical officer.

Much credit for inspiration and enthusiasm for the John Tyson chapters goes to William Telfer, a descendant of John Tyson who contacted us during COVID and has since become our “pen-friend”. 

William lives in the same area where John Tyson was born and has shared photos of the streets. 

Thank you to William and Joyce for the enjoyment shared through your kind correspondence.


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