State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 25 April 1980

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Manuscript: Anthony Beale's Diary

Anthony Beale (1790–1865) landed at Port Phillip, with most of his large family, in November 1839. Two months earlier the Beales had reached Launceston from England; Anthony Beale had then come to Melbourne, purchased some land on which he erected a pre-fabricated house, and returned to Launceston to collect his family.
A native of St. Helena, Beale had been a paymaster with the East India Company on that island during Napoleon's imprisonment. An ancestor, another Anthony Beale, had for a few months governed the island in 1672. When the British Government assumed control of the island, Beale took his family to England, where he sold his pension entitlements and emigrated to Australia.
The pre-fabricated house was erected on an acre of land (later increased to three acres) near the present Fitzroy Town Hall. Beale brought with him from Tasmania a number of fowls, and initially his livelihood came from the sale of their eggs. Later he purchased several cows, whose milk he sold to retailers in Melbourne. His hired man, Edwards, supplemented the family's income by carting water for the residents of Melbourne. None of these endeavours met with notable success and Beale, although not a young man and neither bushman nor husbandman, hungered for more land. Late in 1840 he purchased a run on the Plenty River near what is now Greensborough, and named it St. Helena.
We present here some extracts from Anthony Beale's diary during the time he lived in Melbourne. The principal characters are his wife, Katherine Rose; his daughters, Issy, Bessy, Margaret and Rose; Francis Nodin, a Melbourne merchant who married Issy; George James, Beale's wine merchant, whose marriage to Bessy is described in these extracts; Edwards, the hired man; and Beale's neighbours, the Kings. The entries for 24 and 28 December 1839 are written by Mrs. Beale or by one of Beale's daughters; all other entries are in Beale's hand. In the original diary, some of the entries are accompanied by crude, but amusing and effective, sketches. Ellipses have been used to indicate omissions from the original diary; otherwise, punctuation and spelling are as in the original.
Tony Marshall
Observations in general since arrival at Port Phillip on 14th Novr. 1839 —
Thursday. On a hot day we landed on the beach and in crossing the punt was in danger of being backed upon by a team of restive bullocks — got across safe & with difficulty & great fatigue from the heat of the day reached home where we found an empty & very leaky house — I went to town to get bedding which was to have been brought to the wharf by the [illegible] — after waiting there until 8 o'clock I left & lost my way in the bush & did not get home until 10 o'clock — King had been dispatched to get 2 gallons of shrub which finding upon my arrival we all felt rejoiced to enjoy & happy with our lot — viz — once more at home every so homely — ever so wet — umbrellas in requisition during the night asleep or awake — after having been provided by Mrs. King with bedding to the best of her ability & my wife having very comfortably stowed herself away in one of my coloured shirts in lieu of a night gown the cart arrived with out bedding, boxes & poultry, all safe, a very great load for which I paid 5/-. My joy was great at beholding the fowls all safe after the trouble I had had with them in the furious gales which accompanied us on our [journey?] from Launceston — 9 days …
Monday 9th Decr. very warm — a visit from Mr. G. Eddie who seemed sorry to go away so soon — he dined with us & remained the night going in with me after breakfast
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& would have returned but for the hurried sailing of the Henry — made 6 holes and planted 18 mellon seed & about 3 doz. cucumbers — G. Eddie assisted a little, but did not seem to like it much — …
Wednesday 11th Decr. very warm indeed — our time has been so completely taken up that not until to day did we commence keeping this book all therefore before written is as far as recollection would serve up …
Saturday, 21 Decr. Very fine cool— no rain — Made a grand discovery — i.e. found that by getting a hind quarter instead of a fore of mutton that a sufficiency of candles for our use may be made only from 2 quarters weekly — Got Mrs. Kings candle mould & went to work accordingly — no more buying tallow candles at 8, 9, & 11 [pence?] — ours are even better than some.
Sunday 22 Decr. Sunday — went with Bessy to church — sat upon the forms — heard Archdeacon Jeffreys preach — afterwards went to the Roman Church to hear Mr. Geoghegan, lecture delivered for the purpose of raising means to enclose the church yard at Melbourne — Returned home had some good roast beef for dinner — Mr. John Brooke, son of the Revd. P. I. Brooke at St. Helena — dined with us — rain kind, not felt to much outside ther. 82 in shade — very slight shower at night — letters out sent, waiting for a letter for Lauceston — …
Tuesday 24 Dec. Rained the whole of the night and continued today until one o'clock P.M. Since then very fine. Thermr 52 at 12 o'clock, at 8 P.M. 58. Adam went to town in the afternoon to speak for bread the baker had neglected to send — no uncommon occurrance. The butcher sent a small piece of mutton and fry with a message saying the wet weather was against his supplying us with beef tomorrow and as it was Christmas day he thought we should not want a sheep's head. Papa was busy after the rain had ceased in making Edwards a sheltered place at the chimney of the unroofed kitchen. After dinner he spaded up some cucumber ground
Wednesday 25th Decr — Turned out at 6 o'clock & after feeding the poultry broke up a large piece of ground for Lindsay — employed during the day until dinner time in making shelves upstairs Mr. J. Brooke dined here — not rain last night — ground completely soaked from the hard rain the night before Thermometer 68 at 4 P.M. — had a very fine piece of roast beef for dinner — great want of vegetables — hoped to have plenty by now — Told that eggs were selling at 8/- per doz …
28th Decr Saturday…. Papa Bessie and I called in the evening on Mrs. La Trobe the wife of the Governor, and found her a very pleasant person … the river overflowing has inundated Capt. Lonsdale's ground & nearly destroyed his crops which were looking in a most luxuriant state — some thousands of bricks have also been totally spoilt, not being finished …
Sunday 19th Jany 1840. Went to church with Bessy and Margaret — Mr. Waterfield's Chapel — saw Mr. & Mrs. Falkiner who appear to be the head people there — Mr. F. until the building of the chapel lent a large house in town, built for a printing office, for the purpose — after coming home, erected a cool place in portico to sit under — very pleasant intend dining therein. Had an onion or two out of the garden from seed, to eat with my beefsteak …
Saturday 1st Feby — We have been here now just 2 months and a half — when I arrived I brought with me £100 in timber chiefly shingles, expecting to make that amt at least £150. Up to this period I have only sold about £14s worth which barely paid the expense of cartage to this place — In cash I had about £25 — having disposed of the £500 I recd. in London as my capital to go on with here, in paying the two first instalments on my land —
£150
Horse & Cart 80
Passage 70
Timber 100
Various 75
475
Cash 25
500 — I now
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find that to no better advantage could it have been laid out, & using the timber as here we are now provided with house rent free & a return of about £12 per month cash for water carriage only — Besides this our poultrey has earned so far as to lead me to expect that by 100 hens … we shall be able to make not less than £1 daily, the few eggs, 3 doz., which have been sold having realized 5/- doz. — the garden moreover is not to be the least considerable bye & bye, and when we are able to have about a doz. cows, I shall not despair of having an income something to the tune of £1000 pr anm, when it may afford us to turn our attention to a sheep station …
Saturday 8th Feby … bought … at Mt. James’ wine vaults & paid for same
10 Gal. cape wine 4/- £2
1 doz. sherry bro. & white 2.2
6 bot. whisky 1.4
£5.6 —
This was brought out by James’ cart just as I was writing the above — Had a bottle of brown sherry as a treat at my dinner. Edwards brought 4 fine fish in the Evg — had 2 in portico at tea time …
Monday 10th Jany [i.e. February] — Heard the hens making a noise as if alarmed by something. Looked out & saw a large native dog within gun shot — Gun not being at hand I was too late — he made off — Edwards might also have had a shot at him before this, but he also had left his gun in the house — more care to be taken tomorrow — …
Tuesday 25th Feby … Mrs. K. This morning was in a great rage & broke and burnt almost everything in the house — I sent for Hancock & advised that King should keep his temper & not provoke her to do more mischief. H. said she had threatened to burn down the house — after King left she shut the doors & very shortly a dense smoke arose from the chimney & a strong smell of cloth burning was perceived — very bad conduct, which it now appears is not infrequent with her …
Tuesday March 3 1840 … This is the first day of the races — the town appeared perfectly deserted, possession might be taken of it by twenty armed men with ease …
Monday 9th March 1840 … Gave Mrs Kings little George a dose — 3 gr. calomel 18 Rhubarb — he only took about half …
Tuesday 12th March 1840 … a great many natives again in town, having returned from their country seats for the season …
Sunday 15 March — Went to town intending to go to church but found ourselves at least an hour too late — came back by following the road to Mr. Latrobes after cruising about & looking for our house for about an hour, we at last thought ourselves successful from seeing a black horse, which we took for Jacky — approaching him we soon saw the top of a house, which concluding to be our own, we hailed it with joy & upon our arrival near to it, found to our inexpressible astonishment that it was Mr. La Trobes & that we were again in the identical spot from which we had dived into the bush …
Tuesday 31 March — Went on a hay making excursion spent as usual a very pleasant day & had a good dinner of chops of my own cooking — shot several birds — saw two fine wild turkies but could not get near them, they took a very long flight after getting up out of the grass about fifty yards off …
Thursday 2 April 1840 … Went to town & subscribed to Library & for newspaper to 30th June but felt very unwell all day — ate a good dinner in consequence — just going to bed when who should come in but Mr. Williams Mr. Carey & the accomplished Mr. Prentice who remained taking a little ale & wine & water for about an hour — Mr. Williams has a sale of his house tomorrow —
Friday 3 April 1840 … went to the auction — Mr. Williams house was bought by Mr. Strode for 175 guineas Handcock bought an 1/2 acre for 85° & sold his own 1/8 acre and hut thereon for £64 … very few gentlemen at the sale — purchasers of land were chiefly mechanics and labourers … King came in the afternoon & pointed out the way for me to cut up my land & sell to advantage. He was very much refreshed by his attendance at the auction —
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I showed him what my plan was, but from the high opinion he seem to have of his contrivance, added to the very full engagement he had experienced at the auction lunch lead me to suppose he little understood what my plans were …
Tuesday 7th April 40 — Went with Bessy & Rose to Breakfast with Mrs. Williams who walked out with them afterwards to spend the day at our house — Mr. W. & I came out about 4 — Had a game of coits before dinner — dined in the portico & spent a pleasant day — the Williams are very good kind of people — Mr. James came out in the evening & we then smoked a while in the portico & had a glass of whisky toddy …
Sunday 12th April … Some female emigrants living at the house Mr. Strode bought from Mr. Williams, took a very slow walk around our premises — Strode gave 175 pds for this house & now lets it for 30/- week …
Friday 24th Apl, 1840 … last night a Mr. Arthur lost his way and wanted to sleep here — he had a dispute with Edwards whose brains he threatened to knock out — King interfered & he went away …
Thursday 30th Apl 40 … With the boys got into the cart & went hay making — saw very few birds but was told by a person driving cattle that if I went a mile further on when I should arrive at the banks of the Yarra I should find lots of quail and duck I saw a herd of about 700 cows there & all in the lagoon[?] & altho the weather has been dry so many months the grass is long and plentiful …
Saturday — 2nd May … The want of a place of greater scope is now seriously felt & must very soon be sought after even if it be at a distance from Town which might occupy from 6 in the morning to 6 at night to go to and return from town …
Tuesday 5 May 40 — no eggs — attended a meeting of the inhabitants of Melbourne to petition Govt for the money made by the sale of lands to be wholly applied to the purpose of getting out emigrants from Europe — & strenuously remonstrating against its being applied on that account for the benefit of New Zealand …
Friday 14th May 40 — Mr. James came in a pelting shower of rain to breakfast & to go shooting pigeons — day turned out fine only saw 5 — did not shoot one — killed 11 parrots & 1 wattle-bird — returned home to dinner after walking about 10 miles …
Friday 22 May — Got from Jamieson 4 pieces quartering 15 feet each & commenced making a cottage upon the half acre — very short of materials & cash — got on well with the house … In consequence of the insulting behaviour of Mr. Jamieson & his attempting to impose upon me with bad wood, I got annoyed and pulled down the house not wishing to have any of his wood in it after giving him 15 for what I conceived was the worst of such as could be used — upon telling him I would send it all back to him he said I might do so and he would return me my 15/- The wood lay on the ground but the fellow has not the honesty to return the money — the real worth of it would not be as many pence — …
Wednesday 27th May 40 — Made a writing desk for boys — Mr. Brooke commenced with them for the first time — they are not on any acct to be taken off their books …
Monday 1st June — Edwards birth day Went to town & lunched with Mr. James — saw Mr. Neil Campbell there who took a glass of ale — Mr. Williams called & told us that Mr. [illegible] had been murdered by the natives & his servant also …
Friday 5th June … Mr. Vaughan came to get a little rubbing stuff for his old man who got kicked by a cow …
Tuesday 9th June — set the boys to work washing bottles — and Edwards off to town with 14 fowls & a duck for sale. Drew off the wine 10 Gal. cask which ran 61 bottles very good — Hally & Bessy assisted and finished in an hour — Sent the drake to town for sale & bought another which disappeared in about an hour — much annoyed 10/- thrown away. Having written this the drake was announced to be safe, having wandered down to Mrs. Tulk's house who kept it intending to enquire who it belonged to — …
Friday 12th June … went to town with Issy & Rose & attended lecture by Dr. Greaves on Theology …
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Sunday 14th June … Made Edwards kill 2 fowls which we are to have for dinner tomorrow our wedding day
Monday 15th June 1840 — our wedding day completing 25 years in the marriage state which is more than one half of my life — made 4 beds for flowers before the door — Party consisting of Mr. & Mrs. Williams, Grey, James & Lee dined here & spent the evening very pleasantly — Mr. & Mrs. W. went early, the others remained until 10 — In the morning I went to Town for lunch with James, Grey & Lee …
Sunday 21 June — Went with Mama & Bessy to Mr. Waterfields chapel — Mr. Brooke Issy & Rose to English Church — …
26th June Friday … Went to shoot with Mr. James & Lee shot a pidgeon & a magpie by Mr. James the latter dined with us but Mr. Lee being a Catholic refused to remain …
Tuesday 14th July 1840 — Went to town with Issy & Bessie … a gentleman who was there said 15 other who had come in with cattle were going to give a ball — Afterwards called at Mrs. Vaughans then upon Mr. Latrobe who was looking very poorly. Came home to dinner and in the evg attended a meeting convened for the purpose to establishing a Society in aid of the British & Foreign Society …
21st July Tuesday. Went to the stockholders Ball with Issy & Bessy attended by Mr. James & Walter. Party pleasant enough …
Sunday 26th July. Went with Mama to Mr. Waterfields Chapel — Issy & Rose with Walter to the English Church — Mr. Wilson as usual preached violently against the Catholics …
Tuesday [28 July] — Went to town. Lunched with James, Mr. Wms & Walter also there — Heard Walter arrangement to leave James £300 to speculate in land for him …
Wednesday [29 July] … all hands jogged away to the picnic and were comfortably accommodated in the cart, only having to get once to cross McLeans [?] Creek. When arrived a fire was made little Picks [?] milk was warmed in a bottle & afterwards a pot of potatoes was boiled …
Tuesday 4th Augt … made a writing table and prepared place for Boys school in workshop — to commence tomorrow.
Wednesday 5th Augt 40 — The sun rose in great splendour, inflaming the clouds all around — this from an observation made lately is a sign of much wind & altho then perfectly clear, it now (only an hour since) blows very hard — told by Mrs. Chapman that Mr. Vaughans milk pail bust yesterday & sent a stream down the street — also that having a leak they stopt it with soap which gave the milk the taste of it Bad management …
Thursday 6th August — Pulled some feathers out of the wings of the geese, fearing they would one day take it into their wings to fly away — of one of the quills I made this pen & shall save about 5/- as the children are now in want of pens …
Saturday 8th Augt 40 … Walked to town with Issy & Bessy … got my spectacles for repair pd 2/6 — accosted immediately after one gentleman for another, altho delighted once to have my good specs on … afterwards strolled along the banks of the Yarra & saw the part over which the bridge is to be …
Sunday 9th Augt 1840 — Went to Mr. Waterfields chapel & subscribed 6/ towards enclosing the new burial ground — a strange heifer came in with the cows — after church walked to the burial ground …
Tuesday 11th Augt … I went to the meeting of the Bible Society Committee in the … chapel Mr. James man brought out 10 gals wine — this is owing for in addition to 9th July 8th June & 28 April —
Wednesday [12 August] … 2 sales of land in town yesterday not a soul attended — bad luck for land shark speculators — These gentry are not to be pitied — I look upon them to be a set of selfish avaricious grinding fellows with whom the poor settler upon arrival has no chance & by whom he is robbed of his little & thrown back for the want of a portion of what he was obliged to give for an acre or two of land, to secure a house for himself & family — this has been my case & I feel it, altho the 3 acres I
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bought have considerably enhanced in value — this as it happens at present is no lift at all to me — my capital is all gone & here I have been without the means of purchasing a cow for 6 months past …
Saturday 15th Augt 40 … Drew off the wine in all 60 bottles 10 gallons wine appears to be a months allowance — being quite sufficient for that period — our drinkables may be reckoned at about 1 guinea a week & it ought to be made to be enough …
Saturday 22 Augt 1840 Bessy's wedding day — Messrs. James and Noden came in the latters gig at 1/2 past 10 — followed by Mr. Welshes carriage & pair[?] driven by Mr. James servant John drest like a gentleman — I walked to the church & the party proceeded as follows — first Mr. James & Mr. Noden in his gig — next Mama Issy & Bessy in the carriage next Rose in the gig driven by John — she went at a rapid pace — upon my arrival at the church I found they had been there & left again, the clergyman not having arrived — I remained at the church and saw a couple married before the[y] came which was exactly at the conclusion of the ceremony & therefore in right time — Mr. Grange was the Minister — I asked him to dine with us but he excused himself on acct of the darkness of the night & his distance in the bush — we proceeded on our return home carriage first with Mama bride & bridegroom — I upon the box — Issy with Mr. Nodin in his Gig — Rose as before — upon our return home we had cake & wine the former a very good one — afterwards bride & bridegroom in our gig & Mr. Nodin and Issy in the other went out to Pascoeville for a drive — the latter gig very nearly got capsised in a hole — got home in good time —Mr. and Mrs. Williams arrived just after — the day was spent very agreeably — Mr. Grey was also of the party & the whole left about 12 oclock
Friday 4th Sept 1840 … a native came & for /3d (black money) cut a great quantity of wood off a large tree …
Sunday 13th Sept — Did not go to church today — not well all day, attributed to taking too much milk of a morning lately — …
Thursday 17 [September] — This day is the sale of the 1/2 acre bought for the benefit of the English Church, which cannot be completed for want of means — Its having been bought for this purpose, has given great offence to the good Govr Gipps who in consequence has declared that he will withhold the £1000 granted in aid of that building —
Friday 25 Sept … Mr., Mrs. Williams James his wife and Mr. Nodin dined here — I made a fine dish of macaroni first boiled the macaroni, & laid it at bottom of the dish, upon this poured some fried cheese, & afterwards upon that poured fried eggs, adding mustard pepper & salt with which the cheese was seasoned — this is the true way to make it & nothing can be finer before dinner the gentlemen played quoits …
Friday 9th October … The native had a corrobory about 1/2 miles behind the house — saw a great many going it from town — I particularly observed some of them to be very suspicious looking fellows a great many strangers amongst but all of saying they belonged to Port Phillip & that the Goulborne very bad …
Sunday 11th Oct. 40 … The natives were all taken from their land to gaol, as amongst them were discovered to be a number of the Goulbourn tribe who had committed several murders at the different stations — A notorious leader Jacka Jacka & 2 others equally bad were taken — and one man (Winberry) shot — …
Friday 16th Oct … Dreamt last night that I had returned with the whole family to St. Helena, without having done any good whatever & that I was endeavouring again to get away from it but without the slightest chance of doing so — all assistance from friends at home was cut off and my case then was a most distressing & hopeless one — when I awoke I was delighted to find it but a dream & that all was right and going on well …