Chapter 8: Robert and Ann Crawford and family Maryborough, Timor, Durhum Ox and Kerang

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 96

Robert Crawford and family Maryborough, Timor, Durhum Ox and Kerang

Robert James Crawford was born in Geelong, in the colony of Victoria on 24th February 1855.

Ann Elizabeth Neale was born in January 1852, in Birmingham, Warwickshire.

Their children were:

Mary Elizabeth Crawford, born Maryborough, 1876

Edith Helen Crawford, born Timor, Maryborough, 1778

James Miller Crawford, born Durham Ox, 1781

Robert William Crawford, born Durham Ox,1883

Catherine Crawford, born Durham Ox, 1883

John Hamilton Crawford, born Karang, 1885

Hilda May Crawford, born Karang,1887

Harold Crawford, born Karang,  1891

Percival Crawford, born Karang, 1891



In 1875 at 20 y.o.a. Robert James Crawford married Ann Elizabeth Neale, who was 23.  Her father was a baker at Carisbrook (7 km from Maryborough) and at one time on the town council. By this time, his father, James Crawford was recorded as being an ironmonger.On their wedding certificate, Robert is listed as a baker and within a week of their marriage, he was running ads in the Maryborough newspaper for a new bakery at the Crawford family’s High St. Maryborough address.  Over the years as Robert and his growing family moved north, he continued as a baker.


The wedding was recorded in the Maryborough newspaper:

“A correspondent writes – On Saturday last the town of Carisbrook was enlivened at early morn, the fact having been known that a marriage was about to be celebrated in the Wesleyan church of the above named town, the bridegroom, Mr. Robert Crawford, son of Mr. Crawford , of Maryborough, and the bride, Miss Neale, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Neale of Carisbrook.  The morning was fine, and everything seemed to favor the happy event.  Numerous invitations had been given, and by the time, half-past nine, the hour to proceed to church had arrived, the town presented a gay appearance.  Thirty couples walled from Mr. Neale’s to the Wesleyan Church, where the Rev. Mr. Augwin was to tie the knot.  It would be superfluous to attempt to describe the various dresses worn by the fair ones; suffice it to say the bride wore a rich dove-colored silk, trimmed with white ermine, a wreath made of jasmine, lilly of the valley, orange blossom, and I acknowledge that she looked extremely fascinating.  The bridesmaids were dressed in white book-muslin with very pretty wreaths in their hair.  The chief bridesmaid was Miss Aston, and the attendants Misses Williams, Ponsford, Clarkson and Taggart. 

The bridegroom’s best man was Mr Miles and attendants, Messrs. Willaim Aston, J.H. Clarkson and Willaim Neale, and then followed twenty-five couples, who had been invited to the festivities of the day.

The church was beautifully decorated. And the service was gone through in the most impressive manner.  The bride was given away by her father.  After the marriage had been solemnized the party marched to the Wesleyan school-room, which had also been tastefully decorated. And the tables were loaded with the good things provided.  Sixty sat down for breakfast, after which the Rev. Mr. Angwin made a few remarks suitable for the occasion, and exhorted all present to heartily enjoy themselves.  The Party then betook themselves to drive through Maryborough and Craigie and back to the schoolroom, where tea was in waiting.

After tea singing, etc., was entered upon with great spirit; amongst those taking part being Miss Aston, Miss Miles, Miss Kirk, and others.  The whole party accompanied the bride and bridegroom to the station at six o’clock to see them depart on the wedding tour, and at nine o’clock was ended one of the most enjoyable gatherings ever witnessed in Carisbrook.  Our informant remarks every one present seemed to fully enjoy themselves throughout the day thus demonstrating the fact that a teetotal marriage can be celebrated with as great a gusto an any other.”


On returning from their honeymoon, Robert and Ann were subjected to “tinkettling” and onFriday May 14th, the boys appeared in court:



Eight young lads named John Thomas Gilchrist, William Ingram, William Kirk, Arthur Kaye, Wm. Crompton, Samuel Parnall, David Dobbie and Robert McGee, were charged by Sergeant Fahey, under the 5th sec. of the Police Offences Statute, sub. Sec. 13, with creating a disturbance by “Tinkettling” a newly married couple.

The Sergeant stated that the practice was a highly dangerous one, and on a prior occasion on which the “game” was played, it was with some difficulty that the parties who were “tinkettled” were prevented from firing on the “tinketlers”.  On this occasion a Mr Crawford had got married, and on his return from Carisbrook, where the wedding took place, the happy pair were met on the railway platform by a large gang of boys, who followed them to their home, and tinkettled them to such an extent, that the police had to be sent for.

The Sergeant displayed the tinlkettling apparatus, which consisted of kerosene tins, sheets of iron and tin etc., and with their aid produced a horrible noise to enlighten the court.

Mr. Crawford did not wish to press the charge, but it was desirable to put down this nasty and dangerous practice.  The big boys were the worst, as they led on and encouraged the younger ones to play these pranks, which they stood aloft themselves.  The youths were asked by the Sergeant what they had to say in defence:-

Gilchrist: Mr. Crawford said we could tinkettle and long as we liked, so long as we did not damage his property.  (Laughter)

Ingram: Mr. Crawford said we could tinkettle as long as we liked, so long as we did not damage his property.  (Laughter)

Kirk: Mr. Crawford said we could tinkettle as long as we liked, so long as we did not damage his property.  (Laughter)

Kaye: Mr. Crawford said we could tinkettle as long as we liked, so long as we did not damage his property.  (Laughter)

Crompton: Mr. Crawford said we could tinkettle as long as we liked, so long as we did not damage his property.  (Laughter)

Parnall: Mr. Crawford said we could tinkettle as long as we liked, so long as we did not damage his property.  (Laughter)

Dobbiue: I was not there at all.

Mr Carr: That’s a slight variation, at all events.  (Laughter)

McGee: I was not there either.

The sergeant said he believed McGee was not there, and he was at once discharged.  He (Sergeant Fahey) said that Mr. Crawford, as a matter of fact, had given no such permission as alleged, and indeed he could not do so had he desired it.

Mr. Carr reprimanded the boys and discharged them, cautioning them not to cause ….”


Neither of these two newspaper articles are available at “Trove”.  The wedding article is an original that my father had in his possession.  It is now almost illegible as the acid eats away at the paper.  Th second article about “tinkettling” I photocopied at the historical society in Maryborough.


Their first move was to Timor (just 7 km north of Maryborough) in 1877.  Robert James Crawford may have moved to take advantage of the reopening of the Duchess of Timor Tribute Company.  This mine had fallen into financial difficulty and after a year’s closure, was bought by a party from Ballarat.  Between April and June 1878, it produced 1,985 oz. of the total 3,284 oz. won in the entire Marlborough district.


Even after 150 years, the discarded mulluck heaps still scar the landscape at Timor.

The mine shafts dug by Chinese diggers can be found in this area.  Unlike the rectangular holes created by European miners, the Chinese dug round shafts as they believed malevolent spirits were capable of concealing themselves in corners.


After just a couple of years at Timor, they moved to Durham Ox, much further to the north.  It appears that they moved along with Ann’s parents and brother.  Anne was the daughter of William Neale (2nd) and Ann Coles Neale (ne.Levett).  He had operated a bakery in Carisbrook where Robert James Crawford served his apprenticeship. There was only one other surviving child of the Neale’s, William (3rd).  He would have been 15 when both families moved to Timor, at which time he would have started his apprenticeship in the bakery.  They lost two daughters and a son.  William Fuller Neale was born in 1856 and lived for six years, Mary in 1858, lived for four years and Sarah 1860, lived for four years.


Both families moved to Durham Ox in late 1878.  At the time, Durham Ox was a thriving little town in need of a baker.  It had been established as a horse changing depot by Cobb and Co. Coach Line. Fore more information about their time at Durham Ox, you should read the chapter about Ann Elizabeth Crawford 


The Neales remained there till 1885 when Ann Coles Neale died, however by 1884, the Crawfords had moved to Kerang.  It is highly likely that William Neale financed the opening of “Coventry Bakery”, named after his home county in England, and it was operated by Robert Crawford.


We don’t know for certain, however this may have been Robert mentioned in the news:


Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) Tuesday 27 March 1883, page 6


A severe thunderstorm occurred on Saturday at Durham Ox and Loddon Vale, during which seven bullocks out of a team of ten, belonging to Mr. C Ryland, were killed by lightning while ploughing.  A man named R Crawford was knocked down by the lightning whilst he was engaged unlocking a gate, the key being struck out of his hand, and seven telegraph poles were shivered to splinters. Forty-seven points of rain fell here in two hours.

Robert Crawford was also mentioned in cricket reports in the press.  Both William Neale jnr and Robert played forth e Durham Ox team. Robert played cricket for most of his life, including on the goldfields of Western Australia.  In one game, playing for Durham Ox he was described by the opposition batsmen as bowling “snorters”.

Appropriately for a family that became so entangled in personal relationships, we cannot fully untangle their business relationships.  It is most likely that the Neales and Crawfords operated the bakery at Durham Ox.  William Neal jnr. would have been around 16 or 17 when they moved to Durham Ox in 1778, and I assume learning to bake with his father and brother-in-law.


The families remained there until 1884, and it was there that James, and the twins Catherine and Robert were born. In 1884, Willaim Neale bought the “Coventry Bakery” at Karang.  He sent his son-in-law to manage the bakery while the Neals remained at Durham Ox.


 William Neale continued his work with the Tragowel Irrigation Trust, and when Anne Coles Neale died in 1885, the Neal men then moved to Pyramid Hill to take up land, with the scheme gaining government approval.


Robert and Ann Crawford lived in Karang between 1884 and 1893 and their last four children were born there.  On June 28th 1887, Robert petitioned the Local Land Board for “2 acres of land in Kerang, adjoining Mrs C Walker, and fronting the Loddon River.” Two acres doesn’t suggest that they were grazing or even farming on any particularly large scale.  Most likely it was a case of growing vegetables etc. for themselves and Robert continued to work as a baker.


The Kerang Times newspaper has numerous records of church events being followed by tea provided by Mr R Crawford “ up in his best style” , and the Tuesday 13th March 1888 Kerang Race Meeting where “the catering being  in the able hands of Mr. R. Crawford,  They also record almost weekly reports of cricket matches and shooting competitions in which he competed with distinction.  He introduced Wednesday training for the cricket club from 1884.


In 1885, William Neale (3rd) now 23 y.o. married Mary Jane Chenery, who was 20 y.o. Mary was the daughter of George and Jane Chenery.  George was a miner.  At the time of their marriage, they were living at Grassy Gully near Ballarat which was where the marriage was celebrated, however Mary was working as a “domestic servant” at Dareel where she had been born. 


Mary Jane Chenery had an older sister, Sarah who married Thomas Street, and in 1877, they leased a property at Canary Island, very close to the Crawfords and Neales at Durham Ox.  They struggled through several poor seasons through to 1885, when they were unable to pay the rent and moved on to Central Mologa, just south of Pyramid Hill. This was at the same time that the Neale men moved to Pyramid Hill.


It is most likely that Mary Jane visited her sister and was introduced to the Neales through their both being members of the local Methodist church, and William Neale snr being a lay minister.


With Mary Jane pregnant, a hasty marriage was arranged and it was conducted on the 7th October 1885 at the Grassy Gully Primitive Methodist Church, Dareel.  Eight months later, William George Neale was born on 7th June, 1886 at Pyramid Hill.  Two years later,  Robert Harold Neale was born in 1888. 


The “Coventry Bakery” in Kerang was “owned” by W. Neale from 1884, until it was taken over by Robert James Crawford in 1886. All advertising in the Kerang Times from that date states “Late W. Neale” 


Mary Jane Neale gave birth to Stanley Arthur Crawford in 1890, barely two years after the birth of Robert Harold NealeRobert Crawford had entered into a relationship with Mary Jane Neale.  He was still in a relationship with Ann Elizabeth Crawford at the same time, as the twins, Harold and Percy Crawford were born in 1891.


William Neale jnr then left Mary Jane, and took the two boys with him.  There is no record of a divorce, however I believe that the Neales moved to Melbourne.  As both of William Neale jnrs parents died in 1885 and 1891, they wouldn’t have raised the two boys and the only explanation is that they relocated to Melbourne.  There is a record of a William L. Neale, born in 1862, buried in Carlton.  He died on the 12 Oct 1935. The middle initial “L” possibly for Levet; William Levet Neale.  William George Neale went by the name of George Neale, and remained in contact with his Aunt, Ann Elizabeth Crawford.  He wrote a religious message in her journal when he was 20 years old.


At the same time that Robert advertised he had taken over “Coventry Bakery”, there was also a small news item that he had been appointed Corporal of the 1 Company Mounted Rifles.  He remained passionate about horses and the mounted rifles all his life; writing to his brother James in Scotland about them.


Just to complicate the tangled family arrangements even further, we have both Mary Jane Neale and Robert Crawford selling up in Kerang in preparation to move to Melbourne.  As to why William Neale jnr. isn’t listed as the owner of the land is a mystery.


Kerang Time, Tuesday 6 February 1894, page 3

FRIDAY, 16th FEBRUARY, 1894. At the Cattle Yards, Kerang.

Important Sale of Agricultural and Grazing Land.

Richardson, Muir and Co.

HAVE been Favored with instructions from Mrs W Neaie, to sell, by public auction, on the above date, at their Cattle Yards, immediately before the Cattle Sale- All that piece of land, being allotment 57 and 35b, containing 559 acres 0 roods 29 perches, parish Loddon county Gunblower.

 N.B. — The auctioneers wish to call special attention to the above property, which it recognised as one of the best fattening land in the district. The property is well improved and is subdivided by the Nine Mile Creek.  Also 320 acres adjoining the holdings of Messrs. J. Teasdale and J. Bear, parish of Loddon.


Also, at the same time and place, on account of Mr. Robert Crawford - All that price of land being allot 53, parish of Loddon, county of Gunbower, containing 320 acres more or less. 'N.B. -The above properly adjoins the late Mrs. Neale's holding. Title perfect. .Particulars on application to Messers. Connellly. Tatchell and Dunlop- Terms


This was the land that Robert had acquired in 1878 and the 559 acres of land had been acquired by William Neale in 1878, and the 320 acres acquired by William Neale in 1884.  There is also a record of William Neale jnr being allocated this land when another farmer forfeited it in 1882.


The” Coventry Bakery” was sold to a C.G. Punch, and he was advertising his ownership in 1895.


Meanwhile, in 1890 at Pyramid Hill, William Neale jnr. was involved in an insolvency claim against a farmer, Henry Snowden Saville who owed him £23 3s 4d


In 1894 Robert James Crawford moved his first family to Box Hill and his second family to West Melbourne.  We don’t know what he did for a living during this period, however Mary Jane Chenery gave birth to their second son, Ray Stuart Crawford at West Melbourne in 1894.  They were probably living on the money from the sale of their properties in Karang.


In 1895 we have the first record of Robert James Crawford writing to his brother James Crawford in Scotland.  It appears that he had left the rest of the family in Melbourne and with his oldest son James Miller Crawford was on the Coolgardie gold fields by mid-1895, probably using 100 pounds sterling that James had wired from Scotland in February 1895.  James must have been around 15 years old. 

Borrowing money from his brother in Scotland, suggests that Robert had spent all his money from the sale of their property in Karang to set up the family in Box Hill, and pay fares to Western Australia.

Catherine Crawford remains a mystery.  The Victorian BDM records her birth in the same year as Robert William Crawford, 1883.  There are no records of her marriage or death.  There is a record of a Catherine Crawford marrying J. Pender in 1901.  No parents are recorded for either of them.  This would mean that if our Catherine, she would have been around 17 or 18 y.o. and living at Box Hill.  There was a family “rumor” that Edie Helen Crawford never married because her sister ran away with her fiancé.

Everywhere the Crawfords lived from 1875 to 1890, they would have encountered rabbits. Twenty-four rabbits were brought from England and let loose on a farm at Winchelsea in 1859.  Within a few years there were millions and by 1872 had spread north and across the Murray into N.S.W. in their 10’s of millions.  From the 1870’s, thousands of men were employed as “rabbiters”.  They would dig out rabbit burrows and use dogs and guns to kill the rabbits. 

The older children when living at Durham Ox and Kerang would probably have taken part in the regular hunts.  When the plague became overwhelming, the most popular method for controlling the rabbit plague was to erect a “battu”.  This was a temporary yard with hurdles and wire netting, and calico wings stretching out either side. Horsemen drove “incredible numbers” of rabbits into these enclosures (they could be a meter deep at the far end of the pen), where local schoolchildren beat them to death with clubs, fed the carcasses to pigs and sold the skins.

In 1857 Woodford Patchell built a bridge upriver from the settlement which drew traffic from the earlier settlement. He built a store, house and hotel that became the center of what was to become Kerang.  Patchell was the first farmer in the state to use irrigation and experimented with oats, barley, maize, millet, tobacco, beet, cotton and sugarcane.


Kerang was declared a shire in 1871; at the time the settlement's population was 109. The arrival of the railway from Bendigo in 1884 and the construction of a tramway to Koondrook in 1888 led to expansion; by 1891 the population had increased to over a thousand. The spread of Patchell's irrigation ideas improved local productivity and the town continued to expand.




Submitted: March 30, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Galgano. All rights reserved.


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