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“Prominent resident of Yapeen”

George Godfree was left two hundred pounds in his father’s will,  which was proved on 1st January 1851, and by the 30th March he was an apprentice grocer, living with his maternal uncle, Thomas Smith, a grocer, in Paddington.

Gold had recently been discovered in Australia and the first gold arrived in London ports in early 1852. In July and August that year, about 5,400 people sailed from the United Kingdom to Melbourne. Two months later the figure was 15,941. Presumably George decided to try his luck too and left Plymouth on the Koh I Noor on 23rd October 1852.

Canvas Town, South Melbourne in the 1850s Wikimedia Commons

He sailed on an unassisted passage which will have cost him between fifteen and twenty-five pounds. Government-assisted immigrants were supplied with rudimentary supplies that included a mattress, bedding, eating utensils, and a canvas bag, however, those like George, paying their own way on private ships, were required to bring their own supplies. As the quality of the water was generally very poor, passengers were advised to procure their own supply, together with a selection of food that could supplement the monotonous and, at times, unpalatable seaman’s diet of salted meat and sea biscuits.

Fryerstown 1860s

The voyage’s route was down the western coast of Africa, past the Cape of Good Hope, and across the Indian Ocean to Melbourne and would have taken about seven or eight months. He had his 21st birthday on the voyage, arriving in Port Philip on 14th February 1853.

The Journey from Melbourne to the Diggings.

In 1856, he was listed as being in Fryerstown, Talbot, Victoria, his “address” being given as Forest Creek, miner’s rights. 

“In October 1851, alluvial gold was discovered along the Forest Creek, over eleven kilometres from Mount Alexander and thirty-two kilometres from the Loddon River, into which the creek’s water flowed after its junction with Barkers Creek. Diggers swarmed to the surrounding flats, hills and gullies as further rich discoveries were made.”

Gold sluicers

“When the locality became a township it was renamed Fryerstown and by 1858 boasted a population of around 15,000, 3 schools, about 25 hotels, and 5 breweries. However, news of goldfields opening elsewhere in Victoria coupled with diminishing returns from the numerous mines, resulted in a rapid decline in population.”()

 

Marjorie had come to Australia from Scotland, aged 13, the oldest child of Laurence and Catherine Laurenson neé Beggarie. Her parents were married In St Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh on 16th June 1837. Their three oldest children were born in Shetland, they had two more before 1850, and arrived in Port Philip on the Koh I Noor from Leith in December 1852 with 5 children aged from 2 to 13 years old. [Although the ships had the same name, they were not on the same ship as the one on which George arrived.]George married Marjorie Christina Laurenson, in Strathallan (north of Castlemaine and Bendigo) in 1857, and between 1860 and 1880 they had ten children.

Looking South West across Fryerstown

In 1861, George had a bakery in Castlemaine:

The Argus  Saturday 20 July 1861
Missing friends, Messages Etc.
“GEORGE TAPLEY is requested to write to Edward Thompson, Godfree and Co, bakers, Mostyn Street, Castlemaine.”

George appears in Bailliere’s Post Office Directory, listed as a publican in Yapeen, in 1868 and 1870 and as a hotel keeper in 1869.

“Part of the original Strathloddon pastoral run, Yapeen is located by Campbells Creek, south of Castlemaine. Following alluvial gold discoveries in Donkey and Mopoke gullies, the district became known as the Pennyweight Flat diggings and, by late October 1852, a settlement with several stores had been established. In 1861, it was named Yapeen, the Aboriginal word for ‘green hill’ or ‘valley’. For a time, several quartz reef mines, such as the Golden Lead Mine, provided steady dividends.

In the Victorian Government Gazette of 3rd September 1880, George is listed as a storekeeper in Yapeen, purchasing 520 shares in the newly formed Golden Eagle Mining Company, based in Fryerstown. The majority of other shareholders are listed as resident in Castlemaine, George is the only resident of Yapeen.

In the Gazette of 18th February 1881, he is listed in Castlemaine, Fryerstown and Newstead with contracts numbered 1568, 1586 and 1608 for oats at 6s per cental and bran at 4s 2d per cental, under “Contracts for the Supply of Forage”. He was not a contractor previously.  The following February, he is listed in Castlemaine, Victoria with contract number 2056 for oats at 8s per cental, and had fulfllled previous contracts satisfactorily.

Golden Eagle Mine 

In the edition of Friday, March 17th 1882, George Godfree, storekeeper of Yapeen, is listed as a shareholder of the newly formed Castlemaine Flagging and Slate Company. He purchased 200 shares at 10s each, the major shareholders were the same as for the Golden Eagle Mining Company.

in 1887, George gave evidence at the “Board appointed to inquire into the Sludge question” in which he said that he had been a member of the council until the previous August.

He appears in the directories of 1901, 1903 and 1914 as a farmer in Yapeen.

I wonder: The original General Store and Post Office

Friday 27 August 1909 – The Argus, Melbourne.
INJURED BY PLUNGING HORSE
Castlemaine. Thursday.
Mr G Godfree, a prominent resident of Yapeen, was taking a horse out of his buggy, when the animal plunged, knocking Mr Godfree down. He sustained a double fracture of the leg below the knee.

Marjorie died in 1916: Melbourne Argus – Tuesday 13 November 1917 GODFREE In fond remembrance of my dear wife, who died at Yapeen, Castlemaine, November 11, 1916. (Inserted by her loving husband and family.)

George died on the 16th June 1919, aged 87, of senility and exhaustion, and was buried in Campbells Creek Cemetery the following day.

The Argus (Melbourne) reported on Saturday 12th July 1919, that: “George Godfree, Yapeen, left by will dated 13th June 1907, real estate valued at £1,616 and personal property valued at £7,827 to his children, subject to small legacies to his relatives.”

His real estate consisted of 15 allotments in Section 4 and 5 allotments in Section 5 at Yapeen, comprising 100 acres 3 roods 31 perches or thereabouts. On this was a seven roomed brick and weatherboard dwelling which was his residence, also chaff and engine house, store, stables, barn etc. The land is fenced with post and wire fences subdivided into seven paddocks and used by the deceased as a farm. Assessesd at an annual value of £60 and valued at £1416.

He also owned land of about 10 acres in sections 4 and 21 in Guildford.This had a small brick wood and iron building on it. This land was divied into two paddocks and is used for cultivation. It was leased out for £10 a year.

His personal estate included a recently sown crop of wheat, oaten and wheaten hay, 3 cows, 3 horses, 2 ploughs,  a set of harrows, roller, scarifier and a half share in a seed drill. A chaff cutting plant and works. He had 2 drays, 1 spring cart and an old double seated buggy, saddles and harnesses for heavy cart and ploughing and sundry farm tools. His household furniture was described as very old and he had a silver watch. On the financial side, amongst other things, he had substantial share holdings in the Castlemaine Woollen Co. and in the National Bank of Australia as well as money in current and fixed deposit accounts.

 View Larger Map Godfree Lane, Guildford Victoria 3451

In his will, written on the 13th June 1907, he left £20 to his wife’s brother, Samuel William Laurenson and William Lawrenson. The trustees were to sell or convert anything that was not ready moeny and then the residue after was to be divided into ten equal parts, one for his wife Marjory Christina for her  own use absolutely, and one to each of his nine children “now living” for his or her own use absolutely. “and I hereby declare that it is my wish that the share given to my daughter Laura shall vest in her only on the death of the survivor of myself or my dead wife and upon such vesting such share may be invested by my said Trustees or the the survivor of them should they deem it in the interest of my said daughter to do so in the purchase of an annuity or annuities in any assurance office in Victoria in favour of my said daughter in order that my said daughter shall have permanent and inalienable provision for and during her life AND I further declare that should my said wife survive me my homestead property at Yapeen shall not be sold during her life without her consent”. If any children predeceased him without lawful issue then their share would be divided up amongst the surviving children and his wife and to the issue of those who died in my life time (in loco parentis) share and share alike. He appointed his two oldest sons George Lawrence and Arthur William and his wife as executors and trustees.

 


Sources


George and Marjorie’s children: Residents of Melbourne

Godfrees of Great Rissington

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