Mary HOPGOOD

Mary Hopgood                   1854-1854

Mary was only nine days old when she died.  She was the daughter of John Thomas Hopgood and Ann Duggan.  John and Ann were married on Oct 21st at St James, Melbourne.

John Hopgood and his brother, George Hopgood, were both sentenced for their part in the Swing Riots (machine breakers) in Wiltshire in 1830.

John was convicted for the crime of riotously and tumultuously breaking and damaging a threshing machine valued at ten pounds and belonging to James Callaway of Andover.  The police constable who apprehended him was paid a reward of fifty pounds.  John was sent to the hulk ‘Hardy’ on 12th January, 1831 and sailed on the ‘Eliza’ on 2nd February bound for Van Dieman’s Land.  He was sentenced to seven year’s transportation

His brother, George Hopgood, for his crime of notoriously assembling and demanding with another 100 folks, the sum of one sovereign and a half from Darius Bull.  George was sentenced to death which was commuted to transportation for life. George arrived at the hulk ‘Hardy’ on 5th February, 1831 and transferred to the ship ‘Eleanor’ for transportation to NSW on 19th February, 1831.  George arrived on the hulk just three days after John left for Australia.  Family believe the brothers never met up again in Australia.  Both left families in England.  The family is lucky to have a sketch of John drawn by a fellow convict.

John and Ann, with their family, were in the Coimadai district, just north of Bacchus Marsh town by 1847 as Betty Osborne in her book ‘The Bacchus Story’ wrote ‘With the first joys of pioneering a new land and the sense of adventure that attended it, the desire for more conveniences came.  In some ways the beginnings of civilisation created its own problems.  The fencing in of purchased land was one.  Henry Bacchus joined twelve other occupiers of purchased land in signing a petition to Superintendent La Trobe on 7 August, 1847, drawing attention to the state of the Portland Road running through the Marsh.’ John Hopgood was one of the signatories so, too, were John Leahy and John and Michael Egan.  In January, 1854 four of their children, John, George, Samuel and Thomas Hopgood were attending the Hopetoun Denominational School.

A well-known Coimadai resident, Anders Hjorth had his memories of Coimadai published in ‘The Express’ beginning 15th November, 1916.  He wrote, ‘From what I can learn, the first white man to make Coimadai his domicile was Mr John Hopgood, who lived in a hut on the left bank of the creek, opposite to what is now known as the soda water spring. That was somewhere in the fifties (we now know it was before 1847).  Mr Hopgood was also the discoverer of the lime deposits which were at first worked on in a small way by him and his sons.’  Later Mr T Hopgood’s sons worked on the deposits.  The following newspaper article gives us more information on Mary Hopgood’s father, a man who contributed well to the life of our district:

‘In the vicinity of the limekilns resides an old man who lamented that he had not cast his lot in with his brethren around him and taken up an allotment under the 27th section of the Act.  The old man was dissatisfied with himself for letting slip so favourable an opportunity.  His years ought to have taught him as much experience as his neighbours.   For the last twenty-six years he has resided in the locality, and during the whole of that period he has been employed in some connection or another with the Limekilns.  It was he who first discovered the existence of limestone in that district, and he turned the discovery to account, but want of means prevented him from prosecuting it vigorously, and ultimately the Limekilns passed into other hands.  John Hopgood is in the eightieth year of his age, and, for such an age, hale and hearty.  He was one of the few persons who came to this colony with Messers Fawkner and Batman, and he can carry his memory back to almost every incident of Fawkner’s and Batman’s parties, the search for good grazing land for their stock, and the final settlement of Mr Fawkner and Mr Batman on the banks of the Yarra and the site of the present city.  Hopgood’s faculty of discovering limestone was recognised even then, for he pointed out suitable stone near the settlement, from which supplies were obtained for the erection of such buildings as were then in progress. It was in response to a proclamation of Sir Richard Bourke, the then governor of NSW, offering a reward of fifty pounds for the discovery of limestone, that he made a subsequent discovery, and, though the reward was never paid to him, he did not suffer his talent to lie dormant, but sought to turn it to account at the earliest opportunity for his personal benefit and has stuck to limestone ever since. He certainly can lay claim to share the honours of the settlement with Mr Fawkner, whose years he eclipses, while his activity and vigour at such an advanced period of life is not one whit behind that of his compatriot.   Yet the old man’s heart yearns for a bit of land whereon to locate, and find for himself, a resting place for the short period of his existence; and he has been recommended to petition Parliament where very many less deserving cases have received consideration.’

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