Port Phillip Apostle No 6 James Purves, landowner

[Check in the comments below for more information about James Purves. As you will see by the end of my entry, I’m quite perplexed about all these Purveses]

James Purves was born at Berwick-on-Tweed on 25 May 1813 and arrived in Van Diemens Land in 1837, moving across to Phillip in 1839.   He commenced practising as an architect and building surveyor that year with an office in Bourke Street opposite Mr Allan’s (whoever he was).  He obtained an auctioneers license in the same year- possibly that’s where he met Welsh?  A different address is given for his office- Little Collins Street, next to McLeans store; then another notice that he moved into McLeans store itself.  Either way, he is located in the commercial centre of town.  He sold the auctioneers business to H. H. Atkinson in 1841, and maintained another architect office in Collins Street from 1840.  His private residence was in Newtown (now Fitzroy) in 1840, then Richmond in 1844 and 1845.  He married Caroline, the daughter of Thomas Guillod of London in October 1842.  His son, James Liddell Purves, who was a barrister, columnist, free trade parliamentarian and member of the Australian Natives Association, was born in Swanston Street in 1843.


There’s his son.  A fine upstanding man he is too.

James Purves Snr. is listed as holding land with Chirnside at the Loddon River and Geelong in 1840, then took a license to run stock in the  Portland Bay district with Chisholm in 1842-3 (but I doubt if it is John Moffat Chisholm, who seems to have always used all three names; there are other Chisholms in Port Phillip) . He also held land in Western Port with Dixon 1842-3; and with E. W. Hobson.  He won a prize for a horse at the first show, held on 3 March 1842 at the cattlemarket on the corner of Elizabeth and Victoria streets- a “failure” of a show, according to Garryowen, where “the exhibits were a vast disappointment”.

There is no evidence of much connection with the other Twelve Apostles.  He seems to be quite active in leasing or purchasing properties in the early 1840s, especially during 1842 when the depression was kicking in, but there does not seem to be any further action after cutting his partnerships in 1843. Unlike the other Twelve Apostles, he had a profession to fall back on- perhaps this saved him from the insolvency that engulfed the others.  He joined with Fawkner and Chisholm in fighting the arrangements made to cover Rucker’s debt once it all went pear-shaped.  In September 1846 he helped fight a fire in a coach factory. By 1850 he was purchasing land again.  He had a licence at Tootgarook- or is it Toolgaroop?-  between 1850-69 where he became an importer and racehorse breeder and also at Traralgon between June 1853 and 1855.

He obviously had the money to send his son ‘home’ to England for his education, his law degree and his Grand Tour.  His son published the diary he wrote on the way home – A Young Australian’s Log. I wonder if that gives any more information?

This is all so disjointed.  There’s a Thomas and Henry Purves in Port Phillip at the time, who DO come out very strongly in Judge Willis’ favour, but I don’t know if they’re connected to James Purves at all.  There’s several mentions of Mr Purves in the newspaper, but I’m not sure which one it is.  And how and why did James Purves get involved in the Rucker scheme?  Search me.


Garryowen (again)

Billis and Kenyon Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip

Kenyon Index.

20 responses to “Port Phillip Apostle No 6 James Purves, landowner

  1. Margaret Steenvoorde

    I am researching a family connection with James Purves, but need to verify his birthdate and parentage. Despite thorough research I have not found any baptism in Berwick upon Tweed for any James Purves for the birthdate you mention. Can you please tell me your souce for the date 25 May 1813? Do you know the names of his parents? I have a baptism for a James Purves in Coldingham, Berwickshire Scotland, and would like to determine if this is the same person. This is vital information for me to prove the link between him and my family. I would very much appreciate any assistance.
    Thank you. M. S.

    • I used the Billis and Kenyon index of the Port Phillip pioneers in at the State Library of Victoria. This is a large, hand-written catalogue on index cards with details gleaned from various sources which are not always identified.
      This is where I found his birth date, and it lists his father as Liddle Purves of Berwick on Tweed- that’s the only information there.
      I’m not sure if the Port Phillip Pioneers group might be able to help you or not- you may have already had contact with them.

      (Copy of my comment on the PIONEERS OF THE MORNINGTON PENINSULA Facebook group page.)
      As pointed out many times, James Purves, the lessee of the Tootgarook run from 1850 and owner of the pre-emptive right from 22-10-1855 spent little time there, mostly living in Melbourne with his other main interest being his station at Chintin west of Wallan on the Romsey road near the present town of Chintin. At last I thought I’d found some evidence of him actually being on the Mornington Peninsula. His son, George Hurdis Purves must have been born towards the end of 1849 and his birth was registered twice, at Mount Martha (or so I thought) in 1849 (reg. No.8613) and at Mount Macedon in 1850 (Reg. No.33333.) James was probably awaiting the arrival of a servant, Jane McCabe*, at Chintin in 1850 when the second registration took place.

      John McKay | February 1, 2011 at 10:37 pm
      In researching my Knight line, I came across Jane McCabe (who married George Knight at Fish Creek in April 1850). Jane it appears was sent out from Ireland under the Earl Grey Scheme and was employed by James Purvis (sic) of Chinton on Jan 18 1850 at 10 pounds for 76 months.
      Are James Purves/Purvis the same and if so do you know where Chinton is, or was it a property name in the vicinity of Fish Creek, Gippsland, Victoria?
      Or was it incorrectly written down by the clerk as Chewton seems to have some affiliated with this family.

      Then my brain kicked into gear. Mount Martha would not have had a registrar in 1849 or for many decades later (if ever.) MT MA also meant Mt Macedon.
      Here are the two registrations.

      EventBirth Event registration number8613 Registration year1849
      Personal information
      Family namePURVES Given namesGeorge Hurdis SexUnknown Father’s nameJames Mother’s nameCaroline Place of birthMTMA

      EventBirth Event registration number33333 Registration year1850
      Personal information
      Family namePURVES Given namesGeorge Hurdis SexMale Father’s nameJames Mother’s nameCarol Place of birthMT MACEDON

      James Purves’ death notice in 1878 (the year after he’d leased Tootgarook to Cameron from Cranbourne) indicates that Peter Purves (said to be his brother in MEMOIRS OF A LARRIKIN and if correct) married a cousin. James Purves’ mother was Mary Scot (almost certainly Scott) and Peter Purves married Barbara Scott as detailed in the post. Peter’s parents weren’t revealed by Petronella Wilson but the use of Scott and Liddell as given named for descendants of both James and Peter indicates that the owner and the manager of Tootgarook were at least cousins if they were not brothers.
      EventDeath Event registration number6572 Registration year1878
      Personal information
      Family namePURVES Given namesJames SexUnknown Father’s nameLiddle Mother’s nameMary (Scott) Place of birthTWEE Place of death Age65 Spouse’s family nameGUILLOD Spouse’s given namesCaroline

      • John McKay

        Hi, I’ve been away and only home recently so have missed on this. My meagre research on James hasn’t seemed to flush out much at all. What I tentatively have is copied below which doesn’t seem to marry up much with the posts here, so could be well off-track.

        Thanks for the info on where Chintin actually is Ray. That helps a lot.

        John McKay

        What I’d found”
        A James Purvis arrived on the ship James in Sydney 29 Sep 1834

        Melb Argus 10 Feb 1852 TWO POUNDS REWARD
        Lost, from Barkers Creek Diggings, in November last, two red walking bullocks, one branded AT off rump’, 895 off thigh, JW near shoulder, and one stag steer, branded OR off rump.
        Any one bringing the same to John Beech, Wiltshire Store, Mount Macedon Road, will receive the above reward.
        JAMES PURVIS. 9th February, 1852.
        Argus 29 June 1855
        By special license, by the Rev. Thomas Odell, James Purvis, of Tullamarine, to Christina Hendry, youngest daughter of Mr. James Hendry, of Perth, Scotland.

        PURVIS. —In loving remembrance of my dear husband, James Purvis, of South road, South Brighton, who departed this life on the 11th April, 1883
        ” Sad and lonely is our home
        Since from it he departed
        But we hope and trust in God
        We are not for ever parted ‘
        PURVIS. —In affectionate remembrance of Mr James Purvis late of South Brighton who was accidentally killed on the Brighton road, April 11i, 1883, the dearly beloved brother of O and W H Purvis, Ironmongers, 236 Elizabeth Street Melbourne
        30 Jan 1902 Argus – PURVIS.-On the 29th January; at his residence, Austral-villa, – Asling-street, .Elsternwick,’ James Watson Purvis, in his 80th Year.

      • I’d noticed James Purvis in my early Tullamarine research and wondered if there was any connection. John Beech built the Beech Tree Hotel at Melway 5G10 on land on the Keilor side of today’s Melrose Drive that he’d purchased through John Pascoe Fawkner’s co-op. on 1-5-1851. Hendry ran Tullamarine’s first post office at Tullamarine Junction (5 J12 where the 711 garage and North Edge apartments now stand.) You’re the first person to mention that Beech’s store was called the Wiltshire store!

        Tulla’s James Purvis was born in County Tyrone in 1832* so any connection with the Port Phillip Apostle is doubtful.

  2. Margaret Steenvoorde

    Thank you for confirming the name of James Purves’ father as Liddle Purves. I can now tell you that James Purves was born in Harelawside (near Duns), Parish of Coldingham, Berwickshire, Scotland on 25 May 1813 and was baptised in Coldingham Parish Church on 21 June 1814. He was the son of Liddle Purves, Mason in Harelawside and Mary Scot, his wife. Witnesses to the baptism were Peter Atcheson and John Redpath both of Harelawside. My souce was a digital image of the original Old Parish Record from http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk The name Liddle (or Liddell, as given to his son James Liddell Purves) was the clue to solving the mystery! Duns is not far from Berwick upon Tweed (in England!) and James would have had business connections there, no doubt. His family may have moved there to live at some stage. Thank you for the Port Phillip Pioneers Group web address. I will investigate that further.

  3. Hello,
    In researching my Knight line, I came across Jane McCabe (who married George Knight at Fish Creek in April 1850). Jane it appears was sent out from Ireland under the Earl Grey Scheme and was employed by James Purvis (sic) of Chinton on Jan 18 1850 at 10 pounds for 76 months.
    Are James Purves/Purvis the same and if so do you know where Chinton is, or was it a property name in the vicinity of Fish Creek, Gippsland, Victoria?
    Or was it incorrectly written down by the clerk as Chewton seems to have some affiliated with this family.
    Refer: http://www.irishfaminememorial.org/orphans

    • Sorry- I’m not able to help you.
      If you’re in Melbourne, it might be worth checking the Billis and Kenyon card files in at the State Library. Otherwise, I don’t really know what to suggest.

      • John McKay. I am primarily interested in Peter Purves who managed the Tootgarook station from 1850 till his death in 1860 and Peter’s son, James, who followed his father to Australia in 1852. Through their descendants and descendants of other pioneering families, such as the late Ray Cairns, I discovered that the surname was pronounced as Purv-ess. It was at times written as Purvis in Shire of Flinders rate books. Chintin was definitely not a mis-spelling of Chewton and the location of the run is indicated below.
        James Purves, lessee of theTootgarook run from 1850, and later owner of the pre-emptive right, whose surname was pronounced and often written as Purvis, spent most of his time in Melbourne but his other main focus was the Chintin run between Kilmore and Mount Macedon. The following is an extract from the obituary on page 3 of the Australasian of 15-6-1878.
        “But after following squatting pursuits for a
        time he entered into business in Melbourne
        as auctioneer and estate agent. He after-
        wards took up the Chintin station, at Deep
        Creek, and was also owner of Tootgarook
        station, near Dromana, one of the earliest
        established stations in the colony.”

        The town of Chintin, about 10 km west of Wallan on the Romsey road owes its name to the run.

      • JOHN MCKAY. James Purves and Caroline, nee Guillod, must have been living on Chiltin when this son was born in 1850.
        EventBirth Event registration number33333 Registration year1850
        Personal information
        Family namePURVES Given namesGeorge Hurdis SexMale Father’s nameJames Mother’s nameCarol Place of birthMT MACEDON

  4. I am researching my Allan and Daly forebears. I suggest the Mr Allan referred to above may be Robert Innes Allan who bought land at the first sale,1 June 1837: Lot 12 Bourke St. running through to Little Collins Street. His brother Henry BW was also connected to that block. They and their brothers John McMahon,and William O Allan were sons of Dep. Comm. Gen. David Allan. Robert Innes Allan had Balla Balla at Western Port, became insolvent and seems to have disappeared – I’m trying to trace his movements in the 1850s. (My g g grandfather) Am finding your site very interesting – came across it after hearing Candice Bruce talking about “The Longing”. Thank you!

    • Thank you- and how serendipitous that you should find ancestors when looking for a book review! I bet that you wish you still had the Bourke Street block!

  5. Yes- and Balla Balla and the rest!! Still, with all the numerous descendants now there wouldn’t be much to go round!
    Enjoying your blog so much – spent the afternoon reading it. All the best with your postgraduate research and thesis!
    Thanks again.

  6. James Liddell Purves was not the only son of James Purves and Caroline (Guillod) to further his education in England. Harry Guillod Purves died there in 1867 just before turning 17.
    PURVES -On 5th August, at Brighton, England, of
    apoplexy, the result of an accident, Harry Guillod,
    third and dearly beloved son of James and Caroline
    Purves, aged sixteen years and eleven months.
    (P.4, Argus, 16-10-1867.)

    (While trying to re-find his death notice, I discovered why his mother’s death in 1889 was not recorded on VICTORIAN BDM; she apparently died there too as her death was announced by cable in 1889. Her son, George Hurdis, whose death record IS on VICTORIAN BDM) died at Ballarat in 1889 aged 39, “just as he seemed about to acquire considerable literary fame.”
    P.13, Table Talk,27-9-1889.) http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/147280030)

    The given name HURDIS might have come from the Guillod family tree. The above article and the following will of James and Caroline’s unmarried daughter indicates that one of her sisters married into the family of Frederick Race Godfrey of “Mount Ridley”.
    Biography – Frederic Race Godfrey – Australian Dictionary of Biography

    Annie Caroline Purves, late of Clarendon-street,
    East Melbourne, spinster, by her will dated July 1,
    1887,and presented for probate by her cousin. Mr. H.
    Hale Budd, solicitor, appointed her brother, James
    Liddell Purves, of the same place, Q.C., barrister-at
    law, executor. She left her jewellery and personal
    ornaments to her sister-in-law, Eliza Emma Purves
    (wife of James Liddell Purves) ; £50 to Mary Guillod,
    and the residue of her estate in equal parts to her
    nieces, Eliza Mary and Eleanor Allison Purves,
    daughters of James Liddell Purves, and if either of
    them shall die under the age of 21, to the survivor of
    them absolutely. She directed, however, that in case
    her estate should exceed £6000, and amount to £8000,
    she bequeathed 1 £1000 each to Constance Caroline De
    Burgh Purves, daughter of her late brother, George
    Hurdis Purves, of Ballarat, and her nephew, William
    Scott Purves Godfrey, but if the surplus over £6000
    shall be insufficient to satisfy the said two legacies In
    full, then such legacies shall abate proportionately.
    The testatrix died on February 9, 1890, at Macedon,
    and her will was sworn at £ 11,500 personal.
    (P.21, Table Talk, 1-8-1890.)

    When James Purves was travelling to Chinton (or Chintin) station in 1850, he probably would have travelled past the young Queen Hotel at Pascoeville turning left near the present Broadmeadows railway station down to Broadmeadows Township, then right up the Ardlie St. hill to Mickleham Rd (which is still called Old Sydney Rd past Donnybrook Rd.) This route to Wallan would take him past “Mount Ridley”.

    James Liddell Purves’ first wife died in 1876, the same year their only child was born. A search for James Purves produced only eight births, one of which revealed that James Liddell Purves had married Annie Lavinia GRICE, their son, James George, being born in Collingwood in 1876. (The Grice family was prominent in Mornington’s history.)
    J.L.Purves must have remarried as Annie died in 1876 aged only 21.

    Not only is there no birth record for James Liddell Purves in VICTORIAN BDM, but the record of his second marriage in 1879 is also missing. The only Purves marriage listed for 1879 is that of John Purves to Essey Elizabeth Barker. However, there is a very good reason why the second marriage is not listed on VICTORIAN births deaths and marriages.
    J.L.Purves’ marriage notice.
    PURVES-BRODRIBB. – On the 9th inst., at St Mark’s
    Church, Darling Point, Sydney by the Rev T.
    Kemmis, assisted by the Rev. J. Salinière, James
    Liddell, eldest son of the late James Purves, of
    Melbourne, to Eliza Emma, second daughter of
    William Adams Brodribb, of Buckhurst, Double
    Bay, Sydney. (P.1, Argus, 16-12-1879.)

    I must have stumbled upon this marriage notice years ago because I’d researched Brodribb and discovered the AUSTRALIAN DICTIONARY OF BIOGRAPHY entry for J.L.’s second father in law.

  7. AHA, THANKS TO THE LATE RAY CAIRNS AND BEV LAURISSEN OF THE DROMANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY (both related to the family of Yoeman James), THE BIRTH RECORD OF JAMES LITTLE PURVES HAS BEEN FOUND! They both told me that the surname was pronounced as two syllables and one rate collector, obviously new, had written it as Purvis.
    EventBirth Event registration number1027 Registration year1843
    Personal information
    Family namePURVIS Given namesJames Liddle SexMale Father’s nameJames Mother’s nameCaroline Place of birthMELBOURNE

    • My apology re stating the second given name of Gentleman James Purves’ first son as Little instead of Liddell. Little was the second given name of James Little Brown who restored rabbit and ti tree infested wasteland near Rye into the beautiful pasture we see today.

  8. In view of the spelling of Purves in J.L.Purves’ birth record, I decided to check if the births of any of his siblings was registered as PURVIS. This was the only instance.
    EventBirth Event registration number19029 Registration year1855
    Personal information
    Family namePURVIS Given namesCaroline Frances SexUnknown Father’s nameJames Mother’s name (Caroline) Place of birthRICHMOND

  9. In an earlier comment, I mentioned that George Hurdis Purves’ birth, registered twice at Mount Macedon, had probably taken place at Chinton Station. In the countless obituaries written in 1878, his father, soon after arrival from Tasmania, was stated to have taken up a station near Mt Macedon (which was apparently not Chinton) before moving to Melbourne to engage in architectural, surveying and auctioneering pursuits. George’s literary pursuits were mentioned in my more recent comment about his and his mother’s deaths in 1889.

    George’s obituary confirms that he was indeed born at Chinton and that his father’s early pastoral pursuit was near Hanging Rock in partnership with Edward Dryden. It also mentions George’s training in law and literary pursuits in England before the climate there caused his departure for Ballarat (hardly the warmest place in Victoria!)

    From Our Correspondent.
    BALLARAT, Thursday.
    Mr. George H. Purves, chairman of the Bal
    larat stock exchange and brother of Mr.J. L.
    Purves, Q.C., died this morning. The deceased,
    who was 39 years of age, was born at Chinton,
    Deep Creek, and was a son of Mr. James Purves,
    one of the pioneers of the colony, who took up
    tho first land at Hanging Rock, near Kyneton,
    with Edward Dryden. in the year 1837. Mr.
    Purves was educated for the law, and was articled
    to one of the members of the firm of Messrs.
    Malleson, England and Stewart. The legal pro
    fession proved distasteful to him, however, and
    for a tim\e he followed in a desultory way literary
    pursuits, and ultimately settlod down to share-
    broking. After several years in Ballarat his
    health failed him, and he left on a trip to Eng
    land. There he again took to literary work for
    a time, but the climate proving somewhat trying
    to himself and his children he returned to Ballarat.
    About 12 months since Mr. Purves was elected
    to the chairmanship of the stock exchange. He
    had been suffering from the complaint which
    terminated in his death for some timo past, but
    it was only during the past few weeks that he
    found it necessary to take to his bed. Ho was
    attended by several doctors, and it was decided
    to consult Dr. Fitzgerald, of Melbourne, as to the
    supposed presence of a large tumor in the region
    of the spleen. On Sunday last an operation
    was performed by Dr. Fitzgerald in the presence
    of several other surgeons, and it was
    discovered that there was an enlargement of the
    spleen to about 50 times its natural size. The
    spleen was removed, the operation being a
    thoroughly successful one, but complications that
    were not anticipated set in, and the sufferer
    expired at 3 o’clock this morning. Mr. J. L.
    Purves, Q.C., was in attendance during
    the previous day and night on his
    brother, until his death. The deceased
    leaves a widow and four children.
    He was a hearty supporter of local athletics,
    and was esteemed and respected for many good
    qualities. As a token of respect the Ballarat
    stock exchange adjourned until Saturday.
    (P.5, The Age, 22-2-1889.)

    As the obituary had not been corrected, it has probably not been discovered by Purves researchers.

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