Trelawny, Black Hill, Ballarat

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Trelawny and garden at 804 Havelock St., Black Hill, Ballarat

Trelawny is a gracious heritage house located at 804 Havelock Street, Black Hill, a suburb of the Victorian gold rush city of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia (although the property is sometimes mistakenly thought to be located in neighboring Soldiers Hill). Havelock Street, the street where Trelawny is located, was named in recognition of Major General Sir Henry Havelock, a British general who is particularly associated with India and the Indian Mutiny of 1857.[1]


Samuel Figgis – Rehoboth[edit]

The land that Trelawny was later to stand on was purchased from the Crown in August 1862 by Samuel Figgis (c. 1813–1879), a Dublin-born Irishman, who moved to London, England where he married Englishwoman, Sarah Smith (c. 1819–1893),[2] in 1843.[3] Samuel and Sarah Figgis emigrated to the southern Australian state of Victoria on the ship Severn, arriving November 1852,[4] with their sons Benjamin, William Harold, Charles and daughter Clara. Like so many others, they headed for the Victorian goldfields, the Victorian gold rush started with the "official" discovery of gold in 1851 and attracted fortune hunters from all over the world.

The original property which Figgis purchased consisted of two adjoining oblong allotments, combining to 2.1 acres, with a lengthy frontage along Havelock Street of 560 feet approx. stretching from Howitt to Gregory Street, Black Hill.[5] Figgis purchased the land through a sale of Crown land in August 1862 and paid a total of £86 for the two allotments.[6]

Figgis was an engineer of The Ballarat Gas Company, which was set up in 1858 to supply town gas to the city of Ballarat,[7][8][9] and quickly became secretary of the company, serving in that role from 1861 until after 1873.,[10][11] and eventually assuming management of the company.[12] He was also secretary of the Ballarat Permanent Investment Society and Building Society, for a lengthy period. And, in the year prior to his death had been appointed as a magistrate for Ballarat.[13]

The youngest of the five Figgis boys, Samuel Ernest Figgis (c. 1855–1922),[14][15] followed his father and became managing engineer of The Ballarat Gas Company and then general manager from 1913 to 1915. And his older brother, William Harold (W.H.) Figgis was secretary of the company in the late 1890's.[16] The brothers were outstanding cricketers and both played for Ballarat vs. Australians at the Eastern Oval, Ballarat in March 1878.[17] W.H. Figgis had played for Ballarat's XXII against W.G.Grace's XI at the same ground in 1874. W.H. caught W.G. to end his first innings of 161.[18] Benjamin Johnstone Figgis [19] and Charles Douglas Figgis [20] also played for the Ballarat XXII against W.G. Grace's X!.

The Figgis residence is referred to as Rehoboth, which supposedly translates from Latin Vulgate as "latitude" or "room".[21] Rehoboth is referred to in the marriage notice of Clara Elizabeth Figgis, the eldest daughter of Samuel & Sarah Figgis, to William Reid in 1875,;[22] again, as the residence of Clara and William Reid on the birth of their daughter in 1876;[23][24] and as Samuel Figgis' address in his obituary.[25]

Sarah Figgis (Smith)[edit]

Samuel Figgis died in Ballarat in September 1879 of pneumonia,[26] he bequeathed all his real and personal estate to his wife Sarah Figgis,[27] the estate was valued at £2,452-17-6, including real estate valued at £600.[28] At the time of Samuel's death, the Figgis were living in Gregory Street, Soldiers Hill at the time of his death,[29] although this may have been just been an alternative address that was used for Rehoboth, which did have one of its frontages on Gregory Street; in an advertisement in The Ballarat Star in 1878, for a nearby property in Howitt Street, reference is made to the "adjoining" residence of Mr. S. Figgis,[30] which would suggest that a number of its street frontages were used to describe the property.

As the property was owned by Samuel Figgis in November 1878, it would seem likely that Rehoboth is the real estate that was left in his will and valued at ¢600 in September 1879.

As part of the community involvement of the Figgis family, Sarah had been the Honorary Secretary of the Ladies Benevolent Clothing Society in 1880, under the venerable James Oddie.[31]

She died in Geelong, Victoria in September 1893 and was buried with her husband, Samuel, at the Ballarat New Cemetery,[32] she left an estate of £6,256, which didn't include any real estate.,[33][34] as she had sold the property to Robert Ford Bryant in 1887.

Robert Ford Bryant – Trelawny[edit]

The property was purchased by Robert Ford "R.F." Bryant (1841–1908) in May 1887 for £1,150.[35] Both "R.F." and his wife Mary Venning (1843–1921) were born in Cornwall and emigrated to Australia in 1864 on the Winifred. The last entry in his family bible reads: "Left London for Victoria in the ship Winifred on 1st January 1864, amidst the prayers and tears of our parents".[36] Mary gave birth to their son, Robert Ford Bryant (1864–1945), at sea during the voyage.

Bryant, who sat as a Justice of the Peace on the Ballarat Police and City Court benches,[37] was a miner, manager, a Government expert, and a director in the Kangaroo G.M., Australasian and various other mining companies.[36] He also was very involved in the Ballarat Cricket Club, Ballarat Football Club, and keen on raising and showing poultry,[38] during the time he was manager of the Midas Company mine at Clunes, he brought the "Lady Loch" gold nugget (617 ozs.) [39][40] in to Ballarat for display to the public on 24 August 1897 in the window of Stoddart & Binnie's, stockbrokers.[41]

R.F. Bryant & Family at "Trelawny" in 1896

It is likely that the house was named Trelawny by R.F. Bryant after a farm of that name in Cornwall, England, which the family had some connection with, but apparently did not own.[42] Fond memories of the Cornish ballad, Trelawny: The Song Of The Western Men [43] may also have had an effect on the ex-patriot Cornishman, too.

He embarked on a major renovation of the house and gardens from 1896 to 1900,[44] adding considerably to the house with a new styled verandahs with tessellated tiling, large windows, a grand entrance with stained glass windows, decorated cornices, and increased room sizes. Progressively, he added to what was known as the original "cottage" that was at the back of the house.

His brother, Joseph "Joe" Bryant, had built a gracious home in the area in 1901 to 1905. Esleta, which was to become named Balmoral and then Eyres House, is still standing at 810 Street, Soldiers Hill, the next street west, parallel to Havelock Street.

Mary Bryant (Venning)[edit]

R.F. Bryant died in 1908 and left his estate to his wife Mary,[45] where her address was referred to as "Trelawny, Peel Street, Ballarat"; in a 1902 newspaper notice of the pending marriage of Miss Edith Bryant, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. R.F. Bryant [46] similarly gave the address as Trelawny House, Peel Street North, Ballarat, this seems strange, as Peel Street North does not form any part of the boundaries of the property and only intersects perpendicularly with Gregory Street which is the boundary at the rear of the property.

His estate amounted to "...real estate not exceeding the amount of £700 ..." and personal estate of £160.[47] Interestingly, in the probate documents, Bryant is specifically referred to as "Robert Fourd Bryant (generally known as Robert Ford Bryant)", this seems strange as his mother was Anna Ford (1818–1902) [48] and Bryant named his son, Robert Ford Bryant (1864–1945). Where the spelling "Fourd" came from is not currently known.

Winifred Philippa White (Bryant)[edit]

Trelawny had been put up for auction on the 10th February 1909 on the direction of the Executor of R.F. Bryant's estate, the property for sale was described as being 2 1/4 acres freehold land with a "Commodius Family Residence" consisting of a dining room, drawing room, hall, four bedrooms, breakfast room, bathroom, pantry, kitchen, with hot and cold waster sources, large underground tank, cellar, three detached rooms, two stall stables, feed room, loft, ranchhouse, and outbuildings.[49]

The allotments of the "Trelawny" property in 1909

In 1909 Winifred Philippa White (Bryant) (1882–1963), Married Woman, bought the property from her mother, Mary Bryant.

R.T. and Mary Bryant had 13 children; John Venning Bryant (1862–1940) born in England, Robert Ford Bryant (junior) (1864–1945) born at sea, and her other 11 children being born in Ballarat or Clunes, Victoria. Eight of the Bryant children were alive when their mother, Mary, passed away in 1921, yet it was only her third youngest child, Winifred, who was interested in buying the family home.

Winifred owned the property from 1909 until she transferred both Allotments 5 & 6 to her younger sister, Elsie Caroline Lemin (Bryant), Married Woman, in 1916.[50]

Winifred and her husband, William White (1874–1931), moved from Ballarat to Finley in New South Wales to farm. William committed suicide in 1931 and Winifred remained in Finley, passing away there 35 years later, in 1963,[51] these were particularly hard years for farmers, with almost continual drought, and mouse plagues. The Whites, like many others, had to stand the legs of their tables in buckets of water to prevent the mice from getting up on to where they were eating.

Elsie Caroline Lemin (Bryant)[edit]

Elsie Caroline Bryant (1883–1950), the second youngest child of Robert Ford and Mary Bryant, married Ernest William Lemin (pronounced Le-min) (1882–1945) Stock & Station Agent,[52] in March 1910 at Ballarat, Victoria. They lived at Trelawny and brought up their family there. Ernest was a founder of Midlands Golf Club, originally known as Ballaarat North Golf Club, his son William and daughter Beth were champion golfers and gained local fame by holding the men's and ladies club champion trophies at the same time.[53]

The Whites had made significant renovations and modernisation to the property and gardens, this was a major motivation to Elsie in purchasing the property when Winifred and William White went to farm in Finley, thus keeping Trelawny in the family. Prior to the renovations, Elsie had referred to the house as "... an old barn of a place with lots of rooms ...".[54]

In January 1916 the property held by her sister, Winifred White (Bryant), was transferred to Elsie and she remained the sole proprietor up until her death in October 1950,[55] the probate of her will was granted to her son William Ernest "Bill" Lemin (1912–1930) and son-in-law, Robert Gordon Campbell (1914–1990), who had married her daughter Beth Lemin in 1942 and lived at Trelawny.

Beth Campbell (Lemin) & William "Bill" Ernest Lemin[edit]

Elsie Caroline Lemin died in Ballarat in October 1950.

On January 16, 1952, the property was distributed according to her will and divided into its two original allotments; with Allotment 5, the northern allotment, being transferred to her son, William Ernest Lemin, Clerk, and Allotment 6, the southern allotment, transferred to her daughter, Beth Campbell, Married Woman. The allotments were of similar size and, for some reason currently unknown, the angle of the division between the allotments was slightly altered, to the benefit of the southern allotment, Allotment 6.

On that same day, William Lemin, subdivided the northern allotment, Allotment 5 of one acre and nineteen perches, bordered by the corner of Havelock and Howitt Streets, into six individual housing blocks for sale,[56] this part of the original "Trelanwy" property had been the orchard.

Beth Campbell (Lemin)[edit]

Beth Campbell's property from her mother's will was Allotment 6, the southern allotment or "top paddock",[57] bordered by the corner of Havelock and Gregory Streets, with a 260 feet frontage on Havelock Street, contained Trelawny and its outbuildings.[58]

Her husband, Robert Gordon Campbell, City Valuer, served in the Australian Army, 2nd A.I.F., during World War 2 attaining the rank of Sergeant, having enlisted in 1940 and being discharged in 1946, when his posting on discharge was 2/8 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment.[59] He served with 8th Battery of the 2/3 Regiment of the Light Anti Aircraft Regiment, he was with The Rats of Tobruk under the Siege of Tobruk which lasted for 8 months, before he was later sent to fight in New Guinea.[60]

Trelawny had a bluestone cellar, which was used in the Summer as a kitchen to avoid the seasonal heat. "The baker, fruiterer, iceman and milkman all delivered to the back door. The grocer came and had a cup of tea while taking his order then he would deliver to the kitchen table."[61] During World War 2, the cellar was closed and converted to a bomb shelter. Under the kitchen is a brick walled well, and evidence has been found on the property of a spring-fed water supply, too.

In the 1970s it was discovered that there were Council plans to straighten the intersection of Peel Street North and Havleock Streets with Gregory Street, effectively removing a large chunk of the Trelawny property and placing the house almost on the roadside. Fortunately, the worth of these plans were reconsidered and did not go ahead.[62]

They had five daughters – Robin Nicholls, Rosemary Campbell, Christine Wilson, Helen Conn and Heather Groeneveld, all née Campbell [63] – who were bequeathed equal shares of their mother's estate,[64] they are great granddaughters of R.F. Bryant and all grew up at Trelawny.

Current day[edit]

The property that had originally been Allotment 6 was subdivided in 1981, creating a housing block on Gregory Street and an access lane to the Trelawny house and outbuildings,[65] this block was coincidentally sold to a family named Bryant, who were not related to the previous owners.[66]

An additional subdivision had been made in 1966 creating a housing block at the corner of Havelock and Gregory Streets,[67] which was retained within the family, being owned by Robin (Campbell) & Greg Nicholls.

Trelawny remains in the family, owned by Rosemary Campbell and Paul Gordon-Smith, and still maintains much of its long frontage along Havelock Street, its garden, which was laid out in 1887 by an English relative of the family, Mark Dawe, has been featured in a book – Growing a Garden City: Ballarat Horticultural Society 1859–2009

"... the incredible story of Ballarat pioneers who cared about the environment and beautified the city. They nurtured and cajoled the urban environment shaping it into a vision splendid. Fortunately some of the vestiges of their toils still remain and Ballarat the Garden City can be proud of their legacy carried forward by the present members. ..."[68]

The garden is also listed in the book, Historic Gardens of Victoria: A Renaissance.[69]

Trelawny continues its gracious presence on Black Hill, behind the privacy of its substantial hedge along its Havelock Street frontage, and is undergoing another round of major renovations, its 18 feet ceilings are being refurbished, with fancy cornices and ceiling roses restored or replaced, the extensive verandah reconditioned and an interior programme of upgrading room by room to their former grandeur. The original "cottage" part of the house, with its hessian and paper ceilings, will be a later part of the renovations that are underway.


  1. ^ City of Ballarat "Roads and open space historical index"
  2. ^ Pioneer Index Victoria death registration number 6968
  3. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837–1915 Volume 2 Page 65
  4. ^ PROV Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839–1923
  5. ^ Township Plan Ballarat North, Allotments 5 & 6, Section 2, Parish of Ballarat, County of Grenville
  6. ^ The Ballarat Star Mon 1 Sep 1862 Page 4 SALE OF CROWN LANDS
  7. ^ The Ballarat Gas Company's Act 1857
  8. ^ The Ballarat Star Wed 22 Aug 1866 Page 3 THE GAS COMPANY AND WESTERN COUNCIL
  9. ^ "Ballarat Gas Company – Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project". Retrieved 2017-05-03. 
  10. ^ The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 – 1864) Wed 12 Dec 1860 Page 4 Advertising
  11. ^ The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) Mon 12 Aug 1872 Page 3 Advertising
  12. ^ The Ballarat Star Thu 2 Oct 1879 Page 4 MISCELLANEOUS
  13. ^ The Australasian Sat 23 Mar 1878 Page 20 THE GOVERNMENT GAZETTE
  14. ^ PROV birth registration number 1227
  15. ^ PROV death registration number 4143
  16. ^ Rogers, J. W. F. (ed.). (c. 1887). The Australasian Federal Directory of Commerce, Trades & Professions. Melbourne: J. W. F. Rogers.
  17. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive". Retrieved 2017-05-03. 
  18. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive". Retrieved 2017-05-03. (subscription required)
  19. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive". Retrieved 2017-05-03. (subscription required)
  20. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive". Retrieved 2017-05-03. (subscription required)
  21. ^ The Ballarat Star (Vic. 1865–1924) Mon 19 Apr 1886 Page 3 "Concerning Non-Episcopal Churches – A Reply". According to the translation by Rev. Dr. Roseby, Pastor of the Dawson street Congregational Church, Ballarat
  22. ^ The Ballarat Star Sat 10 July 1875 Page 2 Family Notices
  23. ^ The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.1848 – 1957) Sat 26 Jun 1875 Page 1 Family Notices
  24. ^ The Ballarat Star Sat 3 May 1875 Page 2 Family Notices
  25. ^ The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848–1957) Thu 18 Sep 1879 Page 1 Family Notices
  26. ^ Australian Death Index Registration Number 6968
  27. ^ The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) Mon 22 Sep 1879 Page 8 Advertising
  28. ^ Victoria, Australia, Wills and Probate Records, 1841–2009 Wills 019/88 – 019/739
  29. ^ "Figgis & Wilson". Retrieved 5 May 2017. 
  30. ^ The Ballarat Star (Vic. 1865–1924) Thu 7 Nov 1878 Page 3 Advertising
  31. ^ The Ballarat Star (Vic. 1865–1924) Thu 5 Aug 1880 Page 3 Advertising
  32. ^ The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) Mon 10 Apr 1893 Page 3 Family Notices
  33. ^ PROV Wills & Probate VPRS 7591/P0002 unit 209
  34. ^ Leader (Melbourne, Vic. 1862–1918) Sat 17 Jun 1893 Page 45 PROBATES AND LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION.
  35. ^ Memorial of Conveyance No. 822 Book 375
  36. ^ a b The Ballarat Star November 2, 1908
  37. ^ The Ballarat Star Mon 26 Aug 1907 Page 2
  38. ^ The Ballarat Star Sat 3 Nov 1984 Page 1 POULTRY
  39. ^ Named after Lady Ann Loch, wife of Sir Henry Loch, Governor of Victoria, appointed 1884
  40. ^ The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 – 1924) Sat 24 Sep 1887 Page 4 VISIT OF SIR HENRY AND LADY LOCH.
  41. ^ The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924) Wed 24 Aug 1887 Page 2 A MONSTER NUGGET FOUND
  42. ^ Heather Campbell, a grand-daughter of R.F. Bryant
  43. ^ Written in 1825 by Robert Stephen Hawker
  44. ^ Rosemary Campbell, a grand-daughter of R.F. Bryant
  45. ^ The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) Wed 4 Nov 1908 Page 5 Advertising
  46. ^ The Ballarat Star Sat 22 Nov 1902 Page 4 "Approaching Marriages"
  47. ^ PROV Probate & Administration Files Series number: VPRS 28 Consignment number: P0000 Unit number: 1411
  48. ^ PROV Death registration 12380
  49. ^ The Ballarat Star (Vic. 1865 – 1924) Sat 31 Oct 1908 Page 5 Advertising
  50. ^ Certificate of Title, being Crown Allotments 5 & 6, Section 2 at Ballaarat North, City & Parish of Ballaarat, County of Brenville, Volume 3329, Folio 665687
  51. ^ "Index of /~jvbryant/bryangen.html". Retrieved 2017-05-03. 
  52. ^ The Argus ( Melbourne Vic. 1848–1957) Mon 19 Nov 1945
  53. ^ Per a grand daughter, Robin Nicholls (Campbell)
  54. ^ Per Robin Nicholls (Campbell) daughter of Beth and Robert Campbell
  55. ^ The Argus(Melbourne Vic. 1848–1957) Wed 1 Nov 1950, Page 17, Family Notices
  56. ^ Certificate of Title, Plan of Subdivision No.24828 being pert of Crown Allotment 5, Section 2 at Ballaarat North, Township and Parish of Ballaarat, Parish of Grenville
  57. ^ As it was referred to by the Campbell family, per Robin Nicholls (Campbell)
  58. ^ Certificate of Title. Lot 6 on Plan of Subdivision No. 42826, being Crown Allotment 6 and part of Crown Allotment 5, Section 2 at Ballaarat, City and Parish of Ballaarat, County of Grenville
  59. ^ "World War Two Nominal Roll". Retrieved 2017-05-03. 
  60. ^ Robert Gordon Campbell's daughter, Robin Nicholls (Campbell)
  61. ^ Current owner Robin Nicholls (Campbell)
  62. ^ Robin Nicholls (Campbell) & Rosemary Campbell, daughters of Beth Campbell
  63. ^ Death Certificate, Births, Deaths & Marriages Act1996, Registration Number 41233/2009
  64. ^ Per confirmation by one of the beneficiaries of the will
  65. ^ Certificate of Title, being the Township of Ballaarat North City & Parish of Ballaarat County of Brenville Volume 9415, Folio 7157
  66. ^ Per Robin Nicholls (Campbell), current owner
  67. ^ Certificate of Tile being Lot 1 on Plan of Subdivision 74813 Township of Ballaarat North, City & Parish of Ballaarat, County of Brenville, Volume 8654, Folio 430
  68. ^ Michael Taffe, Growing a Garden City: Ballarat Horticultural Society 1859–2009, ISBN 978 1 876478 16 2
  69. ^ Peter Watts, Historic Gardens of Victoria: A Renaissance by Peter Watts Hardcover: 224 pages, Publisher: OUP Australia and New Zealand (September 12, 1983) Language: English, ISBN 0195543971, ISBN 978-0195543971