EWEN TOLMIE 1816-1883
SHEPHERD - INNKEEPER - GRAZIER
Written by Susan V. Grant the great great granddaughter of Ewen Tolmie.
Ewen Tolmie and his wife, Catherine (neé Campbell) were my great great
grandparents. They arrived in Sydney in November 1838 on the ship St George, later
traveling on to the Port Phillip District, where they are first recorded in January 1840.
From the Mitchell Library in Sydney their Immigration Entitlement Certificates give the
EWEN TOLMIE - married male immigrant - arrived by the ship St George - native of Parish
of Laggan, county of Inverness, Scotland - son of Donald Tolmie, mason there and May
McDonald, his wife - calling, shepherd - age on embarkation, 22 on 22nd March 1838 - in
good health - Presbyterian - can read and write - complains of the Surgeon Superintendent.
CATHERINE TOLMIE - married female immigrant - a native of Parish of Alvie, Inverness,
Scotland - daughter of Murdoch Campbell, tailor there and Anne Fraser, his wife - calling,
laundry maid, was four years in the service of the Duchess of Bedford as such - age on
embarkation, 23 on 25th March 1838 - in good health - Presbyterian - can read and write.
Ewen and Catherine were married in the Parish of Alvie, Inverness-shire on 26th June
1838. A week later, they set sail for Australia on the ship St George from Oban. Travelling
via the Cape of Good Hope, they arrived in Sydney on 15th November. The St George
carried 321 emigrants. Two adults and 8 children died on the voyage.
Family history relates that Ewen and Catherine travelled overland from Sydney,
arriving in Melbourne in January 1840. Ewen would have found ready work as a
shepherd, employed by one of the enterprising pastoralists who were bringing their flocks
south and opening up practically every area of the Port Phillip District. Their first child,
May Anne, but always known as Annie, was born in Melbourne in December 1840.
During his first years in Melbourne, Ewen earned his living as a carter, but this
occupation was soon replaced by that of an innkeeper and land owner.
Over the next twelve years he held the
licenses for inns in Melbourne, Seymour, Kinlochewe and Kynetonand
. . .
1845 - Publican's Licences at the police offices on Saturday, the sitting magistrates refused to recommend the application of Ewen Tolmie for an establishment situated in Elizabeth Street formerly known as the "Irish Harp".
The Argus, August 10, 1849.
The Robert Burns Hotel. Ewen Tolmie, Late of Seymour, begs to announce to his numerous friends, that he has entered upon possession of the above house, situated in Lonsdale Street, next the New Bazaar, and hopes to receive a continuance of their custom.
The Argus, Thursday 5
September 1850 -
WANTED Two Quarrymen apply to EWEN TOLMIE
Robert Burns Hotel, Lonsdale Street.
KINLOCHEWE - Extensive
improvements are being effected at Kinlochewe, including
the erection of several substantial buildings, and the establishment of a Post-office. Mr. Ewen Tolmie, formerly of the " Bird in Hind," Flinders-lane, where his urbanity rendered him a general favourite, contemplates the erection of a splendid edifice as an Inn, to which he purposes to remove his publican's general license; Mr. T. Graham has also been appointed Postmaster, of which the inhabitants in that locality will have just cause
TENDERS for the whole or the several works
required in the election of a new inn, intended to be built at Kyneton, Mount
Macedon, for Mr. Ewen Tolmie will be received at the office of the undersigned,
until Wednesday the 13th inst. The lowest tender or tenders will not necessarily
From 1846 to 1849, together with his brother-in-law, Kenneth Bethune, he also held the Pastoral Lease for Bailey Hill, a 15,000 acre run, seven miles south of Euroa.
The Argus, Tuesday 5 December 1848
Name of Run - Bailey
Hill Estimated area - 16,000 acres Estimated grazing capability 4,000 sheep.
On the south bounded by Tea Tree Creek about 2 miles, commencing at the Tea Tree
Swamp to the junction of 7 creeks, on the east by Locke's Ranges and the Tea
Tree Swamp to the top of the Bill Hill about 4 miles and on the south
by Barnes* ranges and the top of the big hill to the 7 creeks about ½ a mile; on the west to the foot of Barnes' ranges on the 7 creeks to the junction of the Ten Tree creek about 7 miles.
In the Will of Kenneth
Bethune, late of the City of Melbourne, in the Colony of Victoria, publican,
deceased. Notice is hereby given, that after the expiration of fourteen days
from the day of the publication of this advertisement, an application will be
made to the Supreme Court of the Colony of Victoria, in its Ecclesiastical
Jurisdiction, on behalf of James Stewart, of the City of Melbourne, afore said,
wine and spirit merchant, Ewen Tolmie, of Kyneton in said colony, publican, the
Executors named and appointed in mid by the last Will and Testament of Kenneth
Bethune, late of the said City of Melbourne, publican, deceased, that Probate of
said last Will and Testament, of the said deceased, may be granted to them the
said James Stewart and Ewen Tolmie, as such Executes aforesaid Dated fourth day
of March, A D.. 1852.
In 1850 he bought two blocks of land in Kyneton, no doubt because this newly established country town, "had just been proclaimed a place where spirits might be sold, though the police considered the grant premature". He built a large brick and stone inn named the Robert Burns, which boasted stabling for forty horses.
Then, in 1851, just twenty two miles further north, gold was discovered at Castlemaine. An article in the Argus newspaper reported:- "Mr Tolmie in a few years made a large fortune there. At times every nook and corner would be crowded with returned diggers knocking down their dust and nuggets ..... when drink is turned into gold and gold is turned into drink, the profit of the transmutation is on one side". Thus EWEN, as well as being a publican, became a gold dealer.
In March and April of 1852 alone, three and a half tons of gold passed through Kyneton on the way to Melbourne. One family anecdote tells how EWEN, while riding with gold, was held up by a bushranger gang, but being a large and powerful man, he disposed of the robbers. In our collection of Tolmie memorabilia are Ewen's Avery gold scales and a heavy, 24 carat gold signet ring.
Tragedy struck the Tolmie family at the height of their good fortune, when Catherine
died at Kyneton in May 1852 at the age of 39, leaving Ewen with a young family of two
sons, John and Donald Kenneth and daughter, Annie. He decided to lease out the
land holdings he had acquired over the years and to invest his capital in Victorian pastoral
The Argus, Wednesday 2 June 1852
Died at Kyneton, Sunday morning 30th May 1852, Catherine J. Tolmie, wife of Ewen Tolmie aged 34 years. The friends of Mr. Ewen Tolmie are invited to tend the remains of his late wife to the place of internment tomorrow at three o'clock p.m. from the Robert Burns Inn in Lonsdale Street.
He returned to Inverness in 1853 where
he remarried and spent several years
living the life of a gentleman, while his children were educated at Inverness and Elgin. The
Inverness Courier wrote of him:- "......... Mr. Tolmie was a keen sportsman and while here
rented the shootings of Dalcross and very few anglers coming to the Highlands could show such a marvelous register of salmon and grilse taken by his rod in the Ness, with every pool of which Mr. Tolmie was familiar ....."
The Argus, Monday 13 December 1852,
All parties having claims against Mr. Ewen Tolmie, of Kyneton are requested to forward the same for payment to the office of Brown and Stewart, Elizabeth St, without delay, as Mr. Tolmie is about to proceed to England.
Ewen, together with his teenage
children, a new wife, Colina Mitchell, and an
infant son, James Ewen, returned to Australia in 1859. In December 1860 he obtained
the pastoral lease for Dueran, a property near Mansfield. Dueran, with an area of 40,000
acres and an ability to carry 4,000 sheep, was situated on the Broken River, five miles north of Mansfield.
His daughter, Annie, married James
Callender Campbell (late of
Ballynagard, Londonderry, Northern Ireland), at Dueran in 1860. His three sons, John,
Donald and James, helped him manage the sheep station and over the years the family
purchased sections of Dueran from the government, as the land was surveyed and made
available for selection.
CAMPBELL - TOLMIE. - At Duearan Station, by the Rev. Mr. Graham, Longwood, Mr. James C. Campbell, of Campbell Brothers and Co., of this city, to May Ann, only daughter of Ewen Tolmie, Esq.
During his time as a sheep farmer, Ewen Tolmie's name became well known. The
scourge of the flocks at that time, was scab, a skin disease which spoiled the fleece and
almost ruined sheep graziers with infected flocks. Dr. Rowe, a retired doctor who farmed
nearby, had suggested that a mixture of lime and sulphur was useful in treating itch, a
human skin disease. Ewen developed the correct balance and method of application of this mixture, which proved cheap and extremely successful in eradicating scab. As a result, Ewen had the gratitude of many sheep farmers of the day and in 1873 he was presented with a silver tea and coffee service (now valued at several thousand dollars).
The Argus, Tuesday 13 May 1873
There is now to be seen at
the shop of Messrs. Kilpatrick and Co., Collins-street, a
very handsome tea and coffee service of solid silver, together with a large tray to hold the
service, which are intended for presentation to Mr. Ewen Tolmie, of Mansfield, for having been the first to develop the lime and sulphur cure for scab in sheep. The design is in the style of Louis Quatorzo, and reflects credit on the makers.
Ewen Tolmie died in February 1883 at
Dueran aged 66. The township of Tolmie and
the Tolmie Tablelands near Mansfield, were named in his memory.
Thursday 15 February 1883 - A telegram from Mansfield, announcing the death of Mr. Ewen Tolmie, of Dueran. Tuesday 13 February 1883 - The funeral of Mr. Ewen Tolmie, of Dueran Station, took place today.