JOHN EGAN OF BORRISOLEIGH AND EGANSTOWN
AND HIS RIVAL MR HEPBURN
Most of the land around Blampied had been taken up by JOHN STUART
HEPBURN, a pro-English, Lowland Scot who'd arrived in the area
from Sydney around 1830. Hepburn, whose Georgian mansion is as imperious
today as it was in 1849, acquired some 40,000 acres of prime dirt.
It came with not insubstantial support from the local surveyor.
Most of the people around Blampied purchased their land from Hepburn's
John and Johanna Cleary leased two properties from Hepburn's son.
One -129 acres - was alongside the old bridge that ran past the
Mount Prospect Presbyterian Church. The other - Lot 95, 172 acres
- was directly opposite the Swiss Mountain Hotel and was used for
the St. Patrick's Day Race Meeting.
John Egan's house as it looks today
THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT IS TAKEN FROM MY BOOK:
CLEARY INDEPENDENT - PUBLISHED BY HARPERCOLLINS 1998
Lot 95, 172 acres of fertile ground in the Parish of Bullarook,
had been alienated from the Crown by John Stuart Hepburn, squatter
and gentleman, in 1857. By nightfall on the twelfth of September
there was hardly a blade of grass between the Swiss Mountain and
the Georgian mansion at Smeaton that had escaped the clutches of
the Captain. Resentful of Hepburn's imperious disregard of their
right to a plot of ground, those of democratic persuasion were soon
preparing a political counter attack...
'Was there a petition presented to the Board of Land and Works
complaining of the conduct of the District Surveyor in changing
what were originally two allotments of land into one, immediately
previous to the sale in Captain Hepburn's run?
Were these allotments withdrawn in consequence of such petition?
Were the same lots Gazetted for sale one month afterwards, with
compensation to the extent of 900 pounds put on them, and was the
land finally sold in one or two lots, and who was the purchaser?
On what grounds were other two lots withdrawn from sale, and
why were they put up at a sale in another district? Why was the
petition of the inhabitants of Creswick against the removal of the
sale from that place to Castlemaine disregarded? Is it true that
Captain Hepburn was allowed compensation for fences removed from
a public road, and put up between land previously purchased by him.......?
Is it true that the lots were of a larger size close to Captain
Hepburn's pre-emptive right (or wrong) than on the remainder of
the survey?" An aggrieved Mr Hood had inquired of the
Postmaster-General when he rose to confront the Colony's ruling
clique in the Squatter controlled Victorian Upper House in January
At home in Smeaton the well-connected Scot growled about the impertinence
of democrats and reformers, whom he believed had done nothing to
increase the colony`s wealth. It mattered not for the run was his.
The Hepburn family is buried in a private cemetery near the house.
|Hepburn's house as it looks from the road today.
John Stuart Hepburn.
AND ALONG CAME THE CATHOLIC.
The pioneer JOHN EGAN from Borrisoleigh, Tipperary, was
the pre-eminent Irish emigrant. He arrived in 1840 and later bequeathed
the Eganstown cemetery to the local Catholics. His house (below)
is today occupied by a direct descendant, John Egan.
According to Egan family history, as recorded by Lucille Quinlan
in the Catholic magazine, The Light, Egan's uncle Boyce and
Boyce's son, Big Din (Dennis), were political prisoners. Given Boyce
was transported in 1816, it's likely that Denis was transported
around 1823 and received his certificate of freedom around 1830.
Although the men can be found in the records it's unclear as to
what was the actual crime.
John Egan's daughter Brigid married John Cleary of Kangaroo Hills
and lived beneath Kangaroo Hills.
|John Cleary, wife Brigid Egan and sons, Denis (front) and John circa