Sunday, December 20, 2009

1. Lawrence Bourke.

Children of John Bourke and Margaret Meaney.

1. Lawrence Bourke (also known as ‘Laurence’ or ‘Larry’ Bourke)
Was born in County Tipperary c. 1814.When he came to Victoria as a 26 year old per the D.O.N in 1841, his occupation was listed as ‘labourer’, as was that of his brothers John, 24, and Patrick,20, who were on the same ship. Also listed as passengers were their sisters Bridget,18, a dairy maid, and Mary,15, a house servant.
Lawrence’s father John Bourke settled on a farm on the Sydney Road out of Melbourne near Campbellfield with his second wife, Ellen. Lawrence and Patrick established themselves as carriers as well as farmers...the 1847 Port Phillip Directory has them as:
BOURKE: John, farmer, Campbellfield, Sydney Road.
Lawrence, carrier, Campbellfield, Sydney Road.
Patrick, carrier, Campbellfield, Sydney Road.

In 1844, at St. Francis Catholic Church, Melbourne, Lawrence Bourke married Irish girl Hannah Mulcahy. Born in Cork in c. 1822, Hannah was the daughter of John and Mary Mulcahy. The first of their nine children- and only son- John Bourke was born in Campbellfield in 1846, and from that point on a daughter arrived every second year for the next sixteen years.

Several articles concerning brothers Lawrence and Patrick appeared in the ‘Argus’ and 'Herald' newspapers during 1848, just over seven years after the Bourkes' arrival in Melbourne. They read as follows:

In the initial articles, Lawrence and Patrick were referred to as “Burke” rather than “Bourke”.

“OUTRAGEOUS CONDUCT- On Saturday two brothers named Lawrence and Patrick Burke, represented as small farmers, residing on the Merri Creek, were brought before the Police Court charged with being drunk, breaking the peace, and assaulting the constables in the execution of their duty on the previous day. The accused were defended by Mr. _____. Finn, as acting officer of the town police, stated that about half past four o’clock on the previous afternoon he was called upon to quell a riot in Lonsdale Street, and proceeding near the Caledonian Hotel he saw a crowd of persons, amongst whom were the prisoners, who were covered with blood, and with large lumps of clay in their hands were calling out for the men who had beaten them before. Finn endeavoured to pacify them, and ____ them into a shop , where they had not been many minutes when a man named Dwyer, a drayman, was observed approaching the spot in company with a constable, upon perceiving whom the two Burkes rushed out of the shop and attacked Dwyer, knocking him down and beating him fearfully about the head with limps of clay while there; both brothers attacked witness, who in return knocked them down with his baton- and from the violence of the accused it was with great difficulty that they were secured with the aid of several constables who had been sent for by the inhabitants of the vicinity, it being found necessary, to procure a dray to convey them to the watchhouse.
Nelis, another member of the police force, fully corroborated this statement, and a Mr. Hood, who witnessed the transaction, gave the police the utmost credit for their forbearance on the occasion, stating that the conduct of the accused was so outrageous that the mob repeatedly called upon the police to strike them in self defence, which, however, they refrained from doing. The magistrates, after remarking upon the gross nature of the case, committed both prisoners to trial, but admitted them to bail. Dwyer, who was so brutally attacked on the occasion, is, we learn, in an exceedingly dangerous state. The required bail was tendered.”-Port Phillip Herald, Feb 15, 1848.

Lawrence Burke and Patrick Burke stood charged with assaulting Martin Finn and Michael Nelis , peace officers in the execution of their duty on the 11th inst. A second count charged the defendants with a common assault.
The defendants pleaded not guilty and were defended by Mr. Stawell.(the particulars of this case have already appeared in our columns).
The Jury found the prisoners guilty on the fresh count with a recommendation to mercy. The Defendants were shortly afterwards brought up for sentence. His Honor told them they had been guilty of a serious offence, assaulting constables in the execution of their duty, but he did not consider the present case one which called for a severe punishment, and he must confess that he was not altogether satisfied with the constables who appeared to have acted with much unnecessary severity. The lenient sentence which he was about to pass must not be regarded as a precedent in cases of a similar nature. The sentence of the court is that you each pay a fine of 40 shillings to the Queen, and that you be imprisoned until such fine be paid. The fine was immediately paid.”
- The Melbourne Argus (Vic. : 1846-1848), Friday 25 February 1848

Patrick Bourke, who appeared on summons, and Lawrence Bourke, his brother, were both committed to take their trial for a violent assault on one Michael Dwyer in Lonsdale Street, on the 11th February last. It appeared that the brothers had already been convicted in the Supreme Court of assaulting a constable at the same time that the assault was alleged to have been committed on Dwyer, also that for the assault on the constable they had been fined 40 shillings. The particulars of the transaction having been published soon after the outrage took place, it is only necessary to state at present that the complainant, a drayman, has been unable in consequence of the injuries he received on the 11th of February up to the time he appeared to prefer his complaint to do any work. The magistrates considered that the outrage on complainant was of so gross a description as to prevent them from dealing with it summarily, and ordered the offenders to be bound over in forty pounds, with sureties each in twenty pounds to appear and take their trial for assault before the Supreme Court.”
The Melbourne Argus, Friday 19 May 1848

Patrick Bourke and Lawrence Bourke, both free on bail, were indicted with having on the 14th of February last committed an aggravated assault on Michael Dwyer- a second count charged the offence as common assault. The case, as given in evidence, was as follows:-
The prosecutor is a drayman, and on the day laid in the information he was driving along Swanston Street near Lonsdale Street, when Patrick Bourke, who was on horseback, came in contact with the prosecutor’s dray, when a row ensued, and while they were fighting,the other brother, Lawrence Bourke, came up and also commenced striking the prosecutor; while this was going on a third party came up and encouraged Patrick Bourke to persevere in striking the prosecutor with his fists, while Lawrence Bourke having procured a stone, he commenced beating prosecutor about the head, and threw him down, when some of the passengers interfered, and got prosecutor out of the prisoners’ hands; he then made off towards the Star Inn for a constable, when the prisoners, who were in liquor, both followed him, knocked him down, and kept pummelling him, by which he was so severely injured, that it is only within the last three weeks he has been able to leave his bed.
Dr. Greeves proved that the ankle of the prosecutor was dislocated, and both the tibia and splinter bones were broken.
In cross examination witness stated it was a simple fracture, because the skin was not broken.
Timothy Ahern, brother-in-law of one of the prisoners, deposed that hearing a noise in the street he went to see the cause, and ran over, when he heard Dwyer challenging Patrick Bourke to come off his horse, when he leaped off, and both had a piece of work while witness held the horse. They were afterwards parted, and some men assisted Dwyer, when Bourke had the worst of it. A girl was then holding Lawrence Bourke’s horse at witness’s door, when witness called on Lawrence to assist in rescuing Patrick, when prosecutor ran towards the Star Inn, while his assistants pursued the Bourkes to witness’s house, and gave Lawrence a severe beating before he got in. In consequence of which they took up several lumps of clay and hurled them at their assailants; after Dwyer had got a constable at the Star Inn another row was commenced, when the constables and crowd violently beat and maltreated the prisoners, who were dragged to the watch house; the prosecutor was then sober, but Patrick Bourke was in liquor. Witness denied positively having ever encouraged the prisoners to persevere in their attack on the prosecutor.
Mr. Stawell addressed the Court for the defence, contending that there was no evidence to prove that his clients had been the aggressors, and called John Grant, who swore that the beginning of the row was caused by Patrick Bourke’s horse accidentally touching the head of Dwyer’s horse, on which the latter abused the prisoner, and told him if he had him on the ground he would do something to him; on which the prisoner left his horse, Dwyer left his dray, and a row began between them; the prisoners were farmers, residing near the witness; they were quiet, obliging neighbours.
Michael Collins swore that he saw prosecutor passing along Swanston Street with a constable, when he lifted up a lump of earth and struck Lawrence Bourke on the side of the head with it, after which they both began fighting.
Mr. Robert Langdon gave the prisoners a character founded on two years knowledge of them, as quite peaceable men.
Mr Joseph Bradshaw, also gave the prisoners a character as being sober industrious men, he had known them four or five years.
One of the Jury was also called, and gave the prisoners a good character founded on four or five years knowledge of them.
The case being closed.
His Honor left it to the Jury to say who had struck the first blow, when Patrick Bourke and prosecutor met each other at the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale Streets, if the prisoners then were guilty of common assault, and if when the second row took place when the prosecutor’s leg was broken, the prisoners also commenced the attack, then they were also guilty of the aggravated assault.
The Jury retired for about ten minutes and found both prisoners guilty, on both counts.
A letter from the Presbyterian minister at Campbellfield, giving the prisoners a good character, was handed in by Mr. Stawell in mitigation of punishment.
When each of the prisoners after a lengthy address (...missing line...), and at the end of that period each of them is to enter into his own recognizance in fifty pounds to keep the peace for twelve months.” - The Melbourne Argus, Friday 23 June 1848.

These scrapping, fighting Irishmen were also hard-working, industrious farmers, and did very well farming the land that their father John leased from Robert Campbell. Another newspaper article which describes the outcome of a court case between Robert Campbell and his tenant John Bourke reported how John paid his rent to Robert Campbell in grain harvested from his leased land.
Both Patrick and Lawrence took up land on the River Plenty, where Patrick died in March of 1853.When John Bourke, their father, died in later in 1853, he left bequests to his wife Ellen and daughters Bridget,Ellen and Mary, and everything else, including the lease of his farm at Campbellfield, to sole remaining son, Lawrence.
Lawrence's lease on the Campbellfield farm extended until March 31, 1856, but luckily in May 1855 the opportunity arose for him to acquire the property for himself. The owner, Robert Campbell, ran into financial difficulties and had to sell his land at Campbellfield, which included the 384 acres leased by Lawrence Bourke. The Argus newspaper ran a series of advertisements concerning the sale by auction, and they read partially as follows:

"...Instructions from the assignees of the estate of Robert Campbell, and all parties concerned, to sell by public auction the splendid estate of "Campbellfield", at present rented by Mr. Lawrence Bourke, whose lease expires on 31st March next, comprising of 384 acres of the richest alluvial soil in the colony, about half of which is under cultivation, and the crops produced thereon have been unparalleled in Victoria; the remainder might be brought under tillage without expense, as the trees on that portion of the ground have been "ringed' for several years, and would realise at the present time an immense sum as fire wood (which is very scarce in the locality).
This admirable property is situated nine miles from Melbourne, on the Great Sydney Road, upon which it has a frontage of about 48 chains links.The enormous traffic passing by the place to the diggings, Sydney, and numerous townships in the interior, the fine ___ road and its vicinity to town, are advantages seldom concentrated in one spot.Another great consideration is that the whole of the land is admirably situated for thorough drainage.'
-The Argus, Friday 18 May 1855.

Lawrence acquired the property and built upon it a splendid bluestone house for his family. It was described ten years later as "an excellent two-storied bluestone dwelling, containing ten rooms, with verandahs eight feet wide."

After the birth of only son John in 1846, second child Margaret was born at Campbellfield in 1848, followed by Ellen in 1850; Teresa in 1852(she died aged eight months); Hannah in 1854; Bridget in 1856; Mary Josephine in 1858; Sophia in 1860 and Catherine “Kate” Veronica in 1862.
I could not find the birth of Sophia anywhere, but the mystery was solved when I obtained her marriage certificate and her place of birth was given as "At sea near Victoria". This also explains the mix-up of the story of the Bourkes arriving in Victoria from Ireland on board the 'Sophia'and naming a child after the ship...they had arrived on the Duchess of Northumberland in 1841, and son Lawrence's wife had given birth to a daughter on board the ship Sophia in 1860.
The baptism record of fourth child Theresa Bourke indicates that Lawrence had joined the throngs that had headed for the central Victoria goldfields after the initial discovery in 1851. Theresa was born at Bendigo on June 18, 1852. Her parents were named as Lawrence Burke, digger, and Hannah Mulcahy, and she was baptised on August 1, 1852, by Father Bachhaus, Catholic Clergyman.
Little Theresa died only eight months later, by which time her parents were back in the Melbourne district.She was buried on February 2, 1853.

Lawrence Bourke began looking to the Irish settlement of Kilmore to Melbourne's north in his quest to broaden his holdings.He purchased land in the Kilmore district and not only farmed it,but began a mining enterprise that proved to be very lucrative.
A relatively large mining venture in the mid-1860s took place on the Kilmore Old Diggings (a farmers' common, at Moranding—later Goldie). Here the Laurence Bourke and Co./Kilmore GMC took a lease of 12-acres and erected a battery. They treated large quantities of low yielding, rubbly sandstone-quartz reef mined by open-cut. Larry Bourke's Reef yielded a total of 1,070 oz (worth over £20,000) from 5,620 tons during this period.A summary of Lawrence Bourke's mining exploits is as follows:

September 1864, Kilmore: Laurence Bourke & Co. have lately taken a lease of 12 acres for gold-mining purposes, commonly known as Kilmore Old Diggings - on government land, the farmers' common - 25 men employed.

December 1864: Kilmore GMC (Laurence Bourke and Co.) have crushed very little,
water having failed them both in the new race and Price's Creek.

September 1865: Kilmore GMC - Laurence Bourke and Co. crushed about 80 tons of cement a week and produced only 10 oz - cement taken from surface to about 20 ft deep - two shafts of 70 ft deep each have been sunk during the quarter, in search of the main reef - 17men employed.

September 1867: At Kilmore Diggings, Bourke & party are crushing all before them
- 1,000 tons gave 200 oz - labour consists chiefly in carting.

September 1868: The machine at the Kilmore diggings still at work, crushing cement from the hill, formerly Bourke's lease - removed from its former site during the past quarter to a more convenient spot for water.

1864-8: Larry Bourke's Reef, Goldie, yielded a total of 1,070 oz from 5,620 tons.

The years 1864-65 were ones of severe drought, which may have had a big impact on Lawrence Bourke's farming and mining ventures. It has already been noted above that lack of water in summer of 1864 had prevented Lawrence's mining company from operating effectively at Kilmore. The drought is the most likely reason that the Argus of January 1865 carried advertisements for the sale of Lawrence Bourke Esq.'s Campbellfield property...

" Instructions from Lawrence Bourke Esq. to sell by auction his well-known farm at Campbellfield, consisting of 384 acres, having erected thereon an excellent two-storied bluestone dwelling, containing 10 rooms, with verandahs eight feet wide. The above is fenced with a substantial three-rail fence, and is divided into three paddocks, one of which, about 150 acres, maiden soil, has about one thousand pounds worth of timber on it, the others having been under cultivation, but for the last two years were used for grazing purposes."

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