John (2) Grierson family notes

Account of John Grierson related by his grandson, John Burton Grierson, in 1938.

John Grierson junior was 18 when he landed from the "David Clark" in 1839 with his father and other members of the family. In 1843 he was married by the Rev. J. Forbes at the manse in Collins St. He lived in a house on a block of land where the old Alexandra Theatre was afterwards built, where John Grierson (3rd) was born in 1844.

With several other settlers, he settled at Diamond Creek in 1849 on selected blocks of land. The following are typical episodes in the settlers' lives of those days. When they took in their crops, they used to combine and reap the farms in rotation. One day, a Friday and the day for making "damper", my grandmother was left alone for the day with her two small children. She was making damper and Grandfather was down with the other settlers on the river flats, reaping, when he heard cooees and "John! John!" coming from his farm. Seizing his stock whip, he rushed home to find about 20 blacks trying to burn the house down. He drove them off with his whip and put out the fire. It seems they came to beg damper. After obtaining some they saw she was alone and tried to take the lot, but she closed the little window on them and they tried to burn her out. However, the lesson they got from the stock whip that day effectually deterred them from coming back again.

The great flood of 1849. The farm was on the rich flats on the bank of the Diamond Creek. One night they had retired to rest on their shelf beds, built on the wall of their slab hut because of snakes, when he was awakened by a lapping noise. He jumped off his bunk and found himself up to his chest in water. It had been raining in torrents for
nearly a week and the great flood of 49 was on. Fortunately, he had his axe in the room and soon knocked a couple of slabs out of the wall, and escaped with his wife and two sons [editor - note 1] to his brother-in-law's farm on the hill. Next morning when he went to look where his home was, the hut had been washed away and he lost everything.

He built a wattle and daub hut where the Treasury now is, and was living there at the time of Black Thursday. He told of six weeks of intense heat and of bush fires which came down in the scrub as close as where the exhibition building now stands, and then of the change coming over the bay; they saw the storm strike Williamstown and come across the bay, lifting the sand bodily. Then came torrents of rain. Everybody went out into it, sitting on logs or stumps in Collins Street.

Later he was at Queenstown diggings, and from there went to the Ballarat gold rush, and was present at the Eureka Stockade affair. [editor - note 2] Later he took up land at South Yan Yean. He died at his son's home at Preston in 1900 [editor - note 3].

Some remarks about the times.

In the 50's, the old 12th and 40th Regiments (Imperial troop) were in garrison in Melbourne. John (3rd) as a boy with others used to follow the band every Sunday when they marched down Spencer Street from their tin barracks (where Sands and McDougall is now situated) to Church Parade at old St. James Cathedral. He used to go shooting ducks on the Williamstown swamps with his father. There used to be a creek right down Elizabeth Street to the Yarra.

The first football match was played in Yarra Park, 40 a side; it was called "Free Rushings". There were two goal posts at the Jolimont end and two more by the Artillery Barrack's Drill Hall at the Richmond end. It was about 350 yards between the posts; you could sling, charge or do anything if an opponent had the ball, and there were no behinds. Play started at 11 a.m., continued till 12 with two hours for refreshment, then ends were changed for the remainder of the game. As it happened, no score was made and the evening was spent in a jollification.

Note 1: 1849 was an eventful year for John Grierson.
He had John aged 5 (born 2 Apr 1844); Mary born 29 Oct 1845
who died on 18 Jul 1849, Anna aged 1 (born 13 Feb 1848)
and the baby Jane (born 22 Jun 1849).

Note 2: December 1854

Note 3: 29 Sep 1905

Last modified 2 Apr 2009