Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Mysterious Unclaimed Letter

Post Office, Melbourne [picture] / Thomas Ham
On the 31 st July, 1850 at the Melbourne post office there is a letter for a Mr Ebbott waiting for collection[i].  A lone letter sitting uncollected in Melbourne, it’s all very intriguing. I'm not aware of any other Ebbott families coming out to Australia during this time period, could it be that John’s father after recovering from Typhus came out to Australia before returning and bringing his family with him?  He might have wanted to do reconnaissance work, to pave the way for the family, and assure himself that this was the best thing to do, after all, his siblings had gone to America.  Of course I am assuming that no one would write to a person in Australia if they weren’t there(?)
“In the year 1852, accompanied by his wife and children, he reached Adelaide. After a few months' residence there, he removed to the goldfields of Victoria, and settled first at Fryers Creek.”[ii]  Not much is known of this period until 1858 when we find John’s father purchasing land in Fryers in 1858 where he is identified in the documentation as John Ebbott of Glenluce[iii], he must have been living there at the time, and perhaps by adding where he came from it helped to the authorises to identify him from another John Ebbott , his son, who is the centre of this story. It is believed that John’s father John Ebbott (Snr) bought land for farming purposes, the land is sold when his father dies. John Ebbott (Jnr) would have been 18 years of age when the family moved to Fryers.
Somewhere between 1859 and 1861 there was a terrible disaster while “farming on the Kyneton-Bendigo Road just south of Faraday when his farm and all the surrounding countryside was completely burnt out leaving the family with only what they were able to throw down the well. At one stage his cattle were also devoured by plague.” [iiii]
It sounds like a lot of very hard and back breaking work, perhaps the families sustaining religious values helped to keep them together, and strong and got them through these difficult times.

[ii] The Wesleyan chronicle. (Publisher/Date: Melbourne : Shaw, Harnett & Co., 1857- ;  Location: Microfiche ; LTMF; Call Number: 131' Volume/Item: 1857:Oct. 1- 1875:Apr. 20;), 1867 page 8 Fiche 30. 
[iii] Vendors Books, Victoria (Land Victoria(Natural Resources and Envirnonment)), Book 184 Memorial 602. 
[iiii] Early families of Shepparton and district : book two - Ebbott family p50-51 (compiled and edited by Eileen Torney, Betty Foster and Brian Emmett from written contributions by the families of our early settlers. [Shepparton, Vic.] Shepparton Family History Group, c2000.) 
[i] Port Phillip (N.S.W. : District)., Port Phillip government gazette (Melbourne, New South Wales: Govt. Printer, 1 (Jan. 2, 1844)-no. 34 (July 9, 1851)), No 32, 7 August 1850, 526 - Page 530


  1. Hi Sandra,
    I'Ve been trying to make contact with you for a while. I'm a decendent of John Ebbott. I'm fairly certain that his daughter, Ada, was my great grandmother. My grandmother was Lilian Ebbott.
    Best regards

    1. Hi Lisa, sorry you haven't been able to contact me, my email address is Sandra[dot]kerbent[at] looking forward to hearing from, Cheers Sandra