CAPTAIN JOHN EDDINGTON OF "BALLINGEICH"

[Captain John Eddington]

Captain John Eddington (1798-1873)

John Eddington was born in 1798 into a military family in Scotland. On 25 December 1802 at a very early age his name was entered for a commission in the Royal Scots by the Duke of Kent, a friend of his father, and when he was about 16 years he was called to the colours. He saw about six years of active service with the 1st Royal Scots in India during the second Mahratta Wars and rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He had to leave the military when he was about 22 years because of injuries, having become stone deaf through being near a cannon which exploded. He was given the honorary rank of Captain at this time. After returning to Scotland he is thought to have lived with his father at 4 West Maitland Street, Edinburgh who had remarried. In 1824 John Eddington married Mary Campbell, the younger sister of his step-mother. Soon after this marriage his wife died giving birth to a son who also died.

John Eddington married a second time, his bride being Ann Elizabeth Blair, the daughter of James Blair and Elizabeth, nee McLachlan. They had four sons in Scotland, one dying young. For a time they lived in Rothesay, Bute, Scotland. In 1839 the family emigrated to Australia on the "Ariadne" (504 tons, Captain George McLeod) which sailed from Greenock, near Glasgow, Scotland on 6 April 1839. In Scotland they had employed an elderly nurse named Peggy to care for their children and she was expected to accompany them to Australia. However, when she heard that their ship would not be stopping and dropping anchor each night she refused to come, convinced that the ship would lose its way in the dark. After an extended stay in Cape Town, and a visit to Adelaide en route, the "Ariadne" arrived at Melbourne, Port Phillip on 20 September 1839. Their family group consisted of Captain John Eddington; his wife Ann and her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Blair; their three sons (George, Campbell and Harry); and Miss Susan Eddington, John's sister. They are also thought to have had a maid who married soon after arriving in Melbourne.

On arriving in Melbourne they were said to have first obtained a house in Collins Street, but were soon living in a four roomed cottage in Brunswick Street, Newtown (now Fitzroy). Even though there were many living in their house they still found space in emergencies to accomodate friends, especially new arrivals in the colony. Captain Eddington found employment writing out documents for a Melbourne solicitor named Mr. Montgomery. He then had a stone cottage built for his family on the nearby Merri Creek where he tried his hand at establishing a market garden. Here the family had a large Newfoundland dog named 'Rollo' that was very protective of their children. After they moved to the Western District this stone cottage was used as a boarding school by the Port Phillip Academical Institution.

John and his sister Susan purchased some sheep which were looked after for them in the Western District by Donald Black and before long they obtained a property there which was named 'Ballangeich' after the Pass of Ballangeich below Stirling Castle in Scotland where John had played as a child. Leaving his family in Melbourne, John travelled to this property and prepared a home there, after which he was joined by his wife, their children, and his wife's mother. His sister stayed in Melbourne.

For many years Capt. Eddington rode about on a tall chestnut horse while wearing a white top hat. When a mail service was introduced he would ride over 40 miles to Fiery Creek once a month to collect it. Bullock drays would go to Port Fairy twice a year to collect supplies from Mr. William Rutledge whose merchandise was shipped direct from Europe. He had wines from France, linen from Ireland and frocks from Paris for the ladies. There were many parties, dances and horse races held at Port Fairy.

Capt. Eddington enforced good treatment of the aborigines and he and his family enjoyed very good relations with them. As he was stone deaf everyone spoke to him using their fingers in sign language. One aboriginal chief, King Terrick Terrick used to come and visit them and in a very serious manner, as behove one chief to another, would conduct lengthy imaginary conversations with John by wagging his fingers to imitate sign language.

On 20 January 1848 John and Ann had a further child, a daughter named Violette. Following a long illness, Ann died a year later on 14 September 1849. She was buried on their property at a bend of the Hopkins River, a spot she had been very fond of. This site later became the Ballangeich Cemetery. For a time her mother, Mrs. Blair looked after the children, and before long John's sister, Susan who had been living in Melbourne moved to 'Ballangeich' to care for them.

A number of staff were employed at 'Ballangeich' including Mr. and Mrs. Digby; John McKellar, and his wife Lillias; John Pangburn and his wife Janet; Donald McPherson; George Chard; Codridton Jessington and four ticket-of-leave men named Yorkie; Joe Jukes; Billy Williams and Jacky Clubs (so named because he looked like the Knave of Clubs). When young Violette Eddington came back from Camperdown after having been vaccinated, they successfully vaccinated all the little McKellars and Pangburns from her arm using a darning needle.

Their sons had initially attended a school in Melbourne run by a Mr. McGregor and were later tutored at 'Ballangeich' by a Mr. Findley who later owned a station on the Upper Murray. Later on Campbell and Harry Eddington went to a boarding school at Port Fairy run by Rev. Thomas Henry Braim. Violette was educated by governesses.

In 1851 John applied for an India War Medal for his earlier service and in 1852 he was informed that this had been approved together with clasps for Nagpore and Maheidpore. John had a number of half brothers and half sisters from his father's second marriage and in 1854 two of his half brothers were killed at the Battle of the Alma in the Crimea.

Capt. John Eddington died on 15 October 1873 and was buried with his wife at 'Ballangeich.' His son Archibald Campbell Eddington took over the running of 'Ballangeich.'

John Eddington was the son of Captain George Eddington (b.6 July 1766, Perthshire, Scotland; d.10 December 1851, Edinburgh, Scotland) of the 1st Battalion Royal Scots. He married firstly, on 20 February 1798 at Stirling, Scotland, Susan Graham, daughter of Captain John Graham and Grisall (or Grace) Campbell. They are known to have had three children: John (b.1798; baptised on 4 January 1799 at Stirling, Scotland; d.15 October 1873 Ballangeich, Victoria); Susan (b.c1800; d.17 August 1881 South Yarra, Victoria); and Georgina Grace (b.26 June 1803 and baptised 13 July 1803 at Stirling). After the death of his first wife, George Eddington married secondly on 6 July 1813 at St. Cuthbert's Church, Edinburgh, Helenor Campbell, daughter of Captain Smollet Campbell of the Royal Invalids. Their children were Elizabeth (b.c1815); Smollett Montgomerie Eddington (Colonel of the Argyll and Bute Militia) (b.11 September 1816, m. firstly 29 December 1841, Mary Jane Fleming; m. secondly, 28 April 1867, Isabella Mary Forman; d.c1905); James George (Captain, 95th Regiment) (b.20 March 1825 Scotland; m. Eliza McPherson; d.20 September 1854, Crimea); Catherine Mary Eddington (b.c1830) and Edward William (Lieutenant, 95th Regiment) (b.c1833; d.20 September 1854, Crimea).

John Eddington (b.1798; baptised on 4 January 1799 at Stirling, Scotland; d.15 October 1873 Ballangeich, Victoria) married firstly 29 April 1824 at Dewar Place Scotland, Mary Campbell, daughter of Captain Smollet Campbell of the Royal Invalids. She died 14 August 1825 at West Maitland Street, Edinburgh, Scotland. John married secondly, 2 June 1828, Rothesay, Bute, Scotland, Ann Elizabeth Blair, daughter of James Blair, sheep farmer, and Elizabeth McLachlan (b.c1774; d.18 March 1866 Victoria, Australia). Their children were:

1. George McLachlan Eddington, b.7 May 1830 Barony, Lanark, Scotland; d. June 1855 Albury, New South Wales, Australia.

2. James Blair Eddington, b.19 March 1832 Rothesay, Bute, Scotland; d.c1832 Scotland.

3. Archibald Campbell Eddington, b.25 December 1835, d.27 March 1900 Ballangeich, Victoria; m.28 June 1875 Trinity Church, East Melbourne, Fanny Elizabeth Buckley, daughter of Capt. William Henry Buckley of H.M. 82nd Regiment, and Elizabeth Heazley.

4. Henry Graham Eddington, b.31 October 1837, Rothesay, Bute, Scotland; d.1904, Ballarat, Victoria; m.13 March 1860, St. John's Church of England, Port Fairy, Victoria, Lizzie Braim, daughter of Archdeacon Thomas Henry Braim and Elizabeth Lil(e)y. Their children were Annie Elizabeth (b.c1861; d.31 October 1934); Caroline Eleanor (b.21 July 1863; d.1936) and Harry Graham (b.9 November 1865; d.9 July 1906).

5. Violette Elizabeth Eddington, b.20 January 1848 Ballangeich, Victoria; d.21 June 1932 Toorak, Victoria; m.29 April 1876 Ballangeich, Victoria, George Gordon, civil engineer, b.c1829 Arbroath, Scotland; d.25 February 1907, Toorak, Victoria. Their children were 1. Robert Eddington Gordon, b.8 February 1876; d.14 September 1914; 2. Annie Grace Gordon, b.1878; d.24 January 1957 Victoria; 3. Harry Campbell Gordon, b.20 April 1880; d.1965 Victoria; m. Gertrude Caroline Austin; and 4. George Herbert Iver Gordon, b.18 March 1884 Toorak, Victoria, d.1946 Warrnambool, Victoria, m.29 August 1916, Blockley, Worcester, England Amy Doris Hammil, daughter of Herbert Hammil and Amy Cunninghame.

[Violette Elizabeth Gordon, nee Eddington]

Violette Elizabeth Gordon (nee Eddington) (1848-1932)

A collection of Eddington family papers are held by the State Library of Victoria (MS 3027-30) including a portrait of Capt. John Eddington (MCFB 14) believed to have been painted by his sister, Susan Eddington.

( Contributed by Alexander Romanov-Hughes. PPPG Member No. 52 )


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