RICHARD CHARLTON HEDDITCH OF "LAL LAL"

The Hedditch family came from Dorset in England. Richard Charlton Hedditch was born on 3 July 1808 in Gillingham, Dorset, the son of Samuel Hedditch and his wife Sarah, nee Charlton who had been married on 16 April 1807. Sarah Charlton came from the nearby village of Mere in Wiltshire.

At the time of his marriage on 28 June 1837 Richard Charlton Hedditch was a farmer living in the parish of Bathwick, near Bath, Somerset. His wife, Rachel Forward Read was also residing in Bathwick parish. About six months after their wedding they took the stage coach to London to embark on the 522 ton barque "Eden" which was preparing to sail for Australia. However their sailing was delayed for a month as the "Eden" was frozen in the Thames but finally departed in mid February 1838 and after putting in at St. Jago en route, arrived at Adelaide, South Australia on 24 June 1838.

[Richard Charlton Hedditch]
[Rachel Hedditch]

Richard and Rachel Hedditch stayed in Adelaide for about two years before moving on to Van Diemens Land. Their first child, a son named Charlton Waldy Hedditch was born in George Town, V.D.L. on 20 July 1840. After hearing favourable reports about the Henty's settlement on the mainland, Richard sailed for Portland in the Port Phillip District on 10 June 1841 on the 189 ton brig "Patriot." Before long they were settled at Portland teaching at the Church of England school.

About 1845, in partnership with the Kennedy family, they moved to Cape Bridgewater on the coast just west of Portland, and took up a pastoral lease on land formerly held as an out-station by the Henty Brothers. This partnership lasted until about 1853. Conditions there were described in a letter Mrs. Hedditch wrote to her parents in England on Christmas Day, 1848:-

"This, you will see, is Christmas Day. We are quite alone, and I trust we shall have a quiet Christmas, as I do not care for company, but I expect my old friend, Mrs. Wilkinson, for a few days shortly . . . . There seems to be a revival amongst the church people here. Some very excellent pious men, both bishops and clergy have lately been sent out. The bishop of this diocese has lately visited Portland. The severe weather prevented his paying us a visit, but he sent some good books and tracts, and a book of sermons . . . . But although we are not doing better in the country, we have better health, and I think the children are better for being away from others, and children out here are generally brought up badly. I had but a bad account of our affairs to give you the last time I wrote, and have not much better now. Times are very bad indeed. Almost the whole dependence of this district is on wool-growing and tallow, and on account of the disturbed state of Europe the wool at home has fallen in value more than half. Tallow is low also, and it has caused such a depression of business here that it is almost impossible to dispose of anything: or if a sale is made it is difficult to get the cash. I believe I told you something about our new land regulations in my last letter. We have this month a notice from Government (not only ourselves, but all the settlers) that they offer us the purchase of 30 acres of land at £1 per acre and with it a right to commonage of 160 acres, and if we fail to purchase we risk being turned off without being able to claim any compensation for the improvements we have effected. The land here is very poor indeed, scarce worth cultivating without being greatly manured; but it is excellent pasturing for cattle. Our fences were all burnt, but we have a garden fenced and a half-acre paddock. We have also a comfortable three-roomed cottage and a kitchen and dairy, besides fowl-house and yard, and it would be a pity to risk losing it for the sake of £30, although these times we shall find it difficult to raise even that small sum. We have both fat cattle and milking cows for sale, but nobody is inclined to purchase. Butchers will not give more than eight shillings a hundred for fat beef, and a fine cow with calf at side will not fetch more than £3. There were good milking cows, with their calves, sold by auction last week at about 30/- per head. Butter is now down to 1/- per lb. If things don't get better I don't know what shall become of us all. Our prospects are not worse than that of many others. Indeed, I think we live at less expense than most families here. We have no one with us now, but one of the native blacks to shepherd the cattle by day. I wish we could get a good steady single farming man from home - one who would work without being watched. We would gladly give such a man £25 a year, with board and lodging. The men in this country will not work without a master with them, and Charlton is too easy to be master. I suppose you could not persuade such a man to come out to us. A man that could be depended upon to look to anything that wanted doing."

On one occasion Richard Hedditch was required to go to Melbourne as a witness in a Crown law case. Afterwards he walked all the way back to Portland, taking about three weeks to complete the journey. The Hedditch family also took over the local post office and successive generations continued to run it for many decades.

Freehold land was acquired and in 1855 a family home named "Lal Lal' was built. Located in the Parish of Tarragal, County of Normanby, the surrounding farm comprised of 372 acres. This residence remained in the Hedditch family for a number of generations.

['Lal Lal']

Tragedy struck on 6 June 1863 when their eldest son, Charlton Waldy Hedditch died. He was attempting to save passengers from a sinking schooner, the "Jane" in Discovery Bay and had swum out to the ship three times before he drowned.

At some time, probably in the 1850s, Richard's father Samuel Hedditch arrived and resided with the family until his death in 1869. Little is known about Samuel's life but he may have been the Samuel Hedditch who was transported out to Van Diemen's Land on the "Hibernia" in 1818. Richard had siblings who settled in V.D.L. and some of their descendants later settled in New Zealand.

Richard Charlton Hedditch died on 23 November 1893 at Bridgewater and his wife Rachel died on 15 January 1904, having had issue of three sons and four daughters. Of their younger children:-

Mary Thirza Hedditch was born on 27 August 1844 at Portland. She married James Malseed of Drik Drik in 1864 and had three sons and four daughters.

Emily Hedditch was born on 17 September 1846 at Portland and died on 8 June 1854 at Breakwater.

John Read Hedditch was born 11 October 1849 at Lower Cape Bridgewater, and followed pastoral pursuits during his lifetime. He married Mary Jane Holmes in 1873 and died on 12 August 1927 leaving a large family.

Catherine Sarah Charlton Hedditch was born on 2 September 1854 at Lower Cape Bridgewater. She married John Henry Broughton and had one son, Charlton William Broughton.

William Forward Hedditch was born on 12 March 1857 at Lower Cape Bridgewater. He lived continously at "Lal Lal" for seventy years and carried on farming there until his retirement in 1926. He married Marion Nunn Jones in 1890 and had two sons, Norman Samuel Howard Hedditch and Harold Read Hedditch.

Martha Annie Hedditch was born on 13 March 1859 at Lower Cape Bridgewater. She married James Dominic(k) McKenna in 1890 and had two daughters, May McKenna and Rachel McKenna.

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Source of Images: "Early Pioneer Families of Victoria and Riverina" by Alexander Henderson.

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


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