Tuesday 19 June 2012


John Pascoe Fawkner (20 October 1792 – 4 September 1869) was an early pioneer, businessman and politician of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. In 1835 he financed a party of free settlers from Van Diemen's Land (now called Tasmania), to sail to the mainland in his ship, Enterprize. Fawkner's party sailed to Port Phillip and up the Yarra River to found a settlement which became the city of Melbourne.

When the Enterprize was ready to leave in August 1835, at the last moment creditors prevented Fawkner from joining the voyage. On board the Enterprize as it departed George Town, were Captain John Lancey, Master Mariner (Fawkner’s representative); George Evans, builder; William Jackson and Robert Marr, carpenters; Evan Evans, servant to George Evans; and Fawkner’s servants, Charles Wyse, ploughman, Thomas Morgan, general servant, James Gilbert, blacksmith and his pregnant wife, Mary, under Captain Peter Hunter. On 15 August 1835, Enterprize entered the Yarra River. After being hauled upstream, she moored at the foot of the present day William Street. On 30 August 1835 the settlers disembarked to build their store and clear land to grow vegetables. The Fawkners arrived in the Port Phillip District, on Friday, 16 October 1835, on the second trip of the Enterprize. Fawkner's diary reads: 'Warped up to the Basin, landed 2 cows, 2 calves and the 2 horses.'

Fawkner was keen to secure his place in history. He opened Melbourne's first hotel on the corner of William St and Flinders Lane. He published the Melbourne Advertiser on 1 January 1838 which was the district's first newspaper. The Advertiser's first nine or ten weekly editions were handwritten in ink. An old wood press and some type were eventually obtained from Launceston and the first printed edition appeared on 5 March 1838. It was to last for a further 17 editions when it was closed down on 23 April 1838 for want of a newspaper license from Sydney. The Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser was commenced on 6 February 1839 by newly licensed John Pascoe Fawkner. It was published daily commencing on 15 May 1845.
John Fawkner and Mrs Eliza Fawkner in 1856 as painted by William Strutt
Fawkner acquired a property in 1839 as one of eleven lots in the subdivision of the Coburg district by the government surveyor, Robert Hoddle. The property was called Pascoeville, and was bounded approximately by the Moonee Ponds Creek, Gaffney Street, Northumberland Road and the western prolongation of Boundary Road. He lived at his farmhouse and at his townhouse in Collingwood between 1840 and 1855. In 1845 he served as a member of the Market Commission in the Town Council.

In 1851 Fawkner was elected to the first Legislative Council of the Port Phillip District (Talbot electorate), and in 1856 he was elected to the first Parliament of the self-governing colony of Victoria, as MLC for Central Province, the seat he held until his death on 4 September 1869. In Melbourne as in Launceston, he made many enemies, before dying as the grand old man of the colony on 4 September 1869 in Smith Street, Collingwood at the age of 77. At his funeral over 200 carriages were present, and 15,000 persons were reported to have lined the streets on his burial day, 8 September 1869. He was buried at the Melbourne General Cemetery. He and Eliza did not have any children.

Melbourne General Cemetery is quite enormous...
So it is good to have these handy guides around the place!
This post is part of Julie's Taphophile Tragics meme.


  1. Wonderful, fascinating history, Nick! That's just one of the things that I do so enjoy your posts -- a chance to learn more about the history of Australia/Melbourne! Terrific and wonderful captures, of course!! Hope your week is off to a great start!!


  2. What a wealth of information! Thank you for the extensive research you do for your posts! Fascinating!

  3. Golly, so many John Fawkners married to too many Eliza Fawkners!! You say he was keen to cement his place in history, and yet he had no off-spring. Many a historical figure has discarded wives when similarly placed.

    He does come across as an austere fellow. His portrait resembles Rembrandt's Dutch burghers, and his tomb is very Presbyterian!!

    That board that you feature in your final photograph, Nick, is very much like the image that I downloaded for Springvale Botannical Cemetery, which the office down there gave me bigger version of. However, it did not seem to help because there were very few markers in situ to guide ones' bearings.

    Thanks for yet another contribution to Taphophile Tragics. I treasure you each time I read a post. Don't worry about being 'slack'. You aren't at all. And I do know about slack, and being pressed for time. Same goes for me over the last few weeks.

  4. Interesting post and photos.

  5. Such an interesting post Nick. Congratulations on your research. You mention that John Pascoe made enemies before his death. I suppose that this is not unusual for a man of such position. I am intrigued though. I wonder who they were. Another story for another day.

  6. You did a lot of research, thanks for sharing this wonderful story and the pictures of the people.

  7. Fantastic post. It looks like a very interesting cemeter to visit.

    Brilliant photos.

    Herding Cats

  8. Glad they have a guide. It looks like a huge cemetery! Must be an interesting place to visit.

  9. So THAT's how Melbourne started!

  10. He looks like H.C.Andersen....

  11. Fawkner's tomb looks so much like a slice of a chapel, protecting! Intriguing post on another perspective of Melbourne's history!

  12. in one of the pics the cemetery looks quite bare, with just the stones and the gates but not much grass!
    15000 people at your funeral... puuh...!

  13. Oh, I wish our cemetery had such a guide.
    I imagine it is not unusual to have many enemies if your goal is to mark your name in history.


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