About

This is the research blog of Janine Rizzetti,  history postgraduate student at La Trobe University. I am writing my thesis on Justice John Walpole Willis, the first Resident Judge of Port Phillip between 1841 and 1843- hence the name of this blog. What started out as a MA has grown into a Ph.D as I decided to examine not only his time in Port Phillip, but also his career in Upper Canada and British Guiana.

Hence, what started out as a Melbourne-centric history blog has sprouted interests in Upper Canada, the West Indies and 19th century British society more generally.  Because I love reading and reassure myself that I need to keep reading non-thesis books too, you’ll also find reviews of a range of fiction and non-fiction books as well.   I am based in Melbourne, Australia, and I write about everyday life in my hometown as well.

If you’d like to email me, my address is ‘residentjudge’ (one word, lower case) then @ symbol ‘gmail.com’.

24 responses to “About

  1. Great looking blog – I especially like the picture up top.

  2. I believe the North Melbourne lake was around where the North Melbourne rail station and train lines now are, stretching up to Arden Street, where the football oval and pool are.

    There are quotes from white settlers around the 1850s, in Mr Hannan’s book, which attest to its beauty. It was pumped full of human waste and was eventually deemed unsanitary by the North Melbourne (then Hotham) council, and hence drained.

    There were huge sanitary problems (and deaths) in the area due to human waste (feces).

  3. My Myers-Briggs assessed me as a researcher!
    I could have told them that beforehand.
    Bearbrass!

  4. Like the site.
    A pity I didn’t find it long ago as I have been researching Willis, The Twelve Apostles and 416 others who lived in Melbourne during Willis’ reign for many (too many) years and may have been able to assist.

  5. I have that many pieces of original correspondence personally signed by Port Phillip residents who lived here at the time.

    I have spent the last ……… (too many) years researching them and attempting to establish where they fitted in to the PP fabric of the time.

    Ten of the 12 Apostles, Three Resident Judges (including Willis), Solicitors, Doctors, Merchants, Squatters, Bakers, Innkeepers, Poundkeepers, Brick Makers, Street Sweepers and just plain settlers – you name it I have them.

    I am in the process of putting together a biographical tome of about 850 pages that I hope to publish within the next 12 months.

    Excluding the obvious standouts, very little, if anything, has ever been written about the vast majority of my subjects.

    • What an undertaking! That was one of the things that I wondered about with the Twelve Apostles- what was the web of connection that brought them to all be involved in this? Are there any collections of correspondence specifically about Judge Willis that you could point me to? My email address is at the top of the page if you’d prefer. I started doing a similar thing with the petitions signed for or against him, but found myself uncertain about duplicated and misspelled names. I hope you get it published- I’m sure that many people doing family history research would be interested in it.

  6. The email address it shows is
    no-reply@wordpress.com
    which does not accept mail.

    RE WILLIS

    The Royal Historical Society of Victoria have an extensive collection on Willis (‘The Willis Papers’) – I’m sure you already know this. Paul Mullaly used them extensively in his work.

    My personal collection also includes some documents written by Willis but nothing that really gives much insight into ‘what made him tick’.

    TWELVE APOSTLES

    I have an interesting seven page handwritten affidavit made by James Purves in January 1843 which outlines the establishment of the 12 Apostles and their indemnifying Rucker.

    It mentions all 12 but doesn’t really give much insight into how the 12 came together – to me it appears that they were drawn by a common interest – self protection (effectively offering indemnity to one another to aid business expansion and making money). How they socially met is another question.

    ALEXANDER MACKILLOP

    As a point of interest I also have a piece of correspondence from him which he signs MacKillop.

    In the correspondence I have from him he describes himself as a ‘Yeoman’ (owner of free title to land) so he clearly was a man of some means prior to the depression. He arrived on 12 November 1838 so he didn’t have a great deal of time to accumulate wealth – I would assume he was not wealthy when he arrived.

    Tony

  7. What an undertaking! That was one of the things that I wondered about with the Twelve Apostles- what was the web of connection that brought them to all be involved in this? Are there any collections of correspondence specifically about Judge Willis that you could point me to? My email address is at the top of the page if you’d prefer. I started doing a similar thing with the petitions signed for or against him, but found myself uncertain about duplicated and misspelled names. I hope you get it published- I’m sure that many people doing family history research would be interested in it.
    +1

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  9. Janine
    Who were the resident gossips in Port Phillip in the 1840s and 50s who left records of their gossip?
    Is the McKillop related to the George McKillop and Smith who held Strath Downie (later Glenormiston from early 1840 when Niel Black bought the rights to the run and some of the sheep) McKillop arrived in VDL in 1835 and came to PP in 1836. I have just started at Unimelb on the Black papers and there is stuff hidden in the odd comment on which I would like to expand. Trove is good for some things, but I was wondering if in your travels you had come upon any/one /thing particularly useful as a source outside the usual suspects like Garryowen etc. Or are these sources all in the etc.?

    • No- Alexander arrived in Sydney in January 1838, then came to Port Phillip after that. There seem to be many MacKillops (and many variations of the spellings!) but no, he was not involved with Niel Black.

      Garryowen is the main gossip (and what a gossip he was!), although in the newspapers there are other gossipy little features like “Bob Short” which appeared regularly in the Port Phillip Patriot. It’s a strange little paragraph of a string of observations and allusions that don’t make much sense now. e.g.
      Alack and well-a-day! Criminal Court- awful- learned Judge, robed &c &c- barristers- pretty horse-haired heads- full of- what? query- full of law, logic or lackadaisy- Judge Willis- suits Melbourne- straightforward, upright, plain, vigorous, painstaking, anxious to see awarded real justice- too hard on the C.P.- quite so”

      The Bunbury letters are online at SLV, and while not gossip as such, they are very newsy and good value.

      • I now find Alexander McKillop knew Black, as the shipping lists have them on the Ariadne arriving in Sydney in 1839. AMcK is implied to have come from Adelaide..

  10. Port Phillip settlement enthusiast

    what an exciting blog to discover :) I too am very interested in this – particularly so the cultural shift for gentlewomen arriving in Port Phillip :) we should start a messageboard and a coffee meetup for Port Phillip enthusiasts :)

  11. Shannon McKeogh

    I look forward to reading more of your book reviews!

  12. Hi Janine, we’re having a conversation about Women Writing History over on my blog and we need some input from a real-live historian. Can you join us, if you have time? See http://anzlitlovers.com/2012/09/18/women-and-nonfiction-overland-literary-journal/#comments

  13. Janine, have you come across a man named William Houstoun in your travels. I have a letter in the Niel Black papers (MS8996, Box 20) in which he mentions the Resident Judge of Port Phillip (sometime before 1843) in such a way as to suggest he knew him well. Houstoun ended up in Glasgow, where his brother John G Houstoun was a writer and Procurator Fiscal for Barony, writing to Black to ask him to use his (Black’s) powerful friends for patronage purposes in his favour. The letter is dated 26 Sep 1843 and the relevant para is “You are aware that I also brought a letter from the Resident Judge to Mr. Gladstone of the Board of Trade and others, members of the Legislature and it may be proper for you also to keep in view that the Judge at Port Phillip referred Lord S[tanley]. and the others to me for all information as to the administration of justice//Justice in the colony and the state of the colony generally. I had a letter from Mr. Gladstone acknowledging receipt of this letter, and referring me to Lord S[tanley]. I had a letter from the colonial office acknowledging receipt of the dispatches and a letter from me, stating my readiness to execute my commission. I mention these matters as it may be proper for your friends to know and to refer to them.”

    Cheers
    Kevin Brewer

  14. Meant to mention Houstoun was admitted to the colonial bar, and had spent some time in Sydney and Port Phillip, but I don’t as yet know much about him.

    Cheers
    Kevin Brewer

  15. Hi Janine, Congratulations on your blog! I have nominated you for a Liebster Blog Award. You can visit my blog page for the details. http://branchesofourfamily.wordpress.com/
    Cheers Susan

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  18. hello -enjoyed your comments upon EGW.
    Despite the balanced work of Temple Egw has been largely dismissed by hagiologists such as Moon .
    The anticolonial cringe is strong here in NZ ‘ .Its a pity that our much needed Maori renaissance should seem to require such polarisation.
    Historical perspective is a fascinating thing. Best Wishes – Ray Caird

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