This Week in Port Phillip 1841: May 1-7

NEVER A MORE EXCITING TIME TO BE…A BUTCHER!

On the 4th May, the butcher, George Jackson, advertised that he would be opening up his premises in Queen Street:

The undersigned begs respectfully to inform the inhabitants of Melbourne that he will commence business This Day, Tuesday the 4th Inst as a Butcher in that new shop, next to the stores of Messrs Thomas Enscoe and James in Queen Street, where he hopes by strict attention to business and always keeping the best of meat on hand at the lowest renumerating price to merit a share of public approval’ GEORGE JACKSON. (PPH 4/5/41)

According to the editorial of the very same paper, there was no more lucrative time to be a butcher, although the editorial writer characterized it more as price-gouging than ‘agility’. Sheep averaging 60lbs in weight could be purchased at 12/6d a head, and after deducting the value of head and pluck, suet and skin at 2/6d, the cost would be 10s.  The meat was retailed at 5d per pound, the whole carcass thereby producing 25s or 150% profit.   Likewise cattle averaging 700lbs could be purchased for £8/15/- and retailed at 6d per pound of £17/10/- thus leaving a net profit of £8/15/- or 100% profit.

But what about expenses? The Port Phillip Herald editorialist estimated the staffing and ongoing costs of a butchering establishment to be:

  • 2 butchers; one for slaughtering the other for cutting up or serving in the shop at £2 5s a week or £117 each per year
  • One clerk/collector and one overseer/stockman at £150 per week
  • Expenses of horse, cart, driver &c £120 per annum
  • Rent £200

Mr Jackson seemed to make a go of it.  There was still a George Jackson, butcher, in Queen Street in 1847 (although its not clear from the Victoria before 1848 website whether it’s the same George Jackson or not).

…OR A MILLER!

Mr John Dight from Campbelltown in Sydney arrived in Port Phillip in early May and announced that he would be building a water-driven mill at what is now known as Dight’s Falls. He had purchased land in the district in 1838 and had already established a successful milling operation in Sydney.  He used the same name, Ceres, for the Port Phillip mill. Construction of the mill from bricks from Van Diemen’s Land also involved the construction of an artificial weir which forms the ‘falls’ today.

Mr Dight who arrived in Melbourne on Hans from Sydney, a few days since, intends erecting a water flour mill on the banks of the Yarra Yarra at “Gardiners Falls” about two miles from town.  At starting, two pairs of stones will be worked, but an extra pair may be added should it be found necessary. A mill of this description has been long wanted, and will be found a valuate acquisition to the town. Operations are to be commenced forthwith.

Falls of the Yarra  at Dights Mill.

Fall of the Yarra at Dight’s Falls by Charles Norton 1855, State Library of Victoria

http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/50610

TWO DEATHS

In the Supreme Court sitting at the end of April, Judge Willis announced that he wanted to clear out the jail of unresolved cases that had been in abeyance waiting for his arrival. His attention fell on two indigenous men who had been held in custody for murder since August 1840, awaiting the transmission and return of depositions to Sydney. By this time, both men were gravely ill. Willis read to the court a despatch from the Secretary of State to Governor Gipps dated 31 December 1839 relating to the treatment of Aborigines, and read extracts from the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons 1837. Willis attributed their illness to their long period of confinement and pointed out that there was as yet no evidence and there had been no cross-examination of witnesses. He asked that the men be taken to hospital and put under the care of the Aboriginal Protectors. (PPH 30/4/41)

It was too late:

Yesterday another inquest was convened at the Lam Inn, Collins-Street, upon view of the body Kongho Marnee, an aboriginal, who died in the Government Hospital on Saturday last. The deceased was one of the blacks committed in August last year, on suspicion of murder. The unhappy creature, from the time of his commitment, appeared labouring under an impression that he would be hanged, and had been pining away from the time of his commitment until the period of his death. Dr Cussen who examined the body, gave it as his opinion, that deceased had come to his death from the confinement he had undergone, combined with a broken spirit. The body exhibited no tangible disease.  The Jury returned a verdict of “Died by the visitation of God.”

And then, days later another death:

On Monday night an inquest was held at the gaol, before Dr Wilmot, Coroner, on view of the body of an Aborigine, named We-na-baer-nee, brother of Kohoga Marnee..who died at the hospital on Sunday morning, almost immediately after hearing of the death of his relative: the sympathetic affection even in the bosom of this savage appeared too finely strung to bear up against the loss.  The Jury returned a verdict of ‘Died by the visitation of God.”

Visitation of God indeed.

A RUCKUS IN THE STORE SHIP

My, my- I think that there’s mischief afoot between the Captain and young Eliza:

Eliza Baynes or Collin, assigned to Captain Passmore of the Samuel Cunard, store ship, was charged by her master with entering the cabin of that vessel on Sunday night about eight o’clock, having between her lips a short dudeen   [a short tobacco pipe made of clay], the fragrance from which rose in mimic clouds and penetrated to the most secret recesses of the cabin, rendering it anything but pleasant to the nostrils.  Captain P. not approving of this course of proceeding, requested she would proceed on deck, and there inhale the perfume and bestow its fragrance on the desert air; no sooner were the orders given, that Eliza seized a tumbler from the table and discharged it at the head of Captain P. who fortunately avoided the missile by a dexterous shifting of his position- his starboard whisker only being grazed as it whizzed by.  The interesting Eliza, not satisfied, danced a pas scul on a wash-hand-basin, which was quickly reduced to fragments, upon which she was given in charge.  In defence the virago hinted something about “the Green Eyed Monster: but took nothing by her motion

The Bench expressed surrpise that, being an assigned servant, she had been allowed to come to Port Phillip contrary to regulations. After all, Port Phillip was ostensibly not a convict colony, but there were in fact many assigned servants attached to settlers who had come from Sydney or Van Diemen’s Land.   Capt P replied by Mr Eyde Manning had signed the permission and that the prisoner had come down with Mrs P in the Clonmel (you’ll remember that the Clonmel was later wrecked on the Gippsland coast)

Captain Passmore would not have to put up with her smoking in his cabin in future.  She was returned to the Female Factory in Sydney at Capt. P’s expense. (PPH 7/5/41)

HOON DRIVING

On Friday a drunken drayman named Welsh, while in a state of intoxication and seated upon his dray, flogged his horse most violently; the animal started off down Williams-street at the top of its speed, and in its career narrowly escaped running over the Rev Mr Orton and two other gentlemen; rounding into Flinders Street, at the wharf, the draw came in contact with a large stone and was capsized, jerking the driver within a few inches of the Yarra Yarra.  Upon being brought before the Police Magistrate the following day, he was fined 20s for the furious driving  (PPH 7/5/41)

AND THE WEATHER?

The highest temperature for the week was 78 (25.6) and the lowest 41 (5 celsius). There were light winds on 1st and 2nd and a gale on 3rd. [Odd- this sounds very much like this week in 2016, which also had a gale on 3rd and temperatures this week of 25 degrees] The weather was damp and cloudy until 4th, afterwards bright and clear.

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3 responses to “This Week in Port Phillip 1841: May 1-7

  1. Now I know where the names Dights and Ceres come from.

  2. Bit rough on the butcher to advertise all his profit margins – perhaps he refused to advertise.

    • residentjudge

      Actually, when I read on a bit further into the next week, a butcher wrote in, complaining that he didn’t make anything like the profit margins that the editorial suggested.

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