AUS-VIC-HIGH-COUNTRY-L ArchivesArchiver > AUS-VIC-HIGH-COUNTRY > 2002-10 > 1034192182
From: "jfawcett" <>
Subject: Re: [HC] W.F.A. RUCKER
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 05:36:22 +1000
Just a little extra......
Patricius (P.W.) Welsh was an ex Constable from Launceston who moved over in
the wake of the pioneer settlement of Melbourne...Welsh was reprimanded once
for his over zealousness in prosecuting in the Launceston region <s>
I guess it was worth it because the Constables used to get a portion of the
fines from convictions......
by the late 1830's early 40's he had become an 'Esquire'... in 1841 they
lived at YARRA COTTAGE.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Maureen De Bolfo" <>
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2002 8:34 PM
Subject: [HC] W.F.A. RUCKER
> Denise, Di & Jenny,
> To-day I went to the Northcote Library which I thought was in a building
in High Street, Northcote at the top of Rucker's Hill. However, the Library
had moved to another location and I found oodles about the man.
Unfortunately, nothing to connect him to the box.
> Mr. Rucker's name appears as one of the original purchasers of Crown Land
in Northcote in 1839 in what was the first subdivision. The following is
taken from a book "The Northcote side of the River" by Andrew Lemon:
> 'Hoddle, as surveyor, was only too aware of what he called 'the great
demand for land caused by the rapid influx of emigrants of Capital into the
District', and in January 1840 he wrote to the new superintendant of Port
Phillip, charles La Trobe, recommending that further pieces of land be
placed on the market. these should include
> the small sections in the Parish of Jika from the Mooney Mooney Chain of
Ponds to the Darebin Creek and Yarra Yarra River being the whole that
remains unsold in hte parish of Jika Jika with the exception of the Reserves
ordered by the Governor.
> These 'small sections' were long blocks, narrow to give as many frontages
as possible to the creeks and the Yarra. Those in today's Northcote and
Fairfield area ranged from 92 to 140 acres except for a larger block on the
bend of the Yarra at alphington.
> 'Immense was the crowd of people: a goodly and respectable assemblage.'
Richard Howitt had been in Port Phillip for barely two months, and was
attending 'the most celebrated of the land sales at Port Phillip - that of
June 10th, 1940. There it was that the land mania was the most rabid.'
> The most expensive of the Merri Creek allotments were the two bought by
William Frederick Augustus Rucker for a total of £2,266.10s. these included
the most prominent geographical feature of the Northcote district, the
steep, flat-topped hill, and rucker clearly agreed with Gellibrand that it
afforded a most eligible situation for a homestead.
> Rucker was thrity-four when he bought his land at Northcote. Born in
Germany, he was the son of an officer in the French army. In 1835 he had
sailed to Tasmania after working for a time in London. He established
himself as a wine merchant in Hobart. Two years later he moved to Port
Phillip, establishing one of Melbourne's first stores. In February 1838 he
also opened Melbourne's first bank, an agency for the Derwent Bank of
Hobart. this merged with the Union Bank, of which Rucker became a Director.
His enterprises seemed lucrative, and he bought land extensively. In 1841
he retired from his business pursuits and built a large mansion on the brow
of rucker's Hill, described a few months later as 'the most extensive
country house in the district, with stables, coach house, sheds, etc., and a
garden in a high state of cultivation. the site of Rucker's house was
Bayview Street by the corner of Hight Street. It was demolished in 1925 for
an Anglican Church.
> Rucker extended his property early in 1841 by buying the adjoining block
on the north side of Mitchell Street, originally purchased by J. Cunningham.
the sum paid was said to be £2,500. or more than double the £1,167. 12s paid
by Cunningham the year before. As the records of these transactions are
incomplete, they must be treated with some caution: but it would appear
that later that year Patricius Welsh bought into partnership with Rucker and
> Welsh was an unfortunate choice for a partner, for he was soon in severe
financial difficulties. On 3 september 1842 the Port Phillip Gazette
reported a meeting of Welsh's creditors who agreed to accept the payment of
eight shillings for every pound he owed. the Gazette said that Welsh,
'since his establishment in business as a Melbourne merchant, has been
personally remarkable for his industry and activity, while his talents have
rendered him no less respected than his liberality has made him admired'.
For this reason, the Gazette claimed, welsh's creditors had treated him with
restraint. but his financial position deteriorated further and his affairs
occupied the Insolvency court for many months to come.
> Before this calamity, rucker had obtained a £10,000 advance from the Union
Bank on the guarantee of ten prominent Melbourne businessmen including J.P.
Fawkner, J.H. Patterson, Alexander McKillop and J.B. Were. Rucker and Welsh
also sold two small pieces of the Northcote land, in 1842 - two acres to
Daniel Watson and several acres on the top of Rucker's Hill, opposite the
mansion, to George James. This latter piece of prime land was for many
years known as James's Paddock, and it included the site of the Northcote
town Hall. These sales and the £10,000 loan failed to salvage the
situation. rucker followed Welsh into insolvency in February 1843, and a
'Great Sale of Urban Property' was announced for 1 March. this was to
include all his remaining Northcote land and two big blocks on the other
side of the Merri Creek, as well as 'the substantial and extensive
improvements' including the mansion itself.
> the sale never took place. the Gazette announced a postponement for three
or four weeks, but there was no further information. Obviously the reason
was that land prices and demand had fallen dramatically. rucker's collapse
dragged down in turn each of the ten guarantors of the loan, and they all
became insolvent. the Union Bank, from which Rucker had retired as a
director with the air of such prosperity in 1841, became the owner of the
> Insolvencies were embarrassingly common in Melbourne in 1842-43. Henry
worsley was another victim, and went home. But financial failure did not
prevent men like rucker, Welsh, Fawkner, Were or Patterson from starting in
business once again. By the end of the decade rucker had re-established
himself as a wine and spirit dealer in elizabeth Street, Melbourne, though
he was never to scale the same heights of fortune again.
> I'm knocking off for a while to watch a programme on the T.V. I'll be