Geelong and District

...covering local and family history in the greater Barwon region

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A Geelong Biographical Register entry reproduced with the kind permission of the Geelong Historical Society.  [© 2000 Geelong Historical Society, Geelong, Victoria]

(1813 - 1883)

IBBOTSON, Charles (1813-1883), merchant, woolbroker, pastoralist, was born in Derbyshire, England, the son of Samuel Ibbotson, farmer.  He migrated first in the early 1830s to Sydney where he gained mercantile experience before moving on to Geelong soon after 1850.  He was appointed colonial manager-partner to F.G. Dalgety whose business became world-wide, after initially dealing with squatters' needs and produce.  Dalgety and Ibbotson first advertised in the Geelong Advertiser on December 29, 1853.  Ibbotson was also appointed one of the local directors of the Union Bank, a position he held twice, 1854-1860 and 1865-1883.  He made several trips to Europe, ostensibly for his health or for acorns for the Botanic Gardens, but possibly to report to Dalgety in London.

Ibbotson was involved in public affairs throughout his life.  He was interested in the immigration of Chinese labourers in 1852; he was a member of the Changer of Commerce committee which prepared a report requesting the formation of a harbour trust for Geelong; he was a trustee of the Geelong and District Orphanage when it opened in 1855.  Although not mentioned in Snell's diary, he supported the proposal to build the Geelong-Melbourne railway quite early and was president of the Committee in 1857; he was involved again in 1878 when the line was extended to the racecourse.

In 1857 Ibbotson attended his first meeting of the Committee of Management of the Botanic Gardens, and remained connected with it until the 1870s, serving as chairman three times.  During this time the proposed extension of Malop Street through the Gardens was opposed, and the Committee discovered that the original application for a Crown Grant for the Gardens land had never been ratified when it tried to stop the encroachment of the limeburners on the seaward side of the Gardens.  During the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh in 1867, Ibbotson presented an Address of Welcome and supervised the planting of a Wellingtonia Gigantia by the Prince near other commemorative trees.  March 1874 saw the transfer of the Gardens' management to the Geelong Town Council for economic reasons.

During the 1860s Ibbotson became a councillor of the Borough of Newtown and Chilwell, serving as Mayor from 1866 to 1869.  In 1866 he entertained friends and fellow councillors at his new home on Newtown Hill.  In that year he also presided over a meeting at Mack's Hotel to form an acclimatization society.  In 1871 he became a trustee of St. Paul's Church of England along with James Volum and Foster Shaw.  In September 1875 he brought the Chamber of Commerce building, no longer required by that organization, and sold it for a similar sum to the Free Library Committee who re-opened it as a library on September 15, 1876.

Early maps show two acres in Newtown belonging to C. Ibbotson and in 1865 he bought 60 adjoining acres from Duncan Hoyle.  Here, in 1874, he located a portable wooden house of German manufacture, purchased from Frederick Bauer.  This he named "The Heights".  Verandas, bow windows, stables and water tower were added soon after the house was established.  A billiard room was built in 1875.  The property is now in the care of the National Trust.

In 1865 Ibbotson bought "Spray House" on the cliff above Corio Bay towards Portarlington from J.C. Langdon.  The house, built in 1851, was a single storey brick villa in "Picturesque" style designed by John Young.  It had a slate roof and an encircling veranda with mechanical louvre screens for shelter, needed on this headland.  The "Victorian Gothic" stables were designed by Davidson and Henderson in 1875.  Formerly known as "Ellendale" the name was changed to "Spray House" or "Spray Farm", possibly in 1849 but definitely by 1875.  There seems to be no connection with Slocum's circumnavigation in the sloop Spray in 1895, as has sometimes been suggested.

Charles Ibbotson married Mary Anne Dickens at Christ Church, St. Laurence, Sydney, on June 12, 1850.  He died at his Newtown residence after a long illness on October 20, 1883, aged 70 years.  His wife had predeceased him in 1882 and he was buried with her in the Western Cemetery.  They were survived by their family of two sons and four daughters.  His estate was passed for probate at £86,998.

The firm of Dalgety's still exists as Ibbotson's most notable memorial - to people in Geelong he was Dalgety's.  The two properties, "The Heights" and "Spray Farm", and Ibbotson Street, Indented Head, are other reminders of his contribution to the district.

Written by Ruth Hill who used Investigator; Morrow Index to Geelong Advertiser; W.R. Brownhill, History of Geelong and Corio Bay; Australian Dictionary of Biography; G. Jones, Growing Together; Government Records (Sydney); National Trust; P. de Serville, Pounds and Pedigrees.

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 June 2009 04:26  

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