Geelong and District

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NEWCOMB, Caroline Elizabeth

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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]

Caroline Elizabeth NEWCOMB
(1812 - 1874)

NEWCOMB, Caroline Elizabeth (1812-1874), pioneer squatter, was born in London on October 5, 1812, one of the daughters of Samuel Newcomb, British commissar in Spain.  Brought up by her grandmother after her father's death, she migrated to Van Diemen's Land in 1833 for health reasons.  Her later vigorous life after a delicate childhood shows the benefit of a change of air.  In April 1836 she accompanied the Batman family to Port Phillip as governess.  While there, she met Dr. Alexander Thomson and his family; in March 1837 she went to stay with them in Geelong.

Caroline's Journal was apparently still in existence when Dr. C. Irving Benson wrote A Century of Victorian Methodism but its present whereabouts are unknown.  In it she describes attending religious services at Dr. Thomson's house and in David Fisher's barn.  She became a committed Christian of the Wesleyan persuasion and was a useful and valued member of the group establishing the Methodist cause in South Geelong. She walked in to church at least twice a week but later travelled on horseback.

Anne Drysdale arrived at Port Phillip in March 1840 and soon after became a guest of Dr. Thomson.  He had offered to help her find a run.  She and Caroline became friends and, when Anne decided on "Boronggoop" as the site for her run, they also became partners.  Anne was an experienced farmer, but was also twenty years senior to Caroline.  A cottage was built for them, the Armstrong family and others entered their employ, and a comfortable, hospitable home was established.

This was testified to by their almost daily visitors, some of whom Caroline rode to fetch.  Often, after the guests had spent the night with the ladies, she would accompany them back home.  Among the visitors were Jane Thomson and Charlotte Fisher (they were pupils temporarily) and Lucy Batman, who came down when she was sick.  The picture emerges of the younger woman performing the more energetic task - she was reported to be firm and positive; no doubt such an attitude was useful when surrounded by men of all kinds!  She had her off moments - matters of conscience could have made her appear irritable.

As "Boronggoop" was held by licence, Miss Drysdale was anxious to own a freehold property.  By 1843 they had established an outstation, "Lap Lap", on Reedy Lake, and had heard of the run "Coryule", near modern Drysdale.  On July 18 they settled the sale of the property from Mr. Austin and by the late 1840s they were living there in the stone house "Coryule".  The new establishment needed more staff and the gold rushes made them difficult to obtain.  Caroline met incoming vessels to hire staff but was unsuccessful.  Their hospitality continued and they frequently had the preacher to dine on Sundays.  The ladies attended the original Methodist Church in Wyndham Street, Drysdale - it was later moved to a two acre block owned by Caroline where the present Uniting Church stands.

In June 1852 Anne Drysdale suffered a stroke; now an invalid, she survived until May 1853.  Caroline inherited the property.  She was elected a member of the first Portarlington Road Board and became its secretary.  On November 27, 1861, Caroline married Rev. James D. Dodgson at Wesley Church, Melbourne.  She accompanied her husband on Methodist circuit work.  After a fortnight's illness, she died at the Wesleyan Parsonage, Brunswick, on October 3, 1874, at the age of 62.  She was first buried with Anne Drysdale at "Coryule", but now the two lady squatters and the Rev. Dodgson are interred in the Eastern Cemetery, Geelong.

"Coryule" had been occupied by managers and lessees until Rev. Dodgson succeeded to it, but he had no special attachment to the property and he sold it in 1888-89.

Written by Ruth Hill who consulted P.L. Brown, Clyde Company Papers; I. Wynd, Balla-wein; C. Irving Benson, A Century of Victorian Methodism; J. Richardson, The Lady Squatters; C.P. Billot, Batman; R. Harcourt; Tasmanian Archives.

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 June 2009 04:27  

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