About this blog

This blog is about the history of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and neighbouring areas, such as Pakenham, Cranbourne and Garfield, and any other historical subjects I feel like writing about. It's my own original research and writing and if you live in the area you may have read some of the stories before in the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society newsletter or the Koo-Wee-Rup township newsletter, The Blackfish, or the Garfield township newsletter, The Spectator.
Heather Arnold.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall

Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall were business partners and were prominent land owners in this area  from the 1850s. They controlled over 20,000 acres (about 8,000 hectares) which they called their Western Port Runs and the properties covered the area from around Clyde to Lang Lang.

John Mickle (1814-1885) arrived in Melbourne in 1838. He came from Berwickshire in Scotland, where his family were farmers, and not especially wealthy, but John was ambitious and an astute businessman. He set up as a Stock and Station agent and was later joined by John Bakewell (1807-1888).  Bakewell, from Nottingham in England, had arrived in Victoria in 1840, along with his brother Robert, his sister Phoebe and her husband, Dr Godwit Howitt, who was a botanist and entomologist.  In 1848, Mickle and Bakewell sold out to Richard Goldsborough who later established the Goldsborough Mort Company which merged with Elders Smith in 1962.

Previous to this, Mickle had built a house in Collingwood, and owned seven acres of land adjoining Chapel Street in Prahran, which was valued at £100 per acre. Mickle and John Bakewell then purchased 159 aces in Kew  - the 75 acres facing Studley Park Road cost them £20 per acre and the rest £13 per acre. According to Ian McLachlan's interesting blog Yallambie Bakewell and his brother Robert purchased land in the north of Melbourne in 1842, which they called Yallambie - the area is now partly occupied by the Yallambie Army barracks. Mickle and Bakewell also held various large properties around Victoria such as the Numeralla run on the Snowy River, near Orbost and the Brenanah run near Wedderburn.

In 1851, Mickle and Bakewell joined with William Lyall and formed the partnership of Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall. William Lyall (1821-1888) had arrived in Hobart in 1836 with his mother, Helen, his two sisters and two of his brothers. William’s father, John, was already in Tasmania, having left Scotland in 1833. William was ambitious and realised that to purchase land he needed to amass capital and so began trading sheep and cattle. By the time he was twenty, William was making frequent trips to the markets in Melbourne with cattle. William settled in Melbourne and was later joined by his widowed mother and other family members.

Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall started their partnership by acquiring, in 1851, the Tobin Yallock (also called Yallock or Torbinurruck) run of 1,920 acres - this run was located on the Yallock Creek. In the same year they acquired Red Bluff (south of Lang Lang) and then the Tooradin Run in 1852 and the Great Swamp Run in 1854.

By 1854, the trio were very wealthy. Mickle had married Margaret Lyall (William’s sister) in 1851 and in 1854 they all returned to Great Britain for a holiday - John and Margaret Mickle, her mother and her brother, William Lyall, and his wife Annabelle (nee Brown) and their three children; John Bakewell and his brother also went plus about seven others. The group embarked on February 25, and did not clear the Heads at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay until March 1; they arrived in London on May 22. The party toured London and other parts of England.  John and Margaret Mickle returned to Melbourne in 1857 and had a house at the top end of Collins Street. However in 1861 they left again and sailed to the port of Suez in Egypt and then overlanded to London and then onto Scotland. They purchased a house in Scotland and John died there in 1885 at the age of 71.  Two personal facts about John Mickle - he was  a man who strictly celebrated the Sabbath and he was described as a  ‘huge man’, well over six foot tall, taller than his wife Margaret who at six foot tall was extraordinarily tall for  a woman in those days. They must have been an imposing looking couple.

In December of 1856 the trio divided their jointly owned land. Bakewell’s portion included Tooradin, the Tobin Yallock pre-emptive right (renamed Turkeith), Red Bluff pre-emptive right and Warrook on the Yallock Creek.  Warrook was sold to W.C. Greaves in 1904, who built the existing homestead in 1906. Bakewell, like Mickle, did not actually live on his properties, he divided his land into a number of properties amongst which were Ballarto, Sherwood Forest, Tooradin Swamp and Yallambie - clearly a name that resonated with Bakewell and the source of the name Yallambie Road in Clyde - and they were leased out. Bakewell sold his land gradually in the 1870s and 1880s. These properties provided him with an income to return to England where he lived at Old Hall in Balderton, Nottingham. The 1881 English Census shows that the family had five servants and a teacher living with them, so it was a comfortable lifestyle.  In 1859, John had married Emily Howitt (a niece of his brother in law) and they had four children. He died at Balderton in 1888.

Mickle received the Upper Yallock blocks which he renamed Monomeith. John’s brother Alexander Mickle and his wife Agnes managed the Yallock and Monomeith properties for John Mickle.  Their son David was the grandfather of the local historian, Dave Mickle, who has written various books about the local area.

William Lyall received the Yallock pre-emptive right and it was on this land that William and Annabelle commenced the construction of Harewood house in about 1857.  The Lyall family moved into the completed building in 1868, from Frogmore, their house on 93 acres in Carnegie.   Lyall was an energetic farmer, who had cattle, sheep, grew potatoes, wheat and oats and also tried oyster cultivation. He was a Shire of Cranbourne Councillor, first President of the Mornington Pastoral and Agricultural Society, a founder of the Victorian Agricultural Society, the Zoological Society, the Acclimatisation Society and the Victorian Racing Club. During this time Annabelle ran the household and bore twelve children between December 1849 and April 1869. Three children died before they turned three and one as a teenager. Of the remaining eight, six married with Helen and Florence remaining single. The last Lyall at Harewood was Florence who died in 1951, at home. The property was sold out of the family in 1967.

Mickle, Bakewell and Lyall have streets named after them or family members in Koo-Wee-Rup, Tooradin and Cranbourne.


William Lyall (on the left) with John Mickle, 1853

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