GOLD RUSH GILES WALKER
Joseph Walker son of Henry and Ruth Walker was born in 1809. Joseph is the brother of Ezekial Walker, the author's ancestor. Joseph Walker married Mary Montieth in 1844. Mary and Ester were the daughters of James and Ester Montieth of Whitehaven. Mary's sister Ester Montieth married Andrew McGill, a plumber and this is possibly how Joseph and Mary met with the two friends Joseph and Andrew both being plumbers in Whitehaven. Andrew was married to Ester a few years earlier in 1835.
Andrew and Ester (Ester pictured below) later had one son Abraham McGill who was a stationmaster at Braystones, St.Bees he married Maria Hilton in 1859 at Everton. Maria McGill was well known and the highly respected station mistress of Braystones Station and was the youngest daughter of Jonathon Hilton of Whitehaven, and when she died had been mistress of Braystones station for 38 years. Previous to that she and her husband, Abraham McGill, resided at Drigg and Seascale, where he was station-master and died in the latter place in 1874.
Braystones Station 1849
Maria McGill was well known and highly respected by the sailors who had the misfortune to be wrecked on that part of the
(Thankyou to Bob Joplin, Dot Ravenswood and the St.Bees website for providing me with above information and pictures.)
Abraham and Maria McGill had a daughter Sarah Eleanor McGill born 1864 in Whitehaven. Sarah Eleanor married the son of 'Goldrush Giles Walker' born in Maldon 1862. Goldrush Giles below born 1831 in Drigg is the father of the Giles who married Sarah Eleanor McGill. This is how Goldrush Giles branch links into the Walker Family Tree and his ancestor Dot Ravenswood is the author's friend and information source.
Giles Walker was born 18 March 1831 at Drigg, Cumberland, England. Giles was the son of William Pearson Walker and Elizabeth and was noted on the 1851 census for Whitehaven, Cumberland, England as a Grocer’s assistant. He sailed to Australia on the ‘Merlin’ and is listed in amongst the many passengers bound for Australia and arrived in the September of 1852. In a letter from one of the passengers on the Merlin, it was written that the passage and weather had been good and the ship arrived on the 12th September 1852 the weather was fine and spring-like and the first impressions of Melbourne were very good indeed.
The lack of accommodation in Melbourne was always a problem as the number of people arriving each day was huge and tent cities appeared everywhere, prices for basic items such as food and water were absorborent and inflated and life in these squalid conditions would not have been very good for Giles, a far cry from his first impressions of Melbourne. His green lush home on the other side of the world would have been much more appealing at that stage.
No doubt his journey to the Goldfields of Victoria wouldn’t have been easy as there was no roads then when gold was first discovered in Victoria. In those days everything to the Goldfields had to be carried by horses, bullocks or wheelbarrows from Melbourne, which sometimes took as long as the 14 weeks passage on the Merlin from England. It would have been a terrible journey then, in winter it would have been very cold, wet and very boggy and in the summer months the heat would have been awful with huge patches of bulldust to contend with that turned to mud and bog when raining and the threat of being attacked or killed by aborigines or bushrangers was very real.
Gold was discovered at Maldon, originally know as Tarrangower, in Victoria in 1853 causing a rush of vast amounts of diggers and no doubt that Giles Walker was amongst them. Giles met Isabella Bell of Alston, Cumberland England and married her at the home of Mr. William Temple in Maldon in 1857 and subsequently had 3 children, Elizabeth 1860 , son Giles Jnr 1862 and Fanny 1864, all born in Growler’s Gully, one of the many gold rich gullies in and around the Maldon area.
The Main Street of Maldon
Life would have been hard for Giles, Isabella and their three children in Growler’s Gully, it would have been freezing in winter with snow on the ground and stinking hot in the summer with temperatures sometimes in the high 30's. The conditions where squalid in the goldfields with hundreds of tents pitched everywhere and the ground full of holes. Men, women and children lived in tents or shanty huts made from canvas, wood and bark. Food and other goods had to be brought in by cart and were expensive. Overcrowding also meant that contagious diseases spread quickly.
Necessities such as: food, clothes, tools and horses were scarce and basic necessities were all you would find in a miner’s hut. There would have been a bed in the corner and holes in the walls helped the smoke out from the constantly burning fire. Laundry was all done by hand and the tub used as a bath, soap was often made by the wife and water boiled in a 4 gallon bucket over the fire. Water was scarce and often cost a much as two shillings and sixpence a bucket, so Giles’ family would all share the same water.
Extract From the Miles Lewis Card Index at the Maldon Archives
A Description of Growler’s Gully dated 31.8.1866
After Main St. and Beehive Chimney…
I crossed a ridge, and found myself in a most desolate looking region, completely destitute of trees, grass and every green thing, even the soil had been stripped off, leaving the bare rock exposed to view.
A little to the left of this I discovered a hamlet of rather seedy looking dwellings skirting a road leading towards the interior. The inhabitants had the good taste to protect a number of trees, which gives the place a picturesque appearance and affords pleasure to the eye.
After quitting the sterile region I have reffered to, on equiry I learned that this place was called “Growler’s Gully” a beastly name, certainly, and I was told that however appropriate it may have been originally it was a complete misnomer now, for the residents assured were happy and peaceful as could be desired. (Growler’s Gully actually got it’s name from the necessary presence of the Commisioner three or four times daily to settle disputes).
Unfortunately, there is not much to be seen at the place where Growler’s Gully was in Maldon today. On one ridge stands the Beehive Chimney with a few mining shafts of days gone by, the other side is now a gravel pit and one other side is flanked by a few modern style houses.
Today standing at the top looking down into the area, it looks like a grassy gully but it takes little imagination to picture how it was in the 1850’s when Giles and Isabella lived there.
The family returned to England about 1865, they are noted on the 1881 census in St. Bees, Cumberland, England and had two more children Sarah Ann Walker 1866, and Jane R. Walker 1868.
Sadly Giles died in 1872 aged 41 no doubt the harsh life in the goldields of Victoria took it's toll, so unfortunately he did not live long enough to have enjoyed any riches he may have made while he was in the Goldfields of Victoria, Australia.
What happened to the children born to Giles and Isabella Walker?
married GEORGE ALEXANDER EVERSFIELD, 1885.
GILES WALKER, b. 1862, Growler's Gully,
d. 1917, St.Bees,
FANNY WALKER, b. 1864, Maldon, Victoria, Australia; m. JOHN HARTLEY, 1888; of St.Bees, Schoolmaster.
(Pictured right are John Hartley his wife Fanny (nee Walker), his youngest daughter Dorothy, and his niece Isabel Eversfield.).
SARAH ANN WALKER, b. 1866, Gosforth,
JANE RUTH WALKER, b. 1868, St.Bees,
m. FREDERICK EVERSFIELD, 1898.
An Eversfield Wedding in 1914