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abt 1900


abt 1905

The Rawson & Redenbach Families

Out of Gippsland

John Rawson (b 1764) & Richard Rawson (b 1795)

John Rawson (b 1764) is the first Rawson shown in my records.  In 1792 he married Jane Jefferson in North Frodingham, Yorkshire, and they had six children.  I have no information about Jane's family.  Their second child, Richard, was born in 1795 and it seems he was a labourer.


Richard married Mary Ezard in 1824 in the coastal Yorkshire town of Bridlington. Richard is the reason, or at least part of the reason, for my first name.  There is at least one "Richard" in each of the following generations up to, and including, mine.  This letter, which is now not entirely understandable, was sent by Richard & Mary to their Australian relatives in 1868.


George Rawson (b 1842) was the last of their six children and it was he, together with his wife Mary Hercliff, who came to Australia at a very young age to begin a new life.

George Rawson (b 1842)

George was born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, England in February 1842, and he married Mary Hercliff in November 1861. In July 1862, George and Mary arrived in the Colony of Victoria on the ship 'Boanerges'. In October 2015 Allen Evans provided me with a copy of his article about the voyage, and if you have a particular interest in the voyage he would welcome you contacting him about it.You can access a copy here. The nature of the voyage indicates that both George and Mary were sponsored by the Colony to leave home and settle here. 

(Note that there is some evidence that the Hercliff surname was changed from the earlier Horscliff, which you will see if you follow back through Mary's family.)

Why did they come to Australia? There is no evidence that indicates why they decided to move halfway around the world, but they ended up in the region of Walhalla, Victoria, that was to prove very productive for gold until the end of the 1800's. George was not the only world traveller in the family. His eldest brother, John, migrated to the USA, and his nearest brother, Francis, migrated to Canada where he became a farmer, and married to have thirteen children.

It is probable that their first child, Henry, was born in Melbourne in September 1862. Henry, or Harry, Rawson was to become the last manager of the famous Long Tunnel Extended Mine in Walhalla. Before this he was the underground manager of the mine. George and Mary's second child, Richard, was born in Stratford, East Gippsland in January 1864 and their third child, Margaret, was also born in Stratford, in 1865.

Stratford is now a small town in East Gippsland between Sale and Bairnsdale. Why were George and Mary's second and third children born in Stratford (or at least in the region of Stratford given the way in which births were recorded at that time), so far from Melbourne and still some distance from Walhalla? This next bit is pure conjecture, but it is possible that the family travelled to the gold fields via an ocean trip to Port Albert. In fact there was probably no other way to do the trip at that time. Stratford would have been on the overland route into the Crooked River goldfields, and also close to the route to the Walhalla goldfields via Sale and Toongabbie. If viewed in that light, Stratford does not seem such an odd location for members of the family to be born after all. Presumably it was gold that finally lured the family into the Walhalla area, and the remaining eight children are recorded as having been born in Walhalla, although again this may simply mean the Walhalla region, given the way births were recorded. By this time, George and Mary had been in the Colony of Victoria for nearly three years. What did they do in those three years?

The last child was Frederick (b 1879), born in October 1879. He was killed  while serving in the AIF in France in 1917.

There are Rawsons right across Gippsland these days, and many are directly connected to George and Mary.

The 1908 Ratepayers Register for Walhalla, found at the Walhalla Museum, contains the following information: George Rawson - Miner, House Allotment 139.  Mary Rawson - Home Duties. At some stage, however, George gave up mining and became a farmer. Perhaps he finished mining because he could not make a living. In December 1867 he was listed as "insolvent" with liabilities of £57 and assets of 15 shillings, not a good position to be in just five years after arrival, although he was discharged from insolvency in April 1868. The farm may have been called "Burlington", which makes sense when it is known that Bridlington in Yorkshire was once called Burlington, but it may also have been the name of the farm owned by his son Charles.  

Extracts in the right hand column gives some insight into George as a farmer, and perhaps as a mining and business man.

These maps (Plan & Google Map) show the location of George's farm.

This letter from George to an unknown person or organisation illustrates at least some of the financial difficulties the family had in trying to establish the farm.

A copy, which is very difficult to read, of George's will indicates he divided his assets between Mary and his youngest three surviving children.  One of those children was Charles, born in 1876, and it is this advertisement in the Traralgon Record which provides the possibility the farm was called Burlington. I say "possibility" because Charles also came to own a farm and perhaps this advertisement applies to his own property.

George Rawson

Mary Hercliff




Mountain Gold - Extracts (J Adams, 1980)

"In 1885 Henry Tisdall was to write that the "selectors are entirely composed of old residents of Walhalla for up to the present Moondarra is almost 'terra incognita' to the rest of the world."  There were certainly a number of Walhalla residents at the time among the farmers of Moondarra.  George Rawson was a miner who settled near Neander (a blacksmith from Walhalla) in late 1876, and William Parker of the Long Tunnel Extended had a block to the furtherest north from Neander on the site of what was to be Parker's Corner, managed by his brother, Frank.  A factor in their taking up land in the area was that gold had been discovered here and there and the settlers could combine farming with prospecting.

Rawson, a Yorkshireman with his eleven children, managed to develop a prosperous farm with the fairly unique method of preparing the land by using pigs to work through each paddock, rooting up the rootcrops he had planted and manuring the soil.  William Jones, to his north, was another early selector who grew chiefly oats and potatoes.  Bert Lehmann had more varied crops and included fruit trees.  Charles Nott had two large blocks to the west of Lehmann's.  To the east of Rawson's were the blocks of C. E. Brown, the Bouvards and E. Nelson.  Brown was one of the many selectors who cut out the timber on his land for use in Walhalla.  The Bouvards packed fruit and vegetables into Walhalla, but suffered severely when their house was burnt down in 1892.  Nelson's block was taken over in the 1890s by the sawmiller, John Murie.  To the west of these selections were the isolated blocks of John Nugent and William Lundy on the Upper Tyers River".
"Similarly the Eclipse Deep Lead Company was started (in the late 1880's) by the local selectors, Rawson (I presume George) and Jones, while Andy Templeton launched the Royal Mint Co., and there were several other mines, few of which were productive."



Other Family Members of George Rawson (b 1842)

Of their eleven children three, Mary, Francis and William died at very young ages, and were buried, as far as we know on the farm.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is trying to confirm this. Frederick (b 1879), the last born, was killed in France in October 1917 while serving in the AIF.
Henry, the first born, in 1862, married Henrietta Horrocks in 1884, and of their six children only one, Constance Emily, reached adulthood.  "He was the last manager of the Long Tunnel Extended Mine at Walhalla.  Before this he was the underground manager.  After the death of Henrietta's mother in childbirth in 1882, her younger sister, Violet Horrocks, came to live with the family, and she was often called Violet Rawson at school".  (Source - Belinda Simpson).  Records from Trove indicate he became the acting manager on 12 June 1905, and presumably he had the job permanently some time after. After Walhalla Henry and family moved to Lardner, just south of Warragul, to farm, as his obituary shows.
Information on their second child, Richard, is here.
Margaret, the third child, married John Thomas Nelson in 1887 and they had a large family. I have quite a bit of information on the Nelson family connection, and this chart shows the descendants of John Nelson who I know about.
George Rawson, the fourth child, married Annie Claxton in Walhalla on 14 February 1892. Annie's parents were Charles Ellis Claxton, a miner born in 1837 in Norwich, England, and Catherine Cummins born about 1847 in Tarraville, South Gippsland. Charles and Catherine were married on 4 September 1866 in Rosedale, Gippsland, and had two children, John and Charles, before Annie was born.
The first child of George and Annie was Leo Augustus Rawson born on 4 August 1892 in Walhalla. Leo joined the AIF in June 1916, and his Service Record shows he was then a grocer living at 15 Young Street, Fitzroy, Victoria and his father (and other family?) were living at 122 Franklin Street, Adelaide. He went overseas in October 1916 and was in the 17th Field Artillery Battery.  He came home in February 1920.
George and Annie also lost a child in a house fire at Toombon.  The Maffra Spectator reported on the incident on 13 October 1902.  To the best of my knowledge the child killed was George Victor Rawson b 1901.  On the web I found reference to other children of George and Annie, but I have not checked the accuracy of the information in any way, and the data are not included in my family tree database.
Robert, the fifth child, married Ellen Smith.
Annie, the eighth child, married Hermann Gloz in 1894, and this article will give you some insight into the difficulties Hermann, as a German immigrant, faced during WW1.

Charles Rawson & Violet Horrocks, abt 1916

One of the children of Charles Rawson and Violet Horrocks, Jessie Valda May Rawson, married Fredrick Peter Gregory in July 1933. This photograph was taken on their wedding day.


The tenth child, Charles, was born in 1876 and he married Violet Horrocks in 1902.  They had five children.  Joseph Horrocks (b 1830) was Violet's father.  One of their children, Jessie Valda May Rawson, married Fredrick Peter Gregory in 1933.


The family had a hut in the Baw Baw area, and Jenny McNally, who now owns the southern half of what was the Rawson farm, believes the hut was in Mustering Flat, which is confirmed by the information obtained from this source and summarised below.

"Located at Mustering Flat, Mt Baw Baw.
Also known as Jans Hut. This hut may be confused with Hec Staggs hut also."
"The Rawson family owned this lease until 1913, after which Fred "Curly" Jans took it over. Hec Stagg took up this and a larger lease after that.
George Rawson built the first hut for grazing following his purchase of the lease in 1874, well before other huts were built to support skiing. The second hut was built before 1907. His son Charlie took over, and his grandson, Harry Jnr visited indicated that the first hut was demolished by a storm in 1938."

Two photos at right show Rawson's at the hut, but the accuracy of the dates and the identification of Rawson family members in each photo is unclear.

The other photo is from the Monash University Research Repository and "taken from an album documenting a trip to the summit of Mount Baw Baw." "The excursion party has reached the summit of Mount Baw Baw, and members of the party have climbed the cairn. Seated on horseback on the left is Dr. Hagenauer, while Harry Rawson, who grazed cattle on the Baw Baw Plateau, is seated on the right."  Until someone tells me otherwise I am going to assume that the Harry Rawson in the photo is Henry (Harry) Rawson (b 1862).  The location of Mustering Flat is shown in the Walhalla Map in the left column.


Robert Rawson (b 1868) & Family

Robert (b 1868) was the fifth child of George Rawson and Mary Hercliff.  In 1891 he married Ellen Smith in Walhalla.  They had three children. 
The remaining material on this page about the family was supplied by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and it comprises extracts from a family history she is preparing to be called "Family Fragments".
Irene Ellen Rawson (the first child) was born in 1892 in Walhalla and she died in January 1962 in Prahran, Victoria.  She did not marry. On 4 March, 1953 she was awarded the MBE by Elizabeth II for 33 years service at Kew Cottages, where she was the Charge Nurse.  She was known as "Renee".
William (Bill) John Rawson (the second child) was born in 1894 at Walhalla, and he died in September 1957. He married Caroline Rogers on Christmas Eve 1936 at the All Saints Church, East St. Kilda.  A photo from their wedding day is below. There were no children from this marriage.  Bill worked at Robinson Process Engravers, Latrobe Street, Melbourne, as a typesetter.  His father, Robert (b 1868), who was a timber worker and gold miner, built a house at 6 Woodville Avenue, Glen Huntly.  This house was eventually left to Caroline who sold it in about 1970 to go into a retirement unit.  Bill and Caroline owned 3 acres at Launching Place, and had a small house on the land, known as "The Shack".

Roy Robert Rawson (the third child) was born in 1898 at Woods Point and he died in 1971 at Hawthorn. He married Florence (Flo) Elizabeth Mitchell, who was a school teacher as well as the owner of a children's ware shop in Bourke Road, Camberwell.

Their only child was Donald William Rawson, who was to become a noted historian and political scientist. Roy studied Esperanto, an international language, and was supposed to have been the first person to speak it on the radio.  He used to live at West Gully Road, Upwey.  He was a member of the Australian Labor Party, vice-president of the Upwey branch and MLC, Southern Electorate from 1952 to 1958.  Roy owned a bookshop at 169 Exhibition Street, Melbourne and, among other things, was in the Australian Council for Civil Liberties.  A copy of a letter from Roy to the Commonwealth Attorney-General about book importation is here.


William Rawson & Caroline Rogers on
their wedding day in 1936.


A photo of Roy meeting the Queen at the Victorian Parliament in 1954.

"The Queen visited parliament twice on her 1954 visit. The first time on 24 February 1954 after having arrived at Essendon airport.  She met parliamentarians briefly in Queens Hall.  The following day Her Majesty opened the second session of the 39th Victorian Parliament at 2.30 then retired to the parliamentary gardens for a garden party".  (Source: Parliamentary Library).



Richard Rawson (b 1864) 

Richard married Mary Ann Barrett in November 1886 at Moondarra, which is on the road between Erica and Moe.  She was born in Jericho, which was south of Matlock on the Great Dividing Range.  I say 'was' because to my knowledge there is nothing there now, although I noted on a web search recently that gold miners may be looking at the prospects within the area once more.  Jericho was a thriving little gold town for a while, but it was already in severe decline in 1867, and when I was there for work purposes in the mid 1980's it was nothing more than a small clearing and a patch of blackberries. 

Did Richard meet her at Jericho?  Was the family there at one stage before moving back south towards Walhalla? Richard and Mary's first child, George, was born in Toombon, so presumably the family resided there for a while before settling in Walhalla.  The locations of the births of their remaining children indicate the family came to Melbourne in about 1897/98. Further information on the family is here.

This photo of Jericho in 1906 comes from the Museum of Victoria Collection.

Richard Rawson abt 1910

Mary Ann Barrett

Richard, Mary & family (abt 1910)

Mary, Richard, George & Charles standing.  Henry on knee of Richard, Annie & Lillian