Research Chapter 3

John Batman link

John Fawkner link

3-1 Boyce, J. 1835, The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia Black Inc., Collingwood, 2012

3-2 Pascoe, B. Convincing Ground, Learning to fall in Love with Your Country, Aboriginal Studies Press, Melbourne, 2007

3-3 Billot, CP, John Batman and the Founding of Melbourne, Hyland House, Melbourne, 1979,

3-4  Billot C.P. (ed.) Melbourne’s Missing Chronicle: The Diary of J.P.Fawkner Quartet Books, Melbourne 1982

Entries concerning Dr Cotter

The following fifty two entries come from J.P. Fawkner’s journal Melbourne’s Missing Chronicle.C.P. Billot, the editor of this journal notes that Fawkner’s spelling is incorrect “Dr Cotter is alwaysDr Cottar, Lancey always Lancy and breeze was always spelt breese.” (Introduction, page xiii).

1835 Nov 12:  Dr C ‘elevated’ (intoxicated)

          Dec 9:   Dr C: Fawkner and Batman went out with the natives to look at the duck pounds (ponds?).

          Dec 13: Dr C away down the river

          Dec 16: Fawkner sold tobacco and 2 galls wine to Dr C for 20/-

          Dec 17: Dr C started in a whaleboat for Indented Head with Batman and six others.

          Dec 19: Dr C returned in the boat, met the Adelaide

          Dec 23: Dr C quarrelled with Henry Batman:  Robyn Annear (p.173) translates the French entry as: Henry Batman and Dr Cottar         bought half a bottle of gin from him (Fawkner) after drinking which they fought.

          Dec 24: Dr C and Henry Batman still do not speak

          Dec 25: Dr C dined with Fawkners. Does not speak to Henry Batman.   

        Dec 31: 1 gall brandy to Dr C @ 21/-

       1836 Jan 3: Dr C went swanning with Batman’s men 

          Jan 6: Fawkner records David Fisher’s account that he was willing to   ‘pig it’ with Dr C and others at Henry Batman’s house. (Referring to the primitive sleeping conditions)

          Jan 7: Dr C stayed on board the Adelaide

          Jan 8: Dr C’s boy was the only one of the Aborigines not to abscond

          Jan 14: Dr C and others went out exploring

          Jan 16: Dr C and two men went away to make a hut on his land

          Jan 24: Dr C returned from a journey to Buckley’s drop (falls) and reports well of it.      

          Feb 8:  Dr C and Buckley returned from their excursion

          Feb 11: Dr C and others went out this afternoon on foot to survey the      country and return tomorrow.

          Feb 12:  Dr C and others returned this morning ‘they looked fagged and very wet’

          Feb 13:  Dr C and others walked down to get to the Caledonia but did not get on board.  Dr C and Batman did not return this night.

         Feb 15:  Dr C and Fawkner ‘put over the river’ some natives.

         Feb 17:  Dr C and Capt Flett agree to hire Fawkner’s boat

         Feb 18:  Dr C and Capt, Flett start off in Fawkner’s boat

         Feb 24:  “My boat arrived shortly afterwards with Dr Cottar and Capt. Flett, The latter lying speechless drunk and the former lively, they had               been on board the Caledonia and also the Adelaide, the Officers in command of both vessels came, in fact Grog was the order of the day.”

         Feb 25:   Dr C went in Fawkner’s boat with others to the Enterprise, dined on the Caledonia. Dr C stayed on the Caledonia.

         Feb 26:   Dr C and others returned in Batman’s boat from the vessel.  The crew, Capt. Flett, Dr C, drunk and noisy.

         Feb 27:  “Applied to Batman and Dr Cottar for my rug but could not get it.  Batman very saucy saying did not Dr Cottar give you an answer about       it which answer was he, Dr Cottar did not know where it was.

          Feb 28:  “Dr Cottar, Messrs Hs- Manifold &c&c went down the river fishing.   Capt. Flett so drunk they had to put him overboard and they blacked his face with a cork.”

         Feb 29:  “This day Dr Cottar pitched Capt. Flett out of the store for dirtying his bed, they then went to the tent and the whole of the gents here to  see them fight.  They Dr and Capt boxed a few rounds and then gave up. This was in the forenoon and they were half drunk as were some of the lookers on.  Fine Example this & on the Company’s land too, where no liquor was to be allowed to be landed.”

            March 1: Fawkner’s letter to Henry Batman describes Dr C as being       present when HB claimed to be writing a journal of all that is said               and done.          

          March 9: Fawkner sends a bill for two pounds to Dr C.

          March 20. Dr C breakfasted, dined and tea’d with Fawkner and others

                          including the newly arrived Wesleyan missionary, Mr Reed.

          March 21: Dr C and Hedlam came down from Cottar’s and spent the       evening with Fawkner and Co. ‘cheerfully’.

          March 22:  Dr C mentioned by Fawkner in dispute, appealed to Gellibrand

          March 23:  Dr C left on Fawkner’s mare to ‘ascertain the fate of the men who were said to be speared.’

          March 29:  Dr C returned on Fawkner’s mare ‘very poor, far more so that I ever knew her”

          April 10:  Fawkner found Dr C and others on his vessel (Enterprize?) Some of them were drunk.  Fawkner wrote to Thomas Cottar to whom he            refers (incorrectly) as Dr C’s brother.

          April 10:  Letter- Fawkner to Swanston complaining about Henry Batman and citing Dr C as witness to Batman’s statement that he would          ‘leave no means untried to displace Mr F’ (Fawkner).

           April 20 ; Dr C came in the evening and reported that I (Fawkner) was accused of being the author of an anonymous letter.

The diary finishes there as Fawkner returned to Launceston to attend to his business interests there.  He was away for some months.

3-5  Flannery, T., The Birth of Melbourne, Text, Melbourne, 2002

3-6  Annear R., Bearbrass, Imagining Early Melbourne, Black Inc, Melbourne, 2005

3-7 Cannon MJ, (ed.) Historical Records of Australia, Foundation Series, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1977

3-8 Bride, T.F. Letters from Victorian Pioneers, RS Brain Publishers, Melbourne 1898., page 17

3-9 Eliza Batman

Eliza Batman was an interesting woman. Born into an impoverished family in Ennis, County Clare, Eliza Callaghan, known also as Eliza Thompson, was blessed with good looks and a lively personality. She was caught passing counterfeit notes in London in 1820 and sentenced to death which was commuted to fourteen years in Van Diemen’s Land.  Her jail report simply read ‘bad’. She was sent to the Female Factory in Hobart and assigned to the keeper of Hobart Town Goal from whom she escaped three times. On her fourth attempt she headed for the bush and after several weeks of what must have been a terrifying journey for the twenty year old city girl, met John Batman when she stumbled across his camp the north east of Van Diemen’s Land.

Eliza lived with him for five years and had three daughters and finally Batman applied for permission to marry Eliza and they were married in Launceston on 29th March 1828. The two of them seemed to have much in common, both realistic and ambitious and willing to work hard within and without the law.  Eliza bore him seven daughters and one son and as John’s body declined with the advance of his syphilitic condition she began a relationship with his overseer, William Willoughby.

A year before his death John paid for Eliza to go to Britain either for the purpose of pursuing his land claims there or to remove her from Willoughby, or a little of both. John died just before she returned and she married Willoughby in Melbourne on 9th February 1841. She continued to fight for Batman’s land claims but without success and tragedy pursued her as her only son, and John’s long awaited male heir, was drowned in the Yarra on 11th January 1845.  He was nine years old, some say he was fishing, others that he was trying to drown a kitten, he slipped and was swept away.  Local Aboriginal men dived all afternoon but his body was not recovered until the following day. Eliza, known now as Sarah Willoughby, left her husband and went to Geelong, where she was murdered in 1845.  Evidence records that ‘Sarah Willoughby of somewhat abandoned character’ (Billot p283), was kicked to death in a brawl fuelled by alcohol in a Geelong house.  She was thirty-five years old.

3-10 Two letters from Inez.  Copies of these are held in the Public Records Office of Victoria, 99 Shiel St, North Melbourne and are available for examination.

Letter 1

1862 Sept 23:  Inez writes to the Duke of Newcastle requesting his assistance in securing part of Dr BC’s assets for herself and her children. (PROV.  VPRS 1087)

PUBLIC RECORD OFFICE OF VICTORIA (PROV) VPRS 1087 Despatches from Secretary of State to the Governor 1851 –1910 Unit 15 contained Despatch No. 78 from the Duke of Newcastle plus COPY of a 12 page letter from Mrs. Barry Cotter


His Grace the Duke of Newcastle

May it please your Grace to pardon any seeming presumption, there may appear, in an Individual such as myself intruding upon your time and notice, allow me to plead for your condescension so far as the perusal of this my appeal to your Grace without form and without any other privilege than the knowledge that I write to an English Nobleman and a Gentleman, under these to me encouraging circumstances I venture my most truthful detail.


Many years ago I came to Melbourne, a young un-protected girl, an orphan it was in the same vessel at the same time that the late John Batman’s children joined their parents, at a time, when there was but his wooden house, and a few scattered mud huts, my first shelter was in the hut that had been erected for the white/man Buckley, who had been so long with the aborigines, before Sir Richard Bourke, took possession of Victoria, in the name, and for our most gracious and Beloved Queen of England, before any government , I was here, one amongst the little band of very first settlers, undergoing and enduring all the privations and fears of the Natives, which can be well understood without detail, – I attended the first Christian divine service  in the then small wooded building now St James’ Church and was one of the first Sunday school teachers to the then some twelve or fourteen children, then in the settlement- my position was that of companion to the lady I accompanied – Mrs Arundel Wright – the wife of the postmaster in Launceston and Governess to her children – before I left England I was in the service of Earl Fitzwilliam the Father of the present Earl who can and will vouch for the truth of this and recommend me to your Grace’s sympathy, if called upon, as one who has suffered much and deeply.


I was eventually married to Dr Barry Cotter, (even an earlier settler than myself, coming with John Batman) on the fifteenth of January, 1838, the Banns of such marriage published in the Scotch Church in 1837, by the then only resident Minister the Revd. James Clough and this bring me without I trust wearying your Grace to the cause of my thus appealing.  My husband was amongst the first Land Purchasers from the Crown and I may say that the of that first little band of settlers, were more or less benefited by their first settlement, but myself an orphan and young, after I was married I was supposed to be a sharer in the property of my husband, we leave for England, he my husband leaves all in the hands of an agent who fraudulently sells and acts upon the power and given, and myself and Family are left destitute, left by my husband with four helpless children my eldest, the first born of a Melbourne Marriage.  I had to struggle through years and years of penury and trial my children educated and brought up – I return thinking to claim my interest in that Property once ours- as a Wife by claiming compromise, by way of Dower, which I never gave up, but the owners refuse the slightest compensation and are borne out by an edict that no Woman married after 1837 may claim any right of Dower – alas! The short time of fifteen days exclude me and mine from Justice and to give an idea of the profit upon the Property to the after holders the corner allotment of Bourke and Swanston Street, originally purchased from the Crown by my Husband sold some ten years ago for 210 pounds per foot and realised it is said near sixty thousand pounds (60,000 pounds) – where I was married and where my two daughters were born and we are and have been starving. As to the law made and passed I have nothing to say- but that under the circumstances I have briefly sketched some consideration might be made in my favour as the only one who could possible ask for such a boon, there are but two or three left now of that early band, and not one who can repeat the sufferings and wrongs that I could, if therefore, I may crave nothing else I may truly crave your Grace’s pity.


I have known and can speak of the gradual rise into power of those constituting now some of the Melbourne Gentlemen, John O Shanguessy (sic) and his wife were employed by my Husband on their first landing here,- can I ask a favour at his hands of laying my case before your Grace- No- I prefer my own appeal, guided by the advice of many knowing my past and present position.


Those whom I could have solicited interest from are now passed away Captain Lonsdale or Mr Le Trobe (sic) and many others- I can but mention the names of those here, not having the power but the will to serve, who would most gladly sign this statement- the Revd Mr Wilson of Portland, our second resident Church of England Minister, Mr Snodgrass son of Colonel Snodgrass- Mr Highett, Mr Haines the present Treasurer and others.  Sir Henry Barkly our present Governor can prove the truth of this my statement from the registrar of events here, but of this, your Grace will have no doubt, and to your power do I apply that the few days in 1838, may not be counted against me in my loss of right to own a third part of my Husband’s former property, that if in my ignorance I advance a supplication which the law forbids, as being once enacted may not for me be encroached upon humbly do I ask for pardon from your Grace, and let me sue for the interest iof your Grace in recommending my two sons to the notice of the Governor as applicants for employment, by which they may give myself and their Sisters bread, but, and if your Grace deems from the facts I have stated some leniency may be shown on my behalf, as regards the Law which interdicted my rights as a wife such decision made known would instantly bring a compromise- a compensation for my signature and free my old age from want, writing in this far off country to your Grace, a perfect Stranger, but under the eye of God, I can but consign what I have written to the consideration of a noble heart asking the blessing of God upon its reaching one of England’s nobles aristocracy, coming from one of its most loyal and humble servants.



Sept 23/1862 (sd) Mrs. Barry Cotter



Humbly and earnestly soliciting the favour of notice and the condescension of reply either to self or to the care of Sir Henry Barkly.


Letter 2

1863 Feb 18:  Inez writes to Sir Henry Barkly, Governor of Victoria (PRO Laverton VPRS 1097)

Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV)




This letter to Sir Henry Barkly, Governor of Victoria has been marked by the Governor’s private secretary, Capt. Timmins to the effect that the answer was in His Excellency’s Letter Book p. 329. (Series VPRS 1092), (Cathy says the appropriate volume 1853-1863 is missing, but I viewed it in June 2014 in PROV (VPRS 1092/P0000/1).  However, it is not this letter, it is Barkley’s reply to this letter and is dated 20th July 1863.


Feby 18th 1863

His Excellency Sir H. Barkly




With every apology for this intrusion upon your time and notice I beg to entreat a few moments kind attention and consideration of the motives which impel one to do so endeavouring to be as brief as possible.


I must intimate that I was one amongst the first settlers in Melbourne before Sir Richard Bourke took possession of the colony for Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen in 1837. 

I was married to Dr. Barry Cotter 15 Jan 1838 my eldest daughter being the first born of marriage in Melbourne.  Captain Lonsdale and Mr La Trobe knew us well and Dr Cotter was one of the first Medical Men here for a time under Government as he had been in V.D.Land under Colonel Arthur.


We eventually returned to England and there my husband left me after a short time to revisit the colony in reference to his property the particulars of which would be too tedious to trouble with. I may say deserted as for I have had the whole responsibility of bringing up a Family of four children on myself for the last twenty years, having been brought up in and distantly related to the Fitzwilliam family with their assistance I have succeeded in educating and bringing them up respectably and with credit but through many a bitter struggle and heavy trials.  Some four years ago it was mooted by Earl Fitzwilliam that having signed no document I was entitled to right of Dower on the whole of my husband’s property which realised an immense sum some years ago and for the purpose of asserting that right I returned to the colony but have been told that I was married fifteen days too late.  Dower ceasing with 1837.


The whole of my case was to have been told to Your Excellency by a very old letter, but a few days ago I found such had been neglected and now I take this mode of detailing my own painful position giving the names of the Reg. J.Y.G Wilson, Portland, Mr Snodgrass, Mr Powlett, Mr Shighlett and Mr Haines as gentlemen who will corroborate my statements if necessary.  In my letter to the Duke of Newcastle and Earl Fitzwilliam I entreated for permanent Employment for my two sons, as a means of support for myself and their  sisters.  In the polite answer received from His Grace he intimated that a copy of my letter should be forwarded to Your Excellency whom I feel grievously disappointed have not been seen on my behalf but to whose kind sympathy as a Gentleman I venture my entreaties for consideration and urbane kindness.


Assuring your Excellency that my sufferings for many years with a young family looking to me for support can bear no comparison to any suffering in this colony since my return where all is so changed since those former years.  Being an old settler I know but too well the history and antecedents of many in Melbourne and from whom I could ask no favours.  Mr Haines kindly took my youngest son into the correspondence branch of the Treasury on a——— salary of 80 pounds per annum and this has been our support and for which we had to feel grateful bearing the bitterest privations without a murmur and in silence asking no favours of anyone but am now and thus making known this plight to Your Excellency.  I have the fervent hopes for your Interest and (party?) as a Gentleman and should an opportunity offer you will not forget my sons, for my sake, as the means of our support. Returning my humble and heartfelt thanks for the safety of yours

I beg to remain

Yours most respectfully

Mrs Cotter

92 Rowena Parade



3-11  Clarke, M. A History of Australia Volume 3, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1987, page 90.

3-12 Pascoe, B. Convincing Ground, Learning to fall in Love with Your Country, Aboriginal Studies Press, Melbourne, 2007

3-13 Lonsdales’s Census:

Cannon M.J. Historical Records of Victoria, Volume 3, (HRV3) Chapter 28 Population and Stock

3-14 Dr Cotter’s application for the post of Colonial Surgeon HRV3, p454, and from Cathy’s timeline “Archives Office of NSW 4/2334.5, bundle 36/10499″

3-15 Lonsdales reply HRV1, page 86

3-16 Appointment of Dr Thompson, HRV3, page 454

3-17 Appointment of Dr Cotter HRV3

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