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James Duffus (Duffes) was born 11 September 1819 in the garrison town of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, to George Duffus and Elizabeth Cahill. George was a Bombadier in the Royal Artillery, Second Battalion and had joined the Army as a young man of 18 years in Banff, Scotland, for unlimited service. He must have met his future wife in St. John's, as that was her place of residence shown on the marriage certificate. No ages were noted there but we know from other records that George was 27 years of age when they married on June 1st, 1817 in St. John's Church of England.

We also know, that George was discharged from the army as a sergeant on 30 June 1830 after serving 22 years and 91 days and that his conduct was 'good'. He was given the large sum of 'one pound, eight shillings and two pence' to get himself and his family, now consisting of his wife and five children, home to Banff, Scotland from Woolwich, Canada. This was a 'marching allowance', even though George was suffering with "Incontinence of Urine and General Debility" and was unfit for His Majesty's Service.

Nothing more is known about the family life of George after this, but research is continuing. However, we do know that James was about 11 years old when they returned to Scotland and that he took up the trade of joiner a little later in life.

We next find James listed on an "Entitlement Certificate of persons on Bounty ships, 1841". He arrived aboard the "Herald", one of the first ships to carry free settlers to Australia . After disembarking in Sydney, he moved to Port Macquarie where he worked as a joiner in that area, which had now been thrown open for free settlement.

Not long after arriving in Port Macquarie, he met Margaret Gleeson and on 18 July, 1842 he married her. The ceremony took place in the Anglican Church of St. Thomas which is one of the oldest churches in Australia. The marriage celebrant was the Rev. John Cross whose arrival in Australia in 1819 increased the number of Anglican clergy in the Colony to five members.

Margaret Gleeson was the third daughter of Denis and Mary (Bourke) Gleeson and was a twin of her brother, also named Denis. They were born in 1822 in Tipperary. With her mother and three more of her mother's children, Margaret arrived in Sydney, Australia, on the Bounty Immigration ship "Livingstone" on 20 October, 1841. The ship's papers described her as a housemaid. Margaret and her family moved to Port Macquarie, shortly after arrival in Sydney, to be near her father Denis, who, as a convict, had been assigned to that area.

Every Sunday, the convicts in Port Macquarie were marched under guard to St. Thomas', occupying the rear of the church. There is no report of the soldiers being obliged to keep order. There was no Catholic chaplain, so it is possible that Denis and William Gleeson and Cornelius Bourke were among the "worshippers of the rear" each Sunday.

Margaret and James' marriage certificate states that she was married with the consent of her parents, so it is not impossible to imagine her imprisoned family members being present at the ceremony, as some latitude was allowed to well-behaved prisoners. And so the story of Margaret Gleeson and of her life in Australia resumes with her marriage to James Duffus. Each has contributed to the heritage they established.


James Duffus and Margaret Gleeson
James Duffus and Margaret Gleeson

In the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD of March 1845 is found the announcement of the birth of Margaret and James' first child, Edmond George. Their address was Blackman's Point, an area of Port Macquarie where the Hastings River enters an estuary, to the west of the town. The couple lived here with their two children, Edmond George and Margaret, until the prosperity of Port Macquarie went into decline, due to the ending of the Transportation System and the gradual blocking up of the harbour by a sand bar.

From Port Macquarie, the Duffus family moved to the Port Phillip District. Here, they opened a grocery store in Bourke Street, Melbourne, near Elizabeth Street. Whenever James was at the Ballarat diggings with his Gleeson brothers-in-law, Margaret, a very practical and business-like woman according to family anecdotes, carried on the shop in the city.

From Melbourne, the family moved to the Port Fairy area where other members of Margaret's family already lived. After their arrival there, James began to acquire farming lands in nearby Yambuk. Here he farmed land on a property, now called "Naringathurn", situated off the Prince's Highway, close to Hummocks Road in the direction of Portland.

The first Duffus home was at Yambuk, They lived in a tent and had to "put the table against the flap to keep the blacks out". While there, Margaret used to drive the cart to the town of Portland, some 25 miles west, to sell her eggs, butter and other produce. On one journey, she was swept out to sea when trying to cross a flooded river. Fortunately, Margaret was rescued at sea by a fisherman, but the horse drowned.

According to family legend, Margaret was an excellent Irish dancer. This became so well known, that even in her more sedate years, she was often prevailed upon by the friendly citizens of Koroit to come out in the evening and dance the vigorous reels and jigs of her native land which she did with great aplomb.

She loved the sea and whenever she had the opportunity, she would quietly gaze out across the nearby ocean. We can only imagine what were her thoughts. Sometimes, after going for a long walk along the shore, she would sit and just watch those restless waves, alone with her reverie.

Whilst still retaining their interest in the Yambuk farms, James and Margaret moved to Koroit in 1867. There, the last of their family of nine children was born. More will be said of their children later.

In Koroit, they opened a general store which was successful enough to support them all, including later generations, for so many years. Here, they lived as a family until James died in June 1883 in his 64th year.

During his time in Koroit, he took an active interest in community affairs, and became the first President of the Shire. He retained his interest in his farming lands in the parishes of Banangal, Belfast and Codrington - in the general Yambuk area - where he held some 5600 acres of freehold farmlands at the time of his death. The Warrnambool Standard sums up his life in his obituary, published in that newspaper in June 1883.

"James arrived in Australia in 1841, landing in Sydney. There he worked for a short time at his trade, which was that of a carpenter. In 1847, he came to Victoria and he opened a grocery shop in Bourke St., Melbourne. He tried his hand at digging, in company with Messrs. P. and D. Gleeson, his relatives, being tolerably successful. In 1853, in the company with the same party, he opened a general store in Belfast (Port Fairy). Subsequently, he removed to Koroit, where for many years he was a successful store keeper and an excellent public man. He was foremost in municipal matters having been Mayor of the Borough, and all that pertained to the welfare of the place received his earnest attention. He was a man of sterling integrity, whose place in his adopted town will not easily be filled."

Margaret lived on for another twenty years during which time she guided and presided over her family and their fortunes. In doing so, she had the pleasure of seeing her family grow to adulthood and in seeing them succeed in their chosen professions. She died on 3 March 1903 following which various newspaper articles were published and probably best summarize her life.

The Warrnambool Standard write on two occasions:


"Sincere regret was felt throughout the district today (Tuesday) when it became known that an old and much respected resident in the person of Mrs. Margaret Duffus had passed away the previous evening. Mrs. Duffus was the widow of the late Mr. James Duffus and with her husband arrived in Sydney from the home country in 1841, arriving in Victoria in 1849. They commenced business at Port Fairy in 1852, and afterwards purchased a farm at Yambuk where they resided until 1867, when they opened a shopkeeping business in Koroit. Here, Mr. Duffus was for many years a leading citizen a member of many public institutions as well as being for some time, Mayor of the Borough. Mrs. Duffus was 80 years of age at the time of her death. She had been ill for a considerable time and was living with one of her sons, Mr. D. C. Duffus at his farm at Crossley when she died"


"The funeral of the late Mrs. Duffus took place on Wednesday and was largely attended. Between ninety and a hundred vehicles and a number of horsemen followed the remains to the Tower Hill cemetery where the service at the grave was conducted by Rev. Father Lennon."


"The funeral of the late Mrs. Duffus took place this afternoon and was largely attended by all sections of the residents of the district. Mrs. Duffus was very well known and highly respected having been a resident of this locality for a number of years. (Here follows the same information as in the above quote from the WARRNAMBOOL STANDARD) Mrs. Duffus was 79 years of age at the time of her death and leaves the following surviving members of her family to mourn their loss Mr. E.G. Duffus, Secretary for Agriculture; Mr. J.F. Duffus, M.L.A. Koroit; Mr. P.C. Duffus, Koroit; Mr. D.C. Duffus, Crossley; Mr. W. Duffus, Sydney; Mrs. E.R. Barry, Albert Park; Mrs. P.C.Gleeson, Koroit; Miss Agnes Duffus.'

"The ordinary monthly meeting of the Koroit Borough Council should have been held this afternoon, but because of the funeral of the late Mrs. Duffus taking place today, the meeting was adjourned for a week."

And so the lives of James and Margaret came to their inevitable conclusion. Both had left their mark on this world. They were both well loved and liked and respected by their family, their friends and their community. Both had seen outstanding changes in the world. Together they shared the hardships of their days in a tent at Yambuk as well as the problems and difficulties of rearing a young family in a new and mainly untamed land.

As their story would be incomplete without reference to the legacy they left us - their nine children. A synopsis of the lives of those children follows.


1. EDMOND GEORGE (1845-1923)

The eldest son, also saw many changes during his young years. His parents, through hard work and a "willingness to try their hand at anything", improved their standard of living and became involved with the affairs of the community of Belfast. This mum have had an influence upon this young man as he, too, became involved in Civil Service as his chosen career.

Edmond broke with the family's traditional Catholic faith when he married Louisa Swalwell on July 3rd 1873. Louisa was born in Yorkshire, England and was the eldest daughter of William Swalwell and Jane Unthank. We are not aware of how they met, but we know they made a very handsome pair. They settled in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond which was then regarded as a fashionable suburb. Here, they started their family, having three children in their home in Rowena Pde., namely Edmond James William (1874), Minnie Louise (1875) and Percy (1879).

Edmond and Louisa later moved into their own home at 368 Auburn Rd. Auburn, and enlarged their family with two more girls - Katie Florence 1883 and Ella Rita 1887 (dec. 1888). Edmond worked for the Department of Agriculture all his working life and upon his retirement, he was presented with a gold watch as a mark of appreciation for his loyalty and service.


Edmund George Duffus and Louisa Swalwell
Edmund George Duffus and Louisa Swalwell

There was a great love of music carried down through the generations, especially for the piano. Present family members remember that Uncle Percy played beautifully.

They stayed at the house on Auburn Rd. until after Edmond's death on 19th June 1923. Later Louie, as Louisa was known, moved into the home of Edmond James, her son, until her own death at the age of 92 - in 1941.

Of the four remaining children, only Edmond and Minnie Louise were married, the later to Leopold Walkely. They had no children. Percy never married, nor did Katie Florence and Ella Rita died at 1 year. So it was left to Edmond to carry on the family line of Duffus.

Edmond James Duffus - Eddie as he was known - had taken as his profession, bookkeeping, and for one of his sports, cricket. As a young man, he played for the Richmond and East Melbourne Cricket Clubs. There are quite few of his trophies around the homes of his family which attribute to his skill in the game. He had also taken an interest in the young ladies and at the age of 26 years took the plunge into marriage. Florence Maud Edwards, of Kyneton (Vic.) was the 2nd daughter of James Sturgis Edwards and Mary Juniper. Edmond James married her on 24th Oct. 1900 "according to the rites of ' the Baptist church" at 19 Stanly Ave. Auburn. The witnesses were Percy and Minnie Louisa Duffus.

Florence Maud (or Maud as she was known) was a petite young lady with a lot of inner strength and was talented, artistically. We have some of the clothes she prepared for her trousseau, all handstitched, crocheted and elegantly crafted. Her family also remembers her for her drawings and for the way she had "chipped the plaster from the laundry walls to represent faces which fitted in with the stories she told her grandchildren".

Eddie was known for his frugal ways, and for his insistence on honesty from all with whom he dealt. We have heard stories of his weekly check of the green groceries which were delivered to the home. Eddie would weigh each item before accepting the order. If the weight was under, he would send the whole order back.

The grandsons also remember their weekly visit to their grandparents' home for Sunday dinner. They were told they were not hungry if they couldn't eat a full slice of bread, as Grandpa would NOT cut a slice in half. Eddie was one of the first to own a crystal wireless set - an old type of radio. He guarded it so well that the only two radio shows the family was allowed to listen to were 'The News' and 'Dad and Dave'!!

Eddie and Maud lived in Auburn and their three children were all to be born there - Leslie Edmond (1901), Vincent James (1904), and Alan Clive (1905). Maud had set her heart on a large family and was on the way to achieving this when serious complications occurred at the birth of Alan Clive. The doctor decided that an operation was necessary and, as a result, there were to be no more children. Maud took to her bed with grief and despair and she was to spend most of her time there for the next 17 years.

Whether this was the reason why Eddie retired from work at an early age is not known, but he did take over most of the responsibilities for the home from then on. Louisa helped the family and they managed to have a normal life, with the boys up to the usual childhood tricks.

It is interesting to see that, right throughout the generations, the Duffus men have been involved in the public service in one way or another. Eddie's second son, Vincent, was to be the one to follow in James' footsteps, whilst Leslie became a salesman and Clive a joiner, which was also one of James' skills. The boys were to also become keen on music and many a warm summer evening was spent as a family around the piano and whist Clive played the "Squeezebox", they all sang.

The family were even happier when, through her faith in the Lord and some encouragement from a Christian Science group, Maud left her sick bed of 17 years, and became active again. When Edmond George died in 1923, Louisa moved in with Eddie and Maud and she became more involved with the family. Of course the "boys" were widening their outlooks and becoming interested in a variety of subjects, amongst them football, cricket and cars. Leslie and Clive became interested, too, in girls, and they were both married in 1926 - Leslie to Emma Lydia Pearce, and Clive to Florence Kathleen Laycock. Vincent was not able to find the one he wanted in Victoria, so he went to Perth where he met and married Rose Irene McTavish in 1933.

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