Monday, 1 January 2018

The Mailer family of ‘Glencairn’, Moreland

Scottish merchant Robert Mailer and his wife Isabella Georgeson were pioneers of the area in Coburg’s south known as Moreland. They lived at ‘Glencairn’ (built in 1859) on part of the original Crown Portion 133, bought by Farquhar McCrae in October 1839 and named after his grandfather’s plantation ‘Moreland’ in Jamaica. In 1912 Mailer subdivided the property into 50 blocks, but lived on at ‘Glencairn’ where he died in 1927 aged 91.

Black and white architectural drawing of ‘Glencairn’, south elevation, courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

Four views of the interior of ‘Glencairn’ taken about 1975, courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

‘Glencairn’ about 1980, courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

The Mailers raised seven children at ‘Glencairn’ (three other children died in infancy). Their three surviving sons were educated at Scotch College and Mebourne University and were accomplished cricketers. Third son Ramsay was Melbourne Cricket Club President at the time of his death in 1943 and had also been the Victorian Cricket Association patron. Youngest son David was such a talented player that his 1937 obituary described him as one of the best cricketers Scotch College had ever had.

Sons Melrose and Ramsay both became doctors, Melrose working with his own son Melrose Holtam in Coburg and Ramsay becoming a specialist in nervous disorders. David became a grazier in Victoria’s Mallee. Daughters Jane and Sarah did not marry. Their two other children Catherine and Isabella married, but Catherine (Aitchison) died in 1895 aged 35 and Isabella (Hearn) died in 1929 aged 57. 

Of the three Mailer sons, one served overseas during World War One: their youngest son David, who enlisted in March 1916 aged 41. By then he had been married for four years to Catherine McNab. 14053 Private David Mailer served with the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station and left Australia in late May 1916. Four months later he arrived in France and remained there until the end of the war. While he was absent, his wife took charge of his brother’s convalescent home, ‘Hethersett’ in Burwood, but more on that later. David Mailer was discharged in London in July 1919 and when he returned to Australia established himself as a grazier on the property ‘Athol’ at Shepparton where he died in 1937.

Melrose Mailer, the couple’s eldest son, worked as a doctor in Coburg until his death in 1926. His eldest daughter Ada married Eric Ivo Lowther Graves, a doctor and returned serviceman. (Two of Graves’ brothers also served.) Daughter Katie married another returned serviceman James Alfred Larwill and his son Melrose Holtom, a doctor like his father, also served. More on this group in a later post.

Middle son Ramsay Mailer, another doctor, donated and ran the convalescent home ‘Hethersett’ in Burwood with the help of family members and friends. This will be the subject of a later post.

The Mailer family, who could be considered members of Coburg's early gentry, not only made a significant contribution to the area’s history but also to the war effort during World War One.

Coburg Historical Society Newsletter, #8, July 1978
Richard Broome, Coburg between two creeks
Victorian Birth, Death, Marriage indexes
Argus, 3 March 1917
Argus, 23 December 1937
Coburg Historical Society’s image collection
National Archives of Australia, WW1 service records
Australian War Memorial

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