Richard Wicking

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Richard Wicking.



Richard Wicking was born on the 4th of August 1830 at Eltham, Kent in England & christened on the 8th. August at St. John the Baptist Church. He was the first born child of James & Jane Wicking, farmers, employed on the large Well Hall rural estate, where they also lived. [1] In the mid 1830's the family moved to Brookers Farm in Chiddingstone; they raised sheep, cattle, and grew assorted crops including, oats, corn, hops, peas & beans. James employed two female household servants and two farm workers. [2]

An agricultural revolution which began in the early 1800's led to the introduction of mechanized farm machinery & new techniques which dramatically increased the production of food and reduced the reliance on farm workers. Small farms like Brookers Farm became less profitable. In the early 1840’s James ceased farming, the family left Brookers Farm moving to Southwark, on the outskirts of London. Between 1844 to 1849 James Wicking ran a tavern in High Street Southwark on the approach to London Bridge, which was the main entrance into London. Being near the docks on the river Thames, James business was frequented by returning sailors who enthralled James with their reports of "great opportunities" available in the distant colonies. James forebears had for centuries been farmers however he realised that there was to be no future in that for his sons. In the mid 1840's he enrolled eldest son Richard as, a Drapers Grocer Apprentice, and younger brother Frederick as a Linen Drapers Apprentice. [3]

James made the decision to emigrate to Australia & on September 6th 1849 he departed England aboard the sailing ship "Simlah”; he appears on the passenger list as "farm labourer". His two sons Richard & Frederick continued their seven year live in apprenticeships, wife Jane & youngest son Mathew aged 5 returned to Delaware Farm at Edenbridge, Kent, owned by Jane's parents, David & Mary Whibley. [4]

It is possible that in 1852~3 James was employed at the "Bush Inn" clothing & general merchandise store, at 163 Elizabeth St Melbourne. It is documented that in 1857 James was appointed Letter Carrier for Flemington. He died in 1862 aged 64 in Malvern.

In May 1852 Richard (22) and his younger brother Frederick (17) followed their father’s footsteps, leaving England to pursue a new life in the distant colony of Port Phillip. Sailing on the maiden voyage of the 'Roxburgh Castle' a new purpose built ship for the long voyages from London to Australia. Arriving on August 28th 1852, having paid their own fares they were "Unassisted Passengers". The brothers spent two years in Melbourne.

Ballaarat 1854 ~ 1871

Richard & Frederick moved to Ballaarat in 1854, two years after their arrival in Port Phillip (Victoria). [5] The 1856 Ballarat Electoral Roll lists Richard as being employed by McCleverty & Leake, retailers of clothing, ironmongery, tools, glassware & importantly buyers of gold. He received an annual salary of £100 pounds. His brother Frederick may have been employed at Bray the Drapers, also in Main road.

The majority of Ballarat's population had come from England, having escaped the uncertain future resulting from the industrial revolution, there were no jobs in the cities or farms. This band of free thinkers & dreamers quickly developed a strong public focus on building a respectable society which embraced the Victorian traditions of, sport, music, religion, entertainment, ceremony & family life, leading to the establishment of many community based clubs & societies.

Both Richard & Frederick were foundation members of the Ballarat Cricket Club established after a meeting at the George Hotel in September 1856, Richard was elected to the Committee in March 1858. [6]They both played in many matches, however Richard turned out to possess better skills umpiring than with bat & ball, he was unanimously chosen as the Ballarat teams umpire in the match against the Second English Eleven. [7] In 1857 Richard Wicking & George Perry (c1828-1900) established their Ironmongers business, Wicking & Perry, in Main Road which at the time was crowded with restaurants, hotels & stores of every kind & was alive with the Hurley burly of the miners. Unfortunately this was a short lived venture as their business, along with seven other shops, was destroyed in the Main Road fire (1857). [8]

Within a few short years of his arrival in Ballaarat, Richard had established himself a trustworthy & honest member of the community. His education & book keeping skills provided him with many employment opportunities; he is listed on numerous company's documents as "secretary", "clerk" & "witness". In March 1859 he was considered for appointment as a "Collector" of ballot papers by the Ballarat Magistrates Court. In 1863, Richard was elected inaugural Secretary of the Ballarat Harmonic Society [9] and in 1867 he was appointed "Collector of Monies" for the Ballarat Star newspaper owned by his friend Thomas Wanliss.In 1869 he served as Committee member of the "Alfred Memorial Bells Fund" [10].


On February 22nd 1869 Richard Wicking clerk, aged 38 years of Nolan Street Ballarat, married Harriet Tipping, school teacher aged 25 years, at the house of the bride's father in Barkly St. Ballarat. Their first child Harrie was born at Ballarat East on November 16th 1870. He was named after his mother Harriet, (a tradition Harrie subsequently followed when naming his own son, Harrie Lewis Wicking in 1920). At the time of Harrie's birth few of the young children in Ballarat attended school, however, this situation soon changed when the Victorian Government enacted the Education Act of 1872. It stated that "education should be free and compulsory for all". To meet the demand for education seventeen new State Schools built in Ballarat between 1874 and 1880.

Richard was a member of The Alfred Memorial Bells Fund Committee 1869. [11] Richard's brother Frederick, moved to Melbourne sometime prior to 1874 where he was employed as a market gardener & resided at Railway St. Moonee Ponds. At age 39 Frederick married Marry Ann Young, a domestic servant aged 23, on the 14th May 1874. Their first child, Alice Maud Mary was born in 1875, son James Roche Delaware was born at Flemington 1876. Frederick's grandparents, David & Mary Whibley had a farm called "Delaware" in Kent, England in the 1820's. Son Angus Archibald born & died 1877 & son William was born December 1879 died January 31 1880.

On the evening of June 15th 1871, Richard was honoured at a farewell supper held by the Harmonic Society at the Buck's Head hotel when he was presented with a magnificent Illuminated Address. Proceedings began with the following toasts, .."the Queen;" the guest of the evening "Richard Wicking" proposed in a feeling manner by the chairman and responded to in vociferous applause. Mr. Wicking modestly and briefly replied, with hearty thanks and a kind farewell.... We do not know how long proceedings lasted, so must leave something to our readers imagination. We may add that Mr. wicking departs by the mail steamer Sunday, rather sharp action it must be admitted. The Ballarat Courier June 16th 1871

Rockingham Timber Western Australia 1871 ~ 1872

Early interest in the West Australian timber industry had not been commercially viable due to the limitations imposed by short term timber licenses. However, W.A. Governor Weld in the late 1860's wanted to stimulate the establishment and growth of an important timber industry in his state by granting a long term lease. Following concerted efforts by Victorian parliamentarian and son of Ballaarat, Peter Lalor; W.A Governor Weld in June 1871 granted a 14 year 100,000 hectare timber concession to Victorian [[Thomas Drummond Wanliss]] (owner of [The Ballarat Star] newspaper & his brother William Wanliss.

1871 - On June 15th 1871, prior to his departure for W.A., Richard was honoured at a dinner given by the Philharmonic Society and presented with an illuminated address in appreciation of his many years service as Honorary Secretary.(Illuminated Address June 15th. 1871). The next morning he sailed for Albany West Australia aboard the mail steamer. (Ballarat Courier June 16th. 1871)

A group of Ballarat businessmen comprising, Thomas Drummond Wanliss, Peter Lalor (a leader at the Eureka Stockade) & James Service formed the Rockingham Jarrah Timber Company Limited and promoted the company attracting many investors. William Wanliss was appointed mill manager & Richard Wicking was company secretary. The company commissioned the Victoria Foundry, Ballarat to build a compact steam locomotive, appropriately named the Ballaarat. It hauled timber 40 kilometers from the timber mill located amidst the inland West Australian Jarrah forests out to the coast for export around the world.

The company owned mill town of Jarrahdale comprised fifty houses, materials store, workshop and timber mill, plus a school and library for the town. Jarrahdale was named after the large stands of jarrah forest that surround it.

The new company was soon in financial difficulties and was taken over by the Rockingham. Jarrah Timber Company, although William Wanliss stayed on as manager until 1876.

Ballarat 1872 ~ 1875

Richard Wicking returned to Melbourne aboard the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company ship, RMSS Bangalore which departed Albany W. A. on December 9th, arriving in Melbourne seven days later on the Dec. 16th 1872. [12]. Following his return, Richard's life picked up from where he had left it several years earlier. Richard, wife Harriet & son Harrie were living at 199 Mair St, Ballarat. In 1874 Richard's brother Frederick married Mary Ann Young at Footscray, Melbourne. Richard was re-appointed "Collector for the Ballarat Star" [13] and became Secretary of the Ballarat Horticultural Society [14]. On April 10th 1875 his first daughter Alice was born.

In 1875 he resumed as Secretary of the Ballarat Harmonic Society and presided over the Society's closure the same year. [15]. The same year, Richard attended the Victorian Inter-Colonial Exhibition of 1875 held in Exhibition Buildings Melbourne in his capacity as Secretary of Ballarat Horticultural Society. [16].

Richard Wicking was secretary of the Academy of Music [17].

The Academy of Music, in Lydiard street, is the successor of the old Theatre Royal, in Sturt street, and of the last of the Charlie Napiers, in Ballarat East. It has a more beautiful interior than had any of the other theatres, but it is less cosy than the Royal was, and its long shape is less adapted to the convenience of spectators of the drama. [18]

1876 - The Rockingham Jarrah Timber Company failed early in 1876.

Richard was secretary of the Ballarat Horticultural Society & committee member in May 1891 [19]. The Society promoted activities which ensured a reliable source of fresh produce, essential to the well being of people living in this pioneering community and the beautification of suburban environments through the establishment of public gardens such as the Ballarat Botanical Gardens established in 1858 & recognized as the finest example of a regional botanical gardens in Australia and home to many heritage listed exotic species. Members included professional nurserymen, gardeners and enthusiastic amateurs, a notable member was Natale D'Angri, fellow miner & close friend of Jeremiah Gerasamo Mitaxa.

Richard liaised with representatives attending the 1875 Inter-Colonial Exhibition held in Melbourne. The Japanese delegation presented Richard with packets of valuable seeds for experimental growth on behalf of their countrymen. Japan was desirous of opening up trade relations with Victoria instead of America, whom they allege had treated them unfairly and had foisted useless and shoddy products upon them.

"The Japanese representatives at the International Exhibition are desirous of visiting up-country shows, and of obtaining information in agricultural as well as other matters. They have forwarded to Mr. Wicking, the secretary of the Ballarat Horticultural Society, packets of valuable seeds for experimental growth; and on behalf of their' countrymen generally ,seem desirous of opening up trade relations with Victoria Instead of America, by whom, it is alleged, they have been unfairly treated, in having useless and shoddy articles foisted upon them" [20].

Andersons Mill - Smeaton 1876 ~ 1890

In the first half of 1876, Richard, Harriet, son Harrie Wicking aged 5 and baby Alice moved to Smeaton, a small town 30 km north of Ballarat. [21] Where Richard took up the position of clerk at Anderson's Mill, replacing Mr. M.C. Donelly. [22] Anderson's Mill was designed & built by the Anderson brothers, David & William, who had prospered as miners & timber millers during the gold rush. Construction of the Mill began in 1861 & within 6 months the processing of flour & oats had commenced. The mill was powered by a large water wheel driven by waters from the nearby Hepburn Lagoon channeled into a water race. The enterprise prospered, outbuildings such as the stables, grain store & bluestone offices were soon added.

In the years immediately after its opening Anderson’s Mill became one of the major industrial & commercial enterprises of rural Victoria – all on the strength of goldfields demand. Between 1865 and 1874, annual sales exceeded £30,000 per annum and healthy profits were made.

The family lived in a tenement (house) rented from the Anderson brothers. Harrie attended the Smeaton Primary School. Their second daughter Ellen was born at Smeaton on August 7th 1877. In 1878 Richard Wicking clerk paid .10s rates on a Tenement at Smeaton Vic. owned by Anderson Brothers [23]. Third daughter Amy was born at Smeaton, on December 3rd. 1879.

The Anderson brothers also invested heavily in various gold mining ventures which employed M.C. Donnelly as manager & Richard Wicking serving as auditor. Their 1880 venture, Hepburn Home Paddock Company, Messrs. D. Ferguson & R. Wicking were auditors. [24] Hepburn's Nos. 2 & # Gold Mining Company, auditors Wicking & Pitcher 1882. [25] In 1884 The Newstead Loddon Leads Company Mcalpine & Wicking auditors. Lady Hepburn Company 1885~6 auditors Wicking & Stewart. [26] In 1886 Richard Wicking & R. B. Williams certified to the correctness of the accounts of the Hepburn's Nos. 2 & 3 Company, another of the Anderson's brothers gold mining ventures. [27] David Anderson died in 1877 & following William’s death in 1886, the Anderson family’s financial situation deteriorated rapidly due to many unsuccessful mining investments and the closure of the timber mill. Richard Wicking & family remained at Smeaton until 1890 when they returned to Ballarat.

Harriet Children.png

Ballarat 1891 ~ 1905

Richard was a member of Ballarat Old Colonists’ Association. [28]In 1891 Richard Wicking & Mr. Larter were auditors for the Trentham Revival Company established with 24.000 shares of 5 shillings each. [29] Richard & Natali D'Angri were members of the Ballarat Horticultural Society. [30] Richard's former business partner George Perry was Ballarat's Town Clerk. In the early 1890's shortly his return from Smeaton, Richard was appointed Ballarat's Inspector of Nuisances, dogs, cabs & boats with annual salary of £140. [31] In 1900 Richard's wife Harriett advertised "First class board and Residence with hot baths" at 8 St. Andrews Terrace, Dawson St. Ballarat [32].

Athelstane Guest House Queenscliff 1906 ~ 1910

In 1906 Richard his wife Harriet & daughters, Ellen aged 28 & Amy aged 26, moved from Ballarat to the seaside town of Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula near the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. Their departure from Ballarat was was chronicled in The Star newspaper. Ballarat is about to lose one of its oldest identities and one who did much for this city in the earlier days of its development, in the person of Mr. Richard wicking. Mr. Wicking arrived in Australia in 1852, and two years later came to Ballarat. Bringing with him that love of cricket which has always been a distinguishing feature in his native county, Kent, he naturally through his energies into the Ballarat Cricket Club from its inception, and was for many years a member of committee and hon. secretary. He also had the honour of being unanimously chosen as the local team's umpire ...........Mr. and Mrs Wicking and their daughters are going to Queenscliff to open a seaside boardinghouse. [33].

The family moved into "Athelstane", a two storey guesthouse situated at the top end of Hobson street they provided accommodation for business people & holiday makers.

In 1908 Richard's eldest daughter Alice, married Rodney Hart mining engineer.[34]

Harriet's nieces, Esme & Doris Wicking both had cherished childhood memories of holidays spent with their Aunts Amy & Ellen at Athelstane. A real adventure the young girls who traveled on the paddle steamers Hygeia & Weeroona which steamed from Melbourne, down Port Phillip Bay to Queenscliff.

Doris Wicking related her childhood memories of visiting "Athelstane" circa 1915, to her brother Lewis in 1982.

We used to go by ship to Queenscliff, to stay with the Aunts at their guesthouse "Athelstane". One trip mom said we all developed measles, and had to be kept out of the way so that the other guests would not catch it. Someone must have said that "Athelstane" was (embroidered) on the sheets , I said to the Aunts that there were apple stains on the sheets.


Lewis Wicking relates his childhood memories of visiting "Athelstane" circa 1930.

I recall several holidays with my parents at Queenscliff, we stayed at "Athelstane" the Quinn's ran it. We took the train from Tooronga station to Port Melbourne. Then boarding the paddle steamer "Weeroona" for the long trip down Port Phillip Bay. this took several hours, much of which I spent leaning over the side, watching the porpoises playfully diving out of the water ahead of the ship, as if joining in the holiday fun. The much smaller flying gurnard, with their red fins shining in the sunlight, seemed to imitate the porpoise. Thousands of jellyfish, of all sizes, suspended umbrella like, were floating in the water. Always the thrashing sound of the large paddle wheels, as they pulled the ship through the blue green water, could be heard over all the other sounds. Occasionally other ships would appear as a small dot on the horizon, gradually to assume tremendous proportions as they drew ever nearer. Often these were large overseas liners, whose passengers crowded to the rails. As the two ships passed, there would be great excitement, with people waving wildly and cheering, as they called to the passengers on the passing ship. The ships themselves also acknowledged each other's presence with long blasts on their sirens. At Queenscliff a big event of the day was the arrival of the "Weeroona". A large crowd of sightseers gathered on the long wharf to greet her. We stayed at a two storey guest house called "Athelstane"; my paternal grandparents had operated "Athelstane" between 1908 and 1917. Each bedroom had its own fireplace with ornamental over mantel. French doors led onto the balcony, which hung over the footpath. This provided an excellent view of the beach, and the quaint old buildings in the main street. On the marble topped wash stand stood an ornate china basin, and an elegant matching jug, with a spout and curved handle. Winter or summer the jug was daily replenished with cold tank water. The third piece of this matching set was the chamber pot which, when not in use, was located in the pot stand. The marvel of sewerage and en suites had not yet arrived; the bathrooms and toilets were located outside on the back of the building. In the dining room the silver cutlery and white crockery bearing the Athelstane monogram, was laid on spotless linen damask tablecloths, with matching starch stiff serviettes. By today's standards the times were also stiff and starchy. Both the elegant furnishings and the delicious food must surely have equally impressed the guests.

Death of Richard Wicking 1910:

Richard's eyesight & health gradually deteriorated in his latter years. In 1910, at age 79, he contracted bronchitis & enteritis he died three weeks later on May 24th . This son of a farmer had traveled half way around the world, arriving at a pivotal time into a booming economy fueled by the discovery of gold. His skills as a clerk guided him into employment & contact with many entrepreneurial ventures, he contributed much to the burgeoning economy. Richard was buried at Queenscliff Cemetery, his tombstone is inscribed: IN MEMORY OF RICHARD WICKING AGED 79 BORN 4 AUG 1830 DIED 24 MAY 1910 A COLONIST OF 58 YEARS Sixteen years later, Richard's wife Harriett was interned with her husband at Queenscliff on September 14th. 1926, she was aged 82 years.


Richard's wife Harriett and two daughters Amy & Ellen continued to run Athelstane until 1917 when they moved to Healesville to manage "The Ridge" guesthouse. Harriet Wicking died on 14th September 1926 at Healesville and is buried with Richard at Point Lonsdale Cemetery.

Richard's brother Frederick survived him by 12 years; Frederick passed away at Murrumbeena Victoria in 1922 aged 87 years. He had been a Colonist of Victoria for seventy years.


Unless otherwise indicated, photographs on this page sourced from family album

Also See

Jeremiah (Gerasamo) Mitaxa


  1. Parish Baptism Records Etham Kent 1830
  2. English Census Chiddingstone 1841
  3. English Census Penshurst 1851
  4. English Census 1851
  5. The Star Oct. 31 1906- Argus 30/08/1852
  6. Ballarat Star May 5th. 1856
  7. Ballarat Star Jan. 7th. 1864
  8. The Ballarat Star July 16th. 1857
  9. History of Ballarat W. B. Withers 1877
  10. The Star Oct. 11th 1869
  11. The Star Oct. 11th 1869
  12. Argus December 16th. 1872
  13. The Star Aug. 22nd 1874
  14. Ballarat Courier March 4th 1875
  15. The History of Ballarat p.289
  16. Gippsland Times Oct. 1875
  17. Ballarat Courier Aug. 23 1875
  18. History of Ballarat W. B. Withers 1877
  19. The Australian May 23 1891
  20. Gippsland Times October 7 1875
  21. The Star July 8 1876
  22. The Star May 25 1910
  23. North Riding rate Book Aug. 1876
  24. The Star April 21 1880
  25. The Star July 21 1881
  26. The Star Aug. 31st. 1886
  27. The Star Feb. 1st. 1886
  28. The Ballarat Star Feb 1st. 1890
  29. The Ballarat Star May 9th. 1891
  30. The Star May 24th. 1892
  31. The Star May 9th. 1893
  32. The Ballarat Star Aug. 18 1900
  33. The Star Oct. 31st 1906
  34. The Australian Feb. 8 1908

Further Reading

External links

--Howard Wicking 11:26, 14 March 2016 (AEDT)

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