The Noble Society of Celts, is an hereditary society of persons with Celtic roots and
interests, who are of noble title and gentle birth, and who
have come together in a search for, and celebration of, things Celtic.
"Summer Edition 2010"
Melbourne, capital of the Australian State of Victoria
is simply the most ‘Victorian’ city
Melbourne was founded in 1835. Unlike other Australian State Capitals, the City of Melbourne did not originate under official auspices. It owes its birth to the enterprise and foresight of settlers from the British colony of Tasmania, where the land available for pastoral purposes was becoming overstocked. These settlers formed the Port Phillip Association for the purpose of the pastoral exploration of the area around what is now called Melbourne.
On 10 May 1835 John Batman set sail in the 30-tonne schooner ‘Rebecca’ on behalf of the Association to explore Port Phillip for land. After entering Port Phillip Bay on 29 May, Batman and his party anchored their ship a short distance from the heads of the bay, and made several excursions through the countryside. On 6 June, at Merri Creek, near what is now the Melbourne suburb of Northcote, Batman purchased 600,000 acres of land, including the sites of both the future cities of Melbourne and Geelong, from eight aboriginal chiefs. The Government later cancelled this purchase and, as a result, had to compensate the Port Phillip Association This pioneering group was led by Captain John Lancey, with Launceston builder George Evans and his servant Evan Evans, plus carpenters William Jackson and Robert Hay Marr, ploughman Charles Wise, and blacksmith James Gilbert and his wife Mary making up the party. On 29 August 1835, the ‘Enterprize’ sailed up the Yarra River and anchored at the site chosen earlier by Batman as the place for a village. Fawkner’s party then went ashore, landed stores and livestock, and proceeded to erect the settlement’s first home. The ‘Enterprize’ returned to Launceston to collect Fawkner and his family who eventually arrived at the settlement on 10 October that year. There has been conjecture as to who is Melbourne's rightful founder, John Batman or John Pascoe Fawkner, and indeed the two were rivals during their lives
Melbourne was meticulously planned. It began as a barely legal, speculative settlement that broke away from older British colony of ‘ New South Wales’, and was fortunate to be blessed with farsighted founders who envisioned a great 19th century city with an abundance of parks and wide roads and boulevards.
On 8 June 1835, Batman and his party rowed up the Yarra River and landed near the site of the former Customs House. John Batman recorded in his journal: "about six miles up, found the river all good water and very deep. This will be the place for a village." Batman left three white men of his party and five Aborigines from New South Wales behind with instructions to build a hut and commence a garden, and he then returned to the port of Launceston (on the north coast of Tasmania) to report to his association. John Pascoe Fawkner had made a similar decision to settle at Port Phillip and formed a syndicate in Launceston that purchased the 55-tonne schooner ‘Enterprize’. Fawkner and his party of six set sail from Launceston but due to sea sickness Fawkner had to return to shore and the party sailed without him. The British Governor of the colony of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke (an Irishman), issued a proclamation on 26 August 1835 stating that all treaties with Aborigines for the possession of land would be dealt with as if the Aborigines were trespassers on Crown lands. Later that year, Bourke wrote to the British Secretary of State in London, Baron Glenelg, reporting his action and proposing that a township be marked out and allotments sold. On 13 April 1836, Baron Glenelg authorised Governor Bourke to form a settlement. The settlement lacked the essentials of a town (a governing authority, a legal survey and ownership of lands) but the community was law-abiding. On 25 May 1836, Governor Bourke sent a Commissioner to report on affairs. In his report he stated that the settlement, which he called ‘Bearbrass’, comprised 13 buildings – three wooden, two slate, and eight turf huts. At the time, there was a European population of 142 males and 35 females. On 4 March 1837, Governor Bourke arrived and instructed the Assistant Surveyor-General Robert Hoddle to lay out the town. The first name suggested by the Colonial Secretary was Glenelg. However, Governor Bourke overruled this and named the settlement Melbourne as a compliment to the Prime Minister of Britain ... Lord Melbourne. Governor Bourke authorised the first sale of Crown land in Melbourne, which was conducted by Robert Hoddle on 1 June 1836. Each block, as laid out by Hoddle, was subdivided into 20 allotments each of approximately half an acre (0.202 hectares). Each purchaser was covenanted to erect a substantial building on the land within two years. Newspaper articles from the time show that Melbourne was 'kind of a big settlement' and could not yet be called a town. A census taken on 2 March 1841 showed that the total population of the province was 16,671 and that the inhabitants of Melbourne numbered 4479, comprising 2,676 males and 1,803 females.
From the time of its establishment in 1835, Melbourne had been a province of the British colony of New South Wales and the affairs of the settlement had been administered by the Parliament of New South Wales. With the growth of the settlement there had been an increasing demand by the inhabitants for greater autonomy over their own affairs. On 12 August 1842, Melbourne was incorporated as a Town.
The Town of Melbourne was raised to the status of a City by Letters Patent of Queen Victoria dated 25 June 1847, just five years after its incorporation. This royal action arose from a desire to establish a bishop’s see of the Church of England in the town, as the establishment of a bishopric required the status of a city.
The Right Reverend Charles Perry was consecrated as the first bishop of Melbourne on 29 June 1847, four days after the granting of the Letters Patent by the Queen. He arrived in Melbourne on board ‘The Stag’ on 23 January 1848, and was installed in the Cathedral Church of St. James.
However, the Letters Patent merely changed the name from Town to City. An Act of the Colonial Legislature was necessary to change the status of Melbourne from town to city. A motion was tabled at a meeting of the Town Council to alter the style and title of Melbourne, and a draft bill was approved and sent to the government for introduction to the legislature. On 3 August 1849, the City of Melbourne finally found a place in the statute book. Act 13 Victoria No. 14 states: "An Act to effect a change in the Style and Title of the Corporation of Melbourne rendered necessary by the erection of the Town of Melbourne to a City." The historian Asa Briggs has described Melbourne, only four decades old when this house was built, as one of the great cities of the ‘Victorian era’. By the 1870s the self-governing colony Victoria regarded itself as 'the most important Australian division of the British Empire', and required a Governor's residence befitting this status. The gold rush years between 1851 and the late 1860s brought to Australia not only energetic gold-diggers, but a group of talented professional men. Among these, the botanist Baron von Mueller, the architect-engineer William Wardell and the landscape gardener William Guilfoyle, who all played a part in the creation of Government House and its park lands. In 1871, William Wardell, Inspector General of the Public Works Department, was commissioned to draw up plans for the house. J.J. Clark and Peter Kerr worked under the direction of Wardell in the Public Works Department. (Wardell's other notable Melbourne building is St Patrick's Cathedral, Clark's is the Treasury Building and Kerr's is Parliament House.)
John Batman made a contract with the Kulin people to buy land
Cathedral Church of St. James
The Right Reverend Charles Perry
The 1850 ‘Princes bridge’ appears in this
sketch of a paddle-steamer ‘Gondola’
he highest point of the park was selected for the site of Government House; this provided one of the few vistas clearly seen by ‘Melburnians’ looking south over the Yarra. By 1870 a decision had been made to construct Victoria's first purpose-built Government House on the site. Victoria's first Government House had been Governor La Trobe's prefabricated cottage, in use from 1840. ‘Toorak House’, which was leased from 1854 to 1874, was the second, then briefly, ‘Bishopscourt’ in East Melbourne was used before the present building was occupied.
Government House, Melbourne
Baron Ferdinand von Mueller
The house was designed in ‘Italianate’ style and construction was in the economical medium of brick and cement render. Government House was built in the mid Victorian period, when the emphasis was on pragmatism and efficiency. Its refined, functional ambience contrasts with the embellishment characteristic of boom mansions of the 1880s. The construction contract was awarded to Martin and Peacock, and the house was built in the years 1872-76. The main building consists of three parts: the south wing with its extravagant single storey ‘State Ballroom’; a grand staircase hall entrance to the three-storey State rooms; and two-storey vice-regal apartments to the north. Rising from the building is a 145-foot ‘Belvedere Tower’. The mews - a paved area surrounded on three sides by stables, coach houses and staff living quarters are nearby. The garden was designed by John Sayce in 1873 and is thought to be the most intact 19th century mansion garden remaining in Melbourne.
Government House, because of its commanding position, has been part of the city's consciousness since its construction. It provides a focal point for the central business district which faces south over the Yarra River. Its tower can be glimpsed from a variety of locations in the inner suburbs such as Richmond, South Yarra, Toorak and the City of Melbourne. From high-rise buildings in the city the full splendour of its location within extensive parklands can be appreciated.
Melbourne’s Government House was the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia from 1901 to 1930. It is the largest Government House in the former British Empire, and is almost double the size of the former Palace of the Lords-Lieutenant of Ireland. Australia is a constitutional monarchy, a federation, and a parliamentary democracy. Each of these terms describes a different aspect of its form of government. The (British) Queen is formally Australia’s head of state, but she is represented by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and by the Governors of each of the six Australian States. They exercise all the constitutional powers of a head of state in their respective spheres.
Australia became a federation on the 1st of January 1901, after the people of the six Australian colonies agreed, and the Parliament of the United Kingdom consented, that there should be a Federal Government for the whole nation, as well as a Government in each of the ‘States’ (as the former colonies were to be called). The Commonwealth Constitution gives the Australian Commonwealth powers over specific subjects, including foreign affairs, defence, plus international and interstate trade. Powers not allocated to the Commonwealth are exercised by the States. Some responsibilities, such as for education and health, are, in practice, shared.
The States and the Commonwealth each have democratically-elected parliamentary systems based on that of Britain.
Thus the State of Victoria has a Governor who, appointed by the Queen, acts as head of state; a Parliament in Melbourne with an upper House, the Legislative Council, and a lower House, the Legislative Assembly; a Government or Cabinet comprising the Premier and other Ministers who are drawn from both Houses but must have the confidence and support of the majority of the Legislative Assembly; a system of law courts; and a civil service, for each department of which a Minister is responsible to Parliament.
At the Australian Commonwealth level, the Governor-General corresponds to the Governor of a State and the Prime Minister to the Premier. The Governor-General, in relation to the Governors is treated as the first among equals, but has no control or supervision over them. In addition, Australia has two mainland and several external Territories under Australian Commonwealth control, mostly with varying degrees of self-government; and a system of local government under State control with elected councils for each municipality. Governor Phillip became the first Governor in Australia on the arrival of the First Fleet from Britain in 1788. He was Governor (of the colony of New South Wales) and also head of government, possessing the widest executive powers and exercising them as he thought best. Since that time Australia’s system of representative and responsible parliamentary democracy has been developed. In Victoria, the head of government is not the Governor but the Premier. The Premier and Government are responsible for governing Victoria. Their authority depends on the support of the majority in the Legislative Assembly which itself reflects the choices of the community made in the most recent elections. In all Australian States the building in which the Governor lives and works is called ‘Government House’, a description given in the days before democracy when the Governor not only acted as head of state, but was also head of the Government. Some telephone callers to the Office of the Governor at Government House, Melbourne, are surprised to find there is no one from the Government there. The Australian democracy has not been introduced by transferring to the Premier and Ministers of the Government the powers the Governor originally had. The pattern which has emerged is that the Governor has extensive powers to exercise, but laws and conventions ensure that they are exercised consistently with the will of the community as expressed in elections. The laws and conventions achieve this result by requiring the Governor to exercise the powers in accordance with the advice of Ministers. Although called ‘advice’, the advice which Ministers give the Governor under the Constitution is actually a mandatory request with which the Governor must comply. The ‘reserve power’ which is mentioned below is an exception to the need to comply with ministerial advice. Where an Act of Parliament or other legal instrument gives power to the Governor ‘in Council’, this means that the Governor is to exercise it in accordance with the ‘advice’ of the Victorian Executive Council. The Executive Council consists of at least two and normally four Ministers, who meet with the Governor and represent the Government. When the words of an Act give a power to the Governor, rather than to the Governor in Council, or when the Governor exercises a power of the Queen, it is exercised on the advice of the Premier of Victoria. The Constitution Act 1975 gives to the Governor the power to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and call an election. The Governor exercises the Queen’s power in pardoning an offender. There are many beautiful things to be seen when visiting Government House in Melbourne …
‘Belvedere Tower’ flying the personal flag of the Governor of Victoria
Vice-Regal invitation to Government House
The Throne Room at Government House, Melbourne