John William Vance J.P.

Occupation: Teacher; Storekeeper; Farmer
Birth: 30 November, 1824 Quarrymount House, Castletown, Queen’s Co, Ireland
Education:  1833 Castletown; 1836 Mountrath
Immigration: 12 August, 1864  Young Australia arrived at Moreton Bay
Land Purchase: 27 May, 1877 Selection Seven L in the West Moreton Agricultural Reserve in the County of Churchill, Parish of Walloon. Comprising 78 acres 2 roods and 27 perches.
Death: 20 August, 1882 Rosewood Gate
Burial: Ipswich General Cemetery
Father: Joseph VANCE
Mother: Frances (Fanny) BALDWIN

Spouse: Olivia Harriett JOHNSON
Birth: c. 1831 Eirie, Ossary, Ireland
Death: 19 December, 1886 Rosewood Queensland
Burial: Ipswich General Cemetery
Father: Edward JOHNSON (1784-1867)
Mother: Olivia THOMPSON (1797-1872)
Marriage: 3 September, 1856 Offerlane, Laios, Queen’s Co., Ireland

Mary (1857-1954) = Joseph William EVANS
Olivia (1859-1944) = Thomas MAKEPEACE
Victoria (1860-1947) = John HUCKER
Albert Johnson (1862-1946) = Elizabeth HOLT
John Baldwin (1864-1924) = Janet Elizabeth WILSON
Joseph Edward (1866-1950) = Mary Ada FALLON
William Pitt (1868-1924) = Mary Salome KENDALL
Frances (1870-1940) = Edwin Robert MAKIN

John William Vance was among the “movers and shakers” in the development of Rosewood. The progression of small settlements anywhere would not have been successful without the intellect, initiative and drive that was innate in men like John Vance.

From his early years he was an avid reader, in fact he had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and in his early years admitted to reading even while walking down the Strand in London. He was interested in French and German and was continually being tutored in these languages. 

John wrote in 1850, “Life is like a book. It has a beginning and an end. Everyday of our life is like a leaf, and every morning as we rise, we turn over a new leaf of the great book of life. There is no going back on what we have already past, we must go forward, and read on to the end.” (1)

He married Olivia in 1856 and they spent their honeymoon at the Lakes of Killarney. After spending 84 days at sea, John, Olivia and their first four children, sailed into Moreton Bay in August, 1864. They paid their own passage and landed with £700. The family lived in Brisbane for a while.

Their first home was at the Gabba and they went into a grocery shop, an unsuccessful venture. Olivia went out and sold silver (cruets, teapots etc) to raise cash. The family then moved to Wolston (Wacol) and had Chinamen growing pineapples. (1)

Sometime after the railway line from Ipswich to Bigge’s Camp opened in July, 1865,  John was appointed Station Master at Gatton. His son Joseph Edward was born there in December, 1866. He moved on to the same position at Grandchester then Oakey.

There is a John William Vance listed as one of the officers (Inner Guard) of the Hiram Lodge elected at the Masonic Hall in Brisbane on St John’s Day in January, 1867. (2)

The Vance family came to Rosewood Gate about 1869. John recollected that when they arrived the only two houses were the old Rising Sun and the gatehouse (built by John Farrell, the first Gatekeeper). John Vance became the Gatekeeper for a short time before being appointed to the position of Station Master at Walloon. There is a report of him sending a copy of the “Irish Times” to the Superintendent of the Woogaroo Asylum in Toowoomba (now Baillie Henderson Hospital) in June, 1870.

It is thought that the family lived in the old Rising Sun building, locally known as O’Brien’s Hotel, which had been uninhabited since 1867 and was owned by Cribb & Foote, large retail merchants of Ipswich.

John wrote to the Education Department in August, 1870 asking about the possibility of establishing a primary school and teacher’s residence at Rosewood Gate. In the meantime, Cribb & Foote gave permission for the dining room of the old hotel to be used rent free as a provisional school. The Board of Education appointed Walter Hore as the teacher.

Three years later John wrote to the Board again to inform them that he had started a provisional school in a room at his home and he had 52 children on his roll. He received a salary of £50 pound per year, which was half of what a railway labourer could earn. See letter.

He wrote again a year later asking for fair rent for the use of the room or he said they could find someone else. His resignation became effective on the 30th September, 1874.  See letter.

On 13th August, 1874 he selected 80 acres of Homestead land at Walloon (No 3178) subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions. One condition was that he had to continuously reside there for the next five years and make the necessary improvements. William Matthew, another early pioneer, had an uncle, also named William Matthew, living at Rosewood Gate. This man helped clear the land for the Vance family. He wouldn’t have been a young man at the time as he died in 1879 aged 72. Olivia Vance’s younger brother John Edward Johnson, built a house for them. Johnson fought in the Maori War in New Zealand and then joined the Queensland Police Force. He was stationed at Marburg and later built the Royal Hotel in John Street.

John Vance was granted his Certificate of Fulfilment of Conditions on 5 March, 1880. His neighbours, Richard Mason and Robert Boughen signed as witnesses to his continual residence on the selection. His improvements were described as one slab humpy with shingle roof and one room of weatherboard and iron roof costing about £20. Also 110 chains of two rail fence @14s per chain totalling £77.

On 24th September, 1874 John paid £11 4s to lease 120 acres of pastoral land in the parish of Walloon.

Throughout the years he was instrumental in calling public meetings and he attended many others which were held for various reasons, like the formation of roads and other infrastructure during the formative developmental years of the town. He was on the committee of the Farmers’ Club from its inception and was Secretary in 1881.

About 1874 he built Rosewood’s first shop in the main street where Evans Garage was later situated (now Rosewood Hardware). In August that year, in his role as Secretary of School Committee, he held a meeting of the subscribers to the Rosewood School Fund at the Provisional School. The discussion was about a reserve of 1 acre 1 rood and 7 perches of land having been allocated by the Government for the site of a school at Rosewood Gate. The Rosewood Gate Mixed Primary School opened in July, 1875.

In March, 1875 John and Olivia went to Sydney on the steamship City of Brisbane after the death of a relative. John caught a cold or virus in his left eye and lost his vision in that eye.

John was the township’s Postmaster and in 1876 was appointed as Assistant Registrar of births, marriages, and deaths for West Moreton. He was also a storekeeper and had 20 acres of maize under cultivation at Rosewood Gate. (3)

James Foote M. L. A. transferred his selection (Seven L) of 78 acres 2 roods 27 perches to John Vance in May, 1877. That selection comprised all of the land on the western side of John Street from Railway Street up to Lanefield Road. That month John was appointed as one of the trustees of the Walloon general cemetery reserve, a position he held until December, 1879.

In June, 1879 he engaged a contractor to build the Rosewood Hotel. His name was John Reilly, from Booval, Ipswich and he was assisted by his apprentice carpenter Arthur Pocock. (4) After John’s death Olivia disposed of the hotel in September, 1883. The hotel was raised to the ground by fire in 1914 and another was built.

John had a home built for his family on Lot 25 of his estate (2 acres 2 roods 26 perches). The land had frontages to John Street and Albert Street and Vance Lane (now Royal George Lane).

He donated a piece of land next to the railway station for the Government to sink a well in 1877. He also gave the Primitive Methodist Church half an acre of land as a gift. The church building fronted the main road and was opposite Mr. D. Pfrunder’s shop.

Mr. J. W. Vance is the local storekeeper, and has found it desirable, owing we suppose to increase of business, to enlarge his premises, a new building being in course of construction. He is also the Rosewood postmaster. On a piece of land given by this gentleman a well has been sunk by Government at a considerable cost, but no use whatever has been made of it as yet, the water, we were told, being insufficient in quantity and of bad quality. Besides cultivating a fair-sized garden, Mr. Vance took a crop of corn and pumpkins off about nine acres of land last season. (5)

A public meeting was held to discuss the political situation in the lead up to elections to be held in late 1878. The townsfolk felt it was necessary to get local people to stand if possible. John Vance stood as a Liberal Party candidate for the Rosewood electorate but was beaten by James Brady.

At a meeting of the Walloon Divisional Board, held on Wednesday last, the tender of Mr. J. W. Vance to value the lands and buildings within the division within four months, was accepted. (6)

John ran his store until May, 1881 when he rented the shop to John Herman, a baker, who built a bakehouse and oven at the back. Herman became insolvent and Charles Rumpf, another baker, occupied the store in 1882. The premises burned down in July, 1883 (after John’s death) and Olivia rebuilt it.

John died aged 57, from enlargement of the liver and dropsy. He was described as “a gentleman possessing literary abilities of a no mean order”. He appointed two sons-in-law, Joseph William Evans and Thomas Makepeace as executors of his last will and testament, and devised and bequeathed all his real and personal property to his wife Olivia for life. He directed the executors at her death to sell and dispose of his property, and, after payment of his debts and a legacy, to divide the proceeds into eight equal parts to be paid to his sons and daughters.

Olivia must not have been satisfied with those arrangements. In September the executors renounced the trust, probate was granted (Personalty £700 to Olivia) and John Macfarlane M. L. A. was appointed the trustee of the will in the room of Evans and Makepeace.

Olivia went to court to try and establish that the land was in reality hers, and that she paid for it with her own money. She claimed that on the 22nd of August, 1867 she applied to lease selection Seven L, paid it with her own money and was declared the lessee of the said land. She said she paid the rent when due out of her own money with the full knowledge of her husband. Then in August, 1874, she, at the request of, and for the benefit of her husband, borrowed £100 from Mr. James Foote on the security of the land. On the 3rd of that month she transferred the lease of the land to Mr. Foote by way of mortgage. Then in February, 1877, her husband without her knowledge or consent, repaid Mr. Foote the money borrowed from him by her, and Mr. Foote, without her consent, transferred the land to her husband, to whom was issued a certificate of title.

Olivia was successful in her action but the the original titles don’t reflect her claim. On the 22nd of August, 1867 James Foote purchased Free Selection Seven L for £78/13/6. None of the events Olivia described is recorded on the titles. James Foote transferred the title to John William Vance on the 27th May, 1877. (7) 

A Certificate of Fulfilment of Conditions was granted to Olivia for Portion 644, 133 acres at Walloon in 1883. Olivia started subdividing and selling off her land in June, 1884.

One of John and Olivia’s sons, John Baldwin Vance, ran the store and advertised that he was a Draper, Grocer and Produce Dealer Etc. He was also an agent for the Courier.

In January, 1886 she sold 21 large allotments with frontages to the main road at Rosewood.

Olivia died aged 55 years. She left her daughters Mary Evans and Victoria Hucker a block of land each.

On the 21st December, 1887 Portion 644, was put up for auction at the Vance Estate Sale. This land was “on the road at the back of Matthew’s well-known Estate”. Five other agricultural farms and 18 Allotments in Rosewood Gate were also auctioned in order to wind up her estate.

John Street, Albert Street and Makepeace Street in Rosewood are named after the Vance family. What is now known as Royal George Lane was originally called Vance Lane and later George Lane.

Researched & compiled by Jane Schy
(John Reilly, contractor for the Rosewood Hotel was my great, great grandfather.)

Photo: State Library of Queensland
(1) Vance Johnson Family History, Klan 1980
(2) Brisbane Courier 19 January, 1867
(3) Pugh’s Almanac
(4) Family knowledge
(5) Q.T. 14 September, 1878
(6) Q.T. 28 February, 1880
(7) Copies of Land Purchase and Certificates of Title for J. W. Vance

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