Collingwood Notables Database
c. 1816 - 1860
Early settler, merchant, Melbourne councillor, subdivider
To John Orr goes the honour of originating the name Abbotsford for the eastern section of Collingwood. In the 1840s he acquired an extensive landholding near the Yarra River and built Abbotsford House, assumed to have been named after the home of the popular Scottish novelist Walter Scott. When Orr began subdividing his property in the 1850s, the allotments were referred to as ‘The Abbotsford Estate’, or ‘The New Town of Abbotsford’ and this name was later assigned firstly to the electoral division and eventually to the whole of the area of Collingwood east of Hoddle Street. A nineteenth century photograph shows his house as a substantial gentleman’s dwelling with a veranda on three sides and a well-stocked garden running down to the Yarra. Within a few years he would die a hopeless alcoholic, living out his last days in a small hotel room.