Notable People of Collingwood

Collingwood Notables Database

Eardley Blois Norton


Farmer, early settler

E B Norton spent only a short time in Melbourne but made his mark in farming, land-owning and subdivision of Yarra Grange on the banks of the Yarra in Abbotsford. The youngest son of the Reverend Eardley Norton, rector of Blythburgh cum Walberswick in Suffolk, he was farming at Elsternwick or East St Kilda shortly after arriving in Melbourne. A crop of potatoes was written up favourably in the press. In July 1856 he bought Yarra Grange which at the time consisted of 25 acres running from Simpson’s Road (Victoria Street) to the Yarra River. The price was £5000. The property had earlier been the residence of James Simpson, an early Abbotsford settler, and had more recently been farmed by Robert Fennell with his wife Maria, a daughter of John Batman. Norton was soon selling vine cuttings, buying and selling milking cows and fruit trees, and further developing what estate agents would become fond of referring to as ‘Mr Norton’s beautiful garden’ when advertising any other properties in the vicinity.

He married Emma Pilcher from Liverpool in August 1857 and she gave birth to twins the following year. Norton gradually put up sections of the property for sale. In July 1858 a section of 7 acres 1 rood was sold, and a few months later 5 acres fronting Victoria Street was advertised (but may not have sold). But the biggest subdivision took place in 1859 when the Nortons decided to depart permanently. It is not possible to know what precipitated the departure. Had Norton hoped to spend more time farming in the semi-rural environment of Abbotsford, or was his plan all along to subdivide Yarra Grange, and return home with the proceeds?

This was a major property subdivision, named the Grosvenor Estate and covering about 18 acres, that would change the face of the area, providing for many building blocks. The house, re-named Grosvenor Lodge, was retained with a substantial landholding. Southampton Crescent was created, its curve accommodating the location of the existing buildings. Between Southampton Crescent and the river were large allotments named The Peach Garden, The Almond Garden, Grosvenor Lodge and Southampton Garden, The Vineyard, and the Brook Street Garden, with depths ranging from 200 to 400 feet to the river. South of Southampton Crescent humbler allotments were created in South Audley, Bond, Duke and Grosvenor Streets, although they all had frontages of about 40 feet. The auctioneer emphasised the splendid garden, large riverside allotments, and proximity to Parliament House.

There was a separate auction of household effects and livestock. Despite their short stay, the Nortons had accumulated a good range of household possessions, including a superior drawing room suite in damask, and a rosewood piano. The dining room boasted some very handsome wine glasses (Exhibition pattern). In the yard and stables were to be found the draught horse ‘Charley’, a bay cob, 16 superior milking cows, a dogcart and harness, saddlery, plough and harrows, carts, chaff cutter and tools, 8 tons of superior oaten hay and 8 hundredweight of guano, along with ‘poultry of all descriptions’.

The agent wrote:

The attention of the public is invited to the stock advertised, as the cows have been selected with great care, and are guaranteed to be some of the best milking in the colony.

The young family set sail for Liverpool early in 1859, both Eardley and Emma still in their twenties, and settled in Manchester. Norton seemed to have had his fill of farming as his later occupations included calico printer, general merchant, and wine merchant. He appeared to be comfortably off as the household always included at least three servants, but his estate was valued at only £743 at the time of his death.

Life Summary

Birth Date Birth Place
1833 Southwold, Sussex, England
Spouse Name Date of Marriage Children
Emma Pilcher 13 August 1857 William Eardley and Lucy Anne born 1858 at Yarra Grange
Home Addresses
Home Street Home City Status of Building
Victoria Street Abbotsford Demolished

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