Collingwood Notables Database
John Pascoe Fawkner
Early settler, Member of Parliament, magistrate
In 1835 Fawkner arrived in Port Philip with a small group of men, and competed with Batman for the title of the ‘founding father’ of Melbourne. Unlike Batman, who died in 1839, Fawkner would live on to be an influence on the developing town and to see it grow into a thriving metropolis. He was very much a self-made man, having travelled to Tasmania with his convict parents at the age of ten, and tried a variety of careers including baker, publican and printer. His energy and involvement in many aspects of the life of Melbourne and Collingwood were legendary. He became a ‘grand old man’ of politics and a Melbourne institution.
In 1851 he was elected to the Legislative Council as the member for Talbot, and was the Central representative from 1856 until his death. By 1853 he was living in Collingwood and involving himself strenuously in local affairs. He attended the Oxford St Independent Church (Congregational) from its opening in 1854, was one of a number of prominent residents activating for the establishment of a Mechanics Institute, and was a zealous proponent and supporter of a free library. When the Collingwood Free Library finally opened in 1860 in the Council chambers Fawkner, a keen reader, donated more than 150 books, as well as copies of the Edinburgh Review, Parliamentary Reports, and the London Spectator. He was appointed a magistrate in the same year.
As a prominent Collingwood resident as well as a M.L C. it was unsurprising that in 1855 he was appointed by the government to chair the meeting of Collingwood householders and landowners which voted in the first East Collingwood council. He could not be called entirely independent, as he was a patron of the Johnston St Bridge faction of that faction-ridden council. He also sided with the pro-factory element in the debates over the Yarra Pollution Prevention Bill.
By 1856 Fawkner’s new house in Smith St was completed. Between Perry and Johnston Streets, it was a double-fronted two-storey brick house standing behind an iron fence. In old age ‘Johnny’ could often be seen seated on the veranda, wearing the smoking-cap which he had earlier adopted and wore even in the House, and ready to reminisce or argue vehemently with any passer-by who stopped for a chat.
The childless Fawkners often looked after young orphans and on Saturdays the family would travel out to their extensive farming property Pascoe Vale where Fawkner would consult with his farm manager while Eliza and the children enjoyed open-air pleasures such as picking fruit.
The Collingwood Advertiser produced a special commemorative supplement at his death. The prodigious funeral cortege numbered 228 carriages, shops and public offices were closed, flags were at half-mast, and The Argus estimated a crowd of ten to twelve thousand people mourning the old colonist.
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|20 October 1792||London|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Eliza Cobb||5 December 1822||None, one adopted daughter|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|Smith Street between Johnston and Perry Streets||Collingwood||Demolished|
|Congregational Church, Oxford Street|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|4 September 1869||Collingwood||MGC|