Collingwood Notables Database
Georgiana Huntly McCrae
Artist, diarist, early settler
Georgiana was born in London, the natural daughter of George, marquis of Huntly, (afterwards fifth Duke of Gordon), and Jane Graham. She was well educated and a very talented artist, especially noted for her portraits and miniatures. Following her husband Andrew McCrae, she and her four sons arrived in Melbourne in March 1841. They leased land from Charles Nicholson, who had bought land in the first Collingwood land sales of 1838-39, and had a house built to Georgiana’s design. Her diary, although now known to be not either as forthright or original as once believed, gives us a marvellous insight into Melbourne life in the early years of settlement. In the few years that they resided at Mayfield, we hear of the children’s activities on their nine-acre block, the Aboriginals, the local flora, and riverbank neighbours, such as the Campbells who lived in Campbellfield, the Currs at St Helier’s, and James Simpson at Yarra Grange. The boys had an excellent tutor who interested his young charges in nature study as well as the academic pursuits. Agnes La Trobe, the governor’s daughter, joined the boys for lessons in 1843.
Georgiana was a remarkable woman, very gifted, and frustrated by her husband’s refusal to countenance her painting for income. Speaking excellent French, she was a close friend of Governor La Trobe and his Swiss wife. Although the McCraes moved in the upper echelons of Melbourne’s fledgling society, they suffered financial problems and even lost Mayfield because of their inability to pay Nicholson the money owed on the land. They moved to Arthur’s Seat; McCrae was later named in their honour. In the 1850s Georgiana moved back to Melbourne where she lived with her children while her husband took up posts as police magistrate in regional towns.
Of all the riverside mansions from the early years of settlement, Mayfield was the one that survived the longest. It later housed notables such as Sir Francis Murphy, Hon William Vale, and the artist May Vale. The surrounding land had been subdivided over time and the house was finally demolished in the 1960s to be replaced by a factory, leaving Mayfield Street as our only reminder of its existence.
|15 March 1804
|Date of Marriage
|Andrew Morison McCrae (1800-1874)
|25 September 1830
|George, William, Alexander, Farquhar, Georgiana, Margaret, Octavia, Agnes 1851-1854
|Status of Building
|24 May 1890