Notable People of Collingwood

Collingwood Notables Database

Richard Henry Way


Solicitor, landowner, subdivider

Richard Henry Way was a Sydney solicitor who purchased a large Collingwood landholding in Portion 74 from the original owner, David Chambers, who had obtained the land from the Crown in 1839. Despite never living in Collingwood, or indeed in Victoria, Way left a lasting influence on the street layout and block sizes of the area bounded by Hoddle, Johnston, Dight and Vere Streets and thus including Campbell, Palmer, Harmsworth, Francis, Sydney and Perry Streets. Harmsworth was his mother’s maiden name, and three of his sons were named Francis, Sydney and Harmsworth.

Way had arrived in NSW in October 1838 and registered as a solicitor there. In 1851 he also registered in Victoria despite not being a resident. There was trouble when this was discovered in 1856. The Attorney General and Solicitor General moved that his name be struck off the roll of attorneys of the Court, and their decision was upheld despite his barrister’s arguments that it was unfair to do so after five years of being on the list. (The Argus 10 July 1856 p. 6)

In 1853 Way engaged the auctioneers Stubbs and Son to auction his subdivided land, called the Islington Estate. The gold rush was luring people to Victoria, and Collingwood had its own appeal because of being outside the boundaries of Melbourne City and thus exempt from the Building Act. The auction was scheduled for 3 May. The streets of the Islington Estate were narrow and the allotments small, but this did not stop Stubbs and Son from waxing lyrical over the enticing advantages for purchasers:

          First – without the restrictions of the Building Act.
          Second – No building surveyor’s fees.
          Third - No interference with the order of architecture, materials or position &c.
 … judiciously laid out with regard to the convenience and advantage of purchasers. Those who are wise will not neglect the opportunity to secure a freehold, on which each purchaser may build a dwelling-house according to his own taste and judgement, unrestricted as to materials, whether wood or stone, and without being subject to any Inspector’s or Building Surveyor’s fees … but the Auctioneers cannot forbear to point
out ... that with the great and still increasing influx of population from the mother country and … all parts of the world, there is so little probability of the slightest reduction in the enormous rate of rents in Melbourne, that none who have the ability to secure a homestead in ISLINGTON can neglect the opportunity now presented without incurring the charge of folly … allured … by the richness of our mines, and the productiveness and extent of our maiden soil ENTIRE COLONIES may be expected in Melbourne during the next four months … settling themselves at ISLINGTON and rendering the valley of the Yarra, like that of Collingwood and Richmond, the crowded scene of a happy and successful people.

The Argus 23 April 1853 p. 8

Despite the auctioneers’ efforts, Hodgkinson’s 1858 map showed the subdivision still quite sparsely settled, and ten years after the auction Way had still not sold a lot of his land, owning most of the vacant blocks in Perry, Dight and Campbell Streets as well as a few in Johnston Street and Vere Street. In the mid twentieth century the Housing Commission decided that most of the area’s housing was sub-standard, and replaced it with high-rise flats.

Life Summary

Birth Date Birth Place
Spouse Name Date of Marriage Children
Anna Maria Johnson 1842, Sydney Four daughters and six sons
Death Date Death Place Cemetery
31 July 1883 NSW

The Argus; Barrett, The inner suburbs; family records on

Online Image links

SLV: Islington subdivision Note Hoddle St is called Richmond Road and Perry Street called Studley Street.

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