Wednesday, 25 June 2014

52 Ancestors #31 William Forbes Hutton

William Forbes Hutton was born in Westerham, Kent, England on 25 February 1816. His parents were Thomas Hutton (1772-1856, a merchant in India and Janet Robertson (1781-1862).

Janet and Thomas were married in Calcutta, India, on 22 July 1802. They had ten children with William being the seventh child and the second son. He had two younger brothers and one younger sister. For a number of years Thomas and Janet lived in Penang where their first two children were born. The next five children were born in England between 1808 and 1816 while the last three children were born in Calcutta, India between 1818 and 1822. It is probable that the older children, including William, would have remained in England being looked after by family when Thomas and Janet went to India. Unfortunately census data was not collected until 1840 so it is not possible to confirm this, but it was customary for many English families in India to have their children brought up in India. This was a tradition continued by William with his children being cared for by his wife's family in England when he was in India.

William Forbes Hutton was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and according to notes written by his son, George, in the 1930s ‘he studied for an army surgeon but did not like the doctoring part of the profession, threw it up and entered the East India Company’s army’.
When he was 19 William applied for a cadetship in the Honorable East India Company Service Army for 1835-1836. On 3 February 1836 he left Portsmouth aboard the Malcolm for Madras where he arrived on 11 May.William Forbes Hutton was a member of the 34th Madras Native Infantry from 1836 until the early 1870s though he spent much of this time in England. Research undertaken by Peter Hutton in the 1960s established that William became an Ensign on 17 January 1836, a Lieutenant on 26 November 1837 and a Captain on 18 June 1845.

William Forbes Hutton served with the Field Force at Kurnool in 1839 and was present at the affair at Zorapore on 18 October 1839. Peter Hutton's research showed that William was stationed at Mercara from 1 January 1842, Mangalore from February 1845, Vellore from 1848, Dacca also from 1848, Moulmein from 1850, Vizagapatam arrived September 1851, Secunderabad arrived January 1854 and Trichinopoly arrived April 1857. Records show that he returned to Europe on furlough in November 1847, 1849, 1850, 1854 and 1855 and he was on sick leave in 1853. He officially retired as Major on 1 March 1873. The records regarding William Forbes Hutton’s service in the army are sketchy and additional research may provide more information.

As George Hutton's notes show life in India could be eventful. He describes how, on one day in the 1840s, his father was chased by an elephant when he was camped with some troops near a village in the foothills. The villagers complained that a rogue elephant was destroying their crops so a decision was made to hunt the elephant for a bit of sport. They walked through the jungle to locate the elephant. The weapons to be used were two single barrelled smooth bore guns so it was necessary 'to get within at least 80 yards to make sure of his shot'. When the elephant was located William fired the first gun and although the elephant was hit he just appeared dazed and then charged his attacker. The native soldier carrying the second gun disappeared leaving William to run back down the path pursued by an angry elephant. As the elephant gained on William, he fell and rolled behind a tree as the elephant raced past. George Hutton noted that after this experience his father was determined 'to let the natives kill their own elephants in future.'
From Bath in Time website
On 27 June 1849 William Forbes Hutton married Eleonora Mackillop at St Saviour's Church, Bath. The birth of the first six of their eleven children shows the frequency with which William and Eleonora travelled between England and India during the first ten years of their marriage. George was born in Bath in May 1850, Jean was born in Bangalore in November 1851, Eleonora was born in Bath in May 1854, Alice was born in Secunderbad in January 1856, Arthur was born in Ootacumund in July 1857 while Dorcas was born in Bath in June 1859. The remaining five children were born in England between 1861 and 1869. In the 1860s William appears to have spent more time in England than in India. 

On 13 May 1871 William Forbes Hutton arrived in Melbourne aboard the ship, Geelong, where he met his eldest son, George, who had arrived in Victoria in August 1869. In June William and George travelled to Launceston to view the Castra settlement, a project to encourage retired British Army officers who had served in India to settle in Tasmania, but weather so bad they continued to Hobart by coach before returning to Melbourne. Instead William purchased property, Cooring Yering, in Lilydale and proceeded to build a large home for his family. William officially retired from the Army on 1 March 1873 and later that month returned briefly to England. William arrived back in Australia in February 1874 with Jean and Arthur. Eleonora and the other children arrived later that year. Initially the family lived at Blythswood in Kew and then next door at Rockingham, until the house on Cooring Yering was completed and ready to move into in 1885.

The land acquired in Lilydale was used for farming - sheep and and crops - with one hundred and fifty acres set aside as a vineyard. According to William's obituary in the Lilydale Express December 4, 1896, 'The Colonel lived a somewhat retired life but was held in high esteem for his charitable deeds.' At a 'Back to Lilydale Reunion' in 1931 it was recorded that William Forbes Hutton had been interested in geology and owned a collection of rocks and minerals which were later donated to the local library. Marian Aveling in her book, Lilydale: the Billanook country 1837-1972  wrote that the large landowners in the area maintained close ties to Melbourne society and made visits to the city for shopping and entertainment especially after the arrival of the railway in 1881. No doubt members of the Hutton family travelled into Melbourne from time to time.

William Forbes Hutton died on 28 November 1896 at the age of 80 and was buried at Lilydale Cemetery.

 He was my great (x2) grandfather.

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