Eleonora Mackillop was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 11 December 1830 when her parents, George Mackillop and Jean Eleanora Hutton were living at 11 Ainslie Place in the New Town area of the city.
The buildings in Ainslie Place were built in the 1820s and were designed by the architect J G Graham. The houses in Ainslie Place face on to a small garden and behind the buildings the Water of Leith flows through the Dean Gardens - a private garden created in the 1860s.
Towards the end of 1832 Eleonora's parents, together with Eleonora and her four brothers, travelled to India. Eleonora's younger brother James died in Calcutta in July 1833. Later that year the family moved to Tasmania where they lived until the end of the 1830s when they returned to their home in Edinburgh.
George Hutton's notes illustrate that travelling by ship could be eventful. After the ship to India rounded the Cape of Good Hope it encountered a cyclone. Eventually the ship reached Mauritius but was declared a wreck as the force of the cyclone had twisted the hull of the ship. The journey was continued on another vessel. Another ship, possibly the St George, was wrecked off the west coast of Tasmania. This ship was carrying family paintings and heirlooms belonging to the Hutton family.
In Tasmania the family lived in a large house with gardens in Davey Street in Hobart and this was where Eleonora lived until she was nine or ten. While the family was in Hobart Eleonora's two sisters were born. While they lived in Hobart, Eleonora's parents would have employed a governess and / or a tutor to provide at least a basic education for the younger children. The boys may have attended school. Unfortunately Eleonora's eldest brother, George Downie Mackillop, died in Hobart in November 1836 when he was 15. Two months later the family home in Hobart Town was first placed on the market as George Mackillop made plans to return to Scotland. The house was not sold until 1839 and advertisements for the sale of the contents of the house appeared in newspapers early in 1840, probably after the family had returned home.
The Scottish census for 1841 shows the family living in Ainslie Place while the 1851 English census shows that the family had moved to Bath where they lived at 26 Grosvenor Place. When Eleonora married William Forbes Hutton on 27 June 1849, the wedding took place at St Saviour's Church in Bath which was a short distance across the road from where the family lived.
Eleonora was 18 when she married William (33) who was an officer in the 34th Light Infantry in Madras India. No doubt Eleonora and William met through family as William's father, Thomas Hutton, was the brother of his wife's grandfather, William Charles Hutton.
Eleonora and William had eleven children - George (1850-1936) born in Bath and died in Sydney, Jean Elizabeth (1851-1939) born in Bangalore and died in England, Eleonora Mary (1854-1941) born in Bath and died in East Melbourne, Alice Katherine (1856-1946) was born in Secunderbad and died in Nyah (Victoria), Arthur William (1857-1930) was born in Ootacumund and died in Sydney, Dorcas Emma (1859-1938) was born in Bath and died in Malvern, Walter John (1861-1943) was born in Bath and died at Armadale, Margaret Isabella (1863-1950) was born in Bath and died in Armadale, William Lidderdale (1865-1929) was born in Torquay and died in Ballarat, Maurice Charles Graham (1867-1963) was born in Leckhampton and died in Melbourne and James Stewart (1869-1870) who was born and died at Leckhampton.
As can be seen from the details of the births of the first six children Eleonora made several trips between England and India. We know from the letter written in 1855 by her mother that Eleonora's parents had the responsibility of looking after at least the first three children while their parents were overseas.
Living in India provided a number of challenges, particularly for the families of the men working in that country. In the letter that Eleonora's mother wrote to her in 1855 she included the following advice to her daughter -
I hope and trust it may be God's pleasure to bless you both with health even in the Indian climate. Pray do not, from the fear of falling into indolent habits, run into the opposite extreme and overtax your strength in any way; what would be slothful indulgence at home is only necessary rest in India, and I hope you will take sufficiency of it.
The 1861 English census records the family living in Bath while the 1871 English census shows them living at Leckhampton in Gloucestershire. It is thought that William may not have spent much time in India during the 1860s.
In the early 1870s William decided to formally retire from the army and settle the family in Australia. Eleonora and seven children not already in Australia arrived in Melbourne on 6 May 1874. Initially they lived in Kew in a large house, Blythswood.
|Cooring Yering, Lilydale|
In his notes about his family when they arrived in Australia in the 1870s, George Hutton recounted a story illustrating the emphasis placed by his parents on the education of their children. Dorcas had been sent to school in Tasmania it was decided that Margaret should also attend the same school. However when Eleonora was taking Margaret to Hobart the ship lost her propellers and spent the day drifting until a passing ship towed them back to Hobson's Bay. Eleonora changed her mind about margaret attending school in Tasmania and Dorcas left the school at the end of the term. One asumes thy instead attended school closer to home. In his notes, Peter Hutton mentioned that Maurice attended Melbourne Grammar School until 1885. Walter and William may have also attended that school.
Eleonora died on 30 July, 1900, and was buried at Lilydale Cemetery. She was aged 69. The story of Eleonora's life provides an example of the life of women whose family were in involved furthering the interests of Britain in India either in the Army, the Civil Service or as merchants and also in other new British colonies.
Eleonora Mackillop was my great (x2) grandmother.
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