Wednesday, 11 April 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 15 - Taxes

Rate books can provide useful information regarding land owned by family members however, as with most resources, it is important to read the information carefully and also not take every piece of information at face value.

William Forbes Hutton purchased 640 acres of land at Lilydale,Victoria, in the early 1880s. Cooring Yering, the two storey brick family home with thirty rooms, was built by David Mitchell, the father of Dame Nellie Melba. The Hutton family moved to their new extremely large home in 1885.
Cooring Yering 1885
The Shire of Lillydale rate books provide a record of owners of land in their area, amount of land owned by each person plus a record of annual rates to be paid on that land. These records can be researched at the rooms of the Lilydale Historical Society.

During the years parcels of land were purchased and sold. For the years 1879-1880 the rate books record that William Forbes Hutton owned 1,607 acres. For the years 1876-1877 the records show William owning 238 acres in one entry and 1,371 acres in a second entry. In the late 1880s the parcels of land were recorded as being 540 acres plus house and 322 acres.

An interesting exercise can be trying to decide exactly where parcels of land were located in different parts of the Shire. In the 1870s William purchased 482 acres at Rowes's Mount and also land referred to as Jamiesons. Until 1876 he owned another 189 acres leased to James T Cashin, Miller. This land was eventually absorbed into William's property. William also leased land to market gardeners - Lee Hoy and Tun Key. I spent several hours at the historical society looking at maps to try and work out where the land was located.

Click image to enlarge
One hundred and forty-nine acres of the Cooring Yering land was used as a vineyard and when William's wife, Eleonora, died in 1900 this land land was left to Walter and Maurice Hutton to own and manage. The rest of the land and the house was sold. Robert Black who purchased Cooring Yering also purchased the land at Rowe's Mount.
Showing land for Cooring Yering before subdivision
Although the records in rate books can be extremely useful for providing information about an ancestor's land holdings, errors can occur as shown in the sample of rate records provided above. In March 1873 William returned to England for twelve months to make arrangements for his family to follow him to Australia and also purchase some farming supplies required for the new property. During that time George, his son who had arrived in Australia in 1869, looked after the properties including paying the land rates. The clerk entering the information in the rate book recorded George's name as he paid the rates that year. This would not have become an issue except that a researcher checking the rate books for 1873-74 noted George's name and, not checking other rate books, assumed that George was owner of the property. This information was copied into other sources.

Cooring Yering today - Google Maps
The house, Cooring Yering, still exists. When I last visited it there was still land at the back of the property (110 acres according to the sale information when it was sold in 2005) but entrance to the property is via a narrow road between houses in a residential area.

The records in the rate books were collected to record part of local government financial operations in an area. However they can also provide valuable source material for family history and local history research if used carefully.

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