gun alley stories

48 John St Stories


No matter what part of the Lilydale community you belonged to – rich or poor – the people of the district always rallied to help families in distress and looked after their own.

The plight of the Fisher family who moved to 48 John Street typifies this generosity.

Left virtually destitute with a young family in November 1923, the leading townspeople of Lilydale responded quickly and in a matter of months had raised £100 to buy a home for Elsie Fisher and her four children and appointed three leading citizens to purchase the property as Trustees for the Fisher family.

Audio Introduction

Throughout the Gun Alley pages you will see references in old articles to £ (pounds). £1 = $2; 10/- (10 shillings) = $1; 5/- (5 shillings) = 50 cents. Please note: this does not reflect the value of the money but serves as an indication only.

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January 26, 1881 – Patrick Hughes

March 17, 1885 – Charles Andrew Perrin

Western Part of Lot 5 only

October 9, 1886 – Mary Ann & Jacob Tooley


Frederick Nottle (1888)

Fred Andrews (1889- 1890)

John Bergin (1900)

Margaret Gilson (1901)

Edward McDonald (1902)

John Briggs (1903 – 1906)

William Smith (1907 pt)

William Hawkey (1907)

October 5, 1909 – Mary Douthie


George Axford (1908 – 1911)

Walter Newman (1912- 1914)

Patrick Keenan (1915)

Frederick Scales (1916)

November 26, 1918 – Richard Thomas

August 28, 1920 – Robert John King

February 23 1925 – Spencer West

February 23, 1925 – Isabella Smith, William Godfrey & James Brownless Cathcart as Trustees for Elsie Fisher


February 23, 1925 Elsie Fisher

November 31, 1967 – Annie Jessie & Leonard Banks

September 4, 1968 – Angelo and Antonietta Di Pietrantonio

October 30, 1970 – Dorothy Helen Hill

Patrick Hughes

This was one of several lots Patrick Hughes purchased from John Hutchinson’s executors on January 26, 1881 for a total of £145.

Patrick Hughes was an early Lilydale settler. He was born in Ireland in 1829 and at Country Atrim on November 1, 1852 he married Catherine McNally, daughter of James and Anne (Lavender) McNally. They had six children:

Anne J. b 1854; Sarah L. b 1856, Henry T. b 1858; Samuel b 1860, Elizabeth M b. 1863 and Edward M b 1868 at Mooroolbark. Patrick arrived in Melbourne in 1863 travelling from Liverpool on board the SS Great Britain. His wife Catherine and children did not arrive until 1867 at which time they settled in Lilydale.

A year after he sold the property, Patrick died and was buried at Lilydale Cemetery on September 11, 1886. He was aged 57 years old.
Sadly, his life as an early settler of the district received little mention.

Catherine died April 24, 1905 aged 81 years.

Charles Andrews Perrin

Charles Andrews Perrin purchased the property from Patrick Hughes on March 17, 1885 for £30.

Charles Andrews Perrin, the third child of Henry and Cecilia Perrin, was born in Calcutta, India, on 16 November 1851. On 30 June 1857, aged five, he arrived at Port Phillip, Victoria, aboard the Algiers. In 1861 Charles moved from Carlton to Lilydale with his parents, sister Harriet Amelia and brother Frederick Walter.

In 1872, at the age of twenty-one, Charles, whose preferred name was Andrew, married Maryanna Bailey, an immigrant from Somerset, England. Andrew and Maryanna had four children; James Henry born 1873 in North Melbourne, Frederick Charles Spence 1876 in Prahran, Anna Cecilia 1877 and John Henry Bailey 1879 both born in St. Kilda.

In 1886 Andrew and Maryanna were living in Lilydale, where Andrew was a newsagent and acted as an agent for Fitzgerald Brothers’ timber yard. Maryanna conducted a fancy goods shop near the Colonial bank between Clarke and Castella Streets.

On July 7, 1886 Andrew advertised in the second issue of the Lilydale Express:

PERRIN, News Agent &c., Main Street, Lilydale, Next to Post Office. Agent for all the Melbourne Papers, and for Colonial and English Periodicals.

During 1886 he had built a house on the lot as is noted in the Shire of Lillydale rate books. On October 7, 1886 he sold the property to Jeannie Hand Bell for £120 which helped pay off the Mortgage he had with the Victorian Permanent Property Investment and Building Society for £175.

It seems he used the funds to establish his own carpentry and contracting business as the following advertisement in the Lilydale Express of May 20 1887 shows:

On the same page the Express published his obituary.

Charles Andrew Perrin died on 14 May 1887, aged 36. He was buried with his father Henry Perrin in Lilydale Cemetery.

Mary Ann & Jacob Tooley

Mary Ann and Jacob Tooley, laborer, paid Charles Andrews Perrin £110 for the eastern half of Lot 5 on October 7, 1886 on the same day took out a mortgage with the Victorian Permanent Property Investment and Building Society for £110 to build a home on the site. Their home was later described as a four-roomed weatherboard cottage.

It seems the family struggled for several years as between 1888 and 1890 the property was occupied by tenants: carpenter Frederick Nottle (1888) and saddler Fred Andrews (1889- 1890).

In February 1894, Mary Ann repaid the mortgage and the property was registered in her name and in the Rate Books she was listed as a housewife (1895) and then housekeeper.

Mary Ann Douthie was born December 10, 1860 at Buccon Station Gipps Land, the eldest daughter of John William Douthie and Mary gray. Mary Ann married Jacob Tooley on January 12, 1883.

(Together They Played their Part Jan Miller & Isabella Buckland 1983)

Jacob Tooley was born at Yering West on February 26, 1861, the son of John and Jane (Haddrill) Tooley.

(BDM No 5882)

They had eight children: Frederick Jacob b August 27, 1884; Albert John b February 14, 1887; Emily b April 11, 1887; Robert Andrew Gray b January 8, 1892; Ruby Mary Jane b February 24, 1894; Esther May b August 26, 1897; Isabell Annie b July 13, 1900 and Ivy Marienne b December 30, 1902. All the children were either born at Lilydale or at Wandin Yallock.

During 1900 the property was leased out to labourer John Bergin for a year and then Margaret Gilson for the following year.
From the 1902 rate books the property’s owner is listed as Mary Douthie a farmer from Woori Yallock although it was not conveyed to her until October 5, 1909. The home was continually rented out through until its sale to Richard King on November 26, 1918.

Jacob and Mary Ann travelled to Queensland on board the SS. Cooma. They settled in the Wandoan district and eventually purchased a 3000 acre property they called Lillyvale four miles south of Taroom where Jacob became a butcher. Mary Ann helped in the shop. She was also one of the district’s midwives.

(His Saddle Hangs There Idle by Laurie Pointing pg 14)

Mary Ann died on August 1, 1929 aged 69 years and Jacob on July 30, 1953 aged 90 years.

Mary Douthie

Mary Douthie (nee Gray) was born at Banxton Hill, England on September 6, 1937, the third daughter of Andrew and Mary (nee Burn) Gray. The Gray family migrated to Australia pre 1860 and settled in the Parish of Yering where they were farmers. Later the Gray family settled at Mooroolbark. Their residence was called Blackwood.

On February 16, 1860 at the Melbourne Lutheran Church she married John William Douthie who was born at Keighly, Yorkshire, England on September 30, 1831, the son of Benjamin and Ann (nee Davey) Douthie.

After their marriage John and Mary went firstly to Gippsland and settled at Lilydale by 1862. John Douthie became the licensee of the Crown Hotel Lilydale in 1867 where their third child Andrew Burkitt Charles was born in 1869.
John later took up a selection at Woori Yallock they called Aden.

The mystery of how Mary Douthie became the owner of the property in the Shire of Lillydale Rate Books is solved by her Will.

Mary Douthie died on August 30, 1914 and at the time the property was rented out for 6/- a week and was valued at £120. She left a real and personal estate valued at £232. Under the terms of her Will appointed her three sons as executors: Horatio, John William and Andrew Burket Charles Douthie. However, John and Andrew asked the courts to appoint Horatio, a farmer whose address was Dalry Loose Bag Killara as sole executor.

Mary’s Will left her daughters Nellie Williamson and Emma Staves £100. When the John St, property was sold £50 was to go to May Ann Tooley and any remaining funds to be divided between daughters Anna Maria Feese, Isabella Douthie, Emma Staves, Mary Ann Tooley and Nellie Williamson.

The next owner was Richard Thomas who paid Horatio Douthie £105 for the property but his tenure was short.

Robert John King purchased the property on August 28, 1920 for £100. King a carrier and then a groom, had been renting the property since 1918.

Elsie Fisher – Hamilton

Spencer West, a laborer, purchased the property on February 23, 1925 for £160 from Robert John King and in the same conveyance sold it to Isabella Smith, William Godfrey and James Brownless Cathcart for £175. Smith, Godfrey and Cathcart were trustees of a Trust established to raise funds to help Elsie Fisher and her children who became part of John Street thanks to the generosity of the people of Lilydale and Coldstream.

Albert Ernst Fisher, a horse trainer, married Elsie Kathleen Lyons at Lilydale in 1915 (b c 1893) and they had four children all of whom attended Lilydale State School:

Albert Thomas b June 28, 1915;

Charlotte b October 19, 1918;

Frederick b November 29, 1920; and

Victor b November 16, 1923.

In 1918 the family’s home was in Victoria Rd Lilydale, a property they were leasing from Henry Leach. In the Shire of Lillydale Rate Books Albert’s occupation was given as labourer, groom and horse trainer. With his death the property reverted to Mr Leach.

Sadly, Victor never met his father who died of pneumonia at his parents’ home in Castella Street on July 5, 1923. Albert Fisher was interred at Lilydale Cemetery in the Church of England section.

The town rallied to help Elsie and her young family. They formed a committee and held events to raise money for her.

Three people were appointed trustees of the funds raised and they purchased the family the house at 48 John Street for £175.
The Conveyance notes the Trust deed dated February 9, 1924. That £100 was collected and that the Trustees were Isabella Smith, William Godfrey and James Brownless Cathcart. The purchase was for the benefit of Elsie fisher and her children “Elsie having been widowed and left in poor circumstances. The trustees held the property in trust for Elsie and her four children – Albert Thomas, Charlotte Kathleen; Frederick Ernest and Victor Allen. Elsie was entitled to reside in the house as long as she pays all rates, makes repairs and maintains her children.”

In 1927 William Godfrey retired and was replaced by Ralph Edward Goode, a well respected businessman who operated Goode’s drapery in Lilydale.

In the meantime, Elsie married George Henry Hamilton (b c 1875) a wood carter about 1929 and had three more children:

George Henry b June 9, 1931;

Ian Edward b November 29, 1932; and

Max Norman b August 12, 1934.

George Hamilton owned two acres and a hut on Hyne’s estate on the Main Road for many years through until the end of the Shire of Lillydale Rate Books in 1938.

When George Hamilton passed away aged 74 years, he was interred in the Lilydale Cemetery Presbyterian section on May 5, 1949.

Elsie later married Ernest Collins and moved from John Street.

Elsie Collins died July 9, 1964 aged 71 and is buried in Lilydale Cemetery in the Roman Catholic section.

The trustees continued to hold title to the property. However, Isabella Smith died on February 19, 1959 and Ralph Edward Goode on January 23, 1961 leaving only James Brownlees Cathcart. When he died on June 24, 1962 his executors –his wife Ethel May and children John Dunlop Cathcart and Elieen Elizabeth Warr finalised his estate and sold the property to Annie Jessie and Leonard Banks for $1700 in 1967.

Angelo & Antonietta Di Pietrantonio

On September 4, 1968, Angelo and Antonietta Di Pietrantonio purchased the property known as 48 John Street from Annie Jessie and Leonard Banks who had held the property for just 12 months.

Angelo paid the Banks $3,900 for the property. The family ran a very successful delicatessen next to the Olive Tree Shopping centre for many years. Angelo was born on January 31, 1927 and passed away November 30, 2004.

Angelo was the eldest son of Francesco and Rosa Di Pietrantonio. Francesco first arrived in Australia in 1926 but returned home to his wife and family before again migrating to Austrlaia in December 1934 and settled in Silvan where they soon purchased and worked their own family farm.

In the mid 1950s Francesco purchased the former Deschamp’s wine saloon at the corner of Cavehill Road and Maroondah Highway which Angelo ran. Later Angelo and his brother Romeo transferred to liquor license to their continental delicatessen business which became a licensed grocery.

(Dreams from a Suitcase, Recollection of Italian Settlers in the Yarra Valley pgs 126 to137)

Dorothy Helen Hill

The Di Pietrantonio family sold 48 and 46 John Street to Dorothy Helen Hill for $32,000 on October 30, 1970.

Dorothy Helen Hill (nee Roberts) moved to Lilydale in 1948 when her father purchased a property in Rourke Street which at the time was an unmade street with a drain in the middle which had to be crossed to reach their property.

That year, Dorothy met Colin Hill at the Dance Mecca at the Yarra Glen Memorial Hall. He was the son of Eddie C. Hill, a descendant of the pioneering Hill family who were early settlers of the valley.

They were married in 1953 and had two children Brian and Jennifer.

Eddie Hill followed the family tradition and became a councillor of the Lillydale Shire being president on three occasions during his 16 years on the council. He was awarded an MBE for services to the community.

Colin Hill was a stock station agent advising property owners on the purchases and sale of sheep and cattle throughout the Yarra Valley and other more distant areas. With the change of land zonings which allowed the subdivision of large properties into smaller blocks, Colin and Dorothy decided to open a real estate office at 94 Main Street, Lilydale to take advantage of the changes to lifestyle in the Yarra Valley. The business was closed in 1983.

With confidence in the future of the area, on November 17, 1970 Dorothy Hill paid $32,00 to purchase 48 John Street, Lilydale. She also purchased the adjoining 46 John Street and combined both properties to bring them under the Torrens Land system.

Like other owners, Dorothy Hill realised the commercial potential of John Street after the causeway was completed in July 1970 and linked Hardy and John streets in 1970.

In 2012 Dorothy still owned the property which now has a car yard and Lilydale Tool Shed on the site. Following her death, the property remains in the Hill family.

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