gun alley stories

50 John St Stories


The Gilson family were a vital part of the Gun Alley community with four generations living in John Street all because of the sudden death of Charles Gilson who worked for David Mitchell at Richmond.

He moved the family to Lilydale and as the family story goes, providing a home for the young family ranging from 19 to 1 year old. He probably also employed the older boys at Cave Hill.

They remained a part of Gun Alley from 1890 until 1968 when their family home was sold.

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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Lot 5

John Hutchinson

William Hutchinson & Louis Deschamps ( – 26/1/1881)

Patrick Hughes (26/1/1881 – 17/3/1885)

Charles Andrew Perrin (17/3/1885 – 7/10/1886)

Eastern Part of Lot 5 only

Jeannie Bell Hand (7/10/1886 – 2/5/1888)

Walter Bryant House for Sarah Nott (1/6/1920 – 1/6/1920

Charles Gilson ((1/6/1920 – 14/7/1952)

Eliza Blanche Gilson (14/7/1952 – 16/8/1968)

Corrandino Del Biondo (16/8/1968 – 11/12/1970)

Clifford John & Evelyn Edna Hounslow (11/12/1970 – 8/2/1977a)

Consolato & Rosetta Pignataro (8/2/1977 – 20/7/2001)

Jim Cree Investments Pty Ltd (20/7/2001 –

Date of Contract of Sale. Conveyance completed 6/3/1978.

It was Charles Andrews Perrin who subdivided Lot 5 into two smaller blocks on which two homes were erected. No 50 John Street is the eastern part of Lot 5.

Patrick Hughes

This was one of several lots Patrick Hughes purchased from John Hutchinsons’ 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. Henry 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 7 July 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 1885 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 the following obituary:

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

Jeannie Bell Hand

Jeannie Hand’s purchase of the property reflects the excesses of the late 1880s paying £120 for half the block on which Perrin had erected a house.

Jeannie Bell Plain was born in Dalkeith, Scotland about 1845 and was the daughter of John Plain and Elizabeth Aitken. The rate books and other reports call her Jennie and Jenny but the Covneyance lists her as Jeannie.

In 1869 she married Alfred Hand, the son of Richard Morton Hand and Elizabeth King.

(BDM No. 1961)

Alfred was born at Flintham, Nottinghamshire on November 28, 1836. They had one child Elizabeth Georgina born at Lilydale in 1870.

Elizabeth married Herbert Clarke in 1893

(BDM No. 6222.)

The Hand family had arrived in Melbourne in 1862 on board the Morning Light and soon after went to Lilydale:

Richard Hand 49 and Elizabeth Hand 48 and children: Alfred 24, Phebe A 22, Thomas 20, Robert 14 and Richard 11.

At Lilydale Richard Hand selected the land now known as The Towers while Alfred headed to the Majorca goldfield. He returned and became a contractor for the shire. After some years he retired and devoted himself to viticulture developing Flintham Hill (later known as The Towers) near Lilydale.

In 1878 he opened a wine hall and in 1885 he sold the vineyard to Andrew Fulton.

(Lilydale Express obituary November 22, 1890 pg2.)

The Shire of Lillydale Rate Books list both Alfred and Jeannie as wine sellers.

After his death, Alfred was interred at the Lilydale Cemetery on November 15, 1890.

In 1899 Jeannie Bell Hand re-married Robert Morton who ran a saddler business in Lilydale, Robert was born in Antrim, Ireland in 1899 and married Susannah Hutchinson, sister of John Hutchinson before migrating to Australia. Susanna had died in 1895.

Jeannie Bell Morton died and was buried at Lilydale Cemetery on April 1, 1915 she was aged 70. Robert Morton died on January 3, 1917 and is also buried at Lilydale Cemetery.

Sarah Nott

On May 2, 1888 Sarah Nott, a laundress, became the owner of 50 John Street paying £150 for the property. She was an owner not an occupier. Little has been found about Sarah Nott. The property was rented out to various families:

Robert Goodall Carter (1885-86)

Harry Kimberley, carter (1886-1887)

George Pittman, carter (1887-1889)

Charles Allen, labourer (1890 – 1892)

James Buckland, driver (1892 – 1893)

Thomas Holter, labourer (1893- 1909) he was the father of Lucy May Holter who married William Henry Hawkey in 1920 and moved into 56
John Street. Lucy purchased that property on August 21, 1923.
George Lawrence (1909)

Sarah Nott, housekeeper (1909 – 1912)

Charles Gilson, labourer (1912 – 1920)

The Gilson Family

The Gilson family arrived in Lilydale following the tragic death of Charles Gilson.

Betty Hodges (nee Gilson) spoke of the family’s history in which there were three generations with the name Charles Gilson.

The first Charles Gilson was born in Dublin about 1869 and was bought to Australia by David Mitchell to run his machinery at his Burnley operations.

He married Margaret McCormack and they had 9 children, all born at Richmond, between 1871 and 1889: James b 1871; Margaret May b 1873;
William b 1875; Charles Barnett b 1878; Emma b 1880; John B 1882; Catherine b 1883 and Julia b 1889.

Sadly in 1890 Charles died at the age of only 46 leaving a widow and family ranging in ages from 19 to 1 year old.

David Mitchell moved the family up to Lilydale and settled them in John Street in a property owned by William Scott, bootmaker, later Albert and Edith Briers property at 58 John Street.

The first entry under the name of Margaret Gillson is in 1895 in the Shire of Lillydale rate books indicating the family arrived between January 1, 1894 and February 1895.

The same property had previously been rented under the name of Charles McCormick, a labourer from 1891. He took over as the occupying tenant from Margaret Gilson in 1896 before it reverted to William Gilson in 1898.

Could this be Margaret’s family and her son William?

Great grand-daughter Betty Hodges remembers Margaret was paralysed with some disease such as rheumatic fever.

The second was Charles Barnett Gilson, the fourth child of Charles and Margaret Gilson. He became a butcher and continued to live in John Street.

Both William and Charles enlisted in World War I.

William who did not remain in Lilydale, joined the 20/22 Reinforcements on June 16, 1917. He was 38 years and 8 months old at the time and had previously been rejected for military service due to a “weak hand”. He left Australia on the Nestor on November 17, 1917 and served in at various bases in Britain. He was discharged due to defective vision retired to Australia on June 17, 1918.

Barney Gilson enlisted in the 14th Battalion on October 1, 1914. His number was 995 and his occupation at the time was butcher. He was just over 35 years old. He was small – only 5ft 5 in – and enlisted at Shepparton.

He left Melbourne on board the Ulysses on December 22, 1914 and returned from the Suez via the Kyarra on July 17, 1915 where he was discharged as medically unfit due to a hernia.

He again enlisted after a hernia operation and certified medically fit on October 23, 1915. He joined the AIF on December 7, 1915 No 4243 in the 10/24 Reinforcements.

He left Melbourne aboard the Wiltshire on March 7, 1916. He went to France on January 16, 1917 and received a gunshot wound in the left leg on March 14, 1917. He was transferred to London General Hospital on March 22 and left for Australia on August 27, 1917. He was discharged on December 26, 1917.

(National Archives Service Records)

Home in Lilydale, Barney suffered from his war injuries but this didn’t stop him from becoming involved with the R.S.S.I.L.A. and many local organisations including the athletic club, progress association, the school committee. He died in January 1938 aged 60 years.

In his obituary, the Lilydale Express reported:

“There is not a public institution in the town that will not feel the loss of his presence when necessary duties, for which there are no volunteers, have to be carried out. As a true sport “Barney” had no peer. For the past 20 years every club in the town has been under an obligation to him for his practical support and assistance; not only existing clubs, but many now extinct……. It is no exaggeration to say that all his leisure time was devoted to doing irksome jobs which are generally overlooked when thanks were being extended to organisers.”

(Lilydale Express January 14, 1938, pg 3)

In his enlistment papers, Barney put down his brother John Gilson as his next of kin as Jack stayed home managing the Lilydale Butchering Company business. Jack and Edith’s daughter Edith married Albert Briers and eventually returned to live in and buy the first home the Gilson family lived in at Lilydale – 58 John Street.

Charles (Bosco) Gilson

Barney’s son, the third Charles Gilson (always called Bosco), had grown up in John Street and was happy to also raise his family within the close-knit community.

Charles married Elizabeth Blanch Goodwin at Croydon in 1909. Elizabeth was born at Croydon on December 20, 1890 was 19, and Charles 22. During 1910 they moved into No 58 John Street which they rented from William Scott. It’s the same house his mother had rented years earlier.

He moved to 50 John Street from 1912 where he remained until he purchased it from Sarah Nott’s estate on June 1, 1920.

To do so he had to pay £41 to Nott and £59 to one Walter Bryant House who was the Curator of the Estate of Deceased Persons for Sarah Nott. Perhaps as he was now a butcher working for Mrs Isabella Smith of Smith’s Butchers in Main Street, and earning more money, he felt he could afford to buy the property his family had grown up in.

It was at 50 John Street that their first child Harold was born. Soon other children joined the family:

Harold b 1912

Wally (Walter Frederick) b 1914

Doris b 1916

Kenneth Stanley b 1925

Betty Barbara b 1930 – 83 in April 2013

Clive 1932 died Sept 1967

To his daughter Betty Hodges, growing up in John Street was a lot of fun and the kids were a close knit group and did get up to a lot of naughty things.

For Elsie Barnes (O’Donnell), an only child, the Gilson home was a second home with kids everywhere, noise and lots of things happening all the time.

Betty Hodges (Gilson) was like many Lilydale people and went to work in the city:

“Started as an apprentice I was making covered buttons when I started – there were 30 odd buttons that went down the back. I thought it was wonderful a country kid making all those buttons. Then taught to sew; then started doing order work myself.
Worked there for quite a few years – 5 years. When dad was sick I went to work at Acorns – I was sample hand, forelady and then manageress. Stayed at Acorns until 20 when my father died. There until I got married at 24 and I swapped dresses and gowns for milking cows and feeding cows.

Married Keith Hodges when 24 in 1954. When we got married we lived in a caravan for 2 years at 19 Cave Hill Road at the back of Keith’s parents place.

Then moved to the farm in 1956 at Leonard’s Road, Lilydale next to the tip. There is nearly as much stuff as our place at the tip.
Hodges Dairy was at Nicholas Street, Lilydale.”

Eliza Blanche Gilson

After the death of her husband Charles on September 5, 1950, his two sons Harold Charles and Walter Frederick were appointed executors of his estate.

The property was transferred into Eliza’s name on July 14, 1952 and remained her home for the rest of her life. Eliza passed away on November 30, 1967 and her executors Walter Frederick Gilson and Doris Margaret Clements sold the property to Corrandino Del Biondo.

Eliza Blanche Gilson

After the death of her husband Charles on September 5, 1950, his two sons Harold Charles and Walter Frederick were appointed executors of his estate.

The property was transferred into Eliza’s name on July 14, 1952 and remained her home for the rest of her life. Eliza passed away on November 30, 1967 and her executors Walter Frederick Gilson and Doris Margaret Clements sold the property to Corrandino Del Biondo.

Corrandino Del Biondo

Corrandino Del Biondo purchased 50 John Street on August 16, 1968 and paid $4000. However, he only retained the property for a couple of years.

Clifford John & Evelyn Edna Hounslow

The Hounslows were the next owners who purchased the property on December 11, 1970 for $5000. It was probably during this time that the home was demolished and the land appears to have been rezoned to commercial.

Consolato & Rosetta Pignataro

Consolato and Rosetta Pignataro were the next owners. They paid $51,700 for the property under a contract of Sale dated February 8, 1977. The final transfer of the property was completed on April 26, 1978.

Jim Cree Investments Pty Ltd

James and Jessie Cree trading as Jim Cree Investments Pty Ltd became the owners of the property on July 20, 1971 paying $270,000 for the site which is the home of their used car business Jim Cree Motors.

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