Mollie Depledge’s story

My name is Mollie Charlotte Depledge. I am a great great granddaughter of William and Mary Depledge of Painthorpe, Yorkshire, who lived in the 18th century. My grandfather, William Depledge was born in 1842, and settled at Encounter Bay in 1855 with his brother James and mother Jane. Depledges have lived in the area ever since.

In 1839, Matthew, wife Mary Jagger and family settled at Encounter Bay. Mary died in March 1852. Matthew had long decided to marry Jane Depledge. He already knew Jane and her family as Mary’s mother and Jane’s mother were cousins. Jane and Matthew were married on 6 January 1855. Later that month Jane and her sons, William and James, and husband Matthew sailed in the Mermaid to Melbourne.

They landed in Melbourne in May 1855 and sailed on the Havilah for Port Adelaide. They disembarked on landing and walked through thick bushland, probably following an aboriginal track to the Hindmarsh River, where they were met by sons of Matthew and taken by bullock dray to their new home. The property bordered what is now the top end of Jagger Road.

The home had beautiful views of the Southern Ocean, West Island, The Bluff and Petrel Cove, the blue waters of Encounter Bay, Granite Island and Policeman’s Point, now Victor. When I was a child I often visited the old home, which was then in ruins. A couple of steps led down to the livingroom and not far from the back door was an underground tank which supplied them with rain water. On the far side of the livingroom one could see where stairs led to the upper floor which was a bedroom. On the outside wall on the southern end was the remains of a fireplace and may be five metres away was a mulberry tree which still bears lots of fruit. In the spring there were white flag iris flowering, double daffodils, several lavender bushes and an elderberry tree. I wouldn’t be surprised if they also brought out cutting of a white moss rose. I have planted two in the garden of the National Trust. These were grown from cuttings taken from a very old bush in my aunt’s garden at Encounter Bay. Matthew and James and William had plenty of hard work to do building stone walls (there was no fencing wire or wooden posts in those days), tending the garden and digging the potatoes and onions.

My father remembers being told that William would take half a bullock in the bullock dray to Bald Hills on the road to Yankalilla, and took butter into Victor and probably Port Elliott.

When he was 31, William decided to marry Charlotte Eliza Stimson of Waitpinga. Charlotte was born at sea south of South Africa. On a four inch square of paper, the captain wrote, ‘Charlotte was born on December 20th 1852. The weather was cloudy and windy and the ship was the Macedon”.

That little piece of paper was folded in four and pinned to Charlotte’s clothes, I presume for the whole voyage to Australia of nearly two months. How that little piece of paper has survived over 160 years really amazes me.

They were the second couple to be married in St Augustine’s Church in Victor Harbor. The first was Edie Jenkins, daughter of the captain of the Gem which sailed between Port Adelaide and Port Elliott.

William and Charlotte’s first home was a hut on a property that faced what is now Depledge Road which runs into Waitpinga Road. Waitpinga is west of Victor Harbor. Here Charlotte’s first was born, a daughter, Mary, but sadly she died in infancy.

In 1876 William’s stepfather, Matthew Jagger died so William and Charlotte moved into the larger home of William’s mother, Jane. Here six of Charlotte’s children were born: Anne, Amelia Clara, William Ernest, George Arthur, James Walter and Eliza Rosetta, so named as her mother could see The Bluff (Rosetta Head) from the window.

In April 1891, William bought Sections 3 and 4 in the Hundred of Waitpinga from Davey Jones, both coastal sections of land east of Kings Beach Road. Section 4 is still in the Depledge name. On the properties were two houses, one an old cottage built in 1865, and a stone home of two rooms which is still standing.

My father was born in the front bedroom on 17 September 1891 and that’s where he wanted to die. He had a stroke and I cared for him for over three years but sadly three weeks before he died he was hospitalised and died on 15 August 1978. He is buried – as were his grandmother, aunts and brothers and sisters (except for Ern who moved to Sydney) – in the Victor Harbor cemetery.

William was that upset when he found out that he was born out of wedlock and the treatment of his mother that he decided that no men would set foot on the property. So Anne, Clara and Eliza remained single. In June 1925, Charlotte died and her birth certificate was passed on to Anne. In June 1926, William died.

All of the treasures of William and Mary were passed on to Anne. When she died in 1948 all her possessions went to Clara and then Rosetta. It was Rosetta’s wish that these were donated to the Victor Harbor National Trust. My father was youngest of four sons and the only one to have children. I have a brother Geoffrey and a twin sister, Nancy who sadly died at age 50. It is now my duty to pass these on to the National Trust.

Mollie Depledge
April 2018