Discover the connections between Ireland and the Yarra Valley.
Glenlowren is the site where the pioneering Lorimer family settled in the Yarra Valley, forged a farming lifestyle and raised a family of 10 children.
In 1854 at the age of 19, Samuel Lorimer arrived in Melbourne Australia together with his brother, on the Queen of the Seas. Samuel was borne to a farming life as a son of an Irish farmer, James Lorimer and his wife Sarah (nee Simpson). Historical facts are scarce as to his activities prior to arriving in the Yarra Valley.
But in 1867 when Samuel, aged 32, married Mary Ann McPherson, aged 22; he married into one of the biggest land owner families in the Yarra Valley and carved his own place in its history.
In 1871, the couple moved from Christmas Hills to Dixons Creek, bought block 15D from Mary Ann’s brother, William and built their home. Over the ensuing years Samuel obtained licences to occupy several adjoining allotments, including Block 13C, the site of Glenlowren B & B. Block 15D is still the site of the main homestead
The Land Act of 1869, in comparison with current laws, was harsh, demanding and bordering on bribery. Under this Act, settlers were required to obtain a license for a term of three years; reside on that land for the first two and a half years, fence it and cultivate a certain proportion. Only then could they make an application to purchase that land. Successful applications were not always guaranteed as Samuel was soon to discover.
He cleared the land on block 13C, built fences and ran cattle on land unfit for cultivation. In 1874 Samuel applied to purchase block 13C but his application was denied as he had not complied with the residential requirement. Despite his labour on the land, new fences and efforts to have the decision overturned; the Minister of Lands stood firm and rejected Samuel’s claim.
Samuel had no choice but to relocate his family to Block 13C and start building “Lorimer’s cottage” on the same footings that is now the luxury cottage at Glenlowren.
Five years later and determined to secure the land, Samuel re-applied for purchase.
By this time Samuel and Mary Ann had 6 children and a building with six rooms, cow sheds and outbuildings. He was finally granted the licence. The Lorimers called their land Mt. Hope Farm. It was mainly a dairy farm selling cream and butter to the markets in Melbourne. They also planted fruit trees and potato crops.
In front of the main house Mary Ann Lorimer in chair other adults are George Lorimer, Bessie, Mary and Martha (both sitting)
Sadly, Samuel died days before his youngest daughter Bessie was born. According to the death certificate he died of Pleuritic affection and Perionditis at the age of 50. His wife Mary Ann and his 10 children outlived him and remained on the land. Samuel’s untimely death forced Mary Ann to show her mettle and be the landowner and raise 10 children. Mary Ann passed away in 1939 at the age of 93. This excerpt from her obituary describes her strength of character and “indomitable spirit”.
Of Samuel and Mary Ann’s 5 daughters and 5 sons: all daughters were spinsters, the eldest son remained a bachelor to look after his mother and sisters. One son died at the age of 17 and the remaining three sons married and produced 10 grandchildren.
Some descendants of the Lorimer family still live in the area and are no-doubt creating their own family history.