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History of Three Manxmen in the Swan Valley, WA

(Compiled from notes by JOHN MORRISON CREER in 1978)

In about 1898, John Sedgman and his wife Clara, along with their two daughters, Annie and Edna, sailed from England to the Isle of Man so that John Sedgman, a School teacher, could take up his appointment as headmaster of the Wesleyan School in Peel.  Clara Sedgman was formerly Clara Eaton from Matlock in Derbyshire, England.  After two years with the Wesleyan School in Peel, I.O.M., John Sedgman spent another four years in charge of the Wesleyan Day School in Ramsey.  After the death of young Annie, the Sedgman’s had two more children while on the Isle of Man, Dora and Hugh.

In September 1904 the family migrated on the White Star liner S.S. Runic from Liverpool to Albany in Western Australia so that John Sedgman could take up a role in charge of a State School at Geraldton

Mr Ernest Maltby Kerruish, a Chartered Accountant living at Groves Cottage, Union Mills, Braddan who was married to Blanche Eaton (sister to Clara Sedgman) and had three children, Alice, Charles and Thomas was apparently advised by his doctor to move to a warmer climate for health reasons.  The family decided to migrate to Western Australia where the Eaton sisters would be able to keep in relatively close contact even though they would be 12,000 miles from their homeland.

 In February 1905 Ernest and Blanche Kerruish and family, along with Arthur Eaton (the younger brother of Clara and Blanche) and John Creer (a single 24 year old farmer from Ballafreer Farm at Marown, I.O.M.), sailed from Liverpool on the S.S. Runic and arrived at Albany in Western Australia on 23 March 1905.  The connection between these individuals, other than the Eaton relationship, appears to have been that they all regularly attended the Union Mills Wesleyan Church.  Also attending this church was Alice Clucas of Tromode who would later marry Arthur Eaton and Annie Morrison from “Glenshoggle” in Ballaugh who would later marry John Creer.

On 31 March 1905, Mr Kerruish acquired 200 acres of land at Bennett Brook in Caversham which he named “Ballajora” after a farm in the Isle of Man.  The three men commenced clearing an area of bush to build a timber-framed house and to plant the fruit trees and vegetables which Mr Kerruish so loved to grow and tend for so carefully as demonstrated throughout his lifetime of 75 years.

By coincidence, it was later discovered that the stream running through the “Ballajora” property called Bennett Brook was named in 1829 after Matilda Bennett, a manx-woman who was the wife of John Septimus Roe.  He was the first Surveyor-General for Western Australia under Sir James Stirling, the first Governor of the State, then known as the Swan River Colony.  The brook runs into the Swan River at Guildford, the town at which the Kerruishs, Eatons and Creers did all their shopping and other business for many years.

 

 

Union Mills Wesleyan Church Group, Isle of Man 1904

 

MAIN CHARACTERS IN PICTURE

  1. Ernest Maltby Kerruish  (1872 – 1947)

  2. Blanche Kerruish  (nee Eaton)  (1870 – 1926)

  3.  Alice Kerruish  (1899 – 1914) 

  4. Charles Kerruish  (1901 – 1975)

  5. John Creer  (1880 – 1922)

  6.  Arthur Eaton  (1887 – 1920)

After three years at “Ballajora” Mr Kerruish decided that the soil was not good enough so he arranged to lease a well-established vineyard named “Roesland” near the intersection of Benara Road and West Swan Road in Caversham, about 3 kms away.

 

 Congregation in front of Caversham Methodist Church 1909

  • Ernest Kerruish – third from right

  • Blanche Kerruish – seated with baby Jessie on lap

  • John Creer – standing in centre of photo in front of church door

  • Arthur Eaton – standing at John Creer’s left shoulder

  • Alice Kerruish – in front of other church door

  • Thomas Kerruish – to the right of Alice

  • Charles Kerruish – against John Creer’s right arm

 The modern suburb of Ballajura, 12 kilometres north of Perth City, now stands on the site of the unsuccessful venture at “Ballajora”.  The Ballajura Primary School regularly celebrates their suburbs Manx heritage and the School’s house system features the houses of Kerruish, Eaton, Creer and Bennett.

“Roesland” was leased from John Frederick Roe, who had obvious family connections to John Septimus Roe, the State’s first Surveyor General.  The new property had a large existing dwelling which was occupied by the Kerruish family.  A new house was then built for Arthur Eaton on an adjacent property while John Creer was provided with a smaller existing brick house on “Roesland”.  The new venture prospered and produced many seasons of bounteous grapes and dried fruits under the guidance of Mr Kerruish who became a well known and respected member of the Caversham and West Swan district.  He took a very keen interest in Church and Local Authority matters and became a lay preacher and an active member of the Swan Roads Board for many years.  Mr Eaton became a foundation member and trustee of the committee controlling the Caversham and District Memorial hall with all its various activities.  Mr Creer became a foundation officer in the Guildford Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1908.

 On 29 October 1909 the S.S. Runic once again sailed into King George Sound at Albany.  This time amongst its passengers were Alice Clucas and Anne Morrison from the Isle of Man.  By arrangement they had come out to marry and settle down with their husbands-to-be that had arrived 4 years earlier to prepare accommodation. 

On 1 November 1909, in a double wedding, the two couples were united as Mr & Mrs Eaton and Mr & Mrs Creer with the Sedgman girls, Edna and Dora, acting as bridesmaids.  This was the first marriage ceremony conducted in the newly built Caversham Methodist Church (see photo).

Everything went well for several years.  Jessie Kerruish was born in 1908, William Eaton in 1910, Nancy Kerruish in 1911 and John Morrison Creer and Molly Eaton in 1912. 

Unfortunately on 28 April 1912 four year old Jessie Kerruish was accidentally burnt to death in a grassfire near “Ballajora” and in April 1914 Alice Kerruish died of pneumonia at the age of 14.  These tragedies were great shocks to the three families.  In spite of these unexpected adversities, Mr & Mrs Kerruish were sustained by their strong Christian beliefs and they gradually recovered to carry on the management of their large vineyard business which by 1915 was flourishing.

 In 1917 John Creer entered into an agreement with John Frederick Roe, a fruit grower at ‘Sandalford’, Guildford to purchase a 14 acre property on Patricia Street, a short distance north of the adjacent properties of  the Kerruish’s and Eaton’s on Benara Road.  I am unsure when the Creer family actually occupied a house on this property.

 By 1920 the children were growing up, going to school, entering into sporting and church activities and taking a great interest in the orchard and the horses and cows and pigs and machinery associated with the running of the busy “Roesland” property which was situated in the centre of the original Caversham district and which necessitated the employment of many men in addition to the resident lessees, especially during the seasons of ploughing, pruning, harvesting and marketing.  These were busy days for all concerned.  The World War I was over and life was most enjoyable.

 By now the Eaton family had grown to four children with the addition of Grace and Douglas.  The Creer family grew to five children with the addition of Enid, Myra, Doris and Thomas.  The Kerruish children consisted of Charles, Thomas and Nancy.  The three families all lived within close proximity which made for happy times with the six parents all active in social, church and charity work in addition to their home duties. 

Sadly and suddenly on 29 August 1920 at the early age of 33 years Arthur Eaton collapsed and died of a heart attack and the whole settlement was thrown into mourning.  John Creer unfortunately developed tuberculosis and after suffering the illness for almost 2 years he passed away on 29 December 1922.

It is somewhat ironical that of the three Manxman that left the Isle of Man in 1905 Mr Kerruish, the older of the three and the one who moved to Australia for health reasons lived to the age of 75 years while Arthur Eaton passed away at the age of 33 years and John Creer at the age of 42 years.

 Alice Eaton carried on for nearly 4 years and then in 1924 on the advice of her brothers she sailed from Fremantle with her four children to return to Tromode, I.O.M.  Her family owned Clucas’ Laundry in Tromode.  Alice worked in the family business until she retired in about 1950 when she paid a brief but happy visit to Perth W.A.

 The Creer family managed to honour the agreement to purchase the Patricia Street property and on 29 August 1929 Annie Creer received the title to the property.  In August 1939 Mrs Creer sold the property and with her family moved to Tenth Avenue in Inglewood, W.A.

 KERRUISH FAMILY

Ernest and Blanche Kerruish had six children, three of whom survived to adulthood.  The resulting offspring are as follows:

Alice                Charles            Thomas            William            Jessie               Nancy

Died                 Charles             Nil                    Died                   Died                 Lucy

14 yrs              Chell-Marie                              8 mths               4 yrs                 Pat

                          Pamela                                                                                               Robin

                          June

                          Valerie

 EATON FAMILY

Arthur and Alice Eaton had four children:

William             Molly               Grace                Douglas

                                                2 children               Douglas

                                                                                     Pam

 

CREER FAMILY

 

John and Annie Creer had five children:

John                 Enid                 Myra                Doris                Tom

John                 Ross                 Garry               Robin               Ralph

Judith               Douglas        Laurel              Graeme            Neil

                                                   Barbara          Raymond        Lindsay

                                                   Eric                                               Jan-Marie

 

John McAllister Creer  24.7.99  Perth, Western Australia (Updated 10.8.01)

 

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