Peter McBride        Antique and Old Tools 

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The tools of John Butler Maling, the first mayor of Camberwell, Vic, Australia 1905.

From notes on the life of John Butler Maling, shown to me by Bruce Maling, the great grandson of John, written by Nancy Nicholson the daughter of Nellie, the youngest daughter of John and Jane Maling, with the help of other family members.

John Butler Maling was born on 8th July 1840 in Shepreth, Cambridgeshire. He was trained in the trade of carpenter and joiner, working for six months as a journeyman before leaving for Australia in 1857 to join his uncle in Melbourne. At 17 years of age (claiming to be 18), John sailed on the “Joshua” out of Southampton on 30th December 1857 as an assisted immigrant calling himself a “sawyer” and arrived in Sydney, Australia on 6th April 1858. Accompanying him was a carpenter’s tool chest he had made containing his tools of the trade. His saw was fixed under the lid. His wooden planes were on the bottom and there were lift-out tills for small tools etc. The chest was painted with his name and “The good ship Joshua 1857”. Seventy years later this chest was still in his workshop. He worked a few weeks at a sawmill in Glebe (now a suburb of Sydney) and stayed in Sydney for a couple of months. He had other jobs, but set out towards Melbourne (1000 km, 620 miles), walking along the Sydney road calling at farms offering to work for his keep. He was a good worker willing to turn his hand to anything, and there was plenty of work, particularly fencing, at the recently settled farms along the road. He obtained letters of introduction from the farmers along the way, and had no trouble finding work further on along the road. Somehow John managed to carry his tool chest with him on his walk to Melbourne. When he arrived in Melbourne he worked a few weeks for his uncle, and then had a variety of other manual jobs. He was well educated, and literate, and so was able to use those skills to also earn money. He leased about 14 acres of land about 7 miles (approx. 11 km) east of Melbourne on Whitehorse Road. There he built a two-room mud brick cottage, and worked part-time as a clerk in a store nearby. In 1864 he bought that land for £ 73 -10s. In 1864 he also married his wife Jane, the daughter of the couple who managed the store. Jane went to live with him in the cottage, and he would walk all over Melbourne to work as a carpenter up to 10 hours per day 6 days a week. Jane gave him 12 children, 9 surviving infancy, and sadly she died after the birth of a non-surviving child in November 1884 aged 39 after puerperal fever (confinement) for 13 days. John Married again in 1886 to Anne Prior Bayley, and outlive her and married a third time, to Ann Young. John had built a prosperous business as a builder, and trained his sons one by one to work with him. They built mostly houses; one house they took particular pride in was of brick construction with French-polished skirting boards, staircase handrail and other woodwork. They also built St. Barnabas’ Church, in Balwyn, a neighbouring suburb. He retired from his business at 50 years of age, in 1890, and continued to be a property developer and investor. John was active in local politics and became a councillor of Boroondara Shire for 30 years 1887 - 1916, which later became the city of Camberwell. He was Shire President 3 times 1887-8, 1897-8, and in 1904-5. He was the First Mayor when the Shire became the City of Camberwell, 1905-6. Maling Road was named in his honour in April 1899, a popular strip shopping centre with many café’s, restaurants, fashionable clothing, and antique shops. John Butler Maling died at the age of 90 years on 10th March 1931.

A scan of a photo from 1929, shown to me in 2005 by Bruce Maling, the child seated next to his great grandfather John Butler Maling. With his father Leslie, and grandfather John. Also a detail of the inscription from the back of the picture.


Copyright © Peter McBride 2005