How Melbourne got its name?

A bit of history

Before the British occupation of Melbourne, The Wurundjeri people of the Indigenous in the Kulin nation occupied the Birrarung (Yarra River) Valley. John Batman, the Australian born son of a NSW convict, who gained fame in Tasmania by capturing Bush ranger Matthew Brady, set his eyes on a Port Phillip exploration. In 9th May 1835 Batman’s Port Phillip exploration trip commenced when his ship ‘Rebecca’ was cleared to sail from Launceston with two crew, five white servants and seven NSW aborigines. Batman bought 600,000 acres around Melbourne from aborigines in exchange for scissors, blankets, knives and other goods. Batman’s treaty was later annulled by NSW Governor.

Shortly after Batman returned to Launceston after his Port Phillip exploration, under the directive of John Pascoe Fawkner, his ship ‘Enterprise’ sailed for Port Phillip.

( Statue of Mary Gilbert in Melbourne – First European woman to settle in Melbourne.

Sculptor Ailsa O`Connor used her daughter as the model for the Mary Gilbert statue which is a bronze life-sized statue of a small woman from the hips. Courtesy: )

The settlers arrived aboard “schooner Enterprize “from the British Crown colony of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on 30 August 1835. They landed on the bank of the Yarra River (corner of William and Flinders street in Melbourne CBD) and established the first permanent settlement The first settlers were John Lancey (Mariner) Peter Hunter (Captain of the Ship), George Evans(builder), William Jackson(carpenter), Robert Hay Marr(carpenter), Evan Evans, and servants’ ploughman Charles Wise, Thomas Morgan, blacksmith James Gilbert and his pregnant wife, Mary – and Mary’s cat.

Who named Melbourne and Why?

Many suggestions were seriously considered for naming Melbourne. The Van Diemonians, Bearpurt, Bearburp, Bearbury, Bearport,Bareheep, Barebrass, Doutta Galla, Dutergalla, Glenelg, Batmania, and Neramnew.

Melbourne might have been given any one of 4 names. “The Van Diemonians”, “Batmania”, “Bearbrass” and “Glenelg”. All these were discarded for Melbourne, in honour of the then Prime Minister of Great Britian, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, (usually addressed as Lord Melbourne)  whose seat was Melbourne Hall in the market town of Melbourne. Derbyshire. Lord Melbourne’s family name was Lamb and he took his title from the small town of Melbourne in Derbyshire where he lived at the family home of Melbourne Hall.

( Melbourne Hall – Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Then NSW Governor, Sir Richard Bourke, visiting Melbourne in March, 1837, bestowed the name- “ Melbourne” . Queen Victoria, in June, 1847, appointing Charles Perry as bishop, turned it into a city; her act was finally and legally endorsed by the passing of an Act of Council in August, 1849.

What is the meaning of the word ‘Melbourne’?

Now we know Melbourne is a small town in the English Midlands.  Let us see what does the word ‘Melbourne’ means?  How the little English town got the name Melbourne?

The Kingdom of Mercia was a state in the English Midlands from the 6th century to the 10th century. It was the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Osthryth, the wife of Ethelred King of

Mercia from 675AD -704 AD was murdered by nobles. A stone cross was erected by a brookside (small stream) to mark the spot where the tragedy took place. Shortly afterwards a church was erected by the King nearby. The town which eventually developed around it was called ‘Melbourne’. ie Mael – burn, which meant; “the Cross beside the brook”. Now you know the meaning of the word Melbourne – it means, “The Cross beside the small steam”.

Who was Lord Melbourne?

(Lord Melbourne – Image Courtesy: Wikipedia)

Lord Melbourne served as British Home Secretary from1830–1834 and Prime Minister in 1834 and 1835 from1841. He was the mentor of young Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria considered him as a father figure. Though Queen Victoria had a special liking from him, Lord Melbourne was very much an uninspiring man. But he was kind, honest and not self-seeking.  Some of the qualities the great city of Melbourne enunciates. On July 2, 1837, Queen Victoria wrote in her diary about Lord Melbourne: “He is truly a most straightforward, honest and noble-minded man and I esteem myself most fortunate to have such a man at the head of government.” There were also rumors that Queen Victoria was romantically involved with Lord Melbourne who was 50 years her senior.

On the physical side, Lord Melbourne was overweight and had a habit of falling asleep in public and snoring heavily when he did. Lord Melbourne was a man of many sex scandals to his credit too.


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