Community History



Home Page
History Home Page

Eleanor Napier and George Barber

George Page Barber was born in Norfolk, England. In 1860 he emigrated to Melbourne in the ship Suffolk. He shortly left Melbourne to manage a property in the Wimmera for the Wilson Brothers and was there for a period of seven years.

Elanor Napier

George married Eleanor Napier (b. 1847), the daughter of Thomas Napier in 1869. The married couple went to North Queensland# where they had a sheep station near the Mc Kenzie River. They stayed in Queensland for about two years. It is reported that they had many adventures and faced many perils during this time. It was reported on one occasion during a tropical flood George Barber had to swim across the flooded Mc Kenzie River with Eleanor "tied to his back", so the story goes.

In 1872 George Barber took up a position on the Staywood Park property near Warrnambool#.

In 1891 Eleanor inherited the Rosebank property on the death of her mother Jessie. They built the present Rosebank House during that year.

Eleanor was one of the founders and leaders of the combined Victorian branch of the Women's Christian Temperance Union#. She attended the first annual meeting of the Victorian W.C.T.U. in 1887 and was elected to the Committee. (Note that in 1887 there were 19 separate Unions spread across the colony, with a total of 610 members.) She was one of four Victorian W.C.T.U. representatives who attended a world temperance convention which was held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1900.

As well as advocating against the consumption of alcohol the W.C.T.U. was involved in the fight for women's suffrage and other charitable works relating to the welfare of women in the colony.

Eleanor was also involved in other philanthropic works to "provide good homes to working girls".

Her fervent anti-alcohol stance must have made for an interesting relationship with her neighbours across Woodland Street in North Park Mansion, the McCracken family who had established and were running a brewing business. Eleanor had the biblical quotation carved in stone above the entrance way of the new Rosebank House, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Could this have been a reference to what they thought of the McCracken household as well as a statement of the Barbers' beliefs?

Eleanor died suddenly in 1902. George subsequently remarried to Matilda.

George Barber died in 1914.

Read more about the Barber Family, and also the Napier family, in the "Barber Family Chronicle#".