The Victorian city of Shepparton is situated 190km north of Melbourne CBD. This regional city has its beginnings as a punt to cross the Goulburn river known as McGuire’s Punt. A settlement evolved around the punt which gradually grew into a township. Shepparton was named after Sherbourne Sheppard who owned the leasehold of 160,000-acre Tallygaroopna from 1843 to mid-1850’s.
If we look at the history of Shepparton, Sherbourne Sheppard’s contribution for the growth of township is almost nothing. Probably due to the prominence he gained as the son in law of J.B.Were, a well known businessman of Melbourne of the 1850’s, could be the reason for the township adopting his name. Another major historical incident of Shepparton is the ‘’Siege of Tallygaroopna’’, which is nothing more than a tussle for the ownership of a property. But for a country like Australia which has very little recorded history, this incident was taken up to proportions it never deserved.
Sherbourne Sheppard was born on 2 Aug 1820 in Clonford, Wexford County, Ireland to John and Eleanor (nee Murray) Sheppard. Sheppard arrived in Port Phillip in 1841 in clipper ‘’Red Jacket’’. Old newspaper reports shows that Sheppard purchased his stock from his friends at Pastoria run at Kyneton where he had been gaining colonial experience.
Today’s Shepparton was occupied as a sheep and cattle station as squatters settled in the area in 1840’s. Edward Khull’s 160,000-acre Tallygaroopna, Gregor McGregor’s 80,000-acre Arcadia and James Cowper’s Ardpatrick were the early runs in the near vicinity of today’s Shepparton.
Edward Khull established his domicile in a simple log hut. Impenetrable scrub and heavy timber rendered the Tallygaroopna run an unprofitable venture and Khull abandoned it after a two years’ trial. Sherbourne Sheppard came to the settlement then known as McGuire’s Punt in May 1843. By then Edward Khull had abandoned Tallygaroopna run due to non-viability.
It was Sherbourne Sheppard from whom Shepparton derived its present name, after the various former titles of McGuire’s Punt, Sheppardtown and Sheppardton had been discarded.
Sheppard’s days at McGuire’s Punt are not well documented. Early newspaper articles which were published in this regard with information passed on by his children carry conflicting details, which makes it difficult to arrive at correct timings of the incidents that happened. In the 1840’s Tallygaroopna run was the largest run in Murray District. After a few years probably in 1848 (no exact record of that could be found), Sheppard left for England. Before leaving for England, Sheppard owed some money to his stock agent Henry Arthur Smith which he forgot to pay. He returned to Melbourne, only to find that his stock agent had sold all his property and stock to recover the debt.
Smith had the right to sell his stock to recover the debt but did not have the right to sell the leasehold on Tallygaroopna. What later happened came to be known as the Siege of Tallygaroopna. An article published by The Australasian on Saturday 8th March 1930 with the title ‘’SIEGE OF TALLYGAROOPNA’’ best describes the incident and it goes as follows,
When Mr. Sheppard, in company with two of his friends, John Purcell and. Albert Alexander Le Souef, left Melbourne on horseback, heading northward through country which, not far from the city, was almost uninhabited. They were skilled bushmen and had no difficulty in keeping to the course they wished to follow. They rode steadily, as befitted men who had about 130 miles to travel, and they looked well to their horses, always camping far the midday rest where the grass-was good, and, when it was possible, stabling the animals at night. At that time there was nothing unusual in such a journey, but these gentlemen were on a special errand, arising out of some high-handed doings, by means of which Mr. Sheppard had been deprived of his Tallygaroopna sheep station.
Mr. Sheppard had been on a visit to England, unfortunately forgetting, before he sailed, to pay his agent a sum of money which he owed them. He was away longer than he had intended. and the agents took it upon themselves to sell the station with the stock upon it. It seems that they were within their rights in selling the stock to recoup themselves for the money owed to them by Mr. Sheppard, but that they had. no legal power to dispose of the leasehold of the run. On Mr. Sheppard’s return, shortly after the sale, he applied to the Government to be put into repossession of the station but was met with a refusal. Thereupon he sought legal advice, and was told that, owing to certain peculiarities in the terms of the lease, a lawsuit would probably fail, but that if by any means he could regain possession of the property it would be exceedingly difficult to oust him.
Keeping along the course of the Goulburn, the party at length reached a punt, by means of which they crossed the river to a point where, on the eastern bank, there was a collection of rude dwellings. There they engaged a powerful looking fellow, known locally as “Scotchy,” who appeared well qualified to give a good account of himself in a row. There was another recruit, an Irishman, who owned a cattle station not far away, and to whom the prospect of a fight was irresistible. Mr Purcell had some time previously been bound over to keep the peace by reason of a horse-whipping case in which he had been involved, and did, not consider that would be Justified in taking part in the anticipated fray. But he was unable to refrain from going with the others and lending his countenance to what they proposed doing.
Thus reinforced, the party left the embryo township and took their way northward to the rough buildings known as the homestead of Tallygaroopna Station. The news of their intention had somehow preceded them, and they found the station employees all in the main hut, the doors and windows of which were firmly fastened. A small room on the verandah was unoccupied, and into it went the invading party. They demanded admittance, but this the overseer, a Swede, absolutely refused, adding that he was armed, and would fire on anyone who tried to force an entrance. An axe was procured, and “Scotchy” got to work at hewing a way through the slab wall. “If one of those slabs falls, I will fire, cried the overseer. “Oh, you just wait till I get in and I’ll soften your head,” was the reply of “Scotchy,” who went-on steadily cutting away at the slabs. At length, a breach was made, through which the attacking party came one after another. The overseer promptly surrendered, calling out, “I’m a man of peace.” The hired men followed their leader’s example, – and the besiegers opened the doors and hurled their foes out, taking the precaution to disarm them.
Thus, ended what was for many years known, as “the siege of Tallygaroopna.” But the men who had taken possession of the run in the absence of Mr. Sheppard were not disposed to accept defeat in that fashion. The new owner Khull took legal proceedings against him and three separate cases were heard in the civil sittings of Supreme Court. Sheppard though got his leasehold back, ended up paying around £1300 in fines. His victory did not avail him much, for soon after the land was thrown open to the free selectors, and in no time nearly all of Tallygaroopna Station was in their hands.
This run had a varied carer of ownership. The northern part, Sheppard named “Katandra,” and sold to Charles Ryan in March 1848. In 1852, Hugh Glass, who was the biggest squatter in Victoria, acquired the run, though whether he held it by occupation or licence it is hard to say. In 1855 the licence of the run returned to Sheppard who had by that time become associated with A.C. Le Soueff and W. H. Atkins. With it he held Loch Garry and Mundoona.
Charles Ryan and Robert Hammond obtained the run from Sheppard in 1857. In May 1859, Alex Brock and William Bookman bought it and held it until February, 1866, when it was sold to William Fraser, who held it until 1869, when the land was resumed for free selection (under the Land Act of 1869). Fraser was then left with only the freehold, comprising the Tallygaroopna pre-emptive right after being in possession for a great number of years with his family. Fraser sold out to Hamilton Coldwell who was an honoured member of Shepparton shire council for many years, and who built a splendid and commodious brick home, which was later considerably added to by Messrs. J. F. and A. W. Fairley. Mr. Coldwell staled that he selected in 1874 not far from the old homestead on part of the run, little dreaming that he would later own the old home of Fraser. The property was sold to Messrs. A. B. and K. C. Harper in 1921, who a year later sold to Messrs. J. F. and A. W. Fairley.
Mr. Sherbourne Sheppard, who had thus taken the law into his own hands, afterwards became a Justice of Peace at Brighton, a position which he filled very creditably. In 1855 Sheppard married Miss Sophia Louisa Dunsford Were, eldest daughter of Mr. J B. Were. Sheppard died at Clonmore, Caulfield, on May 27, 1884, at the age of 63 years. Mr. Le Souef, who participated in the “siege,” was usher of black rod in the Victorian Parliament in 1849. In 1870 he became secretary and in 1882-1902 director of the Zoological Gardens (Zoological and Acclimatisation Society) at Royal Park at £300 a year (Australian Dictionary of Biography). He died in 1908.
One of Sherbourne Sheppard’s sons Murray Sheppard, who was a farmer presented a portrait in oil of his father to the Shepparton Borough Council during Shepparton’s centenary celebrations. Another son Brenton Sheppard was killed in the bicycle race to Werribee. His elder brother, Lieutenant Commander Frederick Sherbourne who was a navy officer was killed by a leopard in central Africa on a hunting trip. Another son Haliburton Arthur Sheppard was a prominent mining figure.
Goulburn Valley Stock and Property Journal (Vic. : 1916 – 1942) Wed 5 Nov 1941 / Page 6 “The Homestead Sold’’
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) Tue 18 Aug 1953 Page 18 Paddy McGuire, monopolist
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) Mon 28 Feb 1898 Page 6 KILLED BY A LEOPARD.
The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946) Sat 8 Mar 1930 Page 6 SIEGE OF TALLYGAROOPNA.