Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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John Elder of Rokewood was among the founders of Geelong College, as a member of the Corresponding Committee which undertook to support and promote the College to prospective students in 1861. It is unclear however whether the minutes were referring to John Elder (?-1870) the senior, or John Elder (1834-1869), his son. It seems more likely that it was referring to the elder Elder.

John Elder, son of William Elder, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and married Elizabeth Nairne ( -1875) in Edinburgh. He had three sons, William Elder (c1832-1888), John Elder (1834-1869) and Nairne Guthrie Elder (1837-1911).

John Elder (?-1870), originally managed the family business of booksellers and publishers in Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland but sold the business in the late 1840s and emigrated to Victoria where his brothers-in-law, George Nairne and David Aitcheson had allready established 'Kuruk-a-ruc Station' near Cressy, Victoria. In 1850, John Elder (?-1870)acquired the 'Mindi Run' on Woady Yallock Creek near Pitfield from Peter Hardie. He sold the rights in 1857 and four years later entered into partnership with J W Wilson on 'Yarima Station' (also known as Frenchman's) near Cressy. The partnership continued until 1867 when 'Yarima' was acquired by his son, John Elder (1834-1869).

John Elder died at his late son's property 'Kuruk-a-ruk' on 29 January 1870 where he had been residing. The Geelong Advertiser newspaper published his death notice: 'On the 29th January, at his residence, Kurruc-a-ruc, Rokewood, John Elder, Esq., senr., in the 71st year of his age. The funeral will move from the above place on Tuesday, 1st February, at 1 o'clock pm, for the Rokewood Cemetery.'

The original 'Kuruc-a-ruk' near Rokewood was managed by William and Nairne until 1887 when it was divided. Nairne Elder took half which he named 'The Meadows' and William Elder the other half with the original name 'Kuruc-a-ruc'.

His son, John Elder (1834-1869) emigrated to Victoria with his parents and was first employed on Kuruk-a-ruk Station operated by his uncles, the Aitcheson brothers. With his brothers, he acquired 'Kuruk-a-ruk' from them in 1863, eventually selling his interest in the partnership in 1867 and acquiring 'Yarima Station' from his father and J W Wilson. He married Jane Wilson, daughter of J W Wilson and had four daughters. He died at Yarima Station on 6 May 1869.

None of the children of John Elder or his children are known to have attended Geelong College though several descendants attended Scoth College, Melbourne.

Sources: Geelong Advertiser 31 January 1870 p2; 'Hendersons Australian Families' Volume 1 p183.
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