The Murton Family History

John Murton was kind enough to share with us a bit about his family history and how they helped to shape Great Western into the town it is today.

The Murton family were a prominent family here in Great Western with a rich and interesting history. William Arthur was born in Cliffe, Kent in England in 1854. He came out to Australia in 1876 on the Superb and he worked on several stations around Victoria and NSW. Eliza Marion’s maiden name was Murray. She was born in Kalkyne Victoria in 1863. Her maternal grandfather was John Stuart Hepburn who Hepburn Springs is named after. Eliza was related to great wealth and nobility as her father was Charles James Boehm Murray and his great grandfather was the Earl of Dunmore, the last British Governor of Virginia, Governor of New York and the Bahamas. The Earl’s daughter married the son of George III, Duke of Sussex (twice).

William Arthur and Eliza Marion Murton married in 1884 in South Yarra and while William was managing a station called Weinteriga in NSW, he would often go back and visit England. The couple had seven children.The eldest, Leslie was born at Wilcannia in 1885. the next 4 (Hubert 1886, Eileen 1888, Evelyn 1890 and Ivo 1891) were born in Kent England. Dudley was born in St Kilda 1894 and the youngest, Muriel was born at Alanvale Station Great Western in 1898. The Murton children spent their formative years at Great Western. William and Eliza settled in Great Western in the 1990’s and they bought the iconic St.Peters vineyard from the Trouette family in 1896. The cottage and 4 acres of cherries, belonging to the estate, were purchased by James Tiller, who was manager for Mr Murton for 11 years. William and winery owner at the time Hans Irvine were friends and William even presided over a banquet in Great Western in his honour. After Eliza died in Great Western in December 1903 William moved to St Vincents Place in Albert Park, a terraced house called Rochester, named after his home town in Kent. He then moved to “Weinteriga” in Armadale. Out of the 5 boys, 4 enlisted in WW1.  Leslie Murton worked for a communications company which was regarded as an essential industry and didn’t go.

Hubert Murton had been managing stations including Marathon in Qld. He enlisted in the King Edwards Light Horse in the British Army. Being in cavalry, which wasn’t being used in trench warfare, he became a sniper. He was killed in Jan 2016 in Grenay France. A shell landed at his feet as he was returning back to HQ. In the death notice in 1916 and in subsequent memoriam notices over the years, a Mercie Grellet refered to him as her fiancé. She subsequently married a George Mitchell from Stawell at the Pines Great Western. Hubert’s death was recorded in a book “For Love and Courage”.

Evelyn Murton enlisted into the artillery from Yarrawonga where he was working in a bank. He boarded the HMS Osterley on 14 Feb 1917. All 4 men were in the artillery. Only 3 returned. Evelyn was gassed in May 1918 and blinded for 3 months. Upon the return of his sight he was sent back to the front ready for the August 1918 push. Evelyn resumed his career as a bank manager and was assigned to various places including Maffra, Ararat (where he set up the local RSL), Rainbow, Euroa and Elsternwick. My father was born in Ararat in 1926 at St Quentins Hospital. Ironically, my mother and father were married on 14 February 1953, 36 years to the day that the Osterley left Melbourne. Ivo Murton enlisted into the East African Remounts. He achieved the rank of captain and received an OBE for his services to transport. He returned to Kenya in either the late 1920s or early 1930s. He died in Kenya in 1938. Dudley Murton joined the 8th Light Horse. He fought in Gallipoli. He was involved in the Battle of the Nek (8 August 1915) where he was badly wounded in the arm and he never had full use again. He was one of the lucky survivors. Many of his Western District comrades didn’t. Dudley ended up being an orchardist in Tatura. During the first world war, William was a recruiter, looking to recruit others to help his 4 sons. William died in 1928 and was buried at Box Hill.

The following excerpt is from the late Mac Murton (John’s uncle) who shared his memories of his family.

“Grandfather & Grandmother owned the land at Great Western (between Ararat and Stawell in Vic.) during the ‘1890s’, which they sold on the advice of the Union Trustees, Vic, as they were overseas at the time -about 1903-4-5. This land, I was told, is now owned by Seppelts. When we lived in Ararat 1922-27, we were often taken by Dad to visit the family’s French governess, Madame or M’selle Truett, who lived in a white cottage on the main highway, on the right going North to Stawell. About one block behind Madame Truett’s, & as far as I know can still be seen, the ruins of the family home with the cellars still evident – I last saw them about 1970. When I was born Dad was given 12 bottles of Champagne by Seppelts which were kept for my 21st – As I was in the Middle East in ’41, they had to wait later. In recent times there was a “back to Great Western”, & I saw a copy of an old Race Book in which W.A. Murton Esq was shown as the Official Starter. I think Grandmother died in 1905, and about this time the family moved (I think) to Albert Park, Melbourne”.

Mac was basing this on his memory. Some of the detail extracted from the old newspapers would suggest that his dates might be a bit off. However, his commentary reflects a close relationship the Murton family had with Great Western and the Trouette family.