The Wise family of Avoca

I recently came across an excellent post about the Wise family of Avoca. The author, Virginia Rundle, used the resources of the Avoca and District Historical Society to put together the Wise Family History. She mentions the online the Lamplough Name Index and the Avoca and Districts Historical Society Library, Maps and Files (ADHS), thanking their volunteer researchers including the late Tony O’Shea.

William McOboy Wise’s huge profile in the Lamplough Name Index was a testament to his active and outstanding involvement in his local community. William McOboy Wise’s obituary recorded that over 500 people gathered to mourn him at his funeral, after he received fatal head injuries, when thrown from his horse on 22 July 1873, at Coffey’s Hotel near Avoca. 

Entry for William Macaboy Wise in the Lamplough Name Index:

WILLIAM MACOBOY WISE: W.M. WISE: WISE’S PADDOCK: Miner Avoca 1856 (ER). Manager of John O’Halloran’s timber yard on site of Old Tattersall’s, or Theatre Royal. Went to Woodstock Station as supervisor, leased Lamplough run. (Sutherland, P 226.) Tulla Co. Clare. Arrived Melbourne early 1852. Married his cousin, Ellen Murray. (Leask’s. P 638.) Land lease. (VGG 1848 p 310.) Manager of Clough & Co before the rush. Moved to Avoca. Auctioneer and general agent. (HH letter). Of Lamplough, Avoca. Appointed returning officer for electoral district of Avoca. (CSO 22/10/1855. VGG No 106, 24/10/1855, Vol III, p 2712. Repeated with correction spelling, No 112, 9/11/1855.) Two horses stolen from Lamplough Station (VPG 29/11/1855.) Advert. W.M. Wise. general Auctioneer land and Stock Commission Agent. Sale Yard: Lexton Hotel, Burn Bank and Avoca Hotel, Avoca. (MADA 22/6/1858.) Auction notice. Avoca. (MADA 27/6/1859.) Auctioneer, Lamplough. Missing horse notice. (VGG No 23 p 356, 21/2/1860). Mr Wise scrutineer for Mr Vogel. (MADA. 7/8/1861). Gold struck at Wise’s paddock yesterday morning (22/1?) (BA 26/1/1860.) About a mile and a half on the Avoca side of the business centre. Half still crown land. (Arg. Correspondent. 30/1/1860.) Centre of attraction. (BA 2/2/1860.) Partly Government and partly private land. (Arg. via BA 2/2/1860.) “A revival has taken place beyond Wise’s paddock, and in the direction of the Avoca. ” (MADA 6/2/1860. ) Diggers took possession of a fine garden in the middle of it. (MAA 7/2/1860.) Wise’s garden rushed. Frightened out of his wits. (BS 7/2/1860. MH 9/2/1860. See also his obituary AM 25/7/1873 for description of garden.) “Continual fluctuations of the pursued course …” (MADA 10/2/1860.) 13 or 20 holes are in active operation. (MADA 15/2/1860.) “Has received instructions from the proprietors, Messrs J.H. Clough and Co., Wool~brokers, Melbourne, to sell …” (MADA 17/2/1860.) One of the stewards, Avoca Annual races. (MADA 6/4/1860). Prospecting claim on Lamplough Flat near Wise’s Paddock. (MADA 24/10/1860). Auctioneers licence. Avoca. (VGG No 12, p 153, 25/1/1861.) James Bodell stayed with him for three months in 1863. House on 300 acres of land about 2 miles from Avoca. (Bodell. P 124.) Death 22/7/1873. Died at Coffey’s Hotel, Moonambel Rd. Compression of the brain. Fell from horse. Age 58 years. Born Cork 1815. Emigrated 1851. President of Avoca Turf Club. Master of Avoca Hounds. 500 at funeral. Buried at Avoca Cemetery. (AM 22, 25/7/1873.) Place of abode Lamplough. House and land 1856 (ER). Wife Ellen Francis Matilda died 1/6 age 36 years at Lamplough (Argus 7/6/1855). Racing at Avoca. Wise’s horses (BL via MAM 20/4/1857). To auction on 20/8/1864 full share in one and all crushing machine (AM?).

The Wise Family feature prominently in a 1931 History of Avoca published in the Melbourne Weekly Times. (HISTORY OF AVOCA (1931, April 4). Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 – 1954), p. 11. Retrieved November 20, 2022, from

The society has several photos of the Wise family in its collection:

  • adhs~162 Henry George Wise, married Emily Gregory
  • adhs~163 W.M.Wise, Avoca fireman. c. 1895
  • adhs~167 William Wise, Avoca fireman. c. 1895

Moonambel children in the lock-up

On 20 May 2021 at 2pm at the Moonambel Historical Police Precinct the Moonambel Arts & History Group is hosting an opening of ‘The Children in the Lock-Up’ installation featuring the work of Tom Ripon. 

On 29th January 1896 ten year old Octive Edith Dean, eight year old Alice Louisa Dean and one year old Constance Palmerston spent the night in the Moonambel Lock-Up.

The charge was: ‘Found wandering and not having any settled place of abode.’

They were committed for trial at the Ballarat Supreme Court and on 4th February were committed to the Department for Neglected Children.

MAHG decided a few years ago to refurbish the rather dilapidated figures in the lockup, but it took us a while to work out just what we wanted!

Finally we decided on wire figures and engaged renowned wire sculptor Tom Ripon from Clunes to do the work.

If you would like to attend the opening, RSVPs are requested by the Moonambel Arts & History Group by 14 May [Contact details at ].

Tribute to Tony O’Shea from Denis Strangman

Death of Anthony (Tony) O’Shea. An Internet message from fellow local historian and researcher Anne Young alerted me to the fact that Tony O’Shea died last weekend.

Tony had been President of the Avoca and District Historical Society for 16 years, a Director of the local Co-Operative for 22 years and a Director of Co-operatives Victoria for 18 years.

His funeral at St Kevin’s Catholic Church, Avoca, had been scheduled for last Thursday.

I had got to know Tony while being webmaster of the Society’s website for about 18 years and later while sorting my political collection for transfer to the National Library I transferred my local history collection to Tony and the Society.

In 2019 Tony married Dorothy from the Society and the couple devoted much time to answering queries and maintaining a presence for the Society in the former Court House building.

Despite our political differences Melbourne Greens Councillor Helen Harris OAM was the person who got me involved in the Society when I was working at Old Parliament House in Canberra. The Parliamentary Library was digitising its collection and they were throwing out the old Library cards. Helen had a loyal band of people in Avoca transcribing historical names to cards (now numbering about 80,000) so I would collect the discarded cards and transfer them to Helen.

My local history interest was in Lamplough, a few kilometres from Avoca and about which I had written a short history of its gold rush in 1859 for the Victorian Historical Journal. My great-grandfather and his siblings had been born in Lamplough.

Tony and I met up a couple of times, particularly during one of the anniversaries of the Society and he was President when I was named as a Life Member of the Society.

Tony had a deep involvement with the Co-operatives movement and he will be sorely missed from the Historical Society and the Co-operatives movement.


30th anniversary celebrations in 2014 L to R: Beryl Maidment, Tony O’Shea, Cr. Ron Eason, Dorothy Robinson, Denis Strangman, Vicki Burge, Margaret Oulton, Jill Hunter, Helen Harris OAM, Graeme Mills, Mary Dridan, Sue Slater, Edna Jarvis, Cr. Robert Vance (Mayor, Pyrenees Shire).

Tony O’Shea

I am very sad to advise that the President of the Society, Tony O’Shea died recently. His funeral will be held Friday 26 March 2021.


Date of Funeral: 26/03/2021

O’SHEA, Anthony Francis

A Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of the late Mr Anthony “Tony” O’SHEA will be held at St Kevin’s Catholic Church Barnett Street Avoca on FRIDAY 26th March 2021 at 11 AM

The cortege will then proceed to the Avoca General Cemetery Sunraysia Highway, Avoca

2019 AGM notice

Society members will have received a notice of meeting for the 2019 AGM. Please add 4 November 2019, 3 pm to your diaries. The meeting is at the old Avoca courthouse, 85 High Street.

Can you help – perhaps you would be interested in nominating for the committee?

President’s Report to 2018 AGM of Avoca & District Historical Society Inc.

President’s Report to 2018 AGM of Avoca & District Historical Society Inc.

Edition 289 of “Pyrenees Pioneers”, the ADHS Inc Newsletter, contained a summary of most of our activities during the year, and I see no necessity to repeat that information. I can report that the “Digitisation Fund” now stands at $2,100 of which approximately $1,000 is committed to the 1869 Avoca Mail being uploaded to Trove. Hopefully this will happen before the end of 2018? This leaves approximately $1,100 which we can use as part payment for the “Scanpro” equipment previously mentioned, to replace the almost useless microfilm reader/printer and enable us to utilise the $6,000 we have tied up in microfilm of early newspapers, rate books, etc. To succeed in obtaining grants from various sources to defray most of the cost of the Scanpro, we need to demonstrate that we can fund a significant proportion from our own resources. It would be great if a few of our members could see their way clear to donate $500 each in the next few months.

A dozen or so members of Avoca U3A have been participating in a local history course conducted by myself since early October, and to date 3 of them have become members of ADHS Inc. The first three two-hour sessions were conducted at the Avoca Courthouse; last week’s session was an excursion to Percydale, including Daly’s Cottage; next week will be a tour of Avoca Cemetery, and the following week an excursion to Amphitheatre guided by Mary Dridan.

We welcome to the ranks of the ADHS Inc Committee Dr. Ron Southern, whose qualifications are in History and Archaeology. Several years ago Ron purchased the late Bob Robinson’s property in Vinoca Road, and has been busily renovating it and tidying up the extensive garden. I am delighted to say that Ron has developed a keen interest in the history of Percydale, and volunteered for the job of Curator at Daly’s Cottage. Readers of our Financial Statement in the penultimate edition of the newsletter will have noticed that during the past year we spent almost $2,000 on repairs to that historic edifice.
Thanks to all of the volunteers who have kept the ship afloat during the year; they know who they are!

The Courthouse will be closed from mid-December to the end of January, as has been the case in recent years. The last open day for 2018 will be 12th December, and the first for 2019 will be 6th February.

Tony O’Shea
2nd November, 2018.



President’s Report to Members at the 2017 AGM of Avoca & District Historical Society Inc.

President’s Report to Members at the 2017 AGM of Avoca & District Historical Society Inc.

We currently distribute our newsletter to 131 financial members, 4 Life Members, 3 Statutory bodies, 1 local newspaper and 33 other Societies. Fortunately the majority are sent electronically, with the proportion of the total sent that way increasing as time goes by, which reduces our expenses.

Digitisation of the 1869 Avoca Mail has been delayed due to budget cuts experienced by both the SLV and NLA. We have recently been pressing for answers about when it will happen, and is looking like mid-2018. They are no longer microfilming the old newspapers and then scanning to OCR from the film. They scan to OCR direct from the hard copy, and need to get a sufficient quantity in the pipeline to warrant bringing in a contractor with specialised equipment to do a large batch and upload it direct to Trove. They first need the conservation department to assess the quality of the hard copy, and repair any tears or folded pages, and this also takes time and expense. In the meantime ADHS Inc is holding more than $1,000 which has been donated by members for that purpose, and we welcome further donations to the fund.

Anne Young volunteered to take over from Denis Strangman “just in time” and has done a great job of re-jigging it in a now format, with a new URL: <> which is easier to remember that the previous URL. It is operating satisfactorily, with ongoing “tweaking” happening regularly and increasing viewer statistics. We are also seeing an increase in paid research jobs, which keeps us on our toes!

Since being relieved of the responsibility for our website, Denis has been busy downsizing the contents of his residence with a view to moving into a retirement village, and has donated parts of his personal library to ADHS Inc., NLA and various worthy repositories.

We were sorry to learn recently of the death of long-time member Betty Beavis, and have been thanked by a number of members for publishing the eulogy delivered at her funeral in our recent newsletter. She was a great contributor to the collection and researching of our early local history, and publishing the results. ADHS Inc reprinted “Pioneers of the Pyrenees” which is still selling well. We recently had an order for 10 copies from the Avoca Visitor Information Centre.

Several years ago ADHS Inc erected a Memorial Wall in the old section of the Avoca Cemetery, to enable memorialisation of early citizens of the district buried in unmarked graves. This has been popular, with 13 bronze plaques affixed so far, together with a larger one explaining the purpose of the wall. We recently added nearby a 3-metre long aluminium seat with a backrest, facing north, to enable visitors to relax in view of the entire old section, across to the final repose of Henry Knott who donated the ten acre site upon which the cemetery was established in 1858. We ordered the seat on the internet from a supplier in central New South Wales, and it was installed by Simon Davidson and John Burnett at no cost using concrete mix materials donated by Steve & Tracey Gleisner.

The Op Shop / Garage Sale at 182 High Street continues to be our second-largest source of income, thanks to the efforts of Dorothy Robinson, Glenice Allen and Elizabeth Williams, and to Peter Howell’s generosity in allowing us to use the premises rent-free.

17th November, 2017.

New Moonambel book

The Solomon of Moonambel – Reynell Everleigh Johns – By Merri Hogan with Noreen McAdam


Opium, diamonds, the judiciary and taxidermists – a fascinating story of a colonial magistrate’s years in Moonambel

This latest book about the district is available through the Avoca and District Historical Society Inc. Download Order Form here.