Peter Bowden aka Peter St Albans

What a fascinating journey of questions, doubts, research and discovery!

Dr Andrew Lemon presented the Don Grant lecture at the Family History Feast almost a year ago, but it was only last weekend that I finally had time to listen to this fascinating presentation and give it the attention it deserved.

To precis it here would not do justice to Andrew’s presentation – to appreciate it to the fullest you should download the podcast from the State Library of Victoria’s website.

It is the story of Peter Bowden, also known as Peter St Albans – an alias acquired from his association with James Wilson and the St Albans stud at Whittington in Geelong.

I must confess that when I had listened to and absorbed the presentation in its entirety I hastened to my Geelong and District web site to see if I had also fallen into the trap of repeating the “story” behind Peter St Albans’ origins!  Thankfully I hadn’t.  The local references I have found certainly support Andrew’s research and hopefully there may be a few that are “new” and can be passed on to support Andrew’s conclusions.

It was pleasing to find references in two local publications that adhered to the facts and did not expand to include the “popular story”.

Brownhill’s The History of Geelong and Corio Bay published in 1955 …

The rider of Briseis in the Melbourne Cup [1876] was Peter Bowden, who was popularly known, because of his association with the St Albans stables, as Peter St Albans.  He died at the home of his father-in-law, William Ryan, at Breakwater, Geelong, in July 1898.  Remarkable testimony of the popularity of the jockey was given at the funeral to the Eastern Cemetery, which was attended by sporting men from Melbourne, Ballarat and other places besides Geelong.  There were 50 vehicles in the funeral procession. [p.524]

In Painters of the past: colonial art and Geelong, published by the Geelong Art Gallery in 1991 …

Frederick Woodhouse 1820-1909 [ … ] In his painting of Briseis, Woodhouse included portraits of the horse’s jockeys, Tom Hales (seated) and Peter Bowden, better known as Peter St Albans.  Hales was Briseis’ usual jockey but, on being placed on Feu d’Artifice in the Cup, was replaced by St Albans, who rode Briseis to victory with Hales coming in second. [p.50]

Give yourself a treat and listen to the podcast!

Geelong District – Honour Boards plus more

The featured index in the latest bundle of additions to the Geelong & District Database is for names on numerous Honour Boards in the Geelong district.  These Honour Boards include those commemorating servicemen in the region but they also include other Honour Boards for various organisations.  Some boards include Presidents, Life Members, Members and other groups of people.  The initial entries were extracted from the Geelong Family History Group publication Index of names listed on Geelong & District Honour Rolls which has been out of print for some years.  More boards have been added in addition to those from the GFHG book – see the list of Geelong and District Honour Boards already included in the database.

Entries include name, date(s) [where available], and the title of the board.  At the recent meeting of the Geelong & District Historical Association, members adopted the Honour Boards as a new global project for all members.  Already we have photos of some of the boards and plan to expand this for all existing boards in the database as well as all additions to the project.  Most of the boards in the GFHG publication were transcribed many years ago – before digital cameras made this exercise so much easier!  Sadly some no longer exist – it is believed that the Geelong Golf Club entries were destroyed in the Club’s fire – at least we have the names from the board.  

This is the list of additions since 6 April making a total of 1,277,102 entries in the database:

  • Geelong District: Honour Boards – 3,648 entries
  • Geelong District: Orphan Immigrants 1848-1850 – 366 entries
  • Colac Shire: Rate Books 1900-01 [GRS 1393] – 2,759 entries
  • Book – A Grand Vision: the first 150 years of the Geelong Agricultural and Pastoral Society – 2,062 entries
  • Geelong District: names from the Geelong Times [groups, prizes etc.] – 359 entries
  • Geelong District: Hospital Admissions from the Geelong Times – 181 entries
  • Geelong: Immigration Depot Funerals 1853-1857 [VPRS 22] – 38 entries
  • Geelong: Immigration Depot Returns 1851 [VPRS 116] – 168 entries
  • Geelong District: Reports of Felony and Stolen Horses [VPRS 124] – 120 entries
  • Geelong: Register of Seamen Engaged 1856-1889 [VPRS 22] 1857 – 564 entries

Details on these indexes can be found in the Geelong & District Potpourri pages.

And don’t forget to search again for your ancestors in the Geelong & District Database – they could have been in the last load of additions!