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Bergin Family

The Bergin Family of Rowville
The Bergin family was notable in Rowville for almost a century. Nick Bergin, the blacksmith, was the one who gave Rowville its name.
The Bergin name first became associated with Rowville in 1865 – 127 years ago – when Matthew Bergin selected 77 acres on the north-east corner of Stud and Wellington Roads. The present Rowville Preschool, Primary School and Secondary College are located in this area.
Matthew’s brother Nicholas selected 46 acres on the south-west corner of Kelletts Road and Taylors Lane in that year also.
I am not yet certain but I believe that Matthew and Nicholas were either related to or were themselves, in fact, the Bergins who were the pioneers of Springvale. What I have found is that at least three major families named Bergin were living in this general area at that time among whom there were four men named Matthew and three named Nicholas. As well as that at least three of them married women named Elizabeth and they gave their children identical names!
Matthew Bergin
Suffice to say at this stage that a Matthew Bergin who had arrived in Melbourne as a baby in 1841 when the settlement was only seven years old was the original ancestor of the Bergin family in Rowville.
He had come with his parents from Queens County, Ireland (precisely the same native place as the Bergins of Springvale).
In 1867 when he was 27 Matthew married Elizabeth Shiels in St Francis’ Church in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. The marriage produced nine children, 5 girls and 4 boys. The first three children were born at Prahran. The fifth child was Nicholas, the future Rowville blacksmith, and he was born at Oakleigh in 1876.
In 1877 Matthew gained title to the 77 acre Rowville block and apparently moved his growing family there soon afterwards, as the records show that his next four children were born in the Dandenong area. He built his home with hand-made bricks (made from the clay on the property) on the high corner which was levelled in 1991 to provide a site for a service station.
Legends abound that Matthew operated a hotel from this building but I have not been able to find any evidence to support those stories. However, he did sink the brick lined well that was saved from complete destruction in 1984 through the efforts of Cr. Bernie Seebeck and the Rowville Fire Brigade led by their Captain at the time, John Raymond.
To support his large family, Matthew became a road contractor to both the Berwick and Ferntree Gully Shires. He was later elected as a councillor and had to resign his position as a Council employee before he could take his seat. However, he was granted permission to transfer his contract for horse and dray labour in the South Riding to his son Nicholas.
Matthew died at Rowville in 1920 aged 78; his wife Elizabeth had died 11 months previously aged 76.
His son, also named Matthew, then lived in the home with his wife, also named Elizabeth, until he was killed in an accident in Hawthorn in 1929.
In turn, this second Matthew’s daughter, Kathleen, lived in the house with her husband James Manley, whose father owned a ninety acre property that extended from Stud Road to Taylors Lane along the northern boundary of the Bergin land. The Manley property is now the site of the Stud Park Shopping Centre and the Community Centre.
Nicholas Bergin
Stories abound about Nick and his blacksmith shop on the south-east corner of Wellington and Stud Roads. He certainly must have been a colourful character but also he must have been a skilful smithy as much of his work involved the shoeing of the Row family’s team of high class show jumpers.
Ted Row showed his gratitude to Nick for his good work by presenting the show prize cards to him. By the time of Nick’s retirement, all four walls of his shop were covered with the cards.
Gordon Dobson told me that, as a teenager, he used to take his horses to Nick to have their feet done. Nick was, according to Gordon, a strong man who liked boxing. One day a big Irishman came and invited Nick to put on the gloves and “He’d show him a thing or two”. Nick obliged and knocked the Irishman backwards into the big trough of water he used for cooling the hot metal.
“On another occasion,” said Gordon, “Nick came off second best when another powerful man, Jack Murphy of One Tree Hill, called in. Nick told Jack a yarn about how a very strong man had visited him the previous week and had lifted his anvil and carried it across the road. Jack saw that his reputation was being challenged so without a word he lifted the anvil, carried it across the road and heaved it over the fence. Nick had a terrible job getting the anvil back to the forge”.
The Post Office
In 1903 Nick applied to the authorities to set up a post office and his application was granted – but for only three days a week initially: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He was asked what the name of the district was for people to address the mail to and he thought hard about an answer. (The original name for the whole area had been Narree Warran. In the 1870s the people further east along Wellington Road had decided to call their locality Lysterfield as a mark of gratitude to one of their first selectors, William Lyster, who had donated part of his property as a site for the State School.) People in Rowville tended to use that name also until Nick came up with the name “Rowville” as a compliment to the Row family of Stamford Park.
Nick’s striker in the blacksmith shop, Paddy Fogarty, used to deliver the mail on foot. Later Nick got him a small white pony but Paddy was a poor rider and never urged the horse to move any faster than a walk. Nick’s younger sister Elizabeth became his assistant in running the Post Office.
Miss Elizabeth Bergin
Nick continued his combined role as blacksmith and post-master until 1936 when failing eyesight forced him to retire. He died in 1944 at the age of 68.
From 1936 Elizabeth became the postmistress (having served an apprenticeship of 33 years!) and continued on in the job until the age of 70. She was one of the district’s best known and best loved identities and her death on 20 November 1959 was a sad day for Rowville.
Miss Bergin had lived all of her life in Rowville and had served the people conscientiously for 57 years at the Post Office. During the war Aunt Lil, as she was affectionately known, was an enthusiastic worker for the local Red Cross. In fact she rallied willingly to any call for help by district welfare or charitable groups. She ably supported the Rowville Gymkhanas and was a tower of strength to the organisers of the Aquatic Carnivals held at Heany Park pool.
For some time after Elizabeth’s death, her niece, Mrs Kathleen Gibson, assisted by her daughter Marlene, continued the family’s tradition of service to Rowville until the Post Office business was transferred to the care of Mrs Irene Gilligan.
Bryan Power
First published in the April 1992 edition of the Rowville-Lysterfield Community News.

BERGIN The Bergin Family of Rowville
The Bergin family was notable in Rowville for almost a century. Nick Bergin, the blacksmith, was the one who gave Rowville its name.
The Bergin name first became associated with Rowville in 1865 – 127 years ago – when Matthew Bergin selected 77 acres on the north-east corner of Stud and Wellington Roads. The present Rowville Preschool, Primary School and Secondary College are located in this area.
Matthew’s brother Nicholas selected 46 acres on the south-west corner of Kelletts Road and Taylors Lane in that year also.
I am not yet certain but I believe that Matthew and Nicholas were either related to or were themselves, in fact, the Bergins who were the pioneers of Springvale. What I have found is that at least three major families named Bergin were living in this general area at that time among whom there were four men named Matthew and three named Nicholas. As well as that at least three of them married women named Elizabeth and they gave their children identical names!
Matthew Bergin
Suffice to say at this stage that a Matthew Bergin who had arrived in Melbourne as a baby in 1841 when the settlement was only seven years old was the original ancestor of the Bergin family in Rowville.
He had come with his parents from Queens County, Ireland (precisely the same native place as the Bergins of Springvale).
In 1867 when he was 27 Matthew married Elizabeth Shiels in St Francis’ Church in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. The marriage produced nine children, 5 girls and 4 boys. The first three children were born at Prahran. The fifth child was Nicholas, the future Rowville blacksmith, and he was born at Oakleigh in 1876.
In 1877 Matthew gained title to the 77 acre Rowville block and apparently moved his growing family there soon afterwards, as the records show that his next four children were born in the Dandenong area. He built his home with hand-made bricks (made from the clay on the property) on the high corner which was levelled in 1991 to provide a site for a service station.
Legends abound that Matthew operated a hotel from this building but I have not been able to find any evidence to support those stories. However, he did sink the brick lined well that was saved from complete destruction in 1984 through the efforts of Cr. Bernie Seebeck and the Rowville Fire Brigade led by their Captain at the time, John Raymond.
To support his large family, Matthew became a road contractor to both the Berwick and Ferntree Gully Shires. He was later elected as a councillor and had to resign his position as a Council employee before he could take his seat. However, he was granted permission to transfer his contract for horse and dray labour in the South Riding to his son Nicholas.
Matthew died at Rowville in 1920 aged 78; his wife Elizabeth had died 11 months previously aged 76.
His son, also named Matthew, then lived in the home with his wife, also named Elizabeth, until he was killed in an accident in Hawthorn in 1929.
In turn, this second Matthew’s daughter, Kathleen, lived in the house with her husband James Manley, whose father owned a ninety acre property that extended from Stud Road to Taylors Lane along the northern boundary of the Bergin land. The Manley property is now the site of the Stud Park Shopping Centre and the Community Centre.
Nicholas Bergin
Stories abound about Nick and his blacksmith shop on the south-east corner of Wellington and Stud Roads. He certainly must have been a colourful character but also he must have been a skilful smithy as much of his work involved the shoeing of the Row family’s team of high class show jumpers.
Ted Row showed his gratitude to Nick for his good work by presenting the show prize cards to him. By the time of Nick’s retirement, all four walls of his shop were covered with the cards.
Gordon Dobson told me that, as a teenager, he used to take his horses to Nick to have their feet done. Nick was, according to Gordon, a strong man who liked boxing. One day a big Irishman came and invited Nick to put on the gloves and “He’d show him a thing or two”. Nick obliged and knocked the Irishman backwards into the big trough of water he used for cooling the hot metal.
“On another occasion,” said Gordon, “Nick came off second best when another powerful man, Jack Murphy of One Tree Hill, called in. Nick told Jack a yarn about how a very strong man had visited him the previous week and had lifted his anvil and carried it across the road. Jack saw that his reputation was being challenged so without a word he lifted the anvil, carried it across the road and heaved it over the fence. Nick had a terrible job getting the anvil back to the forge”.
The Post Office
In 1903 Nick applied to the authorities to set up a post office and his application was granted – but for only three days a week initially: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He was asked what the name of the district was for people to address the mail to and he thought hard about an answer. (The original name for the whole area had been Narree Warran. In the 1870s the people further east along Wellington Road had decided to call their locality Lysterfield as a mark of gratitude to one of their first selectors, William Lyster, who had donated part of his property as a site for the State School.) People in Rowville tended to use that name also until Nick came up with the name “Rowville” as a compliment to the Row family of Stamford Park.
Nick’s striker in the blacksmith shop, Paddy Fogarty, used to deliver the mail on foot. Later Nick got him a small white pony but Paddy was a poor rider and never urged the horse to move any faster than a walk. Nick’s younger sister Elizabeth became his assistant in running the Post Office.
Miss Elizabeth Bergin
Nick continued his combined role as blacksmith and post-master until 1936 when failing eyesight forced him to retire. He died in 1944 at the age of 68.
From 1936 Elizabeth became the postmistress (having served an apprenticeship of 33 years!) and continued on in the job until the age of 70. She was one of the district’s best known and best loved identities and her death on 20 November 1959 was a sad day for Rowville.
Miss Bergin had lived all of her life in Rowville and had served the people conscientiously for 57 years at the Post Office. During the war Aunt Lil, as she was affectionately known, was an enthusiastic worker for the local Red Cross. In fact she rallied willingly to any call for help by district welfare or charitable groups. She ably supported the Rowville Gymkhanas and was a tower of strength to the organisers of the Aquatic Carnivals held at Heany Park pool.
For some time after Elizabeth’s death, her niece, Mrs Kathleen Gibson, assisted by her daughter Marlene, continued the family’s tradition of service to Rowville until the Post Office business was transferred to the care of Mrs Irene Gilligan.

Bryan Power
First published in the April 1992 edition of the Rowville-Lysterfield Community News.

BERGIN The Bergin Family of RowvilleThe Bergin family was notable in Rowville for almost a century. Nick Bergin, the blacksmith, was the one who gave Rowville its name.The Bergin name first became associated with Rowville in 1865 – 127 years ago – when Matthew Bergin selected 77 acres on the north-east corner of Stud and Wellington Roads. The present Rowville Preschool, Primary School and Secondary College are located in this area.Matthew’s brother Nicholas selected 46 acres on the south-west corner of Kelletts Road and Taylors Lane in that year also.I am not yet certain but I believe that Matthew and Nicholas were either related to or were themselves, in fact, the Bergins who were the pioneers of Springvale. What I have found is that at least three major families named Bergin were living in this general area at that time among whom there were four men named Matthew and three named Nicholas. As well as that at least three of them married women named Elizabeth and they gave their children identical names!Matthew BerginSuffice to say at this stage that a Matthew Bergin who had arrived in Melbourne as a baby in 1841 when the settlement was only seven years old was the original ancestor of the Bergin family in Rowville.He had come with his parents from Queens County, Ireland (precisely the same native place as the Bergins of Springvale).In 1867 when he was 27 Matthew married Elizabeth Shiels in St Francis’ Church in Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. The marriage produced nine children, 5 girls and 4 boys. The first three children were born at Prahran. The fifth child was Nicholas, the future Rowville blacksmith, and he was born at Oakleigh in 1876.In 1877 Matthew gained title to the 77 acre Rowville block and apparently moved his growing family there soon afterwards, as the records show that his next four children were born in the Dandenong area. He built his home with hand-made bricks (made from the clay on the property) on the high corner which was levelled in 1991 to provide a site for a service station.Legends abound that Matthew operated a hotel from this building but I have not been able to find any evidence to support those stories. However, he did sink the brick lined well that was saved from complete destruction in 1984 through the efforts of Cr. Bernie Seebeck and the Rowville Fire Brigade led by their Captain at the time, John Raymond.To support his large family, Matthew became a road contractor to both the Berwick and Ferntree Gully Shires. He was later elected as a councillor and had to resign his position as a Council employee before he could take his seat. However, he was granted permission to transfer his contract for horse and dray labour in the South Riding to his son Nicholas.Matthew died at Rowville in 1920 aged 78; his wife Elizabeth had died 11 months previously aged 76.His son, also named Matthew, then lived in the home with his wife, also named Elizabeth, until he was killed in an accident in Hawthorn in 1929.In turn, this second Matthew’s daughter, Kathleen, lived in the house with her husband James Manley, whose father owned a ninety acre property that extended from Stud Road to Taylors Lane along the northern boundary of the Bergin land. The Manley property is now the site of the Stud Park Shopping Centre and the Community Centre.Nicholas BerginStories abound about Nick and his blacksmith shop on the south-east corner of Wellington and Stud Roads. He certainly must have been a colourful character but also he must have been a skilful smithy as much of his work involved the shoeing of the Row family’s team of high class show jumpers.Ted Row showed his gratitude to Nick for his good work by presenting the show prize cards to him. By the time of Nick’s retirement, all four walls of his shop were covered with the cards.Gordon Dobson told me that, as a teenager, he used to take his horses to Nick to have their feet done. Nick was, according to Gordon, a strong man who liked boxing. One day a big Irishman came and invited Nick to put on the gloves and “He’d show him a thing or two”. Nick obliged and knocked the Irishman backwards into the big trough of water he used for cooling the hot metal.“On another occasion,” said Gordon, “Nick came off second best when another powerful man, Jack Murphy of One Tree Hill, called in. Nick told Jack a yarn about how a very strong man had visited him the previous week and had lifted his anvil and carried it across the road. Jack saw that his reputation was being challenged so without a word he lifted the anvil, carried it across the road and heaved it over the fence. Nick had a terrible job getting the anvil back to the forge”.The Post OfficeIn 1903 Nick applied to the authorities to set up a post office and his application was granted – but for only three days a week initially: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He was asked what the name of the district was for people to address the mail to and he thought hard about an answer. (The original name for the whole area had been Narree Warran. In the 1870s the people further east along Wellington Road had decided to call their locality Lysterfield as a mark of gratitude to one of their first selectors, William Lyster, who had donated part of his property as a site for the State School.) People in Rowville tended to use that name also until Nick came up with the name “Rowville” as a compliment to the Row family of Stamford Park.Nick’s striker in the blacksmith shop, Paddy Fogarty, used to deliver the mail on foot. Later Nick got him a small white pony but Paddy was a poor rider and never urged the horse to move any faster than a walk. Nick’s younger sister Elizabeth became his assistant in running the Post Office.Miss Elizabeth BerginNick continued his combined role as blacksmith and post-master until 1936 when failing eyesight forced him to retire. He died in 1944 at the age of 68.From 1936 Elizabeth became the postmistress (having served an apprenticeship of 33 years!) and continued on in the job until the age of 70. She was one of the district’s best known and best loved identities and her death on 20 November 1959 was a sad day for Rowville.Miss Bergin had lived all of her life in Rowville and had served the people conscientiously for 57 years at the Post Office. During the war Aunt Lil, as she was affectionately known, was an enthusiastic worker for the local Red Cross. In fact she rallied willingly to any call for help by district welfare or charitable groups. She ably supported the Rowville Gymkhanas and was a tower of strength to the organisers of the Aquatic Carnivals held at Heany Park pool.For some time after Elizabeth’s death, her niece, Mrs Kathleen Gibson, assisted by her daughter Marlene, continued the family’s tradition of service to Rowville until the Post Office business was transferred to the care of Mrs Irene Gilligan.         PHOTOS

Bryan PowerFirst published in the April 1992 edition of the Rowville-Lysterfield Community News.

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