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John Percy (Percy) Chirnside (1865-1944)

Citation

“John Percy (Percy) Chirnside (1865-1944),” Wyndham History, accessed August 15, 2020, http://www.wyndhamhistory.net.au/items/show/2526.
View Record Detail
Title

John Percy (Percy) Chirnside (1865-1944)

Subject

Chirnside, John Percy

Publisher

Wyndham City Libraries

Date

1915

Contributor

Bill Strong

Format

text

Language

eng

Type

Text

Biographical Text

Captain John Percy Chirnside *, C.M.G., O.B.E.
Percy Chirnside was the youngest son of Andrew Chirnside and Mary Begbie.  His parents had married in 1850, and had the following children: **

  • Margaret Fair Chirnside - born 1851 at ?, died 1927
  • Robert Chirnside - born 1853 at ?, died 1900
  • Andrew S. Chirnside - born 1855 at ?, died 1934
  • Thomas Chirnside - born 1858 at ?, died 1859
  • Mary Matilda Chirnside - born 1860 at ?, died 1866 in Scotland.
  • George Thomas Chirnside - born 1863 at Caranballac. died 1940
  • John Percy Chirnside - born 1865, at Caranballac *** died 1944
  • Mary Mathilda (Muffie) Chirnside - born 1868 at Skibo, Scotland. died 1934 ****

[None of the eight Chirnside children had their birth’s registered.]

[A biography of John Percy Chirnside's service as a  politician can be found here.]

Pre War
Just after he was born, in 1865, his parents, Andrew and Mary Chirnside, decided to relocate their family to Scotland.

They remained overseas for about five years, and returned to Australia in June 1870, and to their property at Carranballac.
-Wool past the winning post by Heather B. Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978, p.79.

Percy spent his early years in Scotland, and returned to Victoria to complete his education, at Geelong Grammar.  After leaving school he travelled the world for several years with a tutor, and then returned to the Chirnside estate.

Percy was Commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Victorian Field Artillery Brigade on 10 June 1887.
-Wool past the winning post by Heather B. Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978 p.124.

He saw his future in military service, and in 1890, he sailed to England to further his training. While there he attended Officers School at Woolwich, and then was attached to the Royal Horse Artillery at Aldershot.
-Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978, p.166.

After returning to Victoria in 1891, he was promoted to Captain, with the Werribee Half-Battery, and remained in Command until they were disbanded on 28 February 1893.
-Wyndham | our story by Geoff Hocking, -Castlemaine, Vic, New Chum Press, 2013, p.66.
-Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978, p.160.

In a plan to minimise death duties, Andrew Chirnside transferred much of his interest in Werribee Park to his sons George and Percy Chirnside.  In 1889 he formed the partnership "Andrew Chirnside & Sons".
-Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978, p.125.

That remained in place until July 1895, when the brothers George and Percy agreed to sub-divide Werribee Park – its stock, land and effects.
-Wool past the winning post by Heather B. Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978, p.159.

In 1892, the Chirnside brothers sold almost 9,000 acres of land to the Metropolitan Board of Works, for the establishment of a sewerage treatment works.
-Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978, p.161.

George and Percy Chirnside, along with their manager Adam Hastie #, then worked their Experimental Farm ##, where all sorts of stock were bred and crops raised, to assist their tenant farmers.

After the Werribee Horse Artillery was disbanded in February 1893, its Commanding Officer, Captain J. P. Chirnside was transferred to the Reserve of Officers.

It was at this time that Percy Chirnside suffered a serious accident. He received a kick to his face from a horse, which broke his nose in several places.  He had a large hole under his right eye, and his jaw was broken.  After being operated on, he insisted that his imminent marriage should proceed.

John Percy Chirnside married Ethel Mary Fenner in Victoria in 1893. ###
They were married at the All Saints’ Church in East St Kilda on the 22 February 1893.
The Australasian (Melbourne), 25 February 1893, p.38.

Percy and Ethel's nine month honeymoon included visits to China, Japan, the U.S.A. and time with their family in England.

There is a photo of (John) Percy Chirnside on p.67 of the book Wyndham | our story by Geoff Hocking, Castlemaine, Vic, New Chum Press, 2013.  He is wearing his Captain's uniform, and the caption states that he had just won the Legislative Assembly Election for the Seat of Grant, in 1894.

The division of the Werribee Park Estate in 1895 created a rift between the brothers George and Percy. George received the Werribee Mansion and its surrounding grounds, while Percy took 35,000 acres of land north of the railway line at Werribee. Percy had to buy a block of land close to the river, where he built The Manor.  He commissioned Colac architect Alexander Hamilton to design his new home, and it was constructed between 1895-1896 at a cost of £8,000.

[Percy Chirnside's son, Percy (Poss) Errol Fortescue Chirnside was born in 1896].

When the Victorian Government refused to construct a school for workers on the Board of Works Farm in 1897, Percy Chirnside funded its construction, after land was provided. The Cocoroc South School No.3316 subsequently opened in 1898.
-Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978, p.172.
-Information on the four schools at Cocoroc are in Wyndham | our story by Geoff Hocking, Castlemaine, Vic, New Chum Press, 2013, pp.201-202.

According to Johns's Notable Australiana, 1906, John Percy Chirnside, C.M.G., was a retired Captain of the Victorian Defence Force.  He had been a Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly as the Member for Grant, between 1894 and 1904. He had been decorated in June 1905.
-ancestry.com – Johns’s Notable Australians, 1906, p.45.

The Victorian Electoral Roll for 1909 records John Percy Chirnside as a grazier, living at The Manor, Werribee.

War Service
When World War 1 commenced, Percy Chirnside was still a Captain on the Army Reserve List.  At the age of 51 years he was not accepted for service in the A.I.F., so he sailed to England, with his wife and children.  After being rejected by the British Army, he was offered a position with the Army Remount Depot at Swaythling.

During the war Colonel Percy Chirnside was given command of a shipments of horses being sent to the front.  On one occasion they sailed on the ship Nirvana which was torpedoed, and in imminent threat of sinking.  Percy led a team of men to make repairs in the ship's engine room, sufficient to allow it to be beached safely.  For this action, he received his O.B.E., after the war ended.

Percy was also twice Mentioned in Despatches for his work during the war.
-Wyndham | our story by Geoff Hocking, Castlemaine, Vic, New Chum Press, 2013, p.68.

Post War
On 5 July 1919, Captain J. P. Chirnside and his two sons disembarked from the passenger ship Osterley at Brisbane, after sailing from London.
-ancestry.com – Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839-1923.

In a newspaper report of his arrival back in Werribee, it was mentioned that the Captain had been actively engaged in some very arduous tasks in connection with the war, for the past four and a half years.
Werribee Shire Banner, 17 July 1919, p.2.

John Percy Chirnside remained on the Victorian Electoral Roll as a grazier, at The Manor, Werribee, until 1919.  In 1920 they relocated to Brandon Park in Wheeler’s Hill, Dandenong, and stayed there until 1942.  While there, Percy founded the Brucevale Jersey stud, with cattle that he had purchased from his brother. He also bred thoroughbred horses.
-Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Landvale Enterprises, 1978, p.177.

John Percy Chirnside died in a private hospital at Oakleigh, Victoria on 6 January 1944.
-ancestry.com – Victoria, Australia, Wills and Probate Records, 1841-2009.

An obituary published in The Age, 7 January 1944, p.3.  stated that he was survived by a widow (living in England), and three sons:

  • Major P. E. F. Chirnside, serving in the British Army.
  • Squadron Leader Andrew Begbie Chirnside, of the R.A.A.F. (served in WW II)
  • John Bruce Chirnside (1900-1954)
  • Ethel May Chirnside (1906-1942) [married N. Charlton] (she had died in an accident earlier)

After his wife Ethel returned from England in November 1846, a memorial service for Percy was held at St Thomas' Church of England in Werribee. His cremated ashes were then scattered on the banks of the Werribee River, at Chirnside Park.

Medals and Entitlements:

  • C.M.G.
  • O.B.E.
  • Mentioned in Despatches (twice)

Notes
Name on the Werribee Shire Oak Board: CHIRNSIDE, P.

His name is recorded on the Werribee Church of England Honour Board.

The name “Chirnside, Capt. P. of Werribee” first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 13 April 1916, p.1.

Death Certificate No. 343/1944.

ancestry.com - Birth and Death dates from the Corrigan Family Tree.

** Family tree at Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978.

*** Carranballac is located in the western district, between Lake Bolac and Skipton

**** Wool past the winning post by Heather B Ronald, Melbourne, Landvale Enterprises, 1978, p.79.

# Adam Hastie – A photo of his original house was published in the Werribee Banner, 22 April 1987, p.4.

## George Chirnside's Experimental Dairy Farm is recorded in Heritage of the City of Wyndham Heritage Study – 1997 at pp. 422-423.

### Victorian Marriage Certificate No.312/1893.

Bibliography

Embarkation
https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/

Unit War Diary
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection

Death
ancestry.com.au

Service Record
https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/

Marriage
ancestry.com.au

Pioneer Index 1837-1888 CD
Federation Index 1889-1901 CD
Edwardian Index 1902-1913 CD
Great War Index 1914-1920 CD
Marriage Index 1921-1942 CD

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