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John Stuart Hepburn (1803–1860)

This gentleman expired at his residence, Smeaton House, Smeaton, on the 7th inst., aged 60 years. The Creswick Advertiser in an obituary notice, says—" We are not in possession of many particulars of the youth of Captain [John] Hepburn, which was, we believe, passed in the East India Company's service. Capt Hepburn made eight or nine voyages between England and Australia, and subsequently passed some time in our colonial mercantile marine. During one voyage, in the former capacity, the vessel grounded on a sandbank, and was abandoned by the master and all his crew, save Mr. Hepburn and four seamen. As an example of his self-reliance, energy and perseverance, he succeeded in getting the vessel afloat, and carried her into port safely, for which important service Lloyd's committee voted him £100, and he was installed in command in place of his former superior, who was discharged. When the glories of Port Phillip attracted the notice of the Sydney merchants and others, Captain Hepburn and Mr. Donald Coghill came overland to this country, and prior to his return the Captain, selected the run at Smeaton, extending to the northern bank of the Bullarook Creek. The result has proved another example of tho soundness of his judgment, for a more productive district it would be difficult to meet with in this colony. When the Captain again reached Smeaton with his flock, on the 16th of April, 1838, he found that the Messrs. Birch were to be his future neighbours, south of Bullarook Creek. We need not allude to the struggle sustained for years by the Captain in laying the foundation of that wealth that has since been of so much service to the district: The bringing-up and education of a large family went on simultaneously with the superintendence of an extensive run, at a time when black fellows and kangaroos outnumbered a settler's cattle. In course of time Captain Hepburn became wealthy, and at almost every successive sale of Crown lands large tracts of splendid country became his by purchase.

Captain Hepburn was an active magistrate, and by his personal efforts and example contributed very much to the prosperity and progress of the district.

The Road Board met on Wednesday, and the members unanimously offered to carry their deceased Chairman to the grave, which offer, we hear, will be carried into effect at the funeral.

As a further mark of respect the horses in the coaches of Watson, Hewitt and Co. were decorated with funereal rosettes, whilst passing through Smeaton, by the drivers, Messrs. Solomon and Griffin. The funeral took place on Friday.

Original publication

Citation details

'Hepburn, John Stuart (1803–1860)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


10 December, 1803
Whitekirk, East Lothian, Scotland


7 August, 1860 (aged 56)
Smeaton, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

kidney disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.