Charles Bendall was born in 1816 in the Somerset town of Chewton Mendip. He began, like so many other country Englishmen, as an agricultural labourer which means he learned about farming by working in the fields of an employer. By the time he married Hester Ball in 1839 and began his family, he was on his way up the ladder to becoming a farmer in his own right. Eventually he was able to call himself a butter dealer and farmer indicating that he underwent some level of specialised training in the farming trade.
Meanwhile the Bendall family grew. Six children were born and five took on the risky sea journey with their parents to Australia. The youngest Charles junior was seven at the time and out of danger of the high shipboard infant mortality rate but even so, as the family set sail in 1854, surviving disease, seasickness and other hazards of assisted immigration was never a certainty.
They left what seemed to be a fairly settled life at Nedge Farm in Somerset to make the voyage. In the 1851 census ten year old Jane Bendall, was absent from the family home and possibly living away as a servant in another house. The other children, John, James, Emily, Mary Ann and Charles were listed as scholars. This meant that they attended the local village school but probably helped out on the farm during the planting and harvesting seasons. The oldest child John was 15 years old when the family set off for Australia. Emigrating was a risky business however the English and Australian governments of the day were heavily promoting the prospect of settling in Victoria where land was plentiful and fertile and experienced farmers were in demand. Charles’ background qualified the family for assisted passage which meant that they arrived with high hopes of becoming landowners rather than farm labourers for someone else’s profit as was most often the case in England.
They landed in Portland, Victoria at the end of January 1855 where Charles was soon employed by the Henty Brothers. Three of the grown up Bendall children eventually became Northcote settlers. Jane married into the Prussian born Schwaebsch family, early market gardeners in Separation Street, when she met and came to Melbourne with Carl Frederick in 1864. Jane was used to hard work and it certainly must have been just that, bearing and raising eleven children to adulthood. Jane’s obituary noted that “the family had a true pioneering spirit, misfortunes being met with a stout heart without the modern conveniences of the day to make their lives easier”. Jane survived her husband and lived to 90 years old with her family looking after her in the family home on High Street in Northcote.
The second Bendall to become part of the settlement of Northcote was the youngest son Charles. He married Elizabeth McDowell in 1894 and by 1909 the couple were living at 94 Westbourne Street. Charles’s occupation is listed on electoral rolls as “independent means” which indicates that he was wealthy enough to be in a position not to have regular employment. Charles lived on at Westbourne Grove after Elizabeth died in 1925 until his own death in 1934.
As for the rest of the Bendalls of Somerset, the eldest son John and his wife Mary Ann (nee Coughlan) lived most of their lives in Caramut, Victoria. Emily married a Gippsland farmer James McCarthy and settled at Rosedale. Mary Ann married stonemason Joseph Moon in February 1881 at the Woolshed Hotel in Bordertown, South Australia where Joseph held the licence as proprietor. They soon started a family but owning a hotel meant that they were subject to petty crimes such as the theft of blankets and trespassing. Joseph was elected to the council in the District of Tatiara in 1883 and took an active role in the community. In 1884 Joseph inherited his father’s property in Adelaide. The Moons lived for some years in South Australia but the couple eventually joined the Bendall family in Northcote and in the early years of the 20th Century took up residency in Charles and Bridge Streets until the mid-1920s.
South Australian Almanac and Directory 1876-1881
South Australian Police Gazette 1881-1884
Australian Births Index, 1788-1922
Australian Marriages Index, 1788-1950
Australian Deaths Index, 1787-1985
Victoria, Australia, Assisted and Unassisted Passenger Lists, 1839-1923
South Australia Government Gazettes, 1867-1884
Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980
1841 & 1851 England Census