Rediscovering Ginninderra: A database:
Born: 1842; Died: 1893; Married: Millicent Sophia Ward
George Harcourt was born in 1842 at Edgbaston, Warwickshire. He migrated to Australia in 1859 and appears to be working as the bookkeeper of William Davis (junior) at Palmerville by 1860. In 1862 he became the postmaster and by the following year, he had purchased the Ginninderra store from Davis and ran it in his own right, later rebuilding it.
Harcourt married Ginninderra-born, Millicent Ward from Nine Elms in 1881.
George Harcourt made a valuable contribution to the community during his time at Ginninderra. He was not just the storekeeper and postmaster, but he also farmed in the district, became a notable local cricketer and was prominent in civic affairs.
It was Harcourt, who also commissioned the building of Deasland in 1893. The Wizard commented in his inimitable style: "I notice that Messrs. Lazarus and Holland, the contractors, have commenced the erection of a six-roomed cottage a short distance from Messrs. Curran and Gribble's blacksmith's shop as a residence for Mr. G. Harcourt. This, with the new post and telegraph office, when erected, will give quite an imposing appearance to our embryo township. If some one would only build and open a pub - now that might lead to the erection of a temperance hall to counteract its effects-yes and perhaps a lockup, too, for Senior-constable Loughlin to provide us with lodgings when we happened to take "a wee drappie too much !". [Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 24/9/1892, p 7]
He seems to have named his homestead after ‘Deasland Farm’ in Worcestershire, where his parents were married in 1819. But Harcourt only enjoyed his new home for a short time, as he died in Sydney on Christmas Day in 1893. He is buried in Rookwood cemetery.
His widow, Millicent and children, continued to occupy the homestead and run the 685-acre property until the land was resumed in 1913 for the new Federal Capital Territory.
The Harcourt Hill development and a pub are named after him.
- Barrow, G., Canberra’s Historic Houses: Dwellings and Ruins of the 19th Century, Hackett, 1998
- Gillespie, L. L., Ginninderra: Forerunner to Canberra, Campbell, 1992*
- McDonald, J., ‘When Ginninderra Grew the Golden Fleece’, Canberra History Journal, no. 75 (2015), pp. 15-23
- Newman, C., Gold Creek: Reflections of Canberra’s Rural Heritage, Ngunnawal, 2004
- Shumack, S. An Autobiography, or, Tales and Legends of Canberra Pioneers (ed. J. E. and S. Shumack), Canberra, 1967
- Smith, L. R., Memories of Hall, Canberra, 1975
- Butt, E G. Deasland Homestead. Architectural Assessment. 1982,Strine Design, for ACT Heritage Committee