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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Mr George Kendall Kinlyside (Senior)

Born: 1819; Died: 1886

George Kinlyside was born in Scotland in 1819 to Thomas Kinlyside and Elizabeth [Lockie] and came to Australia in 1839 with his parents and eight siblings as Assisted Immigrants. Aged twenty when the family emigrated, George had been apprenticed as a blacksmith and wheelwright. Immigration records characterised him as follows: 'Calling – millwright, aged 20 years, religion – Presbyterian, reads and writes'.

The family settled first at Ashfield, where his father established a blacksmiths and wheelwright business. No doubt he and his elder brother John were a great help to their father.

While living at Ashfield George married English migrant Sara Jane ('Jenny') Jones on 12 January 1849, at St Andrews church Ashfield. They had a son, Thomas, born later in 1849, after which, according to Samuel Shumack, they left for El Dorado, California, to join the search for gold. Another child, Sara Jane jnr, was born in the USA, four years after Thomas, in 1853. Tragically, George's wife died there in about 1859, and George returned to Australia a widower with his two children, then aged six and ten.

This return would have been especially welcomed by his father, Thomas, who had just left Ashfield, and brought the whole family to the Canberra Plains to make a new start in business. As it happened, Thomas died in 1862, and it fell to George to take over the business at The Triangle. His older brother John had died in a horse riding accident in 1861. It was about this time that the new family farm property was hit by a very fierce storm:

'Report of a terrific wind and rain storm lifting up and carrying across a paddock to a distance of about 40 yards a winnowing machine belonging to Mr George Kinlyside and smashing it to atoms. Mr Kinlyside narrowly escaped being crushed by a falling tree near his residence'
[The Golden Age, 20 Nov 1862).

On his return from the USA George became heavily involved with the Presbyterian church. He became a friend and supporter of Andrew Wotherspoon, school master at St John's Schoolhouse, who was involved in an infamous conflict with George Campbell of Duntroon, whose family owned the land and the schoolhouse, and Rector Pierce Galliard Smith. In the course of the conflict the Presbyterians were barred from their customary use of the schoolhouse for their monthly church services, and the locks on the schoolhouse were changed to force Wotherspoon out. In the face of this loss of access, the Presbyterians from the district gathered at George's home, and resolved at the meeting which he chaired, to erect their own church, on land at 'Upper Canberra' (today, the suburb of Lyneham) generously given for the purpose by Pemberton Campbell Palmer. The church site and the family home and farm were both on the Queanbeyan–Yass road, about a mile apart.

The building, a wooden structure of 36 feet by 18 feet, built to plans drawn by Kinlyside, was opened by the celebration of divine service by the reverend William Ferguson Reid on the first Sunday of 1863 [Gillespie:1992: 60]

This original timber building, the first Presbyterian place of worship in the district, was built by George and his brothers – James, Alexander and Thomas. This building was replaced within ten years by a new stone church – eventually to be named St Ninians church - built in 1872. A memorial plaque set in a window ledge says: 'In memory of the Kinlyside family who built the first Presbyterian Church in the area in 1865'. Though open and welcoming to other protestant people, the church was the spiritual home for the numerous families of Scottish Presbyterians amongst the free selectors in the district, the Kinlysides prominent amongst them, and George a recognised leader. Other families included Cameron, Mathieson, Gillespie, McKeanhie, and McIntosh.

His father Thomas Kinlyside having passed away in 1862 it is likely that George carried on the family business at The Triangle, but there is some evidence that by the end of the sixties he had moved first to Gundaroo, and then on the Nanima, his children Thomas and Sara moving with him. Baillier's Official PO Directory of NSW for 1967 identifies George as 'wheelwright Gundaroo'. According to Kimber, he married again when he was living at Nanima - 'a thriving settlement with a high convict population'. It was also on a goldfield.

George's second wife was Priscilla Williams, daughter of Phillip and Anne Williams of Weetangera. The marriage took place at the Williams' residence on 17 May 1876. George was fifty-six and Priscilla was twenty-two. Their only child, George Kendall Kinlyside, was born at Nanima in 1877. This proved to be an eventful time for George Snr. His daughter Sara married Thomas Murty in 1875, and their only child George Lockie Murty was born that year. Tragically Sara, after losing her mother when she was six, committed suicide by swallowing strychnine in 1878.

Life for George, Priscilla and their young son George Kendall took a welcome turn when in 1884 George was appointed postmaster at the Canberra post office. Postmaster and store-keeper Ebenezer Booth retired from the position in January, before leaving for England, and George took over, on an annual salary of fourteen pounds. His financial guarantors as postmaster were well-known Ginninderra identities, George Harcourt and Robert Kilby.

George's time as postmaster fell short of three years, as he died on 14 October 1886, at the age of sixty-six. Priscilla, who had probably been carrying out the duties anyway, reported his death to the Department, and was appointed in his place, a position that she then held for twenty-seven years until she resigned in 1913. It is believed that when his father died the nine year old George Kendall was a pupil at Springbank school at Acton, a couple of miles away.

At the time of his death George held 45 acres of land, and was an elder in the Presbyterian church. He is remembered as a leader of that church, being literally the designer and builder of the first church building. He is also remembered as a skilled artisan, his occupations including wheelwright, blacksmith, coach-builder, miner, carpenter, and in his final years, postmaster. He is commemorated in the naming of Kinleyside [sic] Crescent Weetangera as a 'Pioneer farmer of Canberra region; blacksmith; Postmaster at Ainslie Post Office, 1884-86'.

Of his three children (by two marriages) the first two died by their own hand. The eldest, Thomas, was fifty-nine, and left behind five children, from two marriages. The third and youngest, George Kendall Kinlyside, emulated his father as a fine craftsman and leading citizen.

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