“Single men from Scotland keenly sought”

“Single men from Scotland are keenly sought” writes James Butchart to his father on his arrival in Port Phillip, where he expects his exercise of the three virtues, “patience, prudence and perseverance”, will enable him to thrive. (James Butchart, Melbourne, to father, 15 February 1842, 1990.0083.00005). Recently digitised correspondence reveals the journey of one man from migration to establishment in Victoria. Correspondence to family and friends trace James, aged just 19, from his voyage from Fifeshire, Scotland to Melbourne, where over the course of a decade as he worked his way through various pastoral occupations in Port Phillip.

Butchart was enthusiastic about life in Australia, trying to convince his father to migrate “For the meanest servant in this country would turn up his nose at the style of living which thousands of respectable people are obliged to adopt in the old country”. (James Butchart, Smeaton Hill, to George, 1 February 1845, 1990.0083.00015). Appealing to his sisters Cecilia and Isabella in May 1846 he writes “if you come we will very soon attain independency which I am afraid we never could do in Scotland as things go now” and “I do not suppose there is any place in the world where you can get all the necessaries of life cheaper than you can in Melbourne”.

Butchart worked hard, finding employment in various pastoral capacities until he acquired land for himself and entered into a stock and station agency partnership, Kaye & Butchart. He also ran a successful business in Bourke Street enabling him to build a mansion in Mornington and retire. He died there on 11 Nov. 1869, aged 47.

To access James Butchart’s correspondence use the search term “Butchart” in UMA’s online Digitised Items Catalogue

The James Butchart Collection was digitised through the Russell and Mab Grimwade Miegunyah Fund.

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