James left Wellington, New Zealand, sometime after the birth of his second daughter, Margaret Ford in 1867 and is next recorded living in Ballarat where his son Robert Muir Ford was born on 12 May 1869.
Robert Muir Ford’s birth certificate records the family living in Ballarat West and confirms that James was born in Millport, Cumbrae, Scotland and his wife, Elizabeth, was born in Greenock, Scotland. Elizabeth is recorded as being 24 years of age verifying that she 19 years of age in 1864 when she married James in Waitouaiti, New Zealand.
To date, I have found no record of the passage of the family from Wellington to Port Phillip. How and when James Ford arrived in Ballarat is open to speculation. Perhaps he travelled along the series of well know ‘tracks’ leading from Melbourne to Ballarat. On the other hand, he may have travelled by rail. The Geelong to Ballarat railway was opened in 1862, the same year that the railway from Melbourne to Bendigo was opened.
Here is a copy of relevant information from Anne Beggs-Sunter (2012) writing for The Courier which began publication in 1867.
In the 1860s Ballarat and the surrounding district had a population approaching 67,000 serviced by a railway by the time James Ford arrived. By comparison, Ballarat’s population in 2018 was a tad over 100,000.
Yet, it appears that James did not stay in Ballarat for long before he moved to Bendigo. The next definite date we can find is contained in the Bendigo Rates Report where James Ford is recorded living at Forest Street (1879), Short and Queen Streets (1883-1886) and then Wills Street (1887-1902). The Bendigo Rates Report, obtained by my brother Tim Ford on his visit to Ballarat and Bendigo, gives us some valuable information.
James’ first entry in the record indicates that he is working, first as a carpenter then later as an Inspector, and finally as an Inspector of Works. Interesting, the Net Asset Value of the property steadily increased until 1890 after which the NAV declined perhaps indicating something of the economic fortunes of Bendigo.
James Ford was apparently well respected within the local community. It is also apparent that he travelled outside the Bendigo district and supervised the building of ‘large public buildings’.
James died 3 September 1915, in his son’s arms according to one report, at his Wills Street residence. His wife, Elizabeth Ford/Muir died in Ballarat 27 January 1882 at the age of 37.
The obituary records James’ surviving family, Janet and Mollie (Mary) and Robert Muir Ford. Mrs. William Kinsey Bolton is Margaret Ford, who married William Kinsey Bolton 18 August 1894.
I came across this photograph recently from the Ballarat Museum collection taken in 1870 and gives an indication of the living conditions for the time. Robert Muir Ford was born in Ballarat in 1869.
From The Bendigo Advertiser 4 September 1915:
Copyright John Ford 2018.