JEBB, Mr John Thomas

1831 - 1910

Jebb Mr John Thomas - Creswick Historical SocietyJohn Thomas Jebb was born in Cootehill, County Cavan, in 1831.  At the age of twenty-two he married Sarah Ann Clinton, of the same age, at the Chapel of Ease, Dernakish (Cootehill), Ireland on 5th September, 1853. On their wedding certificate John is described as a Pawnbroker and Sarah is employed in the fancy trade (haberdashery).  They departed from Liverpool, England, on 23 September, eighteen days after their marriage, on the ship Birmingham bound for Australia, arriving at Port Phillip on 4 January, 1854.

John and Sarah came to Clunes in 1854 where they spent a short time on the diggings and established a business.  Their first child, Henry, was born later that year and was registered at Creswick, where they moved to and established a drapery business in Albert Street by 1856.  The store was burned to the ground in the Great Creswick Fire of 1860, but fortunately was insured and was rebuilt soon after, continuing to operate and thrive through to the 1920s under John’s care and later that of his son. 

John Jebb was prominent in community affairs and was elected a Councillor of the Borough in 1865 and continued in that roll until he retired in 1874, being elected mayor on two occasions, in 1867 and 1869.  Two of his sons also occupied this important position in later years.

During his time in office Mr Jebb “performed splendid service for the ratepayers” according to his Creswick Advertiser Obituary.  His enterprise and determination were key factors in the acquisition of land at Dean for a water supply for Creswick.  The Advertiser reported:

...The incidents attached to the acquirement of the Dean land are interesting.  A rival claim to this site for a water works was set up by the Clunes people, who sent a deputation comprising the late Peter Lalor and the Mayor of Clunes to place their views before the Minister in Melbourne.  Mr Jebb, with another Creswick representative, journeyed to Melbourne at the same time to look after the interests of Creswick. 

The rival deputations had a joint interview with the Minister of Lands and the upshot was the latter informed the Creswick representatives that, if the Borough Council would give £100 towards compensating the settlers on the Dean land, the Government would provide the balance. 

That pluck and public spirit which were characteristic of the pioneers of this country, was at once shown by Mr Jebb, who, so as to clinch the bargain on the spot and avoid delay, immediately wrote his own cheque for £100 and handed it to the Minister.  Mr Jebb was also careful to see that the transaction was duly recorded by the chief clerk, and a guarantee given by the Department that the land would be transferred to the Borough. Thus was originally secured that splendid property, which not only supplies a fine water supply for the town, but regularly returns the council about £250 yearly in farm rents.

John Jebb was also instrumental in the acquisition of land for use as a botanical garden. The property, which had formerly been the old Police Barracks, was claimed by a Mr Dowling, police magistrate.  John Jebb, together with Messrs Lewers, F. N. Martin and  T. Cooper disputed the matter with the result that the land was obtained for the pleasure of the townspeople for all time.

Both John and his wife Sarah were prominent and valued workers in the Methodist Church and John was one of the original Trustees of the Victoria Street church.  He also took a great interest in the Sunday School and filled the position of superintendent for thirty years. 

He served the town as a Justice of the Peace for many years and discharged his duties as Magistrate in a conscientious and impartial manner.  He furthermore served as an inaugural committee member of the Creswick Hospital.

In John Thomas Jebb, his wife and eight children, we have indeed a pioneer family that truly contributed to the welfare of the community over a long period. John Jebb was a widely esteemed and valuable townsman who left his mark on Creswick and deserves to be included in the Civic Honour Roll.

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