TAYLOR, Gilbert (Gil)

Gilbert Taylor26/1/1872  -  13/2/1941

For service to his community, to agriculture and to his country.


Gilbert Taylor, born on 26th January 1872 in Tingwall, Shetland Islands, was the first child of Walter Taylor and Agnes Tait, who married on 24th January 1871 in the parish of Tingwall.  The couple had three more children born while living in Tingwall – Catherine, Jane and Thomas.

In 1876 Gilbert, known as Gil, while still a young child, left from Gravesend, England, with his parents and siblings on board the ship ‘Somersetshire’, arriving in Port Phillip Bay on 25th August, 1876. Walter and Agnes began farming on a property at Dean named Tingwall. The couple had another son, Thomas Joseph, born on 21st July,1878 in Dean. Gilbert was educated at the Dean State School and later the Creswick Grammar School situated in Cambridge Street.  Each day after school he worked for his father on the family farm at Dean.

Gilbert married Jane Neuss in July 1896 at Mollongghip with ceremony performed by the Rev. Charles Robinson.  Jane was the daughter of George Neuss and Mary Ann McKendry from Happy Valley.  The couple had seven children – Walter, George, Thomas, Mary Ann (Dolly), Robert, Arthur and Gilbert.

After the marriage, Gilbert and Jane at first leased a farm in Dean, then in 1903 they purchased a farm at Dean named Fairview.  Gilbert was a progressive farmer being among the first in the district to use a Jelbart tractor on the farm.  He was an expert mechanic, self-taught and was often in demand to diagnose and repair farm machinery among the local population. He was a champion ploughman winning a competition at Smeaton Agricultural Show in November 1893. His expertise at growing potatoes was to hold him in good stead when he spent World War I in England as an Agricultural Instructor.

Later in life, Gilbert was a successful breeder and exhibitor of Clydesdale horses, including the champion stallion Lord Dunbar from imported stock. He was a gifted civil engineer in the construction of roads, dams and drains.  One achievement, it is recorded, was the construction of the Dean-Creswick Road.

He was a Board Member of the Creswick District Hospital and served as President during 1906/7.  

Gilbert was a dedicated public minded citizen, taking an active role in local civic affairs.  In September 1910 he was elected as a Councillor for the Shire of Creswick, after a close contest with Mr Henry Collins which Gilbert won by one vote, and served as a Councillor until 1921. 



The Creswick Advertiser reported on 4th September, 1914 that Gilbert was elected President of the Shire. At the same Council meeting the

President’s Allowance was fixed at Twenty-six Pounds on the motion of Councillors Fletcher and Nase, being an increase of one pound from the previous year, equal to ten shillings a week.

Gilbert’s term as President of the Shire of Creswick was an anxious time, for a district largely dependent on agriculture, being in a drought and with conditions made more difficult by the First World War.

Other positions held by Gilbert were as a Justice of the Peace, President of the Dean Mechanics Institute, Committee member of the District Agricultural Society, the Higher Elementary Schools Old Boys and Girls Association and a member of the Scrub Hill Presbyterian Church.  As noted in the records of Victorian Places, Dean, Gil was a member of the delegation which, through persistent lobbying of the then local member, (Minister for Education and eventual Premier) Alexander Peacock, led to the Dean school becoming Victoria’s first Higher Elementary School in 1911.

The Clunes Guardian on 5th June 1917 reported ‘Councillor Gil Taylor, JP, of Fairview Farm, Dean, a member of the Creswick Council, has enlisted in place of his son.’  Gilbert said at the time, ‘My son has just reached military age and to my mind is not sufficiently developed to leave for the front.  Rather than see the family unrepresented in the war, I preferred to send myself,’ and that he was going with the full consent of his family and his wife.

On 12th June, 1917 the Creswick Advertiser states, ‘At Creswick Shire Council meeting on Thursday … he was granted six months’ leave of absence’ and ‘that the Councillors would see that his seat would be kept for him.’

Gilbert enlisted in the A.I.F. on 2nd August, 1917 when he was forty-five years old.  On enlisting, Cr Taylor was discharged in Melbourne on the grounds that he was too old. Gil enlisted a second time and by lowering his age was accepted for service overseas. His unit embarked from Melbourne on HMAT A38 Ulysses.  He served with the 38th Battalion, 8th Reinforcement.

On arrival in England Private Taylor was told that no men over forty years were allowed to serve on the front line.  In April, 1918 he was attached as a Cadre to 4 Command Depot at Hurdcott, Wiltshire responsible for training the rest of the unit.  Being an experienced potato farmer, his services were utilised as an agricultural instructor.  During his time there the camp produced 600 tons of potatoes for the army.



On his discharge from the army, Gilbert returned to Australia in December, 1918.  It was reported in the Ballarat Star on 7th February 1919 – ‘SOLDIER COUNCILLOR: CR G. TAYLOR RETURNS WELCOMED BY CRESWICK SHIRE COUNCIL: Kingston.  A cordial welcome was extended by the Shire of Creswick to Corporal Gilbert Taylor who took his seat for the first time in about two years after having been on service with the Australian Expeditionary Forces.’

Gilbert resumed his position as a Councillor where he continued to represent the people of the Shire of Creswick until August 1921 when ill health meant he was not able to continue in this role.  Gilbert moved to Melton on a Soldier Settlement Allocation where he continued farming and was employed by the Melton Shire. 

Gilbert died on 13th February, 1941 and he and his wife Jane, who pre-deceased him, are buried together in the Creswick Cemetery.

Gilbert Taylor, an agriculturist and civil engineer, served his family, his community, his State and his Country.


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