The Story Of Valentine Walliker - A Tragic Drowning
Researched and written by Nyree Wiggins
Valentine Walliker was just 34 years old when he tragically drowned in Sunday Creek in 1895. He had been employed by Mr W Culbertson to assist with the building of what is now our cellar door. This is his story.
Valentine Walliker Pre 1895
Valentine Walliker was born on December 21st 1861 in Sturmer, Essex, England. He was a bricklayer by trade and with the usual theme of that time, most trade related indentures were commenced at about 12 years of age.
He married at 22 years of age in April of 1884 to a Miss Margaret Jane Weatherell from Wolsingham, Durham, England. Shortly after their marriage they sailed to Australia on assisted passage via the “Fleur de Lis”, arriving on September 1st 1884 into Brisbane, Queensland. Upon arrival into Brisbane Valentine joined his sister, Laura Walliker and her 3-year-old daughter Alice who had only just arrived six days prior, on another convoy ship called the “Winston Hall”. Laura Walliker later married a Mr. Simpson and they settled in the Sassafras area of Victoria to raise their children.
In 1884 Valentine and Margaret Walliker made their way to Victoria and settled in the suburb of Richmond, firstly at 103 Dover Street and then at 8 Duke Street. They had three sons, John, Valentine Junior, and George.
Margaret Walliker died on the 8th April 1890 at the Duke Street residence one week after giving birth to baby George. George lived until the 1st of July of that year, and was just under three months of age when he passed away.
Mrs Margaret Walliker (nee Weatherell) Pre 1890
Margaret and her son George are buried at the Booroondara Cemetery in Kew, Victoria. Valentine Walliker was then left a widow with two little boys approximately aged two and three years old.
Valentine Walliker took up a bricklaying contract for Mr W Culbertson in late 1894 to undertake laying the brickwork at Joseph Gassies new distillery being built in Wahgunyah. He was only in the Wahgunyah area a few months prior to his tragic death by drowning in the Sunday Creek on the 12th of January 1895.
He and two companions (one called a Mr. Chambers) had gone down to Sunday Creek later in the afternoon after a hard and hot days work to refresh and cool down. He was a poor swimmer and got into difficulties whilst crossing from bank to bank. He did resurface but quickly disappeared under the water. Mr. Chambers tried in vain to save him. This location was the exact spot one year previous where a young man called Wheeler also tragically drowned.
It has not been determined whether Valentine Walliker brought his two young children with him to Wahgunyah at the time of his bricklaying contract, they would have then been aged at about 7 and 8 years of age and reasonably self-sufficient and capable. It would not have been unusual for the children to accompany and it is certain that people in the area knew of his circumstances as a widow and father of two small boys. A Mr. Yates from Yates Farm Wahgunyah is referred to as having organised a collection of needs for the boys and ensured the collection was forwarded along to the next of kin to assist and support the lads.
The boys were then looked after by Valentine’s next of kin, his sister, Laura Walliker Simpson, who resided at Sassafras with her husband and their children. The two boys, John and Valentine Junior then attended the Monbulk Primary School with their cousins.
Mrs Laura Simpson, sister of Valentine Walliker, her children, and her two nephews, John and Valentine Junior (John is pictured on the right in photograph, in the back row and his brother Valentine Junior is in front of him.)
The local Wahgunyah Temperance Society very kindly undertook a fund-raising collection to assist and financially support the Simpson family to provide for the two boys.
Interestingly, Valentine’s son John Walliker went on to become a Reverend and served as a clergyman in small country areas throughout Victoria over many years.
His other son, Valentine Junior went on to serve in WW1, survived and lived in the Richmond area of Melbourne until his death.
Valentine Walliker is buried at the Carlyle Cemetery Rutherglen. His burial took place on the 14th of January 1895 and he is interred in the Wesleyan section at Carlyle in Grave Number 809, one of the early burials in the Wesleyan section. There is no grave marker or identification for his grave. He had been interred under the name of Williker rather than the correct spelling of his surname being Walliker. This was not unusual for the day and occurred from time to time with interments. He had been referred to as Robert Walliker in some newspaper reports about the drowning, but he was christened as Valentine and the name Robert does not appear on any of his formal documentation.