David Masterton (1816-1888)

David Masterton (1816-1888)

Image courtesy of Bayside Library Service and Picture Victoria. David & Co photographers

Mariner, Merchant, Mayor of Brighton

David Masterton was an Australian pioneer, sailing there in 1852 in his own ship from Liverpool with his family. He became Mayor of Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne, but his later experiences as a general merchant were ultimately less successful, perhaps due to illness. He also experienced a three year period of tragic loss. Between 1877 and 1880 he lost his wife Margaret and two daughters, Isabella and Julia, both of whom were still in their thirties. His son, David, was divorced by his wife for cruelty in 1889.


David Masterton was the eldest child of David Masterton, carpenter, and Julia Mitchell, who had married in 1815 in North Leith, Midlothian, Scotland. This places him as part of the Masterton family from Kinghorn for which details can be found at this link.

Daily News, London


THE MERCHANT SERVICE.- Last night's Gazette contains a list of the Masters and Mates who have voluntarily passed an examination, and obtained certificates of qualification for the class against each assigned, under the regulations issued by the Board of Trade since 31st March last.

MASTERS.-W. Boult, 2nd class cert., Success, London; .....D. Masterton, 3rd, Ferozepore, London;....

Daily News
Wednesday, 9th May 1849

FOR BOMBAY Direct (to sail positively 18th February, or forfeit freight), the fine fast-sailing ship FEROZEPORE, A1, 12 years, 558 tons register. This vessel has excellent accommodation for passengers and carries an experienced surgeon: has room for measurement goods only, and will not receive cargo after the 16th. - For freight or passage apply to Capt. MASTERTON, on board; or to R. and J. HENDERSON, 7, Mincing-lane.

Daily News
Tuesday, 5th February 1850


....Nov 19. Ferozepore, Masterton, Bombay; .....

Daily News
Thursday, 15th January 1852

Lloyd's Register

FEROZEPORE - 1852-1853

Master: Captain Masterton
Rigging: Barque; sheathed in yellow metal in 1851 & 1852
Tonnage: 497 tons using old measurements and 558 tons using new measurements
Construction: 1846 in Newcastle; repairs to damages in 1852
Owners: Henderson
Port of registry: London
Port of survey: London
Voyage: sailed for Bombay (1852); Port Philip (1853)

transcribed from the Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping.

Wells Journal

PRESENTATION TO CAPTAIN MASTERTON We have been gratified by the sight of a handsome piece of plate (with suitable inscription) which has just been presented to Captain Masterton, of the Ferozepore. The donors are the friends of some of the cabin passengers, who experienced Captain Mastertons kindness and attention during their late passage from London to Australia.

Wells Journal
2nd July 1853

Liverpool Mercury

WEDNESDAY, Oct, 12, - Wind E., light.

....SAILED.- Elizabeth, Masterton, Melbourne - ......

Liverpool Mercury
Friday, 14th October 1853

Daily News, London


....Feb 12. Elizabeth, Masterton, Liverpool; .....

Daily News
Thursday, 16th May 1854

The Argus, Melbourne

The Argus Office, Monday evening.

The holiday having been strictly kept by all the warehousemen and import houses, no business has been transacted in the markets.

We observe that Mr. Masterton, 75 Queen street, has been joined by Mr. Andrew Bogle, lately manager of the Royal Bank of India in Melbourne, and that the firm will now be known as David Masterton and Co.

The Argus
Tuesday, 2nd July 1867

Gippsland Times, Victoria

(Before his Honour Chief Justice Stawell, and Special Juries of Twelve.)

An action by David Masterton, of Melbourne, merchant, against James Gibney, an hotelkeeper at Maffra, near Sale, to recover the value of a store, called the Mount Useful Store, at Edwards' Reef, Donnelly's Creek Gippsland, and a quantity of goods, sold together by a sheriff's officer and bailiff under two judgment executions obtained by the defendant in the Supreme Court. The plaintiff claimed the Mount Useful Store and the goods, under a bill of sale, which was dated June 13, 1866, and registered June 18, and under which his agent took actual possession Sept. 18, 1866. The bill of sale was over the store and the goods then in it, and over subsequently acquired goods in the store; and it was to secure 126, and future advances. There was now due on account of the 126, and for goods supplied and advances made under this security, upwards of 500. The sheriff's officer and his bailiff came to the store to levy under defendant's executions on September 24th. The plaintiff's agent in possession gave verbal and written notice to the officer, and his bailiff held a bill of sale, duly registered. They disregarded the notice ; and on the same day they sold the store and goods by auction, in one lot, for 165, to Morgan Davis. The questions on which the case depended were :-(1) The validity of plaintiff's bill of sale ; (2) the extent to which it reached over the goods actually in the store at the time of the levy--the goods originally enumerated in the inventory attached to the bill of sale having been mostly sold in the course of business and others substituted for them; (3) the extent to which defendant had interfered in the sale, so as to take from the sheriff his prima facie liability for any irregularity in the sale, and adopt it himself by appointing and instructing a special bailiff in the matter; (4) the value of the store and goods sold, and the measure of damages suffered by the plaintiff by their sale at the suit of defendant, if such sale had been wrongfully made by defendant or his agents.

For the plaintiff the story told was, that Filson, Caughey and Co. had a bill of sale over the store and goods, and were in possession, and that the plaintiff bought the store of them for 126, and assigned it over to Dabine and O'Connor at the same price, and took the bill of sale now relied on to secure the 126 and any future advances made, to enable Dabine and O'Connor to carry on.

For the defendant the the story told was, that he had honoured five cheques of Dabine and O'Connor's; that he had sued on two of these, and obtained regular executions; and that the sheriff's officer had levied under these executions in his own, and, as defendant supposed, lawful way, and on his own responsibility, without any personal interference or control by the defendant. Defendant did not, in fact, know plaintiff had a bill of sale, though he knew Griffiths, defendant's agent, had one ; and defendant never told the sheriff's officer Beard, or the bailiff, to levy on the goods covered by any bill of sale held by plaintiff. In fact, defendant had no communication with the special bailiff on the subject, and certainly had not indemnified him. In reply to these statements on oath by defendant, plaintiff swore that defendant said to him, "I knew you had a bill of sale. but I didn't see your name over the door;" and Beard swore that on his journey with the bailiff (Vanstone) to make the levy they met defendant, and he went into a private room with Vanstone. The value of the store and goods was variously estimated at from 400 to 600.

Mr. Dawson, Mr. Harris, and Mr. Spensely for plaintiff. Mr. F. L. Smyth and Dr. Mackay for the defendant.

The jury found a verdict for the plaintiff - damages, 500; and the jury found specially, in answer to a question by his Honour, that Vanstone had acted as the defendant's special agent in the sheriff's sale.

Gippsland Times
Thursday, 8th August 1867

The Argus, Melbourne


The Argus Office, Wednesday Evening.

A branch of the City of Glasgow Insurance Company has been opened by Messrs. David Masterton and Co.

The Argus
Thursday, 21st May 1868

The Leeds Mercury

(From the Melbourne Argus, Jan. 2nd.)

The firm of Messrs. David Masterton and Co., wholesale grocers, has suspended payment; liabilities 45,000.

The Leeds Mercury
Tuesday, 20th February, 1872

The Argus, Melbourne


The Argus Office, Monday Evening.

Messrs Richard Gibson and Co. report having sold by public auction, at Menzies' Hotel, on account of the executors of the late Archibald M'Millan, the Caldermead estate, near Cranbourne, consisting of 3,192a, 3r. and 15p. , all fenced and highly-improved, first-class land, for the sum of 16,363 6s. 6d.; also, on account of the executors of the late Kate M'Millan, the Lang Lang estate, adjoining the above, comprising 1,344a lr. 35p, for the sum of 6,386 4s 6d , with all improvements thereon, both properties being purchased by Mr David Masterton, of Melbourne.

The Argus
Tuesday, 3rd May 1881


(Before his Honour Judge Noel.)

An examination was commenced in the estate of David Masterton and John Griffiths, of Melbourne, trading as David Masterton and Co., merchants. Mr Braham conducted the examination on behalf of the trustee, and Mr Dickson appeared for the insolvents.

Mr. DICKSON applied for an adjournment, on the ground that Mr. Masterton was suffering from brain disease, and was not in a fit condition to undergo an examination. In support of the application he put in a medical certificate signed by Dr O'Hara, setting forth that David Masterton was in a very delicate state of health.

His HONOUR decided that the examination should proceed.

David Masterton stated.-I am one of the insolvents. At the date of sequestration I carried on business with John Griffiths as general merchants. Our partnership commenced in 1872 and continued down to insolvency. Griffiths contributed no capital to the partnership. My capital consisted of 2,600, being money contributed at various times. Some of the 2,600 I borrowed - From Alexander McMillan, my son-in-law, 300; from the Universal Permaneut Building Society, on security of my private house, 500; from my daughter, 300; and from National Insurance Company, 300. Previous to the partnership with Griffiths had carried on business with Bogle and Griffiths for about four years, and prior to that I had carried on business alone for some years. The firm of Masterton, Bogle, and Griffiths compounded with its creditors, and the partnership terminated. The composition was about 7s in the . I think the secured creditors were parties to the composition. I know of no creditors who were paid more than the composition, except some creditors in respect of trust money, who were afterwards paid nearly 20s. in the , which amounted to nearly 2,000. At the time of the partnership being entered into with Griffiths all the creditors of the previous partnership had been paid. The schedule shows a deficiency of 23,164 14s 7d. The losses set down in List C amount to 7,620 6s. lOd. This incorrectly states the amount of bad debts we made. The deficiency of 23,164 14s. 7d. is to be accounted for by the bad debts we made during the time we were in business. As far as I know, and believe, 3,157 11s. 11d. is the only loss by bad debts sustained by the firm during two years prior to insolvency. The insolvency was on 29th April last. On 29th April, 1880, the firm was insolvent with a deficiency of about 20,000, though we did not know it at that time. The balance sheet filed 29th April, showing a deficiency of 12,000, was a mere estimate. When the full schedule was made up the deficiency was found to be 23,164.

The difference is accounted for by the fact that debts that were thought good in April turned out to be bad in June. I borrowed money from the National Bank, for which certain persons became security. Mr Renwick, of McEwan and Co, Mr Walker, the firm's bookkeeper, Mr Allen, and Mr Lawrence became security for the firm to the National Bank for whatever limited amount the discount and overdraft accounts should reach. They signed one bond, being liable for 250 each. Walker and Allen afterwards became security for 250 each in addition to the first amount. The first securities were given about the end of 1872, and the other about 1875 or 1879. I gave Renwick security to cover this guarantee in April this year. The security consisted of 50 shares in the Brighton Gas Company, 100 shares in Colonial Mutual Insurance Company, 25 shares in the National Insurance Company, 50 shares in New Providence Gold mining Company, 50 shares in Montague Extended Tin-mining Company, 100 shares in Empress Victoria Tin-mining Company, 6O paid up shares in Mount Cameron Tin-mining Company, 200 contributing shares in the same company, 100 shares in the Burrowee, and one half share in the King River Prospecting Company. Mr Renwick continued liable on this guarantee at the date of insolvency. Mr Searle, the collector of McEwan and Co., mentioned to me in March this year that Renwick would like some security for moneys we owed McEwan and Co., and which had been contracted extending over a period of the previous six months. Then in April I lodged these shares with Renwick. They were given to cover the debt due to McEwan and Co. as well as the guarantee account. When I handed the shares over to Mr. Searle I got no advances, but subsequently I got 300 or 400 by way of advance. I believe that at the date of sequestration I owed McEwan and Co. 1288, partly for money and partly for goods. The entry in the schedule that the whole of the debt was contracted for goods sold and delivered is not correct. That debt is the balance of a current account covering a number of years. It is incorrect, as stated in the schedule that the debt was contracted on the 4th January, 1882. In the schedule McEwan and Co. appear as unsecured creditors, and not in the list of secured creditors. None of the shares which I lodged with them as security appear in the schedule. I don't think they had been realised by McEwan and Co. before we sequestrated our estate. The omission of these securities in the schedule was an oversight.

Walker also had a security to cover his guarantee to the bank. He had 1,200 shares in the Clyde Bank Gold-mining Company, 240 shares in the Hepburn Estate, and 50 in the Stanhope Tin-mining Company. I gave them to Walker in April this year. He asked me for some security in April sometime, and so I gave him these shares. I received no advance from him at the time I gave him these shares, but I got advances from him subsequently amounting to over 100. At the date of sequestration I was not indebted to Walker, but he continued liable under the guarantee. The shares were given partly to cover the guarantee and partly for moneys to be advanced. The shares held by Walker are not mentioned in the schedule. I cannot account for it, except that it was an oversight. So far as I know Walker held the shares at the date of sequestration. McMillan never received any security, neither did Lawrence. The shares were paid for out of the firm's moneys. I cannot state the value of the shares given to McEwan and Co., neither can I state the value of those given to Walker. At the date of sequestration neither I nor the firm was possessed of any shares other than those I have mentioned. No creditor of the firm holds any security except those mentioned in the schedule so far as I know. At the date of sequestration we were indebted to the National Bank on the direct account 3,227 for which they held certificates of goods in bond. These were given at various times. All the goods represented by these certificates had not been paid for at the date of sequestration. Some had, some had not. I cannot say what value of these goods had not been paid for. At the date o sequestration we were indebted to Mr Allan 1,839 according to the schedule, but I cannot say that this amount is correct. For this debt he held certificates of bonded goods. They were lodged with him at various times. The schedule states they were lodged at 20th December, 1881. This is incorrect. I believe some of the goods represented by these certificates were not paid for. At the date of sequestration neither the firm, nor any member of it, had an interest in the schooner Maffra. I at one time had a one-eighth interest, but I parted with it in the beginning of this year. It might have been a little later on in this year. I pledged my share as security with Mrs. Sanderson for a debt I owed her. She sold the security, but I cannot say whether before or after sequestration. I think it was before, but I am not sure. I owed her 50 about when I gave her the share. I do not know how much she realised on it. I know Mark Moss. We owed him at sequestration about 300 for money borrowed at different times during five years. The 300 was the balance of a running account. For security I gave Moss half an acre of land at Elsternwick, belonging to me. He does not appear as a creditor in the schedule, and the land does not appear in the partnership or separate schedules. I lodged the title deeds of the land with Moss in February last. I have not transferred the land to Moss. I have signed a letter of lien to him. I gave Moss the land voluntarily, without his asking for it, he being a very old friend of mine, and having assisted me on various occasions. Moss does not appear in the schedule as a creditor, because it was arranged with him before the schedule was made out that his name was not to appear-I mean immediately before the schedule was made out, or at the time. This arrangement was made in Moss's office. I said I would not like his name to appear, as he was an old friend. Moss said he was quite willing I should leave him out. My furniture was insured at sequestration for over 400. Two or three years ago it was valued by Ham at about 600, I believe. For Thomas Clarke, of Toongabbie, we became security to the amount of 100. I cannot say the date he gave us his acceptance for 100 to secure us against the guarantee. We discounted this acceptance, and it was current in the hands of a third person at sequestration. The firm, so far as I know, paid nothing on account of the guarantee.

The examination was then adjourned to the 25th August, the insolvent being ordered to file an account of goods held as securities by the National Bank and Allen, with particulars and details, ordered to be filed within seven days, and verified by affidavit.

The Argus
Wednesday, 16th August 1882

MASTERTON.- On the 13th inst., Captain David Masterton, merchant, Melbourne, late of Rosemount, Elsternwick, native of Linlithgowshire, Scotland, aged 71. Glasgow papers please copy.

The Argus
Saturday, 17th March 1888

Editor's Note: The business archives of David Masterton & Co. are located in the Royal Historical Society of Victoria Library. These comprise land purchases and general transactions of David Masterton & Co., and others. These relate to properties in various parts of Victoria which include Mortlake, Dunnolly, Daylesford, Blackwood, Talbotville, Winchester, Bairnsdale, Kyneton, Jamieson, Tarraville, Port Albert, Moorabbin, Castlemaine, Narre Warren, Yea, Yankee Creek, Pleasant Creek, Boggy Creek and Boneo Swamp lands. Most of the papers are legal documents mortgages, leases, land transfers, certificates of title, conveyances, grants by purchase and the like; particular details of the Frankland Estate (Tarraville), goldfields leases and licences, Gowan and Lyell (accountants) papers re estate of David Masterton & Co.. Legal documents include details of business life of David Masterton, Andrew Bogle, Moses Michaelis, Andrew Lyell, John Denovan Gowan and transactions with Donald McKay, John and Thomas Morrow, George Williams, Robert and Frederick Hutchinson, Thomas Toomey, Henry Bennett, Patrick Brennan, W. A. Atwood, William Doherty, William and John Young, William Turner Campbell, John Henry Fields, John Griffiths, Robert Farrow, Henry Steel Shaw and others; also includes a rough list of properties purchased by Masterton & Co., and a map of Tongio Munjie Township.