John Pascoe Fawkner

Born in England in 1792, John Pascoe Fawkner went to Port Phillip for the first time when he was 11 years old. His father was sentenced to 14 years transportation for receiving stolen goods, so in 1803 the family travelled to Australia on the Calcutta.

Due to harsh weather and poor water, the group soon left Port Phillip and founded a new settlement in Van Diemen's Land. The Fawkner family prospered in Hobart and by 1814, John Fawkner had taken over his father's bakery.

But in the same year, John made the mistake of helping seven convicts escape. He was caught and sentenced to 500 lashes, and three years hard labour in Newcastle. These years as a prisoner reinforced his hatred of authority and convictism.

After his release, Fawkner and his new wife, Eliza Cobb, moved to Launceston to make a new start. Industrious as always, Fawkner built Launceston's first two-storey building and pub, started a newspaper and began representing convicts and petty criminals in court:

[Fawkner] was glib of tongue, choleric in disposition; and it is therefore, not much wonder to hear of his having practised as an advocate in the old public Court of Launceston...

– James Bonwick, 1883

Bonwick, J, 1883, Port Phillip Settlement, Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, London

Fawkner also planned to settle in Port Phillip, but was delayed by many setbacks. His ship, the Enterprize (sic), arrived in Port Phillip in August 1835, three days before John Batman's party, but Fawkner had been forced to stay in Launceston because of outstanding debts. He did arrive in October 1835, and as the colony grew he wasted no time in establishing Melbourne's first pub, hotel and newspaper.

Fawkner saw himself as a man of principle, but he often contradicted himself, which lead to him gaining a reputation as a hypocrite. For instance, he was a teetotaller and publicly criticised heavy drinking, but was, at the same time, Melbourne's first and most successful publican.

In 1851, Fawkner became one of Victoria's first Members of Parliament. He fought tirelessly for the rights of disadvantaged people, especially in relation to the problem of squatters monopolising the land.

Although he was outspoken, eccentric and sometimes abrasive, he remains one of Melbourne's most influential and well known pioneers.

Lithograph of John Pascoe Fawkner.
Painting of a younger John Pascoe Fawkner in formal attire.
Engraving of the funeral of John Fawkner passing the corner of Bourke and Spring streets.
Glass slide depicting the Fawkner's boat on the Yarra.