Moncrieff Stenhouse, a Scottish widow, with 4 daughters and a son, had settled in Upper Beaconsfield in 1910 and bought a property on Stoney Creek Road opposite the Golf Course. Between 1917 and 1919 the property was offered to the Closer Settlement Board three times, and every time it was rejected. Although some reports were favourable—mainly the ones furnished by locals—the price was considered as too high to be suitable for purchase for a returned soldier, and Mrs Stenhouse declined to negotiate. One of the reasons the Stenhouse family wanted to sell was because the son and several daughters were of ill health. The son, Archibald, underwent an operation in 1919, and tragically died while he was under anaesthetic. Mrs Stenhouse and her daughters were then unable to continue working the orchard.

When another returned soldier, Robert Petrie Coventry, applied for the property, Mrs Stenhouse wrote to the Board declaring that she’d accept a lower price they had previously offered. The property was described as being in good order. Improvements comprised of: the orchard – clean and healthy; A 7-roomed lathe and plaster house, with running water in kitchen and bathroom; a 2-room cottage and wash house with running water; a dairy; a fruit shed and several poultry runs. To qualify, a soldier had to obtain a certificate of competence from an agricultural school, proving he had some orcharding skills before he could take up the lease.

Coventry took possession on 1 Nov 1920; the Stenhouses moved to Surrey Hills, but returned to run the post office from 1926-1944. From the few reports by the Board it appears that Coventry was struggling from an early date, and that he was unable to make his repayments. He had a growing family to support. For some time he operated the mail run and a passenger service. An application for additional land to grow horse feed was turned down, because the land on offer did not meet the Board’s requirements. In 1929 he applied for a mortgage, but because the funds were to be used to pay off arrears, it was declined. By September 1931 his lease was cancelled for non-payment of instalments. A report on the condition of the property stated that its value had depreciated due to neglect, that the fruit trees were barely visible due to blackberries, and that the house was old and needed painting. The other buildings were in poor condition and eaten by white ants.

As locals learnt that the property may become available a number of enquiries were sent to the Settlement Board, but it was allocated to Bertram Holland Joseland. Although only 21 years old, and not a returned soldier, it may have been due to the (financial) support of his mother, and his ability to be able to borrow money from an inheritance, that he was given the lease. He asked the board to give him an advance to cover the renovating costs of the house, but other than that he claimed to have enough support to succeed. Bob Joseland may have had good intentions, but he struggled like his predecessor. The Great Depression years didn't help.

In 1936, shortly after he got married, the Board informed him that he had two months to vacate the premises voluntarily. He appealed the ruling, and the Board allowed him a probationary period as long as he made a payment before May 1937. During 1938 Joseland explained that he had lost over 1000 cases of apples in a windstorm, and thus was unable to pay his debt of £105. The Board informed him that he should consider outside employment, as they saw little hope that he could carry on successfully. However, because he desired to remain on his block, and because he had recently cleared two acres where he proposed to grow flowers and vegetables, they allowed the matter of the required payment stand over for the present. The lack of rain made his vegetables to be a failure, and the fruit crop was not promising either. Then the bushfires of January 1939 almost ruined 1.5 acres of his apple trees, but the vegetables had been replanted, and he had made a small payment to the Board. Although he had made some improvements to the house, had done some clearing and replanted some trees, the Closer Settlement Board considered that he wasn’t a good type of settler, and the prospects of success were doubtful. His case went to the Farmers' Debt Adjustment Board, which ruled due to hardship that half of the outstanding debt on his lease would be written off. It appears that after signing a new lease on 30 June 1939 he paid his instalments regularly. The report on his progress show that the early 1940s were quite good to him. He repainted the house, rebuilt the packing shed, and maintained the orchard exceptionally well. In 1949 it was noted that he had lost his apple crop through thrip, and that he had taken on outside employment at the Beaconsfield Golf Course. A year later the inspector recorded that the lessee was an indifferent orchardist, who had let the orchard deteriorate to a point where he doubted that it could be brought back. The house was now in disrepair as the stumps had sunken in many places and thus cracked the plaster boards. Joseland indicated that he wished to pull out some of the orchard trees and sow down pasture. As his eldest son was leaving school he hoped that all this work could be carried out at an early date.

Shortly after the last report in 1952, his father’s elderly cousin provided him with a mortgage, which allowed him to pay off all debts and make the property freehold. Within a year he subdivided 20 acres and sold them to his neighbour John William Knapton.



Some family sections show only the children who were associated with Upper Beaconsfield.

Some individuals may be featured because members of their family were associated with the Upper Beaconsfield area, even though they themselves never lived here.