In 1853 my husband’s great grandfather John Morley (1823-1888), with his wife Eliza née Sinden (1823-1908) and their two children, Elizabeth aged 3 and William aged 1, emigrated to Australia. They sailed on the ‘Ida‘, arriving in Melbourne on 12 July. John was an agricultural labourer; the family was from Sussex.

They first settled in Collingwood, an inner city suburb, where four more children were born. Three of their six children died there. In 1861, when their daughter Anne was born, the family moved to Brighton. The youngest child, John William George, was born there in 1864.

In 1862 the rate books for the City of Moorabbin show John Morley living in a weatherboard house owned by Edward Carroll on Tuckers Road. The annual value was 8 pounds, significantly lower than neighbouring properties; the rates were 8 shillings. (Using average weekly earnings to measure worth £8 would be the equivalent in 2022 of about $10,000.)

In 1884 John Morley, carpenter, was occupying 1 acre and a 4 room house on Centre Road. It was owned by Cain Thorne. It was valued at £12 10 shillings (about $11,000). Next door Elizabeth Morley, no occupation, was occupying 5 acres on Centre Road valued at £10 and owned by G. P. Burney.

The rate book of 1886 describes John’s property as 1 acre and 2 room weatherboard house and Eliza’s property as 2½ acres. Ownership had not changed. John’s property was valued at £15 and Eliza’s property at £19.

On 9 November 1888, after an illness of 3 months, John Morley died at 7 Evelyn Street East Brighton of malignant disease of the stomach.

Tucker Road, Centre Road, and Evelyn Street are near each other. Perhaps the three addresses refer to the same property.

Satellite view from Google maps showing 7 Evelyn Street Bentleigh , and Centre and Tucker Roads. It is much more densely settled today than when the Morleys and Sullivans lived there.

It seems Eliza kept cows. These sometimes strayed, and in 1890 for this she was fined 7s 6d with 2s 6d costs in the Brighton Police Court.

In 1891 Eliza Morley was the owner and occupier of a house and land at East Brighton. Her address was Village Street, not on current maps. The value of the property was £18.

On 23 April 1908, Eliza, 85, died at 7 Evelyn Street Bentleigh after an illness of ten weeks. Her death was attributed to ‘asthenia’ (generalised weakness, probably the result of a cancer of the pharynx). There are no probate papers.

On 17 February 1887 Henry Sullivan married Anne Morley at the residence of the Reverend Samuel Bracewell, a minister of the Primitive Methodist Church, at Lygon Street, Carlton. At the time, both Henry and Anne were living at East Brighton (later known as Bentleigh). On the marriage certificate Henry gave his profession as gardener and his age as 24 (he was really 23). He did not know who his parents were.

Henry and Anne had five children, all born at 7 Evelyn Street:

  • Mabel 1887-1960
  • Rosina 1889-1969
  • Arthur 1891-1975
  • Henry 1894-1969
  • Francis William 1899-1956

Henry and Anne Sullivan lived at 7 Evelyn Street Bentleigh all their married life. They called their house “Navillus”, “Sullivan” spelled backwards.

Florence Sullivan (nee Hickson), the wife of Frank; Elaine Sullivan, their daughter; Anne Sullivan (nee Morley); and Henry Sullivan. Photograph taken about 1940 at “Navillus”, 7 Evelyn Street, East Bentleigh. Behind Ann and Henry is the house nameplate.  From the collection of a cousin, used with permission.

Henry grew fruit and vegetables for sale at Navillus. He appears to have had an interest in flowers, too, for it is said that he bred a variety of violet naming it Navillus.

From the 1938 catalogue of Law, Somner Pty. Ltd. seed merchants and nurserymen: page 46 – “VIOLETS.—Navillus (New), semi-double, large rosette, sweet scented, long stems, free blooming, 6d. each, 5/- dozen” Retrieved from Deakin University Library repository

Henry died in 1943. When Anne Sullivan died three years later, there was a public sale of some of the household contents.

Advertisement for the sale of household furniture and effects from 7 Evelyn Street, Bentleigh. Included was a Wertheim sewing machine and garden tools.
Advertising (1946, May 25). The Age (Melbourne, Vic.), p. 11. Retrieved from

The house was sold. In the 1990s it was bulldozed and the site redeveloped.

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