skip to content

Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Robert Johnstone

Born: 1792; Died: 1883; Married: Frances ('Fanny') Weller

In 1908 in excess of 15,000 acres went on sale in the Yass Valley on behalf of the Johnston Family Trust. The narrative of the family's acquisitions in the district began as early as 1825 when David Johnston was promised land by Governor Brisbane for his services to the Colony. The 700 acres of land he selected at Jeir were signed over to his brother Robert in 1840. Both he and his brother Robert continued to acquire land at Jeir, Nanima and Bedduluck.

When Robert married in 1832, his wife Frances (Fanny) Weller was one of the last women in the colony to be granted land upon marriage. Robert Hoddle surveyed land for Fanny and she was an early applicant for 1,280 acres in Ginninderra Parish. Land acquisition became a family affair.

Robert's first request to purchase in the Jeir district came on 17 March 1834 when he identified 'a small plain' of 640 acres to the north David's original block. Around this time the old Jeir Station homestead was built, perhaps to initially house his labourers (including assigned convicts) and overseers who were needed to develop and manage his ever increasing runs. Robert Johnson often visited his land holdings at Jeir as an absentee landlord and they provided the bulk of his income and allowed him to maintain the family home and spacious estate at Annandale in Sydney.

It wasn't until 1879 that the homestead became home to the Johnston family, with Robert's son (Robert Percy) taking up residence. Jeir Station played an important role in the development of the surrounding districts. It provided homes, occupations and social contacts and became a focal point for schooling and worship for the station workers and their neighbours.

< Rediscovering Ginninderra