Two covers sent to this intriguingly named man have been difficult to research in the past two years, other than for information of the English origin of his surname and its variants. As my experience has grown in the use of the National Library of Australia’s Beta search of early colonial newspapers, I utilised this remarkable website to have yet another look at a previously difficult paper.

The first entire was addressed (in error) to G. Shovelbottom Esqr, Curator of Estates, Carisbrook, Victoria, Australia , and Carisbrook is lined through, and ‘Try Chancery Lane, Melbourne has been added.. There is a vertically place boxed handstamp ‘MISSENT TO/ CARISBROOK and the ‘SIX PENCE’ Great Britain stamp (S.G. 70) is cancelled with the duplex C/ BATH/ SP 15/ 58 with the barred numeral ‘53′ (Figure 1).

The reverse has 2 copies of the unframed oval CARISBROOK/ [CROWN]/ DC 13/58, a small red transit LONDON/ FT/ SP 16/ 58 and 2 Melbourne cancels, one DC 11, the other DC 15 as well as red sealing wax (Figure 2).

The second entire was sent to Geo Shovelbottom Esq, Curator of Intestate Estates, Chancery Lane, Melbourne. It has a pair of the perforated wove paper ‘ONE PENNY’ “Emblems” and the rouletted laid paper ‘TWO PENNY’ “Emblems” cancelled with the BN 100 of Carisbrook. (Figure 3).

The reverse had an oval CARISBROOK/ [crown]/ MA 11/ VICTORIA and a MELBOURNE / A/ MY 12/ 59 postmarks (Figure 4).

The third entire was not addressed to Shovelbottom but it is relevant to his history. It was addressed to F.J. Bury Esq., Curator of Estates of deceased persons, Melbourne and the 4d second setting perf. 13 FOUR PENCE (SG 121) cancelled with a duplex BEECHWORTH/ FE 5/ 66/ VICTORIA. The reverse was not seen (Figure 5).

George Shovelbottom was appointed Curator of Estates of Deceased Persons in Victoria on 1 September 1860 and on that day an advertisement appeared in the Argus (Melbourne) in which he stated that his office was at 23 William Street, Melbourne. The advert was signed as follows: For the Curator of Intestate Estates, G. Shovelbottom, Accountant, Supreme Court Registry, Melbourne. A copy of that advert is shown in Figure 6.

Numerous advertisements appeared in the Argus with similar information provided above, but by 1863 serious information appeared about George Shovelbottom in the Argus (Melbourne) on Saturday July 2, 1864, on pages 4 & 5. In brief Justice Molesworth in the case of Brookbanks stated that Mr. Shovelbottom showed a “most disgraceful exhibition of mismanagement and extortion.” Shovelbottom admitted that he knew that the deceased had a brother living at Daylesford, Victoria and “yet he took no steps to ascertain whether this brother was going to administer the estate or not, although during all this time the brother was advertising his intended application for a rule to administer(the estate) in the newspapers…..(and) it is monstrous that he should have proceeded with the administration of the estate after he had learnt that the deceased had a brother living, and had also learnt his address.” The judge concluded that the office of the Curator of Intestates “ought to be filled by a gentleman whose integrity there should not be a breath of suspicion.” Shovelbottom was removed from the position of Curator ca. August 1865, and presumably he was succeeded by Frederick James Bury, the addressee of the third cover.

A Supreme Court ruling reported in the Argus of 30 November 1868 discussed arguments that Shovelbottom make repayment “of all moneys that had come into his possession and control.” To date I have not found any biographical information on George Shovelbottom, although a George Shovelbottom was listed as residing in Hobart at 181 Macquarie Street in 1867-68.

I did find information on this surname and its many variants: It was first found in “Lancashire, England where they were anciently seated.” The variants included: Shufflebotham, Shufflebottom, Shufflebotam, Shovelbottom, Shoebotham, Shovellbottom, Shovell, Shubotham, Shubottom, and many more!

Addendum (August 2009): I found this cover in my own collection addressed to George Shovelbottom’s successor, F (rederick) J (ames) Bury Esq., 59 Temple Court Melbourne. The grey ‘TWO PENCE’ QV stamp was cancelled with a very faint barred numeral ‘470′ of Lauriston near Kyneton, Victoria (Figure 7).

The barred numeral was too faint to scan against the grey of the stamp and the example shown was taken from Freeman and White’s The Numeral Cancellations of Victoria in which the B.N. is rated ‘RRRR’(Figure 8).

The reverse of this cover confirms that the origin of the cover was LAURISTON/ JA 25/ 6 (7)/ VICTORIA and it transited via KYNETON/ JA 25/ 67/ VICTORIA and was received at MELBOURNE/ 11A/ JA 25/ 67 (Figure 9).

Some earlier history of F.J. Bury prior to his replacement of George Shovelbottom was found at a site listing people who wrote to the Victorian Government in the 19th century seeking employment in the Victorian Public Service, and 2 consecutive entries were found for F.J. Bury:

BURY, F.J., Melbourne, 1856, late Gold Commissioner at Creswick, applies for re-appointment in public service; and,

BURY, F.J., Melbourne Club, 1857, for appointment as colonial storekeeper, formerly in Gold Commission as Commissioner at Creswick, resigned due to ill health.

He had obviously recovered his health by 1865, and was considered a worthy person for the position of Curator of Estates for Deceased Persons to replace the recently disgraced George Shovelbottom.

Categories: Legal