John, son of Samuel and Betty (née Webb) Edney, was born of 7 March 1814 at East Dean in Hampshire in England and was christened on the 3 April at the local St Winifred's church. John emigrated to Australia in 1840 on the Andromeche, arriving at Point Henry on 27 June. As he was an assisted immigrant he was assigned to John Marsden for three months at a station near Colac for £18.
John later moved to Heidelberg on the Plenty River where he opened a butcher's shop. It was here that he met Mary Jane, daughter of David and Mary (née Stewart) Sefton. She was born on 27 June 1827 at Ballynahinch, County Down in Ireland. As her mother died when she was an infant, she was brought up by her grand parents.
On 11 August 1841 Mary left Ireland with her father and his new wife, Rebecca, and his sons and daughters. They sailed on the Marquis of Bute, arriving at Port Phillip on 30 November.
John and Mary married on 8 April 1844 at St James Old Cathedral in Melbourne, when it was on the corner of William and Little Collins Streets. They had the following children:
William Henry — born on 19 January 1845 at Plenty River, married Jane Heard on 1 June 1871 at Holy Trinity Church of England at Barrabool Hills, died on 25 September 1924 aged 79 years, buried in the Church of England section of the Highton Cemetery
Caroline — born in 1847 at Plenty River, married James Anderson on 13 November 1869, died on 16 August 1931 aged 83 years at Surrey Hills in Victoria, buried in the Presbyterian section of the Highton Cemetery
Emily Jane— born in 1848 at Ceres, married Charles Meakin in 1873, died on 12 September 1924 at her home, 22 Windsor Street in Middle Footscray, buried in the Church of England section of the Footscray Cemetery
Emma — born on 10 January 1851 at Barrabool, married Alfred Edney on 1 January 1873 at Holy Trinity Church at Barrabool Hills, married John Samuel Camm on 4 October 1910 at the manse, 55 McIlwraith Street in Princes Hill, died on 27 January 1920 aged 64, buried at Rochester Cemetery
Alfred — born on 1 November 1852 at Barrabool Hills, married Emma Heard in 1877, died on 21 April 1946 at Echuca
Mary Elizabeth — born in 1855, died on 17 September 1914 aged 60 years at her home 1 Balliang Street in South Geelong, buried in the Church of England section of the Highton Cemetery
Jane — born in 1857, married John Heal on 6 October 1892 at Holy Trinity Church Barrabool Hills
Phoebe Ann Stewart — born in 1859, married Francis Adolphus Patterson on 21 July 1888 at Holy Trinity Church Barrabool Hills,
John Charles — born in 1862 at Barrabool, married Sarah Jane Rankin on 20 May 1886 at Boxthorn Park the home of the bride's father, died on 7 January 1893 aged 30 at Bendigo Hospital, buried at Rochester Cemetery
Alice — born in 1864, married Charles Heard on 15 March 1887 at Holy Trinity Church in Barrabool Hills
Walter — born in 1867 at Ceres, married Maude Louise Heard in 1894, died in 1960 at Wodonga aged 93
Esther — born in 1869, married Robert Beck on 10 April 1889 at Holy Trinity Church in Barrabool Hills
John and Mary purchased a property at Ceres in 1848 and named it Dean Farm, after East Dean where John was born. Originally the farm consisted of 78 acres which John divided into 6 paddocks, but later purchased the adjoining 52 acres. He also constructed a 5 room cottage, built from rock located nearby. He also built an underground water tank, which was still in use generations later. He was said to have been the first person in the district to acquire a dray. Before this they would either walk to Geelong or carry goods on horseback. They were lucky to escape the Black Thursday bushfires as many nearby farmhouses were destroyed.
John and Mary took an active part in community life. He was a member of the first Vestry of Holy Trinity Church of England. Mary commenced the church school at Holy Trinity and became its first superintendent. John was a member of the Total Abstinence Society. John sold part of Dean Farm to the Minister of Education and Ceres Primary School is now located on the site.
John and Mary lived at Dean Farm until their retirement, when they purchased a cottage in Highton (now 217 Mount Pleasant Road) which they named Sefton Cottage.
John died on 13 March 1902 aged 88 of influ-asthemia at Sefton Cottage and was buried in the Church of England section of the Highton Cemetery. Mary who also died at Sefton Cottage, on 18 January 1913 aged 85 of senility and gangrene of the left foot, was buried in the Church of England section of the same cemetery.
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