Robert McDowall, a native of Dumfries Scotland, was born in 1827. He came to Victoria in 1857 and settled at Ceres, where he established a carting business between Geelong and the goldfields. He owned a store where he became local postmaster until 1877. He was also a Wesleyan lay preacher, conducting services at Ceres, Freshwater Creek and Mount Duneed. His family made an important contribution to the life of the Wesleyan Church at Ceres until 1927 when his son Alfred Beaumont moved to Belmont. Robert moved to the Rochester district in 1877, where he took over the post office in 1882.
Robert married Mary Boyd. They had the following children:
Alexander — born in 1862 at Ceres
Ann — born in 1864 at Ceres, died in 1882 aged 18 years at Rochester
John Hugh — born in 1865 at Ceres, died in 1905 at Rochester
Alfred Beaumont (Mont) — born in 1871 at Barrabool, married Christiana Cox in 1894, died on 3 January 1942 aged 70 years at his home "Montreath" 90 Mount Pleasant Road in Belmont Geelong, buried in the Methodist section of the Highton Cemetery
Bessie Margaret — born in 1873 at Ceres, died in 1943 aged 68 at Rochester
Mary Elizabeth — born in 1877 at Ceres, died on 4 July 1951 aged 75 at Rochester
Alice Sarah — born in 1879 at Rochester, married John Robertson in 1904, died in 1904 aged 25 at Rochester
Robert was the postmaster at Ceres and Electoral Registrar for the Barrabool division of the electoral district of Grant and a deputy electoral registrar for the Barrabool division of the south western province in the1870s. After he resigned his son, John Hugh was appointed to the position.
Robert was a member of the Barrabool District Road Board and later a Barrabool Shire councillor serving from 1873 until 1876. His son, Alfred Beaumont (1871-1942) conducted a butter factory at South Geelong and farmed at Ceres where he also ran the post office.
Robert died in 1911 aged 84 at Rochester. He left an estate of £7542/12/9
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