Robert, son of John and Hannah (née Jones) Preston was born in 1834 at Woodeaton, Oxfordshire, England. He arrived in Australia with his family in September 1844 on the Abberton at the age of ten.
On 10 April 1868 he married Jane Wilson, daughter of William Paterson at her home in Maude Street, Geelong. They lived in a 6 roomed weatherboard house on 236 acres, they called Roseworth farm, on the south side of Mount Duneed Road, between Williams and Ghazeepore Roads, at Mount Duneed where their children were born:
Elizabeth Anna — born on 9 March 1869, married Albert Edward Beck in 1917, died 1957 at Sunshine aged 88
Robert Jane — born in 1870, married Charles William Meredith in 1911, died 31 August 1850 at Castlemaine
Caroline Margaret — born 1872, married John Robert Osterberg in 1896, died 1942 at Prahran
Isabella Agnes — born in 1873, died 26 April 1874 aged 10 months, buried in the Methodist section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery
William — born on 22 November 1874, married Annie Lamond in 1904, died on 30 October 1944 at Geelong aged 69, buried in the Methodist section of the Geelong Eastern Cemetery
Jessie Mary — born on 1877, married Gilbert Abercrombie Stevenson in 1909 at Geelong West, died 1938 at Chelsea
George — born in 1878, married Sarah Jane Farquharson in 1907, died 10 December 1958 at Yea
Charlotte Ethel (Effie) — born in 1880, married Ernest Enoch Kelloch in 1913
On 8 April 1856 he was appointed a trustee for the land set aside for a Wesleyan church.
Robert had an accident at Jan Juc (Bellbrae) caused when he was carting a load of long length firewood. He fell and the wheel of the wagon passed over his head. He died at home a couple of weeks later on 11 October 1882 aged 48 and was buried the following day in the Methodist section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery.
After his death Jane ran the farm with the help of William who took over after he married. Jane died on 9 April 1929 and was buried with Robert at the Mount Duneed Cemetery. Later that year the farm was sold to William for £12 per acre.
A week later George Williams stated that it had been found impossible to make anything like suitable provision for the care of the afflicted woman. In reply to a question from the Bench, Dr Shaw said that, although Mrs Preston was suffering from delusions and of unsound mind, he would be very much against sending her to an asylum if it could be avoided. Mr Heron said that from full inquiries he had made he was convinced that it would not be right to send the woman to a lunatic asylum. He had learnt from long experience that in cases of the kind under notice — where the mental affliction was of a harmless kind, and consisted only of delusions — the sufferers, by being sent to the asylum, were made confirmed lunatics. He believed that if proper efforts were made by her family and friends, Mrs Preston need not be sent to an asylum. The Bench agreed to discharge the prisoner, and she was handed over to her friends.
Is this a case of lunacy or a grief stricken widow who has endured her husband's terrible accident a few years previously and is not coping well with the task of bringing up eight children on her own? Is it a case of men around her trying to control her?
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