Menu Icon


Gottlieb Jakob Grützner (1823=1912), a probable Wend from Wartha, 20 kilometres north of Bautzen in Saxony, arrived in Melbourne from Hamburg aboard the Wappaus in March 1849. On the shipping list, his occupation was given as mason, but there is no evidence he ever practiced that trade in Australia. He is said, however, to have engaged in brickmaking at Brunswick not long after arrival in Australia, before then going to the goldfields.

Jakob was naturalized as a Victorian citizen on 25 March 1852. Earlier that month he had purchased 158 acres at Greensborough for £ 158 (Lot B, Section 12, Parish of Nillumbik). On 28 February 1853 he bought more land – 30 acres at Westgarthtown for £ 150 (Lot 31, Parish of Keelbundora – site of Thomastown Swimming Pool) – from his father-in-law Johann Gründel. The Gründel family, from Görlitz, Silesia had arrived in Australia aboard the Godeffroy in February 1849 and Jakob married daughter Marie Louise Gründel on 1 May 1852 at the Independent Church in Melbourne.

From 1853, Jakob and Marie Grützner lived at Westgarthtown and the Gründel family at Greensborough. Jakob and Marie were foundation members of the Westgarthtown Lutheran congregation and he donated money to various church causes and also served on the church committee. Jakob is said to have received religious training in Germany, but this has not been confirmed.

During the 1860s and 1870s, Jakob enlarged his dairy farm at Westgarthtown to over 125 acres, purchasing Lot 29 (42 acres) for £ 280 from Leberecht Fiedler in 1861; Lots 25-28 (28 acres) for £ 700 from Amos Drew in 1865; and Lot 30 (26 acres) for £ 400 from Leberecht Fiedler in 1872. He also purchased land and a general store in the Thomastown township and moved there during the 1870s to live, leaving his sons to run the farm. Jakob and Marie had four children – Henry (1854-1882), Anna (1856-1871), John (1866-1929) and Marie (1870-1951) – before her death at Thomastown on 28 August 1890, aged 54. She was buried at Westgarthtown with her children Heinrich and Anna who predeceased her.

On 19 July 1893, at the Trinity German Lutheran Church, East Melbourne, Jakob married Frances Ladhams, a 28 year-old dressmaker of Northcote. They had two children – Evelyn (1893-1974) and Jacobena (1896-1980) – before his death at Thomastown on 20 November 1912, aged 88. Jakob was buried in the Methodist Cemetery at Thomastown and his estate was valued for probate purposes at £ 3,438.

Frances Grützner died on 6 August 1949 and was buried with Jakob at Thomastown. In 1919, Jakob and Frances’ daughter Jacobena Grützner had married William Angliss, MLC (1865-1957), a wealthy butcher and meat exporter. William was knighted in 1939 and Jacobena awarded a CBE in 1949 and appointed a Dame Commander in 1975.

Robert Wuchatsch