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Five Alls/Wilcannia 1866-1878
Thomas McGeorge built the Wilcannia Hotel or "Five Alls" Hotel in
1866. In mid-1866, Thomas borrowed £1000 from the Commercial
Banking Co of Sydney, offering Allotments 1 and 2 of Section 24 in
Wentworth as security. (Old Titles Section Book 114 No. 449 as
listed by Rusheen Craig)
Thomas is listed as the licensee of the Wilcannia Hotel in the NSW
Govt Gazette of 1866. He was not the first publican in Wilcannia;
the National Directory of NSW 1867/8 list 2 hotels: Quins
Menindie Hotel and Berrys Crown Hotel.
Thomas died in May 1867 and left his estate to Jemima, her
brother Llewellyn, and a Mr Hugh Jamieson (a landholder on the
Murray River). Jemima officially took over as the publican of the
The origin of the name "Five-Alls" is noted in the "The Double
Abduction" written by M.G. Bloxham (Barrier Miner, Friday 1 July
1910, Chapter 1).
There were ... only two hotels in Wilcannia, the senior building, kept
by Mrs Tom McGeorge, a comely and respected widow, was called
"The Five Alls." Questioned as to the origin of this uncommon name,
Mrs McGeorge explained that it was an old English county
reminiscence, which, as she remembered it, ran:
1. The Clergy - I pray for all
2. The Doctor - I heal all
3. The Lawyer - I plead for all
4. The Soldier - I fight for all
5. The Farmer - I pay for all
"And I want the 'Five Alls' to come along to my place," she would say
with a smile, complacent in the knowledge that if they did come they
would be well treated as was possible, considering the far out
situation of Wilcannia ...
The hotel made the news in the Pastoral Times in June 1868,
having held the Queen's Birthday Ball in the newly erected
ballroom - The affair passed of [sic] in first rate style, the supper
being an excellent one ....
Another article in 1868 describes Wilcannia as boasting three
public houses, three or four stores, a branch of the Commercial
Banking Company, a doctor and chemist's shop, two butchers'
shops, two blacksmiths, a bakery, a brewery, a lemonade and ginger
beer manufactory (sic), and, of course, a few private houses, a court
house and lock-up, pound & c. The population is about one hundred
and fifty. The houses are three kinds of material - stone, brick, and
galvanised iron. There is also a wool-washing establishment in the
course of erection.
Altogether, Wilcannia is a most lively town, and, considering its age
(not yet 2 years), must be considered to have risen rapidly. I was
nearly forgetting our school, but it is best to say we have one,
though not yet endowed by Government. The schoolroom also
answers in the evening as a reading-room, and which, I am sorry to
say, is not as well attended as it might be. A court of Petty Sessions
and Small Debts Court is held here once a month. The Police
Magistrate from Menindie visits us at these periods - July 24th.
(Pastoral Times, 1 August 1868)
J.E.P. Bushby gave a tongue in cheek description of Wilcannia in
the 1870's, and its use of the Hotel as a court room and a church.
You come next to Mr Ferrier's soda-water manufactory, then to a
new watch-maker's shop, then to an extensive smithy and
wheelwright's shop, carried on by Mr David Simpson, and then you
arrive at the "Five-Alls" of former days, but now styled the Wilcannia
Hotel. In a large room of this Hostelry the police court is held when
there are unfortunates to be tried.
It is rather anomalous. A man may be locked up for being drunk and
disorderly in an adjoining room and brought into this to receive the
reward due to self-indulgence. Whilst receiving this "toto" he may
possibly hear the oaths and yells of some other poor devil in the bar
who may tomorrow be standing where he is now, and accepting
withsham contrition the summary penalty for bad behavour.
So with our new parson, the Rev E.H. Wright. He holds Divine Service
in this room twice on Sundays, trying to save the souls of men (and
women and children too, I presume) while in the tap room adjoining
bushmen are assiduously trying to kill the body with brandy and
rum. People going to Church in Wilcannia literally go to one with a
chimney in it. A church will be built in the course of time, as funds are
collected for that purpose....
Although not as dramatic as her experience with the bushrangers
at the Wentworth Hotel, Jemima was again the target of thieves at
the Five Alls in 1869.
The Pastoral Times reported: Crime of all kind is beginning to
spread in this district. To give you an idea of it, the following is a
good example: A box containing some articles of jewellery and
valuable papers, was stolen from the hotel of Mr McGeorge, of this
town. Information was at once given to the police, but no trace was
discovered of the perpetrators of the theft until last Saturday, when a
man came to the house and stated that he thought if he was
empowered he could obtain the jewellery for a consideration, upon
which Mrs McGeorge said she would give £5 for the things to be
returned. The next morning the box was brought back, but no
jewellery, with a message that the reward was necessary for the
recovery of it; on it being offered, they said that they thought it
worth £10, and if not paid, that the gold would be worth more if
melted down; but eventually terms were agreed upon, and all or
nearly all the missing articles returned. A warrant was immediately
obtained for the arrest of the men who returned the box and the
missing articles ... (21 January 1869)
On 15 April, 1869 Jemima McGeorge married William Kenavan,
Wentworth. As Jemima's husband, Kenavan assumed reponsibility
for Thomas' estate which was now insolvent (possibly because
mortgage repayments on the loan of 1866 were not paid). As a
result, Kenavan was declared bankrupt in July 1872.
On 15th August, 1872 Jemima's son, Thomas wrote a letter to his
grandmother from the Wilcannia Hotel.
I suppose you have heard that all our Wilcannia property that is the
furniture has been sold by the Bailliffs so I suppose there will be a
law suit for the recovery of the same by Mother and the Trustees of
The insolvency notice dated 16 September 1872 stated that ... as it
now appears that the goods and effects of the insolvent, available
for the payment of his [William Kenavan's] debts are less in value
than £100, the Chief Commissioner will summarily proceed to rank
the debts which shall then be proved, and will directed the proceeds
of the estate to be forwith distributed by the Official Assignee
The publican's licence for the Five Alls had been held by Jemima in
1868 and William Kenavan from 1869 until 1872. The licencee in
1873 was Alexander J. Clarke - not only did the Kenavans lose the
furniture but the hotel as well. The Commercial Bank sued the
Kenavans for the estate of Thomas McGeorge.
In the Supreme Court of New South Wales, Sheriff's Office, Sydney,
17th July, 1873
The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney v. William Kenavan
and Wife, as respresentives of the estate of Thomas McGeorge,
deceased. (The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 Sept 1873)
And on 30 September 1873, the Wilcannia hotel and land (along
with with the Wentworth land that McGeorge had offered as
security) were auctioned off.
On Tuesday the 30th September 1873 at noon, at Camb's
Commercial hotel, King-street, Sydney, unless the above writ be
previously satisfied, the SHERRIFF will cause to be sold by public
All the right, title, and intrest of the abovenamed defendands of, is,
and to the lands herunder mentioned viz:
Town of Wentworth
[lists lots ......]
Town of Wilcannia
Lot 15 - All that parcel of land, containing 1 rood, more or less being
allotment No. 9 of section No. 14, situated on the north-western side
Lot 16 - All that parcel of land, containing 1 rood, more or less, being
allotment No. 10 of section No. 14, situated on the north-western
side of Reid-street. On this and the last-mentioned alloment is the
large and well-known "Wilcannia Hotel".
(The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July 1873)
[1 rood = approx. 1012 sq.m or 1/4 acre]
Jemima opened an account at the Wilcannia Branch of the
Australian Joint Stock Bank on 12 October 1874. The AJS Current
Account Ledger, dated 1874 - 1876, gives her occupation as
Publican, Wilcannia. Another bank ledger in 1876 shows an
account in the name of TS McGeorge, Innkeeper, Wilcannia which
would have been son, Thomas Llewellyn.
Jemima re-emerged as the licencee of the Wilcannia Hotel in 1877
but in about 1878, she moved to Queensland (with William) to
take over the Maroo Hotel.
Robert Felgate took over as licensee in 1878 and 1879, replaced it
with a stone building, now named the Wilcannia Club Hotel.
For additional material on Western NSW Hotels, see Publicans'
Licences at Rusheen Craig's fabulous website.
The Kenavans stayed on to manage (or possibly even lease) the
hotel and the name (after the sale) was changed to the Wilcannia
Hotel. Jemima's son Thomas took over as licensee between 1874
and 1876, with the following advertisement appearing in the
Wilcannia Times on 12 August 1875: