William Rutledge [born 1806, Ireland] was a self-made, larger-than-life man who involved himself prominently in business, municipal, political, community and social aspects of life.
Eldest son of James and Martha [nee Forster], William arrived in Australia from Ireland in 1829 and within six years had sufficiently established himself to purchase land in New South Wales.
He married Eliza Kirk in Sydney in august 1840. They had two sons and five daughters.
In 1843 he began his association and life in Port Fairy and soon became prominent and influential in almost all aspects of that developing town. His interests encompassed mercantile, civic, pastoral, shipping, importing, exporting, immigration, politics and social aspects with in the district and colony. He was a major contributor to the building of St John’s Anglican Church, Port Fairy.
He acquired three special surveys with historical importance in Victoria. In south west Victoria that interest being especially the Farnham Survey of 5120 acres between Dennington and Tower Hill/Killarney. This was farmed by immigrant tenant and lessee farmers, some of whom were brought to the Australia at William Rutledge’s own expense and by whom he was considered a kind and considerate landlord.
His endeavours were not without failures and in 1862 his Port Fairy Company failed with debts of over £170,000. This debt was redeemed in full within a year.
According to reported accounts, William Rutledge had a tempestuous manner with an “explosive” temper, although he did not hold grudges. This is countered by accounts of his kindness, generosity, honesty and practical, progressive outlook in all his undertakings.
After the failure and closure of his Company, William Rutledge moved to his property at Farnham Park near Warrnambool where he concentrated his interest in breeding sheep and horses.
Throughout his life his home was reputed to be convivial and hospitable.
William Rutledge died at Farnham Park on June 1st, 1876.
William Rutledge's place in the history of settlement in south west Victoria gives importance to this memorial.
Stained glass window, south wall, main nave, depicting Jesus bearing the Cross. The background is quite floral. A medallion shape holds the title as printed on a ribbon: "By thy cross and passion good Lord deliver us".
Inscriptions & markings
In Latin: In Memoriam Gulielmi Rutledge qui A.D. MDCCCVI underimo ante Kal: Feb: natus vitam posuit/ Kal: Jun: MDCCCLXXVI Filae amantissimae hanc fenestram pietatis indirio posuerunt