Historical information

Robert David Taylor was a farmer who lived in Eltham all his life and died in 1934 at the age of 76.

Mr and Mrs Bowman lived in York Street; Taylor was their neighbour. In 1933 he subdivided his land, the plan showing a proposed Grey Street flanked by residential blocks for sale. Mrs Bowman bought one: her family would be able to walk through it and along Grey Street to Henry Street, thus providing quicker access to the railway station. But Taylor retained ownership of Grey Street itself. He fenced it off at each end and charged the Bowmans with trespass when they used it. The matter went to Court. The ruling was that Mrs Bowman could use Grey Street, as she owned land in it, but her husband could not. (Taylor also accused the Bowmans of having broken the fences, but could not prove it.)

Taylor had wanted to subdivide his land in 1914. Plans were submitted to Council and were approved, but the subdivision did not proceed. In 1919, Taylor doctored the plans to make it appear that a totally different subdivisional arrangement had been approved. The Titles Office immediately detected fraud, and the Crown charged Taylor with forgery and counterfeiting. But charges were later dropped (reason not recorded).

He was an Eltham Shire Councillor between 1911 and 1920. In 1920, Council charged him with illegally felling 91 eucalyptus trees in Eltham Park (60% of them in a healthy condition), presumably to be sold as firewood. He was imprisoned pending trial. Taylor claimed that he had acquired from another man the right to remove timber and sued the Council for wrongful prosecution. The case eventually went to the State Full Court, with judgement given in favour of Council, on the grounds that any right acquired by Taylor covered only the removal of logs and refuse, not sound green timber. And his position as Councillor precluded him from acquiring the right anyway.

Robert David Taylor was also a Trustee of the Wesleyan Church owned land at Lot 20 Henry Street, originally purchased in January 1855 for a chapel and from which David and Catherine Clark first ran their private school, the forerunner of the Eltham Primary School. The land was sold in November 1901 to the Hope of Eltham Tent No. 195 Victoria District Independent Order of Rechabites, for which his brother William John Taylor was a Trustee and became the home of the Eltham Rechabite Hall. In December 1921 it was again sold, this time to the community for use as the Eltham Public Hall, Robert David Taylor being a member of the Committee.

Physical description

Born Digital