Trove Tuesday – Selling Sly Grog – Anna CUMMING (1821-1891)


Selling Sly Grog – Anna CUMMING – 12 Feb 1876 – Bendigo Advertiser – 12 Feb 1876

Anna CUMMING was born 1821 in Culling, Aberdeenshire, Scotland[1]; died 03 Sep 1891 in Bendigo, Vic, Australia[2].  She was the daughter of  George Cumming and  Mary Robertson. The facts about her birth are supposition at this point in time as I have very few facts to cross-check with.

Anna was the wife of George Douglas WATSON, born 29 Mar 1820 in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, Scotland and died 03 Jan 1863 in Sandhurst, Vic, Australia.  He was the son of George WATSON and Jean LOTTIMER.

Her children were:

  • Thomas Watson, born 1853.
  • George Douglas Watson, born 1855 in Emerald Hill, Vic, Australia; died 1855.
  • George Cumming WATSON, born 20 Mar 1857 in Sandhurst, Vic, Australia; died 20 Sep 1937 in Bendigo, Vic, Australia; married Lucy Maria HUGHES 10 Mar 1885 in Sandhurst, Vic, Australia.
  • Anna Watson, born 1859 in Sandhurst, Vic, Australia; died 1891.

In 1874, Anna purchased a small cottage, possibly the one she was living in at the time of her death. This cottage was located in Sheepwash Road, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia and was a 4 room weatherboard cottage with a stable[3].

During her life, Anna was the proprietor of a number of licensed premises in the Sandhurst area. Most of that time she appears to be a law abiding citizen, with her name appearing numerous times in various sources, being granted or transfering liquor licenses. However, in February 1876, she seems to have come acropper of the law. The article on the left of the page seems to imply that she was made an example of by the magistrate.

It seems that her ongoing licence to trade was rejected, due to the premises not meeting requirements. However, she continued to trade and was fined a significant sum of money as a result of the infraction.

The article highlights an interesting question, what is a nice Presbytarian lady like Anna, who seems to have strong links to the Kirk, doing running pubs?


Anna CUMMING – 12 Feb 1876 – Selling Sly Grog – Source: Trove

In 1886, according to the Bendigo Advertiser, she was granted the licence for the Glasgow Arms Hotel in Williamson St, Sandhurst[4]. This pub was located on the corner of Williamson and McLaren St, Sandhurst, Victoria. It had 7 rooms, was built of brick and also had a stable. Her Will also lists an interest in the Junction Hotel. No location is known for this establishment.

At the time of her death she had considerable property assets. It appears she had strong connections with the Presbytarian Church, as one of the executors of her will was the Rev. James NISH. He was a pioneering clergyman in both New South Wales and Victoria and was based in Sandhurst during the 1860s. He was crucial to the establishment of several Presbyterian congregations in both colonies. Also mentioned as an executor is Mr Henry O’NEIL, a mining investor.

[1] Dept of Justice, State of Victoria, Births, Deaths and Marriages, State of Victoria, Sons Birth Certificate.

[2] Death Certificate, Dept of Justice, State of Victoria, Births, Deaths and Marriages, State of Victoria.

[3] Information from Bendigo Council Rates Books via Carole Douch.

[4] List of Licences granted by the Sandhurst and Eaglehawk Annual Licencing Court, 1886 as published in the Bendigo Advertiser. List provided on the Bendigo Family History Group website –