Isaac Peake of Peakhurst

Isaac Peake.
Courtesy of Wayne Peake

The fourth of this year’s Georges River Council heritage markers commemorates the significant role of the Peake family in the early history of Peakhurst.

Those members of the Peake family who gave their name to the suburb of Peakhurst, can trace their ancestry back to John Robert Peake, who was born in 1815, the son of two transported convicts, John and Elizabeth (nee Alcock) Peake.  John Robert Peake married Esther Parkes at Parramatta in 1833; Esther’s father had land at present-day Earlwood.  John and Esther had a typically large Victorian family of thirteen children, who included James (born 1835), Isaac (born in 1838 at Cooks River) and Jacob (born in 1841).  At some point in the 1850s, John Robert bought from Michael Gannon 137 acres of land in the Hurstville/Penshurst area.  Peake was a devout Methodist, and gave a quarter-acre block of land on which the first Peakhurst Methodist Church was built.  The Peakes provided the shingles for the roof of both this church and its larger replacement built in 1879 on the corner of Bonds Road and Forest Road.

John R Peake took a strong interest in the development of the area.  He was chairman at a public meeting called to consider the incorporation of Hurstville as a Municipality in 1884, and when the first council was elected in 1887 his son James Peake was one of the elected Aldermen.  John R Peake was also on the committee which welcomed the first train to Hurstville in 1884.

Isaac, like his father, was a sawyer, timber-getter and charcoal-burner, but he added to these abilities a talent as a farmer.  On 14 January 1862, aged 24, he married Martha Margaret Hollay, five years his junior, at Newtown.  They too went on to have a large family, of ten children.  Like his parents Isaac had a life-long connection with the Methodist Church.

In the 1880s, Isaac had a farm adjacent to his brother Jacob’s, in the vicinity of Stoney Creek Road and present-day Olds Park.[1]  In 1887 they were invited by Hurstville Council to open up a road 66 feet (20 metres) wide through their properties from Broad Arrow Road at its intersection with the Penshurst Road to Forest Road close to its junction with Bauman’s Road, which they generously agreed to.[2]  Council awarded Isaac the contract to fence the road, and in today’s terms, this allowed Stoney Creek Road to run through from Penshurst Street to Forest Road.

Isaac Peake was a canny land-dealer, and in 1892 he bought from the developer E C V Broughton 18 lots of the second subdivision of Penshurst Township.[3]  Isaac’s influence was felt throughout Peakhurst.  In 1894 he was made a Trustee of Penshurst Park,[4] and in 1908, he was elected Patron of the Peakhurst Progress Association.[5]

He died at St Elmo, Forest Road, Peakhurst on 26 November 1920, aged 82, and was buried at Moorefields Cemetery, Kingsgrove.

Of Isaac and Martha’s children, one was Walter Leslie Peake (1879-1917), who was killed in action at Ypres in World War I.[6] 

Walter Leslie Peake. From Hurstville WWI Pictorial Roll of Honour.

[1] Propeller 2 March 1939, p4.

[2] Propeller 29 September 1887, p6; 22 November 1887, p4.

[3] Australian Star 11 November 1892, p4.

[4] Australian Star 14 August 1894, p6.

[5] St George Call 27 June 1908.

[6] Propeller 2 November 1917, p3.

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