Dillon is a Norman name. The first person called Dillon came to Ireland in 1185 and was Sir Henry de Leon. He was from Brittany in France and came to Ireland to act as secretary to Prince John (later King John) The name in France can be traced back to the town of Lyon. It’s Gaelic form was O’ Duilleain and this was eventually anglicized to Dillon.
Martin Dillon snr came out from Co Tipperary in Ireland on the “Eastern Empire” arriving 11 June 1863, with his wife and four children. He stayed with his sister Margaret Ryan. His sisters Ellen, Margaret and Bridget and brother James had previously immigrated to Victoria. Bridget married Richard Feehan in 1853 in Victoria, James married Mary Duhy in 1855, Margaret was married to Thomas Ryan and Ellen to John Dalton.
Martin’s sister Ellen is buried in the Dalton family grave in the Melbourne Cemetery. She married John Dalton. Roman Catholic compartment E Grave 94. In this grave are buried her daughters Margaret and Catherine, her niece Ellen and her nephew, Patrick Dillon.Also in the grave are James Crowe who died age 72 and was buried on July 5 1866. Ellen’s mother’s maiden name was Crowe so he could be her uncle.
Most likely the Dillons came from Clonpett in South Tipperary as this is what Martin Snr called his property at Bulla “Clonpett Farm”. The mother of Martin and James was Margaret Dillon nee Crowe. Their father was Martin Dillon a farmer. In the Tithe Applotment books for 1832, for Clonpett Civil Parish, Co Tipperary, there is a Martin Dillon listed living in Clonpett Townland. On the Griffith’s Valuation for Clonpet 1851 there is a Margaret Dillon at Clonpet. She has a house, offices and land. In the house next to her was Patrick Quirk, who had 64 acres of land. In the 1901 Census there are no Dillons living at Clonpet but there are Quirkes in 1901,1911 and 1940.
Martin Dillon snr would have been about 35 years of age when he immigrated with his wife Hanora Quirk. They had married in Co Tipperary in c1857. By 1879 they had twelve children.
The Dillons bought the property Craig Bank from the Patullo family. They renamed it Willow Bank. It is at 400 Wildwood Road, Wildwood, Bulla and was constructed in the mid 1850s. The buildings are set among river gums on a knoll beside an alluvial flat overlooking Deep Creek.
“The Dillon family-Martin Sr., Martin Jr., Michael and William- worked about 850 acres until the turn of the century, which coincides with the death of Martin Dillon Sr. in June 1900. before then, however, Martin Dillon Sr had taken up residence with his wife Honora, on a farm called Clonpett, which encompassed the 217 acres of Allotment 2 of Section 27 in the Parish of Bulla Bulla and fronted the Bulla -Sunbury Road. The present weatherboard house is thought by the Dillon family to have been built in the late 1890s or early 1900s. Prior to that one of the Dillon daughters, a small girl at the time remembers living in the whitewashed stone dwelling (the current building) which had a timber attachment housing washtubs. It may have been only temporary accommodation, during rebuilding the main weatherboard house. When the family moved into the “new house” they acquired a piano, which became a great fixture. The area around the river at the bridge attracted excursionists at least from the time of the late nineteenth century. The Dillons came to know a few families from Melbourne suburbs who camped and fished there every year. The girls would bake for the visitors, and on the Sunday evenings the campers would be invited into the Dillon home for a sing around the piano. The site near the bridge is known as the Martin Dillon Reserve. William Dillon was Shire President in 1897-98″.
From 1900 on the former Craig Bank property, which the Dillons had renamed Willow Bank, was some 415 acres in size (the rest appears to have been sold) and was worked by Martin Dillon Jr. He lived at the property until his death at the age of 59 in December 1917.”
(These notes taken from the Hume Council website on Willowbank. If you search for Hume Council Willow Bank there is a pdf on the Hume Council site which goes into more detail about the Patullos and Craigbank/Willowbank.)
The Dillon family were well known in the district and active in local government.
Martin Dillon Snr died a tragic death by accidental drowning in Jackson’s Creek Bulla in 1900. He was 73 years old. There were many articles in papers about this accident and the recovery of his body. He is buried in Sunbury Cemetery. These clippings are from The Argus June -August 1900.
Martin Dillon jnr was married to Elizabeth “Lizzie” Flanagan in 1892 at St Francis Church, Melbourne. He was a farmer and in 1900 resided at Craig Bank (The Dillons later renamed it Willowbank). They had four children: Mary Josephine, Margaret, John and Ellen.
Martin Dillon, who was born in Co Tipperary c1858, died on the 22nd of Dec 1917. Below is an obituary published in The Sunbury News:
Martin Dillon jnr’s eldest daughter, Mary Josephine, married William Patrick Fanning in 1920 and lived at “Sunnyside” in Bulla. They farmed and had three children.
William Patrick Fanning 1915
I remember Mary Josephine as “Aunty Daisy”. In her later years she lived in Essendon with her daughter, Elizabeth “Betty”. She loved walking and I would often see her taking long walks around Essendon. She used to call in and have a cup of tea with my mother who was very fond of her. I remember Aunty Daisy with affection. She died in 1970 and is buried with her husband, William Patrick Fanning, in Bulla Cemetery.
The following genealogy report traces the ancestry of the Dillon family from Co Tipperary Ireland to Victoria Australia.