The Dillon Family of Bulla Victoria Australia

The Dillon Family came out from Co Tipperary Ireland in the 1850’s and 1860’s. Martin Dillon settled at Bulla. Three sisters and one brother had already immigrated to Victoria.

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.

Map of irish Counties use
Map of irish Counties

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 who married John Dalton is buried in the Dalton family grave in the Melbourne Cemetery.  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.

The Dillons came from Clonpett in South Tipperary and 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.

Townlands around Tipperary Town
Townlands around Tipperary Town

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.

Willowbank Wildwood Bulla Victoria
1888 Post Office Directory of Victoria

“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.

Signature of Martin Dillon jnr 1914

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 Obit Jan 1918
Sunbury News Jan 1918 Obituary for Martin Dillon

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” Fitzgerald. 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.

Martin Dillon Descendants Report 2015
Descendants of Martin Dillon 1781-1843 Co Tipperary Ireland

Author: Kathleen

I have done an Ancestry DNA test and also have uploaded my test results to GedMatch. My GedMatch kit numbers are A029138 and T470174. Please contact me if we are a match. kathleenmfanningAThotmailDOTcom

14 thoughts on “The Dillon Family of Bulla Victoria Australia”

  1. James Gerald Fitzgerald, the second son of the late Mr and Mrs R.Fitzgerald formerly of Oaklands Junction, married Elizabeth Theresa, the only daughter of the late Mr W.P. Fanning and Mrs J Fanning of Sunny Side, at St Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday. (Argus, 28-3-1952, page 6.) Elizabeth Theresa’s name was not known; now it is!

  2. Hi Kathleen,
    I stumpbled on your website – wonderful information and layout. I not related to anyone in your family but I am interested in theCraig Bank Property at Bulla Bulla that your ancestors purchased from the Patullos. David Patullo is my husbands ggg grandfather. I was wondering if you would have any photos of that house and area.
    Looking forward to your reply. Thanks Glenys Gaske

    1. Hi Glenys,
      Have you had a look at the post on the Dillon Family?
      There is a photo of Willow Bank. Don’t know if they built a new house or if this is the original Patullo homestead.

      I am away for 5 wks and will have a look when I get back.
      regards Kathleen

  3. john dillon who died at chiltern in 1861 was as far as i can determine was brother of james and ellen. john married cath donovan (father malachi donovan – mother anastasia byrne) I am pretty sure that james was mentioned in johns will.
    john and cath and later their son ran the black dog hotel in chiltern for a large number of year. anastasia byrne was the sister of my great grandfather. if you are interested i have a little more information. there were a number of families that came from the clonpet parish and settled around the north east area

  4. Thanks for this extra info on the Dillon family. As you can see this post is one of the most popular so there must be lots of Dillon descendants out there.

    I looked up the Vic BDM records and saw that John and Cath Donovan were married in Melbourne in 1845 and that his parents are listed as Martin and Margaret and that he was born in Co Tipperary. So it does all fit together.

    Anything else you can add would be great. I am especially interested in the fact that a number of families came out from Clonpet at about the same time and would like to know who they were and also if you know when John Dillon emigrated?

    I also found the death record for Martin John Dillon who died in 1877 at Charlotte Plains. Do you know anything about this place?


    Kathleen Fanning

  5. I do not have any info on the arrival dates of John, James or Ellen Dillon. Charlotte Plains was around the Maryborough area around 8 miles out. The area could have been named after a farm in the area (Refer to Wikipedia entry).
    My great-grandfather was one of 4 siblings who came to Australia – they were all born in Clonoulty, which is not far from Thurles. Their names were Patrick, Thomas, Anastasia and Catherine. Anastasia married Malachi Donovan from Clonpet. Catherine married Thomas Hayes, but very limited info on that family.
    My G-grandfather came to Australia with 7 of his children – these included Patrick, Catherine, William and John. (This is not in the order of their age).

    The Clonpet idenitities who settled around the north east of Victoria were John and Mary Merrigan with family who included Mary. There was another John Merrigan, a bachelor who came from the same townland, Ballinleenty, in the parish of Clonpet. Matthew and Elizabeth Mccormack whose family included 2 daughters, Mary and Johanna. A John McCormack, another bachelor and a brother of Matthew. Thomas and Mary Quirk and family (Mary Quirks maiden name was McCormack and also a sister of Matthew – she married a Laurence Cummins who died leaving her with a son, John, and she remarried to Thomas Quirk.
    Two sons of Anastasia Donovan,Malachi and Denis also settled in the area.

    Now to give you the connections:
    My grandfather Patrick married Mary Merrigan.
    John Merrigan, the bachelor, married Mary McCormack.
    Catherine Byrne , my grandfather’s sister, married John McCormack.
    William Byrne married Johanna McCormack.
    John Cummins, the son of Mary Quirk, married the daughter of John Byrne.

    (try and sort all that out after having a couple of glasses of red for lunch.

    John Dillon evidently took over the hotel at Black Dog Creek in 1849. It was in the Dillon family management for a period of 70 years. The obit for Catherine says that John took over the Horse and Jockey hotel in March 1849. In the obit for Malachi Dillon it states that he was born in Charlotte Plains. Malachi was married twice, the first time to his first cousin, the daughter of Malchi Donovan of Springhurst.

  6. Hello,
    the Dillon family still reside in Conpet Tipperary, John, and William, and their Mother Nora, I wonder if they are the same Dillons, lovely people.

    1. Hi Siobhan,
      I don’t know for sure if they are related to the Australian Dillons but there is a very good chance they are descendants of the Dillons who stayed in Tipperary. Thank you so much for adding this info as someone who is directly related to the Dillons may want to follow it up if they visit Ireland.
      Kathleen Fanning

  7. Siobhan is correct John and William have a joinery factory at Brensha Tipperary.My sister-in law Margaret has up until last Christmas had a card from Nora, we don’t know if she is still alive but I will be in Ireland in October so I hope to look in on them and to find out a bit more of the Dillons who stayed in Ireland and who were the next generation back if I can.

    Kath Thompson

  8. Ayyy, relatives! Not what I was looking for when I googled my grandmother’s funeral date trying to remember something about it., but I won’t question it. Pretty sure I’m a relation, my family are Dillons living in Sunbury and my great-something-grandfather was supposed to have died in a drowning accident. I have a feeling my grandmother (Margaret Dillon, nee Davidson), may have been in contact with you about writing up the Dillon family tree some years back? I know she had a large hand-drawn family tree at one point which I believe is now with my grandfather.

    I’m of the youngest generation so to be perfectly honest it’s hard to keep track of who’s who, especially since I’ve now moved up to Ballarat. It’s fascinating to see how many names are repeated! My younger brothers are Thomas, Patrick, and Sean Francis, and I believe my great-aunt is a Kathleen (I think in fact she’s Kathleen Thompson above!)

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