Foresters' Arms Hotel (1868-1878)

Edward Merrall and his wife Jane arrived in Preston some time between 1852 and 1858. They had married in Perth 1852 and moved to Preston where they had a daughter Ellen Elizabeth born in 1858. Other children included Edward William Merrall born in 1862 and Harriet (date unknown).

Merrall was a wheelwright and he established his business on High Street Preston, on or about Gower Street. He not only worked as a wheelwright but also supplemented his income proving grazing in paddocks adjacent to his property. In April 1867 Merrall was declared insolvent after being hit with illness, the death of his horses and lack of business. He had  liabilities of £67 and a mere £8 of assets. With a young family to support, life must have been grim for the Merrall family.

Yet the following year he was granted a licence to open the Foresters Arms Hotel, described as

'a house situated at High and Gower streets, Preston, containing six rooms, exclusive of those required for the use of the family.'

It is not stated which corner of the hotel was located on.

In 1871 Merrall applied for a licence to sell colonial wines from his premises, an application which appears to have been successful.  

Between 1872 and 1877 the directories indicated that Merrall was again working as a wheelwright with no indication that the Forester's Arms was still operating. 

In was in May 1877 Merrall died, aged only 46. After his death his wife Jane sought an extension of the wine licence for the hotel which indicates that after Merrall resumed wheelwrighting she had been may have been running the hotel.

In May 1878 the coroner, Mr Chandler, conducted an inquest at the hotel into the death of Mr Septimius Hodson. The sixty year old Hodson, a resident of Preston for over twenty-four years and known locally as the 'old Mayor.' was found dead in his bed. Dr. Eccles, conducting the autopsy, noted that he was a 'convivial' man and prone to intemperance.

The same month Jane Merrall passed away. She was 44. 

There is no record of the hotel continuing past her death, however from 1879 to 1880 John Edwards ran a wine shop in Preston and that may have been a continuation of the hotel.

A month after Jane's death, her daughter Ellen Elizabeth Edmonds (nee Merrall) sought probate on her mother's estate which was valued at £150 of goods and stock in trade. 


Cole, Robert K. Index of Hotels 1841 – 1949. Unpublished manuscript.

Edge, Gary (2004). Surviving the six o’clock swill: a history of Darebin’s hotels. Melbourne: Darebin Libraries.

'Law Report (1870, 30 July).  The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). p.6

Publican's Licenses (1868, 6 January).  The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). p.unknown

Licensing Meetings (1877, 11 December). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). p.9

Inquests (1878, 4 May). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). p.5

Law Courts (1878, 11 May) The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). p.5