It is a little known fact that the name of Kew is not in honour of Kew Gardens in London. This misinformation has been widely spread over the years, as it is both more genteel and kinder on the property values than the truth – although those who hold to that reasoning still miss the actual origin of the name. The origin is a cover story, to distract the suspicions of the establishment, and the truth is that Kew isn’t really even a name. It’s an acronym: K.E.W.

Kingdom Ending Wrath.

The early days of the Melbourne township were fraught with disputes between English (mostly free) and Irish (mostly less free) settlers, but despite their low position on the social totem pole, the Irish would not be tamed. But, as a small group of them led by Seamus Coghlan realised, there were good reasons to pretend to be tamed. It would lull the English-dominated establishment, while they built their strength and infiltrated their enemies, planning to overthrow the English kingdom and set up a free republic of their own. To do this, they needed to be above suspicion, but also to be private. Thus, Kew was settled by them, and as more Irishmen emigrated or served out their terms and were freed, they too were encouraged to build there. Fine institutions were planned, to train the leaders who would be needed for the army Coghlan envisaged and the government it would set up.

The date of the rebellion was planned to be 1854, and in 1848, all seemed to be going well, barring the death of Coghlan’s infant son Xavier. Three years later, the Victorian Gold Rush began, and three years after that, the colony had changed almost beyond recognition. While in rural Victoria, tensions remained high between the English and Irish settlers, in Melbourne, Protestant and Catholic clung to each other for support against the tide of Buddhists, Confucians and Taoists called to the city by the promise of gold.

In 1860, the revolution was cancelled, although some of its plans would later be revised and attempted by the Kelly Gang twenty years later. The fine institution the Irish had built was named for Coghlan’s son, and Kew settled into a species of upper middle class drowsiness that even the coming the railway to its fields did little to budge. The later removal of the railway attracted even less attention.

Suburbs near Kew:

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *