Richard Gilsenan was a retired schoolteacher living at “Rosebank” in Eltham, now the site of the Living and Learning Centre. In 1906, Eltham Primary School’s headmaster John Brown died, and Richard was brought out of retirement (briefly) to be acting headmaster. His son Harold was a junior teacher there at the time.
Thereafter, Richard was Secretary of the Eltham Progress League and more importantly was a magistrate at the Eltham Court of Petty Sessions. Cases commonly brought before him included not sending a child to school (typical fine 5/- or eight hours in the lock-up), not having a child vaccinated (fixed fine 40/-), stealing fruit from an orchard, selling liquor out of hours, and offensive language and behaviour. Other miscellaneous cases were allowing cattle to wander, selling cigarettes to a minor, carelessly burning off rubbish on a hot windy day, dumping a dead horse in the Diamond Creek, and youths throwing ripe fruit at passers-by.
Richard died in 1920 and is buried in Eltham Cemetery with his wife Harriet Eliza. In mourning his passing, his peers noted that his decisions had been given in a very fair way. Incidentally, his son Harold (the teacher) died in 1921 after being trampled by a horse while en route from Eltham to Cathkin (his then school).
Private research by Harry Gilham, Eltham District Historical Society; proceedings of Eltham Court of Petty Sessions reported in Evelyn Observer 1908-1920.
Pinn, R. (2019). “Eltham Cemetery Stories” Newsletter No. 251 April 2020, Eltham, Victoria : Eltham District Historical Society Inc