John Rennie and his twin brother Frank Rennie were born on July 30 1865 in Buninyong, sons of Richard Hutchinson and Jane Riches (nee Stanbury). This date comes from the hand-written list of birth dates referred to previously, and from John's death registration. The date is confirmed by an entry in his sister's birthday book. However their births do not appear to have been registered. Richard and Jane were not married at this time.

The arrival of the twins was significant enough for their mother Jane to have her photograph taken with the babies.  This photo, a very fine Ambrotype on glass in a leatherette covered folding case, has survived in good condition and is reproduced in this book.

Of the twins, John was said to have had the happier disposition, and was spoiled by his mother.

See family tree of Richard and Jane Rennie

Jane Rennie with twins Frank (Left) and John c1866.

The 1888/9 Postal Directory for Ballarat lists a John Rennie as a miner living in Somerville St.   However John later became a baker.  By the end of the nineteenth century he had moved to Western Australia, possibly coming over soon after his brother Richard Rennie.  There for a few years he operated a bakery in Cannington, a suburb of Perth.  John continued with this occupation for the rest of his life. 

It has been said that after leaving W.A. he owned a bakery with 8 carts in Castlemain (near Ballarat).  For two years (c1904-05) he ran a bakery (also described as a "Coffee Palace") in Wellington New Zealand, and then, from 1906 on, bakeries in Mentone, Woodend and Edithvale in Melbourne.


John met his wife-to-be, Alice Robinson Dawson, in Cannington Western Australia.  Born in Melbourne, she was the daughter of Captan Dawson, the captain of a coastal sailing ship.  (Captain Dawson's ship later sank and he was drowned at sea.  His widow is said to have later married a Mr. Cooper.)

When John moved to New Zealand, Alice followed him there.  John Rennie married Alice Robinson Dawson in Wellington, New Zealand on July 5 1905 (Wellington Marriage Registration 106/1905).  She was 25 and he was 40 years old.

See Family Tree of John and Alice Rennie

John and Alice Rennie, 1905

John and Alice Rennie had five children.  All of their children were born while they were at Mentone.

John Robinson Wilde Rennie, also known as Jack, was born on September 14, 1906.  He was a baker first, before joining the railways.  He lived part of his life in Narrogin and Pinjarra, Western Australia, coming to the West around 1940, and was well known to some of the descendants of his uncle Richard Rennie in W.A.  He had two children.

John's full name is of some significance.  He was named 'John' after his father; 'Robinson' after his mother's middle name; and 'Wilde' - possibly a reference to his great grandfather Wild Renney in England.  John's father would probably have heard the name Wild Renney being referred to in the Buninyong household but probably did not know how it was spelt.

Alvina Alice Adelaide Rennie was born in 1908 and died on August 1, 1908 at the age of two months.

Frank Alan Rennie was born on July 27 1910.  Frank married Betty Moorshead in 1936 and had three children including a set of twins.  Frank became a baker and after his father's death he took over his father's bakery.

Alice Ilma Rennie was born on April 9 1914.

Mavis Rennie was born on February 2 1917.  Mavis married Albert Edward Crook, a builder, and had two children.

John and Alice Rennie also looked after Edward John Rennie (Teddy), son of John's brother Albert Rennie who died in 1913.  John taught Teddy the baking trade, Teddy however he eventually left to do farming.


John Rennie

The children of John and Alice were:

  • John Robinson Wilde Rennie,
  • Alvina Alice Adelaide Rennie 
  • Frank Alan Rennie
  • Alice Ilma Rennie 
  • Mavis Rennie

John has been described as a "very fine happy man who was good to his wife and children".  He cared for his widowed mother when she came to live with him after the death of Richard Hutchinson Rennie in 1906.

He was not a robust man.  It has been said that the flour of the bakery affected his lungs.  Also he was a heavy smoker, eventually dying of lung cancer.

Of he and his twin brother Frank, John always had the happier disposition.  Even in the photograph of the twin babies taken in 1865, it was John that was smiling.  He once possessed his brother Frank's Bohr War medals.  Some of these were later lost in a house fire in the 1930's.

He raced horses both in W.A. and Victoria.


John died at his home in Mentone on May 1, 1929 aged 63 years (Mentone Death Registration 6487/1929).  He was buried in the Cheltenham cemetery.  His son Frank Rennie continued on with the bakery business, which was then in Edithvale.

John's wife later re-married.

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