John Vernon, born in England in 1844, came to New South Wales and took a position in the Auditor-General’s Department. In Sydney in 1871 he married Mary Menzies (born 1843) from Bristol, England. (Mary’s sister Amelia Amy, married Henry Rawes Whittell of Beecroft). John’s father, James Vernon, had purchased land in Beecroft in the first land sales in July 1887 but the Vernons lived in Strathfield until 1907 when for health reasons they moved to Beecroft where John’s mother died in 1909 at the age of 94 years.
The Vernons leased a house in Copeland Road West until 1910 when John purchased a quarter acre of land in Malton Road, on the corner of Sutherland Road and built a home there which he named ‘Cranbrook’. He was then aged 66 years and had been Auditor-General of New South Wales for some years. His brother, Walter Liberty Vernon, was New South Wales government architect.
John and Mary had six sons: James (born 1872), Clarence (died in infancy), John (born 1874, died in infancy) Murray (born 1875), Alan (born 1877) and Harry (born 1879). By the time the family moved to Beecroft only Harry was living at home. He was a dentist, practising part-time in the city and part-time in Beecroft. The house built in 1910 (designed by architects Slatyer and Shiels) was a residence and a dental surgery, conservative in style and planned with two entrances in order to separate family and patients.
John Vernon was a keen gardener and enjoyed making rustic furniture as a hobby. Harry Gordon (known as Gordon) was on the School of Arts committee and played billiards and golf. In 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He was given a public send-off with two others, Arthur Gilbert and Jack Edwards, in the Beecroft Presbyterian Church. ‘There was a large attendance and the Rev A.M. Ogilvie made a stirring speech.’ At a second second-off by fellow members of the District Rifle Club, Harry Gordon Vernon was presented with a case of pipes. He enlisted as a corporal but by May 1916 (because of his profession) he was a lieutenant, was still in Egypt and gained another pip. When he returned home in July 1919 he was ‘Major H. Gordon Vernon’. As a welcome home to their son, Gordon’s parents set up a decorated arch over their front garden gate.
In 1921 Harry married Milly Kearney Rogers of Castle Hill at a double wedding at St Philip’s Church Hill, with Kearney’s sister Lorna Alice marrying Gordon’s friend and neighbour, John Alfred North. Mary Vernon died in 1923 and John Vernon in 1924.