At the age of 20 James Noble was aboard the sailing ship “Ferguson” landing at Point Henry. He stepped ashore with 5/- and in a short time established himself as a storekeeper along with his brothers William and John in the then main thorough fare, Corio Street. With the discovery of gold in 1851 things changed in Geelong – Market Square and Moorablool street frontages soon had more buildings – plate glass fronts introduced and the town was lit with gas. Ryrie street and Malop street became popular shopping districts too leaving Corio street almost deserted so the Nobles moved to more convenient and central location.
James prospered, and in 1844 he married Sarah Jane Caldwell at St. Andrew’s Church, Geelong.
In 1845, their first son, James William was born and he was followed by John Charles, Jane Grey, George Cornelius, Lilias Amelia, Robert Washington and Frederick Leonard. It is claimed that three Noble brothers also played for Geelong in the 1860s, 70s and 80s. Business continued to flourish. James went into partnership with Mr. Burrows, his close friend and Mayor of Geelong, investing in 100 acres of land at Connewarre for fishing and other sport.
James enjoyed the life on the land and in the late 1840s he bought the second half of the property. He disposed of his business and moved the family to live on the property which he called “Charlemont” after one of the first ship wrecks in the area. His siblings, Mary, John and William joined him in 1948.
The two brothers, James (afterwards alderman) and John took part in public affairs. John Noble taking the “Citizens’ Bar Committee” formed in 1858. He also pushed for the completion of the shipping channel in Corio Bay. He was also a member of the Volunteer Fire Brigade.
By 1850 James was elected to the Town Council of Geelong. His mother, Jane died in 1855 subsequently his father William arrived in Geelong from Armagh, Ireland, on the ship “Lightning”. His father, a school teacher, only had one arm and continued teaching in Chilwell before moving to “Charlemont” with James and the rest of the family. William died in 1864.
The land holdings were expanded with the purchase of the pastoral run called Moreep in 1854 which he held with Morrison. It was located on the Moorabool Rd, little north of Steiglitz.
He became identified with the South Barwon and Barrabool Shire Councils, being president of both municipal bodies for several successive terms. and was appointed the first Chairman of the Connewarre Roads Board established in 1856. James was also one of three directors of the Commercial Bank of Australia in Yarra Street, Geelong.
By 1868 James owned “Glentree” located not far from “Charlemont” comprising approximately 1200 acres, on which he was running sheep, Charles, his son, was placed in charge of this property after working at the Commercial Bank in Melbourne. He worked for a wage of £100 per annum, gradually improving the property and adding an additional 3,000 acres. He eventually found that it was too much responsibility and reduced the property to 1,800 acres.
James renewed his connection with municipal life, subsequent to the discovery of the corporation frauds, by accepting the office of honorary local auditor to the town of Geelong just prior to his death on 9 May 1897, at his home, “Locksley” in Geelong. His wife predeceased him by 23 years.
His land holdings in the Torquay area were –