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CHAPTER 12

THE VALLEY OF THE HUNTER

The fertile flats of the Hunter and its tributaries the Patterson and Williams rivers are among the richest alluvial tracts in the world, and, consequently, it is the most highly productive rural area in New South Wales. Fat cattle, dairy produce, wool and thoroughbred horses are its chief products. It is, in addition, the oldest commercial grape-growing area in Australia, and its wines are justly famous. A geographical dictionary of 1848 waxes lyrical about "the park-like scenery of the Hunter.". The same dictionary continues, "but nothing in the colony of New South Wales, if taken as a whole, can compare with Segenhoe.". This estate, in the Upper Hunter valley near Scone, belonged to Thomas Potter Macqueen, who would have found most useful the skills of CHARLES MILLSON, a "carpenter complete" of Stanford Dingley, who was assigned to him.

Thomas Potter Macqueen, who was M.P. for Bedfordshire from 1826 to 1830, had obtained the promise of a grant of 20,000 acres of land from the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, which was confirmed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Earl Bathurst, in May,1824. Macqueen purchased and equipped two vessels one of which, the "Hugh Crawford", was reputed to be one of the fastest sailing ships in the world. He used these ships to transport free labourers and mechanics, stock, equipment and stores to New South Wales; the total cost of this expedition was said to have been in the region of £8,000. Macqueen appointed Peter MacIntyre as overseer with authority to select the site and to develop it. Between 1825 and 1838 Macqueen spent at least £42,000 on plant, stock and improvements at Segenhoe where he employed 160 convicts in addition to the free workmen already mentioned. When Milson arrived on the site in 1831 the estate was being managed by H.C.Sempill, who had replaced MacIntyre in 1830.

It was not until July,1834, that Macqueen himself arrived in the colony. Having a town house in the then fashionable Darlinghurst suburb of Sydney, and being a conspicuous figure in colonial society, it is doubtful if he spent a great deal of his time in the personal management of his Hunter estate. In any case he did not stay long in the colony; early in 1838 he sold up and returned to England. Though Charles Millson obtained an Absolute Pardon in March, 1837, he did not follow his master, having,on 7th November,1837, married Annie M. Lyons by whom he had three more children ; Sarah Anne, b. 1838, ; William Charles, b.1842 ; and Edwin Lewis, b.1844 ; all at Aberdeen, N.S.W. Millson must have prospered because he put in a bid for land in the new township, and, in 1857, his son by his first marriage, Henry Richard Millson, arrived in the colony to join him in Aberdeen. Charles Millson died 20th March, 1874, and was buried at Tor(r)yburn, while Henry Richard Millson died at Merriwa on 19th September, 1891.

Not many miles from Segenhoe was the estate of George Forbes, a brother of Chief Justice Forbes. A grant of 5,000 acres near Muswellbrook, his estate was called Edinglassie. It was to George Forbes that WILLIAM WAVING, a shepherd from Welford or Shefford, was assigned in 1831. Waving was still in this district in December, 1837, but, on 21st October,1839, the grant of a Certificate of Freedom would have allowed him to move elsewhere.

A young blacksmith of West Woodhay, THOMAS GOODFELLOW, sentenced to 14 years transportation, was assigned, in 1831, to a Mr. James Glennie of Patrick Plains. This was a town in the centre of the Hunter valley whose name was changed to Singleton. Goodfellow was still with the same master in March,1837, when he received an Absolute Pardon.

On the 22nd November, 1844, an address of thanks to Edward Denny Day, on his resignation as Commissioner of the Court of Requests, from the inhabitants of Patricks Plains (Singleton), includes the signature, in excellent copper-plate hand writing, of one Thomas Goodfellow; the record of the Berkshire man of the same name shows that he could both read and write. His inclusion among the signatories suggests that he must have prospered, as does the inclusion of his name on Electoral Lists of 1858- 60 for a place called Anambah. This place is near West Maitland, which is also in the Hunter valley but nearer the coast than Singleton.

W.Burnett who arrived in Singleton in 1862 states that there were four blacksmiths in the town but Goodfellow was not one of them. This, together with the Anambah lists, supports the view that he had moved from Singleton in the late 1850s. The 1867-1877 Post Office Directories list a Thomas Goodfellow (no occupation given) of 3, Valentine Lane, Sydney. As he would have been in his sixties it is possible that he had retired there.His name is omitted from the 1879 directory but by then he would have completed his allotted span of three-score years and ten.

JOSEPH NICHOLAS and WILLIAM WESTALL, labourers, of Kintbury, were both involved in different ways in what may be called "the Randall affair". (see Chapters 2 and 5.) Both, being from Kintbury, had "Death" recorded against their names, though this sentence was, in the event, commuted to transportation for "Life".

On his arrival in Sydney NICHOLAS was assigned to Andrew Lang whose 1,000 acre estate, called "Dunmore", was in the valley of the Patterson, a tributary of the Hunter. Nicholas was still at "Dunmore" in December,1837, but he may well have moved when, in the following May, he was granted an Absolute Pardon.

WILLIAM WESTALL was assigned to a Mr. Johnston of Patricks Plains, the original name of the town of Singleton. It is possible, but by no means certain, that this Mr.Johnston was the Abraham Johnston who had a grant of 300 acres south of the western part of the Wollun (or Wollum) Hills which were situated "near the confluence of the Goulburn and Hunter rivers.". Westall's Ticket of Leave, dated 10th October,1835, was authorised by the Merton bench, and Merton was a town similarly situated.Although he received an Absolute Pardon on 13th October, 1837, he was still with Mr.Johnston in December of the year.

Two men involved in the attack on Martha Davis's farm house at Binfield, CHARLES HORTON and JOHN WHEELER, were assigned respectively to two brothers, George and Morris Townshend. George Townshend had a vineyard called "Trevallyn", about three miles from Gresford on the River Patterson, while Morris had a farm near Wollombi.Both Horton and Wheeler obtained Absolute Pardons early in 1837, but no more is known about them.

LUKE BROWN of the Thatcham area was initially assigned to Lieutenant Lachlan MacAlister, the Resident Police Magistrate for the district of Argyle, and Commanding Officer of the 2nd Division of the Mounted Police of the Goulburn Plains area. Brown did not remain long in this part of the colony for the 1837 Muster Roll of Convicts states that he was then employed by a Mr.Airds of Maitland, which is in the Lower Hunter Valley. On 23rd of March of that year Brown had obtained an Absolute Pardon. As a man with experience in dealing with horses he may well have used his freedom to obtain employment on one of the many horse studs in this district.

On his arrival in Sydney EDMUND VICCUS of Yattendon was assigned to a William Sharpe, residing on the North Shore of Port Jackson, i.e. that opposite to Sydney itself. By December,1837, he had moved to Maitland where he was employed by Capt. Emmanuel Hungerford, owner of a 2,000 acre farm on Fishery Creek, called "Lochdon.". He may well have made this move of his own volition for, on 23rd March of that year, he had been granted an Absolute Pardon.

See also:

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Introduction

Part 1 - Berkshire:

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 1 "Distress and consequent repair"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 2 "Now is our time"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 3 "Severity is the only remedy"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 4 "A chase tho' the country"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 5 "No friend in Heaven"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 6 "Each in his separate hell"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 7 "Aftermath"

Part 2: To "Botany Bay"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 8 "The hulks and the convict ships"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 9 "Botany Bay"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 10 "Green pastures"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 11 "Beyond the Blue Mountains"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 12 "The valley of the hunter"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chapter 13 "Van Diemen's land"

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Postscript

- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Tables & Sources


- Berkshire to Botany Bay - Tables & Sources