You are in [Events] [1830 Agricultural "Swing" Riots] [Berkshire to Botany Bay - Chap 10]



The rolling hills beyond the first settlement at Sydney Cove stood unexplored for a decade after 1788. However, as early as May of that year the entire stock of the settlement's cattle - two bulls and four cows - escaped to the bush. Their whereabouts remained undiscovered until, in 1795, some aborigines reported that many cattle ( later, confirmatory, reports said 60) were to be seen grazing on the banks of the Hawkesbury River, subsequently called the Nepean. From henceforward the area was known as the Cow Pastures. By 1802 the number of cattle had increased tenfold; an expedition in search of a way across the Blue Mountains reported seeing several herds near the site of Douglas Park. Three years later John Macarthur was granted 5,000 acres in the district by Lord Camden, Secretary for the Colonies; this was subsequently increased to 10,000 acres, the whole estate being named Camden Park. Eventually all of the Cow Pastures land was granted to Macarthur and his sons.

John Macarthur was one of the outstanding colonists of the first four decades of settlement. The great improvements which he made in the breed of Australian sheep practically created the trade in Australian wool , though more recent research has suggested that others played equally important roles. His first land grant of 300 acres at Parramatta was called Elizabeth Farm after his wife. It was to this part of the Macarthur estates, for which Macarthur's son James was then responsible, that THOMAS MACKRELL, the leader of the Lambourn rioters, and the only one of those tried at Abingdon to be transported, was assigned. A hurdle-maker and sheep shearer he would have been a useful acquisition by the Macarthurs, though it would appear from a list of their workers that he was first employed as a reaper. The December,1837, Muster Roll of Convicts lists him as assigned to Messrs Macarthur at Camden; by this time John Macarthur's enterprises and estates had been inherited by his sons James and William. Although Mackrell obtained an Absolute Pardon on 25th March, 1838, he must have remained in the employ of the Macarthurs as a free labourer for another "List of Men for Work, 12th October, 1840." includes his name , but by this time he was being more usefully employed as a shearer. (Gloria Turner, a descendant of Thomas Mackrell, emailed Feb 2017 from Australia to add: "The MacArthur Farm Camden Park where Australia’s famous merino sheep began. Thomas returned to England and then after a short time travelled with his family to Tasmania where he lived (on a farm) until his death."

One of the few men of the Kintbury district to avoid arrest by the posse led by Colonel Dundas and Lord Craven was TIMOTHY MAY of Inkpen. May retained his freedom longer than any except those who avoided arrest altogether. Like Mackrell, May was assigned to James Macarthur, but to his Cabramatta farm near Liverpool. May's Ticket of Leave, of July,1835, shows that he had by this time been transferred to Camden, where he remained until at least December,1837. He obtained a Certificate of Freedom on 3rd March,1838, and, unless he died meanwhile, appears to have used his new- found freedom to seek employment elsewhere, for the 1840 list of Macarthur employees does not include his name.

According to Mrs Fulton Matthews, who travelled widely in the district in the 1830s, Campbelltown and the country between it and the Nepean was "very picturesque and beautiful". It must have made some of the "Swing" men even more homesick for it was "undulating and extensively cultivated like the Wiltshire Downs of England.". One of these would have been JAMES SIMMONDS, a farm labourer of the Binfield district of Berkshire, who was sentenced to 7 years transportation for his part in the attack on Martha Davis's house. He was assigned to William Bradbury, one of the earliest settlers in Campbelltown, which was founded by Governor Macquarie himself on 1st December,1820. When Macquarie paid a farewell visit to the town in January,1822, he observed Bradbury building a two-storied brick house to serve as an inn on his farm at the southern end of the town. Bradbury invited the governor to name the farm, and Macquarie returned the compliment by calling it Bradbury Park. One of Bradbury's tenants , named Worrall, was indirectly responsible for the story of "Fisher's Ghost", of which there are many versions, including one published in Volume 7 of Charles Dickens' "Household Words.".

Another resident of Campbelltown was Alexander Chisolm to whom WILLIAM HAWKINS of Thatcham was assigned. Hawkins remained in the district until October,1836, when he received an Absolute Pardon. He used his freedom to move further into the interior; the Muster Roll of December,1837, lists him as residing in Sutton Forest.

ROBERT PAGE, a skilled carpenter of Kintbury, would have been a useful asset to his master who was a miller of the name of Larkins residing in the district of Airds (the original name of Campbelltown). Page remained in the district at least until December, 1837. He was one of some two dozen "Swing" men who, by some fantastic bureaucratic error, had the issue of their pardons delayed. By the time he obtained his Certificate of Freedom in May, 1848, he had moved to Bungonia.

At Campbelltown the Great Southern Road divided, the main route continuing towards Stonequarry, later called Picton, and on to Queanbeyan, while the minor branch led to Appin and on to Lake Illawarra. Mrs. Matthews noted that the view toward Appin had a "decidedly English character" which may have been some consolation to WILLIAM CARTER as he trudged along the way to Marshall Mount, the estate of Henry Osborne to whom he had been assigned. Carter, a bricklayer of the Kintbury area of Berkshire, had been convicted of "Robbery" and had "Death" recorded against his name, but had had the sentence commuted to 7 years transportation. Henry Osborne had himself been in N.S.W. for little more than two years, arriving on 9th May, 1829. He quickly obtained a grant of

2,560 acres and "the right to twenty or thirty free labourers". Osborne owned many properties in the Illawarra/ Wollongong area, but his chief residence was "Marshall Mount" about four miles from the present town of Dapto. By 1834 Osborne was on the list of magistrates of the Illawarra District, but there is no record of Carter having been brought before him, though he may well have been one of those who signed Carter's Ticket of Leave in June 1836. Carter became wholly free on 17th March, 1838, when he was issued with his Certificate of Freedom.

When Surveyor James Mehan was given the task of marking out John Macarthur's first grant in the Cow Pastures he was instructed by the Governor to provide for a road to Stonequarry Creek, later called Picton. The Police Magistrate for the Stonequarry district was Major H.C. Antill who was "one of the most philanthropic members of Macquarie's government." JAMES BURGESS, one of the Aldermaston rioters, was most fortunate in being assigned to Major Antill. As a magistrate the major was painstaking and, unlike most of his fellows, was even accused of showing undue sympathy towards the convict servants who were brought before him. He was well known for his earnest religious outlook which included a strict Sabbatarianism. Until the 1850s there was no place of worship in the Picton area "but the major read prayers twice every Sunday.". According to the Sydney Gazette of 26th April, 1832, it was "the custom of the Major to improve the position of his dependants by every practicable means and to promote marriage amongst them.". To those who obtained their liberty from his service he afforded every assistance to become settlers including the granting of leases of small divisions of land. It was certainly due to Major Antill that James Burgess became , of all things, the local constable, in which capacity he was successful in capturing several bush rangers who operated in the neighbourhood of Picton between 1836 and 1840. It was also no doubt due to the major's earnest encouragement that Burgess married Jane Dillon, aged 27 years, on 13th December, 1836, because a son, Thomas,was born to James and Jane Burgess on 29th May, 1837 !

According to Major Antill's son, Mrs.Burgess was still alive in 1896 having borne at least two more sons. The Post Office Directories for 1872 to 1877 lists Henry, Thomas and William Burgess, all labourers, all of "Jarvisfield" which was the name of the Antill's estate. R.A.Antill also states that, in 1843, "the wages prevailing in the district were £20 per annum plus rations ," a rate which compares very favourably with what the Burgesses would have received in similar circumstances in England.

Not very far from "Jarvisfield" lay the Park Hall (later renamed "Nepean Towers") estate of Sir Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General of New South Wales from 1831 to 1845. It was here that CHARLES GREEN, a Hungerford labourer, spent many fruitful years. Initially, however, he was assigned to John Buckland, a farmer of Hoare Town Farm, on the banks of the Nepean River, in the district of Camden. Green's "Ticket of Leave", dated 26th December,1836, states that he was "allowed to reside" in this district. He should have been among the earliest of the "Swing" men to receive a Free Pardon but, like Robert Page, he was unfortunate to have been in the group which, by some bureaucratic oversight on the part of some Whitehall clerk, had its release warrants left blank. It must have been a real consolation to Green that his application to have his family come out to him was one of the few to be favourably received. In May, 1837, on the "John II", his wife Sarah and their one child travelled out to join him. It was not until some nine years later that his Absolute Pardon eventually came through; his Certificate of Freedom is dated 20th May,1846. At some time during those nine years he must have suffered another blow in the death of his wife; on 31st August. 1846, Charles Green, widower, married Rose Cunningham, in St.Peter's Church, Campbelltown. He must have been convinced of the wisdom of St.Paul's advice,because,on 1st May,1851, he married Elizabeth Henness, spinster, in the same church. This union proved very fruitful for the parish registers of St. Peter's, Campbelltown, lists, between December,1852, and June 1871, seven children of Charles and Elizabeth Green. The Post Office Directories of 1867 and 1875/7 list a Charles Green, labourer, of Douglas Park, which was the area in which Nepean Towers was located.

DANIEL HANCOCK, of the Aldermaston district of Berkshire, was assigned to K.M.Campbell in the County of Argyle, which is beyond the southern boundary of the county of Camden. On 31st May,1835, Hancock was granted a Ticket of Leave by the magistrates of the Bungonia bench. The Convict Muster Roll of December,1837, records that he was then residing at Inverary (Park). Though granted an Absolute Pardon on 23rd March,1837, he did not receive his formal Certificate of Freedom until 2nd March,1839. The register of applications for permission to marry has an entry in August of that year for a Daniel Hancock, aged 32 and stated to be "free". This could well be the Berkshire man of the same name for he was 24 in 1831 and was free by this time. (If it is the same man his first wife, Ann, who was in receipt of poor relief as late as 1834, must have died in the interim.). He applied to marry Margaret Ridding, aged 22, and herself a convict who had arrived on the transport "Sir Charles Forbes". His application was approved and they were married by the Rev.John Vincent of Sutton Forest which, though in the county of Camden, is not many miles from Inverary. Since writing the above I have received the following information from Mrs. K. Gaut, whose uncle, Mr. Kevin Hancock, of Caloundra, Queensland, is a direct descendant of a Daniel Hancock. This man married Ann Henley on the 11th of November, 1840, at Berrima, Sutton Forest.

One Berkshire man it has been possible to trace right through to his death in 1886 is ISAAC BURTON, a tailor of Shefford, Berks, who had been sentenced to 7 years transportation for breaking threshing machines. On his arrival in N.S.W. he was assigned to a Mr. John McLaren, of Bridge Street, Sydney, but he must have changed masters or McLaren must have moved because, in 1835, Burton was granted a Ticket of Leave by the Bungonia bench which allowed him to reside in the Argyle district which is more than one hundred miles from Sydney. The 1837 Muster Roll states that he was then residing in the Yass district, in the county of Murray.

In 1839, by which time he was a free man, he applied to marry a free spinster,Elizabeth White, aged 28 years. The application was approved and they were married by the Rev.E.Smith of Queanbeyan near the present capital, Canberra. Three children, John, Henry and Margaret resulted from the marriage. Margaret married William Gabriel, son of Queanbeyan's first chemist. The Post Office Directories of 1867 through to 1881/2 lists Burton as "tailor" of Queanbeyan. On 12th April,1884,Isaac's wife died. They were not long separated for Isaac himself died on 20th February, 1886. He was buried at Queanbeyan's Riverside Cemetery, which was unfortunate because this cemetery has been destroyed by floods. According to Mr. Rex Cross, Research Officer of the local Historical Society, there are no descendants of the name of Burton living in the Queanbeyan district.

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