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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Where Hawkesbury buried their dead ~ Trove Tuesday

Windsor Catholic Cemetery. Photo M. Nichols
Prior to 1810, inhabitants of the Hawkesbury buried their dead in various places including their properties, or along the riverbanks. There was also an early burial ground on the banks of South Creek at Green Hills (which was the original name of Windsor) but no records survive and the exact location is not confirmed, although a small plot of land has been set aside to commemorate early burials.

In 1811, the following Government Order, decreed by Governor Lachlan Macquarie was published in the Sydney Gazette stating that all burials were to take place in consecrated cemeteries. The Order stated:


The respective burial grounds which were sometime since marked out for the accommodation of the settlers in the several townships of Liverpool, Windsor, Richmond, Pitt Town, Castlereagh and Wilberforce having lately consecrated by the Principal Chaplain, His Excellency, the Governor is pleased to give this public notice, thereof and at the same time directs & commands that in future all settlers and other residents within those townships, or in their respective vicinities shall cease to bury their dead as heretofore within their several farms, & shall in a decent and becoming manner inter them in the consecrated grounds now assigned for that purpose in their respective Townships.


It was also recorded that when someone died, "notice of the event shall be immediately given to the Constable at the District wherein it has occurred, and the Constable receiving such information is hereby directed to communicate the same with the least possible delay to the nearest Resident Chaplain, in order that he may attend and perform the Funeral Service."

This order was not to be neglected and ignoring it could result in severe punishment. Further it became a "sacred duty ... to guard and protect the Remains of ... deceased Friends from every unnecessary Exposure."

Governor Lachlan Macquarie was keen the burial grounds be made available soon after and donated ten pounds towards the erection of a fence, to be built as quickly as possible. The first of these burial grounds to be established was at Windsor. Many people do not realise that the burial ground came first and was established adjacent to what was eventually to become St. Matthew's Church of England, which began construction in 1817.  Andrew Thompson who died in 1810 was in fact the first person buried in the burial ground. Henry Antill was responsible for selecting Thompson's burial site. 

Shortly after Windsor, burial grounds were established in Richmond, Wilberforce, Pitt Town, Castlereagh and Ebenezer. They were surveyed, marked out and then consecrated. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Shopping on the Hawkesbury - Trove Tuesday

The Hawkesbury district covers a wide area and many inhabitants had to travel long distances to access businesses and shops. A characteristic fairly unique to the Hawkesbury were the floating store boats which travelled up and down the Hawkesbury waterways in the late 19th and 20th century, providing provisions to remote communities. 

The store boats came in varying sizes; there were smaller vessels as well as those that were very well set-up selling drapery, groceries, ironmongery and other commodities. Some were fitted with counters and the boats travelled up and down the Hawkesbury, Colo and Macdonald Rivers. Some of the early operators included John Dennett, Henry Walker, as well as brothers William and Charlie Wood. Entrepreneur Charles Hatte, a Newtown merchant, took over Theodore Chaseling’s store boat and general store at Wisemans Ferry in the 1890s. Along with Henry Macnamara, who was in charge of operating the boats. At a later stage, Henry in conjunction with Robert Cameron, established a new partnership trading along the river. One of their main vessels was the ‘Camac’ named after a combination of their surnames Cameron and Macnamara. 

Shop boat on the Hawkesbury.
Illustration from the 
Evening News  24 December 1904

The local newspapers on Trove are a wealth of information about the boats. In years gone by, farmers grew most of their own food but in an article in the Evening News newspaper in 1904, an old resident who lived along the Hawkesbury River stated "in the early days we knew nothing about new fangled things" - she was trying to decide "between the purchase of 'cold drawn' castor oil" or patent pills. All sorts items were sold including clothing, millinery and shoes and boots. Alcohol, soft drinks, are sold next to babies' teething soothers, crockery and hardware lines. The newspapers of the day state that the trader must be exceptional - not only must he carry everything, but he also has to "convince his customer of her needs and his complete ability to meet them." The prices must also be competitive particularly as transport improved in the early 20th century and settlers were able to more easily journey into Windsor or Richmond shopping. 

Several businesses also supplied residents along the river with the necessities of fresh bread and meat. The Moses family operated one of the bread boats for many years from 1910 whilst Walter Singleton, Barney Morley and Wal Jones are remembered as popular identities from the 1920s-1930s and later.

The boats provided a much needed service and also brought with them news. It wasn't always the women who wanted to find out was was happening. According to an article in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette in the 1930s, "men always stay to gossip, probably because men run the boat. Pipes are stuffed firmly and a comfortable seat is found on a sack of something. Then the news of the day is checked."

The storeboats are long gone, people drive to local shopping centres for their supplies or order things via the internet. It is hard to imagine the time when one had to wait for the storeboat to make its weekly journey up the river. 

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Macquarie's Towns

Two-hundred and five years ago this month, Lachlan Macquarie, the Governor of NSW was touring the Hawkesbury district and named the 'Macquarie Towns.' After breakfast on Thursday 6 December 1810, Macquarie set out with a party which included surveyors as well as local residents, William Cox and Richard Fitzgerald. They travelled across the river to look for a suitable locality on the other side of the Hawkesbury River. His journal entry records this historic event at Windsor, formerly the Green Hills.  
Having crossed the Ferry at the Green Hills to the North side of the River, we proceeded … about 7 miles from the Green Hills; … where we looked for an eligible Spot for the intended Town and Township for the accommodation of the Settlers of the Phillip District [Wilberforce]and others inhabiting the Northern Bank of the River Hawkesbury, and after carefully surveying the different Parts of the Common we fixed on a very safe and convenient situation for the Town and Township in this part of the Country; which done we returned home and arrived at Government Cottage at 1/2 past 2 o'clock. Took some refreshment and walked out to survey the Grounds belonging to the Crown in and near the present village on the Green Hills [Windsor] and also the adjoining Public Common marked out for this part of the Country in the time of Governor King; a convenient part of which it is now my intention to appropriate for a large Town and Township for the accommodation of the Settlers inhabiting the South side of the River Hawkesbury, whose Farms are liable to be flooded on any inundation of the River, and to connect the present Village on the Green Hills with the intended new Town and Township. After viewing the ground and maturely considering the importance of the measure, the scite [sic] and situation of the new Town was at length fixed finally upon ---the exact scite of the new Church and Great Square being particularly marked out, as well as the extent and situation of the new Burying Ground; the Acting Surveyor, Mr. Meehan, receiving orders to measure and make out a Plan of the whole. 

Lachlan Macquarie, 1822 / Richard Read (ca. 1765-1827?)
From the collections of the State Library of NSW

A large Party of Friends dined with us today, consisting in all of 21 Persons … After Dinner I christened the new Townships, drinking a Bumper to the success of each. I gave the name of Windsor to the Town intended to be erected in the District of the Green Hills, in continuation of the present Village, from the similarity of this situation to that of the same name in England; the Township in the Richmond District I have named Richmond, from its beautiful situation, and as corresponding with that of its District; the Township for the Evan or Nepean District I have named Castlereagh in honor of Lord Viscount Castlereagh; the Township of the Nelson District I have named Pitt-Town in honor of the immortal memory of the late great William Pitt, the Minister who originally planned this Colony; and the Township for the Phillip District; on the North or left Bank of the Hawkesbury, I have named Wilberforce -- in honor of and out of respect to the good and virtuous Wm. Wilberforce Esqr. M.P. -- a true Patriot and the real Friend of Mankind.  
Having sufficiently celebrated this auspicious Day of christening the five Towns and Townships, intended to be erected and established for the security and accommodation of the Settlers and others inhabiting the Cultivated Country, on the Banks of the Rivers Hawkesbury and Nepean; I recommended to the Gentlemen present to exert their influence with the Settlers in stimulating them to lose no time in removing their Habitations, Flocks & Herds to these places of safety and security, and thereby fulfil my intentions and plans in establishing them. 
 As soon as we had broke up from Table, Captain Antill, accompanied by Messrs. Lord and Moore, who had dined with us, set out by water for Scotland Island, a part of the Estate of the late Mr. Thompson, in order to take an account of his Property there, the rest of our Party returning to their respective Homes, highly gratified with their entertainment. 

Note: Journals of his Tour in NSW & Van Diemens Land by Lachlan Macquarie also available on Macquarie University’s Journeys in Time site


Friday, 13 November 2015

Hawkesbury's oldest headstone

The oldest known surviving headstone in the Hawkesbury is that of John Howorth at Wilberforce.

On the 8 October 1804, eleven year old John Howorth died from a snake bite in Wilberforce. The circumstances were published in the Sydney Gazette and outlined how how he was tending sheep

The Sydney Gazette 14 October 1804 p. 4
The following week a fuller version of the situation was published. Here is an extract:

The following are the particulars of the unfortunate circumstances attending the death of the child at Hawkesbury last Monday se'nnight in consequence of the bite of a snake. Two sons of Mr. John Howorth, settler, went together among some standing and fallen timber, to look after a small flock. The eldest boy, sitting near a large tree in which three apertures had been cut for the purpose of searching after the bandycoot, unhappily stretched on of his arms within the hollow, and suddenly withdrawing it much terrified, acquainted his brother that he had received a bite from a black snake. The poor little fellow, conscious of his danger, with an air of despondency remarked that he should soon die; and complaining of sudden illness, made an effort to return homeward. But his faculties yielding to irresistible lethargy and stapor, he lost his way before he had proceeded many paces, and was observed by a neighbouring settler, who enquiring what ailed him, received in a feeble tone the information of his illness, but without assigning any cause of complaint. The good man took him into his house, and lay him on his bed. The parents were made acquainted with the state the child was in, and immediately attended him; but he was then wholly insensible, and continued so during the short remaining period of his existence. About four in the afternoon the doleful accident occurred; and at about the same hour the following morning he expired, to the extreme regret of his parents, who were totally unacquainted with the cause of his death until after the event had taken place; when the other disclosed the above circumstance, and the body being examined, a wound appeared upon the left arm, thro' which the noxious viper had poured the contaminating fluid.

The sad details of the unfortunate event are carved on his headstone:

It was the subtile surpent's bite he cride
then like A Rose bud cut he drup'd and died
in life his Fathers glorey
and his mothers pride.

John Howorth's headstone, the oldest surviving in the Hawkesbury, at Wilberforce.

On the 5 December 1960, when the Hawkesbury was celebrating 150 years of the naming of the Five Macquarie Towns, the headstone was moved from its original location on the Hawkesbury riverbank to the St John's Anglican Church complex at Wilberforce by the Hawkesbury Historical Society. Siblings of John's Elizabeth and Catherine, who both died in infancy, are also mentioned on the headstone. 


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Richmond Park

Located in the centre of Richmond, the ‘great square’ has played a central role in the community for over 200 years. Governor Lachlan Macquarie named Richmond in December 1810 (one of five ‘Macquarie Towns’) and the market place was laid out by the surveyor James Meehan in January 1811. It started out as 4 hectares and was bounded by West Market and East Market Streets however was reduced to 3.2 hectares when the land along West Market Street was assigned for government purposes including the watch house in the 1820s. In later years the Police Station, Court House, and the Post Office were established on the Windsor and West Market Street corner whilst the School of Arts and the Presbyterian School were further along closer to the March Street corner. Various trees and gardens have also been established over the years.
Richmond Park 1879, Government Printing Office Courtesy State Library of NSW Digital order no. d1_06267


The park has been used by the community for a variety of purposes over the years including recreation and sports. Large athletic days were held in the late 19th and 20th century. In the 1950s/60s/70s local schools met for combined school sports days. Both cricket and football have been played in the park for many years. The Pavilion (or Grandstand) was built by Samuel Boughton in 1884. The ‘RICHMOND’ sign (opposite the Royal Hotel end) was constructed in Boughton’s memory in 1922.

When the railway line operated between Richmond and Kurrajong the train cut across the edge of the park then travelled along March Street. Opposite the railway station the war memorials are situated, commemorating those who served in various conflicts. In latter years markets, picnics, carols by candlelight have been held in the park, which is managed by Hawkesbury City Council. The playground area has been modernised for new generations of children to enjoy. 

Following the end of World War 1 the community erected a monument opposite the Railway Station which is where by those who fought in the First World War and subsequent wars and conflicts are honoured. Names have been transcribed and can be viewed here.

Although there have been a number of renovations and changes in the park over the years it still remains an integral part of the town.


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Melbourne Cup winner - Trove Tuesday

Grand Flaneur was an extraordinary thoroughbred racehorse who won numerous races including the Melbourne Cup in 1880. He retired with an outstanding career, undefeated earning over £8000.

GRAND FLANEUR - Courtesy Tyrell Collection, Powerhouse Museum 

After his retirement he spent many years at Hobartville stud at Richmond, once the property of Andrew Town which came into the hands of W. A. Long after Town's bankruptcy. Long was Grand Flaneur's owner. The great stallion sired a number of foals after being put out to pasture and no longer racing. He died at William Long's stud at Chipping Norton in April 1900. He was mourned by many and obituaries appeared in many newspapers including the Town & Country Journal 28 April 1900. This paper also produced a family tree of the horse.

A street bears the name of the famous sire in Hobartville.

Clarence River Advocate 24 April 1900

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Family Millions - Trove Tuesday

Over the years there have been many articles published about money languishing in chancery, waiting for families to make a claim. In 1913 from the following paragraph from the Windsor & Richmond Gazette mentioned money in chancery and how it affected some Hawkesbury families:
We are told that several millions of money now in Chancery are shortly to be claimed, and that a number, of Hawkesbury families will be beneficiaries. The families interested are the Hobbses, Of Forrester; Mrs. Sullivan, senr., of Wilberforce; the family of the late Joshua Jones, the Bootles, of Pitt Town, and others. A representative, goes to England early next year to claim the enormous fortune.
During the 1920s hundreds of articles appeared in newspapers all over Australia. The following example compiled by George Reeve, a local historian who often wrote historical based articles, shows how useful these types of articles can be, providing names , places and dates. Check out The story of Robert Hobbs 
The story of Robert Hobbs (1926, May 28). Windsor & Richmond Gazette p. 6

There was even correspondence from New Zealand. In 1928 several letters were published from Mr G. A. Hobbs from Foxton, New Zealand in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette. In 1931 it was recorded that there were at least "360 claimants to the Hobbs millions" and there were "several unsuccessful attempts to secure the fortune."  In the UK newspapers reported similar instances, including Lancashire Evening Post - Thursday 30 July 1931. There was information about the Rose Millions published in 1925.

In the Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer 25 August 1930, Australian descendants of the Hobbs and Rose families pooled £3,000 to send representatives to England to claim the fortune. The Rose Millions was apparently worth £25,000,000 and the Hobbs £8,000,000. The applicants claimed the “Roses’s mother was a Lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte, and that John Rose was a natural son of George III. They allege that George III, left extensive property in various English counties in trust for John Rose.” It was “claimed on behalf of the Hobbs claimants that John Rose married Harriet Hobbs.”

In 1925 George Reeve wrote about the Ebenezer pioneers and the Everingham fortune. Again during the next few decades, hundreds of articles were published in various Australian newspapers, including the following:
Everingham Millions (1929, October 4). Windsor & Richmond Gazette, p. 11

As well as the Hobbs, Everinghams, there was also  the Clarks Millions in 1927 and the Brewers Mystery Millions the same year. In 1929 there was talk of changing the Everingham Millions to the Chaseling Millions. There was also the Green Millions and of particular interest to my own family, the Jennings Millions in 1929.

The publishing of information about these supposed fortunes often provide fascinating information for family historians. Over the years, these stories have gripped generations and despite some of the untruths, they are an amazing read.