From Rooty Hill to Emu Island

(Continuing with the story of the Hawkins family as they journey from Sydney to Bathurst in 1822. See yesterday’s entry.)

Having rested on Sunday at the Government House at Rooty Hill, on Easter Monday the Hawkins family – Thomas and Elizabeth Hawkins, their children, Elizabeth’s mother Mrs. Lilly, and their attendants – resumed their journey westwards. The distance to the Nepean River was nine miles, and the road was ‘the same as before.’ (This seems to mean that the road was good, and perhaps also that it passed through forested countryside.) At the Nepean, one has to ford the river to Emu Island, where there are a Government house and depot. From here on there would be no places of habitation until they reached Bathurst, except for a lone house at stopping places.

There was a delay at this point, as this was as far as the animals and carts which brought them from Sydney were to go. Some new horses and carts had to be assembled on the Emu Island side of the river, and the family waited at a hut (on Emu Island?) until these were ready. That night part of the luggage was carried across the ford to Emu Island. The remainder would have to wait until the next day, and Sir John Jamieson (his name is so spelled by Elizabeth), who lived nearby, sent his head constable to guard it.

John Jamison (1776-1844), who was trained like his father in medicine, was knighted twice over, first in Sweden (1809, for dealing with scurvy in the navy of King Charles XIII) and later in England (1813). His father Thomas (1753?-1811) arrived in New South Wales in 1788 with the First Fleet, as surgeon’s mate. He became assistant surgeon, principal surgeon, acting surgeon-general, and a magistrate, and was involved in trade, including trade in sandalwood. He received several land grants, including land at the Nepean in 1805. He was prominent in the rebellion against Governor Bligh. Upon his death his son John inherited the land and came out to the colony in 1814 to farm it. Sir John Jamison was among those who accompanied Governor Macquarie on his tour of inspection across the Mountains in 1815, and would have been keenly aware of the conditions which the Hawkins family would face on their journey.

Governor Macquarie had indicated in an order of 12 July 1814 that the name Emu Plains was to be used for that area ‘hitherto erroneously called Emu Island.’ Eight years later Elizabeth Hawkins refers to Emu Island; evidently the original name had persisted in common usage.

‘The Mountains in 1822: Lady’s vivid diary, I’, Sydney Morning Herald 31/8/1929, p. 13. Cf. Elizabeth Hawkins – Crossing the Blue Mountains. The diary of an early traveller across the Blue Mountains, on the website of the Ambermere Rose Inn (Little Hartley). Vivienne Parsons, ‘Jamison, Thomas (1753?-1811)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967, pp. 12-13, and online. Thomas Jamison [Principal Surgeon], ‘General Observations on the Small Pox’, Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 14/10/1804, p. 2 (the first medical paper published in Australia; see also p. 3, ‘Vaccination’, a brief article about the use of ‘the Cow Pock’ against the plague, reprinted from a London newspaper). G.P. Walsh, ‘Jamison, Sir John (1776-1844)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967, pp. 10-12, and online. Sir John Jamison and Governor Macquarie’s tour of inspection: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 10/6/1815, pp. 1-2, at p. 1 (spelled Jamieson). Emu Plains and Emu Island: ‘Government and General Order’, Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 23/7/1814, p. 1; cf. the entry on ‘William Cox, road-maker’.

Weather conditions: 8 April 1822 (Easter Monday): Rooty Hill – Nepean area, apparently fine. Letter, Elizabeth Hawkins to sister, 7 May 1822, partially reproduced in Sydney Morning Herald 31/8/1929, p. 13 (no evidence of inclemency).

6 Responses to From Rooty Hill to Emu Island

  1. Would like to know more of Jamison Sir John Re land holder Capertee nsw
    and prehaps if he was the who named Pearsons lookout on the Mudgee Rd.

    • unhurriedtraveller

      Thank you for your comment. Regarding Sir John Jamison as landholder in the Capertee area I came across a few items (in addition to more general references that appear via a Google search) which I have noted at Sir John Jamison and Capertee. Regarding the naming of Pearson’s Lookout, I am making enquiries to see if anyone in the area is familiar with the origins of the name.

  2. I would like to know where exactly was the original property of Capita which the Capertee Valley was named after, was it adjacent to John Jamiesons property of Umbeila.

  3. I hope I can add something to the question of the naming of Pearson’s lookout. My grandmother was Millicent Pearson, born in about 1880s, and her father was Thomas Pearson. He was an inspector of Schools in NSW and, so we were told as children, it was he that first found the lookout site on his many trips around NSW. This of course, may be true or not true. Maybe someone can add further light…

    • unhurriedtraveller

      Thank you for your comment on the naming of Pearson’s Lookout. This adds new and interesting information. I wonder how the chronology of your great-grandfather Thomas Pearson’s life fits in with the earliest known references to the place name. A brief and incomplete check of newspaper articles and registry data indicates (or in one or two cases suggests) that he was born in 1853, son of Frederick and Charlotte Pearson; joined the Education Department in 1868; married in 1879 (Millicent was born in 1883); was appointed a teacher at William Street public school in 1887; was appointed to be an inspector of schools from 1 January 1890; may have had his first appointment as inspector in the Broken Hill area; was an inspector in the Tamworth area in 1900 and 1904; was transferred (from where?) to Glen Innes as inspector of schools in 1908; was promoted to senior inspector in 1910; came to Mudgee from Glen Innes with the title of Senior Inspector in 1910; and died in 1946. When Frederick and Charlotte celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1896 (Charlotte died in 1898), the Sydney Morning Herald (17 October, p. 7) noted that their children included Joseph Pearson, ‘the veteran cyclist and tourist.’ I have suggested that the name Pearson’s Lookout might be connected with Joseph Pearson (1849-1939), as he cycled through the area; perhaps his Guide (1896) and Reminiscences (1925/ 1933), and his other maps and guides, and the Cyclists’ Touring Union Handbook (1898), might contain some clues about the use if not introduction of the name (see the entry for him in the Australian Dictionary of Biography). But this is pure speculation. Now it turns out that you have a family tradition according to which the lookout received its name in connection with his younger brother Thomas (if I am not mistaken). This is intriguing.

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