Tag Archives: Parramatta

D’Arcy Wentworth, 1762-1827

On 10 July 1827 the Monitor announced, within a heavy black border, the death of D’Arcy Wentworth (who had died on 7 July):

Died at his Estate of Home-bush, Aged 65, after a severe attack of Influenza, universally regretted, D’Arcy Wentworth, Esq. the oldest Magistrate in the Colony, many years Surgeon-General, Colonial Treasurer of the Colony, and Chief Police Magistrate of Sydney; all of which important offices he filled with singular credit to himself, and satisfaction to the public, of all classes and degrees.

The Monitor felt ‘real grief’ in recording his death. ‘He was a lover of freedom; a consistent steady friend of the people; a kind and liberal master; a just and humane Magistrate; a steady friend; and an honest man.’ His talents were ‘not brilliant’ but ‘very solid.’ He was prudent and cautious, independent, and reliable. He had large land-holdings and may have been the wealthiest man in the colony. He sought to maintain people’s rights and so advance the welfare of the people.

In short, considering the paucity of men of wealth in the Colony sincerely attached to the people, we consider Mr. Wentworth’s premature death (for his looks bade fair for ten years longer of life) a national loss.

His funeral took place on Monday 9 July. The Australian reported that there was a procession nearly a mile long from his home at Homebush (spelled Home Bush) to the church at Parramatta. The chief mourner was Mr. C. Wentworth (i.e. his son, William Charles Wentworth). The service was taken by Rev. Samuel Marsden. The Wentworths were descended from the Earl of Strafford; the family seat was originally Wentworth Castle, in the County of York. D’Arcy was born in Ireland and arrived in the colony in 1790. On his retirement from the position of Principal Surgeon after 29 years he was praised in Government and General Orders as having uniformly conducted his duties in an ‘able, zealous, humane and intelligent manner.’

The obituary in the Australian concluded:

As a man, his manly and independent principles—his high integrity—his moderation—his urbanity—his public and private virtues—could not fail to endear him to his friends and fellow citizens, and to excite throughout the Colony the liveliest feelings of regret at his demise. | It might, without great exaggeration, be said of him, as was remarked by the late Earl of Cork and Orrery of Sir Horatio Mann, Minister to the Duke of Tuscany, in 1754—“He is the only person I have ever known, whom all his countrymen agree in praising.”

Monitor 10/7/1827, p. 3. Australian 11/7/1827, p. 4. ‘Wentworth, D’Arcy (1762-1827)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967, pp. 579-582, and online.

A family travels from Sydney to Bathurst in 1822

In an Order of 11 April 1822, the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Thomas Brisbane, announced several appointments relating to the Commissariat. These included the appointment of Mr. Thomas Fitzherbert Hawkins, Purser to the Royal Navy, to be Commissariat Storekeeper at Bathurst, ‘His Pay to commence on his Arrival at that Station.’

Thomas Fitzherbert Hawkins (1781-1837), born in England, became a purser in the Royal Navy in 1800 and served in that position during the Napoleonic wars. At the end of his service he was lame from an injury and out of a job, and he turned to business but without success. He had married in 1802, and in 1821 he emigrated with his wife Elizabeth (1783-1875), mother-in-law and children, arriving in Sydney in January 1822. Some three months later he received the appointment as store-keeper and the family left Sydney for Bathurst six days before the date of the Order.

This entailed a journey of over two weeks, described in detail by Elizabeth in a letter of 7 May 1822 to her sister in England. A century later the letter was published in the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Australian Historical Society (1923). The letter was reproduced in two instalments in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1929. There are typescript copies in the State Library of New South Wales and the National Library of Australia.

At the beginning of her letter Elizabeth says, ‘We have accomplished it,’ a turn of phrase that might carry a hint of the modern ‘We’ve done it.’ It was no small feat, and she describes for her sister the difficulties that had to be overcome to reach their destination.

It was necessary first to arrange for a house in Bathurst and to be sure of the support of the Governor. They were ready to leave by Good Friday, 4 April [actually 5 April], and they departed the next day, sent off in an emotional farewell by many well-wishers.

Their luggage was fairly substantial: a table and twelve chairs, ‘earthenware, cooking utensils, bedding, a few agricultural implements, groceries, and other necessaries to last us a few months,’ together with their clothes. To carry themselves and their luggage they had a waggon drawn by six bullocks, a dray with five bullocks, a cart with two bullocks, and a ‘tilted cart’ drawn by two horses to carry Elizabeth, her mother and the seven children. ‘Hawkins and Tom rode on horseback.’

The weather was fine on leaving and the road to Parramatta good, ‘equal to any turn-pike road in England.’ Elizabeth remarks that there is a forest on each side but the sun gets through (contrary apparently to what one might expect in England) because the trees are high and branch at the top. Progress was slow. As they neared Parramatta, Thomas rode ahead to the Female Factory, procured a servant there and was back in time for dinner, which was had ‘at the foot of a tree.’ After a journey of 25 miles they arrived late that night at Rooty Hill and were received at Government House.

They rested the next day, tired out and forbidden to travel on Sunday by general orders. ‘I could have been contented to have remained there forever. The house was good, and the land all around like a fine wooded park in England.’

(To be continued.)

‘Government and General Orders’, Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 12/4/1822, p. 1. ‘Hawkins, Thomas Fitzherbert (1781-1837)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, 1966, pp. 524-525, and online. E. Hawkins, with introduction by H. Selkirk, ‘Journey from Sydney to Bathurst in 1822’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society) 9(4), 1923, 177-197. Approximately the first third of the letter is reproduced in two instalments in the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘The Mountains in 1822: Lady’s vivid diary, I’, Sydney Morning Herald 31/8/1929, p. 13 (‘Her correspondence as here presented is practically as in the original, little editing having been required’); ‘The Mountains in 1822: Lady’s vivid diary, II’, ibid. 7/9/1929, p. 13. Mrs. Elizabeth Hawkins, ‘Journey from Sydney to Bathurst in 1822’, in George Mackaness (coll. and ed.), Fourteen Journeys over the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, 1831-1841 (Australian Historical Monographs, New Series, 22-24), Part 2: 1819-1827, Sydney, Ford, 1950(1951?), pp. 102-117. 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).

Weather conditions: 6 April 1822 (Easter Saturday): Sydney, morning fine and sunny. 7 (Easter Sunday): Rooty Hill (near Parramatta), fine. 8: Rooty Hill – Nepean area, fine. Letter, Elizabeth Hawkins to sister, 7 May 1822, partially reproduced in Sydney Morning Herald 31/8/1929, p. 13.

Dating: Elizabeth says in her letter that Good Friday was 4 April. However it was in fact 5 April.

Blue Mountains travel and accommodation in 1835-1836

Under the heading ‘Accommodations on the Mountain Road’, the Sydney Herald in July 1835 published a list of inns to be found along the road from the Nepean River to Bathurst. The newspaper noted:

Since the last License Meeting, a regular line of Inns at short stages has been established on the Mountain Road from the Nepean River to Bathurst, which renders travelling infinitely less irksome than it has been during previous years.

The ‘houses licensed for public accommodation’ are listed as being at the following places. The list shows eleven inns on the Mountains and gives their distances from Sydney.

Top of Lapstone-hill: Pilgrim (40 miles)
Fitzgerald’s Valley: Woolpack (45)
Twenty-mile hollow: Pembroke’s (55)
Jamison’s Valley: Weatherboard Inn (63).
Pulpit-hill: Scotch Thistle (70)
Blackheath: Gardner’s (77)
Mount Victoria: Skeene’s (83)
Hassan’s Walls: Traveller’s Inn (91)
Solitary Creek: Mail Coach (99).
Honeysuckle Flat: Trafalgar Inn (108)
Green Swamp: Green Man (120).

In addition, there were ten ‘houses of entertainment’ at Bathurst, seven on the Roxburgh or Old Settler’s side of the Macquarie River and three on the New Township or Government side,

the whole affording comfortable accommodation to every class of wayfarers respectively, from the luxurious traveller in his phaeton and pair, to the humble pedestrian, who forgets his fatigue over bread and cheese and beer.

In December of that year, under the heading ‘Bathurst Mail’, J. Reilly, in conjunction with Mr. Ireland, advertised in the Sydney Monitor their plans ‘on the commencement of the New Year, to start a CONVEYANCE to and from Bathurst and Sydney Twice a Week, leaving Sydney every Tuesday and Friday Morning, at 6 o’Clock…’ Mr. Reilly had already been providing a coach service in the Bathurst area. Booking offices were in Bathurst (Mrs. Dillon’s) and Sydney (J. Reilly’s, 109 Pitt-street). The schedule from Sydney to Bathurst would be:

Parramatta: arrive by 8 o’clock, breakfast, leave at 9
Penrith: arrive at half past 11, leave at 12
The Weather Board: arrive at 7, meet the conveyance from Bathurst, stop the night, start at 6 in the morning
[Blackheath:] Stop at Andrew Gardner’s, breakfast, leave at 9
Bathurst: arrive at 7.

From Bathurst, the conveyance would leave at 6 o’clock in the morning on Tuesday and Friday, reach the Weather Board that evening, start again at 6 in the morning, and reach Penrith at half-past 10. From Penrith ‘a large Carriage on Four Wheels, drawn by Three Horses,’ would reach Sydney the same evening. If there were sufficient customers, this Penrith Coach would run to and from Sydney daily.

List of inns: Sydney Herald 20/7/1835, p. 2. Bathurst Mail: Sydney Monitor 19/12/1835, p. 4; similarly 23/12/1835, p. 4.

The pursuit of knowledge under difficulties

Mrs. Boatright and her School for Young Ladies at No. 6, Colonnade, Bridge-street, Sydney, had a decidedly notable neighbour at No. 7. George William Evans, bookseller and stationer, was formerly a surveyor in Government employment and an experienced and successful explorer. His expedition in late 1813 was the first fully to cross the Great Dividing Range, after the partial crossing by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth earlier that year.

Born in England in 1780, Evans married in 1798 and emigrated to the Cape of Good Hope. From there he moved to New South Wales in 1802. He worked for a time as an official store-keeper at Parramatta, then in 1803 became acting Surveyor-General and explored the Warragamba River. In 1805 he became a farmer on the Hawkesbury River but suffered in the floods of 1806. In 1809 and following years he was involved in surveying and exploring, with the areas of his responsibilities varying between New South Wales and Tasmania. He surveyed Jervis Bay (1812); explored the Illawarra district in an expedition from Jervis Bay to Appin (1812); surveyed land grants in Van Diemen’s Land (1812); led an expedition across the Great Dividing Range to the Macquarie River on the other side of Bathurst (1813); received as a reward a grant of land near Richmond in Van Diemen’s Land; went to Hobart (1814); returned to Sydney to serve as a guide for an official tour of districts towards Bathurst (1815); explored various areas south of Bathurst (1815); went back to Hobart (1815); returned to Sydney to join John Oxley in exploring the Lachlan River (1817); went back again to Van Diemen’s Land (1817); again returned to Sydney to join Oxley in exploring the Macquarie River (1817-1818); returned to Hobart for land survey work; accompanied an expedition to Macquarie Harbour (1822); resigned (1825) on health grounds, subsequent to controversy over favours dispensed by the former Lieutenant-Governor (William Sorell) and survey officials; received a pension; returned to England; taught art; lost his property in a banking failure (according to the Sydney Morning Herald); obtained a lump sum in lieu of his pension and returned to Sydney (1831); established a business as a bookseller and stationer (1832), first at No. 4 the Colonnade, then No. 7, then in Lower George Street; worked also as drawing master at The King’s School (Parramatta); published a book (A Love Story, by a Bushman) which the Sydney Gazette hailed as apparently ‘the first novel the Australian press has put forth’ (1841); retired from his business as bookseller and stationer (1842); moved to Hobart (1844); and died there in 1852.

This brief survey of events, extending across the first half of the nineteenth century, necessarily gives only the merest outline of a life full of activity and adventure. George William Evans could have been a figure in one of the books he sold to customers, George Craik’s The Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties.

His time in Sydney as bookseller and stationer was marred in the end by an accusation of forgery relating to unexplained alterations in a tender document for the supply of stationery to the Government. He was arrested and allowed out on bail, then found not guilty. The case must have taken a toll, he was in his early sixties, and he retired from business soon after and left Sydney, never to return.

The biographical sequence given above is based mainly on details in A.K. Weatherburn, ‘Evans, George William (1780-1852)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, 1966, pp. 359-360, and online. Cf. A.K. Weatherburn, George William Evans, Explorer, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1966; idem, Australia’s Interior Unveiled: A Biography of George William Evans (1780-1852), Surveyor, Explorer and Artist, Ryde, NSW, A.K. Weatherburn, 1987. No. 4, Colonnade: cf. e.g. Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 4/10/1832, p.4. George Street: cf. e.g. Australasian Chronicle 20/2/1841, p. 3. [William Harvey Christie], A Love Story, by a Bushman, 2 vols., Sydney, G.W. Evans (printed by Kemp and Fairfax), 1841. Court case: cf. e.g. Sydney Herald 29/4/1842, p. 3, 18/7/1842, p. 2. Biographical note: Sydney Morning Herald 2/1/1843, p. 2.