Tag Archives: Sydney streets

A commemoration dinner for the Governor

On Thursday 28 December 1809 His Majesty’s ship Hindostan and the store-ship Dromedary arrived in Port Jackson, with His Excellency Lachlan M‘Quarrie Esquire on board the latter ship. Delayed by contrary winds, they came to anchor in Sydney Cove on the Saturday, and His Excellency the Governor and his Lady landed at ten on the Sunday morning with due ceremony and proceeded to Government House.

The event signalled a new phase in the life of the colony, in which the King’s authority had to be re-asserted after the rebellion against Governor William Bligh. Macquarie was a strong figure, and the public were left in no doubt that it was in the interests of the civil and military establishment and all citizens to remain on good terms with him.

Three years later, in the Sydney Gazette of 9 January 1813, we find a notice announcing that, ‘A number of respectable Inhabitants of this Colony propose dining together on the 29th instant in order to commemorate His Excellency Governor Macquarie’s Landing in, and assuming the Command of this Territory.’ The next issue notified readers that the dinner would take place at No. 11, George-street, Sydney, and listed the names of the seventeen Stewards from whom one could obtain tickets. At the head of the list is ‘Wm. Cox, Esq.’

The dinner duly took place and in view of the warmth of the season was organised as a fête champêtre, with a tent erected in the front garden of Mr. Robert Jenkins, one of the Stewards and Treasurer. The tent was ‘fancifully decorated with various ensigns, together with a variety of shrubs and boughs, formed into wreaths, festoons, and other neat devices,’ and ‘on the outside of the tent the British Colours were displayed.’ There were nearly 150 persons present, ‘among whom were many Gentlemen of the first respectability.’

The company sat down to dinner at six and during dinner the band of the 73rd Regiment supplied musical accompaniment, playing ‘a number of appropriate airs.’ The President was William Gore, Esq., and the Vice-President William Cox. Each of these two gentlemen sat ‘supported by a Clergyman on the right; the Stewards were seated at equal distances from each other; and the rest of the Company placed themselves promiscuously without respect to rank or difference of condition.’

After dinner there were fifteen toasts, ‘all of which were followed by well adapted airs.’ The toasts indicate ideals and preoccupations of the time. The first three toasts were to the King, the Prince Regent, and the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family. After a toast to the success of ‘the British Arms, by Sea and Land’ came the toast to the Governor: ‘Governor Macquarie! May the Anniversary of his assuming the Command of this Territory be commemorated and reverenced by our latest Posterity!’ The next two toasts were to ‘the Founder of the Colony’, Governor Phillip, and the Minister for the Colonies, Earl Bathurst. The eighth and central toast is interesting and perhaps surprising: ‘Mr. Wilberforce, the Friend of the Colony, and of Mankind in general.’ This was followed by a toast to religion and virtue: ‘May Religion and Virtue be the Foundation whereon the Superstructure of our Colony will be reared.’ The next four toasts developed further the theme of progress in the colony, by way of unanimity, commercial and agricultural prosperity, the establishment of an export trade, and an ‘intended Library. May every Inhabitant of our Colony unite in promoting the general diffusion of useful Knowledge!’ The second-last toast, ‘proposed by a Gentleman’, was to Lieutenant Colonel O’Connell and his 73rd Regiment. And the final toast was, ‘Good Night!’

The landing: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 7/1/1810, pp. 2-3. Notice of proposed Commemoration Dinner: 9/1/1813, p. 1. Stewards: 16/1/1813, p. 2. Report of the dinner: 30/1/1813, p. 2.

A memorable December

In the early 1830s, walking along George Street from Sydney Cove, one soon came upon St. John’s Tavern, on the north corner of George and Bridge Streets. On the other side of Bridge Street and extending along that street was a Lumber Yard.

The Tavern was one of a number of buildings that stood on what used to be called the ‘Orphan Grant’ or the ‘Orphan House Ground’, which stretched between George Street and the ‘Stream of the Tanks’, and was bordered on the south by Bridge Street and on the north by the allotment of James Underwood. This ‘Orphan Grant’ was subdivided into six separate lots and sold off in 1827. Offered for sale at the same time was the Orphan School Grant at Cabramatta (6,000 acres), subdivided into lots, and offered for lease was farming land near Bathurst also known as the Orphan School Grant (1,000 acres, of which 20 were reserved for a possible church and school).

In October 1830 we find Thomas Brett advertising his recently opened ‘Wholesale and Retail Wine and Spirit Warehouse. St. John’s Tavern, Opposite the Lumber Yard, George-street.’ He acknowledged the ‘flattering patronage’ he had already received, and assured his friends and the public of ‘his determination to persevere in the sale of the finest articles that can be produced, and at such prices as cannot be undersold by any house in the trade.’

The name of St. John was appropriate to a tavern that housed Masonic Lodge Rooms where the Australian Social Lodge held its meetings. The feast-days of St. John the Baptist (24 June) and of St. John the Evangelist (27 December), six months apart, were particular occasions of celebration for the Masonic movement. In December 1831, for example, to honour the anniversary of St. John the Evangelist, the Australian Social Lodge ‘regaled their friends’ at ‘Brett’s, St. John’s Tavern’, while the Leinster Marine Lodge assembled at the Royal Hotel and the Military Lodge gathered in the Non-commissioned Officers’ Mess room at the Military Barracks.

December 1831 was a memorable month. On the 2nd General Richard Bourke arrived to become the colony’s eighth Governor, and on the 5th the town held an ‘illumination’, in which St. John’s Tavern took part. It was also a personally memorable time for Thomas Brett, but the outcome was not what he had originally intended. Nor was it the outcome expected by Rebecca Miller, whose guardian was Mr. William Bennett, baker, of Parramatta. Thomas met Rebecca at Mr. Bennett’s home, became an admirer, made frequent visits, wooed and won Rebecca, and received Mr. Bennett’s approval to marry her. The wedding was set down for around Christmas time, or New Year’s Day at the latest. Wedding clothes were prepared and guests invited.

However, there was a hitch. The Bennetts received warning that Thomas was already married. Enquiries were made and the family were able to satisfy themselves that Thomas had no wife in England, as had been rumoured. But by this time Thomas found himself no longer willing to proceed with the marriage, and he wrote to Mr. Bennett to that effect on 23 December.

We learn these details from the newspaper report of the court case which eventuated. The matter was heard before Justice Stephen and a common jury at the Supreme Court on 18 June 1832. Rebecca Miller, under age, through her guardian, was suing Thomas Brett for breach of promise of marriage, and seeking compensation of £1,000. William Charles Wentworth was counsel for the plaintiff, while counsel for the defendant was Mr. Macdowell, who professed himself in awe of the fame and ability of his learned colleague.

[To be continued.]

Orphan Grant land for sale: Australian 7/4/1827, p. 2. St. John’s Tavern, recently opened: Australian 29/1/1830, p. 1. Anniversary of St. John the Evangelist: Sydney Monitor 31/12/1831, p. 2. Court proceedings: Australian 22/6/1832, p. 3. Louis Green, ‘Macdowell, Edward (1798-1860)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967, pp. 164-165, and online. Michael Persse, ‘Wentworth, William Charles (1790-1872)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 2, 1967, pp. 582-589, and online.

The Colonnade, Bridge-street

Just inside Bridge Street from George Street, Sydney, on the north side of the street, between George and Pitt, was a building containing a series of dwellings of uniform appearance and having at the front a roofed colonnade ‘which answers the double purpose of verandah and balcony.’ The dwellings were mostly used as workplaces and shops. The name was apparently not worked into the building, for otherwise the spelling might have been as uniform as the architecture. One finds either Colonnade or Colonade. The address is usually given as Colonnade (or Colonade) rather than ‘the’ Colonnade or Colonade.  The history of the location offers examples in miniature of many of the interests and pretensions of early colonial Sydney society.

In 1834 we find among the tenants, at No. 1, Colonnade, Bridge-street, the new Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, which was finalising its Deed of Settlement and initial distribution of shares. Joseph Pritchard at No. 2 sold an assortment of goods. At No. 3 was H.J. Sloman’s Boot and Shoe Depot. In England Mr. Sloman had been ‘Bootmaker to His Majesty.’ Also at No. 3 we find the Spyer Brothers, who sold goods including salt, sugar, tea, tobacco, and ‘velvet corks’. In the latter part of the year Mr. Grace, a solicitor, formerly of King-street East, moved into No. 3. Perhaps at No. 4 was Mrs. Metcalfe, who advertised for sale ‘an elegant Assortment of Leghorn, Tuscan, and Straw Bonnets of the newest Fashion and Shapes, which she has brought with her from England.’ She also announced, ‘Two Apprentices to the Straw Business wanted.’ At No. 6 was Mrs. Boatright’s School for Young Ladies. She gives the address as ‘6, Colonnade, Bridge-street (Leading to Government House)’, as if intimating that her pupils could be expected to rise in society and go in the same direction. Mr. G.W. Evans, bookseller, was at No. 7. In March Mr [Ralph] Mansfield, of Hart’s Buildings, announced that he was retiring from bookselling and had transferred to Mr. Evans his stock of publications from the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, including a large supply of the Penny Magazine, ‘commencing with the First Number.’ At the same time Mr Evans placed an advertisement listing the range of titles which he had available. These included various books, the Penny Cyclopedia and the Ladies’ Magazine.

Publications available from Mr. Evans range from Insect Transformation to The Architecture of Birds, and from Paris, and its Historical Scenes to The New Zealanders. One could also purchase The Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties, illustrated by Anecdotes, or (under the heading of The Working Man’s Companion) On the Results of Machinery. Under the same heading one finds Cottage Evenings, which seems reminiscent of Vergil’s Georgics, but also The Cholera, striking a rather sinister note, from which one might hardly be relieved by perusing Criminal Trials. There is, however, hope of escapism not only in Vegetable Substances Used for the Food of Man but in Pompeii and Its Antiquities or The Domestic Habits of Birds. Perhaps on the whole the Penny Magazine and the Ladies’ Magazine were safe choices.

Quotation describing the Colonnade: Australian 8/1/1836, p. 1. No. 1: Sydney Herald 20/11/1834, p. 1. No. 2: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 29/11/1834, p. 1. No. 3: Sydney Monitor 17/12/1834, p. 4. No. 4, Mr. Grace: Sydney Monitor 13/12/1834, p. 4. Mrs. Metcalfe: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 26/8/1834, p. 1 (Colonnade number not given; no. 4 let to Mr. Metcalfe according to Australian 8/1/1836, p. 1, but this is not decisive). No. 6: e.g. Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 16/12/1834, p. 1 (frequent advertisements). No. 7: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 4/3/1834, p. 1.

Sydney in 1841: a directory [instalment 2]

The ‘Directory of the Public Institutions and Government Offices in Sydney’ published in the Sydney Herald on 5 July 1841 (see yesterday’s entry for further details) includes (3) educational establishments, (4) places of resort and (5) public wharfs (so spelled) and markets.

(3) The directory lists nine educational establishments located in public buildings (or two or three more if primary and infant schools are counted separately): the Australian College, in Jamison Street beside the Scotch Church; the Sydney College, on the east side of Hyde Park; the Female School of Industry, at the lower end of Macquarie Street; the Kent-street Primary and Infant Schools, between King and Market Streets; St. Philip’s Primary and Infant School, next to St. Philip’s Church; St. James’ Grammar School, nearly completed, at the southern end of Phillip Street, with classes temporarily held in the Old Court House (next to St. James’ Church); St. James’ Primary Male and Female Schools, in the Old Court House; the Roman Catholic School, also in the Old Court House; and the New Roman Catholic School-house, at the northern end of Kent Street. There are also ‘upwards of sixty private seminaries.’

(4) The term ‘places of resort’ evidently means places for serious and civilised recreation and amusement. Four places are listed: the Royal Exchange and Subscription Rooms, temporarily in the nearest house to Sydney Cove, on the east side of Macquarie Place; the Australian Club-house, on the corner of O’Connell and Bent Streets (not far from Macquarie Place); the Australian Museum, but this is closed at the moment and temporary premises are being used next to St. James’s Parsonage at the southern end of Macquarie Street; and the Sydney Botanical [sic] Gardens (part of the Government Domain).

(5) Three wharves are listed: the Queen’s Wharf, near the northern end of George Street, i.e. at Sydney Cove, and two at Darling Harbour: the Market Wharf in Sussex Street, between Market and King, and the Commercial Wharf at the end of King Street.

Of the markets, the Sydney Market Sheds are where the Queen Victoria Building stands now, surrounded by George, York, Market and Druitt Streets. The other three markets are side by side at the southern end of the town, on the southern side of Campbell Street: the Corn Market (at the end of George Street) and on the eastern side of that the Hay Market and then the Cattle Market, which includes the Sydney Pound.

A note on two of the institutions mentioned: The Australian College (1831-1854) was founded by Sydney’s first Presbyterian minister, John Dunmore Lang (1799-1878), minister of the Scotch Church and principal of the College. The College lasted longer than his short-lived Caledonian Academy, announced in 1826, the year the Scotch (or Scots) Church was completed (cf. the announcement in The Monitor 2/6/1826, p. 8, which states that any funds which Dr. Lang may derive from his connection with the Academy will be used to pay off the church debt). The State Library of NSW holds a number of images of the three-storey building with verandahs on the corner of O’Connell and Bent Streets used by the Australian Club until 1892.

[To be continued.]

Photographs of the Australian Club House: e.g. Australian Club [ca. 1863-65], Dalton’s, Royal Photographic Gallery, 320, George Street, Sydney, Dalton’s Royal Photographic Establishment (Sydney, N.S.W.) (Ref. SPF/101), Aggregated Collection, State Library of NSW.

Sydney in 1841: a directory of institutions and offices

On 5 July 1841 the Sydney Herald published on its own initiative a ‘Directory of the Public Institutions and Government Offices in Sydney.’ The directory, occupying just under two columns of the newspaper, gives the names of institutions, offices and the like, together with their locations.

The directory is divided into thirteen sections, numbered here for reference: (1) Banks and commercial institutions; (2) Churches and chapels; (3) Educational establishments; (4) Places of resort; (5) Public wharfs and markets; (6) Legal offices; (7) Government offices; (8) Offices of military departments; (9) Religious, scientific and charitable institutions; (10) Hospitals and medical establishments; (11) Associations for amusement; (12) Masonic Lodges, &c.; and (13) Newspapers.

(1) There are seven banks: the Bank of New South Wales, the Bank of Australia, the Commercial Banking Company, the Bank of Australasia, the Union Bank of Australia, the Sydney Banking Company, and the Savings’ Bank of New South Wales. Five are in George Street, one is just off George Street, and one (the Union) is in Pitt Street. There is also the British and Australian Loan Company in Elizabeth Street and the Australian Society for Deposits and Loans in King Street, not far from George.

There are six insurance companies (most of them called ‘assurance’ companies): Australian Marine; Union; Australian General; Sydney Alliance Marine, Fire and Life; Mutual Fire; and Australian Colonial and General Life.

Various companies are scattered here and there. The Sugar Refining Company is outside the city at Canterbury, by Cook’s River. The Sydney Flour Company is at Girard’s Mills (a concern of Francis Girard, referred to in an earlier post) in Sussex Street. The Australian Gas Light Company has works in Kent Street and offices in Pitt Street, where the Sydney Ferry Company is also accommodated. The General Steam Navigation Company and the Hunter’s River Steam Navigation Company have offices at the wharves from which their vessels start. Also in Sydney are offices of the Australian Agricultural Company, Hunter and Co., and the Australian Auction Company.

(2) There are churches and chapels of several denominations. Most denominations have more than one place of worship. For the Church of England there are St. Phillip’s (on Church-hill) and another in the same parish in the course of construction; St. James’s at the end of King Street; a temporary chapel in a private building for the parish of St. Laurence while a new building is being erected; and the Cathedral of St. Andrew, under construction. For the Presbyterians there are the Scotch Church (at Church-hill); St. Andrew’s Scotch Church (not far from the Church of England St. Andrew’s); and another (unnamed) in the course of construction. The Wesleyans have three chapels, the main one in Macquarie Street opposite the General Hospital, another near Church-hill and a third in Pitt Street. There is also an Independent Chapel in Pitt Street and another being built in the same street. The Baptists have a chapel near St. Andrew’s Scotch Church. The Roman Catholics have the Cathedral of St. Mary (erected before the Church of England cathedral). Next to St. Mary’s is a building used as a confessional. There is also a small Roman Catholic chapel in Parramatta Street and a new place of worship (St. Patrick’s) being built on Church-hill. The Society of Friends have a Meeting House in Macquarie Street opposite the Council Chamber and hence near the Wesleyan chapel in that street.

A note on some localities: Church Hill, where Lang Park is now, is beside the area of Sydney called the Rocks. The website of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Church Hill, gives an account of the history and construction of that church. Parramatta Street was the name used for the extension of George Street south of its junction with the street (now part of Pitt Street) that ran off at an angle to the Cattle Market. At this junction was a toll gate, called a turnpike in the 1832 map by Thomas Mitchell. This map has George Street before the toll gate marked as Brickfield Hill. During the 1830s this hill was reduced by moving earth from there to Bathurst Street. Parramatta Street (called Broadway today) gave way to Parramatta Road at the junction with Cook’s River Road (now City Road).

[To be continued.]

Directory: Sydney Herald 5/7/1841, p. 2. The Directory can be read in conjunction with a map of Sydney streets and landmarks done by the Government Surveyor Thomas Mitchell in 1832, accessible online via Flickr: Sydney Streets, 1832, 13 April 1832, Surveyor General’s Select List of Maps and Plans (and Supplement), 1792-1886 (Ref. SR Map 5470), State Records NSW. Cf. ‘Surveyor General’s Crown Plans, 1792-1886’, a searchable listing of the Surveyor General’s Select List of Maps and Plans (and Supplement) (6508 entries) on the website of State Records NSW.

At the top of King Street

In an 1832 map of Sydney, King Street, which runs approximately east-west, is divided into West King Street (at the Darling Harbour end) and East King Street. The eastern end goes as far as Elizabeth and Phillip Streets but stops short of Macquarie Street. At this end of King Street stand the Court House (as it used to be) and St. James’s Church. Then there is an open space which was often referred to as ‘at the top of King-street.’ The general lay-out still applies to day.

The open space was a convenient meeting point and one finds all kinds of gatherings taking place ‘at the top of King-street.’ For instance, in August 1885 unemployed members of ‘the late Soudan Contingent’ gathered to protest their need for Government help. In February 1886 the Democratic Alliance held a public meeting to criticise Government land and taxation policies. In June 1887 a large crowd gathered (as mentioned in an earlier post) to protest against an order prohibiting Sunday evening meetings and entertainments.

From the civic point of view the open space no doubt cried out for a statue. On 2 August 1881 the foundation-stone was laid of a pedestal on which a statue of Queen Victoria would be erected. The stone was laid by her grandson, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, Albert Victor Christian Edward, called H.R.H. Prince Edward of Wales by the Sydney Morning Herald but usually called Prince Albert Victor, as in the description of the occasion in the Melbourne Argus. Also present was his younger brother H.R.H. Prince George of Wales. It was estimated that a crowd of 60,000 to 70,000 people were present, in the reserve and lining the streets.

It was some years before the Queen’s statue was created and set in place. In the meantime, the pedestal stood there to be viewed either as testimony to the colony’s loyal wishes or as a reproach to the colony’s tardiness in not completing the monument. It was a convenient landmark and people could now speak of meeting ‘at the pedestal’ or ‘at the pedestal at the top of King-street.’ The pedestal alone was about 12 feet high, and therefore no small thing in itself. In a period of strong republican sentiments there would have been many content to tolerate the pedestal without Queen Victoria looking down upon them.

Map of Sydney: Plan of the Streets of the Town of Sydney, State Records NSW, on Flickr: Sydney Streets, 1832, 13 April 1832, Surveyor General’s Select List of Maps and Plans (and Supplement), 1792-1886 (Ref. SR Map 5470), State Records NSW. Photos of King Street include: King Street, Sydney 1880 [from the corner of George Street looking eastwards], State Records NSW, on Flickr; King Street East, Sydney c. 1900 [including St. James’s Church], Henry King, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1900, Tyrrell Collection (Ref. 85/1285-133), Powerhouse Museum, on Flickr. Late Soudan Contingent: Argus 5/8/1885, p. 6. Democratic Alliance: Argus 4/2/1886, p. 7. Foundation-stone of pedestal: Sydney Morning Herald 3/8/1881, p. 7; Argus 3/8/1881, p. 5.