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Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England (part 3)

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The Scone Advocate (NSW: 1887-1954), Friday 6 October 1922

Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England.

PIONEERS OF UPPER HUNTER PLAY LEADING PART.

BLACKS AND BUSHRANGERS TROUBLESOME.

THE OLD NEW ENGLAND-PORT MACQUARIE ROAD.

(From a paper, written by Mr. J. F. Campbell, L.S., and read before a recent meeting of members of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Sydney).

(No. 3).

Thus the Port Macquarie correspondent of the “Sydney Herald,” of April 10, 1841: “We have great satisfaction in being able to announce the capture of the seven bushrangers who absconded from the New England road party on the 5th inst. They were taken at New England within a short distance of the station occupied by Todd and Fenwick, and it would seem only just in time to prevent them adding the crime of plunder and perhaps murder to their former offence. They had proceeded thus far without committing any mischief, and were lying in ambush awaiting the departure of Todd and Fenwick’s shepherds from the station, when it was their intention to seize and bind these two gentlemen and possess themselves of what firearms they could find, and such provisions as they stood in need of. Happily, however, a native black who went forward a short distance in advance of the constables, discovered them, and giving a private and pre-concerted signal afforded the constables an opportunity of taking the proper measures for securing, them, and in a very short space of time they were handcuffed and on their way to Port Macquarie.”

As for Wilson and his gang, these highway robbers in the early forties added considerably to the inconvenience of travelling and of rural life in the districts where they operated. From time to time solitary travellers passing between the Hunter Valley and New England were waylaid by Wilson and submitted to rough handling if unwilling to “stand and deliver.” Becoming hard pressed by the police on the Liverpool Plains, these bushrangers sought refuge on the tableland, where they usually roamed, until their capture in 1846. Wilson and his lieutenant, “Long Tom,” were executed at Newcastle. A few days after the execution, according to Sir William Barton, the judge in the case, a free pardon and £300 had been received in the colony for Wilson, and he also stated that Wilson was the son of a baronet, well-known in London society.

The bellicose attitude of the aborigines on the tableland, as elsewhere, began when their localities became overrun by the stock of the squatters. The blacks naturally resented, the intrusion of the whites with their flocks and herds, and both parties soon commenced a war of extermination. Fearing the firearms of the intruders, the natives devoted their attention to the slaughter of the stock, and, when opportunity presented, of the shepherds and herdsmen as well. In retaliation, the conquering whites, while making application to the Government for assistance, which they scarcely expected, ensured the granting of such relief in other ways. The following are excerpts from the “Sydney Herald,” between 1836 and 1842:–

“We hear that numerous, outrages have been commenced by the aborigines in the newly discovered country north-east of Liverpool Plains.” . . .

“Two men belonging to John and Francis Allman were murdered at Yarrowitch, and their sheep taken away.” . . .

“We have been informed that the blacks of New England drove off 1400 sheep, the property of Mr Windeyer, but they were all recovered with the exception of 50 or 60, which the savages had slaughtered.” . . .

“Poor Kelso has lost 600 or 700 sheep again by those infernal blacks who have nearly ruined him.” . . .

“The blacks to the number of 500, have been about Peter McIntyre’s Byron Plains station for the last five weeks. Last week they commenced driving off the cattle, 400 head of which are missing. They also attacked a shepherd, who saved his life by killing one at the first shot, after being wounded in the head by a spear.” . . .

“Letters have been received in town stating that the blacks had attacked the station of Robert Ramsay Mackenzie (Salisbury), murdered a shepherd, driven off 1300 sheep, and burned down two huts. The district is without police, Mr. Commissioner Macdonald and his party having been ordered by the Governor to proceed to Moreton Bay.”

Prior to railway communication, the principal line of traffic to and from the tableland followed the route of the G.N. Road, via Tamworth, but the 250 miles of partly formed roadway to the shipping ports about Newcastle consumed so much time in the transit of wool goods, etc., that efforts were made to reach the coast by a nearer route. In the meantime the settlers at Port Macquarie, being aware of the importance of the New England trade, if diverted to their port, began to make, strenuous efforts to render Oxley’s route from the tableland trafficable for wool teams. This historic road was brought under public notice in 1838, when it was announced in the Sydney Press that a movement was being made at Port Macquarie to get the road to New England made trafficable. The following interesting references to the old Port Macquarie New England road found place in the “Sydney Herald” from 1840 to 1842:–

“By a letter received from Port Macquarie, we learn that the new road to New England is now open for horsemen, and travellers can proceed from the town of Port Macquarie to the station of R. R. Mackenzie.” . . .

“Several gentlemen connected with New England (Messrs. Kelso, Turner, McLean, and Steele) have lately visited Port Macquarie by the new line of road in order to judge of the practicability of land carriage for the present year’s clip to this port of shipment, but at present this desirable object cannot be effected. Major Innes, for his station at Yarrows, purposes to bring down the present year’s clip by means of a sledge.” . .

“Mr Gray, P.M., of Port Macquarie recommended the line of road laid out by Surveyor Rolfe. Forty men are now at work, and thirty convicts are to be sent by the order of the Governor.” . . .

“The new road is in such a rapid state of forwardness that several teams of wool belonging to Major Innes have already travelled the road.”

Tho following interesting proclamation, touching the same road, appeared in the “Government Gazette” of September 9, 1842:—

“To the New England settlers and all concerned. — Notice is hereby given that the road to New England from Port Macquarie, made by the settlers of these districts is now open and ready for drays conveying wool or other produce or supplies to and from Port Macquarie.

(Signed) William Gray, Police Magistrate.”

Next year — on the 10th February to be precise – “Sydney Herald” made the following announcement:

“Twelve drays laden with wool came down the New England line the other day, and it is said there are no less than twenty four more on the road. Forty-five men are still at work on the road. The drays were only ten days on the road which must have been a saving of nearly three weeks, as drays are commonly a month on the road from New England to Maitland.”

About this time, the slump in the value of wool and depreciation of stock generally began to paralyse the pastoral industry, and the anticipated volume of trade with the Port becoming unrealisable, the interest hitherto taken in the formation of the road practically ceased for a time.

The next route of primal importance to pastoral settlement in the early days, of which we have definite knowledge, was the “Peel line.” This route, which led indirectly to the tableland, was established by survey in 1832 by the Australian Agricultural Company as a means of communication between their coast and inland grants, to which reference has already been made. This line of road was surveyed by way of Hungry Hill spur and Nowendoc, northerly to the junction of the main Range, with the easterly trend of the Hawes-Vernon country boundary. From this junction routes were measured either way along the main range, the Peel line running south-westerly, via the Callaghan Swamps and the Nundle spur to the Peel River, and the route northerly following the range towards Walcha, evidently connecting Oxley’s trail. Along the Peel line was conveyed the requirements of the inland grants, and in return the produce of those grants for shipment at Port Stephens. The mode of conveyance at the commencement of operations was usually by packsaddle, but as the road-forming progressed vehicular traffic became more general. Regarding this road, the company’s report of February 2, 1836, states that the distance from the nearest point of the Port Stephens location to Liverpool Plains is about eighty miles, and the country intervening offers, facilities for the formation of a road, which is now in progress.” The Peel line between Callaghan Swamps and the Port Stephens road on the east, also the branch road northerly along the main range, have long been abandoned, and are now scarcely distinguishable; but the Nundle spur and its northerly trend by way of Ingleba, are still in use although largely suspended by the railway.

About the time when the Peel line was receiving its final survey adjustments by Surveyor H. Dangar (1832), E. G. Cory was engaged in exploratory work along the Great Northern route between the Australian Agricultural Company’s Peel River grant and the Armidale region, but he apparently left no diary records of his movements.

(To be continued).

Written by macalba

October 26, 2014 at 11:50 am

Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England (part 2)

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The Scone Advocate (NSW: 1887-1954), Tuesday 3 October 1922

Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England.

PIONEERS OF UPPER HUNTER PLAY LEADING PART.

(From a paper written by Mr. J. F. Campbell, L.S., and read before a recent meeting of members of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Sydney).

(No. 2).

With reference to the activity displayed by squatters about this time (1842) in the appropriation of the country lying generally to the north of the latitude of Armidale, Abington was first taken up by John Cameron, who was one of the first pioneers to come to New England. Some years later the property came into the hands of Henry and George Morse. Stonybatter was taken up by Tom Hall, of Dartbrook, and Beverley, first taken up by Allan McPherson, of Keera. It passed through many hands, eventually coming into those of Tom Cook, of Scone. Aberfoyle passed from Denny Day to Captain Pike, then to Walker, and Kangaroo Hills become the occupancy of William Dangar, whose agent had secured it on the advice of a local stockman named Joe Brooks. Falconer Plain was taken up by John Falconer for Donald McIntyre, and Guyra by the same man for Peter McIntyre. A bushranger named Cooney, from the Ballarat side, took up Cooney Creek, but when his identity was disclosed, he was hunted out of the district. Cooney was hanged in Sydney, and the run fell into the hands of Mr. Robertson. According to the “Government Gazette” of the time, the following were included among those to take up land between 1832 and 1839: Hamilton Collins Sempill (Walcha), Edward Gostwyck Cory (Salisbury Waters), A. A. Company (Nowendoc), H. Macdonald, (Bendemeer), Henry Dumaresq (Saumarez), J. Chilcott (Kentucky), William Dangar (Gostwyck, from E. G. Gory ) , William j Dumaresq (Tilbuster), William Frederick Cruickshanks (Mihi Creek), John Dow (Inglba, obtained from John McIvor), Allman brothers (Yarrowitch), J. Morse and T. Foule (Balala), Francis Forbes (Yarrowich), Robert M. Mackenzie ( Salisbury, from E . G. Gory), Edward George Clerk and John Rankin (Clerkness and Newstead), John Cameron (Abington), Alexander Campbell (Inverell), Donald McIntyre (Falconer), C. H. and W. F. Buchanan (Rimbanda), Henry Nowland (Guy Fawkes). It was in 1839 that Edward Denny Day came into possession of Aberfoyle. Others to take up land at the same time included Stephen Coxen, Gregory Blaxland, and Charles Windeyer. In 1843 the New England district, which hitherto embraced the Darling Downs, was limited on the north by the latitude of Wallangarra, but it extended southerly to the Manning River, easterly to Mount Sea View, and westerly to the western limits of the tableland. The Downs squatters included Colin Campbell, John Cameron, Patrick Leslie, and John Pike. It was about this time that the craze for land, which had induced men of all ranks and professions to try their luck in squatting, having run its course, was followed by probably the most serious depression the pastoral industry has experienced, and this depression was more apparent on the tableland, than elsewhere, owing to the great disabilities of transit and the adverse climatic conditions of the winter months. When stock became almost unsaleable, excepting for the tallow their carcasses yielded, the upland runs, as a matter of course, also became more or less valueless, and so much was this the case that at auction sales of bankrupt stock the purchaser was frequently given the rights of occupancy, if he so desired., With the authorisation of pastoral holdings in 1848, an opportunity was afforded of ascertaining the extent of many tracts of country taken up by individual holders. For instance, leaving their interests in the Hunter River and other districts, perhaps further south, out of it, the Dumaresq family, controlled approximately 175,000 acres, Morse and Toule 96,000, George Hall 76,000, Henry Dangar 48,000, and John McIvor 20,000. On their different runs, the Dumaresqs ran 31,000 sheep, as well as 3600 cattle. All areas ranged from 10,000 to 100,000 acres.

For a quarter of a century after its discovery by Oxley, New England remained practically unknown to the Government authorities in Sydney, and it was not until about the year 1846 that any serious attempt was made to acquire a geographical knowledge of it. In 1839, the Government learning of the rapid, progress of squatting on the northern tableland, took action with a view to the establishment of law and order in that region. The appointment of a Crown Lands Commissioner was accompanied by a notification defining the limits of the new district, which was vaguely described as bounded on the east by a line north from the top of Werrikimber Mountain, which is at the head of the Hastings River; on the south by a line west from the top of the same mountain to the Great Dividing Range; on the west by the western extreme of the Great Dividing Range, so as to include the tableland; and on the north the boundary is indefinite.” The name New. England (“Arrabald” by the aborigines), was given to this elevated region because of the similarity of its climatic conditions to those of Britain. . . . When the pioneer pastoralists of New England reached the tableland they found it a vast tract of well-watered woodland country, interspersed with numerous lightly-timbered patches of grassland, but the coarse and sour character of much of the pasturage, together with the inclement winters and the difficulty of access to the tableland from the east, south, and south-west, militated somewhat against permanent or at least perennial occupancy in its earlier stages. It was soon observed that the granite country on the west, and the basaltic ranges on the south and in other places, were unsuitable for the healthy maintenance of sheep all the year round, and especially in wet seasons. The early squatters on these two classes of country had, therefore, to abandon sheep to more suitable pasturage. Hence the frequent changes in occupancy which, being unrecorded, obscure much of the early history of pastoral settlement. All primary upland squattages were usually bounded by leading ridges, and embraced the valley or valleys lying between. They were briefly described as including all the land drained by the main stream and its tributaries. Later pioneers adopted, where practicable, a similar system of boundaries, but in many eases arbitrary lines limited adjoining runs, and the fixing of these lines frequently gave rise to disputes, in the settling of which there was then no jurisdiction, as stated or implied by Governor Gipps in his despatch of April 3, 1844. He writes: “Parties, originally, in taking up their runs were limited only by their own moderation, or by the pressure of other squatters on them, and it is this pressure of one squatter on another, and the disagreements which arose therefrom which in the year 1837 led to the first appointment of Crown Commissioners.” In an earlier despatch, dated September 28, 1840, the Governor describes the conditions under which squatters held their occupancies at that time. The extract runs: “Beyond the boundaries the country is roughly divided into districts in each of which there is a Commissioner of Crown Lands, who is the chief magistrate of it, and has under his control a small force of mounted constables, who, in order that they may be distinguished from the more regular mounted police of the colony, are called by the name of border police. . . . Beyond the limits of location land is neither sold nor let, but licenses are granted, at the discretion of the Crown Commissioners, for the occupation of such portions of land as may be desired by proprietors of stock, on each of which licenses a fee of £10 is payable annually, and an assessment under a local ordinance is levied on the stock depastured there. Each allotment of land for which a license is given is called a station, and the station may vary in extent from 5000 to 30,000 acres.” The troubles which beset pastoral pioneering, especially on the tableland, were many and varied. Apart from the ordinary discomforts of bush life as then experienced, the visits of bushrangers, the destruction of stock by aborigines, and the delinquencies of many of the assigned servants, were causes of annoyance and unrest, and occasionally the loss of life itself. The Legislative Council’s enactment of July 29, 1836, prohibiting the occupancy of ‘Crown lands beyond the “limits,” without first obtaining a license ior such purpose was, more or less, directly the result of petitions from pioneer squatters, who, under the authority of the Governor, had ventured beyond the “boundaries,” but were seriously handicapped by the depredations of lawless men, usually of the convict class. The following extract from a memorial to Governor Bourke portrays the trouble which pressed upon these pioneer pastoralists in this direction: “We beg leave to add our own personal knowledge of the fact that the interior of the colony is infested with gangs of cattle stealers and other disorderly persons, whose depredations are carried out to an alarming extent. These gangs consist of freed men, who have served short sentences, or those of long sentences holding tickets-of-leave, who combine with the assigned servants to plunder the herds of their masters. Many of these men are known to possess large herds of cattle, obtained in a very short time by a series of schemes for stealing them.” — Sydney “Herald,” April 11, 1836.

In reviewing the bushranging and other lawless acts incidental to the convict days, by aid of information gleaned from law court proceedings and Press narratives, etc., one can not fail to realise that “man’s in humanity to man” gave rise to many retaliatory offences of a more or less serious nature, which could readily have been averted. The earliest recorded instance of bushranging on the tableland occurred about the beginning of the year 1836 at Saumarez (Armidale). The bushrangers in this instance were absconders from the service of a few squatters who had established themselves on that portion of the tableland, but their misdemeanours appear to have been confined to robberies only. In the absence of correspondence from the tableland, news respecting the movements of bushrangers, or in fact any other movement, seldom reached the Sydney Press. Traditional tales, however, are numerous, but conflicting, and therefore unreliable. Of the more interesting cases reported, mention may be made of the Port Macquarie road-gang deserters, whose depredatory intentions on the tableland were nipped in the bud; and of Wilson, the leader of the gang that for several years terrorised travellers, chiefly along the Great Northern Road.

(To be continued in Friday’s issue).

Written by macalba

October 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Grey Crawford’s death

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The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW : 1882 – 1950), Saturday 12 November 1932

WALCHA NEWS.

(Contributed).

Since last writing from Walcha, two old identities have passed over to the great majority. Mr. Grey H. Crawford, of Moona Plains, son of the late Captain Crawford, well known horse and cattle breeders. The Crawford Brothers — Rowley being the surviving brother — are well-known throughout New England. Their station embraces the tributaries of the Macleay River, and a life-long acquaintance with pastoralists and breeders of large stock brought them into touch with graziers throughout the State. Honourable men, all of them, with lives extending over 80 years, their passing is a loss to the State.

Mr. Harry Costigan, another octogenarian, who, with his late wife, reared a large family at Yarrowitch, died a few days ago. A fine man, of military bearing, he was a lover of good music, and one of the pioneers when bush difficulties were not easily overcome.

The recent storms have provided green pasture for the summer.

Shearing is, proceeding throughout the district. The clip generally is light, but the wool is good and clean.

The lambing was only fair.

Written by macalba

April 29, 2013 at 8:34 am

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