Sunday, 29 December 2013

1874 technical details of the Windsor Bridge

The Windsor Bridge over the Hawkesbury River was officially opened on the 20 August 1874. The town celebrated in great style with about 7000 attendees and the day was observed as a general holiday. The Australian Town & Country Journal published the interesting sketch below, as well as an informative article about the construction of the newly opened Windsor Bridge on the 22 August 1874.

The New Bridge over the Hawkesbury at Windsor. Australian Town & Country Journal, 22 August 1874, p. 20. 

 The article, retrieved from Trove, is reprinted in full below:

This want of a bridge over the Hawkesbury River at Windsor has been felt for many years. In 1864, [politician James Augustine Cunneen 1826-1899] presented a petition from the inhabitants of the district for the erection of a bridge at Windsor, but it was not until June, 1871, that the Legislative Assembly voted the necessary funds for the construction of a low level bridge.

There was much diversity of opinion as to the advisability of constructing a low level bridge at the site proposed, as the floods rise there to a height of more than 50 feet above low water. The Commissioner and Engineer for Roads was however, instructed by the Government to prepare designs for a low level bridge, and to invite tenders for its construction. Mr. Andrew Turnbull's tender was accepted in December 1871 and the work began on the 15 January 1872.

According to the original design, the total length of the bridge was to be 406 feet, composed of eight main spans of 44 feet each, and of two approaches 32 feet and 22 feet respectively. The abutments were to be of timber; and the nine intermediate piers of cast iron cylinders and screw piles braced with strong wrought iron beams. The screw piles and cylinders to be sunk to the rock, and lewised thereto by heavy wrought iron bolts, previous to being filled up with cement concrete.

In October 1872, three of the iron piers had been sunk 4 feet into the rock to the depth of 25 feet below river bed; each column was lewised with four inch bolt and filled up with strong cement and concrete, supporting a ring of 9-inch radiating bricks; enclosing a cone of concrete to the top of the pier. From the nature of the strata found in sinking those piers, it became doubtful whether screw piles could be used, as the bed of the river to the rock consisted of drift timber, silt, and boulders deposited by floods.

A test screw-pile, 2 foot 6 inches in diameter, was, however, put down in the middle of the stream; but the rock could not be reached, owing to the difficulty of removing the drift timber. Mr. Bennett, the Commissioner and Engineer for Roads, then decided to give up the screw-piles and to use cylinders for all the piers.

Many freshes and several heavy floods retarded operations; and the sinking of all the piers could not be completed until December, 1873. Although a few feet only of the iron columns appear above water, the cylinders reach to an average depth of 40 feet below summer level. By the use of the sand-pump and air-lochs, boulders, drift-wood, and logs, several feet in thickness, were removed at considerable depths, and each pillar firmly bedded and lewised four feet into the solid rock. The bracing beams were also fixed below water by divers, before the erection of the superstructure.

The extraordinary floods at Windsor which reach to a height of 51 foot above low water, or 36 feet above the decks of the bridge, made it necessary to have the superstructure unusually strong; and much ingenuity is shown in tho design for securely fastening it to the piers. The deck is 21 feet 6 inches wide; and is composed of planks five inches thick, securely fixed to five ironbark girders 17 and 18 inches by 16 inches and 44 feet long, strongly bolted to corbels and capsilla firmly secured to-the iron piers. The whole of the timber is ironbark, which has little buoyancy under water, and the girders are fine specimens of our colonial wood.

All the joints are covered with iron fish-plates, bolted with inch bolts, and it is evident from the massive fastenings throughout, and the great strength of the structure in every detail, that the engineer has taken every precaution to prevent the floods from making a breach in any part of the bridge. The handrail is also ingeniously contrived to protect it from the large quantity of drift timber brought down by the floods. The foot of every rail post swings on a stout bolt secured to the girders, and the top is jointed to a two-inch wrought iron pipe, provided with sockets and collars at every 44 feet; the total length being held in place by two iron couplings in such a manner that one man can lower the whole alongside the girders in ten minutes.

The amount of Messrs. Turnbull and Dixon's contract was £8287; but an additional expenditure of about £2000 was rendered necessary by the substitution of cylinders for screw piles in the piers, and by the addition of two spans to the bridge to prevent future encroachment on the approaches. It was observed that moderate floods bring large deposits of sand and drift; but that heavy floods scour the river bed to a considerable extent.

The total length of the bridge as completed is 480 feet. The abutment on the Windsor side is built of iron backed with masonry in cement; and that on the opposite bank is protected by sheet piling reaching below summer level. A new cutting has also been made on the Wilberforce side for the approach, which is covered with ironstone gravel. The number of cast-iron cylinders used in the piers is 130. They are six feet long, and 3 feet 6 inches in diameter, and their weight exceeds 150 tons. They were cast at the Mort's Dock and Engineering Works at Balmain; and are another instance of the facility afforded for such works by colonial establishments.

The inhabitants of the district may well be pleased at the completion of this fine bridge; and it will be satisfactory for them to know that it has been ascertained by the officers of the Department of Roads and Bridges, in reference to the traffic and the disastrous floods of the Hawkesbury River, that, while the deck of the Windsor bridge is free from flood, the Richmond bridge is covered with three feet eight inches of water, and that the Windsor bridge is crossable twenty-two hours after the stoppage of the traffic at the Richmond bridge.

Great credit is due to the contractors, Messrs, Turnbull and Dixon, for their energy and perseverance in carrying out, without any accident, such an important and difficult work, to the satisfaction of the Commissioner and Engineer for Roads.

More about the official opening of the bridge will follow.

Friday, 27 December 2013

A tragic trip

In days gone by, many inhabitants lived closed to the Hawkesbury River and its tributaries as it was quick to travel from one location to another by boat. By road the route between Lower Portland and Windsor is about 40 kms and by car would take about 50 minutes today. Over one hundred years ago the route by road, travelling by horse and cart could take about three to four hours, by boat the journey was considerably quicker.

Several generations of the Wall family resided at Lower Portland during the 19th century. Patriarch of the family was Thomas Wall (1794-1880) a convict who had arrived in 1815 and his wife Ann Huxley (1805-1869) whose parents were also convicts. Following their marriage at Windsor’s St. Matthews Church of England in 1822, Thomas and Ann raised a large family. Their son Richard was born in 1824 and he married Elizabeth Harriet Jones in Sydney in 1853. Their children included, Sidney born 1854, Thomas John 1856, Frederick 1858, George 1860, Martha Ann 1863, Rosanna Caroline 1865, Rachel Jane 1867, Drusilla Elizabeth 1870, Emeline Alice 1873 and Jessie Mary born 1876. Richard Wall was recorded as a farmer but was originally a cordwainer by trade. A cordwainer was a shoemaker who made luxurious footwear.

In 1881, the Wall family consisted of Richard and his wife Elizabeth along with an assortment of their unmarried children residing with them at Lower Portland. On 20 January 1881, a hot and humid summer’s day, Richard set out on a routine outing. He was visiting his older brother Thomas, who lived in Windsor and was accompanied by daughters; Martha 18 and Rachel aged 13. 

They left the house of Thomas Wall about 3.30pm in the afternoon to return home but later that evening the alarm was raised when they did not arrive at their destination. Apparently they got caught in a squall near Pitt Reach on the Hawkesbury River which upset the boat.  Following the hot day a southerly buster hit Sydney around 6pm with a small shower of rain and gusty winds. According to the Sydney Morning Herald report the boat was located upside down and empty with the occupants missing, sometime after the warning was raised. Thomas Wall was alerted of the tragedy and he travelled to Mrs Burdekin’s farm at about 11pm the same evening, to see what had taken place.  

As it was too dark, the search reconvened the following morning at 7am with Mr Woodbury, Mr J. Kirwan and William Pendergast lending a hand. Senior Constable Roberts also contributed to the search. He proceeded to a place called Foul Weather Reach and commenced dragging the river for the bodies and found two women’s hats on the beach, and opposite to them some parcels, and about 11 o’clock he found the eldest girl Martha Wall. William Grono then located the bodies of Richard Wall and his youngest daughter, they were clasped together when found.

An Inquest was held in Pitt Town at the Maid of Australia Hotel the following day.  Dr Thomas Fiaschi gave evidence at the inquest stating in his opinion the deaths resulted from suffocation by drowning. The jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased met their deaths by being accidentally drowned, through the upsetting of a boat, on the evening of the 20 January 1881, according to The Australian, Windsor, Richmond, & Hawkesbury Advertiser. The district coroner for Windsor, James Bligh Johnston, Esq JP returned a result, death by accidental drowning.

The funeral, a most sad occasion, was held at St Thomas Church of England at Sackville on 22 January and the service was conducted by Rev. W. Wood. The three members of the Wall family were buried together at Sackville Reach Cemetery

The simple sandstone headstone recording the three names, is a reminder of this unfortunate
19thcentury tragedy. Photo: Jonathan Auld 2003.

The Hawkesbury community rallied around the Wall family and the community donated cash and goods to the worthy cause. John Gough and Thomas Boston were the official collectors and a list of donors appeared in the The Australian several weeks later.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Picnics date to medieval times when the wealthy feasted outdoors. We know that whilst we are celebrating the Australian summer and relishing the outdoors, on the other side of the world it is the dead of Winter. Picnics were one way of enjoying recreation time under the warm Australian sun. A picnic is the pleasurable activity of eating outdoors with a group of family or friends. The picnic was often informal and in an attractive location, inevitably a popular past time in the Australian landscape and climate.
Jennings family enjoying a picnic by the Hawkesbury River at Windsor – early 1920s.
Courtesy Nichols Family Archives.

Picnics were recorded in the Sydney newspapers in the early 1800s, and were originally referred to as a-gypsying.  In 1830, it is mentioned some inhabitants “went a-gipsying, or as it is called in this country, to a pic-nic, on the north and south road running between Argyle and Richmond.”[1]  The following is a piece from the the Hawkesbury Chronicle 24 December 1887 defining picnics in the 1880s.

“While our Kinfolk in the old land are gathered around blazing fires, secure from the sleet and snow and bitter cold of the season thereaway, we rejoice in a bright sun and clear blue vault overhead. Naturally, the picnic suggests itself to merrymakers rather than indoor festivities, and without question it is the best way to pass the Christmas holidays. But in picnicing people are apt to overdo the thing. They make a labor of a pleasure. Instead of proceeding easily and even lazily, they fuss and bother so much that they are pretty well tired out before they start. This accounts for the many sour faces one often sees among "merrymakers" returning from a picnic outing.

A picnic should not be a matter involving hard work. You should go about it quietly, making your preparations without any flurry or excitement and proceeding to the site selected coolly and easily. Never get hot or flushed over such a matter, or your pleasure is done before you commence. Don't take a cart-load of provisions with yon. A few cold chickens, a tongue, or a little ham, some cheese, and crackers, plenty of salad, and sandwiches are the best. Cool drinks are a primary necessity, and if you can manage it have some iced creams. But don't take pies and pudding, and such like. Somebody is bound to sit on them, or the ants take possession, or a centipede will be found coiled around the upper crust. It is a mistake to suppose that picnicing means an extraordinary opportunity forever-eating. A picnic means enjoyment of fresh air, the contemplation of nature, flirtation, popping the question, dancing, and a heap of matters of an aesthetic or romantic order. Elderly folk ought not to go picnicing, and it is just because they do that the tradition exists that the picnic means a big feast.

Keep cool above all things; don't camp on a bull-ant's nest; look out for snakes and such like; be sure that you don't sit down on damp grass; don't cat over much, and be as sentimental as you please. Byron and Tennyson ought to be around at every intelligent picnic. Have some music, but bar the terrible concertina. That dreadful instrument has long been given over to the spirits and the Salvation Army. Have a few good microscopes with you. They afford an excellent excuse for wandering far afield in search of natural curiosities. These expeditions, it is needless to say, should be conducted by pairs - one gentleman and one lady. Any more damp the scientific enthusiasm which should animate the explorers. Spend your picnic [so] that you are able to return home as bright, as cheerful, as unfired, and happier still than when you set forth. A picnic conducted on the lines set forth should naturally affect the marriage statistics and contribute to the happiness of many, and the general prosperity of the community at large.”

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Hawkesbury memories of Christmas long ago

The following Christmas story was published in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette 24 December 1926, and was compiled by local historian, William Freame who often wrote historical articles on the local area.

‘Tchk, tchk! Gid-up!’ ‘
Hold fast, there!’ 
and down the range we go;
Five hundred miles of scattered camps will watch for Cobb and Co.

"The old mail coach, despite its limitations, was inseparably associated with Christmas holidays - when we were boys…the great lumbering, leather springed coach with three great lamps in front, drawn by four horses fresh from the last change, whose hoofs beat out merry music as we go over the bridge, under which "leaps the wild torrent from chasm to chasm."  Those were the days, the good old days, "when the world was wide" and life was full of adventure. We turn the corner and glimpse the river, like a silver ribbon winding through the valley. Bump! Bump! Over a log; we hang for a minute over the valley, and reach the top and pull up at the Selector's Arms with its menu of lamb, sheep, ram or mutton.

Image: Christmas Eve on the wallaby track.
Pub. Melbourne: David Syme & Co., 1880

We are crossing the flat now…a tiny wreath of smoke loses itself in the timber, a bark hut looms in the clearing and two of its children bestraddle the slip rails, a bundle of newspapers cleave the air, "A Merry Christmas - A Merry Christmas" and their tiny voices are swallowed in the silence of the bush. We glimpse the township, we lose it as the road dips down through a gully, then winds again, over another bridge that spans a lazy creek, and up the street where stands in all the glory of its tin-roof  The Travellers Rest [North Richmond] with  its generous supply of "am and heggs".

We wander o'er the old mail routes and live again the days that are gone; phantom horses and drivers haunt deserted Macquarie Arms [Windsor] and  "Royal Hotel" [Richmond] hide their weather-worn signboards in grey old barns; Diggers Rests delicensed these 30 years or more, have reached decrepit old age, and in their second childhood, dispense hop beer and brandy snaps and in an old slab shed remains all that is left for Cobb and Co. Dusty and rusty, its leather blinds all tattered, but what memories it evokes! Memories of other days and other ways, of friends and scenes long since passed away. They come back again…and once more we are on the road again…

Hark; the bells on distant cattle
Waft across the range,
Through the golden tufted wattle
Music low, and strange

We touch the old coach again. Goodness! How all comes back again. Yes! It's Christmas times again, see the children? There they are, out on the slip rails, they are greeting the aeroplane."

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Bells Line of Road

Much has been written throughout this year on the crossing of the Blue Mountains as we celebrate 200 years of the crossing by Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson.
Archibald Bell Jnr (1804-1883) is credited with discovering another route across the Blue Mountains in 1823 when he was only nineteen years of age. He apparently got the directions from an Aboriginal woman and this route (from Richmond to the Coxs River) became known as Bells Line of Road, offering a quicker route from the Hawkesbury over the mountains and westward.

Information about the discovery were published shortly after in The Sydney Gazette 9 October 1823

We are happy to announce that Mr. Archibald Bell, junior, of Richmond Hill, has, after one unsuccessful attempt, at last effected a passage from that part of the country to Cox's River (on the other side of the Blue Mountains), which as the pass across these mountains trends so much to the northward, will not only be the readiest route from the Hawkesbury and Hunter's River, but will be as near from Parramatta as the old road over the mountains by way of Emu ford, and infinitely less difficult and sterile. Mr. Bell is entitled to the sole merit of this discovery; and is now gone to repeat and survey the route accompanied by a Gentleman from the Surveyor General's Office, and with government men and horses. He travels N. W. from Richmond about 14 miles to Picture Hill, and thence due W. to Tomah, which is a round hill seen on the right from the burnt weather-boarded hut on the Bathurst Road. On going West about half way up this mountain he turned to the South, and after proceeding about a mile in that direction, found an excellent passage down it. He then proceeded round the side of an opposite hill, about a mile and a half in a N. W. S. W. direction, and then bore W. for the remainder of the day, and N. W. the next day till he reached Cox's River. He found no rocky ground till after leaving Tomah, and the whole distance of it then did not exceed 8 or 9 miles. The greatest difficulty he had to contend with, was in the thick part of his way to Tomah, so much so that in one place he was forced to cut his way through three miles. He left a good tract all the way he went, and was never obliged to unlade(sic) his baggage horses. The whole of Mount Tomah is covered with ash, and sassafras trees of a prodigious size. It is only after leaving Tomah that the country assumes, for 5 miles, the appearance of the Bathurst Road in point of grass; but even, for that space, the feed is better than near the weather-boarded hut on that road. After that distance excellent grass continues with little variation for the rest of the way;  there is plenty of water the whole way. The distance of this route, from Richmond to Cox's River, may be estimated at about 35 miles; but the return of the Government Assistant Surveyor, and party, will enable us certainly, to lay down and perhaps shorten the road.

Bell kept a journal of his explorations, and descendant (Gt-Grandson) Frederick Douglas Bell donated the journal to the Mitchell Library in 1977 [MLMSS 1706 ADD-ON 1071] The journal was transcribed in the Royal Australian Historical Society Journal in 1980 (Vol. 66 Pt 21 pp. 91-96).

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A burglary in Windsor - Trove Tuesday

In April 1828, William Ford and Samuel Tibbin carried out a burglary in the Windsor district. Stephen Hunter resided in the Cornwallis area and was awoken after midnight and noticed some men trying to enter his home. Shots were fired. Fortunately Jones, a neighbouring labourer, heard the ruckus and ran to Hunter's place to assist. With a pitch-fork he was able to take William Ford as a  prisoner.

Meanwhile, Windsor's Chief constable Benjamin Hodgin, was given some information which led to him going to a house, inhabited by a Mr Pitthouse, and  taking Samuel Tibbin into custody. 

James King, a prisoner employed in the No. 10 iron gang, provide the court with an account, when the case was tried before Justice Stephen, on the 24 May 1828. Published in the Australian, the report on the 28 May 1828, provides interesting reading.

"I absconded from that gang on Easter Sunday, the 6th of last April, in company with the two prisoners, and went into the bush.  On the day following we met with a man named Maloney, and all three went to Mr. Cox's paddock at Richmond, and concealing ourselves, slept there all day.  From thence we went to Windsor, and returning a little time before day-break, again concealed ourselves, and sleeping the whole of the day, went out at midnight and took a direction towards the farm of Stephen Hunter, the prosecutor. Maloney, the two prisoners at the bar, and myself, went in company. 

Maloney opened the window, and the two prisoners went into the house. We had two muskets between us. Maloney had one, and Ford another. Maloney was the first who entered the house by means of the window, and he opened the door to admit the two prisoners. I remained outside on sentry. A good deal of bustle took place in the house. Maloney came to the door, and I saw him discharge his musket into the house.  Our object in going there was to get all we could.  Immediately upon the discharge of the piece there was a cry of murder set up in the house, and we all ran off.  

Prisoner Ford was stopped and taken a short distance off.  The gun now produced was in the possession of Ford on the occasion spoken of. Maloney gave it to Ford.  The piece that was discharged contained small pieces of stone.  I was apprehended on the present charge."

Eventually the Jury found both of the prisoners guilty. William Ford and Samuel Tibbin were sentenced to death and executed on 11 June 1828.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Early days of Windsor

In 1916 the Publishing company Tyrell's Limited published the local history book titled "Early Days of Windsor" The book was originally written as a weekly series which appeared in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette from about 1914. The original series can be access via Trove.

Rev James Steele was the Presbyterian minister in Windsor and obviously took an interest in the history of the Hawkesbury. He spent "much time and labour in gathering his material and in disinterring from the somewhat dusty chambers of the past."

The book was reprinted by the Library of Australian History in 1977 and has been always been in demand. It recently became available under the auspices of Project Gutenberg Australia and Early Days of Windsor is now available to access for free. 

The book is based on Windsor and chapters are included on early settlement, origin of names, history of churches, schools, bridges, Hawkesbury Benevolent Society, local government as well as pioneering families and identities. The book is indexed and illustrated. If you have not consulted this little treasure, check it out.

Cover of  Early Days of Windsor

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Unlucky or what - Trove Tuesday

Was William Adams unlucky or what? 

In May 1846, an unfortunate accident was recorded in the township of Windsor. 

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that "William Adams, a man employed in Cadell's brewery, was, on Thursday last, riding through George-street, when a dog lying in the road, just opposite Mr Laban White's, tripped his horse, which threw him with great violence on the street. The poor man damaged his head, and cut his side to a serious extent the horse, too, was nearly killed." 

But wait there is more...

"The same man is he who about twelve months ago, was thrown off Messrs Cadell's dray on the Sydney road, and hurt himself so severely that amputation took place of one of his arms. The want of the arm tended to make his late fall more serious, because of his not being able sufficiently to save himself."   

NEWS FROM THE INTERIOR. Sydney Morning Herald 4 May 1846 p. 2. 


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Devastating bushfires - Trove Tuesday

As the devastating bushfires head towards Bilpin (as I type), burning thousands of hectares, it brought to mind some of the horrific bushfires that have taken place in the Hawkesbury's past, so I turned to Trove to find more information from the digitised newspapers.

Looking towards the Kurrajong Hills today from Wilberforce © M. Nichols 2013  

In early December 1944,  bushfires wreaked havoc over the Hawkesbury district. Two lives were lost as a result. The Windsor & Richmond Gazette reported on the 13 Dec 1944 the "nightmare picture of roaring flames, choking smoke and blistering heat, succeeded by a calm night of macabre beauty from millions of twinkling lights of burning trees and posts, and a new day of black desolation and silence broken only by shots as burned and blinded animals were put out of their misery.

Another destructive fire occurred in the Kurrajong district, around Comleroy Road. The newspaper reported on the 17 Dec 1926, that it was on of the "worst bush fires experienced" for over 50 years. "Thousands of acres of grass and standing crops, together with several buildings" were destroyed, with over 300 fire-fighters fighting the fires.

There was a close call when a fire in the Londonderry area head towards South Windsor in December 1951. On the same day there were also fires in Springwood and the lower mountains. The temperatures were extremely high and the wind blew from many directions. The Windsor & Richmond Gazette 12 Dec 1951 recorded that only a change of wind saved South Windsor. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Hawkesbury in print - Trove Tuesday

210 years ago the first newspaper in Australia was published. The  “Sydney Gazette” is a very important source of historic material on early life in the colony and for the first few decades of the settlement, it was the only printed record documenting the day to day activities. It was originally published weekly by Australia’s first newspaper commenced in 1803 and was established by  George Howe (1769-1821) and the editor stated in its first edition "We open no channel to political discussion or personal animadversion [criticism]; information is our only purpose…" Howe was allowed to use the Government's press & type for the publication but it was accomplished out of his own pocket. Due to the cost of ink and paper, newspapers were often very small. In the early years, the Sydney Gazette averaged about four pages per edition and because of this, articles were kept to a minimum. Despite the limitations on the paper the Hawkesbury features in this historic issue.

The first mention of the Hawkesbury district appears in the first issue 5 March 1803 p. 4 and records the death of a settler, Mr Withers and that of Maria Wood and the fate of her orphaned children.

 The Sydney Gazette 5 March 1803 

The Hawkesbury went onto be recorded in the media many many more times over the years. In fact Trove Australia records at 327,845 mentions of the word in at least 525 newspapers in states and territories all over Australia. Hopefully as more newspapers are digitised and transcribed this number will increase tenfold.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sale of a Windsor wife: a disgraceful transaction - Trove Tuesday

This enlightening tale is well-known by many residents of the Hawkesbury but I thought it was an excellent story for Trove Tuesday. Remember if you were married, divorce and remarriage was almost never an option, and many couples went on and lived in de-facto relationships. Legislation was not introduced in Australia until the latter half of the nineteenth century. There was much debate surrounding this disgraceful transaction however it seemed a win-win situation for all involved, yet the authorities did not see it this way and all involved were punished.

In mid-1811 an "account of a most disgraceful transaction" which was published in the Sydney Gazette newspaper.  Ralph Malkins tried to sell his wife. He led her around the streets of Windsor, by a length rope tied around her neck, offering her for sale. Thomas Quire decided Mrs Malkins was worth purchasing, paying £16. The wife suggested Thomas would "make her a better husband." 

Sydney Gazette, supplement. 14 September 1811 p. 2

The article appeared in p. 2 of a supplement on 14 September 1811:

"A person (for a man I cannot call him) of the name of Ralph Malkins, led his lawful wife into our streets on the 28th ultimo, with a rope round her neck, and publicly exposed, her for sale; and, shameful to be told, another fellow, equally contemptible, called Thomas Quire, actually purchased and paid for her on the spot, sixteen pounds in money, and some yards of cloth. I am sorry to add, that the woman herself was so devoid of those feelings which are justly deemed the most valuable in her sex, agreed to the base traffic, and went off with the purchaser, significantly hinting, that she had no doubt her new possessor would make her a better husband than the wretch she then parted from. This business was conducted in so public a manner far outraged all laws human or divine, that a Bench of Magistrates, consisting of Mr. Cox, the Rev. Mr. Cartwright, and Mr. Mileham, had it publicly investigated on Saturday last, and all the odious circumstances having been clearly proved, and even admitted by the base wretches themselves, the Bench sentenced this man to receive 50 lashes, and put to hard labour in irons, in the gaol gang Sydney for the space of three calendar months; and the woman to be transported to the Coal River for an indefinite time.      
The public indignation at so gross a violation of decency was most unequivocally expressed by the acclamations with which the sentence was received by a numerous concourse of people who assembled to know the event of so extraordinary and unprecedented a business -- Their feelings were worthy of Men, and judging from them, I trust with confidence   that the recurrence of such a crime will not take place here at least for the present generation.- The laudable promptitude with which our Magistrates took up the business, and the quantum of punishment (still less than they deserve) which they pronounced, will, I have no doubt) produce the most salutary effect throughout the Colony, and check the progress of a crime, which if persevered in, would degrade the Inhabitants, and intail perpetual disgrace on their children and families."      

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Dr Parmeter & his severe afflictions - Trove Tuesday

For Trove Tuesday, I am looking at one of the Hawkesbury's memorable characters, Dr Thomas Parmeter c.1790-1836. Parmeter was sentenced to transportation, arriving in Sydney in 1816 as a convict. He studied medicine, then trained with a surgeon. He served in the army and then appointed to a nobleman’s household as a surgeon. He married a second time when he believed his wife from his disastrous first marriage was dead, however he was still officially married. He was charged with bigamy in 1815, and sentenced for seven years. 

On arrival, Dr Parmeter was given approval to resume his medical profession and was appointed as the Assistant Surgeon at the Lunatic Asylum 1817-1819 in Castle Hill. 

Between 1818 and 1825 he practised medicine whilst living in Windsor. He claimed this was one of the happiest period in his life. Thomas had a relationship with Jane Meredith, and they had several children. He assisted with problem births, performed complicated operations as well as autopsies. He was associated with the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society which was established to help others. In the early 1820s he suffered several tragedies that affected his livelihood, including my severe Afflictions (for I broke my Leg, lost my right Eye, and got Palsy in my limbs).

Classified Advertising. Sydney Gazette & NSW Advertiser 5 May 1825 p. 1.  

Whilst travelling from Wilberforce to Windsor in 1820, he was thrown from his horse and sustained a broken right thigh. Tragedy struck again when in 1823, Thomas experienced loss of vision and palsy resulting in some paralysis. 

On his departure from the Hawkesbury in 1825, the community presented him with a gift. He was rather pleased that the gift was a horse and not a plate. He advertised his medical services despite his inflictions. 

Dr Parmeter was also a prolific writer and compiled many articles and letters, some of which appeared in the Sydney GazetteIn one article he described a woman living in deplorable conditions at Cornwallis, giving birth. He amazingly penned a history of New South Wales and also wrote poetry including the poignant poem about his daughter Harriet playing on the Green in Windsor. 

He eventually took up land in the Hunter Valley in 1826. Jane left Thomas in the mid-1820s for Walter Rotton, and later married him. Thomas continued his writing pursuits and perusing the digitised newspapers on Trove shows numerous articles. He also supplemented his income with a few patients to keep him solvent.

Dr Parmeter died at Cockfighters Creek on the 14 July 1836, he was only forty-eight years old. His obituary recorded in the Sydney Gazette he was, a kind-hearted being, who was never more happy than when he was doing a kind and good act.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Obituary of Dr Callaghan ~ Trove Tuesday

Most researchers are well aware of the benefits of a death notice and obituaries found in newspapers. A death notice is usually very brief providing minimal details such as the name of the deceased, date and location of funeral or burial. The following is an example of the death notice of Dr Joseph Callaghan who operated for many years in the Hawkesbury and who passed away in 1924.

Family Notices - Sydney Morning Herald 17 June 1924

On the other hand, an obituary provides a history of the deceased and listing all the good qualities of the person. It will include family details possibly parents, spouse and children. It can also include other relatives. It may provide information about deceased's occupation, place of work or business and associated hobbies and their involvement in the community. If you are lucky it may mention the period leading to the death and even the cause. The location of the cemetery, place of burial, and undertaker may also be mentioned. The length of the obituary will often depend on the popularity of the deceased. A selected few may include a portrait, like the following image of Dr Callaghan which appeared in his obituary in 1924. Photographs were more popular from in the 20th century.

Dr Callaghan as pictured in his 1924 obituary

Joseph Callaghan's lengthy obituary appeared in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette 20 June 1924 and provided over sixty unique pieces of information, that would be extremely valuable to both family and local historians. The main points were:

Born in Ireland 
Obtained his medical diploma in Ireland
Migrated to Australia as a ship's surgeon in 1868 
Settled at Rockhampton, Queensland and practiced there until 1875
Came to Richmond in 1877 and practiced there for about five years
Lived for about 12 months in Sydney, then returned to the Hawkesbury
Settled in Windsor about 1884 where he practiced as a surgeon and physician  
Sold his medical practice to Dr Arnold in 1920
When he left in 1920 he was presented with a very fine illuminated address and a purse of nearly £100 
Went to Sydney to spend the remainder of his days in 1920
Loved horses and dogs, and bred some good specimens of both 
Was a great horseman and frequently rode his own horses in races  
At the gathering in the School of Arts many identities attended the presentation 
He was a Justice of the Peace for 40 years and many years Licensing Magistrate
Was 36 years medical officer to the Manchester Unity IOOF 
Member of the Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association for 31 years and several times President 
Was a committeeman of the Windsor School of Arts for 24 years and President on several occasions
Foundation member and constant benefactor of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society and Hospital
22 years on the Wilberforce Settlement Board 
Trustee of the Windsor Savings Bank
Deputy Sheriff; Government Medical Officer and visiting justice to the gaol
Member of Hawkesbury Race Club for almost 50 years and President on different occasions. 
His wife died in Windsor some years ago, and he never recovered from the blow
Family included Reginald, Clendon, Clive, Oscar, Madeline, and Mrs. Boydell 
Sons Reginald, Clive and Oscar served in WW1, Clendon served in the Boer War, tried to enlist again but was turned down. 
Dr Callaghan died in Lane Cove
Died aged of 78 years
The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon 17 June 1924 and buried in the Church of England portion of the Rookwood cemetery, alongside his wife. John Cherry (formerly rector at Pitt Town) and Rev. J. H. Wilcoxsen, (Lane Cove) officiated at the grave, and both clergyman extolled the great benevolence and high-minded qualities of the deceased doctor.
The chief mourners were the four sons, his daughter Madeline Callaghan & nephew Mr. T. Dixon 
Many people attended the funeral including many of his friends from the Hawkesbury including Messrs C. S. Icely, Charles Roberts, Brigadier-General Lamrock, G. G. Kiss, J R Hardie (Hawkesbury Race Club), Messrs J. W. Ross and A. J. Berckelman (Windsor Hospital), R. A. Pye, James Gosper, G. D. Wood. Brinsley Hall, John Tebbutt, J Tebbutt jun, J. Byram, Sidney Gosper, Alex Gough. J. T. Town, P. J. Chandler 
Hawkesbury Race Club committee each sent a beautiful wreath. Flags at Windsor Fire Station and the Council Chambers were flown at half-mast

The above is an excellent example of why all references to deceased person should be followed up. Checking different issues of newspapers also can provide different variations of a story including that of Callaghan's obituary which appeared in the Hawkesbury Herald 19 June 1924.

Trove is an excellent source of digitised Australian newspapers. A considerable article, partially reproduced below, also records information about Dr Callaghan's death with a picture also appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald 17 June 1924.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Hawkesbury Newspapers - Trove Tuesday

Newspapers are a wonderful source of information for both local and family history. Information located from newspapers is often unique and often not found in other sources. Hawkesbury newspapers, dating from the 1840s, are included on Trove, the National Library of Australia's digitised newspapers and sponsored by Hawkesbury Library Service.

Hawkesbury Courier and Agricultural and General Advertiser 11 July 1844, p. 1. 

The Windsor Express, was apparently the first permanent newspaper in the Hawkesbury, and first appeared on the 17 May 1843. This was almost 50 years after the Hawkesbury district was settled by Europeans. Geoffrey Amos Eagar produced the publication in his Printing Office located in George Street in Windsor. The newspaper only operated for about twelve months, with the last issue appearing on 9 May 1844.

Shortly after the Windsor Express became defunct, Eagar established another newspaper called Hawkesbury Courier and Agricultural and General Advertiser. The first issue appeared on the 11 July 1844 and operated until 1846. When the Hawkesbury Courier ceased publication, the Hawkesbury community had to wait for over a quarter of a century before another local newspaper was introduced. The Australian, Windsor, Richmond & Hawkesbury Advertiser was launched in 1873.

From that time until the present, the Hawkesbury district, has had a newspaper operating. The Windsor & Richmond Gazette was established in July 1888 by J. C. L. Fitzpatrick. The newspaper recently celebrated 125 years of operating. The most current issue dates from 21 December 1955.

Windsor and Richmond Gazette 21 July 1888 published 125 years ago. 

Monday, 9 September 2013

‘Billy the Bellman’ ~ Trove Tuesday

William O’Rooke or O’Rourke (c. 1835-1897) was known about the town of Windsor as ‘Billy the Bellman’ in the late 19th century, quite an interesting chap. William Rooke was born in Cambridgeshire, England in about 1835, the son of Henry & Rebecca Rooke. His parents had married in 1831 in Ickleton. In 1851 Henry was a servant working in a College in Dry Drayton in Cambridgeshire. William was 16 years old and was working as a waiter with his older brother Alfred and younger sister Emma. 

In 1857, William and Sarah migrated to Sydney onboard the “Washington Irving” William was a butcher and Sarah a housemaid.  Two years after arriving, Sarah Ann, married William Joseph Perkins 1829-1873, a carpenter, in 1859.  They first lived in the Queanbeyan area and by 1865 the couple lived in the Windsor district. 

William Rooke lived in Windsor from his arrival. Rooke was a well-known identity in the township of Windsor, and was the bellman. This occupation was described as someone who rings a bell, and sometimes known as a town crier. In 1863 he was recorded as living in Baker Street in Windsor.  He apparently owned land near McGraths Hill as well. This was sold for not paying rates by Windsor Municipal Council in 1932. One block was situated at Lot 3/5, Section 8, situate Livingstone, Garfield and Bismark streets, Killarney. There were three allotments with a total area 5 acres 1 rood 27 perches. The registered owner was listed as William Rooke. William did not marry nor did he have any children. 

He passed away on 28 July 1897 and was buried the same day at St Matthews Church of England Cemetery in Windsor. His informative obituary (below) appeared in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette on 31 July 1897

The obituary continued:

 His father was head gardener at one of the English Universities, and till within & short while ago the subject of this notice was in receipt of an annuity from the father's estate. That, we believe, was recently transferred to deceased's married sister (a Mrs Perkins) who resides in the metropolis. William O'Rourke first came to Windsor on a steamer owned by the late John Mitchell, which plied between Sydney and the Hawkesbury; on this boat he was employed for some time. Coming ashore, he opened a butchery in the shop now occupied by Mr Stearn, near the Hawkesbury Hotel. O'Rourke did well in business, and by dint of hard work and frugality he put by a considerable sum of money.  A cousin came from England, and lived with him for a while.  Billy it would appear, was his own banker. In an evil hour he left the business in charge of the new arrival during a brief absence. When he returned his "little pile" was gone. It was never known who took the money, but Billy had his suspicions, and freely expressed them. He sold out and from that time forward he seemed to do no good, and gradually became the Billy O’Rourke of late years. In 1870 he was cook and wards man at the Hawkesbury Benevolent Asylum, during the time that Mr J. T. Rowthorn was superintendent, Billy O'Rourke was a character in his way and the incidents of his life were many and varied. For many years he was a public functionary and a town institution-that is, he was the local bell man; as such he earned the sobriquet Billy the Bellman, and was the butt of street urchins. Whilst plying his vocation in the street, he frequently came into conflict with troops of small boys, but they generally had sufficient discretion to know when they had gone far enough; for though Billy could put up with a good deal in the way of chaff and banter, he came down hard when his dander was up. Keen rivalry existed between the deceased and another worthy (one Hobbs, he of the wooden leg) now an inmate of the Asylum, who once started business as opposition bellman. "Billy" regarded him as an interloper and a usurper, and some lively scenes were enacted between them. The deceased never married, and his only relative known is the sister referred to.

(First appeared in the Hawkesbury Crier – September 2012 pp. 19-20

1851 Census UK. Class: HO107; Piece: 1760; Folio: 603; Page: 54; GSU roll: 193651-193652
State Records, Reel 2138, [4/4794]; Reel 2476, [4/4972]
Obituary. (1897, July 31). Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW: 1888 - 1954), p. 12. Retrieved August 26, 2012, from 
IN THE EARLY DAYS. (1926, December 24). Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved September 2, 2012, from 
Advertising. (1932, January 15). Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved September 2, 2012, from 
NSW Births, deaths & marriage index. Marriage 2811/1859

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

All England cricket team plays in Windsor - Trove Tuesday

As the cricket season prepares to launch, sports fanatics may be interested in the fact that an All-England cricket team played a game in Western Sydney in the 1880s. The newspapers of the day had a field day reporting on the Test series vs a Hawkesbury/Nepean team.

A tour to Australia by the All-England cricket team, was arranged in 1881 and the visiting team arrived in Sydney via America, late in the year. The tour, like many of the early tours, was renowned for its scandals, not unlike cricket today. The series drew tremendous crowds and the first Test Match, played over several days in Melbourne, notched up 46,500 spectators.  The overall series resulted in an Australian win 2-0. The Australian team was captained by William 'Billy' Murdoch 1854-1911 while the English team captain was Alfred Shaw.

The Second Test was played in Sydney on the 17th-18th & 20th-21st February and Australia won by 5 wickets. The following day after this Test, a one-day match was arranged between the All-England Eleven and 22 of the Hawkesbury and Nepean. On Wednesday 22 February 1882, “a special train conveyed the Eleven from Sydney, and the play took place on Mr. McQuade's ground at Fairfield." (Fairfield was the name of the property which also encompassed much of the Windsor Golf Course). “A wicket was made of concrete and carpeted, thus greatly adding to the comfort of the players. It was estimated that about 1000 persons were present to witness the play.” 

The local newspaper reported that the “arrangements were not well carried out, the public being allowed to parade inside the roped enclosure, to the annoyance of those who paid for admission to the reserved portion of the ground, and interfering vastly with the scorer. Mr. W. H. Hull captained the local team, Mr. Bodenham acted as umpire, and Mr. J. Coleman as scorer.”

The results were published as follows:

The Australian, Windsor, Richmond & Hawkesbury Advertiser 25 February 1882 p. 3. 
Retrieved September 3, 2013, from

The concluding comment in the newspaper stated “it will thus be seen that our men did very well indeed, and we are informed by the All England team that they have met many worse twenty-twos than the Hawkesbury 22” which could be seen as a disparaging compliment.

A souvenir illustration of the English team appeared in the Town & Country Journal

Historic Australian newspapers can be found on Trove and browsing the pages reveal many wonderful sporting events from the past. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Dangers of cigarette smoking - Trove Tuesday

In the 21st century we are very aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes, however it is interesting to find in the digitised newspapers on Trove the many accounts of how dangerous the practise was. 

In the 1895 it was recorded in the Windsor & Richmond Gazette that an "eleven-year-old named Gilespie has gone hopelessly insane, at Warren, through excessive cigarette-smoking."

A few weeks later the topic was raised again, in the Gazette, this time discussing the situation in Windsor. Obviously smoking amongst teenage boys, was prevalent in the Hawkesbury.  

"Juvenile smokers are to be found by the score in Windsor, and on any night an observant person may see specimens of the mature infant idling at street corners, or swaggering along the street with cigarettes between their is asserted upon the very best scientific authority that cigarette-smoking is the worst and most distinctly injurious form of tobacco indulgence. This applies to adults as well as to children; but, of course men, stronger of nerve and more hardy of tissue, are better able to withstand the assaults of nicotine. Upon the young however, the habit of smoking in any form has the most pernicious influence. It is a danger, physically and morally. It stunts his growth, undermines his nervous system and incuicates in him selfish and slavish habits; it injures the sight, and when indulged to excess, it impairs and even destroys the intellect. Smoking injures the sight without question...In the streets of our town mere boys have frequently accosted passers by for matches wherewith to light their 'bumpers'. A firm snubbing would meet exigencies of this kind, and perhaps act as a slight deterrent. Consistent discouragement on the part of parents would mitigate the evil. Not only mothers and fathers, but all sensible people who have the interests of the juvenile population at heart, should do their utmost to put down this detestable and injurious habit of cigarette smoking among young boys."

THE SEDUCTIVE CIGARETTE pictured from the West Gippsland Gazette 21 Jan 1902, p. 8

Many of the articles refer to the appalling effect upon the nervous system and how smoking will stunt growth. 

An impressive warning from over a century ago ~ why didn't the community pay any attention?

Monday, 26 August 2013

Felton Mathew's Diary

Primary sources, such as diaries, are valuable historical sources. They provide helpful insights into a particular period in the past. Diaries are useful in adding substance to our research. One interesting diary is that of Felton Mathew 1801-1847.

Felton, a surveyor, arrived in NSW in 1829 to take up a position as Assistant Surveyor of Roads & Bridges. Shortly after his arrival he was joined by his cousin, Sarah Louise Mathew c1805-1890 and they were married on the 21 January 1832 in Sydney. The Mathew's resided in Windsor however Felton spent most of his time attending to his field work to the north and northwest of Sydney. His wife Sarah accompanied him on several of these expeditions and wrote most of entries in a series of diaries. Felton accompanied Captain Hobson to NZ as the acting surveyor general and kept a diary. The diary records key events relating to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. He also chose the site of Auckland as the proposed capital. Felton died en route to England in Peru on the 26 November 1847. 

The original diaries (total of 6) are held by the National Library of Australia  The diaries have been transcribed in the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society and some excerpts were transcribed by Bruce Jones and were originally available to access on his web site which is no longer accessible. Fortunately the website was archived on Pandora on the National Library of Australia website. One volume, covering the NZ period in the 1840s, is held by the Museum of New Zealand

Here are a few samples from the diary:

Wednesday 20th [20 JAN 1830]
Left the Finger post and arrived at Wiseman's on the Hawkesbury. The leading features of the country are the same as in yesterday's march – ranges upon ranges of barren & unprofitable rock without an acre of land available for agricultural purposes. Approaching "Wiseman's" there are some pretty & romantic peeps of the Hawkesbury, winding through the valley; and there is the first good land I have seen in the Colony. It consists of prime but not extensive tracts of alluvial land; but it bears a miserably small proportion to the ranges of useless rock, which here rise perpendicularly to an immense height, clothed with timber & brush from base to summit & giving an irregularly wild & romantic affect to the Scenery. 

Saturday 23rd [23 JAN 1830]
Heavy rain at intervals throughout the day which has prevented our working in the field. Accompanied by McLeod & Larmer, crossed the River to Wiseman's to procure some corn &c – – Shot (at one shot) two birds of the Cockatoo Species – one of them ash-colour tinged with yellow about the head – throat canary colour – breast a dusky brown back & wings raven – tail consisting of twelve feathers two upper ones raven – 10 others the same colour, banded about the middle with broad bands of bright crimson-edged yellow … They were both of the same size & measured from tip to tip of the wings 3 feet 3 ins. & from beak to tail 19 ins.

Wisemans  Ferry Inn. Taken M. Nichols 2013.

Jany 27th–28th [27- 28 JAN 1830]
Finished Smith's and began measuring Rose's Farm Finished Rose's Farm – and returned to the Camp – from the difficulties I met with in measuring these two Farms, I was deterred from commencing Grono's which is of the same description and much more extensive:– fearing that if I remained to finish it, I should not reach the camp by the time the bullocks returned from Sydney, and should thereby occasion a delay which is contrary to the spirit of my instructions. Such would certainly have been the case – for the bullocks returned this night to our camp.

The following are excerpts compiled by Sarah Mathew, and are written in the first person of her husband, Felton and are called "Stray Leaves from the Journal of a Wanderer in Australia."

Janry 18th 1830 
We are now approaching the Hawkesbury and have had occasional peeps of this beautiful stream, and the fertile flats on its banks. We are not 50 miles from Sydney, yet we have travelled a country as wild, and a solitude as profound as if no human beings existed in these desolate Forests; or the enterprize and industry of the white man had never reached these shores. But now the scene changes, descending by a rocky and precipitous pass, and emerging from the Forest, the river appears some 50 feet below, winding round a point comparatively low, and the Farm and Inn called Wiseman's, judiciously placed in the bend of the river, on a fine alluvial flat, all in rich cultivation, affords quite a relief to the eye and mind, almost wearied with the monotony of chaotic rock and primeval Forest. But the whole scene is magnificent. ... The scenery is so magnificent, so wild; the actors in the scene such a contrast: the wide and rapid river, The heavy flat Ferry boat with our baggage is slowly crossing, and the gambols of the unwilling bullocks resisting the efforts of the men to coax them into the large Punt which is to be towed over by the boat are sufficiently ludicrous. Some of them are very refractory, and the shouting of the men, awakening echoes among the rocks, and disturbing the quiet solitude, altogether forms a picture as novel as striking to one as I stand on the bank of the river watching the scene. Our camp is now pitched in a romantic sequestered Glen on the Northern bank of the River. Open to the water, but shut in on all other sides by the same towering masses of rock and wood, which as the Glen rapidly narrows allmost meet at the head, leaving only a narrow rocky bed for a mountain torrent. The weather has been dull for some days, and the rain is now descending merrily. My tent being new is not yet water tight so I calculate on being rather damp ere morning. However it is much needed and wished for, and will do more good in an hour, than I shall in a year.

Note: spelling and grammar has been left, as is.