Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

History Revisited - Taylor settles in during pastoral boom

FRONTIER WARFARE. Rapid pastoral expansion led to Aboriginal resistance that was met with force including the Waterloo Creek Massacre also known Slaughterhouse Creek where mounted police clashed with the Kamilaroi in January 1838 
Thrumster, the 640 acre property that William Tydd Taylor and Margaretta Lucy Lind settled on after their arrival in Port Macquarie in April 1840, had been given as a land grant to William’s cousin Archibald Clunes Innes in 1838. It adjoined Innes’s Lake Innes Estate, making contact easy.

William and Margaretta would spend much of their early married years living at Thrumster and visiting Lake Innes. Their eldest son, born in 1844, would be named Innes Taylor.

In 1840, Innes was still expanding his interests. In Port Macquarie he would own (among other things) a store, wool storage facilities, a hotel and a mill. He acquired sheep and cattle stations all over northern New South Wales, among them Yarrows on the Hastings, Brimbine and Innestown on the Manning, Waterloo, Innes Creek, Kentucky, Beardy Plains and Furracabad on the Tablelands. The township on Furracabad, now called Glen Innes, carries his name.

William Taylor looked at land around Port Macquarie, applying unsuccessfully to purchase several blocks in August and September 1840. .He was also looking further a-field.

In September 1840, he partnered with Joseph Richard Middleton to buy occupancy rights to Terrible Valley station for 3,500 pounds, one thousand in cash, the rest on terms spread over two years. Located on the Salisbury Plains south of modern Uralla, the property adjoined the Kentucky run.

Now we need to understand something about the economics of the period beyond the limits of settlement.

The squatters did not own the land. Rather, they were purchasing the stock, any improvements such as huts, yards, hurdles (moveable sheep pens), any kit such as drays plus any stocks of rations or other supplies.

The squatters returns came from solely from the sale of wool or meat and from the natural increase in stock numbers. During the period of rapid expansion of European settlement, stock were valued not just in terms of immediate return from wool or meat, but also to meet the constant demand for stock by settlers moving to settle new areas.  

The value placed on stock was reflected in the terms of employment for staff. Excluding unpaid convict labour, shepherds had the value of any animals lost deducted from their wages, while senior staff could be paid in stock that they might run on the place and sell later..

This economic structure helps explain some of the frontier violence. The Aborigines considered, rightly, that this was their land. When they killed stock in revenge or for food, they were attacking personal economic activity, leading to a cycle of violence.

It also explains the looming if unseen economic threat hanging over the colony, for economic growth had been financially leveraged, with leverage based on the value of constantly expanding stock.

In September 1841, the resulting troubles were still a little way away. Taylor and Middleton kept an overseer on Terrible Valley station. This allowed them to keep living in the civilized world of Port Macquarie, with William Taylor spending time at Terrible Valley developing the run. 
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 11 May 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

History Revisited - full steam ahead for Billy into a busy port

LAST STAGE OF THE JOURNEY. Ships travelling to Port Macquarie sometimes had to wait for days to dock according to the diaries of Annabella Innes
To those who read this column on a regular basis, I must seem very slow in telling the story of William Tydd Taylor and Margaretta Lucy Lind. Somehow, I seem to get sidetracked.

That’s very true. I am using their early story to take you on a ramble across the early colonial history of Northern NSW, the broader New England.

Walter and Margaretta arrived in Port Macquarie on the Steam packet William the Fourth in early 1940. Today, we forget just how important coastal shipping was in nineteenth century before the expansion of the railways. That part of the history of Northern NSW has almost been air-brushed from memory.

William the Fourth, the Billy, is quite a famous ship. Ordered by Sydney Merchant Joseph Grose in 1830 for the Hunter River trade, it was built on the Williams River at the Clarencetown yards established by Scottish shipwrights Lowe and Marshall.

This was Grose’s first venture into shipping. Born in Deptford, London, in 1788, Gose had become a successful pastoralist and merchant in the new colony. Hearing of the success of steam propelled vessels overseas, he decided to build one to extend his commercial interests into shipping.

It proved a profitable decision. For much of the 1830s, Grose dominated the Hunter River trade and also serviced Port Macquarie. Another of his well known vessels was the steam packet Sophia Jane, a ship that also became very familiar to those living at Port Macquarie or using it as their main port.

William the Fourth, a wooden paddle steamer with two masts, was the first ocean going steamship built in Australia. At 59 tons she was not a big ship. But then, she could not be to get across the difficult bar at the mouth of the Hastings River.

At Port Macquarie, ships sometimes had to wait for days to enter across the bar. Some went to Trial Bay to anchor and collect water, while others would by pass Port Macquarie completely, forcing passengers and freight to come by other routes.

The diaries of Annabella Innes, later Boswell, are full of references to ships, ships delayed, people waiting impatiently. These problems would doom the dreams of those who saw Port Macquarie becoming the main port for the southern New England.

Upon arrival in Port Macquarie, the Taylors took up residence on Thrumster, a 640 acre block owned by Taylor’s cousin, Archibald Clunes Innes and adjoining Innes’ main holding around Lake Innes.

Innes was then at the height of his power and influence in the colony.

Like Joseph Grose, he had benefited from the rapid expansion in population and economic activity over the 1830s. Like Joseph Grose, he had benefited from the Government contracts for supply to the convict establishments, providing cash flow to support other activities.

Both men now faced a perfect economic storm as the convict system wound down and depression gripped the economy with low wool prices and the ending of rapid migration.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 4 May 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

History Revisited - tragic death blights a Governor's life

A plaque near the entrance to Old Government House Parramatta, now a popular tourist spot, marks the place where Lady Fitzroy died.  
Friday, 1 March 1844. NSW Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy accompanied by his wife Mary, a son acting as private secretary plus entourage, embarked on the steam packet for Port Macquarie. A new Governor, he had been sworn in the previous August, FitzRoy was determined to visit every part of the colony.

At Port Macquarie, the Governor and his party were accommodated and entertained at “the Lake Cottage”, the attractive and well established home and headquarters of Archibald Clunes Innes. Innes’ niece Annabella Innes, later Boswell, recorded the details of the visit in her diary, including details of the dinner and ball staged in honour of the FitzRoys.

FitzRoy was a man of considerable charm and ability, able to navigate the complex web of colonial politics and society, if not always in ways that satisfied his superiors in London. His wife had equal, if not better, social skills. Personally close, they made a formidable team.

From Port Macquarie, the couple and their companions set out on the 150 mile journey to Armidale, the first Vice-Regal visit to the Northern Tablelands. The tracks were abysmal, with the drays carrying supplies in and wool out sometimes bogged for days, so all the party rode. The journey took three days.

On the return trip, FitzRoy’s horse fell, pinning his leg. Injured, he was placed in a two wheel vehicle to reduce the jolting, although the jolting on the rough track must have been almost as bad. Then the lead horse fell, throwing FitzRoy from carriage to ground.

The FitzRoys returned safely to Sydney. However, there would be a further and tragic reminder of the dangers involved with horses.

On 7 December 1847, the couple were leaving Government House at Parramatta. The party was delayed and the horses were restless. FitzRoy was at the reins of the carriage, he was an excellent whip, when the horses bolted. His wife was killed, his aide-de-camp would die from injuries, while FitzRoy suffered leg injuries.

FitzRoy’s many friend in the North were deeply upset. FitzRoy was distraught. He considered resigning his post, but finally decided to stay on, primarily for financial reasons.

Among those who attended that Port Macquarie dinner and ball were Archibald Innes’ cousin William Tydd Taylor, wife Margaretta and their now four children. “Mrs Taylor, we thought, was very pretty” wrote Annabella Boswell, nee Innes, in her journal..

In my last column, we left William and Margaretta Taylor still in England following their 1839 marriage. On 5 October 1839, they sailed for Australia on the 350 ton barque “Chelydra”, arriving in Sydney on 29 March 1840. Two days later, 1 April, they set sail for Port Macquarie on the steam packet “William the Fourth”.

It seems clear that it was the Innes connection that persuaded the Taylors to emigrate. It was also that connection that provided a base for what was to follow. 
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 27 April 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.