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.

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