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

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

History Revisited - establishing the Terrible Valley base

To earn extra money, William Taylor acted as a carrier between the Tablelands and Port Macquarie
September 1841. While Margaretta and the children stayed at Thrumster, William Taylor worked to develop Terrible Valley. Two drays were included in the equipment Taylor and Middleton had acquired when they bought the run. Now William Taylor became a carrier between Port Macquarie and the Southern New England.

The move made sense. Taylor needed to bring supplies in and send wool out. He had the drays, so why carry for other people as well.

In 1842, cousin Archibald Clunes Innes was able to arrange convict labour to build a new road from Port Macquarie onto the Tablelands.

Innes still wished to build Port Macquarie into a major centre, while the “better” road made it easier (and cheaper) for him to access his own properties. I have put better into inverted commas because older New England residents will remember the roads to the coast before tar. It would be the early 1960s before the first tarred road to the coast appeared.

Still, the new road did shorten the long journey. To celebrate, Innes, always the showman, made a considerable production of the first load of wool from his own properties to reach the new wool store he had constructed on the Port Macquarie waterfront for loading onto the steamer he had chartered for the occasion.

Upon arrival in Port Macquarie, William Taylor had first looked to acquire land in the Hastings Valley but without success. It was not until December 1842 that he took over the mortgage on 1,062 acres of land near the junction of Piper’s Creek with the Maria River, about fifteen miles north of Port Macquarie. The new property was named Oakville.

There is a problem with dates here, for some dates suggest that the Taylors were living at Oakville before the formal acquisition.

William Tydd Taylor and Margaretta Lucy Lind’s first child was born at Thrumster. The next three children were born at Oakville.

Conditions for Margaretta were not always easy. When one of her daughters was born, for example, William was away. The convict servants were generally drunk, and it was left to a female convict to help Henrietta through the birth.

Drunkenness among convict (and other) staff was a major issue.

In her diary, Annabella Innes records that went they went to tap a barrel of port laid down by Major Innes, they found it empty. The cellar could only be entered via a locked door. Investigation showed that the frequently drunk cook and another convict servant had cut a hole through the kitchen floor to allow them access to the cellar!

William ran cattle on Oakville, sheep on Terrible Valley. This would be helpful as the perfect economic storm that I have talked about before broke across the colony.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 25 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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