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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

History Revisited - 1840s wool crash brings new challenges

KEEPING SHEEP: Jim Belshaw continues his story of the Taylor family, their world and the trials and tribulations of the early wool industry in New England 
As depression gripped NSW, the sprawling commercial and pastoral empire of Taylor's cousin Archibald Clunes Innes came under pressure. 

By 1843, he was in serious financial difficulties. He managed to borrow the enormous sum of £29,000 pounds secured by certain landholdings, his stores at Armidale and Port Macquarie, his household furniture, carriages and other personal effects. That stabilized the position for the present.

Photo: Archibald Clunes Innes as a young man. The commercial empire he founded and the life style at Lake Innes, his Port Macquarie headquarters, provide one of the themes in our story. 
Later in 1843, the large mercantile firm of Messrs Hughes and Hoskings, one of those who had lent money to Innes, failed. The firm owed £155,000 to the Bank of Australia and its failure pulled the Bank down, adding to the economic woes.

In 1844, the commercial, shipping and pastoral empire of Joseph Grose failed. 

We first met Grose when he commissioned the construction of the William the Fourth, the Billy, the first steamer built in NSW (1831) and a familiar sight on the Port Macquarie run. This was followed by the purchase of the Sophia Jane, another familiar ship to those living at Port Macquarie and in the southern New England.

The drought that gripped NSW in the late 1830s affected Grose, as did the decline in stock prices. His Hunter River trade came under pressure from the newly formed Hunter River Steam Navigation Company, while in 1839 his largest and fastest steamer, the newly purchased King William the Fourth, was wrecked. Then came the collapse of the Victoria Mills with a loss to Grose of £5,000. It was all too much.

In addition to the funds borrowed from Messrs Hughes and Hoskings, the £29,000 borrowed by Innes in 1843 included substantial contributions from the Macleay and Dumaresq families. Innes was married to Margaret Macleay, while William Dumaresq had married Margaret’s sister Christiana Susan.

Henry (1792-1838) and William John Dumaresq (1793-1868), were the sons of Colonel John Dumaresq. Both went to the Royal Military College, Great Marlow, and served during the Peninsular War and in Canada.
Photo: The Dumaresq River in Northern New England, Southern Queensland, Armidale's Dumaresq Creek and the previous Dumaresq Creek are just some of the features named after the Dumaresqs 
Between 1818 and 1825, Henry served in Mauritius where became military secretary to General (Sir) Ralph Darling, who married his sister Eliza. When Darling accepted office as governor of New South Wales, Henry became his private secretary. This brought Henry and William to NSW. 

The two brothers each built up considerable estates in the Hunter Valley, while also acquiring the large New England runs of Saumarez and Tilbuster, thus establishing the now familiar Dumaresq name in the Armidale district.

Both brothers established reputations as effective and indeed kindly managers who looked after their staff, convict and free. “The result of such a system is just what might be expected”; wrote John Dunmore Lang, “the men are sober, industrious and contented”

While the loans from the Macleay and Dumaresq families were helping stabilize Archibald Innes’s position, William Tydd Taylor Margaretta Lucy Lind were taking the next step in their own journey.

William had purchased Middleton’s interest in Terrible Valley in November 1843. With full ownership, he began construction of the first Taylor family home on Terrible Valley.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 8 June 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.

No comments: