The information contained in this booklet is the essence of the research carried out by the late James Jervis, A.S.T.C., into the history of this district. The district is that bounded by Old Windsor Road in the west, Second Ponds Creek and Annangrove Road in the north, Old Northern Road in the east down to Baulkham Hills, along Windsor Road to Junction Road in the south, and along Junction Road to Old Windsor Road. The material was published originally in the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. XV, pages 226-266. It is with the permission of the R.A.H.S. and the executors of the estate of Mr. James Jervis, that the Hills District Historical Society presents the work as a complete unit.

In making this publication available, the Society wishes to acknowledge the work of Mr. R. J. Martin, M.B.E., who arranged for its setting-up and printing. The aim of the Society in presenting this volume is to further the work of James Jervis by stimulating an interest in historical research and to provide a much needed unit of information for the residents of the area. Any further information on matters of local history will be gratefully received by the Society, and may be used in Society publications.

The map referred to by Jervis, and which accompanied the original work, was a reduction of the Department of Lands Map of the Parish of Castle Hill, Sheets 1 and 2, Scale 20 chains to 1 inch. It has not been reproduced in this publication, but the full-scale map may be viewed at the Castle Hill Public Library.

The reader of the ensuing pages will realise that the date of James Jervis' publication was 1929, since which time changes have taken place, and landmarks mentioned in the text have long since disappeared. So that the reader may locate any place mentioned in the booklet, references are provided from the 7th Edition of U.B.D. Sydney Street Directory. Co-ordinates given will fix a point within the boundaries of Portions mentioned, and are listed on page 36.

The Beginnings of the Settlement in the
Parish of Castle Hill

By James Jervis, A.S.T.C.

This paper is intended to cover the history of the beginning of settlement in the area now known as the Parish of Castle Hill, and deals with the period 1794 to 1850. The parish is a definite unit, and its boundaries are fixed. In historical work of this character it seems advisable to deal with a unit rather than follow strictly the historical development of isolated centres of settlement.

It is well known that geological and physiographical conditions play their part in determining whether a given area shall be settled or not, and they have to be taken into account in considering the progress of settlement in the district under consideration.

The Parramatta River occupies the lowest point in a trough-like depression, and immediately to the north of it the country has been subjected to an uplift which has raised the surface fay steps to a height of five hundred feet: The main drainage channels or creeks have dug their way through the overlying Wianamatta shales and exposed the underlying sandstones, particularly in the higher regions. Considerable areas have been denuded, and, as a result, these patches of country are of little use for agriculture. A section of this kind in the north-west of the parish remained unoccupied for many years, and some portions of it are still unsettled.

The heavy clay soils of the district were difficult to work and deficient in certain mineral constituents essential to plant life. When cropped continuously the land ceased to respond, and the early settlers soon found it difficult to grow cereal crops successfully. Then rust attacked the wheat which formed the staple crop, and farmers were forced to abandon this branch of agriculture.

It is probable that the first white visitors to the district were Governor Phillip and a party, in April, 1791. The party consisted of the Governor, Captain Collins and his servant, Mr. White, Lieutenant Dawes, Captain Tench, thirteen others, and two blacks. They left the Governor's house at Rosehill on April 11, 1791, travelled first in a northerly direction for a couple of miles, and then turned to north 34° W*.   This course would take the explorers through a portion of the Parish of Castle Hill.

Mr. J. F. Campbell is of the opinion that the exploratory excursion on April 17. 1788, reached
as far as Castle Hill.
*   Tench, Complete Account, page 113.



In the following year, David Burton was instructed to examine the country around Parramatta. During the course of his survey in April, 1792, he visited the locality now known as Baulkham Hills, and probably went as far north, as Castle Hill.   He states in his reports:—Where the four settlers at the northern farms are, and for several miles to the northward and to the eastward, the; ground is very excellent. It is a fine clammy light loam from fifteen inches to two feet in depth.


An examination of a number of despatches in the Historical Records of New South Wales leads to the conclusion that the site of the Government Farm at Castle Hill was decided upon by Governor Phillip.

In a despatch addressed to the Duke of Portland dated August 21, 1801, Governor King states:—I also intimated my commencing at a place begun the previous year, but the soil proving of the most unproductive kind, I fixed on a situation that Governor Phillip intended as a stock farm for Government, the soil being of the best and most productive kind. Fifty men have been clearing it, and I hope much public benefit will be derived in raising grain and feeding Government cattle, which, after the approaching increase, must be divided into several separate herds.§

It is obvious that Governor Hunter intended to commence farming operations at the spot decided upon by Governor Phillip. A list of public buildings is given in Vol. IV. of the Records. Amongst them is mentioned:—Another stockyard was designed for Government at Pendant (sic.) Hills in Dundas district, but it is not yet begun to be enclosed. Governor King remarks: "Will be enclosed' when wanted."*

It may be of interest to examine the reasons which prompted Governor King to commence a settlement at Castle Hill. Prior to his arrival there was no definite plan for reserving land for the purposes of the Crown, consequently nearly all the agricultural land on the fertile banks of the Hawkesbury was alienated before 1800.

There is reason to believe that Governor Phillip intended' reserving a considerable area in the vicinity of the Government Farm at Toongabbie, but little by little most of this was granted to settlers, and Governor King complained that only three hundred and fifty acres of suitable land remained in this locality.

‡   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. I, Part II, p. 599. The settlers referred to were situated about the site of the Burnside Home on the Pennant Hills Road. The district to the northward was Baulkham Hills
§   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. .IV., p. 462..
*   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol/IV., p. 155.


Governor King was evidently desirous of making the colony self-supporting, hence the idea of the farm at Castle Hill, where a large area was available. The land was the best of what remained in the known portions of the colony. It is possible also that he wished to induce settlers to take up the forest lands.

A further reference to the Governor's intention to commence operations at Castle Hill occurs on p. 430, Volume IV., of the Historical Records of New South Wales, July, 8, 1801:—As I am now about beginning another farm for the Crown, I shall take care that grants are not made to exclude the Government from the ground cleared by the convicts at public labour.

The first mention of the name "Castle Hill" occurs in a despatch dated March 1, 1802:— . . .A great progress has been made in clearing land at Castle Hill, where I hope to sow two hundred acres on the public account this year.§

Early in 1802 a number of tracts of land was surveyed and mapped and reserved for the use of the Crown. Governor King duly reported this step to the Home Government in a despatch dated March 1, 1802:—With this I have the honour to transmit a plan of the districts and allotments of ground in these settlements, in which is distinguished the farms that have been in any degree in cultivation last year, and those that are deserted or lying waste after having been in part cleared. By this plan, your Grace will observe that the Government grounds at Toongabbie (designed by Governor Phillip for public cultivation) have been circumscribed and parcelled out to settlers.

To secure grazing ground for Government stock of cattle and for future cultivation, I have judged it expedient to give a special security of the tract of ground marked EE in the plan, as designed by the enclosed instruments, which, with the plan, I humbly propose, may be kept as a record in your Grace's office, a copy of which shall be left in the Governor's possession. ‡

Governor King further recommended that these reserves should be "the peculiar object of a particular instruction, and both should be prevented from being alienated from the Crown."

One of the largest of these reserves was at Castle Hill, where an area of 34,539 acres was set aside for the use of the Crown. It covered a large section of the present Parish of Castle Hill, and extended northwards towards what are now Glenorie and Dural.

§   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. IV., p. 714. 
‡   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. IV., p. 721.



Every exertion was made to clear as much ground at Castle Hill as possible, and three hundred men were employed in October, 1802. It was hoped that the wheat produced at the Government Farms, together with that grown privately, would render it unnecessary to send any more flour to the colony.

In a letter addressed to Sir Joseph Banks dated July 5, 1802, Governor King states:—I have begun a new settlement eight miles to the northward of Parramatta, which is doing extremely well. The country and soil is well adapted for cultivation and grazing, and extends equally as well as far as the Hawkesbury.*

Good progress was made with the work of preparing the land at Castle Hill, and in a despatch dated May 9, 1803, Governor King was able to report that:—

The cleared ground on the new public agricultural settlement at Castle Hill is about three hundred acres, which will be sowed with wheat, and that, in addition to the other public grounds, will make seven hundred acres that will be sowed with grain from April to June, which is a much greater quantity than has ever been sowed before on the public account. When a sufficient proportion of ground is cleared at Castle Hill, it would be advisable to work that settlement alone and to turn Toongabbie into stockyards and grazing grounds, as it requires a small establishment at each place to look after the convicts at public labour, which, being more concentrated, would be more productive.

The erection of a stone barrack for convicts at Castle Hill was commenced early in 1803, The structure was one hundred feet long, twenty-four feet wide, and two storeys high. This work occupied some time, and was still in progress in August of that year. The barrack was situated on what is now portion 155 of the Parish of Castle Hill. Further reference to it will be made later.

At this period the greater number of convicts employed at public cultivation were engaged at Castle Hill.   Their hours of labour were from sunrise till 8 a.m. and from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and on Saturday from sunrise until 8 a.m.

By March, 1804, considerable progress had been made at Castle Hill. Seven hundred acres were cleared, and durable stone buildings had been erected. It is probable that more land would have been cleared and brought under cultivation, but instructions from Lord Hobart, dated February, 1803, recommended Governor King to cultivate no more ground than could be attended to by the convicts at the Governor's disposal. Farming at Castle Hill on the Government's account was evidently successful,  as Governor King was able to advise the Home Department on December 20, 1804, that the stacks contained sixteen thousand bushels of wheat which would be held as a reserve in case of accidents.

*   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. IV., p. 784.


The French naturalist, Peron, visited the little settlement, and has left on record an interesting account of his visit:—Of all the establishments in New South Wales, Castle Hill is the most recent; at the time I was there it was scarcely three years old. The infant town then only consisted of a dozen houses; but already there were to be distinguished on the neighbouring hills vast tracts of cultivated land, while several handsome farms were settled in the valleys. Six hundred convicts were continually employed in felling trees to open roads through the forests, and in twenty quarters might be seen rising immense volumes of flame and smoke produced by the burning of new concessions.

From time to time additions appear to have been made to the buildings at Castle Hill, and a report dated August 13, 1806, gives the following list of structures as being in existence:—One barn in good repair; one stone granary in an unfinished state; dwelling and storehouses wanting repairs.*

The number of convicts employed at Castle Hill and the area under cultivation was gradually reduced, and in August, 1806, only one hundred and seventy-seven were at labour.

Governor Bligh expressed the opinion that Government farming was necessary as a check on the price of grain. In 1807 one hundred and fifty acres of wheat, sixteen acres of barley and oats were sown, and two hundred and twelve acres prepared for maize. In 1809 the area cultivated declined to one hundred acres.

In a despatch addressed to Governor Macquarie, Viscount Castlereagh expressed doubts concerning the wisdom of maintaining any longer a Government farm and Government cattle. He considered it advisable to distribute the convicts amongst the settlers, but Governor Macquarie was instructed to report on the matter before closing down the establishment. After his arrival in New South Wales he reported in the following terms:—. . . From what I have myself already seen and observed, and from what I have learnt from well-informed People on this subject, I conceive it will be highly advisable to continue a Government stock of Cattle for several years to come and a Government Farm on a limited economical plan; the latter will not only serve as a Stimulus to the regular Farmer to increase and improve his Crops, but will also be the means of preventing a Famine. . . .§

‡   Peron's Voyage to the Southern Hemisphere, pp. 307, 308. 
*   Hislorical Records of New South Wales, Vol. VI., p. 164. 
§   Historical Records of Australia, Vol. VII., p. 251.


In the following year the Government Farm at Castle Hill was closed by Macquarie. on the ground that it was totally inadequate to its object and expensive to maintain.


An interesting experiment in the cultivation of the vine was carried out under Governor King's instruction at Castle Hill. The grape had been grown in the young colony from the time of Governor Phillip, but its cultivation had not been attended with much success. In order to place the industry on a successful footing, two French prisoners of war were sent here in 1801. A proposal to this effect emanated from Captain Schank, of the Transport Office.

In a letter dated April 8, 1800, and addressed to Under Secretary King, Captain Schank stated that letters from New South Wales had been received by him and others in which the writers stated that wine had been made in considerable quantities, but from the want of persons who understood its manufacture the quality was not satisfactory. "I have procured, for that reason," he continues, "three Frenchmen, prisoners of war, in every respect qualified, whom I have examined, and who have given the enclosed satisfaction to prove their knowledge of the cultivation and whole process of planting and making it." It was proposed that they should remain in the colony for three years to work themselves and instruct others in the method of planting and making wine, and at the end of three years to return to England, or if they so desired, should be given grants of land.

The letter was referred to the Duke of Portland, who agreed to the proposal, and he requested the Admiralty to liberate the men concerned. Two Frenchmen, natives of Nantz, Francois de Riveau and Antoine Landrien (not three as proposed), were liberated from the prison ships at Portsmouth and sailed for New South Wales in the ship Royal Admiral, arriving here in December, 1800. They were shortly afterwards established at Parramatta, and paid a salary of £60 per annum.

During 1801 they planted seven thousand cuttings around the crescent behind the Old Government House. These proceedings were duly reported to Lord Hobart, who hoped that the planting of a vineyard in a regular manner at Parramatta would answer the expectations entertained of its success. In the following year the Frenchmen planted an additional five thousand cuttings, thus bringing the total number of plants up to twelve thousand.


Preparations were then made for the cultivation of the vine at Castle Hill. Thirty acres of ground were ready in August, 1803, for planting vines, and it was felt that when this had been planted sufficient ground would be covered with grapes to determine whether the country was capable of producing good wine.

The experiment was not a success. Year after year the plants were blighted, and the Governor found that the Frenchmen knew little about the business of wine-making. Some wine was made in 1803, but the sample was so poor that it was deemed unwise to send a sample of it to England. In August, 1804, one of the Frenchmen asked permission to return to England. He was discharged on December 31, 1803, and left in the Calcutta. The other decided to remain another year, as the Governor thought he might be more successful if given a further trial.*

Shortly afterwards, he was suspected of being implicated in the convict outbreak which occurred at Castle Hill in 1804. Concerning him, Governor King stated, "His conduct has compelled me to send him out of the colony." It does not appear that anything further was done towards cultivating the vine at Castle Hill. Traces of the cellar which was doubtless excavated to store the wine still remain, but the vineyard has long since disappeared.


Under Governor Macquarie's instructions the barn was re-roofed and repaired, and converted into an asylum for the reception of Convict lunatics, who up to this period (1811) had been accommodated at Parramatta. Provision was made for thirty patients in the building, and a courtyard surrounded by a strong stockade was constructed in which the patients might exercise. A weatherboard house for the use of the superintendent and his family was constructed. No resident medical officer was appointed, but the institution was evidently visited periodically by a doctor from Parramatta.

The first Superintendent was Rev. Samuel Marsden, who held office until about August, 1814, when Mr. George Suttor was appointed. Mr. Suttor refers to the appointment in his Memoirs:—

My friend, the Rev. Samuel Marsden, about this time commenced his trips to New Zealand, and had to give up his superintendence of the Lunatic Asylum at Castle Hill. This was offered to me by the Government and Mr. Marsden. I thankfully accepted it, with the use of all the Government- cleared land there. ...

*   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. V., pp. 317, 318.


Mr. Suttor remained at Castle Hill until 1819, when Mr. William Bennett was appointed at a salary of £50 per annum. Mr. Bennett remained at Castle Hill until the institution was removed.

Commissioner Bigge recommended the removal of the patients on account of the dilapidated state of the buildings and the want of proper medical attention. It was proposed to remove the inmates to Parramatta. Nothing was done immediately, and the institution remained at Castle Hill for several years longer. The Grand Jury at Parramatta adversely criticised the organisation of the Asylum from time to time, and pointed out the inadequacy of the building used and the want of proper care and attention. Eventually it was decided to remove the patients to Liverpool, as the Government Farm was transferred to the Church and Schools Corporation in 1828.

A change of policy concerning the Crown reserves came into force in 1818. Settlers were permitted to take up grants in these areas, and large portions of them were soon occupied. Two hundred acres surrounding the Asylum at Castle Hill were set aside as a township reserve, and appears as such on a map printed in 1822.* The land then passed into the hands of the Church and Schools Corporation. An advertisement appeared in the Sydney Gazette on October 3, 1829, notifying the public that offers to rent the land at the rate of two shillings and sixpence per hundred acres would be received by the trustees. There is no definite evidence to show whether the land was leased as a result of this advertisement.

An area of forty acres to be used as a glebe was surveyed by Surveyor H. L. Butler in November, 1837, and a deed for the land was issued on May 9, 1842, although the Church was in occupation from December 20. 1837. The deed shows the glebe to be annexed to the "Church of the United Church of England and Ireland as by law established, erected at Castle Hill, and known as St. Simon."

The present Anglican Church at Castle Hill is known as St. Paul's; but regular church services were carried on as early as 1827. In 1828 the Rev. C. P. N. Wilton was appointed Chaplain at Field of Mars and Castle Hill. As the old asylum buildings stood on land which had passed into the hands of the Church, it is reasonable to assume that the services were held there and that the Church of St. Simon was established in the old stone barrack.

*   Plan 369, O.R., Lands Department.


In 1828 Archdeacon Scott proposed to erect a school house at Castle Hill, and it would, of course, have been erected on the reserve. A school had been, established in 1827, and the writer understands that it was held in the buildings on the glebe land.

The reserve, excluding the forty-acre glebe, was leased in 1846 to S. Moore, E. Fuller, and Thomas Fuller for a period of twenty-one years. When the leases expired the land was advertised for sale, and was duly auctioned at the Parramatta Court House on September 30, 1870, the purchasers being:—S. Moore, portion 161 (as shown on the parish map of Castle Hill); James Black, portion 162; E. S. Black, portion 163; James Greenwood, portion 164; James Purser, portion 165; and T. Williams, portions 166 and 167.

The glebe has since been disposed of by the Church. The old buildings were demolished between 1850 and 1860, and some of the stone is said to have been used for the construction of the rectory at Castle Hill.


The first white settler at Castle Hill was a Frenchman of noble birth, Verincourt De Clambe. This gentleman arrived in New South Wales at the latter end of 1801, and was permitted to select land at Castle Hill. In this respect he was a favoured individual, as he was allowed to choose land within the Crown reserves already referred to. Doubtless he had an understanding with the British Government in the matter of the choice of land, although there is no documentary evidence of any agreement of this character.

The following particulars of De Clambe's grant are given in the Record of Grants in the Lands Department, Vol. I., grant number 1056:—Mons. Verincourt De Clambe, 100 acres, Dundas District, P. G. King, February 1, 1802. Annual tent rent, £2 from February 1, 1807. Name of grant, De Clambe's Farm. Description of grant: Referred to in grant for Government pasturage Lot No. 2, where the said allotment is specially reserved for the said Verincourt De Clambe.

It became necessary to take off an angle for a public road, by M. De Clambe's consent of 14 acres, 28 acres were added to the upper part of the farm.  May 11, 1804.

Difficulty has been experienced in locating this grant. Its position is not shown on any of the parish maps, which usually contain this information. On a plan in the Accurate List, published in. London in 1813, it is shown in the Crown Reserve.


By carefully examining the scale and comparing the plan with the present parish map, the writer finds that De Clambe's grant forms part of portion 137, Parish of Castle Hill, granted to John Duff on January 13, 1818, and part of portion 35, Parish of Field of Mars, granted to John Rogan on the same date. Local tradition confirms this, and Mr. Bruce Purser, the present owner of John Duff's grant, has shown the writer where Mons. De Clambe was buried. It is curious that all trace of this grant has disappeared from the records. There is no doubt, however, that the grant reverted to the Crown, as the conditions under which it was granted had not been fulfilled.

The problem of unoccupied grants caused Governor King some anxious thought, and in a despatch to the Duke of Portland dated March 1, 1802, he drew the Government's attention to it, and asked for instructions as to the disposal of these lands:—As there are a number of farms deserted and lying waste, and others that have never been occupied, although grants have bean given for them, I have to request your instructions whether lands thus situated are to revert to the Crown, as in general they occupy the choicest and most desirable spots in the settlement.*

To this the following reply was received:—With regard to the farms heretofore granted to persons who have neglected to cultivate them, and which have been left as waste land, my letter No. 2 of the 29th of last August conveys to you my opinion of the expediency of your taking for a number of years such as you may be able to occupy on the part of Government, but in all instances where the conditions under which the land has been granted to individuals have not been fulfilled, such lands arc to revert to the Crown, and may be re-granted, if that measure be thought advisable, in a regular manner.‡

From these instructions it seems clear enough that De Clambe's grant reverted to the Crown.

Baron De Clambe was a Knight of the Order of St. Louis. He was captain of the regiment of Pondicherry, and was one of the officers taken at the capture of that place by the British. For a short period he was employed by some of the native princes in India, but on the outbreak of hostilities between the natives and the British he resigned his command and cultivated a small vineyard at Chingleput, near Madras. Business called him to England, and he then decided to go to New South Wales.§ After his arrival here he threw himself into the work of clearing his land and getting it into cultivation, a task in which he was very successful.

*   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. IV., p. 720. 
‡   Historical Records of'New South Wales, Vol. V., p: 47. 
§   Sydney Gazette, June 10, 1804.


An interesting account of a visit, to his farm is found in Peron's work:—After taking refreshments at Castle Hill, our party set off to visit a neighbouring habitation. "I wish," said Mr. Paterson, "to introduce you to one of your countrymen who is a friend of mine; he is a Baron De la Clambe, formerly a French colonel, who honourably served his country in the war in India, and who afterwards, being forced by your revolution to seek an asylum in England:, refused to bear arms against his nation. At length, disgusted with a life of indolence, so little congenial with his inclination and former habits, he solicited permission to establish himself in this, distant climate. His wish was not only complied with, but several advantages were granted him, which will secure to him for the rest of his life, an existence, if not splendid, at least competent and peaceable. During the three years which he has resided at Castle Hill he has only come once to Sydney Town; he shuns the world, and refuses the most pressing invitations of his best friends, in order to devote himself entirely to agriculture. But you yourself shall judge," added Mr. Paterson, "of his information and activity."

Having walked about a quarter of an hour through a thick wood, we discovered the modest habitation and the fields of the poor French colonel. At the head; of six convicts, furnished to him by the English Government, almost naked like himself, he set them the example of labour and fortitude. The unexpected arrival of such, a numerous party disconcerted M. De la Clambe, who appeared mortified at our seeing him so miserably dressed that it was, difficult to distinguish the master from the criminals that laboured under his orders. He ran precipitately into the house to make himself decent, and soon afterwards joined- us.

The interior of this rural mansion, to which we were soon introduced, presented the agreeable union of extreme simplicity and a sort of elegance which proved the delicate taste of its owner, at the same time he was an utter stranger to every sort of luxury.

Colonel Paterson soon apprised the baron who I was and the nature of my visit to the colony. At the name of a Frenchman, the unfortunate emigrant advanced towards me, and embracing me with transport, "Ah, Monsieur," said he, "how goes our dear beloved France?" With the highest satisfaction I related to this interesting countryman all the prodigies which a great man had performed for the benefit of our nation. He heard my recital with ecstasy, and when I had finished' he animatedly offered up his vows to heaven for the happiness and preservation of the first consul.

After a frugal repast from the provisions which the colonel had caused to be brought, we set out to visit the possessions of our host, himself acting as a guide. He amused us with particulars of his operations and their result; but of all that he, showed us, nothing interested me so much as a fine plantation of cotton and coffee trees which he had planted, and which bore the most promising appearance. M. De la Clambe assured me that after making a series of experiments, he had succeeded in making his cotton trees produce cotton of various colours, particularly that of the fine Indian nankeens, which no European had hitherto been able to imitate, either by growing the cotton or dyeing it.


"Either I deceive myself," said the French emigrant, "or in a little time I shall have created for this colony two branches of commerce and exportation equally valuable.   I have only this means of acquitting myself of a sacred debt of gratitude towards the people who received me in the, time of my misfortune, and I shall do everything to hasten the period of the performance of this duty, and wish of my heart—a wish so agreeable to my ideas of delicacy and patriotism."

The French settler's life at Castle Hill was not uneventful. During the convict outbreak of 1803 and 1804 his house was attacked and robbed.

Mons. De Clambe's affairs prospered, and at the sale of William Cox's estate on April 4, 1804, he was able to purchase Ramsay's farm at Dundas (portion of Parish of Field of Mars) for thirty-seven guineas.

Concerning the cotton grown at Castle Hill, there is some doubt as to whether it was true cotton or not. Writing to Under Secretary Sullivan on October 8, 1807, Surgeon Luttrell says:—But unfortunately for this colony, there is not a true cotton plant in it, or ever was since the colony was founded--the Gossypium of Linne.

Reporting on the state of the colony on December 31, 1801, Governor King states:—Respecting cotton, much seed has been sown here, both from the Bahamas and the Isle of Bourbon. Experience has proved that it will not do here, but there can be no doubt of its succeeding further to the northward. . . .*

It is evident that Mons. De Clambe's experiment was not the first.

An interesting letter written by Mons. De Clambe is in the possession of Mr. C. H. Bertie:—

The Hermitage, January 24, 1804.

Dear Sir,

I send you some very good carrottes seed of the largest kind. I hope you will have so much pleasure in eating their produce as I have in sending this to you. I wish you and Mrs. Palmer did always been in good health, as well as your family, since I left Sydney. I will be very happy in receiving news from you.

I pray present my best respects and wishes to your lady, and believe that I am with the sincerest friendship.

Yours truly, LE CHEV. DE CLAMBE. In this moment the thunder fall on my table did extinguish my light and broke my chimney piece with several articles; thank God it is not my heade. My housekeeper, the bearer of my letter and the seeds, can give you some particulars of this event.

Mr. Palmer,

*   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. IV., p. 668.


Within six months of writing this letter, Mons. De Clambe was dead. This tragic event was recorded in the Sydney Gazette of June 10, 1804:—

On Monday night died suddenly as he was going down to a dance at Government House, Verincourt De Clambe, Esq., of Castle Hill. The day following an inquest was held, at which the medical gentlemen who attended the decease at the approach of death gave it as their opinion that the event was occasioned by an apoplexy. The verdict of the jury was, death by visitation of God.

He was said to have frequently expressed a wish to be buried on his farm, "a wish that humanity and respect for so amiable a character could not refuse." The grave was bricked in and remained intact for many years. Some forty years ago the brick work was demolished, but the remains still lie where they were interred in 1804. The approximate position of the grave is shown on the map. Mons. De Clambe's house stood on the crown of the hill near the junction of the North and Pennant Hills Roads.

After his death some of his property was disposed of by the administrator of his estate, Mr. Robert Campbell. The sale was advertised in the columns of the Sydney Gazette, July 24, 1804:—

To be sold by public auction on the premises of the late Verincourt Clambe, Esq., at Castle Hill, on Friday, 3rd August next, at 12 o'clock precisely by order of the administrator, several head of horn cattle, a capital mare, fifty-nine sheep, etc.

And to let for the space of two years, that excellent farm known by the name of the Hermitage, containing one hundred and fourteen acres, of which fifty are cleared, eleven and a half under wheat, and three laid out in a garden well stocked with fruit trees and vegetables.

On the premises there is a small dwelling house, barn, etc.

There is no evidence to show whether the Hermitage was let or not. Probably it was not, and it eventually reverted to the Crown, to be re-granted when the Crown Reserve was thrown open to selection in 1818.


Although Mons. De Clambe was the pioneer of what is now the settlement of Castle Hill, settlers had been established in the district covered by the parish at an earlier date.

Settlement in the present Parish of Castle Hill began on the Old Hawkesbury Road, which formed its south- western boundary, in 1794. The first grant was issued on December 1, 1794, to William Joyce. Its area was thirty acres, and it now forms a section of portion 105 of the Parish of Castle Hill. Toongabbie Creek formed its eastern boundary, and doubtless the presence of permanent water was a determining factor in its selection. Joyce was followed in 1795 by Matthew Pearce, a free settler.


Pearce's  grant of one hundred and sixty acres adjoined Joyce's farm on the north-west, and dates from July 22, 1795. It was, and still is known as, King's Langley Farm. It is one of the few very early grants which is still intact.

In 1799 a group of settlers occupied land at Baulkham Hills. The pioneers were Thomas Bradley, James Bean, Andrew McDougall, John Smith, and John Anson. Their grants date from November 12, 1799. McDougall's grant was known as Roxburgh Place, but the other farms were not named.

The work of settlement proceeded slowly, and only fifteen grants were taken up between 1799 and 1809. Governor King expressed the hope that the Hawkesbury floods, and particularly that of 1806, would have the effect of making settlers set a greater value on the forest lands around Toongabhie, Parramatta, Prospect, Castle Hill, and Seven Hills. However, no land was occupied in the parish after this event until the arrival of Governor Macquarie, when grants of land facing the Old Hawkesbury Road were issued.

As 34,539 acres were reserved for the Crown at the northern end of the district, and 3,880 acres set aside as a common at the western side of the Field of Mars district, which adjoined the Castle Hill district, no settlement was possible in these areas for many years.

According to the conditions under which the Crown Reserve was dedicated, no lands within it were to be alienated without express instructions from the British Government. It does not appear that these instructions were observed, as land' was granted in 1818 without any special representation on the matter. A footnote to the description of the Baulkham Hills Common in the Register of Grants states that the lease of the Common was "Torn up this 1st December, 1825, the lease having expired many years before". The lease of the common expired, in 1818, and that portion of it which was suitable for settlement was at once taken up by settlers. Seventy-one grants were occupied at Baulkham Hills and Castle Hill in 1818 and 1819, and by 1823 most of the suitable land in the parish had been taken up. After 1823 settlement proceeded very slowly until 1841, when an area of poor sandstone country in the north-west of the parish remained unoccupied. This land was not alienated until recent years, on account of its sterility or unsuitability for general  agriculture. "With the advance of the fruit growing industry it has been gradually taken up.



Most of the pioneers were men of humble origin, and have made no mark on the pages of our history. Nevertheless, their names deserve to be placed on record, and the writer has endeavoured to make the record as complete as possible.


Little is known of the history of William Joyce, the first settler in the parish. He reached New South Wales on the Abermarle in July, 1791. The destruction of his house by fire was considered of sufficient importance to be recorded in the Sydney Gazette on October 7, 1804. He was one of the earliest innkeepers on the Old Hawkesbury Road. A beer licence was granted to him on March 16. 1811.


Matthew Pearce, whose grant adjoined William Joyce's, was one of the earliest free settlers. A despatch addressed to Lieutenant-Governor Grose on February 15, 1794, informed him that "the Surprize likewise carries out two settlers who have been well recommended, with their respective families, as specified in No. 2."* The two settlers referred to were John Boston and his family and Matthew Pearce and his wife. The Surprize sailed on May 2, 1794. Amongst her passengers were the "Scottish Martyrs," Messrs. Muir, Palmer, Skirving, and Margarot. The voyage of the Surprize was not uneventful, as it was alleged that these gentlemen were the instigators of a plot to seize the ship. In his report on the matter, the captain commended Mr. Pearce's conduct.

The ship arrived at Sydney in October, 1794, and on July 22, 1795, one hundred and sixty acres were granted to Matthew Pearce. His grant was named "King's Langley." King's Langley is the name of a village about twenty miles from London, and it is understood that Matthew Pearce was born in the King's Langley Manor House.   So the name has family associations.

Matthew Pearce became a prosperous settler, and he is mentioned as a member of the Grand Jury of Parramatta. In later years his son, Matthew Woodward Pearce, settled on the northern side of King's Langley Farm, and the homestead which he erected still stands.   The district of

*   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol.: II, p. 118.


Seven Hills owes its name to Matthew Pearce. From his house seven hills were visible, hence the name. The name Seven Hills has been in use since 1800. His death, at the age of sixty-nine, occurred on December 28, 1831. He was buried in St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta, where the remains of many other pioneers were laid to rest. His widow died on November 16, 1843, and she was also interred in the same resting place. At a later date the family formed a private graveyard on the estate, and the remains of Matthew Pearce and his wife were removed to it. Here also rest Matthew Woodward Pearce, whose death occurred on May 12, 1878, and other members of the family. King's Langley has been continuously occupied by the Pearce family for one hundred and thirty-three years.


The Baulkham Hills pioneers, Andrew McDougall, John Smith, Thomas Bradley, and George Suttor, form, an interesting group.

It is assumed that Andrew McDougall was a native of County Roxburgh, Scotland. He was married to Elizabeth Wood at St. Ann's Church, Soho, London, on May 15, 1786. At this period he was a purser in the Navy, and it seems that his wife resided in London during his absence at sea, and his son Andrew was born at the Jew's Harp House, St. Mary Le Bone Fields, on May 19, 1793.

Having retired from the Navy, he decided to try his fortune in the new colony, and, by direction of the Duke of Portland, a passage was reserved for his family, consisting of four sons and a daughter and wife and self. He arrived here on the ship Barwell on May 18, 1798. Fellow passengers were John Bowman and his family and John Smith and his family. John Smith became his neighbour at Baulkham Hills.

For a time Andrew McDougall resided at Parramatta, where a lease of a small area was granted him. Evidently he lived there while preparing to make a home at Baulkham Hills, where an area of one hundred and fifty acres was granted him on November 12, 1799, and named "Roxburgh Place." After Governor Bligh was deposed, he, with other Baulkham Hills settlers, was tried for refusing to attend a muster at Parramatta, and as a result was sentenced to one month's imprisonment. When an area of over three thousand acres was set aside as a common at Baulkham Hills, he was appointed one of the trustees. His death was reported in the Sydney Gazette of March 25, 1824, at the age of fifty-eight years:—


Died at his estate at Baulkham Hills, on Saturday the 20th instant, Mr. Andrew McDougall, an old free emigrant of the Colony. His death is sincerely lamented by his numerous family and large circle of friends.

His wife predeceased him on October 27, 1817, at the age of fifty-seven. Thomas, one of his sons, was killed by a fall from a horse on May 14, 1826. Andrew McDougall and his wife and son were buried in St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta.

Andrew was succeeded by his son, John Kerr McDougall, who had eight sons and a daughter. After the death of J. K. McDougall, his son, Andrew Louis McDougall, took over the property and remained there until 1876, when he went to Grafton as Police Magistrate. One of Andrew L. McDougall's sons, Mr. L. A. McDougall, is Clerk of Petty Sessions at Goulburn.

A fine stone villa known as Roxburgh Hall now stands on the estate, and was built in 1860.


John Smith was a fellow passenger of Andrew McDougall's son on the Barwell, and became his neighbour at Baulkham Hills. Like McDougall, he objected to the Johnston-Macarthur regime, arid suffered accordingly. He, too, was sentenced to one month's imprisonment for refusing to attend, a muster at Parramatta. He resided for many years at Baulkham Hills, and died on August 12, 1846. The following notice of his death appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of August 18, 1846:—

Died at Baulkham Hills on Wednesday the 12th instant Mr. John Smith, aged 84 years. Much and deeply, regretted by a numerous circle of relatives and friends. Mr. Smith was one of the oldest inhabitants, having arrived with his family per ship Barwell in the year 1798, when he settled at Baulkham Hills, where he resided until he was called hence.

One of his daughters married James Elder, a pioneer missionary to the South Seas.


The most prominent of the pioneers of the Parish of Castle Hill was George Suttor, whose descendants have multiplied and prospered, and made the name respected in the land of his adoption; Like many other pioneers, he considered that the new colony offered greater opportunities than the land of his birth. After a protracted voyage, he arrived at Port Jackson with his wife and infant child in 1800, and soon afterwards found a temporary residence at Parramatta. He at once began a search for suitable land on which to settle.   Interesting reference to this search is made in his Memoirs:—


Many a long and weary journey I had in continuing the search on all "sides of Parramatta, in which I was assisted by the Rev. Samuel Marsden and Messrs. Caley, Lewin, Dr. Thompson and others. At last I fixed on the land at Baulkham Hills; in this I was in a great measure determined by its good neighbourhood of free families; this was indeed a very desirable circumstance for protection in the early days of the Colony, when gangs of wild Irish bushrangers were frequently the dread of the settlers, rushing into their houses at night and robbing all they could, sometimes committing murder.                                       

A grant of one hundred and eighty-six acres was made in his favour on March 31, 1802, and it was recorded as "Suttor Farm." The grant was soon known, however, by the designation of "Chelsea Farm." Although the grants dated from March, 1802, Mr. Suttor had been at work on it from July, 1801. On. the land a small house was built for him by the Government, and he and his family took up their residence in it about twelve or eighteen months after their arrival in Parramatta.

One of his earliest acts was to plant three orange trees presented to him by Colonel Paterson, and these trees formed the beginnings of an orangery. In 1807 oranges from the Baulkham Hills trees were sold in Charlotte Square at two shillings and sixpence per dozen. Although the Rev. Richard Johnson planted the first orange trees grown in the colony, George Suttor was the first to produce the fruit on a commercial scale. In a letter published in the Australian Quarterly Journal in 1828, he refers to his efforts:—

I was the first who planted the orange at Baulkham Hills and the first who sent the fruit to Sydney from thence.  

He mentions the trees given him by Colonel Paterson and continues:—

... From these our present extensive orange grove has bean raised. The first orange trees that bore fruit in the Colony were planted by the Rev. Mr. Johnstone near the spot on which the Colonial Secretary's office now stands but the trees soon became sickly. ... Mr. Johnstone planted orange trees at his farm called Canterbury. I believe they did' not succeed very well.                      

While waiting for his orangery to bear fruit, George Suttor set to work to raise young trees for sale. The Sydney Gazette of May 20, 1804, informed its readers that Mr. Suttor had for sale at his nursery at Baulkham Hills:—

A variety of young Fruit Trees, consisting of Apples, Pears Early Peaches, Figs, Apricots, a few Almonds of a particularly fine "sort from the Cape, Pomegranates, Lemons, Loquats Raspberries, large Chilli Strawberries, Quinces, Willows, etc N.B.—Orchards planted if necessary. George Suttor was, therefore, one of the earliest nursery men in the colony.


Like his neighbours, Andrew McDougall and John Smith, he found himself in difficulties with the anti-Bligh faction, and had to stand his trial for having written a letter to Colonel Foveaux in connection with his refusal to attend a general muster, which was alleged to have contained contumelious expressions intended to bring into contempt his Majesty's authority in the territory. When called upon to plead, he replied:—

Gentlemen, I deny the legality of this Court. You may do with myself as you please; my unfortunate wife and family I leave to the mercy of God, until peace shall be restored in the colony.   I have nothing more to say.*

From this position he could not be moved, and he refused to plead. He was, in consequence, sentenced to imprisonment for six months. He appears to have taken a prominent part in organising opposition amongst the settlers to the Johnston-Macarthur faction, and the settlers' petition addressed to Viscount Castlereagh§ in connection with the matter seems to have been drawn up by him and his is certainly the first signature which appears on it.

The Baulkham Hills settlers in general seem to have objected strongly to the high-handed proceedings of the Johnston-Macarthur faction, and the petition bears the signatures, amongst others, of George Suttor, John Smith, Robert Smith, Andrew McDougall, Michael Hancey, John Hillas, and Matthew Pearce, all pioneers of that locality.

In 1810 he was called upon to appear in England on behalf of Bligh, and he left New South Wales on the Hindostan on May 12 of that year. He remained in England for over thirteen months, and arrived back in Sydney on May 12, 1812, bringing with him a number of valuable plants, including specimens of the date, olive, and various palms. As has already been mentioned, he spent five years—from 1814 to 1819—at Castle Hill. Although desirous of obtaining land on the fertile Bathurst Plains, George Suttor was unable to obtain the necessary permission from Governor Macquarie. After the arrival of Sir Thomas Brisbane, a grant was made to Mr. Suttor and he took up his residence at "Brucedale," where he remained for a number of years, eventually returning to Baulkham Hills. His later years were spent on his holdings near Bathurst, and his death occurred at "Alloway Bank" on May 5, 1859.   The residence now standing on the grant was erected about 1873.

*   Sydney Gazette, December .18, 1808. 
§   Histofical Records of New South Wales, Vol. VI., pp 802-804.



John Pye arrived in New South Wales on the ship William and Ann on August 28, 1791. On December 30, 1796, he obtained a grant of thirty acres, and further grants of seventy acres and one hundred and thirty-five acres were made to him on March 31, 1802, and April 5, 1821. Both John Pye and his neighbour, George Best, appear to have been industrious and thrifty men whose affairs prospered.

During Governor Macquarie's tour of the "Interior" in 1810 he visited their farms, and refers to them thus:—

I was highly gratified with two of them, namely, those be longing to Best and Pye, two very industrious, respectable Settlers who have their farms well cultivated and in most excellent order, with good offices, and comfortable, decent Dwelling Houses.

Commissioner Bigge also mentions them in his report:—

. . . They have been distinguished for the propriety of their conduct in the Colony; for their respectable characters, and for their unremitting industry; and the state of their farms attest, in a conspicuous manner, the united effects of good conduct in New South Wales, and of industry when well applied.*

John Pye opened an inn known as the "Lamb and Lark" at the junction of the Windsor and Castle Hill Roads on March 22, 1822, and at his death, in 1830, the business passed into the hands of his son, by whom it. was advertised for sale in the columns of the Sydney Herald of June 11. 1835.

The death of John Pye, at the age of sixty-three years, was registered on September 25, 1830, and he was buried in St. John's Cemetery.


Best's grant of thirty acres dates from the same period as John Pye's, but he later acquired the areas granted to John Jamieson, George Chestland, and Nicholas Rogers, and a new grant was issued covering these lands on August 9, 1803. His death was registered on July 3, 1836, at the age of seventy-eight years, and like his neighbour, he was buried in St. John's Cemetery.

The well-known Masonic Homes at Baulkham Hills stand on Best's grant.


Both these men were marines in Captain-Lieutenant Meredith's company on the ship Friendship, one of the transports of the First Fleet. They remained here, and became settlers.

*   Bigge's Report, p. 142.


Goodhall's grant of one hundred acres faced the Old Hawkesbury Road,; and dates from October 18, 1799, and Evans' grant was issued on July 6, 1803, although an earlier grant in the Field of Mars had been made on July 22, 1795.

Special inducements were offered to the marines to remain in New South Wales and join the New South Wales Corps when it arrived in the colony. Goodhall and Evans decided to transfer to the new corps, and they became settlers on their discharge. Little is known of Goodhall except that he was attacked by natives on his farm and injured severely.

Humphrey Evans was killed by a falling tree on his grant. He had gone out to procure palings for a sty, but did not return at dark. His wife sent one of his men to look for him, and he was found dead beneath the tree which he had cut down.*


John Hillas, a free settler who arrived here on the Nile on December 14, 1801, was the owner of two grants in the parish, one of one hundred acres known as "Hillas Farm," dating from March 31, 1802, and another of one hundred and sixty acres known as "Stanhope Farm," made on August 11, 1804. Kellyville Public School stands on the former grant, while the latter is at the junction of the Old and New Windsor Roads.

The first inn on the Old Hawkesbury Road, the Stanhope Arms, was opened by John Hillas in August, 1804. The attention of the public was drawn to the venture in the following advertisement which appeared in the Sydney Gazette of August 5, 1804:—

John Hillas.   Sign of the Stanhope Arms, Hawkesbury Road.

Begs leave to acquaint his Friends and the Public in general that he has laid in a quantity of Salt Butter, Cheese and Pickled Herrings. Also Spirits, Porter, Ale and etc. for the accommodation of Travellers who may please to call at his House. And farther to accommodate the Public, as Copper Coin might be found to be burdensome, they may be provided with checks upon him to any amount at Mr. E. Lord's and Mr. E. Wills' at Sydney, Mr. J. Larras' Parramatta, and Mr. A. Thompson's and F. Abbott's Hawkesbury. He pledges himself that he will give every satisfaction to those who may be pleased to call for Refreshments at his House, and he will render every service to the Traveller in case of accident on the Road.

*   Gazette, August 4, 1805.


The greatest care will be taken of animals of all descriptions that may require relaxation from fatigue.

John Hillas died on March 19, 1837, at the age of sixty- eight, and his wife, Barbara Hillas, on May 9, 1844, at the age of seventy-eight. Both were buried in St. John's Cemetery.


Michael Hancey* and William Hancey* were evidently father and son, as the former's grant is registered as "Hancey Farm" and the latter as "Hancey, Junior, Farm." They came out as free settlers in the Minorca, which reached Port Jackson on December 14, 1801. Each received grants of one hundred acres on March 3, 1802; and later, grants of fifty acres to Michael Hancey and sixty acres to William Hancey were made on September 13, 1819, and October 30, 1831, respectively.

Other - settlers whose grants date from March, 1802, and who were evidently passengers by the Nile. Minorca, or Canada, were John Vincent, Israel Rayner, John Jones, John Tibbett, and Thomas Bolton. Thomas Harley, whose grant dates from the same period, was a passenger aboard the Minerva, which arrived on January 11, 1800. All these men were free settlers.


One of the largest grants in the parish — an area of five hundred acres — was made to George Acres, a fellow passenger of Sir Thomas Brisbane's on the Royal George, which sailed into Port Jackson on March 10, 1821. His "Heywood" grant dates from June 30, 1823. George Acres' death was registered on June 2, 1835, and his remains were laid to rest in St. John's Cemetery. "Heywood" grant is one of the few in the parish which is still intact. His wife, who was also buried in the same ground, survived him until January 5, 1866, when her death in her seventy- second year occurred. A few bricks mark the site of his original residence.

James Bean, Thomas Bradley, and John Anson, whose grants adjoined Andrew McDougall's on the north, were evidently fellow passengers with him on the Barwell. Each was a free settler, and received a grant of one hundred acres. Thomas Bradley, like Andrew McDougall and John Smith, lived in Parramatta for a time, evidently while his grant was being cleared and prepared for occupation. John Anson was a carpenter by trade, and followed his occupation in Sydney. His name appears frequently in the Sydney Gazette.

*   Wrongly spelled as "Keney" in despatch from Under Secretary King to Acting Governor King of June 19, 1801.


It is doubtful whether he ever resided on his grant. Probably he employed an overseer to attend to the work of cultivation while he carried on his business in Sydney. In the Sydney Gazette of January 1, 1809, his farm was advertised for sale, and the writer understands that it was purchased by James Elder, one of the missionaries who sought refuge in the colony in 1810. An interesting sketch of James Elder's life, written by Mr. Henry Selkirk, appears in Vol. III. of the Journal and Proceedings of the Parramatta and District Historical Society.

A number of settlers obtained grants on the Old Hawkesbury Road at the beginning of 1810. Amongst the lands alienated at this time were two grants of one hundred acres each, one to Elizabeth Graham and one to Matthew John Gibbons. Neither of these grantees appears to have resided on his or her lands. Elizabeth Graham appears to be identical with the person to whom a licence was issued for an hotel or beer house licence in Sydney, and Matthew John Gibbons was the Hawkesbury settler of the same name who acted as clerk of the markets and poundkeeper in Sydney during Maequarie's term of office.

A five hundred acre grant in the parish appears in the name of James Mileham, and another in the name of Lucy Mileham. James Mileham was the well-known surgeon who arrived in the Ganges on June 2, 1797. Lucy Mileham was his daughter. It is doubtful whether Surgeon Mileham or his daughter ever resided on the grants.

A well-known settler was Hugh Kelly, whose inn, the "Bird in Hand," was a well-known hostelry on the Windsor Road. Its licence dates from 1820. Hugh Kelly appears to have amassed some wealth, as at his death he was possessed of a considerable area of land in the parish. His death occurred on July 21, 1835, and his burial took place on July 24, 1835, at Parramatta.

The last resting place of many of the pioneers and their wives is St. John's Cemetery, Parramatta. Here lie the mortal remains of John Hillas and his wife, John Smith and his wife, James Elder, John Pye and his wife, Andrew McDougall and his wife and his son Thomas, George Best and George Acres and his wife.

The following list gives the names and other, particulars of the deaths of pioneers who were buried in St. Paul's Cemetery, Castle Hill:—

Simon'Moulds, October 31, 1871, aged 69 years.
John James, January 6, 1897, aged 80 years.
Elizabeth James, July 13, 1909, aged 90 years.
John Crane, April 18, 1865, aged 78 years.
Rebecca Crane, wife of above, August 9, 1901, aged 93 years. 
Charles Crane, July 19, 1926, aged 92 years.  


William Fishburn, April 19, 1872, aged 78 years. 
Elizabeth Fishburn, October 20, 18/6, aged 74 vears. 
William Smith, October 28, 1880, aged 78 years.  
John Kentwell, October 9, 1892, aged 94 years. 
Elizabeth Kentwell, May 27, 1885, aged 74 years.


Most of the pioneers were farmers on a small scale, and only a few of them acquired wealth.

From Macquarie's account of his Tour of the Interior, some information may be obtained as to the state of the settlement at the time of his visit (1810). Speaking of the farms and farmers around Baulkham Hills, he says:—

The farms visited were, in general, in good order and well cultivated, but the Crops did not look well, and the Habitations of the Settlers were in general miserably bad and their own dress worse.

The condition of the settlers at the Seven Hills end of the parish was equally as bad:—

The soil of the Farms is, in general, very bad, and exhausted by the Settlers constantly keeping the same Fields in Tillage and giving them no artificial manure. The Houses, or rather huts of the settlers are very bad, mean and inconveniently constructed, themselves and their families badly clothed and apparently very ill and poorly fed. I spoke to and admonished many of them to pay more attention in future to their own Personal cleanliness and comfort, and to build themselves better Houses to live in, promising to such as followed this good advice every reasonable assistance and encouragement from Government.

The staple industry of the district at this period was wheat growing, -but the crops were frequently ruined by attacks of blight and rust.   George Suttor, in his Memoirs, says:—

For several years the wheat, crops had suffered from blight and rust, so much so that we began to despair of its being a wheat country.

The period referred to was between 1805 and 1808.

The Sydney Gazette of November 13, 1813. reported that:—

We are much concerned to state that the late blights almost wholly destroyed the crops of wheat about Parramatta, Prospect, Baulkham Hills and Seven Hills, which a short time since wore so luxuriant an appearance.

When the Darling Mills were established in 1825 the wheat of the district was ground into flour at that establishment. Old residents recall the fact that the poorer settlers carried grain to the mills, waited for it to be ground into flour, and carried the flour home again.

George Suitor's success as an orchardist induced other settlers to plant trees, and his neighbours, the McDougall's and Messrs. Pye and Best, and other settlers soon imitated his example.


The district became noted for its orangeries, and one of the striking features of the landscape around Castle Hill is the tree-covered hillsides.

In its earlier history sheep grazed in fair numbers on the hills, but with the opening up of the western country both wheat growing and sheep farming were abandoned.

The census of 1851 throws some light on the development of the district. The population of the parish is given as four hundred and thirty-six persons and the number of houses as eighty-seven, so that progress up to that year had not been very great.


The oldest road in the district is the Old Hawkesbury Road, which was constructed by order of Lieutenant- Governor Grose in 1794. Its construction is referred to in a despatch to Rt. Hon. Henry Dundas, dated August 31, 1794. It now forms the south-western boundary of the Parish of Castle Hill.   It was surveyed by Grimes.

When Governor King established the farm at Castle Hill it became necessary to provide a means of access to it.  The first track led from Toongabbie, as the two farms were worked in conjunction.   A reference to this road occurs in a letter written by Assistant Surgeon Thomson:—

. . . About four miles from Parramatta is Toongabbie, a small settlement where the Government keeps its chief flock of cattle and a number of convicts who cultivate two and three hundred acres on account of the Crown. . . . From this place a road converges to the northward to a settlement six miles distant called Castle Hill. . . .*

This road was evidently surveyed by James Meehan, as there is a record in one of his field books of a road survey from Toongabbie towards Castle Hill, dated February 7, 1802. This road is now known as Toongabbie Road. A number of early grants face it, and it was doubt- less made for a double purpose — to give access to the farm at Castle Hill, and to provide an outlet for Moseley, Martin, Pye, Best, and Simpson.

In the same year (1802) the present Parramatta-Castle Hill Road was surveyed by Grimes and Meehan. In his evidence before Commissioner Bigge, Meehan stated:—

In 1802 I assisted Mr. Grimes, the then Surveyor-General, in marking the road leading to Castle Hill which passed through a small portion of Mr. Suitor's estate.

The so-called New Windsor Road from Baulkham Hills was constructed under Governor Macquarie's orders in 1810.   It was surveyed by James Meehan in October, 1805, and was probably roughly marked by him in 1804, as a grant to John Hillas, dated August 11, 1804, is

*   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. V., p. 390.


described as being bounded on the north by the road to the Hawkesbury. No doubt when this grant was surveyed there was some intention of marking out the road in question. In one of Meehan's field books, under date October 3, 1805, there is a reference to the road from Baulkham Hills to the Hawkesbury, and details of a survey are given. The road, however, was not formed until 1810.

The road which now connects Pennant Hills with Castle Hill was surveyed by Meehan when he was marking out grants in that locality in October, 1816. A statement in Peron's work has given rise to a belief that this road dates from about 1802.   The passage is as follows:—

... On a second voyage which I made to his estate . . . Mr. Coxe took us all to dinner to another farm still more rich and elegant than that I have just described; it is situated more inland, on the side of Castle Hill. The road, which leads from one to the other of the farms, is so wide and convenient that we went over it in a carriage; it is between six and seven miles in length, and to make it immense bodies of rubbish were necessary.

Now, Coxe's estate was situated at what is now Dundas, and was distant at least five miles from Castle Hill. Further, Peron's ideas of distance seem hazy, as he places Parramatta twenty miles by road from Sydney. There was no necessity for the connecting road between Dundas and Castle Hill until the land served by it was granted in 1818, although these grants were surveyed, as has been mentioned, in 1816.

The road connecting Baulkham Hills with the Western Road was surveyed by Meehan in 1816, and constructed under instructions from Governor Macquarie. It is now known as the Seven Hills Road.

Meehan initiated the policy of providing settlers with means of access to their grants. He introduced a clause in grants reserving roads along the boundary lines. This was found to be inconvenient, and a general clause reserving to the Government the right of making a public road through any part of the grant was introduced.

The road from Castle Hill to Dural was marked out in June, 1817, when Meehan was engaged in surveying grants in that district. The earliest references to the name "Dural" occur in Meehan's Field Book 128. The name is of native origin, and it was probably first applied to the locality by him. The parishes adjoining Castle Hill are North and South Colah. A reference to "Coola" occurs in a Field Book under date April 8, 1819, so it appears that Meehan was responsible for this name also.



The origin of the name "Castle Hill" is obscure. The first mention of it occurs in Volume IV. of the Historical Records of New South Wales, page 714:—"A great progress has been made in clearing land at Castle Hill." The writer is of opinion that the name is due to Governor King. He was responsible for the establishment of the Government Farm there, and it would soon be necessary to distinguish this farm from the farm at Toongabbie.

When the known portions of the colony were first definitely divided into districts in 1821, the name Castle Hill was chosen for one of the areas. The original district of Castle Hill embraced exactly the Crown Reserve referred to earlier in this paper. A Commission, of which Major (later Sir Thomas) Mitchell was a member, was appointed to divide the colony into counties and parishes, and the name Castle Hill was adopted for the present parish. The boundaries were gazetted on May 27, 1835.


The origin of this name has given rise to some speculation. Efforts have been made to show that this district was known as "Balcomb," or "Balcombe," or "Balcombe Hills". In a paper read by the late Mr. J. Arundale before the Parramatta and District Historical Society on August 17, 1915, it was stated that entries in the parish register at Picton referred to residents at "Balcomb." The Rev. W. J. Roberts, who had acted as Rector at Picton, and later at Baulkham Hills, in a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald of January 5, 1925, refers to the entries mentioned, and gives the date of the entries as 1823. Mr. William Freame, in a letter published in the Sydney "Morning Herald of May 28. 1929, goes further, and says:—"The districts of Castle Hill and Baulkham Hills were originally known as 'Balcombe'."

All these claims are based on entries in a parish register, and the earliest date appears to be 1823. On the other hand, there is abundant evidence to show that the names, Baulkham Hills and Castle Hill, have been in use since 1802. The earliest reference to the name Baulkham Hills occurs in a public notice dated December 10, 1802.* A large area was set aside as a common in 1804, and the proclamation speaks of the Baulkham Hills Common. Mr. George Suttor, in his Memoirs, frequently refers to Baulkham Hills.   James Meehan, one of the early surveyors of

*   Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. IV., p. 914.


Source (download pdf file):

The Beginnings of the Settlement in the Parish of Castle Hill By James Jervis, A.S.T.C.