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Paterson River history

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John Galt Smith and Eliza Walsh


arrival of John Galt Smith

John Galt Smith was born about 1794 and arrived in New South Wales via Hobart Town in 1822 on the ship Britomart along with Robert and Helenus Scott and James Ogilvie and family, all of whom would soon settle in the Hunter Valley.[1]

Smith wasted no time in applying for land, and on 22 August he was advised by the NSW Colonial Secretary that he would receive a grant of 1,000 acres.[2] He named his grant Woodville. His 1,000 acres was bounded on the west by the Paterson River, on the north by John Tucker's Albion Farm and on the south by Walter Scott's Wallalong.

Smith married Eliza Walsh at Liverpool (NSW) on 8th October 1823.[3] Eliza had arrived in NSW on the Globe in 1819 as a free immigrant travelling with her brother-in-law General Drennan. Governor Macquarie refused to grant land to an unmarried woman so she purchased a farm in the Kurrajong district and lived on it.[4] Eliza was aged about 34 when she married John Galt Smith and it seems they did not have children.

land grants near Woodville

The Woodville grant.

Eliza eventually received a grant of land from Governor Brisbane, comprising 1,280 acres to the north of Woodville. It seems the 1828 census reported her land as part of her husband's holdings. According to the census John Galt Smith held 2,610 acres at Woodville in 1828, of which 100 acres were cleared and 30 acres cultivated. On this land he was running 347 cattle, assisted by 8 convicts and a ticket-of-leave overseer (see the 1828 household list for Woodville).

Eliza is missing from the 1828 household list for Woodville, but this is just a clerical error as she has been entered in the census without a residence or district, and her entry is consecutive to her husband's, indicating they were on the same return and living in the same household.

In 1845 a new Episcopalian school was opened on Smith's Woodville property in a building he had donated for that purpose. The building also served as a church, and the Rev. George Middleton held divine service there every alternate Sabbath.[5]

John Galt Smith died in June 1847 from burns received when his night clothes accidently caught fire at his residence at Woodville.[6] He is buried in St. Paul's cemetery at Paterson. Eliza died in 1861 and is buried with him at St. Paul's.[7]


1. Hobart Town Gazette, 9 February 1822 p2.

2. CS 4/3506 [reel 6009] p.197, SRNSW.

3. Sydney Gazette, 23 October 1823 p3.

4. Wood, W Allan. Dawn in the Valley—The Story of Settlment in the Hunter River Valley to 1833. Sydney: Wentworth Books, 1972, p.77.

5. Maitland Mercury, 3 May 1845 p2.

6. Maitland Mercury, 16 June 1847 p3.

7. Clements, Pauline. Burials in St. Paul's Church Cemetery Paterson New South Wales: Part one, from 1839 to 1900. Paterson, 1996 pp.11, 50.