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Paterson River history

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Robert Whitmore, Mary Goodall and Martha (Margaret) Greenwood

Robert Whitmore was a mariner who became an early settler at Patersons Plains. At the age of 21 he was convicted of grand larceny in the Old Bailey on 15 February 1792 for stealing a quantity of ship's cable with two others. He was sentenced to seven years transportation (see trial proceedings)[1] and arrived in New South Wales in 1792 on the Royal Admiral. [2]

In Sydney on 3 October 1796 he married Mary Goodall, a convict who had arrived in the Colony on the Surprize in 1794 with a life sentence for highway robbery.[3]

Robert was recorded as 'free by servitude' in 1805-1806 (indicating he had gained his freedom by serving his full sentence)[4] but was not yet free from clashes with the law. In July 1806 he and three others were convicted by the Bench of Magistrates in Sydney with having excited a mutiny on board the private colonial schooner Governor Hunter and sentenced to a flogging and hard labour.[5]

In 1811 while master of a small schooner trading on the Hawkesbury Whitmore was sentenced to seven years transportation to the penal settlement at Newcastle for stealing and selling 283lbs of salted pork from the ship's cargo.[6] He was appointed a ships' pilot for Newcastle harbour in 1812 but was sacked in 1815 when a vessel he was piloting ran aground. It is not clear if his wife Mary went with him to Newcastle, but by 1814 they were separated and she was living in Windsor.[3][7]

Sydney Gazette 16 Feb 1811

Sydney Gazette 16 February 1811 reporting Whitmore's sentence to Newcastle.

The death of George Pell in 1815 reduced the number of small settlers living at Patersons Plains to four (John Reynolds, Benjamin Davis, John Swan and John Tucker jnr), so in 1817 Governor Macquarie gave the Newcastle commandant, Captain Wallis, permission to increase the number to six, 'taking special care however that they are well behaved industrious men and explaining to them that they only hold those farms in trust during the pleasure of the government.' Following the governor's instruction, in 1818 Captain Wallis permitted Robert Whitmore and Richard Binder to become settlers at Patersons Plains on those terms.[8]

Whitmore's land

Above: Robert Whitmore's land on the Paterson River.

Whitmore's permission to settle was given as a reward for the commendable part he played in the salvage of a ship, the Estramina, wrecked at Newcastle in 1816. He took up a block on the eastern bank of the Paterson River above Richard Binder's farm (see map).

Sydney Gazette 27 Jan 1816

Sydney Gazette 27 January 1816 reporting the Estramina's wrecking.

Robert Whitmore was 53 years old when allowed to farm at Patersons Plains and 58 when he married Margaret Greenwood in 1822, his first wife Mary having died at Windsor earlier in 1822. Margaret (or Martha as she appears in some records) was a servant aged 20 when sentenced to seven years transportation by the Bristol Quarter Sessions in 1816. She arrived in New South Wales on the Lord Melville in 1817. The following year she was charged with insolent behaviour at the Parramatta Female Factory and sent to the Newcastle penal settlement as punishment. This is how she met Robert.[9][10]

By 1822 Robert Whitmore had cleared 29 acres, planted 17 acres of wheat and was running 5 cattle and 14 pigs on his Paterson River farm.[11] Dangar's survey in 1823 indicated Whitmore had cleared 35 of his 43 acres and erected a wattle and plaster hut and a thatched barn.[12]

Like the other early settlers at Patersons Plains who occupied their land at the governor's pleasure, Whitmore became ensnared in the re-allocation of his land to the Church and School Corporation. Initially Whitmore, Binder and Reynolds accepted the offer to move to equivalent blocks on the Williams River but when the government failed to keep its promise to clear the blocks as compensation for their cleared blocks at Patersons Plains, they reclaimed the leases on their land at Paterson. Whitmore then apparently sold the rights to both his leases although the 1828 census indicates he and his wife were occupying 100 acres at 'Mount Pleasant', Patersons Plains and were employing seven free or emancipated labourers.[13]

Further research is needed to pinpoint the location and status of his land tenure in 1828. It may have been the grant referred to in the NSW Colonial Secretary papers (see external links below). Robert died in 1837.[14]

Notes and references

1. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674 to 1913 (on-line).

2. Convict shipping indents, SZ115 [fiche 623] p247, SRNSW.

3. Flynn, Michael. Settlers and Seditionists - The People of the Convict Ship Surprize 1794. Angela Lind, 1994.

4. Baxter, Carol (ed.). Musters of New South Wales and Norfolk Island 1805-1806. Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record, 1989.

5. SG 13 July 1806 p1 (on-line).

6. SG 9 February 1811 p2 (on-line) & 16 February 1811 p2 (on-line).

7. Walsh, Brian. European Settlement at Paterson River 1812 to 1822. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 2012.

8. Newcastle 7 March 1818. Public Record Office London, CO 201/119 p266 (PRO reel 107).

9. Convict shipping indents, 4/4005 [fiche 637] p226, SRNSW.

10. CS, 4/1741 [reel 6047] p87, SRNSW.

11. Baxter, Carol (ed.). General Muster and Land and Stock Muster of New South Wales 1822. Australian Biographical and Genealogical Record, 1988.

12. as cited in The Settlers of Paterson's Plains, see 6 above.

13. Sainty MR and KA Johnston (eds). Census of New South Wales 1828. Library of Australian History, 2008 (revised edition on CD).

14. Index to the NSW Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages, V18372863 21/1837.

External links

See also

An overview of settlement at Patersons Plains up to the end of 1821.