search web this site
Paterson River history

search web this site


map showing Boughton's land grant

Boughton's land grant. See full map.

sundial at Tillimby

The sundial at Tillimby in the 1960s, with the c1820s servants' quarters in the background (Athol D'Ombrain collection).

Tillimby is a property on the Paterson river that began as a 2,000 acre grant to John Herring Boughton in 1822.

Like other Hunter Valley estates at the time, Tillimby was operated mainly by convict labour. In July 1825 three convicts escaped from Vicar Jacob's farm at Luskintyre and began bushranging in the area. Five men absconded from Tillimby to join them, and the band was called Jacob's gang or Jacob's mob. The gang committed a series or robberies, a rape and arson before their capture in October 1825.[1]

Tillimby was the site of an early christian cemetery although the evidence is conflicting. On 1 December 1826 Archdeacon Scott requested the Rev. Middleton to fence off a quarter of an acre of his glebe at Patersons Plains and authorised him to bury corpses there.[2] This burial ground was several kilometres downstream from Tillimby (see map showing Middleton's glebe). Another source indicates Middleton selected a site for a cemetery on Tillimby during a visit there in 1825 and that this cemetery was used until 1843.[3] Perhaps both sites were in operation for a while.

From 1836 Boughton expanded his Tillimby estate by purchasing adjoining blocks, bringing Tillimby to 6,005 acres by 1838. In 1841 he added lots 1 to 8 of the Bona Vista estate which adjoined Tillimby on the south. This bought Tillimby to its peak size of 7,172 acres (see map).

After JH Boughton died in 1854, Tillimby was advertised for sale. It included "an excellent brick-built dwelling-house and offices, with stables, coach-house, smithy etc, and extensive and fertile gardens".[4] When advertised for lease in 1858 the house contained 10 rooms, detached kitchen, servants' bedrooms, larder, laundry, store rooms etc.[5]

In 1859 Abraham Nivison of Ohio Station at Walcha purchased all Boughton's Paterson land for £7,500. (In 1841, Nivison had purchased Boughton's squatting run "Ohio", near Walcha on the New England tablelands of New South Wales.) Nivison's daughter Jane, who married the Paterson Presbyterian minister Thomas Stirton, lived at Tillimby with her husband from 1860 until 1873.

Tillimby about 1900

Tillimby homestead about 1900 (Kerry & Co. photo, Paterson Historical Society)

One of Abraham sons, Alexander, lived at Tillimby from at least 1878 – perhaps he moved in soon after the Stirtons moved out.[6] Alexander inherited Tillimby when his father died in 1895 and continued to live there. Alexander, who became blind as a young man, died in 1922 without heirs. In May 1924 Tillimby, then comprising 7,172 acres, was subdivided into 23 lots and advertised for sale (see map). The homestead block of 300 acres (lot 7) was purchased by George Priestley for £29/acre and still carries the Tillimby name today.

Tillimby about 1924

Tillimby homestead about 1924 (Paterson Historical Society)

When Tillimby was subdivided in 1924 the improvements on the homestead block were described as "two brick houses, telephone connection from Paterson, garage, buggy and harness rooms, dairy, bails, etc., and stock yards. Loose boxes, exercise yards, and substantially built shed, all in good order".[7] Now that remains at Tillimby from that time is a sundial and some rubble.

Servants quarters at Tillimby

c1820s Servants' quarters at Tillimby, demolished 1980s (Athol D'Ombrain collection).


1. Hartley, Dulcie. John Herring Boughton of Tillimby, Paterson. Paterson, 2000.

2. Waddell, James. A History of St. Peter's Church East Maitland NSW. Published by the author, 1996. Waddell cites the letter from Scott to Middleton from p.327 of Scott's Letterbook.

3. Mitchell, Cecily. Hunter's River. Newcastle, 1984 p146. Mitchell indicated Lieutenant Cory and his wife were buried at Tillimby and re-interred in St Paul's the following century. In this book the Lieutenant is Gilbert Cory who died in 1896 and his wife Jeanette who died in 1854, both after the Tillimby burial ground had ceased operation. Further investigation would be useful.

4. Maitland Mercury, 15 March 1854.

5. Maitland Mercury, 22 May 1858.

6. Electoral Role for Paterson 1878-79.

7. Subdivision poster, Paterson Historical Society.


Hartley, Dulcie. John Herring Boughton of Tillimby, Paterson. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 2000.

Oppenheimer, Jillian and Bruce Mitchell. An Australian Clan: the Nivisons of New England. Sydney: Kangaroo Press, 1989.


Maitland Mercury, 2 February 1850 p3 and 6 February 1850 p2.