‘From Convicts to Comedies – A History of Scone’s Court Houses’

Review

In 2012 I was greatly honoured to launch Veronica Antclif’s book on the Court Houses of Scone at SCADS; the original Court House built by Mathew Miller. It’s a treasure trove of history. My review is as follows.

‘From Convicts to Comedies – A History of Scone’s Court Houses’

Veronica Antcliff

First Published 2012; ISBN 978-0-9873795-0-4

Author Veronica Antcliff has very successfully traced the origins of Court Houses in Scone from the very beginning to the present day. The title is compelling. First settlers John Bingle (Puen Buen), Francis Little (Invermein) and William Dumaresq (St Aubins) ‘used their homes for weekly court proceedings and monthly musters of convicts’.  What may at first appear to be rather dry subject unfolds as a fascinating journey.  It documents not only the buildings themselves but the fertile trail of people who designed, constructed and occupied them. It therefore cites architects, builders, police, Magistrates, clerks of petty session, lawyers – and cleaners! The very first Scone Court House has re-emerged as a component part of a theatre.  There are many fascinating personal vignettes which also include the subsequent brilliant careers of some major protagonists. It also takes us out of the realm of the professional sphere and incorporates the social interaction and civic contribution made by many of the incumbents to the broader community. The text is richly enhanced by a fine tableau of illustrations which greatly augments the reading experience. My only mild criticism is that a list of illustrations might have been included? It’s a tired cliché but a truism nonetheless that ‘a picture tells a thousand words’. The Table of Contents is both clear and succinct and the index comprehensive.

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SCONE BYPASS HISTORICAL HERITAGE

SCONE BYPASS HISTORICAL HERITAGE ASSESSMENT November 2015 Pages 90 – 94

See also VIRTUS HERITAGE BYPASS STUDY

http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/projects/hunter/new-england-highway/scone-rail-level-crossing/scone-bypass-ref-appendix-i.pdf

This study should imbue some confidence into the community as we are about to embark on the construction of the new Scone Bypass? The following is a summary of the management recommendations identified by consultants Virus Heritage.

It’s intriguing to speculate that the proposed Scone Bypass (about to begin) will be constructed along a ‘green space corridor’. Impact on heritage will be minimal. Conversely an in-town overpass would inevitably cause ‘destruction-by-construction’ of valued built heritage and infrastructure?

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Cricket @ Thornthwaite c. 1855

Cricket @ Thornthwaite c. 1855

Featured Image: Cricket @ ‘Thornthwaite’ c. 1855

Joseph Docker was an enthusiastic early photographer. This was the very newest technology available at the time. The cricket match he captured was in progress at his homestead paddock at ‘Thornthwaite’ just to the west of the emerging Scone town. It may have been staged for the camera as a ‘still’; but no matter. It’s widely reputed to one of if not the first photograph of a cricket contest anywhere in the world? It is celebrated each year with a ‘period’ costume match each year in the same location.

Railway Resumption Plan Scone 1868

Railway Resumption Plan Scone 1868

Featured Image: Railway Resumption Plan Scone 1868 for Scone

The railway eventually arrived in Scone in 1871 and was opened by the then Governor of NSW the Earl of Belmore. The railway actually ‘bisected’ the 230 acres of land purchased by Mathew Barber Miller from William Dumaresq in 1856. This must have caused him some consternation although he was on the organising committee. He even celebrated the arrival of the railway by naming his house ‘Belmore House’ (now ‘Geraldton’) in honour of the visit by the Governor. Similarly the surrounds were known as Belmore Estate and Belmore Heights. The single story Railway Hotel constructed by Mathew Miller was renamed the Belmore Hotel which title it retains to this day.

The dismay and trepidation aroused in 1868 – 1971 must be similar to those sentiments experienced as we approach the construction of the Scone Bypass in 2018!

Sir John Robertson, (1816–1891)

Sir John Robertson, (1816–1891)

Featured Image: Sir John Robertson and ‘Yarrandi’

By Bede Nairn

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/robertson-sir-john-4490

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Featured Image: John Robertson (1816-1891), by unknown photographer

Herald & Weekly Times Portrait Collection, State Library of Victoria, H38849/3840

Sir John Robertson (1816-1891), land reformer and politician, was born on 15 October 1816 at Bow near London, third son and fourth child of James Robertson (1781-1868), watchmaker and pastoralist, and his wife Anna Maria, née Ripley (1784-1868), who were married at Stepney, London, in 1809. James was a friend of Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane and on his advice migrated with his family to New South Wales, arriving in Sydney in the Providence on 8 January 1822. Appointed general superintendent of government clocks he also worked as a watchmaker and silversmith; with an 86-acre (35 ha) grant he moved from Castlereagh Street to Robertson’s Point (Cremorne) on Sydney Harbour and acquired property in the Hunter River district at ‘Yarrandi’ (See featured image).

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Scone Heritage Walk

Scone Heritage Walk

Heritage Walk

Featured Image: St Aubin’s Arms 1872

Just around the corner from the Tourist Information Centre is the old railway station, a small brick structure dating from 1881.

From Elizabeth Park walk southwards down Kelly St. To the left is the Belmore Hotel (1866), an attractive symmetrical building with side wings, stone quoins and iron columns supporting a timber verandah. At the intersection with St Aubins St is the Royal Hotel with a fine cast-iron lacework balcony. The oldest section of the present building dates from 1886 when the old Railway Inn was rebuilt as the Railway Hotel. It was partially rebuilt after a fire in 1924.

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William John Dumaresq (1793 – 1868)

William John Dumaresq (1793 – 1868)

Featured Image: William John Dumaresq (1793 – 1868)

Henry Dumaresq (1792 – 1838)

Henry Dumaresq (1792-1838), and William John Dumaresq (1793-1868), were sons of Colonel John Dumaresq of Bushel Hall, Shropshire, England, and his wife Anne, née Jones. Both went to the Royal Military College, Great Marlow, and served during the Peninsular War and in Canada, where William, a captain in the Royal Staff Corps, was engaged in the construction of the Ottawa Canal. Henry, who served with the 9th Regiment (Lieutenant-Colonel 1818) was severely wounded at Waterloo, his gallantry being recorded by Sir Walter Scott in Paul’s Letters to His Kinsfolk (1816). While on service in Mauritius in 1818-25 he became military secretary to General (Sir) Ralph Darling, who married his sister Eliza. When Darling accepted office as governor of New South Wales, Henry was invited to become his private secretary and arrived in the Phillip Dundas in October 1825 to prepare accommodation for the governor’s party. Edward Dumaresq accompanied Darling as far as Van Diemen’s Land and William came with him to Sydney.

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Crown Lands Acts 1861 (NSW)

Crown Lands Acts 1861 (NSW)

Featured Image: Extract of Crown Lands Act 1861

Mathew Barber Miller was a beneficiary of this policy which enabled him to purchase his ‘block’ of 230 acres from William Dumaresq.

The Crown Lands Acts 1861 (NSW) were introduced by the New South Wales Premier, John Robertson, in 1861 to reform land holdings and in particular to break the squatters’ domination of land tenure. Under his reforms unsurveyed land in an area which had been declared an agricultural reserve in designated unsettled areas could be selected and bought freehold in 40-to-320-acre (16–130 ha) lots of Crown land, wherever situated at £1 per acre (£2 9s 5d/ha), on a deposit of five shillings per acre (12s 4d/ha), the balance to be paid within three years, an interest-free loan of three-quarters of the price. Alternatively at the end of the three years, the balance could be treated as an indefinite interest-free loan, as long as five per cent interest was paid each year. Selectors were required to live on their land for three years and to make improvements worth £1 per acre. Speculation was prevented by requiring actual residence on the land. In return pastoralists were protected by granting them, at the conclusion of their present leases, annual leases in the settled districts and five yearly leases elsewhere, with a maximum area or carrying capacity, and an increase in rent by appraisement of the runs. The pastoralist retained the pre-emptive right to buy one twenty-fifth of his lease in addition to improved areas, and also possessed the pre-lease to three times the area of the freehold. In addition they were to continue to possess the right to request the survey and auctioning of large parcels of their lease. This meant that they could bid at short notice for such land while other potential bidders were unaware that the land was on the market. The work of Alexander Grant McLean, Surveyor General of New South Wales facilitated the introduction of these Land Acts.

Subsequently there were struggles between squatters and selectors, and the laws were circumvented by corruption and the acquisition of land by various schemes, such as the commissioning of selections to be passed eventually to squatters and the selection of key land such as land with access to water by squatters to maintain the viability of their pastoral leases. The Land Acts accelerated the alienation of crown land that had been acquired under the principle of terra nullius, and hence accelerated the dispossession of indigenous Australians. The land acts paralleled the demands for similar legislation amending the United States Pre-emption Act of 1841, culminating in the Homestead Act of 1862, and was succeeded by similar legislation in other Australian colonies in the 1860s and Canada’s Dominion Lands Act of 1872.

Henry Dangar

Henry Dangar

The first European in the area was the 29 year old Government surveyor Henry Dangar who, in 1824, passed by the area just west of the present town site. He crossed over the Liverpool Range but retreated when attacked by the Geawegal clan of the Wanaruah people west of the Murrurundi town site.

Dangar’s favourable report on the district led to an immediate land grab by wealthy settlers who had been issued warrants authorising them to take up land. One of the first to investigate the new area was Francis Little who was seeking land for himself and his uncle Dr William Bell Carlyle. Little established Invermein in 1825.

Mary Ann Sutton, known as Granny Sutton, was accredited with having introduced the Prickly Pear to Australia.  She brought a small plant from England when she came out as a housemaid to Francis Little of Invermein

Carlyle was issued the grant of Satur which is now a suburb on the western side of Scone.

William Dangar, Henry’s brother claimed Turanville and Dr Archibald Little settled for Cressfield.  John Bingle established Puen Buen and Thomas Potter Macqueen took up his land grant at Segenhoe in 1826-7.