Governor Philip Gidley King gave the first Land Grant at South Creek to Rev. Samuel Marsden in August, 1804. The Bicentenary of this grant was well celebrated in 2004, with the current Governor of NSW, Prof. Marie Bashir in attendance.
In 1806 with his return to England imminent and his health failing, Gov. King was concerned for the future of his children Phillip, Anna Maria, Elizabeth and Mary. He gave them land grants along South Creek.
However, this was frowned upon by the authorities. When Governor William Bligh arrived in August 1806 to replace Gov. King, he ratified the grants and also gave Mrs. King 790 acres to the north of the children's land.
In turn, Gov. King gave Mary Putland, the daughter of Gov. Bligh 600acres (Frogmore). Following the death of Mary's husband John Putland, Mary married Lt. Maurice O'Connell in 1810 and received a further grant of 1055acres adjacent to Frogmore, which she called 'Coalee'. Frogmore is now part of the UWS as is part of Coalee. The remainder of Coalee is now the suburb of Claremont Meadows.
When the Kings left the Colony in February, 1807, their grants were being farmed as one property with William Hayes, the farm manager and Rowland Hassall as the manager of their business affairs. The farm was called 'Dunheved' after the castle in Launceston, Cornwall, which was near to where Philip Gidley King was born. Gov. King died in September 1808.
Among the other recipients of grants at South Creek was Gregory Blaxland, who with William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth, mounted the first successful expedition across the Blue Mountains in May, 1813. They left from Blaxland's farm ' Lee Home', also on the banks of South Creek.
John Oxley, the NSW Surveyor-General, was another who received a grant at South Creek.
On 29th. January, 1817, Phillip Parker King married Harriet Lethbridge in the St.Mary Magdalene Church in Launceston Cornwall. Ten days later he was appointed by the Lords of the Admiralty, to complete the survey of the coastline of Australia.
On arrival in the colony they stayed at Rosehill Cottage in Parramatta, where Phillip's sister, Maria lived nearby with her husband Hannibal Hawkins Macarthur.
While Phillip was at sea, Harriet made many journeys to 'Dunheved' where a homestead and several farm buildings had been built. During the next five years Harriet gave birth to 3 sons and a fourth son was born on the return voyage to England in 1823 . Another two sons were born after they returned to London.
In 1826, Phillip Parker King sailed to South America, to chart the western coastline, taking his eldest son, the eight-year-old Philip Gidley King, with him.
Harriet had decided to return to Sydney while her husband was away.
On 25th. July, 1826, Robert Lethbridge (Harriet's brother) married Mary King (youngest daughter of Gov. & Anna Josepha King). They prepared to also come to Sydney, with plans to farm Mary's grant at South Creek.
On 19th. September they all sailed on the 'Cumberland' and arrived in Sydney on 24th. January, 1827. They stayed at 'Vineyard' with Maria and Hannibal where Harriet gave birth to her seventh son on 9th. February.
Harriet then moved to Dunheved.
Robert and Mary stayed at Rosehill Cottage, while their home was built on Marys's grant. This property was called Werrington after a Lethbridge property in Cornwall.
Werrington House stands to this day. It remained in the Lethbridge Family until 1979.
Harriet wrote many letters to her husband while he was away, telling him of life at Dunheved. These letters survive, and give us a first hand account of life at South Creek over the next five years. We read of crops lost to flood and drought, of the success of the orchard, of horse breeding and sheep sales, and of the bushranger who was caught on the property, locked up for the night, and taken to the courthouse in Penrith the next day.
Harriet was a quite remarkable woman, who ran the farm, educated her sons and was always on call to Phillip's sisters, who were often 'poorly'. She was on hand to help them through their pregnancies, miscarriages, and the sad loss of an infant.
Phillip Parker King returned to England after five years in South America and presented his charts and maps to the Admiralty. He then returned to Sydney in 1832, bringing his mother Anna Josepha with him. She had always wanted to return to NSW, but I don't think she expected it to take her twenty five years. Harriet gave birth to daughter, Libby, after Phillip's return.
During Phillip Parker King's earlier stay, he had spoken to John Oxley about buying ' Bathurst Farm" his land at South Creek. While Oxley agreed, the sale wasn't completed before King returned to England. However, when he returned in
1832, Oxley had already died. Phillip Parker King bought the farm from the Oxley estate.
He took his mother, Anna Josepha, to inspect this acquisition and standing on the highest point of the land , looking down on the little village of South Creek, she declared it would be an ideal site for a church. Phillip Parker agreed to donate the land for the church, provided it was called after the church in Cornwall, where he had married his beloved Harriet. It wasn't until 1837 that the foundation stone was laid and building commenced. The bricks were made on the Dunheved property by James Payne and carried by horse and cart up the hill. St.Mary Magdalene Church was consecrated in April 1840.
Anna Josepha King died in 1844 and was buried in the King Vault in the graveyard adjacent to the church. Hers is the oldest headstone in the graveyard, which contains many of the graves of the King and Lethbridge families. There was intermarriage of the King, Lethbridge and Macarthur cousins and as a result we have King Lethbridges, Lethbridge Kings, Macarthur Lethbridges and so on, making it rather difficult to work out who is who Phillip and Harriet are both buried in the King vault.
The church became something of a landmark for travellers , who often said they were travelling via St.Marys. St.Marys became the name for the general area and it became very confusing with the Post Office called St.Marys, and the School and Railway Station called South Creek. The name St.Marys was gazetted in 1885.
Lt. Maurice O'Connell and his wife Mary, had left the colony for Ceylon in 1813 with the 73rd. Regiment. Gov. Macquarie had requested the transfer of the regiment to relieve the colony of Mary, who was regarded as something of a spitfire. They returned in 1834 as Sir Maurice and Lady Mary O'Connell. Sir Maurice having distinguished himself in Ceylon.
In 1842 they decided to return to London for good. They subdivided their South Creek properties and advertised them in the Sydney Gazette as being at St.Marys, South Creek.
As part of this sub-division they gave land for a park to the people of St.Marys in perpetuity. It was originally known as O'Connells Square, but became Victoria Park in 1901.
Although sales of their land were slow, much of the land was sold over the next twenty years to people wishing to establish industry in the area. They were attracted by the natural resources at South Creek.
The major industry was tanning - with large amounts of water available from the creek and the abundance of wattle tree bark available for tannin, this became a very successful industry. The two largest tanneries were owned by Andrew Thompson and Martin Brell.
The wheelwrights and waggon builders were attracted by the large stands of ironbark and box trees. James Bennett and his sons, James and George, put St.Marys on the map with their reputation for excellent waggons. They were sold all over Australia and some were sold on the west coast of USA.
Brickmaking was another industry that took advantage of the local resources, with the clay from South Creek being very suitable for their trade. William Fleming was a well known brickmaker at South Creek and his bricks can still be seen in the St.Marys Public School which was built in 1877.
The bricks for 'Mimosa,' tanner Andrew Thompson's home were made on his property. 'Mimosa' was built by Joseph Sainsbury in 1894 and remains a beautiful home overlooking Victoria Park.
The woodcutters also came to St.Marys for the timber, which was used for building. This industry grew when the railway was extended from Parramatta to St.Marys in 1862. Local timber was used for the sleepers and bridge girders. This also provided work for the timber carters and sawmillers.
The opening of the railway was great for the village of South Creek, as not only did it provide better transport for their timber, but it also became the railhead for the cattle industry. Saleyards were built next to the station and regular sales were held there. This photograph was taken on a day when 3000 head of cattle were sold. 1500 were sold during the morning while the other 1500 were held at Dunheved. These were brought in at lunchtime and sold during the afternoon.
With the growth of the area, it was decided to form a Council. This was done in May, 1890 with William Garner being elected as the Mayor. Meetings were held monthly in the Protestant Hall on the Highway until the Council Chambers were built on Mamre Road in 1933.
Some changes took place with the outbreak of World War 1. At this time the population of St.Marys was approximately 1200. Of these, 124 went to war, almost the entire younger generation. Twenty-two didn't return.
Because so many people in the town were related, there wouldn't have been a family untouched by these events. A Memorial stands to their memory in Victoria Park.
The next major change to St.Marys came with the outbreak of World War 2.
The Commonwealth Government acquired the land that had been the King Family grants and built a Munitions Factory. People were brought, by Manpower, from all over NSW to work in the factories. The Commonwealth Cottages were built at North St.Marys to house the managers and the Duration Cottages were built south of the rail line, behind Queen Street to house the 'workers' and their families. These small fibro cottages were built for the duration of the war, hence the name.
After the War ended, the factories were leased or sold to private enterprise and the Dunheved Industrial Estate came into being. Many of the munitions workers had established lives in the town and stayed on to work in the new industries, as did the returning servicemen and women.
Part of the Munitions Factory was turned into a Migrant Hostel, again swelling the population of St.Marys. These migrants also worked in the new industries that had commenced, and their children attended St.Marys Primary School.
'The day before these children were to arrive the Headmaster called an assembly to inform us that they were coming. He told us of the terrible times that they had lived through and that they had been left homeless. We were quite in awe of them, as we hadn't even heard of some of the countries they had come from. At that time St.Marys was country and it was a big thing for us to get on the train and go to Sydney for the day, let alone go half way around the world.
If you were one of the top ten students in the class, you were given a migrant child to look after. We were to look after them, teach them English and help them with their schoolwork and above all no fighting with them. All went well for about two days, then the fights started. The newcomers weren't involved. It was the students who hadn't got someone to look after, fighting those who did, because everyone wanted to help them settle in. It was an exciting time for us as it opened up the world to us and we learned as much from them as they did from us'.
In 1948, the Municipality of St.Marys amalgamated with Penrith and surrounding Councils to become Penrith Municipal Council.
It is interesting to note that with the development of this city over the years, the King/Lethbridge influence is still seen today.
We have suburbs named after or by the King/Lethbridges:
St.Marys After St.Mary Magdalene
Werrington County } All on Robert & Mary Lethbridge's grant
Werrington Downs }
Kingswood Park ] After King's Wood
Cambridge Park) Phillip Parker King - after friend
Cambridge Gardens) The Duke of Cambridge
Tregeare Named after the Lethbridge estate in Cornwall
Lethbridge Park on John King Lethbridge's land
and the Dunheved Industrial area.
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