/Colonial History

Elizabeth Macarthur’s Grave

I took the opportunity, late last year, to visit Elizabeth Macarthur’s grave. The Macarthur family graveyard is on a quiet hill, about a mile away from and opposite the family home at Camden Park House (about 70kms south west of the Sydney CBD). Elizabeth’s son William, passionate about botany, planted the site with exotic palms, which no doubt quickly grew tall enough to be seen from the house, but most of the site is now sheltered by native trees. In all my years of researching, I never did find a [...]

Guest Post and Holidays

Worked like a demon to get the first big edit of the manuscript finished before the end of 2017 - and made it with, at least 48 hours to spare! Then my family and I went to the beach for a week. No wifi. Bliss. Then (thanks to my hard working editor) came back to find the first nine chapters of the manuscript ready to copy edit. So that's what I've been doing, instead of blogging. But if you would like to read a little something, try this Guest Post [...]

Happy Birthday Mary Macarthur

Elizabeth Macarthur’s second surviving daughter, Mary Isabella, would today have turned 222 years old. One of these pictures may or may not be of Mary – they were both originally only labelled as ‘daughter of John Macarthur’ and seeing as how he and Elizabeth had three daughters who lived beyond infancy, it’s now impossible to know who was which. However, based on the clothing, both these miniature portraits are likely to have been painted in the 1820s – a period when the Macarthur family was doing very well [...]

2018-03-25T00:46:01+11:00October 26th, 2017|Colonial History|8 Comments

Help me with this paragraph?

To set the scene, I'm reading my manuscript out loud, to test for clarity and sense. The dog seems nonplussed but the cat is appreciative. I'm also beginning to realise how lazy my pronunciation usually is. Govvumen. Govvament. Government. Anyway. I'm reading the part where it is 1790, Elizabeth has just arrived in New South Wales, and is lonely and bored. It's the third paragraph (in the second half) where I'd like your opinion - what am I trying to imply? Is it clear enough? Elizabeth ‘filled up the [...]

Esther Abrahams – convict, farmer, drinker and an all-round admirable woman

Esther Abrahams in 1811 - aged 39. (State Library of NSW) In July 1786 a teenage girl with dark hair and a long, attractive face, stepped into a shop, took two cards of black lace to the counter and asked the price. "Twenty-five shillings," she was told. Young Esther Abrahams, for that was her name, tartly replied that she would pay no more than a guinea and soon left without buying anything. Moments later, the shop assistant rushed out onto the London street and caught up with [...]

2018-03-24T00:23:01+11:00August 26th, 2017|Colonial History|9 Comments

Working at Elizabeth Farm

Working as a guide at a historic home sounds, for many people, like a dream job. But is it? Last year I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Jacky Dalton, who works at Sydney Living Museums. I subsequently asked her about how she came to be in her job and this is what she told me. HUMBLE BEGINNINGS My first connection with Elizabeth Farm was a ghost tour almost 16 years ago, and I immediately felt a connection with the property even though I had no experience, or interest, [...]

2018-03-24T01:33:07+11:00March 14th, 2017|Colonial History, Life|7 Comments

Australia’s First Piano – belated update

The keys of the First Fleet piano. Surgeon George Worgan, thirty-three, improbably managed to bring a piano with him on the First Fleet. In 1790 he gallantly began to tutor Elizabeth Macarthur, telling her she’d ‘done wonders in being able to play off God save the King and Foots Minuet’ and that she was ‘reading the Notes with great facility.’ Worgan went so far as to make Elizabeth a gift of the pianoforte upon his departure in 1791. In early 1810 Elizabeth bought a pianoforte for £85 at [...]

2018-03-25T12:18:30+11:00December 23rd, 2016|Colonial History|7 Comments

Eat Your History by Jacqui Newling – Review and Interview

Hands up if you love to cook? Keep your hand up if you are interested in Australian history? Still with me?  Then do I have the perfect book for you (or for someone you know - Christmas is just around the corner and books are ever so easy to wrap...) Eat Your History: stories and recipes from Australian kitchens is a wonderful, and very beautiful, collection of recipes, social history and historical insights. According to the author, "This book invites you to share forgotten tastes and lost techniques, and rediscover [...]

2018-03-24T02:15:05+11:00December 16th, 2016|Book Review, Colonial History|3 Comments

Camden Park House

Camden Park House Source: Adventures in Biography Took my family to Sydney for the weekend, ostensibly for a quick sightseeing stopover but actually so that we could attend the annual open day at Camden Park House. We were lucky with the rain, and managed to explore the house and extensive gardens before it poured. * * * * * During the first week of June 1805 the signal was made at Sydney Harbour's South Head and Elizabeth’s prayers were answered. John Macarthur, having left NSW for England in [...]

2018-03-25T13:09:33+11:00September 26th, 2016|Colonial History, Work in Progress|7 Comments