Thomas Rose

On the 16th January, 1793, there arrived at Sydney by the “Bellona,” a few free settlers with their wives. Amongst them was Mr Thomas Rose and his wife, Mrs Jane Rose (nee Topp), and their four English-born children. This Mr Rose was a farmer from Blandford, in Dorsetshire, England. He is most favorably referred to in David Collins’ historical work “The English Colony in New South Wales,” the one standard authority on early Australian history, from 1788 to 1802 as “the most respectable of the first free settlers who came out in the Bellona.”
Even at that primitive period, and under the stern conditions which they must have reckoned certainly upon facing, these free men braved the dangers of the deep, and cast their lot in this remote new land — then perhaps the strangest in the inhabited globe. Yet these first Australian settlers, following impulse rather than reason, crossed hemispheres, and founded, under sunnier skies, a new home. The meaning of the impulse which must have seemed madness to their kin, and which perchance themselves could not wholly understand, is now written in unmistakable characters on the pages of the world’s Destiny. We are told that the goddess Bellona (Sister of Mars) prepared the horses and chariots of the war-god for battle. Here is a modern instance wherein, to a new land, she brought a preparation for the far-off triumph of the Arts of Peace.
The free settlers, as an incentive to enterprise and an encouragement to their colonising spirit, were furnished with agricultural implements by the Government, with two years’ provisions, and with a number of “assigned” servants. Free grants of land were also made to them. They settled down to the pursuit of agriculture on Liberty Plains. This neighborhood, however, the majority shortly afterwards quitted for the more promising alluvial lands of the Hawkesbury. As the pioneers who felled primeval forests while in peril of their lives from the untamed savage who yet roamed therein; as the primal source whence has flowed the full tide of our liberties — these fathers, who struggled in the “great old year” hastening forward to a nobler fruition were entitled at least to the civil liberties of the Empire to which they belonged.
But these, it appears, they had left behind them; for on the advent to power of the New South Wales Corps they virtually abolished civil rule by merging it into military authority. Major Grose’s first general order was to the effect that in the absence of the Lieutenant Governor all complaints respecting convicts were to be communicated to any Captain who might be on duty. All inquiries by the civil magistrates were, too, to be dispensed with until the Lieutenant Governor had given directions on the subject. Everything and everybody in every phase or grade of colonial life was made to be subject to the caprice of autocrats of the Interregnum. If anyone doubts this let him turn to a curious old book in MS., at the
Sydney Public Library, containing the Standing Orders of the period under notice.
That the settlers on Liberty Plains and the Hawkesbury persevered bravely in their tillage of the soil — and not without success — may be gathered from the record that the harvest of 1793 produced 18 bushels to the acre; and that, after reserving a sufficiency for their own consumption and for seed, the farmers were able to supply the Government with 1200 bushels at 5s. per bushel. But the pioneers had to undergo deprivations difficult now and here to realise; livestock was exceedingly scarce; and horned cattle and sheep shipped from England died on the voyage out; or, arriving, were speared by the aboriginal or torn by the dingo.
It is not my intention to give in this series, the names of the whole company of free settlers, that arrived by the Bellona, but to deal with the free Pioneer Thomas Rose and his family. The following is the portion of the “Bellona” list relating to our pioneer and family with which this article deals: —
Extract from “Bellona” List (1793): —
Thomas Rose, farmer, aged 40 years, from Blandford, Dorset.
Jane Rose, his wife, aged 33 years.
Thomas Rose, aged 13 years.
Mary Rose, aged 11 years.
Joshua Rose, aged 9 years.
Richard Rose, aged 3 years.
Accompanying the family, was a free woman by the name of Elizabeth Fish, aged 18 years, a niece of Mr Rose’s. This lady, shortly after her arrival at Sydney, married Mr Edward Powell who had formerly been a seaman on the “Lady Juliana,” First Fleeter, and who now arrived as a free settler. This Miss Fish became the foundress mother of all the Richmond (“Curryburry”) Powells and the Powells of Homebush, Sydney, of the present day.
The Powells are a very good and meritorious family as innovators and cultivators of the soil. The first Edward Powell and his wife kept the “Half Way House Inn” on the Parramatta Road, later the “Horse and Jockey” (as it now is), but the original site is at least half a mile on the Sydney
side, same side of road to where the present hotel stands. That is the spot where Mr Edward Powell died, and he was interred in a vault tomb, which could once be seen by passengers in trains on the western line until the early nineties of last century, when it was removed.
Mr J. F. Campbell makes many gross errors, in his “Dawn of Rural Settlement in Australia” wherein he says, that Mr E. Powell died in the year 1810. That is not so! I will publish what the inscription did say — likewise the adventures of Mr Edward Powell’s death at the time from the only newspaper then extant: —
Sacred to the memory of
The proprietor of this farm
October 19th, 1814
Aged 52 years
As a tribute to departed worth
His surviving family
Have erected this memorial,
To perpetuate the remembrance of an affectionate husband and father, who lived, universally respected, and died generally lamented.
From “Sydney Gazette”: —
On October 19th, 1814, at his residence on the Parramatta Road, Mr Edward Powell, leaving a wife and a large family.
I shall return to the Powells in the “Bellona” series at some length later on.
The actual settlers by the “Bellona” were five in number, although there also arrived some craftsmen and artisans, who were employed on landing here at their occupations. Of them also, I shall write at another time.
Mr Thomas Rose received a grant of land of 120 acres at Liberty Plains (now Homebush) on the 28th May, 1793, which he called “Hunter’s Hut,” presumably in compliment to that Governor. The reason Mr Rose was given that area was on account of the size of his family. All the others (not then) being married men, received lesser areas in the same district.
On the day when the first free settlers arrived, Lieutenant-Governor Grose tells us that they, with the exception of the yeoman, Thomas Rose, were a bad lot. Two of them had been in Sydney Cove prior to 1793 as sailors on board HMS Sirius. Convicts recognised them and treated them with contumely.
It was found that the land at Liberty Plains was unsuitable for agriculture after one season’s crop of wheat had been garnered, and in the meanwhile some twenty-two emancipists were settled on the banks of the Hawkesbury in the vicinity of Windsor, April 29th, 1794, being the date. Shortly afterwards the “Bellona” settlers transferred their goods, implements and stock to the flats up stream towards Richmond, where Cornwallis Bottoms are now. These would include the “Bellonas” as being the actual founders of Windsor; along with the other 22 “free by servitude” settlers, or emancipists.
Thomas Rose, of Blandford, Dorset.
Edward Powell, from the West Riding of Yorkshire, England.
Frederick Meredith.
Thomas Webb and his nephew, Joseph Webb.
It is strange that no official records of the Windsor lands settled by the “Bellonas” appear as grants, but nevertheless they certainly did settle there, as the Powells’ records prove. Also other circumstantial evidence of occupation by them, as it is known that the pioneer Edward Powell settled on 60 acres of land at Cornwallis during 1794, and in the year 1798 his son, Edward Powell was born there. Of so little value was land in those days that the above area of land was sold to a Mr Norris for a mare and foal. Another 60 acres of land held by Mr Powell adjoining was exchanged with his uncle-in-law (so to speak) Mr Thomas Rose (Bellona) for the latter’s 120 acres at Liberty Plains, as some heavy floods had occurred to the properties, and the blacks were troublesome.
Bear in mind, “The Curryburry” Farm, 100 acres, higher up the river at Richmond Bottoms, is an entirely different property. That place was bought in the year 1802 by the founder of the Powells.
To prove my case, that Mr Thomas Rose by the “Bellona” did “own land by settlement” at Cornwallis, I shall quote from the “Sydney Herald” of May 10th, 1839: —
Note. — Thomas Rose (Bellona) died at Wilberforce, November 15th, 1833, aged 81 years.
Advertisement from Windsor
“Mr Laban White, having received instructions to sell by public auction on the 20th May, (1839) that valuable and splendid estate known as FULHAM PARK, the property of the late Thomas Rose, Esq, in the district of Lower Richmond, begs to call the attention of settlers and the public generally to the same, it being intended to divide it into small farms. Further particulars will appear in a future advertisement.”
Windsor, May 6th, 1839.
The next advertisement was in the “Sydney Herald” of May 13th, 1839, viz,
Hawkesbury Farms
To be Sold by Auction
By Mr Laban White
On the premises on Monday, 20th instant at twelve o’clock.
“The proprietor of that well-known and beautiful Estate ‘Fulham Park’ situate on the Hawkesbury River, about three miles from Windsor, and in the district of Lower Richmond, having received repeated applications for the purchase of parts of the same, has, for the convenience of the public divided it into five farms, each having a frontage on the Hawkesbury River and consisting of about thirty acres. The auctioneer, in submitting the farms for public competition [which doubtless will be great so many persons being desirous of becoming purchasers] cannot speak in too high terms of the rich alluvial soil, beauty of the surrounding scenes and fertile country, and the many natural advantages possessed by each farm, which he feels incompetent justly to describe, therefore will not attempt the task, feeling assured that whatever he might advance in their favor, could not equal the locality of this invaluable property, therefore, such an attempt would be doing an injustice to his employer. But everyone is aware that the Hawkesbury district has been at all times justly considered the granary of New South Wales, and this property now offered to the public is one of the most valuable in the District, and having a frontage on the river, gives a facility of procuring an abundance of water at all seasons, which is no small consideration to recommend it to the most fastidious. A plan of the farms may be seen at the office of the auctioneer, Windsor.
Terms of Sale:—
A deposit of twenty-five per cent, at the fall of the hammer, and residue by Bills of three, six, nine, and twelve months dates. The two latter to bear interest at ten per cent. N.B. — Refreshments will be provided on the grounds for parties attending the sale. Windsor, May 10th, 1839.”
Evidently dear old Laban White’s flowery and long-winded advertisement praising Fulham Park properties had its effect on some early day farm properties speculator, for the next we find is an advertisement in the “Sydney Herald” of May 17th, 1839:
“The public are respectfully informed that the estate of Fulham Park, the property of the late Thomas Rose, Esq, advertised for sale by auction, by the undersigned on Monday, the 20th instant, has been sold by private contract.
“Windsor.” Auctioneer.”
I am of opinion that the eldest son of the pioneer, Thomas Rose was the sole beneficiary by that sale, as in those days the eldest son, generally, unless otherwise specified, became the “heir at law.” I am also of opinion that during the lifetime of the pioneer “Bellona” Thomas Rose, he farmed the Cornwallis lands, in conjunction with the area he “took up” or squatted on, at Wilberforce, the place which he made his home, and where he dwelt mainly during all the years between 1794 and 1833. It is rather strange, that the Wilberforce property, the ancestral home of the Wilberforce Roses, is not shown, nor is it recorded as a grant to him. Mr J. F. Campbell, Licensed Surveyor, seems doubtful of the identity of the “Bellona” pioneer. He says in his little essay before mentioned “He (Thomas Rose) is said to have lived at Wilberforce and died there.” Rest assured, my good historian “Bellona” Rose of the first free settlers and the 1798 Thomas Rose of “The Rose and Crown Inn,” Sydney, and later of Mt Gilead, cannot be confused by those who know of their careers like my self, and their separate and individual personalities.
Mr. J. F. Campbell refers to a farm on the Nepean River, which he claims once belonged to “Bellona” Thomas Rose. Let me say that the Wilberforce Thomas Rose never held grants or properties there. The place referred to was a farm granted to one John Burgess of 80 acres, originally called “Blackheath Farm.” “Rose Falls” is on the river Nepean nearby, and an advertisement published in the “Sydney Herald” of November 9th, 1838, announces it thus (it had become, by purchases, the enlarged area of 130 acres):—
“Farm, Nepean River
Sale on Tuesday, Nov. 20th, 1838
130 acres near to Castlereagh
This farm is well-known as Mr Thomas Rose’s “Blackheath Farm.”
That property was, in my opinion, the farm of the Thomas Rose who had married Elizabeth Brooks at Castlereagh (1825), as both the other Thomas Roses were deceased at this time, the Mount Gilead Thomas Rose (1798) having died there, on March 3rd, 1837, aged 64 years.
If “Blackheath Farm” was portion of properties held by either deceased gentleman, they would, in my opinion, be referred to as such, that is, “deceased,” same as the advertisement printed relating to “Fulham Park” Estate, Cornwallis.

Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Fri 21 Aug 1925, page 7

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.