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In 1789, James Ruse, a former convict, produced the first successful wheat harvest in NSW. He didn't yield sufficient grain to make any flour for the colony, but he did produce enough seeds for the next crop, which was also successful. This was such a feat in the food-obsessed colony that Ruse was rewarded for his endeavours with pigs and chickens, and the first land grant made by Governor Phillip in NSW. Ruse's 30 acre grant at Rose Hill was aptly named 'Experiment Farm', and led the way for Australia to become one of the most important agricultural nations on the planet.

By the end of 1791, there were over 200 acres in cultivation at the Government Farm, Rose Hill. The success of the Ruse experiment encouraged Governor Phillip to grant land, livestock, agricultural tools, seed and assigned convict workers to settlers and emancipists willing to farm.

On arrival at Botany Bay, Captain Arthur Phillip had claimed all of the land for the British Crown. As the first Governor of New South Wales, he was able to grant parcels of land to free settlers, soldiers and former convicts. These land grants were usually small, and required the grantee to live on and work the land. This was beneficial because it enabled the grantee to sustain himself, his family and his convict workers and perhaps make some profit by selling his produce. It also meant that fewer people needed to be supported by the Government stores.

An anonymous letter, written in Parramatta in 1819, described the system of agriculture in New South Wales at the time, and discussed settlers issues with the climate as well as successes and failures experienced with various types of crops and livestock.

Miscellaneous papers mainly relating to agriculture and land, ca. 1817-1917 - p1
Digital ID: 
a4865001
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Miscellaneous papers mainly relating to agriculture and land, ca. 1817-1917 - p2
Digital ID: 
a4865002
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Miscellaneous papers mainly relating to agriculture and land, ca. 1817-1917 - p3
Digital ID: 
a4865003
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Miscellaneous papers mainly relating to agriculture and land, ca. 1817-1917 - p4
Digital ID: 
a4865004
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Miscellaneous papers mainly relating to agriculture and land, ca. 1817-1917 - p5
Digital ID: 
a4865005
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Miscellaneous papers mainly relating to agriculture and land, ca. 1817-1917 - p6
Digital ID: 
a4865006
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Miscellaneous papers mainly relating to agriculture and land, ca. 1817-1917 - p7
Digital ID: 
a4865007
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Miscellaneous papers mainly relating to agriculture and land, ca. 1817-1917 - p8
Digital ID: 
a4865008
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Early land grants

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Variant Title: Previously titled `Parramatta
Signatures / Inscriptions: Signed and dated lower right `C. Martens 1838’
General Note: Related account book entries, 1837-39: 10 Oct. 1837. Capt. P.P King £12.12.0’; 12 Nov. 1838 … Rob Mackenzie Esq £15.15.0, now in the NGV’; 1 Jan 1839 … Capt. Wright £15.15.0; 4 Apr. 1839 … L. Campbell Esq. £15.15.0’.
Pencil drawing, `View of Parramatta Sep. 25/1837, 20 x 30 cm., illustrated in Lindsay, L. `Conrad Martens’, Sydney : A&R, 1920 1920, pl.XLVI, presented by Col. A.E. Knox, Sydney, Feb.1960 PXC 971, f.2.
Illustrated in Jervis, J. `The cradle of the city of Australia: a history of Parramatta, Parramatta City Council, 1961, frontis. and Nicholas, L.,`Charles Darwin in Australia’, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p.26
Transferred from 247 P in July 1967 to DL 28 then to DL Pg 15 in Feb. 1980

[View of Parramatta], 1838 / drawn by C. Martens
1838
Martens, Conrad, 1801-1878
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Digital ID: 
a1528447
Deed, dated 22 February 1790 [1792], to James Ruse
22 February, 1790 [1792]
Ruse, James, 1760-1837
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Digital ID: 
a5512001
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Collection History: By descent to Helen Ekin from her husband, Hugh. Given to Hugh by his grandparents, Hugh Ekin and Minnie Harris. Hugh and Minnie were first cousins and both descendants of John and Ann Harris of Moneymore, County Londonderry, Ireland.
John and Ann’s sons were Surgeon John Harris, and also George, William and Robert Harris. Hugh Ekin is descended from William Harris whose daughter was Eliza Ekin, nee Harris; and from Robert Harris from whom Minnie Harris is descended.

Reference:
Library correspondence file

Administrative / Biographical Note: Surgeon John Harris (1754-1838) was a member of the Royal Navy and the NSW Corps. He was appointed surgeon's mate in the New South Wales Corps in 1789 and promoted surgeon in 1792. He arrived in New South Wales in the Surprize in June 1790 and was posted to Parramatta. In 1793 he was granted 100 acres of land at Parramatta. He bought the property, Experiment Farm, from James Ruse. He served as a magistrate in the colony, accompanied Barralier exploring the Hunter River in 1801 and was one of the first directors elected to the Bank of NSW. At his death in 1838 he had extensive landholdings in Parramatta, Ultimo and Five Dock.

He returned to England, aged 56, in 1810, to give evidence in the court martial of George Johnston for his role in the Rum Rebellion, and also visited his family in Ireland. He married, and returned to Australia in 1814.

Reference:
Australian Dictionary of Biography Online http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/ (accessed January 2009)
Library correspondence file

[John Harris, Surgeon, ca 1790-1805] / by unknown artist
ca 1790-1805
Digital ID: 
a2652001
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A

dministrative / Biographical Note

Philip Schaffer was born in Hesse, Germany. He came to Australia in 1790 where he took up 140 acres at Rydalmere, near Parramatta, which he named The Vineyard. The grant was formalised on 22 February 1792, together with grants to James Ruse and Edward Varndell.

Philip Schaffer - Land grant, 22 February 1792
22 Feb. 1792
Schaffer, Philip, d. 1828?
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Digital ID: 
a55070001
Captain Waterhouse's house, Sidney [sic], the Vineyard, about 1798
ca. 1798
Digital ID: 
a4814001
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Signatures / Inscriptions: Inscribed on reverse of drawing "John S Hughes / July 12th 1826"
In another, later hand, "Parramatta River / Vineyard original cottage. the birthplace of the family of H.H. McArthur Esqr / from 1812 to 1832"
General Note: John Sympson Hughes was a lieutenant in the 3rd Regiment. He arrived in Sydney in April 1825 (Sydney Gazette 28 April 1825 p.2). He was still in Sydney in January 1827 when he took a sketch of Elizabeth Bay, now in a private collection.
This watercolour shows the original cottage at Vineyard before it Hannibal Macarthur re-built it in 1836.

Parramatta River, 1826 / watercolour by John Hughes
Hughes, John Sympson
Digital ID: 
a128009
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About this item: 

Administrative / Biographical Note: This grand residence was designed by John Verge for Hannibal Hawkins Macarthur and was newly completed when this picture was painted. The house was demolished in 1961.
Signatures / Inscriptions: Signed and dated lower right "C. Martens 1840".
Inscribed in later hand on reverse of canvas (relined) "The Vineyard Estate. Subiaco. 12.8.39. near Parramatta".
Stamp of "S Holden Picture Restorer 107 Bayswater Road Darlinghurst 29 Oct 1945" also on reverse.
Paper label of "A.M. Jennett Picture Framer, Carver and Gilder..." on lower stretcher bar.
General Note:A pencil drawing "Vineyard H.H. Macarthur" is located at: PXC 300 f.4 Mitchell Library
Reference: Conrad Martens Life & Art / Elizabeth Ellis. Sydney, NSW : State Library of New South Wales Press, 1994.

[Vineyard, Parramatta], 1840 / C. Martens
1840
Martens, Conrad, 1801-1878
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Digital ID: 
a928025
Edward Varndell - Land Grant, 22 Feb. 1792, and associated transfer document, 24 Jan. 1830
22 Feb. 1792, 24 Jan. 1830
Varndell, Edward
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Digital ID: 
a1316001
Edward Varndell - Land Grant, 22 Feb. 1792, and associated transfer document, 24 Jan. 1830
22 Feb. 1792, 24 Jan. 1830
Varndell, Edward
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Digital ID: 
a1316003
Edward Varndell - Land Grant, 22 Feb. 1792, and associated transfer document, 24 Jan. 1830
22 Feb. 1792, 24 Jan. 1830
Varndell, Edward
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Digital ID: 
a1316004

This story has been developed with the support of the State Library of NSW Foundation.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.