Elizabeth Macarthurundated

by Unknown artist

This portrait, likely to be of Elizabeth Macarthur, indicates her standing as part of early Sydney’s social elite. Born in Devon, Elizabeth had received a good education. As the wife of John Macarthur, an influential but controversial landowner, she raised her growing family at Elizabeth Farm, near Parramatta, an environment she appreciated. Elizabeth also had charge of the family’s four pastoral properties during her husband’s nearly 10-year absence and after his death in 1834. Elizabeth selected the sheep to improve the quality of the wool they produced, and is acknowledged as a pioneer of the Australian wool industry. Surviving her husband by 16 years, Elizabeth lived to see merino wool become successful in the UK market.