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Settlers were required to take up their selections within five years of granting, and to improve and develop the land or face losing it.
George Townshend had received a land grant of 2,560 acres on 20 October 1826. He planted vineyards and fruit trees at Trevallyn and marketed his own brand of preserves. The 1830s saw a period of rapid agricultural expansion in the colony. Townshend went on a land buying spree, quickly building up a portfolio of ten farms in the Paterson River region.
In October 1836 Trevallyn was visited by Conrad Martens, the celebrated artist, who was commissioned by Townshend to execute a painting of his home. Townshend was, himself, reputed to be a keen amateur artist and he was obviously impressed by Martens. In 1841, he stated that he owned five views of his property painted by Martens.
A severe drought and the subsequent economic depression saw Townshend lose nearly all of his County Durham property by 1845, with the exception of the Trevallyn estate which was in his wife's name.
Charles Boydell received an initial grant of only 640 acres and he was keen to earn more capital, and gain experience in colonial station management, before taking up his lease. Leaving George Townshend to keep an eye on his land, Boydell went to work as superintendent of a sheep run between Denman and Muswellbrook. He returned to Camyr Allyn in 1830 with an additional 640 acre grant and quickly set about improving his property.
In the years that followed, Boydell faced difficult conditions as he cleared the land, dealing with floods, a severe drought, life-threatening accidents and stark loneliness. He ran sheep and cattle on the property and planted wheat, corn, all kinds of fruit and vegetables and a vineyard. He attempted to set up a dairy and experimented with tobacco growing, before the local market surrendered to cheap American imports. He built a flour mill on the banks of the Allyn River and a dwelling suited to housing a future wife and family.
The Indigenous people at Camyr Allyn and Charles Boydell showed mutual respect towards each other. A peaceful coexistence developed between them which saw Boydell making use of traditional skills and Aboriginal people undertaking seasonal work for rations. Boydell was held in such high esteem that, as a great compliment, he was allowed to witness the funeral of Chief 'Jacky' in August 1833, an account of which is included in his journal - along with his record of the local vocabulary.
Indigenous identities, recognised as tribal elders in regions where land had been taken up by white settlers, were often presented with inscribed metal plaques to hang around their necks. Commonly known as 'King' or 'Queen' plates, breastplates or gorgets, it is known that the Boydell's followed this tradition at Camyr Allyn. A brass breastplate was engraved with the name of the resident 'King' and, on his passing, this name was beaten out and the new king's name inscribed in its place - the Camyr Allyn plate had been engraved seven times when, on the death of the last king, it was returned to Mr James Boydell.
The breastplate shown is believed to have come to the Mitchell Library through a descendent of the Boydell family.
It's difficult to imagine the hardship entailed in clearing land without modern machinery, and the physical work required to keep a patch of cleared land fenced and maintained through manual labour. It is easy to understand the reliance upon ones' neighbours that developed in rural communities, pooling resources and working together at peak times of shearing, mustering and harvesting.
Charles Boydell journal
"I Boydell, having just entered upon my twenty second year & wishing to turn discrete, regular and steady have commenced a journal thinking that nothing can be more conducive to improvement than introspection [and] thus ... commenced settling on my own farm with an establishment consisting of one free man & wife, two free fencers and seven assigned servants." (Charles Boydell, 1 March 1830)
Charles Boydell (1808-1869) kept this journal (somewhat haphazardly) between 1830 and 1835. It covers his early years on his property Camyr Allyn. The journal was presented to the Mitchell Library in 1938 by Gilbert John Champain, Charles Boydell's great nephew.
"The whole course of this beautiful mountain stream is bordered on its banks by foliage such as is not common to most Australian rivers. No description can adequately paint the variety of tints, and the elegance of the creepers which hang in wreaths from tree to tree…" (Illustrated Sydney News, 24 Nov, 1870)
Elizabeth Boydell illustrations
Charles Boydell’s wife, Mrs Elizabeth Boydell, drew several scenes of life on the Allyn River, which were published in the Illustrated Sydney News on November 24 and December 24, 1870.
Charles Boydell (1808-1869) emigrated to New South Wales in 1826 accompanied by George Townshend, a fellow Welshman, and both took up land grants on the Allyn River, at Gresford, NSW.
In 1837, Boydell married Elizabeth Macdonald Ritchie (1817-1899) and they settled on his property Camyr Allyn. Socially well-connected, Elizabeth was the daughter of Harriott Mary Dowling and grand-daughter of John and Harriott Blaxland of Newington, Sydney.
The newspaper engravings below are taken from the pencil drawings of Mrs Boydell, who was described as a ‘lady resident in the district’. A keen amateur artist, her drawings capture the beauty and picturesque nature of the Allyn River region.
Durham Falls was ‘a spot much frequented by anglers’. The falls were named by Charles Boydell and the location is included in his original land grant from the Crown.
"It is a peculiarly placed bit of scenery - where -
Forest and meadow, and slope of hill
Around it are lonely, lovely and still
Lonely – save when by the rippling tides
From thicket to thicket the angler glides.”
Illustrated Sydney News, 24 December, 1870
After Charles Boydell's death in 1869, Elizabeth Boydell sold the contents of the property and moved to Sydney during 1871-1872. She died in 1899.
Allyn River cattle muster
This small booklet is by an anonymous author. The paper is watermarked to 1851 and it contains an account of a cattle drive from Camyr Allyn, a number of humorous pencil sketches, two maps of the Allyn River district and a vocabulary of words used by the Allyn River Indigenous people.