In Search of Ngurabirding – Part 2

The Hay River Brigade


Before we go on with the story of John Maher after the issuing of his Ticket-of-Leave, it’s important to look into what had already taken place at Albany relative to his arrival. This applies to the earliest period of free settlement and the story of the Spencer family, in particular, who first lived at the Old Farm – Strawberry Hill, within Albany, as well as at another farm close to the Hay River about twenty miles away.


Strawberry Hill Farm 001Above: Panoramic view of the Gardens at the Old Farm -Strawberry Hill as it is today. Note the Norfolk Pine standing tall in the rear to the right. Image courtesy Continue reading

The Supporting Cast

Originally Published 27 June 2014:

Other people who are relevant to these pages during the 1840’s and onwards include the ex naval Lieutenant Peter Belches and the former East India Company men John Laurence Morley and Thomas Lyell Symers. We’re also interested in what Captain John Hassell and his wife Ellen got up to, what developments George Cheyne was able to forge and the arrival of John McKailHugh & John McKenzie and Thomas Meadows Gillam. Also, the ever shifting fortunes of the ship’s carpenter James Dunn.

Albany pencil and washAbove:  This pencil and wash sketch of Albany dated February 1854 shows the village status of the town at that time. The jetty in the foreground, commenced by McKail and Dunn in the Spring of 1837, was 75 yards long and located where the Marina and Boatshed Markets are today. McKail had blocks at the foot of the jetty and along Stirling Terrace just east of the London Hotel where (probably) he and James Dunn lived during that time. The sketch is unattributed.

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The Demise Of The Taylor Fortune: Part 2

Originally Posted 22 May 2014:

Bussell_family (550x345)

The Bussell family eventually prospered at ‘Cattle Chosen’ but had to get tough first.


The Bussell’s were lucky to get something of a windfall every time one of the children turned 21, but by 1837 the reverend’s life-insurance policy had paid out in full and without Capel Carter back in England sending their goods and offering her help they were well and truly on their own. By this time, they had at least borne the brunt of those early set backs and ‘Cattle Chosen’ was beginning to look like a viable life choice. Having just survived though, the Bussells were keen to shed their liabilities.

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The Demise Of The Taylor Fortune: Part 1

Originally Posted 18 May 2014:

Kirktonhill Manor

Kirktonhill, Marykirk, Aberdeenshire, ancestral home of Patrick Taylor Esq, original settler at Albany, Western Australia


For now, back to the love story of Patrick Taylor and Mary Bussell.

We know the two met on the ship James Pattison which arrived in Albany on June 19th, 1834, after eighteen and a half weeks at sea. Of their individual stories we know Mary was the second eldest in a family of nine children and that she and her mother sailed out to the Swan River Colony as solution to the family’s future four years after her brothers had set out to establish their place of living there, and fully fourteen after her father’s untimely death. The Bussell family, in the absence of their father, seems to have functioned as a business, or at least very strictly upon the money they had and shared as a group. The family decided to emigrate to the Swan River Colony at the height of its pre-establishment popularity because they thought it would not only make best use of the set amount of money they had, but (because there were six brothers) give them all a far more equal opportunity.

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