Early Settlement in Gundagai and Tumut (By George Clout) No XI

8 April 1924 The Tumut Advocate and Farmers and Settlers' Adviser

"A land of freedom - free in church or school;      

Where freemen choose from freemen who shall rule."


The first Church of England clergyman to arrive in Australia was the Rev. Richard Johnston, and the first service was held at Parramatta in a carpenter's shop in 1791.

In 1794 Rev. Samuel Marsden arrived and entered on his sacred duties, and it was to him that New South Wales was indebted for the substantial progress that the Church of England made in the early stages of her career.

For a short time Rev. Johnston assisted him; but that gentleman feeling himself unequal to the office returned to England and left his colleague with a heavy charge, considering the state of the colony and the places under care.

Marsden had a most arduous duty, to perform, but as far as can   be judged from the published records he discharged his duties conscientiously and with benefit to the com- munity.

Owing to political strife he returned to England in 1807.

On his return two years later, he brought with him eminent members of the   ministry, such as Archdeacon Cowper and Rev. Robert Cartwright.

The latter gentleman was one of the first to carry out his ministrations in the Tumut and Murrumbidgee districts. 

Mr. Marsden died in 1858, at Windsor, and he was buried in his own church yard at Parramatta, his remains being followed to the grave by upwards of sixty of the community.

In private life he-was characterised by kindness and liberality, always ready to listen to the tale of the poor and needy.

The ministrations of the Church of England came into existence in this district at a very early period.

An old record tells us that the Church of St. Clements, at Yass, has been in active work since 1835. 

The first clergyman whose name is associated with it was Mr. Robert Cartwright, and Rev. Charles Frederick Brigstocke was the first resident clergyman.

He arrived in 1838, and his parish included Tumut, Gundagai, Tarcutta, Burrowa, Gunning, and Binalong.

It was in the year 1855 that the first regular administration of the Church began in Wagga. In that year Rev. Samuel Fox was licensed by the Bishop of Sydney to a parish which included Tumut, Gundagai, Tarcutta and Wagga, with Tumut as his headquarters.

Previous to this, Wagga had been occasionally served from Yass.

It will be seen from this that a clergyman's work in those days was not altogether a bed of roses.

The early work of the Church of Rome in the colonies was not without much trial and opposition, and its progress at first was   slow and interrupted, but discouragements do not deter that body from further efforts.

The Government of the Church being in the hands of the ecclesiastical authorities, the writer is unable to give more than the barest outline of an organisation that prefers to be known by her work. 

The unceasing energy displayed by the numerous institutions under her control is the one fact that gives effectiveness to her mission.

The Presbyterian body had a little tenement which did duty for a church on the Kiandra road, on or about the spot where the returned soldier's (Keown's) cottage stands. Mr B. Fitzgerald was their first pastor, and was succeeded by Mr. Pennycook.

In River street, almost directly opposite the Anglican Church, was the residence of Mr, Frank Foord sr. and his estimable wife, who lived thee for many years.

They were among the very early arrivals in Tumut.

To Mr. Foord I have already referred as being a co-partner in the erection of the bridge over the river.

Many of our respected residents of today are direct descendants of this most worthy pair.

At the extreme northern end of Fitzroy-street resided Mr. and Mrs. William Bridle sr., and of them the same remarks us above may be reiterated.

There are Bridles all over the district. Mr. George Howard was of an old Goulburn family, and,, with his wife, came to Tumut; when the town was in its very in-fancy, and their descendants might well be described as legion.

The Hill family also were among the early arrivals.

Mr. F. Hill sr. was the miller at Body's steam mill for a long number of years.

The late Mr. George Hoad sr. and his family were also among the first flight, having arrived in Tumut in 1853, and by thrift and perseverance have worked themselves into a very comfortable position.

The late Mr. W. Heydon carried on a wheelwright's business where Ah Loy's shop now stands in Fitzroy-st

He was one of those who were present at the beginning ot things as far as the town is concerned.

Two of his sons have quite recently died at a, very advanced age, with one of whom the writer was on very friendly terms.

Another whom I might mention was Mr. James Day, who was one of the very early arrivals in Tumut.

He came from Appin with Witty, and was a shepherd to Witty at Blowering for some time. At the period under review educational facilities were in a very primitive condition.

District schools, high schools and palatial public school buildings were still in the womb of time.

But the children must have some education.

The first school was kept by a man named Caswell, but it was short-lived.

And on Mr. H. Hilton sr. there devolved the task of teaching the young idea how to shoot.

Mr. Hilton occupied a little tenement at the southern end of River-street, on the bank o the river near the Anglican Church, and this tenement did duty as a Post Office as well, as a school-house.

Business in connection with the Post Office at that time was not a very onerous duty, as the whole of the mail was carried on horseback from Gundagai, and that only two or three days a week.

Mr. Hilton also acted as general adviser to the public in all their transactions with the powers that then existed.

At a somewhat later period he removed to more central premises at the north end of Russell-st.

Hence the school was discontinued and his attention confined to the Post Office solely. 

The school then assumed greater pro- portions and was carried on in Fitzroy-street at a point almost directly opposite what is now known as the Hatchery, with Mr. McCutcheon as the teacher.

A private school of considerable pretensions was also established at the corner of Fitzroy and Richmond streets, in the premises formerly known as the White Horse Hotel.

This was under the control of Mrs. Large and her talented daughters.

Mrs. Large was the wife of Dr. Large, our pioneer medico, who was widely Known in these districts.

The police force at a very early period was of a very primitive character.

There were altogether but twenty troopers, under the command of Major Nunn and Captain Christie, and their district, extended from the Murrumbidgee to the coast. 

From the smallness of their numbers and the extent of their patrol, their peregrinations were confined almost entirely to the main road, unless when they made a short detour to stir up some neglectful landowner who had failed to pay his stock tax.

It is, therefore little wonder that complaints were made of the paucity of their visits and to their almost invariable absence when they were most required.

Mr. M. P. Sturt, a brother, of the famous explorer, was appointed Crown Lands Commissioner in 1837.

This district embraced practically the whole of the country between the Murrumbidgee and the Murray.

He resigned in 1839, and Mr. Henry Bingham was appointed, with his headquarters in Tumut, but nearest post town was Yass.

By all accounts this gent- leman used to put a lot of "side" on when travelling, as we are told that he always dressed in full regimentals, with sword, etc., and any amount of frill, with mounted police for an escort.

It is on record that the following lines were dedicated to him:

"Commissioner B, when you're, out on the spree

With your border mounted police, 

You think by Lord that you are loved and adored

Like an Arabic Sheik at the head of his horde,

You silly old Justice of Peace."


In 1843 H. W. Smythe was appointed Commissioner of Crown Lands, and at the conclusion of his term Lockhart came in.