Henry Osborne, Illawarra Settler, Was an Early Overlander

27 May 1955 The Farmer and Settler (Sydney)

Few families have played as important a part in pioneering and squat-ting history as the Osbornes, and to-day members of the family are settled all over New South Wales, where they still carry on the family traditions.

The Osborne association with New South Wales began in the 1820's when John and Aleck Osborne, sons of Archibald Osborne, of Dirnaseer, Dromore, County Tyrone, who were both naval surgeons and had come here as inspectors of convict ships, decided to settle in the Illawarra district.

They liked the country and wrote home to their father to suggest that a younger brother, Henry, should come out to join them.

The father agreed, gave his son a draft for 1000 and his blessing.

The young man embarked on the Pyramus at Liverpool.

The ship was badly dam-aged during a gale and put into Belfast for repairs.

Quick Wedding

Now romance enters the story.

Henry was deeply in love with Sarah Marshall, daughter of an Irish clergyman, and had asked permission to marry her, but met with a refusal.

When the Pyramus entered Belfast, Henry hastened ashore and took himself to the little village where Sarah lived.

He persuaded the Rev. Benjamin Marshall to agree to the marriage of his daughter.

All the world is said to love a lover, and the whole village set furiously to work to provide her with a trousseau, and within a week this had been accomplished.

The wedding took place on September 11, 1828, and Henry and Sarah left for Belfast to join the Pyramus.

On May 9, 1829, Henry and his bride reached Sydney.

After spending sometime at Liverpool, the Osbornes moved to Illawarra, where Henry received a grant which he named Marshall Mount after his wife's family.

The young couple's first dwelling was a humble bark structure known as Pumpkin Cottage.

Then a more substantial cottage was erected, and about 1838 a large and commodious two storey house was built on to the cottage.

This building, now in a sad state of decay, still stands on a commanding site high on one of the hills on the Marshall Mount property.

It is one of the oldest houses in the Illawarra district. Henry's affairs prospered.

He cleared and cultivated his grant and he was ably assisted by Sarah, his wife, who is said to have churned thousands of pounds of butter herself during the years of the gold rush, when it was sold for as much as 8/- a pound.

Dairy Cattle Henry Osborne's first dairy cattle were purchased from William Howe, of Glenlee, near Campbelltown.

Howe was well-known in the dairying world of the 1820's and 1830's as a producer of first-class butter.

In 1841 Osborne imported a cow named Brutus, a Durham, and later refused 700 for her.

He gave a free exhibition of his imported cattle in the Market Square at Wollongong, and this laid the foundation of the present Agricultural and Horticultural Society shows there.

Osborne also imported two bulls, Duke and Marquis, the former a roan Durham of great quality, and the latter a blood red Sussex.

In 1884, two cows, Daisy and Blossom, were purchased from overseas.

Osborne was one of the biggest cattle buyers of his time and purchased animals as far north as New England and as far south as the Murray.

Prior to his death he had quite a number of pure-bred cattle at Marshall Mount and constantly sent drafts of young bulls to his inland properties.

Henry Osborne was one of the early overlanders, and on December 4, 1839, he set out from Dapto to drive a mob of sheep and cattle 1000 miles to Adelaide.

At one point he lost his way and he feared that the stock would perish of thirst since he could find no water.

He gathered his men together to ride back, when suddenly, from the abandoned stock, came the sound of loud bellowing; they had found the river again and the situation was saved.

The party reached Adelaide early in April, 1840, and the South Australian Register of April 4, 1840, informed its readers that: 'Mr. Osborne has just arrived overland from N.S.W. with a large quantity of stock, consisting of 855 cows, bullocks, heifers, steers, etc., 62 horses and 800 fat wethers, all of which have arrived in excellent condition and are likely to meet with a good and speedy market.'

The stock overlanded by Osborne comprised the largest mob driven from New South Wales to South Australia up to that time and averaged about eight miles a day for four months.

'Butter Track'

The whole mob was sold at a good price and Henry returned home a richer man.

Henry Osborne acquired property in Kangaroo Valley, where he ran stock and apparently carried on dairying.

The butter was carried from the Valley to Dapto across country and the path is still shown on parish maps as 'Osborne's Butter Track.'

Henry Osborne entered the ranks of the squatters in 1837 when he took up Wagra Station on the Tumut River, which he held for a number of years.

In 1844 he occupied Brookong Station, about 18 miles from the present town of Urana, which covered an area of about 320,000 acres.

Later, Osborne's sons managed this property and Charles Hebden became a partner.

In 1873 the property was sold to William Halliday, a Victorian, for 100,000. In the 1840's, Osborne acquired part of the Jugiong run on the Murrumbidgee, taken up originally by Henry O'Brien in the 1820's.

The station was named Redbank - and there is still a Redbank.

He also acquired The Point and Widgeongully about the same time.

The latter property was eventually sold to James Pring, while the Jugiong holding was disposed of to William Macanish in 1850.

Widgeongully was sold before Henry Osborne's death, and by that time his holdings on the Murrumbidgee were reduced to 1500 acres of freehold, which were assigned to his son, Benjamin Marshall Osborne.

Son's Work

In 1869 B. M. Osborne began to build up the property by purchasing the southern portion of the old Jugiong holding, later known as Benangaroo, and in 1873 he acquired Widgeongully.

In 1875 the Redbank portion of the Jugiong property was bought, and in 1887 Gunnong-Jugranvah.

In 1906 Osborne divided his estate amongst his five sons, who worked it con-jointly. Hamilton Hope Osborne was given Widgeongully.

Dr. J. K. Osborne received Benangaroo, B. M. Osborne, jun., got Redbank, Oliver T. Osborne, Bundarbo, and Henry C. Osborne, Gunnong-Jugranvah.

During 1907 B. M. Osborne, jun., seceded from the partnership and the four brothers worked to gether, using Widgeongully as a head station.

The holdings comprised 64,000 acres and about 75,000 sheep were carried.

The Merinos on it were descendants of N. P. Bayley's Havilah breed. Leicesters were introduced in 1906 and crossed with the Merinos.

They were purchased from William Grant's Elloughton Grange Flock, Timoru, New Zealand.

The Leicester stud sheep were used to provide rams for station use. Jugiong wool always commanded a high price at Sydney sales.

A stud of Norfolk Red Polled cattle was also kept. Some stud stock purchased from Lord Rothschild's Tring Park herd provided the foundation.

A small herd of Short-horns was maintained and about 1500 head of cattle were also run on the property.

The Shorthorns were crossed with the Red Polled stock, as it was found their progeny matured earlier.

Wool And Beef B. M. Osborne, the head of this branch of the family, was born in 1837 and married Lucy Throsby, of Throsby Park, Moss Vale.

When he retired from the Jugiong-Redbank properties he lived at Hopewood, near Bowral.

When B. M. Osborne, jun., left the partnership in 1907 he continued to work the Redbank property of about 20,000 acres, on which he ran a flock of 20,000 Merinos.

Wool from this property was always highly regarded.

A herd of pure Norfolk Red Polled cattle was also run on Redbank.

It is of interest to note that descendants of the Osbornes still have an interest in many of these holdings.

Recalling The Pioneers. By James Jervis