Historic Homes And Their Occupants (Leumeah Cottage) 9 October 1941

Camden News

 (By J. F. Morris, Lindsay Street, Campbelltown).

Close to the overhead, bridge at the northern end of Campbelltown is an old stone cottage, and alongside it is a stone barn, the unusual appearance of which attracts the attention of most tourists.

These buildings were erected by John Warby in 1816, the grant of 260 acres having been made to him on June 20th of that year.

In so vast a study as the history of New South Wales, the little man, the man who possessed neither influence nor education, is frequently overlooked, even though he played an important part in the pioneering days of the colony.

His name may appear as an extra in some story of history, but to the vast majority his epitaph be the one word, "Vixit." [He/she has lived Ed.]

Such a man was John Warby.

That his name lives at all is mainly due to the fact that it occurs in an edict issued by Governor Bligh in 1806.

This edict prohibited persons from crossing to the western bank of the Nepean River, special exemption being made for Messrs. Davidson and Macarthur, who had holdings in the prescribed area, and for "John Warby, the Government Herdsman, and those per sons assisting him in his duty of taking the cast-off bulls."

This is his one appearance upon the stage of history, though he was an explorer and pioneer of the Cowpasture district.

In 1803 Governor King appointed Warby as Government Herdsman in charge of the wild cattle on the Cow pastures.

At this time Prospect was the nearest point of settlement to the Cowpastures, and in 1805, when James Meehan surveyed the Southern Road, he followed Warby's track from Prospect to the Cowpastures.

To-day a fine concrete road, the Hume Highway, marks the greater part of Warby's track. During his term as Government Herdsman he resided at the Government hut at Cawdor, and as one of the constables of Camden County -  Thomas Harper being the other - he had full authority to prevent unauthorised persons from crossing the river.

Using Cawdor as his base, Warby made a very thorough exploration of the country lying between Cawdor and the Burragorang Valley, but as he was completely illiterate there is no   written account of his journeys.

Then in 1814, he followed John Wilson's route over the Razorback, and pushed south to about the present site of Bargo.

Hamilton Hume and his brother John, are usually credited with being the first men to reach Bargo, but actually Warby forestalled them by some months.

Between 1808 and 1810, during the rebel administration of the Rum Corps, the Government herds on the Cowpastures were greatly reduced, and though Macquarie endeavoured to rebuild them, it soon became apparent that a Government Herdsman was unwarranted, thus on June 20th1816, Warby received his grant of 260 acres in the Airds district.

From then until his death (on Oct. 19, 1869)* John Warby was to the fore in all movements for the advancement of the district, and he was present when Governor Macquarie laid out and named the town of Campbelltown on Friday, 1st December, 1820.

As a token of respect his name has been given to one of Campbell town streets, but very few people realise that nearly every street in Campbelltown bears the name of a man who played a part in the early history of our country.

*Warby actually died on 12 June 1851. His widow died at Campbelltown on 19 October 1869. [tumuthistory.com]