In 1839 one
thousand acres were advertised for lease for a term of ten
years at Crookes Park. They were to be let in small farms
from ten to one hundred acres each. The land was described
as being on the banks of the Upper Williams River with rich
alluvial soil that produced wheat and tobacco even in
drought. The conditions of the lease were that the first
five years would be rent free to compensate for bringing the
land into cultivation and the remaining five years to be at
a rent of one pound per acre per annum.
A Flour Mill
was erected on the property.
In 1845 John
Hooke passed away ...... 'Died this day at one clock at
his residence, Crook's Park, in this district, John Hooke,
sen., Esq., leaving a large family to deplore his loss. Mr.
Hooke is much and deservedly regretted by all who knew him.
He was a kind father and a generous landlord. He had a long
and severe illness. He will be interred on Tuesday next, in
his family vault, on the estate of Crook's Park.
junior continued farming in the Dungog district and in March
1847 he was advertising a small farm of 16 acres to let. In
May 1847 a disastrous fire destroyed his crop of corn and
evening last Mr. Hooke, a farmer near Dungog, lost the whole
proceeds of his harvest by an accidental fire. It appears
that about five o'clock in the afternoon, a man in Mr.
Hooke's employ was proceeding from the house to the field,
and in passing along he was lighting his pipe from a brand
he held in his hand. He passed close by the pigsty, and went
on his way. From the pigsty to the corn shed, a space of
some six or eight rods, lay a regular train of corn husks,
dropped in carrying corn to the pigs and it is supposed a
spark from the brand fell on the husks, and taking fire at
length, a high wind assisted the aflame till it ran along
the train and caught the shed. Soon after it caught, Miss
Hook, who was in the house, saw the flames and immediately
gave the alarm, but unfortunately all the men were at work
in the field. Before they could arrive, the shed and its
contents, and a barn filled with wheat, which stood close
by, were burning fiercely, and by ten o'clock the whole was
a mass of ashes, into a vestige being left of barn or shed.
The house escaped, and no further damage was done. There
were about 300 bushels of corn in the shed, and the same
quantity of wheat in the barn.'
Notes & Links:
Hooke's daughter passed away in 1919. The following account
of the Hooke family was printed in the Newcastle Sun:
Mackay of Cangon, who died on Anzac Day at the age of 84 was
the first white child born in the Dungog district. Her
father, the late Mr. John Hooke, one of the pioneer
pastoralists, was one of the richest men who settled in
Australia in the early days, but, like other men who brought
money here in those days, he lost it. Being rather delicate,
he was unable to adapt himself to the hard conditions of a
pioneer's life. Losses and misfortunes dogged his footsteps
from the outset. Before leaving England Mr. Hooke sold four
estates, two of which had been owned by the family since
1066, and the two others from 1416. They included Crook's
Park, Norton Hall and Croom Park. He first settled in
Tasmania but after having the misfortune to be burnt out,
losing valuable possessions which could never be replaced,
he returned to England.
Later on Mr.
Hooke decided to come to New South Wales, He had booked
passages for his family, and a large staff of servants, when
one of his children died. The Captain of the vessel refused
to bring the body out so Mr. Hooke forfeited the whole of
the passage money and purchased a vessel for himself, which
he came out in. He brought out blood horses and other stock,
though many of them died on the voyage out, among them his
favorite carriage horses. One of the latter, which was
purchased for 800 guineas survived until Sydney harbour was
reached, and then died.
On arriving in
Sydney Mr. Hooke settled at Liverpool, where he left the
management of his estate to a manager in whom he had such
unbounded confidence that he signed all documents he was
asked to without reading it. Finally this man brought forth
a document for signature in the presence of a lawyer, and
two other witnesses transferring the estate and all
possessions thereon, to him (the manager) by deed of gift. A
law suit ensued but the case, which was tried before the
late Sir James Dowling was won by the manager.
this property Mr. Hooke settled in Dungog where his wife
quickly adapted herself to the conditions of her new life
and not only managed her family of nine children, and her
servants but extended her activities to the tenants and
surrounding settlers. When neither doctor, chemist nor nurse
was available she did all she could to alleviate suffering.
She could set a limb, dress a wound and assist the arrival
of the 'Best colonists". To render that assistance she was
known often on dark, stormy nights to walk through scrubby
country, crossing the William River on a slippery log. In
many cases she supplemented her assistance with delicacies,
and clothing instructed the mother in the management of
children, how to cook and to make the home more comfortable.
The settlers in those days needed help and encouragement for
they fought against terrible hardships. - Newcastle Sun 1
here to head an interesting account of the Hooke family
in England and Australia from a document entitled, “Records
of the Hooke Family, Dungog, NSW”, Miss Ruby Mary Doyle, of
Dungog, N.S.W, and great granddaughter of Mr. John Hooke, of
Norton Hall, Worcester, England
account of the Hooke family printed in the Dungog Chronicle
on 1 June 1945 -
The Hookes came from landed gentry of
England and were said to be direct descendants of a knight
who came over to England from Normandy with William the
Conqueror nearly nine hundred years ago. John Hooke came to
Tasmania in his own ship with his liveried servants He had
everything destroyed by fire and went back with his wife and
family to get another supply. On his second trip out which
took about nine months his third son Benjamin was born in
the vessel at Table Bay, South Africa. He then came to the
Dungog district and resided at what was then known as Wirey
Gully, a grant of 2000 acres. He brought horses and sheep
from England with him and always claimed to have brought the
first sheep and the prettiest woman to this district. His
daughter Emily afterwards Mrs. J.K. Mackay was said to be
the first white child born in the district. The family were
John (Dingadee), Henry (Rocky Hill), Benjamin (Wirragulla),
James (Crook's Park), Alfred (Morpeth), Augustus (Walcha),
Mrs. Hill (Bungay, Wingham), Mrs. J.K. Mackay (Cangon), and
Mrs. D.F. Mackay (Minimbah) A son Charles Albert died in
Sydney and was buried where the Sydney Town Hall later
stood. Things were very bad in the grazing business between
1840 and 1850 and cattle and sheep were worth practically
nothing. The Hookes started a boiling down works at Wirey
Gully which made a fat bullock worth one pound five
shillings for hide and tallow and a sheep eighteen pence.
They bought 300 store bullocks from Matthew Chapman of the
Grange, Wallarobba for twelve shillings and sixpence a head
and took them up to the Pignumbarney Station at the Manning
to fatten. Of course there were no fence and these cattle
left and tried to get home and got as fare as Pine Brush,
Brookfield where the river being in flood stopped them. They
took them back and before they were fat gold was discovered
and the rush of people to Australia sent the price of cattle
up and they were sold at 6 per head. My father told me that
the night news came through that gold ha been discovered Mr.
James White was staying at the Station and he was very put
out, as he said we would be all ruined as all paid men would
leave; but instead of being ruined, White made his fortune
out of the better prices.
1828 New South Wales, Australia Census (TNA Copy) [database
on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Home Office: Settlers and Convicts, New South
Wales and Tasmania; (The National Archives Microfilm
Publication HO10, Pieces 21-28); The National Archives of
the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.
(2) State Records
Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales,
Australia; Returns of the Colony ('BlueBooks'), 1822-1857;
Collection Number: Series 1286; Publication Year: 1828.