Early Hunter Valley Settlers

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  Thomas Potter Macqueen - Segenhoe -  Map 8 


Sir Edward Parry visited 'Segenhoe', the estate of Thomas Potter Macqueen, in March 1832. Sir Edward arrived on a Monday morning having been driven over by Captain Dumaresq of 'St. Aubins'. Sir Edward had heard much of Segenhoe estate and was eager to see it. He found it 'most excellent and desirable' with fine well watered land and good natural boundaries. No expense had been spared on the roads in that area and Sir Edward thought they were equal to and much resembling the roads in a gentleman's park in England. He was very impressed and preferred it to any estate he had seen so far in the Colony. He was received by Mr. Hamilton C. Sempill's wife and sister, Mr. Sempill being absent at the time.

However Sir Edward had met with Mr. Sempill previously. It was a chance meeting in Sydney in January 1831 that changed the future of the Australian Agricultural Company (and its workers). Mr. Sempill on meeting Sir Edward offered to sell on behalf of Mr. MacQueen, a threshing machine. In the course of the meeting he informed Sir Edward of excellent quality of land on the Liverpool Plains for sheep breeding. They went immediately to the Surveyor General's office to inspect maps which convinced Sir Edward to arrange for the exchange of the company's coastal land for land at Warrah and Goonoo Goonoo on the Liverpool Plains.

There were numerous assigned servants at Segenhoe in 1832 who may have been working on the estate when Sir Edward visited. Among them were: William Powell and John Taff who arrived on the 'Portland', Henry Hall a glass cutter from Warwick and Dominick Herkins a soldier and labourer who had been convicted in Jamaica, both arrived on the Asia in 1832 and Charles Bevan carpenter and joiner who arrived on the Adrian in 1830

There was also a hospital on the estate.  John Macredie was employed as surgeon there in 1833 and John McLeod Gillies was employed as a hospital assistant.

 John Portus and Benjamin Lee were indented servants. Benjamin Lee arrived on the Thames in 1829. He was sent by Macqueen from England to be assistant Superintendent at Segenhoe under orders of Peter McIntyre, Macqueen's agent. Although under employment contract, he waited many months for wages, eventually instigating court proceedings to recover funds owing to him. John Portus was a millwright and arrived on the Hugh Crawford in 1825. He became well known throughout the district and constructed a steam mill in 1840 known as Morpeth Wheat Mills.

Thomas Potter Macqueen was born at Segenhoe Manor, Ridgmont, Bedfordshire in 1791 to Malcolm and Marianne (Potter) Macqueen. After reading the Bigge report with interest, Macqueen evolved a plan to develop the colony with settlers with sufficient capital to employ convicts on their own account.

He was granted 10,000 acres of land by Governor Brisbane in 1825 and appointed Peter McIntyre as his Manager. McIntyre selected mechanics, farmers and shepherds and equipped with farm machinery, stores, sheep, horses and stud cattle sailed for New South Wales on the ships Nimrod and Hugh Crawford.

Once in New South Wales, McIntyre selected this land near Scone which was named Segenhoe. The indented servants and assigned servants then began clearing and establishing buildings and gardens.

Thomas Potter MacQueen

However, Macqueen was apparently dissatisfied with McIntyre's work as his manager and he had replaced McIntyre with Hamilton C. Sempill by 1830. Sempill was residing there when Sir Thomas Livingston Mitchell's expedition passed through Segenhoe on his expedition in November 1831.

H.C. Sempill's wife Susannah who greeted Sir Edward Parry on his arrival at Segenhoe in March 1832 was a sister of John Dow who in later years was employed as a superintendent at Sempill's 'Belltrees'. Her sister with her at Segenhoe that day was Agnes Dow who later married James Busby

By 1833, MacQueen's wife Anne Astley had passed away and in 1834 Macqueen sold his English estate to the Duke of Bedford and journeyed to New South Wales himself. He arrived in Hobart on the Bardaster in June 1834. He travelled to Segenhoe where he was appointed Magistrate for the district by July of that year. He became known for his extravagance at the estate. It was rumoured that his mistress was Madame Ramus who later, after Macqueen's death married Thomas Hollingworth Fowler, a former superintendent on Macqueen's estate.

Hamilton Collins Sempill and his family occupied the main homestead at Segenhoe until 1834 when Macqueen decided to come to Australia. The Sempills were then forced to find other accommodation, first living in a smaller unsatisfactory building and then later building a permanent home at Belltrees.

Sempill had acquired much land on his own behalf since his arrival - Ardenhall, Huntingdon and Aberfoyle among them and also the beautiful 'Belltrees.' Later Sempill was to run into financial difficulties in the 'hungry forties'. He sold his properties and returned to Scotland where he remained.

Thomas Potter Macqueen also purchased a townhouse at Darlinghurst, Sydney. In 1835 he attended a levee at Government House, Sydney to celebrate the King's birthday.

By January 1838, Macqueen was in financial difficulties and a notice appeared in the Sydney Gazette of the extensive sale of his stock. He was to sell by auction all of his 'fine woolled sheep and other stock' prior to leaving the colony and by 1852 he was living in Banbury, Oxford and all his estates had been sold.

Thomas Potter Macqueen died in 1854.   

Notes & Links:

Thomas potter Macqueen's evidence before a Select Committee enquiring into Secondary Punishment of convicts.........



Thoughts and Suggestions on the present condition of the country by Thomas Potter Macqueen



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